Venezuela’s Socialism has given it one of the World’s highest Murder Rates

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 11th, 2014

Week in Review

President Obama is launching a war against income disparity.  Because under his 5 years or so as president the rich got richer while the median family income fell.  This income gap is the source of all our woes.  Or so he says.  And it can lead to other bad things.  Like violence between the classes.  Which is why he’ll say we need to raise the taxes on the rich.  To help everyone else who has suffered under the Obama economic policies.  So everyone has everything they could ever need or want.  And be happy.  Where people will live together in peace and bliss.  Like in socialists countries.  Where they put people before profits (see Former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear slain resisting robbery by Jorge Rueda, The Associated Press, posted 1/7/2014 on The Star).

Assailants shot and killed a popular soap-opera actress and former Miss Venezuela and her Irish ex-husband in the presence of their 5-year-old daughter when they resisted a robbery, authorities said Tuesday.

Monica Spear, 29, and Henry Thomas Berry, 39, were slain late Monday night on a roadside near Puerto Cabello, Venezuela’s main port, after their car broke down, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement…

Venezuela has one of the world’s highest murder rates and violent crime is so rampant that Venezuelans tend to stay home after dark…

According to the non-profit Venezuelan Observatory of Violence, the oil-rich South American country’s murder rate was 79 per 100,000 inhabitants last year.

Hugo Chávez was an extreme anti-capitalist.  And he turned Venezuela into a socialist paradise.  Putting people before profits.  But like all other planned economies it just led to shortages of everything.  And because the state couldn’t provide like a free market could a profitable black market developed.  Where what limited goods there were ended up selling at higher prices.  Leading to great income disparity.  As people with money could buy what they needed from the black markets while the poorer people could not.  And went without.

Deprivation and corruption led to ever greater income disparity.  As criminals and those in government lived well.  While the people suffered abject poverty.  Leading to a society that became so lawless that the people hid in their homes after dark.  This is what you get with socialism.  Well, that.  And an oppressive police state.  To keep those suffering abject poverty from rising up against the government.  So those in government can continue to live the good life.  While they continue to ‘fight for the people’.  Who never seem to escape from their abject poverty.

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Hugo Chávez’ Socialism made Venezuela a more Violent and Dangerous Place

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 28th, 2013

Week in Review

The Democrats have a mission.  To reduce the income disparity between rich and poor.  To reduce the rate of violent crime.  For the only reason people ever hurt one another is because they are wanting for the basic necessities in life.  And they sometimes take them forcibly from those who have them.  But if there is no income disparity there is no rich and poor.  So no one would ever hurt anyone.

Which is why Democrats work so hard to reduce the income disparity between rich and poor.  Their tool?  Income redistribution.  From those according to ability.  To those according to need.  Like Karl Marx wanted to do.  But socialism never really caught on in the United States.  As most Americans see the abject failure it has been.  But this hasn’t stopped other nations from experimenting with it.  In 1999 Hugo Chávez became president of Venezuela.  And he proceeded to make Venezuela socialist.  Here are some highlights of his work pulled from Wikipedia:

Following Chavismo, his own political ideology of Bolivarianism and Socialism of the 21st Century, he focused on implementing socialist reforms in the country as a part of a social project known as the Bolivarian Revolution. He implemented the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution, participatory democratic councils, the nationalization of several key industries, and increased government funding of health care and education and made significant reductions in poverty with oil revenues.[1][2] The Bolivarian Missions have entailed the construction of thousands of free medical clinics for the poor,[3] the institution of educational campaigns that have reportedly made more than one million adult Venezuelans literate,[4] and the enactment of food[5] and housing subsidies…[6]

Closely aligning himself with the communist governments of Fidel and then Raúl Castro in Cuba and the socialist governments of Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador, and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, his presidency was seen as a part of the socialist “pink tide” sweeping Latin America. Along with these governments, Chávez described his policies as anti-imperialist, being a prominent adversary of the United States’s foreign policy as well as a vocal critic of US-supported neoliberalism and laissez-faire capitalism.[8] He supported Latin American and Caribbean cooperation and was instrumental in setting up the pan-regional Union of South American Nations, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, the Bank of the South, and the regional television network TeleSur. Chávez was a highly controversial and divisive figure both at home and abroad. On occasion he used undiplomatic language towards other world leaders, having compared US president George W. Bush to a donkey[9] and the devil.[10]

Hugo Chávez created a socialist paradise in Venezuela.  One that would have pleased the father of socialism.  Karl Marx.  Chávez destroyed the income disparity between rich and poor.  Making the people happy.  Where they linked their arms together and sang Kumbaya.  Like the hippies in America did as they lived in their socialist/communist communes.  So you think the people would be living together in a brotherhood of man.  Like John Lennon sang about in his song Imagine.  No possessions.  No greed or hunger.  Just everyone living as one.  So how is that socialist paradise?  Well, the people aren’t living as one in a brotherhood of man (see Venezuela’s Homicide Rate Rises, NGO’s Report Says by the AP posted on ABC News).

