the Long of it ........

unintended consequences and other musings

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the Debate from……Las Vegas

Fact checking the debate:
1. The prisons are not full of people who smoke pot and got arrested!
2. The Republicans are not trying to shut down Planned Parenthood, simply redirecting 500M$ of tax funding to other health providers. PP has assets of 1.4B$ and a profit of 125M$ a year, they will survive….
3. Gun businesses are liable for their actions; a Wisconsin gun store was found liable the same day as the debate….

4. Hillary said health and drug companies are her enemies; latest fundraising report shows 350K$ from these vicious groups – I need some enemies like this.

Misc.

Lots of old people with years of government service – looks like what the Democrats would say a Republican debate would look like….

Is this all the Democrats have to offer to run the USA?  No fresh ideas – old, white, liberal….

9 million people less watched the Democrat debate versus the last Republican debate – why is this?  Could it be that the positions are well known – nothing new here?  Was streamed more – probably due to number of young people attending?

ISIS and Obamacare not in the questions – why not?

Different tactics by moderator on CNN versus Republican debate;  did not set candidate against other debaters like on the Republican debate.

What were the major difference between these candidates?  A bit on Gun Control, no-fly zone….any more?

‘Enough of the Damn Emails’ shout by Sanders; was he aware that the Damn FBI is investigating this?

Clinton explained that all of her major policy changes  (Gay Marriage, Immigrates getting Licenses/Benefits, Trade Deal, Keystone Pipeline) are due to natural changes in views – why is every change left of her previous position?

Open discussion of Socialism shocked me, Democrats have never before openly told the American people how much they want to expand government control over our lives.

Hillary need to tell us she was a Woman…shocked again that she needed to tell us….

Free college admission of Public Universities; Unintended consequences are lurking – what will private universities do?  How do students pay for 9800$ per year in room/board not covered by plan? What will previous students do with their existing debt – not pay it?

 

 

 

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In Abortion, Black Lives Do Not Matter

re; WSJ 09162015 James Freeman

Reading the latest statistics on Abortion would leave you to believe that the Black Lives Matter Movement should be targeting another enemy of Black Lives; Abortion.

The Litany includes:

The political left obsesses over racial disparities in bank loans or college admissions or police shootings, but “largely missing from the debate,” wrote Zoe Dutton in the Atlantic magazine last year, “is discussion of abortion’s racial disparity.”

the U.S. abortion rate has declined somewhat steadily since the late 1980s, yet the rate for black women is nearly five times higher than the white rate and well above the national average.

“In New York City, home to the largest black population of any U.S. urban area, more black babies are aborted than born,”

“In Georgia, where whites outnumber blacks 2 to 1, more than 53% of abortions involve black babies,”

A popular explanation for the racial divide is that abortion rates are a function of poverty. Low-income women are more likely to terminate a pregnancy, and black women are more likely to be low-income. Yet there are limits to this argument. Hispanic households are comparable to black ones in finances, sexual activity and use of birth control. Yet Hispanic women choose to abort at a rate much closer to that of white women than black women. Even when controlling for income, according to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, black women still have significantly higher rates of abortion.

The left plays down the discomfiting incentives and unintended consequences that have resulted from Roe v. Wade. But if liberal activists and their media allies are going to lecture America about the value of black lives, the staggering disparity in abortion rates ought to be part of the discussion. 

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Mr. President, Fill in those Blanks!

Listened to President Obama in New Orleans today praising the recovery of New Orleans. He took a good amount of time praising the unbelievable improvement that the school system has made post-Katrina but for some reason chose to not disclose the fact that 90% of New Orleans children now go to independant charter schools – it is the largest percentage in the nation! Pre-Katrina, public education was miserable in NO and the crisis enabled the state to take over – let’s acknowledge the success! My experience with politicians on both side are that they leave a lot of blanks not filled out due to their ideology – this was another example.

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Hate Laws, What added Punishment do they Bring?

In the immediate aftermath of the Charleston church killings, the Justice department has quickly announced an investigation into the killings with an intention to file federal ‘hate law’ violations.  Hate laws require the crime to be motivated upon hatred towards a specific social group – in this case, a witness seems to support this by repeating things he said while conducting the killings.   Also, to be noted, South Carolina is one of the few states still without a hate crime law.

