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The New Moderate’s 2014 Vigilance List

January 13, 2014

Statue of Liberty

What do we moderates have to worry about? Plenty. After all, if you’re a moderate, trouble comes at you from both sides. To make matters even more interesting, our sources of trouble keep changing from year to year.

I’ve been updating the Vigilance List each year to reflect our current jitters. Some items may have moved up or down the rankings or dropped off entirely; others are still glaring at us, unimproved and unrelenting. If you’ve read these lists before, you’ll notice a couple of ominous newcomers, too. Even so, I’ve cut the number of items from 19 to 16 — partly by consolidating some of them, and partly from a belief that we already have more than enough to worry about.

Anyway, without further eloquence, let me unveil the latest list of concerns, in numerical order — complete with last year’s ranking for comparison. It’s a personal list, of course, but I hope it’s an instructive one. And bear in mind that these items should be worrisome to you even if you’re not a moderate.

1. Factionalism. (New this year — a merger of the old “Republican Obstructionism” and “Polarization”) I blamed the GOP’s wingnut contingent last year, but we’ll never overcome the reckless brinksmanship, distorted rhetoric and outright lies on both sides unless we can find some common ground and start building on it. Whether we’re talking about politics, taxes, guns, religion, race or any other divisive issue, we have to reverse our deepening factionalism or we’re probably doomed as a republic. Trend: Increasingly disturbing; politically engaged Americans have split into two “amen corners,” each one deaf to any argument that contradicts the received wisdom. Remedy: We need more outspoken moderates in politics and the media — moderates with the power to provoke as well as reconcile our hidebound partisans. And of course, we also need concerned moderate citizens to help stop the madness. Finally, we need to focus on causes everyone can embrace — like driving money out of politics (see #2).

2. Plutocracy. (Last year: #2) Let’s face it: the United States is a nominally democratic republic currently ruled by a small, self-entitled, self-perpetuating elite based in Wall Street and K Street (home to Washington’s lobbyist community). The Supreme Court’s inexcusable Citizens United decision (sorry, money is NOT a form of speech!) gave powerful corporations and plutocrats carte blanche to elect and bribe their favorite politicians. The U.S.  Congress today is a sorry farce, a collection of overambitious hacks bought and paid for by big-money interests at both ends of the political spectrum. Trend: Approaching a stranglehold. Remedy: Decisive action in the form of a new Constitutional amendment to drive money out of American politics once and for all. If that fails, concerned Americans need to call for a new Constitutional Convention. (Yes, it’s legal). Think of it as Revolution Lite. Here’s a cause that can unite righteous liberals and conservatives in newfound fellowship.

3. Perpetual recession. (Last year: #1). I’ve finally bumped the Great Recession out of the top spot. Not that our economy has been rebounding with renewed vigor — no, I’ve simply come to accept our current doldrums as the “new normal.” The private sector hasn’t come through with quality jobs for Americans, and the federal government has turned a blind eye to job creation. Meanwhile, corporations are still exporting jobs with impunity and Americans are sinking deeper into debt and dejection. At least the stock market has shown signs of life, but that’s small comfort to the growing underclass. In fact, companies today focus more on beating the next quarterly forecast than on the needs of their own people. At this point we might just be witnessing the American future: prosperity for the few, unending financial woes for everyone else.  Trend: In a holding pattern, and all the more alarming the longer it lingers. Remedy: More hiring of Americans by corporations currently sitting atop piles of cash… NOW, not later. Fear not, capitalists: give enough Americans decent jobs, and the money will trickle back up in the form of healthy consumer spending.

4. Racial tension. (Last year: #16) Quite the jump here. Last year’s George Zimmerman trial proved to me that we Americans just can’t stop obsessing about race — even (or especially) in the “postracial” Obama years. Distortions abound on both sides, as always, but I’ve noticed a growing (and almost mandatory) pro-black bias among liberals and in the mainstream media. For every overpublicized Trayvon Martin shooting, a dozen violent black-on-white crimes go unreported (or underreported) by national news outlets. Such one-sided coverage just inflames black resentment and reinforces the dangerously wrongheaded notion that blacks are the perpetual victims of whites in our society. Trend: Almost reached a boiling point in 2013; just simmering now until the next high-profile white-on-black crime. Remedy: It might be that we’ll never eradicate race problems in America until we all mingle our genes through intermarriage. Barring that, any discussion of race in America must be a two-way street from now on. Whites can no longer be expected to simply shut up and take the heat, and blacks need to be more receptive to constructive criticism of ghetto culture.

5. The “screw the other guy” mentality. (New this year) Maybe the Chris Christie bridge fiasco crystallized the problem for me, but I’ve detected a nasty tumor on the American character. (It’s hardly new, but it seems to be spreading.) We’re so obsessed with success, and so terrified of losing, that — for many of us, at least — it’s no longer enough to succeed; others must be crushed. Examples: short-selling investors who love sticking it to the faithful “bag-holders.” Latter-day Scrooges who expect minimum-wage workers to live in poverty. Penny stock peddlers who ride a wave of euphoria every time they swindle a hapless client. And yes, politicians and their staffers, so intoxicated by their own power that they go out of their way to thwart and humiliate less powerful rivals. We’re looking at bullying, plain and simple, and this ugliness has also gone rampant in online culture. Trend: On the upswing, and all the more troubling because it’s looked upon by too many of us as a badge of macho bravado. Remedy: A healthy dose of Judeo-Christian morality or, lacking that, a swift kick in the pants. We probably need more aggressive social and legal measures for punishing bullies and cheats, though we need to draw the line when it comes to sexual harassment charges against 6-year-olds.

6. Potential class warfare. (Last year: #4) The old American class hierarchy with its nearly invisible boundaries is splitting, like some great ice sheet, into upper and lower castes as mid-status jobs trickle away. Downward mobility is already becoming a way of life for most of us, thanks to corporate non-hiring and the mass destruction of middle-class wealth by reckless Wall Street bankers. Trend: You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Remedy: The banishing of big-money interests from government (see #2), along with federally-imposed financial reforms that would restore the more equitable society of the mid-to-late 20th century: greater regulation of Wall Street and higher (but not punitive) taxes on the rich, plus elimination of most tax shelters and loopholes. And once again, creation of quality jobs for Americans by the increasingly global corporate establishment.

7. The “Great Demographic Shift.” (Last year: #5) It’s official: people of color now account for more than 50 percent of American births. This shift is more than cosmetic; while many blacks and Latinos are finding their way into the middle class, many more of them simply aren’t.  School dropout rates and community social problems will doom a hefty percentage of these new babies to poverty. At the other end of the age spectrum, Americans are living longer than ever and will require decades of Social Security and subsidized medical care. How will a shrinking middle class support all these needy Americans and still provide enough funds to maintain our infrastructure? Trend: Increasing steadily. Remedy: Anything I suggest would sound like eugenics, so I’d simply encourage middle-class and wealthy Americans to procreate more freely. (Hey, it’s fun!) But I’d also recommend higher taxes on the rich (they’re practically at historic lows) and drastic cuts in foreign aid and military spending to open up resources for urgent domestic needs.

8. Militant Islam. (Last year: #15) The much-vaunted “Arab Spring” is literally fighting for survival now as Islamist insurgencies create havoc throughout the Middle East and elsewhere. At least the Islamic world is no longer a monochromatic picture of reactionary dictatorships and religious fanaticism, but the moderate elements have their work cut out for them. Fanatics tend not to give up: they fight to the last man, and eventually they get what they want. Trend: Accelerating as stability in the Middle East continues to crumble. Remedy: Support moderate Muslim movements through non-military means, and hope for a much-needed Muslim Martin Luther to emerge and call for a major overhaul of Islam. While we wait for the Muslim Reformation, we could wage a propaganda war to disabuse radical Muslims of their more primitive beliefs and practices. Meanwhile, we have to guard against creeping sharia law in Western countries.

9. The “disruptive” side of the Internet. (New this year) Not only are Web giants like Amazon driving whole industries to extinction, but compulsive hackers are distributing copyrighted properties, stealing personal information and taking it upon themselves to release government secrets. (What if a hacker had been able to release our D-Day plans back in 1944?) On top of that, we have to deal with the Orwellian Big Brotherism of Internet entities that know far too much about us. That’s not to say we’d be better off without the Internet (What would become of The New Moderate?), but I see an emerging culture of disruption, chaos and intrusiveness that needs to be tamed. Trend: Picking up momentum almost as rapidly as the technology behind it. Remedy: We need to spend more time in the real world: shopping at actual stores, visiting friends and fighting for an honest government that won’t provoke mischief by self-appointed whistleblowers.

10. “Community”-based allegiance. (Last year: #11) It used to be that nearly all Americans identified as Americans, plain and simple. Yes, we came from a multitude of backgrounds, and we honored our ancestors, but our allegiance to the Stars and Stripes trumped everything else. It also used to be that a community was the place where you lived. You made your home in your community and enjoyed the cozy feeling of belonging there. No longer: now we’ve splintered into a motley assemblage of special-identity “communities” based on race, politics, gender, religion and sexual orientation. We identify primarily with our group and its interests, which are generally one-sided, frequently narcissistic and increasingly oblivious to the fact that all of us are Americans. We need to call out this phenomenon for what it is: primitive tribalism masquerading as cutting-edge identity politics. Trend: Steadily rising, what with all the overheated rhetoric about gay marriage, racial profiling and the “War on Women.” Remedy: An invasion from space would bring us together in a hurry, but short of that, we simply need to think more about our common humanity and values. Favor the uniters, not the dividers. Whatever we do, let’s not start thinking of ourselves as members of the “moderate community.” Agreed?

11. Environmental destruction. (Last year: #14) Americans tend to overlook the ongoing destruction of remote rainforests, coral reefs, rivers and wetlands (not to mention the wild creatures that inhabit them) because most of it is taking place far from our back yards. Developing tropical nations like Indonesia and Brazil account for much of the destruction as they convert forest to farmland. East Asian nations like China, Japan and Thailand must be held accountable for the wanton poaching of critically endangered wildlife. And all rapidly developing nations are sending more greenhouse gases into the already overheated atmosphere. Eventually we’ll realize that we’ve ransacked a wondrous planet, but by then it will be too late to do anything about it. (And we’re not equipped to start colonizing distant planets just yet.) Trend: Increasing, with no end in sight. Remedy: We need to work with other governments toward establishing and enforcing international environmental regulations, because the Earth belongs to all of us. Poachers deserve to be shot on sight, and for God’s sake, it’s time for prominent Asian scientists to perform and publish experiments demonstrating the worthlessness of folk medicines derived from endangered creatures.

12. Cultural degeneracy. (Last year: #17) Movies, TV, pop music, video games, high art and everyday behavior have combined to forge a decadent culture that worships all the most loathsome and idiotic ideals. Do I believe in having fun? Absolutely. (This isn’t The New Puritan, after all.) But we also need to restore respect and affection for the nobler virtues, or we’ll crumble, as the Romans did, from internal and external assaults that we’re too weak to withstand. Do I sound like an alarmist? You bet. Trend: Still spreading like a virus, especially as mainstream pop culture increasingly celebrates our nastiest instincts (viz., Miley Cyrus, “epic fail” videos and “The Wolf of Wall Street”). Remedy: Beats me. Sometimes I think Western civilization at its apex was simply too demanding and rarefied for our species to maintain for any length of time. We’re slowly reverting to our simian roots, which may be lamentable but probably suits our natures. Still, if you have standards, don’t surrender them!

13. The federal deficit. (Last year: #8) The crisis may have passed for now, but nobody is doing anything about the underlying problem: the government is spending far more than it’s taking in. (Greece, anybody?) Where will the money come from when we’re already in hock up to our national armpits? Trend: Not going away. Remedy: Here’s a start: slash military spending and foreign aid. Dramatically. (In a fiscal crisis, the needs of Americans must come first.) The government would also be wise to start trimming those plush federal pensions, starting with members of the House and Senate. The IRS needs to busy itself collecting a fair share of taxes from huge corporations. No loopholes. Stop state-sponsored corporate welfare in the form of bailouts and subsidies. And yes, it’s time to end the cushy Bush-era tax cuts for the rich. No compromises.

14. Perpetual war and other foreign entanglements.  (Last year: #9) We’re no longer fighting on multiple fronts, and the futile war in godforsaken Afghanistan is finally winding down to its close, but we’re still there. Have we learned our lesson? Can we ever again justify risking American lives in dead-end conflicts? We still haven’t learned that guerrilla fighters never surrender; they have no infrastructure to bomb and no capital to occupy, so we’d have to gun them down to the last man. And when we can’t trust the “legitimate” government we’re fighting for, it’s time to cut the cord. The United States simply can’t control and fine-tune all world events to its specifications. Trend: Easing up, but without any underlying shift in American foreign policy. Remedy: A foreign policy that shuns Neocon interventionism for rational vigilance, with an occasional drone strike to keep our enemies off balance.

15. Illegal immigrants. (Last year: #16) The mass incursion of undocumented Hispanic immigrants through our southern border appears to have slowed to a relative trickle, but the question remains: what happens to the 10-20 million illegals who have already settled here? Given the disparity in birth rates between the native-born and Hispanic immigrant populations, the U.S. could increasingly take on the attributes of a Latin American nation. That means a less-educated populace and an ever-widening gap between rich and poor, with the added element of cultural friction between Anglos and Latinos. (On the plus side, at least we might get into the salubrious habit of taking siestas.)  Trend: The number of new illegal immigrants has declined, but their population within the U.S. continues to grow at a rapid clip. Remedy: Make the U.S. less appealing as a destination for illegal immigration. (This is already happening on its own as our economic fortunes decline.) And, as President Obama has proclaimed (though he shouldn’t have done so by fiat), provide a pathway to citizenship for the children of illegals who have behaved blamelessly and who express a desire for higher education.

16. Political correctness. (Last year: #19) The sensitivities of militant special-interest “communities” still tend to stifle our freedom of speech, inadvertently or not. And of course the world of academia, at least in the liberal arts, still falls under the dominion of dedicated multiculti leftists. But given all the other hot issues on our Vigilance List, I’ve had to drop political correctness to the bottom. Trend: Still with us, but hardly worth any loss of sleep at this point. Remedy: Dare to speak freely but without malice.

Feel free to take issue with any of my choices and/or add your own, of course. I’d like to hear from you.

Rick Bayan is founder-editor of The New Moderate.

729 Comments leave one →
  1. January 13, 2014 9:04 pm

    Wow! A lot to chew on there, Rick. I was beginning to wonder if I qualified as a moderate after the last couple of years of commentary. But I guess I do (at least for the purposes of this blog), since I agree with about 90% of your superb posting. My major complaint since you restarted TNM is that I only receive sporadic commentary updates. Am I improperly registered, or is everybody experiencing this? I look forward to joining the fray, as other people comment, assuming I receive the updates. Thanks for your most interesting blog.

    • Anonymous permalink
      January 13, 2014 9:20 pm

      Thanks, RP. I’ve only been posting once or twice a month since I revived The New Moderate, so you probably haven’t been missing anything.

      • Ron P permalink
        January 13, 2014 9:21 pm

        But he has been missing all the “good comments” between myself, Jbastiat and Roby..Oh well maybe not all that good, but interesting to say the least.

    • Ron P permalink
      January 13, 2014 9:20 pm

      RP, when you leave a response, fill in the email infor and name below the comment box. Also click the two “notify me” boxes each time you post. (May not be required, but that is what I do.) I have had no problems receiving everyones comment via e-mail each time something is posted.

      Ron P

      • January 13, 2014 9:27 pm

        Ron: That was a marathon commentary debate on my last column! I lurked now and then but didn’t want to get pulled into the whirlpool. Brave souls!

    • January 13, 2014 9:31 pm

      RP: Ron is right: You need to register to receive comment notifications. I think it’s a simple once-and-done procedure. But be warned: Some days you might receive 20 new e-mails when the debate heats up.

  2. January 13, 2014 9:22 pm

    That was me. I’m posting from my phone, so my own site didn’t recognize me.

  3. Ron P permalink
    January 13, 2014 10:06 pm

    Rick..You asked for suggestions. I would include “Changing social norms and the decline in marriage”. And since many of your suggestions are impacted by these changes, it might be up their in the top five or so.

    Fewer people are married today than at any time in the last 50+ years. More children are born out of wedlock than any time in hstory. The importance of this statistic is the ever increasing number of children born into and trapped in poverty. And poverty leads to increased school dropout rates and that leads to a nation with a high number of individuals that lack training for any job, if they so desire to work. And in many cases when there is not anyone in the family leaving for work and coming home, there is no role model for the kids to copy that is positive. The role model is negative since the parent is not being productive.

    There are many other issues that the decline in marriage contributes to, but today we see race (#4), income inequality, class warfare (#6) ,declining cultural norms (part of #12) and the federal budget ((#13) that are mainly impacted by this decline in social norms.

    How are these impacted?. Those with higher incomes are able to move into higher income neighborhoods. Whites, blacks, hispanics, etc all live together, not separated. More people living in integrated areas have a greater understanding of the other race and do not see race in every problem that occurs. Income inequality is reduced since children in a marriage have role models to follow and guidance when they get into trouble. They attend school, have a parent interested in the schooling and get better grades. They graduate and maybe go to college. They achieve a level one or more steps better than their parents. They are trained for the technical and professional jobs that this country is moving towards with the elimination of many manual labor jobs that are going overseas and staying there. There are expectations placed on kids and guidance that limits the amount of time spent on those issues you list in your cultural degeneracy. And finally, when incomes increase it lessens the needs of the federal government to be involved, it increases revenues to the federal government without raising taxes and spending is reduced.

    We need to stop thinking about addressing the effects of negative actions and address the negative actions before their is an effect. As with science in any field, it will take the brightest minds to address this issue, but we may want to start with government programs that reward out of wedlock births and reward marriage instead.

  4. Priscilla permalink
    January 13, 2014 11:26 pm

    Well, Rick, 2014 appears to be a year in which you and I will agree more than we disagree, reversing a pattern that has established itself over the past couple of years…… Some random thoughts on your excellent list I’ll label each thought with its relevant list #) :

    #2. Money is not speech, and money in politics is the problem – we agree. But the Citizens United decision is not the problem- it narrowly defined the constitutionality of campaign finance law. Crony capitalism on a grand scale is the problem.

    #3. As long as businesses can be “too big to fail, ” you will not see big corporations change their ways, nor smaller ones hedge their bets against regulation.

    #5 I am not a big Christie fan (although he’s been a great governor for NJ, he is not my ideal POTUS) On the other hand, the same people wailing about him being a “”bully” didn’t say squat about Obama shutting down the open-air memorials and scenic highways during the shutdown. If causing a traffic jam at the GWB is a crime, then the Yankees ought to be prosecuted. ( I think Christie is a big government bully, btw, but Obama has him beat by a country mile).

    #7 Two words: school choice. It would change a lot.

    #13 We did end the Bush tax cuts for the very rich last year, didn’t we? Maybe that wasn’t the problem?

    • Priscilla permalink
      January 13, 2014 11:37 pm

      For #3 I meant to say “stop hedging their bets” against regulation…..

    • Ron P permalink
      January 14, 2014 12:27 am

      Priscilla..Do you really think school choice can make a dent in the income inequality that dooms babies to poverty? While I worked at a health system in a middle class town in NC, 65% of the babies that were delivered were covered by Medicaid. Few of those will have much of a chance for advancement in society given the fact their mothers don’t have a HS education and there is no male in the house. My daughter is a NICU nurse at another hospital in the same region with an even higher average income level and almost 80% of their babies are Medicaid.

      These kids already have three strikes against them before they say their first words. And we have school choice in our towns, as do the majority of the large towns in NC. It is based on themes, meaning there are schools with an arts theme, math theme, science theme, technology, etc. Parents can choose which school to send their kids. All subjects are taught using those elements to give the kids a better education. Even with this availble, the drop out rates are still high. I am not an expert, but I would think the fact there is no one in the family to help these kids with school work or to make sure they do their school work when they get home has to be a large part of the problem.

      • January 14, 2014 9:50 am

        One has to look at the underlying economics which almost invites successive generations to live on the government dole. If that were eliminated (gradually) over time, this cycle might be stopped. It is worth a try IMO.

        In the interim, better schools wouldn’t hurt, would it? I am sure the teacher’s unions might object. That is what crony capitalism is all about.

        It might be better for us all if these “interest groups” (including Pearson Education) were put in their place (behind the general welfare).

        I am not holding my breath.

      • Priscilla permalink
        January 14, 2014 10:19 am

        Ron, I don’t think that school choice can ‘solve’ the problem of income inequality….but, then again, redistribution really doesn’t solve it either – and there is a strong case to be made that a welfare state perpetuates and worsens it. I think that reforming the education system could go a long way in bringing opportunity to those who do not currently have it, and possibly even in changing the culture in a positive way.

        I think that most poor families (and there is a problem that you point out right there- the lack of real families), if given the option of sending their children to a crime ridden school filled with bad teachers, drugs etc., or sending them to a school where they might have a chance to learn something that could help them get a job, would opt for the latter. But the vast majority do not have that option. In fact, they can be arrested and charged with a crime if they try to send their children to a good school that is not in their district.

        The government is all good with subsidizing food, medical insurance and such, but, when the subject of education – the single most important factor in success, according to many – comes up, all of a sudden government subsidies are bad, bad, bad. Freedom to choose becomes an anti-government position when applied to public education.

        Charter schools are not the answer, really. They are a transitional step (which is why advocates of the current system hate them so much), but the problem is that, even under the charter school system, the government, not the family, limits the choice of what school that family’s children can attend. Middle and upper class families are affluent enough to choose not to send their children to public schools….or, at least affluent enough to live in towns that have decent schools.

        I don’t want to sound too naïve or idealistic here….I know that the disintegration of the family and the overall “cultural degeneracy” that Rick writes of, are not going to be halted by school choice. And I also know that throwing out the community based public education system entirely would be foolhardy. But I do believe that empowering the poor to have choices in determining their own futures and that of their children would be a good start.

      • January 14, 2014 12:10 pm

        Income inequality is not a problem that can be “solved.” There has been, and always be, income inequality, even in socialist and communist countries. I find it curious that people believe that we can even measure incomes accurately and that there is some pre-ordained level of income relationships that can and should be maintained. Where has this even been done in recorded history and not resulted in suffering on a grand scale?

        Pointing to historical income relationships presupposes that these should be fixed, even though reality has a habit of changing and changing rapidly. People want a new IPod fix every six months but think that other things in their lives should never change? How naïve

        Things change all the time. In the end, if you don’t bring some exchange value to the table, you will be less attractive and you will earn less money. This is not complex. The Feds have had a “War on Poverty” since 1967. We have tossed Trillions at this “problem” and it has grown worse. (apparently).

        So, if you are a leftist, you will say: Toss more money at the problem, this time it will work.

        Wanna bet?

      • Ron P permalink
        January 14, 2014 1:17 pm

        Priscilla..In my neck of the woods, school choice does not cost any more (or very little) than not having it, so I have no problem with your idea to allow all areas to have it. What I do object to is the federal government having anything to do with that choice. Right now, for a number of kids, our school choice is working. If they want to concertrate on math, they can. Likewise other areas of concentration. If the feds came in with a national program, I suspect they would demolish what is in place based on the needs of the teachers unions and not the needs of the kids. I will point out that in many areas, like NYC’ they have elected officials that base all their educational programs on the needs of the teachers unions. I will be very intersted to see how the poor community in NYC that has kids attending schools other than their assigned neighborhood school will react when De Blassio eleiminates that program and kids going to good schools end up back in the crime ridden area school.

        But your solution addresses the effect of a greater problem and that is the disentergration of the American family. That is where I can see the federal government paying for the best minds across the country to develop programs to promote marriage, change tax laws to promote marriage and eliminate programs that promote single parent families.

        We need to fight this problem at both ends of the snake. cut off both the head and the rattle.

      • January 14, 2014 1:33 pm

        Rather than more programs to “ promote marriage” we could look at this things the feds have been doing to dis-incentivize getting married. At the heart of this, has been the replacement of the wage earner(s) with a federal check.

        That is the part of the snake that has to be addressed IMHO.

      • Ron P permalink
        January 14, 2014 1:59 pm

        JB..I don’t think one action by the government is going to solve that problem. If it could, more people would be demanding that action take place. This is a total socialtal problem, from out of wedlock births to temporary marriages where people say. “If it doesn’t work we get divorced”.

        I doubt you or I have the answer. I doubt one person or one party has the answer. I think it will take many to propose solutions and try those solutions until one or a group of solutions begins to take hold.

        Rick just mentioned that he thinks blacks have right brain/left brain differences for others and that is part of the problem in education. Might be, but when there are no brains in the family giving direction to kids growing up, should we expect the kids to use any part of their brains? You can take the most docile dog and place that dog into a wild pack of dogs, and that dog becomes like the pack. The leadership in the family is no different in my opinion. Kids will grow up and become the same as the environment they are raised. And many who lack a family will gravitate to a gang as the gang provides the social structure they desire, even if it is negative, ujust like the pack of dogs impact n the family pooch.

      • January 14, 2014 7:57 pm

        Rick, I think the concept of “disparate impact” could have made the top five of your 2014 Vigilance list. This is the most un-American excuse for unjust federal interference I’ve seen yet, and it has the potential to create chaos in inter-racial relations, while spreading injustices far and wide. Essentially, any area where people of a certain ethnicity or gender or sexual orientation or religion are underrepresented (ie. neighborhoods, schools, professions, etc) or overrepresented (prisons, courts of law, soup kitchens,welfare lines, etc) can be labeled examples of discrimination subject to intrusion and remedy by the federal government, based solely on the numerical disparity without any evidence of discriminatory action by anyone. The new Labor Secretary is a strong proponent of this bizarre weapon that can justify any manner of quotas, elimination of standards, bypass of the rule of law, and destruction of all systems based on merit–in short, the obliteration of all that most Americans hold dear. Since the current admin seems deaf to the pleadings of ordinary citizens (when it’s not labeling them reactionary or mean spirited) the outcry against this new abomination will have to be enormous to slay the beast. I hope you and our fellow bloggers will spread the word.

    • January 14, 2014 1:04 pm

      Priscilla: You know me; I’m a compulsive boat balancer. When the “ruling class” has the game rigged in its favor, I try to tilt the system back toward populism. On social issues, which tend to be dominated by the very vocal left, I tend to tilt the other way. I’m still a moderate; my goal is that we tilt back to the center.

      Since the 2012 election, I’ve been focusing more on social issues. The press coverage of the Trayvon Martin – George Zimmerman case, gay marriage and illegal immigration convinced me that the mainstream media are hopelessly locked in PC mode; they won’t even look at non-kosher ideas from off the reservation, and that needs to change.

      On to specific issues… You’re right about crony capitalism, of course. I checked Wikipedia for information about the tax cuts. It was confusing: apparently Obama signed a law extending the tax cuts for most Americans but raising the maximum rate back to 39%. (I hadn’t heard about this; somehow it slipped under the radar.) As for the Yankees, LOL. The difference is that Christie’s people caused the traffic jam with malice aforethought. We’ll find out soon enough whether the governor himself was directly involved; I hope for his sake that he wasn’t.

      School choice? I don’t think it will make much of a difference. Based on my experience with Guy’s dyslexia and ADD (he’s reading just fine now, by the way), I think we need to examine why black inner city kids fail in school and get caught up in an endless cycle of poverty and crime. My hypothesis (and I’m sure it would get me banned from any respectable university): aside from having lower IQs on average, I think black kids suffer disproportionately from ADHD and dyslexia; I also think they tend to be more right-brained than non-blacks, which would account for both their creative flair and their unfortunate knack for making bad life choices. If we could isolate the causes of black failure in schools, we could actually improve their lot… but in our current PC climate nobody would dare propose such studies. It’s a shame. When it comes to black issues, we’re a nation of ostriches. We think that we’ll solve their problems by throwing money at them.

      • Priscilla permalink
        January 14, 2014 3:02 pm

        Rick, I think my larger point about school choice goes right to your comment about Guy’s education. First and foremost, Guy has one of the all-time great Dads, and that gives him a huge advantage right there!

        But, your love for your son, your involvement in his education, and what is best for him has led you to put him in a private school, no?

        I don’t think there is much doubt that our current public school system has failed to provide what is necessary for poor and minority children to succeed in our society, regardless of family circumstances. And when programs such as the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program – basically a voucher program that produced great results for inner city kids in Wash D.C. – and the NYC charter school program are attacked by liberals (Obama cancelled the D.C. program) one has to wonder what their motives really are.

        No question that choice can be problematic, and that a straight voucher system might simply exacerbate the current unequal situation. But, if I were a poor mom, trapped in a cycle of poverty and looking to give my kids a chance to get out, I would want my chance to put them in a school that might provide that. Clearly, the billions thrown into inner city public schools has not provided that option.

  5. January 14, 2014 9:04 am

    As usual, well written and crafted. I can disagree with many of your positions on this list. Sadly, Rick, you don’t know much at all about economics and you tend to blame the GOP much more than is appropriate IMHO.

    That said, you have given us plenty to fight over.

    PS-I can assure you that we know exactly who is responsible for increased racial division in this country and it is NOT the south nor white Caucasians.

    • January 14, 2014 12:32 pm

      jb: Thanks. Believe it or not, I didn’t blame the Republicans for anything in this year’s Vigilance List. In fact, I removed “Republican Obstructionism” from the list and substituted nonpartisan “Factionalism.” I don’t pretend to be an expert on economics (I still wish I had taken macroeconomics in college), but I have first-hand experience as an employee, investor, and reader of the news.

      As for the race issue, if you’ll check #4, I blamed liberals for inflaming race hatred among black folks. Even so, I’ve seen plenty of right-wing websites filled with vicious comments about blacks. So I think both sides need to be more tolerant. But as I said, any talk about race has to be a two-way street; we can’t accept the status quo in which blacks can lambaste whites, while whites have to keep mum about problems in the black community.

      • January 14, 2014 1:30 pm


        It is probably better that you did NOT take Macro in college. Your Prof would have no doubt been a lefty and using Paul Samuelson’s book (another lefty) who was a Keynesian (the ultimate statist in economic matters). Hence, you would have learned nothing useful in the slightest.

        Running your own business is a way better method for understanding trade and exchange, which is to say, Economics.

        Yes, both sides of the political isle could do a better job on racial issues. That said, when the R card is issued, it is almost always issued by the Lefties.

      • Priscilla permalink
        January 16, 2014 12:08 am

        Rick, I did notice that you did not blame Republicans for anything this year. Bravo!

        It never ceases to amaze me that people expect the “opposition party” to NOT oppose the party in power!

        Of course I understand the compromise stuff, we all do. But, seriously, every President is opposed by the other side (“duh!” as my kids used to say).

        Obama supporters often act as if previous Presidents have had it easy, compared to their darling….it really is quite exasperating. Obama has never, ever had to deal with a media feeding frenzy of the likes that Chris Christie is currently dealing with (over a traffic jam in NJ, for chrissakes) despite his having multiple major scandals erupt over the course of his administration.

        The sooner the public realizes that Republicans are not to blame (and that is not to say that Democrats are to blame) for our country’s problems, the sooner we can all focus on solutions.

      • January 16, 2014 8:48 am

        As usual, you nail it.

  6. January 14, 2014 9:18 am

    “Remedy: More hiring of Americans by corporations currently sitting atop piles of cash… NOW, not later. Fear not, capitalists: give enough Americans decent jobs, and the money will trickle back up in the form of healthy consumer spending.”

    You have this backwards my dear friend. First off, the cash that corporations are sitting on (your words) does not belong to the corporation. This cash (and all other assets and liabilities) belongs to the shareholders (me, for example). If the management does not have profitable projects to fund or demand to meet, they cannot and will not simply hire people with the hopes that it will all turn out. If they did that, capital would flow out of the company in a heartbeat. And, shareholder suits would follow.

    The fact is that corporations that have tons of cash on the sidelines issue dividend checks to their owners or they pay down debt.. Again, being a shareholder, that is exactly what I expect management to do.

    Tell me Rick, if you have some cash laying around, do you feel that you should go out and hire someone, you know, to stimulate the economy?

    No, management has to make bets for the future, for as you see buddy, employees get paid long before the cash flow shows up to pay their salary (ever start a business?).
    Remember, employees get paid first, shareholders last, if at all.

    The point is that businesses of any kind don’t exist to provide jobs for people. The jobs are an effect of meeting some form of demand. Again, think of your own business. So, simply pointing a finger at IBM and saying: “Hey, hire somebody” is ludicrous.

    The question that is much more germane is why do the prospects for investment seem so dim? I can tell you that the finger is pointing at Washington DC. The entire bunch acts like they haven’t a clue nor care about the business environment they create.

    What they have created is perpetual uncertainly and chaos. I can tell you that management hates that state of mind. So, they sit and wait to try and figure out what the hell DC is doing.

    Me too.

    • January 14, 2014 12:24 pm

      I know we don’t have a right to demand that companies hire American workers (or any workers at all, for that matter). But think about the consequences: mass unemployment and more people on the dole. If companies don’t provide jobs, somebody has to — and that somebody will have to be the U.S. government.

      • January 14, 2014 12:36 pm

        Income inequality is not a problem that can be “solved.” There has been, and always be, income inequality, even in socialist and communist countries. I find it curious that people believe that we can even measure incomes accurately and that there is some pre-ordained level of income relationships that can and should be maintained. Where has this even been done in recorded history and not resulted in suffering on a grand scale?

        Pointing to historical income relationships presupposes that these should be fixed, even though reality has a habit of changing and changing rapidly. People want a new IPod fix every six months but think that other things in their lives should never change? How naïve

        Things change all the time. In the end, if you don’t bring some exchange value to the table, you will be less attractive and you will earn less money. This is not complex. The Feds have had a “War on Poverty” since 1967. We have tossed Trillions at this “problem” and it has grown worse. (apparently).

        So, if you are a leftist, you will say: Toss more money at the problem, this time it will work.

        Wanna bet?

      • Ron P permalink
        January 14, 2014 1:45 pm

        Rick..I think we need to look at history to see what is happening and what is going to continue happening.
        1. The country moved from an agricultural economy in the 1800’s to a manufacturing economy in the 1900’s. Did government pay Ford to start building the Model T or Model A Ford?
        2. Textile manufacturing was big in the northeast. Union demands and labor cost drove textiles to the south, costing many jobs in the northeast. That same environment drove textile jobs overseas.
        3. Auto production was centered in the upper midwest. Union demands have driven that south to a more favorable business climate. Same with Boeing Aircraft (but they did create a situation where the union in WA had to give up some of teir demands). But how many of our cars today come from Mexico and other foreign assembly plants?

        Government can create a climate to increase jobs. If XYZ Corporation has a subsidiary in Ireland and that sub makes 10 million and pays 10% tax or 1M to the Irish government off Irish demand, why should the parent company pay another 25% to the federal government when they bring that 9M into the US economy? (Corporate tax rate is or was 35% and companies pay the difference between home taxes and US taxes when brought to the parent company) Maybe it would be wise to allow that money to come back to the US untaxed (other than the home countrys tax) and allow that to be put to work creating jobs in the US.

        But government can not create jobs other than by reduced regulations and reduced taxes. With our current administration, that is never going to happen.

  7. January 14, 2014 9:21 am

    PS-don’t; use a word like NeoCon, it means nothing. I am all for ending foreign interventions, which BTW, this administration is simply outsourcing to Muslim radicals.

    Both sides of the isle bet tarred with this brush. Exactly who just sent “advisors” to Somalia, and 1.5T to Egypt?

  8. Roby L permalink
    January 14, 2014 10:02 am

    We are going to hell in a bucket. We will unite if aliens attack, maybe. Right and left no longer have any common language. Perpetual war with no heros. The system has evolved into a state in which bad behavior is rarely punished politically and good behavior is swiftly punished. The true moderate is holding their nose and voting once in four years and trying not to pay attention to the train wreck that is our political system. No it really would NOT get better if we did, we would just fall into the shit and be miserable along with the partisans.

    That said we had friends of ours over for dinner the other night, they are Armenians. Boy we think we have had it rough, our life is a picnic here and our worst days, well they are pretty bad, (schools shootings most of all) but our average days are heaven on earth compared to what you face in many places.

    • January 14, 2014 12:02 pm

      “That said we had friends of ours over for dinner the other night, they are Armenians. Boy we think we have had it rough, our life is a picnic here and our worst days, well they are pretty bad, (schools shootings most of all) but our average days are heaven on earth compared to what you face in many places.”

      Amen to that statement!

    • January 14, 2014 12:17 pm

      Roby: I’m afraid that my gloom-and-doom commentary has you thoroughly demoralized. The one silver lining to emerge from this list is the possibility of friendly cooperation between liberals and conservatives (outside of Congress, of course) on the issue of clean government.

      I often wonder if my Armenian background has influenced my dark world-view. We have a lot in common with Jews, but they dealt with their calamities by turning to irreverent humor and resolving to succeed; the Armenians just tend to shake their heads and put another shish kebab on the grill.

  9. Roby L permalink
    January 14, 2014 12:50 pm

    Our Armenian friends (the man Armenian born in America, his wife Armenian from Armenia) have lived in both the US and for many years in Armenia. The say the material situation is much better here and the spiritual one, if you will, is much better in Armenia. They reminded me of the various massacres and genocides and wars, one quite recent I hardly knew anything about. The unbelievable level of poverty they describe is so bad that Armenians think that people living in rural Russian villages without electricity or running water are living in luxury, at least they sometimes have food. Her family members in Armenia went two weeks last winter living on water, no food. And her father was a famous Neurosurgeon, they are from the top level, others have it worse. Their two children were such sweet, beautiful well-behaved children, its heart breaking to think of repeated genocides on these people.

    No, it was not you that depressed me, really Rick, I just got too involved recently in reading political news and commentary on it. Should NOT do that.

    • RonP permalink
      January 14, 2014 4:40 pm

      Roby, what a heart wrenching situation. Reminds me of the story of friends from Romania that talked about before they came to America where they spent days in bed under blankets to keep from freezing since they did not have heat.

      And let someone from this country go 2 days without power due to an ice storm or lose connectivity with their cell phone and they go bananas crabbing about the poor service that they are getting. Maybe they need to live over there to see what real bad living conditions are.

      And then we can also mention the amount of news coverage that Christy is getting for causing a traffic jam and people spending hours in traffic. Wonder how that compares to freezing or going without food for days?

  10. Priscilla permalink
    January 14, 2014 4:14 pm

    To get off of my school choice soap box for a moment… is one of the things that might make McDonald’s, and other targets of the minimum wage activists, think twice about hiring anyone: robot burger-flippers. They don’t come in late or complain about their pay.

    • RonP permalink
      January 14, 2014 4:28 pm

      Priscilla, there are so many “robots” producing services and outcomes that no one knows how much they have impacted the lower wage earnings potential for a job. For instance, the pharmacies in a 400 bed hospital would have 10-12 pharmacist and 20 or so pharmacy techs to cover 24-7-365. Then came along the “pharmacy robot systems”. What did it replace? The majority of the 20 pharmacy techs?

      Before that was available, the nursing floors would send orders to the pharmacy, the techs would pull the drugs, fill the script and give it to the pharmacist to verify and approve for delivery. Now, the nursing floor places the orders by computer, the robot receives the order, it identifies and locates the drug ordered, removes the required number of items needed, places the order for the pharmacist review and approval and then places that order in the nursing floors pharmacy cart for delivery to the unit.

      And you bet, not only does it reduce cost, the yearly employee survey results improved dramatically for the pharmacy since there were no “bitchers” in the department complaining about the pharmacists being unfair to them and making them work so hard.

      It is not if this is going to happen, it is when. And then there can be another arguement in politics about how corporations are so unfair to labor since they are replacing all their workers with machines.

      • Priscilla permalink
        January 14, 2014 5:15 pm

        So much needs to change, in order to keep up with change! I recall Obama once saying that ATM’s had taken away jobs for bank tellers…..which, of course, was true, but his takeaway seemed to be that ATM’s were bad. Most of us probably think that they’ve made life pretty convenient. And according to the Fast Food robot site, money saved from not having to hire actual humans can be put towards making a better burger!

        Roby, a good friend of mine is a Egyptian Christian – aka a “Copt”. It was her church in Egypt that was bombed in an anti-Christian attack a few months ago – her aunt and uncle and 2 cousins were killed. All they found of her uncle was his index finger. She went to church on New Year’s Eve to pray, along with the rest of the Coptic Christian community in the area….no revelry over the new year. It is truly stunning sometimes, the amount of suffering that other nations endure.

    • January 14, 2014 7:11 pm

      I believe I predicted something like this in the other thread.

  11. January 14, 2014 8:02 pm

    Rick–I’m still learning ins and outs of this system. Please read my comment sent today, but posted about 22 blogs ago–I think it needs to be addressed. Thanks

  12. January 14, 2014 8:07 pm

    RP: I’ll do even better… here’s your misplaced post (how did it end up in an old column?):

    Rick, I think the concept of “disparate impact” could have made the top five of your 2014 Vigilance list. This is the most un-American excuse for unjust federal interference I’ve seen yet, and it has the potential to create chaos in inter-racial relations, while spreading injustices far and wide. Essentially, any area where people of a certain ethnicity or gender or sexual orientation or religion are underrepresented (ie. neighborhoods, schools, professions, etc) or overrepresented (prisons, courts of law, soup kitchens,welfare lines, etc) can be labeled examples of discrimination subject to intrusion and remedy by the federal government, based solely on the numerical disparity without any evidence of discriminatory action by anyone. The new Labor Secretary is a strong proponent of this bizarre weapon that can justify any manner of quotas, elimination of standards, bypass of the rule of law, and destruction of all systems based on merit–in short, the obliteration of all that most Americans hold dear. Since the current admin seems deaf to the pleadings of ordinary citizens (when it’s not labeling them reactionary or mean spirited) the outcry against this new abomination will have to be enormous to slay the beast. I hope you and our fellow bloggers will spread the word.

    • January 14, 2014 8:18 pm

      RP: I hadn’t even heard of this policy before. I’d like to see them try to implement it in the NBA and the NFL, where, according to their own standard, the rosters should be about 75% white. Then they can talk to us about “disparate impact.” Seriously, I’d find this kind of government-sponsored jiggling to be not only potentially disastrous but ethically reprehensible. It smells of totalitarian social engineering. I’ll have to read more about it before I can comment with any authority, though. Thanks for the heads-up.

      In retrospect, I think I should have introduced a new item on the list that would have covered offenses like this one: government intrusiveness. It seems to be on the rise, from the excesses of the NSA to the forced elimination of incandescent bulbs.

      • January 14, 2014 10:04 pm

        We see this kind of “thinking” everywhere. The silly notion that we are all unique but somehow, we should all end up in the same “place!” Absurd but it doesn’t stop the statists from marching on.

