Tag: socialism

Declaration of Dependence

I hope you guys had a good Fourth yesterday. Knowing the readership of this blog, I’m sure you were well aware of the significance of the date and what it really means. What struck me last night, as I thought about it, is how little independence actually remains to us and how great an ongoing effort there is — cheered by various pundits — to squash what independence remains to us. In the world of the progressives (and some neocons) we would:

No longer have the independence to choose what we eat and drink. Our sugar and fat intake would be restricted or taxed heavily.

No longer have what little independence we have to choose our schools. Home schooling and private schools would be regulated like the public schools.

No longer have the independence to choose our healthcare or our retirement. Social Security would be expanded and single payer healthcare implemented, funded with taxes on wealth.

No longer have the independence to speak, thanks to speech codes and anti-hate-speech laws.

No longer have the independence of religion or conscience. For example, we could be fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding, even thought we are not a public accommodation.

No longer have the independence of free press. Campaigns would be publicly financed; films like “Hillary: the Movie” would be illegal to show before an election and laws like SOPA would tightly control what we put on the internet. Not to mention “the right to be forgotten” and a crackdown on anonymous posting and commenting (see the federal investigation into Reason’s commenters). Hell, you might even find reporters happily submitting to being roped off like sheep and asking only milquetoast questions of a major Presidential candidate.

No longer have freedom of association. For example, we would be forced to do “volunteer” work to finish publish schooling.

Trial by jury, innocent until proven guilty, right to council … these would be outdated concepts. Our college campuses would be but testbeds for the legal regime they would like to impose on us. And entire communities, including poor ones, would be turned upside down and vigorously shaken to pry revenue from them.

We would live in a police state where the government has unlimited authority to spy on us, arrest us, detain us and harass us.

And that’s just the beginning.

Robert Heinlein famously said: “Political tags – such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth – are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.” We are overrun with the former. And the latter had better get their shit together.

The Diseased Opposition

I’m currently reading Anne Applebaum’s excellent Iron Curtain, a follow-on to her masterful Gulag. In this book, she details how the oppressive tyrannies of Eastern Europe were created by the Soviet Union and how they were run for forty years. I’ll likely post a full review when I’m finished.

I did want to single out one point, however.

One of the recurring themes in the early days of communism was the communists’ confusion as to why the couldn’t win the hearts and minds of the people. In the early days of the Cold War, they actually held elections, figuring that with control of the secret police, the media and social groups, they would win easily. They were crushed and those became the last free elections in Eastern Europe for two generations. This pattern would repeat itself later in the late 80’s when communist regimes had open elections and were stunned when they lost again. They kept returning to the theme of why the “masses” were voting against “their interests”.

That should sound familiar. There’s a whole book about it called “What’s the matter with Kansas”. We continually hear liberals lamenting that Americans vote against “their interests” by refusing to embrace wealth redistribution and other socialist schemes. Like their Communist forbears, it simply never occurs to them that most people don’t want to succeed in life by taking things away from someone else; that people regard “redistributed” wealth as stolen wealth.

But there’s another thing the modern Left shares with the Communists. When people opposed Communism, the Communists believed this was because of the evil influence of shadowy bourgeois interests or even because of mental illness. Entire societies were reshaped so that citizens only heard “correct” view from the day they were born and were continually re-educated into proper thinking.

But what does the modern Left do but say that people vote Republican because they are “full of hate” or “don’t care about people who aren’t like them” or “are influenced by special interests”? No one can oppose abortion because of a concern for the unborn; they have to hate women and want to control them. No one can oppose gay marriage because they are leery of changing a fundamental pillar of society; they have to be filled with hate. No one can oppose the welfare state because they think it’s a long walk off a short plank; they have to be incapable of caring for people. No on can think global warming is overblown because they don’t trust the science; they have to be under the influence of Big Oil (this post was stimulated by the creation of a website designed to smear climate “dirty denier$” by linking them to fossil fuel interests).

