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Sunday, July 28, 2013

India: Muslim mob kills two Hindus, injures many more for playing music in Hindu temple during Ramadan

Posted by Robert on July 28, 2013 

Here again we see the assumption that non-Muslims must change their behavior to conform to Muslim practices. We see this increasingly in the U.S. as well. "Hindu Women Dead & Many Hindus Injured by Muslim Mobs in Meerut for Playing Music in Temple During Ramadan," from The Chakra, July 28 (thanks to Blazing Cat Fur):
On Friday July 26, 2013, Many Hindus were injured and 2 people were killed, including a Hindu women who died when Muslim mobs rioted on late Friday. Friday is the day that Muslims hold congregational prayer called Jumu’ah, usually preceded by sermons.The violent clashes occurred in the Nagla Mal area of Meerut, a city within the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP, and is a few hours away from the capital New Delhi. It has been reported that the violence began when groups of local Muslims were upset that a Hindu temple was playing Hindu devotional songs (bhajans) and forced the loudspeaker to be shutoff while beating a few Hindu men in the temple. Police tried to control the violent mob and is looking for the rioters involved. The governing party of Uttar Pradesh during these riots is the Samajwadi party.
Religious violence and riots are not new to Uttar Pradesh and India during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan as it is a sensitive month for many in the Muslim community . In the past few years there have been similar cases where Muslim mobs have vandalized Hindu temples and injured Hindus due to hearing Hindu religious songs on route to a Mosque or if a religious procession is passing a Hindu temple that is playing music.
A few years prior, a major clash in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh took place between Hindus and Muslims. The rioting started on night of 5 April when according to some people, members of the Muslim community removed the decorations on a Hindu temple (it was the Hindu festival of Ram Navami) while another version as reported by some media suggests that riots started after some Muslims objected to the overnight celebration of Ram Navami.
There are a few other details about this violent riot that took place at a Hindu temple on ‘The Indian Express’ here.

