Setting an example

Many of us of a certain age are increasingly concerned about the growing popularity of socialism among the younger generations.  We rightfully point out that the horrors of communist life in the 20th Century have been minimized in our history classes, so that the siren sound of “equality” has regained some of the appeal it lost amid prior carnage.

The truth, though, is that America has been flirting with socialism for about a century ourselves — we just haven’t called it that.  And while the young may not be as wise as we might hope, they’re not completely blind to the hypocrisy:

…the irony is that these old anti-socialists already live in a wonderland of government generosity that bears a passing resemblance to the socialism they so dread.

The federal government already guarantees single-payer health care to Americans over 65 through Medicare. Senior citizens already receive a certain kind of universal basic income; it’s called Social Security. While elderly Americans might balk at the idea of the government paying back hundreds of billions of dollars in student debt, they are already the grand beneficiaries of a government debt subsidy: The mortgage-interest deduction, a longtime staple of the federal tax code, effectively compensates the American homeowner (whose average age is 54) for their mortgage debt, thus saving this disproportionately old group approximately $800 billion in taxes owed to the federal government each decade. The economist Ed Glaeser has likened these policies to “Boomer socialism.”

In this framing, Sanders is not offering his more youthful constituency a radically new contract. Instead, he is extending the terms of an existing social contract to cover more—and, necessarily, younger—Americans.

Now, while I’m inclined to agree with this diagnosis, I don’t agree with the proposed treatment: “Some, but not all, of the problems facing young adults would be well addressed with an expansion of government.”  The socialism we’ve tacitly accepted since the days of the Progressive Era and FDR has already warped our society and economy in harmful ways.  Government spending in the areas of healthcare and education (much of it debt subsidy in the latter) has allowed prices in those arenas to skyrocket far beyond the rate of inflation (itself a result of government meddling with the currency).  Want to reign in health costs?  Put the consumer back in control by forcing providers to post price lists and compete for business that’s paid for at the point of sale.  When someone else is paying the bill, there’s no incentive to reduce costs, and those who don’t have that “someone else” are left priced out of the market altogether.  Same with education – get the government treasury out of it, and institutions will suddenly no longer have funding for “diversity coordinators” that add little value to the transmission of useful knowledge that leads to gainful employment.

For many years I’ve said I’d love to have the option to sign away my claim to any Social Security benefits in exchange for never paying the tax again.  As I get closer to retirement, that’s obviously less of a good deal for me.  But while I’d love to have the taxes I’ve paid in my private accounts rather than in Uncle Sam’s, the fact is that *if* I draw what Social Security currently projects for me (something I certainly don’t count on), I’ll recoup my contributions in less than 6 years.  So if I live another decade or more after that, where’s the money coming from?

The paychecks of younger workers, that’s where — the very generation that realizes the system will not work for them as it has their elders.  Where their contributions don’t cover it all, Uncle Sam’s uses his credit card, the balance of which is a drag on everyone’s fortunes whether they realize it or not.  For example, Sam is desperate to keep interest rates low, so he can continue to carry that balance (and add to it!).  But in doing so, he robs those who dutifully save of the interest they would normally make as a result of their frugality.  Since the elderly on a fixed income can no longer live on interest earnings, Social Security becomes an essential part of most people’s retirement plans… and the cycle begins anew.

That which can’t go on forever, doesn’t.  Our current structures are unsustainable.  We are at a crossroads: either we double down on what is known to be a failed economic model (planned economies), or we get the government out of the driver’s seat.  We need to find a way to set the sun on Social Security and Medicare (just for starters), while putting consumer protections in place like truthful labeling of medical costs and investment risks.  Government is supposed to police abuses of the market, not become the major provider of a good or service.  I’ve said it before: the worst result of our current hybrid system is that it isn’t true market capitalism in many respects, but is believed to be.  As a result, truly free market economics gets a bum rap.

So it’s worth keeping in mind the difficulty of convincing Bernie Bros not to point our nation toward full-blown Marxism when we’re already relying on programs of which Karl would have heartily approved.

That which can’t continue, doesn’t

The fiscal day of reckoning may be close at hand for the United States:

According to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Debt Management, the U.S. government is just five years away from the point where every new dollar it borrows from the public will go toward funding interest payments on the national debt.