A non-governmental group that tracks violent crime in Venezuela says the country’s homicide rate has risen again in 2013 and has quadrupled over the past 15 years.

The Venezuelan Violence Observatory estimates that 24,763 killings occurred this year, pushing up the homicide rate to 79 per 100,000 inhabitants. It was 73 per 100,000 people in 2012. In 1998, the rate was 19.

The more Chávez made Venezuela socialist the more violent crime there was.  That’s not what’s supposed to happen according to the Democrats.  It’s supposed to create a brotherhood of man.  Like John Lennon sang about.  Not make more people kill each other.  Apparently not only was Karl Marx wrong.  But the Democrats are wrong, too.  Imagine that.

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There is Great Income Inequality on the Set of the Big Bang Theory

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 21st, 2013

Week in Review

It is hard to explain economic fundamentals to the public.  To explain how free market capitalism made this country great.  And how supply and demand set prices.  How unskilled workers are in less demand than highly skilled workers.  So highly skilled people earn more money than unskilled workers.  Which is why doctors earn more money than those working in fast-food.  Because there always seems to be a shortage of doctors.  While there is no shortage of minimum wage jobs.  So doctors are worth more because they are in greater demand.

Those on the left want a living wage for everyone.  Regardless of their skill level.  Unions are trying to unionize fast-food workers and Wal-Mart employees.  So they can force these businesses to pay them more than the market price for their labor.  As determined by the laws of supply and demand.  Like they do everywhere else.  Computer programmers were in high demand during the dot-com bubble.  Raising the salary of computer programmers.  And people went to college to learn how to be computer programmers to get those high salaries.

But try to explain this to the layperson when the left demonizes Republicans.  Calls them greedy.  Saying they want to take food away from children and the poor.  And throw Grandma off the cliff.  That they’re in the pockets of the big, evil corporations.  And that unfettered capitalism is corrupt, unfair and just plain mean.  What makes it especially difficult to explain these economic fundamentals is that the left controls the public schools and our universities and colleges.  And the entertainment industry.  So they’re teaching our children to hate free market capitalism.  And Republicans.  While the entertainment industry mocks and ridicules anyone who tries to advance sound economic policies instead of expanding the welfare state.  Instead they preach egalitarianism.  Where everyone should get a living wage regardless of their skill level.  And where we treat people fairly and with dignity.  Transferring and distributing wealth fairly.  From those according to ability to those according to need.

It sounds nice.  Caring.  And kind.  Despite every country that has ever tried that became a horrible place to live.  For that’s what they did in the former Soviet Union.  The People’s Republic of China.  The former East Germany.  North Korea.  Cuba.  Nations that had to use a brutally oppressive police state to prevent their people from escaping the kind of egalitarianism the left is constantly trying to bring to the United States.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing in trying to teach economic fundamentals to lay people is that their heroes in the entertainment industry are always campaigning for the left.  They attend fundraisers for the left.  Help them win elections.  And they constantly mock and ridicule those on the right.  Despite indulging in some of the most unfettered free market capitalism themselves (see ‘Big Bang Theory’ Stars Seeking Hefty Pay Raises by Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter, posted 9/17/2013 on Yahoo! TV).

Sources tell THR that Emmy winner Parsons (Sheldon), Galecki (Leonard) and Cuoco (Penny) will negotiate together — as they did in 2010 — and are looking for a considerable bump in pay from their current deal. According to a TV Guide Magazine report, the trio currently earns $325,000 per episode and may seek up to $1 million an episode…

The new deals for Bialik and Rauch, who joined the series midway through its run and were promoted from recurring to regulars, will see their salary jump from $20,000-$30,000/episode to the $60,000 ballpark, with increases each year taking them to $100,000 per episode by the end of their new contracts.

One million an episode versus $100,000 an episode?  Wow.  Talk about your income disparity.  There is no egalitarianism on the set of the Big Bang Theory.  There’s no fairness.  And just think how much food this could have bought for the children.  And the poor.  If these people were corporate officers they would be hated and despised for their greed.  Especially when the median household income (the income that supports an entire family) has been languishing around $53,000.  And here are actors making more than that each episode they film.  Is that fair?  When others have so little?

Yes, it is unfair.  But is it wrong?  No.  This is free market capitalism.  This is the top-rated comedy on television.  It has great writing.  And great characters.  Which the writers created.  But if you watch an early episode and then a later one you will see how these actors have evolved these characters.  In the first episodes Penny was the pretty neighbor Leonard was smitten with.  But watch her now.  And all the things she doesn’t say.  Her body language and facial expressions.  The little nuances that have transformed Penny into a real life person we look forward to seeing every week.  Kaley Cuoco has made Penny into what she is today.  As Jim Parsons has made Sheldon into what he is.  And Johnny Galecki has made Leonard into what he is.  The rest of the cast is probably the best ever fielded on a sitcom.  But it is the interactions they have with these three that make this show the number one comedy on television.

