Friday, July 26, 2013

The Bigger Picture Part II

In part one (just below) I showed how middle class and lower class Americans have suffered huge decreases in wealth and incomes, especially in the last 35 years, while upper class Americans have made great gains.  This has particularly affected African-Americans whose family life has disintegrated, trapping them in inner cities.  To add to the misery of inner-city life, in cities like Detroit, not only has there been white flight, but those African-Americans who had somehow become successful have also moved out.

Black murder-rates have now reached 10X those of other races, and blacks now account for 85% of all inter-racial crimes. Since almost all victims of black murders are blacks themselves, it behooves all races to try to work together to reverse these trends, even if radical measures are necessary

I identified four areas that can be worked on that are the sources of the problem:

 1. the welfare state led to the disintegration of the African-American family.

2. low and unskilled factory jobs have disappeared in inner cities.

3. the wholesale decline of private sector unions.

4. income tax rates have been cut drastically since 1981 when the highest rate was 70%.

Some solutions will anger liberals; some will anger conservatives.  Cooperation and compromise are necessary before our society disintegrates completely, even though solutions some will call ‘radical’ are necessary.

 The Welfare State

Since AFDC Welfare came into vogue with President Johnson’s Great Society, the number of black children  born out-of-wedlock has reached almost 75%, whereas before AFDC, the black rate was the same as the white rate, leaving us with a society in which millions of fatherless, young black men roam.

The only solution to this problem is to leave AFDC in place for those now receiving it, but end it for new recipients; and replace it with emergency assistance for those needing temporary help, possibly for a period of up to six months, which cannot be repeated for at least three years.

Inner-City Factory Jobs

The federal government should not only subsidize, but guarantee investment in factories built by entrepreneurs in inner cities.   The government should not only establish tariff protection for products of these factories, but guarantee product sales for the early years of production.  We subsidize farmers, and I can remember when cereal grains were burned, potatoes were dyed blue, and milk was dumped.

Why not subsidize an activity that can help restore lost neighborhoods and lost souls?

Restore the Health of Private Sector Unions

I chaffed when I was forced to join a union after I landed my first good job, and later, as an owner of a business, I fought against any attempt at unionization.   It is only recently that I have come to understand the state of income and wealth disparity in this country and to understand the role of union decline in furthering this disparity.

Private-sector union membership has fallen from a peak of 35% of the total private industry labor force in 1950 to a little over 6% today.  There can be no doubt that the decline in factory wages is somewhat keyed to the decline of unions.

Private-sector unionization must be encouraged by federal legislation outlawing “right-to-work” laws as they affect unionization of non-public workers.  “Right-to-work” laws should only be applied to public-sector workers.  This means that “union shops” would be legal in all states (they are illegal in 23 states), and new workers would be required to join and support the existing union.

The Tax Code

The only direct way to ameliorate income and wealth disparities is through income and estate taxes.  I know that some will say that increasing taxes will depress economic activity, but I believe that that is only true for taxes on investment income, which I would leave alone.  I wish that certain tax shelters and tax loopholes could be closed, because the upper 1% of income earners actually pay less taxes than the next lower earnings group, however that is a complex subject beyond the scope of this article.

The current top income tax rate on incomes over $400,000 is 39.6%, a recent increase from 35%.  In 1981, before the Reagan tax cuts, the top rate was 70%. 

I believe that a new top rate of 70% should be applied to incomes exceeding $5,000,000 per year.

The current estate tax is 40% on estates exceeding $5,250,000.  Because of the devastating effect high estate taxes have on family-run farms and small businesses, I would leave this system alone.

Note:  All statistics presented in this and in my preceding article are from recognized sources that were stated in previous articles on these subjects in this blog.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Bigger Picture Part I

Recently I wrote some blog articles about the growing and dangerous disparity of wealth and incomes in America.  My site has always taken a conservative view of issues, and my readers have considered mine to be a conservative voice.  I learned from some of the responses to these articles, however, that conservative America also has many ideologues who ignore facts and data that do not comport with their world view – as do liberals whose foolishness is destroying our culture and our cities like Detroit.

 I was called names like ‘socialist’ and ‘communist’ by many readers simply because I had pointed out that present-day measures of incomes and wealth were similar (and even worse than) those that preceded the trust-busting era near the turn of the last century, and that conservatives and liberals had to join forces to come up with ways to minimize these disparities before our society imploded.

I have also noticed, over the last few years, how conservatives are much more likely to turn on Republicans they formerly supported, simply because of a single issue of disagreement.  Many former supporters of Senator Rubio, for example, have deserted him because of his stand on immigration; I disagree with him, but he is still a great senator whom I will support against any liberal Democrat.  Democrats always seem to be able to unite behind a position once their leadership has settled on it.

