Views on the News

Views on the News*

  June 4, 2016


For the American people to start trusting the government to do the big stuff, it needs to show that it can do the little things.  When you find out that the government spends $1 million to study monkeys running in hamster balls on a treadmill or $706,800 to conduct a so-called “shrimp fight club,” you have good reasons to doubt that it will be able to pull off a federal health-care exchange.  There are also plenty of major government failures and failed promises to convince us to never trust government and politicians ever again: (“if you like your plan, you can keep it,” Operation Fast and Furious, the war in Iraq, the failure of the war on drugs, Benghazi, the Veteran Affairs scandal, the worst recovery since World War II, just to name a few).  We must start holding the government accountable, which would lead to more efficiency and more trust in government.  Unfortunately, I am afraid he is way too optimistic.  For one thing, holding government officials accountable isn’t as easy as it sounds.  The unseen army of bureaucrats and administrative agencies that effectively run the government (and our lives) are just as self-interested as the worst of the politicians that we elect, but they’re rarely accountable.  Most decisions made in government are made based on politics, not economics.  The incentives to get the job done properly are incredibly weak, while there are plenty of incentives to reward political allies by doing things that are less than ideal for the American people.  The government doesn’t deserve to be trusted these days, so if we want less inefficiency in government and less blatant failures, we need to considerably shrink the size and scope of government to limit the damages it can do.

(“Why Americans Don’t Trust Government” by Veronique de Rugy dated June 1, 2016 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/436105/government-trust-larry-summers-washington-post-accountability )

Obama has few if any accomplishments to his credit and what he has implemented has not only failed to achieve its purpose but has actually caused harmful side effects.  America’s economy, as well as its social structure, are in a desperate condition.  Countless Americans are either unaware or in denial about the serious crisis our country currently faces.  They think that the current Presidential election holds no special significance over previous elections.  In a speech to college students, Barack Obama downplayed the differences between capitalism and socialism, maintaining that governments should do whatever works best, but what works best depends upon the political opinions of those currently in power.  Obama’s words and actions indicate a strong preference for socialism and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has vowed to continue Obama’s policies.  This doesn’t pose any problems for that segment of the population that possesses only a limited understanding of the disasters of previous socialist governments and these failed governments occurred before their time.  However, a current example is Hugo Chavez’s and now his successor, Nicolás Maduro’s socialist revolution in Venezuela.  Chavez’s/Maduro’s political philosophy was purely a Marxist-Leninist retread, but he insisted that it was new and improved, - he labeled it “21st-century socialism.”  Chavez/Maduro thought they could implement ill-conceived and costly social programs because Venezuela’s immense oil revenues would remain constant.  However, when oil revenues declined, Hugo Chavez should have reined-in his unrealistic social programs, but he didn’t.  Consequently, in less than two decades, Venezuela was plunged into an economic disaster.  Now two-day work weeks are common, automatic power shutdowns are planned, and Venezuelan citizens cannot get adequate medical care or medications.  Farms are idle, factories are closing, crime is rampant, and rioting mobs are taking to the streets.  Although the desperate government has ordered companies to distribute free food to the populace, Venezuelans are actually raiding garbage sites, scrounging for food scraps.  Like Hugo Chavez and Nicolás Maduro, Barack Obama has been implementing his version of “21st-century socialism”, overtly as well as surreptitiously.  And like Venezuela, Obama’s policies are taking their toll on America’s economy.  Many Americans think that what happened in Venezuela cannot happen here.  They view our government as an enormous, miraculous credit card.  No matter how many dollars are spent, there will always be more dollars available for additional spending, consequently massive spending can continue indefinitely because government funds can never run out. Some people honestly think that the government can simply print more money if it’s needed.  Although our nation’s collapse might not be as imminent as Venezuela’s, this pernicious decline in our economy cannot be allowed to continue.  Older Americans are aware that until President Barack Obama took office, Social Security recipients received an annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to help offset the inflation of prices, but during the Obama presidency, there were three years with zero COLAs.  This was the first time in the history of the program that Social Security recipients, disabled veterans, and federal retires did not get an annual cost-of-living adjustment.  Like Chavez and Maduro, Obama not only encourages illegals to enter the USA but has escalated the magnitude of undocumented aliens to an unprecedented level. Another similarity with Venezuela is that illegals entering America receive benefits that only American citizens should rightfully receive.  Hillary Clinton proposes not only opening our borders to more immigration, but also granting a blanket amnesty for illegals already in our country.  This kind of mindset began emerging decades ago, when the late Senator Ted Kennedy was allowed to impose legislation eliminating our nation’s long-standing checks and balances on immigration.  Using the clever semantic label “immigration reform”, Kennedy’s bills set in motion a half-century of undocumented aliens flooding into our nation; receiving government benefits, and usurping American jobs.  Kennedy’s naivete is somewhat understandable based upon the flourishing economy and unrealistic thinking of his time, but Obama’s drastic escalation of the rate of illegal immigration can only be viewed as a deliberate attempt to dilute the influence that America’s natural-born-citizens have on elections and legislation.  Obama engages in highly questionable legal maneuvers, confident that media will not criticize him. A current and possibly unconstitutional action, is using Section 8 housing funds to relocate families from poor and ghetto neighborhoods into suburban White neighborhoods.   Section 8 funding was originally created as a rent subsidy program to assist low income families who had fallen on hard times.  Obama is using these funds to alter our country’s social structure, hoping to fulfill his vow of “fundamentally transforming” America.  This Presidential election may indeed be the most critical election in American history. We simply must reverse the political trends of recent years, especially Barack Obama’s “21st-century socialism.”  It is essential that there be an enthusiastic outpouring of support and votes for a Donald Trump presidency, and changing our country’s direction cannot be put on hold for another four years.

