Category Archives: Government is useless

Yet another Federal Department to do away with…The Department of The Interior

While the Department of the Interior has been in the news for some fairly ridiculous reasons lately, that does not undermine the fact that it is unquestionably one of the worst uses of government power in D.C. which is actively working every day to keep Americans in poverty and hurt the economy.

doe-org-chart.jpg

Born of an era before we had executive level offices that were not necessarily under a cabinet department, the Department of the Interior was originally conceived of a place to stick all the internal brick-a-brack that didn’t really belong in other departments but were federal government domestic issues.  Most of the things originally put in this department (like the Patent office) no longer are in the Department of the Interior.  And what is left is utterly useless.

Bureau of Indian Affairs
But of the things originally put into the Department of the Interior, possibly the worst of all of them is regrettably still around: Bureau of Indian Affairs, this long standing national disgrace, no matter what the eventual fate of the Department itself, must be eliminated.  You know all that land the Natives Americans live on, their Reservations?  Guess what they don’t own it.  The federal government through the Bureau of Indian Affairs owns it, even the land houses are built on.  Therefore those living there can never get a loan, never turn their property into capital, never actually enter into the 21st century economy because they don’t actually own their own homes and property. They’re just like a 3rd world country with welfare payments (also provided by BIA).  You have to look no further than a Reservation for proof that the welfare state destroys the people who it attempts to “help” and you can blame the BIA and Dept. of the Interior for being the ones who destroy the lives of these people.

And we need to address this issue first because unlike most of the problems in the Department which boil down to give it to the states or sell it to the private sector and close the offices, this disaster of a longstanding government travesty has more intricacies given how deeply we have screwed over, and more importantly how deeply we are screwing them over this very minute, this one group.

Before you ask, yes we are going to get rid of every bit of this god-awful department, but just closing it isn’t the way to do it.

I propose to the following actions
Every Native American currently getting checks from the government just for existing will get a lump sum check equivalent to ten years worth of payments, this should give them an appropriate buffer to either do things they never were able to do on the dole (like get an education and job skills, which sadly is all to often a story on the Res.) or to invest in their own future even if they are already leading a productive life.  As much as I hate welfare you can’t cut people off cold turkey and expect them to thrive…but given the particular evil of this department I don’t trust a slow step down either—so lump sum payment and we’re done with that.

At the same time everyone living on the reservation will get a half acre of land put in their name.

All other reservation land will be given to a corporation in the name of the tribe. Members of the tribe living on the reservation will get 1000 shares, those not living on the reservation but still recognized as members of the tribe get 500 (numbers are of course up for debate, but I understand tribal benefits for many tribes already follow this or similar models).  So everyone now has land in their own name and the rest of the land is held by a corporation.
Thus they can now get loans, use the land and houses as collateral, invest, develop and generally work to improve their own lives with all the same rights that all other Americans (seriously it is just disgusting how we do not grant basic property rights to this one group).  (And personally I wouldn’t mind giving large plots of other federal land to the reservations to also be included in their corporate holdings, they will almost certainly take care of it and make more money off it than the government ever could).  Every reservation will then be incorporated as its own county and thus will only have to deal with state and federal governments. Finally all the casinos will be granted 100 year grandfather clauses from state government interference (I don’t  like getting involved in state issues like that, but no need to further screw over the tribes, 100 years is more than enough time to find some other source of income or come to some understanding with the states they reside in).  The casinos will of course go to the ownership of the tribe’s corporation.
From there they are free to win or lose based on the laws of free enterprise and capitalism.  That much property should be a good head start, but this way from this point forward they would be treated not differently than any other American (seriously how has the government not stopped treating them as second class citizens yet..how was this never part of any Civil Right’s movement?)  Then you won’t have moments like the government getting to decide if land the tribe considers sacred will be used for mining ) (although my suspicion is that if they were actually making money from a lease of the land personally, like most rational folk profit is very sacred).

Of course the Dept. of the Interior is still a huge mess.

 

Look at all the land they own. This needs to end.

Government land in US.png

National Parks Service

Okay here’s an easy one.  Just give the land and responsibilities of these over to the states.  I’m fairly certain someone in Phoenix has a better idea of how to take care of the Grand Canyon than someone in D.C. So that goes for every federal park. The f

Office of U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Sounds like such a pleasant name for people utterly hell-bent on destroying all progress and quite possibly human civilization.
That line may sound hyperbolic, but these are idiots who enforce the utterly idiotic Endangered Species Act. Let’s ignore that it was private business that brought back the bison and the bees. Now let’s look at what this office does.  For instance they’re involved in saving the Delta Smelt.   A worthless evolutionary dead end that has no ability whatsoever to adapt even to its own environment, and that is about as important to any ecosystem as Obama is to maintaining world peace. To save this worthless excuse of a fish the state of California (originally under orders of the this useless office, but now through efforts of their own idiocy) is dumping over a trillion gallons of water into the ocean to save the smelt.

Yes in California, a place where there is a drought, where serious water rationing is in place, where water is at a premium…the government is forcing people to dump over a trillion gallons of water into the ocean to save a useless fish. I’m sorry but the destruction of billions of dollars in agriculture (and the relating economic benefit) is clearly more important than a damn fish that no one but the US government cares about.

Oh yeah and even for the low low cost of destroying California, once the breadbasket of the world, the smelt is still dying..why because nature is about killing millions of species, the Endangered Species Act is not more intelligent than the simple rule of life since the first single celled lifeforms: adapt or die.

All other decisions made by US Fish and Wildlife are equally disastrous and equally stupid.

The Endangered Species Act needs to be overturned in whole and this department needs to be closed (if you want to charge all the employees with crimes against humanity for the massive economic damage they do on a daily basis, ethically that’s fine by me too.)

 

If you actually care about animals, trust the private sector and charity to handle this, they can.  If you hate animals and people keep the Fish and Wildlife around.

US Geology Survey, Bureau of Land Reclamation, Bureau of Mining Reclamation
If these serve any purpose, which is doubtful, it’s something the states can handle at probably half the price.

Office of Insular Affairs
This office actually does need to be kept around since they’re the management of all those territories we still have (which is a federal issue).  But it can go on as an executive office, you don’t need a whole department for it.

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
These are the geniuses who told B.P that drilling close to the shore was dangerous and you have to drill further out in the ocean for it to be safe.
Yeah they’re useless.

And finally we get to the problem we’ve been hearing about so often lately

Bureau of Land Management

247.3 million acres.
That’s how much land BLM has.  One-eighth of the US.
Most of that land isn’t park land, it’s grazing land, it’s land with resources, it’s land that could be sold either to the states or the private sector for a huge profit (didn’t we have a debt we needed to pay off?)

There is no reason for the government to own any of that!  There is barely a reason that states should own this land.
This land needs to be sold off.  Granted many people depend on this land for their livelihood and I have no problem with offering them to buy the land they have been leasing at whatever the market place for such undeveloped land is…but if they don’t want to buy it the land needs to go up for auction—probably over the course of a few years as putting that much land on the market at once would collapse all prices, but the government does not need to own this land.  And not only because there is no reason for the government to own it…but because as with all things, they’re losing money on it. Only the federal government can charge people to use land that just sits there and requires little to no upkeep other than what nature provides or what people will pay you to do and still lose money on it.

 

 

We don’t need to get into how unbelievably corrupt and inept and inept the people at BLM are because they shouldn’t exist in the first place.  Even if they weren’t mentally challenged sociopaths they still shouldn’t exist so their extensive laundry list of moral and intellectual failings is a moot point (unless you want to throw them all in jail, which I’m okay with, but first sell the land and close the office).  As a quick intermediary we can just sell the land to the states, but the federal control has to be ended now.

Energy Management
Finally we have the Office of Energy Management (not to be confused with the same office in the Department of Energy).

I’m simply going to quote you from their own web page:

As the lead Federal agency responsible for the protection and sound development of the nation’s natural resources, the Department of the Interior has a special obligation to be a leader in energy management and conservation. As such, bureaus and offices across the Department are committed to conserving energy and water resources, eliminating waste, increasing renewable energy use, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impacts by optimizing the use of energy efficient and water conserving technologies. Bureaus and offices are also striving to incorporate energy efficiency, water conservation, and sustainable practices into the decision-making processes during the planning, design, acquisition, renovations, operations and maintenance of buildings. The Office of Acquisition and Property Management (PAM) coordinates these important Department-wide efforts.

And what in the history of the US Government makes you think that they’re in any way competent to do any of that?
Yeah close this boondoggle as well.

So again, we have a terrible organization that needs to have every single one of its responsibilities either privatized, sent to the states or just ended.

 

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Filed under Budget, Conservative, Constitution, Environmentalism, Evils of Liberalism, Government is corrupt, Government is useless, Uncategorized

Get rid of the Department of Transportation

So last week we looked at why we should get rid of the Department of Agriculture, but it became clear that hellhole was going to take a bit more research to see just how bad it is, so that will have to wait until next week.
However that is hardly the only Department that needs to go to the chopping block (when I’m done with this series there will only be 5 departments left).

But this week let’s look at the disaster that is the Department of Transportation (I originally was going to do the Department of the Interior based on it being in the news so much, but I quickly saw that would take A LOT more research, so maybe next week)

Why is the federal government in charge of infrastructure? Yes I can see where a federal plan would have been originally required in making sure all the major cities connected to all the major cities and making sure the overall plan made sense. But we have that now. It’s no longer an issue of the headache of getting 50 states to agree to one plan. The plan is already in place. Why is the federal government still in charge?

I mean look at the most obvious example of government control of infrastructure: railroads. Amtrak consistently loses money, consistently has bad service, has no clear plan (for instance why is there an Amtrak station in Flagstaff but not in Phoenix…shouldn’t a state’s capital and the largest city in the state be an Amtrak stop…sixth largest city in the nation and all). And then of course there is that slight problem about Amtrak safety…granted it’s been a few years since the last major crash but that still has not wiped the old jokes about Amtrak from my mind. “Amtrak, where they don’t post the times of arrival, just the odds.” Or of course there was the time the Onion joked that terrorists demand that the US has a better train system because if they bombed it right now no one would believe it was an act of terrorism.

The Miralce that is Roads

And if they’re so incompetent at running what should be the most cost and time efficient form of travel we expect them to do a better job with the roads and bridges? Are you kidding? These are the people who wanted to build a bridge to nowhere (yeah and you would have to be a bleeding heart of a liberal to be a governor and defend that pathetic excuse for pork).  Just look at every high speed rail project out there right now…over budget and not going anywhere, whereas the private sector would love to build these things…but they can’t because the government keeps getting in the way.

How about this?

One, let’s have the government sell all of its shares in Amtrak. We might actually get a decent rail system. Which is actually what I’d like.

Two, I’ve said this before on numerous occasions, but we need national open shop rules. That will cut the costs of most of these operations by at least 50% if not more.

Three, turn all infrastructure repair over to the states (or more local governments).

Four, end the federal tax on gas, currently at 18.4 cents per gallon, but give at least 6 months before it ends so that states can enact laws so that they can collect that same amount (after all if they’re going to be paying for all the infrastructure, they have a right to collect the taxes that are supposed to pay for it).

What will happen? One, you’ll find money will be spent far more efficiently. Having Senators from Hawaii and House members from Vermont vote on infrastructure appropriations for Alaska makes no sense. They don’t know where the actual needs in the system are, they can’t possibly. The country is just too damn big, and no nationwide bureaucracy can either because every division will be arguing its problems are the most needed. But a state is small enough to know (except maybe California and Texas…but you can’t have everything). So instead of pork projects in places no one drives you’ll have the bridges and roads that need work worked on because the people making decisions probably have driven on them.