That’s not to say that there are aren’t Right-Wingers who think their opponents are mentally defective or that there aren’t Leftists who understand that there are genuine differences in philosophy. But the need to see the opposition as defective or under baleful influence is much stronger on the Left and particularly among the hard Lefties who think Obama is a centrist wuss. It informs things like campaign finance reform and political correctness. It manifests in the enthusiasm for public school systems and public pre-K, in particular, so that children can be influenced to “correct” views at earlier and earlier ages.

But reading Applebaum’s account of the machinations of the Communists reveals that this attitude is not new or terribly original or particularly insightful. The belief that government can transform human beings — make them work harder, be less racist or get along better — is an offshoot of behaviorism: the belief that human beings are empty vessels waiting to be shaped by outside influences. And if they don’t take the desired shape, it is either because the vessel was defective or there are other forces at work.

The idea of self-determination simply never occurs to them.

A Trio of Weekend Headdesks

Three stories that aren’t big enough for blog posts of their own … well, they are actually, but I don’t have time to tear into them.

First, you may have heard that the FDA is taking the unprecedented step of banning trans-fats. Actually, they’ve removed them from the list of foods that are GRAS (generally regarded as safe), a first step toward a ban. This despite the fact that trans fats are not dangerous per se. They raise LDL levels and lower HDL levels which may contribute to heart disease. I have no problem with encouraging people not to use them (always keeping in mind that it was the food snatchers who put it there in the first place). But banning?

The trans-fat ban is not the worst thing about the trans-fat ban, though. The worst is the precedent it is setting for banning a substance that does not make people sick and the inspiration this is giving to various Nanny State dunderheads, who are now hoping the FDA will heavily regulate (or ban) genetically modified food — technically speaking, all food is genetically modified. THey also want to regulate sugar. Yes, sugar:

The most outspoken enemies of sugar, like Robert Lustig, are trying to take it off the GRAS list–something that CSPI petitioned the FDA to do last February, asking it to study and determine safe levels of high-fructose corn syrup. The chance of an FDA announcement of that in six years seems pretty unlikely now. But soda makers already have more than dozens of low-sugar and sugar-free drinks: they have scores and scores of them. They’ve quietly been working to solve the problem, while spending (often literally) untold sums not to risk their core products. The advocates against trans fats who seemed so crazy even six years ago, when the New York trans fat ban went into effect, are seeming a lot less crazy today.

No, the advocates against trans fats still seem crazy. They’ve just found an Administration that listens to crazies. Needless to say, the idea of the FDA removing sugar from the GRAS list is insanely stupid. Sugar is natural substance that occurs in many foods and refining it has been around for millennia. Sugar is not dangerous. I repeat, sugar is not dangerous. Eating too much of it can make you fat but that is true of every food in existence. In fact, there is some evidence that the artificial sweeteners he touts are actually worse because they fool the palate and thus interfere with the body’s ability to regulate its sugar intake.

This is a perfect illustration of why you can never given the Nanny Staters an inch; they will demand ten miles and demand that you jog all of them. And without any bottled water.

Our second story comes from my home state of Georgia where Circle K has thrown their lot in for dumbest business of the year:

Johnny Jarriel Jr. has a state permit to carry a concealed weapon. He said that he often carried his pistol in his three years of working at the Circle K on West Stewart’s Mill Road in Douglasville.

Jarriel said he was in the office at the Circle K on West Stewart’s Mill Road on Saturday morning when armed suspect attempted to rob him. He said the man used pepper spray, demanded money and threatened to kill everyone in the store.

“Pointed it directly at my head and said, ‘Give me the money or I’m going to kill you,'” Jarriel said.

Instead of panicking, Jarriel convinced the attempted robber to follow him to the front for the money. When the gunman turned away, Jarriel reached for his pistol.

“He was turning around towards me, but before he got fully…I aimed at him this way and fired three shots,” Jarriel said.

The gunman fled, apparently wounded by one of the shots.

Authorities cleared Jarriel of wrongdoing and gave him back his .45, but the assistant manager was given the pink slip from his employer.

