Views on the News
Views on the News*
January 31, 2015
During his State of the Union address, President Obama defended his Cuba policy by pointing out, “When what you’re doing doesn’t work for 50 years, it’s time to try something new.” His advice should be applied to a number of other issues as well, for example:
· Social Security: Started as retirement insurance in 1935 but has been mismanaged since then to include almost $25 trillion in unfunded liabilities.
· Government-Run Health Care: Medicare and Medicaid started in 1965 and government now pays for roughly 52% of healthcare spending, and indirectly subsidizes another 37%. Meanwhile health-care costs are steadily rising, the insurance market is destroyed, a shortage of physicians, and Medicare has more than $47.6 trillion in unfunded liabilities.
· Arguably the creation and government abuse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac contributed to the housing market collapse and the 2008 financial crisis.
· The War on Poverty: LBJ declared War on Poverty in January 1964, and we’ve spent more than $20 trillion fighting poverty. Yet we’ve done nothing to reduce the poverty rate and we’ve done little to help the poor become independent and self-supporting.
· The Environmental Protection Agency: Nixon created the EPA in 1970 to protect the environment, but after initial efforts were successful cleaning up pollution this agency has morphed into a Green extremism cabal focused on “climate change” junk science.
· The War on Drugs: Nixon declared the War on Drugs in 1971 and in the last ten years alone we have spent $500 billion fighting this “war,” arrested more than 16 million Americans for drug offenses, but failed to reduce either violence or drug use.
· The Department of Education: The Department of Education was created in 1979. Since 1980, federal spending on education is up roughly 170% in real terms, yet more government involvement has not meant better learning results.
A lesson learned from the last 50 years is: Bigger government has not brought us more security, more freedom, or more prosperity. Yet, President Obama still sees the answer to every problem as more government, no matter how big. We are told that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. But President Obama apparently doesn’t even listen to his own speeches. If big government hasn’t worked for 50 years, 100 years, or for that matter pretty much the whole of human history, maybe it’s time to try something else.
(“Obama: Try Something New” by Michael Tanner dated January 28, 2015 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/article/397335/obama-try-something-new-michael-tanner )
Fresh from offering "free" health care, "free" phones and "free" food to the masses, Obama has upped the bribery to "free" community college tuition and "free" child care. Since someone has to pay for these expensive, new entitlements to the Free Stuff Army, Obama has proposed yet another "tax the rich" scheme that, if enacted would eventually plunder working-class families. Over a few decades, the U.S. government has morphed into a gigantic income-redistribution machine, the ultimate mugger. Since the New Deal, the only serious challenge to the mentality of plunder in both major parties came during the Reagan administration. To true believers like Obama, the Reagan years were a speed bump on the way to transforming America, and something to pretend to admire to keep the suckers ignorant. Government is necessary because men are not angels. Its legitimate role is to secure justice by punishing evildoers, and to protect property and individual rights. Its main focus has become redistribution of wealth in the name of "compassion" and "equality." Its sheer growth and trillions of dollars of debt coincides with the rise of the Free Stuff Army, whose ranks have swelled exponentially with Obama's edicts and economic malaise. It is easy to succeed by promising something for nothing, the politicians' mantra. A modern, liberal fiction is that government officials are somehow immune to human foibles such as greed. The system they have built is functionally Marxist, deploying government force to extract "from each according to his ability to each according to his needs." Armed with an accurate view of human nature, America's Founders did their best to ensure that man's worst tendencies would not lead to tyranny and that man's God-given talents could flourish. Still, they apparently underestimated the power of something for nothing. The forces cultivating personal responsibility are the church, the family and the American spirit of liberty, all of which liberals have targeted in a relentless culture war. If you still think the drive to legalize same-sex "marriage" is about marriage, you haven't been paying attention to the leftists' war on normalcy, privacy, religion and ultimately freedom. Not satisfied with plundering our wallets, they are plundering society's moral capital. Leading the charge in this radical remaking of America is Barack Obama, general of the Free Stuff Army, which grows as the moral foundations crumble. French legislator Frederic Bastiat had someone like him in mind when he wrote 165 years ago: "Too many persons place themselves above mankind; they make a career of organizing it, patronizing it, and ruling it."
(“Obama’s Free Stuff Army” by Robert Knight dated January 25, 2015 published by The Washington Times at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/25/robert-knight-obamas-free-stuff-army/ )
Republicans must draw a clear line in the sand between their worldview and Obama's, and should call it commonsense economics. It is actually quite simple:
· First, you can't create a new business or sustain an existing one without the seed corn and nourishment of capital investment.
· Second, only businesses create jobs. You can't have a job without a business.
· Third, jobs create all incomes, including middle-class incomes.
· Fourth, incomes create families and consumer spending.