So more efficient, less waste, less pork and ideally less cost if you put in point 2 (hell the lack of a useless federal bureaucracy alone will save at least 10% off the top). But there’s another advantage…

What is that you say? Well a lot of the states won’t necessarily want to deal with all that sudden new bureaucracy…so what will they do…they’ll hire private companies to turn all the roads into toll roads and maintain their upkeep. Now some of you may have an aversion to that…but there is no reason to. As has been repeatedly shown when private companies take over the upkeep of freeways and highways by making them toll roads they do it for less, they reduce traffic and accidents, they reduce the time it takes to repair and improve roads at a fraction of the cost and you get higher quality roads. And they make a profit. Yes what a shock the government really doesn’t know how to do anything

USTransport-orgchart.jpg

A complicated chart for a whole lot of waste.

. And if you eventually start turning all freeways, highways and bridges into privately run toll roads…well the interesting thing is the states won’t need their 18.4 cent per gallon tax and they can either reduce tax (eventually) or shore up all those state budgets (which I want in the short run…right now I don’t really want the price of gas to drop as that would be better for the oil rich nations that support terrorism). (Oh and companies would have to make public bids for these roads so it’s simply who is willing to do it if for the cheapest amount…it’s a lot harder to bribe politicians for kickbacks when you’re judged only on a public bid and not protected by mountains of federal bureaucrats).

Then you have some of the smaller parts of the Department, like drug and alcohol compliance…again another thing that should never have been more than a state issue. Dear god kill this entire department.
All in all, the government should just send everything that has to do with infrastructure and transportation to the states and private companies. Remind me again…why do we need the department of Transportation?  Sure we’ll need to keep the FAA around (as the 80’s showed, having that as a private sector business where workers could strike would be a terrible idea, at least at present…get some private high speed rail in there as a viable option things might change), but other than that?  Whatever issues of transportation that the military needs can probably be handled by a small office out of the DOD.  There is no reason to keep this mess of a department around.  Privatize or give it to the states, doesn’t matter just so long as the federal department is killed. The only thing that you needed federal control of was setting up the initial planning (and that’s done) and maybe setting some minimum standards for military needs on main highways—nothing else.

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Filed under Government is corrupt, Government is useless, Uncategorized

Limit the Power of Bureaucracy

shackles

Shakespeare was wrong. It’s not lawyers, but bureaucrats that need to go first.

Often I hear the call from conservatives that we should impose term limits on Congress. This sounds nice but when you think about it, such actions have never been shown to lead to better legislation and only have resulted in having a higher percentage of idiots in bodies of parliament. I know it sounds nice but it just doesn’t want to work…now if you want to go back to having the Senate elected by state legislatures we might get better laws, but I don’t think most people are willing to admit that basic truth…so let’s get back to term limits. Term limits on elected officials will do nothing to actually improve anything…but what about term limits on federal and state employees.

Think about it.

Who is more dangerous? The idiot legislator who poorly words a bill about needing a business license? Or the worthless little fascist who thinks it is anywhere in the realm of civilized behavior to cite a child for having a lemonade stand on their lawn? (Hint one might need to be voted out of office, and one needs to be beat to death with a crowbar. Take a guess which is which.)

Who is more to blame? The Congressman who votes for a terrible addition to the tax code because it was tied to a bill that would ensure the military in a combat will get live bullets…or the IRS agent who takes a malicious glee in fining you because you could not deduce what the regulations they wrote above and beyond the law in Navajo code actually meant? (Hint: one can be forgiven for being in an impossible position, the other would be joining the S.S. if they were still hiring.)

Who should you worry about more? The politician who breaks their promise? Or the VA official who lets veterans die so they can get a bonus. (Dante would have to create a new level of hell just to deal with some of the shit we have seen go on the last few years from bureaucrats.)

Who ruins your life? The arrogant Senator who just is so vain he will do anything to get on TV, even going as far as arguing that we should arm ISIS? Or jackbooted thug who thinks it’s okay to call out a SWAT team on people who are selling raw milk? (Tough call, but John McCain is a particularly vile politician, far worse than most politicians ranking below most rodents, whereas I would go as far as to that 99% of all state and federal employees are scum.)

My point is that bureaucrats are far more dangerous than the people who write the laws. Because bureaucrats are the ones who write the regulations that determine how those laws will be enforced (that’s also something that needs to change, but we’ll get to that some other time) and the ones who enforce those laws and those regulations. No system in history has ever been constructed without the assumption that some competence and common sense will go into the enforcement…the problem is there is no way to encourage any of that in the system we currently have. You hire people for passing a basic civil servants entrance exam and they basically have a job for life. They can kill people intentionally or through incompetence (as the VA, ATF, and CDC have shown) and nobody loses a job. They can break law after law, violate basic Constitutional principles, and blackmail and intimidate citizens like this were a cheap Banana Republic and while in a just society there would be scores of bureaucrats swinging form gallows they know they’re all protected because their criminal boss plead the Fifth in front of Congress (oh and let’s not forget the destruction of evidence…)

These are people who have no incentive to justly enforce laws, to use common sense, or to even show the slightest bit of human decency. They have a job for life and pension after that. This has to stop. And the simplest way to do that is put term limits for all state and federal employees*. For all non-management staff the most you can serve in government is 15 years or two nonconsecutive terms of 10 years.   For management you need to receive a promotion at least once every 4 years or clearly you’re not good enough to keep.

big governmentFor the non-management staff this has several benefits. First every bureaucrat knows that there is no such job security…and they will be more concerned with making connections in the private sector than making the private sector’s existence a living nightmare. Second they will not act with impunity…the person you write up today could be conducting your interview tomorrow.   Third, you actually have to do your job well and in a way that will get compliments given to your boss about you that they can put on the letter of recommendation that you’ll need when you’re booted out of government service. Trust me, no little girls are going to be written up for a lemonade stand under this system…because no one would ever hire that sociopathic son of a bitch if they had that albatross hanging around their neck. You’d have just about the same job prospects as a child molester…and I don’t really see anything wrong with that (seriously, how mentally disturbed do you have to be to do that?)

As for management positions in government…the system I have set up that requires constant advancement…well there is no way faster to make sure there is a position open to get promoted into than being the whistle blower to point out that Ms. Lerner is breaking more laws than you thought a human being possibly could and oh, that’s right, I made sure to bring copies of all the email she sent me where she admits to breaking the law. The upper echelons of government will self-police with a ruthless efficiency that Congressional Oversight could never hope to match.

Now I’m sure someone will argue that the high turnover will result in far more open positions and low skill employees…this is true. This will result in Congress shrinking the responsibilities of these offices or just outsourcing their functions to the private sector just to make the pissed off voters go away. Win-win.

Now I will admit that this may cause the welfare rolls to swell slightly (as many government employees aren’t exactly qualified for private sector work) but I think the cost saving of them not getting in the way of my life may justify this.

Stop lifetime employment in government and actually get much better government.

*I am willing to exclude county and local government as these will be harder to fill, and jobs like police, district attorney’s office, and teacher you may not want to have high turnover as these are just functions of local government. Similarly I am willing to concede similar exemptions for the federal government for the Defense, State, and parts of the Justice Department (attorney’s and FBI), and anything in the Intelligence branch—these again are

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Filed under Economics, Government is corrupt, Government is useless, Laws the GOP should pass

Licensing and the government need to get rid of opportunities to employment

government license

Taxes, regulators, fees, bans on perfectly safe products, and myriad of other BS from the government. But among all of the asinine things that the government does, there is possibly nothing more idiotic than requiring licenses for certain professions as one of the most idiotic things that is specific to states.*

Now there are a myriad of stupid examples. Requiring hairdressers to get a license (because clearly you couldn’t cut or style hair without permission from the state) or requiring yoga instructors to get a license…because the government needs to regulate if the person telling you to move slowly is qualified or not…just ask this question, think of the dumbest yoga instructor you’ve ever met, now think of the smartest DMV employee you’ve ever met. I think we all know in this contest that the yoga instructor is not only a nuclear physicist in comparison, but they’re probably also not the Gestapo-wanna-be that the dumb psychos at the DMV tend to be (in case you’re wondering I live in Arizona and don’t have to renew my license until I’m 65 so I feel quite comfortable saying that everyone at the DMV is a worthless sack of shit)*. So in what universe do we think the functionally retarded people in government are in any way qualified to tell anyone else if they’re qualified for a job?

From government enforced cabals that prevent basic services being given at a reduced price to the poor…

to government efforts to actively destroy small businesses and innovation


Government attempts to license and regulate business is not only stupid it is evil.

But let’s deal with the issue I’m most familiar with… teaching. Let me give you the run-down of how much you have to do to get and keep your teaching license. You have to get a B.A. Okay so far. You have to get a finger print clearance from the state (basically you have to have the F.B.I. run your prints to make sure you’re not a felon and shouldn’t be around children). Still okay, but sadly we haven’t even come close to finishing. Now you need to complete education courses in addition to your undergraduate degree…this might seem fine if it were on classroom management, child psychology, and maybe some curriculum design…but what teaching programs are often chock full of is education history (not the useful kind), education theory (the kind that wants to talk about oppression, and class warfare, and inequality…the kind of bullshit that will make you yearn to the conservatives of a Tumblr Social Justice Warrior). Oh and then the state is going to test you on your field of knowledge, on teaching theory, and of course general knowledge (wait didn’t I have a B.A.)…keep in mind you’re paying for all of this out of pocket. Then you get to take a couple of courses on “Structured English Immersion” theoretically courses on how to teach non-English speakers language…but not one single shred of it is useful. The last time I went to my S.E.I. course, after shelling out several hundred dollars, they handed us a packet that the most recent research listed was from the Bush administration (no, not W.) but had the audacity to tell me this was all based on the most recent research. Really? Because anyone up on the most recent research knows the problem of education research is that it doesn’t ever want to seem to be reproducible. So I don’t see how this is cutting edge research. Oh, then to keep your teaching credential you have so many hours of “professional development” to complete every few years. The stated purpose of this is so that you can learn new and effective ways of teaching…but as someone who has sat through hundreds of hours of “professional development” I can tell you there is nothing professional about a meeting that covers teaching methods so stupid no self-respecting teacher would ever suggest them to students—except maybe as a joke—not to mention the fact that the most interesting professional development I have ever been to still made me question if slitting my wrists right there and ending it all might not be a better call than sitting through one more second of that idiocy. You know the expression “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” Well I’m not sure that’s always true…but I can tell you that “Those who can’t teach, teach teachers.” Professional development is nothing but a money making scheme to make schools pay teachers for days off and to bilk that same money out of teachers to go to the cronies of the law makers who passed the laws in the first place. Oh and then this encourages teachers to get their Masters and Ph.D.’s. Let me state something as an immutable fact. GETTING YOUR M.A. or Ph.D. in Education HAS NEVER, EVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE MADE ANYONE ON EARTH A BETTER TEACHER. It is the most bullshit of bullshit degrees. The mythical degree in underwater basket-weaving is more useful than a M.A. in Education. And you get to pay teachers more who have it. In my experience the people with M.A.’s in Education are statistically worse teachers than their B.A. holding brethren…and if you meet someone with a doctorate in Education: RUN. They know less than nothing about their craft. Why because they would rather have spent their time getting a worthless piece of paper than working with their students.