Circle K says this is corporate policy. Circle K is also an idiot. Forbidding employees for carrying guns is corporate policy, not holy writ. They’re acting like waving the rule violation is setting a Supreme Court precedent. In fact, a clerk was killed at that store four years ago. If I ran a store and one of my clerks was murdered, I’d be asking my employees to carry weapons, preferably in open holsters so everyone knows that the store is protected.

The final entry in our Trilogy of Error is that Seattle has elected a socialist to its City Council. Granted, the difference between an admitted socialist and everyone else on the city council is probably minor. But she hilariously calls for rent control, which even liberals admit destroys the supply of housing. She also supports a $15 minimum wage. That may sound swell to you, but if you look at Europe, you’ll find that countries without minimum wages have lower unemployment rates than those with them. Germany, for example, abolished its minimum wage and has 5.2% unemployment.

(Germany and other non-minimum wage countries like Sweden (!!) balance this with stronger unions and social safety nets. There’s a debate to be had whether a no-minimum-wage+safety net system is preferable to a minimum-wage system (although a system with neither might be best). Personally, I think we need people working. The strength of any economy is the total productivity of its citizens. If we’re going to give money away, we might as well give it away to people working for a living. Say what you want about Germany’s system, but if we had 5.2% unemployment in this country, we’d be dancing in the streets.)

So there you have it. Three stories that show our society at its dumbest. Work hard this week, my friends. Someone has to support these cretins.

Why Don’t You Move to … Nowhere! Hahahahaha!

Yesterday, Salon published what must be the dumbest critique of libertarianism I’ve read that doesn’t use the word “Somalia”.

Why are there no libertarian countries? If libertarians are correct in claiming that they understand how best to organize a modern society, how is it that not a single country in the world in the early twenty-first century is organized along libertarian lines?

First of all, libertarians don’t claim we know best how to organize a modern society. We claim that modern societies are better at organizing themselves. The entire basis of libertarianism is one of restraining power, not acquiring it. Because politics is filled with people who desire power, this tends to crowd us out. It’s hard to get elected on a platform of “I will leave you the hell alone”.

Libertarians are at a particular disadvantage because we hate politics for politics’ sake. We have little interest in the petty political games that make up much of politics (and about 90% of Salon’s coverage of it) but empower greedy grasping power-hungry individuals.

Let’s just take a look at a few stories that are percolating right now. In the IRS scandal, we are seeing a large effort to target organizations based on their political views. To the libertarian, this would be simple: identify the people who abused power and fire them; overhaul the tax code to give the IRS less power; get the government out of the business of deciding which organization are and are not tax-exempt. But to the media, including Salon, this is about whether the Republicans can “get” Obama or whether they are “overplaying their hand”. Are they pushing too far? How will this affect the 2014 election?

Another purely political shitstorm is brewing over the appointment of judges. Obama, frustrated with the Senate not doing their job and bringing the courts to a standstill, has nominated three new judges for the DC circuit. For the libertarian, this is pretty simple. We have the same attitude we did when the Democrats refused to consider Bush appointees: the President has the duty to nominate judges and the Senate has the responsibility to vet them.

But to the political parties, this is yet another way to play political bullshit games. When Bush was President, the Democrats screamed about extreme appointees and the Republicans fulminated about judgeships going unfilled. Now the parties have completely reversed. And the media are happily playing along, speculating about whether Obama is “packing” the courts or not.

This is what politics is about, not creating a unifying vision for how to guide society or how to create an ideal state. And libertarians, because we don’t care for power or its adherents, tend to avoid this crap. It does mean we don’t tend to walk in the halls of power and hold high positions.

But it doesn’t mean we don’t have influence, as we will soon see. Let’s not mistake “not being in power” for “not having an influence”.

When you ask libertarians if they can point to a libertarian country, you are likely to get a baffled look, followed, in a few moments, by something like this reply: While there is no purely libertarian country, there are countries which have pursued policies of which libertarians would approve: Chile, with its experiment in privatized Social Security, for example, and Sweden, a big-government nation which, however, gives a role to vouchers in schooling.