      • January 14, 2014 10:15 pm

        Rick-until recently, this misguided “disparate impact” law has only been used to bludgeon a few businesses and municipalities. The new application suggested by the Attorney General’s office suggests applying it to instances where disruptive minority students are expelled from classrooms. The rationale is that a disproportionate number of minority students are being expelled, therefore the expulsions have a disparate impact on them, which is a violation of the law. For a thoughtful and thorough background on the law and it’s effects on hiring practices, you should check out:

      • January 14, 2014 11:01 pm

        Nonsense, pure and simple.

      • RonP permalink
        January 15, 2014 12:50 am

        Rick I know this is from the Tea Party, but the main stream media is not covering these statements. I did see his comments on the evening news, so I know it is exactly what happened concerning the unemployment benefits.

        How does the use of executive action to circumvent congressional legislation fit into one of your abve categories. This is a problem, has been a problem and is just getting worse. If we wanted a king, we would be British, not Americans.

      • January 15, 2014 8:23 am

        I could refer to Hitler, but I won’t. You are correct, in that this POTUS clearly presents himself in a king like fashion (the lofty, above it all, air, the kingly vacations). Also, he seems to fret a lot about how the GOP will simply not pass every law he wants.

        So, out comes the pen …..

        In the meantime, a side deal with Iran and they are off to the nuclear club, where having A-Bombs in the hands of terrorists is a good thing?

      • January 15, 2014 4:13 am

        Ron: I’m inclined to give Obama a pass on this one. First of all, the article was extremely vague about the exact nature of his “imperial” transgressions. Second, the GOP has deliberately set out to cripple him, which may not be unconstitutional but sure isn’t conducive to the functioning of government. I can’t blame him for getting exasperated and trying to circumvent the opposition in a reasonable manner. (It’s not as if he’s declaring himself emperor.)

      • January 15, 2014 8:26 am

        Plenty of people “blame” Obama. If he were not so intent on getting everything in the world he wants, he could actually broker some deals. Let’s be fair, Gingrich was not out to “help” Clinton. As much as I hate to admit, Clinton must have had a mind to make deals (just ask Monica) of nothing much would have happened during his term.

        Ditto, O’Neill and Reagan. Memory is funny, it likes to gloss over the past with a nice patina.

      • RonP permalink
        January 15, 2014 1:25 pm

        JB..As much as I distain this president and everything he is doing, we also need to look at the GOP and what they are doing. Can we really say that for the past 6 years that Obama has had a congress willing to deal like Reagan and Clinton.

        It is a two way street. I haven’t seen much give and take on either side and then when someone in the GOP is willing to deal, they are called out by the Tea Party. Those like Lindsey Graham face stiffer challenges for nomination and Rubio has lost his luster based on his willingness to compromise on immigration. And Rubio was the GOP’s “fair haired child” just a few months ago.

      • January 15, 2014 1:38 pm

        screwed up by overreaching. Why do you think these more “radical GOP” types got elected? This was backlash.
        Certainly, GOP’rs did not like the way Obamacare was rammed through the Congress in a midnight session.

        Remember, you have to pass the bill to read it?

        Yeah, this guy is a real peach. He wreeped what he sowed and frankly, I am glad he did. Anything to slow this dictator down is a good thing in my book.

      • RonP permalink
        January 15, 2014 2:03 pm

        We will not see an end to executive orders. Congress gave those to the President and the party in power does not want to see their president lose those powers. This will not change regardless of who has control until an amendment taking those away begins in the states and approved by the states, circumventing congress again.

      • January 15, 2014 2:50 pm

        As of now, there appears to be no party in power. Hence, the “deadlock” we hear about all the time.
        Yet, the bills keep getting paid.

      • RonP permalink
        January 15, 2014 1:14 pm

        Rick, you may give him a pass and many others that view our government structure as being obstuctionist may give him a pass, but the founding fathers did not design our constitution to allow a president with this much power. For many years after the constitution was approved and ratified, the president had limited powers, that being foreign policy and issues concerning war. Over the last 100 years or so, each congress has given “their” president a few more powers to handle by excutive order, which has now manifested itself in a president that is using those powers to circumvent congress in many issues that congress should have complete control.

        If the people of the United States do not agree with the actions of congress, then they have complete control in changing congress to one that supports their positions. It is not up to the president to make those decisions for them and issue executive orders that circumvent congress.

      • January 15, 2014 1:20 pm

        Indeed. The Dems lost the house to the GOP and in some cases, the TP. The POTUS and the previous house DEMS can only blame themselves.

        To quote Obama: “elections have consequences.” This apparently means for other people.

  13. Roby L permalink
    January 14, 2014 10:10 pm

    Resolved, to never forget to be grateful for my good fortune to have been born in this time and place, (cruddy politics notwithstanding). Time spent internationally or with people from other places sure helps to make the range of possibilities clearer.

  14. Priscilla permalink
    January 14, 2014 11:40 pm

    Wow, RP! Via Wikipedia: “The doctrine prohibits employers “from using a facially neutral employment practice that has an unjustified adverse impact on members of a protected class. A facially neutral employment practice is one that does not appear to be discriminatory on its face; rather it is one that is discriminatory in its application or effect.”[2] Where a disparate impact is shown, the plaintiff can prevail without the necessity of showing intentional discrimination unless the defendant employer demonstrates that the practice or policy in question has a demonstrable relationship to the requirements of the job in question.[3] This is the so-called “business necessity” defense.[1]”

    So, you can discriminate without knowing it, of somehow a “protected class” finds itself on the outs. I guess, Rick, that that is the reason that the NBA and the NFL are off the hook. Whites are not a “protected class.” Nor are Asians and Indians (as opposed to Native Americans)……

    Also, Rick….not to bring up a sore subject, but don’t you think Obamacare deserves a place on your list? Nothing is more polarizing – not even Chris Christie!!

    (This could be a mega-comment thread…you need to get those Facebook people to engage with us on the blog!!)

    • January 15, 2014 12:31 am

      Wow, I can’t believe they have the temerity to refer to a “protected class.” I wonder how they decide who’s worth protecting and who isn’t (though I can guess). Well, there goes my plot to re-integrate the NBA. Seriously, this is dangerous stuff. So, for example, if blacks commit five times more crime than whites (I’m just pulling that figure out of my hat for our purposes), we won’t be allowed to jail 80% of black criminals (or we’ll have to round up white suspects to make the numbers more proportionate to the population)? Somebody up there is living in Cloud-Cuckoo Land.

      • January 15, 2014 8:19 am

        Rick, you cannot post these statements, even if they are true. You, my friend, are a racist.

    • RonP permalink
      January 15, 2014 12:38 am

      Priscilla..Walk through the web some more and you will find that in June 2013 SCOTUS agreed to take up a disparate impact case that had nothing to do with employment. This case has been settled out of court, but it involves Mount Holly NJ where the city wanted to remove homes in a run down area of the city and replace them with new, more expensive homes. The disparate impact was an issue because the majority of residents in the area would not have qualified for loans for the new homes, so they were adversely impacted by that decision. (Mt Holly settled by building 40 or so low cost homes for current residents to buy)

      But mortgage lenders are still in limbo since there is no clear cut rule when they apply lending requirements to loans. If they require your payments to income to be less than 40% of gross income and they deny a large number of low income black wage earners, is this disparate impact. Right now it very likely would be. And if that happens with morgages, it can be applied to cars and any other lending.

      If that happens, are we headed for another housing crisis becasue people that can not afford a home obtain mortgages becasue the courts say if they don’t get the loan, as a group, they are impacted negatively and therefore the mortgage comanies are discriminating, even if they do not do it knowingly.

      • Priscilla permalink
        January 15, 2014 9:59 am

        RP, the Mount Holly case must be related to the Mount Laurel decision (most NJ towns do not have “mount” in their name, btw, funny that all of the housing cases end up in the ones that do!) from back in the 70’s or 80’s, which mandated that municipal zoning ordinances include a specified number of high density, low income housing. Of course, no funding was provided for the resulting boom in low-income population in many towns, forcing those towns to raise already high property taxes, in order to handle the strain on school systems, services, infrastructure etc. All kinds of havoc has resulted ever since….

        It’s hard to believe (well, unfortunately, no it’s not) that we may be headed for another government engineered housing crisis because of all of this. Cloud-Cuckoo Land, indeed.

      • RonP permalink
        January 15, 2014 1:46 pm

        Priscilla, I mentioned this many months ago when discussion took place concerning loans, housing, the poor and government involvement. But I find it appropriate to say it again.

        In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, my brother-in-law said we were heading for a crisis in housing. He was the president of a savings and loan at the time and later president of a community bank, both in eastern NC where the income levels were much lower than in Raleign, Charlotte and other larger towns. He based his predictions on the fact that their loan demographics had to mirror the demographics of the area that they serviced. So if 50% of the region had income levels at a certain level, then their loan portfolios had to mirror that same income level. If not, something he referred to as “disparate impact ” could be applied and they could be found to be approving loans that had a negative impact on a specific group of people in that area.

        His comment was then followed up with a statement that the way banks and loan companies were going to be able to meet these requirements was to develop loans that adjusted peoples paynents to be a percentage of their income, not the historical way where peoples income allowed for a certain level of loan payments to qualify.

        How’d that work out for us in the 2000’s?

  15. January 15, 2014 8:42 am

    On that jobs issue, Epstein nails it, as always.

  16. January 15, 2014 1:21 pm

    I hope the full implications of “disparate impact” are appreciated by all. The current POTUS and DOJ have repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to promote actions that are detrimental to American values, but benefit special interest groups. “DI” is an ultimate weapon that only requires showing a possible intent to use it to get the desired result. Imagine being threatened by the full weight of the DOJ–potentially millions in lawyer fees, years of litigation and the burden of proof of your innocence resting on you. Whether you are a small businessman, a large corporation, a municipality, a college or professional school—you are going to cave to whatever ridiculous demand the claimant or the DOJ itself requires of you. It is the kind of ubiquitous power government officials have in corrupt societies. Twice in recent years cases have started advancing toward the Supreme Court for adjudication, only to be squelched by government mandated settlements. Most cases don’t even hit the courts because the aforementioned intimidation factors are so successful. If you want to appreciate possible ramifications of this further, check out the website I listed in my previous blog.

  17. RonP permalink
    January 15, 2014 5:57 pm

    Rick, do you think this may have any bearing on job growth and business develoment in this country. Could it impact #6 on your list?

    One needs to look at this list to see if the majority of economic growth is taking place in the these countries. Looking at the top three, I suspect it is. Wondor if these freedoms that create this list has anything to do with that growth?

    • January 15, 2014 6:41 pm

      Free trade (voluntary that is) is the essential of economic progress is to be made. The fewer impediments, the better.

      This is both theoretically sound and has been empirically observed. Hence, wrong-headed legislation always reduces economic activity and hence, progress. See the following countries as proof positive:

      The Soviet Bloc, China,NO Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Ethiopia, et al.

      Marx, it seems, was an idiot.

      • RonP permalink
        January 16, 2014 2:38 pm

        JB..Right now the Canadians have a pro-oil conservative as Prime Minister. You can bet your bottom dollar he will do everything he can to get that oil exported from his country or have everything in place that can’t be stopped to export it before he leaves and the liberals take over again.

        But I have also heard that Canada will be producing enough oil from the tar fields to supply both pipelines in Keystone ever gets approved.

        Question, anyone know why they can’t use the existing approval where oil now comes over the border and use that pipeline or expand that on to accept the new oil coming into the country? Keystone uses much of the same route at the beginning as the existing pipeline.

      • January 16, 2014 3:11 pm

        That pipeline will never be approved as long as Buffett’s railroad is carting the oil down south.

        Crony capitalism strikes again.

      • RonP permalink
        January 16, 2014 8:03 pm

        And we all know how safe that is after watching the news over the past month or so.

      • January 16, 2014 9:42 pm

        Right, what could POSSIBLY go wrong with a rail car?

  18. RonP permalink
    January 16, 2014 2:15 pm

    This does a 180 on Rick’s vigilance list #1.

    Who among us will stand up and bet on Ted Cruz (or one like him) defeating a Hillary run for the office of president? Where will those moderates Rick speaks of land in this type election?

  19. RonP permalink
    January 16, 2014 8:02 pm

    Tell me again why we want to pay these employees $12.00 an hour?

    • January 16, 2014 9:41 pm

      What you point to is ONE of the many reasons why technology is so attractive to employ versus hiring employees.

  20. January 17, 2014 10:43 am

    “But I’d also recommend higher taxes on the rich (they’re practically at historic lows) and drastic cuts in foreign aid and military spending to open up resources for urgent domestic needs.”

    A very common error and one that a thinker like you Rick should not make (or get your facts straight). You confuse tax rates with taxes paid. In essence, the tax rate is irrelevant to discussion (unless you are a Lefty and stupid in matters economic).

    The issue is taxes paid, not rates. In regard to taxes paid, the “Rich” basically carry the US economy when measured as a percentage of the taxes collected by the Feds. So, please refrain from tax reform in the future, as it is not your gig.

    “Urgent domestic needs.” You simply assert that WE have all of these urgent domestic needs and assume that A-The rich should pay for these unspecified needs, and B-The federal government can fill these needs.

    Yet, you offer no data or facts that support either contention. With all due respect, For example, tending to the needs of people who are in this country illegally is clearly not my concern and I will not willingly fund anything for these people.

    If you want to do this with your money, by all means, be my guest. Otherwise, I will donate to the causes that I value most.

    Appreciate you putting your hand in my pocket but no thanks. I will buy you a glass of wine at the next reunion.

    • RonP permalink
      January 17, 2014 2:40 pm

      JB..Anyone that does some minor research will find that the effective tax rate in 1961 was 27.2% for those earning over $1M, while today the top effective rate is around 29.6%. These differ slightly depending on where you look but not much. In the 50’s, the top rate was 90% and stayed that way until Kennedy was able to reform the tax laws and get that reduced somewhat, but the ’61 rate was still close to the 90%. However, the tons of deductions one could write off made that rate lower then than it is today. So yes, the total taxes paid by the rich has increased in total and per income earner.

      Yes the rich paid less in years past, but politicians only use statistics that support their positions. Remember, “figures don’t lie, but liars can figure.” And wasn’t it Will Rogers that said “there are lies, damn lies and then there are statistics”. Not sure who said it, but its still true today.

      • January 17, 2014 3:01 pm

        If facts don’t fit the narrative, find different ones.
        We the dumbells coming out of public schools and colleges, it isn’t hard.

  21. January 17, 2014 11:05 am

    JB: Yes, in theory I can understand your adherence to Austrian School purity on economic matters. But the real world consists of flesh-and-blood people with hearts, lungs, stomachs and kidneys. We have over 300 million of them in this country alone, and a good percentage of them don’t have enough to get by without some kind of external support.

    Granted, many of these people are simply too dumb or impractical to survive on their own. It might be weakness of will or something in the genes — or a system that has eliminated working-class jobs that provide sustainable incomes. But regardless of the cause, are you advocating, Scroogelike, that we should just let these people die and decrease the surplus population? Sure, our country might be better off without these perpetual drains on our dollars, but you have to agree that it would be a national disgrace to let a fifth of our citizens — including innocent children — just get trampled under, wither away from malnutrition and end their days on the streets.

    The real world isn’t as neat as those economic textbooks would have you believe. Supply and demand curves are of little use to the casualties of the system. If private companies aren’t hiring, SOMEBODY has to provide these people with sustenance; otherwise they’ll die or turn to crime to survive. That’s why I keep recommending government job programs and other reasonable supplements to a private-enterprise system that simply isn’t providing enough work for everyone who needs work to survive. Call me naïve, but I don’t think Americans should let other Americans starve.

    • RonP permalink
      January 17, 2014 2:54 pm

      Rick..Why do you think people involved with animals in the wild say “Do Not Feed the Animals”?

      One, it can be dangerious as the animals could come too close to humans.
      Two, the animals lose their fear of humans and
      Three, the animals become dependant on humans for their contiued survival becassue they lose the instinct to hunt.

      And we can apply that principle to the many of the 20% you quote as needing assistance. Our government created this problem where 47M americans or almost 16% of the population needs assistance to buy food.

      We can not cut that all at once, but we can do what clinton did in the 90’s to reduce those numbers. How about a work program where those on assistance that are able bodied have to work in government buildings doing jobs that do not require much training while at the same time they have to attend job training programs part of the day that trains them for a real job.

      Or do you just want “Jack and Jill” in bed all day producing more illigitimate kids that will grow up demanding food stamps and government assistance when they come to age?

      I beleive that something has to be done to stop this cycle of depenance, ublike the liberal left that is willing to support an unending population of leaches that will never work a day in their lives as long and we give them support..

  22. January 17, 2014 12:21 pm

    Yeah, Rick, and I never said nor implied that people are left to die in the streets (although some people actually elect to do that I am told). What I did say is that you make the blithe assumption that all issue you deem “pressing problems” are indeed that, and that it is the Federal governments job to “solve them.”
    So, let’s take a look at how well they have done with these issues in the past five decades?
    -Public Education
    -Health care
    -Energy policy
    -Foreign intervention
    Shall I go on? The record is pretty clear I think that having the Feds “so something” is perhaps, not such a hot idea.
    So, if you want to keep feeding the machine with money you have to actually go out and work for, you can certainly do so.
    I shall resist and put my capital into something I actually believe will make a difference, into causes that I care about.

    PS-where are these starving poor that you speak of? Indeed, one the largest “epidemics” among the poor is obesity. Hmm, puzzling, isn’t it.
    PPS-In the 1950s, how many people actually died in the streets from poverty in the US?
    Simple choice for me, really. Donate to the local Children’s Hospital or send a check to Barack Obama to fund his vacations.

    • January 17, 2014 2:23 pm

      Well, it’s easy to cherry-pick areas in which government has failed. I can cherry-pick, too:

      -the interstate highway system
      -the national park system
      -Social Security and Medicare (you might disagree, but millions would back me up)
      -low-tuition state universities
      -space exploration
      -the U.S. military (though they have to pick their wars more carefully)
      -dams and other public works projects
      -environmental regulations (yes, some of them are actually beneficial, like phasing out leaded gasoline)

      Those are just off the top of my head. There will always be poor people in a free society. If we want to keep our free enterprise system (what’s left of it), we have an obligation to care for those who, for whatever reason, don’t fit into the system. Some people are just too dumb, uneducated, unskilled, crazy, sickly or whatever — who’s going to hire them?

      Back in the 1950s there were plenty of low-skill jobs to go around; we still had factories and family farms (what a concept!). That’s why most people at the poor end of the economic scale didn’t need government assistance. Today, most low-skill jobs (fast-food chains, big-box stores and the like) don’t pay subsistence wages, so those workers need outside help (thanks to folks like the Waltons, the richest family in America).

      Another factor — and we might agree here, though I’m sure the PC police would crack us over the head — is that the beneficiaries of the Great Society welfare system have been populating the country with their offspring, most of whom suffer from poor parenting, low IQs, wretched environments and other factors that virtually guarantee a life on the dole. If I were king, I’d probably implement a program to limit the number of children allowable to people on government assistance. But we can’t do that, so we have to either make it easier for them to get jobs or give them handouts so they don’t starve. I prefer the former.

      And yes, food scarcity is a problem for poor people. You see obesity among them because 1) most of them are woefully ignorant about the effects of a high-carb diet and other health issues, and 2) high-carb foods tend to be cheap, and cheap food is the only food they can afford.

      • January 17, 2014 2:55 pm

        To my knowledge, there is no one starving in America. If they are, they are too stupid or unwilling to avail themselves of public programs.
        And by definition, obese people cannot be considered starving. So, what should WE do Rick, hire babysitters to buy food and feed them?

  23. January 17, 2014 12:22 pm

    Funny you should lecture me about the “real world.” I grew up in a family where we did not take for granted that we would eat on any given day. I know all that I need to know about being poor and hungry, first hand

    • January 17, 2014 2:29 pm

      That explains a lot, and believe me, there are plenty of good people who share your attitude. You came up the hard way, without assistance, and by force of will and intelligence you prevailed. You wonder why everybody else can’t do what you did. Well, some of them do, but most of them can’t. You were one of the fortunate ones.

      • January 17, 2014 2:58 pm

        Actually, Rick, you don’t know that and neither do I. There is no pre-ordained number of people who can learn to fend for themselves. Isn’t that what public school is supposed to do, teach children how to be functioning adults?

        And yes, I am “fortunate” is so far that I have had a job since age 15 and will likey keep working until I am age 75, assuming I am alive.
        Funny how that works out.

      • RonP permalink
        January 17, 2014 3:17 pm

        That sounds exactly like most liberals. “You wonder why everybody else can’t do what you did. Well, some of them do, but most of them can’t”

        Can’t is not really acceptible from this conservative point of view. Everyone can do something. That is why Goodwill Industires came to be. Give someone something they can achieve and they can become productive in some way or another.

        But to liberals, can’t is acceptible. Kids can’t be expected to do 2 hours of home work. Kids can’t be expected to know about certain subjects in school. Kids can’t be expected to get good grades when they come from inner city schools. People can’t be expected to work. Blah Blah Blah.

        Most everyone can do something, it just an effort to find what those people can do. Years ago men who lost legs in the war were not expected to do much after that. Now they play wheelchair basketball. Can’t became can.

        Those with severe medical conditions do not fall into the ‘can’ category that I speak about, but most of the 20% you speak of do.

        Sorry, but I can not accept “can’t” as an excuse.

      • January 17, 2014 3:29 pm

        I would agree. When I think of some of the jobs I have had, it is laughable trying to imagine today’s “youth” doing them. Minimum wage? Right.
        Food stamps for college students? In my dreams.
        Seriously, this country needs an enema, especially all the whinny Leftists who still dream about Marx’s utopia.

      • January 17, 2014 3:44 pm

        Couldn’t agree more about the latest comments. Still waiting to hear some suggestions that would work as fishing poles to substitute for the millions of ineffective fish.

      • RonP permalink
        January 17, 2014 7:00 pm

        This is not surprising. The way liberals believe they can continue to win elections is to insure a large majority of indviduals are dependant upon them for existence. And it is working. And the majority of individuals that will end up paying for this due to a major economic collapse of the American economy in 25 years or so are those young folks not paying attention to anything other than their smart devices.

        If people thought the impact of the European economic problems were of concern, wait until ours does the same thing as theirs did. You ain’t seen anything yet.

        Why should someone work when they can live off the government?

        But then, they “can’t ” work can they?

    • RonP permalink
      January 17, 2014 3:02 pm

      JB..Isn’t it interesting that people like you and I where we were raised in a family that had to pinch pennies to make ends meet and only got what we needed and not what we wanted for the most part, have grown up to be todays conservatives, while many on the left are those that have been raised where they had nothing to worry about. After reading your comment, I thought about all my conservative and liberal friends and they all fall into those categories.

      Not saying this is a good sample to apply to American, but look at many like Herman Cain, Dr. Ben Carson, Hannity and other well known conservatives and there seem to be a trend.

      • January 17, 2014 3:08 pm

        It is interesting and of course, some here would accuse us (me) of just being an angry old white conservative. Far from it; I am angry, as the “soft bigotry of low expectations” game is partially what got the US to this sorry state.

        At one level, humans are not hard to figure out. If your survival is at stake, you behave one way. If not, another. And then there is the in-between.

  24. January 17, 2014 12:23 pm

    The last data I looked at suggested that there are three open jobs for every American that is counted as “unemployed.” I wonder why that is?

    • January 17, 2014 2:26 pm

      jB and Rick–You are debating a national dilemma. There are millions among us that are battling severe economic shortfalls. The more money government throws at the problem, the more suffering spreads and is perpetuated, because distribution of the money incentivizes bad choices and expands dependency. Decades of government intervention have created an underclass of citizens that are virtually unemployable, without drastic personal transformation. Continuing to hand out largesse because the alternative is people dying in the streets is a formula for more of the same. Tough love is the only answer for people caught up in a self defeating pattern of behavior. Continually having babies out of wedlock, abusing drugs, supplementing the government dole with participation in the underground economy–this becomes a status quo lifestyle that increased government spending merely augments. Tough love measures require the subject to CHANGE. Some people experiencing hard economic times are there after a lifetime of hard work in humble occupations or devastating medical bills, or other calamitous situations. People in this category can often benefit from government assistance. The hard core unemployables require life altering solutions–any suggestions?

      • January 17, 2014 2:49 pm

        Good points, RP… but no easy solutions. You obviously see how the self-destructive cycle works.

        I think an increasingly large segment of our population is essentially Third World in outlook and habits. Somehow we have to assimilate these wayward folks or they’ll become an unsustainable burden — especially when coupled with a dwindling and increasingly impoverished middle class. How do you teach essentially uneducable people to adopt a work ethic, finish school, avoid drugs, take birth control pills and steer clear of bad influences? Thuggish hip-hop culture is doing the precise opposite of what we need, and unfortunately its influence is almost universal in the inner cities (and even among dumber suburban white kids). I’m almost glad I won’t be here to see what America looks like in 2050.

      • RonP permalink
        January 17, 2014 3:22 pm

        Rick, why do you accept “can’t”. Once again you use that as an excuse.
        “How do you teach essentially uneducable people to adopt a work ethic”

        Not sure if you have kids or not, but if you do, do you accept them saying they can’t do something if they have bnot tried?

        Everyone in the 20% you reference can be taught to do something!!!!! And then return something productive for the suppoprt they receive.

      • January 17, 2014 3:31 pm

        It is easy to develop a “work ethic” when that is pretty much the only choice you have. Hunger and need are pretty effective teachers and motivators.

      • January 17, 2014 2:59 pm

        And yet, there are well meaning folks like Rick who want to keep funding the same approach year after year.

      • RonP permalink
        January 17, 2014 3:09 pm

        RP..You and I are preaching the same sermon.

        Rick is using a different prayer book.

      • January 17, 2014 3:12 pm

        Rick has a big heart and I love him for that. However, the approach he takes will never, ever end the spiral we are in right now.

        As an aside, when we see stories of men who father 18 children, all on welfare, we all wring our hands. If the state were to sterilize the moron, the Left would go ape shit.
        However, it is more than find for the state to allow millions of babies to be killed under the name, “choice.”
        No hypocrisy here, right?

  25. January 17, 2014 3:05 pm

    I think I am much more of a “humanist” than you are. I really don’t believe that the so-called underclass is as incapable as you do. However, I always look at incentives and culture. Why in the world would anyone work at a menial job if they can sit on their ass and be just as well off?
    Incentives matter and the “plight” of the underclass is a more recent aspect of the “War on Poverty.”
    We are getting exactly what Sowell and Friedman predicted we would get back in 1971.

    • Anonymous permalink
      January 17, 2014 6:37 pm

      Don’t get me wrong; I’ve never said we should be throwing money at poor people. My first choice is for companies to do more hiring; that’s not happening. My second choice (and we probably need it, since the free market system can’t hire everyone who needs income) is for the government to create jobs, WPA style. I don’t understand why this was never an option when Obama took over after the crash of 2008. Seemed like the logical way to go. We could have put people to work, and we’d have had a nice return on our investment as consumer spending rebounded. But that didn’t happen, either. So now we’re left with the last-resort option of putting people on the dole, LBJ style. It’s unproductive and creates a sense of entitlement, but unfortunately it seems to be the only choice left after both the private and public sectors have failed to create jobs. Even college grads are going begging for jobs now.

      • Anonymous permalink
        January 17, 2014 6:38 pm

        That “anonymous” was me — Rick. (Dang smartphone.)

      • RonP permalink
        January 17, 2014 7:06 pm

        Rick, the reason they could not create a WPA style work program is that Obama, Pelosi and Reid took away the work incentive in the stimulus bill, creating an environment where it was easier to get help than under the Clinton adminstration laws passed in the mid 90’s.

        If you make people productive, give them a job and have taxes coming out of their checks, they will be much less likely to vote for someone willing to take more money out of their checks like Obama, Pelosi and Reid. But make them dependant on government, and they will vote for you all their life.

  26. January 17, 2014 3:15 pm

    Oh, and what is another 15-20M illegals to add to this potent brew. Yes, I know, I am a racist, except that I am fine about the 15-20M LEGAL immigrants that have also come from South of the Border.

  27. January 17, 2014 7:05 pm

    Nonsense. The private sector will create all number of jobs if the feds GET OUT OF THE WAY! In effect, the Feds have been saying this for decades.

    -You must pay this wage and no less
    -You must pay overtime when this happens
    -You must hire THESE people.
    -Your workplace MUST look like this
    -You must provide these benefits
    -You must deal with a union if they do this
    -You must provide Obamacare coverage with BC and abortion coverage.

    And on, and on, and on.

    So, when the government continues to provide tighter and tighter rules and raises costs with abandon, it is no surprise that there are fewer “jobs” created. The reality is that they are the force that raises costs which make technology more attractive.

    And again, NO ONE is promised a job in this life. Did anyone promise you a job, Rick?

    And, there is NOTHING in the Constitution that remotely suggests that the role of the federal government is to provide jobs.

    Rick, you actually a statist in denial. You need to re-name this blog.

    • RonP permalink
      January 17, 2014 7:13 pm

      JB..I want to be fair and address one issue you just mentioned. Obamacare has created a few jobs.

      My son is a general manager at a resturant for a large chain that employees hundreds of people as wait staff, cooks, cashiers, etc. The corporate office created more jobs since they reduced all full time employees to 24 hours a week. They had to cover those hours and they did it by hiring more 24 hour employees.

      So we can’t say it did not create jobs..

  28. January 17, 2014 7:13 pm

    Once again, the ONLY way to add real wealth in society is by increasing freely engaged trade/exchange. This allows individuals to make choices wherein they are “better off.” In order to make these trades more attractive, companies increase the value and productivity of their offering. This is what competition does.

    If the government decides to “create jobs” they have to spend others money (or print some) in order to pay these folks for their phony jobs. No one is competing for anything and it shows.

    Have you been to the PO Office lately Rick? I have. They suck. Ditto every other federal agency I have ever dealt with.

    I will take FedEx, thanks. People there are not “given” jobs that were created to keep them busy. And, they work their ass off to keep those jobs. Compare that to the PO.

    This is instructive. When UPS guy drops off my package from Amazon, he sprints up to the house and back. When the USPS carrier does same, she saunters like she has all day.

    The UPS guy can do 2 or 3 houses to her one.

  29. January 17, 2014 7:15 pm

    These are the guys that you want to “fix the economy?”

  30. January 17, 2014 7:16 pm

    Yes, but two half-times jobs is equal to one full time job, so I think its a wash.

    Good for ADP, though, as they get paid by the head for cutting payroll checks.

    • RonP permalink
      January 17, 2014 7:21 pm

      You are being to analytical. And it is not a wash. Two half time jobs create government benefits. Government benfits creates votes. Votes create congressional job security. Therefore, cutting full time jobs creates job security!!!!

  31. January 17, 2014 7:26 pm

    Got you. Sorry, I am stuck in my world, obviously.

    Good catch.

    • January 17, 2014 11:05 pm

      While waiting for some bright ideas about what to do with the unemployables, I happened across a proposal that might work for some. In the Jan 17 WSJ there is a terrific column advocating for apprenticeships. Having a productive knowledge or skill is critical to getting a job. As recently as the sixties, more than 50% of the millionaires in this country had no college education. They created their wealth through the trades, and expanding small businesses. Progressives are either ignorant of this fact, or choose to skip over it to advocate a college education as THE answer. Reasons why that can’t work are legion, but a strategy that will work ends up being ignored. Reactive to multiple government disincentives, US corporations have been quick to outsource jobs and factories to other countries, instead of expending much effort or investment on training American workers. Apprenticeships are extremely popular in many European countries, and they keep the jobs in-country. Well worth the time to read the column by Peter Downs in the WSJ.

      • RonP permalink
        January 18, 2014 12:28 am

        RP..One of the things that has not been mentioned in the comments about education is elimination of shop classes in high school. For years there were kids that were not going to go to college. They had the opportunity to take shop classes in wood working and metal working. They were introduced to a trade that led to good jobs with a few more months or years of training. That was were someone learned they liked that type of work and used that training as a springboard to a trade.

        Today, you can do a search on demand for “——-” and fill in the blank for machinist, welder or a number of other trades and you will find we have a severe shortage of these trained individuals.

        Instead of high schools putting everyone in algabra class, second year science class, foreign language class and then requiring 100% of them to take the ACT and other college entrance exams, how about going back to the day where those that are not going to college get introduced to a trade that will provide a living.

        And maybe that would bring some jobs back to the US where corporations would have a labor force to tap into.

      • January 18, 2014 2:45 pm

        RonP–I agree, shop classes were great, and exposure to them was important for people headed to college as well. Unfortunately, the Community Organizer in Chief and his minions believe that the answer to income disparity is for everyone, regardless of aptitude or desire, to go to college. The resulting 50%+ failure to obtain a degree, while incurring back breaking debt (either for the individual or the taxpayers) is ignored.

      • January 18, 2014 5:21 pm

        As a full-time Prof, I can tell you that it is very clear from my vantage point that way too many kids go to college (too many for their own good, that is).

        I teach only graduate students and sometimes it is all that I can do not to laugh out loud at some of the comments made, papers written, questions asked.

        But, if you are a pol, you have got to keep the illusion alive, right?

      • RonP permalink
        January 18, 2014 7:05 pm

        Maybe you need to conduct class via Twitter. Any longer than a tweet and their brains freeze now days.

        I can only imagine what a large companies strategic planning meeting will be like in the years to come when people only communicate in short tweet type comments with no substance.

      • January 18, 2014 7:18 pm

        I cover this in my first class

        -You may call me
        -You can email me
        -You can come visit me
        -You can set up a Skype apt and chat with me

        That should be sufficient.

        I do not text nor twitter. You may not have my Facebook account name and you cannot have my home phone number. Cell phone only in an emergency.

        I have had a few students email me using phrases such as LOL and the like. That only happens once.

      • January 18, 2014 11:19 am

        No, clearly you are wrong. EVERYONE MUST GO TO COLLEGE and if they are not qualified, that is the college’s problem to deal with.

        You sir, are worse than Hitler (there he is, again!).

  32. Anonymous permalink
    January 17, 2014 10:46 pm

    Well…..(as she climbs back on her soap box), an awful lot of what is wrong with our economy and the job market is reflected in our public school system, which has (since the 70’s, mind you) emphasized the teaching of values and de-emphasized rigorous critical thinking. As the rest of the modern world started prioritizing technological training and literacy, American education – spending way more money per student – began prioritizing the teaching of social justice and “self-esteem.” Not that there’s anything wrong with self-esteem, ya know.

    But, so, here we are in an economy where robots will soon be flipping burgers and ringing up your purchases at Wal-Mart, where the government has now taken over the healthcare services portion of the economy (about 15%, according to most estimates), and where, as Rick rightly points out, the middle class is shrinking…….and how does our government education system respond? By developing new curricula, appropriate for a service-based and highly technological economy? Nope. By developing more efficient and effective teaching technologies? Nope. By identifying needed skills for 21st century capitalism ? Nope. By developing more rigorous testing methodologies and analytics? Nope.

    By creating a federally controlled education system, called Common Core, which emphasizes a progressive culture of redistributionist economics, social justice, the mainstreaming of “alternative” lifestyles, secularism, and radical environmentalism? Bingo.

    Not that any of those things are intrinsically bad. But they are getting us nowhere, fast.

    • Priscilla permalink
      January 17, 2014 10:52 pm

      Gaahh. Me, of course ^^

    • January 18, 2014 11:18 am


      Bingo, you have nailed it, again. I would disagree with your last statement. All of those things are intrinsically bad, given where we are as a nation.

  33. January 17, 2014 11:09 pm

    Priscilla–Just crossed comments with you on the internet. See above–I think it is apropos with your educational concerns.

  34. Priscilla permalink
    January 18, 2014 9:25 am

    RP, that WSJ article is so on point. And it is the same point, really, that JB made a few comments earlier about growing up in poverty.

    Poverty isn’t going to go away….and, if it does, we will simply re-define what poverty is, in order to keep it around for entitlement purposes (I mean, haven’t we done that already, in so many ways….?)

    But the new, Diane Ravitch, Bill Gates take on poverty and education is basically that poverty is THE most important factor contributing to low academic achievement. Get that? If you are poor, by definition, you cannot succeed in school. So, clearly, if we rid the nation of poverty, our school system should work just dandy. It worked for Bill Gates just fine, right?

    I think it is patronizing to the poor to assume that they are stupid and/or lacking in motivation. But it certainly works for the purposes of keeping them in their crummy schools.

    • January 18, 2014 11:15 am

      I think they have it backwards: low academic achievement is the most important factor contributing to poverty. I keep thinking about all the Jewish kids who lived in poverty (and suffered from prejudice) a century ago. Yet they succeeded in school and went on from there to create a kind of Jewish renaissance. Somebody should do a study comparing and contrasting the Jewish experience with the African American experience. I’m convinced that IQ plays a role, but it’s not the whole story. The Jews didn’t have to grow up in a culture that ridiculed academic success, made illegitimate births the rule rather than the exception, and encouraged the worst kind of behavior on the streets. But how do you turn a culture around without imposing external controls?

      • January 18, 2014 11:49 am

        This has been done, Rick and it is NOT related to IQ. The Jewish culture (in the main) has for centuries, been “out of favor” and clearly, has had a tough road to walk. You are correct, in that they value education greatly, as it has always been one of the “levelers” to allow them to co-exist in cultures that are hostile to their being around (along with their mercantile skills as well). In this regard, they are similar to many Chinese immigrants over time.

        Be clear that until the 1960,s, the AA culture also preached education and in the main, had a strong family culture. The disintegration of the black family started in the 1960s and can be traced directly to the war on poverty.
        (See Thomas Sowell and others who have written several books on this topic).

        The phrase “acting white” did not exist in our younger years, this has been a recent phenomenon.

        You last question is intriguing. I am not aware of any data that suggests that you can change a culture by “external controls.” Hey, you, study, its important.” That action has to happen inside the sub-culture, not as a command from the outside or top.

        What we plainly see is that you can wreck a culture by changing incentives. “Hey you, if you didn’t finish school and can’t find a job you want, we will support you because it is not your fault. IT is society, your teacher, your whatever’s fault.”

        That can wreck a culture in about 20 yrs. or so.

        So how do you change this? Change the incentives. Now, you don’t have to do it in one day. It can be done over a decade. Cut certain social benefits 2% a year over ten years. Develop a consistent approach that moves away from “helping” the poor by tossing more money at them and change the message.

        It might be: “Look, you need to stand up on your own two feet. You are not disabled, simply misled. The long term message is, you are on your own and we will help only if you keep working towards something productive. If not, you are so off the dole.”

        Of course, this will never happen because too many people make their living off the status quo.

        Geez, I just depressed myself.

      • RonP permalink
        January 18, 2014 1:47 pm

        “But how do you turn a culture around without imposing external controls?”

        Rick you seem to be changing positions. Earlier you said “Some people are just too dumb, uneducated, unskilled, crazy, sickly or whatever “. This statement indicates that people in poverty can’t escape poverty. Now you seem to be accepting the culture casues the problem and not IQ.

        Using the Jewish model can be applied to any group that came to America and started out in poverty. One only needs to look to the Irish to find that hard work eliminates poverty, the same as the Jews. What we do not find today is the same mind set that existed years ago when groups worked their way out of poverty.

        Yes, the turnaround will be very difficult. But when you have a party that is hell bent on creating poverty by expanding entitlement programs like Obama did when he eliminated the work requirement imposed on welfare recipients by the Clinton administration, this turnaround will never happen.

      • January 18, 2014 1:55 pm

        I think it is fair to say that you don’t change a culture of underachievement by lowering the bar. That has been done since the 1960s and we have proof galore that this is a failed strategy.

      • RonP permalink
        January 18, 2014 1:58 pm

        Yes, one only needs to look at education over the past 60 years to see what lowering the bar ends up accomplishing.

    • January 18, 2014 11:35 am

      A comment on IQ. There is no definitive work that I am aware that suggests that IQ correlates well with life success. Moreover, there really can’t be, since the number of confounding variables is immense. IQ is simply one small part of the puzzle, unless one is “special.”

      There IS very good data on the correlation between IQ and critical thinking skills and basically there is none. One can be quite average IQ wise and develop very impressive critical thinking skills. CT is a practice, not an innate ability. Moreover, there is data that suggest that IQ scores in 8 yr. olds increase if they develop CT skills

      To be an effective learner, one needs both motivation and method. BOTH are necessary. The method can be learned and the motivation, I am not sure about that.

      Teachers COULD provide method but in the main, they don’t. In other words, they don’t work with students on teaching them how to learn. Mostly, they simply broadcast.

      Even that won’t work if the student isn’t motivated. We can wring our hands all we want but none of us really now how motivation arises in an individual.

      In my case, I was VERY motivated to get out of the projects and my entire family story. Why? Because I hated living in poverty and all that came with it. I wanted a different life and pretty much nothing was allowed to stand in the way of getting out of there and NEVER going back. It effected almost every decision I made as a teenager and beyond.

      Now, that worked for me and there were trade-offs to make to get that done. Many others around me in the projects did pretty much nothing to get out of there. Were they able? More than able, some were pretty darn bright. But, they mostly sat on their ass and did not work hard and really had no sense of what they would do if they were to graduate from HS. Many did not do that either. Where are they now? I could take a guess.

      We that a sin? No, it was, what it was and it didn’t bother me in the slightest. Now, If I am now asked to toss my money their way, then indeed, it does bother me, a lot. They are there for a reason and it isn’t because life threw them a curveball.

      It is all on them.

      The grasshopper and the ant. It really can be that simple.

    • RonP permalink
      January 18, 2014 1:20 pm

      “I think it is patronizing to the poor to assume that they are stupid and/or lacking in motivation. But it certainly works for the purposes of keeping them in their crummy schools.”

      And don’t forget that when programs are developed to allow kids to escape their crummy neighborhood schools, such as school choice, magnet schools, charter schools, etc, someone will come along, like the teachers unions or Mayor DeBlasio and try to eliminate those programs, forcing the kids back into the crummy schools they had been able to get out of. With leadership like this one should not be surprised that poverty continues at the pace it does today.

      One has to wonder had MLK lived, would he have accepted the liberal agenda that has perpetuated the cycle of poverty or would he have been intellegent enough to understand the programs were not working and supported other measures to achieve a better educated minority population.

      • Priscilla permalink
        January 18, 2014 2:48 pm

        It’s all about money. And control, of course, but I repeat myself.

        Public schools want and need federal dollars. The NEA spends millions to elect opponents of charter schools and choice programs, and millions more to lobby those elected officials to pump even more millions into failing schools. Needless to say, as long as the money keeps pouring into the pockets of the unions and the politicians who control the system, it is the opponents of the system itself who will be (and already are) labeled as bad guys and racists, not the one-size-fits-all, agenda driven public education system.

        Now that the bureaucrats have their hooks into the healthcare system, I dread what that will look like in a few years (assuming we don’t wrest it back to the private sector). To big government types, the only time that “choice” is good is when women are using it to choose abortions.

        So, Rick, I do agree that it is hard to imagine how allowing the current system to right itself through allowing people to choose the education that is best for them would work. But, I’d rather take my chances on that, than continuing to let apparatchik types do the choosing.

