Monday, August 31, 2015

I Am A Liberal’

1. I support the right to kill you for the first 9 months of your life and even a little bit afterward, if no one is looking.

2.i support gun free zones so you cannot defend yourself or anyone else if any of my disenfranchised brothers or sisters express their righteous rage.

3.I am against Wall Street and small business–especially if it is located in Ferguson, Missouri, or any other city where I decide racial injustice has been perpetrated.

4.I detest all you breeders who keep bringing in future generations who will be breathing my air.

5.I support bigger government and unlimited taxpayer-funded spending on gender bender hormones and other new needs of the day.

6.I say open the Southern gates and let future liberal voters in by the tens of millions to even the score, to have free and fair elections where anyone who arrives at a voting station can cast a private vote without identification.

7.And while we’re at it, let’s make Election Day a national holiday with polls only open 9 to 5.

8. oppose all forms of private education and outlawing homeschooling. Let everyone get a public school education from pre-school to college graduation day, so we are all on the same page on the vital social issues of the day.

9.I’m for banning all forms of Judeo-Christian religion but also allowing Islam and secular humanism.

10.I’m for total 24/7 surveillance so that the business class pays their fair share.

11.I oppose Climate Change and am willing to sacrifice trillions of dollars of other people’s money to fight climate until it changes no more.
I am a Liberal. And I vote.

Watch Comedian’s Police-Themed Joke at VMAs That Had Prominent Black Lies Matter Activist Fuming With Outrage

Presenting the award for best hip-hop video at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards Sunday night, comedian Rebel Wilson walked onto the stage wearing a police costume. But she surprised everyone when she referenced people having a “problem” with police, then joked that she’s outraged by the “stripper police.”

Wilson ripped off her police costume to reveal a shirt that stated, “F*** Tha Stripper Police.”

They come to your house. You think you’re getting arrested, and you just get a lap dance and it’s usually uninspired. I hired a police stripper for my grandma’s 80th and he wouldn’t even feel her up,” she joked. “I hate this injustice, hence the shirt.”

One person who didn’t find the joke funny was prominent Black Lives Matter activist Deray McKesson. He took to Twitter to express his displeasure with the joke.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Washington State Professors threaten bad grades for saying ‘illegal alien,’ ‘male,’ ‘female’?

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Washington State University have explicitly told students their grades will suffer if they use terms such as “illegal alien,” "male," and “female,” or if they fail to “defer” to non-white students.
According to the syllabus for Selena Lester Breikss’ “Women & Popular Culture” class, students risk a failing grade if they use any common descriptors that Breikss considers “oppressive and hateful language.”
"Students will come to recognize how white privilege functions in everyday social structures and institutions.”    
The punishment for repeatedly using the banned words, Breikss warns, includes “but [is] not limited to removal from the class without attendance or participation points, failure of the assignment, and— in extreme cases— failure for the semester.”
Breikss is not the only WSU faculty member implementing such policies.
Much like in Selena Breikss’s classroom, students taking Professor Rebecca Fowler’s “ Introduction to Comparative Ethnic Studies” course will see their grades suffer if they use the term “illegal alien” in their assigned writing.
According to her syllabus, students will lose one point every time they use the words “illegal alien” or “illegals” rather than the preferred terms of “‘undocumented’ migrants/immigrants/persons.” Throughout the course, Fowler says, students will “come to recognize how white privilege functions in everyday social structures and institutions.”
In an email to Campus Reform, Fowler complained that “the term ‘illegal alien’ has permeated dominant discourses that circulate in the news to the extent that our society has come to associate ALL unauthorized border crossings with those immigrants originating from countries south of our border (and not with Asian immigrants, for example, many of whom are also in the country without legal documents and make up a considerable portion of undocumented immigrants living in the country).”
“The socio-legal production of migrant illegality works to systematically dehumanize and exploit these brown bodies for their labor,” Fowler continued.
White students in Professor John Streamas’s “ Introduction to Multicultural Literature” class, are expected to “defer” to non-white students, among other community guidelines, if they want “to do well in this class.”
In the guidelines in his syllabus, Streamas elaborates that he requires students to “reflect” on their grasp of history and social relations “by respecting shy and quiet classmates and by deferring to the experiences of people of color.”
Streamas—who previously generated controversy by calling a student a “ white shitbag” and declared that WSU should stand for “White Supremacist University”—also demands that students “understand and consider the rage of people who are victims of systematic injustice.”
Later in the syllabus, Streamas goes even further and accuses Glenn Beck of being an “insensitive white.”
Several other WSU professors require their students to “acknowledge that racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, and other institutionalized forms of oppression exist” or that “ we do not live in a post-racial world.”
Ari Cohn, a lawyer with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, told Campus Reformhe considers such requirements to be contradictory, even given the sensitive nature of the courses.
"It is notable that one of the syllabus provisions warns: ‘The subject material of this class is sensitive and controversial. Strive to keep an open mind.’ How are students supposed to approach these sensitive and controversial materials at all, let alone to keep an open mind, if they have to fear that a misconstrued statement, or one that unreasonably offends a classmate will lead to a grade reduction or even removal from class?"

Black Lies Matter Protesters Chant: ‘Pigs In A Blanket, Fry ‘Em Like Bacon’ End Black Supremacy” and “Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter protesters marching on the Minnesota state fair on Saturday spewed violent anti-cop rhetoric just hours after a Harris County, Tex. sheriff’s deputy was ambushed and executed at a Houston-area gas station.
“Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon,” activists with the St. Paul, Minn. branch of Black Lives Matter chanted while marching behind a group of police officers down a highway just south of the state fair grounds.