 In the aftermath of the Zimmerman trial, I view the unbelievable outcry from the ignorant crowds following the corrupt race baiters like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to be a symptom of both the disintegration of our society caused by income and wealth disparity, and of our need to apply both liberal and conservative measures to improve the lives and the opportunities for young, black men.  It is not white men that black men have to fear, but black men who were fatherless children and who have no good jobs or job opportunities; whites need to fear them too.

 It was greatly disappointing that President Obama chose to speak so little of this side of things, but instead fed the nonsense that profiling and white vigilantes pose a major problem for African-Americans.  What poses major problems for African-Americans is ordinary life and the poverty and the inequality that come with it.

 The kind of inequality, which I mentioned above, was a fact of life at the turn of the last century. It led to the trust-busting that made Teddy Roosevelt a hero, and to the breakup of Standard Oil and of the US Steel Company. Inequality peaked in 1928 and then ameliorated greatly up until the late 1970’s, when it began to reverse and take on steam. The income inequality ratios that existed in the 1920’s have returned and exist today. One example of this is that average CEO pay was 40 X average factory pay in 1976. In 2008, average CEO pay was 400 X average factory pay. This is immoral and unsustainable, and is one of the reasons why real wages have declined steadily from 1976 through the present day.

 In 2007 the richest 1% of the American population owned 34.6% of the country's total wealth, and the next 19% owned 50.5%. Thus, the top 20% of Americans owned 85% of the country's wealth and the bottom 80% of the population owned 15%.  Even more shocking is the fact that the bottom 40% of Americans (that’s 128 million Americans) own just 3/10’s of 1% of the nation’s wealth, and many of them have negative wealth.

 What Are The Reasons For This?

1.   the welfare state led to the disintegration of the African-American family.

2.   low and unskilled factory jobs have disappeared in inner cities.

3.   the wholesale decline of private sector unions.

4.   income tax rates have been cut drastically since 1981 when the highest rate was 70%.

 I understand that there are other factors such as globalization and technological changes, but the above four factors are somewhat within the power of American voters to change, if liberals and conservatives can manage to make compromises and work together.

In my next post I will explore some of those changes.



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Monday, July 22, 2013

Feeling the Heat

By Ben Stein on 7.22.13 American Spectator (excerpt)

 The Trayvon Martin case is worrying me.

 “I had a tough time sleeping last night. The Trayvon Martin case is worrying me. I’ll tell you a few reasons:

First of all, the media have made this case into the lynching of Zimmerman supposedly because he murdered an innocent sweet little black child. But according to what I read, Zimmerman — while a fool — was attacked by Mr. Martin, who was far from unarmed. He was armed with his skills as a martial artist and his strength and size. He wasn’t the sweet altar boy shown on the cover of magazines and on TV. He was a big, strong kid with a history of drug use and a bit of bragging online about his fighting skills. He didn’t start a conversation with Zimmerman when Zimmerman got out of his truck. He attacked Zimmerman, who possibly would have been killed if he had not defended himself.
This is the story the jury heard. This is the story that made the jury unanimously acquit Zimmerman. The media have been telling a fairy tale designed to whip up race hatred.

It horrifies me that the media has tried to turn this sad case into an occasion to make black people hate white people. It horrifies me that Mr. Obama has joined in. His assertion that he could have been Martin is breathtakingly dishonest. If Obama had been Martin, he would have talked Zimmerman out of his watch and his wallet and then gotten a scholarship to college for writing about it. Martin was a dangerously violent kid. Obama was and always has been a politician.
But it’s worse than this: the black community in this nation is in crisis. It has a disastrous situation in terms of education, lack of work habits, complete collapse of the family, wild overuse of drugs, violence, and generally behavior that is destructive to itself and far too many other people. (Obviously, this applies only to some black people. I work every day and you work every day with black people who are in fine shape, much better shape than I am in.)

The least of the problems that black people face in the USA right now is attacks by heavy set volunteer watchmen in gated communities. That’s not even on the radar screen as a serious problem. For Mr. Obama and other “black leaders” and media people to pretend that it is is simply nonsense.
There is real anarchy in many parts of the black community in the USA. For Mr. Obama and others to act as if the real problem is white people locking their car doors at stop lights when black people approach them is just plain poppycock. The black community is not in danger from white people: it is in danger from itself.