      • January 18, 2014 5:24 pm

        I have been in healthcare my whole life. The system is now in free-fall and I am not sure it car recover. We are trying our best at the U, teaching future clinicians about management and policy with the hopes they can start pushing policy as they grow in the profession,.

        It may be a lost cause, but we feel we need to do something.

      • Priscilla permalink
        January 18, 2014 3:56 pm

        Heh, that last paragraph is a mess….perhaps I should go back to school for writing, lol. But, hopefully, you get my drift….

  35. January 18, 2014 8:09 pm

    Rick–Most of the bloggers whose contributions I’ve admired over time are still with the NM. One that is missing is that curmudgeonly libertarian, Asmith, whose breadth of commentary added considerable information to the discourse. Any chance of recruiting him back to the NM?

    • January 18, 2014 11:04 pm

      RP: If he wants to come back, he’ll be welcome. But I won’t go out of my way to recruit him. I just never had enough time to read all his lectures, informative though they were. And there was no point trying to debate him; the contents of his mind were pretty much set in stone. A decent, well-read guy, though.

      • January 18, 2014 11:15 pm

        Just to remind us what a long strange trip its been.

  36. January 19, 2014 11:07 am

    Execs get a pass, the nuns, not so much. Just WHO is sowing division in the US?

  37. January 19, 2014 11:09 am

    Rick, you want to tell me once more what a good deal it is to toss tax dollars at a government?

    • January 21, 2014 3:15 pm

      For every wacko case like this one (and it IS a wacko case), there are a dozen examples of public money being put to good use. But yeah, this one was a doozy.

  38. January 19, 2014 11:11 am

    You see, to have your body mutilated into something it is not, is considered “medically necessary.” The man had a penis he did not want and he had breasts that were too small, so……

    “But as the Supreme Court has cautioned, while sensitivity and deference to these tasks is warranted, `(c)ourts nevertheless must not shrink from their obligation to `enforce the constitutional rights of all `persons,’ including prisoners,”‘ the two judges wrote. “And receiving medically necessary treatment is one of those rights, even if that treatment strikes some as odd or unorthodox.”

  39. Priscilla permalink
    January 19, 2014 3:41 pm

    Current events relating to Rick’s list:

    # 1 Factionalism and #4 Racial Tension : “There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black president,” ~Barack Obama 1/19/14

    I think that this removes any doubt that the President wants to divide us.

    #1 Factionalism, # 16 Political correctness (aka known as Hollywood blacklisting, but it’s ok because it’s the tea party)

    #16 Political Correctness, Sports Edition:

    #8 Militant Islam- we apparently have lost all that was gained from the Iraq war…

    • Priscilla permalink
      January 19, 2014 3:42 pm

      Oh dear, my comment is awaiting moderation?

      • January 19, 2014 3:55 pm

        You must be a racist, as only racists post anything negative about our beloved POTUS.

        Then again, I got away with using the word Penis, so one wonders.

    • January 21, 2014 3:10 pm

      Priscilla: Re #1, Obama was just telling it like it is: plenty of the more “rustic” conservatives seem to have a visceral opposition to Obama simply because he’s black (technically bi-racial, but you know…). On the other hand, as Obama also stated in the same interview (and I admire his candor), plenty of blacks and white liberals voted for him mainly because he’s black. It works both ways, he knows it, and he was forthright enough to discuss it in public.

      So no, I don’t think he’s being racially divisive. Could he have done more to defuse racial tensions in the U.S.? Definitely, and I’m disappointed that he hasn’t used his bully pulpit to that effect. But given the fact that he’s our first black president (with a left-wing background yet), he’s been remarkably soft-spoken on race: no calls for reparations, mandatory quotas or the defamation of slaveholding Founding Fathers. The “disparate impact” nonsense worries me, but so far it’s mainly just talk, and it doesn’t originate with Obama himself.

      I contrast him with former Philadelphia Mayor Street, who gloated as he took office, “The brothers are in charge now!” Even the more moderate Mayor Nutter pointed to the new memorial on the site of the President’s House (where George Washington lived for seven of his eight years in office) and had to dredge up the fact that the first president kept black people enslaved there. (Imagine an 18th century Virginia planter owning slaves! We’re shocked!)

      I think Obama has handled his office with poise and remarkable good humor, especially given the intensity and obstructionism of his opposition from day one. He just hasn’t been a very effective leader, but that has nothing to do with his attitudes on race.

      • Priscilla permalink
        January 21, 2014 4:03 pm

        Fair is fair….and, you are right, Rick, Obama has been quoted out of context, in this particular instance, unfairly as it happens. Just because the liberal media does this to conservatives all the time, doesn’t make it right when conservative writers turn the tables.

        I am of two minds when it comes to your assessment on Obama and the race card. On the one hand, no, he has not been as racially inflammatory in his remarks as someone like Mayor Street (and, wow, btw, I didn’t even know about that guy!).

        On the other hand, he has not been anything close to a uniter, which is what his presidency was supposed to be all about, and he has often avoided the bully pulpit entirely, in favor of making off the cuff remarks that are “nudge-nudge-wink-wink” expressions of solidarity with blacks over whites (the Cambridge police acted stupidly, my son would have looked like trayvon, etc). This seems to be his MO in general, not simply in regard to race – he has said that “if he were the owner of the Redskins” he would change the name of the team….and then, this weekend, after the NFL championship games, he commented that he would not let his hypothetical son play pro football.

        I would have no problem with any of these remarks, if they were uttered by a pundit/commentator, but I do think that they are divisive when uttered by the President. He is not just some guy shooting off his mouth – or, at least, he shouldn’t be. He should be better than that.

      • RonP permalink
        January 21, 2014 4:43 pm

        Rick your statement “I don’t think he’s being racially divisive. Could he have done more to defuse racial tensions in the U.S.? ” opens another subject for comment, especially given we have just observed MLK’s birthday.

        What better legacy could a man create had he led a multi cultural group to recommend changes in government programs (local,state and federal) that could have been applied to multiple locations throughout the US that would have improved education within the inner cities as well as other areas in the country. Without education, one will always be stuck where they are unless they are one of a few that can play a professional sport. With education, there is no telling how far one can go.

        Included would have been people from many walks of life and all politcal views without the liberal/conservative stigma, but the effort would have been education to improve the improverished ability to get a job and work their way out of poverty.

        We have many examples that could have been a basis, all the way from the military style discipline that improved schools in the ghettos of NYC(as broadcast on 60 minutes a few years ago), the use of technology in Moorseville NC that improved test results in one of the lessor funded school districts(as covered by Juan Williams spcial on education) to the use of internet sites like Khan Academy to improve school outcomes.

        But other than Obamacare, which may or may not be something a legacy can be built upon, what has this man accomplished to improve the social and economic conditions for the minorities in this country.

        MLK had a dream. I just wonder if he were here today what he would be telling BHO to do to make a lasting change to improve the lives of minorities like he did in the 60’s

      • January 21, 2014 4:50 pm

        Well, he did take time out to minimize the impact of smoking pot. That will bring everyone on-board, right?

      • RonP permalink
        January 21, 2014 6:40 pm

        JB..Can’t say I think that will help.Clinton already took the pot issue off the table since he was the first to admit using it (yeah, I didn’t inhale, right?) so B.O’s comment will not hold much water. And Clintons legacy is more the balanced budget (positive) and Lewinski(negative), so pot is just a blip on the screen compared to the big stuff.

        And one thing for certain, B.O has done little for the big stuff facing this country.

      • Priscilla permalink
        January 21, 2014 7:19 pm

        Ron makes an excellent point. I was reading today that the head of the South Carolina NAACP referred to SC’s Senator Tim Scott as a “ventriloquist’s dummy” for the right.

        Now, I doubt that any of us would disagree that any conservative, white or black, would be labeled a racist for referring to a black senator as a ventriloquist’s dummy……and this is just the kind of thing that Obama could opine on, in his patented way, by commenting that if he had a son who became a US Senator, he would want him to stay true to his principles, yada, yada, yada…..or something like that.

        Maybe a poor example, but, as JB notes, the POTUS takes time out to give us his off-the-cuff opinion on current events and issue such as the legalization of marijuana. If he wanted his legacy to be that of a racial uniter, it would be a goal almost ridiculously easy for him to achieve.

        I deduce that he does not want that.

      • January 21, 2014 7:36 pm

        Your powers of deduction are acute, indeed, my dear friend.

      • RonP permalink
        January 22, 2014 12:27 am

        Priscilla..I also saw that quote and my first thoughts were how those that believe they are in the leadership for the black community and also look up to MLK as their inspiration could make a comment like that.

        I do not remeber everything MLK did or said, but everthing that you can find today shows this man to be one of non-violence, one that would open his mind to work with people of opposite views to find a solution to the black oppression of the time and said little int he way of negative comments about others. Now I bet if one tries, they could find something that did not fit that mold, but most of his actions fit that mold.

        And I wonder why those in the black leadership today do not subsribe to MLK’s teaching. I believe Obama thinks he can accomplish more by division than uniting, just like the current generation of other black leaders.

  40. Priscilla permalink
    January 19, 2014 5:07 pm

    Oops! I can’t believe I forgot to include #15 Illegal Immigration in the Maria Conchita Alonzo story. That is the term she used that has now put her on the outs with the Hollywood/SanFran crowd…being Hispanic herself did not save her from the blacklist.

    • January 19, 2014 5:15 pm

      It never does. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Allen West, it is the ideology that matters. Toe the party line or else.

      • Priscilla permalink
        January 19, 2014 5:40 pm

        JB, I read a bit more about this story, and I’m not quite as disturbed as I was….apparently, the producers anticipated a boycott of the production, after Alonso appeared in the ad, and believed that her continued participation in the play would hurt them economically in left wing San Francisco. So, they “strongly encouraged her” to pull out of the production….not very courageous, but probably a good business decision (plus the producers are leftists themselves of course)

        So maybe, according to Rick’s list, #5 and #10 would be appropriate for this story as well…..

      • January 19, 2014 5:51 pm

        Maybe, but it is not hard to find those who turn on their “supposed kind” because they are not leftist dems.

  41. January 20, 2014 9:49 am

    Social engineering. Money down the drain, as usual.

    And you wonder why I get pissed.

    • RonP permalink
      January 20, 2014 2:05 pm

      JB..for me, the problem in not that these programs have been tried. We have to continue to try and find a solution to the unending poverty that in being promoted by our government.

      My problem is once a program is tried, found to be ineffective, it is never discontinued. You might be pissed it was started. I am pissed that they continue to waste the money after it is found to do no good.

      • January 20, 2014 2:15 pm

        In research, it is simply unethical to continue an experiment when it is clear that it either has or has not worked.

        I think this applies to much of what the Feds do.

    • RonP permalink
      January 20, 2014 2:18 pm

      JB..You have accomplished the impossible. You have found something I agree with POTUS on.

      • January 20, 2014 2:27 pm

        Scientifically, there is no basis for this statement. But, it does make many people feel better about smoking dope (or being a dope).

      • RonP permalink
        January 20, 2014 5:52 pm

        Scientifically it is very dangerious to smoke. But that is legal. Alcohol may not be a dangerious, but will we ever know for sure? Do we consider that when we are having wine with dinner or drinking beer with the guys during the football game?

        I have said this before, but I will say this once again. The government (federal, state and local) is impotent when it comes to controlling marijuana. Those that want it will get it. Those that are against it will not buy it. Those that fight it will not win. It happened in the 20’s when the temperance movement made alcohol illegal with the passage of the 18th amendment. Gangsters took over the alcohol trade and made their fortunes, much off the illegal sale of alcohol. It ended with the 21st amendment after the government decided it was a losing game to continue to try to fight the sale, so it wass legalized and strict controls placed on the sale. It is still strickly enforced compared to the sale of other things like cigarettes that kids so easily get their hands on today.

        The same can hold true to marijuana and money wasted by the government to fight it can be directed to other wasteful spending.

      • January 20, 2014 6:34 pm

        I know you have said that before, but you are simply wrong, again. Yes, SOME people who are dedicated to getting MJ will break the law and get the drug. Many of course, will not. Many will not even try it, as the “price” getting caught is too high (in other words, the trade-off is not worth it). So, these barriers do inhibit the number of users who will use/try MJ.

        Basic decision making 101.

        Now, when the cost drops and the product is made more attractive (See Colorado which is already adding “sweets” to the product) many more people will at least try the drug and become hooked. Then, of course, many will become “sick” and need “treatment” which will be covered (by law) by health insurance. And, many will become “disabled” by virtue of their sickness, which again, will necessitate giving them SS benefits, Medicare coverage, food stamps and all the rest.

        Hey, they are, sick, right?

        So, while the FDA tries to rein in the tobacco industry from this tactic, the MJ industry is given the green light to go ahead. Yes, of course, go right ahead. Then, we will tax the product and run commercials telling teens “to not start doing weed.” The message is, I guess, yes, we need the tax money and yes, it might wreck your health and your life, but hey, we did run commercials saying not to do it.

        Very sane policy, indeed.

      • RonP permalink
        January 21, 2014 12:29 am

        Well we will just have to agree to disagree on this subject. I can accept your position, but I also think that loosening the laws will allow for those involved with control to monitor what the impact is and report what impact it has had in the states it is legal.

        I am very much the supporter of states rights and this issue is just like any other state law. Gun, tobacco, alcohol, pseudoephrine, gambling and many other activities/products are controlled by state laws and I see marijuana no different from those listed. If Colorado and Washington, along with california looking the other way and many states just giving tickets like speeding tickets to those caught with a small amounts want to legalize it or make it “kinda illegal”, then that is their right.

        One thing for certain, let the feds get involved and the only outcome is your money, my money and every other taxpayers money is wasted on incompetent enforcement programs. And the only ones getting rich is the cartels, which they have been circumvented with the legalization in those states.

      • January 21, 2014 8:52 am

        The problem is, the Feds are ALREADY involved. Once again, Obama ignore federal law when he wants to, enforces it when he wants, and breaks it at will.

        So, we are not a nation of laws anymore, just a nation of Obama.

      • RonP permalink
        January 21, 2014 12:37 am

        And who paid for this study? Hersheys or the wine industry. So now I will ask another question.

        Why is it that the federal government will not fund any scientific studies concerning the use of the compounds in marijuana that have no halucinigenic impact on the brain, but do have an impact for those with eye problems, on chemo and children with uncontrollable epilepsy?

        Might it be that the big pharma would loose millions if drugs were extracted from marijuana plants?

      • January 21, 2014 8:54 am

        You would have to ask the “feds” that. Most of the studies they fund are garbage.

        PS-Polyphenols are well research and have health benefits. These compounds are found in many other foods and drinks as well.

    • RonP permalink
      January 21, 2014 12:46 am

      JB..Support for my comment concerning federal funding for MJ studies.
      Note last paragraph..They do fund studies, but only for the negative impact of the drug and not any potential afvantages of its use.

      • January 21, 2014 8:56 am

        MJ does apparently have some pain relieving properties (no surprise there, as so does getting hammered at the local bar). Beyond that, the evidence is far from clear. Remember, their are always cheerleaders on both sides of the issue.

        As for funding from the Feds, see my earlier comments.

  42. January 20, 2014 10:23 am


    For your review and comment:

    • January 21, 2014 2:42 pm

      This might be a job for Illegal immigrants aren’t supposed to qualify for welfare… just free visits to emergency rooms.

  43. January 20, 2014 2:27 pm

    “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

    ― Martin Luther King

    I think this pretty clear and relevant to our ongoing conversation.

  44. January 21, 2014 8:53 am

    Apparently, you can’t call Obama a moron on this blog, my comment is awaiting moderation.


    Is the NSA getting these feeds directly, If so, high guys, how are the wife and kids?

    • January 21, 2014 2:35 pm

      Nah… Any post that contains several links arouses the suspicion of WordPress’s spam-bot. They send me an e-mail, and I have to manually approve the comment. Funny, though, that when The New Moderate was inactive last year it was bombarded with spam messages that automatically got posted. Most of them just had a single link, so I guess they slipped past the radar. Why the spammers would pick a site that had almost no active traffic is a mystery to me. Now that it’s active again, I’m not getting any spam.

  45. January 21, 2014 9:07 am

    I hate agree with a lefty, but this guy speaks from experience:

    • RonP permalink
      January 21, 2014 1:45 pm

      This issue is no different than any other issue where the federal government tries to stick their noses into states rights issues. Either the feds shut up and let the states control this substance the same as they control any other substance that does harm to ones body, or the feds need to eliminate all states rights and laws and control everything from spped limits in neighborhoods to murder from the federal level.

      Right now if Colorado and Wasnington want to legalize this drug, fine that is their right. If a border state wants to make possession a felony, that is their right.

      I am just tired of people in one state or at the federal level trying to control the lioves of those in other states that want to move in a different direction. That was not how the consitution was written and if the majority wants to give the feds the right to control all laws, then we need the consitution amended to allow this oversight.

      • RonP permalink
        January 21, 2014 1:49 pm

        I can spell, just can’t type. “Spped” should be speed.
        And constitution is not consitution.

  46. Priscilla permalink
    January 21, 2014 9:41 pm

    Rick, a disheartening – and, in my opinion, mirror image – example of the poisonous factionalism that you identify as a major problem for moderates:

    Governor Andrew Cuomo, Democrat, NY: “”Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.” ~ 1/17/14

    Peggy Noonan wrote in her blog today, of the (fictitious) Governor Frank “Boo” Burnhan of Mississippi stating “Extreme liberals who are for abortion, who hate guns, who want homosexuals to marry—if that’s who they are they’re the extreme liberals, they have no place in the state of Mississippi because that’s not who Mississippians are.”

    I agree with Noonan that what Cuomo actually said is scandalous…yet it has received little to no press….had a “rustic” conservative governor like Noonan’s fictional Boo Burnham said anything similar about liberals, we would be having a “national conversation” about it and condemning his close-minded bigotry.

    I think Noonan hits the nail on the head with this conclusion:
    “Conservatives have been up in arms, but the mainstream press has not. Conservatives: “Wow, he really sees us this way?” Mainstream press: “Sure he does. That’s how we see you, too. Where’s the story?”

    • January 22, 2014 12:29 am

      Cuomo’s remarks were out of line, and (unfortunately) too typical of the lockstep “progressive” mindset. Of course, that mythical Mississippi governor dreamed up by Peggy Noonan is a pretty accurate rendering of the far-right mindset. The difference, as both of you noted, is that Cuomo’s remarks would be glossed over while the Mississippi governor’s outburst would be deemed scandalous. (And I’m sure Jon Stewart would have a field day with it.)

      How do we keep Americans from splitting into two different and incompatible species — that is the question. Find common ground. I think it’s the only way, starting with opposition to big money buying our politicians. Both sides can agree on that much, and it’s a start. Beyond that, both sides should probably be a little more willing to yield some ground on pet causes that inflame their fanaticism: abortion, gun control, taxation and the like. That problem is that the internet and its homogeneous “amen corners” encourage absolute intolerance of all unorthodox ideas.

      • January 22, 2014 8:50 am

        There have been 53M babies aborted since Roe V. Wade. There is RU 186 sitting on the RX counter staring me in the face, every time I fill an RX at Walgreen’s. As taxpayer, I fund Planned Parenthood against my will.

        Then, I get flack if I wish someone a Merry Christmas and they are not in the mood.

        I am require to pay for illegal aliens who come across the border, apparently untouched.

        I could go on.

        Exactly how much “give” do you want from me again, Rick?

      • January 22, 2014 9:10 am

        Government: The gift that keeps giving (to some):

      • Priscilla permalink
        January 22, 2014 9:51 am

        Rick, you are so right about need to find common ground….and, certainly, the internet has played a huge role in creating the “amen corners” that keep people from finding it.

        I truly believe that most Americans agree on more than they disagree….it takes a focused effort to make them believe otherwise. That is where the political rhetoric, media and educational bias, and fever swamps of the blogosphere (TNM not included!) come in. The illusion that we are all at each other’s throats becomes the reality.

        Then, those who have created this “reality” of swirling extremism and hatred have to keep it up…..Cuomo (who I actually liked at one point, thinking that he was a “reasonable Democrat”) is only the latest liberal politician to state publicly that he wants conservatives to just go away. Literally.

        Not the way to find common ground, to say the least. But I do think that “the progressive mindset” has become insular like that, and is becoming more so. Take even the comment section here… and Ian tilt more to the liberal side than the rest of the ‘regular’ group, but the few “true liberals” that have commented from time to time have apparently chosen to go elsewhere, possibly believing that this site is an echo chamber, but, even more possibly, to go to an echo chamber (or amen corner) where they feel less challenged.

      • Priscilla permalink
        January 22, 2014 9:58 am

        And, to be very clear, I am NOT calling you a liberal! Your blog is absolutely one of the most tempered and moderate places on the internet – you’d probably get much more traffic if you were more extreme. 😉

      • RonP permalink
        January 22, 2014 1:35 pm

        Rick, you comment: “How do we keep Americans from splitting into two different and incompatible species — that is the question. Find common ground. I think it’s the only way, starting with opposition to big money buying our politicians”

        I offer an alternative. Elect a president that is a leader and is willing to talk with (not at) all that have differing political views. Communicate with the American public where common ground is found with those individuals and then work with those individuals to develop strategic plans for the future of this country using the points everyone can agree with.

        Since the GOP began roasting Clinton and the democrats hating Bush (for the election results with Gore), Obama had a choice to make in repairing the damage from the past 12-16 years or perpetuating that damage. He chose to perpetuate that damage since he refuses to reach out to the GOP leadership. Heck, he has even refused up until lately to talk with the democrats in congress.

        You can not accomplish anything without communication. Obama may be the great communicator to the mass audiances, but one-on-one he stinks.

  47. Roby L permalink
    January 22, 2014 11:00 am

    Priscilla There hardly ever was a true liberal here. There was that homeless fellow who blamed everyone else for his problems, I guess he was liberal, but pretty far left and kind of nuts.

    Yes, I do think it is often an echo chamber here for conservatives, which as you know is very disappointing to me. I miss the old moderates, Pat Riot, that fellow from Texas but in my opinion the Dave-Bastiat axis drove them off. When I stay away nd I hope todo that as mush as possible I am not at any amen corner, believe me.There are none for people like myself.

    As to conservatives going away, the kind of conservatives that are part of the Limbauch Coulture segment of the consservative nation, I DO wish would go away, I wish they would go away to a big island somewhere with all the obnoxious lefties and throw dung at each other all day long without bothering the rest of us. I’m an insular moderate I guess.

    • Priscilla permalink
      January 22, 2014 11:30 am

      I agree about the “true liberals”, Roby….although I recall at least one….Loves the Ocean, or something like that. S/he would generally make a comment or two, those comments would generate a response and then she or he would be gone until the next post. I also think that Pat R. has been back since Rick reactivated TNM….just not nearly often enough.

      Where I think you and I differ most is in our definition/perception of what constitutes an extremist. Being obnoxious doesn’t necessarily qualify….too many people find offense in simple disagreements these days, and rude discourse, while obnoxious, is no longer particularly extreme.

      For what it is worth, I never thought you were hanging out at an amen corner. You’re not the type. And that is a good thing.

      • Roby L permalink
        January 22, 2014 8:55 pm

        Hi Priscilla,

        Extreme is a very subjective concept, granted.

        I used to push a lot of buttons with the word, not sure (actually I don’t remember) if I was trying to.

        Very, or strongly, or extremely Conservative (liberal) etc. all have the connotation of “a lot or to a great degree” but extremely has an extra connotation of being sort of beyond the pale.

        The lefties are prouder to call themselves extreme than righties, its all part of the different cultures of those two groups. Its natural I guess, righties want to embody the iconic image of Americans, lefties want to embody change and ferment.

        I’d love to find an amen corner for my particular little slice of the spectrum, I really would, but I think I am the only person of my particular set of beliefs and ideals who also gets worked up about them and jumps up and down about it with smoke coming out of my ears, others with my beliefs by definition very easily and naturally make good on my earnest but often unfulfilled promise to myself to avoid political discussions.

      • January 22, 2014 9:27 pm

        Roby L–To jump in a little bit on your discussion with Priscilla: If you believe that all us “moderates” want what is best for America as a concept, and as a future place to live, the answer is philosophical-not political. Political solutions won’t exist, as long as we can’t agree about certain foundational concepts. Are we for individual rights tempered by personal responsibility, or is the acceptance of others, regardless of their deviation from common standards, the goal? Expecting the politicians to do what is best for America is impossible if people who identify themselves with groups working at cross purposes can’t agree on common goals. The political parties have accepted divisiveness as a necessary evil to build voting blocs. Labeling others with words like progressive or conservative, etc only plays into the politics game.

    • January 22, 2014 11:37 am

      As Reagan would say: “There you go again.”

      Not to put too fine a point on it but you rail against Limbaugh on a regular basis. I don’t listen to him (or anybody on the “right side of the radio”) and I also don’t listen to the rant-man Ed Schultz on the left. Yet, I don’t see you or any moderate on this site rail against Schultz or the rest of the ass-clowns on MSNBC.

      Let’s be fair, here, the only real “moderate” on here is likley Priscilla and maybe Ron.

      Now, this was NOT a personal attack. If you have come out strongly against the left side of junk news, by all means, let me know and I will stand corrected. We don’t need another “race war” on this site.

      Full disclosure: I am not a member of any political party and that includes the Tea Party nor the John Birch Society (remember them?). I am also not angry at the moment and am no older than Rick and Priscilla.

  48. Roby L permalink
    January 22, 2014 12:05 pm

    JB I don’t rail against em because I don’t even know who they are. Note that my examples are all old news, Ted Rall, Micheal Moore, Howard Zinn. I don’t have a tv, or at least a TV that is hooked up to our world of junk culture. For all I know Rush adn Coulture is old news and has been replaced by more modern examples.

    Your idea of a moderate is a strongly conservative person who speaks calmly. Rick is a liberal leaning moderate. I will say that I am as well. Considering that I have gone out and voted republican in every state election for 15 years and the the only politicians I have any respect for are one of two republicans in the McCain mode, I don’t think the liberals would have me.

    This business of constantly monitoring the political world, In your case mainly by Fox news or other conservative echo chambers, simply judging by what you post, to find each days examples and proofs of how bad politicians are and particularly the president seems to me to be a ticket to a major depression. I spend 0.1% of my time thinking about Obama and I spent the same amount thinking about W. I spend far less than 1% of my time thinking about politics in general, I realize that my posting here gives another impression. I would like to spend less than that but every morning I am curious to see what went wrong since yesterday and is it something I should know about. When there is something major I get interested sometimes obsessed for a while.

    Congrats on listening to NPR I suspect its the classical music that draws you ( that and keeping marijauna illegal are our only overlap).

    This level of interest in politics I would recommend to others if they wish to be generally happy.

    It seems to me that obnoxious liberals and conservative get punished pretty well for their behaviors, they spend all their time suffering as far as I can see.

    • January 22, 2014 12:16 pm

      Very good, no fighting on this one. For the record, I get my news from all over the spectrum (not TV) and do enjoy classical music on NPR. That said, I Iisten to their propaganda/news as well, as it keeps me sharp.

    • Priscilla permalink
      January 24, 2014 12:20 am

      I had some very minor surgery today, which caused me to have to wait for about an hour in a “holding room,” where I had no choice but to watch CNN. The CNN morning news babe was doing on a story about Glenn Beck having told Megyn Kelly, on her Fox show, that he was sorry for any role he had played, as a Fox personality, in “tearing America apart.”

      So, first of all, I found it kind of self-indulgent, on the part of a cable news network, to make a big “news story” about a cable news personality……but, even more obnoxious was the slant of the story, which was, basically, that Glenn Beck was a hypocrite and a self-serving asshole to apologize.

      Now, I find Glenn Beck to be a rather strange guy – brilliant, but strange. and, very possibly, a self-serving asshole. But, it’s pretty discouraging to see that any attempt at conciliation is derided, rather than celebrated.

      • RonP permalink
        January 24, 2014 1:12 pm

        Priscilla,yes it is discouraging how anything one does gets such a reaction from the opposing side. But isn’t that due to the leadership that has been provided for the past 20 years or so. Started with the GOP going after Clinton, then the dems going after W. Now it is fair game to attack anyone personally, where in the past it was their positions that were the target. Would Rush be as big as he is had it not been for Clinton giving him the platform to make the attacks personal?

        I believe that the news media takes on the atmosphere that permeates Washington DC and right now that atmosphere is one of distruction. Do whatever you can do to eliminate the opposition party, no matter what the cost to the country as long as the party is benefitted. In someways, this takes on the characteristics of the communist when they seized control of eastern europe.

        I doubt this will get any better until a president is elected that knows the importance of personal contact and communication. Then there also needs to be a change in the houses of congress where those individuals also know the importance of personal contact and not just sound bites and speeches made for TV in front of empty seats in the senate and house chambers that is shown on CSPAN.

  49. Ron P permalink
    January 24, 2014 7:14 pm–politics.html

    Guess we could file this one under Rick’s #1

    Looks like in the south if you don’t want your women barefoot and pregnant, the men think the only control women have is for the government to step in.

    I can’t believe that leading members of the GOP are so stupid they keep making these idiotic remarks that just lend fodder the the dems to use against them.

    Good grief people, if you don’t want your remarks used aginst you, keep your mouth shut. Make sure what you say can’t be used against you in the court of public opinion.

    • January 24, 2014 7:26 pm

      You may think he is stupid. However, even you can be wrong at times:

      • Ron P permalink
        January 25, 2014 12:30 am

        JB..I did not say Huck was stupid. Please read again what I said. I said that the GOP leaders are so stupid they keep making comments that give democrats the campaign program to run on. You can be very smart, but you can also make some very dumb remarks that the opposing party can use against you. They are not thinking about the ramifications of their words before they put their mouth in gear.

        So you missed the point in my comment completely. How many elections have the GOP handed to the liberals due to some stupid comment, like the one where women can’t get pregnant from being raped.

        The point is Huck could have said what he said in a different way that could not have been taken out of context and allowed the democrats to make hay with it. Everyone knows they want to divide the women based on their social positions and as long as they can paint the GOP so far right of center, they accomplish what they set out to do.

        The country is slowly moving back toward the center. For example, more people today are against abortions after a certain time than ever before. This has happened because more scientific information is coming out and people are becoming more educated. It is not happening because some old conservative rich white guy is telling them it is bad. That is like Al Gore telling a conservative that global warming is happening. It may be, but since Al Gore told them they are immediately against that position. Same with abortion and other liberal positions.

      • January 25, 2014 8:10 am

        I don’t think it matters whether or not a member of the right makes any statement that is what you would consider “stupid.” The lefty press makes stuff up all the time, or simply quotes it out of context. Either way, the “outrage” is reported.

        I would suggest we are dealing with something much more dangerous right now that whether Mike H is being sensitive enough with his comments about abortion.

        You now have the DOJ starting to selectively go after anyone who they feel is politically to the right. D’Souza, Christie, and O’Keefe are just the beginning IMHO. And, just for fun, the IRS is starting to selectively audit right of center actors in Hollywood.

        Compared to mudslinging, this is the real danger and exactly what and who I thought Obama was right from the beginning.

        Now, he has nothing to lose. This Congress won’t impeach him under any circumstances.

    • January 24, 2014 7:27 pm

      (2) Fully 58 percent of adults say abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, or only permitted in “a few.” Just 39 percent say the practice should be legal in “all” or “most” circumstances.

      (3) On that same question, 57 percent of women adopt a pro-life view; 40 percent adopt the more doctrinaire “pro-choice” position, which is supposed to be the official stance of their entire gender.

      (4) Millenials (aged 18-34) are the most likely group to believe abortion should be outlawed in all circumstances. Overall, 57 percent of these young voters select one of the pro-life options

      • Ron P permalink
        January 25, 2014 12:59 am

        Who did this polling? I have seen polls showing a movement toward tightening of these laws, but not these numbers. For instance, the Gallup poll in May 2013 shows 72% that believe it should be illegal or only legal under certain circumstances. Only 26% said legal under any circumstance. This same poll showed 45% pro choice and 48% pro-life, with the remainder without an opinion.

      • January 25, 2014 8:12 am

        If you had read the link, you would have seen that it was the Gallup folks.

      • January 25, 2014 8:25 am

        The rest of the story about Huck:

        Perhaps Americans need to get a thicker skin?

  50. January 24, 2014 7:29 pm

    “Looks like in the south if you don’t want your women barefoot and pregnant, the men think the only control women have is for the government to step in.”

    Looks like you moderates just MIGHT be prone to stereotyping? First, Rick thinks Blacks have inferior IQs, and then this..


    • Ron P permalink
      January 25, 2014 12:48 am

      Good grief, you are really off target tonight. Listen to Huck and how the dems have taken what he said out of context, then compare it to what you cut and pasted from my comments.

      You bet that is an old stereotype, just like the rich southern bells sit on their verandas and drink mint juleps in the hot southern summer day. Either that or they were barefoot and pregnant. Both are untrue.

      So when he said something about controlling women and their libido, he provided a sterotype the liberals are using on the GOP . None of these are true, but they can sure use it to defeat a GOP candidate when taken out of context.

      Next time before jumping off the clift, read the the complete comment and not just what you select to read. Look at the next paragraph in my commetn and you will see I was not being serious in that thinking. I was comparing Huck;s idiotic remark to the stereotype “barefoot and pregnant”

      Seems like you may be guilty of taking words out of context just like the press sometimes.

  51. Priscilla permalink
    January 25, 2014 10:17 am

    I was watching The Five yesterday, as they discussed the ‘great Huckabee controversy’, and I tend to agree with Dana Perino, who said that someone in Huck’s inner circle should have told him that any Republican uttering the word “libido” would suffer a sorry fate. I completely agree with the overall point that Huckabee was trying to make, which is that Democrat policies regarding women’s “rights” seem to focus almost entirely on birth control and abortion…….but Republicans are treated much differently that Democrats when it comes to anything related to sex, and they need to stay out of situations where their words will be taken out of context. Words like “libido.”

    It’s ridiculously unfair, but it is reality, and good politicians need to deal with it, and not make unforced errors that can be used to destroy them and defeat their party.

    • January 25, 2014 10:19 am

      Once again, a stupid electorate that cannot think critically. We are doomed by public education (sic) and a eroding social structure that make statists happy the world over.

    • Ron P permalink
      January 25, 2014 1:46 pm

      Priscilla..You make the point I was trying to make much better than I did. When you said “It’s ridiculously unfair, but it is reality, and good politicians need to deal with it, and not make unforced errors that can be used to destroy them and defeat their party”, that could not be said any better.

  52. January 25, 2014 10:20 am

    BTW-Huck has a radio show, and as a radio commentator, is one of the least inflammatory out there. The Lefty’s must hate him, being that he is nice and a former minister and of course, on the right, from the South.

    All things lefties hate..

    • Priscilla permalink
      January 25, 2014 11:08 am

      He’s even accused of being a RINO by conservatives……but, I do agree with you that, as a Southern religious conservative, he is the type most hated by liberals, despite his genial and compassionate image.

      • January 25, 2014 11:12 am

        The Lefties are a sorry bunch. I listen to Huck pretty much everyday for a few minutes. He has a genial nature and he is indeed, a compassionate guy. Not remotely a bomb-thrower, he is uniformly vilified by the leftist press and bloggers across the spectrum.

        These are the same knotheads who think that Sarah Silverman is clever and funny.

        I weep for our children.

    • Ron P permalink
      January 25, 2014 1:51 pm

      Also consider that Huck has been mentioned as a possible candidate for president. I would think if he considers a run, he would be one of the initial favorites and with the GOP compressed primary schedule, he could become the nominee. (Which I would love to see). So the dem(wits) are trying to distroy Christie and now they are going after Huck. Get rid of the potential adversaries that would be hard to defeat so you run against a lessor candidate.

      • January 25, 2014 3:21 pm

        And the leftist media has their hands all over it.

  53. Roby L permalink
    January 25, 2014 3:49 pm

    Don’t you think JB that your constant stereotyping of all lefties runs counter to your previous comments about what a shame it is that we label everyone?

    • January 25, 2014 5:49 pm

      I use the term Lefty in place of the more PC correct term of liberal. I believe you use this term (liberal) as well as plenty of others that would fit the bill. Indeed, don’ you refer to yourself as a “moderate?”

      Are you suggesting that the mainstream media does not tilt left?

  54. Roby L permalink
    January 25, 2014 6:19 pm

    There is a bit of a liberal tendency that I long long ago noted that is not equally shared by all of the outlets. The NYtimes and quite a few but not all big city papers yes, CBS and most of the networks, not much. Not far enough to be called lefty, but there is little agreement on political terms.

    NPR is pretty liberal, in that case I understand the irritation of conservatives who don’t want to have to fund it with their taxes.

    Leaving the entire mainstream media behind and creating a very conservative alternative is more of that Balkanization we all dislike.

    But my point was that you don’t like to be labeled or stereotyped yourself but habitually label and stereotype anyone to the left of some center point of your own choosing.

    • January 25, 2014 6:25 pm

      As do you. We all do it to a degree, especially with political labels. That said, I don’t think you see me referring to let’s say, the entire South as a single entity, assuming them all to be rednecks, stupid, or Christian. Or using the term “angry old white man” as I believe you have.

      Then, there is the term “extremist” applied to members of the Tea Party. You see how easy it is to do?

      So, I am content to use Lefty where I think it applies.

      Since you seem to agree with me that the mainstream media is “left” I guess I am not sure what your complaint is.

      And, not a reference to Hitler in this entire exchange.

  55. January 26, 2014 11:21 am

    Strange “logic” for a guy whose job is homeland security.

  56. January 26, 2014 11:38 am

    “This much is obvious: The difference between what Huckabee said and what Huckabee was accused of saying is the difference between the press’s reporting that Joe Biden had told a group of African Americans that the Republican party wanted to “put you all back in chains” and the press’s reporting “Biden to African Americans: I’m going to put you all back in chains.” It is the difference between the media’s recording that Nancy Pelosi said that members of the Tea Party “want to shut down the government” and its reporting “Nancy Pelosi: ‘Shut down the government.’” It is the difference between reporting that MSNBC’s Joy Reid believes Republicans are “resentful” of “post-1964 America” and accusing her of resenting the changes herself.”

    • Ron P permalink
      January 26, 2014 2:10 pm

      You know this happens because you just said it happens. I know it happens because I read other places that this happens. But as Priscilla so nicely said…

      “It’s ridiculously unfair, but it is reality, and good politicians need to deal with it, and not make unforced errors that can be used to destroy them and defeat their party.”…

      then why doesn’t the GOP and its leaders and candidates know this happens? Why do they keep making comments that can be so expertly twisted?

      Remember, to win an election for president, they do not need to talk to their core supporters that know what their positions are and listen to most of their speeches or read them fully. They are trying to attract the part time politically interested voter that only follows the news mostly in tweets, on Colburns comedy program or through social media postings. Knowing that these type of comments will be twisted and reguritated by multiple media outlets and forms, why give them the fodder to begin with?

      You do alot of research as supported by the many links you provide in your comments. However, the larger percentage of voters and especially those that are swing voters (who are usually younger) do not. They don’t even read a newspaper or watch the news on TV. As I said, they get theirs through social media. So the GOP has to learn the new way things are done and live with it or die by it. Right now they are not doing such a good job IMHO..

    • Ron P permalink
      January 26, 2014 2:21 pm

      Looking at the groups of achievers, I have one question.

      Does the importance of the family structure in these groups support the achievements in education and professional development, or does the achievements in education and professional development increase the support of the family structure.

      In all these demographic groups, family is central for one reason or another.

      • January 26, 2014 2:37 pm

        I clearly don’t know and I am not sure it CAN be known. I am sure a supportive family structure (whatever that means) helps to a degree and the reverse might be true; strong cultures breed strong families.

        In my own case, I had very little family support for any achievement (few role models, etc.) and so it is hard to say where that all came from. Still, that is a sample size of 1.

        One thing this work does suggest is that one CAN adopt these attitudes as a conscious choice. In other words, as my very wise grandfather used to tell me:

        “You can have results in life or you can have excuses. If you have results, you don’t need the excuses.”

        My advice to all that whine about how life dealt them a bad deal is: Stop whining and get moving until you find out your real limitations. There is always someone who has it worse off than you.

      • Ron P permalink
        January 26, 2014 5:25 pm

        I would say there are outliers in all walks of life. You for one, Dr. Ben Carson for another. And then on the other end of the spectrum, you could find children from good families and hard working adults that are lazy, “good-for-nothings” with sociopatic tendencies.

        But I would find it hard to believe the following is not true.
        “strong cultures=strong family structure=high expectations=good grades (students)=high achievers in life.
        I would also find it hard to believe the opposite is not true where:
        “weak cultures=weak family structure=low or few expectations=poor grades=low achievers”

      • January 26, 2014 9:54 pm

        I would tend to agree with this.

      • January 27, 2014 12:55 pm

        Even Americans can wake up, eventually!

      • Ron P permalink
        January 27, 2014 2:08 pm

        Right now the polls that matter are like this one.

        At the present time the GOP candidate that is listed here is seen as being more moderate of the 3-4 that have announced. If he can keep this position, then he has a good chance to defeat Hagan. And this election may provide a window into others with candidates with the same views and if those hold true, then the senate pick up for the Republicans will make McConnell majority leader.

        However, should the more conservative candidate(s) emerge from the primary, then all bets are off as to what will happen in the senate. Very conservative candidates can win house district seats that are set up for those with those views, but statewide there has to be a more moderate (in both parties) in most all states (excluding Texas and a handful of others like Vermont on the left) if the candidate has a chance.

        NC most always voted GOP in federal elections until recently due to the influx of more liberal workers coming in from other states as well as the population is getting younger. Since NC is now purple, it has to have candidates that fit that mold.

      • April 15, 2014 11:24 am

        Wow, imagine this? The EU is not willing to do much of anything in their own back yard.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 15, 2014 12:18 pm

        JB,Have you known many times the EU has been willing to put themselves in difficult positions to support an ally in trouble? Putin knows they won’t do a thing and Ukraine will be back in the “Soviet Empire” again. Then the dominos will begin falling as eastern Georgia is already part of that empire, with many of the smaller countries that were once soviet possessions ready to be absorbed again. What Putin wants, Putin gets. And we need to stay out and lend support only once the close neighbors decide to become involved. And that support needs to be limited.

      • April 15, 2014 2:37 pm

        Not to be vulgar but apparently Socialists have no balls?

  57. January 27, 2014 9:03 am

    Interesting. She will be gone by the end of the month. Likely, “reassigned.”

  58. January 27, 2014 9:10 am

    Barry loses the young in’s.

    A study by the American Action Forum “finds that after accounting for cost-sharing and subsidies in 2014, it would still be cheaper for 86 percent of young adults to forgo coverage and to pay the individual mandate instead.”

    Read more:
    Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

  59. Priscilla permalink
    January 28, 2014 11:28 am

    One of the National Review writers described the formula for the treatment of Republicans in the mainstream press something like this: 1) Find something stupid some conservative said somewhere. 2)Isolate it as the common thought amongst conservatives, because National leaders don’t denounce local crackpots. 3) Put it on MSNBC and hammer it until the truth is pulp.

