Archive for the ‘Socialism’ Category

The Difference Between Obama and Putin

Friday, February 28th, 2014

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Barack Obama exasperates Vladimir Putin. How is it in the U.S.’s interest, Putin wonders, to have complete chaos in the Middle East? Doesn’t President Obama understand that a Qaddafi or Mubarek is preferable to blood in the streets and radical Islam in charge? And why would you leave a potentially winning hand on the Iraq table when you’re pot committed? Why play small?

The exasperation galvanized Putin. If Obama will be weak, someone needs to be strong and it might as well be him. So, Putin humiliated the President in the New York Times. He negotiated in Syria. He’s giving his blessing to candidates in Egypt. He’s bullying the Ukraine. In short, Putin is filling the vacuum. Who will stop him?

Still, for a strong man like Putin, who deals in measures of strength as a commodity, President Obama’s unnecessary weakness makes little sense. Certainly, President Obama’s ideology isn’t that distant from Putin’s. In fact, President Obama has consistently advanced a quasi-socialist America–increased taxation, increased redistribution, an enlarged and empowered state, more regulation, more central control, media harassment and threats, using the government to investigate political opposition, etc. All these decisions, while not nakedly Marxist, certainly aren’t limiting the state and shrinking its power.

So why wouldn’t this statist aggression be pushed around the world?

Here is where President Obama differs from President Putin: Vladamir Putin loves Russia and views the state as an extension of himself. In contrast, President Obama does not like America. Further, he views his own country and people with suspicion. President Obama believes in worldwide redistribution and believes that Americans don’t deserve their power, wealth, or status. So, he cedes it or straight up gives it away.

President Obama’s loathing for colonial powers makes him averse to using the US’ power on the world scene even when it makes him personally look weak and pathetic.

For Putin, the notion of separation of self and state is absurd. He is a Russian. He is proud of his country. He is fond of communism. He chafes at the loss of power and face since the days when the Soviet Union split up. He seeks to regain glory for the state of Russia and by extension, himself.

Obama is a man divided. He wants personal prestige but he is not willing to claim it if it means making America look great. So, he’ll give a grand speech in Egypt, but he won’t make a grand decision there. He’ll say provocative words to the Russian president, but he won’t do anything.

We Americans can take little solace in President Obama’s playing small on the world stage. He doesn’t like America very much except to the extent it makes him a media personality. As long as he wins a Charles Barkley interview while expanding the state, that’s enough. Being a celebrity trumps being a statesman.

So expect more weakness on the world stage. Expect Vladimir Putin to fill the void. Expect China to test limits. Expect more turbulence and confusion. Expect more tyranny. Expect more communism.

Don’t expect President Obama to care about America’s interests. He’s too busy tending his own.

Related to this: Jonah Goldberg has a piece up today about the Nazis and socialism. It’s an interesting read. What occurred to me, though, is that Obama is a “true” Marxist in contrast to, say, Putin. Obama is an internationalist. He wants all the worlds workers to unite. That’s why he cheerleaded Chavez (fist bump!) and seemed unworried about the Muslim Brotherhood a thoroughly socialist organization with socialist goals.

As Jonah notes, the dewy eyed world proletariat uprising fails when faced with reality as nation states have their own aims and they often conflict (see Nazis versus Stalinists). Does President Obama have provincial American concerns? Does he worry about America’s loss of face in the world if the proletariat in Egypt or Libya or China or Russia wins? It sure doesn’t seem like it.



The Hunger Games: The Wrong Conclusion [Part 1]

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Nothing written about The Hunger Games movie is right. Why? The movie isn’t right. Is it worth seeing? Absolutely.

It didn’t occur to me while watching the movie, but when I read Ed Morrissey’s review (meh, derivative) and then this Socialist’s site (best movie ever), I knew something was wrong with the movie. And when I read this Psychology Today review, I knew something was wrong with the psychologist and our culture [More about that in another post].

People who saw The Hunger Games saw a different movie depending on whether they read the books or not. On the optimistic side: most teens read the books. On the pessimistic side: most parents had not. This lead to two very divergent perspectives on the movie.

The Hunger Games trilogy books describe a dystopian, post-Civil War future where the central government is rich off the backs of twelve districts of slaves. The central government uses technology, coercion, and laws restricting any form of self defense (no guns..no bow and arrows, even–thus Katniss’ hidden, handmade bow and arrows).

The central government controls by dividing commerce. There are agrarian, fishing, and in Katniss’ case, energy producing districts. Katniss’ father died as a slave in a coal mine to produce energy not for his business or his employer but for the government who would then redistribute the commodity in just enough measure to keep work going to meet the needs of the other districts and to keep the central district in the luxury they were used to.