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Liberalism Created the WDBJ Killer

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Barack Obama won’t be saying, “If I had a psycho son, he’d look like Vester Lee.” But he might as well. Because Vester Lee Flanagan II, the bigoted maniac who murdered the WDBJ reporter and cameraman Wednesday on live TV, was a philosophical offspring of the Left.

It’s well known now that Flanagan was a professional victim, nurturing grudges against all and sundry based on his “status” as a homosexual black man. He had an axe to grind with white women because they supposedly made racial statements to him, and against black men because they supposedly directed anti-homosexual remarks his way. And it didn’t seem as if he liked anyone very much.

Of course, most of the bigotry he perceived from others was in his head, a function of his own prejudice, inculcated via decades of liberal indoctrination. When you dislike others, you view them through tinted lenses and ascribe negative motivations to everything they do. Where a fair-minded individual might interpret a comment as innocuous, simply a misunderstanding or an example of the issuer merely having a bad day, you see malice. “Of course it was racial! That’s the way white people are.” And, “That had to be ‘homophobic’ in this society, which macro and microaggresses against everything that I am!” (of course, certain things are supposed to be stigmatized). These notions, again, were put in Flanagan’s mixed-up head by liberals and liberals alone. They disgorge hateful, pure and utter nonsense such as microaggression theory, “white privilege,” critical-race theory and 1000 other things designed to divide with lies. It is evil.

Flanagan had described himself as “human powder keg,” but what was he so angry about? He lived in the most prosperous nation in the most prosperous time in man’s history; he could walk into any supermarket and avail himself of thousands of delicious foods from the world over at reasonable prices, a luxury that would have made the jaws of people existing in former ages drop. He was living, as we all do, in Shangri-la. But his attitude was hardly inexplicable.

To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, “Goods look a lot better when they come wrapped as gifts.” Everything is a gift, but the Left teaches just the opposite: to have a sense of entitlement, to believe you’re owed, to ever and always view our very large glass as half empty. Some have asked, quite naively, how it is that despite Flanagan’s pathetic performance as a reporter, he was hired by more than one media outlet and given chance after chance to right the ship. Well, golly gee, Cletus, it’s a mystery.

Flanagan was clearly an affirmative-action hire, enjoying the daily-double victim status of being black and homosexual. And that was part of the problem: too much was given to him on a silver platter — because of liberalism.

There have been many articles in recent years about how college graduates today enter the workforce with unrealistic expectations about their economic self-worth and starting salary. We hear about how so many of them can’t tolerate criticism and rejection; act as if their own feelings are inordinately important and should command respect; and how they lack a sense of propriety, a grasp of their place in a workplace’s hierarchy. As a consequence, they may barge into an office to vent their feelings, even if it’s neither the time nor the place.

This is all the result of liberal parenting, of the psychobabble disgorged by the likes of Dr. Benjamin Spock. It’s no wonder many young people today have little sense of just hierarchies — their permissive liberal parents didn’t establish a just hierarchy in the home. Instead, they acted as if their family was a dysfunctional democracy and junior a special-interest group that political correctness dictated must be coddled and catered to. Junior seldom heard the word “No!” uttered in exclamatory fashion; junior seldom had to delay gratification; junior got participation trophies just for showing up. He was treated as a little prince around whom the world revolved. He was marinated in “self-esteem” pap in schools, telling him how great and special he was. The result? Junior and many of his peers (not that he imagined he had any peers) grew up to be narcissists.

As for Flanagan, it has been reported that his refrigerator was covered with pictures of himself. We know what this means. A mother may display numerous pictures of her children because she loves her children. And a man would display numerous pictures of himself because…?

It all reminds me of the Satan character’s line in the film The Devil’s Advocate: “Vanity is my favorite sin.” “Pride” is probably even more accurate. But it all gets at the matter’s heart. We don’t need some hard and fast psychological diagnosis here. Whether Flanagan was most correctly characterized as a “narcissist” or just a self-centered, entitled jerk, the bottom line is that his state was attributable to a philosophical disease, a disordered way of thinking that masquerades under an ideological banner:

Of course, liberals will blame guns. This is partially because, unlike with Dylann Roof, they can’t blame Confederate flags or 19th-century statues. But it’s also because they’re incapable of putting the blame where it really belongs: the man in the mirror.
Guns don’t kill people. Liberalism does.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Defund Progressivism

