Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year to all

Quite an achievement. Follow link for photos

A bridge too far? China unveils world's longest sea bridge which is five miles LONGER than the Dover-Calais crossing

How accurate

A Nation of Peasants?
The U.S. has returned to deriding “trickle-down” economics.

Traditional peasant societies believe in only a limited amount of good. The more your neighbor earns, the less someone else gets. Profits are seen as a sort of theft; they must be either hidden or redistributed. Envy, rather than admiration of success, reigns.

In contrast, Western civilization began with a very different, ancient Greek idea of an autonomous citizen, not an indentured serf or subsistence peasant. The small, independent landowner — if he was left to his own talents, and if his success was protected by, and from, government — would create new sources of wealth for everyone. The resulting greater bounty for the poor soon trumped their old jealousy of the better-off.

Citizens of ancient Greece and Italy soon proved more prosperous and free than either the tribal folk to the north and west or the imperial subjects to the south and east. The success of later Western civilization in general, and America in particular, is a testament to this legacy of the freedom of the individual in the widest political and economic sense.

We seem to be forgetting that lately — though Mao Zedong’s redistributive failures in China, or present-day bankrupt Greece, should warn us about what happens when government tries to enforce an equality of result rather than equality of opportunity.

Even after the failure of statism at the end of the Cold War, the disasters of socialism in Venezuela and Cuba, and the recent financial meltdowns in the European Union, America is returning to a peasant mentality of a limited good that redistributes wealth rather than creates it. Candidate Obama’s “spread the wealth” slip to Joe the Plumber simply was upgraded to President Obama’s “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”

The more his administration castigates insurers, businesses, and doctors; raises taxes on the upper income brackets; and imposes additional regulations, the more those who create wealth are deciding to sit out, neither hiring nor lending. The result is that traditional self-interested profit-makers are locking up trillions of dollars in unspent cash rather than using it to take risks, since they will likely either lose money due to new red tape or see much of their profit confiscated through higher taxes.

No wonder that in such a climate of fear and suspicion, unemployment remains near 10 percent. Deficits chronically exceed $1 trillion per annum. And now the poverty rate has hit a historic high. We are all getting poorer in hopes that a few won’t get richer.

The public is seldom told that 1 percent of taxpayers already pay 40 percent of the income taxes collected, while 40 percent of income earners are exempt from federal income tax — or that present entitlements like Medicare and Social Security are financially unsustainable. Instead, they hear more often that those who manage to make above $250,000 per year have obligations to the rest of us to give back about 60 percent of what they earn in higher health-care and income taxes — together with payroll and rising state income taxes, and along with increased capital-gains and inheritance taxes.

That limited-good mindset expects that businesses will agree that they now make enough money and so have no need to pursue any more profits at the expense of others. Therefore, they will gladly still hire the unemployed and buy new equipment — as they pay higher health-care or income taxes to a government that knows far better how to redistribute their income to the more needy or deserving.

This peasant approach to commerce also assumes that businesses either cannot understand administration signals or can do nothing about them. So who cares that in the Chrysler bankruptcy settlement, the government quite arbitrarily put the unions in front of the legally entitled lenders?

Health insurers should not mind that Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius just warned them to keep their profits down and their mouths shut — or face exclusion from health-care markets.

I suppose that no corporation should worry that the government arbitrarily announced — without benefit of a law or court ruling — that it wanted BP to put up $20 billion in cleanup costs for the Gulf spill.

What optimistic Americans used to call a rising tide that lifts all boats is now once again derided as trickle-down economics. In other words, a newly peasant-minded America is willing to become collectively poorer so that some will not become wealthier.

The present economy suggests that it is surely getting its wish.

Union terrorism on display

Sanitation workers targeted specific neighborhoods

Tolerance and Islam do not go together

Pakistan on strike against bill to amend blasphemy law

Leftists defending leftist a murderer

Italy furious after Brazil's Lula refuses extradition

Hate crimes against Jews rise

NY sees a surge in hate

Anarchy alert

France braces for annual New Year's car torchings

Just what we need another moral relativist lawyer

GOP Fuming Over Recess Appointment of Lawyer Who Compared 9/11 to Drug Trade

A State Department/Obama decision I fully concur with.

A US Ambassador that says what everyone knows to be true, how refreshing.

Hugo Chavez

Venezuelans fret over prices after devaluation

* Second currency devaluation in 12 months

* Chavez risks political hit from poor voters

By Daniel Wallis and Deisy Buitrago

CARACAS, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Venezuelans worried on Friday that a second devaluation of their currency in 12 months would make life even harder as the socialist government of President Hugo Chavez struggled to turn the economy around.

Already suffering one of the world's highest inflation rates and the only major Latin American economy still in recession after the global financial crisis, they fear the New Year devaluation could hit their livelihoods more.

"It is a blow against the pockets of the workers, against the poorest people," said Robinson Calua, a 50-year-old security guard in downtown Caracas.

Officials say the devaluation announced on Thursday will increase spending and boost growth in South America's biggest oil producer, while easing the pressure on foreign reserves and freeing up dollars for imports.

The move scrapped the lowest rate of a complex, multitiered forex system that few Venezuelans or outsiders properly understood and even taxed the brains of Wall Street experts.

With a handful of different exchange rates for everything from medicines to factory machinery, not to mention an active currency black market, analysts said the structure encouraged corruption and inefficiency and was prone to collapse.

