In The Money!

SCENE:  Mitch BERG steps out onto his porch to bring in his mail – and is startled to see Avery LIBRELLE looking over the envelopes. 

BERG:  Um, Avery?  What the…

LIBRELLE: Merg!  Venezuela is raising its minimum wage! If they can do it, why can’t we?

BERG:  The “increase” is meaningless.  Just like the ones in the US.

LIBRELLE:  They benefit those who need it most!  The poorest and most vulnerable!

BERG:   Let me ask you this, Avery.  Let’s say that I give you coupons, in payment for waving a sign around at a rally.  Those coupons can be used for one thing – to get mint tea at Whole Foods.

LIBRELLE:  Mmm. . Whole Foods.

BERG:  Right.  Now, I give you two coupons.   One for every four hours of sign waving.

LIBRELLE:  OK.

BERG: But Alida Messinger gives you four coupons.   That’s a coupon every two hours.

LIBRELLE:  I’ll work for Alida.

BERG: Right.  But Whole Foods only has one bag of mint tea left in the store.  At all.  How many coupons is it going to cost?

LIBRELLE:  I don’t get it.

BERG:   You have coupons good for tea.  But there is no tea.  So all your coupons are are pieces of paper given to you in exchange for a day of waving signs.

LIBRELLE:  The correct answer, then, is that my labor – sign-waving – is of intrinsic value, and should be rewarded with tea.

BERG:  Not to Whole Foods, it’s not.    The coupons are just pieces of paper exchangaed for slices of time you spent, er, working.  The sign didn’t get waved twice as much, or twice as hard, or… (looks at LIBRELLE) twice as effectively.  You just got more slips of paper.  But the tea is all gone.

LIBRELLE:  Right, but I still have three more coupons!

BERG:  Which are of no value.  Like the 40% “pay raise” in worthless money that the Venezuelan “poor” will get out of this “raise”.

LIBRELLE: But when they throw off the shackles of the international capistalists, they’ll all be rich!

BERG: Right.  Just like you’ll have three bags of tea when the truck finally arrives at Whole Foods.  Hey – why are you on my porch.

LIBRELLE:  Just checking for thoughtcrime.

(And SCENE)

Sign O The Times?

Big Left seems to thrive on misery.  They seem to love to cling to the notion that things have never been worse, in the nation or the world (or at least they do when there’s no Democrat in the White House).

For example – ask a typical liberal, and they’ll say that “gun violence” is at an all time high.  It’s not – nationwide, it’s at sixty-year lows, and even in Democrat-controlled major cities it’s lower than it was 25 years ago.  And yet if you ask a “progressive” what’s going on in the world, they’ll to a person insist “violent crime is out of control”.

And that’s not the only area.

I mentioned the other day the church service I went to on Christmas Eve, featuring a homily that made it sound like the world was teetering on the the brink of collapse – notwithstanding the fact that, for most of the world, things have never been better.

Don’t get me wrong – the human condition is an ugly thing.  I’m of Scandinavian descent, so optimism and pollyannaism don’t come naturally.   And the arc of the universe, while long, curves inexorably toward tyranny and barbarism.  It could all go south someday.  And there certainly  are wars going on, refugees in camps, pockets of malnutrition.

But for now, for most of the world’s people, things have never been better. As evidence, I submit this:   for the first time in the history of humanity, obesity is a bigger problem than malnutrition, as reported by those noted conservative crazies in The Lancet, in this case via both CNN and an actual news organization (which notes that obesity kills three times as many people worldwide as malnutrition).

This, not fifty years after “experts” like Paul Ehrlich “proved” that mankind was headed for an unavoidable date with Malthusianism ; that poor countries in South Asian and Africa were beyond hope and would need to be “triaged”; that India was, inevitably, going to plunge to a stable population of 100 million, and Subsaharan Africa was going to mostly die off as well.

Bear in mind that throughout all of human history, mankind has always been one bad crop away from mass starvation.  This is the first time in history most people on this planet can take a deep breath and think about a future that goes past the net harvest.

And this is almost entirely due to the success of the free market – even in places that have repudiated free markets!