This is not complicated; it's common economic sense. University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan states this in a simpler way: Growth starts with investment and ends with consumer spending. Regrettably, Obama doesn't get this. That's why he's proposing the third capital-gains tax hike of his tenure. Ironically, history shows that lower capital-gains tax rates produce higher revenues. However a higher capital-gains tax produces lower revenues. Obama also proposes to raise the tax burden on capital by increasing inheritance and estate taxes. Taxing capital will hurt the very middle-class workers and incomes Obama claims he wants to help, but his so-called middle-class economics doesn't work. Let's also slash the corporate tax rate and make America more competitive worldwide. Nearly all studies show that middle-income wage earners are the biggest beneficiaries of corporate tax cuts. All Obama really wants is more money for government spending. A partial list includes more spending on child care, sick leave, equal pay, lower mortgage premiums, a higher minimum wage, student-debt forgiveness, tax credits, and free community college, which will wind up costing $500 billion. So there's a lesson here for congressional Republicans and some of my fellow conservatives: Do not get sucked into this class-war politics. You will never outbid the Democrats on middle-class benefits. There is a better way. Get rid of the 10% bracket and collapse the 25% and 28% brackets down to 15%. From the lower marginal tax rates, the middle class gets a much bigger tax savings. All the middle-class is included: married with kids, single women without kids, millennials without kids, etc. and there's still a big savings for the kids we love and cherish, but it's done without class divisions.
(“Republicans Can’t Outbid the Democrats for the Middle Class” by Larry Kudlow dated January 24, 2015 published by Real Clear Markets at http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2015/01/24/republicans_cant_outbid_the_democrats_for_the_middle_class_101502.html )
The Fed buying treasury bonds, so I tried using the absurd to make a point. This would be like issuing your own credit card, buying everything you want, paying for the credit card with your checking account, and filling the checking account with cash advances from the credit card. Today, with the Fed buying treasury bonds, America has in effect declared bankruptcy. We might not think so because the mainstream media hasn’t mentioned it, but our creditors have noticed. China wants higher interest rates and collateral. We now have ObamaCare nationalizing 17 % of the GDP, which may soon squeeze the private healthcare insurance industry out of the market. The current economic woes may not be popular with Americans, but George Soros, the Bankroller of the Left loves it. He says, “the financial crisis has been stimulating.” Then after mentioning the $11.6 billion he made during the 2008 crash adds, “It is, in a way, the culminating point of my life’s work.” Capitalism may be dying all around us but at least the socialists are making money. He runs a hedge fund and makes money appear out of thin air through manipulation of currencies, monetized derivatives, credit swaps and other types of voodoo economics. Obama’s much ballyhooed recovery may look great from the White House even though it looks quite a bit like the Great Recession from our houses. The mood of the American people is cratering through this Great Recession into everyone’s personal Great Depression. We may be feeling down, but at least we’ve got the Progressives that Soros supports looking out for us. Senator Dodd is the guy who fought so hard to stop all those greedy AIG executives from getting their excessive bonuses after he forgot he inserted the amendment into the pork-laden stimulus boondoggle to make sure the AIG executives got their bonuses when the company went on welfare. I’m sure it was a coincidence he received his largest donations from AIG and his wife served as a director of an AIG company. Here’s a guy who gets sweetheart deals on mortgages for multiple houses and has the nerve to tell a national news conference he didn’t know getting a VIP rate was a special deal. This paragon of fiduciary integrity also voted for a Treasury Secretary who blames his tax deficiencies on not understanding turbo-tax. Having people like these look after our finances is sort of like having the fox guard the hen house. Speaking of Chicago, one of the people on the Board of Directors of Freddie Mac for 14 months was Rahm Emmanuel. All he got was $320,000 which is barely $22,800 per month so how much due diligence could anyone expect? Yet another humble public servant from Chicago, while out serving hash to the poor unfortunates, some unpatriotic news hound noticed Michelle’s sneakers cost $540. Thus the theater of the absurd has become main stream and the question whether we are bankrupt must be absurd!
(“Bankrupt? Who’s Bankrupt?” by Robert R. Owens dated January 24, 2015 published by American Clarion at http://www.americanclarion.com/bankrupt-whos-bankrupt-35981 )
It would be hard to overstate how poorly things are going for the United States around the world. Iran moves steadily toward acquiring nuclear weapons, with the apparent approval of the Obama administration. Iraq, once hailed as one of the Obama administration’s greatest successes, is now largely occupied by ISIS. The carnage in Syria continues. The government of Yemen, a key ally in the war against Islamic terror, has fallen. In Nigeria, Boko Haram slaughters thousands and now controls much of Africa’s richest country. Russia continues to chip away at Ukraine. There is no longer any pretense about the fact that Russian soldiers have invaded Ukraine and are fighting alongside separatist rebels. If any of this is of concern to the Obama administration, it is not evident. Obama, apparently intent on building socialism in one country views everything that happens elsewhere with seeming indifference, when he is not actively working to undermine American interests, as in Iran. While he almost never submits to questions from actual journalists, he did take time to give interviews to four YouTube celebrities. To be fair, Obama’s fecklessness is matched by many Americans. With crises erupting around the world, the number one news story in the U.S. is Deflate-gate, of course. It is times like this when a country needs leadership, and, whatever else you might think about him, Barack Obama has never been accused of being a leader.
