FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #76: “You know they’re governing against the will of the people when they play with the meaning of words to fool the people.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 26th, 2011

The More they Trust You the Easier it is to Lie to Them

People lie for one reason.  They don’t want you to hear the truth. Sometimes it’s done with good intentions.  “No, those jeans don’t make your butt look big.”  Most times it’s not.  “I am not having an affair.  And I can explain those earrings you found in the backseat.  And the underwear that’s not yours.  Just give me a minute.”

The truth about lying is the truth.  And someone’s attempt to hide it.  A husband doesn’t tell his wife about an affair.  Because he doesn’t want his wife to know about the affair.  For a variety of reasons.  But mostly so he can keep having the affair.

And this is why people lie.  To continue doing something they couldn’t otherwise do.  By misleading those people who know them.  Who love them.  Who trust them.  And the funny thing is, the more they trust you the easier it is to lie to them.  “Look, honey, I didn’t want to say anything before.  But the rumor at work was that John and Mary were having an affair.  I didn’t believe it at first.  I mean, they’re both married.  And they’re more than just my coworkers.  They’re my friends.  Then one day John had to borrow my car.  So I lent it to him.  The next thing Bill tells me is that he sees John and Mary in my car turning into an alley.  Guess I know what they were doing in that alley.”

See?  Easy.

Good Lying is about Creative Language and Class Warfare

So if you’re into lying it’s best to get yourself into a position where lots of people trust you.  Like elected office.  Because for some reason people tend to trust anyone in government.  Far more than those evil greedy people in corporate America.  Or rich people in general.  Even though it’s a given that politicians lie.  It is an interesting dynamic.  How this inherently dishonest institution is trusted first then questioned about their honesty later.  Long after the scandals that follow them.  So how do they do it?  How do these liars get to be so trusted?

It’s all about creative language.  And class warfare.  You need to get people to hate each other.  And then you stoke those passions.  Keep them burning hot.  So they feel more than think.  For the less they think the more they’ll fall for your soaring rhetoric.  You say the rich should pay their fair share (even though they pay a disproportionate high percentage of taxes).  And that rich CEOs shouldn’t get tax breaks to fly around in their private jets (even though they use them for legitimate business purposes).  You cast yourself as the protector of the little guy against rich and corporate interests.  Even though you’re anything but.  But that’s how it’s done.  And no one does it better than liberal Democrats.

For they are the king of liars.  Ivy League educated.  Arrogant.  Pompous.  Filled with an air of all-knowing condescension.  They just brim with loathing and self-confidence.  They loath you and I who are not their equals.  And they believe that there is nothing that they can’t do.  And what do they want to do?  Tax and spend.  Control the economy.  And tell us how we should live.  In the enlightened world they envision.  Of course, this has not proven to be a successful political platform.  People don’t want to elect people like this.  So they lie about what they want.  And who they are.  With a creative use of language.

Twisting the Meanings of Words

No one likes paying taxes.  No one will vote for someone who says they’re going to raise their taxes.  Which is a bit of a problem for a tax and spend liberal.  So they don’t use the ‘T’ word.  No.  Instead, taxes are called ‘contributions’.  Or simply ‘revenue’.  Because contributions sound voluntary.  And revenue sounds kind of warm and fuzzy.  In the business world, raising revenue is a good thing.  And they hate taxes in the business world.  Just like you.  So you feel less threatened about talks to raise revenue than you do about talks to raise taxes.  Even though they are the same thing.

With ever growing deficits, some people are growing a little skittish about excessive government spending.  At least, the people paying the taxes.  Those people with jobs.  They don’t want to pay more in taxes.  And they’re getting a little nervous about the huge federal debt.  So the responsible side in them tells them to say ‘no’ to more spending.  So the tax and spend liberal uses the word ‘investment’ instead.  They say we need to invest in infrastructure to rebuild our aging roads and bridges (even though gasoline taxes already pay for this work).  That we need to invest in education and research to keep America on the forefront of technology (even though we already spend a fortune on these already).  Investing in our future?  Well, yes, that sounds good.  And perhaps we should.  So we agree not to cut these investments.  But we’ll still resist excessive government spending.  Even though these are the same thing.

You see, the tax and spend liberal looks at the economy differently.  They see all money belonging to them.  Including ours.  They let us work.  Earn a paycheck.  But your net pay is only the portion of their money they begrudgingly let you keep.  In fact, what they don’t tax away from you they call government spending.  Or tax expenditures.  They’ll say things like, “We can’t afford to pay for these tax cuts.”  Of course, you don’t pay for ‘tax cuts’.  A tax cut is when the rightful owner of the money gets to keep it.  Instead of the government taking it away.  But calling this ‘government spending’ makes it easier to cut.  For cutting spending is a responsible thing to do.  But when they cut this spending they are actually raising taxes.  Clever, eh?  Talk about twisting the meaning of words.

Here are some other words and phrases they use and their translation:

  • Bipartisan = Republicans giving Democrats everything they want
  • Compromise = see bipartisan
  • Future spending cuts = no spending cuts
  • A balanced budget approach = higher taxes now and future spending cuts later (see future spending cuts above)
  • Get serious about deficit reduction = increase both spending and taxes
  • Blue ribbon panel/special commission = where you place an issue that you’re afraid to address
  • Failed policies of the past = the very successful policies of Reaganomics
  • Radical right wing = any Republican that doesn’t vote for more Democrat spending

 Republicans have Less to Hide

Liberal Democrats lie because no one wants what they’re selling.  But because they’re so much smarter than we are they’ve come up with a way to fool us.  By lying.  And using Orwellian language.  To make us accept things that we would normally not accept.

Just look at their campaigns.  And their language.  They campaign as moderates.  Then govern as liberals.  They want to raise our taxes.  But they don’t tell us that they want to raise our taxes.  Why?  Because taxpayers don’t share their Orwellian vision.  For if the people believed as they believed they would be honest.  But they don’t.  So they are less than honest.

Republicans, on the other hand, call ‘tax cuts’ tax cuts.  And ‘tax hikes’ tax hikes.  They run as conservatives.  And govern as conservatives.  Until they’re corrupted by Washington, at least.  But based on language usage alone even the most partisan hack would have to admit that the Republicans have less to hide.  And, therefore, govern more according to the will of the people.

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Remembering D-Day and the Fight for/against Democracy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 6th, 2011

D-Day

It happened 67 years ago today.  The beginning of the end of Nazi GermanyJoseph Stalin finally got his second front.   After a couple of years of hell on earth.  The Eastern Front.  Where the war was the cruelest and most savage.  Killing people by the millions.  The Soviet Union fought and sacrificed to throw the Nazi invader out of their homeland.  A horrific price indeed for their nonaggression pact with Nazi Germany that gave Adolf Hitler the green light to launch World War II.

After years of total war most European countries lay in ruins or were conquered.  Yet they still had armies in the fight.  But by 1944, the Americans would take over and lead the fight.  Untouched by war (other than Pearl Harbor), the world’s largest economy was intact.  Took over war production for the Allies.  And American men volunteered to fight.  Including Hollywood greats like Jimmy Stewart who piloted B-24s.  The most dangerous place to be in World War II.  Before the P-51 Mustang entered service with her drop tanks to provide fighter protection all the way to and from their targets.

The second front opened with the greatest amphibious assault of all time.  The Canadians were making their second assault against Fortress Europe.  Their first, at Dieppe some two years earlier, ended badly.  Most were killed or captured.  But the Germans were tested.  And the knowledge put to use in 1944.  They and the Americans assaulted those beaches not to repel Nazi aggression from their soil.  But to help other nations to throw out the Nazi aggressors from their soil.  They didn’t fight to conquer.  They fought to liberate.  A rather new concept.  Even our then ally the Soviet Union didn’t quite do this.  They did liberate Eastern Europe from Nazi aggression, but they paid themselves handsomely for their efforts.  By taking Eastern Europe as spoils.  Exchanging the Nazi oppressor for a Soviet oppressor.

A lot of men died on this day in 1944.  And many more would die in the following year.  Their deaths helped keep liberty alive for millions.  Let’s not forget them today.  Let’s remember their selfless acts of courage.  For we live free today because they gave their lives for an ideal.  General Matthew Ridgeway, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, reflected on the promise God made to Joshua on the eve of battle.  “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”  The planners projected that 9 out of 10 paratroopers would die in battle on D-Day.  Thankfully, their losses were not that bad.  God did not fail them.  Nor forsake them.  And nor should we.

Recession?  What recession?

Of course, not everyone serves for an ideal.  A lot do it for the money.  As is evidenced during the worst recession since the Great Depression.  Because while the rest of the country suffers, the communities in and around Washington are doing just fine.  Home to 5 of the top ten richest counties in America (see Meet America’s Richest Counties by Nathan Vardi, Forbes.com, posted 5/13/2011 on Yahoo! Real Estate).

It’s No. 1, but it isn’t alone. In fact, four of the top ten richest counties in the nation are concentrated in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, and a fifth, Howard County, Md., is equidistant between Washington and Baltimore.

In recent decades northern Virginia has become an economic dynamo, driven by a private sector that feasts on government contracting. These counties are also home to corporate lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who work in or around the nation’s capital, soaking up federal government spending. And government-related hiring manages to keep the unemployment rate in places like Falls Church City down to 5.7%.

