Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: January 2012


The Problem, and the False Solution

Mark Steyn makes an interesting—indeed, vitally important—point about government spending. The Left is always keen on telling us that we are under-taxed, or that the "rich" aren’t paying their fair share, or some such nonsense.  We’ve argues long and hard here that what we face is not a revenue problem, but a spending problem. Mr. Steyn pithily sums up an important bit of evidence for that assertion.

The total combined wealth of the Forbes 400 richest Americans is $1.5 trillion. So, if you confiscated the lot, it would barely cover one Obama debt-ceiling increase.

That’s really the problem in a nutshell. This week, the President asked for a $1.2 trillion debt increase.  We could pay for it, I suppose, by confiscating all the wealth of the Forbes 400, and have a nice $300 billion left over…but there won’t be too many people left that we can soak to cover the next debt ceiling increase. Also, as a point of academic interest, President Obama’s debt ceiling increase is $200 billion more than the entire national debt was in 1980.

To the extent we do have a revenue problem, perhaps it’s not that the rich pay too little, but rather that the poor do. 47% of American’s don’t pay any income tax at all. Which means that the "soak the rich" argument can really be boiled down to the 47% of Americans that don’t pay income taxes think the remaining 53% aren’t paying their fair share.

Well, someone isn’t, at any rate.

At the deepest levels within our governing structures, we are committed to living beyond our means on a scale no civilization has ever done. Our most enlightened citizens think it’s rather vulgar and boorish to obsess about debt. The urbane, educated, Western progressive would rather "save the planet," a cause which offers the grandiose narcissism that, say, reforming Medicare lacks.

And reforming Social Security, while we’re at it. Which we aren’t. And which, combined, will eat up the entire Federal budget in the not-too-distant future.

Something that can’t go on forever, won’t. It’d be great to have a first-class military, generous Medicare and Social Security benefits. Along with all the rest of the coddling state that supports in the grand manner to which we’ve become accustomed. But the future won’t allow us to be that generous. You see, we’re heading to a $16.5 trillion national debt, because, instead of being prudent with our money in order to meet all those future obligations, we blew it.

We spent money we didn’t have to build carrier groups and JDAMs, No Child left Behind and Medicare Part D. At the current rate, the federal government will, sometime this century, consist of a single department that does nothing but collect taxes and issue Social Security checks, because there won’t be one red cent left over for Defense, Justice, State, Commerce, Agriculture, or Treasury. And, we probably won’t be able to afford even that.

Mainly, because we won’t be able to produce much of anything.

Last January, the BBC’s Brian Milligan inaugurated the New Year by driving an electric Mini from London to Edinburgh, taking advantage of the many government-subsidized charge posts en route. It took him four days, which works out to an average speed of 6 mph — or longer than it would have taken on a stagecoach in the mid-19th century. This was hailed as a great triumph by the environmentalists. I mean, c’mon, what’s the hurry?

What indeed? In September, the 10th anniversary of a murderous strike at the heart of America’s most glittering city was commemorated at a building site: The Empire State Building was finished in 18 months during the Depression, but in the 21st century the global superpower cannot put up two replacement skyscrapers within a decade.

The 9/11 memorial museum was supposed to open on the 11th anniversary, this coming September. On Thursday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced there is "no chance of it being open on time." No big deal. What’s one more endlessly delayed, inefficient, over-bureaucratized construction project in a sclerotic republic?

This is—as hard as it may be to believe—the same country that, in 1940, had an army smaller than Rumania, and by 1945, had the military power to, had we wanted, rule the globe. Now, we’re the country that can’t replace the World Trade Center in 10 years. This is not emblematic of a can-do country with the willingness to attack and solve problems with a vengeance.

But the president thinks that if we can only tax millionaires more, we can fix this place up quick.

~
Dale Franks
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Is being a slacker now a disability?

The regulatory state again finds a new way to try to handicap businesses.  This time it is the EEOC:

Employers are facing more uncertainty in the wake of a letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission warning them that requiring a high school diploma from a job applicant might violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The development also has some wondering whether the agency’s advice will result in an educational backlash by creating less of an incentive for some high school students to graduate.

The “informal discussion letter” from the EEOC said an employer’s requirement of a high school diploma, long a standard criterion for screening potential employees, must be “job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.” The letter was posted on the commission’s website on Dec. 2.

Job related things like a modicum of assurance, supposedly offered by high school completion, that a candidate might be able to read and write? 

And if that isn’t a necessity anymore, then why do it.  Of course that means no college so no studying OWS for credit, but hey, Wal-Mart may have to take you.

Many, many, many people, upon the passage of the feel good Americans With Disabilities Act warned that stupidity such as this was the inevitable and logical end game of the regulators. 

As you can see, and as usual, they were right.

Maria Greco Danaher, a lawyer with the labor and employment law firm Ogletree Deakins, said the EEOC letter means that employers must determine whether job applicants whose learning disabilities kept them from obtaining diplomas can perform the essential job functions, with or without reasonable accommodation. She said the development is “worthy of notice” for employers.

“While an employer is not required to ‘prefer’ a learning-disabled applicant over other applicants with more extensive qualifications, it is clear that the EEOC is informing employers that disabled individuals cannot be excluded from consideration for employment based upon artificial barriers in the form of inflexible qualification standards,” she wrote in a blog post.

