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Free Markets, Free People

Utter failure

Stephen Hayes starts his article about Barack Obama’s failure as a president by pointing out what his big goal was to be:

A year before his first inauguration, Barack Obama laid out the objective of his presidency: to renew faith and trust in -activist government and transform the country. In an hourlong interview with the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal on January 16, 2008, Obama said that his campaign was already “shifting the political paradigm” and promised that his presidency would do the same. His model would be Ronald Reagan, who “put us on a fundamentally different path,” in a way that distinguished him from leaders who were content merely to occupy the office. “I think that Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not. And in a way that Bill Clinton did not.”

If Reagan sought to minimize the role of government in the lives of Americans, Obama set out to do the opposite. “We’ve had a federal government that I think has gotten worn down and ineffective over the course of the Bush administration, partly because philosophically this administration did not believe in government as an agent of change,” he complained.

“I want to make government cool again,” he said.

Hayes then documents an incredible list of failures that have led most Americans (according to polls) to believe government is involved in too much.  Or said another way,  government still isn’t “cool”.  And big government is mostly a failure.

Take the ebola outbreak.  Anyone, how does one prevent an epidemic from spreading?  You isolate it.  That’s normally done through quarantine.  Part of the quarantine process is preventing those within a quarantine zone from traveling outside that zone.  Yet, for whatever reason, our government hasn’t done that.  Flights continue to come into this country from the countries in Africa which are suffering from the ebola epidemic.

Seems common sense, doesn’t it?  Even Democrats, not long on common sense most of the time, are wondering why this hasn’t been done.

The lawmakers accused Obama of attempting to “pass the buck” onto organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), which have advised against travel bans. Obama has said he would not ban travel unless the WHO reversed its position.

“[The WHO] has no duty to protect the lives and well-being of Americans, as you do. Furthermore, it has utterly failed to stem the epidemic through its own action. The responsibility for this decision is yours, not theirs,” they wrote.

As usual, Mr. “not my fault” is trying to pass off his responsibility to some other entity so, when it all blows up in his face – and it will, he can point the blame finger elsewhere.  Meanwhile flights continue to arrive in the US from the infected countries.  Upset airport workers charged with cleaning planes after they have arrived have struck in NY, so concerned are they with this lack of common sense.

My guess, if I had to make one, is Obama is trapped by his own political correctness.  Already the race baiters have been trying to tie the outbreak with racism.  If Obama prohibits flights he risks being branded a racist.  That’s much worse, in Obamaland, that not protecting the citizens of the country with which you’re charged Constitutionally to protect.  Instead we get airy promises that everything is under control.  After the airy promise that ebola would never reach here (see Dallas).

Meanwhile on the southern border, we have no freakin’ idea of who is crossing into this country.  And, of course, we’re ill prepared on that border to screen anyone.  Apparently, according to news reports, most air travel from those countries comes through 5 of our major airports and they’re now ramping up screening procedures to detect those who might exhibit signs of ebola infection.  No mention of how they plan on keeping those who are infected from possibly infecting fellow travelers and keeping those fellow travelers spreading it even further.  That of course would be a problem solved if they banned flights.

Then there’s Gen. John Kelly, US Southern Command commander who shines another light on the possibility of spreading the disease here  … primarily across our southern border.

He said the danger is two-fold: Not only might illegal immigrants from Africa enter the U.S. unchecked, but if Ebola spreads to Central America it could spark a new wave of illegal immigration to the U.S. that would make this summer’s surge “look like a small problem.”

“If Ebola breaks out in Haiti or in Central America, I think it is literally ‘Katie bar the door’ in terms of the mass migration of Central Americans into the United States,” the general said.

You think?!  And where would they head?  Well I think we all know where.

This is pretty basic stuff for any government, one would think. This is kind of like picking up the trash, fixing potholes and keeping the roads clear of snow for most municipal governments.  That’s what they’re primarily elected to do.  Oh, and protect the citizenry.  Yet here we have the “government is cool” gang again failing in its most fundamental function.