    I find it interesting to see a corollary of this with the Hoboken mayor who claims that Chris Christie withheld Sandy relief funds from her city. In the beginning, she was all over the news, along with screenshots of her “diary entry” describing what a big, mean bully Christie is… that it has been revealed that 1) Hoboken was not denied any Sandy funds and 2) this woman testified, under oath, in July, that she did not maintain a diary , MSNBC and other outlets are conspicuously silent. Just crickets, now…….

    I agree with those who say that the GOP whines too much about this type of press bias. It has always existed, or at least as long as I can remember. Barry Goldwater was going to start a nuclear war, remember? And JFK’s marriage was a perfect fairy tale…..

    The best defense is a good offense. Rather than waste time complaining about this stuff, Republicans should just continue pressing their own attacks- I thought Rand Paul was especially good this week, talking about the irony of the supposed GOP “war on women” being alleged by the party of the president who was impeached for lying about his predatory sexual habits. It does give pause, even to the most partisan of Democrats, to remember that Monica Lewinsky was merely 20 years old…….

  60. January 28, 2014 11:44 am

    As always, spot on.

  61. January 29, 2014 9:06 am

    The Emperor has no clothes.

    • Ron P permalink
      January 29, 2014 1:06 pm

      Have not been following this closely, but would hope the GOP candidate sticks to the issues and does not get sucked into the big black social issues hole that so many find themselves in when that sure win becomes a loss. Let the non-politicians handle the mud and let the candidate handle the issues people are interested in.

      One needs to keep in mind that Texas has attracted alot of new jobs from other areas of the country with many coming from california. And those people are more liberal than the typical Texan. This state can become purple in the heart beat just like NC and that is not good when trying to attracted the more centrist voter.

  62. Roby L permalink
    January 29, 2014 1:53 pm

    Apparently the approval for the state of the union speech was at the 75% level. (I would not have liked it, I never like state of the union speeches, just hot air and I never watch them anymore.)

    The GOP did not fail to play its expected role in response.

    Here is a nice Texas Republican trying hard to fit all the stereotypes about old white male southern conservatives. The idea that the liberal media creates these things is just silly, conservative culture is so belligerent these days that it creates them automatically:

    Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., made a name for himself — for good or bad — when he interrupted President Obama’s State of the Union Address in 2009 by screaming “You lie!” Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas, may have done the same without opening his mouth.

    Weber, a freshman congressman who succeeded the retiring Rep. Ron Paul in Texas’ 14th district around Houston, tweeted from the House floor that he was awaiting the “Kommandant-In-Chef.” He also called Obama a “socialist dictator.”

    Within an hour, the missive had been retweeted over 700 times – and favorited nearly 150 times.

    The owner of an air-conditioning company and former member of the Texas statehouse came to Washington promising to shake things up and to ruffle the feathers of the D.C. establishment. He received an endorsement from conservative Gov. Rick Perry and boasted during a tough primary that nobody could “out-conservative” him. In an interview last year, he told the National Journal “I’m so Republican, my first name starts with ‘R.’ I’m so right wing – well, Randy Weber. You do the math.”

    Now, I did not call him right wing he did it himself and he’s proud of it.
    Also last night another GOP congressman from Staten Island celebrated the occasion by physically threatening a reporter for asking him a question about his campaign finance legal issues: This is a simpler more straightforward more personal approach than the free speech attacks by the legislature in Ukraine; no courts no jail sentences you just threaten a direct physical attack on a reporter:

    “After asking about Grimm’s reactions to President Obama’s speech, he tried to ask the second-term congressman about allegations of campaign-finance violations involving his election in 2010.
    Grimm refused to answer, walked away, and then, as the camera continued to record the scene, returned to confront the reporter.

    “If you ever do that to me again, I’ll throw you off this … balcony,” Grimm can be heard saying, as he stood next to a railing. After a back-and-forth, Grimm added: “You’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.”

    Another GOP congressman just resigned due to his cocaine bust.

    And Michele Bachman has been her usual crazy self lately.

    This is not a party or a philosophy that is likely to attract enough moderates votes to win at the national level any time soon, and they will lose local races in moderate states too..

    In Ukraine ultranationalist anti-semitic and generally racist soccer hooligans have hijacked a legitimate protest movement and cannot be controlled by anyone or accept any compromise, to the dismay of the more responsible leaders of the protests. A bit reminiscent of what has happened to the GOP congressional delegation, without the violence of course.

    • Ron P permalink
      January 29, 2014 2:48 pm

      Roby, I have to agree with some of what you say concerning the far right wing of the GOP. It is way out of the acceptible criteria for many centrist voters. but you also have to agree that the media does not cover the far left democrats the same as they do the far right GOP.

      For instance, Bernie Sanders, senator from Vermonts voting record:
      •Rated 100% by NARAL, indicating a pro-choice voting record. (Dec 2003)
      •Voted NO on banning partial-birth abortions. (Apr 2000)
      •Voted NO on funding for health providers who don’t provide abortion info. (Sep 2002)
      •Voted NO on making it a crime to harm a fetus during another crime. (Feb 2004)
      •Voted NO on protecting the Pledge of Allegiance. (Sep 2004)
      •Voted NO on constitutional amendment prohibiting flag desecration. (Jun 2003)
      •Rated 14% by the US COC, indicating an anti-business voting record. (Dec 2003
      •Voted YES on $192B additional anti-recession stimulus spending. (Jul 2009)
      •Voted NO on paying down federal debt by rating programs’ effectiveness. (Mar 2007)
      •Voted NO on establishing nationwide AMBER alert system for missing kids. (Apr 2003

      So when you look at this voting record, you will find this individual accepts the procedures that were used by the Philadelphia doctor to end a childs life. Is that what centirst voters bbeleive? He does not beleive a baby is human and alive until it has a birth certificate. His voting record shows this when he voted against the crime legislation that makes it a crime to kill a baby before it is born if commiting another crime. Does the centrist voters beleive a mother does not beleive that baby kicking within her is a child, even if it does not have a birth certificate? Does the centrist voters beleive the pledge of allegiance should not be protected or the flag protected? How about his vote against a bill that required agencies to show programs are effective before funding that program any longer? Does the centrist voter beleive once you have 500 people employed by the feds to administer a program, they should have liofetime employment even if that program has no useful reason to exist?
      And finally, what centrist voter does not believe a national amber alert program would not save the lives of some abducted children? How much could that possibly cost given his position to fund government programs into infinity without any support they do any good.

      You can view his whole voting record through this attachment.

      So lets be fair. There are wacko’s on both side of the isle. Could it be that Sanders is not getting the coverage because the left wing media supports closely his as well as other far left officials positions, while they do not support the GOP positions?

      • Roby L permalink
        January 29, 2014 3:44 pm

        Yes, Bernie is a Wacko, a real-left wing windbag. Add Al Franken to wacko left senators. Cucineli or something like that is another real lefty. Barny Frank is a wacko left house representative.

        I never could stand Sanders, the terrible shame is that he got to congress by defeating a moderate decent republican, Peter Smith, and once elected he kept on getting elected although it was razor thin in the beginning years. Now Vermont has no one on the GOP side with enough stature to make a real run against him.

        I’m not actually enough of a political junkie to know the names of all the wackos on either side but you and I will probably have to agree to disagree where the wacky left begins and how many there are of them in congress.

        The real wacky left is not numerous and mostly not interested in democratic politics, by which I mostly mean the wacky left voters. They ar eoutnumbered by wacky right voters by a good margin and rarely have any chance to elect someone. Even Sanders is an anomoly, Vermonters choose moderate Democrats or Republicans for Governor (Dean was a moderate Dem as Governor believe it or not who hated the left and constantly pissed them off and frustrated them.

        So, while Bernie and Franken and Barny Frank all make me want to barf, they have so little impact on the world most of the time that I can ignore them. Whereas a good Texas nutjob will easily find others like himself and form a block that gets notice because it has power, if not the power to enact, then the power to hijack their party and terrorize more pragmatic members.

        Long ago I compiled my own 5 degree scale of the left.

        1 Liberal- maybe 15-20%. They vote for traditional liberal politicians, Say the Kerry type. They might cross party lines to vote at times.

        2 Progressives/ultra-liberals- maybe 2-3%. They vote for the Sanders-Franken type of politicians. Never cross party lines

        3 Disenchanted true lefties- 1-2%, they rarely vote, when they do its for Ralph Nadar or the like just to piss off their mortal enemies, the liberals.

        4 Marxists- non violent; less than 1%, if they vote its for the communist party candidate for president.

        5 Marxist revolutionaries who dream of an actual violent overthrow of the government. Their numbers are microscopic. They don’t ever vote.

        On the other hand the right seems to me to have three divisions.

        1 Traditional conservatives- perhaps 20%. They would vote for people like Dole or Bush I or Romney or Rubio. They might cross party lines to vote at times

        2 Cruz type conservatives/ultra conservatives something like 10-15%. Never cross party lines to vote. They vote for Jesse Helms, Santorum, Perry, Bachman, Cruz

        3 Real right wing nuts 5-10%. They sometimes vote if they hate the democrat enough.

        Then there are the moderates 25-30%

        Lefties past level have nothing like the same level of popular grass roots energy that righties past level one have. They hang around academia and write utopian manifestos but they are not trying to influence elections, unless its to sink democrats for the sin of not being far lefties.

        In voting someone may vote 1 level to the left or right of their natural beliefs, but very rarely 2 levels.

        Anyhow, that is my theory and it explains why the right get more of my fear and therefor more of my fear-based disapproval. They have more power.

      • Priscilla permalink
        January 29, 2014 11:46 pm

        Roby, I like your descriptions of the “levels,” but I think you vastly underestimate the cultural influence of the left. Like, vastly.

        And, in today’s world, culture is king (or queen, if you prefer). The left controls public education, higher education, the mainstream media and the entertainment world. It has made significant inroads in what was once the province of conservatives…the corporate and banking worlds.

        I think that there is probably still a majority – possibly only a plurality – of what you call traditional conservatives in the middle class, but their voices have been largely silenced, at least in most cultural outlets. This may be one reason why conservatives like Ted Cruz, who have the balls to take the slings and arrows and the accusations of extremism and still fight back, are popular among traditional conservatives and feared and hated by the left.

        I think you are really on to something with the idea of “fear-based disapproval.” We ascribe great power to that which we fear….it is to the advantage of demagogues, on both sides, to imply that that power exists on the other side……..

    • January 29, 2014 3:09 pm

      I would wager that the GOP picks up seats in both the Senate and the House.

      $25.00 ?

      PS-Bernie Sanders is an out and out communist and quite crazy to boot. Yet, the leftist press makes him out to be a hero.

      • Roby L permalink
        January 29, 2014 4:02 pm

        Actual lefties, the Howard Zinn type, despise Sanders. Left-wing protesters show up to have sit ins at his office on a somewhat regular basis . Since I do not know what you mean by the leftist press I can’t argue. Leftists to me are a 4 or 5 on my left scale above. But that is just my own personal view of the word, there is no agreement on these terms which is as confusing as hell. Can you give me examples of the leftist press making Sanders out to be a hero?

        Also he is not actually a communist, I do not believe, he is a socialist, which is not the same thing. He is bitter about capitalism but has no ideas of overthrowing it and have a marxist revolution. Actually, like Ralph Nadar, he has plenty of money and like Ralph he gets very pissed off whenever anyone mentions that he has a very upper class comfortable life style or the nothing he gives to charity. There are several missing years on his resume during his younger years that are unaccounted for, leading some to speculate that he was in Cuba or Moscow in the 60s, he may have been a real marxist at that time. He gets very testy when asked (although he does not threaten to beat anyone up) .

        Betting, something I never do, thanks, bad history there from a few incidents in my long lost youth, Republican pick up are a possibilty yes, I would say that Dems are in the senate at a disproportionate level compared to their national support. But its all very luck based on who enters races, who retires.

        If it were a lot closer to the pres election you might get me to bet a dollar on the outcome.

      • January 29, 2014 4:17 pm

        I view the term Socialist and Communist as interchaneable and indeed, over the course of history, this has been true. Remember, Hitler’s party called themselves “sociailists” as did the USSR but no one would confuse them with say, France, which has socialist tendencies that rely on the ability of the capitalists to actually generate real value, and hence, money for the Socialist schemes.

        The nationa press tends to simply ignore Bernie, because, well, he is from a nowhere state (I think only Wash DC, New York, and CA really matter to the lefty press).

        In the NE region, there are many in the press who adore Bernie and he can always count on the Boston Globe for a nice puff piece.

    • Priscilla permalink
      January 29, 2014 3:45 pm

      Roby, I think that, if you were to look back over many of the comments here, you would see that Ron, JB (yes!), and I have all been highly critical of many Republican politicians, for many of the same general reasons that we are critical of Democrats, e.g. being more concerned with their own personal gain than they are with being public servants, allowing ideology to trump common sense, and being overall idiots.

      As Ron points out, there is never any shortage of liberal and left-wing media outlets ready to pounce on any misstep by a Republican, and equally ready to excuse the same – or worse- behavior by a Democrat. In addition, the GOP rarely circles the wagons around a misbehaving politician the way the Democrats do. Look at Charlie Rangel, for example….or for that matter, Harry Reid, both of whom have weathered big-time corruption scandals that would have destroyed any Republican, largely because they have been supported by their party.

      I think the danger of hating one side or the other is in allowing that hatred to foster this kind of hypocrisy, and it leads to the justification of the unjustifiable.

      I might suggest as well, that, if the approval numbers for the President’s speech were as high as you say, it may well be because only his most ardent supporters are still listening. I agree with you that the SOTU has been nothing but a meaningless dog-and-pony show for a very long time now, and only the true believers – from one side or the other- consider it to be anything more than that.

      • January 29, 2014 3:52 pm

        Well said, Priscilla.

        I would not go to bat for those “approval numbers” from last night. The speech has been widely panned by both sides of the spectrum (apparently, the lefties don’t feel Barry promised enough free goodies?).

      • Roby L permalink
        January 29, 2014 4:17 pm

        Priscilla, the Last paragraph I agree with and had the same theory. There are probably some polls that break it down though, so that one can actually know instead of speculate as we are..

        “I think the danger of hating one side or the other is in allowing that hatred to foster this kind of hypocrisy, and it leads to the justification of the unjustifiable.” This a very good statement.

        My own observation is that the partisans on both sides think that life is totally unfair to their side and blame the media for their own party’s screw ups. Speaking for myself (again I have to make the probably hard to believe statement that I am not an authentic political junkie and 97% of what occurs with politicians escapes me) it looks to me like that are just more wacky righties in elected offices than wacky lefties. The things conservatives do, like cause a three day traffic jam (and they were going for more but got stopped) ,or threaten to beat up a reporter, put a rifle scope sight on their website on a liberal politician, seem to get a more visceral reaction from me. However, Clinton’s molestations of women got me going as much as anything. I never could stand Rangel from the days of his beaming defenses of Clinton.

        The corruption and moral degeneracy part, bribes, mistresses, drugs, etc seems evenly spread. Its not a party or ideology thing.

  63. Roby L permalink
    January 29, 2014 5:07 pm

    “I view the term Socialist and Communist as interchaneable and indeed, over the course of history, this has been true.”

    Well, I looked it up and turns out I knew the definition of communism well enough but not socialism, which greatly resembles communism. I stand corrected.

    Communism is an absolute (and is by definition authoritative and atheist while there is a very wide range that can be called socialist, from socialism with capitalism still functioning in most of the economy up to communism, which never existed or will at a large scale. Western European socialism in France and England did not resemble communism so-called in Russia or China. But I’m not for either. Bernie longs to reproduce the western european form. I think he is nuts but not a Russian style marxist.

    On the other hand if this is so, (well it is so) then calling Obama or liberals socialist is a worse error than I thought.

    • January 29, 2014 6:46 pm

      I still don’t get the hype around Obama’s rhetorical skills. He is by most standards average at best. Without his teleprompter, he is just plain embarrassing.

      Watch Kennedy at his best; there was none better.

  64. Roby L permalink
    January 29, 2014 5:20 pm

    “A speech by Barack Obama is a lot like sex,” said GOP strategist and CNN contributor Alex Castellanos. “The worst there ever was is still excellent.”

    Have fun with this one!

  65. January 29, 2014 6:55 pm

    Apparently, viewers just don’t care about Barry anymore.

    • Ron P permalink
      January 29, 2014 9:58 pm

      Well there are a couple reasons this is happening.
      1. As I have said so many times, people, especially the young, are not paying attention. Example:

      2. The state of the union speech is no longer about “the state of the union” Everyone knows it is nothing but another political speech, and this president can not cover up that fact as well as some of the previous presidents
      3.When you have as many sports channels to pick from and college basketball, that takes precedence. Then the reality shows on the other cable channels takes alot of the female viewers. All of these are much more interesting than watching a grown man gloat or threaten to use a pen. (I watched Virginia/Notre Dame, much better than B.O.)

      • Roby L permalink
        January 30, 2014 11:47 am

        This is hilarious. Of course they don’t say whether the victims were one out of a hundred people they approached. And these guys could have been actors too. But its still funny.

  66. Roby L permalink
    January 30, 2014 8:10 am

    Priscilla, yes, the education system has a liberal bias, particularly at the college level. The media has a left element to it as well. Just as cops and the military and business has a conservative tilt. I don’t see that this has much influence.

    Teaching at the elementary school and high school levels is inherently a conservative profession, I don’t mean as far a political ideology goes but as personal behavior goes. Teachers at these levels by nature and due to what they do and face every day are all about personal responsibility and the worst habit that teachers try to break is irresponsibility and laziness. I had reason to be involved with high school teachers, they came to train in our labs, and I was astonished at what a strange mix of the liberal and conservative they were. In many ways they sounded a lot like JB. And when you think about their work, its easy to see why. They are not talking politics to students all day and filling them up with ideology very often, instead they are talking about fractions and parts of speech or biology and chemistry and they want effort adn hard work and no BS.

    When students do encounter ideology from their teachers it tends to come out at home and get dealt with and corrected by the ideology of the parents. I had a very conservative 6th grade teacher, so much so that when MLK was shot my parents asked me what I thought about that, and based on what I had heard from my teacher in class about all the unreasonable trouble MLK was stirring up I said that I guessed that must be a good thing since MLK was a troublemaker. Needless to say my parents hit the roof and the school and the teacher (an older woman) heard about it and I got a different spin on MLK from my parents.

    When my oldest daughter was in high school one of her teachers was spouting off about a conservative woman who was thinking of running for Governor. I believe he said she was a Nazi. I knew Ruth Dwyer, she was pretty conservative, but certainly not a nazi ( it was in my anti-liberal activist period and I had just actually written to Ruth and received a very sincere 3 page hand-written letter back) and I hit the roof and again the school and teacher heard about it. And in my case with my conservative 6th grade teacher, and in my daughters case, the ideology at home corrected the propaganda that young minds got at school.

    The young have always tended to be liberal , I can quote the famous Churchill line, but we all know it. They want to know why we are so stupid that we have wars or poor people and why we don;t just take the obvious fixes for that. They don’t yet know enough to know why its not so simple. One can blame the education system but I think it has little to do with it. Students, with not very common exceptions, are not trying to ape their teachers, their teachers are a great pain in the ass to them in many ways, something to be tolerated not imitated. When they do resonate on politics with a teacher its most likely because the teacher is reinforcing the mindset that they get at home. I’m sorry but the conservative mindset seems to be so offended by exposure of their children to anything other than conservative ideology that they for some reason believe that teachers have more influence than all the other cultural and personal influences, when really they don’t, they are just one more source of information and not usually the students’ most beloved one

    As to the influence of the left in the media, I think its vastly vastly over rated. The TV networks have always been moderate. There may be a slight liberal bias to the evening news but it is subtle as long as one is not watching one of the deliberately ideological sources like Fox or MSNBC. As the country breaks down at 20-25% liberal, 30% moderate and 40% conservative, why on earth would a multi billion dollar business design their product to please the smallest group of consumers and offend the largest one? They don’t. Conservatives in my opinion have a tendency to be very sensitive and a strong desire to hear not moderate news but really conservative news. And they have that available and go there.

    Big city papers, the NYT the Boston Globe, LA times etc have a stronger liberal bias, sometimes very noticeable and irritating. But, they know their markets, those cities are liberal places. And there is usually another paper in the city that is tailored to the wishes of the conservatives. Any brainwashing one gets from the news is pretty much by choice, and not because one is forced to listen to nothing but left wing nuts with no choice in the matter.

    Entertainment, its the same thing. If your kid can’t figure out that Woody Allen is a sick immoral pervert and not some one to imitate, then there is something seriously wrong at home.

    I see very little sign that the educational system, media etc have caused the country to turn left over the years. If anything, the liberal portion has shrunk and the conservative portion grown, so if we are looking for a cultural effect, the liberal culture is doing a poor job of converting our kids into little liberal zombies who can’t think for themselves.

    Wow, I did not mean to be so long. Just like old times.

  67. January 30, 2014 9:30 am

    A new world order: A global “wealth” tax. What could possibly go wrong? You know, there are days when I am ashamed to admit I an a University Professor.

  68. Priscilla permalink
    January 30, 2014 10:06 am

    I generally agree with you about teachers, they can be a strange mix. Back in the day, before public school teaching was a largely unionized profession, I think it would be fair to say that many teachers had a traditional, right-tilting outlook… that a majority of teachers perceive that their job security and financial well-being is tied to the political party supported by their union….well, it has had a predictable effect.

    What concerns me more is the increasing role of the federal government in what children are taught, and how they are taught, and the systematic encroachment, by the public education system, on what was once considered the role of the family. Your parents set you – and your teacher – straight about MLK. The breakdown of the family and the increasing state and federal role in the public schools has led to a situation in which your experience would be less likely, I’m afraid. And, yeah, I do worry about kids being turned into liberal zombies, learning more about gay marriage, the Washington Redskins and playground bullies than they are about civics and economics. Fear-based disapproval, perhaps, but it cuts both ways…

    • Roby L permalink
      January 30, 2014 11:59 am

      Of course fear cuts both ways. Human emotions and motivations in the end come down to love and fear. Political passion might ideally be about love, but does that seem to be the case very often? I am motivated to protect the things I love because I am afraid they are in danger, and not without cause. Anyone who says that there is nothing to fear but fear itself is just spouting a platitude, false profundity.

      Conservatives and liberals just don’t have much cultural overlap in their fears. If I say that I am afraid of the future because most climate scientists believe that the sum of climate research at present predicts warming with potentially catastrophic results,many conservatives will just say, how funny that is, they have no fear of that. And if conservatives say that they worry about the national debt, liberals will have their laugh. Maybe a moderate is someone who is afraid of almost everything the left and right fear, just in a more measured way in most cases. You know, with some critical thinking.

      • Ron P permalink
        January 30, 2014 1:25 pm

        Roby..You have provided a wonderful description I will use to define “some” moderates like myself. The problem is moderates also accept the fact that we have few moderates to vote for, so we get stuck with the flaming liberals and conservatives that are more mouth than action.

      • January 30, 2014 1:37 pm

        Rick thinks Obama is a moderate.


    • Ron P permalink
      January 30, 2014 1:10 pm

      Priscilla, I have to agree with much of what has been said about teachers and education. One thing left out so far is expectations. In most all examples shown on TV or written about. schools where the principles set a level of expectations in learning and discipline at a very high level, those kids do much better than others that just collect a pay check. But with the unions today and federal guideline interference compared to years ago, it is very hard to set expectations where kids are expected to learn and obey.

      That is why you see the US falling farther and farther behind other countries in educations and kids being prepared for the real world of employment. And how can the US expect to be a country where jobs are created and unemployment kept low when a large percentage our students who do not attend college or are not trained for any trade jobs. Then our government and the unions expect wages that far exceed the productivity and effectiveness of the worker. That is one of the main reasons jobs go overseas and do not return.

      • Ron P permalink
        January 30, 2014 4:32 pm

        Very interesting. I found according to an article in the huffington post, that the 2013 average salary for a teacher in Finland converted to US dollars was $28,780 compared to the US average of $44,917. So the unions driving up salaries has nothing to do with results in the classroom.

        The two things that jumped out at me from this article was the top 10% of college graduates are picked to go on for a masters degree to become a teacher. So they are getting the brightest to teach. They also give the teachers wide latitude in their methods, completely different than the US where it is all top down, coming from D.C or state capitals.

        I do diagree with the point they were trying to make about allowing the private sector to do more in education. Seems like that is one of the few ways our system has of getting around the union demands, teacher tenure and government regulations. They have the ability to try different things and when something works, they can use it elsewhere. With public schools, the educators hands are tied.

      • January 30, 2014 5:06 pm

        It is an interesting article and I am trying to figure out a way to get someone to fund my trip over there for some research. Fat chance, but, I can always try.

        Maybe a sabbatical?

      • Ron P permalink
        January 30, 2014 5:27 pm

        Check with the federal government. Must be some money somewhere to cover the trip. They pay for everything else!!!!

      • January 30, 2014 6:58 pm

        You are right. Then again, if I do take money from them, I will owe them something. I would rather pay my own way.

      • Roby L permalink
        January 30, 2014 2:40 pm

        Hi Ron P, Thank you for the compliment! My actual reply went below for some reason. The subject is so interesting that if I did not have work to do I’d read more on it. I did find some good links to the history of education in the US, they are below.

        Flaming liberals and conservative have beautiful theories that would work if the human race were not only uniform but designed along the lines that go with the ideologies. Since that is not true their theories don’t help much and we spend more time arguing over which of the two non-existent types of society we prefer than just solving problems pragmatically without dogma.

      • January 30, 2014 3:15 pm

        The one quibble I would have with your statement is that problems are rarely, if ever “solved” in a political or economic sense. The issue is usually much more one of which trade-offs do you make and do you see those trade-offs as acceptable.

        I always tell my clincial students that I could “solve” the health care cost problem in the US in one action, as long as everyone in the sytem took a 30% salary cut. None are willing to do that, as it would create a whole other set of “problems.”

  69. January 30, 2014 11:24 am

    Much of US public education appears to be endocrtination of a sorts. Certainly, left learning as the Dept of Education grows in reach. Now, I would suggest that to turn this ship around, much emphasis would need to be placed on evidence-based critical thinking. That is a bit much to ask, given that I would wager this competency is sorely lacking in our educators of today.

  70. January 30, 2014 11:29 am

    Two ironic moments on NPR this morning.

    Obama wants to sign two Pacific-based trade deals. Dems are against both. Which is the party of obstruction? Let’s see if the NY Times rails against Harry Reid this evening?

    Cuba borrowed $700M to build a port to help build “trade with other nations.” It seems they need “jobs” desperately? Now, why would a Communist country need jobs? By definition, everyone works for the state there so how can they be “unemployed.”

    The best irony is that Raul Castro lauded the port as another symbol of Socialist triumph. Hmm, he borrowed the money to build the port. Couldn’t he just have directed his comrades to build it from, ah, nothing?

  71. Roby L permalink
    January 30, 2014 2:16 pm

    When we think about education we often forget how recent a thing universal education is. It is so easy the feel that the education system is eternally old, instead its something that hardly existed 100 years ago in a form we would recognize. You learned to write and add, if you were lucky not long ago and human knowledge dealt with about one millionth of what we know now. Its not like there were some glory days that lasted a long time and we now have fallen on decadent times, instead the pace of change, growth of technology, expansion of human knowledge, need for skilled or intellectual workers are all changing at mind boggling speed.

    I went looking for a graph to show how many have graduated HS in the US per year since 1900. Better yet would be a graph showing the average level of education per year, I’ll bet in 1900 it was something like 6th grade. In 1900 the US life expectancy was 49 years, male and female, jeez if you went to college that would mean that you had spent nearly half your life in school by the time you graduated. At that time it took nearly 50% of the population to provide food for the country, how much education did it take to plow? 200 years ago parents sold each of the 5 of their 14 children who survived till age six into semi slavery as an apprentice to a tradesperson. OK, I made the last part up, sort of, but its not that far off I don’t think.

    We don’t live in the same world at all that my grandfather was born into in 1880, we may as well live on a different planet or at least in a different civilization. In 1940 about 25% of the US population graduated HS. The growth has been pretty linear since then at every educational level. The educational system seems constantly broken because historically speaking its a complete novelty, we just don’t know how yet to education large numbers of people well. Maybe it isn’t even possible to throw all the kids in one town of the same age into a common system, they have such different issues and talents. I have seen little that makes me think the US is unique in this regard.

    If school teachers have become social workers since 1960 its not because they wanted to, its because divorce, TV, double income families, demographic changes, nearly unrestrained immigration have all changed society so fast.
    Here is the graph of educational level since 1940.

    I agree strongly with the article that goes with this graph too. College is over valued and over sold.

    • Roby L permalink
      January 30, 2014 2:42 pm

      er, just half your life in school. period.

    • January 30, 2014 3:10 pm

      Indeed! To with: DeToqueville commented in his book on the US that he was amazed at how well read and informed the average citizen was at the time of his travels. This especially puzzled him given the relative lack of formal education that occured in the US at that time.

      Maybe, they knew something we don’t know now?

    • Ron P permalink
      January 30, 2014 5:14 pm

      “I agree strongly with the article that goes with this graph too. College is over valued and over sold.”

      How true and when you look at the growth in education individuals received between the 1800’s and 1970’s, there was a marked improvement. However, our wise leaders in D.C. and state capitals began placing additional demands on schools causing cuts in vocational training, arts and other professional career tracks. So we may have more people graduating, but that does not mean they are prepared for work. Take a kid that is a mechanical genius that can build high performance engines but has no math abilities and put them in a school without an auto training program, the only way that kid graduates is reduced standards and that reduces education for all.

      Yes, college is over rated, but our leaders believe everyone should have a college prep high scholl education. That screws everyone.

  72. Roby L permalink
    January 30, 2014 2:33 pm

    Here, a history of US literacy since 1900.

    Click to access Sears2.pdf

    • January 30, 2014 3:12 pm

      Thanks, good stuff. Of course, being able to read does not in any way guarantee the ability to think, reason, or make good choices.

  73. Roby L permalink
    January 30, 2014 3:27 pm

    “The issue is usually much more one of which trade-offs do you make and do you see those trade-offs as acceptable.”


    Decision makers are constrained at every turn by issues that are invisible to the average person. They are faced with picking the least bad of all the bad options and then trying to get people to agree to it. As our problems get more complex and more interrelated we go deep into the hole, not even because we are too stupid or because this or that side is evil, but because the problems have a complexity that makes even the least bad of the options pretty bad. And then we want to know why our leaders always makes such stupid decisions. (Not that they could not do better, often they seem to pick the Worst of the bad options.)

    • January 30, 2014 4:00 pm

      Yes, and I would say that one fault that many leaders have is not being able to puncture pipe dreams. (everyone should go to college, have a home, etc. etc.).

      There are many who should not, or don’t even want to, do these things. Why cling to these silly notions?

      I know plenty of very well-off, happy people, who not living the mythic “American Dream.” Should I tell them to stop, or try to make them feel bad?

      One final note; If you are slinging burgers full time for a living, you may need to adjust your strategy, timeline, or expectations.

      • Roby L permalink
        January 30, 2014 4:10 pm

        More agreement. We are in severe danger here of falling in like.

        Which would only confuse the daylights out of everyone here, so lets find something we can disagree on.

      • January 30, 2014 5:05 pm

        I am not totally commited to disagreement, although it may seem like it at times.

    • Ron P permalink
      January 30, 2014 5:23 pm

      I’m not sure that all decisions that our leaders have to make is choosing the least bad of the bad. There may be some good ones but we will never know.

      Right now with the leadership in both parties, neither one will work with the other to test any idea or to blend ideas to see if anything will work. All they want to do it bitch, moan and bellyache about the other side. Reminds me of a group of school age kids that parents will not discipline and all they do is argue.

  74. January 30, 2014 7:14 pm

    The Affordable Care Act?

  75. Roby L permalink
    January 31, 2014 9:18 am

    Ron, You know, maybe we could try to start an ad campaign to ask congress and the president to do just that. If there are not enough moderate donors then maybe we could find some benevolent and truly non partisan billionaire patriotic enough to fund a campaign on behalf of everyone like us who wants the parties to compromise and work together. I’m sure that a majority of this country want just that, someone needs to somehow organize it, someone with no ulterior motives of actually supporting one of the two parties. Its so frustrating because if one could ever just get it started it would snowball I’m sure.

    • January 31, 2014 9:34 am

      It’s funny, I thought the POTUS told us that his top priority (this week) was jobs?

      • Ron P permalink
        January 31, 2014 1:19 pm

        So is this another trampling of states rights where individulas were sentenced by state courts or are these just criminals sentenced under federal law?

        However you look at it, the guidelines did not work given the number of individulas in prison. Maybe a minimum of 25 to life for distribution of crack and powder coke for those caught selling, with a non felony conviction for use. Its those that don’t use it, but sell it who are the problem, but the users are the ones getting caught and convicted.

      • January 31, 2014 1:51 pm

        Well, he has the pen and he plans to use it.

        Such bullshit that goes on in DC.

      • Ron P permalink
        January 31, 2014 7:50 pm

        JB..Is he overriding state sentences or is this just federal. I have alot less problem if federal, but think the states should do everything in their power to resist if he is overriding their laws.

      • January 31, 2014 9:43 pm

        I have no idea. To me, it doesn’t matter. His priorities are clearly not what he says they are.

        Drug users and dealers? Who gives a shit?

        I don’t.

  76. January 31, 2014 9:48 am

    Typical statist approach: Let’s overstate the problem, cause hysteria around a “solution” that must be found, implement by passing it at midnight, phase the implementation around elections , and then go tone deaf.

    We in the healthcare industry knew about all of the data in this report. I don’t recall anyone calling me from DC or from my district.

    • Ron P permalink
      January 31, 2014 7:57 pm

      Well I saw something on Fox tonight that shows Fox does not do complete research on subjects before reporting just like so many others. They made a big deal over hospitals paying insurance premiums for patients and how the government has said it was ok, then said it was not and how the insurance companies are against it since it messes up their studies. Had they researched this issue they would have found health systems have been paying preiums for years for patients, especially in instances where the patient would lose coverage if they had it. It is much cheaper to pay the premium for a patient than to lose reimbursement because the patient lost coverage while in the hospital because they did not have the money due to the illness. We paid premiums since the late 80-‘s. Why is this news now? Something just to keep stirring the pot against the ACA? If so there is enough already without stretching the truth.

      • January 31, 2014 9:45 pm

        Actually, this IS news to most Americans. So, it is news and appropriate to report. In essence, hospitals game the system as they complain about it.

        To me, that IS news that others need to hear.

      • Ron P permalink
        February 1, 2014 12:18 am

        OK. accept that point of view. People do need to know what hospitals are doing to help their patients. But what I do not like is any news using something that has nothing to do with the actual law they are talking about and blaming that law for that situation. I don’t care if it is Fox News or MSNBC or anyone in between.

        That is the same as the gun control nuts blaming guns for the murders that happen when somone fires a bullett into someone else. The gun did not cause the crime nor has the ACA caused the issue with hospital paying insurance premiums.

        And that is what Fox News did with this story.

      • February 1, 2014 10:30 am

        One correction here. Hospitals are not “helping” their patients, they are gaming the system in order to help themselves.

      • Priscilla permalink
        February 1, 2014 9:59 am

        Investigative reporting, in general, these days is not nearly rigorous enough.

        But, I’m not so sure that this is not an ACA issue….my understanding is that, since January 1, 15-20% of patients are entering hospitals not even sure if they have coverage or, if they do, not sure if their coverage has started.

        This seems somewhat different than the situation you have described, Ron, in that the actual verification piece is often missing. So that now hospitals are paying premiums for people who have never actually been covered at all, right?

        Unlike you and JB, I am not in the healthcare industry (although I did work in the health insurance business for a very short time, a long time ago), but it strikes me that picking up payments for someone who is unable to make them versus fronting payments for someone who doesn’t even know if s/he has active coverage is a significant expansion of this problem.

      • Ron P permalink
        February 1, 2014 1:49 pm

        Priscilla, if the example you gave is true, then it may be the case that hospitals are expanding their reach further into the insurance premium payment arena. But one thing the healthcare industry has done a very piss poor job at is public relations on what they do to help patients and the community to understand insurance, reimbursement, charity, bad debt and what they do to help patients with these issues. What we see in the local papers is the millions each healthcare system makes, but they never say that this money is used to purchase new equipment that cost 5 million to 10 million per machine that has a useful life of 5 years (and sometimes 3 years) due to changing technology. What we see is how much rates are going up each year, but never that 75% of the staff is nurses and their salaries are increasing due to demand, so the rate increase is required to cover their cost plus the cost of supplies increasing. They very rarely say that cahrity and bad debt takes 10% or more of their net revenues and the actual dollar amount this ends up being that others cover.

        The reporter should have expanded his coverage and told why the hospitals were expanding there programs and doing this like you explained above. What came out was more like a stroy that hospitals were just starting this due to the ACA which is not true.

      • February 1, 2014 4:14 pm

        Not to burst your bubble Ron but on US Hospitals don’t have a PR problem. Far from it, they have a performance and cost problem.

        Space does not permit an expansion but I can tell you with authority, the last think the local “health system” would want would be full transparency. We have bring out things like admin costs, patient mortality and morbidity caused by the institution, executive pay.

        US Hospitals don’t have much to brag about.

        And, this I would go to mat on.

  77. February 1, 2014 10:34 am

    The ACA is a disaster, in ill-conceived, unworkable piece of nonsense created by people who have already proven how incompetent they are.

    It will only get worse. Most sad, the law will punish those who have been trying to do the right thing, by raising their premiums, making them change docs, and in general, created a bigger problem than the one they had likely solved.

    All in the name of “Affordable Care and Patient Protection.”

    The press needs to print every story about this simply awful law. If they get a few wrong, they will also miss a few. It will even out.

  78. February 1, 2014 10:57 am

    I would like it, if only for this opening line:

    “Dr. Coburn’s plan represents important intellectual progress, not least because it disowns perfection that is unattainable in any case.”

    • Ron P permalink
      February 1, 2014 2:13 pm

      You bet he won’t allow parts of the pipeline to be built as he owns too much railroad stock. He wants that oil coming into the USA by rail and then off loaded to the pipeline somewhere south of the border. It is my understanding that parts of the pileine are being built. And the feds can’t control alot of that construction since it is controlled by the states involved.

      But transport of oil by rail is much safer. We have seen that in the last couple months.

  79. February 1, 2014 4:15 pm

    “But transport of oil by rail is much safer. We have seen that in the last couple months.”

    I assume this is sarcasm?

    • Ron P permalink
      February 2, 2014 12:32 am

      JB..Yes that’s sarcasm.

  80. February 1, 2014 4:24 pm

    I think we have found the “extremists and terrorists.”

  81. February 4, 2014 9:03 am

    #15-Illegal aliens:

    GOP suicide on the way. Lefties rejoice, the other party is a bunch of morons!

    • Ron P permalink
      February 4, 2014 1:23 pm

      In the article they ask why the GOP can not win national elections? He then goes on to explain why that is, but never says the real reason. This article explains how a small percentage of people in the US think. One end of the scale, this position prevails, while on the other end of the scale, a small percentage of people believe all illegals should be given a path to citizenship without any conditions. In the moderate position, a large percentage of people accept a position that includes childen of illegals being accepted into this country, given legal status and then a way to become a citizen.

      In my opinion, there is something way wrong in a country that allows someone to be born in America, be taken to a foreign country at a very young age, educated as a foreigner, have political positions much aligned with a foreign country and then come back to America as a rebellious youth, attend college in America and later become president. He, in my opinion, is not what the consititution requires as being a true American. Compare that to the kid brought to America at a young age, is educated American, may attend college in America , may even have their own business in America and is then considered an illegal that should be sent “home”. Where the hell is “home”?

      The uncompromising positions of the Tea Party and far right GOP members is why the GOP can not win a national election. There are too many people in the moderate category that will never vote for someone who has social value positions so far off their thinking. Social values will prevail in most national elections until the fiscal issues begin to impact the voter more than they believe the social values are impacting peoples lives.

      Had the GOP of today been around when Lincoln freed the slaves, we would never have seen the emancipation proclamation take place. The Tea party would be against it just like they are against most any immigration policy change.

      • February 4, 2014 1:33 pm

        “Had the GOP of today been around when Lincoln freed the slaves, we would never have seen the emancipation proclamation take place. The Tea party would be against it just like they are against most any immigration policy change.”

        Probably the stupiest comment you have made to date. The Tea Party is more than fine about changing immigration policy, which by the way, includes security the border (which has been promised to Americans since 1960 or thereabouts and yet to be delivered).

        You are entitled to your opinion, as am I. If the US grants a third round of amnesty to the illegal aliens and promises to “secure the border” someday, then we are indeed the dumbest country on God’s green earth (yes, I actually believe in God, which I am sure will piss off some “moderates” that read this blog). Sucha quaint, notion, that God thing.

        These aliens have not “earned citiizenship,” they simply decided that unlike millions of their countrymen, they would NOT wait their turn in line. For that they deserve, ah, nothing, but a trip home and they can then, get in line behind those who are willing to follow the law.

        Oh, I am such a heartless bastard and probably a racist to boot.

      • Ron P permalink
        February 4, 2014 5:16 pm

        “These aliens have not “earned citiizenship,” they simply decided that unlike millions of their countrymen, they would NOT wait their turn in line.”

        Well my “stupiest comment made to date” has been matched by yours. We are equal in that department, at least in this exchange. “They simply decided that unlike millions of their countrymen, they would NOT wait their turn in line” rates right there when one considers how many illegals were under the age of 5 when they came into this country. They sure made that decision on their own to not wait in line. Guess their parents had to follow them into the country to make sure they were safe. If you will note, most of my comment was directed toward the kids and not the parents. I have no problem sending them back, but I do consider those that have married citizens, have children who are citizens from that active marriage or are adults raised in the USA for over 10-15 years should have some means to legality.

        I also not you have made no comment any time I have mentioned our presidents background and how I believe he is less a citizen than those chilren raised as american. I have to accept the fact you must believe he is just as much an American as you and I. I do not.

      • February 4, 2014 7:30 pm

        I” also not you have made no comment any time I have mentioned our presidents background and how I believe he is less a citizen than those chilren raised as american. I have to accept the fact you must believe he is just as much an American as you and I. I do not.”

        Not sure where this came from. I don’t recall questioning that Obama was born in Hawaii (albeit with many strange circumstances around his BC). In all candor, where he came from is irrelevant, as long as he goes back there really quickly.

        PS-Do you know exactly how many of the 11M illegal aliens in the US were brought here by the age of 5 and are still living here? How can we find out. What about their parents, do they get to stay so that we don’t “break up” the family. How about those with felony convictions, do they get to stay too? How about those who have no paid any taxes since they have been here (known as tax evasion?

        Are we to once again trust that the border is secure and move ahead with amnesty? I, unlike you, would actually like some answers before I open my arms to these “kids.”

