Monday, July 31, 2017

Bombshell dropped on 'Russia, Russia, Russia' mantra

Why it's suddenly the last thing Democrats want to discuss

Garth Kant About | Email | Archive  

Something very odd but extremely significant just happened in American politics, in practically the blink of an eye.  The establishment media have gone from virtual 24/7 coverage of the narrative that President Trump colluded with Russia to crickets, and they did it overnight.

How far has Russia fallen off the media’s radar? So far, that, in a jaw-dropping role-reversal, it is actually the White House now pushing the story on the media.   And why is the White House suddenly embracing the Russia story? Because it is now poised to boomerang on the Democrats, big time, following a pivotal Senate Judiciary committee hearing on Thursday.............“You guys love to talk about Russia, and there’s been nonstop coverage. And the one day that there might have been a question on Russia, there wasn’t.”...........That revelation didn’t just chill mainstream media interest. The Democrats also suddenly stopped uttering their Russia mantra............While there is still no evidence the president or his associates colluded with Russia against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, evidence may be emerging that there was collusion by Democrats with Russians against Trump...............Read more




Cartoon of the Day

House Judiciary Asks for New Special Counsel for Clinton, Comey, and Lynch

Ian Mason 30 Jul 2017 1,293

Republicans of the House Judiciary Committee drafted a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein Thursday, asking them to appoint a second special counsel to investigate the 2016 elections. Unlike the current special counsel assigned to investigate matters surrounding the election, Robert Mueller, the letter calls for an investigation into the “actions taken by previously public figures like Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.” ........To Read More.....

My Take - Well, so much for all the so-called confidence Congress has in Jeff Sessions.  His Senate buddies have come out in support, but one has to wonder just how broad that support is when the Lindsay Graham types are the most vocal in that support.  That's like running for public office telling the world your a absolute conservative - and then have John McCain come out strongly in your favor. 

Senator Chris Murphy and the All-Encompassing State

July 29, 2017 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty
As a former Connecticut resident, I’m ashamed that my home state, which used to be a success story with no income tax, has now morphed into a high-tax welfare state that is now increasingly infamous for the outflow of productive people and taxable income.

And even though I left several decades ago, I also feel vaguely guilty that my former state produces politicians such as Senator Chris Murphy.

Most people have never heard of him since he’s never accomplished anything in Washington. Though I would argue that’s a good thing since he’s a knee-jerk statist.

But I gather that Senator Murphy no longer wants to be in the shadows. Here’s a tweet he issued yesterday that has received a lot of publicity.

Wow, this is an astounding display of statolatry. The kind of statement one might expect from a functionary from a totalitarian regime.

Or maybe a line from George Orwell’s 1984. Just think of the implications:
  • Are you afraid of spiders? Hey, government can help!
  • Are there dandelions in your yard? Don’t worry, Big Brother to the rescue!
  • Did McDonald’s forget to include a toy in your Happy Meal? Time for political action!
 
While his views are reprehensible, I’m actually glad Senator Murphy inadvertently revealed his statism.
 
If nothing else, it’s produced some clever humor. The folks at Twitchy have been sharing this tweet, which came from a parody account for a North Korean news service.
 
  • DPRK News Service @DPRK_News US senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut province endorses Juche Idea of Great Leader Kim Il-Sung, political action as cure for all human ills https://twitter.com/ChrisMurphyCT/status/890924515999526912     14 Replies    484 Retweets 737 likes

By the way, if you’re like me and are not familiar with “Juche,” it’s apparently a North Korean twist on Marxism.

In other words, take the traditional horror of communism and then add a layer of autarky to ensure even greater misery.

And here’s another amusing take, juxtaposing Murphy’s statolatry with Reagan’s wisdom (see last video from this collection). And they even demoted him to Representative rather than Senator.



But we shouldn’t merely mock Murphy.

His views truly are reprehensible because they imply there is no element of human existence that is independent of government. The state is everything.

And if that sounds familiar, it’s probably because you know something about economics, philosophy, and history. The most evil people in world history have expressed the same sentiment.

Such as the leader of Germany’s National Socialist Workers Party.



And the first dictator of the Soviet Union.
 

Though if I had to pick the quote that is closest to Murphy’s, it would be this awful statement from Mussolini.


Senator Murphy obviously doesn’t share the horrid ideology of either national socialism or international socialism, so his version of statolatry is far more benign.

Sort of like this cartoon instead of gulags and concentration camps.

But I still think his views are reprehensible. We’re not children and the government is not our parents. America’s Founding Fathers strictly limited the powers of the federal government because they understood the risks of a coercive state dictating our lives. Even if it’s benign statism rather than totalitarian statism.


 
 

Debunking the EPA’s fake accounts of the Gold King mine disaster

Bureaucrats and politicians should no longer be able to get away with sweeping their sins under the rug

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After almost two years, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General released its report on the Gold King Mine disaster that dumped over a million pounds of metals into the Animas River, turning dozens of miles of the river orange.  While inspectors general are tasked with finding out the truth and holding agencies accountable, this recently released report sheds no more light on the disaster than previous misleading reports.  EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has inherited not only an environmental mess, but also the mess created by an agency more interested in its narrow self-interests than truth. Pruitt now has an opportunity to send a message that would ripple far beyond the EPA........There you have it: Experts “inadvertently … initiated an internal erosion failure.” It could have happened to anyone.

The line that the EPA crew never intended to breach the natural plug (blockage) is flatly contradicted by a recently released Interior Department email that includes an account that appears to have come from the main on-scene coordinator........Important facts supporting this Interior Department account are omitted from the inspector general report. What the inspector general kept in is less important than what the he left out........EPA accounts have constantly..........To Read More....

Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” hypocrisy

Michael Mann has consistently refused to share his temperature proxy data for others to examine, forcing one to wonder what it is he has to hide.  

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Do you remember “Mike’s nature trick” from the infamous “Climategate” emails?  Penn State scientist Michael Mann grafted historical temperature data derived from tree rings and other sources to modern observations and smoothed things out to produce the now infamous “hockey stick” graph the UN likes so much.  Mann’s graph and the approach he used to create it has come in for withering criticism from other researchers.  Mann has consistently refused to share his data for others to examine, forcing one to wonder what it is he has to hide.  (The Medieval Warm Period for one thing).

Mann tried to use the courts to silence critics.

CFACT’s Bonner Cohen reports at CFACT.org that a decision appears imminent in the legal battle taking place in Canada between Michael Mann and Tim Ball, a climate scientist from the University of Winnipeg.  The court ordered Mann to submit his temperature data for examination and he failed to comply.......To Read More....

An official climate debate could be great

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposal to hold a TV debate on climate change science makes a lot of sense.

by ,

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposal to hold a TV debate on climate change science makes a lot of sense.  This idea is very different from the Red Team exercise that he mentioned previously, which has seen a great deal of discussion, such as here and here. The Red Team exercise would be a highly technical scientific debate. In contrast a TV debate would be designed to, as Pruitt puts it, reach the American people. It could also be a great teaching tool.

How to design such a debate raises some challenging issues. These include how many debaters should participate and who should they be, what the format should be, and at what education level should the scientific issues be discussed?

Taking the last issue first, some detractors are likely to say that the average American cannot understand the scientific debate, because it is simply too technical. It certainly can be technical, but consider this. Many States have adopted the new, so-called Next Generation Science Standards and these have climate change science being first taught in middle school, which is defined as grades 6 through 8. So the average 12 to 14 year old is expected to understand the basics of climate change science............To Read More.....

My TakeIf Pruitt is wanting to have a public debate about global warming that would be understandable to the American public - I have the answer! 

They comment: "How to design such a debate raises some challenging issues. These include how many debaters should participate and who should they be, what the format should be, and at what education level should the scientific issues be discussed?"

Here's the format!

 The below information is from Wikipedia here. 

Here to the right was a picture of the typical setting.
Below are some U-Tube presentations.
1. Here's an example.
2. Another: and
3. Another:

From 1988 and 1989 there was a ten part series of "Ethics in America" "developed and hosted by former CBS News president Fred Friendly and produced by Columbia University Seminars on Media and Society (later renamed Fred Friendly Seminars). It was funded in part by the Annenberg/CPB Project.

"The original series included ten one-hour episodes:"
  • "Anatomy of a Hostile Takeover (Ethics in Business)"
  • "Do Unto Others (Personal Ethics)"
  • "Does Doctor Know Best? (Ethics in Medicine)"
  • "The Human Experiment (Ethics in Scientific Research)"
  • "The Politics of Privacy (Ethics in Journalism)"
  • "Public Trust, Private Interests (Ethics in Government)"
  • "To Defend a Killer (Ethics in Criminal Law)"
  • "Truth on Trial (Ethics in Civil Law)"
  • "Under Orders, Under Fire (Ethics in the Military, Part I)"
  • "Under Orders, Under Fire (Ethics in the Military, Part II)"
You will notice there was never one on the environment.  And the panelists who appeared on the series included: ( I think this is a short list as there was a second series and others appeared deling with ethics in the media and more here.)
The moderators were:
I can't imagine a better platform to expose the truth on this situation.




 

Fixing A Washington That's Gone From Rule Of Law, To Rule By Whatever

Clyde Wayne Crews Forbes July 18, 2017

Astrophysicists have concluded that ordinary visible matter—the Sun, the Moon, the planets, the Milky Way, the multitudes of galaxies beyond our own, and their trillions of component stars, planets, and gas clouds—make up only a tiny fraction of the universe. How tiny a fraction? Less than 5 percent. Weakly interactive but pervasive dark matter and dark energy make up most of the universe, rendering the bulk of existence beyond our ability to observe directly.

Here on Earth, in the United States, where the government spends $4 trillion annually and regulatory compliance and economic interventions cost nearly half that amount, there is “regulatory dark matter” that is often hard to detect, much less measure, that's coming to dominate in similar fashion.
Congress passes several dozen public laws from every year, but federal agencies issue several thousand regulations. The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) of 1946 (P.L. 79-404) established the process of public notice for proposed rulemakings, and provided the opportunity for public input and comment before a final rule is published in the Federal Register, plus a suitable breathing period before it becomes effective.

Congress passes several dozen public laws from every year, but federal agencies issue several thousand regulations. The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) of 1946 (P.L. 79-404) established the process of public notice for proposed rulemakings, and provided the opportunity for public input and comment before a final rule is published in the Federal Register, plus a suitable breathing period before it becomes effective.........To Read More......

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Feel the Bern: Venezuelan opposition promises new tactics after Sunday's vote

By Hugh Bronstein

CARACAS, July 29 (Reuters) - Venezuela's opposition said it is ready to change tactics in its bid to bring down President Nicolas Maduro after Sunday's election of a legislative super-body that they say is designed to tighten the socialist's already strong hold on power.   Anti-Maduro protesters blocked streets on Saturday in a last-ditch effort to derail Sunday's election of a "constituent assembly" designed to rewrite Venezuela's constitution.  Maduro says the assembly, which will have the power to dissolve state institutions as well as rewrite the constitution, will bring peace to the convulsed country.......To Read More.....

As Venezuela Prepares to Vote, Some Fear an End to Democracy

Leer en español
 
One by one, the markers of Venezuela’s democracy have been pushed aside.  First, the Supreme Court was packed with loyalists of the president, and several opposition lawmakers were blocked from taking their seats. Then, judges overturned laws that the president opposed, and elections for governors around the country were suddenly suspended.
 