National Review magazine had Carly Fiorina on its cover recently, with the headline "Carly the Communicator." The lead story featured example after example of Fiorina's clear and articulate explanations of conservative positions winning over audiences -- including those, such as the hosts of "The View," known to be fiercely left-leaning. And this was even before Fiorina's strong performance at the Republican "pre-debate" on August 6, which left many observers with the distinct impression that she had won, and propelled her toward the top of the polls (such as they are at the moment).
Fiorina is by no means the only Republican who is changing minds about conservatism. Last year, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul shocked the media and political establishment with a speech on government surveillance and privacy at University of California, Berkeley -- ground zero for American liberalism - that drew a standing ovation. African-American neurosurgeon and best-selling author Ben Carson is attracting followers with his inspiring backstory, triumph over poverty, and common-sense approach to politics. (A recent poll showed that fully two-thirds of likely primary Republican voters would back Carson -- more than any other candidate, including Donald Trump.) And it is worth noting that Carson is one of a growing and visible number of black and other minority conservatives who are garnering national attention. Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are not only Hispanic, but children of (Cuban) immigrants.
In fact, the entire slate of GOP presidential candidates is a diversity advocate's dream. The faces of conservatism are changing. The message is reaching new audiences. The public is listening. And the "talking heads," dominated as they are by self-styled "progressives," are being dragged, kicking and screaming, into a new political era in which the old rules and alliances don't apply.
That is, some of them don't. Progressivism, regrettably, is as outwardly oppressive and internally inconsistent as it has always been, as other recent events demonstrate with painful clarity.
The Center for Medical Progress released another damning video (the eighth) that exposes the rot at the core of Planned Parenthood -- the holy grail of American progressivism. The most recent video shows Stem Express CEO Cate Dyer laughing as she describes the challenges of buying and shipping severed baby heads obtained from Planned Parenthood to laboratories so that the "insanely fragile" brain material can be successfully extracted. According to Dyer, the recipients of these grisly shipments are often horrified. She, however, displays no such squeamishness.
Planned Parenthood is the brainchild of progressivism's patron saint, Margaret Sanger, whose stated purpose in forming the organization was to "(facilitate) the process of weeding out the unfit." Sanger allied her cause with that of eugenicists.
This is no aberration; this is the history and reality of progressivism, which talks a good game about being concerned about the "little guy," but then grinds millions of "little guys" up like hamburger in pursuit of some lofty, larger goal. Many of history's most repressive regimes, such as China, the former Soviet Union, Cambodia, Vietnam and Cuba, have imprisoned, tortured and slaughtered millions of their own citizens in pursuit of progressivism's "egalitarian" aims. Venezuela's 21st-century progressivism has produced shortages, hunger, breadlines and riots in the streets
In other words, every generation of progressives has its holocaust. With abortion, American progressives now have theirs.
The inherent paradoxes do not seem to faze progressives at all. In the U.S., they use the hashtag "BlackLivesMatter" and hold up signs that read "I stand with Planned Parenthood" as Planned Parenthood kills black babies. They denounce the "War on Women" but say nothing when butchers such as abortionist Kermit Gosnell are responsible for the deaths of female patients -- not to mention ignoring the millions of female children lost to abortions. They scream hyperbolically that business policies and corporate profits are responsible for the deaths of human beings, but look away when corporations are actually engaged in the business of buying and selling the parts of dead human beings.
Progressives love to chastise conservatives for exalting the individual. But in truth, the worth of the individual is at the heart of conservatism. The idea of inherent rights in every individual human being was -- and is -- set forth in the foundational documents of the United States, and rooted in natural law principles about the dignity and inherent worth of every human being. Progressives pooh-pooh this idea, as they do the concept of a government with limited powers. That is a dangerous combination, and so it should not be a surprise that whenever the Constitution is interpreted such that an entire class of people are considered not to have rights (Dred Scott, Roe v. Wade), people die -- in large numbers.
Planned Parenthood is no aberration. It is a textbook case of what happens when "progressive" ideology carries the day.
If you have always considered yourself a "progressive" but are distressed by the disrespect for human life; if you wonder about the economic failures of so-called "progressive" systems; if you have thought that the principles of conservatism had no room for people like you, perhaps it's time to reconsider. The face of conservatism has changed. The results of progressivism have not.
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The heroin crisis is so bad in one US county that there were 16 overdoses in one day.


Washington county is nestled on the southwestern edge of Pennsylvania, bordering West Virginia. It has a population that just surpasses the 200,000 mark, and yet every day between five and eight of its inhabitants overdose on heroin.
Last weekend, the county experienced one of its worse overdose epidemics. In just 24 hours, 16 people overdosed. Over the whole weekend, 25 overdosed and three died, The Washington Post reports.
Every day in the US, an average of 110 people die from legal and illegal drug overdoses, according to The Post. Many of the Washington county people who overdosed were saved by the fact that all paramedics now carry a fast-acting antidote called naloxone.

Rick Gluth, a supervising detective on a Washington county drug task force, told The Washington Post that there had been a gradual increase in the number of overdoses over the last two years and that things "just went out of control."

"I’ve been a police officer for 27 years and worked narcotics for the last 15, and this is the worst. I’d be glad to have the crack epidemic back," Gluth said.

The number of heroin addicts in the US has sharply risen over the last decade, and, with it, the number of fatal heroin overdoses has gone up, too. Heroin use has doubled among young adults in the past 10 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In some parts of the US, the problem has gotten so bad that maternity wards have now started installing special units to wean newborns off drugs due to the increasing number of mothers taking drugs while pregnant.

When injected, heroin turns into morphine, which causes the body to become extremely relaxed and decreases the sense of pain. One of the reasons people die from a heroin overdose is that their body forgets to breathe.

"Heroin makes someone calm and a little bit sleepy, but if you take too much then you can fall asleep, and when you are asleep your respiratory drive shuts down," Dr. Karen Drexler, the former director of the addiction-psychiatry residency-training program at Emory University, told CNN. Heroin overdoses also cause heart failures and extreme blood-pressure drops.

Google Maps/Skitch
The demographic of heroin users has been changing over the last decade. Since many heroin users become hooked after being prescribed painkillers known as opioids, a lot of middle-class people are now addicted. As a result, the drug is bought and sold in accessible places like bars, nightclubs, and homes.
Gluth told The Washington Post that in Washington county, heroin is much cheaper than prescription drugs. Prescription drugs can cost $20 for a single dose, while heroin sells for $8 for a stamp bag.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Identity Politics and the Stoking of Generational Warfare

I have to confess I find stereotyping annoying, and in almost all cases, it’s a poor substitute for more careful analysis and characterization. Yet it is marvelously effective in politics, as Karl Rove proved. Stereotyping, which is often not all that different from bigotry, goes hand in hand with what Lambert calls “strategic hate management,” For instance: “People who get welfare and social services are leeches;” “If you lost your home, you were a deadbeat and deserved it;” Women who were raped don’t get pregnant so there’s no reason to let them have abortions.” Manipulating voters with hot-button issues has the convenient side effect of diverting their attention from how major corporate and other big monied interests extract cash and other prizes from the government.

