Unsustainable

Since 1990 the economy has grown by 75% while overall government spending has increased 300%, with entitlement spending specifically growing at 500%.

Something that cannot continue won’t.  Wise up, lefties.

Regulating the Economy

Imagine the following:

Near your house are several businesses that you frequent.  Let’s say, a grocery store and a gas station.  What they sell are pretty essential; you can’t really do without them.  They are very conveniently located - it takes just a couple minutes to drive to each.

Now imagine that for some reason the roads you need to easily get to those stores are closed.  Maybe a bridge washed out and the township has no intention of rebuilding it.  You now have to drive miles out of your way to get to the stores.  What was a quick trip of a couple minutes is now a much bigger deal that requires a bigger commitment of time and more advance planning.  In all likelihood you will still go to the stores, but much less frequently.

This is what regulation does.  Business activity still occurs but it’s slower and less efficient.  The economy grows less and businesses hire fewer people.

You can see this in action by looking at which states are actually generating jobs.  Most of the jobs are being created in “pro-growth” states, not high regulation states.

The Intersection of Leftism and Reality

Let us chronicle the joy of discovery experienced by a couple lefty’s as they discover what they have been told to believe isn’t quite so true.

Cindy Vinson and Tom Waschura are big believers in the Affordable Care Act…are proud to say they helped elect and re-elect President Barack Obama.

Yet, like many other Bay Area residents who pay for their own medical insurance, they were floored last week when they opened their bills: Their policies were being replaced with pricier plans that conform to all the requirements of the new health care law.

Vinson, of San Jose, will pay $1,800 more a year for an individual policy, while Waschura, of Portola Valley, will cough up almost $10,000 more for insurance for his family of four….

[This] week the reality of the new law sank in as millions of Americans had their first good look at how the 3 1/2-year-old legislation will affect their pocketbooks…

“I was laughing at Boehner — until the mail came today,” Waschura said, referring to House Speaker John Boehner, who is leading the Republican charge to defund Obamacare.

“I really don’t like the Republican tactics, but at least now I can understand why they are so pissed about this. When you take $10,000 out of my family’s pocket each year, that’s otherwise disposable income or retirement savings that will not be going into our local economy.”…

“Of course, I want people to have health care,” Vinson said. “I just didn’t realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally.”

Let’s hope they are inquisitive enough to start asking question.  What do you call a leftist who starts asking questions?  A conservative.

On Uncertainty

It amazes me that the question of whether “uncertainty” is a problem in the economy continues to be debated.  Predictably, the left generally denies its influence while the right generally understands it.

Clearly, uncertainty is a problem.  It is not rocket science.

Think of it like this.  You want to buy a house and you know how much you can afford to pay.  You find a house that fits what you are looking for.  But, unfortunately, the laws require you to sign the sales contract before you find out the sale price. Plus the laws allow the seller and his legal team to tack on all sorts of fees after the contract is signed that could add up to a third or more of the sale price that you still don’t know.

Also, the town it is located in is considering imposing a bunch of complicated regulations that you will need to take the time to understand because they will control your indoor and outdoor painting, decorating, gardening, furniture, and appliance choices.  Even if you want to pay someone else to make the decisions and do the work, it will cost you more because complying with the regulations would take time and money.  But you don’t know how much any of this will cost because the town is still figuring out the details of what the regulations will actually be.

That’s uncertainty.  Do you think there might be fewer houses sold and that the ones that do sell will sell for less money?  Why would uncertainty in the costs of hiring employees and the regulations for running a business not have the same impact?

Fine Quote

Free world leaders are elephants being pushed around by mice and rats. Dictators don’t play by the rules and exploit those who do.

Garry Kasparov

British Soldier Beheaded in the U.K.

Two Islamists in the U.K. drove their BMW 3 series onto a sidewalk and hit an off duty, out of uniform soldier.  Then they beheaded him and dropped his body in the street while shouting “Allahu Akbar.”  To top it off, the police took 20 minutes to respond.

Think any of this will get serious coverage in the U.S. media?  Never mind.  I answered my own question.

Pension and Entitlement Obligations: Will The Left Notice?

There are interesting rumblings in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer.  You might almost think the left was getting ready to admit there’s a problem….naaah.  That’s not going to happen.

States were $1.38 trillion short of having enough to pay their public-employee retirement bills in 2010, the last year for which totals are available for all 50 states, according to the Pew Center on the States. That was up 9 percent over the previous year….