However, given their track record as outlined by Hayes, few should be surprised.  I still laugh at the left’s characterization of Bush as “incompetent”.  To describe this administration we have to come up with a completely different term which is far worse than “incompetent”.

I think “utter failure” works nicely.

~McQ

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Economic Statistics for 9 Oct 14

Chain stores today are reporting moderate increases in rates of year-on-year sales growth in September.

A drop in wholesale sales of -0.7% swelled inventories by 0.7%, leading to a hefty stock-to-sales ratio of 1.19.

Initial weekly jobless claims fell 1,000 to 287,000. The 4-week average fell 7,000 to 287,750. Continuing claims  fell 21,000 to 2.381 million.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 2 points to 36.8 in the latest week.

The Fed’s balance sheet rose $5.1 billion last week, with total assets of $4.455 trillion. Reserve bank credit rose $3.9 billion.

The Fed reports that M2 money supply fell by $-7.3 billion in the latest week.


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Of homeschooling and purple penguins

So I’m reading Kevin Williams National Review article about the state of Connecticut wanting to pass a law that requires homeschooling parents “to present their children to the local authorities periodically for inspection, to see to it that their psychological and social growth is proceeding in the desired direction.”  This is in the wake of the Sandy Hook killings and implies that the problem was centered in “homeschooling” and not the fact that the killer was a mental case.  Not only that he was a well-known mental case having been in public schools until, as a last resort, he was home schooled.  Williamson then goes on to put forward the real reason the Sandy Hook excuse is being used.  And it is something any life long observer of the “progressive left” figured out years and years ago:

The Left’s model of society is still the model of Marx and Bismarck: one big factory to be managed by experts. The government schools are an assembly line for human widgets, who are in theory there to be taught what the state requires them to know in order to fulfill their roles as workers, administrators, and other bits of human machinery. That is the assumption behind President Obama’s insistence that “if you quit on school, you’re not just quitting on yourself — you’re quitting on your country.” Students are also there to be instructed in the official, unspoken state ideology: submission to official power.

The Left’s organizing principle is control, and the possibility that children might commonly be raised outside of its control matrix is an existential threat from the progressive point of view. Institutions such as free markets and free speech terrify progressives, because they are the result of arrangements in which nobody is in control.

This is just another attempt at exerting control over a segment of society which eschews that control and the indoctrination it entails.  And the thin gruel provided by the Sandy Hook tragedy was all the excuse necessary to try to exert control over this segment.  It also sends a message – “we believe homeschooling may be the bastion of extremists”.

More than anything exerting such control serves both a constituency and an ideology which identified education decades ago as the road to political success.

If you have not followed the issue closely, it is probably impossible for you to understand how intensely the Left and the government-school monopoly hate, loathe, and distrust home-schooling and home-school families. Purportedly serious scholars such as Robin West of Georgetown denounce them as trailer trash living “on tarps in fields or parking lots” and write wistfully of the day when home-schooling was properly understood: “Parents who did so were criminals, and their kids were truants.” The implicit rationale for the heavy regulation of home-schooling — that your children are yours only at the sufferance of the state — is creepy enough; in fact, it is unambiguously totalitarian and reduces children to the status of chattel. That this is now being framed in mental-health terms, under the theory that Lanza might not have committed his crimes if he had had the benefit of the tender attentions of his local school authorities, is yet another reminder of the Left’s long and grotesque history of using corrupt psychiatry as a tool of politics.

But take a moment to fully appreciate the absurdity of the Malloy gang’s assumption. Our public schools are dysfunctional, depressing, frequently dangerous places. Their architecture is generally penal, incorporating precisely the same sort of perimeter control as one sees in a low-security prison, with dogs, metal detectors, and the whole apparatus of control at hand. They are frequently run bynakedly corrupt, self-serving men and women who are not above rigging test scores to pad out their bonuses and who will fight to the end to keep pedophiles on the payroll if doing so serves their political interests, as in the case of California. They cannot even keep their teachers from raping their students, but they feel competent issuing orders that every family present its children for regular inspection in the name of the children’s “social and emotional learning needs.”