So, no, we don’t begrudge them from getting these unfair contracts.  More power to them to get as much as they can get.  Sure, it’s unfair to the actors that came before them.  When things were very egalitarian.  Where the actors made far less than they do today.  Even if that show went on forever in syndication.  Like Gilligan’s Island.  Making a lot of money for the owners of that show.  But not the actors.  No, they didn’t get a dime from that syndication.  Worse, none of them made close to a million dollars an episode.  They didn’t get paid a lot.  But everyone made closer to what everyone else made.  Because back then actors were more equal.  Unlike today.  Where there is great income inequality between actors.

So there is nothing wrong with Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco making these huge sums of money.  Or anyone else in the entertainment community.  It would be nice, though, if this community wasn’t publically against the very thing that they benefit so handsomely from.  Free market capitalism.  Which has been very good to them.  As it is very good to everyone.  But yet the entertainment community generally endorses the left.  And attacks the right.  Which helps the left raise taxes and burden business with more costly regulations.  Things that hurt the economy.  And keeps the median household income from rising.  Harming the middle class.  But making no impact on these superrich.  This is the problem we have with the entertainment community.  They’re hogging all the free market capitalism for themselves.  While forcing us to live in the miserable social democracy they helped to create with their endorsement of the left.

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Venezuelan Women robbed at Gunpoint for their Hair despite living in a Socialist Utopia

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 10th, 2013

Week in Review

The American left loves Venezuela.  Because they are a socialist nation.  Where they put people before profits.  And everyone links arms and sings Kumbaya.  As everyone lives in harmony in the Venezuelan paradise.  Life just doesn’t get better than life in Venezuela (see Venezuelan thieves stealing hair to sell as hair extensions by Alasdair Baverstock posted 8/9/2013 on The Telegraph).

In Maracaibo, Venezuela’s second largest city, the gang is targeting women whose flowing locks, once removed, can be made into natural hair extensions and sold to beauty salons.

The robbers operate by holding their victims at gunpoint and ordering them to tie their hair into a ponytail, before removing it with a razor blade.

Hard to believe.  In a country where everyone has everything why would there be any criminals?  For in the West they say criminality is a result of income disparity.  The anger that rises between the haves and the have nots.  That spills out into criminal activity.  Yet here is criminality.  In a country where there is no income disparity.  Where everyone has everything.

“The demand for hair extensions has risen by 30 per cent since the crimes started”, said Jhonatan Morales, a beauty salon owner who spoke to state television channel Globovision.

“The market is more competitive now. We judge the hair on its tone, condition and colour”, he said. “But my salon doesn’t buy from street vendors as we don’t know where the hair has come from”.

So these Venezuelan women are being robbed of their hair at gunpoint for other Venezuelan women.  Guess hair extensions are the one thing the socialist government of Venezuela doesn’t provide for their people.  So apart from hair extensions everyone has everything.  Because everyone is equal in Venezuela.  Where there is no income disparity.  And no crime.  Only singing of Kumbaya.  Except for when it comes to hair extensions.  For apparently the socialist utopia in Venezuela doesn’t eliminate hair disparity.

Maracaibo, a city of four million close to the Colombian border, is particularly prone to gang crime given the large amount of smuggling which occurs in the area.

Gang activity in the region is funded by the purchasing of basic goods such as lavatory paper and rice, the prices of which are heavily subsidized by Venezuela’s socialist government. The goods are then smuggled across the border into Colombia where they are sold for a profit at normal market rates.

Not only do they have hair disparity which leads to hair crime they have the worst of all criminals.  Profiteers.  Who instead of singing Kumbaya for having everything they ever could want in their socialist utopia turn to greed.  Taking advantage of the state subsidies to turn a profit.  Something that’s not supposed to happen in a socialist utopia.  That kind of stuff is only supposed to happen in the greedy capitalist world.  Where they put profits before people.  Leading to income disparity.  And crime.  Where the people don’t link arms and sing Kumbaya.  Because life is so wretched there.  Unlike in Venezuela.  As long as you don’t walk the streets with beautiful, lustrous hair.

So maybe income disparity isn’t the source of crime.  For socialism hasn’t eliminated crime in Venezuela.  But you know what it has done?  Allowed great sweeping electoral victories for the candidate that promises to make life better for the have nots.  And if politicians ride to office by promising to make life better for the multitudes of the have nots do you really think they will make life better for the have nots?  And eliminate the great electoral advantage they have?  Probably not.  Which explains why there are always have nots.  And always will be.  Income disparity or not.

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Unemployed Immigrants plunge Progressive and Socialist Sweden in Riots

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 25th, 2013

Week in Review

According to the American left all of America’s problems come from a disparity in incomes.  Which a progressive government tries to fix with a progressive tax code to redistribute wealth.   To make up for that income disparity.  So unskilled people have nice things just like highly skilled workers who can demand a high income.  But the Republicans are mean.  And try to stop the left from making the country a better place.  Something a little more like, say, Sweden (see Swedish police try to restore order in Stockholm after week of rioting by Anthony Lane in Stockholm and agencies posted 5/24/2013 on the guardian).