The problem’s roots go deep. For years, experts say, many states increased benefits to buy labor peace and skipped making required contributions to pension funds when times got tight, hoping that the performance of those funds’ investments would make up the difference….

The need to find a way to fund the growing cost of all those pensions is real, pollster Terry Madonna of Franklin and Marshall College warned - “the state is sitting on this volcano.”

And yet, he said, the volcano goes unnoticed by the villagers. Pension reform has not emerged as an explosive issue that moves voters…

Unnoticed?  Not so much.  And the problem is much worse when you look at the bigger picture, which includes Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc.  Conservatives, particularly libertarians, have been talking about this for years.  In fact, the first paragraph could have come verbatim from the Tea Party.  The left has certainly tried not to notice.  To the minimal degree they have even engaged the issue, it has been to deny there is a problem, and accuse conservatives of being racists who are out to get the poor and middle class and trying create an “on your own” society.

What will happen is predictable.  The left will fight reforms, kicking and screaming.  The GOP will buckle completely or, at most, tinker with the funding or cost-of-living formulas and the problem will continue to compound.  Eventually, when the bill comes due, there’s no money left, and there is no choice but real (deep) cuts, the pensions and social programs the left created to “help” the poor and middle class will be drastically pared back.

And the poor and the middle class who were naive enough to depend on the left’s “help” will be screwed.

Of course.  That is the inevitable result of depending on the left.

DHS Active Shooter Video

DHS has published a video describing what people can do in an active shooter situation.  It deserves much ridicule, which it is already receiving.

I’d like to point out one detail that is particularly worthy of contempt.  If you are not able to escape or successfully hide, the narrator suggests you should consider using objects to defend yourself. As he says this, the video shows a person grabbing a large pair of scissors.

Scissors.

To use against a loon with a gun.

So, let me get this right.  The official position of the Department of Homeland Security is to encourage people to defend themselves with scissors against a guy shooting his way through their office.  Let me take a wild guess and speculate that DHS does not encourage private citizens to carry or use a gun to defend themselves.

Because, you know, someone might get hurt.  Just grab those scissors and wait for the professionals to show up.

Out of curiosity, do you think any of the grownups at Sandy Hook Elementary had access to scissors?

Liars and Dupes

The left has been arguing for years that the Bush tax cuts went mostly to the wealthy and that the Obama deficits have been caused not by over-spending but by the Bush tax cuts. Those of us who pointed to the actual numbers indicating otherwise were (at best) ignored but usually attacked.

Well we have now rolled back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy while leaving them them in place for everyone else.  And the affect on the deficit is…virtually nothing.  The estimate is that the new tax will raise about $60 billion per year (in reality tax receipts will be “unexpectedly” lower right on schedule of course).  And we’re still looking at $1 trillion-plus annual deficits.

It seems to me there were two kinds of leftists making the it’s all Bush’s fault argument: those who lied and those who were willfully duped.

Priorities and Pretexts

The left is pushing hard to close any freedom loopholes they can find.  The target this time is assault weapons.  Assault weapons are a menace and must be banned, they say.

Pretext - “a reason given in justification of a course of action that is not the real reason.”

From the FBI’s 2011 crime data:

  • Rifles (all varieties) were used to kill 323 people.
  • Blunt objects (hammers and clubs) were used to kill 496 people.
  • Hands, fists and feet were used to kill 726 people.
  • Knives or other cutting instruments were used to kill 1,694 people.

Pretext.

Stupid Government Tricks

Apparently the Delaware taxpayers are getting hosed because of a deal the state signed with Fisker.  That would be the same Fisker the US taxpayers are getting hosed for.

This statement from the governor’s office really ticked me off:

“It has not worked out the way he had envisioned,” [Delaware Gov.] Markell spokeswoman Cathy Rossi acknowledged Monday in a statement to FoxNews.com. “We didn’t know and couldn’t have known about the underlying technical and financial problems.”

We “couldn’t have known about the underlying technical and financial problems”?!

Yeah, you could have, you moron.  There’s this thing called “due diligence.”  It’s what you do when you are investing your own money to make sure you are not throwing your money away in a company with “underlying technical and financial problems.”

Apparently it’s not what government does when it’s spending your money.

The Connecticut Shooting Sarcasm

A few random pieces of sarcasm in response to calls for gun control after yesterday’s murder spree:

  • Thank goodness no one at the school had a gun.  They might have hurt someone with it.
  • We wouldn’t want anyone there with a gun when the shooting starts.  It’s better to wait for the police to bring their guns.
  • The police arrived at the scene “within minutes.”  How’d that work out?