The oppression, lack of ownership, lack of right to bear arms, lack of free speech, lack of freedom of association, and the central-command misery induced by this situation were never clearly spelled out in the movie. Those who read the books, filled in the blanks. Those who didn’t, took home an entirely different message.

As one liberal reviewer said it, “This is a movie about the 99% and the 1%.”

Uh no. This book was about the oppression of communism and the failure of redistributionism. It was also a book about self-determination and freedom. These are all very American concepts.

The personal despair caused by the oppression really wasn’t fairly portrayed, either. Peeta fed a starving Katniss (a little CGI work to show her emaciated would have been helpful) at great risk to his own life due to reducing his ability to trade on the black market. His mother would beat him.

After Katniss’ father died, the family was starving. Her mother had completely lost her mind. Collectivism creates individual misery.

Meanwhile, the central government was indulgent: a combination of Elizabethan England, coked out models, and crass material excess. Their entertainment was Roman gladiator meets reality show spectacle where children fought to the death as tributes to “peace”. All the districts, including the central one, offered up one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 as tribute and penance for their warlike past.

The premise of the book was so horrifying to me, I had to put the book down. My daughter, in contrast, seemed strangely unbothered–until she saw the movie.

And the horror of it all would is compounded by no context. If it isn’t made clear what the characters will be fighting against, it’s difficult to grasp their desire for freedom. That is, if they’re free and just down on their luck, that’s a different story line. If rich business owners in each district controlled all commerce, that would tell another story.

That would be the storyline the left wants to promote–thus, the 99 and 1% reference.

Critics and fans of the movie must read the books. Without the story, what is a pretty good movie already, becomes an excellent, and scarier, movie. They’re not tough reads and they’ll give the needed context.

Whether it was intentional or just lost on the cutting room floor because of film length, more attention to the foundational why of the story would have helped.

In the next post, I’ll talk about whether children should attend the movie and how to talk about your kids who do go to the movie.



The Tea Party’s Purpose: True The Vote, Results The Left Hates [See Also Wisconsin Recall]

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

So, Tea Party Patriots co-leaders Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin weren’t so much “co” and fought over leadership. And then they spent $250,000 on the ridiculous Southern Republican Leadership Conference to host the debate which by all accounts was an unmitigated debacle.

What will come of the Tea Party?

Locally, Tea Parties are either getting involved on issue advocacy or remaking their state GOP or working on getting elected, etc. Nationally, I’m not sure the groups continue to have much purpose anymore–thus the acrimony.

It is long past time for Tea Party leaders (of whom?–the Tea Party movement was/is like an amoeba breaking apart and coming back together depending on need) to either go back to civilian life and make a difference by getting a job and getting involved civically locally or to have a concrete mission. There is already an over-abundance of political organizations who don’t do much good but do manage to fundraise a lot of money.

A couple years ago when the Houston Tea Party split up, the two leaders displayed some wisdom: they chose different missions and stayed friendly.

One, True The Vote, has been doing the tough job of cleaning up elections–cleaning up voter registration lists, validating registered voters, teaching people how to be poll watchers, etc. They had over 17,000 volunteers to help Governor Walker verify signatures on the recall ballot and managed to get it 92% finished by the absurd deadline.

The volunteers from all fifty states entered over 4.5 million pieces of data in only 32 days. In stark contrast to anything Democrat, the data is uploaded and completely transparent for all to see.

What did they find? Donald Duck. They found people who signed the petition multiple times.

In short, they found Democrats being Democrats.

Unsurprisingly, the Democrats are displeased. They operate more happily when they can commit their fraud unchecked. Well, they’re being checked.

Democrats view the Scott Walker recall election as symbolic and worthy of all their resources. They figured they could push through the recall with no transparency.

Republicans need to see the urgency in Wisconsin, too. The Left must be pushed back. Please listen to Alan Vera, National Training Director of True the Vote, implore activists to get involved. [Text at link, too.]

Catherine Englebrecht, founder of True the Vote, has been sued, vilified, threatened, and continually harassed. Yet, she sees True the Vote’s most important work ahead and that keeps her motivated.

“If the government won’t do their job, we as citizens must do the job they won’t do,” she says of stopping voter fraud.

So, what should the Tea Party groups do? Find a mission like True the Vote. Find issus to advocate. Get or make a job and do it.

The next phase after awareness is action. Part of the reason for all the scuffling is one, a fight over resources and two, a lack of clear mission. The latter will clear up the former.

Learn more about True the Vote Summit here.



Obamacare Hurts Obama’s Reelection Chances

Monday, February 27th, 2012


According to this recent poll, President Obama’s first term might be his last term based on his signature piece of legislation. Susan Page of USA Today reports:

In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of the nation’s dozen top battleground states, a clear majority of registered voters call the bill’s passage “a bad thing” and support its repeal if a Republican wins the White House in November. Two years after he signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act— and as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments about its constitutionality next month — the president has failed to convince most Americans that it was the right thing to do.