Recession?  What recession?

So while home values continue to fall throughout America and the national unemployment rate hovers at or above 9%, U.S. tax money is still flowing out from Washington as if there is no recession.  Government contracts.  Corporate lobbyists.  Lawyers and Consultants.  Feeding on all of that government spending.  This is not the ideal that men stormed beaches and jumped out of airplanes for in 1944.  To make people rich off of taxpayers struggling through difficult times.  God may not have failed these men.  But perhaps we did.

Inadequate Demand causes Unemployment, not Cheaper Workers in China and India

It would appear that Washington is more interested in the money than the people they represent.  And they’ve grown tired of the people they represent.  That uneducated rabble.  They don’t know how to vote (based on the 2010 midterm elections).  And they don’t understand monetary policy.  There are some who are tiring of this charade we call democracy.  Because what good is a democracy if the people are too stupid to know what’s best for them? 

And it’s just not the voters.  It’s those in Congress with an ‘R’ next to their name, too.  An Obama Fed nominee was shot down by the Republican opposition.  And he wrote an Op-Ed piece about it.  In it you can feel his exasperation of those less smart that he (see When a Nobel Prize Isn’t Enough by Peter A. Diamond posted on 6/5/2011 on The New York Times).

But understanding the labor market — and the process by which workers and jobs come together and separate — is critical to devising an effective monetary policy. The financial crisis has led to continuing high unemployment. The Fed has to properly assess the nature of that unemployment to be able to lower it as much as possible while avoiding inflation. If much of the unemployment is related to the business cycle — caused by a lack of adequate demand — the Fed can act to reduce it without touching off inflation. If instead the unemployment is primarily structural — caused by mismatches between the skills that companies need and the skills that workers have — aggressive Fed action to reduce it could be misguided.

In my Nobel acceptance speech in December, I discussed in detail the patterns of hiring in the American economy, and concluded that structural unemployment and issues of mismatch were not important in the slow recovery we have been experiencing, and thus not a reason to stop an accommodative monetary policy — a policy of keeping short-term interest rates exceptionally low and buying Treasury securities to keep long-term rates down. Analysis of the labor market is in fact central to monetary policy.

Well pahdon me while I play the grahnd piahno.  Nobel acceptance speech.  You can see why Obama nominated him.  He’s a good Keynesian economist that will toe the Obama line.  And encourage government growth.

These Keynesian policy wonks can’t see the forest for the trees, though.  Their answer to every recession is more government spending to correct for the lack of adequate demand.  Despite the fact that it was excessive government spending that gave us the mess we’re in.  Easy money from the Fed.  Which created the subprime mortgage crisis.  Well that and bad policy putting people into homes they couldn’t afford.  There’s the root cause for this never ending recession.  It wasn’t inadequate demand.  Or a mismatch between jobs and worker skills.  It was bad policy.  Fiscal, monetary, regulatory, etc.  This is what sends jobs to China and India.  Not inadequate demand.

Quantitative easing (QE) has not helped.  Unless you were a Wall Street investor borrowing money for free to invest.  They did okay during QE.  But it didn’t help anyone else.  In fact, it hurt everyone else.  Because there is inflation now.  It’s what pushed gas over $4/gallon again.  And made food prices go up.  Inflation courtesy of that QE.

But we should all worry about how distorted the confirmation process has become, and how little understanding of monetary policy there is among some of those responsible for its Congressional oversight. We need to preserve the independence of the Fed from efforts to politicize monetary policy and to limit the Fed’s ability to regulate financial firms…

Analytical expertise is needed to accomplish this, to make government more effective and efficient. Skilled analytical thinking should not be drowned out by mistaken, ideologically driven views that more is always better or less is always better. I had hoped to bring some of my own expertise and experience to the Fed. Now I hope someone else can.

The problem is that there are apparently too many dumb people.  And too much democracy.  Monetary policy and financial regulation should be in the hands of unelected experts chosen by people from the ‘correct’ political party.  Because these people know what’s best for us.  And the economy.

The NLRB goes after Boeing, helping Competitor Airbus

Or do they?

Boeing employs over 160,000 people.  To build all those planes.  Which is the leading export of the United States.  They’re not doing as well as they once did with Airbus on the scene.  Because Airbus doesn’t play fair.  They get government subsidies.  While Airbus claims Boeing does, too.  Planes are expensive to make.  And with Airbus taking such a large chunk of the market from Boeing, one would believe that the reason for this has to be cost.  And if Airbus planes are cheaper it’s probably because their governments subsidize them.

But that’s neither here nor there.  The point is that Boeing is a huge part of the U.S. economy.  It’s an economic juggernaut.  And you’d think government would do everything to help them to keep those 160,000 people employed.  And to keep exporting all of those airplanes.  So what does the Obama administration do?  They’re taking action against Boeing to make them less competitive.  They’re trying to prevent them from using a new factory in North Charleston, South Carolina.  Where they will use non-union labor (see Spat over Boeing plant sparks political firestorm by Allison Linn posted 6/6/2011 on msnbc).

The new factory is set to open in July. But in April the NLRB, a government agency charged with safeguarding union rights, filed a complaint accusing Boeing of violating labor law in its motive for locating the work in South Carolina.

The NLRB isn’t asking Boeing to close the new facility, but it does want the company to make a temporary production line in Washington state permanent.

Yes, Boeing is trying to be more productive.  They’re tired of fighting subsidized Airbus AND the high cost of union labor AND the costs of labor strikes.  Because they’re losing too many sales to Airbus.  Seems like a reasonable thing for Boeing to do.  But the National Labor Relations Board disagrees.  Because union dues support Democrat candidates.  And Barack Obama.  And even though “skilled analytical thinking should not be drowned out by mistaken, ideologically driven views,” it is.  For ideology always trumps analytical thinking when it favors Democrats.

“U.S. tax and regulatory policies already make it more attractive for many companies to build new manufacturing capacity overseas. That’s something the administration has said it wants to change and is taking steps to address. It appears that message hasn’t made it to the front offices of the NLRB,” McNerney wrote.

Boeing spokesman Tim Neale said the editorial should not be read as a threat that Boeing, the nation’s largest exporter and a major domestic employer, will mo[v]e operations overseas.

Moving manufacturing oversees results in higher unemployment.  So higher unemployment can result from U.S. tax and regulatory policies.  Because it moves manufacturing overseas.  Interesting.  Because there are some who believe unemployment is caused by inadequate demand.  Or a mismatch between jobs and worker skills.  And they would never entertain the thought that government policy caused this unemployment.  Because that’s just silly.  For government is full of experts using skilled analytical thinking.  Who know that in the ideal world they would be proven right.  And the only reason their policies fail is because the world isn’t ideal.  Yet.

Again, not quite the ideal that men stormed beaches and jumped out of airplanes for in 1944.

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Demand-Side Slump or Government caused Supply-Side Recession?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 4th, 2011

The Arrogance and Condescension of Liberal Elite Academics

The problem with liberal academics running the country is that they think like liberal academics.  They have no business experience.  But they know how to run businesses better than business owners who’ve been running businesses for years.  It’s the height of arrogance and condescension.  But these liberal elite academics don’t see people.  They see charts and grafts.  Which are religious icons to them.  Holy.  They accept them on faith.  They never question them.  And always make excuses for them when the policies they beget fail.  While pointing at successful policies with successful track records and calling them failures.  Because these policies are heretical.  And conservative.

Here is a liberal academic talking down to the American people with all-knowing condescension.  And if you want to know how the current administration thinks, all you have to do is read this arrogance and condescension (see Fatal Fatalism by Paul Krugman posted 6/4/2011 on The New York Times).

We are not, after all, suffering from supply-side problems…This is a demand-side slump; all we need to do is create more demand.

So why is this slump, like most slumps following financial crises, so protracted? Because the usual tools for pumping up demand have reached their limits. Normally we respond to demand-side slumps by cutting short-term nominal interest rates, which the Fed can move through open-market operations. But we now have severely depressed private demand thanks to the housing bust and the overhang of consumer debt, so even a zero rate isn’t low enough…

The answer seems obvious. We should be using fiscal stimulus; we should be using unconventional monetary policy, including raising the inflation target; we should be pursuing aggressive measures to reduce mortgage debt. Not doing these things means accepting huge waste and hardship.

But, say the serious people, there are risks to doing any of these things. Well, life is full of risks. But it’s simply crazy to put a higher weight on the possibility that the invisible bond vigilantes might manifest themselves, or the inflation monster emerge from its secret cave, over the continuing reality of enormous human and economic damage from doing nothing.

The housing bubble was created by too much unconventional monetary policy.  Money was dirt cheap to borrow.  And people borrowed.  To buy houses they couldn’t afford.  With subprime mortgages.  That they defaulted on when interest rates went up.  Causing the subprime mortgage crisis.  Which happens when you stimulate demand beyond normal market demand.  Why?  Because you don’t create healthy economic growth with easy money.  You create bubbles.