The Connecticut Shooting

Yesterday’s mass shooting at a Connecticut kindergarten hit awfully close to home. Mrs. Manifesto and I are beginning to look at kindergartens for Little Girl Manifesto. Plus we have friends in Connecticut, having gone to school in New York.

Already the predictable and vague calls for more gun control are beginning. Funny how few of these people are specific about what they want. I’m guessing a lot of these people want to ban guns but correctly realize (1) that’s not going to happen, (2) it makes them sound like crazy radicals, and (3) they realize the less-than-full-ban proposals they throw around would not have make a lick of difference in this case.

When dealing with one of these people instead of immediately responding with data or getting bogged down in the amoeba-like “guns are icky” argument, push them for more details. Respond with questions rather than counterarguments. Get them to admit they want a ban. Or get them to lay out some other policy idea. Then poke their specific assertions full of holes.

You’ll tie them into knots faster than you can say “NRA Life Member.”

Punching Back Twice as Hard

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit frequently calls on conservatives to “punch back twice as hard.”  He has also embraced the idea of raising certain taxes, specifically ones that will disproportionately hit blue states (such as reducing the deductibility of state income taxes).

Along those lines, I have taken a few of the features and taxes from Obamacare and used them as inspiration for a new set of taxes and regulations that would hit well-heeled lefties hardest.

HHS Contraception Mandate:

  • Employers with religious affiliations must cover birth control on their health insurance plans.

Counter-punch:

  • All colleges and universities accepting federal funds must have a required course on Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and the rising standard of living made possible by the free market.



Obamacare Tax:

  • 3.8% surtax on investment income for households making over $250,000.

Counter-punch:

  • 3.8% surtax on consulting income for college faculty.



Obamacare Tax:

  • For households making over $250,000 the Medicare payroll tax increases by 0.9%.

Counter-punch:

  • An annual surtax on salaries of the employees of private foundations (think Pew, Ford, etc.).



Obamacare Tax:

  • Annual tax on health insurers based on premiums collected.

Counter-punch:

  • Annual tax on tuition revenues paid to colleges and universities.



Obamacare Tax:

  • A tax on innovator drug companies based on their share of sales.

Counter-punch:

  • A tax on union dues based on the size of the union (the bigger the union, the higher the rate).



Obamacare Tax:

  • 2.3% excise tax on tax on medical device manufacturers.

Counter-punch:

  • 2.3% excise tax on tax on professional film making equipment, including cameras, lighting and sound equipment.



Obamacare Tax:

  • $500,000 limit on executive compensation for health insurance executives.

Counter-punch:

  • $500,000 limit on compensations for actors and entertainment industry executives.

Tax The Rich!

The top 100 U.S. university endowments have a total value of $310 billion and the top 100 U.S. foundations have assets totaling $244 billion.  I am outraged that they exploit tax loopholes and pay no taxes.  It’s time for them to pay their fair share.  Fix the fiscal cliff - tax the rich!

Obama Wins, America Loses

So, Obama has been reelected.  It is going to be a tough few years.  Here is what to expect:

  • Slow economic growth
  • Sustained high unemployment
  • Reduced opportunities for the lower middle class
  • Reduced opportunities for the poor
  • Upper middle-class people who are go-getters will be okay but upper middle class people used to the idea of just being a “good employee” will have a rough go of it
  • The already wealthy and well-connected will prosper under cronyism
  • Higher taxes on everyone, including the middle class

What happens next?

We need to neutralize the legacy media.  Their shameless advocacy for Obama and against Romney really hurt.  Relying on talk radio and the many great conservative websites is not going to be enough to neutralize the media.  We need need our ideas represented and treated evenly on the pages of print media and TV.  It does not matter how top-notch the conservative alternative media is if the people who need to see it don’t.  That is going to be a long-term project and at this point I don’t know how to make it happen.

We need to reestablish a presence in pop culture.  Many of us, myself included, have generally ignored pop culture.  This is probably a mistake.  Someone, I don’t recall who, once said “politics is what we do; culture is the air we breathe.”  The constant barrage of anti-conservative/anti-Republican messages received by low-information voters has really taken its toll.  The fact-free nature of the messages makes it galling but no less dangerous.