The number of black kids killed by white people is minute — although any is too many. The number of black kids killed by the Crips and the Bloods and the Black P-Stone Rangers is enormous. Why no rallies led by “black leaders” against the Crips and the Bloods? The number of black kids whose lives have been ruined by irresponsible parents is immense. Why no rallies against crack-smoking moms and dads?

The answer is sadly easy to see: white people have pretty much given up racism as a factor in their lives. They have to worry about jobs and education and families. Thus, there are none, not any major white leaders of any kind whose stock in trade is whipping up race hatred. That movement simply does not exist.

But among “black leaders,” who really can no longer make credible claims about racism now that we have a black President, who really have no answers to the crisis in the black community, a chance to distract people from their own powerlessness is a golden opportunity.

Among the liberal media, who have really been missing someone to hate for a long time, the Zimmerman case is heaven-sent. They take this poor soul, trying to patrol his community, who is getting beaten to within an inch of his life by a black kid and who saves his own life — and they make him into a Klansman. Into a whole posse of Klansmen.

It’s distressing. Black people have a brutally painful history of suffering in this country. It is a shameful story. It is in the past as far as being caused by white people as a day by day matter. It definitely is not in the past in the black consciousness. They have every reason to feel angry about it. But things have gotten so incredibly, unbelievably better in the last generations in terms of white attitudes that to seek to whip up old animosities while ignoring the present catastrophe in the black community is a disgraceful distraction by the President and “black leaders.”

Many years ago, I ghost wrote an autobiography for a famous black civil rights leader and charismatic speaker. I accompanied him to several gatherings. One of the standard remarks that he made at black events went roughly like this: “Complain about racism all you want. March against police brutality and I’ll be right there with you. But if you really want to do something to feed your family, learn how to fix a clogged plumbing line or how to wire a house with electricity or how to teach math, and then you’re actually getting something done.”
These lines ring in my ears. It terrifies me that we are pretending that the likes of George Zimmerman are a problem when we have real problems. It terrifies me that a man with the power of Eric Holder can use an explicitly racist, anti-white approach to a complex case that is itself a sideshow.

We have real problems in America. We cannot pretend they will go away if we focus on sad, even tragic, peripheral events. Yes, one Trayvon Martin death is one too many. Thousands of deaths of blacks from black violence and drugs are in a different world of hurt.

Race has always been the main problem in America, at least since World War II. We had a spectacular triumph in ridding ourselves of white racism at all but the most trivial levels (like excluding me from a country club). For the President and Eric Holder and the liberal media and the “black leaders” to turn up the heat under a new evil cauldron of racism is terrifying. The only solution is a spiritual solution. Let’s pray for it to come in our lifetimes. If you really try to love your neighbors, you can. It is not easy but it can be done.” American Spectator

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Breakthrough on IRS Scandal

No written record has ever been found of Adolph Hitler ordering his followers to murder Jews; that's not the way it's done.  The leader sets the tone, and his followers get the point and follow through.  No record will be found of Obama ordering the harassment of conservatives by the IRS, but, at least now, we have evidence that the direction came from Washington.

Noonan: A Bombshell in the IRS Scandal

Peggy Noonan July 18, 2013  WallStJournal

A higher office is implicated.  

The IRS scandal was connected this week not just to the Washington office—that had been established—but to the office of the chief counsel.

 That is a bombshell—such a big one that it managed to emerge in spite of an unfocused, frequently off-point congressional hearing in which some members seemed to have accidentally woken up in the middle of a committee room, some seemed unaware of the implications of what their investigators had uncovered, one pretended that the investigation should end if IRS workers couldn't say the president had personally called and told them to harass his foes, and one seemed to be holding a filibuster on Pakistan.

Still, what landed was a bombshell. And Democrats know it. Which is why they are so desperate to make the investigation go away. They know, as Republicans do, that the chief counsel of the IRS is one of only two Obama political appointees in the entire agency.

To quickly review why the new information, which came most succinctly in a nine-page congressional letter to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel, is big news:
IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division revenue agent Elizabeth Hofacre, left, and retired IRS tax law specialist Carter Hull testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

When the scandal broke two months ago, in May, IRS leadership in Washington claimed the harassment of tea-party and other conservative groups requesting tax-exempt status was confined to the Cincinnati office, where a few rogue workers bungled the application process. Lois Lerner, then the head of the exempt organizations unit in Washington, said "line people in Cincinnati" did work that was "not so fine." They asked questions that "weren't really necessary," she claimed, and operated without "the appropriate level of sensitivity." But the targeting was "not intentional." Ousted acting commissioner Steven Miller also put it off on "people in Cincinnati." They provided "horrible customer service."
House investigators soon talked to workers in the Cincinnati office, who said everything they did came from Washington. Elizabeth Hofacre, in charge of processing tea-party applications in Cincinnati, told investigators that her work was overseen and directed by a lawyer in the IRS Washington office named Carter Hull.