The riots have served as a sharp reminder that despite regular praise for its ‘Nordic model’ of progressive politics, relatively low unemployment and a generous social safety net, Sweden is not immune to the tension that festers in deprived communities…

Although the smashed windows of shops, two schools and the local library had yet to be replaced, locals of the 12,000-strong neighbourhood, which has an 80% immigrant population, said there had been no problems since 20 members of the local Islamic centre went around Husby to talk to the youths involved in the original disturbances.

“They told them that it had to stop and that they were scaring people,” said Abdul, a nurse in the local hospital after Friday prayers at the mosque.

“At the moment it’s very hard to get jobs – not just here but for everyone in Sweden,” said the Moroccan immigrant who had lived in Husby for 11 years. Having registered growth of 6.1% and 3.9% in 2010 and 2011 respectively, the Swedish economy slowed to just 0.8% last year, largely as a result of faltering exports to the eurozone. Residents born outside Sweden represent 15% of the country’s 9.5 million population, but account for 35% of those registered as unemployed…

Sweden’s relaxed immigration policy and generous asylum system has resulted in exceptionally high immigration levels over the last decade. In 2012, 82,000 non-Swedes migrated to the country – 44,000 of them were asylum-seekers. The country’s migration board expects to receive 54,000 asylum seekers in 2013, including around 20,000 Somalis.

Interesting.  Sweden was the perfect model of a progressive utopia.  Now the place is burning in riots.  What happened?  What changed?  Well, the biggest change appears to be “exceptionally high immigration levels over the last decade.”  Who although they make up only 15% of the country account for 35% of the unemployed.  Interesting.

If this was America the go-to response would be it’s because of racist employers who don’t want to hire immigrants.  Preferring to hire those illegally in the country so they can overwork and underpay them.  But this is Sweden.  So you can’t use the go-to response.  Because Sweden isn’t full of bigoted homophobes.  America has those.  And they’re called conservatives.  According to those on the left.  So what’s going on in Sweden?

It would appear a large percentage of those immigrants aren’t doctors, engineers, chemists, etc.  Instead they are largely uneducated young people with few appreciable job skills.  And can only perform menial labor.  Which doesn’t exactly thrill them.  And a lot of them have come from primarily Muslim countries.  Which tend to be male-centric.  Further angering them that they may only qualify for a job they feel someone beneath them should be doing.  Making them less eager to assimilate.  Preferring the company and the traditions of the country they fled.  And when they can’t even get those menial jobs you get mobs of angry young unemployed men roaming the streets.  Which rarely ends well.

The Americans should study closely what’s happening in Sweden before throwing open their borders.  Because it can happen here.  And already has.  The Boston Marathon bombers, for example, got to the U.S. as asylum seekers.  And let’s not forget how France burned in 2005.  Which was pretty much the same thing that just happened in Sweden.  The root of both of these riots was excessive immigration of low-skilled workers who suffered high unemployment in a jobless economy.  And a lack of assimilation.  Put these together and you get what happened in France in 2005.  And what happened in Sweden in 2013.  And what will happen in countries wherever they have large populations of low-skilled immigrants who feel alienated and don’t wish to assimilate.  Or can’t because they can’t find a job in a jobless economy.

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FT90: Minimum wage jobs are entry level jobs.

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 4th, 2011

Fundamental Truth

There is Income Disparity because it Takes a While to Get Good in Whatever you Do

Minimum wage jobs are entry level jobs.  People need to remember this.  A minimum wage job is not to raise a family on.  It’s for the children of that family to get their start in the workplace.  To help college students pay their expenses.  Or it’s simply an unskilled job for an unskilled, inexperienced worker.  So he or she can become a skilled worker.  And gain experience.

So, yes, there is income disparity.  We pay people with less skill and experience less than those with more skill and experience.  That’s why a garage band doesn’t make as much money as U2.  It takes a while to get good.  In whatever you do.

Is this income disparity bad?  No.  It provides incentive.  Because everyone wants to get rich.  U2 did.  Even became tax exiles to escape the confiscatory tax rates of their country.  Everyone wants more money.  Whether they admit it or not.  Thant’s why people buy lotto tickets.  And go to casinos.  They’re not spending money to stimulate the economy out of the goodness of their hearts.  No.  They’re trying to get rich.

If the Minimum Wage is a ‘Living Wage’ what Incentive is there to Work Harder?

So the profit motive exists.  We do things because we’re greedy.  Whatever we have we want more.  That’s why we work hard.  To earn money.  To have more.  So our kids can have more.  It’s a great system.  Because we get a lot in return for this greed.  Doctors.  Nurses.  Engineers.  Skilled trades.  And a lot of neat stuff.  Like iPads.  Smartphones.  Computers.  Cameras.  DVDs.  Buildings.  Cars.  Trains.  Airplanes.  Etc.  And we’d have none of this if the minimum wage was a ‘living wage’.  A wage to raise a family on.