“Mandating that you have to buy the insurance rubs me the wrong way altogether,” says Fred Harrison, 62, a horse trainer from York County, Pa., who was among those surveyed and supports repeal even though he likes some provisions of the law. “It should be my own choice.”

Well, this is predictable.

Some on the right fear that when Obamacare gets more entrenched, say around 2014, that people will like it more. I disagree. Here’s why:

1. People who are currently insured don’t have long doctor wait times, can get procedures covered if their doctor deems them necessary, etc. Under Obamacare, wait times, access, will get worse.

2. People who aren’t currently insured already get health care. I know this is shocking, but they do. Now, they’re going to have to buy insurance, sign up with paperwork, go through crap to get what they used to get by pay cash or turning up on a hospital’s doorstep.

3. Many people excited about Obamacare are excited in theory and have little to lose. That is, they are already richand can afford what they want no matter or they’re already poor and on the government dole.

The vast middle of America hates Obamcare and their fury will rise as the government tells them all the treatments, tests, medications, and doctors they can and cannot have.

Nationalized healthcare (and for all the blather otherwise, this is centrally controlled health care) is profoundly un-American. It goes against the grain of everything American.

Obamcare is anti-choice, anti-freedom, anti-responsibility, and pro-central command and control, pro-limits, and pro-bureaucracy.

It is a disaster.



Peter Gleick Steals Heartland Climate Science Information

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012


Who is Peter Gleick? From his Wikipedia page:

Dr. Peter H. Gleick (born 1956) is a scientist working on issues related to the environment, economic development, international security, and scientific ethics and integrity[1], with a focus on global freshwater challenges. He works at the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California, which he co-founded in 1987. In 2003 he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for his work on water resources. Among the issues he has addressed are conflicts over water resources [2], the impacts of climate change on water resources, the human right to water, and the problems of the billions of people without safe, affordable, and reliable water and sanitation. In 2006 he was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Wait, what?  The National Academy of Sciences scientist Peter Gleick stole documents from a conservative Think Tank? Your tax dollars at work!

Meghan McArdle gets to it:

The very, very best thing that one can say about this is that this would be an absolutely astonishing lapse of judgement for someone in their mid-twenties, and is truly flabbergasting coming from a research institute head in his mid-fifties.  

Let’s walk through the thought process:

You receive an anonymous memo in the mail purporting to be the secret climate strategy of the Heartland Institute.  It is not printed on Heartland Institute letterhead, has no information identifying the supposed author or audience, contains weird locutions more typical of Heartland’s opponents than of climate skeptics, and appears to have been written in a somewhat slapdash fashion.  Do you:
A.  Throw it in the trash
B.  Reach out to like-minded friends to see how you might go about confirming its provenance
C.  Tell no one, but risk a wire-fraud conviction, the destruction of your career, and a serious PR blow to your movement by impersonating a Heartland board member in order to obtain confidential documents.
As a journalist, I am in fact the semi-frequent recipient of documents promising amazing scoops, and depending on the circumstances, my answer is always “A” or “B”, never “C”.
It’s a gross violation of journalistic ethics, though perhaps Gleick would argue that he’s not a journalist–and in truth, it’s hard to feel too sorry for Heartland, given how gleefully they embraced the ClimateGate leaks.  So leave ethics aside: wasn’t he worried that impersonating board members in order to obtain confidential material might be, I don’t know, illegal?  Forget about the morality of it: the risk is all out of proportion to the possible reward.
Why, it’s almost as if leftist scientists live be the credo “by any means necessary” or something. Now, I wonder if a guy willing to do this would falsify data, you know, for the greater good?


The Bain Of Capitalism — UPDATED Remember Reagan Democrats?

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Is Bain a villain or victim? Is Mitt Romney a hero or a heel? That’s the question before Republican primary voters and a few things need to be understood about Capitalism generally first before answering these questions specifically.

Capitalism is well regarded by most Americans. The bailout of investment firms that backed bad mortgage-backed securities i.e. bank bailouts is not well-regarded by Americans.

Bank bailouts, business bailouts, bailouts, period, are not capitalism.

A truly free market means the freedom to succeed or fail. A truly free market means I don’t have to pay for your screw up.

America no longer has the freest of free markets. [For more about this and Bain, please read Jonathan Last in the Weekly Standard. He makes excellent points.]

Americans who work for GM and GM subsidiaries, for example, are more than happy to take taxpayer money, rip off GM investors, give the money to the unions, and currently keep their jobs even though the company has a bunch of money-losing products and the company has yet to make money back that it took from the taxpayers (and probably never will).