Next, the court ruled in favor of dissolving the legislature entirely, a move that provoked such an outcry in Venezuela and abroad that the decision was soon reversed.
 
Now, President Nicolás Maduro is pushing a radical plan to consolidate his leftist movement’s grip over the nation: He is creating a political body with the power to rewrite the country’s Constitution and reshuffle — or dismantle — any branch of government seen as disloyal.
 
The new body, called a constituent assembly, is expected to grant virtually unlimited authority to the country’s leftists.......To Read More....
 
 


CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- President Nicolas Maduro is pledging to go after his political foes with the virtually unlimited powers of a constitutional assembly that his backers will select Sunday as his opponents wage a last-ditch battle to halt what they call the replacement of Venezuelan democracy with a single-party authoritarian system.

Faced with spiraling socio-economic catastrophe, Maduro is calling for his supporters to turn out in mass to elect a special assembly with the powers to rewrite the country's 1999 constitution. That 18-year-old constitution says no other branch of government can impede the workings of the constitutional assembly. Some interpret that as granting the new assembly powers above and beyond every other state institution, including the opposition-controlled congress......To Read More....

U.S. 'sweetheart' of Venezuela sees worrying signs of authoritarianism

Girish Gupta

CARACAS (Reuters) - Dubbed the "sweetheart" of Venezuela's socialist revolution more than a decade ago by former President Hugo Chavez, American lawyer Eva Golinger accompanied him to eat lunch with Bashar al-Assad, dine with Muammar Gaddafi and drink cocktails with Vladimir Putin. She was showered by impromptu kisses from supporters when in Venezuela but reviled and spat at by critics, who branded her a naive foreigner supporting a corrupt and repressive government - often on Western TV news shows. In recent months, however, Golinger has increasingly criticized the policies of Chavez's successor, Nicolas Maduro, who she says has trampled basic rights and let corruption run rampant......To Read More....
 
My Take - I love these western leftists who promote leftist thugs and tyrants and then are shocked when these thugs impose tyranny.  Of course her view is this is not Hugo Chavez's fault!  He would have never allowed things to get this bad if he was still alive.  To believe that really takes a special kind of stupid. 
 
That's the facsinating thing about these loons, there's alway a loop hole in their condemnation.  This woman, Bernie Sanders, Sean Penn and all the leftists who've benefitted so amazingly well from living in this American capitalist hell didn't permenantly move to Venezuela where their hero, Hugo Chavez,  was in charge and creating another socialist paradise .  Why?  Because are all hypocrites and liars.  So many of them are over educated and undersmart.  They can't claim they didn't know this was going to happen because this is the history of leftism.  And that history is incontestable. 

 

 

Trump Takes Obamacare into His Own Hands, Threatens To Cut Off Funding

By Andrew West July 29, 2017

When it comes to healthcare reform, President Trump is no longer playing nice with the traitors in the U.S. Congress. Americans wholeheartedly want Obamacare repealed. The system, which has long been destined for failure, has raised the cost of healthcare in America to unacceptable levels in its short enforceable time as law.

When Donald Trump promised to make repeal and replace Obamacare high on his priority list, We The People voted to put him in the White House. We made a statement: It’s time for Obamacare to go.

This week, however, has shown us that Congress is still functioning on the terms of the Washington elite, who, unsurprisingly, have recused themselves from being forced to use the shoddy system...... To Read More.....


Trump Hits Back at Do-Nothing Congress, “You Look Like Fools!”

By Andrew West July 29, 2017

President Donald Trump is growing impatient with Congress’ inability to achieve anything that the American people have demanded. By electing Trump, America sent a resounding message to our federal government: Business as usual is over. Trump’s election represented a massive shift in We The People. It was a soft revolt against the status quo and the Washington machine’s unfettered ability to churn out political millionaires and billionaires. And so President Trump took the reins of the beltway machine and attempted to steer the entire monstrosity to the right; the directions that American voters demanded. Unfortunately, he was opposed every step of the way by a “resistance” movement that was originally purely liberal. Now, after Congress’ massive failure on healthcare reform, that “resistance” has more than a few conservative cohorts, prompting a direct and damning message from the President.......To Read More....

My Take - Everyone is so confused by Trump and his actions and reactions - in some cases me too - and it's coming back to haunt him with the politicos and the media.  But is it with the public?  Not the public that voted for him, and the reason it isn't really coming back to haunt him with the public is he's saying the very things they're thinking. 

The talking heads smile and say the reason why this Republican "controlled" Congress can't get Obamacare fixed is because they never expected Donald Trump to become President of the United States - so they were unprepared.  Unprepared?  Even after eight years of voting to end Obamacare almost unanimously over and over again during Obama's terms they were "unprepared"?  For what?   How could they possibly have been unprepared?  All they had to do is what they did for eight years - repeal it!  What preparations were needed to do that?  Grow a backbone?

They do look like fools,  but they also look like liars, hustlers, cowards and I think some of them will look unelected in 2018 and more in 2020.   There is one more thing many of those who get re-elected will look like  - the conservatives they've lyingly claimed to be for years. 

Here's the fact everyone seems to be missing. The media gloats over Trump's poll ratings, but his are twice as good as is the poll ratings of the Congress.  So where are people laying the blame for all of this?  At the feet of the Congress and specifically the leaders of both parties like Pelosi, McConnell, Ryan, Schumer and big mouths like McCain, Maxine. 

I really believe the 2018 election will be a blood bath on both sides. 


Marx and Mohammed in Manchester

Daniel Greenfield 2 Comments Friday, July 28, 2017 @ Sultan Knish Blog
There’s good news for Manchester.