        I am beginning to think that moderates simply have no standards.

      • Ron P permalink
        February 5, 2014 12:41 am

        As for the first issue, you have cleared the air concerning B.O. since you made the comment about him going back to where he came from. I agree as long as it is somewhere in the far east and not Chicago.
        —–I do not know how many kids are illegal because of their parents.
        —–If they are still in the home, then I have few problems sending them all back. I am only concerned about those that are now able to live on their own.
        —–Felony convictions should be in prison, not running around free. If they have served their conviction, then they were not out of trouble as should be required for legal status, so send them home.
        —–Pay the back taxes if the government can identify how much money they have earned.
        —–The requirement by most GOP members has been the border has to be secure, then they will make other changes based on that verification. No border security, no changes to illegal status.
        —–Moderates do have standards, but this moderate is not one that will accept nothing happening by standing on principle compared to compromise and achieving some of the goals we need to reach.

        If we do nothing, nothing is going to change. The feds are not going to enforce the law, the INS is going to be nothing other than a fisherman with their catch and release program, the borders will still be open in many places for easy access to the US, those here will still be working illegally, kids born to illegals in the US will still become US citizens and they will be drawing government support checks and states will be stuck with all the bills since the feds will not support many of the programs they illegals use. That is not acceptible to me, but most likely is acceptible to those unwilling to look at changes and compromise. If those that will not compromise think anything different is going to happen, they are in matter which party control government.

      • February 5, 2014 9:23 am

        Well reasoned response. My question is this: Why is not the GOP stand on the border a reasonable one. After 50 yrs of dancing around the issue, why is it that we need to fall for this line a 3rd time (that the border will be secure, someday). The reason why “the border won’t be enforced” is sitting in the WH and breaking the law himself by refusing to do his job. Why is the GOP sitting on its hands as the POTUS acts like a dictator. How about a nice impeachment trial.

        Why isn’t it just as reasonable to say this: We will not fall for this a third time. If the border is secured (and how hard can that be with today’s technology) we will work through these details.

        Another question I have for you is this: Why do you think the federal government can successfully implement the number of refinements that feel need to be made. These ass clowns cannot even build a website with 3 yrs lead time.

        So, they are going to sort through 11M aliens and figure out who meets certain criteria. Remember, these aliens have false names, stolen SS #s. Any number of them have cheated on their taxes and sold child care credits illegally. How is this all going to work again?

        Details matter and for the record, I have NO problem sending entire families back to Mexico. They are, I assume, Mexican citizens.

        PPS-This is funny, You (among others) always poke the GOP for offering up unelectable candidates, shooting themselves in the foot etc. The last time I looked, they had over half the governor seats in the US, majority in the US House, and a chance of getting at least a stalemate in the Senate.

        You guys act like they are no longer a political party?

      • Ron P permalink
        February 5, 2014 11:49 am

        JB..You make some excellent points. And I have said previously that the border needs to be secure, Not until that is verified should anything else happen (If the Soviet Union could build a fence(made of many different materials and enforcement pieces), then maybe we need to hire some of their engineers to design a border security system for us.)

        Second point, the GOP is sitting on its hands while POTUS acts like a dictator because they do not want to take power away in case a GOP president takes office. They want the same power.

        Third point. I lost my mind. You are right. Unless it is pork or some other give away program, congress is incapable of designing any law that is enforceable. And with the ACA debacle, you are also right that ID’ing 11 million undocumented aliens will be impossible. So I will reconsider my support for immigration reform! We will leave things as is as there is no way these people are going back to Mexico. The feds don’t have the assets needed to make it happen.

        Last point. Look at the governors and compare them to the national candidates the Tea Party supports. In most cases they are much more moderate. Ohio, North carolina, Lousianna for example. In the senate, Coburn(OK) (who is retiring early) Burr, NC
        Graham, SC are example of more moderates willing to compromise. When I speak of unelectibles, there are none of them in office since they were defeated. Angle in nevada, McDonnell in Deleware and the rape jerk form one of the midwest states.

      • February 5, 2014 12:39 pm

        Good points. all. One of many things I like about you Ron is your willingness to contemplate and if appropriate, revise your position. We need more like you (including me).

        PS-A Marine Captain told me the the Marines could secure the border in less than 90 days and them told me how it could be done.

        I totally believed him. He had just returned from Afghanistan and told me the Mexican drug cartel were a bunch of pussies compared to the Taliban.

        I believed that too.

  82. February 5, 2014 9:25 am

    I am wondering if Obama would like to give these guys “clemency” and save the cost of a trail. After all, drug dealers are people too!

  83. February 5, 2014 7:17 pm

    One more story to inspire confidence in our government!

  84. February 6, 2014 9:30 am

    These are the very same people who will handle the details of the “pathway to citizenship.”

    • Ron P permalink
      February 6, 2014 12:44 pm

      JB..The following article by Cal Thomas provides some excellent ammunition for those with a much more closed position on immigration reform. Based on his information, I am not as open to this issue as I was just a few days ago. But I also note that what people view as an hispanic problem is not totally an hispanic problem. Yes, 60% of the illiegals are hispanic, but that means 40% are not. If 11 million are illegal, then that means about 4.5 million are illegal from countries other than Latin America.

      Now the question becomes one of why they are here. If they are Asian, European or Canadian, why would they be here instead of in their own country since the opportunities in those countries are not so far different than in the US.

      I still believe there are some individuals in the 4.5M that are not dependant on government programs like the vast number of illegal hispanics and there needs to be some way for those people to come forward and become legal. Many may just be those where their green card has expired or whatever allowed them into the country is now no longer valid. They came in legal, but now are illegal. Much different than the ones entering illegally and become a drain on our welfare and health systems as explained so clearly by Cal Thomas.

      Please read, very good information.

  85. February 6, 2014 9:31 am

    Notice how these stories are never published by the lefty press?

  86. Priscilla permalink
    February 6, 2014 1:33 pm

    Great discussion of immigration, guys. I go back and forth on this subject, but essentially, I agree with both of you that the problem is enforcement, or the lack thereof, and, until we have an administration that is willing to enforce the law, we are going nowhere at light speed. The thing about Obama that I most dislike is his disingenuousness when talking directly to the American people, yet this appears to be something that many liberals admire….kind of the way so many of his supporters “knew” that he was for gay marriage, even when he was clearly stating that he opposed it.

    It absolutely poisons the debate on immigration ( and every other controversial issue). He’ll make whatever poll-tested statements are necessary to gain support and then do whatever he wants. The end always justifies the means with this administration…….

    • Ron P permalink
      February 6, 2014 5:29 pm

      Priscilla, after reading Cal Thomas’s article and how many illegal immigrants are not hispanic, but appear to be from countries where I would expect many to have overstayed their visa’s, have an expired green card, or whatever one gets to attend college, your comment….

      “I agree with both of you that the problem is enforcement, or the lack thereof, and, until we have an administration that is willing to enforce the law, we are going nowhere at light speed”…

      makes me wonder if our government is capable of enforcing the laws on the books. This problem did not occur under the Obama administration. It has been going on for years and even if B.O. decided to throw them all out, can we really do that? If we have individuals that were legal and are now illegal, why is it so hard to track them down and send them home. They are unlike the ones coming across the border and no one knows they are here until they use some government program.

      I think our government is so big that it is paralized in enforcing many of the laws on the books. It is almost like the business that gets so big that no one knows what is happening unti it is too late and then it can not react to market forces, thus going out of business. Our government can’t respond to the immigration problems since there are too many government employees involved and no one knows what the other is doing. The best they do is a fisherman catch and release program.

      So is there anyone in politics today that is willing to say we need to cut the government by 25% and then do it? They all talk the talk, but just like the “Pork Bill” passed to fund agriculture, no one is going to walk the walk.

      • February 6, 2014 6:19 pm

        And my home state of Iowa is the worst offender when it comes to goodies for the farmers.

        Hey, it’s all about the land!

        And family!

        And the children.

      • Ron P permalink
        February 7, 2014 12:20 am

        Well in my mind there is something different between what most people consider “family farms” and what this bill has in it and what it supports. For instance, farmers can raise chickens for Perdue or one of the larger chicken processors. They are both considered agricultural businesses. If the government has a program to support the actual farmer that raises the chickens, then that is much different than giving millions to Perdue in some other program. (This is an example as I do not know if the gov’t does or does not have any chicken supporrt programs like they have with corn, milk and other support programs) I favor helping the family farmer due to many different problems they can face. Supporting thhe mega corporate ag business is another thing.

        And if you look at the bill, there is alot that one can question how it relates to agriculture at all. They can find the far related link, but most people would not see how it exist. Just another way to spend money.

      • February 7, 2014 8:50 am

        Why exactly would it be fine to subsidize “family farms?”

      • Ron P permalink
        February 7, 2014 1:53 pm

        If you live in Iowa, then you know more about farm subsidies than I do. My belief that there is a need for some subidies for family farmers is based on the belief that many farmers use profits from the farm this year to fund living expenses and to fund the planting of next years crops. If that is not a fact, then I would then reconsider my position.

        Right now I favor subsidizing the farmers for crop insurance. This seems to insure that farmers will not lose money due to unforeseen circumstances beyond their control. It also seems like this is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of other programs in place. As noted in the link, I do not support counter cyclical payments due to price variations since that program can be “gamed”, the famers can receive a payment even if they did not grow the crop and then grow something else and make money off that crop. I also do not support any of these programs for the huge corporations involved in crops. They have stockholders to help them cover any losses.

      • Ron P permalink
        February 7, 2014 12:30 am

        Well Boehner finally did something that makes sense and now they have an issue they can support and use to their advantage. They just need to make sure all the house GOP members stay on script and do not go off half cocked like they do so often.

        Boehner announced today that the house would not take uip immigration reform. Basically he said that the congress could not trust Obama to enforce any law that they pass and they have decided to delay any immigration reform bill until that can be insured. With Obama’s pen and telephone, immigration reform is dead.

        So now lets see if this becomes a positive for the GOP or if they screw this up and let the dems make this a major campaign issue, leaving the “can’t trust the president” dead in the water. We all know the GOP’s PR machine is non-existent.

  87. Priscilla permalink
    February 7, 2014 8:27 am

    “Boehner, however, is not interested in any of this. He is not demanding that Obama rescind DACA, or open closed Border Patrol stations, or let states enforce their own immigration policies. The same corporate donors that are pushing the House leadership to pass amnesty now, have zero interest in ever seeing any immigration laws enforced ever.” ~

    Amnesty and lack of concern over the effects of illegal immigration has always been a “bipartisan” issue; Democrats see millions of new voters, Republicans see millions of new dollars from corporate donors looking for cheap labor.

    It’s bipartisan in its opposition, too: unions and conservatives. I’m flabbergasted (but not really) at the lack of coverage that the many dangers of blanket amnesty and “path to citizenship” present to our society, economically, culturally, and politically. I got a CNN “news” alert yesterday (remember, I also got one when Justin Beiber was arrested!) that trumpeted the results of a new “survey” that they had done, showing “overwhelming” support (sorry for all the scare quotes) for a path to citizenship. Of course the questions that this was based on was not published, so I don’t know how they phrased them.

    I work with and am friends with many Hispanic women. Granted, most are not Mexican – they are Columbian, Dominican. Cuban, Puerto Rican……all of them are legal, most are citizens – none are in favor of amnesty.

    It is a political thing, for sure. Our public servants, hard at work for us……..

    • Ron P permalink
      February 7, 2014 1:16 pm

      Priscilla, you work with a number of hispanics. They are legal and they do not support amnesty or much of what what was being discussed. That leads to a question. The illegals can not vote, so they should not be in play with either party. So that leaves the legals hispanics that do vote. If your people are representative of the hispanic population, then why is immigration reform an issue in elections? Is there some other reason the GOP can not attract the legal hispanic vote?

      • Priscilla permalink
        February 7, 2014 2:49 pm

        That’s a good question. I don’t discuss politics with all of my Hispanic friends, but I do with some of them. What is interesting is that they have, for the most part, very traditional, conservative-style attitudes about hard work and responsibility, yet they believe that Republicans are bigots, and are only for the rich, so they vote Democrat. During the 2012 election, a few of us were talking, and one of the women, a native of the Dominican Republic, who is married to an African-American man, said something to the effect that she kind of liked Mitt Romney, and the things he said about the economy, but that her husband was black and would be furious with her if she ever voted for a Republican. Sad, really…..

      • Ron P permalink
        February 7, 2014 4:50 pm

        And to think it wa a republican that freed the slaves and that the southern elected officials in congress were mostly Democrats until at least the mid 70’s. One only needs to look at George Wallace and ask how the hell did the GOP allow themselves to become the bigots.

      • February 7, 2014 7:23 pm

        They became “bigots” when the lefty media went in the tank and stopped reporting the news.
        Perhaps we can start by de-funded every school of journalism left in the US.

  88. February 7, 2014 8:54 am

    “I also got one when Justin Beiber was arrested!) that trumpeted the results of a new “survey” that they had done, showing “overwhelming” support (sorry for all the scare quotes) for a path to citizenship.”

    This is the way the pols work. If you ask someone if they are for or against something, the answer is often meaningless, especially if you have not terribly good thinkers asking the question.

    In other words, if I ask someone if they want a free ice cream (no costs, all benefits) most will take it. Now, if I ask them to pay a price, fewer would take it. As the price climbs, the answer changes.

    In the abstract, any question can be phrased to “sound good” and in fact, make the person feel good about their answer. It is only after one examines the issue in detail (like we did here) that the costs and unintended consequences become apparent. Then, the answer often changes.

    This is like the MJ issue. At first, it looks cost free. Later on, not so much.

    • Priscilla permalink
      February 7, 2014 11:29 am

      By the way, I’ve heard more politicians calling for the deportation of Justin Beiber than for the security of the US-Mexican border. Apparently, he is Canadian……

      I think that the legalization of marijuana has to happen. I’m not particularly happy about it, but, on balance, I don’t see the upside of keeping it a criminal offense to use it…. but, I agree that it is overly simplistic to say that it is cost free. Far from it.

  89. Ron P permalink
    February 7, 2014 4:42 pm

    Reading between the lines in this article, it further strengthens my belief that the GOP will find it harder are harder to win national elections in the future. When the opposition is united and there is a coordinated effort to achieve one or two goals going against a campaign that has multiple avenues that money is spent and has no cooordinated goals, a win has a is no fat chance happening the latter instance. So when the rich, old white guys take their money and support one effort while the Republican National Party is raising money and support different efforts, what chance do they have in defeating the coordinated effort of the Democrats.

    And this is especially true when the effort of the old white guys is based on antiquated political methodologies because they seem to be too old to accept changes that are occuring around them and the new methologies that are working.

    The GOP will always be able to win house seats because there are districts that will always think like conservative candidates, but on statewide and national wide elections, the Democrats, using newer technologies and changing by the day technologies will most likely win most elections.

    There have been times in my younger years I have worked for conservative individuals that no matter how anyone around them thought, their way was the only way. Even when their way did not work, it was still the right way. Seems like that is what we have with people like the Koch Briothers and other like them.

    • February 7, 2014 7:22 pm

      The facts don’t fit your theory.

      The GOP has more governors, state legislators and currently controls the House (two elections worth). The Senate is certainly up for grabs and GWB was POTUS for two terms. Moreover, while you rail against old white guys, there are tons of them who are rich Democrats (who by the way, spend inordinate amounts of time at this WH).

      Clearly, if the GOP were only the party of old white guys, they couldn’t be elected dog catcher in many states. Yet, Scott Walker is Gov. of Wisconsin and likely a lock to win again. Chris Christie is hardly a lefty yet he has been elected twice in Lefty NJ.

      The fact is, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio do have crossover appeal and I would not count out Scott Walker or Rick Perry on the national stage. Clinton may be being anointed by the NY Times but I am not so sure she will survive her past. What a target!

      And for the love of God, please drop the Koch Brothers. I counter with George Soros and the barroom fight begins. I am a conservative fellow and I wouldn’t know the Koch Brothers if they showed up for dinner.

      PS-The Dems can use all the newer technologies they want. The fact, is they need the give the illegals amnesty for political reasons because as we know, liberal teens who grow up often become conservative mothers who vote.

      So, they are looking for 11M easy votes. The GOP is insane if they give them that edge.

      • Ron P permalink
        February 8, 2014 12:56 am

        OK I will accept your arguement that the GOP does have national appeal if you will provide your thoughts on the article and why the Democrats seem much more progressive in their use of technologies and their unified campaign for the upcoming elections.

        I guess I see the Mitch McConnell’s that is currently running behind in his election against Grimes (may be spelled wrong) and here of others that are not doing well in their elections. I have made the point many times that the house is a very different animal since it is “local”, meaning the districts are gerrymandered so the liberals are all grouped together and the Conservatives are all grouped together. Right now there are more conservative districts than liberal one.

        Now if the GOP would run a Walker, Rubio, Christie then they would be able to attract the female vote that is crucial to getting elected president. Some of the others are very questionable.

        But it all goes back to PR and the use of technology to attract the younger voters attention. Using TV and radio when the younger generation is not viewing is the way of the past..

      • February 8, 2014 10:41 am

        I simply think that you are placing too much emphasis on the tech and young voter thing. Indeed, I have seen several articles that suggest that the Dem advantage in that area is over blown.

        I hope McConnell retires soon, along with some of his very old and data cronies. It is time for new blood. The good news is that Harry Reid will stick around, proving that dumb knows no party.

  90. Priscilla permalink
    February 7, 2014 8:11 pm

    I’m not so sure that the GOP is dead in the water, Ron. Despite everything, the latest Quinnipiac poll (not a partisan polling organization, although it has been criticized for tilting Democrat) show Hillary losing in Colorado ( a big time swing state) to every major Republican, except Christie, with whom she’s basically tied.

    If – and, admittedly it’s a big if – the Repubs can put together a good ticket in 2016, I think they win. And, by good ticket, it’s got to be something other than a couple of “old white guy,” for sure.

    My dream ticket, at the moment? Scott Walker and Susana Martinez.

    • February 7, 2014 8:15 pm

      I like that ticket.

    • Ron P permalink
      February 8, 2014 1:08 am

      Now that’s a ticket I could get behind. Or even a Walker and Ayotte. Both of these women are smart and should be considered qualified on their own merits, unlike the dufus McCain picked in 08.

  91. February 8, 2014 10:42 am

    I like Kelly Ayotte as well.

    McCain is a loser. That said, I doubt Mother Teresa would have gotten a fair shake when Palin ran.

  92. February 8, 2014 11:08 am

    Rick, you seem to be a big defender of social welfare benefits. Care to respond?

  93. Roby L permalink
    February 8, 2014 4:50 pm

    Reason no 234 why I won’t be having any sympathy with the aspirations of Republicans any time soon. From Forbes:

    “Ray Bellamy, a doctor based in Florida, decided that he wanted to make a donation in a local congressional race. He began by Googling the Democratic candidate’s name, “Alex Sink.” He then clicked on one of the first results that popped up. A page loaded that that had the candidate’s typical designs, color schemes, and even a large photo of her talking to constituents. Not thinking anything of it he entered his financial information and hit submit. What he didn’t notice was the small print at the bottom of the screen.

    He was then notified that his donation had actually gone to her opponent – as he explained to Tampa Bay Times, he had been the victim of an elaborate scheme by National Republican Congressional Committee to trick voters into donating money to the wrong party.

    It turns out that the political organization has purchased over a dozen domain names of Democratic candidates up for election and set up real-looking-but-fake websites. The worst part of all – besides the blatant deception and malice for the electorate – is that fact that since it has been exposed, the NRCC has stated that they are “very proud of the program” and have promised to expand it. It seems they can’t even be shamed into stopping their borderline fraud….”

    • February 8, 2014 5:13 pm

      We, of course, could NOT find instances of similar offenses and bad behavior on the part of Democrats? Gee, I wonder if using the IRS to intimidate conservative groups is worthy of some scorn? How about holding up the Keystone pipeline so one of your big donors can keep shipping oil on his railroad?

      If not, perhaps, innumerous counts of voter fraud in Democratic districts, prison terms for Jesse Jackson, Jr. etc. etc.

      If you are looking for bad political behavior, I would suggest this is evenly distributed among the two parties, if not a particular quality of left Dems.

      For further research, sort on the names Sharpton, Clinton/Whitehater, or Democrat/Chicago.

    • Ron P permalink
      February 8, 2014 5:30 pm

      Roby, are you really surprised something like this happens. I sure am not since evry damn one of those jerks in Washington lies, cheats and steals to get elected. Some get caught, others do not. Some fo the candidates told their constituents they could keep their insurance when that was a big fat lie. Some said you can keep your doctor if you like your doctor. That was a big fat lie. Now millions are paying more, getting less coverage (much higher deductibles) and some don’t even have their doctor in their network.

      So weigh that lie with the lie that is raising money and which one is worse?

      I vote for the first one since the second one has a disclaimer on all the websites if you read the small print. The first one had not disclaimer!

  94. Roby L permalink
    February 8, 2014 4:55 pm

    But reading the whole story makes the complaint less impressive I admit.

  95. February 8, 2014 5:33 pm

    People don’t like pols who tell the truth. Ask Coburn, Paul, and Cruz.

    As for the POTUS, there isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t utter a good lie or two.

    “If you like your ……………………… well, you know.

  96. Roby L permalink
    February 8, 2014 6:48 pm

    Ron, here a distinction is that its the actual Republican party apparatus and not a particular candidate. Just imagine that for every particular compliant you guys make here about Obama and or Dems or liberals someone had the energy to come along and change the subject by saying so what, that’s no big deal, but what about the Iraq war, what about Christie, what about the… and on and on.

    Sure we all cherry pick depending on who we have the least affinity for, and I am happy to see the admission that they all do it from both of you guys, my suggestion is to not think about it too much, since it only makes one miserable.

    My wife just returned from Kiev, believe it or not where she had a family wedding to go to, so we did need to seriously read the news and make serious inquiries of people there to find out a lot about what was going on in Kiev and make reasonable plans before buying the tickets, but lacking that level of personal need to know, following the daily revelations, the news (aka, the bad news) about who is screwing up today seems like a funny hobby. Ah, we all are weak. But the less the better.

    • Ron P permalink
      February 9, 2014 1:06 am

      I did some research on this website. I also found another one for someone with the last name of Kirkpatrick. Anyone donating money to this website and not knowing it is not going to that candidate is a moron. It clearly states, “Had enough of ——-” Donate Today. It also has negative comments about the candidates before the request for money.

      These are not a lie. They are not hiding anything. They clearly state they are reasing money against that candidate unless you can’t read english (and that may be the problem). The only thing they are using is the candidates name in the website and as far as I know, no one has a copy right on their names. I remember years ago when the internet was just and infant, there was a group that registered a ton of website names and anyone wanting to use that name had to pay them for that domain. So I find nothing wrong with what they have done and this is just sour grapes for the DNC because they did not think of it first.

      And I would not have a problem had the left thought of it first as this is not a lie, it is not fraud and only the dimwits that don’t read would be stupid enough to donate and then complain about it so everyone can see how stupid they were. But since personal responsibility is not part of being a democrat, I can see how they might think they need protection from their own stupidity.

      There are people that need protection. For instance, the elderly (from fraud and neglect), children, the mentally challenged and some individuals with physical disabilities. Not being any of these and being stupid does not qualify.

      As for your wife going to Kiev, I have to give it to her for attending the wedding with what we see in the news goin on over there. I suspect it is somewhat blown up for our news, but still, a former Soviet country on the verge of civil war does not seem like a safe place to travel.

    • Ron P permalink
      February 11, 2014 1:05 pm

      Whether it is not voting, constaint complaining without actions that follow, inattention to education leading to a population that is untrained for any job resulting in jobs going overseas or just not caring at all, MLK said all that needs to be said.

      “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”.

      One only needs to look at where we were when he made this comment, how far we came since and how much we have regressed in the past few years. His actions lived on for years bringing positive change to all Americans, not just the blacks. But his influence has wained and without leadership and a population willing to standup for what is right, we see how far backward we have moved. The family structure, poor educational systems, etc.

      Today, instead of following giants such as King and wanting to grow up like one of those individuals to make a difference, we idolize entertainers, athletes and others that contribute alot of negatives for kids to imitate.

      • February 11, 2014 1:51 pm

        Well, some of us idolize those folks. I don’t (at all) and neither does my son. I think our jobs as parents make the difference, or not.

      • Ron P permalink
        February 11, 2014 2:52 pm

        Well I guess I did make a blanket statement and that was wrong. Too many of Americans idolize these folks. And you made a comment that its at the problem for many.

        “Our jobs as parents”. Here. too many Americans believe the villiage can raise their kids and not do much themselves in setting expectations for the kids and making sure the kids work to achieve those expectations..

      • February 11, 2014 3:12 pm

        I don’t see much being made of “personal responsibility” these days. “Tis a pity, no?

  97. Priscilla permalink
    February 14, 2014 9:10 am

    ‘Tis a great pity, JB….In the liberal world of “social justice,” the only folks who are supposed to take “personal responsibility” are the rich and successful – and their responsibility is expected to take the form of guilt and blame. It is then the job of the government to step in and force them to personally right the wrongs that they have done.

    I was listening to Jonathan Turley, a liberal law professor from GWU, discussing Obama’s lame duck strategy of ignoring the separation of powers and doing as much as possible by executive fiat, as well as lawlessly changing the ACA (remember, it’s the LAW OF THE LAND!) multiple times, for purely political reasons.

    His point was that it is shocking and dangerous to have a president who is so willing to violate his oath, but even more shocking that he is doing it without significant opposition. He says that liberals will rue the day that they encouraged this precedent, because the next Republican president will use it for his or her own agenda, and we will continue down the slippery slope of tyranny.

    The thing is, who, other than a tyrant, can force mean, evil rich folk like Mitt Romney and the Koch’s to give most of their money to the government (of course, I’m not talking about rich folks like, say, Jay -Z and Beyoncé, because they support Democrats and say nice things about Castro)? I guess a vengeful god could?

    Democracy is based on personal responsibility, not victimhood. Unfortunately, many Americans seem to be embracing victimhood. It’s a bummer.

    • February 14, 2014 9:32 am

      Dead on, Priscilla.

      These old, quaint notions that we grew up on are dead and gone.

      God Bless The United States of America. We will need God’s help very soon indeed.

  98. February 15, 2014 8:41 am

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  99. Roby L permalink
    February 17, 2014 10:52 am

    Jeez Guys, Personal responsibility is the world I live in and its the world every single person I see every day lives in. Its the only world that works if you want to decent life. Its fully alive. I’ve given the advice before but I’ll say it again. Put down the fascination with immersion in the partisan news and the world will be a much brighter place almost immediately.

    There may be broken inner cities in places like Detroit or Baltimore where people are not living that way , but unless suddenly about 10 million jobs get created almost overnight then the normal healthy happy productive life that we here all live is not really available in those places.

    Be happy with the great lot we all have. If the partisan news has truly soured one on the US there are always those other countries to flee to where life is so much better, Scandinavia for Lefties and Singapore for Righties. But I don’t see much sign of an exodus.

  100. Priscilla permalink
    February 17, 2014 12:35 pm

    Roby, I’m never sure exactly how to respond when I am instructed that I should be happy with my lot. I actually am happy – always have been – with my “lot,” just that I suppose I never really thought of it as “my lot in life.”

    Don’t get me wrong, I have thought, countless times, really, how immensely fortunate I was to have been born an American, into the loving family that I have, and how lucky I have been in the health that I have enjoyed and the good people that I have met. But, I have never understood why I should personally feel shame or guilt over the lives of those who have not enjoyed such good fortune, or why, if I express my views as to how government and society could best help the less fortunate, that somehow indicates that I am an angry ingrate who should leave this country and go somewhere else…….

    I don’t necessarily see it as partisan to believe that there are better ways to help broken cities like Detroit…….unfortunately, identity-based politics needs conflict, perceived threats and perceived victims in order to be successful, and that is what I was bemoaning in my comment. Letting go of victimhood and embracing possibilities for productive living is what I absolutely believe in. So, we agree in concept, just not so much in strategy.

    • February 17, 2014 12:46 pm

      As always, Priscilla is spot on. Advocating for a government that can and should, do much better, is more than fine. How else will there be any positive pressure on them to improve, since the “market” is not there to provide any?

      I have a wonderful life, which clearly is made possible, in part, by my living in the USA. Then again, it was certainly not a gimme (nor is it still) and I get up every day committed to making it better, if I can. I am lucky to have a spouse who feels the same way.

      Hence, I don’t appeciate supporting the kind of losers that leech off a generous system of benefits that assumes others will also try as hard as they can.

      As for the whole guilt thing, to my knowledge, no one other than a few members of my family, have ever “helped” me in any substantial way unless I delivered value in return. I feel sympathy for those who really cannot help themselves (including my little animal buddies) and I help there when I can. Other than that, I think the big dough lies in Wash DC. Since they take all the credit, they should work harder.

    • Roby L permalink
      February 17, 2014 12:58 pm

      Priscilla you have victimhood down to the T, can’t you see it? And that is a thing that is the essential core of partisan politics every lefty or righty is most of all energized by their victim hood. I am really truly not trying to be nasty and not trying to offend here, but if you go back and read your last two posts I do not know how you could get any more victimization into them. There are tens of millions who do the same, there is nothing unusual about it, but it does tend to take a good bit of the joy out of life.

      I went to a daughter’s graduation from art school in Baltimore last spring. The school is prestigious but located very near to the dark side of Baltimore. So I saw that. You should see inner Baltimore, falling down building without roofs, jobless people sitting on steps. No one is going to create jobs where they are in any large numbers and they have no means of escape. “Letting go of victimhood and embracing possibilities for productive living” is a thing that is totally beyond those people. And I am sure Baltimore has nothing on Detroight for violence and poverty. I suppose that where the shaming comes in sometimes (Pat Riot tried it without success here some months back) is this unwillingness that some conservatives have to comprehend what a deep hole some people are in because of where they were born and who they were born to. Everyone can succeed is the mantra linked to the responsibility creed and its just unfortunately not true. And so 5% of 20% (federal taxes) of my income goes to pay for food stamps and all the other social programs that conservatives bemoan as the work of fools or the devil and I do not begrudge it, which makes said conservative feel shamed or attacked very often.

      • February 17, 2014 1:31 pm

        I call bullshit.

        Are you suggesting that residents who live in slums cannot move out of those slums? Are there chains attached to their ankles?

        I know, I grew up in one. When I was 17, I left, and never went back.Ditto for my brother. Now, of course, many of those we grew up with remained there. What kept them there? I don’t know and I bet you don’t either. Since they had no jobs and nothing but a rental agreement, there was not many attachments to keep them there. Perhaps it was a choice they made, knowing the likely outcome?

        Can everyone “succeed?” Depends on what you mean by succeed? How bad does siomeone want it and what trade-offs are they willing to make? Does one need to be a genius IQ to become a mechanic or plumber? Ah, no. Do they need to learn the skill and show up to work on time.


        So, most folks can succeed at something, certainly many more than actually do.

        How much skill does it take to be a doper/junkie? Ah, none and no motivation either.

        As for Priscilla, I know from personal experience that she is about as far from a victim as one can be. Perhaps you should hold your tongue on that issue.

      • Ron P permalink
        February 17, 2014 1:56 pm

        Roby, I am one of those conservatives that you may be addressing as someone that may not understand the problems faced by those in poverty. Here are my positions on what the government should be doing and what the community involved with poverty should be doing.

        I believe government should be providing benefits to those that are truely in need. In this regard, I believe government has failed miserably.For example, one only needs to look at the problems are veterans experience once they return from wars with injuries. I had a very good friend whose son was in Iraq the second time around and he returned from the war with PTSD. The military and veterans administration did little to help, so they had to rely on private groups for help. Some was just group therapy, but at least it was help. Today we see groups like Wounded Warriors asking for donations. Why do we need them? If the government ask a young man to go to war and defend this country, then the government should step up and help those that need the help. Homes for the disabled should be part of that assistance, not the private groups like today. Compare that to a crack mom living in the inner city that is covered by Medicaid, they receive food stamps and housing allowance to support their child(ren) and do nothing to try to improve their lot in life. Who needs the help more in these two examples. And then look at the SNAP program to see what they can and can not buy with food stamps. Mixes for alcoholic drinks are covered. Do the kids really need that to survive?

        As for the community, ask yourslef what would MLK have done had he been alive today. I believe he would have demanded more from his followers in personal responsibility. Instead of asking government for a handout, I believe he would have demanded better programs to provide trade and technical training for people in the inner cities so they would be trained for a job. Assistance for those in the beginning stages might have been required as they attended training. But why are the jobless sitting on steps today? One might be linked to our piss poor education system that requires most to take courses that do little to prepare them for the real world. Is it more important for an inner city kid with no desire to attend college to take algebra or to take classes in welding, engine repair or machinist training.

        Like the quote goes something like “give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime”, Our government has chosen the first choice and forgotten the last. It is time our government begins to provide for those truely needy and then provide education to those that can work and require them to work if they want to survive.

  101. Roby L permalink
    February 17, 2014 1:53 pm

    By definition since life is a competition everyone cannot succeed. When you tell your story here, you are the hero of it. You leave out every detail that would show where society helped you, that is your choice, but I call bullshit, not knowing you personally does not prevent me from knowing that any person living in the USA is receiving many “positive externalities” and government did play a role in your success, your success would not have happened most likely say under the Soviet government.

    These political arguments inevitably turn bitter because believers in right and left ideologies have certain huge blind spots, the discussion takes the turn of asking someone to see their own blind spots and that is a very, very, very rare event. I am not going to break my head against the wall of convincing you that just because you succeeded that does not prove that everyone can succeed. THere will always be in any society many who do not succeed life is competitive. You had certain advantages that got you out of the projects, and its more than just your inner hero, you just chose not to acknowledge them.
    So, your own self told anecdote of your own life as an example that work must equal success is proof of zero.

    • February 17, 2014 3:25 pm

      You read but you do not understand. That is your choice. I am no hero, and to me, few people are. There are positive and negative extranalities for everyone, you included. So what?

      At the end of the day, you face what you face, you do, what you do. Or, you sit on your ass. Or, something in-between. Then, you get an outcome.

      Life is a competiition for some, for others not so much. Everyone has the possibility to “succeed” depending on their definition of success.

      How hard do you want to make this?

    • Priscilla permalink
      February 17, 2014 11:41 pm

      Roby, of course it is true that not everyone can achieve what JB has achieved. Not everyone can achieve what Steve Jobs achieved. Not everyone can achieve what Miley Cyrus has achieved. Not everyone can achieve what Tommy John achieved, or Michael Phelps, or Warren Buffet, or Mitt Romney, or Barack Obama.

      I read an article about Wendy Davis, the Dem candidate for governor of Texas. She has been taking a beating for “enhancing” her personal story in a way that implies that she struggled, as a young, single mom, to get an education and overcome adversity, when the truth is that she married a man who put her through college and law school, and then she dumped him. I wouldn’t even really have a problem with this, if she hadn’t responded to the criticism by saying that her opponent, Greg Abbott, had not “walked a mile in her shoes”. Which is true, because Greg Abbott is a paraplegic. An oak tree fell on him while he was running…..

      We all have obstacles to overcome…doesn’t it make more sense to support people in overcoming their obstacles than to just assume that they can’t succeed and put them on the dole? And, yes, I know that “on the dole” is an impossibly old-fashioned phrase…..

      • February 18, 2014 8:10 am

        This is an interesting link and I find the language most interesting. The gist is that college students who don’t have parents who have graduated from college are “disadvantaged” and thus, this explains their achievement deficit vs. those who came from “college families.”

        The article goes on to stress the importance of not “stigmatizing” the students for their disadvantage.

        Seriously, have we become such a nation of pussies that we have to treat first generation college students as having some form of handicap? Did someone guarantee us all the right to the “correct parents” while I took my daily nap?

        To wit: I have a graduate student who is blind (my second student with this affliction). He is at the top of my finance class right now. He has asked for virtually no accommodation, save some extra time to complete an exam.

        This, my friends, is someone who is “disadvantaged” and yet he clearly does not relate to his life in this way. What he does do is everything that he can to succeed at this endeavor. He also wants to go on to medical school in a year or two. Did I mention he is nearly 40 yrs. old and has six children at home and is a widower?

        It is time for the public rhetoric to stop this nonsense about being “disadvantaged.”
        I had pretty imperfect parents indeed, but compared to many, they were gems. And, no, they had not attended college. Did I feel disadvantaged when I went to college? Hell, no, I was happy to be there (instead of working full time) and eager to figure out how to succeed. When attitude is pretty much all you have, you have to have plenty of it. Or, you can go lick your wounds and whine about how you don’t have this, or that.

        Now, Roby will call me an angry old white man. In fact, I am not angry, but a little disheartened. I don’t see this long slow slide down into self-indulgence ending soon and my child and his children will pay the price, I fear. That, bothers me.

        My life has been, and will be quite fine, indeed. It is the future that they face that gets me down in the dumps.

  102. Roby L permalink
    February 17, 2014 2:03 pm

    I do not know Priscilla, I just read her words here, the victimhood is there, writ large in her last two posts. I find that conservatives and liberals are equally prone to it in their own ways, victimhood means the perception that that unfairness is occurring. Humans and not only humans are very quick to perceive unfairness, even when they are not armed with ideologies that feed off that idea. Armed with ideologies the situation is one of perpetual victimhood. Free yourselves of your partisan politics, it will help, you’ll feel better.

    • Ron P permalink
      February 17, 2014 2:21 pm

      Roby, one does not need to be liberal or conservative, Demcrat, Republican or Libertarian to do some research and find the billions of dollars this country waste on programs that do little good, From the programs that have outlived their usefulness other than employment of federal workers, programs that have been duplicated many times in different agencies or programs that provide corporate welfar to companies that do not need it, one could find that many programs could be provided to those in need that would make a difference. In many instances today, I believe that many of these programs privide a means for many to not work and take advantage of a system that is set up for low expectations of individuals. Just as our education system keeps reducing standards resulting in low student achievement expectations.

      And as long as low expectations are the standard, jobs will continue to move to areas where education and training are at a much higher level.

    • February 17, 2014 3:26 pm

      You see what you want to see and believe me, you are in no position to lecture anyone on victimhood.

  103. Roby L permalink
    February 17, 2014 2:06 pm

    I have ahead of me 6 hours of tutoring chemistry and other sciences, a recent turn of events that brings in some pin money. Its that responsibility thing that really is NOT dead. So, Nothing more from me today!

  104. Priscilla permalink
    February 17, 2014 6:36 pm

    First of all, Roby, for what it is worth, I did not think you were being nasty or trying to offend with your comment.

    That said, I think that we fundamentally disagree on what a “victim” is. You write that “victimhood means the perception that that unfairness is occurring.” I think that victimhood occurs when some person or group is actually harmed or cheated.

    Black people, individually and as a group have historically suffered actual harm, due to racism and discrimination. Many have been real victims. But, these days, I find it more likely that black people perceive themselves to be victims, whether or not any harm is actually occurring. For all of the “conservatives hate Obama because he is black” talk that we hear, he is the elected leader of the free world, and a whole lot of white people, many presumably conservative (or at least not liberal) had to have voted for him in order for him to win. So, portraying Obama as a victim of racism is, to me, bogus. Do some whites hate him because he’s black? Sure. So what? Life is unfair, sticks and stones, no harm, no foul, and all that. No victimhood there.

    I will give you this – conservatives have started to play the victim game too. I’m thinking that when I point out that it is rare to see genuine criticism of Obama in the mainstream media (sure, they nick him now and then) you see that as a form of whiny victimhood. I’ll try harder not come off that way. On the other hand, a few comments back, I noted that media coverage of politics was unfair, but that Republicans in general and conservatives, in particular, needed to suck it up and deal with it. Unfairness is not victimhood.

    One other thing….living in a free and safe country provided JB with the ability to choose to work his way out of poverty. But he did it. The government was certainly instrumental in protecting his rights and in guarding his freedom, yes. But this Elizabeth Warren-driven notion that because tax money funds highways, the government can take credit for everyone who drives to their school or job and subsequently succeeds? Pure nonsense.

    • February 17, 2014 6:43 pm

      Indeed, to Liz Warren and her ilk: Who invented the auto and the means to create more of them? Not the government. Who invented and built the machinery to build roads? Not the government.

      Government only exists and is funded by private enterprise. If you don’t believe that Liz, take a trip to North Korea to see how this actually plays out in the real world.

  105. Roby L permalink
    February 18, 2014 9:59 am

    I don’t have a whole lot of time but I stuck my nose into this conversation so I will try to be concise but hold my end up.

    My parents were pretty damn good, had their faults but… One of my pieces of very good fortune. We were comfortably middle class, but the fact that my father was a workaholic and insisted on buying houses and rebuilding them with my help, while holding down very demanding jobs certainly improved our circumstances. I did not graduate HS, too ADD to comprehend anything at that age other than reading voraciously, thats my cross to bear. I left home at 18, lived with a rock band, worked in various factories in Cranbury NJ, pretty toxic places. At some point there was an ad in the paper for the CETA program, study to be an auto mechanic and the govt will pay. I applied and was accepted; the Fed Government paid my tuition to an associates degree in automotive gas and diesel technology. It was my first good experience with a school, actually it was a very well run school and I was a bit older more in control of the ADD and got great grades. I worked as an auto mechanic in NJ and then Vermont, but wages were poor and so after building my first house in Vermont I moved over to construction. Among other things I worked on the Trapp Family lodge, and then the Trapp condos. My father never stopped pestering my to use my brain for something and so at 27 I finally gave in (another of good luck, having that father who pestered.) By now I was married and had two kids. Did not stay married, wife was into her pot and I never was into it or the lazy habits that came with it. So now I was single parenting and going to school and needed more money and found it by joining the VT Army National Guard. Graduated with a nice GPA with a degree in math and physical sciences, took an engineering exam at the state, passed and received a job as a so-called environmental engineer/hydrogeologist (I had a minor in Geology). Well I said I was going to be concise Blew it already. I guess you can see I’m not lazy In fact I can be obsessively hard working, but my success is built to a large degree on luck, family support, and government support. I could go on to the doctorate and the post docs and my present dream of a job, which came to me as a total unplanned consequence of the fact that I decided to teach myself Russian so I could have a conversation with my very wonderful in laws, well at that point I was in my mid 40s. Again, pure luck really. I’m no self-made man, I have a great life, yeah, I worked for it but I did not work alone, if I had to do that my ADD would have kept me in factories or the like. The CETA program was a real turning point and that was a large scale Fed government investment in training me that turned my life around.

    I know many hardworking, intelligent, responsible people who have failed, luck plays a huge role in life. They got into careers that became obsolete by that time they were middle aged, went back to school acquired debt, can’t get a decent job related to the expensive reschooling, due to their no longer very young age. Among those who can’t get decent jobs are quite a few older people who’s first or second careers became obsolete. Age discrimination is brutal, people who should be the first ones employers would hire based exactly on the fact that they have long track records as responsible productive people now find themselves all but judged worthless.