(“We Cannot Wait Another Four Years to Begin Saving America” by Gail Jarvis dated May 30, 2016 published by Canada Free Press at http://canadafreepress.com/article/we-cannot-wait-another-four-years-to-begin-saving-america )


Everyone is struggling to understand why so many whites, including many who are not suffering economically, are rallying to the angry words and fearful music of Donald Trump's presidential campaign.  Meanwhile, blacks and other minorities are sticking with the status-quo incrementalism of Hillary Clinton.  A wide and growing optimism gap has opened between poor and middle-class whites and their counterparts of other races, and the former are the congenital pessimists.  My research finds deep divisions in our country, not just in terms of income and opportunity, but in terms of hopes and dreams.  The highest costs of being poor in the U.S. are not in the form of material goods or basic services, as in developing countries, but in the form of unhappiness, stress, and lack of hope.  What is most surprising is that the most desperate groups are not minorities who have traditionally been discriminated against, but poor and near-poor whites.  Of all racial groups in poverty, blacks are the most optimistic about their futures.  The least optimistic group by far is poor whites.  The average score of poor blacks is large enough to eliminate the difference in optimism about the future between being poor and being middle class (e.g. removing the large negative effect of poverty), and they are almost three times more likely to be higher up on the optimism scale than are poor whites.  Poor Hispanics are also more optimistic than poor whites, but the gaps between their scores are not as large as those between blacks and whites.  In terms of stress, a marker of ill-being, there are, again, large differences across races. Poor whites are the most stressed group and are 17.8% more likely to experience stress in the previous day than middle-class whites.  In contrast, middle-class blacks are 49% less likely to experience stress than middle-class whites, and poor blacks are 52% less likely to experience stress than poor whites (e.g. their odds of experiencing stress are roughly half those of poor whites.  Individuals with high levels of well-being have better outcomes; they believe in their futures and invest in them.  In contrast, those without hope for their futures typically do not make such investments. Remarkably, the poor in the U.S. (on average) are less likely to believe that hard work will get them ahead than are the poor in Latin America.  Poor blacks are more optimistic compared to their white counterparts.  There may be an Obama effect, given the historical marker made by the election of the first African-American president, and support for President Obama remained steady among blacks over the course of his tenure.  Despite visible manifestations of black frustration, as in Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo., and continued gaps in wage, mobility, and education outcomes, there has been black progress.  The overall black-white wage gap has also narrowed (black males earned 69% of the median wage for white males in 1970 and 75% by 2013.  The gap in life expectancy between blacks and whites has also narrowed to its lowest point in history, 3.4 years, at 75.6 years for blacks and 79 years for whites.  Poor and high school-educated whites have fallen in status, at least in relative terms. Poor and middle-class blacks are more likely to compare themselves to parents who were worse off than they are, while most blue-collar whites are insecure and facing much more competition for jobs than their parents did.  The American Dream of prosperity, equal opportunity, and stable democracy is being challenged by increasing income inequality, the hollowing out of the middle class, decreasing wages and increased insecurity for low-skilled workers, and rising mortality rates.  If it does nothing else positive for our country, the widespread alarm caused by Donald Trump’s political rise and his promises to build walls, ban trade, and create further divisions within our society has woken us up.  The depth and scope of this problem requires difficult political fixes, such as long-term investments in public health and education, developing new forms of social assistance, and language, which encourage hope rather than stigmatize poor recipients, and reducing the distance between the lives of the rich and the poor, so that attaining success, and living the American Dream, is not something that seems forever out of reach for the poor.