The Fed has done too much.  All their easy monetary policy to stimulate the economy has only devalued the dollar.  Making an important and scarce commodity more costly.  Because the world prices this most important of all commodities in U.S. dollars.  Oil.  Which makes diesel and gasoline.  The energy we use to bring food to market.  Which is why prices are up.  Across the board.  Especially food and energy.  That hit consumers the hardest.  Because of inflation.  Caused by monetary policy.  Which has failed to produce jobs.  Lower the misery index.  Or end the recession.

Their answer?  More of the same.  It’s always more of the same.  Jimmy Carter‘s ‘more of the same’ did not end the malaise of his stagflationRonald Reagan‘s economic policies did.  His conservative, supply-side economic policies.  That created real economic growth.  And doubled tax receipts to boot.  But his policies were heretical.  They went against everything liberals hold sacred.  Their Keynesian charts and graphs.  That look at business activity as an aggregate thing.  And not as people.  So liberals attack the success of Reaganomics.  Despite its soaring success.

You see, Reaganomics created jobs.  It made a favorable business climate.  So business people could do what they know how to do.  Create business. Expand business.  Make more things.  And create jobs.  Which drives all consumer spending.  Which makes up over 70% of the economy.  Because a consumer needs a job to spend.  And this kind of spending will sustain itself.  Unlike Keynesian tweaking.  Which is by definition only temporary.  To fill the gap until the private market restores itself.  Which makes Keynesian economics itself a paradox.  Using policies that hinder the private market to stimulate the private market.

The Inflation Monster is out and Squeezing Consumers

And while some will mock conservatives about letting loose the inflation monster from its secret cave, the inflation monster is already out.  And wreaking consumer havoc (see Tightening our belts: Americans lower income expectations by John Melloy, CNBC, posted 6/4/2011 on USA Today).

With consumers squeezed on both sides by stagnant wages and rising prices, the number who believe they will bring home more money one year from now is at its lowest in 25 years, according to analysis of survey data by Goldman Sachs.

The inflation monster has devalued the dollar.  And when you devalue the dollar you need more of them to buy the same amount of things you did before.  Because, thanks to inflation, those things have higher prices.  Consumers have to pay these higher prices.  Leaving them less money to spend.  And their employers have to pay them.  Leaving them less money to spend on wages.  So few people think they will bring more money home next year.  Because things are so bad this year.

A typical recovery pattern goes like this: stock market bottoms, economic growth bottoms and then hiring and wage increases return. What’s unique and scary about this recovery is that the last piece of the recovery is not there.

For a simple reason.  Intervention.  It’s all that Keynesian tweaking.  Like that trillion dollar stimulus bill.  If it wasn’t for all that government spending the economy may have actually recovered by now.  Now we have recession and inflation.  Thanks, liberal elite academics.

In the 2001 recession, the country lost 2 percent of jobs from peak employment and then made that back in a 48- month cycle, according to data from money management firm Trutina Financial. In 1990, the jobs lost during the recession were recovered in 30 months.

Right now, about 38 months from peak employment during the housing boom, there are still six percent fewer jobs out there. Making up that amount of jobs in 10 months or less would be unprecedented, if not impossible.

“The crawl out of this economic ditch is going to be long and slow,” said Patty Edwards, chief investment officer at Trutina. “Even if they’re employed, many consumers aren’t earnings what they were two years ago, either because they’re in lower-paying jobs or not getting as many hours.”

Jobs are everything.  And to create jobs you have to understand people.  Not look at sacred charts and graphs.  You have to understand what motivates the individual.  Not hypothesize about what will move aggregate curves on a graph.  Of course, liberal elite academics chose not to do this.  Because they are gods.  Infallible.  Who live in a world where paradoxes exist.  And can deny reality at will.

Small Business sees the Government as Adversarial

If jobs are everything, then why won’t there just be more jobs?  You’d think the gods could make them.  And no doubt are wrathful and miffed that their policies haven’t made them.  All because of those dirty, greedy, little business owners.  Heretics.  Sitting on cash instead of using it to hire people. 

Of course, the greatest job creators out there are small business owners.  Who don’t have big legal staffs or legions of tax accountants.  And these Keynesian polices are just overwhelming them.  As related in a conversation on a plane with a Yale law professor.  Who asked point blank why this small business owner didn’t hire more people (see Carter: Economic Stagnation Explained, at 30,000 Feet by Stephen L. Carter posted 5/26/2011 on Bloomberg).

“Because I don’t know how much it will cost,” he explains. “How can I hire new workers today, when I don’t know how much they will cost me tomorrow?”

He’s referring not to wages, but to regulation: He has no way of telling what new rules will go into effect when. His business, although it covers several states, operates on low margins. He can’t afford to take the chance of losing what little profit there is to the next round of regulatory changes. And so he’s hiring nobody until he has some certainty about cost.

It’s interesting listening to a person.  Because you learn something different than you do from moving a curve on a graph.

“I don’t understand why Washington does this to us,” he resumes. By “us,” he means people who run businesses of less- than-Fortune-500 size. He tells me that it doesn’t much matter which party is in office. Every change of power means a whole new set of rules to which he and those like him must respond. ‘‘I don’t understand,” he continues, “why Washington won’t just get out of our way and let us hire.”

Get out of our way?  And let us hire?  You mean they would be hiring more people if it wasn’t for all the policies encouraging them to hire more people?  Interesting.  So what should government do?  How should they be in this business-government relationship?

“Invisible,” he says. “I know there are things the government has to do. But they need to find a way to do them without people like me having to bump into a new regulation every time we turn a corner.” He reflects for a moment, then finds the analogy he seeks. “Government should act like my assistant, not my boss.”

In other words, government shouldn’t tell business owners how to better run their businesses.  Because few in government have ever run a business.  They need to stop acting as the authority on something when those they try to help know more than they do.  This conversation gave this Yale law professor some food for thought.

On the way to my connection, I ponder. As an academic with an interest in policy, I tend to see businesses as abstractions, fitting into a theory or a data set. Most policy makers do the same. We rarely encounter the simple human face of the less- than-giant businesses we constantly extol. And when they refuse to hire, we would often rather go on television and call them greedy than sit and talk to them about their challenges.

Recessions have complex causes, but, as the man on the aisle reminded me, we do nothing to make things better when the companies on which we rely see Washington as adversary rather than partner.

And there it is.  Small business sees the government as adversarial.  And there is only one reason why they do.  Because it’s true.

Fiscal Stimulus is the Problem

This is not a demand-side slump.  It’s a supply-side problem.  Caused by the adversarial relationship between business and government.  Otherwise a trillion dollar in stimulus spending would have done something.  Other than give us inflation. 

Fiscal stimulus isn’t the solution.  It’s the problem.  And we need to stop trying to fix this problem with what gave us the problem.  Because they aren’t gods.  And we are individuals.  Not an aggregate to hypothesize about for fun and games.    

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The UK and Canada get Spending under Control while the USA is in Denial

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 1st, 2011

Teacher Pensions too Generous in the UK, Too

It’s not just in Madison, Wisconsin.  Or Detroit, Michigan.  Those public sector benefits busting budgets in city and states throughout the United States are causing fiscal pain in the UK, too (see Heads vote for industrial action ballot over pensions by Angela Harrison posted 5/1/2011 on the BBC).

A review led by Lord Hutton called for final salary schemes to be replaced by those based on the average salary in a career and said public sector workers should retire later, in line with a rising state pension age…

Schools minister Nick Gibb recently told a teachers’ conference that public service pensions should remain a gold standard – but that rising costs and greater life expectancy meant reform was needed.

These generous public sector benefits are no longer sustainable.  There’s a cost to this kind of spending.  High taxes.  Which don’t create jobs.  Or economic activity.  Which is the source of all taxes.  So raising taxes to pay for this generous spending ends up reducing economic activity, job creation and total tax receipts.  Which creates unemployment.  And deficits. 

So conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is trying to reverse this trend.  He and his coalition government with the Liberal Democrats are implementing austerity programs throughout the UK.  A la Margaret Thatcher.  The great conservative from the Eighties.  Who helped to put the ‘great’ back into Great Britain.  By cutting taxes.  And spending.

The Canadian Government becoming more American

The trend is the same in Canada.  Where Stephen Harper may just win an outright parliamentary majority for his conservative party.  Courtesy of the New Democratic Party (NDP) no less (See Stephen Harper and that elusive majority by The Economist posted 4/28/2011 on The Economist).

THE hitherto sleepy campaign for Canada’s general election on May 2nd was jolted awake over the Easter weekend by a surprising surge by the New Democratic Party (NDP), a leftish amalgam of trade unionists and farmers…

So is Canada about to go socialist? Although the Canadian dollar wobbled this week, the answer is almost certainly not.   Indeed, by splitting the centre-left vote more evenly, the NDP’s rise—if sustained—may provide Stephen Harper, the Conservative leader, with the parliamentary majority that has eluded him ever since he became prime minister in 2006. In the ensuing years Canadian politics has become an unusually shrill, partisan and intransigent affair.  Frequent elections—this is the fourth since 2004—have seen falling voter turnout, while polls show that public trust in politicians is also declining.