I’m turning to the topic of identity politics now because I’m seeing a noticeable increase on multiple fronts. It looks as if election preparation is starting even earlier than usual. Perhaps three or four months back, I noticed a marked uptick in women-themed articles in the business and political pages, as in a much greater frequency of articles on topics like women as leaders and flattering profiles of prominent women (I found the rah rah about Janet Yellen being the first woman Fed chair to be particularly off-putting). It has a real non-organic feel, the same way the deadbeat borrower meme did when it emerged after the robosigining/chain of title scandal broke.

Even though stereotyping about women is a constant in the media, I’ve refrained from doing much more than occasionally grumble in Links and comments about it, since it reflects deep-seated cultural views and those change very slowly. And it does not have much bearing on the major topics of this blog.

By contrast, we’ve had a tremendous amount of economic mismanagement in this country, not only in the policies that gave us the global financial crisis, but the approach to the aftermath, which has pretty much been, “save the banks and the hell with everyone else.” Now it turned out that the asset-price-goosing measured that salvaged the big financial firms also did wonders for the moderately and super wealthy, so they have every reason to try to hang on to and extend the monetary and political advantages they’ve gained.

By contrast, working people have suffered greatly. Average real wages fell from 2010 to 2012, during a so-called recovery, and are 14% below their peak, achieved in 1972. But the real tragedy is in sustained un and underemployment. NC commentor Hugh calculates real “disemployment” as nearly 18%. The weak job market hitting all age groups, but it is a particularly hard blow to new and recent graduates, who invested in (often costly to them) educations to give them a leg up in the job market. Many have found it didn’t do much good.

A particularly potent political grouping would be for older people, particularly retirees, to team up with young people on economic issues. So it’s not surprising that some political mavens are trying to make sure that doesn’t happen. One of the strategies of the plutocrats comes from financier Jay Gould : “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half,” except this time, they aren’t even having to hire one half to turn it against the other.

Just as I’ve noticed an sharp uptick in women’s identity articles, I’ve also seen a ramping up of generational warfare and anti-baby-boomer messaging (I have as much antipathy towards broad comments about baby boomers as I do women). This phenomenon admittedly has deeper roots, since billionaire Pete Peterson has been campaigning against Social Security and Medicare since the mid 1980s, and presenting old people as something society can’t afford is part of his strategy. But he’s been joined by fresh troops, such as Fix the Debt and billionaire Stan Druckenmiller’s overt campaign to turn young people against older ones, The Can Kicks Back.

Yet how does indicting a large group of people who are extremely diverse in terms of income, occupation, religion, family status, and ethnicity make any sense? It’s tantamount to prosecuting everyone at JP Morgan for fraud and predatory practices, rather than Jamie Dimon and other responsible individuals.

I’ve run into some distressing examples of confirmation bias among people who are usually rigorous. For instance, one young colleague buys the generational warfare meme and argues that the current poor prospects for his cohort is the boomers’ fault because they supported Reagan, and Reagan was the architect of many of the policies that held down wages and used higher levels of consumer borrowing and asset bubbles to mask that capital was getting the lion’s share of the gains from productivity growth. But if you look at the results of the 1984 presidential election, you’ll see that support for Reagan didn’t vary much by age group, but it was lowest among 25 to 29 year olds and next lowest among 30 to 49 year olds. And voting for Reagan correlated vastly better with income. As for why Reagan did so well generally? To quote Clinton, it was the economy, stupid. Reagan got benefitted enormously from Volcker breaking inflation and then lowering interest rates, which led to a strong recovery from a steep, nasty recession. And Mondale was about as inspiring a candidate as Bob Dole.

Similarly, my young colleague blames suburbanization, and thus the US dependence on the car, on boomers. Yet American, unlike Europe, has had comparatively little in the way of dense cities; once the War of Independence was won and various Native American tribes were defeated, there was no safety reason to cluster housing tightly. In general, suburbanization is seen as taking off right after World War II, but it was well established even then.

One serious-sounding argument leveled against older people is that the young workers will be burdened by supporting an aged cohort that is large relative to their numbers. There’s a related variant of how older people are leaving younger people with a huge pile of debt to pay off.
Randy Wray debunked the first notion in a 2006 Levy Institute paper. The relevant sections:
The data are in: we are aging. Individually and collectively; nationally and globally. If you think that is a problem, consider the alternative. Aging results from the twin demographic forces of declining birth rates and rising longevity. The first is a welcome development that negated the dire “population bomb” predictions made by Club of Rome Malthusians three or four decades ago. Many developed nations are already worried about declining populations; even most emerging nations can look forward to stabilizing populations in the relatively near future. Obviously, lower fertility rates are desirable, and necessary, for achieving environmental sustainability. Rising longevity is desirable from the perspective of individuals, and also from society’s vantage point. The social investment in each human is huge, and longer average life spans help society to recoup its investment…

Of course, aging is considered a problem because of the burden placed on workers of supporting those aged who do not work. The most common measure of that burden is the aged-dependency ratio, which is formed by taking the number of those beyond normal working age—for example, aged 65 and above—relative to the number of normal working age—say, age 18 to 64. At best, this is a very rough measure of the burden put on workers. There are a large number of factors that affect the true, real burden. First, many people continue to work past age 65, both in formal labor markets and in informal (paid and unpaid) work. Women have traditionally provided much of the elder care, and as longevity rises, more and more women above age 65 continue to provide care for their aging relatives and others (again, in paid and unpaid work). By the same token, young people under age 18 work within and outside the home. Further, as we will see, it is important to note that even as the aged dependency ratio rises, the youth dependency ratio tends to fall. Thus, the total dependency burden on workers may not be rising, even if the share of elderly in the population is rising.

