Friday, May 14, 2021

Ronald Reagan said: “If you want more of something, subsidize it" That Apparently Includes Unemployment!

 Eight years ago I wrote a post titled:  Can A Nation Built By Giants Survive Nanny State Paternalism? The Numbers Don't Look Good...  In it I wrote:

“ Were the Americans who carved a nation out of a continent, who crisscrossed that continent with railroads, telephone lines and highways and who won two world wars so different than Americans today… Not based on DNA they weren’t. But that doesn’t mean they were the same. While the DNA of the American people today is no different than that of the people who invented the elevator or the light bulb, the American people writ large certainly appear to be”.

The piece goes on to talk about the staggering changes in the makeup of the American workforce in terms of numbers of people actually working vs the number living off of government largesse.  I observed:  If the record of the last 40 years were to be repeated over the next 40, in 2050 the country would have 260 million workers supporting 43 million people on disability and 450 million people on food stamps.”

It turns out that I was off by a few decades…

The last year saw what may turn out to be the most cataclysmic mutation of American society in our history.  Not only did the Democrats take Rahm Emanuel’s “Never let a crisis go to waste” maxim to heart, they put it on steroids.  They took a virus and turned into a catastrophe of epic proportions.

At the state level, from New York to Michigan to California, mini tyrants used the virus to strangle small business as the governors put their boots on the necks of their citizens.   At the national level Joe Biden has shifted government spending into overdrive. 

To put that spending into perspective, in March and April of 2020 when the pandemic was taking off and the United States lost 22 million jobs, president Trump signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus bill to keep the country on track.  He signed another $2 trillion over the next eight months as the economy found its footing and recovered 12 million of those jobs.  In his three months in office, when the nation added more than 1.5 million jobs, with demand spiking and prices surging, Joe Biden has signed into law or proposed $8 Trillion in new spending. 

Spending $4 trillion of dollars that the government doesn’t have when the economy is in freefall with more than 20 million Americans losing their jobs may be defensible, but spending $8 trillion when the economy is starting to overheat is simply ludicrous.

The proof of the folly is all around.  Across the country businesses are finding it almost impossible to hire staff, and those who can are doing so at much higher costs than they would normally pay.  Why?  Government, of course.  Businesses have to compete with supplemental unemployment payments that in Mississippi, the state with the lowest unemployment benefits in the union, equals $535 per week ($235 + $300 supplemental) which works out to the equivalent of $13.37 an hour in a state where the minimum wage is $7.25.(Within the last few days a dozen states – including Mississippi - have decided to leave the federal unemployment benefits program.)   In Massachusetts, where the minimum wage is $13.50 the total unemployment benefit works out to the equivalent of $28.20.  This spike in labor costs is even worse than it sounds because as businesses struggle to find workers, the higher wages necessary to attract them drive an increase in prices, which in turn tamps down demand for their offerings in the first place.

This tragedy is particularly difficult for small businesses who have taken the brunt of the damage in this economic meltdown with in excess of 2 million closing up shop and almost 10 million not sure they will survive.  Large companies like Amazon, Home Depot, Wal Mart and others have not only survived the pandemic, they’ve thrived from it.  Sadly, small businesses, who have traditionally been the life’s blood of the American economy, have not been so fortunate.  While large businesses often have the finances or flexibility to deal with surging labor costs, small businesses rarely do.  And labor typically makes up a much bigger cost of operations for small companies than it does for large firms who often can harness technology, scale and outsourcing to minimize labor costs.  For restaurants, karate classess, beauty shops and most small businesses, labor is often the biggest expense and the primary vehicle through which they deliver their services.

What we have in 2021 is a continuation of the Emanuel maxim. Last year Democrats used it to lay the groundwork for stealing the election and now they’re using it to drive their fundamental socialist goal:  The destruction of American small business. 

Small businesses represent solutions, opportunity and most of all, individual freedom, all things Democrats despise because they don’t look to government for direction.  Big business on the other hand, as Coke, Delta, Disney and myriad others have recently demonstrated, can be counted on to pick up the Democrat standard and run with it, much like Wal Mart and McDonalds did when they supported the passage of Obamacare.

Beyond the businesses themselves, small businessmen and women are a problem for Democrats.  By definition they are entrepreneurs, people who want to build something, want to be in control of their destinies and as such lean towards smaller government and the GOP.  Given that the Democrat Party is the party of government largesse, of government regulation and ultimately, government control, a crisis that disproportionately harms small businesses while growing the power and influence of the state is seen by them as a win-win proposition.  Look no further than their collusion with the teacher’s unions on the opening of schools to understand that it’s not what’s good for citizens that’s important, but rather, what’s good for the party and their donors. 

