Tag Archives: Progressives

Ayn Rand Could Come in Handy Today

Pictured

Ford Motor Company: In 1914 Henry Ford acquiesced to his workers’ demand for $5 per hour ($128.67 in today’s dollars) as a result of rising competition in the automobile industry.

McDonalds Company: After a 5-year war against any proposal to raise the government-mandated minimum wage to $15, McDonalds and other large corporations gave up fighting. In the absence of real competition, businesses see no reason to raise wages significantly, and wait until forced to do so by government.

The Keynesian Zeitgeist

Anyone harboring expectations that the U.S. can be saved from the ultra-progressive interpretation of Keynesian economics must feel extremely disappointed. Spending, borrowing and regulating in good times and bad at all levels of government seem to be the majority’s solution to every economic challenge.

Why would the U.S. need eventual salvation from such “solutions?” Exuberance over high stock prices, low unemployment, and a decent GDP has masked since the end of the Great Recession vanishing private sector jobs and an unsustainable national debt.

Keynesian solutions discourage businesses and prop up consumer spending with various government-mandated benefits. To sustain such benefits there has to be very high levels of taxation. In the absence of taxation, public debt is the only other alternative.

Ah, but Keynesians say supply-side economics only serves to enrich the already rich. True, supply-side economics cannot benefit workers in a rigged, monopoly-dominated market where cronyism passes for capitalism. It is no wonder that the bulk of the increase in jobs in the last few years has been in low-paying and part-time jobs. No business competition means no good jobs. Even self-described free-market fiscal conservatives end up in the Keynesian camp when real competition vanishes.

Any Hope in Sight?

* How are the Two Great Decisions of the Past Decade Working For You?

Obamacare? Many people unable to obtain health care before Obamacare were pleased, but the many who saw their premiums double were not.

How about the Tax Cut and Jobs Act? The tax cuts were not accompanied by commensurate spending cuts, so the national debt continues to grow. Small businesses, which generate a lot of new jobs, got a tax cut that will expire in 2025 (6 years away). Large corporations got a permanent tax cut, but have not so far produced the jobs or innovation hoped for. The lack of substantial results is not surprising, since no business it its right mind would commit to significant increases in workforce or capital investment based on the Tax Cut and Jobs Act. Congress has been determined since 2016 to impeach President Donald Trump one way or another, and re-elections are never a certainty. Should the President be ousted, the next effort will surely be to repeal the tax cut.

*  2020 Presidential Candidates’ Spend-Borrow-Regulate Meter

Today, there are two major Republican challengers. William Weld is a former two-term Governor of Massachusetts and 2016 presidential candidate on the Libertarian ticket. Joe Walsh is a former one-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois and conservative talk show host. Both candidates talk in general terms about market innovation and fiscal responsibility. Weld’s most specific proposal is to substitute the current complicated tax system with a flat tax. Walsh speaks of advocating for a balanced budget amendment, free-markets, and a “sensible safety net.” Neither speaks of any radical measures necessary to bring down a $23 trillion national debt or end the cronyism that today produces substantial corporate bonuses but low worker wages.

The Democratic field is dwindling as expected, but there are 15 candidates still in. Although these candidates furiously argue with each other on the debate stage, their differences are of degree not substance. They all espouse the same core principle: let government provide all wants and desires by controlling and taxing pretty much everything in the economy. The seriousness of an unsustainable national debt does not seem to be a concern to the candidates.

The talking point voters mainly choose to hear is that Democratic candidates have plans to “eat the rich” to provide benefits for workers. Although that is not entirely the case, it is close enough. The working middle class will also be expected to chip in via such things as loss of stepped-up value on inherited homes (you will not keep a heck of a lot after you sell that San Francisco home your Grandma left you). Also, rich corporations are not the only one who will be required to follow new mandates such as a $15 Federal minimum wage. However, the candidates’ plan main thrust is indeed to tax corporations and wealthy individuals, implement more regulation on businesses, and redistribute wealth to workers and non-workers.

