statism (3)

Are the French stingier with welfare benefits than Americans? A new study  from the Cato institute says yes.

According to the study, a single parent raising two children in the United  States can expect to receive slightly more in public assistance per year than in  France and slightly less than in Sweden. The authors of the study are quick to  point out, however, that Medicaid payments were not included in their  calculations for the purpose of making a meaningful and roughly equivalent  comparison. All of the European nations to which the United States was compared  offer health care on a universal basis, whereas our Medicaid program is offered  only to people whose annual income falls beneath a certain threshold. If  Medicaid payments were counted as public assistance, the United States would  place third in the rankings behind only Denmark and the UK.

Whether our massive welfare spending is a good thing or a bad thing is a very  debatable point. I know some people would say that money spent on “human  needs”—as if that’s all it ever goes to—is money well spent. I would counter  that “human needs” aren’t nearly as important to the average liberal Democrat as  sustaining a poverty-stricken political fiefdom. They buy power with other  people’s money and expect the rest of us to stand in awe of their supposed  generosity.

But before we have that debate it would be nice if welfare advocates would at  least acknowledge that they’ve gotten their way most of the time and that the  United States is, for better or worse, a European-style welfare state that just  happens to be located across the ocean. That’s the reality of the situation and  reality is always a good starting point for further discussion.

Welfare benefits vary from state to state, of course. In my travels I’ve seen  that poor people in Texas, for example, really seem poor; or at least they don’t  have much money for luxuries. The poor in my state of Massachusetts, however,  live pretty well on the dole. I was not at all surprised to discover that only  Hawaii and the District of Columbia offer more robust benefits packages than the  Bay State.

Come to Massachusetts’ post-industrial inner cities and you’ll see satellite  dishes sprouting like mushrooms from the government-subsidized housing. No one  would be caught dead without their iPhone. They spend almost three hundred  dollars a month on their pack-a-day cigarette habit and they prefer top shelf  liquor. That’s how “poor” people live in Massachusetts. It’s not exactly a “Feed  the Children” commercial.

But Massachusetts is not representative of the nation as whole. Fair enough.  Although welfare spending is uneven across the nation, thirty-five US states  have combined benefit packages greater than the European Union mean. In eleven  states, welfare benefits exceed the pre-tax income of a first year teacher, and  in a majority of states welfare pays more than a minimum wage job.

Yet liberals blame a lack of social spending for nearly everything from crime  to disparate educational outcomes.

When a black criminal in Ferguson, Missouri was killed after robbing a store  and attempting to murder a policeman, the culprit was lack of social spending.  If only the black neighborhoods weren’t so shamefully neglected, they argued,  this wouldn’t have happened.

This explanation might make more sense if it weren’t for the fact that we’ve  been dousing black ghettoes with a cash firehose for the last five decades. From  the dawn of the War on Poverty until 2014 the American taxpayer shelled out $22  trillion (in constant 2012 dollars) in anti-poverty programs. Our current  national debt is about $18.4 trillion by the way, which gives you an idea of  where all that money went.

It’s a form of national suicide, a rather peculiar phenomenon that deserves  some explanation. Ever since the Watts riots happened fifty years ago this  summer, American politicians have sought to “invest” in poor inner city  neighborhoods. As “investments” go, it’s been about as lousy as buying  confederate currency in 1864. The War on Poverty was launched the same year that  Watts went up in flames but that didn’t prevent Detroit and Newark from burning  in 1967. Nor did it prevent the nationwide urban conflagration of April 1968.  Looting and rioting returned to Los Angeles in 1992. Ferguson exploded in 2014,  followed by Baltimore in 2015, followed by more Ferguson rioting on the one year  anniversary of Michael Brown’s attempted murder of Darren Wilson.

Paying people not to riot clearly isn’t working.

How about academic performance? Can the differences between rich and poor, or  black and white, be chalked up to a lack of social spending? One of the more  common arguments is that hungry kids can’t learn. Let’s examine that.