    NAFTA, Chinese trade (which infuriates me, losing American jobs the low wages in a society with an entirely evil fascist government), the global race to be cheap and efficient (so that when you have trouble with your new Windows 8.1 computer you will surely talk to several people in India who claim to be named George or, no shit, Elvis) etc. these are all huge impersonal forces that have removed many millions of American jobs. There are a lot of people in places like Detriot who unlike me, had the shitty luck to be born in the wrong place at the wrong time and make the unlucky choices of where to work. Nothing is going to recreate the lost jobs in those places in numbers large enough to make a dent in the millions who are out of work. Yes, Ron teaching them all to fish would be great, I had CETA, I distinctly remember the horror that conservatives greeted the proposal of any sort of similar training program with several years back.

    The difference between my outlook (bleeding heart liberal you may call it) and yours JB is that I don’t think that just because I worked hard and got a great life in the end as a result it means that hard work equals a great life. Hard work and great luck adn great help when you need it equals a great life. It really is not that hard to see that while certain individuals triumph over all adversity, millions don’t and it is not possible that they, as a group will. They are not all lazy losers.

    Since I am immersed in Chemistry lately I will make an analogy. If you take a beaker of liquid mercury and measure the vapor pressure of mercury right above it you will find that there are a tiny number of mercury molecules that defeat all the odds and wind up with enough kinetic energy to escape the beaker. But you will wait pretty much forever for the entire beaker of mercury to evaporate. Are all the other molecules “losers”?

    Many who fail are not the least bit lazy, but it is a conservative habit to equate effort and failure on a one to one basis and this explains why money invested in such people is just wasted. I understand moral hazard and I understand going too far and creating something like the welfare system prior to its reform, all heart and no brain and nothing but an incentive for people to sit home and breed. There is a happy medium between, “Have they no poor houses?” and overdone welfare. And one has to realize that poverty can come to those who do not deserve it and they cannot just be left to rot.

    Now tell me what a poor thinker I am, what a dunce, what an economic know nothing. But I’m not. I try to balance a reasonable level of compassion with my economic knowledge, and not only for animals, but for people too.

    Now I am off to work.

    • February 18, 2014 1:07 pm


      You still don’t know how to read very well, I never said the following, nor did I imply it:

      “The difference between my outlook (bleeding heart liberal you may call it) and yours JB is that I don’t think that just because I worked hard and got a great life in the end as a result it means that hard work equals a great life. ”

      I also don’t remember anyone or anything that promises that we will all have a “great life.”

      Perhaps you do. Please cite where and when this promise is made?

      BTW-My thinking that I have a fine life has very little to do with the economics of my situation. I feel blessed by the people I have in my life, not their economic means (which are fairly modest by most standards).

  106. Priscilla permalink
    February 18, 2014 10:40 am

    Well, well, Roby, you really do have a fascinating story to tell, as well. (You sure it wasn’t CranFORD, not CranBURY NJ where you worked? Cranbury is a rather tiny, picturesque little town, right outside of Princeton)

    It reflects well upon you that you you are willing to give credit where credit is due, as far as the government program that enabled you to learn a marketable skill and the educational support you received from the National Guard.

    But, don’t you see that you took the ball and ran with it, while those like your ex-wife chose not to succeed? YOU did that, with government assistance, yes, but enrolling in an educational program and joining a military unit is a far, far cry from collecting “free money” from entitlement programs and whining that it’s not enough. And as far as those who try, but do not succeed….well, there is the agony of defeat in all competitive situations, but that can propel some to victory in other areas. My kids were all outstanding competitive swimmers in HS and college. None of them were physically big- my daughter barely 5″1′ – and it definitely made it near impossible for her to succeed against equally talented opponents who had 9-10 inches on her. But she had a coach who, early on, told her “You’re little, so you have to swim big” and she took that to heart and had a successful swimming career. Never made it to the Olympics, but that is not how she defined success.

    I think that we are all saying the same thing….the government DOES have a role in helping the disadvantaged. It’s the nature of that role, how assistance is applied and how much personal responsibility is required from the individual that we are debating, I think………

    • Priscilla permalink
      February 18, 2014 10:42 am


    • Ron P permalink
      February 18, 2014 1:16 pm

      Priscilla, it sure would be nice if everyone, including politicians, could put into words there positions on government assistance as well as you have said it here. I have also said the same thing, but in words that probably were not as clear and concise as you have put it.

      As you said, there is nothing wrong with government assistance when the help actually helps someone like Roby. And when the help goes to those like his ex-wife, then that is waste. Help should only go to those that help themselves or are unable physically or mentally to help themselves.

      What I find so interesting is the inability of the conservatives to communicate this position in a way that allows the majority to understand where they are coming from. I already know hwy the liberals want to continue with the programs they have in place. As long as peasants are dependant on them, the elite will be assured reelection.

      But we can discuss the issues that this country faces for the next 5-10 years and nothing will change. The entitlement programs will continue as they are now as doing anything to them will insure a defeat in the next election. Not until another fiscal crisis occurs due to the entitlement programs and the deficits this country faces will our leaders have the guts to do anything about those problems.

      • February 18, 2014 9:20 pm

        Roby–great life story, and i know that’s only part of it! Yes, the government can be extremely helpful in creating opportunities for people (like the educational program and the military service you experienced). Government is absolutely lousy when it tries to guarantee outcomes. Entitlement checks to people for breathing are an abomination. Multimillion dollar government assistance to companies like Solyndra that are politically connected, but have flawed business models are an abomination. Calling someone partisan for believing these things seems beyond the pale

      • Priscilla permalink
        February 19, 2014 9:34 am

        Ron, I share your frustration with the seeming inability of conservatives to articulate their vision for reducing the reach of big government, while making sure that important and/or established programs remain viable. Clearly, one of the problems we have is the sheer number of problems we have, and no one seems to want to focus on priorities and solutions….for exactly the reason you state: everyone in Washington is focusing on their next election. And, for the few who actually do stick their necks out and propose real reforms? One of two fates, usually…they get ignored (remember the bipartisan Ryan-Wyden healthcare plan?) or they get blasted politically (remember every politician that ever proposed real SS reform?)

        I remain somewhat- but only somewhat – optimistic that the next couple of elections may result in some improvement, if only because many Democrats who voted for Obamacare, without ever reading the bill or understanding the enormous boondoggle that they were inflicting on the public, will likely lose their elections because of it. Whether that will help matters or just change the cast of characters is an open question…….

      • February 19, 2014 10:42 am

        It is hard to be the party of no. After all, we live in a Santa Claus culture, which the statists love, as it keeps them popular. With a willing media supporting the myths, the game goes on. If you are the voice of sanity (no one can solve all of the “problem” you most certainly will lose.

        The political game thrives on problems and if we don’t actually have a problem, they will create one (see climate change as just one glaring example).

        If you rob Peter to pay Paul……

        PS-A public school system that is a failure doesn’t hurt either.

    • Roby L permalink
      February 19, 2014 10:19 am

      Priscilla I was half right. I looked up my old factories. I worked for Maark Corp. they made Head tennis racquets in Cranbery. There my job was wiping down the aluminum stock with TCE and then dipping them in lacquer. I think they actually later shut the place down due among other things, the level of toxic fumes in the lacquer room. TCE is considered a carcinogen, my hands were constantly drenched in the stuff But Stauffer chemical, where I processed the fungicide Captan, (another potential carcinogen but by an unlikely mechanism) was down Rt 130 15 miles in the other direction in Yardville. Either way I had to go through East Windsor where the cops took great pleasure in pulling over my VW Van with a peace sign in the place of the VW insignia on the front to search for drugs. Which Of course I did not have. We lived in Princeton so the drive was similar in either direction so I remembered they were both in Cranbury. I also worked in a factory later in New Brunswick running a machine that plated huge rolls of copper with nickel and black chrome (yet another carcinogen). The room was at about 100 degree and I usually worked over night double shifts from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. I am glad I got out of all that!

      Of course I see that I worked and that is a factor in my success. But my point is that luck also plays a great role in life and I had lots of it and others who also worked hard did not.

      • February 19, 2014 11:05 am

        “Of course I see that I worked and that is a factor in my success. But my point is that luck also plays a great role in life and I had lots of it and others who also worked hard did not.”

        You keep coming back to this issue of hard work and luck. Work (hard or otherwise) is necessary for most people to have a successful life. I don’t think anyone would suggest that it is the ONLY thing one needs. You might need other behaviors like tenacity, adaptability, awareness, impulse control, etc.

        Luck is an interesting concept here. Yes, if you are struck by lightning, I would call that unlucky. If you sit by and watch an industry that you work in die, year by year, and you do not take some form of action, that is NOT bad luck, that is simply being dumb and/or lazy.

        To wit: It didn’t take a genius to figure out that online education would prove to be attractive to many higher ed students. Yet, many colleges and college faculty refused to acknowledge this fact and simply dug in and fought this trend.

        Many of those colleges are struggling now and many of the faculty don’t have the skill set to make the leap to teaching with different modalities. If they don’t adapt, many will no longer be that employable.

        Bad luck? Hardly. Bad thinking or lazy thinking, take your pick.

        Wife leaves husband. Husband starts drinking, loses his job, kills self.

        Bad luck?

        You decide.

      • Priscilla permalink
        February 19, 2014 12:11 pm

        Ah, Roby, you even drove a VW bus!! With a peace sign! I had a friend in college who dated a guy with a fully painted VW bus; flowers, peace signs, slogans written in balloon letters…the works. I was so jealous.

        To continue on the “luck,” theme….the whole idea of safety net programs is to help people who are “down on their luck” (an old fashioned phrase for sure, and one that our parents generation used more than we do today).

        But the whole idea of ‘down on your luck’ was that it was – generally, at least – a temporary condition, and the role of government assistance was to give a hand up, not a permanent hand-out.

  107. Roby L permalink
    February 19, 2014 9:37 am

    Paying people for breathing sounds pretty stupid, I would not calling someone partisan for believing that. At the same time spending huge money on bombs and warplanes also sounds pretty stupid and I would not call like to call someone partisan for saying “no more wars” either.

    In an ideal world.

    The actual world is very much more complicated and we wind up needing do do things that sound insane on the face of them, wars, invasions, handouts to the poor, sometimes just for for breathing.

    I think another thing that is a sign of a moderate in the acceptance of a complicated world with all its bizarre sounding compromises with reality. Ideological purists at the more highly partisan ends of the spectrum have a huge desire for simple pure truths. I think that if I could bend the ears of a group of anti war activists for several hours for a lecture on history, some of them might come off their high pure ideological horses and realize that preventing large parts of Asia and eastern Europe from living under the kind of communist dictatorships such as the one in North Korea would not have happened without US military spending and military actions. Likewise I think a good lecture on history might change the minds of some who take issue with spending money on the poor even if sometimes it amounts to paying some people to breathe. There are tens of millions of unemployed at presents. Job creation does not happen at rates higher than the order of hundreds of thousands per month and that is the same order of magnitude as the growth of the working age population. If you don’t pay those tens of millions of something or at least give them food stamps so they can eat, what are their options?Crime seems like an obvious one.

    I’m glad that folks here appreciate my story and think that in my case the government training program was worthwhile. But that is a thing that is easier to see in hindsight, and it is not possible to come up with a system that helps only those who will use the help well. Such a system also helps some who will not make good use and you cannot perfectly determine who will be a future Ph.D and who will waste their life on drinking and drugging.

    As to entitlement programs of the type that seem to fit the model being criticized here the ones that I think of first are the Earned income Credit and Food Stamps. Remembering that I had read that the earned income credit was originally a Republican proposal I went looking for info on it and came up with this at the first cast of my internet:

    In fact I find myself entirely agreeing with Ryan and Rubio on this one to my huge surprise. Minimum wage laws sound good but they do more harm than good if the minimum is not a real bare bones minimum. Ryan and Rubio have a better idea here.

    But it shows how complex and impure the philosophical world of the “Dole” is. And Bob Dole was one of the driving force behind a major Food Stamp legislative effort BTW.

    • February 19, 2014 10:50 am

      Well said. The key issue here is that there are programs that MIGHT actually work and end up being a “good trade-off.” Then again, when is the last time the Feds pulled the plug on programs that clearly don’t work?

      I can’t remember one. So, even an idea that has been tried and proven to be a failure is allowed to consume resources. And the beat goes on.

      One point I would make once again with your Roby.

      Your statements about success reveal an interesting bias. See the statement below:

      Such a system also helps some who will not make good use and you cannot perfectly determine who will be a future Ph.D and who will waste their life on drinking and drugging.”

      This implies that there is no middle ground for “success.”

      Is everyone in the US that doesn’t earn a PhD a failure?

      Seriously, the only thing the PhD contributed to my success was to allow me to get my present teaching job. I was more than successful before that occurred,.

      Let’s not be so elitist. There are plenty of folks out there with successful lives and no college degree.

      • Roby L permalink
        February 19, 2014 11:14 am

        I’ve said before and agreed when you said it that we are over educated and overvalue college and degrees. In this case I made my statement in response I think it was to Ron P who equated my Ph.D outcome with a good use of money to the opposing case history of a pot head as a bad use. I did not mean to be elitist. Most biology Ph.Ds make a point of not mentioning their degrees at work, its bad form. Actually I think the best job in science value wise, is Lab tech. Lab techs often make more than post doc, and the requirement is much lower. I’d tell a kid interested in science to avoid a Ph.D like the plague and be a lab tech. In fact I do give that advice whenever I get he chance. My oldest daughters husband has a two year degree in radiography and he has a great job with huge responsibility. The value of the degree as a cost/benefit ration blows a Ph.D out of the water. A two year accounting degree does too. If I had my life to do over…

        And here I apologies for having put words in your mouth that you did not say, as you noted above, about the outcome of hard work. I think I was onto your general theme, but I did exaggerate it. Er, Sorry about that.

      • February 19, 2014 11:18 am

        Not a problem at all.

        Funny you should mention the two year accounting degree, that is what I started out earning. I went to Middlesex Country College and was a member of the first class there (I think). If memory serves, the cost to go was about $150 per semester plus books.

        I had a job in the library as an A/V tech, and a second job back around my house. All told, I think I earned more than I paid to the college.

        Best deal in town, and I think it still is.

        PS-took courses in the summer too, which might have cost $39 each?

  108. Priscilla permalink
    February 19, 2014 10:08 am

    Roby, I would not agree that the EIT is an entitlement program. The food stamp program definitely is, and was originally intended to be a safety net for those in poverty who could not afford to eat or to feed their children. Since we now have close to 50 million on food stamps, many of whom demonstrably can eat perfectly well without any government assistance, I think it is safe to say that it is one of the programs that is criticized. Not because we shouldn’t have a food stamp program for those truly in need, but because the program is bloated, out of control, and abused to the tune of billions of taxpayer dollars. I don’t think that was what Senator Dole had in mind……

    • February 19, 2014 10:56 am

      It is ironic that obesity is one of the US’s biggest health issues and malnutrition and/or inadequate caloric intake is not on the radar.

      So, we spend Billions on food stamps and now the statists are funding campaigns to educate the obese on how to lose weight. Soon, free gym memberships will be proposed and funded, at least in blue states like CA. Hey, we have an obesity problem and the poor need a gym to help them lose weight.

      Seriously, how can food stamps of this magnitude be justified even on its face?

      “But, the libs will refrain, school children come to school hungry and we can’t have that!”

      Indeed, and it would be nice to have parents who actually make their children breakfast. That is what they are supposed to do. And, if the child is already obese, being hungry is actually the only way they will lose that weight. Of course, we could supply appetite suppressants so that they are not hungry. And on it goes.

      Apparently, giving Mom foods stamps doesn’t always translate into food.

    • Ron P permalink
      February 19, 2014 1:05 pm

      Priscilla and Roby..I think one of the problems with our entitlement programs e lack of control that is in place on many of them. The food stamp prgram was designed to help individuals eat and survive. There are many people just over the line that can not receive food stamps that are in this category and they use their food budget wisely.

      So why does the food stamp program cover the following items:
      Soft Drinks
      Snack Crackers
      Ice cream
      Bakery Goods
      Mixes for alcoholic drinks
      Energy Drinks

      There are many other items that can be purchased with food stamps that do not appear to be basic food needs for survival. Looking at the above list, many nutritionalist would say you are eaing an unhealthy diet if you use the above items. How many kids need the above items to survive?

      I think many of our entitlement programs would be better received and supported, as well as cost less if the were properly administered. And therein lies the problem with any government program. The greatest number of federal employees and elected officials are there to collect a check and not make waves. They could care less what is waste in spending as long as they get paid.

  109. Roby L permalink
    February 19, 2014 12:15 pm

    Well, I feel argumentative today and this is a great way of putting off my actual work so…

    Fat and poor do go together for sure, its bad food choices more than anything. Making some attempt to educate people about deadly eating habits isn’t the worst use of money. The problem is that nutrition is an utterly controversial field there are studies to prove or disprove any type of diet or food no matter how bizarre, Do we remove the fat, the carbs or the protein? They can’t agree. I would not be completely surprised to see those free gym memberships somewhere, in fact they probably already exist, I’d bet on it.

    Guys, since I have taken it upon myself to argue with the conservative block here, and sometimes I play the devils advocate a bit and take more “liberal” positions than I would, you know its not like I don’t see your basic point about responsibility and waste and rewarding negative behaviors. I’m not lazy and in my own personal life have little use for lazy people. My wife has a story almost as compelling as far as overcoming adversity with a never surrender attitude as the one JB told about the blind student. I am amazed she was still standing and pushing forward by the time I met her. She is a hero in my book. These are the people I want in my life, successful hard working, like my father, my wife, my musical friends. Who wouldn’t? I have the same gut reaction to stupidity and well meaning but disastrous plans to do good that you conservatives do.

    You know, Ron P is by all accounts a very conservative guy, including his own personal habits on social issues. But he is highly tolerant and open minded about those issues as well. You might call it compassionate conservatism. I may have the same tendency about spending to help people. Many of the people being helped are not like me at all and not like anyone I would want to know. But they are a mixed lot, those poor. some of them deserve what they have richly and furthermore attempts to help them will fail because they just have shitty characters. But there are other poor who just have had a shitty deal and would improve their lives if they had something like my CETA opportunity. There is no great way to sort them out without a crystal ball, even if one could make a pretty good guess from an interview, you could not write rules and guidelines that would not also throw out people who ultimately would become very productive people with the help.

    On issues like food stamps, my understanding is that half the recipients are retirees living on small fixed incomes. The rest are unemployed in the fullest sense or very low income. 50 million is about 15% of us. That is in good correspondence with the poverty line rate. Some of those people are just lazy slobs who need a good kick in the ass more than anything but income guidelines don’t distinguish who they are. Food stamps are about 2% of the federal budget. If you throw 25% of them off, there would be a savings on my taxes of 25% of 2% (of the 20% of my income (=1/1000th) that goes to fed taxes). I just would not even notice the reduction. I think you guys depress yourselves out of proportion to the actual dimension of the problem of the lazy slobs among us grubbing our money, which was the reason I butted into this conversation in the first place.

    To be redundant I don’t think responsibility is dead, or that we are sinking under the weight of the true shirkers. Why make thinking about them such a large part of one’s day?

    • Ron P permalink
      February 19, 2014 1:33 pm

      Roby you are right on two accounts in this message. Yes I am conservative, but not as conservative as many would be led to believe. I believe that people need help in some circumstances. But our government does not look at spending in the same manner as I would look at it. The waste is rampant. The spending on government programs such as infrastructure when it occurs and military hardware is out of wack. If the government would not agree to pay outragious contracts, then the companies would reduce their prices to survive. Entitlement programs are all mismanaged. The government has been talking about fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid since the 70’s and guess what, fraud and abuse today is just as bad as it was back then. Thats billions a year that could be better spent.

      So what do I support? For one, money needs to be spent on veterans and not wasted on things. How can one plane cost billions (or almost that much?) Better support of our military. Better programs for our actual disabled and elderly. But we can’t do that with the mess in the other programs.

      As for food stamps, it might be just a small percentage of the government budget, but what percentage of military enlisted families are on food stamps? checck it out, you would be surprised. And large number are and why is that? Low pay (guess being shot at isn’t worth much ) and the closing of many of the commissaries because leaving them open cost too much.

      Our priorities are all screwed up and no one is willing to do anything about it. So we end up talking about it on sites like this and still nothing happens.

      • February 19, 2014 2:24 pm

        For the record, I don’t know ANYONE who believe we should allow people to die in the streets, including the conservatives I know and read.

        That said, to suggest that we couldn’t make all these social welfare programs do more with less is silly on its face.

  110. Roby L permalink
    February 19, 2014 1:51 pm

    Hi Ron,

    I am constantly playing devils advocate here, so I’ll do it again. There are most likely some kind of legal constraints on giving people money for food but making decisions for them on what they can eat, when nutrition is such a riddle, outside of don’t eat so &^%$#@ much. OR perhaps there are lobbies that go ballistic if you target their food product as a bad one.

    Write to your congressperson and ask why? There is a history of the FS program on Wikipedia, it does have some information on what changes have been made over the years.

    Again, being the devils advocate its a lot easier to know waste when one sees it than to write a regulation that throws out all the bad and none of the good.

    If you cut the cost of a weapons system by 5% they will come back and say that cutting price means a quality reduction, they will cut corners, it might not work as well, our troops will be at risk. And the congressperson in the district will back them and work for them.

    Its not like I have a sweet spot in my heart for waste, or 100,000 hammers for the air force I just think its harder to actually cut and avoid than one would realize. Maybe I am wrong. I am sure we could get at some of the low hanging fruit. I dunno, keep after them I guess, write to your congressperson, but we know they will write back calling you a great thinker and saying how much they would love to cut that waste if only the other party could be evicted from congress.

    • Ron P permalink
      February 20, 2014 12:33 am

      Roby, maybe you are playing devils advocate, but playing devils advocate sometimes is not based on fact. You say:
      ” I just think its harder to actually cut and avoid than one would realize”. That is a fact. And like you say, writing a congressperson will just result in a form letter saying they appreciate the input, they work to cut spending and then they will go into multiple things that do not relate to the original message I sent. And we can vote for a new congressional group to represent the state, they will go top washington with all the ideas of cutting and then they will get sucked into the party machine and end up just like all the rest.

      Only those that plan well, stay out of debt, pay off their homes as quickly as they can and invest wisely will be the ones that are able to survive the next financial crisis that will result form our countries debt China can only buy so much and others will not be able to, so who will finance our spending? And when it happens, what happens to our economy?

  111. February 20, 2014 9:32 am

    Just to show that I can slap the GOP as hard as the Dems, here is a fairly absurd statement by a GOP pol. I assume this knothead is running for something, so he had to say something.

    Just exactly is the US supposed to do in Ukraine, send troops, support the rebels, etc.

    How about we just let the frickin’ UN deal with this. Isn’t that why we belong to the UN?

    • Priscilla permalink
      February 20, 2014 10:15 am

      I think that Portman was responding to Obama’s threat yesterday that “there would be consequences” if “people step over the line,” whatever he means by that. Maybe I’m giving Portman too much credit, but I believe his point is that the POTUS can’t go around acting like a tough guy and then not backing it up.

      On the other hand, I’d not put it past any GOP pol to be talking tough himself.

      They all know how to talk the talk….when it comes to the walk, not so much.

    • Ron P permalink
      February 20, 2014 12:56 pm

      JB..I have to agree with you concerning the UN and they seem to be silent on this issue. At least there is little news concerning the UN getting involved. But i do have to agree with Portman that the US has become impotent in crisis around the world given Obama’s line in the sand comment about Syria and then not doing a thing when they crossed it. Now few leaders will even think twice in crossing the US (Obama’s) warnings when they want to take action against another country or in their own country against their citizens. There is a difference between being strong and being a bully. Few will cross someone strong as they know the strong mean what they say. Standing up to a bully ususally causes the bully to run as a bully is not strong, they just talk big. Obama is in the bully category and not a good one at that. So don’t be surprised if more Ukraines, Venezuela’s, Syria’s and other countries fighting for democracy are crushed by dictators while Obama is in office.HJe will talk bug and do nothing. And there are many things he can do well short of military intervention.

      • February 20, 2014 2:26 pm

        Agreed. As I learned as youngin’ growing up in the projects: “Never make a threat that are not totally willing to make good on.”

        The thugs know that Obama is a pussy, so his threats mean nothing.

        Remember his promise to use “soft power?”

  112. Roby L permalink
    February 20, 2014 11:43 am

    Well, I guess it is going to be a real civil war in Ukraine, and the bad guys are on both sides.

    My wife had a safe successful trip to Kiev and has been back for nearly 3 weeks. Originally she was going to stay with a family friend but we looked up that address and it was right next to City hall so we found another place.

    I think the crisis is Putin’s first real serious miscalculation of his time, Russia has a complicated relationship with Ukraine but it has just taken a downward plunge I do not believe it will ever recover from. In trying to keep Ukraine in their orbit in a clumsy way they have generated the opposite result and relit the fires of old hatreds on the part of western Ukrainians. I think the EU has been another clumsy suitor and between Putin and the EU they have pushed Ukraine into civil war. SInce we have family there it is not academic to me. I do not know what the US can do or the EU, but if Russia invades and I seriously doubt it, cold war II will be the result which will be actually much more harmful to Russia than the US, which is why they are also limited in their actions. A bloody stalemate descending into chaos.

  113. Priscilla permalink
    February 20, 2014 12:28 pm

    Roby, is your wife Russian or Ukrainian?

  114. Roby L permalink
    February 20, 2014 12:56 pm

    Well, both. Russian by blood, Ukrainian by birth and somewhat in spirit. Also, she speaks both Russian and Ukrainian. Ukrainian is often identical to Russian and just as often, very different. So, I sometime understand Ukrainian, but she nearly always does. All Ukrainians speak Russian, maybe a third speak Ukrainian. The Russian population in Ukraine is in the teens percentage wise, more concentrated in the East. Ukraine is steeped in Soviet culture, which is really Russian culture, the movies, the songs, the literature. Its a culturally very complicated situation, Western Ukrainians speak Ukrainian, and worship Ukrainian culture which has ties to Polish and German culture. Some of them hate Russians with a passion. There are true anti-semities and right wing cultural purity nationalists among them, but its not all or a majority, maybe its 10% judging by the votes the right wing swaboda (freedom) party gets. The protesters at this point are enriched in that part of the population, but there are many still who are not.

    IN my opinion they should have accepted the prime minister offer as a legitimate compromise but by then there was too much anger and too many right wingers in the protesters, who have soccer hooligan tendencies. IF the governement had not attacked entirely innocent peaceful protesters and had not then passed laws along Russian lines of not allowing criticism of political figures punishable by 7 years in prison, then the right wingers would not have had this opening. So, there are good and bad people on both sides and we know Ukrainians, good people, who hate the protesters and Ukrainians who love the protesters.

    • Ron P permalink
      February 20, 2014 1:09 pm

      Sounds to me like this is entirely a Ukrainian issue and the US should stay out completely, including Obama running his mouth in any way other than to say “this is an internal issue that the Ukrainians need to solve.” Then any other communication should be directed at the Russians secretly to encourage them to stay out of the mess also. Other than that, there seems to be little the US can do concerning civil actions taken by two opposite vies in the country.

      • Priscilla permalink
        February 20, 2014 1:33 pm

        Unfortunately, between Bush “looking into his eyes to get a glimpse of his soul,” and finding that soul decent and trustworthy, and Obama being humiliated and owned by him at every turn, Putin pretty much sits in the catbird seat when it comes to dealing with American presidents.

        Ukrainian nationalism has been a problem for the Russians/Soviets for a long time. I do agree with Roby that it has the potential for Cold War II, and I also agree that the EU has been ham handed in pushing for Ukrainian membership (but when are the Europeans not clumsy or ham handed these days?).

        Our “reset button” with Russia sure has worked out well, huh?

        I hope your family over there stays safe, Roby.

      • Roby L permalink
        February 20, 2014 2:57 pm

        “this is an internal issue that the Ukrainians need to solve.
        That, Ron, is precisely what Saddam Hussein misread the US ambassador to say when he was thinking of invading Kuwait. Your comment is utterly non-serious. The libertarian ideal of isolationism is not the US foreign policy. In the post WWII world the US does not ignore this type of situation, which hasn’t a damn thing to do with your obsession with Obama.

      • February 20, 2014 5:11 pm

        This is clearly an European issue, not an American one. Clearly, Ukraine is split on where their future will lie, with the EU or with Russia. This is either an EU or an UN issue, not an American one.

        Put simply, we should stay the hell out of this dispute. Are we to intervene in every national dispute across the globe? I did not sign on for this and neither is it in our charter (Constitution).

        Not one life, not one dollar.

      • Ron P permalink
        February 20, 2014 7:36 pm

        Roby, please provide information on what you believe the US should do in this situation. Once I understand your point of view, then I can discuss why I think it is a good idea or why i think it would be fruitless. Then you can respond to those thoughts. Until I know that, all I can do is base my comments on how I percieve the US is viewed by friend and foe across the globe. It is not an obsession with Obama, it is an obsession with my views on weakness.

  115. Roby L permalink
    February 20, 2014 2:23 pm

    In Kiev getting food is now an issue. In Oddessa things are still fairly quiet today but all the same I know at least one person there who is planning to leave the country for the duration. The Ukrainian economy was in desperate shape even prior to this and has been since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Ukraine matters to Russia infinitely more than it matters to the US. This does matter a lot to the Poles and the Germans. Russia really needs western economic relations, its quite a bit more critical to them than most Americans realize. In other words everyone is quite constrained and has lousy and worse choices from their perspective.

    I don’t see why one has to see Obama in every picture. This has nothing to do with him. He has to protest, that is required. The meaning of western protest, which is not completely insignificant, is that Russia will see a severe long-term downturn in economic relations with the west if they act overtly.

    • Roby L permalink
      February 20, 2014 2:28 pm

      Thanks, Priscilla.

    • February 20, 2014 2:30 pm

      Obama seems to feel he has to comment on everything, everywhere. From Egypt, to Syria. to Ukraine. to Trayvon Martin, does this guy ever have a moral judgment that simply remains inside his head?

      Seriously, is there no work to be done in the US to say, improve the economic conditions or fix the junk called Obamacare?

      What a waste of air this clown is.

      • Roby L permalink
        February 20, 2014 2:48 pm

        There is a real human tragedy going on here and accelerating and the first and foremost thing all you guys gravitate to is Obama. I think you guys probably see Obama’s face in the noodles in your soup and the cumulus clouds in the sky. You are hurting yourselves a lot more than you are hurting him.

        Whatever he would, nothing, a little, something big, conservatives would say to do the opposite. So serious people just tune out conservative criticisms of foreign policy.

        The US president has a responsibility to make a statement on this, Obama did not start that, its of very long standing since WWII. If you dig a bit I am sure you will find that every major European leader has made the same sort of statement as well.

      • Ron P permalink
        February 20, 2014 7:26 pm

        Roby, I agree that the US President should make a comment concering issues of democracy in foreign countries. But what good does those comments do when he has drawn a line in the sand in Syria and then let the dictator step over, stomp on and erase that line with no adverse consequence from the President.

        Teddy R said “speak softly, but carry a big stick” (Or something close to that comment) Obama is speakly loudly, but his stick is a piece of limp noodles.

        Can you really defend Obama giving Syria an ultimatum and then doing nothing when they ignored his line?

        As for Ukraine, you know much more than I will ever know. If his words are important and you think the President of Ukraine and President Putin will fear his words, then he needs to speak up. Otherwise what good does it do when he is ignored?

  116. Priscilla permalink
    February 20, 2014 6:33 pm

    Roby, Could you explain what the prime minister compromise was? My understanding is that Ukraine is an independent country since the break-up of the USSR, and that this conflict is between the pro-Russians and the anti-Russians, with Putin largely controlling the pro-Russians. Who would be the right-wingers in this case – the anti-Russians? Trying to get up to speed on this whole thing…….

    • February 20, 2014 6:48 pm

      As I understand it, the PM wants to sign an economic agreement with Russia, while the protestors want Ukraine to join the EU.

      Did I get that right?

    • Roby L permalink
      February 20, 2014 7:34 pm

      embattled president, Viktor Yanukovych, on Saturday night made a surprising and wide-ranging compromise offer to the protesters who have occupied his capital, promising to make an opposition leader prime minister, give amnesty to those involved in clashes with police and institute major constitutional reforms. The trio of politicians who have become the de facto leaders of the protests rejected the offer but said they were willing to negotiate.

      Jan 25.

      However, the protesters interviewed said they would regard them as traitors if they accepted. By this point the protests had “radicalized”

      Right wingers here are ultra nationalists with racist and antisemitic tendencies.

  117. Roby L permalink
    February 20, 2014 7:45 pm

    Ron, how exactly could Obama intervene in Syria with the military? Would Americans support him? Would you support him? He got something out of that situation without losing an American life, I would have thought that would merit some rare appreciation. Its a thankless job, President, I do not know why any sane person would want it.

    I do not claim to be an expert on Ukraine or Slavic politics but I do know something about the country 2nd hand from my wife’s many stories. I do not think we will intervene beyond perhaps some sanctions on Ukrainian political figures, nor do I want us to. I hope to God Russia does not actually go in, I think there is almost no chance but…

    When my wife came home she took Aeroflot from Kiev to Moscow. She put her seat back, it was immediately shoved forward. She put it back again, it was shoved forward even harder. She looked behind her and saw a thuggish looking young guy and decided to make no further ado. She said he could have made trouble for her during her layover in Moscow. I have a suspicion that maybe he was one of the Russian provocoteurs (those definitely exist) returning from a tour of duty in Kiev. Probably not but… Actually Russian men are nearly always very polite, especially to woman, this was unusual.

    • Priscilla permalink
      February 20, 2014 8:08 pm

      Thanks for the link to that guardian article, Roby. I noticed that one commenter asked what would be the likely result of free elections, possibly monitored by an international group (a role for the UN?) No doubt, Putin would resist that, but if international pressure were strong enough, he might have to do it.

      There is where, I think, the issue of Obama comes in. Obama did propose intervening militarily in Syria….but he had put himself in a corner by insisting that there was a “red line” that could not be crossed without incurring US military response. It became clear that he would not have been able to get support even from his own party for that response, and so he had to back down. Whether he “found” a diplomatic solution, or whether Putin helped him save face by intervening and taking control, we could debate. What is hardly debatable is that Obama has again threatened action in response to a a red line in the Ukraine that he does not define. Why not condemn the violence and then propose free elections, monitored by the UN?

      Given the Russian influence in the UN, it would likely come to nothing, but it would probably gain European support and make Obama look like a statesman.

    • Ron P permalink
      February 21, 2014 12:44 am

      Roby, you are all over the pl;ace on this subject. First you call me out as being an isolationist Libertarian and now you are asking me how Obama could have gone into Syria. Not sure how to address the two issues.

      But my concern is the perception that foreign countries have concerning the US, Right now i think our standing is worse than is was during the Carter years when Iran took our hostages and we could not do anything about it. Like I said before, I think this is an internal Ukrianian issue and you called me out on it by saying “Your comment is utterly non-serious. The libertarian ideal of isolationism is not the US foreign policy”, If the president can not or will not do anything politically with or without our allies due to issues internal to the US political environment or due to constraints outside the US, then I beleive it best to not say anything. Work through th UN and let our ambassodor to the UN make the statements. Just like the Syria issue I used as an example, what good does it do to draw a line in the sand and issues warnings if that line is crossed and then do nothing when the line is actually crossed. Does that make the US look stronger in the eyes of other nations or does it just look like someone with a big mouth that will not back it up? This goes for anyone president, not just Obama!
      And as I said earlier, I have to give it to your wife for traveling in that part of the world. She is much braver than I am, especially with all the travel warnings going on at this time.

  118. Roby L permalink
    February 20, 2014 8:37 pm

    On my part I am in a very strange and divided position, I have a great love for lots of parts of Russian culture, but I abhor the invasions and take overs the Russians (aka the Soviet Union) put over on Eastern Europe, not to mention the communism. Anything that smacks of that forcing of other governments to toe the Russian line makes me ill.

    I can understand the Russian point of view very well, they are trying to rebuild their fallen empire and most of all improve their economic prospects, which any country does of course. With Russian or Soviet “Friendship” always come the need to be as repressive to individual rights as the Russians are (see Poland Czechoslovakia etc.) They are not as repressive as the Chinese who are not as repressive as the North Koreans, so there is a spectrum. You can use the internet in Russia to read anything you want for example. The Russian military was called up during the events of 1993 with tanks and all, but unlike the chinese army, refused to turn on their own people and instead sat there peacefully or actually joined the revolt against the parliment (boy do I ever remember that wrong I just looked it up.

    I’m rambling. I despise the Russian tendency to invade their neighbors and set up puppet governments. I’d love to support Ukraine in its struggle, but there are multiple Ukraines each with its good and bad actors. Ukraine may fracture here, which would mean Russia annexing eastern Ukraine in principle. Western Europe will be rip shit. The cold war may be renewed. Russia make actually sink under the weight of their acquisition and the consequences. They seem to know only one way of doing things.

    Putin has stabilized Russia, created a middle class and stolen democracy. Educated or attractive Russians and Ukrainians go abroad, the gene pool is not going in a good direction. The population of actual Russians is in a fairly steep decline. Meanwhile the muslim population in the country does not drink and grows rapidly. They say Russia will have a muslim majority in less than 50 years. Something else to worry about. I’m still rambling.

  119. Roby L permalink
    February 20, 2014 8:58 pm

    Ron I just found your post asking to explain my views on what we shoudl do.

    The crux of my argument is that Russians are in a very bad situation with actual shrinkage at a good rate of the actual genetically Russian population because young people do not have many kids, the life span is short and people leave. They have to provide a better economy and stability or Russia will become an asian/muslim country. They are quite backward in industrial development, they have few government resources to support projects. They desperatley need western investment and cooperation. That is the lever. Most Americans do not realize how much Russia actually needs the west. They (Putin and his govt.) just have bad habits they cannot transcend.

    There is no clear cut good guy in Ukraine, the Yanukovych government, the protesters, the oligarchs, its a freaking mess of long standing. I wish that Russia could be persuaded to actually see Ukraine not as their own property to be pushed around like they used to push Poland around , but as a place where east can meet west and Europe and Russia can both have an influence. There is no doubt in my mind that Russia is the worst catalyst of this turmoil, because they miscalculated and now their backs are to the wall and there is only one tool in their kit to deal with insurrections. I want western powers to make it very clear that that tool needs to stay in its box or western investment and cooperation will melt away. We need to make it clear that we are just as determined that Ukraine will have a real democracy as they are determined that Ukraine will stay under Russian influence. Diplomacy speak can say this in ways that one does not understand without some experience, the language sounds very mild usually, there is an implied threat behind it which they need to understand is real.

    • Ron P permalink
      February 21, 2014 12:56 am

      Roby, I can not argue with any of your points. I agree with putting pressure on the government and Putin. but I also beleive this can be handled behind the scenes by the Ambassadors to those nations delivering the president message in private. Or through the UN. They can negotiate without putting anyone in a negative position to their citizens. And we know how Putin hates being placed in a bad light. He would reject any negotiated settlement in a heart beat if that happens.

      And then the President would not have to back up words with actions he is unable to backup if they were made through the media.

      • February 21, 2014 8:53 am

        Once again, if the UN is a useless piece of trash, why fund it and have it on our soil. If the US wants it to work, perhaps we should stop ignoring it and threatening to take direct action?

  120. Priscilla permalink
    February 21, 2014 12:05 am

    You are rambling, Roby. But a lot of what you say makes sense – I hate to admit it. 😉

    There is only one way to make it clear that we are determined that Ukraine will have a democracy and that is, as you say, to make it clear. Over and over, consistently, without hesitation or empty threats.

    Implied threats only work when the implication is clear.

    Putin wants to recreate the Soviet Union. Ukraine wants to be free. There really is no overlap there.

    • February 21, 2014 8:51 am

      Why is it that you say that “We” are determined that Ukraine will have a democracy? I don’t recall signing on to the concept that the US is the guarantor that Democracy shall reign around the Globe. We have a Communist dictatorship 90 miles from Miami.

      Why not make it clear to them that they have to change?

      • Priscilla permalink
        February 21, 2014 10:20 am

        JB, you’re right. My wording was clumsy and neocon sounding, for sure. And what I meant was that we should make it clear that any nation that has chosen democracy over dictatorship has our support. From what I read, the Ukrainian constitution has been complicated by changes which first weakened and then strengthened the power of the president…it seems that there is a possible agreement in the works to go back to a more coalition based government. Hopefully, that ends the standoff.

      • February 21, 2014 10:26 am

        I agree. As I understand it from NPR, the country itself is split as to where they want to throw their lot. So, in this case, it looks like a little bit like a civil war.

        Neither side is necessarily “right” so I think the notion that there is a dictator in Ukraine would be overstating it quite a bit.

  121. February 21, 2014 10:32 am


    We sit back while Hitler starts to “monitor” the press. Yes, the reference is intentional.

    I am a bit more worried about our American democracy than I am Ukraine’s right about now.

  122. February 22, 2014 12:49 pm

    Great work indeed! I like the work done by author, keep it up.
    This is word exactly come out from my mouth when I saw this Article.
    Holi is Coming I wish All Very Happy Holi 2014

    • Ron P permalink
      February 23, 2014 1:38 pm

      JB who is really paying any attention to anything going on inforeign countries and out policies toward them. Not the poor, not the young, few of the suburban moms’ and dad’s living thousand of dollars above their means. And who will these same people vote for in 2016?

      • February 23, 2014 1:42 pm

        You bet they will and a millions of illegals as well.
        It is the Chicago way/

    • Priscilla permalink
      February 25, 2014 10:13 am

      One of the best speeches on what American foreign policy should be, from Marco Rubio…delivered yesterday on the Senate floor, after a glowing report from Senator Harkin on his trip to the paradise of Cuba. I have not been a big Rubio fan of late, but this is a very powerful speech, that should be heard. Maybe if more people knew the truth, they would think and vote differently:

  123. February 25, 2014 9:19 am

    Sowell nails it, as usual. On “fairness.”

  124. March 1, 2014 11:21 am

    Apparently, “we” are responsible for the destruction of the American Black family (Latino too apparently). So, “we” have to fix it, exactly how is of course, a new federal program or twenty.

    Since the American black family looked pretty much like the American white family up to the 1960s, one might well ask, what the hell happened then?

    My guess:

    War on Poverty,
    Roe vs. Wade

    Might be two candidates.


    • Ron P permalink
      March 1, 2014 2:45 pm

      As he said in the article, you eat an elephant one bite at a time. The first bite is finding different ways to stress education and to make sure young black kids go to school, do their homework and have someone in the family or friends supporting the kids in school.