That is the main takeaway from the Debt Management Office’s Fiscal Year 2019 Q1 Report, which featured the Office of Management and Budget’s latest projection of the U.S. government’s borrowing from the public…

Net interest on the national debt has become one of the fastest growing segments of federal spending. When the national debt reaches the point where all newly borrowed dollars must be used to pay this mandatory expenditure, the U.S. government will have passed the event horizon that marks the boundary of the national debt death spiral.

Cities and territories in the United States that have crossed that crisis point have either gone through bankruptcy proceedings or their equivalent, or they have implemented major fiscal reforms that reversed their fiscal deterioration, wherein the best-case scenarios, they acted to restrain the growth of their previously out-of-control spending to restore their fiscal health.

Interest on the national debt is going up quickly for two reasons.  Obviously, the government continues to spend waaaaaaaaay more than they squeeze out of the economy (us) through taxation, adding to the total amount it owes.  More importantly, however, the many record deficits recorded over the past 10 years were done so at historically low interest rates (engineered by the Federal Reserve, which in the process robbed productive citizens of some of the proceeds they would normally have earned through their savings).  Inevitably, those rates have begun to climb again.  It may seem incremental on a chart, but keep in mind that just one percent of $22 trillion is $220 billion.

Continue reading

By any means necessary

The Democrats clearly do not intend to honor any facet of our system of government that does not result in their gaining power.  Senator Marco Rubio sounds the alarm:

rubio tweet

Broward County – a heavily Democratic area whose supervisor of elections illegally destroyed ballots in a previous election.  (Why is she still in the position?)  Broward County – a heavily Democratic area home to Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who (among many other things I don’t have space to list here) stated publicly there are “many things” that can be done to rig an electionBroward County – a heavily Democratic area known for being home to the “Broward Cowards” — Sherriff Israel’s police force that failed to actively intervene during the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.  (Like the supervisor of elections, the Sherriff still has his job, despite losing a vote of confidence by his own department’s union.)

The problem is not limited to the whisker-close races in Florida, either:

Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema took a narrow 9,610-vote lead over GOP Rep. Martha McSally Thursday evening as Arizona’s election authorities counted more ballots in the state’s uncalled Senate race.

…depending on the results in Arizona and Florida, the Republican majority in the next Senate could be as small as 52 seats or as big as 54. That spread could be significant on legislation and judicial confirmations over the next two years…

Especially since Senator-elect Romney will undoubtedly take the RINO role previously held by the late Senator McCain, poking his finger in his own party’s eye when it suits him.  President Trump announced before the election that the Federal Government would look closely at improper actions and allegations of fraud.  I sincerely hope they are doing so, and are prepared to make very public examples of anyone found putting their thumb on the scale.  We keep hearing that Trump’s election somehow made Democrats lose faith in our Constitutional system.  As one writer points out, that’s not the case.  They haven’t lost faith in it… they just don’t like how it gets in their way.  That’s why places like Broward County will try to continue “finding votes” until they have enough to get the election results they wanted.

This is outright attempted electoral theft.  It cannot be tolerated.  Period.  The public must demand accountability for this process.  If the Arizona and Florida races are shown to be stolen by the Democrats, the Senate MUST refuse to seat the alleged winners.

Americans have long been cynical about their own elections — but have been willing to abide by the results of record.  If that ceases to be the case (and the Democrats’ collective tantrum after 2016 was a huge step in that direction), we will have anarchy in very short order.  Are you prepared for that contingency?

Gangster government

Surveys show Americans are overwhelmingly angry with the direction of their country, and with what seems to be a never-ending list of of examples of corruption, cronyism and  general criminality in both intent and neglect:

— An IRS that not only puts its thumb on the scale of national elections, but knowingly seizes the savings of innocent people then refuses to give it back.

— An incoherent policy on Ebola that lets medical volunteers return to the country and roam free, but requires military troops ordered to West Africa to be quarantined for three weeks — despite assurances they aren’t supposed to be working directly with patients there.  (Oh, and Italy is none-too-happy that this quarantine is done in their country, not ours).  Add to that, the State Department apparently has (or is, despite denials) considered importing non-citizen patients to the U.S. for treatment.

— An electoral process that increasingly is being shown to be nothing more than a sham to prop up a semblence of legitimacy for a government that seems anything but.