The elimination of the strongest rate of 2.6 bolivars to the dollar should improve the government's balance sheet and could please bondholders, but will make goods like medicines and some food items more expensive.

In the near future, that is likely to feed an inflation rate that the central bank estimates was 26.9 percent in 2010.

Chavez, who has inherited Fidel Castro's mantle as Latin America's leading critic of the United States during his nearly 12 years in power, has increased his government's role in the economy through regulations and a wave of nationalizations.

He has accelerated efforts to entrench his self-styled "21st century socialism" in recent weeks, and apparently chose to order the devaluation as soon as possible before seeking re-election at the next presidential poll in December 2012.

That way, his government takes any economic pain and inflationary pressure -- and possible social consequences -- in 2011 and hopes to have more funds for the election campaign.

It is a gamble, though, because the firebrand president draws his core support from Venezuela's sprawling barrios and poor rural areas, where any price rises will be felt most.

A legislative vote in September showed the electorate split down the middle, but the charismatic Chavez remains by far the country's single most popular politician.

The outgoing parliament gave Chavez special decree powers for the next 18 months, which he says he will soon use to increase the country's sales tax from its current 12 percent.


Jenny Diaz, a 39-year-old administrative assistant, was told about the devaluation while she was lining up to buy a new washing machine before any sales tax hike came into effect.

"Food is going to become more expensive, but our salaries will remain the same," she told Reuters with a sigh.

Network engineer Bernardo Lugo, 40, said the devaluation was irresponsible and showed the government needed cash.

"They have already set up the machine to print money." he said. "This is going increase inflation in the short term."

The move could help Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA, which previously had to sell nearly 30 percent of its revenue at the old rate of 2.6 bolivars to the dollar. It will now be able to book it all at 4.3 bolivars.

The devaluation had been widely forecast by Wall Street analysts, who said it was overdue but perhaps did not go far enough. Most said they expected the authorities in Caracas to take more currency measures going forward.

Daniel Kerner of the Eurasia Group think-tank said that unlike January's major formal devaluation, the latest change did not do much to alter the overall economic picture.

"Foreign exchange shortages will likely remain problematic, and the government will continue to rely on debt issuance to finance spending and address forex shortages," he said.

Venezuela's currency has a unstable history. Financial turmoil in the 1990s led to rapid loss in value, with bands, fixed rates and a free float all failing to stop the decline.

It is a far cry from the oil boom days of the 1970s, when the country was nicknamed "Saudi Venezuela" and the bolivar was one of the region's strongest currencies, letting middle-class Venezuelans enjoy lots of foreign travel and cheap shopping.

Some Venezuelans became known, one joke went, for always saying "Dame dos!" (Give me two!) when stocking up at expensive Miami malls during a period that many still remember fondly.

The devaluation should help fatten the state's coffers and that should cheer bondholders -- though Venezuelan debt trades more on global oil prices and investor appetite for risk.

From Jan. 1, dollars will be available at the official rates of 4.3 bolivars for some preferential goods and 5.3 to the dollar via the central bank's SITME exchange system.

One option for the government could be to let the SITME rate weaken. All eyes are now on what further fiscal steps Chavez will take using his decree powers. (Editing byAndrew Cawthorne and W Simon )

“The historical experience of socialist countries has sadly demonstrated that collectivism does not do away with alienation but rather increases it, adding to it a lack of basic necessities and economic inefficiency.” – Pope John Paul II

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Your tax dollars not at work

Audit Finds CDC Misplaced $8M in Equipment

Let's not forget the ethanol disaster

Manmade famine in America

Thomas Lifson
It seems inconceivable, but people in America are going hungry en masse due to a famine caused by political authorities. Fresno, California is not yet a sister city of Kiev, Ukraine, but the two cities, capitals of rich agricultural regions, share a history of mass hunger caused by central governments indifferent to the suffering of their people, in the pursuit of ideological goals. Investor's Business Daily explains:

Fresno is the agricultural capital of America. More food per acre in more variety can be grown in the fertile Central Valley surrounding this community than on any other land in America - perhaps in the world.

Yet far from being a paradise, Fresno is starting to resemble Zimbabwe or 1930s Ukraine, a victim of a famine machine that is entirely man-made, not by red communists this time, but by greens.

State and federal officials, driven by the agenda of environmental extremists, have made it extremely difficult for the valley's farms, introducing costly environmental regulations and cutting off critical water supplies to save the Delta smelt, a bait fish. It's all driving the economy to collapse.

In the southwest part of the Central Valley, water allotments as low as 10% of normal have created a visible dust bowl. The knock-on effect can be seen in cities like Fresno, where November's unemployment among the packers, cannery workers and professional fields that make agriculture productive stands at 16.9%.

So bad is the economy, due to federal water restrictions, that almost a quarter of local families are going hungry in Fresno:

Local newspapers and Fresno County officials are trying to rally Facebook users to vote for Fresno in a corporate contest sponsored by Wal-Mart for $1 million in charity food donations for the hungry. Fresno, a city of 505,000, has taken the national lead because 24.1% of Fresno's families are going hungry.

The destruction of the agricultural economy of America's most productive region is yet another example of federal policies literally destroying America's productive capacity. To be sure, the Fresno famine is not causing mass starvation, merely hunger. But this is America, and destroying jobs and agricultural capacity is a shameful initiative of government.