Again – not that life is a picnic everywhere on earth.  It’s not.  But it’s also never been less dire and threatened.

There’s just no telling that to Big Left.

When Liberals Ask “What’s The Matter With Kansas?”…

…it’s because they want you to focus on the one big “conservative” failure of state governance in recent years [1] – and ignore stories like North Carolina, whose economy is booming under conservative leadership and policies.

Or North Dakota, which weathered the deflation of the oil boom in style (the unemployment rate has never gotten less than a half point lower than Minnesota’s, even at the worst of the deflation).

Or Wisconsin, which after years of heckling from DFLers urging people to compare Mark Dayton’s performance with Scott Walker’s, are pretty silent these days; it took Wisconsin a few years to shake off the dross of six decades of “progressive” control of the economy, but today it’s unemployment rate is statistically identical with Minnesota’s.

Or that of solidly-red Idaho – the nation’s fastest-growing state.

Of course, percentage growth differs from numeric growth — that top title went to Texas, [Huh.  Don’t that beat all? – Ed] which brought in an additional 400,000 residents between July 2016 and July 2017, bringing the Southern state’s total population to 28.3 million people.

Warning to Idahoans:  screen for people fleeing California, Seattle and Denver.  Even as they flee the results of progressivism, they bring the contagion.  Build a wall.

As contrasted with the jewel i the “progressive” crown, Illinois, which is losing about 300 people a day.

Ebenezer, You Dickens

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

If the pre-ghost Ebenezer Scrooge were alive today, he’d be a Liberal.  The post-ghost Scrooge would be a Conservative.

Pre-ghost Scrooge was asked to contribute to a fund for the poor, because Christmas is a time when want is keenly felt and abundance rejoices.  Scrooge declines, citing the Poor Law, Workhouse and Prisons as places for the poor to find help, which he supports through his taxes.  Those who are too proud to take government help should die, and thereby decrease the surplus population.

Bell ringers are not allowed outside Target, where good Liberals shop.  The poor will get no help from holiday shoppers there.

Post-ghost Scrooge continued to support those same institutions but also donated to the fund for the poor and in addition, took a personal interest in Tiny Tim’s welfare, digging into his own pocket to pay for medical care.

Conservatives routinely give more to charity than Liberals.

“A Christmas Carol” is not only a heart-warming story of personal redemption, but also a piercing commentary on politics that has lost none of its relevance.

Joe Doakes

Pre-ghost Scrooge obeyed one iron-clad “progressive” tenet; he saw people, individuals, as liabilities to be supported to everyone’s detriment.  Post-ghost, he saw them as the miracles a good conservative sees.

I’ll alliow it.

Rationed

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Which is the most efficient way to bring down prices: government dictate, or free market?

Warren Buffet seems to be saying government is a more efficient way to bring down prices, therefore America should embrace the single-payer model of health care used in Britain, Canada, Cuba, the Veteran’s Administration, etc.  He is mistaken.  He’s great at reading balance sheets, lousy at political economic theory.

I agree that government-run health care could theoretically control prices.  They’d simply pass a law: nobody can charge more than $1.00 for any medical procedure, device or drug.  There, see?  Prices contained.  Aspirin.  Heart transplant.  Everything’s a dollar.  In theory.

In practice, it won’t work.  People who provide medical services can’t afford to provide them at that price.  Either they stop providing medical services, or they go off-book somehow. Maybe all the doctors move to Mexico where they can charge fair prices.  Maybe all the medical device companies move to Poland where the government welcomes investment and doesn’t try to kill it.  Capital – including human capital – is mobile.

Hillary recognized this problem when she invented Hillarycare in 1992.  Her solution: draft all the doctors and treat them as members of the military.  You want to practice medicine in America?  Then you go where you’re told and do as you’re told.  In the past, you may have been a plastic surgeon making millions in Hollywood; today, you’re a gynecologist on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation making the same pay as any other Captain in the Army.  Don’t like it?  Turn in your medical license. This is not an incentive for people to study 10 years to become a doctor.