Now comes Mr. Hull's testimony. And like Ms. Hofacre, he pointed his finger upward. Mr. Hull—a 48-year IRS veteran and an expert on tax exemption law—told investigators that tea-party applications under his review were sent upstairs within the Washington office, at the direction of Lois Lerner.
In April 2010, Hull was assigned to scrutinize certain tea-party applications. He requested more information from the groups. After he received responses, he felt he knew enough to determine whether the applications should be approved or denied.

But his recommendations were not carried out.

Michael Seto, head of Mr. Hull's unit, also spoke to investigators. He told them Lois Lerner made an unusual decision: Tea-party applications would undergo additional scrutiny—a multilayered review.
Mr. Hull told House investigators that at some point in the winter of 2010-11, Ms. Lerner's senior adviser, whose name is withheld in the publicly released partial interview transcript, told him the applications would require further review:

Q: "Did [the senior adviser to Ms. Lerner] indicate to you whether she agreed with your recommendations?"

A: "She did not say whether she agreed or not. She said it should go to chief counsel."

Q: "The IRS chief counsel?"

A: "The IRS chief counsel."

The IRS chief counsel is named William Wilkins. And again, he is one of only two Obama political appointees in the IRS.
What was the chief counsel's office looking for? The letter to Mr. Werfel says Mr. Hull's supervisor, Ronald Shoemaker, provided insight: The counsel's office wanted, in the words of the congressional committees, "information about the applicants' political activities leading up to the 2010 election." Mr. Shoemaker told investigators he didn't find that kind of question unreasonable, but he found the counsel's office to be "not very forthcoming": "We discussed it to some extent and they indicated that they wanted more development of possible political activity or political intervention right before the election period."

It's almost as if—my words—the conservative organizations in question were, during two major election cycles, deliberately held in a holding pattern.

So: What the IRS originally claimed was a rogue operation now reaches up not only to the Washington office, but into the office of the IRS chief counsel himself.

At the generally lacking House Oversight Committee Hearings on Thursday, some big things still got said.
Ms. Hofacre of the Cincinnati office testified that when she was given tea-party applications, she had to kick them upstairs. When she was given non-tea-party applications, they were sent on for normal treatment. Was she told to send liberal or progressive groups for special scrutiny? No, she did not scrutinize the applications of liberal or progressive groups. "I would send those to general inventory." Who got extra scrutiny? "They were all tea-party and patriot cases." She became "very frustrated" by the "micromanagement" from Washington. "It was like working in lost luggage." She applied to be transferred.

For his part, Mr. Hull backed up what he'd told House investigators. He described what was, essentially, a big, lengthy runaround in the Washington office in which no one was clear as to their reasons but everything was delayed. The multitiered scrutiny of the targeted groups was, he said, "unusual."
It was Maryland's Rep. Elijah Cummings, the panel's ranking Democrat, who, absurdly, asked Ms. Hofacre if the White House called the Cincinnati office to tell them what to do and whether she has knowledge of the president of the United States digging through the tax returns of citizens. Ms. Hofacre looked surprised. No, she replied.
It wasn't hard to imagine her thought bubble: Do congressmen think presidents call people like me and say, "Don't forget to harass my enemies"? Are congressmen that stupid?

Mr. Cummings is not, and his seeming desperation is telling. Recent congressional information leads to Washington—and now to very high up at the IRS. Meaning this is the point at which a scandal goes nowhere or, maybe, everywhere.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican, finally woke the proceedings up with what he called "the evolution of the defense" since the scandal began. First, Ms. Lerner planted a question at a conference. Then she said the Cincinnati office did it—a narrative that was advanced by the president's spokesman, Jay Carney. Then came the suggestion the IRS was too badly managed to pull off a sophisticated conspiracy. Then the charge that liberal groups were targeted too—"we did it against both ends of the political spectrum." When the inspector general of the IRS said no, it was conservative groups that were targeted, he came under attack. Now the defense is that the White House wasn't involved, so case closed.

This is one Republican who is right about evolution.
Those trying to get to the bottom of the scandal have to dig in, pay attention. The administration's defenders, and their friends in the press, have made some progress in confusing the issue through misdirection and misstatement.

This is the moment things go forward or stall. Republicans need to find out how high the scandal went and why, exactly, it went there. To do that they'll have to up their game.