Let’s Talk About Ayn Rand

Fiction has a way of being ahead of life. In 1957 Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged, which showed in detail how Big Government has a habit of generating policies that create problems and then attempting to fix those problems by generating more problematic policies. Take the minimum wage: government increases the minimum wage, the more vulnerable workers are laid off, government increases taxes on businesses to support safety-nets for vulnerable workers, businesses lay off more workers to keep their level of desired after-tax profits.

In 2009, the Wall Street Journal ran an opinion piece the author Stephen Moore called Atlas Shrugged’: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years. Note that the date of this op-ed falls during the Great Recession.

In a very brief WSJ video commentary, Stephen Moore talks about the article. He equates the economic downward spiral in Atlas Shrugged with the economic mess that was the period 2007-2009. Piles of regulations in Rand’s imaginary world obliterated innovation, strangled production, promoted inept cronyism, and brought down an entire economy. To Moore, those events looked like heaps of failing sub-prime loans encouraged by pools of mortgage backed securities mostly created by Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.

As noted above, the economy is strong, but plagued by rising public debt and wealth inequality. Such ills are versions of things falling apart as envisioned by Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged.

Shrugging Happens in Real Time

Today, we see outmigration of large businesses from high-tax high-regulation states to low-tax low-regulation states. Large businesses generally only migrate to costly states if taxpayers fork over billions of dollars in tax breaks and other incentives. We have seen what happens when cost of labor increases beyond what businesses want to pay – they outsource to lower-cost countries.

In other words, when forced to carry more burden than they want to, businesses shrug. They leave. The employed are now unemployed. The good or service previously provided is gone.

There is no evidence that the Atlas of Greek mythology ever gave up and shrugged off the Heavenly Sphere he was ordered by Zeus to carry forever, but common sense would say that he probably eventually did.

We Live in a Humpty Dumpty World

Humpty Dumpty -When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.‘  Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

We All Do It

We all manipulate words to explain, to persuade, to deceive, to modify the behavior of others. When a Mommy says “Yummmm….carrots” to her baby, she is doing all of the above. It is unlikely that she believes unseasoned mushed carrots are yummy, but she manipulates words and changes behavior in order that her child will eat. Mommy’s success is aided by her child’s innocence and gullibility.

The same principle holds true for politicians, be they benevolent or tyrant, wishing to perpetrate an agenda upon a gullible populace.

…the story is told from the perspective of the common animals as a whole. Gullible, loyal, and hardworking, these animals give Orwell a chance to sketch how situations of oppression arise not only from the motives and tactics of the oppressors but also from the naïveté of the oppressed, who are not necessarily in a position to be better educated or informed.  Animal Farm by George Orwell

So true, except for the part about the gullible not being in a position to be better educated or informed. Some of our nation’s most willing receivers and spreaders of manipulated speech reside in our universities.

The university is a vast public utility which turns out future workers in today’s vineyard, the military-industrial complex. They’ve got to be processed in the most efficient way to see to it that they have the fewest dissenting opinions, that they have just those characteristics which are wholly incompatible with being an intellectual. Mario Savio, founder of the Free Speech Movement at U.C. Berkeley.

Besides politicians and our supposed intellectual elite, special interests ranging from the nation’s war industry to compassionate advocates of all sorts are also receivers and spreaders of manipulated speech.  The manipulated speech becomes part of mainstream vocabulary.

* “Racist” has become a catch-all description of anyone who disagrees with any prevailing agenda. Don’t want to spend taxpayer money on removing statues from parks? You are a “racist.” Want your children’s school to focus on reading, writing and computing? You are a “racist.”

Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers president, argued in a fiery speech Thursday to 1,400 union members that school-choice programs such as vouchers and tuition tax credits are rooted in segregation and racism. The Washington Times, July 21, 2017.