Oh, it’s a lot more than that. Libertarian ideas helped Hong Kong get rich while the rest of China wallowed in poverty. Libertarian ideas made the West strong while the Communist Bloc fell into ruin. Lind will get into the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index in a moment in a very selective and idiotic way. I will pre-empt him by looking at it in a more objective and thorough way. Look at countries with the greatest economic freedom. You will find it is dominated by wealthy countries: Canada, Scandinavia, USA, Australia, Germany, the UK. And, in fact, most of those countries have moved dramatically toward more economic freedom, with the worldwide index increasing 2 points since 1996. And that was after the fall of communism. The simple fact is that the countries that have pursue libertarian ideals are wealthier, happier, healthier places than those that have pursued collectivist numbskullery.

Let’s just take one example almost at random. Lind uncorks this stupid statement:

Libertarian theorists have the luxury of mixing and matching policies to create an imaginary utopia. A real country must function simultaneously in different realms—defense and the economy, law enforcement and some kind of system of support for the poor. Being able to point to one truly libertarian country would provide at least some evidence that libertarianism can work in the real world.

Some political philosophies pass this test. For much of the global center-left, the ideal for several generations has been Nordic social democracy—what the late liberal economist Robert Heilbroner described as “a slightly idealized Sweden.”

Sweden, you say? Do you know that Sweden, over the last 17 years, has massively improved its economic freedom index from 61 to 72? That it may soon be more economically free than the United States? And that Sweden incorporates many of the socially liberal ideas that form the other pillar of libertarianism (one Lind completely ignores)? How about Canada? Canada has increased its economic freedom index from 69 to 79 over last 17 years. Canada is, in fact, the sixth most economically free country in the world right now.

I cite these two examples specifically because they get to another problem with his critique. “Libertarianism” covers a very broad range of ideas. I know libertarians who oppose abortion. I know libertarians who think we shouldn’t legalize drugs. I know libertarians who believe in universal healthcare and social safety nets. Most libertarians believe in sensible environmental regulation and making sure kids get an education.

What marks libertarianism out is not a platform, but a way of thinking. It is a philosophy of being suspicious of government and favoring liberty if it is practical. But it is, by no means, purist. Very few libertarians believe in anarchy. But this is apparently beyond the ken of perennially political bullshit obsessed Salon.

Lind claims that there is no country that is truly “libertarian”. But show me a country that is pure “Nordic social democracy”. There are various flavors that approach some Platonic Ideal of that, I guess. But I would posit that most of the Nordic countries would fail to be true “Nordic social democracies” the way Lind defines it. Sweden is the source of the “Swedish model” approach to prostitution that has been a fiasco. It is also currently enjoying rioting and disruption from unassimilated immigrants. Finland has restrictions on abortion but also practices a very different (and highly successful) education model than liberals prefer. And all five of the traditional Nordic countries have very high Economic Freedom Indices and all five have seen them increase over the last twenty years. That they have universal healthcare does not mean they are not embracing many libertarian ideas.

Oh, but the article gets even worse. I’ve been talking about the Economic Freedom Index to show how you use it properly in a political debate. I did that because Lind is about to cover himself in excrement using it incorrectly. He looks at some of the highest ranked countries, notes they are successful but then dismisses their success for completely arbitrary reasons. Just for fun, I will play this game with his “Nordic social democracy” ideal.

Even worse, the economic-freedom country rankings are biased toward city-states and small countries.

Because it’s not like liberals never compare us to Monaco.

For example, in the latest ranking of economic liberty by the Heritage Foundation, the top five nations are Hong Kong (a city, not a country), Singapore (a city-state), Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland (small-population countries).

With the exception of Switzerland, four out of the top five were small British overseas colonies which played interstitial roles in the larger British empire. Even though they are formally sovereign today, these places remain fragments of larger defense systems and larger markets. They are able to engage in free riding on the provision of public goods, like security and huge consumer populations, by other, bigger states.

Australia and New Zealand depended for protection first on the British empire and now on the United States. Its fabled militias to the contrary, Switzerland might not have maintained its independence for long if Nazi Germany had won World War II.