This cynicism seems to have helped Jack Layton, the NDP leader. He is seen as the cheerful underdog, who, despite suffering from prostate cancer and hip problems that require he walk with a cane, appears relaxed and smiling. Although based in Toronto, he grew up near Montreal. In colloquial French he claims that “winds of change” are sweeping his native province. His message of higher corporate taxes, more social spending, green measures, and an early withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan goes down well in Quebec, a traditionally pacifist, big-government kind of place. Mr Layton seems to be successfully wooing disillusioned supporters of the separatist Bloc Québécois.

Once upon a time Canada was New France.  But the British changed French Canada to British Canada after winning the Seven Years’ War.  But the French never stopped being French in Quebec.  Even put ‘je me souviens‘ on their license plates.  So they would never forget their French past.  French tradition.  Or French culture.  The Bloc Québécois even wanted to get Quebec out of Canada.  It turned out that most Quebecers didn’t.  So the Bloc has been marginalized of late.  But if you ever traveled to the province of Quebec it is clear that they like their government big.  Which is why the NDP appeals to Quebecers.

The NDP is also profiting from the travails of Michael Ignatieff, the Liberal leader, who entered politics in 2006 after spending most of the three previous decades working as a journalist and academic in Britain and the United States. Although his campaign appearances have become more assured, he has failed to shake off the gibes of Conservative attack ads that he is an elitist from Harvard who is “just visiting” Canada in the hope of gaining power.

An elitist from Harvard?  Interesting.  For Ivy League elitists have ruled the US since George H. W. Bush.  The latest being perhaps the most elitist.  President Obama.  Who many criticize as being professorial.  And of talking down to the American people.  Which is what they teach you to do at Harvard.  And the other Ivy League schools.

The biggest problem for the Liberals, a centrist, big-tent party, is that Canadian politics has become less European and consensual and more American and ideological. Mr Harper has been the main cause and beneficiary of that process. After five years, he has earned Canadians’ respect if not their love. He is an astute political tactician: he is the longest-serving prime minister of a minority government in Canadian history. But he comes over as a cold control-freak. A headline on the website of the Globe and Mail, a Liberal-leaning paper, summed up popular sentiment when it described the prime minister as “nasty, brutish—and competent”.

Mr Harper’s campaign pitch is that he needs a parliamentary majority in order to sustain the country’s recovery from recession. His message of low taxes, small government and tougher treatment of criminals has won him support everywhere except Quebec…

Now this is very interesting indeed.  Becoming more American?  All the while the Americans, under the rule of those Ivy League elitists, are trying to become more European.  Where the big social democracies wield great power.  And budgets.  Meanwhile, America’s friends to the north are going low taxes and small government.  And however cruel and unfeeling that may be, the Canadian liberals even admit Harper’s government is competent.  Which is another way of saying responsible.  Or grown up.

Medicare Reform has had Bipartisan Support for Decades

The UK and Canada have little choice.  They have to be ‘grown up’ in light of their financial woes.  And it’s no different in the U.S.  Their financial woes just have taken a little longer to hit them.  Because they are the world’s largest economy.  But even size doesn’t matter in the long run.  And some have seen the writing on the wall since the early eighties (see GOP plan to change Medicare is rooted in bipartisan history by Amy Goldstein posted 5/1/2011 on The Washington Post).

There is a broad consensus that Medicare in its current form will be overwhelmed by the financial pressures of the aging baby-boom generation, longer life spans and sophisticated medical treatments. Various estimates say the fund that pays Medicare hospital bills will run short in a decade or two; the program’s trustees are to release new predictions in a few weeks.

The thinking about Medicare and market forces has long bipartisan roots. In the early 1980s, then-congressmen Richard A. Gephardt, a Missouri Democrat, and David Stockman, a Michigan Republican, proposed vouchers to help people on Medicare buy private health plans.

The term “premium support” was coined in 1995 by two respected health policy experts, neither a conservative: Henry Aaron, a Brookings economist, and Robert Reischauer, president of the Urban Institute. “The idea of vouchers was abroad in the land,” Aaron recalled. “We thought there was sort of a free-market-will-cure-all mentality.”

Their idea was to marry market competition in Medicare with regulation to ensure proper benefits and enough financial help. The Medicare commission’s work was an heir to their ideas. Proponents point out that the popular Medicare drug benefit created in 2003 relies on a such a model.

So America has had its grownups looking at the inevitable since the eighties.  Medicare will break unless it’s changed.  For three decades the grownups have been discussing this.  But the Ivy League elitists say ‘pish tosh’ and laugh with all knowing condescension.  For they don’t live in reality.  Their world is an insulated one where the privileged elite don’t work.  But spend their days pontificating.  Safe and snug in their universities.  Or in the federal government.  Where the consequences of their policies will never touch them.

Myopic Ivy League Pretentious Condescension

So we have unsustainable spending in the UK, Canada and the USA.  Concerned citizens in these countries voted in conservative governments.  Rising costs and greater life expectancy have made the state pensions and health plans in days of old no longer doable.  No, austerity is now the name of the game.  People are getting it.  Despite the lies of the politicians.  For the people live in the real world.  The world of paychecks.  And taxes.  Unlike the elite who like to pontificate from their lives of plenty and extreme comfort.  But that doesn’t stop the lying.  The myopic Ivy League worldview.  Or the pretentious condescension.  Case in point is the wonkish Paul Krugman. 

He posted a chart showing changes in revenue and spending from 2007 to 2010.   Spending is up.  And revenues are down.  Ergo, it’s not a spending problem.  We’re simply not taxing enough (see Origins of the Deficit by Paul Krugman posted 5/1/2011 on The New York Times).

Even on this crude calculation, it’s obvious that the slump is responsible for the great bulk of the rise in the deficit. Anyone who says otherwise is either remarkably ill-informed or trying to deceive you.

Budgets in cities and states across the country are facing their biggest deficits in history.  Why?  Recession.  Tax revenues plummet in times of recession.  Housing values tumble during times of recession (and with them property taxes).  People lose jobs during times of recession (the unemployed don’t pay income taxes or payroll taxes).  And it’s the same at the federal level.  Especially during the greatest recession since the Great Depression.  Sustained government spending during times of recession empties treasuries.  And creates deficits.

Federal spending has averaged approximately 20% of GDP since 1960.  It jumped to approximately 25% during the Obama administration.  That’s a huge spending increase.  No matter how you look at it.  And this is why the deficit is soaring into the trillion dollar territory for the first time.  Record spending during the worst recession since the Great Depression. 

“Anyone who says otherwise is either remarkably ill-informed or trying to deceive you.”

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #49: “The ‘tolerant’ are intolerant.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 18th, 2011

Liberals Benefit most from a Liberal Agenda

People on the left claim to be more tolerant than those on the right.  Live and let live, they say.  But they don’t really mean that.  For they are very intolerant of anyone who thinks differently than they do.

We’re talking about the far left.  The liberals.  That 20% of the population.  Which excludes a large percentage of Democrats.  And moderates and independents.  We’re talking college professors, public school teachers, the liberal media, the Hollywood elite, public sector unions, liberal politicians, etc.  People who have an air of superiority about them.  Who think they’re better than most people.  And who don’t care to hear any contrary views or opinions.  Because if they disagree with them, those views and opinions are just wrong.

For the ruling elite is always right.  And that’s who they think they are.  Elite.  And they rule.  Or try to.  Either in Congress through legislation.  Or by shaping opinion.  In the elite liberal media.  In our public schools where they shape the minds of our young children (to be good stewards of the planet, to trust government and not private business, that Americans stole the land from the indigenous people, that America was built on slavery and greed, etc.).  In our colleges where they continue and add to the work of the public schools (that we oppress women, that we’re a racist society, that Marxism is good while capitalism is bad, etc.).  In the entertainment world (actors, musicians, etc.) that gives a loud voice to this minority opinion.  In the public sector that grows bigger and consumes ever more of our tax dollars in exchange for support of the liberal agenda.  Etc.

It’s a small community.  Where they take care of each other.  They all have a vested interest in advancing the liberal agenda.  Because they live better than the average American.  At the expense of the average American (through high taxes, tuition, union contracts, etc.). 

Getting the People to Vote you into the Privileged Elite

So we have a minority group enjoying a privileged lifestyle.  Far better than the people paying to support that lifestyle can ever imagine.   In times past, the ruling elite used the power of the state to oppress the masses.  To get the money from them to support those privileged lifestyles.  While keeping them living in fear.  So the oppressed didn’t band together to overthrow the ruling elite.

It’s an effective formula.  And it has worked.  For awhile.  For some.  They may enjoy a few years.  Or a decade.  Or two.  A century.  Until they get overthrown by the masses.  Like the French did in 1789 (the French Revolution).  Or like the Russians did in 1917 (the February Revolution and the October Revolution).  These got pretty ugly.  A lot of people died.  Including the royal sovereigns. 

That’s the downside of absolute power.  You really piss off the people you oppress.  And pissed off people tend to revolt.  Thankfully, in a democracy, you don’t have to worry about that.  You can live the privileged life.  Without physically oppressing them.  You just have to get the people to vote for you.  And you do that by promising them free stuff.  And by demonizing your opponents.

Political Correctness helps to Limit Political Dissent

It’s called divide and conquer.  When you go up against a larger enemy, you try to divide that enemy and attack smaller parts of the enemy.  Because there is no way you can win going head to head.  The liberals, that 20%, cannot go up against the other 80% with any hopes of winning.  So they pick off parts of the 80% and attack them.