Americans who see nearly $750 billion taxpayer dollars go to a failed company like Solyndra (Obama cronies who want to make money off of the failed green-jobs hoax at taxpayer expense) are not so happy.

American Iowans who get ethanol subsidies to grow corn for energy production even though it’s more expensive, and shockingly, dirtier, like a more nuanced capitalism.

Americans are romantic about capitalism. They like a free market a little freer and a little more socialist-y (new word) depending on their mood.

Politicians are worse.

Politicians can use taxpayer dollars, regulations, lawsuits, threats, audits, and all sorts of means to manipulate the market.

So, corporations, in response to the government unevenness, seeks favor. They buy advertising (hello Wall Street investors donors to Obama) and hope to influence the laws, regulation, bailouts, etc. in a way favorable to their business, their stockholders and their board. And who wouldn’t?

When the government gets so powerful, corporations and individuals are forced to be obsequious and cower before the throne of power lest their businesses and lives be ruined.

Obama and Democrats enjoy this power. Many big government Republicans don’t mind it so much either.

Corporations enjoy the arrangement as long as it benefits them. Greasing the government skids becomes part of doing business. The more corrupt the government, the more it costs but the cost of NOT paying off the politicians is far worse and a destroyed business or even industry.

Individual Americans look at all this and are disgusted. They forget their own involvement or excuse it figuring that the “big guys” will win anyway, so “might as well get my share”.

The political-corporate nexus has become a mutually-beneficial and exclusive system. The American taxpayer, the guy on the hook for all the flights of fancy (Solyndra) and foibles (Fannie, Freddie, and Wall Street investment bankers) stands on the outside.

$15 trillion in debt later and little to nothing to show for it, the little guy is fed up.

The stories, that the press will finally tell about how the little guy has been screwed (not by Obama mind, never by Obama) but by Mitt Romney and other villains like him, will be front and center.

The American economy is not free-market capitalist in the sense that businesses or government are having to pay the consequences of bad behavior. Two words: “Moral Hazard”. We are seeing the consequences of the moral hazard of these bailouts and they’re unintended.

The most dire consequence: People are questioning capitalism itself, rather than the bad government behavior that drove bad business behavior.

Romney supporters conflating defending Mitt Romney with defending capitalism are stretching this sentiment. It’s been long since companies like Bain were strictly operating in a free market system and while it’s subtle, this fundamental unfairness is what has people hopping mad.

When Romney piously decried the in-state tuition for illegal immigration, he was playing on the sense that people feel that it is unfair for people to get benefits they haven’t paid for. It was a populist argument. Further, Mitt didn’t just let that argument stand. He outright lied about Governor Perry’s illegal immigration stance making it seem as though Rick Perry was soft on illegal immigration while he, Romney, was a defender of all things America. It’s laughable, but it worked and he knew it would.

And I suspect Romney and his acolytes are afraid right now because they know that the attacks about Bain also work. But if they work now, they’ll work in the general.

The American people are angry and feel totally alienated from their government and the “big”, powerful businesses that use their influence to influence a favorable business client.

On Twitter, Brooks Bayne rightly notes the conflation by Romney supporters of mercantilism and capitalism.

The histrionics displayed by Romney’s supporters ignores the collusion between government and business to the harm of the individual citizen.

How do these folks think the Teaparty started? It’s this very unfairness that caused outrage. TARP started boiling at the end of the Bush administration, was supported by both Obama and McCain and the unholy alliance has, instead of abating, gotten worse. At least a sliver of this emotion is encapsulated by Occupy Wall Street.

Occupy Wall Street just took the opposite tack of the Tea Party. Rather than being left alone–which is what the Teapatiers want–the OWS folks want the bailouts to go to them. Forget corporate bailouts, they want personal bailouts.

Somehow, personal bailouts is socialism but big bank bailouts is “supporting the free market”? No it’s not.

Obamacare was collusion with Insurance companies at the expense of tax payers. TARP benefited banks and businesses over leveraged by making bad bets.

Over and over, the taxpayer is being asked to look the other way while their taxes are being raided for the benefit of irresponsible players — the government, banks and businesses all angling to take great risk. They receive all the benefits if they succeed and the taxpayer is on the hook for the losses should they fail.

The problem with Romney is that he neutralizes every single Obama negative — Romneycare, big regulations (buying global warming, etc.), bailouts, TARP, and the collusion of Wall Street with the government.

Capitalism as a concept is just fine. The problem is that America is a far cry from a truly free market. A market isn’t free when the risk takers can make someone else pay for their mistakes.

Americans are tired of paying for others mistakes. They’re tired of being on the losing end. They thought Obama was going to bring “fairness”. Obama just made things worse–socialism is always worse.