A B.A. and a fingerprint clearance card that’s it. Then hire and fire the teachers based on performance. That is all you need to do to get good teachers. And all the bullshit of the above paragraph doesn’t keep good teachers…it repulses good teachers and only the most psychotically dedicated and those who know they cannot survive in the free market on any other skill are willing to continuously jump through those hoops.

But it’s not just teaching as the above links and video show, it’s everything. Government is out to control who can and cannot be this or that profession.

Do you know why many people left Europe and came to America in the early days? Because in Europe there were Guilds that required people to work as apprentices (read: slaves) for members of the Guild for numerous years before you could become a member of the Guild. If you were not a member of this or that Guild you could not legally practice that profession. It was the exact opposite of liberty. And while not as strict a caste system as India at the time, it pretty much guaranteed that whatever profession your parents chose to sell you as an apprentice to was your profession for life.
And this licensing idiocy that modern government is getting into is worse because it’s not just once you’re in a profession you can stay there…no our modern government keeps coming back saying you have to buy into the this or that training program they have created through law. There are mafia protection rackets that are less arduous.

We need to get the government out of licensing. All licensing. As Milton Freidman pointed out the government shouldn’t even be in the business of licensing doctors and lawyers—and if government has no place in those professions it has no profession in any business.

And what will be the result? More social mobility. More money for everyone. More competition…and by extension lower prices and better products and service.

Get the government out of all licensing.

*Okay there could easily be more idiotic things (and I’m sure there certainly are)

*You don’t even want to know my thoughts on the IRS.

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Filed under Capitalism, Government is useless, People Are Stupid

Milton Friedman on the problems of government in medical care

This is a rather long lecture by Milton Friedman on the issues of government in medical care.  As it is so long I’m not going to write a lot, but you should watch it because, despite being over 3 decades old, every word is still very relevant.

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Filed under Capitalism, Conservative, Economics, Evils of Liberalism, Government is useless, Health Care, Individualism, Long Term Thinking, Natural Rights, Obama, Taxes, Tyranny

Real Change in Education: Part I

 

There is a lot of brouhaha over Common Core right now. Education Personally I am tired of idiots blaming every stupid Obama Administration policy, every idiotic Dept. of Education directive, every factually incorrect statement made by a book publisher, and every dumbass move by an individual state on the Common Core.  The Common Core is minimum standards dealing with math, reading and writing and a nation wide test that comes with those standards.  Is it as high as we really need?  No, but it is higher than what most states used to have. …but guess what, any state that adopts Common Core can put in standards that exceed it.  Also the Common Core standards were a state pushed initiative, not a federal one, so stop saying this is overreach by the federal government—it isn’t.

We are conservatives, we’re supposed to be the informed and educated people…but if we keep stupidly blaming things that have nothing to do with the Common Core on the Common Core then we appear uninformed.

This link above goes to the actual Common Core standard.  Read them before you attack them. 

We don’t blame science because liberals shout their BS religion of global warming.

We don’t blame the Constitution for the fact that liberals violate our rights in the name of the Constitution.

Common Core State Standards.jpg

Common Core Standards are good..the problem is that any idiot publisher can put the words “Common Core aligned”

Then why should we blame the Common Core standards, read them there is nothing wrong in them because some idiot liberal states are doing a lot of things that aren’t in the Common Core (but using its name).

The standards are fine.  Read them and tell me if you find anything objectionable…it’s certain that liberal states and the way they’re implementing them/adding to them that is the problem.

If we don’t attack the right thing, if we don’t understand who the enemy is, then we won’t win.

But since some people need to attack something in education let me suggest 9 other things we could focus on that would actually lead to better schools.

 

1.Get Rid of Useless Professional Development

Tied to a lot of complaints about Common Core is the whining about it will cause teachers to teach to the test.  This (A) assume that one on can only teach the standards and nothing else and (B) that teachers can only teach in one way.  In reality there is a simple truth—Bad teachers will only ever teach to the test, good teachers will always teach what is on the test and go beyond. The reason you have standards is that you’re trying to limit the damage done by bad teachers.  I know everyone likes to point out all the terrible points of No Child Left Behind (and there are many) but the fact is that putting in testing put in a lower bar that even bad teachers had to meet.  This was a great thing because you at least had a standard, any standard, in some parts of the country finally and not just bad teachers skating students without any concern for whether or not they learn anything.  And teaching to the test is teaching the minimum standards which is what we want if the standards are high enough.  Tests are supposed to reflect the items learned – duh!

If you actually want teachers to not teach to the test then get better teachers, don’t get rid of the test.

And how do you get better teachers?  Well the first thing you need to do is get rid of the things that drive good teachers out.

One of those things is professional development.  What is professional development, you ask?  Standards vary from state to state, but professional development is a requirement that to keep your teaching credential you have to take so many hours of professional development or courses so that you can continue to improve as a teacher.  It sounds like a good idea, that teachers should continue to refine their craft.  But while it sounds really nice, it isn’t.  What it turns into is taking state approved courses on teaching strategies that no competent teacher would ever use or lectures on information that has no discernable use in education.

For instance I had to take a two week professional development course last year on “Structured English Immersion” to keep my Arizona teaching credential.  Structured English Immersion is fancy teacher speak for “how to teach English to kids who don’t speak English.”  It cost me several hundred dollars to take this course.  I teach high school and not a single thing discussed in this waste of my time and money could ever even theoretically be used in a high school course. Professional development is supposedly there so we can learn the most up to date research on child development and teaching practices…but strangely enough the most recent study listed in the course material was published during the Bush Administration (no…I don’t mean W.). Yeah real cutting edge right there.  Not to mention the entire tone of the course was that you have to coddle children who don’t speak English and not encourage them to actually learn English, speak in English, read English and use English in every aspect of their life (you know, what actually works).

All other professional development is like this.  For instance I’m also going to have to take a few college courses between now and then (again out of pocket) to keep my credential up.  Now while I’m going to try and pick courses that relate to my field, most teachers pick college courses that relate to Education…Education courses are a lot like the above described Structured English Immersion…outdated bullshit that will never help you reach students.

And we charge teachers for this…because teachers make so much money that they can just easily drop money on things like this without any worry.

Or maybe a lot of good teachers realize they can get jobs in other fields that don’t attempt to fleece them at every turn (you don’t want to see my fees that I also have to pay to keep up my teaching credential).

But, some schools pay for their teacher’s professional development, so it’s not like every teacher is getting fleeced (they’re just losing time).  A lot of public schools have in-service days every year to ensure their teachers get their hours.  On average they’ll hold about 5 of these days a year…now let’s say your school of 700 students has 20 teachers, each teacher making $52,000 a year on average (over the course of about 190 contract days, or about $273.68 a day), so to have those teachers take out 5 days out of the year for this sort of in-service professional development costs the taxpayer $27,368.42 a year for a school of only 20 teachers (plus of course the costs of time it took to set this up, to bring in someone to do the training or have a teacher trained to do the training, and the costs that administrators will also participate in this stuff…so let’s round it up to $30,000).  $30K a year for each school in America paid with taxpayer dollars (2009/2010 – 98,817 total public schools = $2,964,510) wasted on irrelevant information that won’t help you be a better teacher.

How about this, let’s just require every teacher to get a subscription to the Journal of Higher Education and Kaplan which will actually keep them abreast of research in education and save about $29,000 a year by not having this bullshit.

The fact is this is a scam.  It’s a scam for states to make money off approving the courses, off of charging teachers over and over again, for the colleges that make money after forcing teachers to participate.  In all my years teaching I have had nearly a month of my life taken up in professional development…not one iota of it was worth a damn.  Teachers get better by teaching, by observing other teachers, by talking with their colleagues and by self-reflection.  THEY DO NOT LEARN BY SITTING IN STUPID COURSES HEARING OUTDATED MATERIAL THAT IS NOT RELEVANT TO THEM.  This is a scam for states and colleges to make money and nothing more.  It wastes taxpayer money and drives out competent people from the field who have better things to do than deal with this stupidity.*

 

2.  Fire Administration.

Administrators are something that schools tend to pile on.  Superintendents. Assistant Superintendents.  Principals.  Vice Principals. Deans. Counselors.  This list could go on for a very long time.  In fact since 1970 non-teaching staff has grown by 138% while student enrollments have grown only by about 8%.  Any test standard you want to look at for quality of education has remained about the same in that time.  So all those paper pushers seem to do nothing…but they do get paid. And if you think teachers getting paid 52K a year is high, you should see what administrator’s charge.

I think it is safe to say that 90% of school administrators and non-teaching staff are there only to fill out federal/state/local red tape.  Get rid of the red tape and get rid of most of the administrators.  They serve no real purpose.  And the few that do serve a purpose are grossly overpaid.

And more often than not they serve as a hindrance to good teachers rather than help.  The fewer administrators you have I promise you, you will see an improvement in the quality of education.

At the very least the next time your local school tries to pass a bond or tax ask them how many administrators have been axed and how many have taken major pay cuts.  If everyone doesn’t fall into one of those categories then vote anything they want down until they make serious cuts of useless people.  Do it for the children.

 

3.  Hold Back Students Who Aren’t Making the Grade

This year Arizona is making a lot of news by saying they are probably going to hold back a whole 1,500 third graders who aren’t ready to move onto 4th grade. 

Lots of people are whining about how this hurts the poor students who are already struggling…What people should be bitching about is that we’re not holding students back in grades K-2 and 4-11 as well—and in all 50 states and all U.S. territories.  If children don’t understand something they need to be held back in the grade they were having problems in until they get the needed understanding.  I don’t care about complaints of self-esteem…trust me students will feel much better about themselves if they aren’t constantly behind and constantly feeling like they’re too stupid to get it.  And holding them back a grade can help in preventing this.  Not everyone progresses at the same rate mentally and some students (a lot of them in fact) need to be held back.

And the added bonus is that teachers in higher grades will now no longer be wasting time going over concepts from previous grades because half the class should have been held back at some point or having to waste half their day on the kid who should have been held back two or three times.  This means all the students will get more out of every single course.

Coming tomorrow suggestions 4-6

 

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Why Obamacare is terrible on every level.

Obamacare regs

So those 11 million words are what you have to comply with.

I was recently asked why Obamacare is so bad…

Where to start?

 Let’s start at the Constitutional Level.

Obamacare requires that every person in America buys insurance.  This was done because without doing it every insurance provider in the nation would begin losing almost immediately and rather than lose money they would just go Atlas Shrugged on us and close shop…but by having everyone on insurance they at least still make a small profit, but only because you’ve forced millions of people who don’t need insurance onto insurance (but even then only by making everyone pay increased premiums).

The problem with this is that the Constitution gives the government no power to force people to buy something (in fact forcing people to do something against their will is expressly prohibited in the 5th Amendment’s protection of private property, and 13th Amendment).  They enforce this mandate by penalizing you if you don’t buy insurance.  Again, no Constitutional authority to do this.

Now the Supreme Court and Obamacare got around this by saying this penalty isn’t a fine, it’s a tax (the strangest tax in history, but still a tax). The problem with this is Constitutionally taxes have to originate in House of Representatives and Obamacare originated in the Senate.

So either it’s forcing you to buy something, and is unconstitutional, or it’s a tax in which case the bill was not passed in a constitutional manner.

Either way it’s unconstitutional.

Then let’s go to the idea of rights.  