We live in a country in which a majority of public school students qualify for free or reduced school lunches. The program was sold as a means of solving precisely this problem of underperformance among hungry children. When the solution was tried and found wanting it was of course expanded to include breakfast in many schools and even dinner in a few. Meanwhile, the kids’ parents are also afforded SNAP benefits, or any of the other fourteen federally subsidized food assistance programs. Heaven knows what the parents do with all that food while their children eat three meals a day at school. If the kids are still hungry, and some may be, it’s probably because they’re tossing Michelle Obama’s nasty lunches in the trash, a real problem in many schools.

These facts absolutely never penetrate the liberals’ bubble. They revel in  asking snappy questions that contain the implicit assumption that we as a nation  have almost no social safety net to speak of. Here are a few:

“Why is that we always have plenty of money for the military but not  for basic human needs?” Answer: the military budget, though expensive,  has been constantly decreasing, adjusting for inflation, since the end of World  War II. We call on today’s military to do more with less. Welfare on the other  hand is always growing. The inflation-adjusted $22 trillion that we’ve spent in  the War on Poverty is more than three times the combined cost of all wars since  the Revolution. The War on Poverty is undeniably the most expensive we’ve ever  waged, and the longest.

“Why can’t we be more like Europe?” Answer: We are like Europe. Our welfare state is on par with theirs and it’s killing us.

“Why do people go hungry in a country as rich as ours?” Answer: Very few actually do, but even those who don’t have enough to eat can’t  blame a lack of programs or appropriated funds. There are state, federal, and  local programs, not to mention private charities.

A rational discussion cannot begin with an irrational premise. The idea that  somehow our country adheres to a philosophy of rugged individualism is absurd.  We hand out other people’s money like it’s going out of style. Our social safety  net is deep and wide. The moment we acknowledge this stubborn fact is the moment  we can begin a useful dialogue. I’ll be waiting with bated breath.


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Hollywood's Rent Seeking

The first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging. Yet, all too often, the reaction is to just the opposite. This is particularly the case with industries that have made a business model out of enlisting the government to pad their profits.  The New York Times recently reported on the legal fight between Pandora and The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), one of the two licensing entities that essentially control music publishing. 

The lawsuit highlights the wreckage caused by government intervention replacing market forces and involves things like Department of Justice consent decrees, mandated payments, and mandates for the use of other people’s property. In other words, its a total statist mess.  

One might think that this lawsuit and many others just like it would be a sign for the industry to move towards a far less complex and far more profitable market-based system. Not so much. 

Already in a government created hole, the industry’s apparent solution is to dig harder, deeper and faster. Rather than innovate, the recording industry makes ready use of lawsuits to try to maintain an outdated business model. In a rapidly changing world, sometimes that isn’t enough. So when lawsuits are ineffective, they turn to their lobbyists and seek even more government intervention to protect them from competition and advances in technology.  

One of the industry’s greatest desires is to put the Internet genie back in the bottle. Since they can’t do that, their solution is to use the government to censor it. In 2012, an industry backed bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was defeated in Congress thanks to an uprising among tech giants and advocates. The bill would have granted government the power to unilaterally shut down websites, without due process, based exclusively on industry complaints of copyright infringement.  There have been one million such complaints filed against Google alone.  Despite its failure in Congress, this issue remains very much alive with the industry and Obama administration continuing to push it. 

Another long time goal of the industry is performance royalties for songs played on the radio. Artists have benefitted from airplay on radio stations since radio first became widespread. In exchange for allowing radio stations to play their records, artists received millions in free advertising that sells records, concert tickets and other merchandise. Now the industry wants radio stations to pay artists for playing their songs. Such performance royalties would be fine as a voluntary free market exchange. That’s not how the industry envisions it. 

Their plan is laid out in legislation ironically known as the Free Market Royalty Act (FMRA) recently introduced into Congress. This bill goes even one step further than government intervention and actually seeks to make the industry itself a pseudo-government agency. The bill not only mandates that radio stations pay performers for their songs but grants a government enforced monopoly to an organization run by a handful of record industry executives with the power to set prices. Once these few executives have set a price, independent negotiations would be outlawed.  

The collision between the market and policies like FMRA and SOPA would have far reaching and complicated consequences for the market place and indeed the industry itself. Such crony government contrived systems are always doomed to fail in the long run. Eventually the hole just gets too deep and swallows up those doing the digging.