The city with the highest death rate and some of the worst drug and alcohol problems in England is
getting a statue of Friedrich Engels.

A scowling bearded cement statue of Marx’s best friend will fix everything wrong with Manchester.

The statue comes to Manchester courtesy of Phil Collins. That’s not the singer who crooned, “You’ll Be In My Heart”, but the British artist who introduced East German instructors of Marxism-Leninism to Manchester with Marxism Today. Like the more famous Phil, he has his share of love songs, but it’s Marx and Engels, who are in his heart.

Manchester had no statues of Engels. Now thanks to Collins, it will.

Phil Collins lives in Berlin. The Engels statue comes from the Ukraine. And he would like to bring the unemployed instructors of Marxism-Leninism from East Germany to Manchester “to teach Marxism in schools there.” It failed in the Ukraine. It failed in East Germany. But it’s bound to work in Manchester.

The search for the statue started out in the Russian city of Engels: a post-industrial disaster area where unemployment is high and drug smuggling and human trafficking are major industries. The old Communist infrastructure is coming apart. And so on he went to Mala Pereshchepina in the Ukraine.

Mala Pereshchepina had previously been best known for the tomb of Kubrat, founder of Old Great Bulgaria, who had been laid to rest surrounded by golden vessels and jeweled rings. There Phil found a broken cement statue of an old monster and decided to haul the ugly old thing over to Manchester.

There’s always been a market for the art and tchotchkes of fallen totalitarian regimes. There’s a booming market in Nazi and Communist souvenirs. And Collins isn’t the first sympathizers to haul back one of the many Comrade Ozymandias statues that were tossed into the dirt when the Soviet Union fell.

There’s a Lenin statue in Fremont, Seattle. It was bought and shipped over by an English teacher who mortgaged his house to pay for the statue of a mass murderer. It’s been for sale for over twenty years. The current asking price is $250K. So far no capitalist has acquired Lenin as a lawn ornament.

The New York Lenin facing Wall Street hasn’t done any better. On Houston Street, the Red Square building houses a FedEx, a Dunkin’ Donuts, a Sleepy’s and an H&R Block. The building was built by a former NYU professor of “radical sociology”. Then it was bought for $100 million. The Red Square was renamed, Lenin came down and occupies a humbler perch on an eyesore of a tenement.

The icons of Communism don’t hold up well against the march of capitalism.

Being derivative, Phil Collins has to compensate by being twice as loud. The Engels statue will encourage Manchester’s working class to contemplate the “conditions of the working class” today. But Collins seems oddly uninterested in contemplating the condition of the working class in the former Communist countries he passed through while searching for the kitschy junk souvenirs of Marxist tyranny.

Indeed, the only people whose conditions he seemed interested in had been pushing Marxism-Leninism.

Phil Collins would not have done well under Communism. Just ask the Russian Futurists. What began with a boisterous call to throw the art and literature of the past overboard from the “steamship of modernity” ended with a muffled whimper as the Futurists were forced to adopt Socialist Realism. Collins’ statue is, among other things, a tribute to the Communist suppression of modern art.

The irony of modern art celebrating its own suppression is both heartbreaking and stupefying.

The Engels statue will sit in Tony Wilson Place. Mr. Manchester’s spot has a certain appropriateness and inappropriateness. Wilson was a Socialist who refused to pay for private health care, despite being fairly wealthy. Engels profited from the same misery that he graphically condemned. But none of it matters.

A mile away from Mr. Engels’ new digs is the Manchester Arena where Salman Ramadan Abedi, a second-generation Muslim refugee, murdered 22 concert goers and wounded hundreds more.

A specter had stalked the streets of Manchester. And it was no longer the specter of Communism. It was Salman howling, “There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is the messenger of Allah”. Forget Marx. In Manchester, it’s Mohammed time. And Islam does not allow any paintings, cartoons or statues of Mo.

Cops raided Abedi’s home in a part of South Manchester where sixteen other Jihadis had operated. Forget Engels, you can tour the home of Abu Qaqa al-Britani, the ISIS propaganda point man who did for the Islamic terror group what Engels had done for the popularization of his left-wing cause. If that doesn't float your boat, there are the Abdallah brothers, the Halane sisters and Jamal Al-Harith

Friedrich Engels had lived in Moss Side, Manchester. These days Moss Side is best known as a no-go zone in progress. The neighborhood swarms with Muslim migrants. It’s violent and broken. 36% of the population is Christian and 34% Muslim. 12% of the population comes from Somalia or Pakistan.

The Engels house was long since demolished. But Salman Abedi’s home is still standing in Moss Side.

There is a different breed of radicals in Manchester now. Forget the old folks flying the red flag. It’s the black and white flag of the Jihad that counts now. The new radicals of Manchester aren’t fighting for the dictatorship of the proletariat, but the tyranny of Sharia.

The new murderous utopian movement cares nothing for Das Kapital. Its guidebook is the Koran.

Dumping a statue of Engels salvaged from the wreck of Communism into a city on the verge of being wrecked by the left’s enthusiasm for migration is more of a morbid prank than anything else. The left’s nostalgia for its murderous past has blinded it to the reality of the murderous present and future.

Engels viewed the “Mohammedan revolution” as class warfare. The Manifesto of the Communist Party written by Marx and Engels sees their radical movement as the superior inheritors of Islamic fanaticism.

"Islam was unconquerable so long as it trusted in itself alone and saw an enemy in every non-Mohammedan," they write in its closing message. “From the moment when Islam entered upon the path of compromise and united with the non-Mohammedan, the so-called civilized powers, its conquering power was gone. With Islam it could not have been otherwise. It was not the true world redeeming faith.”

“Socialism, however, is this, and socialism cannot conquer nor redeem the world if it ceases to believe upon itself alone,” they conclude.