The question needs to be asked – is it really necessary to file a ‘hate crime’ charge against most defendants?   I am sure that any competent prosecutor can insure that this young man will be executed for the cold-blooded killing of 9 innocent victims.  Note that South Carolina still has the death penalty so it could be used in this case – in any case, he will spend the rest of his life in jail.  So, the question remains, what do we add to his sentence by adding the ‘hate crime’ designation to it?   My view is this is one of those ‘feel-good’ laws that add nothing to most prosecutions of crimes that already have sufficient laws on the books to use.  I am also against specific laws that increase penalties for crimes against policemen and women.   I would like to think that all lives matter equally; my Aunts murder in the late 60’s was no less a murder than any other murder of someone because they were a Jew, Black, Protestant or Atheist.  If you believe that a person so filled with hate at another person will refrain from carrying out his actions because of ‘hate laws’ on the books…….

Be very wary of a Federal Government that keeps coming into state matters and ‘helping’ out – especially before all of the investigation is complete.  At some point, some may ask why we have a local prosecutor, local police and state laws – just use the ‘corrected’ ones provided by the Justice Department which is run by a political appointee.   Come with me to visit Mexico if you want to see this in action……

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The Latest Punishment for Large Companies – Government Fines

Two headlines today of Con-Agra and five global banks being fined over $5b.   In these cases and others, a pattern develops;  the company is found guilty of gross negligence but no specific person is ever charged.   The company pays a hefty fine (which of course is paid by consumers – a hidden tax) and the revenue goes to the federal treasury.  None of the money is ever paid directly to those that were affected by the ‘crimes’ to compensate them.   This smells of a bribe/payoff to make the charges go away.  Of course, the unintended consequence is that the executives will do it again just like my five year old did when there was no personal accountability.

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A Surplus is Good, Right?

Headlines Today:

US Posts Biggest Monthly Budget Surplus in Seven Years, Wall Street Journal

US Records Biggest Budget Surplus in 7 Years, ABC News

Record Revenue Boosts U.S. April Budget Surplus to 7-Year High, Bloomberg

$157 Billion Budget Surplus in April, Treasury Reports, New York Times

US budget projected to post sizable surplus in April, lowering deficit Fox Business

So, reading the headlines, this looks like great news. right?  Well, partly……   The US did take in $157B more than we spent last month so on a monthly basis we took in more than we spent – this was April so we usually have a surplus since all of us must pay our taxes (except some IRS workers).  But, most people confuse a surplus with a deficit – assuming that we do not have a deficit anymore and could spend more money on our favorite projects.  The actual deficit for the year is still $460B, meaning we are spending more than we take in on an annual basis.   Fox Business seems to have gotten the facts right in it’s headline.  In any case, it is partly good news if it continues and lots of those rich people must be paying more in taxes…..

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Presidents Contempt is Bipartisan

Yesterday, the Senate failed to pass legislation to allow President Obama to have ‘Fast Track’ Trade Authorization in negotiating new deals with other countries.   This was heavily supported by Republicans but his own Democrats did not support him.  While his contempt has usually been reserved for the ornery Republicans, this time he displayed open distaste for his own party – in defending his trade deal, he said that Senator Warren was absolutely wrong and just a politician.   While many on the right has seen this president as one who has no skills in developing any kind of consensus, maybe a few on the left are now seeing the same behavior.

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Am I in Poverty?

The Federal Government just released updated poverty statistics that showed a large increase – now 14% of Americans (43 million) live in poverty!  In reading the various news reports, none seemed to tell me what the metric was?  How little income does it take to be in poverty?  After a bit of research, turns out an annual income of 21,756$ per year (1813$/month) for a family of four will put you in the poverty statistics.

Unfortunately, this income does not measure the non-cash income that this family might receive:
Income:                    1813$/month  or 21,756$/yr
Food Stamps:             668/month     (max)
Housing Assistance:    600/month
Medicaid:                    ???
Tax Credits:                 ???
Total Income             $36,972 before Medicaid and any tax credits
I am not suggesting that these families are not struggling in making a living, but as usual, the news orgs are not telling you the full truth.  In addition, it lumps many older people in this category even though they may have a car and house completely paid off and are drawing on a savings account.   While we will have a new metric that will address some of these issues, this is a metric that has lost all meaning/worthiness.  Some have suggested using consumption as a metric – truly poor people almost always spend less on consumption – I support this.
I have also seen the same reporting in churches who post salaries of their pastors; these numbers often leave out tax benefits, housing allowances (which are very generous), car allowances, book allowances, etc.
When you tell me that 43 million American people live in poverty, tell me what this really means? – I suspect that many don’t want to hear that people living in poverty can make 36K$/year.  On my next trip to the barrios in Mexico, I will try and explain that to be poor in the US means you only have 36K$/year to spend – suspect I may not be able to get this across…..