(“Unhappiness in America” by Carol Graham dated May 27, 2016 published by Real Clear Politics at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2016/05/27/unhappiness_in_america_130669.html )

The left says no one should bring up, let alone discuss, Bill Clinton's long-ago egregious behavior with numerous women as Governor or Arkansas, or his truly disgusting behavior with Monica Lewinsky when he was President.  Yet Bill Cosby is being tried for his bad acts committed years ago -- and the left is on board with that; Cosby had the gall to address the black community with some common sense advice, making him not only fair game but a likely target.  Cosby likely is guilty of the acts for which he is accused but so is Bill Clinton.  The left says Hillary has committed no crimes, no violations of the laws meant to protect our national security with her oh-so-calculated private server.  People, like General Petraeus, have been jailed or fined for a single violation of just one of those laws; Hillary has violated those same laws many times.  Different standard - Of course.  The left is all about the destruction of the Constitution, about smashing the traditional values of conservatives.  Election laws - Not for them.  Out-of-wedlock children - Cool.  Promiscuity - Extra cool.  Gay marriage - Mandatory.  Trangenderism - Really cool.  Legislate acceptance of all of the above - Grand slam.  Christianity, Judiasm - No longer acceptable in the Obama era; Must be punished.  The left long ago took over the indoctrination of our youth.  Teach critical thinking - No way.  The youth of America must be indoctrinated in the ways of the left.  Gender - No such thing...it's a spectrum with many stops on the line.  No such thing as male and female.  - deemed politically incorrect in the extreme.  The youth must be protected from any words that may offend their tender sensibilities so carefully cultivated from kindergarten through high school.  By the time for university, our youth have been carefully taught.  Those not inculcated with the culture of victimhood, American-born Caucasians, will have learned to loathe their "white privilege."  They will know to never pick up a book that has been relegated to the trash bin by the left.  This would include nearly every book ever written by a white male. White women are equally suspect.  Those who have been taught that they are victims of a racist culture will embrace their victimhood and thus their entitlement to revenge and retribution.  Authors like Jane Austen have been discarded and replaced by those authors who can reliably claim oppression, no matter how inferior their works are to the classics we once revered for what they taught about the human condition without regard for race or creed.  Our government has become a "fish rotting from the head" under Obama.  His presidency is corrupt; the Dept. of Justice, our EPA, the IRS, the ATF, and perhaps even the FBI if they do not refer Hillary Clinton for indictment for her crimes.  The Republican DC establishment is equally corrupt; they have done little to stop Obama's extra-Constitutional power grabs for seven and a half years.  So afraid of being labeled "racist," so determined to retain their privileged positions and their perks, they have let this anti-American President eviscerate our military, alienate our allies, impose many thousands of mandated "regulations" by fiat, destroy the educational system with Common Core, blatantly enrich his friends via the "stimulus," and to force his anti-Christian, anti-Semitic agenda on what was once the one true democratic republic on the planet, the one country with an economic system that made the "American dream" a reality possible for all.  In short, Obama came into the office determined, along with his alter ego Valerie Jarrett and his mind-melded Ben Rhodes, to take the country down and that he has done with astonishing success.  Conservative writer and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza served time in prison for a single campaign finance violation, a $20k donation to a friend.  The Clintons have violated all such laws from the moment they entered the political realm in Arkansas.  Their entire life in "public service" has been about enriching themselves.  In just two years Hillary "earned" $21 million giving short speeches to the biggest banks in the country.  As anyone paying attention knows, the Clinton Foundation is a scam of staggering proportions.  Its donors pay for "speeches," for access, present or future, for favors, present or future.  The Clintons are a truly malevolent couple.  They care nothing for the poor, for African-Americans, for Hispanics,  LGBTs, etc.  Not one bit.  They are shallow, callow and greedy, the worst of what America has produced over its two-hundred and forty years.  Given the criminality of the Clintons, I will be voting for the man who at least loves the country that made him rich.

(“America Dismembered” by Patricia McCarthy dated May 28, 2016 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2016/05/america_dismembered.html )