Of the five Nordic social democracies, three are part of NATO and heavily dependent on NATO resources for the defense. Its fabled neutrality to the contrary, Sweden might not have maintained its independence for long if Nazi Germany had won World War II (during which Sweden also the most economically free power in Europe, incidentally). There was a powerful pro-Nazi movement in Sweden during the war.

In fact, almost all of the massive social welfare states have been enabled by massive military spending by the United States. Very few of them maintain anything resembling a modern military and none maintain the kind of presence that would have staved off the Soviet Union, the kind of presence that currently keeps pirates at bay and that neutralizes any expansionary ambitions from China and Russia. It’s easy to have a Nordic Social Democracy when your defense duties are being paid for by someone else.

These countries play specialized roles in much larger regional and global markets, rather as cities or regions do in a large nation-state like the U.S. Hong Kong and Singapore remain essentially entrepots for international trade. Switzerland is an international banking and tax haven. What works for them would not work for a giant nation-state like the U.S. (number 10 on the Heritage list of economic freedom) or even medium-sized countries like Germany (number 19) or Japan (number 24).

None of the Nordic Social Democracies have a population of more than 10 million. They are all playing specialized roles in much larger regional and global markets. Norway has massive fossil fuel reserves; Iceland almost destroyed itself with banking and is no backing to fishing; Sweden’s economy seems dependent on exporting crappy IKEA furniture. What works for them would not work for a giant nation-state like the US.

And then there is Mauritius.

And then there’s Cuba.

According to the Heritage Foundation, the U.S. has less economic freedom than Mauritius, another small island country, this one off the southeast coast of Africa. At number 8, Mauritius is two rungs above the U.S., at number 10 in the global index of economic liberty.

Cuba has guaranteed universal healthcare and first-rate gun control.

According to the CIA World Fact book, the U.S. spends more than Mauritius—5.4 percent of GDP in 2009 compared to only 3.7 percent in Mauritius in 2010. For the price of that extra expenditure, which is chiefly public, the U.S. has a literacy rate of 99 percent, compared to only 88.5 percent in economically-freer Mauritius.

Infant mortality? In economically-more-free Mauritius there are about 11 deaths per 1,000 live births—compared to 5.9 in the economically-less-free U.S. Maternal mortality in Mauritius is at 60 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 21 in the U.S. Economic liberty comes at a price in human survival, it would seem. Oh, well—at least Mauritius is economically free!

Cuba has an (official) infant mortality rate of 4.8 compared to the 2.7 for Singapore and Hong Kong. Cuba suffers from massive civil liberties repression. Oh, well-at least Cuba has universal healthcare!

Look, I can play this game all day. The simple point is that there isn’t any country out there that practices idealized “Nordic Social Democracy” either. And those that are close have been moving away from that model toward greater economic and personal liberty. Or they’ve been moving toward bankruptcy.

Look, every libertarian knows there is no such thing as a perfect libertarian state. The very phrase is an oxymoron because libertarianism is a responsive political philosophy, not an active one. We don’t have grand plans for remaking the universe. What we do is identify things the government is screwing up and try to make it stop. We are not a bunch of silly self-important men sitting behind desks and telling people what to do. We are an unceasing crowd of people surrounding the capitals of the world with pitchforks and torches on standby.

Politics is a tug-of-war not between liberals and conservatives or Republicans and Democrats, but between Those Who Want to Tell You What to Do and Those Who Don’t. The vast majority of politicians and the vast majority of the boot-licking media at such as Salon are in the the former camp. Everyone else is in the latter to some degree or other. Sometimes they are in it only for an issue like abortion. Sometimes they are in it only for an issues like free trade. But just about everyone who is politically aware spends some time in the libertarian camp. Everyone is a least lib-curious. The one thing I have found, in eight years of blogging as libertarian, is that, with almost everyone, I can find something in the libertarian philosophy that they agree. Lind supports some libertarian ideas, even if he doesn’t realize it. Does he oppose crony capitalism? Does he believe in personal freedom? Does he think we’re jailing too many people? Well, my friend, welcome to Libertarian Land! Mind the barbed wire.