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The Federal Gov’t Takeover of the West

While many are concerned about the federal takeover of the banks, health care, auto industry, college loans, and mortgage loans, you might want to add dirt….land to that list.  The federal government owns over 26% of all of the land in America or 1 million square miles.   That probably does not affect you much if you don’t live in the west where the federal government really likes to acquire land; no state in the west is under 30% owned.  Nevada is 84% owned and California is 45% owned!  Why aren’t they purchasing land in NY where they only own less than 1%?  Is it bad land?  1.3$ Trillion in debt and yet we keep acquiring land that the government is woefully inadequate in managing.  And….They usually do the worst possible thing after acquiring the land; they immediately block all access and use of it.  Time to get out of the land business and even sell some of it to worthy groups who will make it productive.  Watch for more of the land grab, each president and congress loves to leave as its legacy a huge land ‘set aside’ – what exactly is it being set aside for?  Is Detroit for sale yet?

Remember, that many states acquire as much land as the federal government (someone once told me that Arizona has only 10% of its land privately held).  If you want to really see a complete picture, look at the Arizona map below; the white area represents the only part that is private ownership!

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Joe Sobran, May his words live forever

Ever read someone who just had a great gift of putting things into words that really cause you pause …and admire?

Joe Sobran was one – National Review Writer – passed away Sept 30, 2010
you can find archives of some of his own newsletter articles here
…..for once, I will let the Joe (the writer) express it in his own words:

“But most prejudices aren’t created by official doctrines; they result from popular experience and the slow spreading of a group’s reputation. The first gypsy I ever met — on a street in Rome — grabbed a wad of money out of my hand. I’d been too naive to be wary of her, though my companions had warned me against her.”

“Despite all the rhetoric of bigotry that assails us these days, it just isn’t that easy to hate indiscriminately. In fact such hatred seems unnatural — or, if you prefer, idiosyncratic.  But some people find a strange moral satisfaction in positing a ubiquitous “hate,” usually against “minorities” of one sort or another. And of course this “hate” requires the state to take various actions to protect the alleged victims, to make reparations, to reeducate the bigoted public, and finally to “eradicate” the proscribed attitudes.”

New York Times headline: “New York Destroyed by Earthquake; Women and Minorities Hit Hardest.”

“your enemies can never hurt you, only your friends can.”

 “Freedom has ceased to be a birthright; it has come to mean whatever we are still permitted to do.”

“Christ never preached anything as mushy and undefined as tolerance, let alone Kinsey-style tolerance. He taught mercy, patience, charity — which cover a lot of ground, but are a long way from Kinseyland. He also condemned divorce, adultery, and even looking at women with lust. Pretty intolerant, according to the Latest Thinking.”

“Of all the apocryphal sayings ascribed to our Founding Fathers, my favorite is one attributed to George Washington: “Government is not reason. It is not persuasion. It is force.” If he never said it, he should have.
Everyone who believes in a moral order should ponder those eleven words. Government is indeed force, force claiming justification, and its exercise at least requires some serious reason.
In Michael Oakeshott’s famous observation, to some people government appears as “a vast reservoir of power” which inspires them to dream of the uses that might be made of it, often in the service of what they take to be benign purposes, for the good of “mankind.” Yet such people typically gloss over the element of power, which, after all, is not a mere property of government but its very essence.”

“Your chances of meeting an IRS agent are far greater than your chances of meeting anyone you voted for.”

“If you want to know how wise and honest a man is, observe how much he is willing to credit to his opponents.”

“If our furry and scaly friends were still evolving, none of them appeared to be gaining on us.”

“A silly old adage has it that you should never argue about politics and religion. But as G.K. Chesterton retorted, politics and religion are the only subjects worth arguing about.”

and Joe on his own words….
“I note that my enemies have written a great deal about me, yet they rarely quote me directly. Why not? If I am so disreputable myself, I must at least occasionally say disreputable things. Is it possible that what I say is more cogent than they like to admit?”