Contrary to all of the sanctimony surrounding them, the government schools are in fact the single most destructive institution in American public life, and they are the bedrock of the Left’s power, providing billions of dollars in campaign contributions and millions of man-hours for Democratic campaigns. But they do more than that: They are the real-life version of those nightmarish incubator pods from The Matrix, and home-schooling is a red pill. We entrust our children to the state for twelve or thirteen years, during which time they are subjected to a daily regimen that is, like the school buildings themselves, more than a little reminiscent of the penitentiary: “bells and cells,” as one of my teachers used to call it. They are instructed in obedience and compliance, as though the most important skill in life were the ability to sit quietly and follow instructions; those children who are more energetic than the authorities care for are given psychiatric diagnoses and very often put on psychiatric drugs: Since the 1980s, the rate of antidepressant prescription for children has increased five-fold, while the rate of antipsychotic prescription has increased six-fold. Locking children up for the largest part of the day, in a dreary room with 20 to 30 other children all born within nine or ten months of each other, is a model that make sense — that is something other than insane — only if you think of children as batches — if you believe, as our president and those who share his views believe, that the children are the government schools’ product rather than their customers.

And that “product” is trained and expected to follow its indoctrination – you know, things like this:

A Nebraska school district has instructed its teachers to stop referring to students by “gendered expressions” such as “boys and girls,” and use “gender inclusive” ones such as “purple penguins” instead.

“Don’t use phrases such as ‘boys and girls,’ ‘you guys,’ ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ and similarly gendered expressions to get kids’ attention,” instructs a training document given to middle-school teachers at the Lincoln Public Schools.

“Create classroom names and then ask all of the ‘purple penguins’ to meet on the rug,” it advises. 

The document also warns against asking students to “line up as boys or girls,” and suggests asking them to line up by whether they prefer “skateboards or bikes/milk or juice/dogs or cats/summer or winter/talking or listening.”

“Always ask yourself . . . ‘Will this configuration create a gendered space?’” the document says.

The instructions were part of a list called “12 steps on the way to gender inclusiveness” developed by Gender Spectrum, an organization that “provides education, training and support to help create a gender sensitive and inclusive environment for children of all ages.”

Other items on the list include asking all students about their preferred pronouns and decorating the classroom with “all genders welcome” door hangers.

If teachers still find it “necessary” to mention that genders exist at all, the document states, they must list them as “boy, girl, both or neither.”

Furthermore, it instructs teachers to interfere and interrupt if they ever hear a student talking about gender in terms of “boys and girls” so the student can learn that this is wrong.

“Point out and inquire when you hear others referencing gender in a binary manner,” it states. “Ask things like . . . ‘What makes you say that? I think of it a little differently.’ Provide counter-narratives that challenge students to think more expansively about their notions of gender.”

The teachers were also given a handout created by the Center for Gender Sanity, which explains to them that “Gender identity . . . can’t be observed or measured, only reported by the individual,” and an infographic called “The Genderbred Person,” which was produced by www.ItsPronouncedMetroSexual.com.

But the real problem and danger is among the homeschooled.  Meanwhile, in the public schools, the enculturation continues unabated.  The product, if metaphorically beaten over the head with nonsense like “purple penguins” will learn to eventually pretend reality doesn’t exist and that “gender” is actually a figment of the oppressor’s imagination.  What they can’t risk is individualism – those who will pull the curtain back and reintroduce reality into the world.  Homeschoolers are one segment that threaten that exposure because they reject the indoctrination.  Time to get them under control.  Time to make it more and more difficult for homeschoolers to continue to do what they do.  Because as far as the left is concerned, the future belongs to “purple penguins” – as determined by their betters, of course.

~McQ

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More self-inflicted economic problems on the way

The Obama economy is a mess, with median incomes retreating, fudged employment numbers and generally the usual mess you can expect from a over-regulated and highly manipulated “market”.  In other words, it stinks because of government as much as anything else.  Our betters seem not to understand the very basics of human nature – humans respond to incentives.  So they continue to cobble together more and more feel good projects (i.e. they make the “elite” feel good) that backfire.  Why?  Because humans respond to disincentives as well – and their feel good projects are long on disincentives, something they can’t seem to wrap their heads around.