All of this came into stark view last week when the news that the economy added a mere 266,000 jobs in April when the expectation was for over 1 million.  That number, when combined with the tidal wave of help wanted signs across the country clearly demonstrates that Americans are indeed motivated not to work. Joe Biden scoffed at such notions:  “Americans want to work” he said.  Maybe not:  Bank of America estimates that anyone who earned $32,000 before the pandemic can now get more from a combination of state and federal unemployment benefits. They are also allowed to claim benefits for up to 39 weeks - nearly a full year - whereas before, it was capped at 26 weeks. The average US salary in 2019 was $31,133.

Which brings us back to the notion of a nation built by giants.  For most of our history, Americans very much had a “can do” spirit.  They carved a nation out of forest, rock and through deserts while fighting the elements, Indians, the English, Spanish, Mexicans and even one another.  Americans built the Transcontinental Railroad in six years, the Golden Gate Bridge in four and the Empire State Building in 410 days. Today however, Democrats have Americans cowering in their homes, requiring masks on the chance they’re given permission to emerge and looking to the government for their incomes. The virus provided Democrats with a perfect storm of opportunity to finish what they started half a century ago, turning a nation of giants into a nation of vassals where life, liberty and dollars are doled out in exchange for supplication to the Democrat Party. Never let a crisis go to waste, indeed.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Never Tell A Leftist They Hate America...

Never tell a leftist they hate America.  They will correct you every time.  They don’t hate America they’ll tell you, they just want to improve it.  They just want to help make it better.  They just want America to live up to her ideals.

No, it’s not America per se that they hate, but rather the things that made America so spectacular in the first place.  Free enterprise.  Limited government. Federalism. Separation of Powers.   Individual freedom.

But, while they don’t hate America, it is, according to them, racist, sexist, homophobic, ethnocentric, intolerant and more. In addition, the Constitution is an outdated document written by old racist white guys and needs to be reimagined.

So, OK, sure, I’ll buy that leftists don’t technically hate America. And apparently they don’t, because even when they have Hollywood or Silicon Valley or Wall Street type money and could live anywhere in the world… big surprise, they never actually leave!

When I tell leftists that America is the greatest nation that’s ever existed it seems to send them over some sort of cliff. They often get angry and look at me as if I just told them I the earth is flat.  But the funny thing is, when I ask what nation is better or empire was better… crickets.  They immediately launch into a polemic about how America is racist, sexist, homophobic, ethnocentric etc. It’s ripe with inequality, inequity and is run by rich white men.  And not to be forgotten, its Constitution is an outdated document written by old white racist guys and as such, shouldn’t control our lives today. 

Then I suggest that even if it were the case that America was the hellscape they suggest, where should we go to escape it?  Again, crickets. 

Despite the fact that the leftist snowflakes can’t point to a single place on earth or in history that is or was superior to the United States, that had a more successful combination of prosperity and freedom than the US, they most certainly have an endless supply of ways to improve it:

  • Bans on hate speech, which they define as anything that hurts anyone’s feelings.
  • Defund the police.
  • Pack the Supreme Court.
  • Disband the INS.
  • $15 minimum wage.
  • Demonize the Founding Fathers.
  • Eliminate the Electoral College.
  • Cancel anyone who ever uttered an opinion that doesn’t comport with the currently favored position on any given subject.
  • Eliminate bail requirements & sentencing minimums.
  • Participation trophies.
  • Eliminate academic requirements and standardized testing for entrance into college.
  • Universal healthcare
  • Free college tuition
  • Green energy mandates and subsidies
  • Eliminate fossil fuels
  • Repeal the Second Amendment
  • Eliminate capitalism.
  • Eliminate the binary gender construct
  • Make the Pentagon the bleeding edge for social experiments
  • Tax the rich
  • Forgive student debt
  • Mandate vaccinations

And the list goes on, and on, and on. It literally never stops.  Griswold v. Connecticut begat Roe vs. Wade which begat partial birth abortion.  Gay rights turned into civil unions turned into gay marriage.  Jimmy Carter’s Community Reinvestment Act turned into coerced lax lending standards which turned into the housing crash.  And the Americans with Disabilities Act started out as compassion for the handicapped and mutated into a vehicle for extortion of small businesses by a cabal of pernicious lawyers. Removing the Confederate Battle Flag from state flags led to pulling down statues of Abraham Lincoln and Fredrick Douglas to cancelling Dr. Seuss & Aunt Jemima. 