The entire basis for this law is that you have a right to health care.   

This is silly.  Traditionally rights have been considered things that you are born with or you would have even if there was no civilization around.  If you’re alone on an island you still have the rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness.  In society no one has the right to take these away from you, which is why these are called negative rights—you have them and no one can negate them.  Even if someone has the power to do so no one has the ethical, moral, or political basis to take away by force your negative rights.  Ethical government is based on the idea that, being a part of society, you give up a very small amount (not so small these days) of your rights to protect the vast majority of them.  At least in the ideal.

The right to health care is what’s called a positive right.  The idea that you have a right to certain things that you would not have without others, that you have not and cannot provide for yourself, and that others are required to provide for you. Health care is one of these.  The idea that you have a right to living wage, whether you earn it or not. 

Now, personally I don’t think there has ever been a good argument for positive rights, but the bigger problem is that positive rights always infringe upon negative rights.  If you have the right to a living wage, then others must provide, and thus must have their property taken away, to provide your living wage.  Thus you have no right to property if you have the right to a living wage.  If you have a right to health care, then doctors and nurses must treat you or any medical issue (not only life threatening ones, hospitals and doctors were required to treat life threatening issues by law even before Obamacare) whether you can pay or not.  This means a doctor cannot choose to not take you as a patient.  Thus the right to healthcare means doctors do not have freedom of choice and thus do not have the right to liberty…I believe that’s called slavery.  Now you think this may be an extreme example, but whenever positive rights have become laws you see fewer protection of negative rights without exception throughout history.

Then we have the pragmatic problems with Obamacare. 

Obamacare creates massive amounts of regulation (11 million words of regulations ).  This encourages more doctors to leave the system, and more highly qualified potential doctors and other medical professionals to not get into it ().  It slows research, it reduces the amounts of medical equipment that can be used.  It raises prices.

Also when something is free or perceived as free, as in the case of Obamacare, you always get people wanting more of it.

This will cause more people to go to the doctor (remember there will be fewer of them) for more minor issues.  This will cause longer lines and less efficient care, thus treatment quality will go down, and mortality rates will go up.  This can be seen in any country with socialized medicine where you see such things as gout go months without treatment (whereas it is almost always immediately caught here) or where due to the wait, limb amputation as a result a diabetes is vastly more common under systems like Obamacare than it has been in the preObamacare American system. (These are just two examples.  Every disease gets worse under socialized medicine).

Fraud, due to increased bureaucracy, will also increase.  You will end up paying for this through increased premiums and taxes.  

obama-care-chart

Welcome to Obamacare…can you find your way to a doctor…or will you just fall into the pit of Despair?

You will also have the problem of price control boards.   Now, we have always had these in one form or another (but they got really annoying after the government created the dreaded HMO…that’s right the biggest thing people hated in healthcare before Obamacare was also a government created debacle).   You buy a certain level of insurance and the insurance company says that due to the level you have bought we will pay X amount of dollars, but no more.  This becomes an issue with experimental treatment and long-term problems like cancer.  The insurance will pay for your pain meds, as they are required to by your policy, but they will not pay for expensive chemo and radiation (not because they’re heartless but because they would go broke if they paid for everyone who didn’t pay the premiums for that level of care). If you want more coverage, you can always buy more.  The problem with Obamacare is that government price control boards are going into place and will say what you can and can’t have for treatment, if you are in the government exchanges.  The difference here is if an insurance company denied to pay, you could always pay out of pocket, under Obamacare the price control board’s decision is final (if try to pay out of pocket you are again subject to fines, and rationing will have made these procedures already more expensive which makes already expensive procedures astronomically unreachable, so it’s the same thing as making them illegal).  This is why they have earned the moniker “death panels” because if they deny your claim, you die…if the insurance company denied you, you still had other options and it was up to you if you wanted to spend your life savings on buying those extra few months. 

The unfortunate effect will be that as medical prices rise, what is covered by the price control boards will contract drastically.  Thus even more things will become deadly.

Not to mention with the above fact that people are more likely to go to the doctor, which means even if they aren’t sick they’re more likely to go to a waiting room where someone is sick and catch something.  And remember antibiotics are slowly becoming worthless.  Yeah that bodes well. 

There are a lot of other ways it will ruin the medical profession, but I think you get the point.

Finally the economic reasons why it’s bad.

 Ignoring the fact that higher death rates may have some negative economic effects…it’s just bad in every way for the economy.

Obamacare requires businesses with a certain number of employees to buy insurance at a certain level for their employees.

As premiums rise, as I stated above, this means it becomes more and more expensive to hire an employee. If you earn $45,000 plus benefits right now, it actually costs your employer around $60,000 between salary, benefits, and social security to employee you. As premiums rise so does the cost of employing each person.

Whether businesses care about their employees or not, they first have to stay in business.  They are hesitant to hire new people as new hires also cost money for training and you usually aren’t getting the full effect of the employee for a few months until they get into a rhythm with the system of your company.  So you’re taking a loss with each new employee even before Obamacare.  The raised premiums then mean with each new employee will have to provide more for the company to be worth their total cost.  Thus you tend to fire the lower performers because you’re not getting your money’s worth. So fewer people hired, more people fired.  Also since you have to provide fewer benefits for part time workers than full time, you are more likely to hire people only part time.  We have seen all of this over the last few years.

Small businesses are hurt too because a small business can only grow to a certain size before it has to provide benefits.  So when it reaches that point, a business can either not grow, which hurts economic growth, or suddenly provide full medical coverage…and no small business at that size can afford to make that immediate jump in the cost of each employee.  Again we have slowly seen the effects this has on the economy.

This leads to overall negative ripple effects in prosperity, take home pay, innovation, research…it creates a bad economy all around.

And we’re already seeing all of this on a massive scale. 

So to sum up, it’s unconstitutional, it’s unethical, it’s leads to bad medicine, and it leads to a terrible economy.  

What makes it worse is that actually less government (removing the restrictions on research, removing the restrictions on insurance companies crossing state lines, a thousand other small things) could actually improve medicine, medical costs, and the economy.  And Republicans have proposed these numerous times despite the media saying they have no idea of what to replace Obamacare with.

Anything anyone wants clarified?

Obamaapocalypsocareageddongate

And, sadly, this is an understatement of how bad things are going to get under this law.

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Why Are American Health Care Costs So High?

I was going to do a response to John Green’s mostly accurate but slightly misleading video “Why Are American Health Care Costs So High?”…but I really can’t beat Lee Doren’s response on “How the World Works.”

I would merely point out that while Doren is correct that we could go to out of pocket to help reduce prices, we could also get rid of the laws that created HMO’s and allow insurance companies to cross state lines.  All of this would further increase competition and drive down costs even more.

Also John Greene makes a comment about tort reform only reducing health case costs by a fraction of a percent in Texas.  What he fails to mention is that it has also drastically increase survival rates for patients.  So tort reform led to more people living at lower costs.  I don’t think dismissing them out of hand as he does is all that bright.

The Original Video

(I’m not going to include all of the links Doren references because he deserves the hit count that will come from having to go to his Youtube page to find them.)

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Some thoughts on term limits

So last night I posted on tumblr my concerns about term limits.

Tumbrl post

My original comments.

 

The fact that after enacting them in California and Colorado seem to have gotten worse.  I admit that there are a lot of factors there and term limits may not be responsible.  But my request was that, surely there had to be some study of states upon adopting term limits and what the effects were.

Did it raise or lower corruption and graft?  Did it improve or worsen the fiscal situation?  Was there an increase or decrease in the severity of gerrymandering?  Things like this.

It doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

All I can say is the last 24 hours have been enlightening, but in a different way.

Some idiot who claims to represent a PAC pushing for term limits started harassing me with talking points but refused to actually show any proof for why his side was something I should adopt.

His argument boiled down to a few points.

1) Term limits are popular.  Great argument. Lots of things have been popular, Socrates drinking hemlock, crucifixion, Nazism, Communism, Obama, Obamacare…all popular at least at one point or another. But there’s this little point, what is popular is not always right.  Granted democracy and looking to what is popular is in many cases the best of bad options (but you’ll notice that our system of government is designed to specifically ignore the tyranny of the majority).

The worst argument a supposed conservative can make is that “well 70% of the people want it.”

 

We’re conservatives, we’re the party of logic and reason and ethics.  We supposed to know that the whims of the people are fickle and what is despised one day is popular the next, and vice versa.  We’re supposed to make the argument that it will work, that evidence shows, that it’s what is right.  If we can’t do that, if all we can appeal to is the whims of the hoi polloi being on your side at the moment, like liberals do, then we admit we have no proof for our argument.

2) There is no proof because looking at how it worked in states is irrelevant.  This one is particularly stupid as that’s what state laws are for.  One of the true virtues of federalism is that we have 50 little legislative laboratories, what works in one state is adopted by a few, what works in a few is adopted by the many, what works for the many might need to be made federal law (not always, something could work for all 50 states and still shouldn’t be a federal issue).  So to just say that what happened in the states doesn’t matter, is either unspeakably naïve, or, as I worry, the evidence actually shows term limits might not be the answer.

3) Career Politicians are bad.

The argument goes that all career politicians are bad, thus we should get rid of career politicians.  The argument that if something is bad, then change is good. And not wanting change is bad because it’s giving into fear, and we should be hopeful…

…and I’m sure we all know what happens when you only care about hope and change and not, you know, will it work, or asking “Yes this is bad, but is there a better way or is this just the best of bad options.”

The worst laws in history are mostly the result of people saying ‘this is bad’ and changing it for the sake of change and not stopping to think will change actually be better.

Here is my problem.  Let’s say you have 100 politicians.

Now you are left with only two logical positions.  Either they’re all bad, or you have a mix of mostly bad and a few good ones (I’m not stupid enough to consider the possibility that they’re all good)*.  Now if they’re all bad then this is just a pointless argument, because then there is no point in caring about how you select them.  Let’s for the sake of argument be very hopeful (and because I like round numbers) and say that in our group of 100 politicians, 90 are bad and 10 are good.

George WIll

This is a nice thought…but it could just as easily mean the corrupt will just be more corrupt to get their payoff in a short amount of time…show me proof whether my thought or Will’s prevails…

Now we have to look if politicians get worse as they stay in office longer.  And when you think about it, it’s hard to find anexample of a great politician who became worse with time.  Think about it, John McCain is a worthless piece of offal, but not because he’s spent his life in politics (I think everyone forgets he got caught taking bribes in his first term as Senator).  He’s always been a corrupt politician.  It just seems that politicians are more corrupt for two reasons (1) because the longer they’re there, the more chances we have to catch them at the corruption that started on day one and (2) the longer they are there the more they learn to work the system and with that comes making deals to get something in return.  Now some politicians make deals to enrich themselves (more than I can name, these are usually the one who were corrupt from day one) or they are making deals to get something they do actually believe is good for the nation but ideologues only look at the compromise and not what they got which makes even the honest attempting to do good seem bad in the eyes of the most knee jerk commentators.  So when you think about it very few politicians become bad the longer they’re there. It’s not that power corrupts, it’s that power attracts the corruptible.  So a good politician, a Bachmann, a Ryan, a Goldwater is not necessarily ruined by their time in the seat.  And even some of the questionable ones are still to the benefit of the public because of what they have learned over time…I may have issues with Newt Gingrich on a lot of points, but you can’t deny he was an effective Speaker who relentlessly pushed for conservative policies and got us a lot of what he promised…and he could do this because of his experience.