There are many Socialist militants in the UK, but they have made their compromise with Islam.

That’s why Jeremy Corbyn winks and nods at Hamas and Hezbollah. It’s why Phil Collins went to the West Bank. For his Ramallah production, he screened The Battle of Algiers which glamorized the FLN terrorists who desecrated the Great Synagogue in Algiers, planted an FLN flag and scrawled, “Death to the Jews”. The synagogue is now a mosque. Yesterday Algiers, tomorrow Manchester.

Labour meetings in Manchester have been known to be segregated by gender. The police spend more time hunting Islamophobes than fighting Islamic terror. The specter isn’t of Communism, but of Sharia.

Muslims in Manchester know what the true world redeeming faith is. And it wasn’t preached by Engels. It was the left, not Islam that failed. The left turned over its mission to Third World radicals who were more Islamic than Socialist, but who had the courage to bomb and kill that the European left no longer did. And then when the Socialism vanished and there was only Islam, the Socialists bowed their heads.

Forget Engels. Mohammed is in Manchester now.

 

Why the Private Sector Does a Better Job than the Government

July 28, 2017 by Dan Mitchell
 
When I give speeches about the economic case for small government, one of my main points is that people in the private sector (workers, investors, managers, entrepreneurs, etc) are motivated by self interest to allocate labor and capital efficiently. To be more specific, the pursuit of higher pay and greater profit will lead people to allocate resources productively.


I freely admit that people in the private sector make mistakes (most new business ventures ultimately fail, for instance), but I explain that’s part of a dynamic process in a market economy. Every success and every mistake leads to feedback, both via the price system and also via profits and losses. All of which leads to continuous changes as people – especially entrepreneurs – seek to better serve the needs and wants of consumers, since that’s how they can increase their income and wealth.

In other words, Adam Smith was right when he said that self interest encourages people to focus on making others better off.

By contrast, when politicians and bureaucrats allocate resources (either directly via spending programs, or indirectly via regulation or tax distortions), feedback mechanisms are very weak. Once politicians intervene, they never seem to care if they are generating positive results. There are plenty of examples, however, of government imposing high costs while producing no benefits. Or even producing harm.
And let’s not forget that “Public Choice” teaches us that interest groups will manipulate government to obtain unearned benefits.

The main lesson from all this information is that it’s good to have small government rather than large government.

But there’s a secondary lesson about how the economic harm of government can be reduced if market forces somehow can be part of the process. And that’s why a new study from two Italian economists at the Centre for Economic and International Studies is worth sharing.

The abstract of the study is a good summary.
We empirically investigate the effect of oversight on contract outcomes in public procurement. In particular, we stress a distinction between public and private oversight: the former is a set of bureaucratic checks enacted by contracting offices, while the latter is carried out by private insurance companies whose money is at stake through so-called surety bonding. We analyze the universe of U.S. federal contracts in the period 2005-2015 and exploit an exogenous variation in the threshold for both sources of oversight, estimating their causal effects on costs and execution time. We find that: (i) public oversight negatively affects outcomes, in particular for less competent buyers; (ii) private oversight has a positive effect on outcomes by affecting both the ex-ante screening of bidders – altering the pool of winning firms – and the ex-post behavior of contractors.
In other words, normal bureaucratic waste, featherbedding, and cost overruns are less likely when the private sector does the oversight.

And here’s an excerpt from the text for those who want more details.
…we propose a distinction between public and private oversight, depending on its source. Public oversight includes all formal checks – cost certifications, pricing data transmission, production surveillance – which the contracting authorities enact during the contract awarding phase and execution. It typically involves considerable paperwork for both the buyer and the sellers. At the cost of some red tape, it is aimed at alleviating the moral hazard problem… On the other hand, private oversight involves third parties – surety companies – issuing bonds (surety bonds) to secure the buyer against unpredictable events. If the seller fails to fulfill contractual tasks, contracting authorities make claims to recover losses. A surety is then called on either to complete the public work by themselves (i.e. with their own resources or by subcontracting) or to refund the authority of the bond value. Being liable in case of unsatisfactory contract outcomes, the sureties have strong incentives both to screen bidders (ex ante) and to monitor contractors (ex post). They help mitigate the asymmetry of information between the buyer and the sellers thanks to their experience of the market – i.e. access to private information – and the screening enacted through price discrimination on premia, which directly affects offers placed by potential contractors. Hence, private oversight enhances the selection of the best contractors and provides a second tier of monitoring of contractors’ progresses.
This is encouraging. It would be nice to have smaller government, but it also would be nice to get the most bang for the buck when the government does spend money.

To be sure, there are probably many parts of government that are impervious to market forces.
But surely there are many ways to protect taxpayers by creating incentives to save money.
  • For instance, on the programmatic level, we can enlist the private sector to fight rampant Medicare and Medicaid fraud by allowing private investigators to keep a slice of any recovered funds.
  • And on the sectoral level, we can achieve big educational gains with school choice, thus giving schools a bottom-line incentive to attract students with better outcomes.
  • Last but not least, we can rely on the competitive impact of federalism to encourage better macroeconomic policy by state and local governments.
The moral of the story, needless to say, is that the private sector does a better job than government. So let’s do what we can to unleash market forces. Be more like Hong Kong and less like Venezuela.

 

Maxine Waters interrupts Treasury Secretary’s single answer — 12 times!

By Kyle Olson July 27, 2017

Maxine Waters was more interested in grandstanding on Thursday than actually getting answers to her questions.  While the California congresswoman was able to ask Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin questions during a Financial Services Committee hearing today, she repeatedly reclaimed her time, preventing him from providing answers.

Waters began sparring with Mnuchin after he had a question about the hearing rules. 

“Mr. Chairman, I thought when you read the rules, you acknowledged I shouldn’t be interrupted and that I would have—,” Mnuchin said to committee chairman Jeb Hensarling.“Reclaiming my time,” Waters interjected. “What he failed to tell you was, when you are on my time, I can reclaim it.”...........“Reclaiming my time. Reclaiming my time. Reclaiming my time. Reclaiming my time. Reclaiming my time,” Waters said over Mnuchin.

When the Secretary sought clarification about the committee rules, Waters interrupted again, “Reclaiming my time. Reclaiming my time.”........To Read More....

My Take - Maxine Waters - The gift that keeps on giving. 

Massachusetts Becomes the 20th State Where Naturopaths Can Hurt You

By Julianna LeMieux — January 14, 2017

A naturopath is not a physician, should not be able to substitute for one, act like one or even play one on TV.

However, in the last few weeks, the Massachusetts legislature passed bill 2335 "An Act establishing a board of registration in naturopathy," that will give the profession of naturopaths legitimacy - one of the worst moves that they could have made for the health of the people of the "bay state." 
The heart of the bill designates that a board will be instituted to determine the role of naturopaths and define their abilities and limits. The five person board will be made up of two naturopaths, one physician who works with naturopaths, one pharmacologist and a member of the public - which is absolutely ridiculous.

That is like a board on the regulation of cigarettes being made up two smokers, one person who sells cigarettes, one person who studies the effects of nicotine, and a random person from off the street.
The bill addressed more than the board, however. It also outlines the following regarding how naturopaths practice. It states that they can work to......To Read More...

Articles of interest:

Biofuel Justifications are Illusory

It’s time to really cut, cut, cut ethanol and other renewable fuel mandates – maybe to zero

Paul Driessen

The closest thing to earthly eternal life, President Ronald Reagan used to say, is a government program.

Those who benefit from a program actively and vocally defend it, often giving millions in campaign cash to politicians who help perpetuate it, while those who oppose the program or are harmed by it are usually disorganized and distracted by daily life. Legislative inertia and obstruction of the kind so graphically on display in the Senate over the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) also help to perpetuate program life.
The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), created under the 2005 Energy Policy Act and expanded by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, is a perfect example. It has more lives than Freddy Krueger.
The laws require that refiners blend steadily increasing amounts of ethanol into gasoline, and expect the private sector to produce growing amounts of “cellulosic” biofuel, “biomass-based diesel” and “advanced” biofuels. Except for corn ethanol, the production expectations have mostly turned out to be fantasies. The justifications for renewable fuels were scary exaggerations then, and are now illusions.
Let’s begin with claims made to justify this RFS extravaganza in the first place. It would reduce pollution, we were told. But cars are already 95% cleaner than their 1970 predecessors, so there are no real benefits.
The USA was depleting its petroleum reserves, and the RFS would reduce oil imports from unstable, unfriendly nations. But the horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) revolution has given the United States at least a century of new reserves. America now exports more oil and refined products than it imports, and US foreign oil consumption is now the lowest since 1970.
Renewable fuels would help prevent dangerous manmade climate change, we were also told. This assumes climate is driven by manmade carbon dioxide – and not by changes in solar heat output, cosmic rays, ocean currents and other powerful natural forces that brought ice ages, little ice ages, warm periods, droughts and floods. It assumes biofuels don’t emit CO2, or at least not as much as gasoline; in reality, over their full life cycle, they emit at least as much, if not more, of this plant-fertilizing molecule.
Moreover, contrary to the hysteria, computer models and Al Gore’s new movie, humanity and planet are not experiencing unusual or unprecedented climate or weather. Inconvenient to Mr. Gore’s theme, in fact not a single category 3-5 hurricane has struck the US mainland since October 2005, a record 11 years, 9 months. He simply presents a seemingly endless stream of weather calamities – what Australian science writer Jo Nova aptly refers to as “primal weather porn” and suggests that these events are unprecedented and caused by humans. The claim reflects deliberate distortion of the truth, abysmal grasp of science (by a man who received a C and a D in his only two college science courses), or both.
To get far more complete, factual, honest climate science, see the Climate Hustle documentary instead.
Moreover, with China, India, the rest of Asia, Africa, Poland and even Germany burning more and more coal – and more gasoline and natural gas – total atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to rise. But meanwhile, Greenland just had the coldest July temperature ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere, and global average temperatures are back to the 1998-2017 hiatus they had before the 2015-16 El Niño.
Regardless, the immortal RFS is still with us. However, the Environmental Protection Agency has issued a previously unheard of proposal: to reduce the RFS total target for 2018 below its 2017 level. It’s a tiny 0.2% reduction, and EPA is not planning to roll back the 15-billion-gallon obligation for “conventional” biofuel, mostly ethanol from corn. But it suggests that a little healthy realism may finally be taking root.
The reduction is for cellulosic biofuel. The federal statutory target is 4.25 billion gallons in 2018. (Set a target, it will become reality, is the mindset.) EPA proposes to reduce the regulatory target to 24 million gallons for 2018, down from 31 million for 2017. But actual production and use of this fuel in 2015 was a meager 2.2 million gallons. This minuscule reduction is a good first step, but far greater reductions in statutory and regulatory targets are realistic and needed, along with a full overhaul of the RFS program.
A little over 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol were produced in 2016 – but only 143 billion gallons of gasoline were sold. That means using all the ethanol would require blends above 10% (E10 gasoline) – which is why Big Ethanol is lobbying hard for government mandates (or at least permission) for more E15 (15% ethanol) gasoline blends and pumps. Refiners refer to the current situation as the “blend wall.”
But E15 damages engines and fuel systems in older cars and motorcycles, as well as small engines for boats and garden equipment, and using E15 voids their warranties. You can already find E15 pumps, but finding zero-ethanol, pure-gasoline pumps is a tall order. Moreover, to produce ethanol, the United States is already devoting 40% of its corn crop, grown on nearly 40 million acres – along with billions of gallons of water to irrigate corn fields, plus huge amounts of fertilizer, pesticides and fossil fuels. 
Much of the leftover “mash” from ethanol distillation is sold as animal feed. However, the RFS program still enriches a relatively few corn farmers, while raising costs for beef, pork, poultry and fish farmers, and for poor, minority, working class and African families. Ethanol also gets a third less mileage per gallon than gasoline, so cars cannot go as far on a tank of E10 and go even shorter distances with E15.
Ethanol sales also involve the complexities – and sometimes fraudulent practices – of buying and selling Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs: certificates and credits for ethanol. Large integrated oil companies blend more gasoline than they refine, so they collect more RINs than they need, allowing them to hoard RINs and drive up the prices they charge to independent refiners that must buy these RINs to comply with the law. Large retail businesses like Cumberland Farms, Sheetz, Wawa and Walmart blend fuel and collect RINs, but have no RFS obligation; they use RINs as subsidies and their large volumes to command lower prices from refiners, and thereby gain an unfair advantage over small gas station owners.
The net result is that small mom-and-pop gas stations are squeezed hard and often driven out of business. Small refiners, and those on the East Coast that don’t have large wholesale and retail businesses are forced to buy pricey RINs from integrated oil company competitors, which puts those smaller outfits at a disadvantage and threatens their ability to stay in business. That means steel and refinery jobs and employee benefits are at risk. All told, the RFS presents a lot of problems for illusory benefits.
All these hard realities almost persuaded the US Senate Environment Committee to vote on a recent bill that would have revised some of the outdated and outlandish RFS mandates. It didn’t happen, but the political machinations suggest that even some progressive Democrats are beginning to question the RFS.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide are becoming increasingly popular in some states and countries. To cite the perspective of “progressive ethicists” like Peter Singer, perhaps it’s time to apply the same principles to government programs that have outlived their usefulness or should never have been born.
At the very least, politically spawned, politically correct energy programs – founded on questionable, exaggerated or fabricated climate, environmental, consumer or security scares – should no longer get free passes on land use, habitat and wildlife impacts, environmental quality or consumer and employment issues. They need to be subjected to the same tough legislative, regulatory, activist and judicial assessments that we insist on for oil, gas, coal and nuclear programs
This should apply to wind and solar, electric vehicle and battery proposals, as well as to Renewable Fuel Standards. It would restore some much-needed integrity and accountability to our government.
(The opportunity for signing up to present oral testimony at EPA’s August 1 public hearing on the 2018 biofuel standards has passed. However, written statements and supporting information submitted to EPA by August 31 will be given the same weight as comments and materials presented at the hearing.)
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Brain Damage In 99% Of Cases: Is This The NFL's Worst Nightmare?

By Julianna LeMieux — July 26, 2017

Football is not the same game it was 10 years ago. Evidence over the last decade has been mounting that parts of the game are harmful to some of its players. Specifically, those who experience repeated concussions or head trauma, resulting in a type of irreversible and degenerative brain damage called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

A new report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), entitled Clinicopathological Evaluation of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Players of American Football brought this issue into the spotlight this week, largely because of its splashy results..........What the study suggests is that some football players will end up with brain damage. However, the percentage of how many is still up in the air - way up in the air. I don't want to deflate this important work (I'm not Tom Brady, after all), but, any further numbers or details are yet to be determined.

The main reason for this lies in where the brain tissue that was analyzed came from - which is a brain donation program. This means that the family of football players donated their bodies after death. It is not unreasonable to assume that there was a reason to do so, for example, that their loved one was experiencing depression, mood swings or other effects of brain trauma. So, the brain samples create data that are highly skewed in the direction of people who were experiencing some symptoms of CTE. The authors even state in their paper that "caution must be used in interpreting the high frequency of CTE in this sample, and estimates of prevalence cannot be concluded or implied from this sample."..........To Read More.....

A Primer on Inequality, Growth, and Fairness

July 27, 2017 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty
 
In addition to his exemplary work as a Senior Fellow for the Cato Institute, Johan Norberg narrates some great videos for Free to Choose Media. Here are some that caught my eye.
But my favorite video, which I shared back in January, is his concise explanation of why policy makers should focus on fighting poverty rather than reducing inequality.

I’m posting it again to set the stage for a discussion on inequality and fairness.



Now let’s dig into the main topic for today.

A study by three academics from Yale’s Department of Psychology concludes that people want fairness rather than equality.
…there is no evidence that people are bothered by economic inequality itself. Rather, they are bothered by something that is often confounded with inequality: economic unfairness. Drawing upon laboratory studies, cross-cultural research, and experiments with babies and young children, we argue that humans naturally favour fair distributions, not equal ones, and that when fairness and equality clash, people prefer fair inequality over unfair equality.
My former grad school classmate Steve Horwitz wrote about the aforementioned study
…what we really care about is something other than inequality per se. We care about upward mobility, or average income overall, or how well the least well off do. …A recent study in Nature argued, with evidence, that what bothers people more than inequality per se is “unfairness.” People will accept inequality if they feel the process that produced it is fair. …when I give talks about inequality. I point out the number of Apple products visible in the room and ask them if they think the wealth Steve Jobs and other Apple founders accumulated over their lifetimes was objectionable. Is that the kind of inequality they object to? Students are usually hard-pressed to articulate why Jobs’ wealth is wrong… I also remind them that economic studies show that only about 4% of the total benefits of innovation accrue to the innovator. The rest goes to consumers.
Steve cites Nozick and Hayek to bolster his argument before then making the key point that markets produce material abundance based on genuine fairness.
As Robert Nozick argued in Anarchy, State, and Utopia: if each step in the evolution of the market is fair by itself, how can the pattern of income that emerges be unfair? …Hayek…observed in The Constitution of Liberty that if we want equality of outcomes, we will have to treat people unequally. If, however, we treat people equally, we will get unequal outcomes. Hayek’s argument was premised on the fact that human beings are not equal in our native intelligence, strength, skills, and abilities. …If people really care about fairness, then supporters of the market should be insisting on the importance of equality before the law. …Equality of outcomes requires that we treat people differently, and this will likely be perceived as unfair by many. Equality before the law corresponds better with notions of fairness even if the outcomes it produces are unequal. …If what appear to be concerns about inequality are, in fact, concerns about unfairness, we have ways of addressing them that demonstrate the power of exchange and competitive markets. Markets are more fair because they require that governments treat us all equally and that none of us have the ability to use political power to protect ourselves from the competition of the marketplace and the choices of consumers. In addition, market-based societies have been the best cure for poverty humans have ever known.
Writing for CapX, Oliver Wiseman analyzes other scholarly research on equality and fairness.
A 2012 study by behavioural economists Dan Ariely and Mike Norton generated some attention for demonstrating that Americans wanted to live in a more equal country. But more equal is not the same thing as fully equal. …if you let people choose between equal and unequal societies – and then tell them that they themselves will be assigned a level of wealth within it completely at random – most people choose inequality. And that preference is observable across the political spectrum, in different countries and at a range of ages.
But people don’t want undeserved inequality since that is the result of unfair interventions (i.e., cronyism).
This paper’s conclusions help explain much of the outcry over economic inequality in recent years. Occupy Wall Street and the very idea of the “one per cent” emerged just after the financial crisis plunged much of the world into recession, and US and British banks were handed billion-dollar bailouts to steady the ship. The anger didn’t come from the fact that bankers were so well paid. It came from the perception that they’d made that money by piling up risk rather than being particularly clever or hard-working – risk that was now being underwritten by the taxpayer. The wealth wasn’t just distributed unequally, but unfairly. The market mechanisms that most people accepted as the rules of the economic game suddenly seemed rigged. …Voters, in other words, don’t want equality – they want fairness. …As the Soviets found, true economic equality cannot be accommodated within a system that allows people tolerable levels of economic and political freedom. But fairness, by contrast, is something capitalism can – and should – deliver.
Professor Tyler Cowen of George Mason University cites some additional academic research buttressing the conclusion people don’t object to fair types of inequality.
…most Americans don’t mind inequality nearly as much as pundits and academics suggest. A recent research paper, by Graham Wright of Brandeis University, found that polled attitudes about economic inequality don’t correlate very well with the desire for government to address it. There is even partial evidence, once controls are introduced into the statistics, that talk of inequality reduces the support for doing something about it. …It’s not obvious why such counterintuitive results might be the case. One possibility is that…talk about economic inequality increases political polarization, which lowers the chance of effective action. Or that criticizing American society may cause us to feel less virtuous, which in turn may cause us to act with less virtue. …A variety of other research papers have been showing that inequality is not a major concern per se. One recent study by Matthew Weinzierl of Harvard Business School shows that most Americans are quite willing to accept economic inequality that stems from brute luck, and that they are inclined to assume that inequality is justified unless proved otherwise.
Last but not least, Anne Bradley of the Institute for Humane Studies augments this analysis by explaining the difference between ethical market-driven inequality versus unfair cronyist-caused inequality.
The question of whether income inequality is bad hinges on the institutions within that society and whether they support entrepreneurship and creativity or thuggery and exploitation. Income inequality is good when people earn their money by discovering new and better ways of doing things and, through the profit mechanism, are encouraged to bring those discoveries to ordinary people. …Rising incomes across all income groups (even if at different rates) is most often the sign of a vibrant economy where strangers are encouraged to serve each other and solve problems. Stagnant incomes suggest something else: either a rigged economy where only insiders can play, or an economy where the government controls a large portion of social resources, stalling incomes, wealth, and wellbeing.
She includes a very powerful example of why it can be much better to live in a society with high levels of (fair) inequality.
Consider the following thought experiment: knowing nothing other than the Gini index scores, would you rather live in a world with a Gini of .296 (closer to equality) or .537 (farther from equality)? Many people when asked this question choose the world of .296. These are the real Gini scores of Pakistan (.296) and Hong Kong (.537). If given the choice, I would live in Hong Kong without thinking twice. Hong Kong has a thriving economy and high incomes, and it is the world leader in economic freedom. The difference between these two countries could not be more striking. In Pakistan, there might be more income equality, but everyone is poorer. It is difficult to emerge out of poverty in Pakistan. Hong Kong provides a much richer environment where people are encouraged to start businesses, and this is the best hope for rising incomes, or income mobility.
Her example of Hong Kong and Pakistan is probably the most important takeaway from today’s column.

Simply stated, it’s better to be poor in a jurisdiction such as Hong Kong where there is strong growth and high levels of upward mobility. Indeed, I often use a similar example when giving speeches, asking audiences whether poor people are better off in Hong Kong, which has only a tiny welfare state, or better off in nations such as France and Greece, which have bloated welfare states but very little economic dynamism.

The answer is obvious. Or should be obvious, at least to everyone who wants to help the poor more than they want to punish the rich (and there are plenty in the latter camp, as Margaret Thatcher explained).

And I’m now going to add my China example to my speeches since inequality dramatically increased at the same time that there was a stupendous reduction in poverty.
Once again, the moral of the story should be obvious. Focus on growth. Yes, some rich people will get richer, but the really great news is that the poor will get richer as well. And so long as everyone is earning money through voluntary exchange rather than government coercion, that also happens to be how a fair economy operates.