Libertarians don’t want power. We want to keep it in check. This is apparently a novel concept.

Even with those caveats however, libertarian ideas are and have been very influential in the real world. They are wound into the very fabric of this nation. Our Constitution is the only one that recognizes such idealized and universal personal liberty. No other country has as deep and thorough a belief in Freedom of Speech as ours. Combine that with the high economic liberty ranking we have — even after 12 years of Bush-Obama — and you’re doing pretty well. Certainly better than the NSD models that are quickly bankrupting the entirety of Europe.

The entire world has moving more libertarian in fits and starts. Wars and violence are at historic lows (libertarians generally oppose war). Personal freedom is at historic highs. Over the last decade, the expansion of economic freedom has lifted hundreds of millions of people — most of them of a different race than your typical libertarian — out of poverty. Countries like Australia and Canada have found ways to combine economic freedom with a more extensive social safety net — a flavor of libertarianism even if it isn’t the pure University of Chicago stuff.

In the end, Lind’s screed crosses me as yet another one of the “Aaah! Libertarians!” screeds I’ve gotten used to reading from ignorant lazy writers devoted to sad outdated political philosophies. The only lasting value it has is that maybe Mauritius will become the “libertarian ideal” instead of Somalia.

The Welfare Trap

One thing conservatives constantly worry about is the danger of creating a welfare trap: a situation in which the welfare state is so entrenched that working is actually less profitable than being dependent on the state.

Check out this amazing graph from The Spectator on the UK’s welfare system:

How’s that for a perverse incentive? Lost benefits and increased taxes mean that, for a single mother, increasing her earnings from 0 to 15,000 pounds only increases her net income by 5000 pounds. Would you work for 1/3 of the wages? At certain points, she is losing 95 pence for every new pound she earns.

if I was in a position of a British single mother I have not the slightest doubt that I would choose welfare. Why break your back on the minimum wage for longer than you have to, if it doesn’t pay? Some people do have the resolve to do it. I know I wouldn’t. …So let’s not talk about “lazy” Brits. The problem is a cruel and purblind welfare system which still, to this day, strengthens the welfare trap with budgets passed without the slightest regard for its effect on the work incentives on the poorest. …Meanwhile, the cash-strapped British government is still creating still the most expensive poverty in the world.

Keep in mind that to get out of the welfare trap — to get to income levels where it does pay to work, you generally have to work your way up. You might spend years at low pay building your resume for a higher-paying job. So the real cruelty is not just that this traps people in dependency, but that it puts grease on the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder. It pulls back the possibility of rising above minimum wage.

OK, that’s Britain, you say. It could never happen here. Wrong. The CBO just issued a report showing that marginal rates for low-income workers are about 30-35%. And that’s an average. At certain inflection points, the marginal rate is over 100%, once the Obamacare subsidies kick in. And, even now, the marginal rate is over 60% as you cross the poverty line.

As with the UK, these traps in the tax/welfare system are created because politicians are not doing their damned homework. They have created a system so complex that only a bevy of CBO accountants can untangle it all. But look at those numbers and ask yourself: could this maybe be contributing just a tiny little bit to exodus of so many people from the work force?

Minimum wage, in a way even the most stupid can understand.

The concept of a living wage and a minimum wage are universally accepted on the left as great ideas. That they do not work in the real world and produce serious consequences is ignored. But now we have an example that is too easy to ignore:

The catchy Subway sandwich shop jingle involving a variety of foot-long sandwiches available for $5 doesn’t apply in San Francisco. The sandwich-making chain stopped selling the five-dollar footlongs in San Francisco due to the “high cost of doing business,” according to SF Weekly.

Signs posted at Subway sandwich shops sadly inform San Francisco patrons — we hear Willie Brown is a big fan — that “all SUBWAY Restaurants in SF County DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN Subway National $5.00 Promotions,” according to the newspaper.