* “Immigrant” now describes those who arrived in the U.S. via formal immigration or refugee channels and those who simply crossed borders.

Between May 7 and June 20, the Trump administration instructed U.S. Customs and Border Protection to place any adult immigrants who crossed the border illegally in federal custody.  Merriam-Webster, word example.

Fundraising efforts are going on around the country to support organizations that are working to protect immigrants and bring families back together.  Merriam-Webster, word example.

* “Abortion” has disappeared from public discourse, and has been replaced by the cryptic codes “A woman’s right to choose,” or “reproductive control.”

The emphasis must be not on the right to abortion but on the right to privacy and reproductive control.Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court Justice

(Perhaps the emphasis should be on the fact that men cannot develop preeclampsia or hemorrhage during pregnancy or childbirth.)

* “Liberal” has been replaced by “progressive.” Democrats no longer call themselves “liberal.” Maybe because the new focus is on changing the structure of society rather than on making what we have better.

It seems to me that traditional ‘liberals’ in our current parlance are those who focus on using taxpayer money to help better society. A ‘progressive’ are those who focus on using government power to make large institutions play by a set of rules.  David Sirota, Political Commentator

From Manipulating Words to Manipulating Events

It is only a short hop between manipulating words and manipulating events in order to achieve a desired outcome. California is particularly good at speaking eloquently of a multitude of crises that demand intervention, compassion, fortitude, resistance, and/or money. Climate change and sanctuary, along with housing and homelessness, are at the top of the state’s crisis list.

* California Greening

California takes pride in its draconian efforts to lower green house gas emissions by declaring vast areas of the state protected land where no development is allowed, passing legislation that requires cities and counties to build their “fair-share” of dense housing, and discouraging the use of private automobiles. California also has a “cap and trade” program, under which companies pay penalties if they exceed pollution limits, but can trade for pollution credits with companies that emit less pollutants.

Whether California’s Herculean efforts to reduce emissions arise primarily from environmental or economic concerns remains a secret locked in legislators’ minds. The fact remains that dense populations, where businesses and housing are clustered into tight spaces drive economic growth, and cap-and-trade-produces revenue for the state.

As an aside, California’s greening comes with costs that event manipulators don’t like to talk about. Density has caused construction and housing costs to skyrocket, the middle class to flee the state, and legislators to embark on a constant quest for funds to build subsidized housing. Cap and trade, touted as a way to help poorer communities disproportionately affected by pollution, has instead given the more polluting industries located in such communities the ability to pollute even more.

* Prisons and Private Profit

In a video op-ed that appeared on MSN.com on June 25, 2018, U.C. Berkeley Professor Robert Reich spoke, eloquently as always, of private contractors that run detention centers “profiting from family separation.” In the video, Reich condemns the “money, influence and cruelty” behind Donald Trump’s border policy that enriches these private contractors.

Nowhere in the video does Robert Reich mention that private contractors have been part of the U.S.’s detention system since the 1980s, profiting substantially from the U.S.’s vast native and immigrant prison population.

In response to the broader prison overcrowding that accompanied the rise of mass incarceration during the 1980s and 1990s, several states entered arrangements with private companies for their ability to build prisons quickly—and without the need for voter approval … The private prison industry has long considered immigration detention an opportunity for gain. In 1984, CoreCivic established its first privately owned detention facility in Houston to hold immigration detainees.  Migrationpolicy.org

The Imaginative Progressive Mind

Although manipulation of words and events is done by just about everyone, those who hold today’s progressive ideas of what government and society should look like seem to be infinitely more imaginative than conservatives.

The laundry list of words progressives have succeeded in embedding into the public conscience is impressive: equity, social justice, sustainable/unsustainable, capitalist greed, global warming/climate change, diversity, child-free, entitlements, renter’s rights, food security, body shaming, living Constitution, fair share, regional governments.

Along with words come world views of how things should be!