Additionally, the labor force participation rate and employment rate of people aged 18 to 64 can make a huge difference for the true burden on workers. A rising aged dependency ratio can be associated with a constant or falling burden on workers if the employment-population ratio is rising. The three most important factors that have led to changes of the employment rate across OECD nations in recent years have been the dramatic increase of female labor force participation rates in some western countries (the United States and Canada stand out), medium-term trends in unemployment rates (rising on trend in many European Union nations, falling on trend in the United States), and the trend to earlier age at retirement in many developed nations (although the United States has experienced rising labor force participation of elderly men—see below). These factors, in turn, depend on numerous variables including social norms, family structure, labor laws, economic necessity, and health. For example, falling fertility rates, as well as changing views of the role of women, have allowed higher female participation rates. Generous childcare systems in some nations permit even mothers with young children to work in formal labor markets. Laws protecting rights of persons with disabilities, as well as changing attitudes toward them, can increase participation rates of those formerly excluded. Improved health, perhaps due to better health care, can extend the working period for elderly persons, as well as for persons with chronic and formerly debilitating health problems. Especially in Europe, very early retirement ages have been encouraged through policy, in part as a reaction to high unemployment rates. In the future, this policy could be reversed, especially if employment rates of younger adults could be increased. Higher growth of aggregate demand—as in the United States during the Clinton years— can dramatically raise employment rates, sharing the burden of supporting the aged among a larger pool of workers. By contrast, sluggish economic performance, as in many Euro nations since monetary union, raises unemployment and lowers employment rates, increasing the burden on those with jobs—a problem that should be resolved, even if the Euro nations were not aging.
So the big takeaway from Wray’s discussion is that the supposed problem of an aging population is a non-problem if there are enough jobs. So rather than fighting over an artificially small economic pie, the result of the lack of political will to make a sustained commitment to job creation, young people and middle aged people should be creating more pressure to combat the political complacency about high unemployment.

And there’s been another odd meme about the job market: that young people aren’t getting jobs because older people are “hanging on” to them. Ahem, let me tell you, even among my relatively well-heeled ex-McKinsey confreres, many of the people who “retired” did so a lot earlier than they wanted to for a whole host of complicated reasons. It used to be that companies would prefer to push out more costly, older workers and replace them with new graduates.

That pattern has changed enough to impact overall employment figures. Trust me, this is not the result of a miraculous economy-wide improvement in negotiation and suck-up skills among middle aged workers. I’d hazard two things are conspiring together. One is that many of the remaining older workers aren’t at that high a pay premium relative to new hires. Two is that companies are less and less willing to pay for training. In IT, if you read sites like Slashdot, there’s been ongoing discussion of the lack of entry level jobs for at least a decade. Low level yeoman work, which was traditionally how people learned their profession, is also being sent more and more overseas by law firms. That sort of scut work was often the productive part of a new employee’s job while he was also learning his way around so he could do more useful things.

Short job tenures are also making companies less willing to invest in training. While the average across all US workers is around four and a half years, it’s lower among young workers. Tthe lower average job length among the young is at least in part due to job hopping. While that is narrowly rational (why shouldn’t you take a better job if one opens up? It’s not as if employers are loyal), employers will be even more leery of training workers if they think they’ll bolt at the first opportunity.

The “borrowing from the future” canard is dispatched with admirable vigor by Rumplestatskin of MacroBusiness:
“We are borrowing from the future” is a common phrase you might hear from economists musing about the state of the economy; about the behaviour of individuals, businesses and especially of government.

These statements arise in discussions about ageing, stimulus, social security, public investment, public debts, health, education and almost every other public policy topics in which economists self-declare some degree of expertise. To really drive home the entrenched nature of such thinking in economics, here’s Satyajit Das saying “Debt allows society to borrow from the future” and here’s something purporting to be an economics text saying the same thing.

Oh, and it’s a favourite line the double-speak repertoire of Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey.
All of this is truly odd. It’s nonsense really. Perhaps expected from politicians, but not from a profession that usually ‘looks through’ the veil of money to the utilisation of real resources in the economy.

The confusion rests on a conflation of money with resources; if money equals a claim on resources then borrowed money, or debts in general, therefore equates to resources borrowed from the future. Will Ricardian Equivalence never die?
All debts are transfers of purchasing power for current resources, despite new bank-issued debts not requiring current funding from a third party (as in the loanable funds model). In a direct credit transaction (peer to peer lending or credit channels including loanable funds) one party gives up their current purchasing power to another, with repayments and interest being a reversing of the transaction over time. No borrowing from the future there.

When new money is created through lending from the banking system, the same thing occurs, except that the society as a whole transfers resources to the entity spending the new money through inflation via their newly available purchasing power. This is usually known as by the concept of seniorage, though rarely is new lending discussed in these terms.

The whole point is that future resources don’t exist yet, so they can’t be consumed in the present! There is no transfer of resources – no hover boards are removed from the future and brought into the present via lending.

Which brings us back to often hotly debated idea of counter-cyclical fiscal policy, which is fundamentally used to increase demand for current production outputs, increase labour demand and employment and inflation, and invest in capital goods to be used in future period to produce those as yet uncertain future products.