Supply-Side Economics in One Lesson

What the Critics Don't Tell You

JULY 25, 2013 by GARY M. GALLES
Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson shows how powerful, careful thinking can debunk misguided notions about economic interventionism. But its many applications do not include some of the issues that have arisen since the post-World War II era. Supply-side economics—one of the most misrepresented economics topics in memory—is one such issue.
As I explain in my course on macroeconomics, the term “supply-side” was intended to differentiate an economic way of thinking that did not depend on the Keynesian obsession with controlling aggregate demand. Supply-siders insisted that while there may be policy effects on the demand side, one cannot ignore the consequences of the changes such policies make to the incentives of suppliers and entrepreneurs.
For example, changes in marginal tax rates affect cooperation between suppliers and buyers. So increasing tax rates on “the rich” to transfer the same amount to “the poor” would have no effect in the Keynesian aggregate framework, because it does not change net taxes or disposable income in the household sector as a whole. But supply-siders know such policies change the incentives facing both groups—resulting in negative outcomes. Higher tax rates for “the rich” and unearned income for the poor—both reduce incentives to create additional effort or to be more productive.
In essence, supply-side economists hold that “supply matters, too,” whereas the dominant Keynesian approach ignores this aspect of the economy.
Supply-side economics also grew out of classical economists’ longer-term view of growth, because altering incentives now changes behavior, which changes economic growth potential. Whatever Keynes thought, in the long run, real economic growth is the prime determinant of well-being. But in the public discussion (or distortion) of supply-side economics, Keynesians largely bypass such issues and violate Hazlitt’s lesson, which he offers in the opening chapter of Economics in One Lesson:
The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any action or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.
Supply-side economics has built on this insight. But many economists today, following Keynes, fail to look carefully at Keynesianism’s long-term effects—not to mention immediate effects—such as the perverse consequences to all affected groups. Supply-side economics adds a corollary to Hazlitt’s definition, tracing not just the impact on all groups, but the impact over the many margins of choice that will be affected.
In Hazlitt’s opening chapter, he also points to an important reason why such basic principles are so often violated in politics:
Bad economists [who ignore his lesson] rationalize this intellectual debility and laziness by assuring the audience that it need not even attempt to follow the reasoning or judge it on its merits, because it is only “classicism” or “laissez-faire” or “capitalist apologetics” or whatever other term of abuse may happen to strike them as effective.
It’s the same story with supply-side economics, because the commonly used pejoratives—“trickle-down economics,” “tax giveaways for the rich,” and “voodoo economics” (and its “deja voodoo economics” variant)—reveal ways in which its opponents failed, often intentionally, to heed Hazlitt’s lesson.
And yet they have mastered the lesson that bad economics is often good politics. (One need only read The New York Times’s favorite economist to see why.)
Take the term “trickle-down economics,” which no supply-side economist ever used. The false assumption is that taxing high-income earners less only benefits those earners, except of course when the rich spend some of that income to buy goods and services from the rest of us. It also assumes a zero-sum trade-off out of total measured income: more for “the rich” has to be taken from everyone else. That narrative gets support from snapshot income-distribution figures in which a higher share of income to “the rich” is used to suggest they benefitted themselves at others’ expense.
When people, however rich or poor, get richer through voluntary arrangements, they do not hurt anyone except the envious. Everyone is better off. They benefit each other—as is the nature of market arrangements. And changes in the measured “percentage distribution” of income do not accurately represent the consequences to any given group.
If I create a massively successful software program, my measured real income will be greater, but all the buyers will also be better off because they face better options than before (using my cool software, which might even make everyone more productive long term). This holds true even if, at any point in time after buying the program, their share of total income is lower.
So redistribution fans’ campaigns to punish the rich by exploiting envy moves the debate away from the central question—are others helped or hurt? Worsening the productive incentives of high-income people induces them to do less for others, making people worse off than they might otherwise have been. On the other hand, if a rich person gets richer by rigging the political process—say by getting stimulus funds to build a boondoggle—that is certainly objectionable. But it is not a market failure at all. In fact, it’s Keynesian economics par excellence. And the solution is to get the government out of the theft-and-transfer business. (Using perceived unfairness as an excuse to tax high-income earners more heavily just glosses over the bad fiscal policies that make all the cronyism possible.)
“Tax giveaways to the rich” was another denigrating description of supply-side economics. That term emphasizes looking only at the short run, which is of course where politicians’ incentives all lie. Economic growth, however, is the most important variable in long-run determinants of well-being. To get robust economic growth, you need to improve productivity. To do that, you need to establish good incentives for rich and poor alike—and to improve incentives wherever possible.
Supply-siders focus on making productive incentives permanently better for everyone, and reducing tax rates and regulatory burdens does the most good for incentives. The immediate benefits will, it’s true, go to the people who own the assets affected by those changes. Present and anticipated gains will be capitalized into those assets’ prices. Those owners are mostly going to be wealthy people. But treating that fact as solely a “tax giveaway to the rich” ignores that what is primarily rewarded is doing more that others value, making those others better off. The greater economic output that results will benefit everyone. But the effects often take some time to come to fruition. That should be fine: Sound economics is always about wisely and productively creating the future. Living for the now is like thinking your credit card has no limit and you’re going to die tomorrow. Unfortunately, legislating for now, despite adverse consequences for the future, is often a good way to get votes.
Then there’s another term that suggests supply-siders don’t live in the real world. “Voodoo economics” implies that the analysis involves some bogus “magical” assumptions that could not possibly be true. This term was used to imply that lowering tax rates on those who are heavily taxed cannot possibly increase the tax revenue from them.
In particular, critics emphasize that estimates of labor supply elasticities (how much more people work in response to changes in take-home wages) are far too low to support large supply-side effects. But those estimates look only at the short run and do not incorporate the longer-term effects of permanently improved incentives on upward mobility, investment, formal and informal education, tax evasion and cheating, and other choices that will change.
Looking at long-term labor supply responses to incentives generates a very different picture than that for a smaller time slice. Nobel Prize-winning economist Edward Prescott found that long-term labor responses are far greater. With regard to supply-side incentives, he says: “I find it remarkable that virtually all of the large [nearly 30%] difference in labor supply between France and the United States is due to differences in tax systems.”
Further, supply-side opponents dramatically misrepresent the effects of reducing tax rates by focusing on near-term labor supply as if it is the only relevant variable. Behavior will change at other margins. Permanently lower tax rates might not produce great changes in the current year. But the lower rates mean workers who acquire higher-margin returns keep more of those gains than before. So they have a stronger incentive to invest and acquire those skills (through education, on-the-job training, etc.), increasing overall human capital. In parallel, employers can make capital investments to increase worker productivity. Better incentives will increase how many secondary workers there will be in households and how much they will work. And workers may have incentives to delay retirement, expanding the lifetime labor supply.
The lower rates, in short, reduce disincentives to engage in productive risk-taking by shrinking the tax penalty on those risks that pay off. They reduce the incentive for people to choose things they might desire less, simply because of tax deductibility—distortions which are greater the higher the tax rate. Lower tax rates also reduce tax evasion and tax cheating. They can even cause the in-migration of productive people from less-friendly tax and regulatory climates.
Recognizing all the dimensions at which people’s actions will be affected paints a very different picture than the far more blinkered view supply-side opponents take. In addition to underestimating the effects of supply-side policies, this narrow view understates the costs of interventionist policies. When government policy distorts people’s choices, it causes a welfare cost to society—the difference between what people really want and what the distorted incentives created by government intervention led them to choose instead.
One cannot honestly prove that improvements in incentives do not expand productive behavior, benefitting others, because that contradicts one of the most basic economic realities. The embellished version of Hazlitt’s lesson (examine the effects of a policy on all groups… over all margins of choice that will be affected) suggests a basic test that should be applied to every political proposal, not just those related to supply-side economics.
In other words, whenever you see the truth being distorted or effects being ignored to “sell” you some political proposal, its backers either don’t know enough to competently evaluate their own positions or they are lying to you. And since the best way to demonstrate that a truly good idea advances the “general welfare” is to accurately present the whole truth, both possibilities tell you not to “buy” the political line that is being sold.


35 Facts To Scare A Baby Boomer

Submitted by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

If you want to frighten Baby Boomers, just show them the list of statistics in this article. The United States is headed for a retirement crisis of unprecedented magnitude, and we are woefully unprepared for it. At this point, more than 10,000 Baby Boomers are reaching the age of 65 every single day, and this will continue to happen for almost the next 20 years. The number of senior citizens in America is projected to more than double during the first half of this century, and some absolutely enormous financial promises have been made to them.

So will we be able to keep those promises to the hordes of American workers that are rapidly approaching retirement? Of course not. State and local governments are facing trillions in unfunded pension liabilities. Medicare is facing a 38 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years. The Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years. Meanwhile, nearly half of all American workers have less than $10,000 saved for retirement.

The truth is that I was being incredibly kind when I said earlier that we are "woefully unprepared" for what is coming. The biggest retirement crisis in history is rapidly approaching, and a lot of the promises that were made to the Baby Boomers are going to get broken.

The following are 35 incredibly shocking statistics that will scare just about any Baby Boomer...

1. Right now, there are somewhere around 40 million senior citizens in the United States. By 2050 that number is projected to skyrocket to 89 million.

2. According to one recent poll, 25 percent of all Americans in the 46 to 64-year-old age bracket have no retirement savings at all.

3. 26 percent of all Americans in the 46 to 64-year-old age bracket have no personal savings whatsoever.

4. One survey that covered all American workers found that 46 percent of them have less than $10,000 saved for retirement.

5. According to a survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, "60 percent of American workers said the total value of their savings and investments is less than $25,000".