At exactly what point will America cease to be the racist sexist hellhole that the left tells us it is?   Must the military perfectly reflect the hue and sex of America itself?  Must corporate executives be promoted based on their socioeconomic heritage?  What else needs to be reflective of the demographics of the American populace?  How about the NBA & the NFL? Black men make up 74% of the NBA and 70% of the NFL.  Do we fire 90% of them to hire more white men and women of every race?  Would that make the games more competitive, more exciting?  Probably not.  Or how about nurses? 93% of nurses are women.  Should 40% of them be fired in order to hire men to make the industry reflective of the rest of the country? Would that make healthcare better or patients happier and safer? Unlikely.  And this could go on endlessly for every area of the economy: Ditch diggers.  Sanitation workers.  Teachers.  Barbers.  Rap artists. Surgeons. Lawyers.   

The bottom line is the left knows how to do one thing well, and that is destroy what someone else built.  We’ve seen that play out across America time and again.  From the burnt husks of Detroit and Washington that rotted for decades following the riots of the 1960’s to turning once great American cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles into giant homeless camps strewn with needles and feces to the economic devastation wrought in cities like Minneapolis and Portland and Seattle from a year of “mostly peaceful protests”.  When the left comes to power in successful cities the march to a real hellscape begins.  And it’s not just cities.  The left broke the Boy Scouts, they destroyed the NFL as a truly national form of entertainment, they’ve ruined Disney and Marvel and they are in the process of destroying women’s sports. Dennis Prager often says “The Left destroys everything it touches” and he’s right.  The left has never built a nation millions of people risk their lives to enter.  The left has never built a society where freedom of thought, speech and the press have thrived.  The left has never built an economic juggernaut founded on free markets or anything else. 

The left can do nothing more than take advantage of the freedom and prosperity that others have created and throw stones at it for its imperfections.  Voltaire was prescient when he observed “Perfect is the enemy of the good”.  America is no doubt imperfect.  It is flawed and sometimes unfair and often inequitable… but mankind is all of his creations are.  The reality is, the United States is by far the greatest nation God has seen fit to grace man with and while it will continue to be imperfect until the end of days, it is nothing like the racist, fascist hellscape the left makes it out to be.  But of course none of that matters because for the left, building something great is never a necessity, in fact, it’s never even a consideration.  Why bother trying to build anything when it’s so much easier to throw stones at those who are too busy actually building things to notice they’re being targeted for their imperfections by those who don’t have the courage to try.  

I’m not sure what the textbook definition of hate of county might be, but everything the left does and says most certainly looks like it.  There’s an old saying: “If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck and acts like a duck, it’s probably a duck.” Replace duck with hate and you have America’s left:  too cowardly risk doing anything but more than willing to demonize those who aren’t.     

Monday, May 3, 2021

100 Days into Mark Zuckerberg's Latest Acquisition

Government sometimes needs help. It can’t do everything… and it most certainly can’t do everything well. Some Americans have stepped up and use their resources and expertise to help government function more effectively.

An example of this is Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to fund “Special Assistant Attorneys Generals.” in the actual Attorneys Generals offices in half a dozen large cities across the country. Those SAAGs are tasked with a specific focus on climate change and act as liaisons between AG leadership and NGO’s and other interested parties. The goal was to step up and move the issue of climate change forward in the face of Congress refusing to move on the threat.

Another more recent effort to address government dysfunction had to do with voting. After the chaos of 2000, the Russian influence scandal of 2016 and complaints about lines and closed precincts after almost every election, it was clear that America’s voting system could use some assistance.

As might be appropriate for the high tech world we live in, it was a master of the Silicon Valley universe who stepped into the breach to provide assistance to the very low tech world of voting; Mark Zuckerberg. He and his wife contributed over $350 million to the nonprofit Center for Tech and Civil Life to pay election workers, drop boxes, foreign language information, train poll workers, rent polling locations and count votes during the 2020 elections.