If you could make, say, $75,000 a year flipping burgers at McDonalds would you go to college to become a doctor?  With massive student loan debt, the high cost of malpractice insurance, the lawsuits, the long hours, the constant reduction in Medicare reimbursements, etc., probably not.

Would you work in the skilled trades?  Spend 4 years as an apprentice?  Became a journeyman?  Then a master?  Work long and hard to master your craft only to see a kid out of high school with no skill and no experience ‘earn’ the same wage?  Probably not.  Because we just don’t voluntarily work harder if there is no financial gain.  If you don’t believe this ask some of your friends if they would work overtime without additional pay.

Raising the Minimum Wage is just a Political Ploy so Democrats can Gain Votes

You know what a higher minimum wage does?  It makes your work less valuable.  The more we pay unskilled people the smaller the income disparity gets.  And the closer skilled workers get to unskilled pay.  When there is no gap there will be no one doing the harder jobs.  Because when a janitor can earn what a doctor can earn people will want to be janitors instead of doctors.  Because it’s easier.

Raising the minimum wage is just a political ploy.  So Democrats can gain votes.  Because a higher minimum wage favors the young.  And organized labor.  Two large Democrat constituencies.  The young get more for doing less.  And have no reason NOT to stay ignorant.  Keeping them loyal Democrat voters for the indefinite future.  Whereas unions don’t have to compete against lower wages.  And without any wage competition they can enjoy the high wages the lack of competition gives.

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #84: “The bigger and more complex government gets the more unintended the consequences.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 20th, 2011

Filthy, Stinking Hippies never Liked Income Disparity.  Or Real Work.

Say you’re a server at a nice restaurant.  And you’re really good.  People ask to sit in your section.  For your prompt and courteous service.  And they show their appreciation.  With big tips.  And frequent trips to the restaurant.  Good food.  And great service.  It’s what makes a restaurant successful.

Now let’s say the restaurant owners retire and turn over the business to their children.  And let’s say they’re liberal Democrats.  Children of the Sixties.  Hippies.  Filthy, stinking hippies.  And still are.  Though they may bathe more these days.  Anyway, they take over the exploitation of the working class in this bourgeois restaurant.  (They see all business in these terms.)  And they’re going to make some changes.

They never liked the income disparity they saw between the servers.  (Or real work for that matter.)  And they don’t like you.  Because you’re getting more in tips than the other servers.  And that just isn’t fair.  You’re just lucky to get better tables.  As if you won some lottery in life.  It’s only blind, dumb luck that makes you the high earner in the restaurant.  So they’re going to level the playing field.  Make it fair for everyone.  Not just for the rich.  You.  But for everyone.  From now on all tips go into a jar.  And at the end of the day they will divide those tips evenly between all servers.  Everything fair.  And everyone happy.

People don’t Approve of Slavery and Prefer to Keep the Fruits of Their Labor

Or so they would believe.  Because you’re not going to be happy, are you?  I mean, you know why you made more in tips.  You provided exceptional service.  And your reward for your hard work?  A punitive tax.  They’re going to share part of your tips with the less exceptional servers.  So what will you do?

I’m guessing that you’re not going to say, “Vive la revolución.”  And work even harder.  Instead I’m betting that you will be looking for a new job.  At a restaurant that rewards hard work.  And if there are no other food service jobs available?  Because liberal Democrats are in power?  And they’ve killed the economy?  Well, then, you just won’t work as hard.  Because you don’t approve of slavery.  Having the fruits of your labors given to others.

So the new owners, the filthy, stinking hippies, will lose their best server.  And soon will notice a steady decline in the quality of service.  For their servers quickly learn that working harder doesn’t mean any more pay.  So they don’t.  Work harder.  Food sits in the kitchen longer.  By the time they serve it to the customers it’s lukewarm.  They don’t refill drinks.  Customers begin to complain.  Even about the quality of the lukewarm food.  The executive chef quits.  Business drops off.  The business goes into debt.  Losing some $10,000 each month.  And things get so bad under the new owners that not even Robert Irvine could save this restaurant.

The new owners thought their way was going to make a better work environment for their employees.  But the only workers who liked the new policies and stayed were their worst employees.  All the good ones quit.  And those who remained lost their jobs eventually as the business finally went under.  So everyone in the end lost.  Because these hippies thought they knew what was best for everyone.

Accidents Sometimes Happen when Men Control Complex Machines

So bad ideology has unintended consequences.  But complex systems to simplify complex things also have unintended consequences.

The modern jetliner is a complex machine.  They can literally take off, fly and land themselves.  But don’t.  Pilots still take off.  And land.  But the other 99% of the time these aircraft fly themselves.  Pilots input data into the flight computers.  And the computers fly the aircraft.

So pilots don’t fly as much as they used to.  They log a lot of hours in the cockpit.  But they’re not really flying.  They’re operating computers.  Pushing buttons.  Turning dials.  And communicating with air traffic controllers.  They’re not ‘connected’ to the aircraft like in the old days.  Fly-by-wire technology insulates the pilot from the flight controls.  The days of stick and rudder are gone.  When a pilot was one with the aircraft.  Through constant feedback via the senses.  Flying by the seat of the pants.  When a hand on the steering column told a pilot how the plane was flying.  Even while on autopilot.  While having a conversation with a flight attendant standing in the cockpit door.

Back then you needed far more piloting skills than you do today.  Because there were no flight computers.  Like they have today.  That’s why a lot of pilots came out of the military.  Because the military pushed pilots in their training.  Taught them to fly through anything that can happen while flying.  Including recovering from a stall.  Something that just doesn’t typically happen in a modern jetliner these days.

Pilot error has accounted for the majority of accidents.  So removing the pilot from the ‘flying part’ of flying an airplane made sense.  And it would make aviation safer.  And it has.  This is not to criticize pilots.  It just shows that accidents sometimes happen when men control complex machines.  So reducing the amount of time the pilot is in control of the aircraft makes them safer.  That is, as long as the computers have good data.

The Safer You Make Flying by Removing the Pilot from the Flying the less Skilled Pilots Become

And that’s a problem.  Sometimes the computers don’t have good data.  For various reasons.  Such as iced up airspeed sensing pitot probes.  Which has happened a few times.  Giving false airspeed data.  Or sometimes conflicting airspeed data.  There’s more than one probe.  And different flight computers get their airspeed from different probes.  One could show a dangerous high airspeed.  Another can show the actual airspeed.  Giving a pilot a bit of a problem.  Which is compounded if that pilot spent more time inputting data to a computer than flying.  Because when computers get bad data they often disengage.  And the modern pilot will spend most of his or her time trying to reengage it.  Instead of flying the airplane.  As they are trained to do.  Because it’s safer.

A dangerous high airspeed indicates that the plane may be accelerating.  Past its maximum airspeed rating.  Which could make the plane break up in flight.  So a pilot may pull back the engine throttles.  To slow the plane.  To keep it from breaking up in flight.  Of course, if that was an erroneous airspeed, the pilot will only slow the plane down.  And perhaps cause it to stall.  And that has happened, too.

A plane has a ‘stick shaker‘ to warn the pilot of a potential stall.  Normally after you get a stick shake you push the yoke forward to lower the nose and pick up speed.  Of course, if you just got an over-speed warning you might not do this.  And you may interpret that stick-shake as buffeting from the plane just before it breaks up in flight.  So you may raise the nose.  And pull the throttle levers back. To slow the plane down.  And that’s exactly what you will do.  Slow the plane down.  Right into a stall.  Which is flying too slowly to create lift with the wings.  And once the plane stalls it will just fall out of the sky.

There’s a tradeoff in aviation.  The safer you make flying by removing the pilot from the flying the less skilled pilots become.  So when something happens, such as an erroneous airspeed indication, their initial reaction is to fix the computer.  Not fly the airplane.  And planes have fallen out of the sky because of this.  Because even the simple problems don’t have a lot of time to fix.  An old-school pilot who flew B-52s, on the other hand, would probably say something like this.  “Hot damn.  The idiot box is broken.  Now I get to fly this son-a-bitch.”

When Legislation goes Wrong those in Government Simply Say they had Nothing but the Best Intentions

Every time you try to make something too complex.  Or try to change human behavior.  You are going to get unintended consequences.  Always.  Because complex things are complex.  And people are like snowflakes.  No two are alike.  And it is the height of arrogance to believe that you know an individual better than they know themselves.  Or that ‘one size’ fits all when it comes to solutions.

But that’s government.  Complex.  And where the few think for the many.  And decide what’s best for them.  This is a recipe for unintended consequences.  Which is why so much of their legislation goes wrong.  And when it does they simply say they had nothing but the best intentions.

Of course, you see what good intentions can do in a restaurant.  Or in a jetliner at 30,000 feet.

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The Federal Debt and Public Sector Grow, American Exceptionalism Declines

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 4th, 2011

Obama sets Spending Record, Maxes out Uncle Sam’s Credit Card

As Congress battles over a budget, Timothy Geithner goes back to Congress and warns them that the world as we know it will end unless they increase the debt ceiling.  I’m paraphrasing, of course (see U.S. will hit debt ceiling by May 16, Geithner warns Congress by Jim Puzzanghera posted 4/4/2011 on the Los Angeles Times).

The Treasury Department had estimated that the nation would reach its $14.29-trillion debt limit between April 5 and May 31…

The Obama administration is pushing Congress to increase the debt limit, as it has done 75 times since 1962. The nation has never failed to increase the limit, Geithner said.