It doesn’t work on the other end, either.  People who desire medical services have no incentive to forego care under a single-payer system.  Got a sniffle?  Run to the doctor, it’s free.  So the lines get longer and longer until patients die waiting for an appointment, which already has happened at the VA.  Or health care committees decide which patients are deserving of medical treatment and which should be denied treatment, which already has happened in Britain.  Or doctors decide which patients should be helped to die and thereby reduce caseloads, which some Dutch doctors already are doing.  The rich can afford to fly to wherever the doctors are, and to pay out of pocket for medical care.  The poor and middle class will be promised free medical care but won’t get it, facing endless waiting lists and rationed care.

“Single-payer” is simply another way of saying “wage-and-price controls.”  They didn’t work when Diocletian tried them and never have worked since.  I confidently predict they won’t work now.

Joe Doakes

They did wonders for the US economy in the seventies.

You remember what a greaet time the seventies were, rigtht?

Lather, Rinse, Poison, Repeat

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Some experts believe the policies that led to the 2008 real estate collapse are still in place leaving us as vulnerable to a real estate bubble as before. They are mistaken.  We’re worse off than before because now we have newer and even stupider ideas to help preferred minorities qualify for home loans such as counting all incomes in the household toward the loan.

The problem was explained in 2010 by Glenn Reynolds:

“The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.”

And that’s the best-case scenario, when the government isn’t actively working to destroy middle-class values by subsidizing bad decisions and penalizing good (but politically incorrect) decisions.

The divide between the wealthy and the wretched ever widens and Liberals cannot fathom why.  It’s because of Berg’s 21st Law: Liberal Policies Destroy Liberal Values.

Joe Doakes

That one’s almost beyond mere “law.

Not The Dumbest Idea They’ve Had

Venezuela responds to US moves to deal with the unraveling of Venezuelan economic life:

“The ‘contact group’ you’re proposing is completely useless and unnecessary,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez fumed at a meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Cancun, Mexico.

“The only way you could impose it would be to send in your Marines — who would meet with a crushing response from Venezuela if they dared make such a misstep.”

Getting conquered may be the only way to save Venezuela.

“It’s Not True Socia…Well, You Know…”

The media are barely covering the political and human catastrophe unfolding in Venezuela:

Out of approximately 50,000 total evening news stories on ABC, CBS and NBC combined in the last four years, just 25 have covered the ongoing crisis in socialist Venezuela, according to a Media Research Center study published Tuesday….

…and they certainly aren’t slopping the blame over to…well…you know…:

…out of the 50,000 total evening news stories on the three networks, just 25 covered Venezuela, and only seven mentioned “socialism.”

For many journos, it’s the “ideal” they were raised to revere (minus all the misery and bloodshed;

And for others ? Free markets are a lot harder to cover than planned ones; covering a free market would involve learning, rather than talking with highly-placed planning officials.

For The Millennial In Your Life

Animal Farm, a Brit animated feature from the fifties, looks like a Disney feature – but it’s a pretty faithful re-telling of Orwell’s classic tale of the inevitable results of socialism.

It’s actually easy enough to find links to the film – most of which link back to sketchy download sites.  This version – Arabic subtitles and all – is the only full-length freebie I’ve found.

And it’s worth a watch:

Although you can pretty much watch video from Venezuela today and get the same results.

Life Imitates Blog

Ten years or so ago, during the heyday of the political blog, some of us – conservatives with fond memories of the punk era in music – quipped “conservatism is the new punk”.

In places like Minneapolis and Saint Paul, it’s still pretty true; conservatives and conservatism are the counterculture, the disruption, the sound of the gleeful underdog that makes the establishment froth with rage.

And life today is imitating us.

Continue reading

That Which Can’t Be Sustained, Won’t Be

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Every year for the last 40 years, the United States has run short of money in the budget.  To fill the shortfall, the General Fund borrowed from the Social Security fund, but that still wasn’t enough.  To make ends meet, we borrowed even more.  The total accumulated debt is now $20,000,000,000,000.  That’s twenty trillion, with a T.