— A well-entrenched “deep surveillance state” that apparently not only pokes into any electronic space it cares to, with no accountability, but has the ability–and does–plant documents that can later be used to discredit critics.

— A fundamental restructuring of health care delivery in this nation passed on a strictly partisan vote, with little debate or discussion of the details, and to this day a stonewalling on information about how it is being implemented.

And none of this includes many still-unanswered questions about Benghazi, Fast and Furious, or the size, scope and real beneficiaries of “Quantitative Easing” and other Federal Reserve interventions in the economy since 2008, etc, etc, ad infinitum.

At this point, can any American outside the well-connected Beltway elite say they are served by this government?

At this point, given the structural rigging of the system on multiple levels, can any American believe a mere election — even one projected as a “wave event” — is really going to change anything?  The roots of the IRS foreiture programs were passed in 2000, under a Democratic administration (Clinton).  The massive assaults on the Bill of Rights known as the Patriot Act debuted under a Republican (Bush the Younger).  And many of the current administration’s critics are fellow Democrats who feel betrayed that in reality nothing has changed under “the One” — if anything, the abuses have only gotten worse.

So the question is this: if Americans are so angry, where IS it?  What the pollsters are calling ‘anger’ comes across in reality as frustrated resignation.  If I’m wrong, America, prove it.  Where are the protests?  Where are the crowds descending on Capitol Hill and City Hall?

Refuse to comply with unconstitutional and arbitrary abuses of power.  Go confront the officials who perpitrate them.  Now is the time for action, not words.  We seem to forget that we outnumber them.   The reason the criminals in office are flooring the accelerator on their various schemes is that the nation has given them no reason to think there will be pushback or consequences.

Show them they’re wrong.  Or shut the hell up the next time a pollster asks you if you’re angry.  We were founded as a nation on the belief that “when any government becomes destructive of these ends (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness), it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, establishing new government…”  Either alter or abolish this trainwreck, or admit to yourself you accept it, however grudgingly.  Just remember that such acceptance makes you an accomplice.  People have resisted far more entrenched tyrannies.  So what’s your excuse?


Sad symbolism

A couple of centuries ago, some fairly wise fellows gathered in Philadelphia to hammer out a document that, once augmented by the Bill of Rights, quite clearly enumerated protections of the liberties Americans had so recently won.  Those protections include a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and restraints on the ability of the State to simply seize what it wants.

Sadly, the Founders wouldn’t recognize Philly today:

Under civil forfeiture, property owners do not have to be convicted of a crime, or even charged with one, to permanently lose their property. Instead, the government can forfeit a property if it’s found to “facilitate” a crime, no matter how tenuous the connection…

Philadelphia law enforcement has transformed a once obscure legal process into a racket that treats Americans as little more than ATMs. Every year, the city collects almost $6 million in revenue from forfeiture. According to data collected by the Institute for Justice, between 2002 and 2012, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office seized and forfeited over 3,000 vehicles, nearly 1,200 homes and other real estate properties and $44 million in cash…

Civil forfeiture is a nationwide problem. ((That’s an understatement — Jemison))  But the scale and scope of Philadelphia’s forfeiture machine is practically unrivaled on the municipal level…

Incredibly, property owners battling civil forfeiture have fewer rights than those actually accused of committing a crime. Unlike in criminal cases, the government does not need to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” to prevail. Instead, once prosecutors show merely that there was a link between a property and some alleged criminal activity owners must prove their innocence. Moreover, since these cases are in civil court, owners facing forfeiture do not have a right to an attorney.

Read the whole thing, and check out the links to additional information about this organized plundering known as civil forfeiture.

Land of the free?  This is not the country you are looking for…


Are the Feds trying to start a fight?

Because actions like this are likely to provoke one, and not just in a courtroom, either.  Think the Bundy Family may not have deserved the support they recently received?  Fair enough.  Try this one on for size:

Henderson lost a lawsuit 30 years ago that moved part of the northern Texas border over a mile to the south.  The Bureau of Land Management [BLM] took 140 acres of his property and didn’t pay him one cent.  Now, they want to use his case as precedent to seize land along a 116-mile stretch of the river…

BLM, which oversees public land in the United States, claims this land never belonged to Texas.  The Texas landowners who have lived and cared for that land for hundreds of years beg to differ.

