Saturday, January 4, 2014

After the last century, it shouldn't even be controversial to assert that the more a nation focuses on income inequality, the more it hurts the poor. After all, there have been whole societies formed around the slogan Marx popularized, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" -- and they've universally been lousy places to be poor. Would you rather be poor in America or Cuba, Vietnam or the old Soviet Union? If the question doesn't answer itself, P.J. O'Rourke's quotation about traveling to the Soviet Union with a gang of Communists should answer it for you, "These were people who believed everything about the Soviet Union was perfect, but they were bringing their own toilet paper."

Meanwhile, we live in a world where China has seen tremendous economic growth by embracing some of the capitalistic policies that made America a superpower while the Democrats are embracing some of the policies that led to hundreds of millions of Chinese living in huts on less than a dollar a day.

Getting beyond that, shouldn't there be massive income inequality between someone with rare skills who works 70 hours a week and an unskilled part time worker? Most people say "yes" and even liberals who talk obsessively about income inequality behave as if there should be a difference. Do you see Michael Moore, Barack Obama, or Al Gore refusing to work for more than $20 an hour because they want to show solidarity with poor workers? No, they believe they deserve their money, but those "other people" should have more of their money taken away for the common good. If a CEO should have his pay limited, why shouldn't Michael Moore make $20 an hour? If Barack Obama thinks fast food workers are so vitally important to the economy, why doesn't he reduce his salary to the point where he only makes as much as they do? If Al Gore really believes in fighting for income inequality, why doesn't he refuse to make more than the guy who spends 8 hours a day saying, "Welcome to Wal-Mart?"

The truth is that income inequality is of minimal importance in a nation like America, where so many people already move between classes, where the poor are doing so much better than they used to, and where our poor already do so well compared to the rest of the world. "Among children from families in the bottom fifth of the income distribution, 84 percent of those who go on to get a college degree will escape the bottom fifth, and 19 percent will make it all the way to the top fifth."

During the Great Depression, more than 60% of Americans were living below the poverty line. Over the last 50 years, that number has generally ranged between 12%-15% -- and even that dramatically overstates the number of poor Americans because it doesn't take into account government assistance that's being paid out.

On top of all that, liberals get so angry when people point out that more than 80% of poor Americans have cell phones, televisions and refrigerators while "most Americans living below the official poverty line also own a motor vehicle and have more living space than the average European." Yet, they don't take into account the fact that almost half of the world's population still lives on less than $2.50 a day. In other words, if you are poor, you can live better and have more opportunity to advance in America than you will anywhere else. That's why immigrants all across the world still want to come to this country.

What liberals don't realize or alternately, just don't care about, is that their obsession with income inequality may make them feel good, but it actually hurts the poor in a number of ways.

1) The higher the government mandated minimum wage/living wage, the more people it prices out of jobs: When you force businesses to pay people more than they can return in value with their work, companies tend to respond either by hiring better quality people, replacing the jobs with automation, moving the posts overseas or by looking for opportunities to get rid of the positions entirely. The higher the wages and benefits the government insists on, the more stagnant it makes the labor market for the people who need to build their skills the most. If your goal were to deliberately put as many young, unskilled single mothers out of work as possible, the best politically feasible way to do it would be to jack the minimum wage up into the stratosphere.

2) It emphasizes making people more comfortable, not helping them succeed: There is no shame in taking any honest job, but you're not supposed to make a living pressing the button that drops the fries into the grease at McDonald's. If you work long enough at an entry level job to worry about raising the minimum wage, you're failing your family, your society and yourself. Instead of encouraging minimum skill workers to demand that the government force businesses to give them more money than they're currently worth, we should be encouraging people to build their skills and move up, move on or start their own business. Want poor people to be eligible for more education or training? Want to give them micro-loans? Want to make it easier for them to create small businesses?

Those are policies that make poor Americans more valuable. That's good for them and the country.

On the other hand, trying to redistribute income ultimately brings everyone down, especially the poor Americans who lose their drive after becoming dependent on it.