Customers can still buy the sub of the month for $5, according to an employee at Subway on Market and Castro streets. Apparently, the city’s new minimum wage, raised to $10.24 as of Jan. 1, make $5 footlongs an impossible business model.

Unless you want tuna fish, which is the sub of the month. Yum.

I guess it is Karmic justice that this happens in one of the biggest liberal bastions in this country, and definitely not a coincidence, but I doubt the left will get the lesson.

It’s simple really: when government forces employers to pay too much for labor, especially labor that can be performed by a monkey because it requires no serious skills or abilities, the customer bears the brunt of that coerced transaction. The price of everything goes up, often by far more than whatever the jacked up minimum wage supposedly added to the pocket of the person making it.

Seriously, if the minimum wage/living wage concept worked, we could just make sure everyone was paid $60K or more a year for a 40 hour week, couldn’t we? Of course that $60K would not do much good, because it can’t happen in a vacuum. Once you force employers to pay out that much, they have to adjust their business model. For one, it means that less people will be employed, as employers adjust to accommodate this new burden, and then the employers will have no recourse but to jack up prices to make up the balance. And contrary to the belief collectivists have that otherpeople should just do things for the satisfaction of helping out, private sector owners will still need to make a profit too.

Only idiots that are totally disconnected from reality believe that all employers should be like government and provide non-profit make-work jobs that pay a living wage to everyone. That government can only do what it does now because it is taking a whole lot of money away from those that actually are being productive and actually have to make a profit to justify the effort to the owners, and that they constantly are trying to take more to feed the ravenous unproductive machine, gets ignored.

Seriously, is it so hard to understand that if everyone making at least $60K a year, the cost of living adjustment needed to accommodate this burden, suddenly makes the necessities that used to cost $X a month, now cost $10X? Don’t even start on luxury items. This logic is not that hard to work through.

I guess San Franers can now envy the rest of us for being able to get them $5 footlongs, while those of us that understand economics and the way the world works can laugh at their stupid move to have such a ridiculously high minimum wage. The fact is that someone ALWAYS pays for the free stuff the collectivists believe they are due.

Bill Maher Is (Still) An Arrogant Liberal Troll

So this aired on his show. Liberals, if you want to know why a lot of conservatives don’t like you, watch this and watch the reaction to it. Do you really wonder why people won’t vote for arrogant condescending twerps who look down on them?

Let’s set aside the condescending attitude toward the South and what was unquestionably a cherry-picked sample. Maher and his defenders are claiming the point of this is the old “What’s the Matter with Kansas” theme: they are wondering why people in Mississippi vote against their supposed economic interests. In their world, the poor people of Mississippi should be supporting massive welfare spending and gigantic tax hikes on rich people. And they would, were it not for the Republicans bamboozling them into voting on morality and religion. And now that Obama is President, their racism has only exacerbated this disconnect.

Bullshit.

I have always despised the “Kansas question” because it fundamentally assumes that all poor people should have the same approach to politics: a burning desire to plunder their neighbors. It would never even occur to Bill Maher and Pelosi Junior that some people in this world, despite poverty, might see socialism as wrong and immoral. That they would rather be poor than rich on the backs of others. That they would rather live in a free market that gives them affordable goods and the chance, however small, of success than live in an unfree market that guarantees poverty. The manifest failures of socialism have obscured an important truth about it: socialism doesn’t just not work, it is immoral. It destroys the moral core of a nation, rots out its industry and replaces independence with dependence. Maybe you have to be a “dumb, uneducated southern hick” to understand this fundamental truth.

Aside from that, Maher manages, in a span of about 30 seconds, to spew an astonishing volume of economic, political and historical illiteracy. The idea that we do not already live in a heavily socialistic society is ridiculous. A massive fraction of federal and state spending is wealth transfer. Government pays over half the healthcare bills. Since the 1960’s, we have spent trillions fighting poverty. Under the evil poor-hating George W. Bush, taxes on poor people were reduce to zero or negative rates.

Socialist paradise? We already live in one. And here’s the thing. Look at those people and those homes. Does it look like our rampant socialism is doing them any good?