The result was a far more robust election functionality in the locales where the money was focused. For CFCL it was what you would call a home run. Take Maricopa County Arizona for example. The county, with its approximately 2 million votes – including Phoenix – represents over 60% of Arizona’s electorate. CFCL spent approximately $3 million in the county. The result? Much higher turnout. Donald Trump received 995,665 votes, 250,000 more than he did in 2016 for a 33% increase. Joe Biden garnered 1,040,774 votes, a whopping 340,000 or 48% more than Hillary Clinton did four years before. Zuckerberg and CFCL certainly had an impact.

To see how much, look at the rest of Arizona where CFCL spent 30% less. Trump’s 2020 total grew by 32% (compared to 2016) while Biden improved on Clinton’s total by 38%. In Maricopa County where Zuckerberg spent $3 million the Democrat candidate increased his total by 48% while the GOP candidate grew his by 33%, a difference of 15%. In the rest of the state the difference between 2016 and 2020 was 6%. CFCL essentially boosted Maricopa County’s turnout by 9% compared to the rest of the state.

If a difference of 9% between Maricopa and the rest of the state doesn’t sound like much, remember that billion dollar casino empires have been built on games where the house has much less of an advantage and trillion dollar empires have been built with less than half that.   

That CTCL model played itself out in a handful of states that gave the election to Biden. PennsylvaniaWisconsin, Michigan and Georgia. In each state CTCL spent millions of dollars in heavily Democrat counties and drove almost unprecedented increases in voter turnout and troubling vote irregularities.

Today, in this particular case, half the country might suggest all of that is Constitutional. In fact, it’s not.

In the 1960’s the United States was in the midst of an upheaval of monumental proportions where racism and Jim Crow laws were being challenged virtually everywhere. People were being treated differently with the government’s imprimatur. The Civil Rights and the Voting Rights Acts were passed specifically to ensure the Constitutional requirement that people were treated equally. MLK’s I Have a Dream speech epitomized the goal of the journey that the United States embarked on over the next few decades.

Fundamentally Americans understood that people should be treated equally, particularly by government. Government has a power over you that no store or school or hotel does. Government can raise your taxes, impact your ability to open a business, dictate where your kids go to school, and most importantly, put you in prison.

As such, Americans expect government to treat everyone equally, and according to a report released by the Amistad Project, Zuckerberg’s CTCL not only didn’t do that, the expenditures were in direct violation to federal law:

This privatization of elections undermines the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which requires state election plans to be submitted to federal officials and approved and requires respect for equal protection by making all resources available equally to all voters.

The provision of Zuckerberg-CTCL funds allowed these Democrat strongholds to spend roughly $47 per voter, compared to $4 to $7 per voter in traditionally Republican areas of the state.

While there are most certainly areas of government where private / public partnerships can play a role – things like feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless and substance abuse aid – none of those things involves the police power of government or determining the representation in the government itself. Bloomberg’s efforts involve the former and Zuckerberg’s impact the latter.

Government is supposed to be objective in the execution of the laws and by allowing private entities to illegally do the various functions of the state, the government is essentially putting its thumb on the scales that keep the Republic balanced. Just as it would be unconstitutional for Exxon to fund the enforcement actions of the EPA, the NRA to fund agents of the ATF or the Proud Boys to do enforcement work for the Border Patrol, it’s equally unconstitutional for billionaires or anyone else unaccountable to the people to be bankrolling election processes and activities.

No doubt had Donald Trump won with similar assistance by a nonprofit funded by Larry Ellison, John Schnatter or the late Sheldon Adelson, the nation would be subject to wall to wall cries that the election was fraudulent and that a Donald Trump was a fascist dictator. And indeed that would have been true. Had GOP aligned “nonprofits” provided training and helped counting votes in predominantly red counties and precincts, Antifa, BLM and Democrats would have “protested” and likely burned Washington to the ground. Instead, as it was, in the face of the clear theft of the most important election of our time a few hundred Trump supporters broke into the Capital and took selfies with the Capitol Police, put their feet up on Nancy Pelosi’s desk and caused minor mayhem.

And so today as we “celebrate” the first 100 days of the fraudulent Biden administration, it might be useful to sit back and recognize exactly what Mark Zuckerberg's purchase of the 2020 election foretells. Unless this unconstitutional election is somehow set aside, or laws put in place to make sure the theft is never repeated, we will have crossed the Rubicon into a post Augustan Rome where the Imperial Throne is up for grabs to whoever comes up with the most gold for the vote takers and counters. Given that Kamala Harris is the next in line… it wouldn’t surprise me if we didn’t have our own Year of the Four Emperors.