Why not Chavez has such a group and aren't we following his lead?

Marxist Senators vow to Create Official Dictatorship

TSA, Youth Corps Now Officially part of Obama Gestapo

By Sher Zieve Thursday, December 30, 2010

The problem with believing one is “safe” from the growing and increasingly ravenous Obama & Co Police State if one embraces—or pretends to embrace—the anti-God/anti-American Leftist viewpoint, is that the belief itself is fallacious. If you espouse these beliefs as your own, the Marxist/Leninist crocodiles currently occupying the power seats (that’s power over We-the-People) in Washington D.C. may eat you last. But, do not be fooled—they will eat you. It is within their innate, immutable and distinct nature to do so.

Now comes the enforcement arms of the Obama regime’s control over us all. The Obama Gestapo is taking many forms. One of these forms manifests itself in the militaristically marching students in the “Obama Youth Corps.” In The Obama Youth Corps Parts 1 and 2 (see references below), Obama is interviewed regarding “his” corps of mobilized youth. In the interview, Obama says it’s a “war.” A war against whom? In the same interview, Obama encourages these mobilized and militaristic youth to join FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). FEMA? FEMA was never before a militant organization but, was created and then used to address helping people in times of disasters. No more. From Obama’s own mouth, it will now be used to fight some strange and dark Obama war. And why were FEMA camps across the country recently refurbished and military Ads placed for people to guard whomever is going to be placed in them? Again, Obama is at war against whom?

In one of Obama’s advertisements to inveigle our nation’s young people into joining his “cause,” the words “I am change. I’ve been around since the beginning of time” occur at least twice. Considering Obama’s early training and the communist and/or prurient natures of most of his unelected Czars, these words are very important. The very first messenger of change was Lucifer who persuaded Adam and Eve to “change” from obeying God to following his ‘logical’ instructions—a decision that ultimately placed mankind into the precarious position it now finds itself. Obama’s mentor and guide in both ideology and community organizing, Saul Alinsky, dedicated his book “Rules for Radicals” to Lucifer. Or, as the Rolling Stones wrote in their cut “Sympathy for the Devil”: “I stuck around St. Petersburg, when I saw it was a time for a change. Killed the Czar and his ministers, Anastasia screamed in vain. Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name. But, what’s confusing you is just the nature of my game.” Within the past 2 years, millions of US citizens woke up and are no longer confused by the nature of Obama & Co’s game. Change certainly has been around since the beginning of time. Are you still wondering against whom Obama is waging his war? It certainly isn’t against any real terrorists.

As we have seen recently, Obama & Co is now openly, without trying to hide its intent, using the misnamed “Transportation Security Administration” to intimidate and force non-Muslim/non-minority US citizen-travelers into getting used to being completely oppressed via sexual groping techniques; techniques that are also being regularly used on young children to prepare them, while they’re still young, for a lifetime of being submissive to all government totalitarian demands.

I have written multiple columns on the suppressive Gestapo techniques now being employed by the ObamaGov’s TSA. Recently, however, this Gestapo enforcement arm of the ObamaGov has stepped up its tyrannical activities. TSA agents are now including in their “to-do lists” not only sexual groping and intimidation but the handcuffing and dragging of non-Muslim/non-minority women (who do not submit to having their breasts felt and squeezed) across airport floors—in full view of other passengers. Claire Hirschfield was planning to fly out of Austin, TX airport to visit family at Christmas. Hirschfield has a pacemaker device in her chest for epileptic seizures and had asked for a pat-down rather than going through the X-ray scanner. Concerned about the scanners and the groping and squeezing of her breasts, Hirschfield said she experienced a problem with groping at another airport during Thanksgiving and had explained her situation, days before she planned to fly, to Mike Scott—the ABIA Director of Security. Hirschfield said that Scott told her not to worry and “No such thing will happen to you here in Austin, ma’am.” But, it did—and it was far worse than Hirschfield could have possibly anticipated.

A rape survivor, Hirschfield asked not to have her breasts squeezed and told the female agent “I’m not going to have my breasts felt” to which the agent replied “Yes you are!” Hirschfield asked to speak with Security Director Scott and was denied. She then told the TSA agents (who were then joined by 3 police officers due to Hirschfield’s non-compliance with the Obama/Napolitano “required” TSA sexual gropings) that she was an American citizen, had paid for her flight and was entitled to take it. The police then told her that SHE was breaking the law—for not complying with the commanded TSA sexual gropings—, threw her to the floor, dragged her across the airport, threw her into a wheelchair and told her she would be taken to jail. Hirschfield began to experience an epileptic seizure and was, subsequently, taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital. She has also been banned from the airport. Good-bye 4th Amendment. It was nice knowing you.

Note: No major US ObamaMedia sources reported on this story. But, the rest-of-the-world media has picked it up. Still wonder against whom the ObamaWar is being waged? It’s against We-the-People…but, only one segment of that group. Has the African Marxist Oligarchy now fully arrived and settled down in the USA? One thing that is certain is that we are now living under the dictatorial Obama Police State and each and every day it becomes worse, more pronounced and more suppressive. The American Stalin is alive and well, living in Washington D.C.

Oh…and by the way…to add insults to the injuries already visited upon the American people, Marxist Party Senate leader Harry Reid, with the urging and support of labor unions and other assorted anti-US groups, has decided to—once again—change the Senate rules to disallow Republicans the filibuster and to bypass and overrule the American voters—once again. One way or another the Marxist Party leaders plan to install a full and working dictatorship that the American people will not be able to change. Still wondering against whom Obama is waging his war? I didn’t think so.