Just like Obama, Trump is inspiring first-time voters to get out on polling day, while existing Republicans will hold their noses when they get to the ballot box.  It is now very likely that the Republican nominee will be the next American president, and he could win in a landslide.  The political establishment underestimated Trump’s campaign, and their naivety is coming back to haunt them.  Right from Trump’s first days on the campaign trail, those opposing Trump have radically underestimated the threat.  They did not analyze the opposition accurately, and the threat grew.  Over the past few months, the media moved from treating him like a joke to assuming that he would “fall after Super Tuesday,” but he didn’t.  Eventually it was assumed that Cruz and Kasich would team up and force a brokered Convention, but they didn't, and Trump has won the Republican nomination.  The underestimation continues, and ignores the fact that this November, Americans aren’t just voting on the President.  They are voting for the Senate, the House, many local governors, judges, prosecutors, sheriffs.  Republicans will turn out to vote for all the other offices. While there, they will be faced with the choice of holding their nose and voting for Trump, or, one presumes, Hillary Clinton.  Trump’s approval rating is rising.  Republican anti-Trump forces are retreating like Napoleon from Moscow, leaving bodies in their wake.  Opponents such as Paul Ryan are casting around to find reasons to support Trump.  Winning and losing elections in America is not about pinching votes from the other team, but rather it’s about getting your team out to vote.  In the US, voter turnout hasn’t exceeded 60% for nearly 50 years.  In 1968, 60.7% of eligible voters actually managed to drag themselves out of bed and exercise a right that people had fought and died for.  In 1996, less than 50% bothered turning up.  In both 2008 and 2012, Obama ran a massive “get out the vote” campaign, inspiring many first time voters with the promise of hope, change and making history by electing the first black man to the White House. Voter turnout in 2008 was the highest since 1968.  Clinton, on the other hand, does not inspire that level of emotion.  The so called “woman card” that she plays is not motivating women either.  Trump is accused of having a “woman problem”, but so does Clinton.  Both Clinton and Trump are widely unpopular, but Trump has one advantage: he is inspiring first-time voters to turn out on polling day.  Trump is gaining votes in the "rust belt" from people who would not normally vote Republican, or even vote at all.  Clinton will get fewer votes than Obama.  Trump will get out far more first-time voters than the Republicans have ever achieved before, while regular Republican voters will hold their noses and punt for Trump, so he might win, the 2016 election will be the landslide for Trump.

(“Donald Trump will win the US presidency by a landslide – don’t underestimate him yet again” by Andrew MacLeod dated May 29, 2016 published by http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/donald-trump-will-win-the-us-presidency-by-a-landslide-dont-underestimate-him-yet-again-a7051686.html )

Socialism sounds great, and it will probably always continue to sound great.  It is only when you go beyond rhetoric, and start looking at hard facts, that socialism turns out to be a big disappointment, if not a disaster.  While throngs of young people are cheering loudly for avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, socialism has turned oil-rich Venezuela into a place where there are shortages of everything from toilet paper to beer, where electricity keeps shutting down, and where there are long lines of people hoping to get food, people complaining that they cannot feed their families.  With national income going down, and prices going up under triple-digit inflation in Venezuela, these complaints are by no means frivolous.  The anti-capitalist policies in Venezuela have worked so well that the number of companies in Venezuela is now a fraction of what it once was.  People who attribute income inequality to capitalists exploiting workers, as Karl Marx claimed, never seem to get around to testing that belief against facts, such as the fact that none of the Marxist regimes around the world has ever had as high a standard of living for working people as there is in many capitalist countries.  Facts are seldom allowed to contaminate the beautiful vision of the left.  What matters to the true believers are the ringing slogans, endlessly repeated.  The very idea of subjecting their pet notions to the test of hard facts will probably not even occur to those who are cheering for socialism and for other bright ideas of the political left.  The people who demand an increase in the minimum wage have never bothered to check what actually happens when higher minimum wages are imposed.  More often they just assume what is assumed by like-minded peers, sometimes known as "everybody," with their assumptions being what "everybody knows."  Back in 1948, when inflation had rendered meaningless the minimum wage established a decade earlier, the unemployment rate among 16-17-year-old black males was under 10%.  But after the minimum wage was raised repeatedly to keep up with inflation, the unemployment rate for black males that age was never under 30% for more than 20 consecutive years, from 1971 through 1994. In many of those years, the unemployment rate for black youngsters that age exceeded 40% and, for a couple of years, it exceeded 50%.  The damage is even greater than these statistics might suggest.  Most low-wage jobs are entry-level jobs that young people move up out of, after acquiring work experience and a track record that makes them eligible for better jobs, but you can't move up the ladder if you don't get on the ladder.  The great promise of socialism is something for nothing.  It is one of the signs of today's dumbed-down education that so many college students seem to think that the cost of their education should be paid by raising taxes on "the rich."  Here again, just a little check of the facts would reveal that higher tax rates on upper-income earners do not automatically translate into more tax revenue coming in to the government.  Often high tax rates have led to less revenue than lower tax rates.  In a globalized economy, high tax rates may just lead investors to invest in other countries with lower tax rates. That means that jobs created by those investments will be overseas.  None of this is rocket science, but you do have to stop and think, and that is what too many of our schools and colleges are failing to teach their students to do.

(“Socialism for the Uninformed” by Thomas Sowell dated May 31, 2016 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2016/05/31/socialism-for-the-uninformed-n2171042 )


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:

·    Terrorism at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/terrorism.php


David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY