Because this actually happened:
In response to Uber ride-sharing drivers now working in the city, the [Portsmouth, NH] Taxi Commission on Wednesday recommended the elimination of taxi medallions, regulation of taxi fares, city taxi inspections and the Taxi Commission itself.
The commission voted unanimously to send a memo to the City Council outlining its recommendations to lift many regulations currently imposed on drivers-for-hire. The council will be asked to instruct City Attorney Robert Sullivan to rewrite the city’s taxi ordinance to reflect the following changes:
* Recognize so-called ride-sharing services offered by platforms including Uber.
* Replace the current taxi medallion system with a registration process that would require all drivers to register with the city clerk’s office and provide proof of commercial insurance.
* Require the Police Department to conduct criminal background checks on all registered drivers, who would be charged a fee for the background checks.
* Require all drivers-for-hire to sign and adhere to a code of conduct.
That’s right. The Taxi Commission voted, unanimously, to end its own existence. I honestly don’t know if that has ever happened before. And if it has has, it was a very long time ago.
[Taxi Commissioner Larry] Cataldo said if drivers are smoking, or offering rides in unkempt vehicles, consumers will decide if they want to hire them. Under the proposal, police would continue to conduct background checks of registered drivers who would also have to provide proof that their passengers are insured for a minimum of $300,000 under a commercial policy.
Several commissioners compared the proposed deregulation of taxi fares to the fact that someone can buy a glass of beer for $4 at a downtown pub and pay $8 for a glass of the same beer at a nearby restaurant.
“I guess it’s going to come down to what consumers want to do,” said Lt. Chris Cummings, the Police Department’s liaison to the Taxi Commission.
Novel concept, huh?
Just to put this in perspective, local officials, who are often the source of particularly pernicious intrusions into our personal lives, have agreed to give up power in favor of consumer choice. Power that can be lucrative in the form of kickbacks, favoritism, and political brokering. Yet, this body of politicians decided that what was best for their constituents was to put in place simple rules and disband itself. That’s just … amazing.
Of course, don’t go hunkering down in your pig blind any time too soon. The ordinary state of affairs looks like this:
After being a promised a blizzard of historic and catastrophic proportions on Monday, New York City residents woke up today to rather meager snow totals and a lot of questions for their public officials.
The focus, in particular, seems to be about the decision to shut down New York City at 11:00 p.m. Tuesday night. All roads in the region (not just in the city, but in Connecticut and New Jersey, as well) were closed to non-emergency traffic, but Governor Andrew Cuomo also made the unprecedented decision to preemptively shut down the entire NYC subway system. That’s never happened in the 100-plus years of the subways due to snow.
Yet, by 11:00 p.m., it was already becoming clear that such a move was likely going to be unnecessary. That confusion quickly turned to outrage after a report by The Brooklyn Paper that the subway was actually still running. In order to keep the power on and the tracks clear, the MTA continued to shuttle empty trains all throughout the system and was planning to all along. It was apparently Cuomo’s decision to shut the system to passengers, a move that caught MTA off guard and appeared to be unnecessary.
Naturally, some people are upset about the overreaction. It’s one thing to clear the streets of cars, but the subway is the lifeline of the city, particularly for those people who work third-shift jobs or have family and friends in other boroughs. Cries of “nanny state”-ism, political posturing, or just plain cowardice are ringing out today.
So, now it’s accepted that government officials will essentially declare Martial Law on a whim. Martial Law has become mainstreamed, thanks to our viciously incompetent media.
These high-handed, alarmist, panicky, lawless actions are being defended on grounds of “safety.”
This is not an overblown statement: All forms of fascism and totalitarianism proceed under the guise of securing the public’s “safety and security.” I don’t think you can cite a single time where fascism did not ride upon twin horses named Public Safety and Public Security.
We seem to becoming jaded by frequent assertions of dictatorial power for this claimed emergency or that imagined crisis.
And let us be clear about things: Cuomo did not do this to “protect the public safety.” He did this to protect his own political safety.
Let us stop pretending to believe the most ridiculous lies of politicians. Let us start dealing forthrightly with one another.
Hearkening back to the Boston Bomber manhunt, he’s not that far off. The question, as always, is how much will the citizenry put up with, and at what point do they stop acting like sheep in the face of “do as we command; it’s for your own good!”
At least in Portsmouth, NH, they’re getting a chance to decide for themselves what’s in their own interests. Let’s hope that catches on.
Not sure how you stick with one topic a day when so much is going on, thus the appeal of commenting on lots of topics.
For instance, we find out that President Obama is the reason gas prices are down … if his SOTU is to be believed (yeah, it’s not). The fact that you happened to be hanging out in Washington DC and your title is “President of the United States” doesn’t mean you did anything to make that happen. As I pointed out earlier, his EPA will soon take care of that anyway.
There were a lot of other bits of fun and fantasy as well – free community college. Because, you know, its free. And not to worry, it’s those greedy rich folks that will pay for it. Mr. Obama wants $320 billion in new taxes. Capital gains tax – up. Death tax – up. Bank tax – up. And your 529 savings plan for your kids college? Yeah, no longer tax free.
That, dear friends, is how you get “free” college. Isn’t free stuff wonderful?
On to your retirement savings:
There would be a new cap in the amount one could accumulate in the aggregate in all IRA and 401(k) type accounts of $3.4 million. After that, you can’t save any more new dollars. The idea is that this is enough to secure a $210,000 annual distribution in retirement, which the government apparently deems “enough” for a retiree.
Because, of course, nanny knows best.
Finally, if you’re an employer:
In addition, all employers with more than 10 workers and who do not have a 401(k) type plan would be mandated to set up payroll deduction Traditional IRAs for their employees. Also, part-time workers would have to be covered under retirement plans if they have been working someplace long enough. These two things are a new kind of employer mandate from Obama.
Nice plan, no? No. As usual, that means precisely what the cartoon shows. Someone has to pay for all of this and it isn’t just going to be the employer.
Of course the concept that someone must actually “pay” for these things is always left out of the discussion. It’s “free” after all.
For a completely different subject, and in case you were wondering, yes, liberals in Hollywood (almost redundant, isn’t it) are still wringing their hands about the all white Oscars. Or at least doing a good imitation of it. My favorite theory? “Racial fatigue”.
The unknowable question is whether the same voters who supported “12 Years a Slave” had racial fatigue after supporting a black film last year.
Because, you know, there’s only so much support those white Hollywood liberals can dole out a year, or something. They gave their all last year. And you black folks just need to understand that! By the way, I believe “racial fatigue” does indeed play a part. People are tired of everything being made to be about race.
Speaking of culture, I found article to be very entertaining. Is there a civil war brewing on the “progressive” left (one dearly hopes so)? Why the question? Dilemmas such as this:
Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens were once known as the “Four Horsemen” of New Atheism. For a long while, there was nothing more amusing to a young liberal than watching one of them debate against a creationist, or someone who objected to abortion or gay marriage on religious grounds. Dawkins, for a while, was the darling of the British media.
Then things started to sour. Christopher Hitchens, in his full-throated defences of the second Iraq war, was the first to lose left-wing support. Notoriously, Feminist Frequency producer Jonathan McIntosh celebrated Hitchens’ death, saying he was a “despicable, warmongering, hateful human being. Good riddance.” (To put that in perspective, McIntosh had just a few months earlier refused to celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden.)
Dawkins, who recently discovered the joys of deliberately offending people on Twitter, has become an even greater figure of hate for progressives. This is probably due to his indiscriminate rationalism: he is just as willing to poke holes in theories of post-modern feminism as he is to attack religion. And when he does attack religion, he insists that Islam is probably the worst one out there. He has become persona non grata in progressive circles as a result.
2014 saw atheists and progressives embroiled in what looked like an all-out war. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a female genital mutilation survivor and one of the fiercest critics of Islam in the atheist movement, was disinvited from a planned speaking engagement at Brandeis University for her criticism of Islam, and was stripped of her honorary degree. Salon.com immediately applauded the decision.
Students at UC Berkeley attempted to do the same to Bill Maher over his alleged islamophobia, but were stopped by the college administration. Sam Harris, another of the “four horsemen”, felt compelled to engage in a three-hour debate with progressive commentator Cenk Uygur after enduring a wave of hatchet-jobs from media progressives for his own comments on Islam.
Progressives may be overwhelmingly atheist, but there is only so much heresy they can stand. One of their core beliefs is that you do not “punch down”–that is, attack vulnerable or marginalised communities. Islam, despite being the dominant religion of dozens of nation-states, is said by progressives to fall into this category.
We’ve watched this sort of cognitive dissonance have its way with the left before. That’s because they aren’t really about principles as much as they are about biases. Oh, and limiting your freedom:
A YouGov poll taken just last fall found that equal amounts of Americans support and oppose “hate speech laws,” defined as laws that would “make it a crime for people to make comments that advocate genocide or hatred against an identifiable group based on such things as their race, gender, religion, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.” Thirty-six percent said sure and 38 percent said no way. That’s disturbing enough on its own, but here’s something even more unsettling: Fully 51 percent of self-identified Democrats supported hate-speech laws.
Somehow I’m not at all surprised, given the examples above … are you?
The short answer is “yes”. Megan McArdle makes the point :
Higher education is becoming the ginseng of the policy world: a sort of all-purpose snake oil for solving any problem you’d care to name, as long as we consume enough of it. Education is a very good thing, but it is not the only good thing. An indiscriminate focus on pushing more people into the system is no cure for society’s ills–and indeed, often functions as a substitute for helping the people who are struggling in the current system.
In fact (beside the fact we can’t afford “ObamaCare for colleges”):
What if people in the policy elite stopped assuming that the ideal was to make everyone more like them, and started thinking about making society more hospitable to those who aren’t? My grandfather graduated into a world where a man with a high-school diploma could reasonably hope to own his own business, or become someone else’s highly valued employee, a successful pillar of a supportive community. His grandchildren graduated into a world where a college diploma was almost the bare necessity to get any kind of a decent job. Why aren’t we at least asking ourselves if there’s something we can do to create more opportunity for people without diplomas, instead of asking how many more years we can keep everyone in school? Why do all of our proposed solutions essentially ratify the structure that excludes so many people, instead of questioning it?
Indeed. For too long our policies have been driven by an elite. And for the most part, the elite have made an awful mess of things. Now they want to take on “community colleges”.
Anyone? How long before they start looking at 4 year colleges?
McArdle suggests the following probable effects of any program like Obama has proposed:
1. Offer a subsidy to middle-class kids who don’t really need the money?
2. Encourage middle-class families to transfer their kids to community college for the first two years of school, and thus help to moderate college costs?
3. Encourage financially constrained students who might not have gone to college to enter the system en route to a degree?
4. Encourage marginal students with a low chance of completing a career-enhancing degree to attend school, mostly wasting government money and their own time?
As she points out 2 and 3 are actually not bad policy goals in and of themselves. However, the much more likely effect will be 1 and 4. Another government sponsored and taxpayer funded boondoggle that will essentially give community colleges a subsidy (it’ll be all about headcount – no one will really care if the student’s succeed) and create bureaucratic jobs while doing little or nothing in terms of “education advancement”.
Oh, yeah, did I mention we can’t afford it?
I thought I did.
By that I mean, make it a servant of the public again. I don’t know how this “serves the public”:
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -Local 10 first brought you the story of the 90-year-old man who was arrested for illegally feeding the homeless in Fort Lauderdale. Wednesday he was back to continue his cause.
“Illegally feeding the homeless.” No, seriously. It is now a crime, in Ft. Lauderdale, to use your own money, buy and prepare food, search out those in need of nourishment, and feed them.
I can’t get over that phrase – “Illegally feeding the homeless”.
Why? Well here, let this idiot explain:
Mayor Jack Seiler, who supports the ordinance, said he’s gotten massive feedback as well, though not always so positive. But he said the law is meant to help the homeless, not to keep them from eating.
“Mr. Abbott has decided that he doesn’t think these individuals should have to have any interaction with government, that they should be fed in the parks. We disagree,” Seiler said.
I’ll bet he’s gotten “massive feedback”. My guess is Mr. Seiler is probably Julia’s child. Imagine – not having “any interaction with government”. Dude, that’s a feature in my book. Who in the hell do these people think they are? So the fact that this little tin dictator disagrees, he’s happy to use the force of government to put a 90 year old feeding the homeless in jail? This is just homegrown authoritarianism.
What is this bit of totalitarianism based on? “Experts, of course:
“It’s a pubic safety issue. It’s a public health issue,” said Seiler. “The experts have all said that if you’re going to feed them to get them from breakfast to lunch to dinner, all you’re doing is enabling that cycle of homelessness. They don’t interact with anyone, they don’t receive the aid that they need.”
Blah, blah, blah … another authoritarian does a little appealing to authority.
They don’t interact with anyone? They interact with those they want to interact with, including the guy feeding them. Not good enough, say the “experts”.
As with most experts, however, their good intentions usually have crap outcomes:
“What the city is doing by cutting out feeding is very simple — they are forcing homeless people to go dumpster-diving all over again,” Abbott said. “They will steal. That’s what the mayor is forcing the homeless to do.”
Well, that’s a little overboard too, i.e. no one is “forcing” anyone to steal. The point, however, is if this is a public safety issue and if it is a public health issue then why in the world would one of the acceptable outcome of this idiotic law be to encourage dumpster diving or theft by removing the ability of the homeless to receive food from someone other than a government official? Why don’t they have a right to do that? Other than this stupid law and this idiot trying to justify it, when did feeding someone less fortunate than you become “illegal”?
Smith has essentially jumped the shark by lecturing the audience to remain calm and not to believe most of the media hype surrounding the Ebola scare. And Smith should know about media hype being one of the main purveyors of it during the Hurricane Katrina coverage. Anyone remember that? Yeah, me too.
But here’s the point. I’m remaining calm. I’m not panicking. However I am more than a little bit angry about the fiasco, the circus, that surrounds the US case of Ebola.
Here’s a hint about why the CDC has been so blastedly inept in its handling of a single freaking case:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a public-health agency, and public health is an uneasy combination of two very different things: emergency disease containment and nannyist do-goodism. It is a field that exists to save us from the plague and to tell us to drink less soda. To expect the same agency, and many of the same people, to be very good at both of these missions is a lot to ask, and the CDC is much better at the second than the first. Since (thank God) we don’t experience many plague outbreaks, public health spends most of its time on that second mission: preaching the virtues of green vegetables and contraception. So the CDC is for the most part an agency engaged in a kind of low-grade, often silly social activism much of the time. When we confront a disease outbreak or similar public-health emergency, the CDC turns to the other part of its mission, and has an impressive core of experts and resources to call upon in doing so. But the turn is no simple matter, and the fact is we (thankfully) just haven’t had much experience with public-health emergencies on American soil, so the people charged with handling them haven’t had much practice here. It is not hard to imagine how all of this could lead to failures of the sort we have seen.
And who is the head of the CDC? The same guy who helped NYC’s mayor Bloomberg impose tobacco bans, try to ban Big Gulps and chase your salt use. That’s right, a “nannyist do-gooder” who hasn’t the faintest idea, or so it seems, on how to address the core mission of the CDC (i.e. the mission for which it was originally formed). Shouldn’t we be angry and upset about that? After the initial whining by the bureaucrats about how “funding” was a problem we learned about how they prioritized the funding they got (which, by the way, was more than adequate). It certainly wasn’t primarily spent on the core mission as is now very obvious.
Ever hear of Dr. Nichole Lurie? Yeah, me neither. But she is the defacto “Ebola Czar”.
…Dr. Nicole Lurie, explains that the responsibilities of her office are “to help our country prepare for, respond to and recover from public health threats.” She says her major priority is to help the country prepare for emergencies and to “have the countermeasures—the medicines or vaccines that people might need to use in a public health emergency. So a large part of my office also is responsible for developing those countermeasures.”
Or, as National Journal rather glowingly puts it, “Lurie’s job is to plan for the unthinkable. A global flu pandemic? She has a plan. A bioterror attack? She’s on it. Massive earthquake? Yep. Her responsibilities as assistant secretary span public health, global health, and homeland security.” A profile of Lurie quoted her as saying, “I have responsibility for getting the nation prepared for public health emergencies—whether naturally occurring disasters or man-made, as well as for helping it respond and recover. It’s a pretty significant undertaking.” Still another refers to her as “the highest-ranking federal official in charge of preparing the nation to face such health crises as earthquakes, hurricanes, terrorist attacks, and pandemic influenza.”
Lurie is the Asst. Secretary of HHS for “preparedness and response, whose job it is to “lead the nation in preventing, responding to and recovering from the adverse health effects of public health emergencies and disasters, ranging from hurricanes to bioterrorism.””
Really? Where IS she?! Instead, CNN reports, we’re getting a different Ebola Czar:
President Barack Obama is expected to name Ron Klain, a former chief of staff to two Democratic vice presidents, as the country’s Ebola czar, knowledgeable sources told CNN’s Jake Tapper today.
Klain is a former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden and also to former Vice President Al Gore. Klain is currently president of Case Holdings and General Counsel of Revolution, an investment group. He has clerked for the U.S. Supreme Court and headed up Gore’s effort during the 2000 Florida recount.
Yes, that’s right friends, we’re getting a lawyer and political hack inserted into the mess.
Meanwhile, off the coast of Belize, a Carnival cruiseliner is being barred entry to a port because one of the healthcare workers who treated our Patient Zero is on board (so far no symptoms, thank goodness). I guess it was too forward thinking to sequester all those workers to ensure they weren’t infected and didn’t pose a threat to others. I mean, you know, Epidemic Prevention 101 is so 20th Century … or something.
So Shep, STFU. You’re an overpaid news reader. Confine yourself to doing that. Talking about panicking because of media hype is about as hypocritical as anything you can do, given your history.
As for me, I’ll remain outspoken about how poorly this particular event has been handled and continues to be handled. It is all about ineptness and lack of leadership at many levels and in many bureaucratic agencies. It is the poison fruit of big government. The only silver lining in all of this is the media coverage is keeping that front and center for the public to see.
I’m fine with that.
The first comes from our “hoist on their own petard” department:
A study from three sociologists based out of North Carolina State University charges that First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign topromote healthy eating and decrease childhood obesity rates is classist and sexist in its implementation. This is because the model Obama advocates tends to put the onus of preparing healthy meals specifically on women, and also expects a level of disposable income, transportation options, and free time, which low-income families may lack.
The researchers interviewed 150 mothers and spent 250 hours observing 12 working-class and poor families as they shopped for food, cooked, and ate. They note:
In the fight to combat rising obesity rates, modern-day food gurus advocate a return to the kitchen. […] First lady Michelle Obama has also been influential in popularizing public health messages that emphasize the role that mothers play when it comes to helping children make healthy choices. The message that good parents — and in particular, good mothers — cook for their families dovetails with increasingly intensive and unrealistic standards of “good” mothering. [Sage Journals]
The study concludes that, “this emerging standard is a tasty illusion, one that is moralistic, and rather elitist, instead of a realistic vision of cooking today.”
Yes that’s right, the Interferer in Chief’s campaign has been declared classist and sexist. Of course if this were a right winger we were talking about all the lefty blogs would be blaring this in the headlines with a healthy dose of “I told you so” and “they just can’t seem to help it, can they” thrown in.
Irony. You have to love it. Its things like this that make my day go somewhat easier.
The second comes to us from Seattle, WA and is an example of what happens when people lose control of their government and that government decides to micro-manage every aspect of their lives with the intent of making sure they live it the way their betters decide they should live it:
The City of Seattle just passed a new trash ordinance that would fine residents and businesses for throwing away too much food.
The new rules would allow garbage collectors to inspect trash cans and ticket offending parties if food and compostable material makes up 10 percent or more of the trash.
The fines will begin at $1 for residents and $50 for businesses and apartment buildings, according to the Seattle Times.
So who will be the biggest offenders? Well, most likely schools which use the Michelle Obama program – okay, I had to tie them together somehow. No word, however, on how restaurants will fare under the law.
But think of it in a larger sense. You buy the food. It’s yours, your property. You can prepare it however you like (within reason) and eat it if you care too or … not. What you throw away or decide not to keep is entirely up to you — it’s YOUR property. It is none of anyone’s business.
On the other hand, you pay a fee or taxes to have your trash hauled away. That’s their job. Nothing more. Haul your trash away. In steps government and arbitrarily decides that you’re throwing too much food away (goodness knows where that perception comes from) and the “there ought to be a law” folks step up. They give those who pick up your trash the power to ticket you if they find you’ve thrown away too much food. Yeah, that’s right – the garbage police!
Most of the time these yahoos can’t even pick up the trash on time, and, of course they’re all math majors, so figuring out what percentage of your weekly trash pick up is over 10% should be a snap. They have plenty of time, right? I mean, good lord.
And if, in fact, people take this seriously, what do you suppose might happen? They’ll dump elsewhere. If they’re smart they’ll find dumpsters outside the Seattle city hall and dump their food excess there. Then the city can fine itself.
But it is another example of an unworkable law which will be arbitrarily imposed (if at all) and will see people attempting to circumvent it by means that I would guess will be less than sanitary and good for the city’s overall health.
“Economic patriotism” is the new meme that Democrats are throwing around to demonize companies that try to avoid taxes here in the US, i.e. you’re not a patriotic company if you attempt to avoid taxes the Dems think you should be paying. Kevin Williamson covers it:
Jack Lew, late of Citigroup and currently of the Obama administration, has issued a call for “economic patriotism.” This phrase, which is without meaningful intellectual content, is popular in Democratic circles these days. Ted Strickland, the clownish xenophobe and nearly lifelong suckler upon all available taxpayer teats who once served as governor of Ohio, famously denounced Mitt Romney as a man lacking “economic patriotism” during the 2012 Democratic convention. President Barack Obama has used the phrase. It’s not that I do not appreciate lectures on “economic patriotism” from feckless former executives of dodgy Wall Street enterprises, guys who get rich monetizing their political celebrity, and second-rate ward-heelers from third-rate states; it’s just that nobody ever has been able to explain to me what the term is intended to mean.
The proximate cause of Mr. Lew’s distress is the fact that many U.S. firms either are up and leaving the country entirely or are acquiring foreign competitors in order to reorganize themselves as companies legally domiciled in friendly tax jurisdictions.
Now we’re not talking about 3rd world countries here … just countries that are much friendlier to business and have a lower tax rate. For instance:
U.S. pharmaceutical firms in particular have been in a rush to acquire partners in order to escape punitive U.S. corporate taxes for the relatively hospitable climates of Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. Walgreen’s, a venerable firm that, like the lamentable political career of Barack Obama, has its origins in Chicago, is considering abandoning its hometown of 113 years for Switzerland. Eaton, a Cleveland-based manufacturer of electronic components, moved to Ireland. The list goes on.
Note that in spite of the would-be class warriors’ “race to the bottom” rhetoric, these firms are not moving to relatively low-wage countries such as China or India. Switzerland is not a Third World hellhole — especially if your immediate point of comparison is murderlicious Chicago, which endures more homicides in a typical July than gun-loving Switzerland sees in a typical year. The Netherlands is not Haiti, and Ireland is not Bangladesh.
Got an ironic chuckle out of his point about Chicago. Maybe some might consider they’re moving out of a 3rd world country if they’re Chicago (or Detroit) based.
Anyway, all of these places have one thing in common – lower taxes, less regulation and a friendlier business climate than exists in the US. What they face here is the reason they’re becoming “unpatriotic”. It is more than just taxes:
Mr. Lew is correct in his assertion that relative tax rates are a main driver in the desire of firms to relocate, though it is not the only driver — arbitrary and unpredictable regulation, a lousy tort environment, and unstable public finances surely play a role as well. The United States has the highest statutory corporate-income-tax rate in the developed world, and though effective rates are typically lower than the nominal rate, that is more of a bug than a feature: Our corporate-income-tax regime is riddled with handouts and political favoritism. Crony capitalism is not an inspiring condition for firms looking to make long-term investments.
The point of Democrats and their use of “economic patriotism”, of course, is to demonize and attempt to shame companies that seek relief from the business crippling effects of this government. If the company doesn’t stay to be bled dry by the Dems to finance their utopian and big government schemes, well, they’re just “unpatriotic”.
“Economic patriotism” and its kissing cousin, economic nationalism, are ideas with a fairly stinky history, having been a mainstay of fascist rhetoric during the heyday of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s favorite “admirable Italian gentleman.” My colleague Jonah Goldberg has labored mightily in the task of illustrating the similarities between old-school fascist thinking and modern progressive thinking on matters political and social, but it is on economic questions that contemporary Democrats and vintage fascists are remarkably alike. In fact, their approaches are for all intents and purposes identical: As most economic historians agree, neither the Italian fascists nor the German national-socialists nor any similar movement of great significance had anything that could be described as a coherent economic philosophy. The Italian fascists put forward a number of different and incompatible economic theories during their reign, and the Third Reich, under the influence of Adolf Hitler’s heroic conception of history, mostly subordinated economic questions as such to purportedly grander concerns involving destiny and other abstractions.
Which is to say, what the economic nationalism of Benito Mussolini most has in common with the prattling and blockheaded talk of “economic patriotism” coming out of the mealy mouths of 21st-century Democrats is the habit of subordinating everything to immediate political concerns. In this context, “patriotism” doesn’t mean doing what’s best for your country — it means doing what is best for the Obama administration and its congressional allies.“Economic patriotism” and its kissing cousin, economic nationalism, are ideas with a fairly stinky history, having been a mainstay of fascist rhetoric during the heyday of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s favorite “admirable Italian gentleman.” My colleague Jonah Goldberg has labored mightily in the task of illustrating the similarities between old-school fascist thinking and modern progressive thinking on matters political and social, but it is on economic questions that contemporary Democrats and vintage fascists are remarkably alike. In fact, their approaches are for all intents and purposes identical: As most economic historians agree, neither the Italian fascists nor the German national-socialists nor any similar movement of great significance had anything that could be described as a coherent economic philosophy. The Italian fascists put forward a number of different and incompatible economic theories during their reign, and the Third Reich, under the influence of Adolf Hitler’s heroic conception of history, mostly subordinated economic questions as such to purportedly grander concerns involving destiny and other abstractions.
Which is to say, what the economic nationalism of Benito Mussolini most has in common with the prattling and blockheaded talk of “economic patriotism” coming out of the mealy mouths of 21st-century Democrats is the habit of subordinating everything to immediate political concerns. In this context, “patriotism” doesn’t mean doing what’s best for your country — it means doing what is best for the Obama administration and its congressional allies.
Another adventure in short-term political gain trumping a coherent economic policy that is pro-growth, pro-jobs, etc. Nothing new in that, but I think the summary helps focus it’s purpose. And it has nothing to do with “patriotism” or “economics”.
While the enemies of freedom certainly are made up of politicians who would limit or take away your freedom, probably the most insidious of those enemies is the bureaucrat. As we’ve seen for decades, politicians come and go, but bureaucracies run the day to day machine of government. And as we’re seeing right now with the IRS, they’re both unelected and unaccountable, despite the volume of the outrage.
But remember, on the political side of this, one of the goals of the current administration was to help us believe that “big government” was a good thing … much better for many things than the private markets out there. One of the goals of ObamaCare was to take a giant step toward fully government run, single payer health care. But we’ve been feeding you stories for years about how badly the UK’s NHS performs and we’ve also pointed out that theirs isn’t an “exception” to the rule. If there is a rule, it is the rule of bureaucracies which says they exist to expand and protect themselves and really don’t much care about the original mission, in terms of performance. However, they’ll do just about anything to protect themselves. As I pointed out yesterday, the IRS director has committed himself to one of the most improbable stories about the fate of Lois Lerner’s emails since Bill Clinton uttered his infamous “I didn’t have sex with that woman …”. Everyone in the room knew he had. Everyone. And everyone in the Congressional hearing, including the witness, knew that his excuse for the loss of those emails was bogus.
Back to the point about “big government” being the best way to go and the liberal wet dream of government run health care (single payer) becoming reality. If, in fact, we want the American version of the NHS, we simply need to look at the only government run health care system in the America – VA (yes, I realize the military also runs a “single payer” system, but it isn’t set up for long care, etc – it’s a necessity that goes with the job). And what do we find in VA? Well check this out and tell me it doesn’t remind you of some of the horror stories you’ve seen from NHS. As you’ll see, it could very well be the NHS. As you’ll also see, the fault lies where? With the uncaring bureaucracy that has grown up around this system and its abuses are now coming to light:
Two psychiatric patients at a veterans facility in Brockton received no regular evaluations of their condition for years, part of a “troubling pattern of deficient patient care” that federal investigators say they have confirmed at veterans health care facilities nationwide.
One of the neglected patients at the Brockton Community Living Center who had been admitted for “significant and chronic mental health issues” was living in the 106-bed facility for eight years before he received his first psychiatric evaluation, investigators reported.
The other unidentified patient, although he was classified as 100 percent mentally disabled due to his military service, had only a single “psychiatric note” placed in his medical file between 2005 and 2013.
Let me make a prediction – as they get more and more into this, they’ll find this is just the proverbial “tip of the iceberg”. Of course, making such a prediction is certainly no high-risk venture. Just look around you and take a gander at how well Leviathan is doing on almost any front. Let’s just say “poorly” would be a compliment. Justice? Trashed. Political influence of agencies? See IRS. See the misnamed Justice Department. Bureaucratic overreach – see EPA and others. Criminal incompetence? See VA. Etc.
Americans are going to have to make a choice and they’re going to have to make it quickly. The bureaucratic state or the state of freedom. Some would argue that we’re at the tipping point. Some argue we’re beyond it. That we’re looking at our future and the future is all down hill as the bureaucratic state transitions from servant to master. Unelected, unaccountable and, frankly, uncaring – except to further its existence.
Like they’re doing in New York City:
At her January inauguration, New York city council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito told her colleagues, “Now is the time to embrace our progressive moment and put our values into action.”
Whoo hoo … right? Yeah, not so much. What that means is your business is their business and privacy is a vestage of simpler, more conservative times (you know, like the time in which the Constitution of the United States was written). In the brave new world of progressive values, that old bit of parchment is passe.
One of the Democrat-dominated council’s first acts was to override former mayor Michael Bloomberg’s vetoes of bills from previous sessions. Then the 51-member legislative body got down to business: regulating the minutiae of New Yorkers’ lives, empowering city agencies to enter private property at will, and setting up task forces to study leisure activities.
At its semi-weekly “stated” meeting—where members pass bills and introduce new legislation—the council directed the Department of Health to develop a registry of convicted animal abusers, along the lines of the sex-offender registries that all states maintain. The registry would ensure that animal abusers cannot own animals for at least five years following their conviction or incarceration. Abusers will have to submit to annual reviews of their living situations, and pet stores and animal shelters will need to check the registry before selling an animal. Preventing animal abuse is a laudable goal, but the new law suffers from several deficiencies. For one thing, the Department of Health opposed its passage. The DOH has no enforcement capability or experience in monitoring criminals.
So where will the possible abuse probably occur? Yup … DOH.
But that’s nothing compared to this next beauty:
Meanwhile, Upper Manhattan councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez proposed a bill that would expand city workers’ authority to demand entry into many buildings. The bill, Intro 18, covers all buildings that receive tax benefits under Section 421-a of the tax code, which covers affordable housing. Councilmember Rodriguez’s bill would allow representatives of “any city agency” to access any such building for any reason—and “such request for access need not be made in writing.”
Intro 18 doesn’t specify which areas of a building must be made accessible to city employees, nor does it specifically limit the scope of the investigations. The bill comes with no memo explaining its intent, as is typically included when a bill makes its way through committee hearings. But one could reasonably imagine a scenario where an inspector wanted to check, say, if the affordable units in a rental building or co-op were outfitted with the same appliances and fixtures as market-rate units. According to the bill’s language, it appears the tenants or unit owners could be forced to open their doors to inspectors at any time. The potential for abuse is clear. Picture a series of minor administrative factotums waiting to have their palms greased to stave off endless inspections. Rodriguez’s bill suggests a city where private property is a privilege that can be taken away by a bureaucrat’s will.
And, of course, they’ll be “shocked, shocked I tell you” when, in 6 months, they uncover their first corruption scandal involving city employees or discover the bill is being abused by bureaucrats. Note that the bill is “proposed” for the time being. But it certainly reflects these progressive’s values, doesn’t it?
Another proposed bill reflecting those progressive values?
Another proposed law, Intro 8, addresses the grave problem of businesses claiming to be “environmentally friendly.” New Yorkers, a naïve and trusting group of rubes, apparently are getting snookered by greener-than-thou businesses. So much so that Brooklyn councilmember Vincent Gentile wants the city to establish an official “environmentally friendly” designation for which businesses can apply. The bill’s text calls for the Commissioner of Small Business Services to “coordinate with the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability and any other city agency or agencies that regulate businesses,” to devise categories of environmentally friendly businesses and non-environmentally friendly businesses. Should this it really be a top priority for the city council?
Should it? No. But will that stop them? No.
Perhaps topping them all, councilmember Ruben Wills of southeast Queens has submitted Intro 44, “in relation to the creation of a task force on the sport of cricket.” The bill’s multiple sub-sections and sub-sub sections describe the constitution of the task force and detail the making of appointments, filling of vacancies, and so on. After a year, the envisioned task force will deliver a report that “shall include specific recommendations on the following topics: i. funding sources for team equipment, uniforms, and umpires; ii. promoting cricket in New York City; iii. potential economic development initiatives.”
Cricket’s popularity in Pakistan, India, and Trinidad stems in part from the ease with which it can be played, pickup-style, with limited equipment: a ball, a bat, and some sticks for the wicket. Visit any playing field in central Brooklyn or eastern Queens and you’ll see plenty of people enthusiastically playing. It’s not clear why the city needs a task force to brainstorm “funding sources” for an already popular pastime.
Critical fraking stuff, no? Very important that Cricket be regulated in some form or fashion to the benefit of … NYC of course. Er, I mean NYC’s citizens.
If these are examples of progressive values, I’ll live in my backwater and more conservative/libertarian area where citizens, for the most part, continue to tell local pols to mind their own business not theirs and to ensure they pick up the trash on time and keep the roads clear.
That’s primarily what politicians seem to want to do despite protestations to the contrary by some. They’re always looking for a new “revenue stream”. And since tax payers are the only folks who actually pay taxes, they’re constantly dreaming up new ways to “access” your wallet.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) on Tuesday reintroduced legislation that would require the government to study the most practical ways of taxing drivers based on how far they drive, in order to help fund federal highway programs.
Blumenauer’s bill, H.R. 3638, would set up a Road Usage Fee Pilot Program, which he said would study mileage-based fee systems. He cast his bill as a long-term solution for funding highway programs, and proposed it along with a shorter-term plan to nearly double the gas tax, from 18.4 cents to 33.4 cents per gallon.
“As we extend the gas tax, we must also think about how to replace it with something more sustainable,” Blumenauer said Tuesday. “The best candidate would be the vehicle mile traveled fee being explored by pilot projects in Oregon and implemented there on a voluntary basis next year.”
Because, you know, taxpayers paid for the highways, taxpayers have funded the maintenance of the highways and now they should pay for the privilege of driving on them as well. So, many single moms, who can barely afford gas for the car, will likely be paying by the mile to go to work (as with most of these stupid schemes, the one’s who can afford it the least will get hit the hardest by it).
Brilliant! Aw, what the heck, they can take public transportation, huh?
And what about privacy? What business is it of government how far you drive. One assumes they’ll be able to verify your mileage somehow, no? Do you really think it will be up to you to voluntarily keep records and report to the government? Of course not. So somehow the system has to be able to track you and tally mileage.
In 2011, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a study that explored how a VMT system might work. That report suggested devices could be fitted onto cars that log how far they have traveled, and these devices could be electronically read at gas stations to general tax bills for drivers.
That’s what I want … a government tracking device on my car.
Where’s Orwell when you need him?