The Obama Youth Corps Wave p1:
The Obama Youth Corps Wave p2
Obama Nation- Youth Brigade TV Advertisement:
Woman arrested after refusing US airport pat-down:
TSA: Disabled Woman Thrown to Floor, Arrested for Refusing Breast Pat Down Search:
Ohio Mom (Erin Chase) Claims Sexual Assault By TSA Agent During Patdown:
TSA Agents and 12 Cops Handcuff and Terrorize Woman Airport Passenger:
Reid’s Rules Scheme To Rewrite Defeat:

Inside the delusional mind of a State Department fool

New Chance for Diplomacy in Korea

Charlie Brown the Peanuts character also repeatedly trusted Lucy to hold the football for him to kick and it never worked out for him. See what making nice to North Korea all these years has gotten us, nada, nothing but an aggressive nuclear armed enemy with missiles that can now reach parts of America.

Strange how quickly the sinking of the South Korean naval ship seems to have slipped from memory

Remember him: Another Obama friend who was appointed to oversee GM

Rattner agrees to pay $10M to settle NY pay-to-play pension scandal


HAVANA (AP) - The cost of cleanliness will rise in Cuba after its cash-strapped, communist government announced Wednesday that soap, toothpaste and detergent will be slashed from monthly ration books.

Cuba's official Gazette said that effective Jan. 1, "personal cleanliness products" will join a growing list of products cut from the ration books that islanders have come to rely on for a small but steady supply of basic goods.

Cubans currently pay about 25 centavos, or about a penny, for a rationed bar of soap. They'll soon have to fork out four to six pesos, according to the gazette.

The list of products available with the ration books has shrunk in recent months as the government trimmed items deemed nonessential. Cigarettes, salt, peas and potatoes have been cut. Sugar, beans, meat, rice, eggs, bread and other products remain.

"It's already hard to make ends meet as it is and this is only going to make it harder," said Elias Conde, a 38-year-old father of two who works in a cafeteria. "But we're used to them taking things away, today it's soap and tomorrow it'll be something else."

The ration program began in 1962 as a temporary way to guarantee food staples for all Cubans in the face of the United States' then-new embargo. Designed to tide people over, it has long provided a measure of food security in a country where average wages hover around $20 a month.

Authorities say the cuts are necessary to free the state - which pays for or heavily subsidizes education, health care, housing and transportation - from a crushing economic burden.

Other, more drastic cost-cutting measures have also been announced, including the layoffs of about half a million state workers.

Critics contend that by slashing the ration books, the state is breaking with what has been a sacred covenant of the island's 1959 revolution: to provide all Cubans with at least the basics.

Obama's aim is different, he wants to cripple the American economy.

$5 Gas Predicted Under Obama -- What, No Pitchforks?

Another mark of leftist deconstructionism. Just make everything up as you go along, their motto.


For the left there is no ruling authority. No G-d. No Constitution. Moral relativism, equivalence and do what feels good are their rails.

Rewarding our enemies once again

Do you really want the UN involved in the internet?

Internet groups fear UN could threaten cyberspace

The union mentality on display.

Is it time to start suing unions?

Sanitation Department's slow snow cleanup was a budget protest

These garbage men really stink.

Selfish Sanitation Department bosses from the snow-slammed outer boroughs ordered their drivers to snarl the blizzard cleanup to protest budget cuts -- a disastrous move that turned streets into a minefield for emergency-services vehicles, The Post has learned.

Miles of roads stretching from as north as Whitestone, Queens, to the south shore of Staten Island still remained treacherously unplowed last night because of the shameless job action, several sources and a city lawmaker said, which was over a raft of demotions, attrition and budget cuts.

"They sent a message to the rest of the city that these particular labor issues are more important," said City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Queens), who was visited yesterday by a group of guilt-ridden sanitation workers who confessed the shameless plot.

Halloran said he met with three plow workers from the Sanitation Department -- and two Department of Transportation supervisors who were on loan -- at his office after he was flooded with irate calls from constituents.

The snitches "didn't want to be identified because they were afraid of retaliation," Halloran said. "They were told [by supervisors] to take off routes [and] not do the plowing of some of the major arteries in a timely manner. They were told to make the mayor pay for the layoffs, the reductions in rank for the supervisors, shrinking the rolls of the rank-and-file."

New York's Strongest used a variety of tactics to drag out the plowing process -- and pad overtime checks -- which included keeping plows slightly higher than the roadways and skipping over streets along their routes, the sources said.

The snow-removal snitches said they were told to keep their plows off most streets and to wait for orders before attacking the accumulating piles of snow.

They said crews normally would have been more aggressive in com bating a fierce, fast-moving bliz zard like the one that barreled in on Sunday and blew out the next morning.

The workers said the work slowdown was the result of growing hostility between the mayor and the workers responsible for clearing the snow.

In the last two years, the agency's workforce has been slashed by 400 trash haulers and supervisors -- down from 6,300 -- because of the city's budget crisis. And, effective tomorrow, 100 department supervisors are to be demoted and their salaries slashed as an added cost-saving move.