But the nation has never spent money it doesn’t have like the Obama administration has.  After some 2 years in office Obama has added about $4.3 trillion to the national debt.  That’s pretty impressive for just two scant years.  And how does that compare with his predecessors?  George W. Bush‘s added $4.2 trillion in eight years.  Bill Clinton added $1.4 trillion in his eight years.  Ronald Reagan added $1.6 trillion in his eight years.  And Reagan is always attacked with the ‘sure he saved the economy and increased GDP but at what cost’ line implying he did it with reckless and irresponsible spending by mortgaging our future.  But Reagan’s debt was chump change compared to the Obama $4.3 trillion added in only 2 years.  Yet the Reagan debt was bad.  While the Obama debt is nothing to worry about.  Funny how that works. 

One thing for sure, Obama sure likes to spend other people’s money. 

Renewable Energy Subsidies are a Slush Fund for Democrats

So what are we spending so much money on?  Oh, lots and lots of things.  Some big (Obamacare).  Some small.  So small that when you look at it as a line item you say, sure, that’s a lot of money, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s chump change.  Like the debt Reagan added rebuilding the American economy and winning the Cold War.  Or solar energy subsidies (see Get A Tax Break For Going Green In 2011 by Ashlea Ebeling posted 4/1/2011 on Forbes).

When [a retired couple], N.J., both 73, file their 2010 tax return this spring, they’ll be getting a $15,000 federal tax credit for going solar. They were expecting to get an additional $11,000 state rebate too, but newly-elected Republican Gov. Chris Christie raided the N.J. Clean Energy Fund last year to help balance the state budget, so the pot of rebate money ran dry. Yet even without the promised state rebate, [they] calculate that their $50,000 investment will be paid off in five years thanks to the federal tax credit and other incentives.

He’s already watching his meter send electricity he generates back to the power company; he figures he’ll save $1,600 a year in electricity bills. And he stands to get up to $6,500 a year for 15 years in state-legislated solar renewable energy certificates…

Okay, so we have a retired couple who could afford to spend $50,000 on solar panels that will never pay for themselves in energy savings unless they live another 32 years in retirement.  You know, that is an awful return on investment.  Which explains why no one is making this investment.  Unless the government gives them about $100,000 in the next 15 years on top of the $15,000 federal tax credit.  And the $11,000 state benefits.  All to save $1,600 a year.  What a scam.

This may stimulate the economy locally for a short time, but it just adds to the debt.  And the long term problems will be far greater than the short term benefits.  Then again, 73 year old people won’t be around to face those problems.  But you can bet that they will be voting for the party that just dropped a boatload of money into their laps to spend in their retirement years.  Let’s not forget that the senior population is growing greater than the younger population.  And they vote more.  So you can see that although the return on investment on solar energy is awful, it pays huge political dividends.  And that’s what it’s all about.  Not the environment.

Obamacare is a Slush Fund for Democrats

And speaking of really enjoying those retirement years, here’s a little pork buried in Obamacare just coming to light (see Uncovered: New $2 billion bailout in Obamacare by Byron York posted 3/31/2011 on The Examiner).

Investigators for the House Energy and Commerce Committee have discovered that a little-known provision in the national health care law has allowed the federal government to pay nearly $2 billion to unions, state public employee systems, and big corporations to subsidize health coverage costs for early retirees.

The legislation called for the program to spend a total of $5 billion, beginning in June 2010 — shortly after Obamacare was passed — and ending on January 1, 2014, as the system of national health care exchanges was scheduled to go into effect.

In other words, if you support Obamacare, we’ll take care of you.  As we always do.  And that’s why they fight for the public sector workers like they do.  They get a lot of union dues and foot soldiers.  In return the government throws them a bone.  Like an additional $5 billion in health care subsidies.

Where is the money going?  According to the new report, the biggest single recipient of an early-retiree bailout is the United Auto Workers, which has so far received $206,798,086.  Other big recipients include AT&T, which received $140,022,949, and Verizon, which received $91,702,538.  General Electric, in the news recently for not paying any U.S. taxes last year, received $36,607,818.  General Motors, recipient of a massive government bailout, received $19,002,669.

The program also paid large sums of money to state governments.  The Public Employees Retirement System of Ohio received $70,557,764; the Teacher Retirement System of Texas received $68,074,118; the California Public Employees Retirement System, or CalPERS, received $57,834,267; the Georgia Department of Community Health received $57,936,127; and the state of New York received $47,869,044.  Other states received lesser but still substantial sums.

But payments to individual states were dwarfed by the payout to the auto workers union, which received more than the states of New York, California, and Texas combined.  Other unions also received government funds, including the United Food and Commercial Workers, the United Mine Workers, and the Teamsters.