So the amount of good turning to bad probably isn’t as high as we think.  Let’s say that over time 2 of the 10 good ones go bad…because politicians are apparently like milk left out overnight (at least in the mind of people pushing for term limits).

But let’s put term limits in.

Now of the 90 bad ones…since their constituents already elected a terrible politician we are almost guaranteed that they’ll be putting another idiot in.  If we’re very lucky we’ll get one good one.  So we have 89-1.

But let’s look at the 10 good ones.  You term limited out the 10 good ones and now it’s a crap shoot again if you can even get a good candidate.  In all likelihood your 10 good ones are replaced by the law of averages with 9 bad and one good politician (as I feel the 10 good ones will, by simply statistics have candidates with the 9-1 split running, so I just feel it’s statistically unlikely that they all be replaced by good ones).  So now instead of 10 good politicians to the 100, you have 2.

Delete them all

No, because there are a FEW good ones in there.

And you see this in California, which went from occasionally having Republican control of the house in the legislature to never having control since 1997(term limits passed in 1990).  Granted demographic shifts could be responsible, so I’m in need of studies to show what actually happens for states I’m not as familiar with when term limits are passed.

Now maybe I’m wrong and the statistics hold across the board and we still wind up with a 90-10 split.  Which would mean that we’ve wasted time and money on term limits to have zero effect.  Money and time to get a Constitutional law passed which changes nothing.  Not seeing the upside here.

And I just can’t see a logical situation which makes it more likely that bad politicians will be replaced with good ones. I see term limits replacing bad with bad and good with bad.

So just because its career politicians are bad, doesn’t mean that getting rid of them is good.

Now I could be wrong.  Term limits could lead to better government.  Hence my call for evidence on what happens.  I did a quick search and couldn’t find any.  And the fact that the person who was pushing term limits so hard had nothing but these three bad arguments.

Now, it may simply be that this idiot was not well informed and there is evidence to the contrary, but show it to me.  Otherwise I see actually limiting the power of government (so that whoever is in will have less ability to ruin our lives), and Voter ID and raising the voting age (because it matters more who is electing the politicians than the politicians) as being a more effective avenue to put our time and effort into as any of these would require nothing less than a Constitutional Amendment…and if we’re going to exert that kind of effort it better be for something that will actually work.

 

But again if you have any study or evidence that term limits actually do lead to better government, less corruption, and more fiscally responsible legislatures (or any improvement other than new names) please share it with me and I will trumpet it over every social media avenue I have.

 

*This should really be on a sliding scale of good, okay, eh, bad, horrible, Obama.  But that would get too complicated to calculate, the general rule still holds.

 

 

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Basic Math for Liberals

I am tired of arguing with idiots about unemployment numbers.  Stupid people (liberals) seem to think that so long as the unemployment numbers drop that this shows the economy is growing. Now I know those of you who know something about economics and statistics are about to have an aneurism over how stupid that is, but let me go over the basics of how we get unemployment numbers…and what you should really be looking at.

Minimum WageNow I’m going to try and use round numbers to help make this as simple as possible (and I’m going to gloss over a few complexities so we can get to the heart of the matter).

Let’s say you have a population of 200,000 people.

100,000 people want a job.  That means you have a job participation rate of 50%.

Now let’s say that 95,000 of those people looking for a job have a job, and 5,000 of those people don’t have a job.  That means your unemployment is 5%.  And let’s say of those 95,000 employed, 5,000 (5% of the those in the work force) of those are working at part time jobs but want full time jobs.  These people are called underemployed. The underemployment rate is the unemployment rate plus those who are underemployed.  (Under employment is usually calculated as the percent of underemployed plus the rate of unemployment, but to keep the numbers separate and simple we won’t add them together here).

Now, what idiots look at is the unemployment rate.  This is dumb, and let me explain why.

Let’s say the government does something monumentally stupid (so, status quo) like raise the minimum wage.  This will cause employers to pull back on hiring.  The first thing that will happen is that employers will either through firing the most inept or through simple attrition (when somebody leaves you don’t fill their position).  This will cause the unemployment numbers to go up.  Let’s say that there are now only 94,000 jobs, or an unemployment rate of 6%.  And idiots will be rightfully concerned…but not for long.

Why?  Because the first ones hit by minimum wage increases are young people who, without experience aren’t worth the higher wage the employer has to pay, and older people. Those who have a business are not willing to put in the money for training as it will not work as a long term investment.  And since these groups know they can’t get a job they will either continue living with mom and dad or go live with their kids and just stop looking for work.  Let’s say 2,000 people just give up looking for work. So that now means you have 98,000 looking for work, and 94,000 with a job.  Guess what unemployment is DOWN TO 4.1%  !!!! Isn’t that great! Raising the minimum wage lowered unemployment from 5% to 4.1%!!!  Of course since the participation rate dropped form 50% to 49%, that means that 1,000 fewer people are employed now, but the unemployment number dropped!

And then it gets worse. The rise in minimum wage causes inflation (as it always does) and that means companies that aren’t employing minimum wage positions will have to lay off employees or use attrition practices.  So they lay off 1,000 employees. Now we’re at 98,000 looking for work and 93,000 employed.  Back to 5.1% unemployment.  But don’t worry those 1,000 will soon find minimum wage jobs and kick out 1,000 other less qualified people from those jobs. So now you instead of 5,000 people underemployed, you now have 6,000. Underemployment has jumped from 5% to 8.8%!  But don’t worry because another 1,000 people are probably going to give up looking for work (probably more actually but let’s keep the numbers nice and round).  So now only 97,000 want to be employed.  Oh look unemployment back to 4.1% and underemployment is now only 6.1%.  It’s a miracle the unemployment numbers and underemployment numbers dropped.  Things must be doing great!

But no.  In this situation while the unemployment rate started at 5% and dropped to 4.1%, that masks the fact that there are 2,000 fewer jobs. And a 1,000 more people are earning less than they would like.  (And let’s ignore the inflation that’s going on and the fact that most of the other employed people probably aren’t getting raises – but their personal costs just went up.)

So we can see the unemployment rate is very misleading and what is important, first and foremost is the participation rate and followed by that the underemployment rate.

So when Obama touts the unemployment numbers are down keep in mind a few things.

The participation rate is at its lowest level since 1978! From a peak of just over 67% we are down to just over 63% (a 4% drop, keep in mind my example only included a 1% drop).  And this drop in participation does not seem to have come anywhere near to an end. 

 

Second keep in mind that underemployment (this is the calculation of both those underemployed and those unemployed) has gone from 7.0% in 2000 () to 17.4% (a 10% increase, and my example only had 1.1% increase).

So don’t tell me that the economy is doing well because the unemployment number is down. It’s not.  It’s doing terribly.

And it’s not just raising minimum wage that does this (and yes raising minimum wage always does this)…it’s regulations and taxes and oversight and red tape.  All government action increases the factors that make employers want to hire fewer employees. And this may be not so great for depriving people of income, hope, and jobs….but as we’ve seen it can be great for getting the unemployment numbers down. I mean if everyone would just give up looking for work, we could have 0% unemployment.

 

 

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The Problem of Syria

 

 

Someone (we’re not sure who, Obama and Kerry say Assad, the UN says the rebel—I don’t trust either, so who knows) used chemical weapons in Syria.

 

Now it’s really funny how the left suddenly thinks that chemical weapons in the hands of a Mideast dictator is a bad thing that needs to be stopped.

 

Some might argue that we should punish those who have done so.  That we need to go in to save lives.

 

But they’re looking at it wrong.  While we do as decent people have a responsibility to stop genocide, that isn’t enough, we have to make sure we can actually improve the situation.  The question shouldn’t necessarily be is Assad (or the rebels) killing people, it should be, can we stop the killing?  In Germany, Iraq, and Afghanistan there were either prodemocracy forces (and in those last two I will fully admit we botched any attempt to rally those forces and form a real government)…and in Japan we had the wherewith-all to stay in charge for over a decade to ensure a stable government was left in place.  The problem with Syria is that it’s a choice between Assad and his Iran/Hamas terrorists backers and the Rebels (read Al-Qaeda)…if either side wins, they’ll use the chemical weapons and kill the people of Syria and probably other nations…and America at this point (even if we had a leader and not an idiot in charge) doesn’t have the resolve to stay the time needed and spend the money required to take over Syria and build a system that will end the killing of people.  The fact is that no matter what we do, people are going to die.  If we help people die, if we don’t help people die.  There is no way out of this that can stop the killing.

 

Kerry Syria

Kerry was against intervention over chemical weapons before he was for it…and he was for it before he was against it…

Now some people, whose opinions I respect, suggest we should go in and just bomb Assad’s ability for air dominance, level the playing field and let the rebels and Assad fight it out on equal terms.  I can see the wisdom in this…but this assumes a leader who knows what do to and how to handle such a campaign.  And here’s the problem if you had such a leader my NeoCon side might just say, why half-ass it?, go in occupy the nation and set up a democracy…but lacking such a leader I don’t know if I can even trust the idiot we have now to level the playing field…honestly has he done anything else right in foreign policy?  Which again leads me back to it’s best to stay out of this mess.

 

The silver lining to not doing anything at the moment is that this is Hamas and Al-Qaeda killing each other…which saves us the time and trouble of doing it.

 

But let’s talk about what we should do if reality had no bearing on this (or, say, if we had done the intelligent thing and elected a leader and good man and not a buffoon and corrupt hack).  Now Syria would present it’s own challenges but I think the best way we should do with Syria, if we were going to get involved is to look at our two most recent mistakes, Iraq and Afghanistan, and see where we screwed up there.

 

Now let’s first deal with some of the points of why we went.  We went to take out terrorist threats (and both nations did present such a threat), we went to do the ethical thing and stop genocide, and we went to spread democracy.  All could have been accomplished if Bush and/or Obama had had even half a brain between them…but Obama likes to grovel and apologize for America’s virtue and Bush was an isolationist (just look at his debate with Gore where he said he didn’t want to engage in nation building…so stop blaming NeoConservatives for Bush’s idiocy, he was never one of us and never will be).  It was the right war to fight.

 

It was also fought well.  The military is not the part to blame, it is the diplomats and politicians who screwed the occupation up, not the war itself.

 

Now let’s review what we should have done but didn’t.  And, in terms of full disclosure, I honestly thought we would have been bright enough to do these things when I gave my support for these wars…I thought that even if Bush was dumb enough to not know to do these, his advisors would at least be bright enough…boy was I wrong.

 

Obama moron

Do you trust this man to do anything right? Do you even trust to not make it worse?

The first thing we should not have done was turn over Iraq and Afghanistan to Iraqi and Afghani control so soon.  We were in control of Germany for year (and only gave them independence to gain their alliance in the Cold War) and were in complete control of Japan for nearly a decade.  We should have remained in political and military control of Iraq and Afghanistan for nearly a decade as well.  It takes time to rebuild the infrastructure of a nation, it takes time to get the culture used to the principles of rule of law and a democratic-Republic, it takes time to properly write a Constitution.  All of these were rushed for political convenience.  And that is partly what ultimately made these situations so terrible.

Someone should have gone to Congress to first get an act of war declared and second to get Congress to lay out in writing and law what defines success and when we can legally leave.  Right now we can leave whenever, whether we’ve finished the job or not, and it is largely up to the president and the president only. These are powers that Congress should have, and they should not have been given up, nor should any president have grabbed them.