Sources said budget cuts were also at the heart of poor planning for the blizzard last weekend. The city broke from its usual routine and did not call in a full complement on Saturday for snow preparations in order to save on added overtime that would have had to be paid for them to work on Christmas Day.

The result was an absolute collapse of New York's once-vaunted systems of clearing the streets and keeping mass transit moving under the weight of 20 inches of snow.

The Sanitation Department last night denied there was a concerted effort to slow snow removal.

"There are no organized or wildcat actions being taken by the sanitation workers or the supervisors," said spokesman Matthew Lipani.

Joseph Mannion, president of the union that represents agency supervisors, said talk of a slowdown "is hogwash." But he admitted there is "resentment out there" toward Mayor Bloomberg and his administration because of budget cuts.

His counterpart at the rank-and-file's union, Harry Nespoli, has also denied there is a job action, though he admitted his guys are working lucrative 14-hour shifts.

Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser said only: "We would hope this is not the case."

But multiple Sanitation Department sources told The Post yesterday that angry plow drivers have only been clearing streets assigned to them even if that means they have to drive through snowed-in roads with their plows raised.

And they are keeping their plow blades unusually high, making it necessary for them to have to run extra passes, adding time and extra pay.

One mechanic said some drivers are purposely smashing plows and salt spreaders to further stall the cleanup effort.

"That is a disgrace. I had to walk three miles because the buses can't move," said salesman Yuri Vesslin, 38, of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg -- quickly becoming the public face of failure this week -- spent a second consecutive day yesterday defending himself to critics of his administration's handling of the storm.

He took reporters to The Bronx to explain that the city is coming back to life and to tout his administration's efforts.

"Can't work much harder," Bloomberg said.

But Hizzoner admitted, "We didn't do as good a job as we want to do or as the city has a right to expect."

Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty promised that every street will have been plowed by 7 this morning, but then he offered this hedge: "Will somebody find a street that I missed? Maybe."

Bloomberg and Doherty also offered a series of excuses for the failed response to the blizzard. They blamed residents for shoveling snow into streets that had already been plowed and for tying up 911 with non-emergency calls.

"This was a failure in the operations and ultimately, as the mayor tells us very often, the buck stops with him," said Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-SI).

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More proof of the Nobel Committee's political agenda

Belgian activist priest admits sexual abuse

Let's see if the UN has any cajones...

Indictment could be blow to Lebanon's Hezbollah

Good analysis

The real reason Vick got a second chance

Top Busybodies of 2010

Courtesy of Michelle Malkin:

It was a nefarious year for nettlesome busybodies employed by the Nanny State. Here are the top power-grabbers of 2010 — those who just can’t leave us alone:

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg

Two feet of snow paralyzed trains, buses, snowplows, and emergency vehicles in the Big Apple this week. Perhaps if Bloomberg — the nation’s top self-appointed municipal food cop — spent more of his time on core government responsibilities instead of waging incessant war on taxpayers’ salt, soda, trans-fat, and sugar intakes, his battered bailiwick would have been better equipped to weather the storm.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood

He proposed meddling mileage taxes, mused about a system to track drivers’ routes, lobbied for high-speed-rail boondoggles, and promoted a “livability initiative” to limit suburban growth and force suburb-dwellers into public transportation. Then America’s driving czar floated a plan to disable cell phones in automobiles. LaHood backed off that creepy crusade, but he is still intent on waging war against drivers who choose to use cell phones, entertainment systems, and GPS devices on the road. Just last week, the unstoppable control freak proposed a new rule banning truck and bus drivers from any use of cell phones while driving — including emergency calls on hands-free devices. His anti-car agenda is stuck in overdrive.

The city of Cleveland

The green police in this Midwestern metropolis made headlines in February with an intrusive plan to roll out snooping trash cans — “smart” rubbish bins bugged with electronic identification chips and bar codes to monitor residents’ recycling habits. Violators could be fined $100. Federal stimulus money has gone to fund a similar program in Dayton, Ohio. The technology originated in Germany, was adopted by eco-authoritarians in England (where at least 500,000 trash cans now have snitch chips embedded in them), and has spread across Europe. Welcome to the age of Bin Brother.

The city of San Francisco

The board of supervisors recently took the “happy” out of McDonald’s Happy Meals by forbidding all restaurants to offer toys with children’s meals that exceed limits on calories, fat, salt, and sugar. Even the mayor of the People’s Republic of San Francisco opposes this latest food-control scheme. But the bossy City by the Bay continues to assault consumer freedom with bans on everything from plastic bags to pet sales to soda pop. This summer, Mayor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order banning Coke, Pepsi, and Fanta Orange drinks from vending machines on city property. The decree dictates that “ample choices” of water, “soy milk, rice milk, and other similar dairy or non-dairy milk” must instead be offered. It’s not clear how vendors will be able to circumvent the city’s hostility toward plastic bottles. Maybe beverages will be served straight out of those noxiously trendy reusable cloth bags?

The rest here:

We are born equal. What we do from there defines our inequalities.

How Not to Help Blacks Find Employment

By Robert Weissberg
As of November 2010, the overall unemployment rate for whites was 9.2%, but for African Americans, it was 16.0%. Among those aged 16 to 19, the difference (including both males and females) was significantly larger -- 20.9% for young whites versus 46.5% for young blacks. In job-rich Manhattan, only one in four young (16-24) black males was employed in 2010. What is especially remarkable about these statistics is their intractability. Since the 1960s and the War on Poverty, Washington has spent billions -- everything from job training programs to tax incentives to anti-discrimination laws -- to eradicate this gap, all to no avail.