 That number does not include the cost of promises the government will be obligated to pay in the future such as Social Security and Medicare, the 20 trillion number is only the total of the promissory notes signed to fund government operations in the past.  Covering the cost of all government promises is closer to 100 trillion, give or take, depending on who you talk to.

 We’re not paying down the debt.  We’re making the minimum monthly payments on existing debt while running up ever more debt, month after month, with no end in sight.

 I don’t care whose fault it is.

 No, I really don’t care whose fault it is.  Finger-pointing and blaming is useless blather, at this point.

 I want to know what we’re going to do about it.

 The reason it comes up is because Republicans in Congress are talking about reforming Obama-care to make it affordable enough that the government can continue to offer the program, but Democrats are screaming the reforms will make the program unaffordable for individual citizens.  Both have fair points.  Both fail to address my point.

 Can government programs run in the red forever?  Can public debt be accumulated forever?  Is there literally no limit to how much debt we can run up?

If so, why?  That’s not true for private individuals or corporations.  If it’s true for government, there must be a reason why it’s true.  What’s the reason?

 Joe Doakes

Let’s ask Paul Krugman.

For The Miseducated Liberal In Your Life

We’re in the opening stages of a mayoral race in Saint Paul.

Now, the various stakeholders and activists are doing what they do – thinking big talks, dreaming big dreams via the political system.  As to what I think this city  actually needs from a new mayor?  It’s irrelevant.   We can want whatever we want – but Saint Paul is a one-party town, and what we will get is someone who’s kissed enough DFL-special-interest ass to rise to the top of the oligarchy,   Someone who will give a vigorous speech or two declaiming how his or her repackaging of 1960s liberal orthodoxy is fresh and new and will bring all the changes that the previous mayor’s repackaging of orthodoxy didn’t.  

Leading to 4-12 years of big government-driven stagnation

Part of the problem is that Saint Paul DFLers think that prosperity is something that government, at any level, can bring via careful planning.   It’s a common conceit on the left.

To speak to that, I’d like to make the essay “I, Pencil” mandatory reading for everyone in this country.  The 1958 essay by Leonard Reed, talks about the impossible complexity of building that humblest of tools of the modern world, the #2 Pencil, and how there is not a single person on the entire planet that can create and assemble a pencil, from scratch, with all of its precursors (cedar, graphite, clay, wax, zinc, tin, rubber and petroleum paint, plus the materials and labor that go into producing each of them).  And this complexity is multiplied, and exponentialized, with things that are more complicated – bicycles, cell phones, trains, cars, the Internet.  

And if  you were waiting for the movie?  Here it is:

The idea that a bunch of “political scientists” can legislate, plan or dictate this failing city to prosperity, even if they focus on that (rather than “inclusion” and other social justice fripperies) is…

…well, the status quo in Saint Paul.

It Worked For Kirk

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Volkswagen takes over from Toyota as number one carmaker in the world, despite the scandal of being caught cheating on emissions tests.

 

“Despite” the scandal?  Or because of it?  Emissions tests are idiotic and anyone clever enough and bold enough to beat them probably has other good qualities.

From what I understand, it’s standard practice when dealing with the EPA that the actual total emissions are not lowered, they are simply diluted by forcing more clean air or water or whatever through the same discharge outlet.  Too many parts per million of soot coming out the smoke stack?  Don’t lower the total pollutants per pound of fuel used, or per erg of power generated, just increase the total air moving up the smoke stack by installing huge blowers to force more air into the final exhaust.  Tried and approved methods, used widely throughout industry, approved by the EPA.  

 As I understand it, that’s essentially what VW did to pass the test.  But they turned off those useless blowers anytime there was no monitor testing the output since by shutting off the blowers they saved the energy that doesn’t alter the total pollutants one iota, and that energy was diverted to actual work product that moves the car, hence better miles per gallon.  

 The EPA is pissed because VW beat the Kobayashi Maru.

 Joe Doakes

It’s not, fooling Mother Bureaucracy.

Unexpected!

Last summer, when the people of the UK voted to leave the EU in the fabled “Brexit”, the same pundits who routinely Americans for “voting against their best interests” took a time out to chide Brits for voting…against their “best interests”.   The Brit economy was going to tank, returning the UK, if not to the Third World, at least into an impemetrable economic fog.