Republicans should be for something better, but as far as I can see, the front runners all like using the Government for their own fanciful schemes. For some reason voters are supposed to trust them to do different. No wonder the Republican field is divided and depressed. [Update: William Jacobson says the Republican party has become "the party of Bain". Heaven help us.]

Trusting a politician is always a bad bargain. Voters don’t seem ready, though, to trust themselves and that’s the only solution.

More about Romney’s own class warfare here.

Updated: Dan Riehl says that the left will “hang Romney with the rust belt and win“.



Christopher Hitchens: Always Learning…And Coming To The Truth?

Friday, December 16th, 2011


Christopher Hitchens died yesterday, here in Houston at MD Anderson.

A faithful atheist, Christopher Hitchens wrestled with God. I appreciated watching it in action. It was like witnessing Jacob go round after round with the Maker begging to be blessed. Hitchens wanted to be blessed with belief, I believe.

Perhaps I’m wrong, but it seemed to me he felt cursed by not being allowed entre into an intellectual world he couldn’t understand. His unbelief limited his understanding of the world both literary and literal and unlike so many, he seemed aware of his lack. He seemed to resent it. So, he fought.

An honest believer of any stripe fights. The mindless, whether atheist or God-fearer, makes a mockery of belief itself. Some might be surprised that a man who seemed to so despise God would be respected by believers. Here’s been my experience: the fighters acknowledge Something whether conscious or not.

Reminds me of the verse Revelation 3:15:

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.”

In a politically correct world of facile sophistry, Christopher Hitchens was either hot or cold. He certainly wasn’t lukewarm.

He didn’t brook the flabby self-congratulation of the likes of Bill Maher the king of cheap and easy pseudo-intellectualism.

One of my favorite Hitchens moments was between Christopher Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan in a debate moderated by the incomparable Tim Russert. At one point, Hitchens decried Andrew’s whining like a little girl. It was offensive, un-p.c. and completely deserved.

One of the most painful Hitchens exchanges was Hitch and his brother debating over the existence of God. What pained me was Christopher’s brother Peter’s pain.

Peter wrote about his journey to Christianity (well worth the read):

Being Christian is one thing. Fighting for a cause is another, and much easier to acknowledge – for in recent times it has grown clear that the Christian religion is threatened with a dangerous defeat by secular forces which have never been so confident.

Why is there such a fury against religion now? Because religion is the one reliable force that stands in the way of the power of the strong over the weak. The one reliable force that forms the foundation of the concept of the rule of law.
The one reliable force that restrains the hand of the man of power. In an age of powerworship, the Christian religion has become the principal obstacle to the desire of earthly utopians for absolute power.

While I was making my gradual, hesitant way back to the altar-rail, my brother Christopher’s passion against God grew more virulent and confident.

As he has become more certain about the non-existence of God, I have become more convinced we cannot know such a thing in the way we know anything else, and so must choose whether to believe or not. I think it better by far to believe.

And then he writes of his brother:

My brother and I agree on this: that independence of mind is immensely precious, and that we should try to tell the truth in clear English even if we are disliked for doing so. Oddly enough this leads us, in many things, to be far closer than most people think we are on some questions; closer, sometimes, than we would particularly wish to be.

The same paradox sometimes also makes us arrive at different conclusions from very similar arguments, which is easier than it might appear. This will not make us close friends at this stage. We are two utterly different men approaching the ends of two intensely separate lives.

Let us not be sentimental here, nor rashly over-optimistic. But I was astonished, on that spring evening by the Grand River, to find that the longest quarrel of my life seemed unexpectedly to be over, so many years and so many thousands of miles after it had started, in our quiet homes and our first beginnings in an England now impossibly remote from us.

It may actually be true, as I have long hoped that it would be, in the words of T. S. Eliot, that ‘the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time’.

And if that peace could come…

Well, we all get old and we all soften, or most with any shred of wisdom do. And so, the question was asked by Mark Judge,”Is Christopher Hitchens about to convert?

My initial answer to the question was a version of “isn’t it pretty to think so”? My second thought was who can know the mind of men? And that reminded me of I Corinthians 2:11 (again in the King James version because I’m partial):

“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”

Or said in a modern way, “After all, who knows everything about a person except that person’s own spirit? In the same way, no one has known everything about God except God’s Spirit.”

We can only know believers by their fruit and forgive me, but Christopher Hitchens was withering. Ultimately, his belief is between him and God. It is for all of us.

Either way, I’m thankful for Christopher Hitchens. His keen mind and incisive questions forced a believer to be better in his answers.

And that is why I’ll miss Christopher Hitchens most–his unintended consequences. It is with great irony that he caused many who were learning, to come to the truth–even if he couldn’t.