Their weapon of choice?  Political correctness.  Today you have to be very careful of what you say.  And how you say what you say.  Because if you don’t you can offend someone.  This helps to limit political dissent.  Because dissenters may say something politically incorrect.  And no one wants that.  Because they tell us in our public schools that that is wrong.  In college, too.  And in the media.  And on TV.  In the movies.  Etc.

And you can use political correctness to demonize your opponents.  If you oppose affirmative action you’re racist.  If you oppose immigration reform, you’re racist.  If you oppose welfare reform, you’re cruel and indifferent to the sufferings of the poor.  If you oppose gay marriage you’re a homophobe.  If you oppose gun control you’re a redneck Second Amendment nut (somehow that’s politically correct to say).  If you oppose Big Government you’re a tool of the special interests and Big Business.  And so on.  If you oppose any part of their agenda, there’s just something wrong with you.  Because you disagree with the enlightened people (that 20% of the population).  And because we see so many people admire and respect these enlightened people (thanks to our schooling, the media, Hollywood, etc.) we should want to be like them.  So people admire and respect us, too.

Divide and Conquer the Single Issue People

Those on the left, that 20%, are very tolerant of what you say or do.  As long as it’s what they say or do.  Because if you think and act like they do, they can maintain their privileged life.  If you disagree with them, then you threaten their privileged life.  You could vote liberals out of office.  You could set performance standards for public school teachers.  You could reduce the power of public sector unions.  You start doing these things and the next thing you know these liberals will have to get real jobs.  And they ain’t having none of that.

So they divide and conquer.  They support gay marriage and call you a homophobe because of your ‘intolerance’ of the gay lifestyle.  So the gays and lesbians support liberals.  They support abortion and call you a religious extremist because of your ‘intolerance’ of women having choice.  So a lot of people who enjoy consequence-free sex support liberals.  (And a lot of women who want to keep the right to choose just in case.)   They want to decriminalize drugs and call you a fascist for your ‘intolerance’ of people being free to put whatever they want into their bodies.  So the potheads and other recreational drug users support liberals.  (Of course, these same liberals will tell you NOT to eat a Big Mac or drink a Coke because they’re just not healthy for you.  Unlike heroin or cocaine.  Apparently.)   They support affirmative action and call you a racist because of your ‘intolerance’ of minorities.  So a lot of minorities support liberals.  And so on.

It adds up.  Get enough of these single issue people and you can maintain your power base.  So they are very tolerant of these people’s views and opinions.  And very intolerant of anyone opposing them.  They do this to persuade as many of the 80% that oppose their liberal agenda to support them.  So this minority of the population can continue to live a privileged life.  At our expense.

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Obama/Liberals want a Health Care System more British while the British want one more American

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 17th, 2011

Fixing the NHS in the UK to be more like that in the USA

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) must be broken.  Because they’re trying to fix it.  Not by making it bigger.  But by making it smaller.  They’re reducing the role of the central government.  And increasing the role of doctors and nurses treating patients.  It’s a program called General Practice Pathfinders.  And its goal is to improve the quality of health care of patients while reducing the cost of that health care (see General practice pathfinders now cover more than half the country posted 1/17/2011 on the United Kingdom’s News Distribution Service for Government and the Public Sector).

If we want better results for patients and a more efficient NHS, then we must devolve power to General Practices.

That means fewer bureaucrats in the business of medicine.  Instead, they’ll be more doctors and nurses.  Less one size fits all.  More of what’s best for you.  The patient.  As determined by a patient’s doctor.  Not some spreadsheet analyst in a faraway Big City.  But by someone in the local community that actually sees you. 

Some distant bureaucrat will not determine your care by looking at numbers in columns.  Instead, it will be by someone close enough to take your pulse.  To listen to your lungs.  To lay a reassuring hand on your shoulder.  Someone more personal.  In a system that is less scary.  Less cold.  Less impersonal. The way it used to be in the United Kingdom.  The way it still is in the United States.  For a while, at least.

And how is that working in the UK?

Patients are already seeing the benefits of local commissioning where consortia have been formed. The Croydon Healthcare Consortium, which serves a culturally and economically diverse population, are already leading the way in improving patient access to diagnostics, treatment and care. In response to feedback from patients, the Consortia was able to introduce a pilot locating mobile screening clinics at six Croydon GP practices to provide heart monitoring and ultrasound.

This has provided patients with greater choice and convenience, avoided long waiting times, high travel costs and expensive hospital parking, and sped up testing, diagnosis and treatment.

Improved access to diagnostics, treatment and care?  Greater choice?  Less wait times and travel costs.   Speedier testing and treatment?  Sounds like it’s a smashing success.  In fact, that sounds like the kind of care that affluent British have been traveling to the USA for.

Of course, to have these improvements means that the NHS had limited access to diagnostics, treatment and care.  Less choice.  Longer wait times.  Higher travel costs.  Slower diagnosis and treatment.  All the pitfalls of national health care.  Everything the critics of Obamacare warned about.  And supporters denied.

There’s a word for this.  Rationing.  And the UK is trying to reverse their rationing by reversing the top-down managed system that is the NHS.  Because the current system is broken.  And they’re trying to fix it.  By moving in a direction that is closer to what we have here.  All the while Obama and the liberal Democrats are desperately trying to move the USA in the direction the UK is moving away from.

The NHS is Dead.  Long live the NHS.  At least its American Version.

So we’re trying to move to the British system.  And the British are trying to move away from the British system.  I think that says something about the British system (it’s bad).  And it says something about the supporters of Obamacare (they’re bad). 

The British system isn’t the utopia liberals think it is.  If the NHS was they wouldn’t be changing it to get “better results for patients.”  Or to make it “more efficient.”  So why are liberals trying to take us there?  Give us an American NHS?  Are they trying to destroy our health care system?  To kill old people to cut the deficit?  Or is it just because they have great big egos?  “Sure, it’s failed everywhere it’s been tried.  But we’ll make it work. Because we’re just so much smarter than everyone else.”

You see, that’s the problem you have when you give narcissists legislative powers.  They legislate.  And then we get to clean up the mess they make.

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A Liberal Opines on things Economic, Confirms why they Suck at Creating Jobs

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 16th, 2011

Liberals don’t know Business or Jobs but they have their Big Keynesian Words

If you want to know why liberals are so bad at stimulating economic activity just read Paul Krugman’s Wages and Employment, Again (Wonkish) posted 1/16/2011 on The New York Times.  He pontificates with an erudite air of all-knowing condescension.  He’s smart.  And he wants to make sure you get this.  So he writes with big words and references big demand-side macroeconomic theories that he and his kind accept as undisputed fact.  Despite what the lessons of history say. 

Krugman is a Keynesian.  So, as a Keynesian, he knows nothing about business.  But, like a Keynesian, that doesn’t stop him from opining on the subject of business.

Here’s a fundamental truth (FT) about business.  FT 1:  If you make the cost of doing business high, you will reduce the amount of business a business does.  Here’s another.  FT 2:  If the people are NOT buying whatever they’re selling, this will also reduce the amount of business a business does.  A couple of key things a business needs here.  To have the cost of doing business kept low enough so they can sell at a price that makes them competitive in the market place.  And they need people to have jobs so they can buy their competitively priced goods or services they place into the market place.

Liberals never seem to get either of these points.

High Wages have never Stimulated Economic Activity

Keynesians believe if you give money to people that fixes everything.  When Krugman says:

…I’ve also argued a number of times that cutting wages now would probably make the slump worse, not better.

That’s Keynesian.  You cut wages and the people have less money spend.  So that’s why Keynesians are all about high wages.  Of course, they miss the other side of high wages.  High wages mean fewer jobs.  Because high wages limit the number of employees a business can hire and still sell at prices that are competitive in the market place.

High wages have never stimulated economic activity.  They just raise costs.  This let the Japanese take huge chunks of market share away from the Big Three.  And it’s bankrupting our big blue cities and states that are drowning in debt because of their public sector union contracts.  If Krugman was right, these cities would be booming in economic activity because of those fat public sector pay and benefits.  But they’re not.  The only thing those high wages are doing is bankrupting these cities and states.

Liberals never seem to get this point.  So they trade off economic activity for votes, blissfully unaware of the extent of economic damage they’re doing.  Or they’re aware and they just don’t care.

Easy Money begets Irrational Exuberance which begets Asset Bubbles which begets Recessions

Another favorite of the Keynesians is manipulating interest rates.

…a rise in the real money supply reduces interest rates, leading to a rise in demand.

Read ‘a rise in real money supply‘ as printing money.  The idea here is to make money cheap and plentiful so people will borrow it to buy things.  Like houses.  Like they did during Bill Clinton’s and George W Bush’s presidencies.  And, boy, did they.  Times were good.  Real good.  Only one problem.  Irrational exuberance.

Clinton and Bush thought they found the magical economic elixir.  Home ownership.  So they did everything in their power to extend homeownership.  Even to the people who couldn’t afford it.