Given a half-century of failure, efforts to narrow differences have grown increasingly desperate. The latest is the federal government's attempt to equalize how black and white job candidates appear to prospective employers even if they differ substantially -- just ban employers from checking credit and criminal histories so as not to "unreasonably" disadvantage black job applicants.

The facts are straightforward. First, African-Americans are far more likely to have criminal records than whites, and according to a Federal Reserve report, they disproportionally also have credit problems -- repossessions, bankruptcies, wage garnishments, outstanding unsatisfied court judgments, and high overdue credit card balances. Second, the internet (and other technologies) facilitates quick, inexpensive background checks of prospective employees (for example, here). Third, the courts have held that an employer screening of job applicants is inherently racially discriminatory if blacks are disproportionally excluded according to criteria that lack direct connections to the jobs (the principle of disparate impact).

Advocates of prohibiting this inquiry typically insist that (a) criminal and financial records are error-prone and sometimes outdated, and they often do not distinguish between serious and trivial infractions; (b) may reflect legal encounters decades back, often just youthful foolishness, and (c) past bad behavior often has nothing to do with the sought-after job. This view is gaining traction beyond the federal government's longstanding campaign against disparate impact. Several states have explicitly banned employers from using credit histories in employment screening, and a law was recently introduced (H.R. 3149) that would severely limit this practice nationally.

This anti-background check effort recently drew national attention when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued the Kaplan Higher Education Corporation for using credit histories to screen applicants, a widespread and growing practice among both private firms and the government itself. According to the suit, since January 2008, Kaplan has examined applicant credit histories, and blacks have been disproportionately rejected. The EEOC demands that Kaplan not only cease this harmful practice, but that the corporation also award back wages and benefits to those African-Americans not hired due to credit troubles. Kaplan's defense is that it already has a diverse workforce and is an equal-opportunity employer, and creditworthiness is relevant since Kaplan employees often handle financial matters.

Given the enduring gap between whites and blacks in obtaining jobs, the obvious question is whether this new approach will help African-Americans get more jobs. Probably not -- and, as with so many other well-intentioned interventions, it will widen gaps.

An almost prima facie case exists that criminal records and a poor credit rating tell a lot about a prospective employee, even for menial work. Past troubles provide clues about avoiding unwise risk, a capacity to plan, and a willingness to follow rules and otherwise behave prudently. These traits may have little to do with specific duties, but no employer wants a workforce of deadbeats and former felons. Yes, there may be a weak link between failure to pay one's credit card on time and sticky fingers when sweeping the store floor at midnight without supervision, but there may be a connection, and given multiple applicants for the floor-sweeper position, why risk hiring a thief? And even if the initial job is unrelated to past problems, what happens when this employee asks for a promotion where the shaky background is relevant? Denying this request only invites litigation.

That these hiring criteria are racially discriminatory does not mean that they are economically irrational. Especially since good-paying jobs typically attract numerous applicants (especially in hard economic times), poor credit or a criminal conviction are perfect tie-breakers to sort out applicants. There are also supervision costs associated with monitoring employees with troubled backgrounds. I owned a retail business for thirteen years, and this included hiring (and firing) dozens of employees. Predicting who will be an unsatisfactory employee, and especially a thief, is difficult enough without knowing applicants' personal histories, a situation compounded by many past employers refusing to say anything bad for fear of litigation. Given the paucity of information, I relied on the easily available applicant's history of paying utility bills, since I discovered that chronic no-payers often skipped work, to resolve these crises. Nor did I trust those whose daily finances were desperate. To prohibit background checks is just one more attack on business.

Ironically, banning background checks may exacerbate black unemployment. If an employer has inadequate information about a prospective hire, he or she is forced to use crude proxies, and race is a convenient, clear-cut proxy. So rather than risk hiring an ex-felon or chronic deadbeat, stick to whites or Asians. In fact, one study of this relationship found that employers were more likely to hire black males where they could perform background checks on past criminality. In other words, since most blacks have clean records, these "helpful" prohibitions were a liability for those who might otherwise be hired.

This ill-advised "help" is just one of many similar unhelpful government interventions. Prohibiting background checks only adds to an already heavy employer burden whose unintended impact is to price many blacks out of the job market. After all, what employer wants employees who can so easily sue for discrimination, real or imagined, on so many grounds (see here)? Similarly, why hire somebody whose educational credentials are less than bona fide thanks to government pressure on schools to "make the number" or admit unqualified applicants so as to redress historical inequalities -- and then prohibit the employer from independently testing job applicants if whites are likely to outscore blacks despite comparable credentials? Or why hire somebody who has been endlessly instructed that America is hopelessly racist and that this racism must be exposed? No wonder that as private employment grows more competitive and employers have better choices, government itself has increasingly become the chief employer of blacks, since it lacks rivals with a superior workforce (see here, for example).

What might explain this counterproductive assistance? A cynic might claim that the hidden goal is greater dependency on government, but I'll leave that devious possibility to others. Personally, I suspect that many "friends" of unemployed blacks lack any understanding of how businesses can escape these economically harmful edicts. In their mistaken view, help is just a matter of upping the pressure on white employers. Yet, faced with edicts to hire blacks they are loath to hire, a firm might relocate to largely whites areas, increase automation, hire subcontractors immune to government mandates, eliminate or sell portions of the business, hire off the books and pay in cash, or outsource tasks overseas. These actions are, of course, increasingly commonplace and perfectly legal, and each may well contribute to the intractability of black unemployment.