Traditional conservatives and libertarians need to focus on common ground: individual liberty and free markets.  We need to deemphasize social issues.    Like it or not, women (particularly single women) fell for the “war on women” nonsense.  They basically freaked out because Obama convinced them that Romney was going to take away their birth control.  This was nonsense of course but the legacy media actively abetted the lie.

We need to make a strong moral (rather than strictly data-driven) case for free enterprise.  See the outstanding work of Arthur Brooks for example.  We understand the economic data and why free markets make everyone better off.  But many people don’t think that way.  They need to feel, not look at data.  They need to feel intuitively that free markets give them a better life.

We need to convince minority groups (who from what I have seen voted in the 75% to 93% range for Obama this time) that progressivism is bad for them.  That’s going to be a very complex operation, I’m afraid.  A one-size-fits-all approach probably won’t work.  We will need to tailor our message differently for different ethnic and immigrant groups.  But most importantly, it needs to be more than “outreach.”  It has to be permanent and sustained, we need to become part of each other’s political consciousness.

In short, we have a lot of work to do.

As the Dems Convene…

The Democrats have kicked off their convention in the otherwise lovely city of Charlotte, NC to defend a failed presidency and try to convince people that more progressive policies are just what we need.

In related news:

  • The national debt has hit $16 trillion.
  • A federal judge has ordered tax payers to fund an inmate’s sex change operation.
  • A DNC video argues “government is the only thing that we all belong to.”  Now Joe Biden’s recent comment about putting black Americans back in chains makes even more sense.

Why Cell Phone and Cable Plans Are Like ObamaCare

Think your cell phone bill is too expensive?  What about your cable bill?  Most people do.

That’s because if you are like most people you are paying for things you don’t want or need (an unusably large number of minutes for your phone or hundreds of channels you don’t watch).  It’s pretty intuitive that when you pay for extras you don’t want because you have to buy them to get what you do want, it raises the price above what you could be paying.

Well congratulations.  You now understand one of the reasons (though far from the only reason) why ObamaCare is going raise the cost of health insurance.  It’s loaded up with coverage mandates for things you might not choose to buy yourself.

Those Rumors

I am not a gossip.  So I am not going to repeat the continuing rumor that  #HarryReidIsAPederast.

Leftist Suppresses Dissent

Not surprisingly in the wake of the Aurora movie theater shooting my lefty dominated Facebook wall had many calls for more gun control.  One friend posted a particularly bad poster that was filled with basic factual errors.

I posted a response gently correcting the record. Another lefty reacted to my comments with a borderline incoherent, utopian screed about not needing guns and the second amendment not being relevant anymore.

Before the “conversation” was completed the original poster deleted the thread.  Of course - we wouldn’t want to have to face any dissent, would we? But, as always, the left’s conspicuous unwillingness to engage with reality is their loss, not ours. We know how to debate this issue, they don’t.

Anyway, the conversation was deleted before I could preserve it.  But here was my first response to the loopy utopian.  Not surprisingly she did not even try to address the questions in her follow-up.

What is not needed: this gun or any gun?  If just this gun, in what way is it different from any other?  If any gun, why are guns not needed?  Are there no criminals who prey on the weak and the innocent?  Are there never natural disasters or civil disturbances where civil society breaks down?

In what way is the second amendment not relevant for our times?  First, see above.  Second, violent crime happens with or without firearms.  While any one person is not likely to be the victim of a violent crime, that is small comfort to those who are.  Crime happens.  I am still recovering from spine surgery, how is it moral to force me to defend myself by hand against a criminal who is younger, faster and stronger?  What about my petite wife? What about my aging mother?  Why do police carry guns if they are irrelevant?  Do police in countries with strong gun control laws still carry guns?  Why, to take one example, did gun crime soar in the UK after Tony Blair gutted private gun ownership?  Why has gun crime dropped in the U.S. at the same time that an increasing number of states enacted concealed carry laws?

If the second amendment is no longer relevant, why is free speech relevant? Freedom of religion or assembly? The right of protection against self-incrimination or unreasonable searches and seizures?  If you like these other rights, why are they different?  If it is morally acceptable for you to trash a right I care deeply about but you dislike, why would it not be acceptable for me to do so to a right you care about?  How is this compatible with a respect for individual rights?

I trust you will be able to provide a good response for each of these questions.  These are, of course, some of the essential questions that many of us who support the second amendment have wrestled with (no, we’re not just a bunch of rednecks).  In fact, for many of us the answers are actually what drove us to support the second amendment.

UPDATE: Sebastian has marked up the very poster that produced the discussion.  I made similar points in my original response on Facebook.