UPDATED: Please read his brother Peter’s eulogy. It’s excellent. A smidgeon:

He would always rather fight than give way, not for its own sake but because it came naturally to him. Like me, he was small for his age during his entire childhood and I have another memory of him, white-faced, slight and thin as we all were in those more austere times, furious, standing up to some bully or other in the playground of a school we attended at the same time.

This explains plenty. I offer it because the word ‘courage’ is often misused today. People sometimes tell me that I have been ‘courageous’ to say something moderately controversial in a public place. Not a bit of it. This is not courage. Courage is deliberately taking a known risk, sometimes physical, sometimes to your livelihood, because you think it is too important not to.

Another moving tribute by his friend, Peter Robinson.



America, Waiting

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011


Chart from Jim Pethokoukis of AEI.

America faces an unprecedented debt crisis, true. What is not conventional wisdom is that America could face renewed, even unprecedented, greatness if a decent leader comes forward.

Given that the Republican party seems incapable of getting its collective crap together, that scenario seems unlikely, though.

Businesses are, at this point, forcing themselves to not grow. They are unwilling to take on more risk. They’re keeping cash on hand. They’re paying down debt. They’re waiting.

Individuals are doing the same. Part of it is that they don’t qualify for credit even if they wanted it. Part of it is that they don’t want it.

Still, this unrealized creation and growth waits for the right catalyst.

Obama, is not a catalyst. Quite the contrary, he’s an inhibitor. Hell, he antagonizes any growth potential.

Obama’s actions are so frustrating to expansion that even apathetic business people are paying attention. Usually business folks lobby hard for their interests–they win some, they lose some and they work around the bureaucracy and incorporate the rules and regulations and taxes and fees into the cost of doing business. Not so now. Everyone can thank Obama for being so persecutorial rhetorically and prosecutorial policy-wise, businesses are being put out of business. That’s attention-getting.

The business world is now in open rebellion. Screw you, Obama, we’ll just not spend any money, period. Zilch. The cozy win-win we had going on is over. Sure, we’ll throw some money at you on the outside chance you get re-elected–we don’t want to be the subject of your direct ire. Instead, we’ll do just enough to get by everywhere.

A couple things about this:

America should never be so beholden to the executive branch that one person can do so much damage to the economy. And yet, here we are, and business is mostly to blame. By lobbying tirelessly for the government’s favor and selling their souls (Walmart and the AARP’s obsequious deference on Obamacare comes to mind) to obtain that favor, business leaders find out [surprise!] that’s what’s given can be taken away. Obama has been busily taking away or threatening to do so.

Businesses can afford to lobby the government, but the individual has been marginalized. Businesses were totally fine with that so long as individuals could still afford to buy their wares. Nothing like a long, deep recession to drive home the point that poor people don’t buy stuff.

So, while the cozy relationship benefits businesses for a while, eventually, people have to be forced to buy stuff and people resist being forced to buy stuff (see also really expensive light bulbs). So they just stop buying stuff they don’t want (see also solar panels and the Chevy volt.) And those businesses, warmed by the loving embrace of government tax breaks, bailouts and inducements find themselves screwed. No one wants expensive, useless crap. It’s bad enough when it’s cheap. But the stuff the government touches gets very expensive.

So the individual revolts, too. He stops buying. And if the government creates perverse economic incentives long enough, he loses his job and can’t buy stuff.

And that’s where were at in America.

America is profoundly in debt. America is jobless. America is sitting on the capital it does have.

Obama is making everything worse.

And yet, America is primed for some success–if the GOP can muster something. A steady hand, reduced government interference, positive rhetoric, assurances that businesses aren’t going to be raked over the coals (or given an unfair advantage either), etc.

In a word: growth.

That requires political change and a person willing to articulate a sunny, hopeful message to encourage growth but willing to make some tough decisions–i.e. cut government spending.

More on why this is not likely to happen in the next post.



Mitt Romney’s “Green Quarterback” Gina McCarthy Killing Business At Obama’s EPA

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Mitt Romney’s connections to the Obama administration extend beyond setting the framework for Obamacare. Turns out that one of the directors of the EPA choking the life out of business right now, was Mitt Romney’s “Green Quarterback.” National Journal has more:

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has taken most of the fire from Republicans as her agency rolls out a slew of controversial new climate and clean air rules. But McCarthy, the EPA assistant administrator of the Office of Air and Radiation, has taken on much of the heavy lifting of writing, structuring, and implementing the rules.

“Lisa’s the coach and Gina’s the quarterback” in the work of rolling out new clean air regulations, said Daniel Weiss, an energy and climate policy expert at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank with close ties to the Obama administration. “She’s running the plays, improvising on the line.”