Luckily there are some common sense economists out there. At least there was back in 1961 when Abba Lerner wrote this note about the impossibility of shifting burdens onto the future for society as a whole in response to a rather confusing article attempting to say the opposite in the American Economics Association’s most prestigious journal in 1960. Some of the ‘new generation’ are feeling the need to repeat this mantra in blog form.

If all of this isn’t enough, here’s the clincher – if today’s debt is borrowing from future generations, can’t we simply use tomorrow’s debt to borrow from later future generations indefinitely for the infinite future? Yes, yes we can.

Money and debt are mere tools of social goals. They are not the real resources of the economy but records of transaction and ownership claims. We can change the rules at any point to suit our social desires – debts can be forgiven, defaulted on, inflated away, or they can be used to justify war.
Yves here. Unfortunately, just as demonization of the poor hews to popular prejudice, so to does youth resenting the entrenched position of the old. After all. Greek mythology has Cronos castrating and deposing his father Uranus. Cronos was unsuccessful in trying to escape his destiny of being overthrown by his own children, led by his son Zeus. But the passing of the torch does not have to take such a contested form, particularly if we understand who our real enemies are.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Quiet Revolution: How the New Left Took Over the Democratic Party

Frustration with division and gridlock in Washington lead many Americans to impugn both political parties for the current broken and ineffective state of government. There is plenty of blame to go around, but below the surface there has been a quiet revolution going on in only one of the two parties -- the Democratic Party -- which is the main source of today’s irreconcilable division and moral confusion.
What’s remarkable is how the political and cultural center of American values has collapsed in the last two and a half decades with the Democratic Party having moved dramatically to the left. Recently, Democratic National Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz could not explain the difference between the modern Democratic Party platform and that of socialism, while at the same time gushing over the prospect of Socialist Bernie Sanders having a prominent place at the 2016 Democratic Party convention.    
If people today could somehow be transported back to the time of Harry Truman and Jack Kennedy, they would swear those standard bearers were Republicans with little in common with today’s Democratic Party. 
America’s two major political parties have always been fundamentally different. The Republican Party has been rooted in the moral principles and transcendent values expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The Democratic Party acknowledges that the starting point of the country may have been the Declaration and the Constitution, but since Woodrow Wilson many Democratic Party leaders have contended that progress requires constant adaptation, changing morals, and liberal interpretations of law and history. 
The progressive philosophy that the Democratic Party has come to embrace now has its roots less in the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of individual happiness and more in the tenets of race and class identity, equal outcomes, and an expanding welfare state. Since individuals vary in talent, ability, and motivation and the free market system produces unequal outcomes of success, a core principle of the Democratic Party is now redressing this disparity through the redistribution of wealth.
The strongest critique of early industrial capitalism came from the German philosopher Karl Marx, who believed that the contradictory forces of labor and capital inevitably bring about class struggle. This in turn, he argued, causes the working class proletariat to rise up and overthrow the capitalist order, seize the means of production, eliminate private property and create a new order that would equitably distribute resources from each according to his ability, and to each according to his need. The notion of conflict of interest between labor and capital, class warfare, and the need for redistribution of wealth, which has made its way into the Democratic Party, has its roots in Marx.
The proletariat never did revolt successfully en masse in any advanced industrialized state. Instead, Marx’s political and economic revolution was first staged in the largely agrarian nation of Russia, carried out by Marxist revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin. Lenin made major contributions to Marx’s theories, so much so that Marxism-Leninism became the dominant theoretical paradigm for advancing national liberation movements, communism, and socialism wherever in the world radical revolutionary movements arose.
Among Lenin’s contributions was the theory of the vanguard. Since it was apparent that the proletariat masses were unlikely to rise up, Lenin argued that it was necessary for a relatively small number of vanguard leaders -- professional revolutionaries -- to advance the revolutionary cause by working themselves into positions of influence. By taking over the commanding heights of labor unions, the press, the universities, and professional and religious organizations, a relatively small number of revolutionaries could multiply their influence and exercise political leverage over their unwitting constituents and society at large.

It was Lenin who introduced the concept of the “popular front” and coined the phrase “useful idiots” in describing the masses who could be manipulated into mob action of marches and protests for an ostensibly narrow cause of the popular front, which the communist vanguard was using as a means for a greater revolutionary political end.
As Lenin was consolidating power in Russia, Antonio Gramsci was emerging as a leading Marxist theoretician in Italy and would found the Italian Communist Party in 1921. After being imprisoned by Mussolini, the Fascist prime minister of Italy, Gramsci authored what came to be called the Prison Notebooks, partially published in 1947 and in complete form in 1975, a legacy that made him one of the most important Marxist thinkers of the 20th century. Gramsci argued that communists’ route to taking power in developed, industrialized societies such as Europe and the United States would be best achieved through a “long march through the institutions.” This would be a gradual process of radicalization of the cultural institutions -- “the superstructure” -- of bourgeois society, a process that would in turn transform the values and morals of society. Gramsci believed that as society’s morals were softened, its political and economic foundation would be more easily smashed and restructured.

Cultural Marxism was also in vogue at the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University in Germany -- that is until 1933 when the Nazis came to power. Many members of the “Frankfurt School,” such as Herbert Marcuse, Eric Fromm, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkeimer, and Wilhelm Reich fled to the United States, where they ultimately found their way into professorships at various elite universities such as Berkeley, Columbia, and Princeton. In the context of American culture, “the long march through the institutions” meant, in the words of Herbert Marcuse, “working against the established institutions while working in them.”