Remember the GM bailout?  Obama screwed the GM bond holders.  He called them greedy.  Humiliated them for trying to keep their contract rights.  The Obama administration sent these ‘first in line’ in bankruptcy to the end of the line.  Even behind the UAW who had no investment in GM.  Obama gave the UAW free shares of stock just for being who they were; contributors to the Democrat Party.  When the company went public again, the UAW was able to reap a fortune on that stock gift and fund their poorly funded pension fund.  And now this.  More tax dollars gifted to them for being good Democrat Party contributors.  This time to pay for health care costs of early retirees.  Lovely. 

Privileged life is good.  Obama takes care of the privileged.  And all you have to do is vote for him.  And give him a piece of your union dues.

The Public Sector Grows, the Private Sector Shrinks

But this government generosity is getting out of control.  People see the gravy train.  And they’re getting on it (see We’ve Become a Nation of Takers, Not Makers by Stephen Moore posted 4/1/2011 on The Wall Street Journal).

If you want to understand better why so many states—from New York to Wisconsin to California—are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, consider this depressing statistic: Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.

It gets worse. More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers. Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees. Is it any wonder that so many states and cities cannot pay their bills?

The problem with this trend is that the government doesn’t pay for these government workers.  The taxpayers do.  The people with private sector jobs.  And as the public sector (i.e., government) grows, the smaller the private sector gets.  Which has to fund an even greater public sector by ever greater taxes.  But the more taxes we pay the more sacrifices we have to make.  Our lives grow more austere.  While the public sector lives a far more comfortable life than ours.  The government will be the first to condemn this income disparity when they can attack some corporation.  But it’s a different story when the well-to-do are their own people.  So they try to hide this wealth transfer.  Well, they try to hide it from the makers.  Not the takers.

Don’t expect a reversal of this trend anytime soon. Surveys of college graduates are finding that more and more of our top minds want to work for the government. Why? Because in recent years only government agencies have been hiring, and because the offer of near lifetime security is highly valued in these times of economic turbulence. When 23-year-olds aren’t willing to take career risks, we have a real problem on our hands. Sadly, we could end up with a generation of Americans who want to work at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Public sector workers will bitch and moan about their jobs.  How they can earn more in the private sector.  Of course, they never leave the public sector.  Because the pay and benefits in the private sector suck compared to what they get in the public sector.  And no one ever fires them or lays them off.  That’s why they don’t ever give up those jobs.  Even college graduates have learned this.  And to guarantee those sweet jobs you know they will become lifetime Democrat voters.

Over the period 1970-2005, school spending per pupil, adjusted for inflation, doubled, while standardized achievement test scores were flat. Over roughly that same time period, public-school employment doubled per student, according to a study by researchers at the University of Washington. That is what economists call negative productivity.

Why, then, is the answer to our educational woes always more spending?  Because there are a lot of teachers.  Who pay a lot of dues.  That go straight to the Democrat Party.  In exchange for more government spending on education.  Always for the children.  Yet the money never seems to make it to the classroom.  Based on the test scores.  But the money keeps flowing.  So the Democrat Party can always count on the teachers’ vote.

Most reasonable steps to restrain public-sector employment costs are smothered by the unions. Study after study has shown that states and cities could shave 20% to 40% off the cost of many services—fire fighting, public transportation, garbage collection, administrative functions, even prison operations—through competitive contracting to private providers. But unions have blocked many of those efforts. Public employees maintain that they are underpaid relative to equally qualified private-sector workers, yet they are deathly afraid of competitive bidding for government services.

So you could say these public sector workers are 20% to 40% overpaid, couldn’t you?  I mean, in the private sector, it’s the rare person who can demand 20% to 40% more than the going market salary or wage.  People just don’t choose to pay more.  Do you?  Do you hire a plumber whose rates are 20% to 40% higher than the going rate?  No, I doubt you do. I’ve even known union construction workers who hire nonunion workers to work at their house.  Because they, too, don’t want to pay more than they have to.  But public sector workers think they deserve this higher pay and benefits.  As does the federal government.  Who steps in to fight a governor (Scott Walker) who is trying to balance his state’s budget.  Why?  Because public sector workers are loyal Democrat voters.  And donors.  Via their automatically deducted union dues.

The Shining City upon a Hill to become Ordinary?

The national debt is growing out of control for a good reason.  Spending.  Now we’ve had spending in the past that was necessary.  But much of the spending in the last 2 years has had a higher purpose.  To fund the growing public sector.  And to buy loyal Democrat voters.  With the growth in entitlements consuming an ever larger part of the budget, that leaves little for the business of politics.  So they must borrow.  And borrow they do.  More than ever before.  They’ve added more in 2 years than George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan did in their 8-year terms.  And they’re begging Congress to raise the debt ceiling so they can keep on spending.

The future isn’t looking so bright.  Perhaps this marks the beginning of the end of American Exceptionalism.  The point on the historical timeline when we stopped being that shining city upon a hill.  When we became ordinary.  With our best days long behind us.  I hope not.  But it’s been done before.  Great civilizations have come and gone.  Done in by an ever growing public sector that bankrupts nations.  Even empires.  No one is immune.  Not even that shining city upon the hill.

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