So, it is the job of the company, according to Danaher, to make these sorts of determinations because the EEOC thinks it is discriminatory to simply require a high school diploma which has always been used to filter candidates?

One assumes then that requiring a college degree would fall in the same category, no?  I mean most of those who require it, other than wanting someone who has demonstrated the intelligence and perseverance to complete a prescribed course of study satisfactorily (and the sort of positive traits that relate to work that such an accomplishment brings), really have no “job related” requirements except the usual: the ability write, read and do basic math.  How dare they?

This is an “informal discussion letter”, better known among those who follow politics as a “trial balloon”.  The EEOC has every intention of trying to make this a regulation.  What they’re doing now is similar to the “public comment” portion that is supposed to give the public the ability to point out the huge downside of their proposal before they make it a regulation anyway.

Oh, and about that incentive to finish high school being lessened by something like this?  Hand wave away:

“No, we don’t think the regulation would discourage people from obtaining high school diplomas,” said Peggy Mastroianni, legal counsel for the EEOC. “People are aware that they need all the education they can get.”

Are they?  That explains the 8% drop out rate I guess.  But look at that statement.  Pure assertion on both ends of it.  “We don’t think” … famous last words of the stereotypical bureaucrat.  There’s never been a regulation that had unintended consequences, has there?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Why college diplomas aren’t worth as much anymore

Or at least one reason they’re not worth as much:

Columbia University is offering a new course on Occupy Wall Street next semester — sending upperclassmen and grad students into the field for full course credit.

The class is taught by Dr. Hannah Appel, who boasts about her nights camped out in Zuccotti Park.

As many as 30 students will be expected to get involved in ongoing OWS projects outside the classroom, the syllabus says.

The class will be in the anthropology department and called “Occupy the Field: Global Finance, Inequality, Social Movement.” It will be divided between seminars at the Morningside Heights campus and fieldwork.

Columbia.  Reduced to pap like this.  And of course the moon pony “teaching” the course is a big fan of OWS:

She said her allegiance won’t keep her from being an objective teacher.

“Inevitably, my experience will color the way I teach, but I feel equipped to teach objectively,” Appel told The Post. “It’s best to be critical of the things we hold most sacred.”

Or at least say we’ll be “critical”.  Because, you know, that at least sounds right.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Realistic 2012 horoscopes

I happened to run across this page on Yahoo today, containing horoscopes for 2012. I thought they were a bit optimistic, though. Considering all the other analysis I’ve seen about what 2012 is expected to bring, I think we need more realistic horoscopes. I’m thinking something along the following lines:

Aries:

This is a good year to be true to your astrological sign and become a sheep herder. When it becomes difficult to buy food because of worldwide financial calamity, you’ll have sheep’s milk for cheese, and you can also shear the sheep to knit new clothing when your current clothes wear out. As a final measure, rack of lamb is delicious. Don’t forget to buy shears and knitting needles.

Taurus:

Of course, those under this sign tend to be bull-headed, and will probably be some of the last ones to admit that their savings and other investments have been wiped out. So harness that stubbornness, and doggedly insist that all your assets be converted to gold, and bury it in your back yard.

Gemini:

The sign of the twin is a good tip to stock up on duplicates of anything you really need for survival, since it might be hard to buy them after the meltdown hits. So buy another Glock, another shotgun, and another AR. Don’t forget extra ammo for all of them!

Cancer:

Your sign indicates that you should move somewhere that you will be able to catch shellfish for food. Watch for condo deals on the shoreline in New England and especially Alaska. You might want to consider taking a job on a crab boat to build up some expertise.

Leo:

Thank goodness you are endowed with bravery, since you’re going to need it this year. Use it to plan your defensive perimeter. Sight in likely entry points, and be ready to distribute the ammo you’ll need when the marauding invaders come for your food after they’ve finished looting the grocery stores.

Virgo:

Be true to your sign. This is not a good year to get pregnant and have small children to feed. If you do, you can forget about toys next Christmas; they’ll be lucky to get a full meal. Plus, the collapse of the school system means that if you do have children, you better stock up on home schooling supplies.

Libra:

Use this year to bring some balance to your life. Add martial arts to your shooting practice, for example. And you’ll balance better by losing some weight and getting in shape. That will make your home defense much easier during the food riots.

Scorpio:

Your natural tendency to be short tempered must be controlled this year especially. When a suspicious character comes to the door seeking food, don’t be too quick on the trigger. Instead, put out a sign explaining that you don’t have any food to give away, and pretend not to hear the door. Only shoot if they ignore those measures and try to break in.

Capricorn:

As with the advice for Aries, you should investigate keeping some goats. In addition to the advantages of sheep, goats also are cantankerous enough to assist in property defense. Their milk makes better cheese, but they’re not such good eating. So lay in some extra canned goods to go with your goat’s milk cheese. Watch out for Occupy Wall Street types, who will probably start rioting as soon as the grocery store runs out of goat’s milk cheese for their arugula and baby beet salad.

Aquarius:

This might be your year to express your affinity for water and buy a house boat. It would be a great haven to ride out the riots and other civil unrest, as long as you could find enough fuel to scamper off to a safe spot. Scout out some likely spots ahead of time to lay in some emergency freeze-dried food, and don’t forget your rain collector for potable water.

Pisces:

Your path to surviving 2012 will likely mean lots of fishing. Tune up your equipment, lay in some lures, and don’t forget spare knives for scaling and fileting your catch. A portable mercury tester wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

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