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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Obama Fails to "Get" Zimmerman

In a world where everything seems to be going wrong, and our society continues to unravel more every day (due mostly to the greed of the super rich and the foolishness of the left), it is a pleasant surprise when six courageous women apply the law and evaluate the evidence to reach a proper verdict.

 Despite the efforts of President Obama and Attorney General Holder (aided by the corrupt AG in Seminole County), and greatly aided by the disgraceful and deliberate misreporting by NBC, ABC and the Associated Press in particular, who doctored tapes and fabricated press reports, a tragic affair ended as well as it could.

 That the efforts by the hateful, professional race baiters, Al Sharpton (of Tawana Brawley fame) and Jesse Jackson did not result in a politically inspired conviction is another feather in the caps of these jurors.

 We can only sympathize with the loss suffered by Martin’s parents and quietly set aside their understandable efforts to support their son.

 Restatement of Key Facts:

1.   there had been a string of burglaries at Zimmerman’s complex

2.   at least some of these burglaries had been committed by black youths

3.   a neighborhood watch was established, and Z had volunteered

4.   he legally carried a Keltec, which has no safety, when he patrolled

5.   he encountered a black youth, followed him and called 911

6.   the black youth attacked Z, broke his nose with a punch, and put him on the ground

7.   while over him in an MMA hold, Martin repeatedly slammed Z’s head onto a concrete sidewalk, stunning him

8.   during the struggle, Z’s pistol and holster came into Martin’s view

9.   fearing for his life, Z pulled out the pistol and fired one shot into Martin’s chest, killing him

 There has been a suggestion that President Obama and AG Holder will attempt to bring a federal civil rights charge against Zimmerman; this will be as corrupt as their initial attempts.  Hopefully cooler heads will prevail.  I will never, for the rest of my life, forget the unbelievable and prejudicial statement Obama made at the outset – that if he had a son, he would look like Travon.

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Monday, July 08, 2013

What Else Is New?

Regardless of whatever good points that may or may not be in the immigration bill passed by the Democrat-controlled Senate, my basic problem is that I don’t believe anything that this administration says or promises.  Immigration reform has been passed before, and there are plenty of existing laws on the books to reduce illegal immigration and to provide temporary workers.

I just don’t trust people who ignore the laws when they disagree with them..

It was good to find out that House Republicans may agree with me.

Morning Examiner: Immigration reform is dead and Obamacare implementation killed it

By CONN CARROLL | JULY 8, 2013 Washington Examiner (Excerpt)

“Let me tell you something else, David,” NBC News’s Chuck Todd told David Gregory on Meet the Press Sunday, “the White House had been so confident that they were going to sign immigration reform this year. But for the first time I am hearing that there is some doubt seeping in..... What changed this week is that Republicans lost all trust in President Obama’s ability to faithfully execute the laws of the United States.

Delayed mandates and invitation to fraud
On Tuesday of last week, news broke that the Treasury Department was about to announce it’s intention to delay implementation of Obamacare’s employer mandate for a year. Nothing in the law gives the Obama administration authority to delay the mandate, but he did it anyway.
As bad as that blow to the rule of law was, the Department of Health and Human Services followed it up with 600 pages of regulations Friday, one of which also delayed a requirement that states verify the eligibility information submitted by applicants. Not only is this also not authorized in the statute, but, as National Review’s Yuval Levin notes, it is also an open invitation for those wanting health care subsidies to defraud taxpayers.

“They will simply ignore the parts they don’t like.”
“They have shown no respect for traditional Constitutional separation of powers,” Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., told National Review‘s John Fund about the impact of the Obamacare delays on the immigration debate, “and that makes it difficult to pass laws where the fear is that they will simply ignore the parts they don’t like.”
Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, who is on the House Judiciary Committee and had been a member of a bipartisan group working on immigration reform, echoed Roe’s concerns on Meet the Press. “In fact, if you look at this Obamacare debacle that they have right now, this administration is actually deciding when and where to actually enforce the law. And that’s what some of us in the House are concerned about. If you give to this administration the authority to decide when they’re going to enforce the law, how they’re going to enforce the law … what’s going to happen is that we’re going to give legalization to 11 million people and Janet Napolitano is going to come to Congress and tell us that the border is already secure and nothing else needs to happen.”

Moving on
House Republicans already have a full plate on their agenda this summer and fall. Not only will there be full investigations into the legal basis for all of the Obamacare delays, but Congress must also pass new spending authorization to keep the government running by the end of September, and they have to raise the debt limit some time before January. Considering the breach of trust Obamacare implementation has already created, just keeping the government running will keep Congress busy enough.

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