Easy money.  Monetary policy that keeps money cheap and plentiful.  To entice people to borrow.  And they were.  Borrowing.  And buying houses.  So much so that they bid up the prices into a huge asset bubble.  Meanwhile, people who couldn’t afford to buy a house were buying houses, too.  The federal government pushed lenders to lend. Or face the consequences.  Be investigated for discriminatory lending.  Or, worse, suffer the public spectacle of having Jesse Jackson or an Al Sharpton publically calling them racist (a lot of the inner city poor were black).  So they came up with some creative ways to qualify unqualified people for mortgages.  We call them subprime mortgages.  And we know how those came back to bite us in the ass.

The problem with bubbles is that they burst.  And when they do, the life blows out of the economy like the air out of a popped balloon.  Deflationary spirals often follow.  And nasty, horrible and painfully long recessions.

Liberals never seem to get this point, either.  You’d think that they would as it has happened so often.

For Narcissists, it’s not the economy.  It’s their Egos, Stupid.

Krugman’s column really shows the problems with liberals.  They’re a bunch of narcissists.  Who love their superior minds.  They love to hear themselves talk.  And love to read what they write.  They write to impress.  And to stimulate themselves.  If you know what I mean.  Only those in his elite circle can understand what the hell he is writing about.  Not us.  The sloped-brow, knuckle-dragging, Neanderthals who didn’t go to the Ivy League schools.  We just work and live in the real world.  Raise our families.  And pay our taxes.

Liberals like to complicate things.  And to try to control the complex.  The economy will work fine on its own.  And when it does we experience some of the greatest economic expansions.   But when they tinker with their Ivy League knowledge, bad things typically happen.  Such as the subprime mortgage crisis.  The Great Recession.  Even the Great Depression.  All of which resulted from liberal tinkering.

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LESSONS LEARNED #47: “Liberals crave attention because that’s what narcissists do.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 6th, 2011

Walter Cronkite Turns the Tet Offensive Victory into Defeat

Walter Cronkite didn’t have a clue about combat in Vietnam.  The Tet Offensive was a disaster for the Viet Cong.  But you wouldn’t know that listening to Cronkite.  The war was now unwinnable.  And he said this after the biggest military defeat the North suffered.  (The north were the bad guys).

The plan was to cause a general uprising throughout South Vietnam to overthrow the South Vietnamese government everywhere.  It failed.  We killed senior and experienced soldiers in the Viet Cong wholesale.  And the Viet Cong ceased to exist as an effective army.  From Tet forward they would only use hit and run ambush attacks.  A Fabian strategy.  Like Washington did during the American Revolution.  When he, too, was up against a military superpower.

The key to using the strategy of Roman general Quintus Fabius Maximus is simple.  But costly.  You got to be willing to endure a lot of hardship for a long time.  This means a lot of your soldiers will die.  And your people will suffer for the want of the basic necessities of life.  It’s a war of attrition.  You just have to be willing to sacrifice a whole lot.  By extending the war indefinitely, you make the war more costly than your enemy is willing to endure.  When they reach the breaking point, they quit.  And you win.  It’s an effective strategy.  But, like I said, costly.  They tend to be long wars.  The American Revolution lasted 8 years.  Vietnam lasted some 10 years (America’s combat operations).

Imagine a World where there are no Possessions

There was division in the North Vietnamese government.  There was Soviet influence.  Chinese influence.  And Vietnamese resentment of outside influence.  First it was the Japanese.  Then the French.  Then the Americans.  And now the Soviets and Chinese.  Luckily for us, big combat won out as a strategy.  Hence the Tet Offensive.  And utter failure.  When some were ready to sue for peace, Walter Cronkite threw them a lifeline.

The liberal left holds up this period of history as a time when they changed the world.  When young people participated in the national debate.  Well, they did.  And really [deleted expletive] things up.  These young heard a few things from some radical college professors and thought they knew everything.  But they were still a bunch of ignorant hippies.  Ignorant hippies, that is, with Walter Cronkite now on their side.  The counterculture was in full swing.  These kids attacked everything American.  Supported communist leaders (Che Guevara, Mao Tse-tung, Fidel Castro, etc.) and tried to start a communist revolution in America.  Really.  Imagine a world where there are no possessions.  Power to the people.  That was John Lennon pining for a communist utopia.  Our enemies couldn’t ask for anything more.  Cronkite and these kids emasculated America.  And we would pay dearly for it in blood and treasure.

These liberals got the attention they craved.  And they were so sure they were right.  About everything.  Infallible.  And wanted to tell others what to do.  Well, these hippies did.  They went on to become university professors.  And they’re now teaching our kids.  Vietnam was the turning point.  It’s when the world lost respect for America.  Not for the reason the Left would have you believe, though.  They lost respect for us because it was the first time we tucked up our skirt and ran away from a fight.  Vietnam would forever be the war we gave up on.  Poor JFK.  The hero of PT-109.  His war in Vietnam would not go into the win column.  Because of a bunch of stupid, long-haired, stoned hippies.  He must be spinning in his grave.

Jimmy Carter’s Détente Almost Assured Nuclear Destruction

The Seventies were a bleak decade.  Because these hippies came of age.  Still full of themselves.  Believing they were making the world a better place.  But they were only making it more dangerous.

After our humiliation in Vietnam our enemies saw us as a paper tiger.  Who didn’t have the nerve to stay in the fight.  Or the will to get into a fight.  The world never came closer to ending when the liberals were in power during the Seventies.  The Soviet Union was getting away with murder.  Jimmy Carter was attacking our allies in Central America.  While kissing Soviet and Chinese ass.  He never attacked their human rights violations.  And no one committed more human rights violations.  But he attacked our allies.  Who committed a negligible amount of violations compared to the two big communist powers.

Jimmy Carter’s détente was a joke.  The Soviets had no respect for him.  To them Carter was a strategic opening.  They concluded that Carter wouldn’t launch his nuclear missiles until after the Soviet missiles hit their U.S. targets.  Reagan they feared.  They had no illusions that he would launch his missiles as soon as we detected Soviet missiles inbound to the U.S.  But not Carter.  This changed nuclear doctrine for the Soviets.  They went from Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) to a first-strike doctrine.  Because they were sure they could beat Carter in a nuclear war.  Never before has the world come closer to nuclear annihilation.  And we didn’t even know it at the time.

The Social Sciences were Made for and by Hippies

What the counterculture hippy left did during the Vietnam War extended the war, damaged the prestige of America and almost gave us nuclear annihilation.  And if that wasn’t bad enough (and don’t you think it should be?) they did even more damage domestically.  Successfully humiliating us on the national stage only empowered them.  The hippies of the Sixties became college professors, journalists, movie stars, television stars and politicians in the Seventies.  Now think about this.  What did the hippies do in the Sixties?  Think Woodstock.  Sex, drugs and rock and roll.  These hippies were stoned all of the time while they were in college.  (If you don’t believe me Google Timothy Leary, Haight-Ashbury, flower children, psychedelic rock, counter culture, or any other Sixties icons.)

And these hippies just weren’t smoking pot.  They were doing some hardcore drugs.  The big one was LSD.  A hallucinogen.  It’d really [deleted expletive] you up.  So you know these hippies weren’t studying to be brain surgeons or rocket scientists.  No, those degrees required advanced math.  And studying.  Which they couldn’t do when they were [deleted expletive] up all of the time.  So they took some of those easier degrees.  One of those social sciences.  Like black studies.  Or women’s studies.  Or Native American studies.  Or communications.  Where all you had to do was bitch about white men on your exams and they’d graduate your ass.  Of course, there wasn’t much you could do with these degrees.  Except teach at a college.  And that’s what a lot of these hippies did.  And destroyed generations of kids.

Well, after being on top of the world during the Sixties a little reality settled in during the Seventies.  Some realized they were about as useful as a paperweight.  And they couldn’t stand that.  They believed they were smarter than everyone in their youth.  Now they were realizing they were dumb as posts.  And it’s hard to feel superior to others when you’re dumb as a post.  So you do something about that.  You become active.  In something.  You show off that brain.  That college degree.  You support a cause.  Or go into politics.

Journalists and Celebrities Just want to be Loved

That’s the path a lot of liberals took.  But not all.  Some are too young to have lived through the Sixties.  But their college professors no doubt did.  So they keep the spirit of the Sixties alive.  Though a little lighter on the drugs these days.  Some don’t need mind altering drugs to get high.  Love of self is enough for some.  Which is the drug of choice for a narcissist.  Journalists and politicians in particular love this drug.

Dan Rather appeared to have a personal vendetta against George W. Bush.  He referenced documents on air critical of Bush’s Air Force service before the presidential election.  He said on air that experts at CBS authenticated the documents.  Well, they didn’t.  Worse, they were forgeries.  Rather, who appeared to be envious of Cronkite’s fame, wanted a little fame for himself.  He wanted that big story.  To influence a presidential election.  Instead, he ended his journalism career.