6. A Pew Research survey found that half of all Baby Boomers say that their household financial situations have deteriorated over the past year.

7. 67 percent of all American workers believe that they "are a little or a lot behind schedule on saving for retirement".

8. Today, one out of every six elderly Americans lives below the federal poverty line.

9. More elderly Americans than ever are finding that they must continue working once they reach their retirement years. Between 1985 and 2010, the percentage of Americans in the 65 to 69-year-old age bracket that were still working increased from 18 percent to 32 percent.

10. Back in 1991, half of all American workers planned to retire before they reached the age of 65. Today, that number has declined to 23 percent.

11. According to one recent survey, 70 percent of all American workers expect to continue working once they are "retired".

12. According to a poll conducted by AARP, 40 percent of all Baby Boomers plan to work "until they drop".

13. A poll conducted by CESI Debt Solutions found that 56 percent of American retirees still had outstanding debts when they retired.

14. Elderly Americans tend to carry much higher balances on their credit cards than younger Americans do. The following is from a recent CNBC article...

New research from the AARP also shows that those ages 50 and over are carrying higher balances on their credit cards -- $8,278 in 2012 compared to $6,258 for the under-50 population.

15. A study by a law professor at the University of Michigan found that Americans that are 55 years of age or older now account for 20 percent of all bankruptcies in the United States. Back in 2001, they only accounted for 12 percent of all bankruptcies.

16. Between 1991 and 2007 the number of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 that filed for bankruptcy rose by a staggering 178 percent.

17. What is causing most of these bankruptcies among the elderly? The number one cause is medical bills. According to a report published in The American Journal of Medicine, medical bills are a major factor in more than 60 percent of the personal bankruptcies in the United States. Of those bankruptcies that were caused by medical bills, approximately 75 percent of them involved individuals that actually did have health insurance.

18. In 1945, there were 42 workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits. Today, that number has fallen to 2.5 workers, and if you eliminate all government workers, that leaves only 1.6 private sector workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits.

19. Millions of elderly Americans these days are finding it very difficult to survive on just a Social Security check. The truth is that most Social Security checks simply are not that large. The following comes directly from the Social Security Administration website...

The average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker was about $1,230 at the beginning of 2012. This amount changes monthly based upon the total amount of all benefits paid and the total number of people receiving benefits.

Could you live on about 300 dollars a week?

20. Social Security benefits are not going to stretch as far in future years. The following is from an article on the AARP website...

Social Security benefits won't go as far, either. In 2002, benefits replaced 39 percent of the average retirees salary, and that will decline to 28 percent in 2030, when the youngest boomers reach full retirement age, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

21. In the United States today, more than 61 million Americans receive some form of Social Security benefits. By 2035, that number is projected to soar to a whopping 91 million.

22. Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.

23. As I wrote about in a previous article, the number of Americans on Medicare is expected to grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

24. Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years. That comes to approximately $328,404 for each and every household in the United States.

25. Today, only 10 percent of private companies in the U.S. provide guaranteed lifelong pensions for their employees.

26. Verizon's pension plan is underfunded by 3.4 billion dollars.

27. In California, the Orange County Employees Retirement System is estimated to have a 10 billion dollar unfunded pension liability.

28. The state of Illinois has accumulated unfunded pension liabilities of more than 77 billion dollars.

29. Pension consultant Girard Miller told California's Little Hoover Commission that state and local government bodies in the state of California have 325 billion dollars in combined unfunded pension liabilities.

30. According to Northwestern University Professor John Rauh, the latest estimate of the total amount of unfunded pension and healthcare obligations for retirees that state and local governments across the United States have accumulated is 4.4 trillion dollars.

31. In 2010, 28 percent of all American workers with a 401(k) had taken money out of it at some point.

32. Back in 2004, American workers were taking about 30 billion dollars in early withdrawals out of their 401(k) accounts every single year. Right now, American workers are pulling about 70 billion dollars in early withdrawals out of their 401(k) accounts every single year.

33. Today, 49 percent of all American workers are not covered by an employment-based pension plan at all.

34. According to a recent survey conducted by Americans for Secure Retirement, 88 percent of all Americans are worried about "maintaining a comfortable standard of living in retirement".

35. A study conducted by Boston College's Center for Retirement Research found that American workers are $6.6 trillion short of what they need to retire comfortably.

So what is the solution? Well, one influential organization of business executives says that the solution is to make Americans wait longer for retirement. The following is from a recent CBS News article...

An influential group of business CEOs is pushing a plan to gradually increase the full retirement age to 70 for both Social Security and Medicare and to partially privatize the health insurance program for older Americans.

The Business Roundtable's plan would protect those 55 and older from cuts but younger workers would face significant changes. The plan unveiled Wednesday would result in smaller annual benefit increases for all Social Security recipients. Initial benefits for wealthy retirees would also be smaller.

But considering the fact that there aren't nearly enough jobs for all Americans already, perhaps that is not such a great idea. If we expect Americans to work longer, then we are going to need our economy to start producing a lot more good jobs than it is producing right now.

Of course the status quo is not going to work either. There is no way that we are going to be able to meet the financial obligations that are coming due.

The federal government, our state governments and our local governments are already drowning in debt and we are already spending far more money than we bring in each year. How in the world are we going to make ends meet as our obligations to retirees absolutely skyrocket in the years ahead?

What is going on in Detroit right now is a perfect example of what will soon be happening all over the nation. Many city workers stuck with their jobs for decades because of the promise of a nice pension at the end of the rainbow. But now those promises are going up in smoke. There has even been talk that retirees will only end up getting about 10 cents for every dollar that they were promised.