(“The World Burns, America Fiddles” by John Hinderaker dated January 24, 2015 published by Powerline at http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2015/01/the-world-burns-america-fiddles.php )
As Iran moves closer to developing nuclear weapons along with a missile system capable of reaching Israel and perhaps one day the United States, and expands its reach onto the Arabian Peninsula taking control of the American ally Yemen, the Islamic terrorist group ISIS continues to attack and commit atrocities in Northern Iraq and Syria, Barack Obama sits there wringing his hands seemingly incapable of focusing on anything but his social agenda for the United States. According to Barack Obama during his State of the Union address, everything will be hunkey dorey in the USA if we just close GITMO. He was under the same ego-driven delusion when he embarked on his ‘apology tour’ early in his first term. He truly believed that those people who hate us will stop hating us based solely on the power of Barack Obama’s personality and ‘presence’. It's time for leadership not lies and campaign speeches. Yes we live in a very dangerous world requiring strong leadership from our president. All that we have seen so far has been campaign slogans and veto threats. Barack Obama chose to surround himself with a group of extreme left-wing Czars and advisors, none of whom would have passed a vetting process for a government security clearance due to a history of drug use, criminal records, a hedonistic past, and outright anti-American beliefs. Along with his ardent leftist followers he set out to “fundamentally transform” the United States. More and more Americans have begun to realize that Barack Obama is long on talk and short on substance. The glow is much diminished on this media rock star. But not in Barack Obama’s mind, he just plods along as he did during his recent SOTU address promising more free stuff with no way to pay for it other than again taxing the ‘evil, unfair rich’. So as the world crashes down around us presenting serious challenges to our national interests and security, Barack Obama appears inept and incapable of making a decision on what to do, so he diverts his attention back to the only thing he knows how to do - political campaigning. Giving Americans two free years of community college, and a fifteen dollar an hour minimum wage so those same community college graduates can make more money in the fast food industry just makes more sense to him than upholding his oath of office to “protect and defend the United States of America”.
(“Dangerous Times for a Dangerous President” by D.W.Wilber dated January 26, 2015 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/dwwilber/2015/01/26/dangerous-times-for-a-dangerous-president-n1948065 )
Empires can rise and fall quickly. After World War I, the Austro-Hungarian, German, Ottoman, and Russian Empires abruptly collapsed amid military defeat, rising nationalism, and revolution. We are now in an equally turbulent age of rising empires — mostly due to a new American indifference and passivity:
· The Iranian theocracy fancies itself the reincarnation of the ancient Persian Empire of Cyrus and Xerxes. A soon-to-be nuclear Iran, through its operatives, now controls portions of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and, soon, Yemen, and dreams of overturning the Sunni sheikhdoms in the Gulf.
· Russian president Vladimir Putin has added parts of Ukraine to his earlier land conquests in Georgia and Crimea. He dreams of updating 19th-century Czarist Russia. Putin’s next target will probably be half of Estonia, a NATO country, whose implosion would render the postwar alliance null and void.
· Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan dreams of reviving the Ottoman Empire. Erdogan rejects the secularized vision of the founder of the modern Turkish state, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and he seems to wish to see pro-Western Arab dictatorships replaced by more revolutionary Islamist governments that will look to Turkey for spiritual guidance.
· The terrorist Islamic State has grandiose schemes of recreating the medieval pan-Arab caliphate. After carving off much of Syria and Iraq for their new theocracy, the jihadists plan to topple the rich Gulf sheikhdoms and grab the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
· China has terrified almost all of its Westernized neighbors: Australia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan. It is trying to recreate its own version of the imperial Japanese Co-Prosperity Sphere through cash, mercantilism, threats, and the overstepping of borders.
There are several common denominators to the grandiose visions of these five would-be empires. All are anti-democratic. They are certainly anti-American. They are bullies who pick fights only with entities deemed smaller and weaker than themselves. They have all been empowered by the recessional of the lead-from-behind United States from the world stage. In other words, they believe their aggrandizement is either ignored by an Obama administration that feels deterring them is too costly and unpopular, or tactically condoned as the inherent right of countries to adjudicate politics in their own spheres of influence, without an intrusive American global cop sticking its post-colonial, imperialist nose where it has no business. Obama is abetting five new empires that believe their reactionary autocracy, anti-Americanism, and growing military power should earn them greater material rewards and global influence. To paraphrase the Roman historian Tacitus, where Obama has helped to create chaos, he calls it peace. We are witnessing empire-building unlike anything seen since the 1930s and early 1940s. What is different is not just the older themes of American isolationism, indifference, and appeasement, but also a new, bizarre twist. The Obama administration feels almost as if these rising suzerainties have a more legitimate right to carve out regional empires than the United States has to stop them.
(“Barack Obama, Empire Builder” by Victor Davis Hanson dated January 27, 2015 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/article/397194/barack-obama-empire-builder-victor-davis-hanson )
* There is so much published each week that unless you search for it, you will miss important breaking news. I try to package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning. Updates have been made this week to the following sections:
· Philosophy at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/intro/philosophy.php