Celebrities are narcissists.  They have great big egos.  And a lot of fame.  But it’s an empty fame.  Most make a living by pretending to be other people.  Or they can sing.  Or look good while just standing still.  It’s nice but eventually they want more.  To be more than a pretty face.  A pretty voice.  A good pretender.  So they flex their minds to show off their all around superiority.  Ted Danson warned us that the oceans would be ‘dead’ in 10 years…20 years ago.  Cher warned that George W. Bush would force all the gays and lesbians into New Jersey should we elect him.  Cameron Diaz said Bush would legalize rape.  (Last I checked he didn’t do either.)  Sean Penn praises Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez while their people suffer some of the worst human rights violations.  Does he do this because he favors human rights violations?  Or is he so smart that he can’t believe he’s ever wrong?  (For the record, Penn doesn’t choose to live in Cuba or Venezuela.  So it would appear that although he speaks out in favor of Marxism over capitalism, he prefers the comforts of capitalism for himself.  So I think it’s fair to conclude that he is at least a hypocrite.)

Elite Intellectuals with an 8th Grade Education

The Vietnam War to liberals was like Christ’s crucifixion to Christians.  It defined them.  Made them.  It was the first inklings of their powers.  And they liked that power. 

They prolonged the war and killed hundreds of thousands more (Americans, Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians, etc.).  They had something to protest for almost a decade.  This empowered them and made them feel invincible.  The world was theirs.  They could do anything.  And some did.  Some even became terrorists (e.g., the Weather Underground). 

They were elite intellectuals.  Elite intellectuals with maybe an 8th grade education.  They knew nothing.  But believed they knew everything.  They destroyed a decade.  While their heads were filled with dreams of sugar plum fairies and illusions of grandeur.  Virtually unemployable in the real world, they took these feelings of superiority to our colleges, Hollywood, newspapers and television networks.  Where they lived insulated from the real world.  And continued their destruction.  Craving attention.  Constantly shouting ‘look at me’.  Never caring about the consequences of their actions.

Liberals are not inherently evil.  The destruction they cause is not on purpose.  They’re just a bunch of idiots.  They typically lived isolated from the real world.  In positions that can influence the masses.  And they tend to be charismatic.  Of course, there are exceptions to this rule.  Such as Al Gore.  Who you would find in the dictionary if you looked up ‘not charismatic’.  But he craves that attention more than most.  And is one of the biggest idiots out there.  He still believes in global warming even though those emails leaked from the University of East Anglia showed they were manipulating the global warming data. 

But Al Gore is not an idiot.  Idiots don’t make enough money to buy mansions on the ocean.  But he did.  While warning people about the danger of global warming.  And rising sea levels.  That will flood our seashores.  Like the seashore he just moved to.  You see, even he doesn’t really believe in global warming.  So he’s not an idiot.  He’s just a charlatan.  Praying on the people’s gullibility to make himself a millionaire.  He may not know anything about science, but he’s highly skilled in the arts of fleecing.  While making himself feel important.  Giving himself value (in his own mind).  Stroking that ego while he spends his days just dicking around in his big, empty mansion.  And this is liberalism at its best.  Empty shells of people.  Trying to feel good about themselves.  By pretending to do good for others.

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #47: “Liberals crave attention because that’s what narcissists do.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 4th, 2011

People Need to Feel that they have Value

I’m not one to quote Stephen King.  Well, not often.  I’m not a big fan of his books.  He creates good characters.  But sucks at plot.  Even he admits this.  (Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m sure I read something he wrote admitting this).  But his books are easy to read.  Entertaining.  Even if he does take a couple of potshots at capitalism in each book.  Yeah, he’s a regular bleeding heart.  What did you expect?  College student.  Teacher.  Then filthy rich novelist.   He earned it.  But his wealth allows him to escape the real world.

Anyway, I had a friend that read every novel he could get his hand on.  A mentor, really.  He’d knock out one or more a week.  He read all the Stephen King novels.  King’s not his favorite author, but he really enjoyed all the books in Magnus Opus.  The Dark Tower series.  When he finished one book, he’d hand it off to me.  I’d read it, offering my commentary along the war.  Noting the anti-capitalist parts.  I then passed the book off to another friend.  Then we’d discuss over lunch.  I enjoyed that time.  And The Dark Tower.  Except the silly, anti-capitalist parts.

Like I said, I’m not one to quote Stephen King, but he did say something very profound in one of The Dark Tower books.  One of the characters was basically a loser in life.  Whatever he tried he failed at.  But it turned out that he had one gift.  Something few people could do.  Unfortunately, that skill would bring about the total destruction of the world.  But it was the only thing he was good at.  So he did it.  The protagonist asked why.  Because he would die, too, along with everyone else.  And he said something like, “People need to feel that they have value.  To feel useful.”

How true.

If we Have no Value, All we do is Dick Around

Sparks has a song called Dick Around.  It’s about a guy that climbs the corporate ladder to great success.  He’s at the top of his game.  Then his girl dumps him.  And it devastates him.  He loses his motivation and resigns his big corporate job.  Without the girl he sees no point.  (Yeah, guys can be like that).  And he struggles to understand why she left him.

Why the hell, why the hell, why the hell, why the hell?
Why the hell did she desert you when you were so influential?
Why the hell, why the hell, why the hell, why the hell?
Why did she desert you when you told her she was so essential?

And he goes downhill from there.  After losing his girl he can’t continue on in his job.  And without the job he loses all feelings of self-worth.

Look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me,
Knowing that from now on what you do is strictly non-essential
Look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me,
Knowing that from now on no one wonders if you’ve got potential

So he putters around in the garden.  And just kills time.

But all I do now, is dick around
All I do now, is dick around
Dick around

People need to feel that they have value.  To feel useful.  Like Stephen King wrote about.  And once you feel you don’t have value, you wander aimlessly through life.  And dick around.  Anyone going through a prolonged period of unemployment no doubt can relate to this.

Oh, what the hell.  Here’s a video of the song.

Liberals have Ability Envy

All right, let’s assume.  Even if it makes an ass out of you and me.  (Yeah, funny.)  Above are two examples.  Let’s assume one guy is a liberal.  And the other is a conservative.  Which is which?  Well, you know the corporate guy has to be the conservative because liberals hate the corporate world.  And that means the loser must be the liberal.

The conservative guy had value.  He was good at things.  A lot of things.  So good that he advanced up the corporate ladder.  But then he lost his girl.  And, with her, his mojo.  The liberal, on the other hand, never had any value.  He was never good at anything.  Except destroying the world.  If you want to count that.

This loser describes many liberals today.  I mean, when you look at them, what ability do they have?  (I’m talking about the far left.  That 20% of the population.  Not rank and file Democrats.  Or moderates/independents.  Just that 20%.)  They’re not entrepreneurs.  They’re not small business owners.  They’re not the people with real jobs.  No, they can’t do any of these things because they lack any ability.  All the while growing up.  In high school.  College.  They were never as good as those people with real ability.  Those over-achievers.  Which left them embittered.  Jealous.  Envious.  Desperate that somebody, anybody, would recognize some special talent in them.  So they could feel useful.  And, in time, people would.  Find that special talent.  Destroying the world.

Look at me, Look at me, Look at me, Look at me – I’m Important                                          

They don’t set out with the goal of destroying the world.  They just do.  Because their actions have consequences.  Big consequences.  You see, these liberals find themselves in positions of prominence that require no ability.  But these positions exert influence.  Big time.  It’s like that thing with a butterfly flapping its wings.  The Butterfly Affect.  The slight movement of a butterfly’s wings can ripple through the atmosphere and influence the weather.  Or something like that.  The idea is that something small can have big consequences.  And this is how liberals, small people, can have such a large impact on the world.

These people of no ability go to college and get worthless social ‘science’ degrees.  Some love college so much they never leave.  They become professors in worthless social ‘science’ programs.  They feel important.  And don’t have to work anymore (that’s what TAs are for).  College professors are frat boys that never grow up.  They still want to stick it to the man.  Party.  Agitate.  And they’re teaching our kids.

Journalists are no longer journalists.  They’re not objective.  These pompous elitists come out and say they are shaping the news.  To help us think correctly.  They do so because they truly believe that they are superior to us.  And who are these people?  Take away FOX News, talk radio and the Internet, they’re all liberal.  And there are people out there who still think that the network news, The New York Times, NPR, etc., are objective news sources.  So they believe the liberal spin.

Movie and television stars get rich and famous by pretending to be people they are not.  After awhile, they start getting that empty feeling.  People love some of the characters they’ve played.  Smart.  Courageous.  Powerful.  Politically savvy.  People transfer these feelings of admiration onto the actors playing these roles.  And the actor wants to believe this admiration.  So they try to prove they can do more than pretend to be someone else.  Like Milli Vanilli who wanted to prove they could sing and put out an album where they did in fact sing, some of these actors want to prove that they’ve got brains, too.  So they adopt a cause.  Get politically active.  But they often don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.  Take Charlie Sheen, for example.  Great actor.  At least on Two and Half Men (funny show).  But he speaks out about 9/11.  Calling it an inside job.  Because of how the buildings imploded.  Even though he’s not a structural engineer.  Or understood the radical design that gave that great open floor space in those towers that ultimately proved to be their Achilles heel.  But he’s a big star.  When he speaks a lot of people will hear him.  Giving credence to whatever he says.  Especially if people are putting a microphone in front of him.  People assume he must know what he’s talking about.  Because they’re putting a microphone in front of him.