      Two examples:
      1. I was listening to Russell Wilson on charlie Rose the other night. Russell Wilson grauduated in 3 years from NC State, went to Wisconsin and obtained his masters in business the following year. He uses much of the off season to promote his foorball camps, but his primary mission is to make a difference in a kids life. He said that just recently he had a young man 13-14 years old come up to him and said “you have turned my life around”. This was due to the fact that Wilson told his story, how he got an education, the importance of education and why everyone need to stay in school. The young man told him everyone in his family had always said the school would do him no good and why was he trying when it would make no difference? The generations of blacks in that family had accepted their plight, learned to depend on government and only had negative beleifs in hard work. Maybe Wilson made a difference where this young man would get a good education and be able to move up the ladder like so many Americans can do.
      2. Years ago when I was coaching youth sports, we had one activities director at a rec center in the black section of town. This center provided after school care for kids until their family could pick them up. The director took it upon himself to know what homework the kids had each night and would not allow the kids to participate in any activities until their homework was done. If they had problems, he would help them through it, buit would not do it for them.

      You have to fight dependance from a very young age or it will never be defeated. But I question if the black political leaders want their flock to improve or if they want to keep them where they are. Once they are not dependant, why would those leaders be needed?

      • March 1, 2014 3:04 pm

        There is an entire industry that is reliant on the poor staying poor, the seemingly weak and underachievers, staying there too.

        There is no way they will go without a fight. That includes the welfare state apparatus and all involved. By definition, if the “problem” is solved, what are they to do with themselves.

    • Ron P permalink
      March 2, 2014 1:15 pm

      jb..It is easy to identify one place that these should not be used. This is one of them. But the problem is not one place, it is rampant across the whole program. Where you can use them, what you can buy and the fact they can be used at an ATM shows how screwed up our government is when they devise a program to help “feed” people. The law should not be to single out one place like a marijuana dispensary, it should be a law to prohibit cokes,l acoholic drink mixes, potato chips and other non essential items that are not in the basic food needs. It should eliminate the use at ATM’s, Cash is not food!.

      But this would be reducing entitlements to the poor and who wants to do that?

      • March 2, 2014 1:28 pm

        Indeed. Hey, we are only footing the bill, why give a shit what we think?

  125. Ron P permalink
    March 2, 2014 3:56 pm

    Today, John Kerry spent time on most of the Sunday news programs talking about the actions of the Russians in Ukraine and the “consequences” that will happen if they continue. I believe we are witnessing the mirror image of Ronald Reagans peace through strength. However, their is not peace and Putin holds the strength wihtou any worry about repercussions.

    One has to wonder would the Russians bedoing what they are doing today and would they have marched into Georgia had Obama stood tall and refused to renege on the agreement to place missiles in eastern europe at the beginning of his administration.

    Seems like all we have now is the ability to throw a tantrum as I doubt BO will renegotiate the deployment of missiles into Poland and other eastern European nations like had been negotiated earlier.

    • March 2, 2014 4:08 pm

      Obama doesn’t care. He skipped the security briefing to go to happy hour (no lie) and sent Susan Rice in his place. Susan Rice? Seriously, this guy is throwing the fight.

  126. April 19, 2014 5:18 pm


    Rick; sometimes there is a right side and a wrong side. Sometimes compromise and getting along are not the answer. I am disappointed in the republicans in 2013 – because they caved.

    Since Scott Brown’s election in 2009, democrats and t
    he president have done everything in their power to avoid playing by the rules. The conflicts you attribute the republican extremism are merely efforts to return to constitutional governance. Since Brown was elected, there was no budget nor even a budget process – why ? Because doing so would have forced democrats to compromise.
    We have repeatedly gone to the brink on debt ceilings and continuing resolutions – because the normal give and take of divided government was not acceptable to democrats.

    I do not expect Republicans to stick to principles of limited government. But at the moment no other party is paying lip service to limited government and individual liberty.

  127. April 19, 2014 5:28 pm

    #2. Plutocracy.

    Money is not speech and the court never said it was. But money is one of many things that facilitate speech – and the first ammendment prohibits restricting speech therough the back door through laws undermining the requirements for free speech.

    A law that politicians may only speak on fridays when there is a full moon in the shower would be unconstitutional.
    A law saying a politician may run as many political advertisments as he wishes, but prohibits them from aquiring the funds necescary to do so restricts speech.

    Further CU was an abysmally stupid case for progressives.

    Citizens United was an independent political group – unaffiliated with any party whose explict purpose was issue advocacy on a single issue.

    Citizens United’s entire reason for existance was to speak a very specific political message. The Effect of that part of McCain Feingold that was overruled was specifically to supress messages like that, contrary to the memes of progressive nutcases Citizen’s united was not about corporate speech nor was it about money. It was about the right to speak politically – particularly for those OUTSIDE the parties and status quo. CU was a decision that DISEMPOWERED (and continues to) politicians and lobbyists, and K street.

  128. April 19, 2014 5:39 pm

    #3. Perpetual Recession is a serious problem. But the solution is not to the put a gun to peoples heads to get them to do as you wish.

    We are producing more than we did in 2008 with fewer people. That alone should tell you there was a serious structural and inefficiency problem.

    Right now we are in the midst of essentially a Capitol Strike – almost right out of Atlas Shrugged. The type of investment necescary to grow the economy is not occuring because those with the capitol to invest had no reason to beleive that investing it for economic growth will be in their best interests.

    Further it takes far more than capitol or hiring to pull us out of recession.
    Jobs is easy – just have government pay to have the unemployed dig holes and fill them again. If money was all that was necescary then the glowing multipliers that purportedly accrued to ARRA would have created a boom. Spending money alone does not create growth and prosperity.

    This recession will end when we PRODUCE more that we value – and not before. Many elements are necescary to increase what is produced. All have to be present for economic growth. They are not currently present so little growth is occuring.

  129. April 19, 2014 5:52 pm

    #4. Most racial tension in the US today is manufactured.
    If you are old enough to remember the Kennedy Assasination you are old enough to know what real racial tension is.

    Race is still and issue in the US and always will be. But when the media and politicians are fixated on trying to start a race war over a conflict between a “white hispanic” and a black teen, then the racial panders are in high gear.

    We can not pretend that racial issues do not continue to exist. But we are lying if we do not grasp they are vastly reduced.

    In the 70’s I went to a high school that was less than .1% non-white.
    I was part of an educational experiment that resulted in my being beaten by local black teens and subsequently hurling racial epithats at them.

    Today, my children are asian. I work and play with indians, hispanics, blacks. Almost nothing in my entire life is racially homogenous.

    I still presume that an enounter with a black or hispanic teen in the wrong neighborhood could be dangerous. But in most venues, my entire life is permeated by people of other cultures and races and those differences are very nearly meaningless.

    I only get into conflicts over race when those whose interests are served by inflaming such violence and passion do so.

  130. April 19, 2014 6:04 pm


    Rick you falsely conflate unrelated issues.
    I hope the bridge fiasco has cost Christie any chance at higher office. Though I doubt it.
    I would hope that democratic politicians would be judged by the same tough moral standards – but they are not. Those on the left care only about results – not values or integrity.

    You make a specific issue of short selling, failing to grasp that shorting is a critical market signal. Nor is it just about shorting specifically.
    The London Whale attempting to manipulate the market. He was brought down by virtual unknowns who bet against him.

    How is it that you can tell when betting against the grain is good or bad.
    Were those who took down the London Whale good or bad ? Moral or immoral ?
    Were they engaged in screw the other guy shorting ? Or were they thwarting an immoral act ?

    Acemoglu demonstrated sometime ago that even when market actors deliberately seek the wrong ends, that the market will slowly compel them towards the best interests of everyone.

    Of course that is not new – Adam Smith grasped it over 200 years ago
    It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

  131. April 19, 2014 6:12 pm

    6). Class warfare is a major issue but again you are completely wrong about it.

    Very few in the top 1% remain their long. In general if you are in the bottom quintile the odds are you will rise two quintiles over your life time.
    And guess what, if you are in the top you will likely fall two.

    Class warfare has always been flamed by purported egalitarians to gain power and always results in bloodshed.

    The income inequality meme of modern progressives is one of the most bogus lies foist upon us. Take of the blinders look at the world. Are you in the same economic class or circumstances as you were 40 years ago ? According to census data the wealth of those in the bottom quintile (and every other) has doubled over the past 40 years.

    Yet somehow you have bought this idiotic class warfare meme. SHAME ON YOU.

    I will be happy to join you in disempoowering the influence of priviledge within government, but there is only one mans to accomplish that – disempower government.

  132. April 19, 2014 6:19 pm

    #7 again you get it wrong.
    Hispanics are doing as every other immigrant group has done before.
    Contrary to your claims their rate of assymilation is as high or higher than previous groups. Further they are fostering something that has never happened before – the assymilation of blacks into the american mainstream.

    There will always be some in the bottom quintile. They will be black, white, hispanic, ….
    Most americans start in the bottom quintile after leaving the home. Few remain there long.
    Those in the bottom are not particularly one race or another.

  133. April 19, 2014 6:24 pm

    #8 Are you really worried that the influx of muslims into the US is going to result in the implimentation of Sharia law ? I thought you claimed to b e a moderate ? This is just a wingnut view.

    Aside from the negative impacts our law enforcement occasionally has on minority groups this nation and its people are the greatest engine for converting people to our values in existance. Even the 9/11 bombers were instructed to keep themselves separated from our culture lest they be converted.

  134. April 19, 2014 6:31 pm

    #9. What if a hacker had released our D-Day plans to the germans ?
    Essentially that happened. Total government secrecy is impossible. Much leaked out about D-Day well ahead of time. but much false information also leaked out. Further much of our efforts were to discern what the germans actually beleived.

    Regardless, we are NOT at war with terrorists, nor with drugs, nor drunk driving, nor ….
    There is very very little of what govenrment does that should be conducted in secret

    This is not a large enough forum for an appropriate discussion of intellectual monopolies – copyrights and patents. But you appear to have bought the misrepresentation that
    ideas and expressions are the same as property. They are not. Even Jefferson who created our system grasped that and would be appalled at what it has become.

  135. April 19, 2014 6:37 pm

    #10. While I agree with you, as with race you over state the problems.
    Again as always some, particularly the desperate will seek to inflame emotions because they have lost the logical argument.

    Whether it is Robespierre, Marx, Mao or our president, those seeking to create greviances based on race, class, gender are evil. We are not all equal and will never be, nor is that even desirable. We are entitled to no more than the equal protection of the law.

  136. April 19, 2014 6:42 pm

    #11 environmental destruction.

    Rick, how do you manage to keep from killing yourself in this incredibly gloomy world you have created for yourself ?

    As with everything good and bad is happenng all arround us concurrently.
    But overall things improve and the environment is no exception.

    On the earth day just passed by nearly every measure our “environment” is in a better state than it was 10, 20, 40 years ago. It is better in countries like the US with strict environmental regulations, and ones that do not.

    You need to quit beleiving so much of the crap progressives feed you.

    If your diet is so depressingly false, it is no wonder you are drowning in doom and gloom.

  137. April 19, 2014 6:48 pm

    #12 another idiotic meme as old as time.

    I am sure pythogoras was lamenting the degeneracy of his son’s generation.

    Time advances, good culture and good values tend to remain, bad ones pass.
    The past was not so good as it looks in hindsight.
    Much of what I see in modern culture disgusts me.
    And my kids will say same to their kids.

    But not all. My son has taken an interest in music. My generation was one of the most musically prolific in centuries. Much of what comes from my son’s generation is crap.
    But alot is good, some very good. The crap fades – disco is gone, as are zuite suites.

    Get over it life pretty good. My kids enjoy a better life than I have – even if I wish they had some things I did that they lack.

  138. April 19, 2014 7:04 pm

    14. The deficit and debt is still a problem. Many of your solutions should be pursued, but they are not the answer. There is alot that can be done without touching entitlements, but not enough. They are more than half of the federal budget and growing far faster than inflation.

    Like it or not taxes are not the answer. No matter who you slap them on the impact will be on you. Further we are past the maxima.
    All taxes are economically distortive. But the mix of taxes we have would be hard to make worse. You can fund government from business taxes, consumption taxes, or income taxes, but combinations of the above are inherenetly disasterous.

    All taxes inevitably devolve to some form of consumption tax. Corporate taxes either supress wages and employment or increase prices. You can not actually reduce corporate profits through taxation – though you can reduce GDP.

    Even Christine Romer established that taxes on the margins – on investment, that is taxes on the rich and corporations cost all of us more in economic growth than government gains in revenue. You do not have to like it, it is still true.
    We are past the point were tax increases are even likely to be net positive for government.
    Romer’s research puts that at an upper margin effective tax rate of 33%.

    The upper quintile pays the largest portion of the total cost of government they ever have.
    Rates have come down – BUT loopholes have been closed and between that and growth our government is already overly dependent on taxes on the rich.

    I would be happy to end ALL corporate subsidies and pork – and we absolutely should.
    How did the farm bill pass ? Why is the Export Import bank going to be renewed ?
    How can we keep funding Solynda’s etc ? Why did we Bail out GM or Wall Street ?

    But in the end that is all still small potatoes. Medicare and Social Security – as well as numerous other entitlements are unsustainable in their current form.
    None of the other games you propose address the real problem.

    • Ron P permalink
      April 20, 2014 1:02 pm

      asmith, you are right that entitlements (specifically Medicare and Social Security) need to be addressed. But the way it is being handled today will not solve the problem. Since the turn of the century (2000, not 1900), healthcare cost have been projected to increase a certain amount each year, CMS then provides and updated reimbursement budget and congress approves that amount or changes it. According to the Amercan medical Association, physician cost to provide services to seniors has increased 25% since 2001, mut reimbursement has increased only 4%. This cost increase has also been seen in the hospital settings and reimbursement has increased less than 10% of that cost increase, leaving 90% of the increase to be shifted to other payors. Even for 2015, Obama has proposed cuts of $3.5 billion in reimbursement and $354 billion over 10 years. No program can continue to provide services dictated by law, but funded at a rate much less than its cost, also dictated by law. It will take a complete rewrite, reorganization and restructuring of Medicare to allow for continued services to be provided, but this will never happen until the program is bankrupt due to political hacks that will continue to show grandma going over a clift if the GOP is involved with any change. (Where are they today with Obama’s proposed cuts?) The same holds true with Social Security. Yes we can raise taxes to plug the dam for a short period of time, but at some point the programs will burst and then real leadership will be required, not the crap we have in Washington today on both sides of the isle.

      • April 20, 2014 2:26 pm

        Obama has not passed a single budget in his entire terms in office. The GOP has tried to slow down the train and has passed numerous bills to attack long-term spending. Then, they are vilified for being “obstructionists.”

        What exactly would you propose the GOP do with control of 1/3 of Congress?

        Just asking, don’t shoot the messenger.

        PS-I just signed up for Medicare Part B (I am still working and covered at work). I have been paying since I was 15 yrs. old. I expect to receive the promised benefits. That seems fair to me, since I have had NO choice about any of this particular Ponzi scheme. I have had to fund it, as has my employer, for 50 yrs. Should I be told, ah, too bad?

        PS-medical usage is not America’s issue, its the prices. They are the total driver of our spending overage. Yet, the policy makers continue to point the finger at the patient and the doctor.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 20, 2014 6:31 pm

        JB your questions/comments require much more intensive discussion than we can get into here, but I will try to adress each with a brief comment.
        1. I do not blame the GOP for the problems nor do I consider them obstructionist. What I said was many people that vote consider them obstructionist and Paul and Cruz are part of the group people view in this manner.
        2. The bills that are passed to control cost with Medicare do not adress the real problem. One can not continue to offer services that cost $X and every year provide $Y as reimbursement, with $Y being a declining number. At some point those that pick up the difference will decide not to participate in the shift. What we need is for congressional leaders, the President, Insurance companies that offer Medicare advantage plans (which are much better for the younger Medicare recipient in most cases), the American Medical Association and other professional groups to come together and begin working on a completely revised Medicare plan for individual less than 50 or maybe 55. But no one elected today is going to touch that because someone will say Medicare is being gutted even if it were a plan that would make it much better into the future.
        3. See #2. You should receive the benefits you paid for and your employer paid for. But right now what you will receive is going to be rationed in some manner because doctors and hospitals have to reduce their costs and that is about the only way left to accomplish that task.
        4. Yes medical usage is not the problem. It is not the patient wanting too much, the doctor overprescribing (even though in limited cases that may happen) and it is not the hospitals. It is the suppliers, employees and services that cause health care cost to rise. For part of the recent historical rise, shortages of nurses, pharmacist and techs in the lab and radiology caused salaries to increase 6% to 10% yearly. In my area nursing salaries increase from 25K to close to 40K entry level from the mid 90’s to early 00’s. Suppliers charge $25K for hip implants,( along with $100.00 screws to attach them) $15K for stents (small spring steel mesh implants that have less than $5.00 worth of metal in them) and out of control cost for drugs. (Why does 10 Viagra pills cost over $300.00 when the developmental cost were recovered years ago when it was used for pulmonary hypertension?) End of life cancer drugs are known to be over $2000 per dose and extend life for a few weeks.
        5. Why does the government and insurance companies require detail charges for each and every service provided? Why can’t we have a bill that says “Maternity care $XXXX.XX” or “Open Heart Surgery $XXXXX.XX. Why do we need pages of charges for these services. If car companies charged like the government and insurance companies require medical providers to bill, you would see charges for 1/4 inch bolts, 1/2 inch bolts, 1/2 inch nuts, washers, gaskets, hoses, seats, carpet, stearing wheel, front left fender, right front fender, etc, etc. We can not compare cost at different providers since there is no one flat rate billing and the government will not accept that type charge. I know, I tried to do that and they said no!

        Does this help clarify some of your questions?

      • April 20, 2014 7:06 pm

        Ron P;

        Personally I would move to an entirely private system as quickly as feasible.

        But that is unlikely to be a political reality absent catastrophic failure.

        In the real world I would do almost the opposite of what you propose.
        I would give Medicaide/Medicare recipients $X to spend on whatever health insurance they chose. If $X is insufficient – that is life, at least they got $X.
        I would set $X at whatever the current contribution level would support.
        To raise $X congress would have to increase HI taxes.

        I disagree with any assertion that a part of the problem is not the demand of services by patients. Since Medicare passed healthcare demand and costs have skyrocketed.
        Demand for medical services by those over 65 has trippled – yet outcomes are unchanged. The laws of supply and demand are immutable. Make something free to some, tripple demand and you can expect prices to go up.

        But there are innumerable other ways government breaks prices.
        No provider can legally offer a service at a lower price than it offers medicare.
        Statists think that drives the price to government down – what it really does is drives prices to everyone else up.

        Cash discounts – can’t. Good customer discounts – can’t.
        Look at all the different ways that auto insurance strives to offer better and better prices to those clients that it knows it is likely to spend the least on.

        Government demanding it must get the lowest price destroys all incentives for doctors etc to find better cheaper ways to provide services.

        Plenty of opportunities to innovate on price exist. Neither you nor I nor all of HHS can possibly conceive of all of them, or which will work and which will not.
        But few are even possible so long as government fixes prices.

        Again price controls do not work ANYWHERE, EVER.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 20, 2014 7:18 pm

        asith, not sure how your plan for medicare is opposite mine. All I said was all parties involved with medicare should get together and come up with a completely new plan. And that is exactly what yours does. It changes the dynamics of the reimbursement model completely.

        But you also forgot one item when you mentioned that services have increase so drastically but outcomes have not. Remember, if you go to the provider with a specific complaint, they will order a test that will confirm or rule out their primary thought as to the cause. Then the will order a battery of other test “just in case”. The “just in case” is a “cover my ass” so if there is a negative outcome from te service in some manner, they can’t be sued for not providing “usual and customary” services for that complaint. Legal issues have increase the amount of services about as much as new technologies.

      • April 20, 2014 7:56 pm

        Ron P;

        What is different is that you start with the presumption of an imposed plan,
        to the extent I am willing to consider any top down plan it is merely as better than what we have.

        As to your observations regarding the impact of defensive medicine.
        They are much like the rest of your observations and my remarks.
        Absent a free market they are mere speculation.
        What we know is that price controled markets lead to shortages and price increases.
        The specific mechanisms are not espeicially important nor always the same.

        Maybe legal costs are an issue, but absent a significantly more free market you can not know.

        We went through much of this with auto insurance at the state level a couple of decades ago. We tried no fault, and cat funds, we had the same arguments as we are having with healthcare and as you are making. No fault did not work, nor did many other plausible sounding alternatives. Defensive medicine MIGHT be a factor, but absent a much freer market altering doctors approaches to defensive medicine is unlikely to work.

        One of the problems is that Any single factor is effected by and effects many others, and these in turn, and …. Unless all or atleast most are free to adjust naturally even fixing the right thing may not have the effect you desire.

        Addressing testing, in a free market different doctors will take different approaches to testing. The results will be measured by the decrease in prices do to less testing, and the increase in prices due to increases in bad outcomes and insurance increases.
        But even these are not the end of the chain.
        Ultimately doctors will narrow in on the range of testing that offeres the best outcomes at the best prices. But it will be a range and patients may choose doctors that cost more and test more or cost less and test less – deliberately.
        Nor is this process static or ending. over time tests will be discarded as low value and replaced with new ones – some of which will prove high value and some will not.
        Balancing testing, legal costs and prices is a never ending process.
        But the end will still be greater value for lower cost over the long run.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 20, 2014 11:37 pm

        asmith, I can tell you of two examples of defensive medicine where it is not speculation, but based on conversations we had in our hospital concerning the increasing charges from ER visits and changing physician practices in maternity cases. Our system monitored physician practice and patient outcomes, providing information on increasing cost amoung other criteria. We noticed that there were increasing charges for individuals reporting to the ER with adominal pain. Physicians told us they were ordering test for adominal pain, but were also ordering test to rule out heart problems. Those test had become “normal” to rule out that issue due to possible litigation if the 1 in 100 case did end up being heart related instead of a stomach ache. The other issue was maternity cases and the increasing use of C-sections. Physicians told us that they began increasing the number of c-sections due to the possibility of “bad babies” and having “John Edward” type lawyers representing the mothers. They said they would not allow the mothers to go past a certain number of hours in labor before doing a c-section, regardless of all the other indicators that showed everything was fine. In the past couple years, c-sections in many parts of the country have started to level out or decrease due to the adverse indicators this can have for the mom, but for 20 years or so, c-sections were more common than thought. Many due to defensive medicine.

        By the way, John Edwards made his millions on “bad babies”, with a few other dollars on other malpractice cases. One baby case can bring multi millions in settlements and his take was a significant portion of the settlement. And in many cases, the defendants are more willing to take a settlement than to go to court due to the negative press that would result in the case.

      • April 21, 2014 11:53 am

        Ron P;

        First you can not presume that the perspective of any single individual or group represents the entire picture.

        The medical community is certain their choices regarding testing are optimal.
        Most malpractice lawyers beleive they are doing a service.
        Neither have a clear picture (nor do they need it).

        The medical community adapted. They did not like their adaptation, and you are calling it an increases in needless tests and procedures. Maybe, maybe not. Contrary to perception from the inside the medical community is NOT the ultimate arbiter of that.

        In an actual free market the norm in instances such as this is a slow decaying oscilation as the market seeks to find the optimum. At the same time entrepeneurs look for a totally different solution – sometimes they find one sometimes they do not.

        Regardless, Edwards would have never been able to sue anyone is the medical community never erred. Child Birth is complex and full of risk, but it is actually the role of the medical community to strive for perfection, and the market – including lawyers drives them towards improvement.

        I would also note there are multiple facets to this.
        I have a friend who had a difficult childbirth. Her child spent far too long with its head constricted in the birth canal and was severely retarded as a result.
        There was zero doubt in this instance that this occured as a result of mistakes by doctors and hospitals. Sometimes things just go wrong in ways we are not yet able to predict or correct. But sometimes even the most expert and well intentioned make mistakes that severely harm others. Doctors are paid extremely well and should be. They provide an extremely valuable service. Their actions save innumerable lives as well as improving the quality of lives of others. But their mistakes kill or permanently maime people.
        Though we can try to shift the balance, this is not entirely avoidable.
        Just as it is appropriate for doctors to be very well paid for their work and skills, it is also appropriate that they make whole – to the extent possible those they have harmed.
        The left likes to talk about “socializing costs” real free markets do that automatically.
        Doctors get well paid because of their skill AND because of the risk they take.
        They are paid by those they help. It is appropriate that those who live or have better lives as a result of the doctors excercise of skill, provide the resources to compensate those whose outcomes are bad. Further as you noted the system will attempt to compensate.
        Numerous large successful lawsuits will result in doctors altering their risks.
        That may result in a shift you think is unnescary, but Doctors would not have changed the process if it did not lower their risk. Further on net that MUST (ultimately) serve patients too. Lowering risk means fewer harmed babies. It means less lawsuits, and lower insurance premiums and in a real free market it means the increased costs of tests and procedures is outweighed by savings elsewhere – otherwise the changes would not occur.
        Doctors would not chose to use more expensive tests and procedures if it did not reduce their risk and therefore produce fewer lawsuits.

      • April 21, 2014 12:47 pm

        Another instant expert. You are a wonder indeed.

      • April 21, 2014 2:47 pm

        J Bastiat.

        I find it extremely odd that one using “bastiat” as part of their nom de plume
        Would be offended by remarks that are little more than repetion of Bastiat.

        I do not know exactly how the healthcare or any other market will respond to any specific force. Nor do you or any other expert. What we are seeing with PPACA is typical.
        Yes some experts predicted some of what has happened. But no expert could possibly have predicted accurately even all the high points.
        You and I can know that it will fail, you may even more accurately predict some of the vectors of that failure. But that is not the same as not being able to predict with accuracy that it will fail.

        Nor is noting that EVERY market is far far more complex than any expert or team of experts can grasp some display of genius.

        You and Ron can know far more about some narrow aspects of health care while still being completely blind to the whole.

        To be clear I am NOT claiming that any of the alternatives I offer are precisely how things are. I am claiming that no matter how much some experts may know about their part of the puzzle, that narrow knowledge does not explain everything.

        In the specific issue I addressed Ron might be right, but he can not know enough to know whether he is right. Free markets work not because their participants are more likely to be right, not even because they are more likely to become right, but because even if they are wrong, because they only control themselves, they can break only a small part of the entire system.

        Among other things “The Pretense of Knowldege” is the mistaken beleif that you can know enough about anything to control any more of that thing than is your own.

        Part of the problem is that you seem to beleive there is a “right answer” to some of these problems. There is not. Markets are a continuous knowledge discovery process – not an answer.

      • April 21, 2014 3:06 pm

        Whatever you say.

      • April 21, 2014 8:17 am

        Not really questions. I teach healthcare economics and policy at a medical school, so I know more than I care to know about the economics of health care. My point was to simply say that if one were serious about the subject, one could see that the policy makers have been working on the wrong problem since around 1970.

        Now, if we were in a kind mood, we could chalk that up to their simply being mistaken. However, I would suggest that many of these folks (who I know personally) know very well that their advice is bogus. However, if the problem is sorted, who needs policy analysts

        So, we continue on down the wrong road, still looking for the hotel.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 21, 2014 11:45 am

        I had a feeling that you knew more about healthcare finance than the average person based on some comments you have made in the past. What bothers me with this whole situation is the industry, from the professional organizations right down to the small providers doing little to try to educate the public on what some of the roadblocks are with our systems and why providers charge what they do. The majority of doctors and small to medium size community hospitals do not make outragious amounts of money. But the providers get blamed for the rising costs except the vendors that have alot of influence on the rising costs we see today.

      • April 21, 2014 12:46 pm

        Yes, overall, the last couple of decades have been tough on the average MD. During that same time, hospital costs and charges are through the roof.

        The industry does NOT want any scrutiny in that regard and I don’t blame them. It would not be pretty.

      • April 21, 2014 1:19 pm

        Ron P;
        When a market is not free you will get all kinds of distortions. I do not have a great deal of interest in the specific ways in which unfree markets fail. Nor am I interested in blame games. My reading of your remarks is that some participants in healthcare are crying foul, because others have been more successful in gaming the existing system.
        So what. If you do not have a free market that will always happen.
        Does it really matter if the situation was reversed and doctors were the winners and vendors the losers ?
        So long as government excercises control over prices, some segment of the market will leverage the power of government to their benefit.

        While those in a free market also strive to maximize their profits, there is no entity in control that can be corrupted or manipulated.
        any party that wishes can attempt to game the market – but that is very very hard to do.
        As the example of the london whale demonstrates no player is so big as to be able to successfully manipulate the market without the certainty that someone else will catch on and make enormous profits destroying them. Manipulation – especially large scale manipulation in a free market is incredibly dangerous.

      • April 20, 2014 6:46 pm

        I am going to answer realistically. But I would note that political strategy and tactics are not what care most about.

        I think the GOP made a mistake in October. They allowed two crisis to come to a head concurrently – the debt ceiling and the budget/continuing resolution.

        They should have picked one and kicked the other down the road.
        Personally I think the debt ceiling is actually less dangerous. Failing to raise the debt ceiling is merely the equivalent of an instantaneous balanced budget ammendment, or
        a 25% sequester.
        But people had less fear of a govenrment shutdown. And honestly Obama’s tactics were wearing thin. Shutting down parks and programs that required ZERO federal dollars to keep running just looked political and petty.

        Republicans should have said NO continuing resolution, and passed each of the dozen or so Budget measures that are part of the normal budget process, and sent them to the senate.

        The all or nothing approach of the adminstration and democrats was likely to wear thin.

        In the end we ended up with a variation on that – but one negotiated mostly by establishment republicans and NeoCons.

        If house republicans did not intend to win, they should not have had the fight at all.

        Alternatively (or additionally) the bohner tactic of passing legislation using democratic votes though used badly could have been used effectively.

        I think as an example the GOP should allow Minimum wage legislation to pass.
        BUT it should insist that the ENTIRE increase happen immediately or nearly immediately.
        Let democrats either vote for an increase or explain why increasing in stages is good but increasing all at once is bad.

        I think that the GOP should allow more progressive and destructive legislation to pass – so long as they do not get the blame when it fails.

        I think that 2010 proved a major tactical victory for republicans but it was a strategic mistake. I do not think Romney would have been the GOP candidate or Obama would have been re-elected in 2012 but for the success of the Tea Party.

        At the same Time I am far less interested in which party wins control of what in 2014, and much more interested in what gains libertarian and other limited government candidates make.

        I will be happy to see McConnell lose to anyone – even if the GOP loses the senate – just as I would rejoice if Reid lost – though he is not running.

        Anyway just my political .02

      • April 20, 2014 6:26 pm

        In actual free markets we need not concern ourselves with government policies regarding continuous cost increases.
        Absent government prices relative to value always go down. Even inside of healthcare, those services such as Lasik and plastic surgery where the markets are freest have declined in price.
        I do not care much about the policy battles between say doctors and HHS or social security or medicare over the cost of medical services. The distortion of prices in a highly regulated market is unwindable. In an actual free market prices would find their own value maximizing level.

        And that is the entire point. Price controls have NEVER worked anywhere at any time.
        We can jigger with policies and maybe make SS and medicare work less badly – MAYBE. We could just as easily make them worse.

        I personally though the existing scheme or health insurance was so bad that PPACA might succeed because things could not get worse. I underestimated the ability of government to make things worse.

        If people really want any good or service to continually decrease in price, and increase in quality and abundance the only means of acheiving that is through free markets.
        Nothing else has EVER worked.

        Look arround you. There are examples all over. I can purchase an iPhone 3G on ebay or Craigslist for about $35. This is not only a phone, but a camera, and a computer, many many times more powerful than the one I bought for almost $7K when I graduated from college. Or the cost of phone calls. I paid about $45/hr to call home when I was in college.
        I pay about $40/month for unlimited everything today.
        My car insurance was about $1500/yr for one car. I pay about that today for 4 cars.
        I paid $1200 wholesale for one of the best Amana refridgerators made when I got married.
        It recently failed and I replaced it with on that cost 1/3 as much per year to operate was 25% larger, had icemakers, ice and filtered water in the door, …. for $900.
        My first color TV was 12″ and cost $400 and got 3 channels.
        Today I have hundreds of channels, on a 32″ flat screen.

        I can go on and on and on. Much of what we purchase today is cheaper in absolute terms than it was 40 years ago. Just about everything is cheaper (and much better) in “inflation adjusted” terms. Those few things that have increased in price without increasing in value are ALL things government is heavily involved in.

        If you want something to be affordable the LAST thing you want is to the involve government.

        No I am not really interested in a debate over details of how government should reign in healthcare costs. I do not care what Doctors say about their reimbursement, or what CBO or GAO or anyone else says about healthcare price trends and their causes.

        The right price for any service is the one the market works out, and it will ultimately be lower and provide greater value than any other approach.

      • Ron P permalink
        April 20, 2014 6:58 pm

        asmith, Ink you need to care what the government does with healthcare and competition. If your 3G or 4G telephone company could only provide a certain amount of service in an area, would it still be a cheap and it is today? If the feds said your state had only two car insurance companies to provide insurance, would it still be as cheap as it is?

        Well that is what the feds are doing with health care. Lasik and plastic surgery are services that most providers do not bill Medicare for or Medicare does not cover the cost. So multiple doctors can open clinics and provide services without government interference. That is not the case with MRI’s, CT Scanners and other high cost services. There is a program called certificate of need. You want to provide those services, you go to the state, show that there is a need for those services and if they say that need is there, you get to open your radiology clinic. If they do not see the need, you do not get your certificate to open the clinic. So the docs that already have the service can continue to charge more because there is no competition.

        You say “The right price for any service is the one the market works out, and it will ultimately be lower and provide greater value than any other approach.” But you also say “No I am not really interested in a debate over details of how government should reign in healthcare costs.” You should be interested since what government does today keeps costs high, limits competition and does nothing to increase quality of service.

        The problem today is too many people bitch about healthcare cost and blame the wrong entities. And the real culpret gets off without a word one said about how they are the main cause of the problem because most people have no idea how they are involved.

      • April 20, 2014 7:16 pm

        Ron P;

        You misunderstand. I care greatly what government DOES. I could care less what government experts THINK.

        I do not beleive that data establishing the cost vectors in healthcare is meaningful.
        Absent a free market there is no real price system and prices are about politics. Worse politics inherently gets it wrong. Politicians and bureacrats set the reimbursement prices for doctors. You say they are too low. I say they are just wrong. In an actual free market they might well be lower – even much lower. Markets inexhorably drive quality up and prices down. The prices doctors will end up accepting would be the least price that provides the level and quality of service that patients are willing to pay for.
        I strongly suspect that would be lower than government re-imbursements.
        Regardless, Doctors would control the prices they offered, and patients the price they would accept. Doctors would have incentives to decrease their cost to increase their profits, but ultimately the savings actually goes to patients. Doctors would always be guaranteed sufficiently high a price to meet the actual demand.

      • April 20, 2014 7:27 pm

        Ron P;

        So long as, and to the extent that government is involved in the pricing of heathcare, the price will be wrong. Either we will have shortages or prices will rise despite government efforts to control them. The specific vectors by which this occurs are unimportant.
        Changing government policies in anyway that does not involve relinquishing control of the market (as well as eliminating or reducing subsidies) will not produce easily predictable results.

        I do not as an example beleive government should increase the compensation to doctors.
        Contrary to various claims and data, as we have no free market we do not know what the price for these services should be. We can not know they are high or low.
        Of course Doctors claim they are low. But as real prices are only found in markets, the claims of doctors – and government are meaningless.

        Further my expectation is that a true free market in healthcare would radically lower prices and increase quality – put differently the re-imbursement to doctors, is likely too high not to low. But the fact that it would likely be lower in a free market does not mean that in a fake market it can not be too low.

        Regardless, you can not even pretend to know prices in a regulated market.

      • April 21, 2014 8:21 am

        I have done research in the dynamics of the elective healthcare market. Here, markets actually exist and work. Service quality for such services as LASIK improves every year and costs are lower than they were 10 years ago. Even the LASIK machines cost less than they used to.

        Is there magic over there? No, simply suppliers competing to service the demand.


      • April 21, 2014 12:33 pm

        We are in total agreement.

        I can not think of a single market area in healthcare where the rate of increase in costs and often decrease in quality, (or decreases in cost and increase in quality) is not proportionate to the government regulation of that facet of the market.
        Nor is that restricted to merely healthcare.

        Your expertise is on the economics of healthcare policies.
        But the results you are citing are merely modern complex permutions of what Smith and Bastiat taught two centuries ago.

        And again this has nothing to do with healthcare. We have seen all the same things in both narrow and broad markets throughout the world over several decades.

        To the extent that government manages the economy it fails.
        Progressives MIGHT be holding their own on the rhetorical war – I am not so certain of that. Their voices are getting shrill a sure sign of desparation, and I think Pres. Obama may well be the last gasp of progressivism for several decades atleast.

        Is the nation or world ready to completely adopt laisezz-faire ?
        Not a chance. But are we moving to greater freedom ? I think that is the case.
        I hope so. I think the current crop of republicans are mostly unapealing. Yet they are a major improvement over those past. I think the Tea Party is WRONG about many things.
        But they are less wrong than the social conservatives they were born from.
        Contrary to the media they represent a major shift of the GOP towards the center and towards values held by the overwhelming majority of americans.

        And I think the ferocity of attacks on fiscal conservatives reflects the desparation of the left.

        The abortion battle is nearly over. The right is not going to ban abortion and they have mostly given up trying. But they are going to make it more difficult – particularly late term, and the political support is there.

        The left has mad some headway on their war on women meme – but not nearly as much as hoped, and with time that will fade to rhetoric. Crying the sky is falling eventually wears thin – which in general is a major problem for the left today.

        Gay rights even if not implimented to my purist libertarian satisfaction – just get government entirely out of marriage, is pretty much a faite accompli. The extreme social right is moaning, but it is not going to become a decades long battle like abortion.

        We are less far along on drugs and there are more obstacles – we have a judical/prison/policing industrial complex that has grown incredibly powerful.

        The cost savings of drug legalization might be apealling but those people losing businesses, or jobs could care less about the policy or cost benefits and they are an extremely powerful political force completely independent of either party

  139. April 19, 2014 7:11 pm

    14. I will join you in opposing our culture of perpetual war. We must get past beleiving that everything is a justification for the use of military force.
    Recent increases in viable fossil fuel reserves – particularly in reserves outside the mideast decrease the need for us to shed anyone’s blood. The most effective instrument of foreign policy we have is often doing nothing.

    But I will take issue with your faith in drones. Drones save the lives of US soldiers on the ground. But there is no free lunch. They are essentially airborne assassins, and the largest portion of those murdered are not our enemies. They increase the extent to which those surrounding our enemies hate us, and if anything they excerbate the moral issues of war.

    I am not opposed to the use of drones. But they are merely a weapon, They do not make moral that which is immoral, and they are not the perfect weapon for all problems. They come with alot of problems of their own.

  140. April 19, 2014 7:20 pm

    15. Immigration.


    Get the data straight. The US has absorbed atleast 30M “illegal immigrants” since 1980.
    That is 10% of our population, and yes they tend to be at the economic bottom.
    Yet somehow our standard of living has risen significantly at the same time.

    You argued elsewhere that hispanics are not rising as much as they should. If that were true, then the bottom 10% of this country would be ENTIRELY illegal immigrants.

    The vast quantity of illegal immigrants this nation has absorbed in the
    past 40 years wreaks havoc on all the progressive class warfare claims you echo.
    It is statistically impossible to have absorbed 10% of the population of the country as dirt poor immigrants, had the wealth of EVERY quintile double and have anything progressives say about the stagnation of conditions for the poor be true.

    In the last half of the 19th century the US absorbed a 50% increase in people from immigration and doubled the standard of living several times – this was right smack in the midst of the so called robber barron era. But progressives have been completely wrong about wealth for centuries.

    Immigration – legal or otherwise is no threat to this nation.

  141. April 19, 2014 7:26 pm

    16. Political correctness.

    If you must limit speech to that no one finds malicious, then there is no free speech and the PC’rs have won.

    Again you are looking for a compromise, a moderate position where there is none.
    The only legitimate response to speech that offends you, is more speech.

    Anything else is far more immoral that whatever vile thing is being said.

    I stand for freedom. Not just the freedom of the good guys. But for the freedom of Nazi’s
    to march in Skokie, and the KKK to much in my home town. For Rev. Phelps and WestBorro Baptist to spew their vile form of hate at the funerals of soldiers.

    The least freedom the worst of us has is the most freedom the rest of us have.

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

  142. April 20, 2014 2:27 pm

    It wouldn’t hurt if we stopped adding illegal criminals to the payroll.

    Exactly how much have THEY paid into the system?

  143. April 21, 2014 8:12 am

    We have not had a “free market” in US healthcare since around 1933. In large measure, one can lay the entire fiasco at the doorstep of government and its regulators. Now, to be fair, in many cases, these actions were in reaction to, or the instigation of interest groups that wanted something from the government and so, many laws were passed, etc.

    Fast forward and here we are. However, let’s be clear: markets are NOT coming back to healthcare. That train has left the station and the station is closed. At this point, the US will move to a single payer system unless something catastrophic happens.

    MDs are employees now and we should expect of them what we expect from employees of any organization: to do the organization’s bidding. Soon, they will be federal employees.

    It is only a matter of time.

    • April 21, 2014 12:11 pm


      I hope and beleive your crystal ball is wrong. Other nations have tried alternatives.
      Contrary to progressive claims their success has NOT been so fantastic.
      Most of those vaunted European Social democracies have schemes that are often Closer to free markets than we do. While many mandate insurance, they also mandate that patients pay 30% of costs for non-catastrophic health needs. Regardless, while most of the EU has some aspects of their healthcare law that is much more “socialized” than ours, most also have much stronger market elements than ours. The UK the pinacle of progressive wishes is abysmal.

      We also forget entirely that the cost of healthcare is about much more than outcome.

      A ford Focus and a Lexus will both get you to work or the grocery store.
      The outcome is the same. Yet many buy lexus’s.

      Both my parents died in the past decade. Both spent some time in the hospital.
      They had large private rooms that were more luxurious than a hotel room at the helmsley palace. In innumerable other ways that had little to do with outcome, their care was radically better than that I received when I was hospitalized for 6 weeks in the early eighties.

      Even the care in our ER’s is vastly different than decades ago – and much of the difference has nothing to do with outcomes.

      We spend an enormous amount of money in this country on aspects of healthcare that have NOTHING to do with outcome.

      Do you really beleive that the american people are enmass prepared to adopt the same conditions that Britons or much of the rest of the EU tolerate ?

      I do not think PPACA is going to survive and you think we are headed to Single Payer ?

      I do think PPACA might have done us a favor. It has shifted things relatively heavily away from Heath Insurance as a business perq to Individually provided heatlh insurance.
      That could prove to be a major free market force. Much of the anti-market regulation is confined to the employer provided health insurance market. If you buy your own heatlh insurance you have many choices and rights that you do not have in the employer provided scheme.

  144. P. Rottenham permalink
    May 1, 2014 11:00 am

    You’re a decent writer, Rick, and a better than average thinker. I couldn’t find anything wrong with your 16 points. They are valid and well stated. The only thing that gives me pause is that the influence of runaway corporatism, something I feel is the root cause of half our problems, doesn’t come up. It you’re off the mark anywhere, it’s No.9. I’m less conservative than that.