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Last month 55% of Americans called Obama a “socialist”; 68% last week said the country under Obama is headed in the wrong direction; but 64% of us still today say, we believe he’s a “good guy” . . . . Americans, you‘ve let a grown wolf into your midst yet expect a happy home life . . . .

Feeling Sorry for Barack,

Hating His Message

Life is potentially very hard. The natural state of man or woman and the most desirable state for all of mankind is freedom, but life is hard and men must because of their mammalian nature survive by working together. We are both nurtured and enslaved at our mother’s teat. We do not begin as one of twenty-thousand fish eggs which never know their parents, or whose parents might hungrily gobble us up should we meet again in three days . . . we start as absolutely helpless infants who will soon die of lack of nurturing and require at a minimum the perfunctory care that passes for love among tortured souls. Very rarely does one of us turn out to be a hermit happily or unhappily living apart from mankind.

This dependence upon parents or other caretakers throughout all our early years and the virtual necessity of living among other men makes us vulnerable to immense pressure to “conform” to “fit-in” to be and live much like everybody else and thus “win their approval.” Much of this is good and helpful, but too much is crippling. This excess pressure and a certain self-loathing is what in modern times typically creates the statist, the totalitarian the progressive (we must progress beyond the ‘outdated’ and ‘flawed’ U.S. Constitution) when all around him clearly, freedom is beckoning. The phrase “nanny state” says it all. They must hate freedom for you because your freedom is a threat, how much better to have the state nuturing and burping everyone of us (and making us toe the line) all the long days of our lives . . . but then there are the “red-diaper babies.”

Red-diaper babies^^ like Barack Obama are a special breed. While the masses are stunting their own growth and embracing sheepdom, some have deliberately raised their children from the womb to be wolves. The tenets of Das Kapital is preached to red-diaper babies the way some fanatic and corrupt religious fundamentalists teach the tenets of Shariah Law and Jihad or the verses of the Bible to impressionable youngsters hatefully and ceaselessly. Red-diaper babies are raised as sociopathic wolves to prosper among the sheep. Every potential encounter they witness is preached over so that the creators and the givers in society, the capitalists and entrepreneurs, for example, who from nothing create a business and nurture it and some day provide jobs for 80 or 100 people, are portrayed at every juncture as the natural and mortal enemy of the wolf-cub/red-diaper baby.

“Look at that fat cat, lounging around thanks to the sweat of his workers. He gets to play while they’re dying under his oppression . . . etc., etc, ad nauseum every day of his life throughout the formative years and well-beyond (because naturally enough, he only feels semi-comfortable among the sheep and truly comfortable among his “own kind” where there is NO OTHER CONVERSATION because for them, the STATE has replaced religion, love and angst as the topic of their lives. So, Barack Obama is to be pitied, unlike perhaps 60% of the red-diaper babies he has never doubted, never wavered and thus never felt the need to break away. Those who do, tell us interesting stories of growing up wolf cubs** . . . those who don’t must continue to live the lie that they love the sheep and have only the sheep’s best interests at heart always.

Warning, loyal readers will find the following material repetitive of a couple of recent blogs . . . newcomers, sheep and otherwise, this is for you:

Enough of background philosophy, it has come to this . . . . Friends, Couch Potatoes, Babes in the Woods and other Trusting Souls . . . and yes, you SHEEP prefering to be men, these are the facts of life . . . this is where the message of progressivism from the wolf’s mouth has led us . . . .

11 Truths Voters Need to Know

In reverse order here’s what our gullible people should know but don’t. Our mainstream media needs to get real and do its job. I invite all readers to check my facts for 100% accuracy . . . .

11. Our government has been systematically lying to us or covering up for almost eight decades for example, . . . .

10. Obamacare, one law, a) creates 388 brand new government agencies b) funds abortions with federal money c) increases the deficit d) drives up the cost of health care and health insurance. All of this was easily foreseen but most chose to believe Obama’s promises that the opposite was true.

9. In 1975 one in 404 home loans was granted with 3% or less down payment. Five mortgage-guarantee laws later, it became in 2005, 34 out of 100 loans at less than 3% down. That's an amazing 13,600% more presumably bad loans today. The progressive left have pushed our lenders into bad loans by sponsoring these ill-conceived laws. This was easily foreseeable, but we were too busy with sitcoms and, of late, reality shows.