Unfortunately, champions of boosting black employment refuse to acknowledge these avoidance strategies. They remain stuck in the white prejudice explanation and ignore the sound reasons behind these dreadful unemployment figures (see here). So rather than counsel blacks on how to use credit prudently, these "friends" attempt to create a fantasy world where employers cannot check troubled credit histories. But as the statistics show, the sham doesn't work. To invoke the mother of all clichés, with friends like this, who needs enemies?

Apply for a Federal job and see what kind of things they want to know about you.

One insult is worth a 1000 years of murderous behavior

Five arrested over Danish cartoon terror plot

Just following Congress' example

D.C.'s most serious sex assaults spike nearly 50 percent in 2010

D.C. is the center of liberalism so raping comes naturally. For those who believe crime is a result of poverty tell me how sexual assault puts bread on the table.

Beyond words

A 94-YEAR-OLD Indian farmer is claiming to be the world's oldest dad.

Democrat or Despotic Latin American Thug

It gets harder to tell the difference every day.

At Christmas, most Venezuelans put politics aside to occupy themselves with whiskey-laden celebrations, heart-stopping firecrackers and visits to far-flung relatives. So few were surprised when President Hugo Chávez chose that annual party time to push through a law that allows him to rule by decree for 18 months, effectively superseding the new, less friendly National Assembly poised to take office on Jan. 5. Most Venezuelans were just too busy enjoying themselves to object — for the moment.

For good measure or bad, the President's supporters have also rushed through a stack of last-minute laws that regulate the Internet, prohibit nongovernmental organizations from receiving foreign funding, prevent lawmakers from voting against their political party and make it easier for the government to intervene in banks.

Chávez says the decree powers are necessary to assist the victims of heavy rains that have provoked flooding and mudslides, killing more than 30 and leaving some 130,000 homeless. Those displaced have been temporarily sheltered in hotels, a shopping mall Chávez expropriated last year and even the presidential palace. After visiting those affected on Christmas Eve, Chávez made his first use of the powers on Sunday to create a $2.3 billion fund for reconstruction efforts. He scoffed at critics who allege he will use his decree powers to slide the country toward dictatorship, saying, "There will be democracy, democracy and more democracy."

Still, as he signed the so-called Enabling Law on Dec. 17, Chávez threw a gibe at opposition lawmakers who gained 67 of the National Assembly's 165 seats in September — a minority, but still a dramatic shift from the rubber-stamp legislature he has enjoyed for the past five years. "Let's see how they're going to make their laws now," Chávez crowed.

(Read "Are Basque terrorists being trained in Venezuela?")

It's not the first time Chávez has taken steps to challenge those who oppose him. After an opposition leader was elected mayor of Caracas last year, the National Assembly passed a law largely removing his power and creating a position above him for an official appointed directly by the President. While Chávez has vehemently denied accusations of foul play, critics have also accused his government of using politically charged corruption probes to disable his opponents and laws to limit the power of opposition governors. "It's the way he's acted in the past when he's suffered a setback," says Michael Shifter, president of the Washington-based think tank Inter-American Dialogue. "Chávez obviously doesn't like to be challenged politically."

(See how Chávez's opposition is getting its act together.)

Whether or not Chávez decides to use his newfound authority to limit dissent in the lead-up to the 2012 presidential elections, he has now been given the option. Steve Ellner, a political-science professor at the Universidad de Oriente and author of Rethinking Venezuelan Politics: Class, Conflict, and the Chávez Phenomenon, says Chávez is moving ahead with his political program regardless of a recently strengthened opposition. "Chávez doesn't slow down, he doesn't take backward steps," Ellner says. "The guiding principle of the Chavistas in power is, Democracy is about majority rule. And so whoever's in power doesn't have to make concessions."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Why are we beginning to look more and more like a totalitarian centrally planned state: Progressives want it that way

Feed Me, Obama, Feed Me: The Plan for Food Dependency

By John Griffing
What does any would-be tyrant need in order to gain control over the lives of citizens? Three things come to mind: martial law, socialized medicine, and food dependency.

In at least two of these categories, President Obama has already succeeded.

Martial Law

By way of executive proclamation, President Obama has secured for himself the power to declare martial law in the event of a national "emergency," real or contrived, and without the accountability typically required by the Posse Comitatus Act and the Nation Emergencies Act of 1976.

This is the legacy of the "conservative" Bush administration. National emergencies have now been transformed into power-grabbing devices thanks to the virtually unnoticed National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 51.

NSPD 51 empowers the president to co-opt all state and local government authority in the event that he declares a national emergency. This is a self-declared power not subjugated to the National Emergencies Act of 1976 as in previous directives.

President Obama quickly went beyond NSPD 51, signing an order creating a "Council of Governors" who would be put in charge of declaring martial law. The directive is in direct violation of Posse Comitatus and the Insurrection Act. This "Council of Governors" answers only to President Obama.

In October of last year, President Obama declared a national emergency in the midst of the much-hyped swine flu crisis. This declaration was largely overlooked. By combining his October declaration with the provisions of NSPD 51, President Obama can now be considered virtually uninhibited by Congress and free to flip the switch at any moment.