    There are few Americans standing up for moderation today. I only spotted two or three sites. Of them, yours is the only one I’ve bookmarked. I’ll come back and read some more, on one of my rare less-cynical days.


    • May 2, 2014 12:28 am

      What corporation will bust your door down and storm in with a swat team – because your ex-wife is behind on here student loan payments ?

      What corporation will confiscate your bank account because your insurance company will not cover cash losses of more than 10,000, so when ever your store has nearly 10,000 cash on hand you deposit in the bank. And the IRS knows only drug dealers routinely deposit sums just less than 10,000.

      What corporation can jail you ? Take away what you have earned ? Shoot you ?

      No corporation has any ability to cause you harm – but through leveraging the power of government. Disempower government and you need not worry about corporations.

      • P. Rottenham permalink
        May 4, 2014 8:59 am

        The corporation doesn’t need the ability to cause you harm, directly. It has an agent, in our government. Consider the oil wars. I don’t think I need to tell you what banks can do. There are many examples.

        Much of the intrusive behavior you describe happened largely because Americans wanted to look out the window and leave government to the politicians, instead of taking an active part in it. The War on Drugs, the War on Terrorism, etc., all the excuses for taking exception to the Bill of Rights, these came about in the past 25 years. Politicians don’t care about the citizens anymore. Our government is for sale now. We can’t just make politicians disappear, they’ll all be back in 90 days. We can get their attention back, if we choose to, though. Bulldoze K Street and watch the cockroaches scurry.

        The government is a symptom. Corporate influence is the cause. A lie only works when you don’t know it’s a lie. Just because you don’t see the puppet master, doesn’t mean he isn’t there.

      • May 4, 2014 9:14 am

        I think you have it backwards. Special interests have always been around, tossing money and influence as best as they can. Politicians are “supposed” to be immune from this, as they are paid their salaries by way of general taxation which makes them our “agents.”

        Thus, under agency theory, they are supposed to be representing all of the principals. (the citizen), and not dealing from both sides of the deck.

        Do they do that now? In the main, I think they do not. Yet, some appear to in fact, act this way. As Ted Cruz aptly puts it, I didn’t get elected to make 535 new friends. Rand Paul is not making many either. Yet, they earn my respect, as least.

        So, is it the corp. or the politician? I say it is the politician. Corporations are supposed to pursue their own interests and elected pols, ours.

        Now, we can hope that they will see the light. We can also cut off a few heads (remember the French Revolution) or better yet, take power away from Washington and return it to the local level.

        Dave disagrees with me on this but I would rather have these birds down the street, where I can ring their doorbell.

        BTW-I did this recently to our mayor, who lives right up the street. Worked like a charm.

      • May 5, 2014 3:15 pm

        What I disagree with is whether federalism is inherently good, rather than like compromise, merely a tool. There are advantages and disadvantages to local government.

        My “local” government serves nearly as many people as were in the entire united states in 1776.

      • May 5, 2014 3:25 pm

        Oh, you mean there are trade-offs to each of our choices and options?

        Wow, you are a fucking genius.

        Thanks for nothing, Dave.

      • May 5, 2014 3:55 pm

        It is about far more than just tradeoffs. Competition between states, competition between he federal government and states, even conflict between them frequently serve a valueable purpose.

        Many on the left rant that there has never been a “libertarian government”.

        Look at the way the nations of the world relate. If you treat each nation as a person, you essentially have a anarchist society of disparately powerful individuals.

        While it does not work perfectly, it does work. There is no law but what each nation choses to abide by. There is no over arching government of any consequence.

      • May 5, 2014 4:01 pm

        Again, more meaningless drivel.
        Don’t you tire of yourself?

      • Ron P permalink
        May 4, 2014 11:56 am

        PR…Money and buying off the politicians has been going on for more than 25 years. The bill of rights has been under attack by money for most of this countries existence. One only needs to look back at the late 1800’s to see that three men controlled the American economy. Mellon, Morgan and Rockefeller. In todays money, their worth then was more than the top 40 today. In fact Morgan loaned the government an equivelent of 1 trillion dollars to bail out the government when it almost went broke during an economic downturn. Then when the politicians, namely William Jennings Bryan, began attacking corporations and corporate greed. All three of these men gave William McKinley millions for his campaign since he supported their positions and did not want government involvement in business. He was their puppet when elected and not until later when roosevelt was elected did some protectionist and anti monopoly legislation come to pass.

        One only need to read history to see that things in this country today are not much different than in the past when it comes to politics. They have alwasy been and always will be for sale in Washington D.C.

      • May 4, 2014 12:18 pm

        One has to believe that self-interest is not a aspect of human behavior that is peculiar to the US, to capitalism, or to current times. As far as I can tell, this is simply a part of who we are, regardless of where we are.

        In many systems (China, Russia, much of South America) buying influence and power is pretty open and obvious. In other societies (the European Union) it is smoothed away so to speak.

        It is a never ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way.

        Superman, where are you when we need you.

        Can Obama be bought? Oh, you bet he can.

      • May 5, 2014 3:36 pm

        Unfortunately I am talking off the top of my head as I can not find the study, but I seem to recall a recent paper on government in undeveloped nations that found that corruption was NOT large among their problems – not that corruption did not exist but that improvements of standard of living did not negatively correlate to corruption. The conclusion was that political patriarchs can get rich and enrich their nations, what is more important is whether they build the institutions necescary for a stable society.

        Problems like uncontrolled violence, lack of freedom, lack of property rights were more fundimental.

      • May 5, 2014 3:38 pm

        Because “corruption” is so easily defined and measured across countries, cultures, and economies.

        You really are not that bright, Dave.

      • May 5, 2014 10:12 pm

        Do you think I care much what you think about me ?

        I am interested in your arguments on issues. I respect your intelligence, thoughts and ideas – when you are offering those rather than ad hominem. But respect is not adoration, and I am going to disagree on occasion – get over it, and yourself.

        I do not recall having insulted you. If I have I apologize. I try to attack ideas and ideologies not people. But I can not make you do the same.

        Further when you resort to character assassination that leaves me with no alternative but to conclude you have no argument.

        Freedom, the rule of law, good government are not all that easily defined either – atleast their are widely divergent views on them and their importance.
        That does not prevent us from studying those and weighing how they impact govenrment and countries.

        But I guess since we can not directly measure income inequality and return on capitol in the 1600’s we are unable to draw any economic conclusions at all about that era ?

      • May 5, 2014 3:31 pm

        Ron; government corruption is not 25 years old. It is as old as society, Hamurabi addresses it. It is found throughout the old testament. It existed long before “corporations”

        Beyond that you have a very odd read of history.
        Most of the progressive muckrakers memes are false.
        Tamany hall was as corrupt as it gets, not a single one of those uber rich in sight.

        Morgan loaned the government the equivalent of $1T. Why did the government need it ?
        Certainly not because Morgan screwed up.

        I would note Andrew Mellon gave the nation the entire national gallery of art. The building, and all the art work – yet his name appears no where on the building. Further he did so in the midst of the great depression. And he did so despite being investigated essentially for being Wealthy by FDR.

        Legislatively FDR was abysmal. He vascillated all over. Policies changed at whim. He was worse than progressive. He was unpredictable. All of his programs were abysmal.
        Protectionism is idiocy. There has never been a sustaining natural monopoly or cartel. They require government to survive. The entire US anti-trust framework is based on economic idiocy – it presumes a mall number of large competitors efficiently producing large volumes of undifferentiated goods. This has zero resemblance to the real economy.

        Standard Oil as an example relentlessly (and profitably) drove prices down for more than 50 years. After its breakup prices rose (and profits declined).

        Among the Railroad robber barons those backed by government failed. Those totally private eventually took over.

        So much of what you read in elementary school history is contradicted by real world facts.
        But then the germans invented public education for the purpose of creating more maleable cannon fodder.

      • May 5, 2014 3:06 pm

        Except that you. have cause and effect reversed I agree entirely

        The power of government is the cause. Abuse is going to occur regardless of corporate influence. There are myriads of instances everyday of some government agent doing evil without a corporation in sight. Government is made of exactly the same people that you are unwilling to trust to engage in free and voluntary exchanges and you wish to put them charge of involuntary exchanges. Abuse occurs as the act of individuals in government. It occurs in more organized fashion as one climbs the government management ladder, and it occurs all the way to the head of the beast.

        While corporations do attempt to leverage the power of government to serve their interests, they are not alone.

        Our founders were not afraid of a single vector leading to corruption and abuse. Their choice was to pit interests against each other so that nothing could be accomplished without supermajority consent.

        Federalism is nothing more than one means by which they attempted to pit government interests against themselves. The value of federalism is not some superiority of local government, but that the federal govenrment is a check on state abuse and power and visa versa.

      • P. Rottenham permalink
        May 6, 2014 10:33 am

        Guys, this isn’t complex. It’s simple.

        When a good idea like capitalism is taken to a ridiculous extreme, runaway corporatism is the result. Sure money has always had a loud voice in politics (as in many things), but it’s a matter of degrees.

        We’re way over the top now. By that I mean, we no longer control our own government, although quite a few still think we do. This, not any of the straw men held up by mainstream political hogwash, is the root cause of our many major social and economic problems.

        If you don’t see this, you’re part of the problem.

      • Ron P permalink
        May 6, 2014 11:22 am

        PR….How can one say “we’re way over the top now” when it comes to money when money has been the root of many problems thoughout our history. Looking a various times, the beginning of our country was dominated by the rich. Most were plantation owners. Then came the industrial revolution dominated by a few rich men who could buy politicians all the way up to the Presidency. There were times when labor unions had a tight grip on politicians, much more so than today. And now we have corporations and PAC’s with unlimited money that can dominate politics. One only needs to look at history to find that not much has changed, but the perception of the public of the impact of money in politics has changed. With our instant messaging, one can post comments on the internet and within 24 hours thay could hit millions of viewers. Those messages do not need to be true, but “its on the internet, it has to be true”. In the late 1800’s when a handful of politicians “bought’ the president, how likely was it that this news was known to the masses.

        The solution does not lie with restrictions as to the amount of money or who can contribute, the solution lies more with the constitution and the provisions allwoing for terms in office. Would money go as far with senators limited to two terms as it does with unlimited terms? With a president limited to one 6 year term instead of 2 four year terms. And then maybe we could also pass legislation to limit lobbying and who could do that after terms in office had been completed.

      • May 6, 2014 2:52 pm

        I would like to beleive that minor alterations in the terms for elected officials would change things – but I doubt that. Though I am not looking to argue the point.

        But I would note that TODAY, the rich, corporations, AND unions lavish money on politicians – often at cross purposes. Further as you note a single bog post or video can reach millions in minutes – without a single PAC dollar involved.

        Still no matter how much money is spent, getting elected means getting the votes of individual people. No amount of money locks an election.

        What CU and hopefully even more decisions gutting incumbents efforts to limit political competition has resulted in is more money in politics. But also more voices.

        CU in particular was about killing restricitons on independent political activitiy.

        Which is more dangerous ? Koch, Sorros, Bloomberg, etc contributing directly to candidate X or the same people or groups speaking out as loudly as they can afford on the issues that matter to them rather than on specific candidates ?

        Who but a politician benefits from stiffling independent political activity ?

      • May 6, 2014 2:41 pm

        Corporatism has nothing to do with Capitalism.

        It is the leveraging of government power by private interests.
        It is about as close to the exact opposite of a free market as you can get.
        It is certainly not “extreme capitalism” if anything it is “extreme anti-capitalism”

        And yes when government attempts to extend beyond its limits we no longer control it.
        The error is in increasing govenrment power beyond what is necescary.

        Congress can not legislate the rising of the sun – that is outside its power.
        We as voters can not empower govenrment to perform a task that is beyond its scope and beyond its ability.

        The root cause is government endeavoring to do what it should not and can not.
        Corruption will always be a problem in government. Power corrupts.
        But expand government power beyond what is necescary and worse corruption will ensue.

        The corruption and corporatism you decry are merely symptoms or the underlying problem.

        The disease is much larger. All government corruption, all abuse of power is not in the service of corporations. Government at all levels engages in corrupt and destructive actions targeting citizens without a corporation in site.

        The corporatism you fixate on is merely one symptom of a larger problem.
        And that problem is within government not business.

      • P. Rottenham permalink
        May 6, 2014 12:39 pm

        When I say this is simple, Ron, I’m not kidding.

        40 years of offshoring has given us a tax revenue shortfall. Now we borrow money from China, the very place we sent our jobs, to pay our bills. At the same time, we reward the corporation with tax exemptions for every job we lose! That’s what I call over the top. Trying to justify this kind of corporate welfare is just plain ridiculous.

        Corporate tax laws are over the top. GE paid no taxes at all? This would be funny, if it weren’t so sad. Would you like to have the benefit of the same tax laws the corporation uses? I’ll bet you would. And now that they create as few decent jobs in America as they do, you should.

        How can I say we’re way over the top? I’m a plain spoken kinda guy, so I won’t try to BS you to death. I’m here in the hopes of meeting other moderates like myself, not people who think the filibuster is an art form. I don’t think you’re a moderate, Ron.

        Don’t confuse the word “taxpayer” with the word “stockholder.” They’re different.

      • May 6, 2014 12:42 pm

        Not to quibble, but projected tax receipts for this fiscal year show the Feds bringing in more money that ever before.

        We MIGHT have a spending problem?

        Just a thought.

        I am sure Dave will disagree with me. He has to.

      • May 6, 2014 3:08 pm


        We agree on and are both right about 95% of things – including that we have a spending problem not a revenue problem.

      • May 6, 2014 3:05 pm

        Federal government revenue in absolute terms has increased steadily without interruption since WWII.
        Even as a percent of GDP it has not varied much again since WWII.
        Your rant on “off-shoring” is economic ignorance. The US produces MORE today by far than ever before. With 7% of the worlds people we are 35% of the world economy – and growing. We are the 1% for the rest of the world.

        The purpose of a corporation is to create wealth for shareholders.
        The shareholders of US corporations today are your insurance, your retirement, your ….
        If you wish to drive the cost of your insurance up and depending on Social Security for your retirement – be my guest. But quit destroying mine in the process.

        Nor would you want otherwise. When governments have confused means such as employment – with ends such as standard of living, the results have been disasterous.

        You may be plain spoken, but you are plainly wrong.

      • May 6, 2014 3:07 pm


        You should write a book: “How to win friends and influence people!”

        Could be a best-seller.

      • May 6, 2014 4:59 pm

        That book has been written.

        That is not what I am here for.

        Some part of what I said you do not agree with ?
        Or are you just critiquing how I said it ?

        Ranting about “offshoring” is economic ignorance.

        Should I have called him “dim witted” or ranted about santa, or pixies.

      • May 6, 2014 5:47 pm

        Hey dummy, everyone knows that book has been written. It is called a joke. Look it up!

        I never said one word about off-shoring.

        Once again, you cannot read.

        You must be a great programmer.

      • May 6, 2014 8:52 pm

        Follow the thread. This started with Off shoring.

      • Ron P permalink
        May 6, 2014 6:25 pm

        PR..Thanks for larifing what you meant by “over the top”. I would agree with you that our tax code is totally screwed up and there needs to be a complete rewrite of that code. Yes, GE should be paying taxes on income earned in the US. I will accept the fact that they are not based on your comments since I do not know the details of their income and taxes. I also do not agree that our government should be allowing companies to move to china, produce goods at 1/10th the cost as they do in the US, let the goods into the US without some form of tariff all while the Chinese are placing tremendous import tariff on our goods. I also do not believe the US should allow the Chinese to manipulate currency so their products are cheaper, all while building their war chest of American debt.

        But one also needs to look at history to see why some of this is happening. Years ago most furniture and textiles were in the northeast unitl union labor became too expensive in the late 20’s or so. So the companies moved to the south, with High Point NC being the center of production for most of these plants. This continued until the late 80’s or so when labor became too expensive and we could ship our Walnut from the midwest oversees, make a bedroom suit out of it and ship it back cheaper than we could produce it here. The same took place with US Steel and union labor until we began shipping iron ore to Japan and they produced it cheaper and sent it back to us less than we could produce it here.

        Now look at the US car manufacturers. Moving out of the upper midwest south, or to Mexico, Australia or other foreign countries. Might be a pattern based on the high cost of unon labor. I don’t know for sure, but it seems like that might be the case.

        So why hasn’t the government created tax laws that support manufacturing in the US and create a competitive environment for manufacturers? Just what you said. Money!!! Someone has a sweet deal producing cars, textiles, furniture, steel, lithium batteries, etc etc in foreign countries based on our tax laws and tariffs. Would Walmart be in business today if the cheap Chinese crap they sell had a 20% tariff? Would the cell phone everyone buys every 2-3 years be as cheap as it is if there was a 25% tariff? All due to cheap labor and money manipulation? I doubt it.

        Right now you may not beleive I am a moderate. I may not be. I suspect I am right of center, with mostly Libertarian leanings. You will have to judge that from what I post.

        But I still believe money has played a huge part in politics since our beginnings and especially since the industrial revolution. How about a falt tax with no deductions for anything for everyone and then tariffs based on monitary values absent of government manipulation. maybe then we could brings some jobs back to the US.

      • May 6, 2014 6:38 pm

        Nicely reasoned. It certainly makes sense that activities go where they are done most productively /or with lower cost, or both. I think the re-location of the auto industry (and other manufacturing) is a good example of this. There are many more.

        The states that lost jobs had high cost structures, taxes, and lots of regulation that drove up production costs, time delays, worker strikes, etc. All these create many issues for businesses and at a certain point, the transactions costs no longer seem insurmountable.

        Boeing moves production. Foreign auto makers come here but they sure don’t go to Detroit.

        So, all that said, in what way can lawmakers be made to make better decisions?

        Well, when states have to compete for tax revenue (and jobs) notice they get creative. Hence, my Rx has always been to drain power from Washington DC and restore it back to the states. This is not a perfect solution but it is a better state of affairs.

        To wit: If a Texas governor does not do right by his/her citizens, you can bet, they feel the pressure a whole lot more than some Senator in DC, who runs for office every 6 yrs. and knows how easy it is to fool those buffoons back home with a little pork.

        Now, Dave will be along shortly to tell us all how stupid we are. He will have the definitive answer, courtesy of Adam Smith.

      • May 6, 2014 10:22 pm

        Why should I disagree with you when you are right ?

        I have made my own different contributions to the discussion, but yours do not contradict mine and nor mine yours.

        Further the intrastate competition you cite also happens between nations.
        Over the past several decades much of the world has been lowering taxes.
        The US is increasingly at a tax disadvantage relative to the rest of the world.

        US corporations do not bring foreign earnings back to the US because our tax laws make that stupid. Apple GE and other US icons will endure periodic media and political excoriation so long the real cost in lost US sales of that is less than the cost of the US taxes. But worse still the whole arrangement is idiocy.

        Here we are ranting about the needs for more US Jobs while several trillion dollars of money is outside the US begging to return and be invested.

        Lets say the US dropped its tax on foreign earnings tomorow to zero as I beleive every single other nation in the world has. Several trillion dollars would likely rapidly return to the US. There is no conceivable stimulus program that could match that. And all it would cost is money the US government will never see anyway.

        So this money flows into the US – what happens to it ?
        US corporations use it to make more. They invest they create jobs.
        Or they return it to shareholders as dividends – and what do shareholders do with it ?
        Well they invest, again creating jobs.

        I beleive Bill Gates is currently worth about $76B. How many Porsche 959’s does he need ? How many $60M homes ? How many Gulf Streams ? In the end 99.99% of the money of the uber rich is re-invested. When it grows their investment grows.
        But even if we assumed as keynesians like to that all consumption is good and consumption rather than investment drives everything. Then rather than tax Gates money we should force him to buy ever more Gulf Streams and porsches and expensive homes and ….

        The worst thing we could do with that money is tax the crap out of it, where government will use it in just about the least productive way possible.

        Apple as an example is actually borrowing money to buy back stock despite having $100B in cash on hand outside the US. This is pure idiocy thanks to our freinds in Washington.

        And our president whose economic skills as less than a 5th grader excoriates companies for not giving away money that belongs to shareholders when they do not have to.

        Worse still in the US should a company bring its off shore money back to the US and pay taxes on it and they then issued dividends or bought back stock.
        The investors who received the dividends or who were paid for their stock would be taxed AGAIN on the same money.

      • May 7, 2014 7:16 am

        One cannot argue with statement.

        “And our president whose economic skills as less than a 5th grader excoriates companies for not giving away money that belongs to shareholders when they do not have to.”

      • May 6, 2014 9:12 pm

        The US can not stop companies from moving to china.
        Nor should it when that makes sense. Though the trend at the moment is in the other direction.
        Just as China can not prevent shifts to Bangeledesch.

        Very low skill low resource jobs will seek the cheapest labor with sufficient skills in the country with the bare minimum of necescary resources.
        The standard of living in China is about 11K/year now – that is up from $400/year a few decades ago. Alot of jobs that once made sense with labor at $400 are leaving china.

        This same process has repeated over and over again – Japan, Tiawan, South Korea, the rest of Asia, Now the move is to places like Ghana and Bangeledesch.

        All those asian countries that you seem to think are “stealing our jobs” merely took jobs that could not be done profitably in the US.
        At the same time alot of what we thought had left the country for good are back.
        US Manufacturing is GROWING. And it is bringing small numbers of well paid high skill jobs not large numbers of low skill blue collar jobs.

        If you are young today and you think your future will be bring with minimal skills and education – think again, because your screwed. Nor is that a uniquely US phenomena.
        Even Bangeledesch is going to start to shed jobs to some place worse off once its standard of living gets high enough.

        As China, Tiawan, Japan, etc. approach our standard of living growth becomes more difficult. Now they are competing with the US at what the US does best. And no one has yet managed that successfully.

        You lament the low skilled jobs that went to China. Yet US GDP/PPP has been steadily rising for two centuries. No matter how much goes to China we produce ever more and more. For that to be true the growth in high skill work has to greatly exceed the losses in low skilled work – and it does.

        Aside having a skilled labor pool the envy of the world, entrepeneurship that no one has approached, we also have the largest market in the world, the best and cheapest power in the world, unequaled resources, unparalelled shipping and transportation.

        Washington wants to spend a fortune on high speed bullet trains – because we have lost the train battle to The europeans and asians.

        Do you know what nations has by far the best rail system ? The US !
        But it is for freight not people. Since carter Deregulated our rail system has exploded,
        Volumes are way up and costs are way down. No one can move materials for the low costs we can. Often the US can bring raw materials from the ends of the earth to factories, cheaper than the nations they come from can transport the same materials a couple of hundred miles to their own factories.

      • May 6, 2014 9:22 pm

        If as you say the chinese are manipulating their currency to make their goods artificially cheaper in the US. Then they are transferring wealth from China to the US.
        Do you actually beleive they are doing that ?

        Try taking this logically. If the cost of some good in china is $X yet through currency games the Chinese are able to sell it in the US for $X-1 then someone – and not US consumers is losing $1 for each item sold.

        I am not arguing that the chinese are not playing currency games, only that if true it is at best a temporary losers game. If they are doing so they are essentially buying jobs in china by discounting the value of goods in the US. They might end up with more jobs, but they actually drive their own standard of living down to do so.
        Worse still, Bangeledesch, and other poorer nations are nipping at their heels.
        And they need not play currency games to steal jobs from China.

        The economics of trade are well understood.
        True free trade – no holds barred, no tarriffs no treaties no agreements trade is a win win games for everyone. The relative loser is the nation with the highest barriers.
        There is no need for trade treaties etc. Just let trade happen.
        If the other side plays games – let them. Again the side playing the most games benefits the least.

      • Ron P permalink
        May 6, 2014 11:29 pm

        asmth,, I am gettin way over my limited knowledge of currency manipulation, so what I write may be incorrect. But here it goes.
        Company produces item for $X in US dollars
        Company sends item to US and sells it for $X-1 (converted to Chinese dollars) based on china subsidy. chinese company gets $X regardless.
        Many transactions occur until the US has a deficit and sells debt to China
        China buys US debt for X (in Chinese dollars)
        USA sells US debt to China for $X-1 (in US dollars )
        For the US to get 100% for their debt, they have to sell an additional +1 to China who has manipulated its currency. The chinese currency is not buying a true dollars worth of US bonds since their currency is undervalued.
        To me, the ones getting screwed is the US citizen who is paying the interest in an inflated amount of debt sold to the chinese. Had the currency been valued fairly, the Chinese currency would have been worth more, bought more debt thus reducing the number of bonds sold and the interest on the debt would be less.

        And that is my limited novice understanding of currency manipulation.

      • May 7, 2014 3:19 am

        You are connecting unrelated issues.

        Our debt is our problem. It exists because we can not live within our means.
        To the extent that the chinese are subsidizing our consumption they are to a small extent reducing our debt problem.

        Rather than fixate on exchange rates, think of a weak currency as inflation – because that is essentially what it is. If you make your own currency worth less so you can export.
        You are reducing what your people get paid for what they produce AND you are reducing the the value of their pay and ny currency holdings they have in their nations.

        That is what a weak currency means. So do you want the US government to do the same thing to american people to retaliate ? Why does something that is just plain a bad idea, seem good to you when you add in trade ?

        Next neither China nor anyone else buys US debt in RMB or anything but dollars.
        So long as the US does not manipulate its currency a $ worth of US debt will always be worth a US $. Why does it matter what it is worth in RMB ?

        Regardless the Chinese do not buy US debt in RMB they buy it in the dollars we send to them in return for the goods they send us.

        This also addresses the idiocy of balance of trade issues.

        The US buys foreign goods in little green slips of paper called dollars.
        The Chinese trade goods for paper.

        Until that paper comes back to the US it is of little concern to us.
        If the chinese kept all the green slips of paper and stored them in a vault.
        We would have goods, and the chinese would have paper.

        Presumably at some point the chinese would tire of holding lots of slips of green paper and would try to exchange them for something of real value.

        Again until they bring them back the US what they do with them is meaningless to us.

        Eventually it is likely they will return here.
        If they use them to buy our debt, they have changed nothing.
        Those little green slips of paper are already the same thing as debt.
        In buying our debt they have merely traded one promise of exchange for another.

        The alternative is they can buy things in the US.
        They can buy goods. So Acme manufacturing give the chinese widgets and gets dollars.
        Which Acme can exchange easily for anything they want.
        Is there someone arguing that if the Chinese spent all their US dollars buying US goods that would be a bad thing ?
        The other possibility is that they buy US assets. The Japanese did this for sometime.
        How exactly does it Harm the US for foreign countries to invest in us ?

        Most economists do not fixate on foreign exchange deficits. Because they have to be balanced by capitol account surpluses.

        Trade is a win-win wheter between individuals or nations. Trying to game the system using tarriffs and currency manipulation harms you not your trading partners.

      • May 7, 2014 10:19 am


        Despite my diatribe I missed an entire facet of this issue.

        If artificially lowering the value of a nations currency is such a good thing – why don’t all nations do it ?

        Because it is not a good thing. Currency values do shift relative to other countries. They do so primarily because one country improves its productivity relative to others.

        Mis valuing your currency relative to other nations is not a net positive function.
        Bad prices – whether of currency or goods create problems and the market will always try to force the bad price to fix itself. It does not matter whether it is too high or low.

        George Sorros as an example made much of his fortune some time ago when he grasped that The bank of england had mispriced the pound. Sorros made a fortune, England lost far more. The Asian crisis of the late 90’s was the result of various asian countires trying to misprice their currency. The consequences were fortunately short but on the magnitude of a depression.

        Larger nations such as the US and China can more easily get away with manipulations for longer. But not forever. The worst case scenario for China will occur if the market rather than government forces China to correct its currency price. A currency price significantly different from what the market demands will inevitably result in the mas transfer of wealth from China to outsiders.

        A personally suspect that China’s currency is not nearly so far out of line as out government claims. It is easy for governments to make accusations of other governments.

        If the price of the RMB was actually significantly wrong, there is an obvious oportunity for someone to get very very very rich off the difference.

        “Ponzi Scheme” is brought up frequently to refer to pyramid schemes where new investors are the source for the returns for older ones – the same as Social Security.

        Charles Ponzi’s actual “scheme” was a form of currency arbitrage. Ponzi noted that the Italian stamps were priced differently in the US than in Italy and that buy buying stamps in Italy and selling them in the US he could pocket the difference. He sought investors to fund doing this on a large scale. His error as paying out returns faster than he could create them. If Ponzi attempted this today with electronic trading he would have succeeded.

        Nor is amassing huge profits by taking advantage of currency mis-pricing new or unusual.
        In the 19th century most US recessions were cause by the US bi-metalic standard.
        Congress treated both Gold and Silver as reserves, and the relative price of each was dictated by statute. Whenever congress got the difference wrong even by a small amount, they created a Ponzi like means to profit as quickly as you could roll currencies.
        The economic consequences were devastating, “progressives” and populists and politicians liked to blame “speculators” but the error was one of government.
        Mis price something and someone will always find a way to profit from your error.

        It does not matter whether you under or over price. Any significant deviation from the market price leaves you open to arbitrage.

        In the market prices are normally allowed to be determined by the market to avoid this.
        Trying to prop up or hold down an erroneous price against the market is just giving your wealth away to others.

        If China’s currency was significantly mispriced investors would already be sucking wealth out of china.

      • May 6, 2014 9:49 pm

        The government has not created laws supporting companies in the US because the “experts” actually grasp that as a losers game.

        We have heard of the death of US manufacturing over and over again for decades.
        It is false.

        There are periodic temporary shifts as the economy adjusts and as emerging nations gain temporary advantages usually from low cost low skill labor, but as their standard of living increases, their advantages diminish. Meanwhile the US continues to innovate, producing ever more. Today China has a 5% cost advantage over the US in most manufaturing.
        That is easily eaten by the complexities and risks of international trade as well as time to market issues. We can expect that other nations in the world will continuously strive to catchup. But thus far no nation has actually been able to match the US.
        We are still the largest manufacturer and the largest market.
        It is possible that China might shortly catch us in overall value. It is also possible they will not their advantages are declining. Equally importantly US production and productivity still relentlessly grow.
        Better still a more affluent China, or India or Bangeledesch is a growing market for US made goods and services.

        This off-shoring non-sense is crap. A more affluent world population is better for EVERYONE.

        China has gone from near the bottom of the third world to the bottom of the first world in a few decades. That is 1.6B consumers. Absolutely they buy lots of chinese goods, But they also buy far more US goods than at any time in the past.

        The increasing afluence of the world is incredible for all of us.
        Currently The US and EU are the major markets for pharmaceuticals.
        That market is about 600M people As India and China become more affluent the pharmaceuticals market will increase by a factor of 5.

        How many diseases and treatments will suddenly become viable because the potential market has increased by a factor of 5 ?

        Merely doubling the size of the market does not merely double demand, it often triples of quadruples is because an increasing number of products now have a sufficiently large market to be economically feasible.

        The wealthier the people of the rest of the world become the more things will be created that could not exist merely on the US market alone.
        The US will not get all that growth. It may not get most of it.
        But we will produce more next year than this year and on into the future.
        And as the demand in the rest of the world increases – we will increasingly have more and more things that never existed before available to us cheaply. Some made here some made elsewhere.

      • May 6, 2014 9:53 pm

        Why would you want to tarrif the chinese to prevent them from subsidizing the prices of US consumers ?

        If the chinese government wishes to steal wealth from their own people to sell products to the US cheaply – why should we stop them ?

        There are only two choices here. Either the chinese goods being sold in the US are actually worth more than we are paying for them – in which case China is subsidizing the US – and why should we stop that ? Or They are worth the same or less than we are paying.

      • Ron P permalink
        May 6, 2014 11:04 pm

        asmith..I have no problem with Chinese products coming into this country at any price as long as the playing field is equal. If a dollars worth of American goods can reach the Chinese people at the equivalent price of a dollar in Chinese money, then let the competition begin. But the Chinese place tariffs on American goods on average of about 40% which makes a dollars worth of American goods in the Chinese equal to $1.40. Then you have to add to that the manpulation of their currency and that $1.40 is even higher.

        So I ask one question . If you were creating a product that you could produce in the USA at a cost of $100.00 and your best competitor in China had cost due to material transportation cost (or some other cost) of $120.00, would you believe it fair that the Chinese tack on tariffs of $40.00 to make your product in China $140.00 or $20.00 more? Then they manipulate their currency so the product produced in China that costs $120.00 equivalent in Chinese currency enters the USA at a manipulated cost of $80.00. Would you not be losing out on both ends where your product was $20.00 more in China and $20.00 more in the USA?

        You ask two questions. 1. “Why would you want to tarrif the chinese to prevent them from subsidizing the prices of US consumers ? 2. If the chinese government wishes to steal wealth from their own people to sell products to the US cheaply – why should we stop them “?…

        1. I want a fair field. We do not have that now. 2. They are not stealing wealth from their citizens when they subsidize their industries and those industries dominate the USA markets. They are subsidizing their companies, increasing sales, creating jobs, creating a massive middle class and stealing wealth from the USA workers that a losing their jobs to unfair competition. (Then you can add to that the tax implications for the US company compared to that in china)

        Walk around your house or apartment and look at where all the “stuff” you have was produced. Did you subsidize an American worker or a chinese worker?

      • May 7, 2014 2:55 am

        Anytime you add the word “fair” to a sentence you have already lost the argument.

        It is undefinable. No matter what you think it means there are 7B other oppinions in the world.

        Actually addressing the “level playing field”

        Again more quackery. To the extent such a thing might exist – the playing field levels itself.

        Once upon a time when he was a real economist even Paul Krugman understood this.

        A tarrif on imports means your citizens have to pay more for their goods.
        It subsidizes your own industries – out of the mouths of your own people.
        Nations that impose tarrifs deserve what they get.
        It is mercantilist crap, I do not think even politicians believe Tarrifs work.

        Past that why do you care if the chinese people have to pay higher prices for their goods ?

        While government should stay out of trade there is no right to sell to someone else at the price you set. There is supposed to be the freedom to do so, but rights impose no positive burden on others. Because you have made something does not mean it will be sold.

        You are also fixated on the progressive lunacy that informs our anti-trust system.

        All products are not equal and interchangeable. We do not have a small number of big producers making exactly the same thing for the cheapest price.
        Check out the cereal aisle in your grocery store. Why are there so many different cereals –
        because that is what we want.

        I have no idea whether the ordinary chinese wants cocoa crispies. But I know that if he does there is no equivalent in China. There is not even really an equivalent in the US.

        To a very small extent Tarrifs transfer sales to “protected industries” inside your own country. For the most part they merely jigger with supply and demand.
        The chinese people merely get less. Again if a country wishes to abuses its own people
        why is that our business ?

        You may not like it but it is absolutely true that if the Chinese are really manipulating their currency to make their goods cheaper in the US they are subsidizing US consumers at the expense of their own people. It is a wealth transfer without payment straight from China to the US. Free exchange is not zero sum. But currency games are. There are clear winners and losers, and nations that tank their currency to increase trade also destroy the wealth of their citizens in the process.

        Pretend trade is not a factor. Weakening a currency is essentially the same as inflating it.
        In many instances that is exactly what it is. Inside our own country we grasp that inflation is bad. It steal from our citizens. It leaves people with less than they thought they had.
        It also transfers wealth from the poor to the rich. The rich tend to be invested in assets and the value of assets does not change. So a weak currency is harmful to the people of your own country – particularly those worse off. Adding trade only magnifies the problem now you are not only transfering the wealth of the poor to your own rich, but you are transfering it to the people of another nation. That is unfair, that is not a level playing field.
        But the winners are american consumers. If the chinese govenrment ishes to keep its people in poverty to provide us with cheap goods – why should we complain ?

        The object of life and economics is NOT jobs. It is wealth – whatever we value.
        IF robots produced whatever we desired and we never had to work again in our lives would that be a bad economy ? Full employment is trivial. Destroy all the computers.
        Everyone will have a job the next day. Of course we will produce less and our standard of living will decline and wages will decline.
        Further if government stayed completely out of the market place there is no limit to the jobs that would exist if people wanted them.

        Right now, today, tell me that I can advertise a job of my chosing, hire anyone who agrees to take the job, and I do not have to spend hundreds of hours filling out employment reports for the government, and I will go out and hire people immediately.
        You and I already hire people all the time. Do you pay the plumber to fix your sink or the garage to repair your car ? Why can’t you offer your neighbor $50 to change your clutch rather than go to the shop ? Further there are lots of jobs I do everyday, that I would be happy to pay someone else to do. But those jobs are not worth minimum wage to me.
        Especially if I have to do payroll etc. Periodically I see people with cardboard signs that say “will work for food” of course it is illegal to hire them. Why ? Why is it illegal to hire someone who wants to work for any amount that you and they voluntarily agree on ?
        The laws of supply and demand are immutable. Increase price and demand falls.

        I have not subsidized any worker. I have traded value for value.
        Progressives abuse the word subsidy all the time. But then progressives murder language. its right out of 1984. If the chinese government played games with currency – they subsidized me – not the other way arround. If the US government countered with similar idiocy they I would be subsidizing the chinese.

        You are arguing zero sum where there is no such thing. There are no limits to what we can produce. If you can not sell widgets to china because of tarriffs – make something you can sell somewhere else.

        Businesses do not exist to make widgets. They exist to create wealth for their owners. They make widgets because they can find customers to trade wealth for widgets.
        When they can not create wealth for owners making widgets they make something else.
        There is no right to make money selling widgets. You can not level a playing field when there is no such thing.

        None of the above is rocket science.
        If you are hearing differently about trade currency etc. from others – they are either lying or they have been deceived.

        One of the big problems many libertarians have with conservatives (and progressives) as well as the Tea Party, is this idiocy about fair trade and level playing fields.

        The nation trying to game trade whether through tarrifs or currency manipulation, is the one benefitting from that trade the least. The benefits of Free trade are so inexhorable that we should unilateraly drop all trade barriers completely and let any other nation sell anything to us without any tarrif and quit playing games with our own currency because they only hurt us.

  145. May 2, 2014 10:29 am

    I bet you will not see the following quoted in all of today’s happy talk about the unemployment rate:

    “The drop in the unemployment rate from March’s 6.7 percent came as the agency’s survey of households showed the labor force shrank by more the 800,000 in April. The so-called participation rate, which indicates the share of working-age people in the labor force, decreased to 62.8 percent, matching the lowest level since 1978, from 63.2 percent a month earlier.”

    See how lying with data (in this case by omission) is pretty easy when you have the media in the tank for you!

    • May 2, 2014 12:04 pm

      The recovery from the great recesion compares extremely well with another extremely famous/infamous recovery – the great depression.

      In both:
      We have weak protracted recoveries constantly teetering on the verge of returning to failure.
      We have activists presidents imposing inconsistent policy from washington, operating as if the economy is something that dances to whatever tune they play.

      As JB has noted previously – we very rarely get the economic equivalent of controled experiments where we can see the differences in outcome after changing only a single variable. However we can compare different responses at different times in history.
      The results of the government response we have taken to the great recession conforms strongly to similar results from similar policies.

      Those who can not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

      • May 2, 2014 2:25 pm

        Krugman’s piece in the NY Times today is simply the worst he has yet generated. Homily, arrogance, and ad hominem attacks galore.

        The guy makes me cringe!

    • May 2, 2014 12:12 pm

      The economic numbers coming out at the moment are overall not good.
      GDP has tanked and may even be negative.

      Progressives are thrashing businesses for failing to invest. But it is the cash they have on hand that will allow them to endure these reversals. More layoffs and cuttbacks may come, but they will be less because of the resources businesses have on hand.

      Progressives fail to grasp that before profit the first objective is survival.
      If you are productive, you should want management to do whatever is necescary to survive – including cutting those who are not productive. The alternative is everyone loses their job, not everyone keeps it.

      • May 2, 2014 2:30 pm

        Progressives miss this simple fact: The cash that is held by corporations belongs to the shareholders, not the corporations. That cash/capital is “on loan” so to speak. If the capital cannot be used productively (by way of return) it needs to be given back to the SH from whence it came.

        This can be done by either dividends or share buybacks. Either way, there is no valid justification for spending the SH’s money based on employing people or “getting the economy moving.” The economy is the government’s job, is so far as they assert that they control it. Of course, that is not true or this would all be an academic conversation. If the govt can control the economy, why hasn’t it done so?

        The fact that the POTUS has said this several times shows how truly clueless he is in the area of economics.

      • dhlii permalink
        May 2, 2014 7:51 pm

        POTUS and Progressives are not alone.

        The nature of a corporation, is not merely an economic issue.

        This entire idiotic progressive corporate non-personhood meme that even Rick has bought stem from failing to grasp that a corporation is just people voluntarily associating for some purpose. A corporation is no different from a church, social club or any other example of human free-assocation.

        People do not have less rights in aggregate than they do as individuals.

        To many fail to grasp that a corporation is its shareholders. Everyone else is an employee.

  146. Ron P permalink
    May 8, 2014 11:53 am

    After the findings of the false registrations and wait list at the Phoenix VA hospital, two more falseification of records have been found for this same issue. According to, the VA has ordered employees to falsify records in Austin and San Antonio Texas.

    So Rick, not sure what you can list this under, but it may be another addition to your vigilance list, that being Corruption within Government Service.

    It is one thing to have lifer employees that can not be fired, live one of the Peter Principles to it’s fullest (people advance to their level of incompetence and then stay at that position) be incompetent at their jobs and cause errors, it is quite the opposite to have one knowingly falsify records. One may be able to accept false records in the education department to hide backlogs, it is something else to hide backlogs in health related fields.

    To bad these employees could not be held liable for involuntarty manslaughter or some other crime that would put them in jail. When our men go to war and fight for this country they should not be expecting anyone in the VA not supporting them, falsifing records and covering up government crimes.

    • May 8, 2014 12:24 pm

      Obama has promised to look into this. I am sure things will change very quickly, not!
      Sad, these soldiers deserve much better.

      • May 8, 2014 11:49 pm

        And not an evil corporation or Koch brother in sight.

      • Ron P permalink
        May 9, 2014 11:04 am

        And therein lies the problem. Not one corporation with money, not one millionaire or billionaire with influence, not one PAC with influence on voters nor one large group of individuals have made an issue of this problem enough for this to be a leading news story. A handful of people in the VA who are whistle blowers that most likely will be fired for some random reason not associated with telling about this problem came forward and then it was not even the top news story of the day. Do we hear about this like we hear about Bengahzi? Do we hear about this like the IRS issue? How many died in Bengahzi? How many died from the IRS review of Tea Party applications? And how many died from the VA “problem”.

        America, its leaders and most of all its press should be ashamed at how we treat our military veterans. But what the hell, they are like the old workhorse that has been put out to pasture since their useful days are gone. Keep them feed and watered and everything else will take care of itself. (Wait, Animal rights, ASPCA and other animal protectionist will help the horse. Guess the vets are on their own)