The nations should have been broken up.  Their current borders are arbitrary creations of colonialism and forced numerous ethnic and religious groups that loathe each other.  Pluralism is also superior, but it grows best naturally when two group both doing well see each other as equals that both can grow and learn from, not from being forced together.  Iraq, should have been three nations (Kurds, Sunni, Shia)…Afghanistan should have likely been broken into a Southern and Northern part (although I’ll admit my knowledge of the breakdown of clans, ethnicities and religious divisions in Afghanistan is not as deep as it could be).  My point here being that smaller less diverse areas are easier to administrate, easier to work with, easier to maintain stability it…and if there is terrorist activity in one it does not mean that destabilizes the whole operation (for instance Kurdistan would have likely been stable, and possibly even economically prosperous very quickly which would have led to more stability in the whole area and an ally we can count on).

We should have never let the armies disband as quickly as we did.  We should have kept them as POWs vetting every single one of them before releasing them.  This would have delayed the terrorists attacks.

I agree completely with the surges, only disagreeing that they should have been done earlier and probably to an even greater degree.

We should have burned each and every poppy field in all of Afghanistan to the ground and shot any drug lord who complained.  The terrorists live off the funds of the drug trade and one of our first goals should have been to deny them any and all funds.

The Peace Corp should have been recalled for training in Arabic, Farsi, Pashto, Dari, (and anything else we needed) and then sent to Afghanistan and Iraq.  There is no point in having a Peace Corp in helping in social and economic development if you’re not going to use it where it was needed most.

Border walls.  As we have learned in the US, there is nothing so important as a border wall…more so when dealing with terrorists.  We should have been building walls on the border of every single nation, starting with the borders of Iran, Pakistan, Syria.  If we had done this the terrorist activity would have been drastically reduced (as most of it came from Iran, Pakistan and Syria)…and if there had been a division of the nations we should have had walls between them as well to help stop the spread of terrorism.

With staying longer, our first responsibility should have been building up roads, water, electricity, schools, hospitals and the basic of industry…the infrastructure needed to support a republic of law.  Training the military and police should have been a distant second (because when you rush that, you let the terrorist infiltrate easily and attack us from within, as we’ve seen all too well) as the military can handle that for a longer period as we’ll be there for a while.

There is no way we should have ever left Iraq without gaining a permanent military base and the same goes for Afghanistan. One of the only reasons why these invasions made sense in the long run from a tactical stand point was gaining foot holds to ensure stability in the area (would Syria be as violent as it is right now if there was a permanent US base with missile launch capability just a few minutes from it’s borders?)

Massacre of Syrian Christians

This is a picture of the handy work of Obama’s allies in Syria…the massacre of Christians for no other reason than their religion. Yes we should help these people.

Among stronger women’s right pushes than we made, we should have made it a requirement that both nations add full rights to women and some version of our burning bed justifications (which more or less makes it justifiable for a woman who is afraid of her husband beating or murdering her to kill her husband…and then we should have probably armed every woman as we could have). This would hopefully have cleared out a lot of the worst bastards we would have to worry about, and the scum who objected should have just been summarily shot as well because you know they’re shit who would be nothing but a blight on humanity. (And I can hear some liberal whiny about it’s their culture who are you to judge.  I’m a human being with a brain, that’s who.  Any man, any law, any religion that says women are inferior to men is shit and deserves to be wiped off the Earth with extreme prejudice.)  We should probably also have installed a lot of women in positions of power, those who objected can be shot.  (This is more to quickly identify the terrorist scum and quickly eliminate them).

We should never have stopped it being a major function of the military and CIA to gather intelligence.  We should be capturing terrorists leaders and water-boarding every last piece of information out of them.  The problem with drones isn’t their use or their death toll…it’s that they’re being used in lieu of gathering intelligence which actually (causes more death in the long run) kills even more people in the long run.

(On a side note) We should have backed, supported and armed the revolution that started in Iran.  Conversely we should not have given moral support to the largely terrorist led Arab Spring.

We should have gone in and still should be going in with the mentality that first and foremost this is a war.  If you are dealing with rational people then negotiate with them, but otherwise there is no retreat, no fallback, no quarter and all that is acceptable is either complete and unconditional surrender or every member of your opposition dead.  No negotiations with the Taliban, no playing nice for Iran and Pakistan.  This is a war, we are in the right (or at least we could have been) and we will not stop until every tyrant is dead or in jail and every innocent citizen enjoys full human rights.

 

Now, while Syria presents it’s own challenges and idiosyncrasies, but it is these general principals that should guide the occupation and rebuilding of any nation.  And the question you need to ask is, do you think Obama has the spine and intelligence to do any of this?  Do you think he even has the brains to carry out attacks on Assad’s military targets?

For me the answer is simple.  No.  I would love to spread liberty and end genocide everywhere…but from what I have seen of this nation, and especially Obama, we don’t know how to do it, we don’t have the patience it takes to do it, and right now we certainly aren’t in an economic position to do it.  In an ideal world intervention is what we should do, but the realities of the present state that our current situation will only lead to making things worse.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Congress, Conservative, Evils of Liberalism, Foreign Policy, Government is corrupt, Government is useless, liberal arrogance, Long Term Thinking, NeoConservative, Obama, People Are Stupid, politics, Tyranny, War on Terrorism

Health Care is Not A Right

So Republicans in typical fashion are trying to shoot themselves in the foot with their “Defund Obamacare push”  (hint the liberals want the GOP to win on this one so they don’t have to have Obamacare hanging around their necks in 2014 and 2016, so they can keep the White House and take back Congress just long enough to make sure no one can ever take Obamacare out…if you want to get rid of Obamacare, really, really get rid of it, you need to make people see, and unfortunately feel, the misery they voted for. The point here is to get rid of the idea that government is the answer, not just a temporary reprieve on one horrific law.  The Defund Obamacare group is looking to win the battle, possibly at the cost of losing the war).   But while this is going on, Democrats are spending billions just to advertise Obamacare (if a law is so bad you have to advertise it, that should tell you something).  And to top it all off, a couple days ago Obama made his one of his typically brain less statements.  “Because in the United States of America, health insurance isn’t a privilege – it is your right.”

Why do I bring all of these different groups up in the same paragraph? Because they’re all idiots. They are all predicated on the idea that the government has to do something (less idiotic for the Republicans, but they seem to have given up the idea of full repeal, the only real answer, because they seem to acknowledge the lie that government needs to provide something). At best this belief is idiotic. At worst it’s just plain evil. (On another side note evil people are very rare, but evil ideas are all too common, and morons have a long history of latching onto evil ideas with the best of intentions. So please understand I’m not calling the people supporting Obamacare evil–unless their name is Harry/Nancy/Barrack/Michelle–merely their idea is). Why is it stupid/evil? Well, let me be as clear as I can possibly be:

YOU DO NOT HAVE A !@#$%^& RIGHT TO HEALTHCARE!!!!

Like the right to property, and the right to pursue happiness, you have the right to earn a living and to use that money as you see fit, perhaps by buying healthcare or healthcare insurance, but you have no natural right to healthcare.

Sorry, Barry, but just because you want something, it’s not a right.

I know I am about to repeat things that I have said before, but I feel I need to. I feel everyone needs to until this country learns that rights are not entitlements, rights are not things given to you but opportunities to be taken care of, and to exercise your rights does not require the acts, intentions, or contribution of anyone else.

A natural right as conceived of in the theory of natural rights and in the Declaration of Independence is something you would have without the presence of government or even society. It’s what does Robinson Crusoe have when he’s on the island before he decides to violate Friday’s natural right to freedom. Well, if you find yourself trapped in a bad episode of “Lost” you have the right to life, liberty, property, and to pursue happiness. A lot of what the original Bill of Rights includes is also there (speech, religion, assembly, arms, and self-incrimination) but notice that if you’re on an island by yourself you don’t have medical care. You have the right to take care of yourself, but islands in the middle of nowhere are not staffed with hospitals and doctors just waiting for you to get sick. So it’s certainly not a natural right.

But we don’t live on an island in the middle of nowhere. The upside to this is that we don’t have to engage in a philosophical war with a black cloud; the downside to this is that we do have to deal with other people. And while most people are rational and good intentioned, there are the random people who don’t respect your rights and try to take what isn’t theirs. Because of these random few who ruin everything, and because, we want complex things that we can’t do without laws and someone being in charge (like roads) we turn to the necessary evil of government. Now good government is a skill and it took us a while to realize that limits need to be put on it because just following the guy who can kill you or the guy with the best bullshit may not have been the best choice in the beginning, even though it’s what historically happened. So we had to come up with a whole new set of rights (quartering, due process, equality under the law). But notice all these other rights limit what the government does. Nowhere have you been given anything. You were either born with your rights, some of which you gave away to ensure protection against stupid people violating your rights, and other “rights” were restrictions placed on the government on top of which your natural rights were completely off-limits. But still no right has been given to you that you already didn’t have. And again, you didn’t have the right to health care if you were stuck in the state of nature.

The right to healthcare is a ridiculous, idiotic and borderline evil idea called a “positive right.” A negative right means something that no one has the right to take away from you–like your life, your liberty, or your property. Those are things you’re entitled to, thus no one has any right to reduce your rights to them. A positive right on the other hand means something that you have a right to expect to be given to you. If you’re reading that last sentence a few times because it seems to make no sense, good, that means you’re sane. Healthcare is a positive right. It is the idea that just because I showed up you have to give me healthcare. Just because you’re alive other people have to give something to you? Well I know that really egocentric people act like this, but to actually portray this as a theory of government is insane. And while virtues of love and charity say that ethically we should give people more than they may deserve, it doesn’t work in the opposite way where you have the right to demand people give you more than you serve—that’s not ethics it’s also insanity.

But more than insane it’s wrong. You can’t give a piece of property or a service without taking it from someone else–i.e. theft or slavery. Now while I believe the capitalist system isn’t a zero-sum game that always creates more and more, theoretically having no limit to how much wealth it can create, the kind of property transfer that the government deals in is a zero-sum for whatever moment it exists in. The government stealing things and giving it to others, transferring wealth from one person to another, not only harms the ability to create more wealth, but given government inefficiency, it actually creates less wealth (especially given the government’s addiction to spending money it doesn’t have). The government can’t just give people drugs without stealing it from drugs companies…if it pays for those drugs then it can only do that by stealing hard earned wealth from the taxpayers. Either way it’s theft. A person can’t be guaranteed healthcare without doctors being forced to treat them. After all either the doctors are paid (and if the government’s involved it’s paid with stolen taxpayer money) or simply forced to work as a slave. And you’ll find most doctors will not want to work in that system which will cause the greatest healthcare system in the world, the US, to become one of the worst when all the doctors leave or simply retire.

But some idiots (Alan Colmes to name one) say that the government has a right to help the people under the actual Constitution. They quote Article I Section 8:

“The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and
Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general
Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be
uniform throughout the United States;”

And then they point to the part that says “General welfare” , isn’t providing healthcare promoting the general welfare? Well one that would first depend on the government being able to do anything well, which it can’t, but more importantly it is a gross misunderstanding of the meaning of “general welfare.” Even if you took the most liberal meaning of the phrase at the time the Constitution was written the term general welfare does not mean helping people like our current meaning of welfare–it means providing improvements to the whole of the country that affects everyone (roads, bridges, communication systems, in other words – infrastructure). The key is the word general. It needs to be something that can be used by everyone. I can’t take your doctor prescribed drugs after you’ve taken them, so there is nothing general about a system that helps individuals. (And don’t even give me that bullshit about their being able to provide for society if they were healthy…if they were providing for society they would have a job with which they could afford healthcare).