While the Frankfurt School was neo-Marxist, many of its adherents were less interested in economics and redistribution of wealth than in remaking and transforming society through attitudinal and cultural change. They incorporated Marxist class theory into sociology and psychology while also assimilating Freud’s theories on sexuality. Thus, Marx’s theory of the dialectic of perpetual conflict was joined together with Freud’s neurotic ideas, creating a sort of Freudian-Marxism. Their stated goal was a total transformation of society by breaking down traditional norms and institutions such as monogamous relations and the traditional family. This was to be accomplished by promoting and legitimizing unhinged sexual permissiveness with no cultural or religious restraint.
The countercultural influence of radicals like Marcuse and Gramsci has been advanced more by insinuation and infiltration than by confrontation. Their “quiet” revolution to remake society was intended to be diffused throughout the culture gradually over a period of time. Gramsci argued that alliances with non-communist leftist groups would be essential to the collapse of the capitalist bourgeois order. Marcuse believed that radical intellectuals needed to ally themselves with the socially marginalized substratum of the outcasts and outsiders, the exploited and persecuted of other races and ethnicities, the unemployed and the unemployable.
While the influence of Marcuse and the Frankfurt School and Marxists like Gramsci was greatest in intellectual circles in a strategic sense,  Saul Alinsky arrived on the scene in Chicago in the 1930s with the tactical tools for the foot-soldiers of social and political revolution -- the community organizers and non-academic labor and single-issue activists. 
Alinsky had a certain charm and appeal to wealthy funders, and had no trouble raising considerable sums to establish the Industrial Areas Foundation in Chicago from department store mogul Marshall Field and Sears Roebuck heiress Adele Rosenwald Levy, as well as Gardiner Howland Shaw, an assistant secretary of state in Franklin Roosevelt’s administration.

Alinsky also had other benefactors in Washington and Wall Street. Eugene Meyer, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1930 to 1933, bought the Washington Post at a bankruptcy sale in 1933 for $825,000. During the difficult years of the Depression that followed, the Post carried stories that legitimized Saul Alinsky and his ideas. 

In keeping with Lenin’s famous quote that “capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them,” Alinsky once boasted, "I feel confident that I could persuade a millionaire on a Friday to subsidize a revolution for Saturday out of which he would make a huge profit on Sunday even though he was certain to be executed on Monday."
Alinsky's tactics had more in common with Gramsci and Marcuse than the revolutionary and violent approaches of Russian Marxists Lenin and Stalin. Alinsky, too, believed in gradualism and subversion of the system through infiltration rather than confrontation and revolution.
Alinsky believed that politics was war by other means, stating specifically that “in war the end justifies almost any means.” But he was more than a nihilistic progressive revolutionary. Alinsky’s handbook,  Rules for Radicals, first published in 1971, included an admiration for the prince of darkness, Lucifer, noting that he was “the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom…”

By the 1960s Marcuse and Alinsky were recognized as two of the most influential leaders of the New Left, which gained strength and numbers by taking a leading role in the anti-Vietnam War movement. However, Alinsky and Marcuse were critical of the violent and confrontational tactics of many of the anti-war radicals, such as Bill Ayers and the Weathermen, preferring instead that radicals work behind the scenes and bore into the establishment. This was seen later in the 1960s with Alinskyites positioned to take advantage of President Johnson’s “War on Poverty” programs, to direct federal money into various Alinksy projects.

Alinksy succeeded in what would be a crowning achievement: the recruitment of young idealistic radicals -- Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- who would go on to climb to the top of political power in the Democratic Party. Hillary wrote her senior thesis at Wellesley College in 1969 on Alinsky’s methods and remained a friend of Alinsky until his death in 1972. A decade later, Barack Obama was trained in the methods and Rules for Radicals in the Alinsky-founded Industrial Areas Foundation in Chicago.  

Camouflage and deception are key to Alinsky-style organizing. When Barack Obama was organizing black churches in Chicago and was criticized for not attending church himself, he pivoted and became a regular church attendee, ultimately becoming a member at Jeremiah Wright’s radical Trinity United Church of Christ.  
The New Left did not simply fade away when the troops came home from Southeast Asia. It went mainstream, with many of the 60s radicals deciding to follow Alinsky’s counsel to clean up their image, put on suits and infiltrate the system. They would become professional revolutionaries who landed jobs in the knowledge industry: the universities, foundations, and the media and special interest activist groups.

By winning “cultural hegemony,” the acolytes of Gramsci, Alinsky, Marcuse, and the Frankfurt School believed that the wellsprings of human thought could be largely controlled by mass psychology and propaganda. One of Alinsky’s unique contributions, explained as the seventh Rule for Radicals, was the tactic to avoid debate on the issues by systematically silencing, ridiculing and marginalizing people of opposing views. At the same time, allies in the media provided cover and a framework of acceptance for radical issues and leaders. Traditional values of morality, family, the work ethic and free market institutions were made to appear outdated -- even reactionary, unnecessary, and culturally unfashionable. Ultimately this evolved into what has become known as political correctness, which now envelops the culture.

By 1980, the counter-cultural alliances would include radical feminist groups, civil rights and ethnic minority advocates, extremist environmental organizations, and advocates of liberation theology, anti-military peace groups, union leaders, radical legal activist organizations like the ACLU, human rights watch-dog organizations, community organizers of the Alinsky model, national and world church council bureaucracies, anti-corporate activists, and various internationalist-minded groups. Working separately and together, these groups could count on a sympathetic media and favorable coverage, which facilitated building bridges to the Democratic Party and becoming vocal constituencies deserving attention and legislative action.