BLM plans on taking the land anyway. Property owners will be forced to spend money on lawsuits to keep what is theirs.  For many, that property has been in their family for generations.

“How can BLM come in and say, “Hey, this isn’t yours.” Even though it’s patented from the state, you’ve always paid taxes on it. Our family has paid taxes for over 100 years on this place. We’ve got a deed to it. But yet they walked in and said it wasn’t ours,” said Henderson.

In the spirit of “Don’t Mess with Texas,” that State’s Attorney General has sent a letter to the BLM, pointedly challenging them to provide the legal justification for what they propose.  I wonder if they will even bother to reply.  It’s not as if Federal officials are in the habit of answering questions from the peasants — or even their representatives who bother to ask them — anymore.  It is this level of arrogance that is prompting open calls for the States to convene and decide how best to reign in their overbearing agent.  That agent certainly gives no impression of being able to reform itself!

Our government acts as though eminent domain now extends to whatever they feel like grabbing (including our rights), for whatever reason.  But when you start trying to seize people’s ancestral lands or changing the rules arbitrarily to deny their way of earning a living, don’t expect them to go quietly.  Far better that Texas and Oklahoma resolve the matter of establishing a boundary, than to give the Feds a pretext to deny not 140 acres, but *another* one hundred forty  square miles (90,000 acres) of America to productive Americans!

It got very noisy in Nevada recently.  Uncle Sam keeps this up, and it may get even noisier, in a lot more places.  There are still plenty of Americans who neither want nor seek a fight, but understand that when injustice comes to them they have but two options.  And accepting it meekly is not the one that led to the creation of this country.  Anger is growing.  May wisdom and discernment grow along with it But remember:

Molon labe” applies to ALL our freedoms… not just the Second Amendment.

Immigrants versus invaders

(HT: Vox Day)

A Canadian writer questions the effect of easy immigration combined with a fetish for ‘multiculturalism:’

The assumption, unspoken but taken for granted until the 1960s, was that immigration was beneficial as long as it was designed to serve the interests of the host society first. The immigrant’s own interests would be served by the opportunity to eventually join the host society. For this to have any meaning, of course, the existence and desirability of a host nationality had to be taken for granted. If there had been no “Americans” or “Canadians,” there would have been nothing to join. Inherent in the American model of a “melting pot” as well as the fussier Canadian model of a “cultural mosaic” was the pre-existence of a nation to which the immigrant was applying to belong.  …

It was in the past 40 years that the immigrant of dubious loyalty emerged, followed by the disloyal native-born, sometimes of immigrant ancestry, sometimes of Islamic conversion. The new immigrant seemed ready to share the West’s wealth but not its values. In many ways he resembled an invader more than a settler or an asylum-seeker. Instead of making efforts to assimilate, the invader demanded changes in the host country’s culture. …

Requests for cultural exemption were soon followed by openly voiced sentiments of disloyalty. By the late 1990s a Muslim group in Britain saw fit to express the view that no British Muslim has any obligation to British law when it conflicts with the law of Allah.  …

It’s not a matter of where immigrants come from but where they’re going. Refugees from the East are no threat; colonizers are. That’s where non-traditional immigration and multiculturalism become a volatile mix. Extending our values to others is one thing, but modifying our values to suit the values of others is something else.

By now multiculturalism has made it difficult to safeguard our traditions and ideals against a new type of immigrant whose goal is not to fit in, but to carve out a niche for his own tribe, language, customs, or religion in what we’re no longer supposed to view as a country but something between Grand Central Station and an empty space.

By eroding the Western traditions — especially the influence of Christianity — while simultaneously throwing open the gates to any person who wants to “share the West’s wealth but not its values,” the ruling class has deliberately, and with malice aforethought, destroyed the basis for what made this society the freest, most broadly prosperous in the history of the planet.   Without a shared worldview or framework, competing groups need a strong central power to arbitrate between them.  That benefits our self-appointed would-be rulers.   As the fruits of this decades-long effort to “elect a new people” become apparent, it seems the question is which, of two possible paths, will those of the traditional West travel:  allow themselves to be completely subsumed by the tide of invaders, aided and abetted by our own governments, or reassert that we, too, have a right to self-determination, securing for ourselves a portion, however large or small, of our inheritance that we will then defend not only against invading armies wearing uniforms, but stealth invasions of those who want to take “share” what we have, but not who we are.