The government isn’t there to protect you from yourself or from nature. It’s there to protect you from other idiots. Your bad living habits and your genetic disposition toward a disease, while unfortunate, is not the government’s responsibility. But given that the government has stolen and inefficiently used the money that people who might have been able to charitably donate to your healthcare, the government is not only destroying their rights it’s destroying their ability to help you.

The government destroys all it touches–it can’t help it, it’s its nature. Especially when it tries to give you things you don’t have a right to. And you don’t have a right to healthcare!

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Filed under Capitalism, Civil Liberties, Conservative, Constitution, Economics, Evils of Liberalism, GOP, Government is corrupt, Government is useless, Health Care, Obama, People Are Stupid, politics

Constitutional Amendments, The Fact We Are A Republic Not a Democracy, And Short-Sighted Fools Who Get Called Conservatives

So Mark Levin has a new book out and is calling for Constitutional Amendments. How do I know this? Well it certainly wasn’t because I look forward to books by Mark Levin—honestly this man endorsed Rick Santorum (enemy of capitalism and raging psychotic extraordinaire) and never missed a chance to hit Romney. Yeah with conservative and sanity credentials like that in the single most important election that he has ever lived through, can’t imagine why I tend not to take Levin too seriously. But given the amount of press it’s getting in conservative circles I thought I would at least take a look at it and peruse it in Barnes and Noble…and it confirmed all my dislike of Levin, reading just a few pages made me sick…on the surface it has some very conservative principles, but when you only scratch the surface it is not very conservative, not very well thought out, and little more than populist tripe.

So first the good.

He wants to make the commerce clause more limited. Excellent. South Dakota v. Dole, the case that expanded the powers of the government under the commerce clause, was a terrible decision and needs

Did we forget we're conservatives and we want to limit the power of the federal government?

Did we forget we’re conservatives and we want to limit the power of the federal government?

to be overturned…I’ll come back to why it was terrible in a moment.

He wants to reaffirm the 5th Amendment’s right to private property in very clear terms. Again this is partly in response to the terrible Kelo ruling. I have no problem with this.

He has an Amendment that would allow two-thirds of states to overturn any law passed by Congress. I think this is an excellent check on federal power.

And he wants to overturn the 17th Amendment and make it so that state legislatures and only state legislatures pick Senators. Which is in line with the republican virtues the Founders intended and will eliminate a lot of problems. Legislatures tend to pick more reserved members for positions like this so hacks and shills for unions like Boxer, Feinstein, Reid, Obama, Clinton, Kerry, “Dances with Bullshit” Warren (okay really just about any Democrat that has been in the Senate in the last 50 years) and treasonous scum like McCain stand little chance. You’ll get reserved people, thoughtful people, who are not beholden to polls because they don’t run for reelection and not beholden to campaign contributors for the same reason. The people still have a voice in the House and in choosing the representatives who will pick Senators. This will also lead to better Supreme and Federal Court Justices as the Senate will no longer be party hacks. So no Kagan, no Sotomayor, but you would get a Bork.

However I think it is a major mistake to only leave the option of the Senator to be chosen by the state legislature. I would be more than happy to allow states to pick some combination of the legislature and governor or just the legislature…it ensures more gridlock, fewer ideologues and less of a chance of bleeding heart idiots getting in.

Also I would think that you might want to allow the people to have the right of recall of any Senator. Quite frankly I would love the ability to fire Senators rather than hire them.

Okay those are the good things he suggested. Now let’s go through the terrible tings he suggests…

He suggests sunset dates for all legislation and that all federal departments have to be reauthorized every few years. That sounds nice…but when you think any deeper than how it sounds (which someone who backed Santorum, like Levin, is clearly incapable of even conceiving of) it becomes terrible. From 1913-2013 liberals and progressives controlled the White House and both branches of government for 38 of those years, conservative for only 18 of those years…so over 1/3 of that time with liberals in absolute control…and you want to have Congress be responsible to constantly reauthorize the Department of Defense? Mark, are you insane or just stupid? The Constitution exists because we know that there will be times when the public takes a complete and total loss of its senses and elects idiots. An amendment like this gives idiots more power to simply not reinstitute good laws and continue making bad laws (as Obamacare has shown, a law doesn’t need to be around for long to cause harm).

Better idea: A Constitutional Amendment that Congress must list under what clause or Amendment they are using to have the power to enforce such a bill. That covers the Departments of Defense, Justice, State and Treasury. In this same Amendment it states that any law that uses the necessary and proper clause as justification must have a sunset date and can exist for no longer than 5 years. This variation not only limits the powers of government to its expressly listed powers (and the wiggle room the founders intended the necessary and proper clause to be) without giving free reign to unchecked power grabs

Then Levin says we should change the Amendment process to allow states to amend the constitution with only a two-thirds majority instead of the usual three-fourths. Now take a look at it this way, the three-fourths bar has given us such bad amendments as the 16th (income tax), the 17th (allowing the public to choose Senators), the 18th (prohibition) and the unspeakably stupid 26th Amendment (which gives immature brats the right to vote)*. Yeah let’s lower the bar because we’ve had such great Amendments get through the 3/4ths vote. Levin seems to forget that the terrible worded Equal Rights Amendment (nice in theory, terrible in wording and near carte blanche in the powers it granted because of that really bad wording) got 70% of the states to vote for it. Thanks Mark. Only an idiot thinks that conservatives will always be the majority—the pendulum always swings back and forth and the Constitution needs to be there when progressives who want to give the government more power is a wall against them…not as a tool for them to use! Which is exactly what Levin’s proposed Amendment would eventually be.
Term Limits. Term limits sound so nice…get the idiots out, let fresh blood in. Here’s the problem. Liberals can always find an idiot to vote party line, finding good honest conservatives who are sane to actually run for office is much more difficult (conservatives usually have the good sense to stay away). So all you’ll be doing is for the bad legislators, trading one scoundrel for another and while getting rid of competent people like Issa, Ryan, and Cantor and leaving it open for liberals to take their place. Great idea. It’s even dumber when you consider the revoking of the 17th Amendment makes the entire Senate a check against the kind of corruption and party politics that popular election breeds. Yes term limits on an office where one person holds the entire power of that office makes sense, but not in a body of parliament.

SCOTUSOh and then Levin wants to put term limits on the Court and allow Congress to over rule the Court. Might as well just disband the court. Congress and the President already have the power to choose who goes on the court and determine how many justices we have, and Congress and the states can overrule the court via Amendment. That’s a lot of check and balances already. There are two reasons why we have bad Supreme Court Justices. The first is because we have popularly elected idiots in the Senate making decisions, but revoking the 17th already fixes that. The 2nd is that Congress and the President have already misused the power they have…above I mentioned South Dakota v. Dole which expanded powers under the commerce clause—it’s time to talk about that case now—that ruling came down only because the Supreme Court had been intimidated by FDR who threatened to pack the court if they didn’t vote as he wanted. So the current checks and balances against the court led to it being intimidated and bullied, which has left a lasting effect in terms of precedence and behavior…and you want to give the President and Congress more power over the court. Why have a court? Levin is just unhappy with the decisions they make, so am I, but like any populist child he simply lashes out without thinking, attacking the symptom while making the disease worse.

And then there is the amendment limiting spending to 17.5% of GDP. Again sounds really nice. So long as we never have a major national disaster or have to fight a war. Yes, we have a spending problem, but this doesn’t help. And I love how he tags it to a figure like GDP…like a liberal economist can’t play with how that number is reached. Whatever happened to a simple balanced budget amendment which has triggers for emergency spending?

And then there is my favorite the Amendment requiring that to vote you have to have an ID. Again something I’m in support of…when it’s a state issue. My problem is with too much government power, and an Amendment like this gives the federal government even more power. Just because something is a great idea for a state, even a necessary idea for all 50 states, does not mean it should be a federal issue…conservatives understand this…idiots who support socialist Santorum do not. But yeah, let’s give the federal government the right to say what does and does not count as an ID, who gets an ID, what barriers and cannot be put up (if you make it a federal issue you’ve just given the government all these powers…I’m sure they’ll never abuse them).

Also a fun part of this Amendment is banning all electronic voting. Yes because an Amendment, something that should guide the nation for at least 100’s of years should institutionalize luddite fears because of problems in the early stages of a new technology…I hate to tell Mark this, any form of voting is subject to fraud, electronic voting may get more press because it’s new and cool, but seriously, an amendment banning it for all time.

The fact of the matter is that for all Levin’s claims to be a conservative many of these amendments do not properly view the nation as a republic where law is higher than anything…but rather show him to be a populist who thinks democracy and the will of the people (hence the term limits, the neutering of the courts, the rapid amendment of the Constitution, and the rapid dismissal of all law through sunset dates). These make the system less stable and more volatile, yes while conservatives are in control it would give us the power to quickly enforce our policies which are more in line with the ideals of the Founders and reality…but the Founders had the good sense to know that what is right is not always popular…and these same mechanisms could easily be used against America if the will of the people shifted. Just ask yourself, if these Amendments were in place in 1978 when Jimmy Carter was in the White House, Democrats controlled the House and Senate, and had complete control of just shy of 30 states (governors and legislatures), controlling 60% of all legislatures, and all other states were divided (no Republican control of all branches of state government). What could Carter and his ilk have done in 2 years? Would there have even been a nation left for Reagan to save? A populist wants power to change things the way they think it should be, but a real conservative asks the all important question of what could their enemy do with that same power? And horrifyingly most of Levin’s Amendments would give too much power to liberals in the end.

Now as I said there were some good ones.
Private Property
Revoke the 17th Amendment
Commerce Clause
2/3rd’s check by state on federal law

And I listed two above
Require all laws to list what power granted to Congress the law is being passed under, and anything under the necessary and proper clause has a sunset date.
A Balanced Budget Amendment

I would point out two others that help reaffirm this nation as a Republic not a democracy.

The first would be to replace the 26th Amendment. I’m sorry but of all the 18 year olds I have ever met less than 1% of them were qualified to vote. Most of the people I’ve known in their 20’s aren’t qualified to vote. Science is now telling us the brain doesn’t even stop developing until you’re 25 or 26. The voting age needs to be raised not lowered. If you’re under 30 you do not have the mental capacity or experience to vote. If you want to include a clause that anyone who signs up for military service will be granted the right early, I have no problem with that, but your average 18-29 year old is simply too naïve, too stupid, too immature and too easily persuaded by emotion to be allowed to vote.

The 2nd point I would have is something I don’t think the Founders ever really considered but would agree with if it was put to them. At the signing of the Constitution one of the reasons you had to have 13 states and not just one central government, besides centralized power leads to corruption, is that there was simply too much land and too many people for one government to govern it effectively. You could probably fit the entire population of the U.S. at the signing of the Constitution into modern Los Angeles. And that was too big for one government to control. Now communication and travel have made this somewhat easier…but keep in mind that I think the Founders would have agreed that if there is a minimum population a state needs to have, then there should probably be a maximum number it needs to have before it should break up into two states. I’m thinking around 10 million. I’m sorry but after that point it becomes inefficient to run a state (not to mention that populations this high are usually because of a single large city in the state which siphons welfare money out of the non-city areas to fuel welfare programs and guarantee bought votes). Think of it, two New Yorks, the liberal city we know…but far more reddish upstate New York with red electoral votes, and red Senators. California cut into thirds one state blue, one red, one probably purplish.* Texas which is turning a little blue into two safe red states and a blue one. If you work out the math is this only good news for conservatives in terms of Senate and electoral votes (which is also a strong pro republic idea since it makes it harder to swing as many states). And you wouldn’t have to give the federal government power to split states just state you’re not counting population above 10 million for Congressional seats and electoral college votes…most states would simply choose to split if you put that in place once they went over the 10 million mark. Now I’m more just thinking aloud here, and haven’t worked out the details of how such an amendment would have to be worded, and I’m sure someone out there could even convince me that it’s plain insanity, but it’s just a thought.