The landed punditry hasn’t been doing so well this year:

Business activity hit a 17-month high last month, meaning that the economy grew by 2.2 per cent last year — more than the six other leading nations, including the US, Germany and Japan.

Far from slowing after the referendum in June, as predicted by the Treasury and Bank of England, [and a rogue’s gallery of American pundits with portfolio – Ed.] growth appeared to have improved. GDP grew at 0.3 per cent and 0.6 per cent in the first two quarters of last year, compared with 0.6 per cent and an estimated 0.5 per cent in the final period.

On the one hand, time will tell.

On the other hand, our departing president wishes he’d had two consecutive quarters as good as that particular “failed experiment”.

I Have Seen The Future…

“Living Wage” activists carp that without labor, there’d be no business.  To follow that logic, one would assume if you gathered ten drive-through and fry-line workers together, a fast food restaurant would spontaneously form around them.

Less facetiously, we note that a “marxist” restaurant in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which promised “vegan, vegetarian and raw food” and promised no bosses or managers and a “Living wage” for its employees collaborators, has closed.

Worse still, while the food earned Bartertown a spot on VegNews’s “10 Hot New Vegan Restaurants” list, customers complained that it was almost impossible to get a meal at the diner.

People frequently noted on the restaurant’s Facebook page that they waited more than 40 minutes for a sandwich—and that’s when the diner was even open. Because the employees set the shop’s hours by group decision, the restaurant opened and closed at random times, leaving potential sandwich buyers totally confused.

Oh, don’t laugh.  With its minimum wage and sick time ordinances, Minneapolis is about to follow suit.  Saint Paul is rarely far behind.  And the only thing standing in the way of Bloomington following blindly behind would be the Mall of America – the only notable thing in Bloomington – saying “um, no”.

Good News, Bad News

Good News:  After five years of “economic growth” under Obama, the economy might actually take off again.

The US economy will grow by 2.3 percent in 2017 and 3.0 percent in 2018, said the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, revising its earlier forecast.

That compares to gross domestic product growth of 1.5 percent this year, according to the OECD.

Bad News:  Because Keynesianism:

The Republican property tycoon’s team has said he will devote $550 billion to rebuilding decrepit infrastructure.

Really Bad News:  And that’s all presuming the Democrats don’t call in their markers with Janet Yellen.

Let That Cycle Spin

Leftist parties in Europe are facing declining membership, electoral routs, and a general malaise:

The sick list is headed by Britain’s Labour Party, where veteran radical Jeremy Corbyn last week easily won a leadership challenge by centrist MPs angry at his part in the shock Brexit vote.

But political analysts say the venerable party — founded in 1900 — faces electoral oblivion despite his victory.

Its dismal standing in the opinion polls is mirrored across Europe.

As with Labour, Spain’s Socialist Party is in the grip of a fratricidal war over the performance of its leader, Pedro Sanchez, at a time of national crisis.

In Germany, the Social Democratic Party has lost half its members since 1998.

In France, President Francois Hollande is the most unpopular president in his country’s modern history and would be routed if he stands in next year’s presidential elections, according to opinion polls.

Centre-left parties recently lost power in Denmark, a stronghold of social democracy, and registered their worst-ever results in Finland and Poland. In Greece, support for the once dominant Pasok has plunged to just six percent.

“Social democracy is a shadow of itself,” German political analyst Albrecht von Lucke said on NDR television channel. “We are dealing with decline of historic proportions.”

The bad news?  While the center right and populist parties are benefitting, many near-left voters are moving even further left.

The Economics Of Duh

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Liberals think 2% inflation is a good thing, it keeps the economy growing.

That’s insane.

The definition of “money” is “a store of value.”  The whole point of using a monetary system instead of a barter system is to maintain the

value of money.  Inflation erodes the value of money.

If there’s 2% inflation and you get no cost-of-living adjustment in your wages, then at the end of the year you can buy 2% less stuff because the

money you earn isn’t enough to buy the same amount of stuff at the new, higher prices.  Everybody knows this but they accept it because we’re

conditioned to accept it.