By design, the next example of that will take place after the November mid-term elections:

Starting this year, the United States’ working population will face three major employment disincentives resulting from the very benefits the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides: (1) an explicit tax on full-time work, (2) an implicit tax on full-time work for those who are ineligible for the ACA’s health insurance subsidies, and (3) an implicit tax that links the amount of available subsidies to workers’ incomes.

A new study published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University advances the understanding of how much these ACA taxes will reduce overall employment, and why. It concludes that the reduction will be nearly double that projected by previous analyses. Labor markets ultimately will reduce weekly employment per person by about 3 percent—translating to roughly 4 million fewer full-time-equivalent workers.

4 million more jobs in an economy already suffering one of the lowest labor participation rates in its history.  Why have “middle class” wages stagnated or dropped?  One major reason has to do with disincentives like this.  Its like the $15 minimum wage trope.  Force it on business and they have a “disincentive” to hire people for jobs that aren’t worth that and an incentive to automate or go short handed and double up the work on someone else.

That’s precisely the type of disincentive that ObamaCare is about to inflict on the economy.  We’ll then hear the usual nonsense about greedy and uncaring companies and how the “market” has failed us.  It is as predictable as the next blizzard being somehow blamed on global warming.

Meanwhile, these 4 million that may join the currently unemployed are real people who will suffer real problems because of the disincentive provided by a very poorly thought out law that won’t effect those who passed it.  All Democrats can hope is that enough people will drop off the unemployment roles by the time the next presidential election rolls around that the fudged unemployment stats look acceptable.

What a hell of a way to run a railroad.

~McQ

 

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Economic Statistics for 7 Oct 14

ICSC-Goldman reports weekly retail sales rose 0.1%, and rose 3.9% on a year-over-year basis. Redbook reports retail sales rose 5.4% on a year-ago basis.

Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index rose 1 point in September to -15.

Consumer credit rose a lower-than-expected $13.5 billion in August, as revolving credit slipped to $0.2 billion.


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The lunacy of liberalism

I’m not sure how else to describe actions like this.  Here’s the lede from an article about George Will being uninvited from an appearance at Scripps College:

A prominent conservative political pundit was uninvited from speaking at Scripps College, in a program designed to promote conservative views on campus, because of his conservative views.

Got that?  Yes, it is terribly written, but still, you have to almost laugh at the irony.  Because of his conservative views, he was uninvited from a speaking engagement that was supposed to promote conservative views.

You simply can’t make up half the stuff the left does.  Apparently the trigger was a column Will wrote about campus “rape”.  I put rape in scare quotes because many schools now have such a broad definition of rape that you may be at risk by simply saying “hello” to a woman who doesn’t particularly care for  you.  Like “racism”, rape is being radically redefined on campus and Will had the temerity to address that.

Apparently, those at the college disagree with much of what Will said in the column.  And so, totally untrue to their supposed academic claims, they’ve cancelled Will:

The Elizabeth Hubert Malott Public Affairs Program was established under the belief that “a range of opinions about the world – especially opinions with which we may not agree, or think we do not agree – leads to a better educational experience,” according to the Scripps College website.

That’s certainly one way to discourage “opinions with which they may not agree”, but the cancellation certainly doesn’t lead “to a better educational experience” does it?  In fact it should make it clear that opinions they don’t agree with are not at all welcome at the campus.  Instead of taking the opportunity to challenge Will on their own home ground, they ban him.  It certainly wouldn’t surprise me then, to find out that the college also bans certain books that don’t conform to their orthodoxy.  I mean, why not?

If I were considering going there, that would be a huge warning sign that I would be sure to heed.

Unless, of course, you’ve a desire for indoctrination.  Then Scripps may be the place for you.

~McQ

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Open access will make it harder to control things….

Not narrowly restricting egress of people from West Africa will make Ebola harder to control and will limit unrest.

“Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, said Sunday that a travel embargo on West African countries that are struggling with Ebola would make it much harder for them to control the virus.

“You isolate them, you can cause unrest in the country,” Fauci told “Fox News Sunday.” `’It’s conceivable that governments could fall if you just isolate them completely.”

Here’s the AP article.    Tony is probably a smart guy, probably lots of letters after his name on his stationary and business cards.  Probably from highly touted schools.    Would it be improper of me to ask about the unrest being caused HERE?  Or are we just supposed to suck it up and let ‘our government’ admit anyone they want to (that would be, yes).

Imagine a country where the leadership has let things get bad enough that people want to remove the current leaders and change the government.   Can’t have that.  The Obama administration understands that because they have a wealth of experience garnered through hard work and extremely careful planning in Libya.   Perhaps that’s why the new approach is to use us as the world’s unrest relief valve and let the unhappy people come here instead.

Dr Tom Frieden thinks banning civilian travel would make it harder to get relief to them.

“Frieden added that a travel ban could make it difficult to get medical supplies and aid workers to the affected regions in West Africa.”

“We really need to be clear that we don’t inadvertently increase the risk to people in this country by making it harder for us to respond to the needs in those countries,” he said, “by making it harder to get assistance in and therefore those outbreaks would become worse, go on longer, and paradoxically, something that we did to try and protect ourselves might actually increase our risk.”

Now, I know what he’s saying is those civilian flights can carry medically trained passengers and medical equipment, and medicines.  Yes they can.   And Domino’s or Asia Wok can deliver pizza or sushi directly to people in isolation here and the pharmacies that do prescription delivery can bring them their medications.   They can, but I don’t think they should and I bet the rank and file in the CDC doesn’t think they should either.   Let the government send aid, let WHO send aid.  Let them charter the planes from the airlines that won’t be flying civilian traffic into those locations.

Frieden also doesn’t want to make it harder for Americans or other people who are allowed to enter the US  to return home. You know what?  it SHOULD be harder, they’re coming from a biological HOT Zone.

It’s hard on those 4 people that are in quarantine here in Dallas.  It’s hard on the others that came in contact with Ebola Zero and are under observation to see if they’ve been infected, and it’s hard on the rest of us wondering if the vagrant that rode in the ambulance after Ebola Zero got transported,  might have caught it before the ambulance was taken out of service and isolated.. and before they lost track of the vagrant (they know where he is, now….only 6 days later of course).

Newsflash Mr. head of the CDC – you can test and quarantine them there, or you can test and quarantine them here.  One way, or another.   Personally I think quarantining them THERE, where the disease is already running around is a much better option than quarantining them HERE, where they can elect to go to school a couple days after you’ve told them they’re in quarantine and are not to leave the house.

Why should the rest of us risk potential exposure because someone traveled for business, pleasure or personal reasons to a West African country where Ebola is literally in the streets?

Why should it NOT be more difficult for them?  This epidemic isn’t new.  It started in December of 2013, so we’re just 2 months shy of a year.   Maybe people traveling to West Africa believe in the magic the DHS and CDC have used so far to stop disease from entering the US.  That would be the magic created by letting anyone, and I do mean anyone, into the country.  Oh, okay, I think we might have a special watch list for grannies from Idaho in wheelchairs, but so far I see we’re okay with Central American gang members, Central American kids with EV-D68 and people from Liberia with Ebola.

Clearly at this point anyone traveling to West Africa is kinda comfortable doing so because they do it.   There is a reason I don’t swim in alligator bayous, belly crawl into rattlesnake dens or run into houses on fire; because I’m not comfortable doing those things.   I don’t much care how they accomplish the restriction but from a government that has nearly banned your consumption of trans-fats, you’d think maybe a ban on travel to and from Ebolalaland would be a natural thing.

So, let them be tested there, and quarantined there in accordance with the choices they themselves made to travel there.

There’s a reason you channel access to contagious people and places.  You do it to CONTROL the access, and try and limit the danger.   Not that I have a tremendous amount of faith in government channeling and control right now and it could be because these bozos keep talking like this.

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