8. The United States used to have the world’s highest private home ownership, now Canada does. Our system was not broken, but the progressives fixed us with the Community Reinvestment Act under Carter and four expansions of CRA ’77 mortgage-guarantees in ’92, twice in ’95 and the steroid version in ’98 (the last three under Clinton). We all know better than to “fix what ain’t broke,” yet we allow the politicians we elect to do it every day.

7. Barack Obama was an ACORN lawyer shaking-down lenders to make unwise loans for parts of three years 1994-1996. Once Clinton’s steroid version of the law was passed in ’98, ACORN forced banks and other lenders to make home loans to people without ID; without jobs; with only food stamps to declare as income; without even rental history; with abysmal credit ratings; on welfare; illegal aliens; and other miserable loan prospects. Anyone listening with half an ear could see that all his promises could NOT be kept; anyone inspecting his past could see he was always way to good to be true. His communism was only slightly better hid.

6. ACORN discovered by early 2003 that they could get a $400,000 loan almost as easily as they could get a $120,000 loan for an indigent client and went about it with gusto. Why?

5. Alas, it gets even more sinister. In ’66 Richard Cloward and Frances Piven published their Cloward-Piven Strategy to end poverty by creating GNI, (guaranteed national income). In ’67 these two and George Wiley created the National Welfare Relief Organization (NWRO) put their strategy into action. In eight years they added over six million people to the welfare rolls in New York. By 1975, New York City was bankrupt and needed a federal bailout. New York state just missed bankruptcy. The threesome bragged about their accomplishment even though they made poverty worse and didn’t get GNI. C &P said the next two areas to work their “orchestrated crisis” magic upon were voter registration and housing. The sub-prime lending crisis and the ensuing financial meltdown were Cloward-Pivven at work once again as you'll soon see.

4. When CRA ’77 was passed, ACORN was immediately created in Arkansas (only later would the “A” stand for Association instead of Arkansas) to work C-P Strategy on housing and voter registration. They weren’t hugely successful at first, but they did put Bill Clinton into the governor’s mansion in Little Rock for 12 years; and he became the first ACORN president in ’92. One of his first official signings was the Motor Voter Act (“a license for voter fraud according to conservatives) with Cloward and Piven standing directly behind him in the official pictures. Three Clinton mortgage-guarantees followed in the next five years and ACORN went nuts making lenders meet their silly requirements. In effect Cloward-Piven Strategy was unleashed not on NYC this time but upon the entire USA.

3. Republicans in January, 2005, saw the handwriting on the wall and tried to repeal much of the mortgage-guarantee nonsense but were stopped cold by the Democrats. In July, 2007, enough Dems came to see the truth that a watered-down version of the earlier bill was passed. It was, of course, way too little – way too late. Nevertheless . . . .

2. Last week Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner praised George W. Bush for that 2007 law which he said prevented the recession from becoming much, much deeper and the drop in housing prices from tumbling to dangerous levels. In effect, Geithner altered Barack Obama’s car in the ditch story. You and I now know the bigger story: Obama, ACORN, and progressive Dems and Republicans pushed the car toward a 500-ft. CLIFF. G.W. Bush braked and steered the car into a controlled skid into a friendly-looking ditch.

1. The first ten problems are gnats compared to the herd of elephants in the room right next to us, because with all the unfunded liabilities we face (on top of the National debt and our present economic woes) including unbelievable Social Security, Medicare and the Federal Side of Medicaid obligations that amount to $112 Trillion in services the government owes its citizens but has refused to fund (which has been required by law lo’ these last 76 years). Throw-in the always unfunded welfare state and these unfunded obligations likely will hit $200 Trillion.

Ya’all live long, strong and ornery,


^^ Evidence is proved in a hundred places in my blogwork, but for now consider the man whose dreams Barack, Jr. referred to in his book "Dreams from My Father. Most of our fathers don't openly advocate 100% taxes; or redistribution of wealth from Kenya's Asian and European populace to its Blacks; or communal ownership of property

** or in novel format . . . .

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