Suppose instead there was 0% inflation, but your employer cut your wages 2% each year.  End result would be the same – the smaller amount money

you earn isn’t enough to buy the same amount of stuff.  But would people shit a brick?  Damned right.  They’re working just as long, just as

hard, but they’re losing ground.

To me, it’s so obvious I want to scream.  How can Liberals not see this?

Joe Doakes

“Liberal economist” is another word for “economic phrenologist”.

Gotta Hand It To The Brazilians

The Brazilians just finished impeaching their first female leader, Dilma Rousseff, for corruption.

As Kevin Williamson points out, her corruption was pennies on the American “Progressive” dollar; the sort of creative accounting that the left (has been foisting on the American public for decades (with the connivance of way too many Republicans in DC, naturally), and why it, at this point, really matters anyway:

Corruption leads to poverty. It leads to poverty in Brazil, in Chicago, in Detroit, in Philadelphia, in Los Angeles, in Upstate New York, and in the Rio Grande Valley. Capitalism — the awesome productive capacity of free people — can bear many burdens and defray many costs, but it can be perverted and misdirected, too. From the state-run enterprises in Brazil and Venezuela to the green-energy fantasies of U.S. progressives, we see that the real threat to capitalism is not domination but seduction. Brazil seems to be hearing that gospel. We refuse to listen.

Is it because the media wouldn’t call Hillary (or any) Clinton “corrupt” if they caught her walking out of Fort Knox with a stack of gold bars in her purse?  Or because Americans favor the corruption – the looting of the public treasury – that benefits them?

We’ll see – sooner than later:

In November, the people of the United States almost certainly are going to elect Hillary Rodham Clinton their next president. Like Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, she will be the first woman to hold the office. Like Dilma Rousseff, she is an old-fashioned party-machine pol who is deeply and consistently corrupt, habitually dishonest, funny with money, and prompt to dismiss any and all efforts at holding her to some basic standard of decency and accountability as — remember the words, which could have been Rousseff’s — “a vast right-wing conspiracy.” We had to impeach the president the last time we had the poor national judgment to send a member of this hilljack crime syndicate to the White House, and Mrs. Clinton already has been acting as a one-woman crime wave when it comes to the laws that regulate how sensitive government information is handled and how official communications are archived for the purposes of accountability and oversight. Mrs. Clinton has argued that this all stems from her being too stupid to understand how to operate a mobile phone: “I used one device,” Mrs. Clinton lied. (She used many and has a talent for nesting lies within her lies.)

Americans may one day – soon – envy the corrupt, malarial hellhole that had the common sense to show at least one member of that class the door.

Finally.

A Rhetorical Question

MINNESOTA CONSERVATIVE:  If a conservative, libertarian or Republican gets hit, spit on and otherwise attacked, and no media reports on it, did it really happen?

MINNESOTA LIBERAL:  If what happened to who?  Huh?

MINNESOTA CONSERVATIVE:  I said, if a conservative, libertarian or Republican gets hit, spit on and otherwise attacked, and no media reports on it, did it really happen?

MINNESOTA LIBERAL:  If what happened to who?  Again, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

MINNESOTA CONSERVATIVE:  Well, you got that part right

Clairvoyance

So it looks like all the people who were caterwauling about doom and gloom for British trade in the wake of the “brexit” were unreservedly correct, and the English economy is going to spiral into the toilet like an airplane missing both wings…

… I’m sorry. I got something caught in my throat. As I was trying to say, the lesson is clear: without the guidance of “experts” who’ve never run a business, and whose entire frame of reference is nothing but being bureaucrats, a sovereign peoples’ hopes of a decent living or just wind and sales…

…hopes of a decent living are just wind and sales…

… No, that’s just something in my throat still…

… Oh, who am I kidding?   It’s been less than two weeks, and countries are lining up to cut trade deals with Britain, independent of the EU.

Why, it’s almost as if all those jeremiads from the wonks, and the wannabee wonks in the media, the American and European left, and National Public Radio, we’re just trying to scare people into acquiescence with the wishes of their self-appointed betters or something.