McCarthy is meeting behind the scenes with coal CEOs, lawmakers, and state and federal officials to lay the groundwork for the new rules and make sure they’re put in place. She’s making sure the clean air legal language is written in a way that’s robust and airtight, in order to have the biggest impact on cutting pollution, with no loopholes. She’s testifying to Congress, making the case as to why the rules should be implemented, despite a fusillade of political attacks.

The environmentalists love her job-killing policies. Former Democrat Massachusetts liberal Governor Mitt Romney loved her, too. And yet, here’s what she’s doing right now, according to AmericasPower.org :

As the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to vote on the TRAIN Act, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, today, released a comprehensive analysis conducted by National Economic Research Associates (NERA) showing that several of EPA’s new and proposed regulations would lead to 183,000 lost jobs per year and significant increases in the price of electricity and natural gas.

“America’s coal-fueled electric industry has invested nearly $100 billion, so far, to achieve impressive reductions in air pollution. Now is the wrong time for EPA to blindly push ahead without even pausing long enough to understand how all of these rules could hurt American jobs and consumers,” said Steve Miller, president and CEO of ACCCE.

The analysis, done on behalf of ACCCE by NERA, relies on state-of-the-art modeling tools, as well as government data for almost all of its assumptions. NERA’s analysis projects that EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and proposed Maximum Achievable Control Technology, coal combustion residuals, and cooling water intake requirements for power plants would, over the 2012-2020 period:

• Cost the power industry $21 billion per year;
• Cause an average loss of 183,000 jobs per year;
• Increase electricity costs by double digits in many regions of the U.S.;
• Cost consumers over $50 billion more for natural gas; and
• Reduce the disposable income of the average American family by $270 a year.

Does Lisa McCarthy care about jobs? Does the Obama administration? Does Mitt Romney? Evidently not:

Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, said the Obama administration has faced “a backlog of rulemakings” that weren’t implemented on time or were overturned by the courts.

The agency recently finalized its Cross-State Air Pollution Rule to replace a George W. Bush-era rule that a federal court struck down in 2008. And the Utility MACT rule for reducing toxic emissions from power plants has been in the works for 20 years, she said.

Ever the bureaucrat, she’s going to press on with job-killing regulations.

Here’s the thing: We expect this kind of destructive behavior from Democrats. There isn’t a regulation that they’ve met that they don’t like (oh wait, I take that back, they don’t like regulations making abortion clinics comply with minimal doctor’s office standards).

It’s disgraceful, though, how seamlessly bureaucrats from Mitt Romney’s administration mesh into Barack Obama’s administration. Barack Obama. Think about that. The most liberal, big government Democrat since Jimmy Carter and Mitt Romney’s advisors work for him.



The Kindness Of Capitalism: How The Texas Economy Cares For The Community

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Liberals don’t like Texas. Whether they’re liberal Democrats or liberal Republicans, Texas inhabits a hard-scrabble mythology. Red dirt, rocks, heat. A tough landscape. A big sky. Openness. Hardness.

After living in California, New York and Michigan, I’m convinced environment shapes our view of the world more than we care to admit. The coasts, used to milder weather and milder expectations, don’t like the tough life inherent in living in oppressive heat, freezing cold and general discomfort.

Texas ain’t that pretty. It certainly isn’t lush. There’s space. Hard ground. Texas is big. Texas is not, however, soft. There are no rolling hills of heather. There are no natural lakes. And yet, the people come.

People have had to make Texas what they want it to be. They have wildly succeeded.

The government reflects the landscape: spare and open.

Want a life of government paid-for ease? Don’t move to Texas. Move to California, New York or Michigan–well, until they stop using debt to finance their lavish ways. They’re out of money.

So, on this backdrop, here’s a story about the kindness of capitalism in Texas.

Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and thousands of exiles trekked to Texas. When the crisis hit, Governor Perry called mayors, business leaders, and probably most importantly, church leaders. [Aside: Governor Perry's leadership through Hurricanes has been impressive and stellar. It's difficult for outsiders to fathom the sheer magnitude of evacuating a city the size of Houston, for example. When the first evacuation showed logistical weakness, local and state leaders did a correction of errors and the next one was flawless.]

The church leaders sent the call out to the churches. The mega churches have huge charitable organizations. They coordinated the smaller churches and resources. They asked church and community members to help. And the local people responded. So enthusiastic was the response, that when I finally got to Target to buy supplies for folks (toothpaste, brushes, and all the rest) the shelves were empty. Nada. Picked clean.

Helping Hurricane Katrina victims was probably the single largest charitable outpouring in a concentrated time for that many people in American history.

This charity was, is, a result of capitalism. People had the extra resources to give because all their extra income wasn’t soaked up in taxes.