Rich people that inherited their wealth don’t want to be pariahs.  Rich people are evil.  We’re to scorn them.  Well, they want us to like them.  And they want to enjoy their obscene, unearned wealth without having to feel guilty for being rich.  So they champion liberal causes.  The Left then loves them.  They no longer scorn these rich people.  And they speak out.  For liberal causes.  To get more of that love that eases their rich guilt.  And people believe them.  Because they’re rich.  And rich people can do whatever they want.  So if they’re supporting some cause instead of yachting or something, they must really believe in that cause.  They must know something.  Because you have to be smart to be rich.  So people do likewise.  And support their causes.  Because it seems like the right thing to do.

And then you have politicians.  These people who have but one skill.  They lie.  And they lie very well.  They can manipulate people to vote for them.  And once the people elect them, they finally get the validation they’ve always craved.  They feel special.  And it soon goes to their head.  These little people finally get their revenge.  They have power.  They can get back at all those over achievers that mocked them all their lives.  And do.  By writing anti-business legislation.  By taxing away as much of their wealth as they can.  To pay themselves well.  And to show the world who’s better.  To satiate those great big egos.  And to make sure we all know whose bitch we are.  They’re better than us.  We serve them.  And must applaud them.  For they live on props.  Like the narcissists they are.

Laughing all the way to the Bank on the Taxpayer’s Dime

While brilliant people go on to become entrepreneurs, small business owners, captains of industry, etc., the liberal develops illusions of grandeur.  Because of circumstance, they find themselves in positions of prominence.  And it goes to their head.  They meddle in things they shouldn’t.  And more times than not make a mess of things.  Whether they’re writing bad legislation or influencing people to support bad legislation, the end result is the same.  Congress passes bad legislation.  And we, the people, have to pick up the pieces.  Those unintended consequences.

But they don’t care.  Especially the politicians.  Even if we vote them out of office.  Because they get pensions for life.  You see, the elite take care of their own.  And even if we do boot them out of office, they’ll still live better than we do.  They’ll still get those paychecks.  They just won’t go to the office anymore.  Instead, they’ll just dick around.  Their new métier.  While laughing all the way to the bank.

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LESSONS LEARNED #46: “Liberals say ‘do as I say not as I do’ because they can’t point to anything worthwhile they’ve done.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 30th, 2010

The High Compliance Costs of The American with Disabilities Act of 1990

I have a friend who worked at a company that was renovating one of their buildings.  He was in a foul mood one day.  The renovation included a high-end sales and marketing center.  Some place to impress clients.  Included in the renovation was a media room for multimedia presentations.  It was a competitive business; they were looking to woo some clients away from their competitors.  And to keep their current client base from straying to the competition.

It was an existing building.  Space was tight.  They were trying to do a lot in a small footprint.  And they did.  I saw it one day before the work was completed.  Wow.  It was gorgeous.  Especially the media room.  It looked like something you saw in a 5-star hotel.  They built the control room for the media room on a raised platform.  Equipment racks would sit on the floor.  And the cabling would leave the racks through the raised floor and out into a floor duct wiring system.  The walls and ceiling were some nice architectural finishes.  There was no drop ceiling.  No place to conceal wiring but in the walls.  And in the floor.

Well, there was a problem.  The American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) was relatively new.  This architectural firm complied with the new law in almost every place.  Drinking fountains were wheelchair accessible.  There were ramps to get up the curb so wheelchairs could enter the building.  And various other compliances.  The building complied.  Everywhere.  Everywhere, that is, but one area.  The control booth for the media room.  On the raised floor.  There was a step to enter this room.  And no space to add a ramp.  They fought the building inspectors.  The various authorities having jurisdiction.  But to no avail.  The spiffy new sales and marketing center would not be as designed.  They had to redesign it.  Rebuild it.  And delay the scheduled completion date.  Hence my friend’s foul mood.

The Government Exempts themselves from the High Compliance Costs of their own Legislation

You’d think the authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ) would have given a waiver.  But they didn’t.  It was a big office building.  And a small control room.  Less than 1% of the company’s total employees would ever enter that room.  Didn’t matter.  Some of the AHJ enjoyed their power.  Others were simply afraid someone would sue them down the road.  So they delayed the project. 

Unfortunately, they had already begun to relocate operations from the old to the new.  They suspended all presentations for a month at this facility so the old conference room could be demolished and rebuilt into something else.  And it was.  Demolished.  Now they had no place to wow their customers.  For another month or two.  That’s a whole quarter they had to reschedule around.  It did not impress their clients.  And may have cost them one or two.  All because of the silly inflexibility of the AHJ.

This is a good example of the unintended consequences of liberals’ best intentions.  It’s a microcosm of the ADA’s affect on business everywhere.  Sure, they had a noble goal.  To make a barrier-free world for all.  But the compliance costs to fully meet the letter of the law were brutal to small and medium sized businesses.  But Congress didn’t care.  It’s ‘do as I say, not as I do’.  Literally.  You see, Congress exempted themselves from the American with Disabilities Act of 1990.  Why?  Wait for it.  Because they said it would be too costly for them to comply.  And they said this publicly to justify their exemption from the act.  Unbelievable.  The height of arrogance and condescension.

The High Compliance Costs of OSHA

Well, Congress was dragged kicking and screaming into the real world.  Thanks to Newt Gingrich and the Republican Revolution of the 1994 midterm elections.  That Congress authored the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995.  Congress would no longer be above the law.  Now they, too, had to comply with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 and the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.  To name a few.

I have a friend who works in construction in a metropolitan area.  He’s a project manager for a construction manager.  And you should hear some of the things he tells me.  Big construction projects often have federal money involved.  And when they do, there are some pretty restrictive rules.  Especially on the big projects.  Why?  Because big projects have deep pockets.

You would not believe some of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) requirements on a construction project.  Well, on big projects, because no small contractor could afford the compliance costs.  Or the owner, for that matter.  A couple come to mind.  He said that a worker had to tie himself off when working on a ladder more than 6 feet off the ground (a nylon safety line tied to a body harness attached to something fixed and immovable).   Contractors had to conduct daily safety meetings with their field employees.  They had a safety trailer on site with a couple of safety officers to walk the site and police safety.  They had to get ‘hot work permits’ anytime they used a welding torch or other open flame.  You get the idea.  Workers couldn’t do anything dangerous without an inordinate investment in time and money on part of the contractor.  And yet workers still did stupid things.  Like refuse to wear a hardhat on a hot day.  Of course, when they did and OSHA happened to be on site, they’d write a pretty big fine.  And guess who had to pay it?  Not the employee.  But the employee’s boss.

But when Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, they exempted themselves.  Because it would have cost them too much to comply.

The High Compliance Costs of Affirmative Action

But there’s more.  When federal money is involved, there are other hoops to jump through.  You see, the metropolitan area had a large minority population.  And the federal government wanted minority owned businesses to share in some of that construction money.  It was affirmative action.  To help minority owned businesses.  A certain percentage of the work was set aside for these businesses.  The problem was big projects have tight schedules and high-tech building processes.  The kind of work that big and established contractors do all of the time.  And the kind that little contractors starting out who need help (the kind of contractor the government wanted to help) had little to no experience doing.  The idea was for the big guy to mentor the little guy.  Which is not easy to do when competitively bidding work.  Helping these contractors earns no revenue.  It just adds cost.  So you either include the cost up front (and not get the job because you’re not the low bidder).  Or you leave it out and try and recoup it on the back end (I believe the technical term is raping and pillaging on change orders).

Well, there are rules.  And it starts at bid time.  Your bid form asks for the percentage of these minority businesses you’ll be using.  There’s a minimum required.  But you can use more.  And the government weighted things differently.  You counted contractors at their full contract value.  But material suppliers were discounted (I don’t remember, but it might have been 50%).  Suppliers are safer to use because you can use your own highly skilled work force.  So you max these out.  Then you use some small minority contractors on some easier work you can peel off from the rest.  It’s nothing against these guys.  They do well on some of the less exotic stuff.  But some of the other stuff is just over their skill level.  Because they’re new and inexperienced.

Now, because they can use suppliers, there are minority ‘suppliers’ out there looking to exploit this set aside.  They’re not really a supplier, though.  They’re a ‘pass-through’ company.  What they do is offer their services to basically buy from a contractor’s preferred supplier and then resell to the contractor for a small markup.  This basically defeats the whole point of helping minorities, but it helps you stay on schedule.  Construction today uses just-in-time deliveries.  Especially on construction site with no storage area available for material.  And they need their well established working relationships to feed their supply pipeline.  It usual works.  But sometime a contractor’s audit will disallow a previously approved ‘pass-through’ supplier.  And when they do, look out.  If you don’t meet the percentage you included on your bid form you’re looking at some serious fines.  My friend told me the government wrote this one poor contractor of his a fine greater than the value of his contract.

Liberal Legislation:  Compliance Costs, Avoidance Costs and Unintended Consequences

The federal government has no business experience.  At least, the liberal left.  But they’re always trying to make business better.  And fairer.  This results in huge compliance costs.  And avoidance costs.  The federal government has little sympathy for the swath of destruction their legislation causes.  Especially when they were exempting themselves from much of that legislation. 

But it’s ‘do as I say, not as I do’.  Because they feel they’re above the law.  Or, at least, should be.  So they continue to tinker.  Failing more times than not.  And causing a slew of unintended consequences.  Despite their best intentions.

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