It Is Happening Again: 18 Similarities Between The Last Financial Crisis And Today



Monday, July 15, 2013

CRUSADES OF THE PROGRESSIVE ERA

Viewing the United States as a society replete with political and economic injustices that required eradication, the Progressive Era was the age of “muckrakers” – journalists and authors who sought to expose the corrupt underbelly of industrial-age America and, by extension, of capitalism itself. For instance, investigative journalist Lincoln Steffens was commissioned by McClure's magazine to investigate malfeasance in the municipal governments of several cities including St. Louis, Chicago, New York, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Steffens later reflected candidly on his aims as a writer in this genre: “I did not want to preserve, I wanted to destroy the facts. My purpose was no more scientific than the spirit of my investigation reports; it was, as I have said before, to see that if the shameful facts, spread out in all their shame, would not burn through our civic shamelessness and set fire to American pride.” Notwithstanding his criticisms of government on a local level, Steffens, like his fellow progressives, proposed an expansion of the federal government as the antidote.

Another high-profile muckraker was Upton Sinclair, who wrote his 1906 novel The Jungle with revolutionary aims. Set in Chicago's Packingtown (the heart of a horribly unsanitary meatpacking industry), the book depicts the American capitalist dream as an illusion that is unreachable for most people, a chimera that invariably leads to misery, poverty, and moral bankruptcy for those who pursue it. The Jungle portrays American society generally as a place where men of integrity are exploited by greedy profiteers, while corrupt schemers are rewarded with repute and fortune. The unmistakable subtext of Sinclair's book is that capitalism is incompatible with both human virtue and an enlightened society. Late in Sinclair's story, the protagonist finally discovers in socialism a “message of salvation” -- “the new religion of humanity” embodying “the literal application of all the teachings of Christ.”

Though Sinclair had hoped that his novel would spark a popular crusade to replace capitalism with socialism, the book instead enlisted foot soldiers for a more targeted campaign to rid the meatpacking industry of its objectionable practices. As Sinclair lamented, “I aimed at the public's heart and by accident I hit it in the stomach.” Partly as a result of the controversy generated by The Jungle, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 became law – empowering the federal government to inspect food, mandating truthful labeling, and specifying penalties for offenders.

The Jungle played an important role in cultivating the view that legislation ought to play a greater role in business affairs. Other influential books included Henry Demarest Lloyd's Wealth Against Commonwealth (1894) and Ida Tarbell's History of the Standard Oil Company (1904), both of which excoriated John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil. Tarbell later conceded that the works of the muckrakers tended to appeal chiefly to audiences that “had little interest in balanced findings.”

Working collaboratively with the muckrakers, progressives of all stripes worked to implement a host of economic, political, social, and moral reforms aimed at curing the ills of American society. Major progressive projects included the elimination of red-light districts from American cities; the enactment of minimum-wage laws; the provision of industrial-accident insurance; restrictions on child labor; legislation to regulate the meat-packing, drug, and railroad industries; laws to improve working conditions; the stregthening of anti-trust laws; and the formation of a vibrant conservation movement.

A number of progressive reforms also made their influence felt in the political process. For instance:
  • Direct primaries were instituted, where citizens could select the candidates who ultimately would represent their party in the general elections.
  • The secret ballot was implemented, whereby citizens were assured of privacy when voting in any election.
  • Citizens in numerous states were granted the rights of initiative (empowering the people to draft laws and constitutional amendments and place them on the ballot for a popular vote); referendum (providing for a popular vote on laws passed by the legislature); and recall (allowing citizens to remove elected officials from office if the latter fail to fulfill their obgations).

The Progressive Movement was typified by government's steadily expanding involvement in the realm of private industry. A harbinger of this trend was the 1887 passage of the Interstate Commerce Act (ICA), which established the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) and authorized the latter to outlaw “unjust and unreasonable” pricing by private railroad companies. This marked the first instance of a federal bureaucracy regulating private business in the United States. Over the next two-plus decades, the ICC gradually grew in power and size – its workforce multiplied five-fold between 1890 and 1909 – and fostered a mindset that readily accepted federal intrusion into all manner of business activities. For example, the Hepburn Act of 1906 placed a cap on railroad shipping rates and stipulated that corporations accused of violating this edict would be presumed guilty-until-proven-innocent. In 1917, under Woodrow Wilson, the federal government completely took over the railroad industry, placing all 2,905 private companies under its umbrella.

The Sherman Antitrust act of 1890 was another piece of progressive legislation that expanded government's influence over private business, outlawing competition and price-cutting below a certain level – thereby punishing companies that had enlarged their market shares by lowering prices.

The Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 continued the progressives' war against free-market competition, making it illegal for companies to offer the same goods or services for different prices; presuming alleged violators to be guilty-until-proven-innocent; and empowering a governmental commission to adjudicate disputes over these matters. Moreover, Woodrow Wilson's administration created the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce the Clayton Antitrust Act. But the Commission soon went beyond its initial mandate. As Daniel Flynn writes in his book, A Conservative History of the American Left: “In addition to acting as a quasi-judiciary, the FTC acted as a quasi-legislature by making rules and investigating alleged infractions, and as a quasi-executive by enforcing the rules it created.”

None of this expansion by the federal government and its agencies was bothersome to President Wilson, who said:

“[T]here is one principle of [Thomas] Jefferson's which no longer can obtain in the practical politics of America. You know that it was Jefferson who said that the best government is the one that does as little governing as possible … But that time is passed. America is not now, and cannot in the future be, a place for unrestricted individual enterprise.”

Progressives, convinced that capitalism and industry were inherently destructive of the natural environment, also engaged in efforts to decree large swaths of land in the Western United States off-limits to all forms of development and industry – construction, mining, logging, farming, and oil and gas exploration. A key figure behind this initiative was Sierra Club founder John Muir, who in 1903 persuaded President Theodore Roosevelt to set aside tens of millions of Western acres as national parks and monuments.

By 1912, progressivism had become a powerful force in American politics. The Progressive Party, as a formal political entity, was created by a split in the Republican Party when Theodore Roosevelt lost the 1912 Republican presidential nomination to the incumbent President, William Howard Taft, and pulled his delegates out of the national convention. Roosevelt's newly formed Progressive Party was alternately dubbed the Bull Moose Party, after Roosevelt's boast that he was "as strong as a bull moose" – the animal that became the party's emblem.

During his acceptance speech for the Progressive Party's nomination as its candidate for U.S. President, Roosevelt expressed his belief that government regulation was necessary to closely monitor American business practices:

“Whenever in any business the prosperity of the businessman is obtained by lowering the wages of his workmen and charging an excessive price to the consumers, we wish to interfere and stop such practices. We will not submit to that kind of prosperity any more than we will submit to prosperity obtained by swindling investors or getting unfair advantages over business rivals.”

Roosevelt finished second in the 1912 presidential election, but so far behind Taft as to make it evident that the Progressive Party would never have a legitimate chance of winning the White House. By 1916, the party was disintegrating. When Roosevelt refused to accept the party's presidential nomination that year – and instead endorsed Charles Evans Hughes for the post – the national party promptly folded. Democrat Woodrow Wilson defeated Taft in the general election.

Notwithstanding the Progressive Party's failure to win the White House, the Progressive Movement remained a viable feature of America's political landscape. When the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 was passed during the Wilson administration, it shifted the responsibility for coining money from Congress (which was authorized for that task by the Constitution) to a panel of banking experts led by a chairman whom the President appointed. During the 125 years prior to the establishment of the Federal Reserve, the U.S. dollar had inflated less than 10 percent – in total. Between 1914 and 2008, the currency would inflate by more than 2,000 percent.

Also in 1913, Congress ratified the 16th Amendment, which instituted an income tax whose top rate was 7 percent. In 1917 and 1918, tax rates were increased dramatically at all income levels; by the end of World War I, the top rate stood at 77 percent. Some progressives thought that even this rate was too low, as evidenced by a New Republic article titled “The Conscription of Income,” which proposed that all of a person's income above $100,000 should go to the federal government, so as to “check positively indecent extravagance.” The writer understood that such a policy would necessarily cripple charitable giving, but he argued that this would be a positive development because that “which is now left to private benevolence is properly a government function and could be far more effectively handled through its agency.”

Just as progressivism greatly influenced industry and politics, so did it influence the world of education. Led by the educational reformer and democratic socialist John Dewey in the late 1890s, progressives helped popularize kindergartens throughout the United States. Adhering to the principles of Friedrich Froebel (the "inventor" of kindergarten), Dewey declared that schools had a duty to condition children for life in the desired "social order." Teachers, said Dewey, must stress "mutually helpful living" in order to indoctrinate youngsters in the philosophy of collectivism. Dewey called for a diminished emphasis on facts, knowledge, and real-world skills -- and for replacing the "whole conception of school discipline" with "a spirit of social cooperation and community life."

President Woodrow Wilson, the standard-bearer of progressivism during his eight years (1913-1921) in the White House, once told a Princeton audience: “Our problem is not merely to help the students to adjust themselves to world life … [but] to make them as unlike their fathers as we can.”


Sources: A Conservative History of the American Left, by Daniel Flynn; Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, by Jonah Goldberg.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Evangelical Environmentalism

Anthony J. Sadar

Sadly, a few days ago, a group of about 200 evangelical scientists and academics sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Members of Congress advising them to take immediate action "to reduce carbon emissions." The letter read in part, "As evangelical scientists and academics, we understand climate change is real and action is urgently needed."

The letter goes on to preach the tired environmental-activist mantra listing the results of man's sinful actions like hottest year on record (for less than two-percent of the Earth), wildfires, droughts, and public health outbreaks (all unfortunate but not too atypical).

The sin of course is modern human activity in prosperous nations. You know, the kind of sinful activity that has lifted so many out of poverty, protected them from never-ending "unusual" weather events, and dramatically contributed to healthy living. The very same kind of activity made possible by God's grace.

After all, this activity involves the use of God-given, abundant, inexpensive natural resources--the kind that can truly benefit those Jesus called "the least of these."

But, instead of advocating for good stewardship--which is reasonable and right--and wide, wise distribution of what is readily available to those in dire need, hundreds of evangelicals (mostly biologists) armed with a superficial understanding of atmospheric science and a misapplication of scripture chose to advocate for some sort of climate justice.

As a Christian and an atmospheric scientist with 35 years of experience, I have frequently witnessed the metamorphosis, refinement, and exploitation of the never-ending story that humans are somehow destroying a "fragile" planet--this time by releasing too much carbon dioxide.

But, of all people, Christians should be the least gullible on this untenable position, since Christians have a solid foundation build on the belief that God is creator and sustainer of all things. Forget about the dubious "sin" of anthropogenic global warming; Christians should focus instead on the arrogance germane to the idea that not only are humans causing long-term global climate change, but that we can fix it.

The climate of the world will benefit the most when Christians renew their commitment to being ambassadors for Christ, rather than activists for the atmosphere.

Anthony J. Sadar, a Certified Consulting Meteorologist and supporter of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, is author of In Global Warming We Trust: A Heretic's Guide to Climate Science (Telescope Books, 2012).


Greenwald: "The US Government Should Be On Its Knees Every Day Praying That Nothing Happens To Snowden"



The Democrats’ Threat to ‘Go Nuclear’

Posted By Arnold Ahlert On July 12, 2013

Yesterday, in an angry speech given on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) warned he would go “nuclear” and change the Senate rules in order to end filibusters on President Obama’s executive branch nominations. “Senator [Mitch] McConnell broke his word,” Reid fumed. “The Republican leader has failed to live up to his commitments. He’s failed to do what he said he would do–move nominations by regular order except in extraordinary circumstances. I refuse to unilaterally surrender my right to respond to this breach of faith.” Reid can sanctimoniously frame this effort any way he wants, but his real agenda is to dramatically shift power to the executive office, a move that President Obama is anxious to exploit to impose his radical policies through bureaucratic means.
Invoking the nuclear option would be a two-step process. First, Reid would push through the rule change itself with a simple majority, instead of the 67 votes it currently requires. After that, ending a filibuster would only take a 51-vote majority, rather than the current 60-vote threshold. During his speech, Reid cited Republican efforts to delay the nominations of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and CIA Director John Brennan. Republicans have promise to filibuster Richard Cordray, along with other nominees for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), unless Democrats are willing to limit the power of that agency. “It is a disturbing trend when Republicans are willing to block executive branch nominees even if they have no objection about the qualification of the nominee,” Reid said. “They’re blocking qualified nominees because they refuse to accept the law of the land.”
The law of the land is a slippery term when it comes to Democrats in general and this administration in particular. In January 2012, President Obama attempted to implement an unprecedented use of recess appointment powers to install people at the CFPB and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), despite the reality that the Senate was not in recess at the time. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled against the president, calling the move unconstitutional. On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear the case, National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, which will determine the scope of executive recess appointment power. If the Court rules in favor of the president, it would essentially eviscerate the Senate’s role in vetting presidential nominees.
But Reid is threatening to eviscerate this power of the Senate himself by curtailing the ability of minority members to conduct filibusters. Yesterday he emerged from a closed-door meeting with the Democratic Caucus and reiterated his threat, warning the GOP to drop its objections to the president’s appointments for both the NLRB and the CFPB. “[W]e have the votes to move forward on this,” Reid told reporters.
Maybe not. As of now, Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Mark Pryor (D-AK) refuse to go along with the idea, while Sens. Patrick Leahy (I-VT)), Max Baucus (D-MT) and Jack Reed (D-RI) remain undecided. Since Democrats have 54 senators, such defections could scuttle Reid’s plans. In the event of a 50-50 tie, Vice President Joe Biden gets to cast the tie-breaking vote. Biden has indicated he would side with Reid.
The roster of pending nominations include three individuals for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, five for the NLRB, three for CFPB (including Cordray), Labor Secretary nominee Tom Perez and EPA nominee Gina McCarthy. “I’m going to start the process today,” Reid said Thursday. “We’re going to file cloture on a bunch of nominations. And those votes will occur next week.”
Sen. McConnell, clearly upset by Reid’s speech and accusations, noted that it was Reid who breached an agreement made last January not to make any Senate rule changes without following the regular order. McConnell was equally upset by Reid’s threat. “I just hope the Majority Leader thinks about his legacy, the future of his party, and most importantly, the future of our country before he acts.” McConnell warned. “Senate Democrats are gearing up today to make one of the most consequential changes to the United States Senate in the history of our nation. And I guarantee you, it is a decision that, if they actually go through with it, they will live to regret.”
That assessment has a familiar ring. The hypocritical Harry Reid made almost identical pronouncements in 2005 when Republicans had control of the Senate and Democrats were engaged in the process of repeatedly blocking former President George W. Bush’s nominees for the federal courts. Republicans also considered implementing the nuclear option at the time, but backed away when the bipartisan “Gang of 14” emerged to facilitate the nomination process. As Reid bemoaned at the time,
For the past several months, the Senate has operated under a nuclear cloud. As a result of the Senate’s decision to reject a small number of President Bush’s judicial nominees, the Republican majority has threatened to break the Senate rules, violate over 200 years of Senate tradition and impair the ability of Democrats and Republicans to work together on issues of real concern to the American people.
Now that Reid is in control, he has changed his tune. But his sudden change of heart is disingenuous. McConnell, who characterized Reid’s accusations of Republican obstructionism as an “absolutely phony, manufactured crisis,” revealed that at least two of the nominees opposed by Republicans, McCarthy and Perez, can already garner more than the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. What is really behind Reid’s about-face, McConnell illuminated, is that the Democrats and their Big Labor backers “want … the Senate to ratify the President’s unconstitutional decision to illegally appoint nominees to the NLRB and the CFPB without the input of the Senate.”
The reasons for that is fairly obvious. Much of Obama’s agenda is DOA in Congress, and installing apparatchiks, who will implement his un-passable policies administratively, will allow the president to bypass Congress and impose his will by fiat. As for the far Left and Big Labor, which overwhelming represents government unions, their agenda has been seriously undermined by the aforementioned D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, along with a slew of other stunning successes for free market labor policies, including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s victory limiting the power of government unions and the previously unimaginable right-to-work law recently enacted in Michigan. In short, the government union lobby senses its waning influence and is desperate to secure an avenue of power by whatever means necessary — and it knows that the window of opportunity may be closing.
The NLRB is one such powerful perch that radical labor activists hope to infest. Think back to the board’s 2011 attempt to dictate where Boeing airlines could do business, which it did in order to placate Boeing’s labor unions in Washington State. If NLRB members are not confirmed by August, the board will cease to function, leaving labor decisions to regional NLRB offices.
As for some of the other nominees, CFPB nominee Richard Cordray would be a disastrous choice to head the consumer protection agency birthed by the Dodd-Frank comprehensive financial reform bill. As Bloomberg News reported in 2011, Cordray was an enthusiastic supporter of Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People (ESOP) during his stint as state treasurer. ESOP is a left-wing guerrilla activist group with a penchant for storming banks and private residences.
EPA nominee Gina McCarthy was one of disgraced former EPA head Lisa Jackson’s top lieutenants and author of some of that agency’s most economy-crushing carbon rules. As the Wall Street Journal notes, McCarthy “has been a notably willful regulator, even for this Administration. Her promotion is another way of saying that Mr. Obama has given up getting Congress to agree to his anticarbon agenda, especially given the number of Senate Democrats from coal or oil states.”
Thomas Perez may be the most radical nominee of all. Prior to his nomination for Secretary of Labor, Perez was the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Justice Department, where he was a more-than-willing perpetrator of that agency’s radical and racially polarizing agenda. His efforts included wars against photo ID for voting, attacking banks for not granting enough mortgages to “people of color,” (reprising the same tactics that led to the financial collapse of 2008), and suing state fire and police departments for not hiring black applicants who failed employment tests.
These are the nominees Obama needs to install by any means necessary if he is to have any hope of expanding his radical agenda while there is still time left. McConnell made the intentions of Reid and his fellow Democrats clear. “They want the power, and they want it now. They don’t care about the consequences,” he contended. He spoke to Politico regarding what may happen next. “We’ve requested a meeting of all Senators. We haven’t had one of those this year,” he said. “This is a matter of extreme importance to the institution and the country, and we think we ought all get together to discuss. We’re happy to do that as soon as possible.”
Reid said he’d consider such an idea: “I’m happy to have a joint meeting … I want this resolved, and I want it resolved one way or the other.”
When working towards that resolution, Harry Reid would be very wise to remember one of the oldest political adages ever: what goes around, comes around. Despite their current hubris, Democrats will not control the levers of power forever. They need to think long and hard about the long-term consequences that would arise from the recklessness of invoking the nuclear option — lest they become victims of their own making at some future point in time.

Defending Those Who Defend Our Religious Liberties

July 12, 2013|1:54 pm
If you go to the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, you will see a moving tableau, a series of statues of the brave young Americans who stormed ashore on June 6, 1944 to liberate a continent from the grip of Adolf Hitler. One of these statues is called "Death on the Shore."
It shows a soldier who was cut down as he left his landing craft. His Bible is seen falling out of his rucksack. That Bible included an endorsement from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The body of this young man, one of the many from the little Southwest Virginia town of Bedford, was never found but his Bible was returned to his loving family. Bedford was chosen for the D-Day Memorial because it sacrificed more sons, proportionately, than any other American town on that Longest Day.
The rights for which that young soldier laid down his life include first religious freedom. Religious freedom is the first right protected in the Bill of Rights. Americans have cherished religious freedom since before we were an independent nation. That is why many of the original colonists came to America in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Those religious freedoms are very much at risk today. Under the Obama administration, there is an ongoing effort to suppress free speech and free exercise. The view of this administration is becoming clearer each day: Freedom of worship will be grudgingly tolerated, but try to live out your faith, try to share your faith in the public square and you face trouble.
My organization, Family Research Council (FRC), has combined with a broad spectrum of religious, social, and educational groups to alert Americans to a rising tide of hostility and discrimination faced by Christians and others in our all-volunteer military. FRC has issued a report titled "Clear and Present Danger." You can click on the link and download the entire report. You can also gain critical intelligence on this important topic on our new website.
The FRC report documents many actions that have occurred under this administration and before that endanger the very religious freedoms that are guaranteed by our Constitution. It is these freedoms that members of our armed services take an oath to defend-So help me God. As you read the timelines of the threats, you will see they are increasing in frequency and scope.
FRC is urging Congress to enact religious freedom legislation for our service members. In the U.S. House of Representatives, this measure is sponsored by Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) Mr. Fleming says: "Those who fought for religious liberties the most are the ones having their religious liberties taken from them." The legislation got a strong boost from Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) Mr. Bridenstine is a former Navy pilot who put his life on the line every time he stepped into a cockpit. He knows the importance service members attach to their faith. Congressman Bridenstine says religious freedom is "under attack" in our military.
One egregious example documented in the Clear and Present Danger report was the order at Walter Reed National Medical Center in December, 2011, that banned visitors from bringing Bibles to wounded warriors. This order would be unconstitutional and offensive anywhere in the military, but Army Dr. Walter Reed, for whom the facility was named, was a devout Christian. A century ago, this most famous military physician publicly thanked God for enabling him to eradicate the deadly scourge of Yellow Fever.
While suppressing Christians in the military, the Obama administration goes out of its way to avoid the obvious when it comes to Islamist jihad. When Nidal Hasan, then serving in the Army, went on a murderous shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, he killed thirteen soldiers, including a pregnant young mother, Francheska Velez. She cried out: "My baby! My baby?" Hasan showed no mercy. That was November, 2009.
Hasan carried a business card. This army psychiatrist did not identify himself as a U.S. soldier, even though the American people had paid for his education. Instead, he self-identified as "Soldier of Allah." As he murdered his fellow soldiers, he cried out: "Allahu Akbar," the Arabic words for "God is Great."
Pretty obviously, this was an act of religious hatred. Did the Obama administration view treat this as an act of terrorism, as a jihadist attack? No. They referred to this worst of all attacks on a U.S. military base merely as a case of "workplace violence."
No wonder even such a measured and sober analyst of public affairs as veteran columnist Michael Barone can describe Obama administration policy bluntly. This Harvard-educated senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute says Mr. Obama's military policy is: "Christianity bad; Islam good."
The cover of FRC's Clear and Present Danger report shows a white cross from the U.S. Cemetery at Normandy. It might as well have shown the Stars of David that are nestled among those beautiful crosses. For Jewish service members have their religious freedom threatened by Obama policies, as well. Now is the time for Congress to act to protect the religious liberties of all those who protect us.
Ken Blackwell is the Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment at the Family Research Council. He serves on the board of directors of the Club for Growth and the National Taxpayers Union. He is also a member of the public affairs committee of the NRA. Mr. Blackwell is also the former Mayor of Cincinnati and a former Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

Zimmerman case's legal absurdities astound


2013-07-12 13:21:13

Just when I thought the George Zimmerman "trial" couldn't sink any lower, the prosecutorial limbo dancers of the State of Florida magnificently lowered their own bar in the final moments of their cable-news celebrity.

In real justice systems, the state decides what crime has been committed and charges somebody with it. In the Zimmerman trial, the state's "theory of the case" is that it has no theory of the case: Might be murder, might be manslaughter, might be aggravated assault, might be a zillion other things, but it's something. If you're a juror, feel free to convict George Zimmerman of whatever floats your boat.

Nailing a guy on something, anything, is a time-honored American tradition: If you can't get Al Capone on the Valentine's Day massacre, get him on his taxes. Americans seem to have a sneaky admiration for this sort of thing, notwithstanding that, as we now know, the government is happy to get lots of other people on their taxes, too. Ever since the president of the United States (a man so cautious and deferential to legal niceties that he can't tell you whether the Egyptian army removing the elected head of state counts as a military coup until his advisors have finished looking into the matter) breezily declared that if he had a son he'd look like Trayvon, ever since the U.S. Department of so-called Justice dispatched something called its "Community Relations Services" to Florida to help organize anti-Zimmerman rallies at taxpayer expense, ever since the politically savvy governor appointed a "special prosecutor" and the deplorably unsavvy Sanford Police Chief was eased out, the full panoply of state power has been deployed to nail Zimmerman on anything.

How difficult can that be in a country in which a Hispanic Obama voter can be instantly transformed into the poster boy for white racism? Who ya gonna believe – Al Sharpton or your lying eyes? As closing arguments began on Thursday, the prosecutors asked the judge to drop the aggravated assault charge and instruct the jury on felony murder committed in the course of child abuse. Felony murder is a murder that occurs during a felony, and, according to the prosecution's theory du jour, the felony George Zimmerman was engaged in that night was "child abuse," on the grounds that Trayvon Martin, when he began beating up Zimmerman, was 17-years-old. This will come as news to most casual observers of the case, who've only seen young Trayvon in that beatific photo of him as a 12-year-old.

In that one pitiful closing moment, the case achieved its sublime reductio ad absurdum: After a year's labors, after spending a million bucks, after calling a legion of risible witnesses, even after the lead prosecutor dragged in a department store mannequin and personally straddled it on the floor of the court, the state is back to where it all began – the ancient snapshot of a smiling middle-schooler that so beguiled American news editors, Trayvon Martin apparently being the only teenager in America to have gone entirely unphotographed in the second decade of the 21st century. And, if Trayvon is a child, his malefactor is by logical extension a child abuser.

Needless to say, even in a nutso jurisdiction like Florida, the crime of "child abuse" was never intended to cover a wizened old granny kicking the ankle of the punk who's mugging her a week before his 18th birthday. But, if 'aggravated pedophilia' is what it takes to fry that puffy white cracker's butt, so be it.

If, for the purposes of American show trials, a Hispanic who voted for a black president can be instantly transformed into a white racist, there's no reason why he can't be a child abuser, too. The defense was notified of this novel development, on which the prosecution (judging by the volume of precedents assembled) had been working for weeks or more likely months, at 7:30 that morning. If you know your Magna Carta, you'll be aware that "no official shall place a man on trial ... without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it." But the rights enjoyed by free men in the England of King John in 1215 are harder to come by in the State of Florida eight centuries later.

So the prosecutors decided, the day before the case went to the jury, that Zimmerman was engaged in an act of child abuse that had somehow got a bit out of hand: no "credible witnesses" to this charge had been presented in the preceding weeks, but hey, what the hell? Opposing counsel, taking the reasonable position that they'd shown up to defend Mr. Zimmerman of murder and had had no idea until that morning that he was also on trial for child abuse, check bouncing, jaywalking, an expired fishing license, or whatever other accusation took the fancy of the State of Florida, asked for time to research the relevant case law. Judge Debra Nelson gave them until 1 p.m. At that point, it was 10.30 a.m. By the time the genius jurist had returned to the bench, she had reconsidered, and decided that "child abuse" would be a reach too far, even for her disgraceful court.

The defining characteristic of English law is its distribution of power between prosecutor, judge and jury. This delicate balance has been utterly corrupted in the United States to the point where today at the federal level there is a conviction rate of over 90 percent, which would impress Mubarak and the House of Saud, if not quite yet, Kim Jong-Un. American prosecutors have an unhealthy and disreputable addiction to what I called, at the conclusion of the trial of my old boss Conrad Black six years ago, "countless counts." In Conrad's case, he was charged originally with 17 crimes, three of which were dropped by the opening of the trial and another halfway through, leaving 13 for the jury, nine of which they found the defendant not guilty of, bringing it down to four, one of which the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional and the remaining three of which they vacated, only to have two of them reinstated by the lower appeals court. In other words, the prosecution lost 88 percent of the case, but the 12 percent they won was enough to destroy Conrad Black's life.

Multiple charges tend, through sheer weight of numbers, to favor a result in which the jury convict on some and acquit on others and then tell themselves that they've reached a "moderate" "compromise" as befits the reasonable persons they assuredly are. It is, of course, not reasonable. Indeed, the notion of a "compromise" between conviction and acquittal is a dagger at the heart of justice. It's the repugnant "plea bargain" in reverse, but this time to bargain with the jury: okay, we threw the book at him and it went nowhere, so why don't we all agree to settle? In Sanford, the state's second closing "argument" to the strange, shrunken semi-jury of strikingly unrepresentative peers – facts, shmacts, who really knows? Vote with your hearts – brilliantly dispenses with the need for a "case" at all.

We have been warned that in the event of an acquittal there could be riots. My own feeling is that the Allegedly Reverend Al Sharpton, now somewhat emaciated and underbouffed from his Tawana Brawley heyday, is not the Tahrir Square-scale race-baiting huckster he once was.

But if Floridians are of a mind to let off a little steam, they might usefully burn down the Sanford courthouse and salt the earth. The justice system revealed by this squalid trial is worth rioting over.