There is a palliative effect from this sort of action–both for those who are suffering and those who are relieving the suffering. The sufferers often got to meet who was helping them. They were prayed with and cared for and loved by individuals profoundly moved by their plight. The caregivers were blessed to see their actions making a direct difference in the lives of those in need. This was not some antiseptic government bureaucrat having a person check off a list in order to get a bar of soap and diapers. This was a friend helping a friend.

The government helped, too. But it took a while to get the government engine going. It always does. People got vouchers to find homes and apartments. The Houston public school was flooded with new, and woefully behind, students (an average of two years behind academically).

After six months of the transplanted New Orleans folks living off the kindness of strangers and the government dole, a Democratic Houston city councilwoman told the visitors, pointedly, “It’s time to get a job.”

At the time of her pronouncement, the unemployment rate was 4%. She rightly noted that no one had an excuse for not working. It was time to get to work and become a member of their new community or go home. And so, some people went back home. Some people stayed.

One woman who stayed is my favorite grocery checker at my local HEB. She got plunked in my community because her house was flooded and destroyed in New Orleans. She decided to make Texas home. When I asked her why, she said that she got a job, found a rental home in a neighborhood she really likes, the schools were great, her son was happy, New Orleans was violent and scary, and she was happy here. Mind you, she’s living happily and well in one of the best school districts in Texas as a single mother on a grocery checker’s wage.

Another woman, a nurse, moved here and stayed. She was thrilled with her pay (40% more than in New Orleans!) and the low cost of living (cheaper house!).

Capitalism, the Texas kind, is kind.

The free market here in Texas creates jobs. People with jobs have dignity.

But it’s not a living wage! liberal Democrats and Republicans cry. Really? In Texas, the cost of living is a fraction of what it costs in other states in the nation. I know this from personal experience having lived, and decently, on $2000 a month gross, with a baby. Mind you, that was without delux cable, smart phones, and home entertainment systems. It was eating Ramen noodles and sitting on the floor. Is that a horrible way to live? It’s a way a person starts. Where he ends is his choice.

But insurance! Texas has a high number of uninsured people. A good chunk of that is illegal immigration. I’m sorry, liberals, but I do not want to pay for someone else’s insurance. Still, Texas has programs for those who have difficulty. Lots of young Texans don’t want to pay for insurance. When we first started, we had no insurance. What’s the first thing we purchased when we had two nickels? Insurance. Many people choose not to make that expenditure. Fine. It’s a choice. With Obamacare, no one can be turned away from insurance. People make choices. Let them choose.

If they choose poorly, they end up at the free clinic where local doctors donate time. They get wonderful care. If they really get messed up, they end up an an emergency care center (Texas communities have lots of these) or the hospital. If they don’t have eye insurance (my family doesn’t), they go to Walmart (I do) and have a reasonable eye appointment and get low-cost glasses (which I have on my face right now). In a Texas hospital, you get damn good care. The problem with illegals overwhelming border hospitals is something that’s the Fed’s failing that’s become a state problem. Illegal immigration needs to stop. It’s sucking up resources.

Kindness according to big government types is some distant person making a decision for another person with other people’s money. It’s all very detached. It lacks personal warmth, connection and accountability.

Liberals want social services to not have any behavioral expectations. When a person is receiving help from a local charity or church, the organizations know the people. There’s an element of involvement and expectation. Isn’t that a good thing?

Wasn’t it a good thing that the city councilwoman loved the Hurricane Katrina folks enough to tell them to go get a job rather then subject themselves to the corrosive effects of living helplessly, waiting for the next check to come in? Isn’t it important for people to have to look those who are giving to them freely, from their own cupboards of food and necessities, in the eyes? Isn’t it important for those in need and those giving to be connected? That is the essence of community, is it not?

Many liberals find this sort of thing demeaning–both the charitable work and seeing those who need charity. It’s uncomfortable. They don’t think of the churches that built hospitals and homeless shelters and rehabilitation centers and pregnancy crisis centers. The intimacy scares them.

Capitalism, though, creates this intimacy. Both the consumer and supplier are connected. So too, are the needy and the charitable connected.

It is tougher. Just as a loving family will boot a kid out of the nest who needs to be on his own (or should), a loving society encourages its members to live as independently as possible. This is for the good of the individual and the good of the community.

From the outside, liberals see Texas and recoil. From the inside, Texans are quite content. Hard work, independence and autonomy are appreciated. And when community is needed, charity comes out of love and desire rather than force and coercion.

Is it a perfect system? No. But I’d point to the city of Detroit and to New Orleans as examples of entrenched corruption, excessive government services, and desperation among generations of inhabitants enslaved by an anything-but-loving liberal compassion.

I’ll take the kindness of capitalism any day. Given the choice between a job and independence and an unemployment check and dependency, the thousands of people moving to Texas every month agree: capitalism is kind. They’re counting on it.