3) The more government becomes involved, the more it stagnates the economy: As John F. Kennedy said, "A rising tide lifts all boats." The stronger the economy is, the more jobs it creates and the more everyone -- poor, middle-class, or rich -- benefits. How do you make the economy stronger? You keep the government small, taxes low, and regulations light. That's a proven formula that has worked time and time again. On the other hand, if you want to constipate the economy, you make the government bigger, increase taxes and pour on the regulations. How did that latter set of "solutions" work out for Detroit?

4) The more the government focuses on income inequality, the harder it is to get ahead: As Thomas Sowell likes to say, "There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs." You can see this very clearly with Obamacare, where a few people are getting subsidized care, while tens of millions more are losing their health care and paying considerably more to make up for it. It works the same way with income inequality. Want to make Wal-Mart pay all its employees twice as much? Then that means all the poor Americans who shop at Wal-Mart will have to spend more of their limited incomes to pay for it. Want to give more tax dollars to the poor? Then the rich and middle class will have to pay more in taxes. So, the moment that poor American is making enough money to get into the middle class, he's hit with a bigger tax bill that makes it harder for him to ever get ahead. In other words, the more resources we put into "helping" the poor, the harder we ultimately make it for those very same people to ever permanently escape poverty and live the American Dream.

5) It ignores the real causes of poverty: The real causes of lasting poverty in America are not greed, the rich, racism, America being "unfair," or any of the other excuses that you hear so often. Instead, the harsh truth that so many people don't want to hear is that if you stay poor in America, it's usually because you made bad life choices. Via Walter Williams, here's what you have to do in order to avoid poverty in America.

"Complete high school; get a job, any kind of a job; get married before having children; and be a law-abiding citizen. Among both black and white Americans so described, the poverty rate is in the single digits."
 
Instead of lying to destitute Americans and telling them that the rich became wealthy by stealing the money that the poor never had in the first place, why not tell people the truth? Yes, it might make some poor Americans feel bad, but do you think welfare, food stamps, and living in a housing project do wonders for people's moods?
I hate to dredge up bad memories so early in a new year, but we need to remind ourselves of the awful TARP bailout of 2008.

Our financial system had gone out of whack because of bad monetary policy from the Federal Reserve and unsustainable housing subsidies from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Some financial institutions gambled on thegovernment’s misguided policies and got caught with their pants down when the bubble burst.

But rather than let those companies fail and use the sensible and non-corrupt “FDIC resolution” method to recapitalize the banking system, we got a taxpayer-to-Wall-Street bailout.

Or, from the perspective of the big banks, they got a very good return on their campaign contributions (read Kevin Williamson if you want to get upset about this disgusting form of cronyism).
Well, as Yogi Berra might say, it’s deja vu all over again.

Except now the fat cats lining up at the Treasury door are the big health insurance corporate titans. They got in bed with the White House to push Obamacare and now they’re worried about losing money now that it’s becoming more apparent that the American version of government-run healthcare doesn’t work any better than the British version.

Charles Krauthammer warns us about what may happen in his Washington Postcolumn.
…there’s a Plan B. It’s a government bailout. Administration officials can’t say it for political reasons. And they don’t have to say it because it’s already in the Affordable Care Act, buried deep. First, Section 1341, the “reinsurance” fund collected from insurers and self-insuring employers at a nifty $63 a head. (Who do you think the cost is passed on to?) This yields about $20 billion over three years to cover losses. Then there is Section 1342, the “risk corridor” provision that mandates a major taxpayer payout covering up to 80 percent of insurance-company losses.
At this point, you may be wondering why there’s bailout language buried in the Obamacare legislation.

The simple answer is that politicians always love to accumulate power, and the insurance industry probably lobbied very hard to get this back-door access to our money.