The most successful anti-poverty program of the last 50 years was the Republican-led and Clinton-signed welfare reform of the mid-90’s. It saw the first serious drop in poverty since we began the “War on Poverty” and moved millions from dependence to work. And liberal fucktards like Maher opposed it vehemently. They denounced it as a plot by uncaring Republicans to leave people starving in the streets.

Maher also manages to forget that Southerners voted almost exclusively Democrat for 120 years. From the end of the Civil War to the mid-90’s, the South was a uniform block of Democratic voters. It was the Southern hatred of Republicans that enabled the creation of the New Deal and the Great Society. Fat lot of good their unwavering support did them.

Maher mocks one of the interviewees for saying the voting for Republicans might work someday. What a stupid thing for him to chortle about. Liberals like Maher have been making that excuse for socialism and anti-free-market ideology for half a century.

You want to help poor people? Break the education monopoly that condemns them to bad schools. End corporate welfare and regulatory capture that empower politically-connected business to steamroll the rights of poorer citizens through atrocities like eminent domain. Break the hyper-regulations that close off industries to competition (watch Stossel’s doc below on taxi medallions or read up on CPSIA). And overhaul our tax system so that jobs can be brought back to or created in this country.

But let’s not sit in our comfy studios and analyze poor Southerners like they are some species of unevolved ape. That might make someone feel good about himself. But I think he already feels way better about himself than he deserves.

Control the message by controlling the messenger

The labour party in the UK has been suffering a serious sets of defeats as more and more people lose hope with their stupid policies, and now are having a conference to discuss options. One of their brilliant ideas is a journalist license. The plan is to only allow people that they like, the ones telling the stories they like and the way they like it, to be reporters.

The UK Labour party’s conference is underway in Liverpool, and party bigwigs are presenting their proposals for reinvigorating Labour after its crushing defeat in the last election. The stupidest of these proposals to date will be presented today, when Ivan Lewis, the shadow culture secretary, will propose a licensing scheme for journalists through a professional body that will have the power to forbid people who breach its code of conduct from doing journalism in the future.

Given that “journalism” presently encompasses “publishing accounts of things you’ve seen using the Internet” and “taking pictures of stuff and tweeting them” and “blogging” and “commenting on news stories,” this proposal is even more insane than the tradition “journalist licenses” practiced in totalitarian nations.

Now what could go wrong with that, huh? I could go into a long tirade about what this means and how these people view their serfs, but it wouldn’t be anything new to anyone that has been paying attention to the way the left works.

Another convert?

Whom do you ask am I talking about and what did they convert to-form what? Well, The Economist, and they intimate conversion to good Tea Partiers. Why? Well, the scandalous financial facts now being revealed about another collectivist elitist scumbag caught committing a crime. Leave aside that this predatory behavior by the collectivist elites is not only completely unsurprising, and focus on the other stuff, the people at The Economist also gleaned from this story, like I did. When I heard reports of this crime, my interest was piqued, not by the crime itself, but by the details:

LEAVE aside the details of the allegations against Dominique Strauss Kahn, the head of the IMF (his lawyer indicates he will plead not guilty). Just note that the New York Times states that he was staying in a $3,000 a night suite and was taking a first class flight to Paris. This is the IMF, the body that imposes austerity on indebted countries and is funded by global taxpayers. And this was the likely leading socialist candidate for the French presidency.

UPDATE: One more detail emerged this morning. According to the London Times, Mr Strauss-Kahn had an arrangment with Air France whereby he could just turn up and be put on the first plane. Tough luck, presumably, if you had paid for the flight with your own money and the IMF man wants your seat.

Can you say living like a king? Being an elitist collectivist, pays off. This racket has lots of sweet perks. You get to live large and in charge, as we see Mr. Strauss-Kahn was doing, but you also get to use the serfs as you please. And as some other collectivist fellow travelers show us, you get to smack around the peasants when they get uppity as well. I am sure he will tell us he was gonna rape that maid for her own good. He was spreading the wealth by doing it in a $3K a night suite instead of some NY hood. It pays to grievance monger!