Now I admit that my suggestions are even less likely of being adopted than Levin’s but that doesn’t change the fact that his are dangerous to the safety of the union in the long run.

*I realize the current population of California is 38 million and technically that would be cut in 4th’s…but even if the highly unlikely occurred and my suggestions passed, it would be after years of the current population drop in California and I think we’ll see California under 30 million within the next decade.

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Filed under American Exceptionalism, Conservative, Constitution, Economics, Founding, Government is useless, Long Term Thinking, People Are Stupid, politics, Problems with the GOP

Things the Government and Hollywood can do to lower ticket prices

Movie ticket prices are high…as the Entertainment Editor of Elementary Politics I regrettably know this better than most 1888635_623836521024148_812367747072020643_nhaving to pay money to go see movies I actually know will suck (Go and read some articles on Elementary Politics…if we get enough readers I can probably get a press pass into films).

But there appears to be some doom and gloom on the horizon. The first is that, as we all know the last few years have seen deeper and deeper slumps in box office turnout. It gets even worse when you look at supposedly important names like Spielberg and Lucas* telling us that we can soon expect $25 tickets. Now I think $25 may be little overblown (even with inflation under the Obama), and might be a little bit of Spielberg forgetting the studios might not want to fund him because his last six movies have all been terrible. Still the fact is movie prices are still going up. And this comes with the rather idiotic question what can the government do to stop that…yes I’ve actually heard people ask variants of this question, because there are some idiots who feel the government needs to fix all of their problems.movie tickets

But rather than asking what can the government do, I’m going to ask the more important question what can the government stop doing to help reduce movie ticket prices? There are already a horde of policies and regulations in place that are helping to drive the price of your movie ticket up (along with the price of just about everything else) and if the government stopped doing these things you would have far more reasonable prices and far less inflation.

1. First and foremost we need to ignore Senator John McCain (who never met a line of the Constitution that he felt like defending) in his call to regulate cable TV even more. And after that we need not regulate anything else to do with the entertainment industry. I’m sure there are probably a few (very few) laws that should pertain to the entertainment industry, but right now I can also guarantee you we have dozens, possibly hundreds we don’t need and that need to be scrapped before we need any new laws. At this point new laws and regulations only create new headaches and roadblocks for business, industry, innovation and creation.

There is a minimum level of laws needed in society. We are nowhere near that level and need to take a machete, a chainsaw, and possibly a nuclear weapon to the stack of laws we do have at present.

2. End all public funding at all levels for all kinds of subsidies, tax breaks, or incentives. This might seem counter intuitive for why it would raise the price of your tickets. Subsidies only ever result in getting more of something people don’t want. Movies make money when they’re good…so if the only reason you’re going to make it is because you can get a tax break or a right-off or a subsidy in creating content that is sub-par and will in the end reduce the profitability of the market…which in turn has to be made back by charging higher prices for tickets. (Not to mention it creates crap like NPR and PBS which despite its claims of being educational actually make people dumber).

3. Conversely taxes should just be lowered in general. Be it the flat tax or the fair tax, it is irrelevant, but if taxes were just lower you would find more money to invest in films, better, cheaper technology to make films, and lower costs all around for production. Tax reform always benefits everyone, without question, without exception.

4. Another obvious one: Get rid of Obamacare. If you don’t think the production companies and the distribution companies and the theater chains don’t plan on passing their massive costs of Obamacare onto to you through ticket sales, you’re delusional. If prices do rise to $25 a ticket, then Obamacare will be to blame for at least a third of that rise.

5. Sue China for copyright infringement. China has committed billions, perhaps trillions of dollars of patent and copyright theft. Certainly they’re not the only foreign offender but they certainly are the biggest. (It’s ironic that it is very likely that all the money we have borrowed from China was only made by not paying us for use of patents and copyrights) and the entertainment industry takes billions of dollars in losses every year because of this (losses they pass off to you). Now while the Chinese government per se isn’t doing the actual pirating, they have created, fostered and in many ways encouraged the environment in which such violations run rampant and it needs to stop. While this is an issue that hardly affects only the entertainment industry, that is one of the most obvious ways it affects you and if they tightened up their system (and god forbid paid what they owe) you would see profits over here soar and prices drop in response.

 

6. Conversely America’s copyright laws are a little insane. In a push driven mostly by Disney, Congress extended copyright law to insane levels. Currently it’s life of the artist plus 70 years or 95 years from publication for works owned by corporations. That’s insane. I know Disney has a lot invested in keeping Mickey to themselves…but guys you have to let go at some point. Copyrights do help inspire creation…but when taken to an illogical extension they can also hurt innovation and creation (don’t believe me, go and read some of the insanity that has come about because of the copyrights surrounding Superman). Correcting this problem would mean that soon theaters could get their hands on good old movies at a very, very low cost and show them at almost pure profit, which means they don’t have to make the other ticket prices as high just to break even.

7. Get rid of minimum wage laws. Every usher and every person behind the counter at every theater is being paid at least $7.25 an hour. They’re not worth $7.25 an hour. Based on the service I usually get, they’re not worth $3 an hour. But regardless of what I think they’re worth, it is a simple fact of economics that minimum wage laws hurt the economy. They cause fewer people to be hired, they prevent people from getting experience, they lower service and they drive up costs.


If you got rid of minimum wage laws you would see lower ticket prices. You would also see a drop in the unemployment rate and a massive rise in the economy at all levels.
8. Get rid of ethanol. Ethanol is possibly one of the dumbest things we’ve ever done in this country. It takes 1.2 gallons of fuel to create one gallon of ethanol. So not only is it a waste that causes your gas bill to rise (and thus the cost of EVERYTHING else to rise including your movie ticket) but you’re also wasting tax dollars on this because not only is it a Ethanolwaste, but we subsidize it as well. You pay for it to be grown and then you pay to use it…and it’s worthless. Another fun fact about ethanol is that the heavy production of it has caused the worldwide cost of corn to go up, which not only exacerbates issues of global famine, but probably doesn’t help the price of the popcorn either.

9. While Congress really should get rid of all subsidies and trade barriers let’s look specifically at the ones dealing with sugar. We subsidize sugar production in the U.S. (causing the price to go up) and have stiff trade barriers that prevent cheaper sugar from getting in. This in turn leads to just about everything at concession stands costing vastly higher amounts than it otherwise would.

10. Finally let’s end the government protection of the teacher’s union. What does this have to do with the cost of your theater going experience? In terms of cost not so much, in terms of getting your money’s worth a lot. If we had an even halfway decent education system do you think movies like Grown ups 2, R.I.P.D. The Internship or White House Down would ever have been made? I doubt it, because there wouldn’t have been as much of a market for them…yes intelligent, educated people can enjoy movies like this, but an intelligent educated populace wouldn’t provide a market for as many pieces of crap to be made. And the simple fact is that there is probably no bigger threat to American education than the teacher’s union. End all of their bargaining power, disband the unions (because professionals don’t have unions), and as far as I’m concerned try the union leadership for treason and give them the maximum sentence, because they have done massive and unforgivable damage to this nation in protecting their hack union members who have no business whatsoever being in a classroom.

Now that’s what the government should stop doing…but to be fair there are some things Hollywood should do.

PrincessBride

Why has this not been re-released? This would make more money than you can imagine.

1. Release old movies. Why has there not been a re-release of The Princess Bride in the theaters? Or Casablanca? There is next to no overhead cost and you would sell tickets like crazy. Disney, you could re-release a movie every month from your vault (even if we changed the copyright laws) and it would still take years before you made a full cycle.
I think people would rather pay money to see something older and good than new and dumb.

2. Stop paying actors outrageous salaries and start paying your writers better. As the last few years have shown, people aren’t going to see movies because of their favorite actors. If actors aren’t drawing people in then they’re not good investments. Neither is CGI. In the end the most surefire way to get people in the seats is to tell a good story. Pay your writers better.

3. Hollywood, get some goddamn accountants! Real accountants, not the crazy people who have made Hollywood accounting seem more complex than the US tax code. Get some people who will pinch pennies and tell you no, that’s a bad investment, no, the actor can’t have this many riders in their contract, no, we don’t need this lavish a catering truck at the shoot, no, no, no.

4. Stop hiring directors who can’t make money. Guillermo del Toro and Paul Thomas Anderson do not make money (in fact while some of their films have made a profit I believe they are in the red for their overall careers). (I personally don’t get Scorsese, I don’t think he’s ever made a watchable film, but at least he brings in a profit, I just don’t understand how). But time and time again you see Hollywood give too much money to hacks because they’re ‘great directors.’ If you want to make vanity pieces fine, do it on your own dime; don’t do it so the studio takes the loss and passes that onto the theaters and then onto me.

5 Support a la carte purchasing in cable. It will reduce your competition and the number of channels you need to advertise on (and it’s actually the advertising budget of most films that makes them take a loss not the production costs).These are just a few of the things the government and Hollywood can do, but in the end it boils down to two things, government needs to get out of the way and Hollywood needs to be focused on giving us a higher quality product.
*I say supposedly because let’s be honest, these two schmucks have more a reputation for making good movies than an actual history of making good films. I’m sure someone will take offense to that but go look at all the movies Spielberg has actually directed and take an honest look at how some of the worst films in history are on that list.

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Detroit, liberalism at its finest

Obama Detroit

Sadly, he doesn’t have a city….he has a country.

The fall of this city reads like the story of the Twentieth Century Motor Company.  Large government spends, overregulates, gives into unions at every turn, hampers business at every opportunity, a deference to cronyism without any concern for free markets, corruption, all leading to the destruction of a city that still has all the infrastructure necessary for growth. And the worst part is that this can be easily, EASILY reversed.  Lower taxes, remove regulations, gut the bureaucracy, open up school choice, tell the unions exactly where they stick all their whiny demands.  It would be a slow growth at first, and the city would need to redirect every single cent they get to police to clean up the dangerous streets of Detroit first (although allowing open carry and remove the restrictions that allows law abiding citizens to procure weapons to protect themselves could solve that problem, criminals tend to go where the targets are easy and a well armed populace is not that) and fix the crumbling infrastructure second.  If the city did these things and let the free market and individual choice drive the way the city would be thriving again within a decade.

But we know they won’t do that.  And so the city will continue to decay.

 

But I’m sure if you asked idiots like Paul Krugman or Barry the answer would clearly be that we just didn’t spend enough money and we didn’t regulate enough.  Because that’s always the problem for liberals.  Government is never the problem and always the solution, even though they don’t have a single shred of evidence to back that claim up.




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Filed under Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, Capitalism, Conservative, Corporate Welfare, Debt, Economics, Education, Evils of Liberalism, Free Will, Government is corrupt, Government is useless, Individualism, People Are Stupid, politics, Taxes, Unions