But maybe the White House knew that Obamacare would be unstable and they needed a bailout option to keep the system from totally unraveling. Particularly when it seems that the Obama Administration is arbitrarily changing the system every other day.
First, it postponed the employer mandate. Then it exempted from the individual mandate people whose policies were canceled (by Obamacare). And for those who did join the exchanges, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebeliusis “strongly encouraging” insurers — during the “transition” — to cover doctors and drugs not included in their clients’ plans. The insurers were stunned. Told to give free coverage. 
Deprived of their best customers. Forced to offer stripped-down “catastrophic” plans to people age 30 and over (contrary to the law). These dictates, complained an insurance industry spokesman, could“destabilize” the insurance market.
So what does all this mean? It’s not good news for Big Insurance.
Shrinking revenues and rising costs could bring on the “death spiral” — an unbalanced patient pool forcing huge premium increases (to restore revenue) that would further unbalance the patient pool as the young and healthy drop out. End result? Insolvency — before which the insurance companies will pull out of Obamacare. Solution? A huge government bailout. It’s Obamacare’s escape hatch. And — surprise, surprise — it’s already baked into the law.
This sounds depressing, but Krauthammer suggests that there could be a way of derailing a bailout before it begins.
…the GOP needs to act. Obamacare is a Rube Goldberg machine with hundreds of moving parts. Without viable insurance companies doing the work, it falls apart. No bailout, no Obamacare. Such a bill would be overwhelmingly popular because Americans hate fat-cat bailouts of any kind. Why should their tax dollars be spent not only saving giant insurers but also rescuing this unworkable, unbalanced, unstable, unpopular money-pit of a health-care scheme? …Do you really think vulnerable Democrats up for reelection will vote for a bailout? And who better to slay Obamacare than a Democratic Senate — liberalism repudiating its most important creation of the last 50 years. Want to be even bolder? Attach the anti-bailout bill to the debt ceiling. That and nothing else. Dare the president to stand up and say: “I’m willing to let the country default in order to preserve a massive bailout for insurance companies.” …Who can argue with no bailout? Let the Senate Democrats decide: Support the bailout and lose the Senate. Or oppose the bailout and bury Obamacare.
I hope his political judgement is correct, though I suspect the statists (and theirecho chamber in the media) would portray any effort to amend the debt limit as a sore-loser attack on Obamacare.

Hostage priest released by jihadists denies being freed for "compassion": "They have no compassion for anyone"

From Jihad Watch / Posted by Robert Spencer

Le-P.-Georges-Vandenbeusch-enleve-au-Cameroun-avait-choisi-de-rester-pres-de-ses-paroissiens_article_popin.jpg
They were just working from the dictates of the Qur'an and Islamic law: "When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks, then, when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds; then set them free, either by grace or ransom, till the war lays down its loads." -- Qur'an 47:4

"As for the captives, the amir [ruler] has the choice of taking the most beneficial action of four possibilities: the first to put them to death by cutting their necks; the second, to enslave them and apply the laws of slavery regarding their sale and manumission; the third, to ransom them in exchange for goods or prisoners; and fourth, to show favor to them and pardon them. Allah, may he be exalted, says, 'When you encounter those [infidels] who deny [the Truth=Islam] then strike [their] necks' (Qur'an sura 47, verse 4)" — Abu’l-Hasan al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah (The Laws of Islamic Governance), trans. by Dr. Asadullah Yate, (London), Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd., 1996, p. 192.

This reads like a machine translation, but it gives you the idea. "Headlines: Nigeria: Father Georges denies being released by 'compassion,'" from Racers Republic, January 2 (thanks to TRACTerrorism.org; spelling and grammar as in the original):
Officially released by “compassion” after 45 days of detention in the bush and without any ransom has been paid, the fatherGeorges Vandenbeusch , 42, said he was lucky his off the plane Wednesday morning on Airport Villacoublay, near Paris, where François Hollande expected and some near Nanterre, his diocese. 
“I am well aware that I have the chance, he has said. There hostages who remained terribly long. “ Smiling, apparently form the priest had shaved his beard since the first images released yesterday in Yaounde, Cameroon, a few hours after his return to freedom. On the tarmac at Villacoublay, he gave few details of his captivity: “A month and a half under a tree, he said. Seven weeks, that’s a lot of hours, when you are hostage and that has nothing to do, nothing to read, nobody to talk to. “In short,” the terrible boredom, sadness and anger ” Has he said, stressing he was not mistreated by his jailers.
Former hostage confirmed he was detained in Nigeria by members of Islamist group Boko Haramin a hit since Christmas by “bombing” area. He only learned Monday that he would be released after twenty-four hours. ”It’s a happy day to find our compatriot,” welcomed François Hollande , saluting the “courage, lucidity and self-sacrifice” of the former hostage, which was installed in 2011 northern Cameroon. Father Vandenbeusch Hollande did chorus to thank Paul Biya , President of Cameroon, which has obviously played a key role in the outcome of this hostage taking.
“They have no compassion for anyone”
Cameroonian security source told AFP that a prisoner detained in Cameroon Boko Haram was released in exchange for the release of the priest. This was recognized by half-word Laurent Fabius, the chief diplomat, citing “discussions” to “legal aspects” in which “President Biya was extremely helpful and efficient.” Remains to be seen what the immovable torn from Paris Cameroonian head of state. In April, Paul Biya had already achieved thanks supported France, after the release of seven hostages, including four children, the Moulin-Fournier family, after two months of sequestration by Boko Haram. Again, the mediation of a number of Cameroon had quickly paid off.
On Wednesday, a source linked to Boko Haram said that “the direction (of the group) had decided to release the priest by compassion,” according to comments reported by AFP.
”The priest offered his medical services to members (group) patients during the period of captivity, argued Boko Haram.Management felt that there was no need to keep it. “This has denied the former hostage Wednesday night to log 20 hours of France 2. ”I’m not a nurse or doctor. If they had led me to treat someone with a bleeding I would have done what I could, but they did not. They have no compassion for anyone, “said the father Vandenbeusch captured by him as” Western. “ ”They thought I was a teacher or doctor, they realized shortly after, saw me praying.”
Read the Bible again
Implausible, the language elements of Boko Haram targeted mainly to mask the reality of barter which allowed the French priest to regain freedom. Officially always Boko Haram had said that France had refused to pay the ransom demanded by the Islamist group via Cameroon , Paris rather asking that he be released on humanitarian grounds due to his status as a priest. The France’s official position not to pay ransom to the alleged kidnappers of its nationals worldwide. But was rarely seen without parole consideration, much less by “compassion”. After a quick medical examination at the hospital of Val-de-Grâce, Georges Vandenbeusch went immediately to the bishopric of Nanterre, where the bells rang at the announcement of his release. ”I’ll walk back, he was told, celebrate a little mass, etlire the Bible”, an activity that has so failed him during his captivity.

Big Nanny Government Strikes Again

by   / Personal Liberty Digest

Big Nanny Government Strikes Again
PHOTOS.COM
If you like your light bulb, you can keep your light bulb.

Actually, just like Barack Obama’s promise regarding health insurance, this one’s not true either. As of Jan. 1 (Happy New Year, by the way!), the import or manufacture of 40-watt or 60-watt light bulbs is now forbidden in the United States. This follows the ban on 75-watt and 100-watt bulbs, which had already been implemented.

I wish we could blame this on the current Administration, but actually this assault on our freedom of choice goes back to 2007, when Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act and it was signed into law by President George W. Bush.

Yep, the prohibition on incandescent bulbs is actually six years old. It just didn’t get much publicity until replacement light bulbs began disappearing from store shelves. Now that more consumers realize what’s happening, a whole bunch of people are stockpiling the ones that remain. If this is the first you’re learning of it and you want to keep some incandescent bulbs on hand, good luck finding some.

The experts who’ve decided they know what’s good for us say that, in time, we’ll learn to appreciate the wisdom of their policies. After all, the new compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that we’re being forced to use are much more energy-efficient than the trusty old favorites. The new bulbs last so much longer — up to 23 years, we’re told — that we’ll save money in the long run. So what if they cost 10 times more money than the old, familiar light bulbs that we’ve used for the past 100 years?

And so what if we hate the way these new light bulbs look? Or the weird kind of light many of them give out? Your not-so-friendly Federal government has decided that it doesn’t matter what your preferences might be. No consumer choice here — except which kind of new, energy-efficient light bulb you’re going to buy.

Welcome to one more way that Big Nanny government manages to intrude into the bedroom — not to mention the kitchen, living room and anyplace else where you flip a switch and expect a light to come on.

Oh, and how do you like how long it takes for some of these bulbs to come to full strength? I went into a guest bathroom recently. When I turned on the switch, it was still so dark in the room that I could barely find the toilet. In time, the room got a little bit brighter. But forget about bringing any reading material in with you.

Don’t look to Congress for any relief from these edicts. The House tried twice, back in 2007, to let us keep our incandescent bulbs. But two alternatives offered up by conservative lawmakers, the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act or the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, failed to pass the House.

Facing the inevitable, General Electric has closed the last factory in the U.S. that manufactured incandescent bulbs. The shutdown of the plant in Winchester, Virginia cost 200 employees their jobs.

And don’t count on the forced demand for CFLs and LEDs creating a bunch of new jobs in this country. All of those are being manufactured abroad, mostly in China. Thanks, Uncle Sam, for helping export even more U.S. jobs.

The assault on the light bulb is mere trifle, however, compared to the job losses and financial costs of Obama’s war on coal. And this isn’t happening because of any laws passed by Congress. No, the culprits here are the bureaucrats in the Environmental Protection Agency, who simply decree whatever regulations they deem necessary to achieve their goals.

Estimates are that some 600,000 jobs will be lost because of the EPA directives, mostly in Kentucky and West Virginia. Last week, both Kentucky Senators, as well as all five of the State’s Representatives, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Supreme Court, in support of a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s authority to regulate coal plants.

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said the case is “an egregious example of the EPA’s violation of the law in pursuit of its overzealous, anti-coal agenda.” And he added, “The ability to create laws is the purview of Congress and the EPA has clearly overstepped its authority.”

We’ll find out later this year if the Supreme Court agrees with him and does anything to retard the EPA’s onslaught against the coal industry. If not, you can expect to pay a lot more for electricity in this country. Nicolas Loris, an economist at the Heritage Foundation, warned that the EPA assault on coal-fired power plants “will deliver a blow to the economy and raise costs for consumers.” He added: “Any way you shake this, it’s a no-win for our economy.”

And speaking of a no-win, how about the latest on Obamacare? Just before Christmas, the Obama Administration announced that it was waiving the individual mandate for people who have had their existing health insurance policies canceled.

Geez, wasn’t it only a few weeks ago that the Democrats allowed a partial shutdown of the Federal government, rather than pass any Republican-endorsed measure to delay the individual mandate? Now it seems that Obama and his allies are tacitly admitting that Senator Ted Cruz and the House Republicans were right in demanding a delay.

This is just one more example of how the Obama Administration is changing the law without bothering to get Congress involved. Columnist John Fund says delaying the individual mandate “is at least the 14th unilateral change to Obamacare that’s been made without consulting Congress.”

Ho-hum, another crisis, another unConstitutional edict from the folks in the White House.

Considering all of the attacks on our freedoms, is it any wonder that the latest Gallup poll says that 72 percent of Americans now say that Big Government is a threat to our liberties? That number is a new record high, by the way.

As I said last week, there are some encouraging signs that more and more Americans are standing up and speaking out in defense of their principles. It was wonderful to see the furor that erupted when A&E Networks suspended “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson.

Let’s hope the new year will bring us some more such victories. I hope that one of your resolutions will be to do your part in making it happen.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.
Op-ed:
ObamaCare, the Constitution, and the man who would be King
By: Diane Sori

Article II, Section 3, Clause 5: The President must "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."
 

Ever since the anything but Affordable Care Act reared its ugly head, Barack HUSSEIN Obama...the man who believes he's above our laws...has unilaterally been issuing orders for changes, delays, and exemptions to what has become his namesake law...ObamaCare. Violating his oath of office to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” Obama has NOT gone through Congress to make said changes as he is legally required to do.

And the man who claims to be a Constitutional law professor is deliberately and willfully ignoring the very clause that clearly states that all laws...even laws the president might NOT personally like or agree with...are to be faithfully executed. As per Article II, Section 3, Clause 5, known as the 'Take Care Clause', the president must 'take care' that the law...all laws...are to be enacted exactly as passed by Congress, as it's a "duty, not a discretionary power to take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed."

But what's good for past presidents...what's clearly written as law in the Constitution...is lost on the man who would be king.

Obama has been messing with ObamaCare since 2010, when it became the law of the land. In fact, Obama has taken it upon himself to amend, delay, and repeal 14 components of ObamaCare instead of going through Congress as our Constitution demands...violations times 14 and yet Congress remains mum and does NOT call him to task.

One of the first violations of note is when Obama decreed that the employer mandate would be given a delay in implementation. The January 1, 2014 effective date for ObamaCare's requirement that large employers provide their workers with health insurance or pay a tax was delayed by one year. Delaying the dreaded mandate for his friends and money backers in big business but for 'We the People' the mandate stayed...selective enforcement of the worst kind I would say.

And when the ire of Congressional Republicans was rightfully raised over Obama's acting on his own, he tried to cover-up this clear Constitutional violation by having the Treasury Department issue a statement saying that the delay was just 'transition relief' needed "to continue working through 2014 with employers, insurers, and other reporting entities to revise and engage in 'real-world testing' of the reporting requirements, simplify forms, coordinate requisite public and private sector information technology arrangements, and engineer a smoother transition to full implementation in 2015."

And by saying the delay was mandatory NOT discretionary, Obama and crew tried to pull the wool over our eyes with his bloviatings that this is a "sensible adjustment to phase-in enforcement" NOT a refusal to enforce, and is but a minor 'course correction' regarding the individual ACA provision that had to be done to execute the overall statute and purpose of ObamaCare.

And the mother of all violations is when all hell broke loose after Obama's infamous LIE, "If you like your insurance you can keep it...period" came back to haunt him that he suddenly, again of his own volition, announced his highness would allow the hundreds of thousands of people who lost their insurance due to forced cancellation for NOT meeting ObamaCare's rigid ridiculous requirements to sign up for bare-bones 'catastrophic' plans.

But this is NOTHING but a political maneuver to try and assure Democratic votes in an effort to keep control of the Senate...and allow Harry Reid to keep his cushy job...for what Obama is NOT saying is that like every other ObamaCare exemption to date, this one of his more nefarious so-called 'fixes' will only be in effect for a year...timed to run out right after the mid-term elections when people will then be kicked off their catastrophic coverage.  Why...simply because having catastrophic insurance alone does NOT put enough dollars into the system to carry the Medicaid freeloaders and those receiving subsidy monies.

And when you add in all the other changing of the law Obama has unilaterally done through his issuing of Executive Orders that alter or modify the law as passed by Congress, it becomes apparent that Barack HUSSEIN Obama is NOT only violating the equal protection clause of the Constitution (14th Amendment) as he allows exemptions for some but NOT for all...but he is also selectively deciding and then enforcing the law as he and he alone so chooses.

Thankfully, a letter written by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey to Kathleen Sebelius now has eleven state Attorney Generals signatures added to it to inform her in NO uncertain terms that these illegal unilateral actions of Obama's must stop and that his ObamaCare so-called 'fixes' are "illegal under federal constitutional and statutory law.”

And now we wait and see what Sebelius will do...if anything but most likely NOTHING...but what is clear for anyone to see is that Barack HUSSEIN Obama's namesake law...a law that was unwanted yet forced down our throats...is anything but affordable and was and is fundamentally flawed from its conception to its implementation. And as premiums rise, insurance coverage options fall, and mandated requirements get more ludicrous by the day.

Welcome to ObamaCare and best NOT get sick for an appearance before a 'death panel' might be your fate.