The New Left in America realized that it was neither necessary nor desirable to own the means of production as originally envisioned by Marx. Redistribution could be accomplished through progressive taxation that was enshrined by an enlightened Democratic Party. Corporate priorities could be redirected through sensational and biased media exposure, proxy contests, mass demonstrations, boycotts, activist lawsuits and regulatory actions. No need to be responsible for the means of production, when you could advance Marx’s anti-capitalist agenda from the sidelines by indicting individual corporations and the system of capitalism itself.

By the early to mid-1980s a third of the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives supported the budgetary priorities and the foreign policy advocated by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), the leading revolutionary Marxist think tank in the United States, located Washington, D.C.  Robert Borosage, the director of IPS, was succeeding in one of his stated goals to “move the Democratic Party’s debate internally to the left by creating an invisible presence in the party.” The particular genius of Borosage and IPS was their strategy to spawn a myriad of spinoffs and coalitions, a force multiplier that took propaganda and the Leninist popular front strategy to a level never seen before in America.
Fast forward to 2008, and we find the long march through the institutions resulting in the New Left being embedded in constituencies that provided a base of support and policy positions for the Obama presidential campaign. And while Barack Obama had a very unconventional background of lengthy associations with Marxists and anti-American radicals throughout his formative years and early adulthood, a nearly twenty-year membership in Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s “hate America” church, and an extreme left-wing voting record, the major media–now enveloped with the blinders of political correctness–made little effort to report on his background or examine his substantive qualifications. Barack Obama was both the culturally cool and articulate black candidate who provided a means for national redemption for a racist past, while also being the one candidate who provided a blank slate upon which people could project their own desires for hope and change.

Upon assuming office, President Obama had no problem bypassing the Constitutional advise-and-consent role of Congress in his appointment of a record number of czars, many of whom were so radical they would have failed to pass Senate confirmation. One of the offshoots of former IPS director Robert Borosage was the Apollo Alliance, an organization that he co-founded in 2001. Apollo saw its political clout increase dramatically with the election of Barack Obama. Van Jones, a self-described communist and an Apollo Alliance activist, was appointed Green Jobs czar by President Obama. A month after inauguration, a centerpiece of Apollo’s policy agenda was packaged right into the $787 billion stimulus bill, which directed $110 billion to green jobs programs. At the time of the passage of that bill -- what came to be known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “The Apollo Alliance has been an important factor in helping us develop and execute the strategy…
In a free society, extreme and derivative ideologies from the destructive legacy of Marx, Lenin, and the Frankfurt School can find some appeal to the alienated and disaffected. A constitutional republic like the United States should have sufficient strength to withstand most contradictions and absurdities held by a relatively small minority.
The problem today is threefold: the Left’s wholesale domination of much of the knowledge industry, a growing uninformed and disengaged electorate, and a failing two-party system. The normal process of checks and balances, which is made possible when compromise can be accomplished between the parties, simply no longer works. With the long march through the institutions having resulted in one of those parties no longer sharing much in the way of common ground -- in terms of a philosophical heritage and values of liberty, private property, and limited government -- compromise has become nearly impossible. The radicalization of the Democratic Party has so affected Congress and the current president as to render bipartisan solutions and reconciliation all but impossible.

In the end, what is important for Americans to realize is that the experiment with a left-wing president, like Barack Obama, is less an aberration than the logical outcome of the transformation of both the Democratic Party and the American culture. And the election of Hillary Clinton, a student of Alinsky and well-schooled and practiced in his teachings of deceit and camouflage would take the United States further along its trajectory of decline. Hillary’s election would effectively constitute an Obama third term.    
The big question is whether the nation can survive and prosper if the culture remains fractured with a majority adrift from the heritage, morality and values of liberty and personal responsibility that are at the heart of the Declaration and the Constitution.
Edward Gibbon, the renowned historian, published his first of six-volumes of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, in 1776, the year Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence. Gibbon described six attributes that Rome embodied at its end: first, an overwhelming love of show and luxury; second, a widening gap between the rich and the poor; third, an obsession with sports and a freakishness in the arts, masquerading as creativity and originality; fourth, a decline in morals, increase in divorce and decline in the institution of the family; fifth, economic deterioration resulting from debasement of the currency, inflation, excessive taxation, and overregulation; and sixth, an increased desire by the citizenry to live off the state. 
One might hope that awareness of factors associated with Rome’s fall would prompt an awakening in America. But so many are now disengaged and relatively few people read books, let alone possess the capacity to reflect deeply about causality and historical parallels. Many feel atomized and helpless.  
Turning around America’s decline will require more than just political change. It’s vital to reestablish a positive and solid framework and foundation, around which a majority consensus could emerge and grow.  Such a foundation was well understood and articulated by George Washington -- revered by many as the greatest of all U.S. presidents. His timeless wisdom was conveyed in both his speech consecrating the nation at its birth and also in his Farewell Address delivered eight years later upon leaving office.  He said:    
 “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports… Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
Unelected and unaccountable judges and regulatory bureaucrats that are part of today’s ever-expanding federal government are only part of the problem. Clearly, American citizenry need to understand the roots and causality of the current national decline, and the need to embark on a new course with the capacity and energy to go deep and broad and transcend party politics. 

Life, liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and even the Constitution itself are now threatened by a secular progressive minority at war with God. Americans need a second Paul Revere moment to wake up and get serious about choosing and electing leaders with the courage to make hard choices and the conviction to correct the nation’s compass. 

Reestablishing the ascendency and authority of first principles that are at the heart of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution is a monumental task. Accomplishing it would no doubt unleash an enormous amount of energy, leading to a more vibrant and bountiful economy that would in turn go a long way in securing other vital national needs, from restoring fiscal solvency to rebuilding the military and securing lasting peace.

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