Socialized Medicine

Whether or not Republicans achieve repeal, a precedent has been set. It is unlikely that the full damage of ObamaCare can be completely undone without Republican control of the White House. The U.S. government can now dictate the coverage and benefits of most Americans -- i.e., those on Medicaid, Medicare, and SCHIP, which together account for thirty percent of the population. In addition, government can punish Americans without insurance with unconstitutional fees and fine employers who refuse to provide every single employee with premium health benefits, making economic recovery unlikely.

In previous articles, I have explained the deadly dimension to ObamaCare as currently construed, demonstrating the serious potential for the mass destruction of human life on the basis of erroneous factors like "hospital readmission." Who will challenge federal officials with health care at stake? Who would seriously suggest that health care will not be used as a political weapon? When the government has all power and no accountability, it has very little reason to use that power responsibly. Accountability is what makes the American model work. But accountability is removed with ObamaCare.

The one area where elites have been so far reluctant to venture is food. Food is the stuff of life. Control over food would mean direct control over the political decisions of average Americans. The elites have slipped the slope, passing legislation that will give federal bureaucrats jurisdiction over food "production" -- i.e., who produces food, what kinds of food are produced, and in what quantities. However, this is not a debate about food regulation or food inspection. What is taking place is in fact a coup d'état, with dinner tables as the strategic weapons.

Food Dependency

The greatest tyrants in history have used food as a method of control. To state the obvious, people must eat to live. By controlling the flow of food to people who side with the political intelligentsia, rule is established. People may challenge tyranny when they have meat on the table. But who in their right mind would bite the hands of their benefactors (so called)?

Meet the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), a new legislative proposal designed to centralize control over food stocks to protect Americans from "terror."

The motive may indeed be to protect the food supply from the actions of terrorists, but what about acts of government terror? Can centralized control by the government protect the people against the whims of human nature? This question is not being asked by those so in favor of surrendering control of food to an entity that cannot even manage a budget, much less an oil spill or other natural disaster. Now we are to believe that this same inefficient, broken entity can guarantee the safety of our food? Something stinks, and it smells like government cheese. Usually when people ask for power, it is because they want power, regardless of the stated motive.

What good, for example, can be gained from removing the right of Americans to grow their own food, as several of the provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act do? The Ninth Amendment arguably guarantees this and other unenumerated rights. The Ninth Amendment reads:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

To clarify, how can the rights to life, liberty, and property enshrined in the Constitution exist without the ability of citizens to attend to bodily needs -- i.e., sustenance?

The FSMA doesn't merely wrest control of the food supply from citizens. Dangerously, the FSMA proceeds to transfer U.S. food sovereignty to the WTO, with one provision reading, "Nothing in this Act shall be construed in a manner inconsistent with the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization or any other treaty or international agreement to which the U.S. is a party." This provision is significant, since the WTO draws all its food safety standards from the controversial Codex Alimentarius, which is thought by some to be a vast postwar scheme to control the world's population by means of food. The bottom line vis-à-vis food is that Americans lose control, and foreign bureaucrats gain control.

Even if the alleged motive were legitimate, the FDA already inspects food imports, albeit quite poorly. The federal government already possesses the necessary power to thwart terrorist contamination of the food supply. This proposal, then, is not really about protecting food, but instead about controlling food -- and by extension, controlling Americans. We must resist while the fruits of the field are still here for the picking.

President Obama is willing to shut off the water in a small town in the heart of America's agricultural center. Might he be willing to stop shipments of food to politically opposed states?

In case you wondered

The unintended consequences of irrational do-gooderism.

More than half of all Prince George's, DC families headed by single parents

More than half of family households in parts of the District of Columbia and Prince George's County are run by single parents, a home life that experts say increases their children's chances of following in the same footsteps.

The section of D.C. across the Anacostia River is home to the biggest percentage of single-parent households, with 65 percent of family households run by women and 9 percent run by men. The remaining one-quarter of the roughly 32,000 family households are run by married couples, according to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

A family household is one in which the head of the house is caring for another family member or adopted member. Experts say in most cases that family member is a child.

Other areas in which more than half of families are run by single parents include the remainder of Southeast D.C. and most of Northeast D.C. and areas in Prince George's near the Capital Beltway. In Langley Park, single-father households actually outnumber single-mother households by a 4-3 ratio.

That these areas have a high minority population, particularly among blacks and Hispanics, is not a coincidence, said Ron Haskins, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

"About 70 percent of black kids are born outside marriage, and then you have those born in a marriage, about half of them end in divorce," he said. "And first-generation Hispanics have a relatively low divorce rate ... but once you get into the second generation that disappears."

Haskins said many factors contribute to the high concentration of single-parent households among those minority groups, but "the bottom line is I don't think anyone really understands why."

Children who do grow up with one parent are more likely to repeat that pattern as adults, he said. But it doesn't always start out that way -- in fact, a recent study Haskins co-authored shows that most of those children are born into households with both parents present.

"But as time goes by [the parents] are more likely to separate," Haskins said. "They gradually lose contact with the father ... and it's the transitions and all the turmoil associated with the transition that really has an impact on the child."

While kids tend to fare slightly better with mom than with dad, Haskins said the distinction is difficult to make because the way most dads end up with their kids is by fighting for custody in what is usually a nasty divorce.

Dads in well-to-do Laytonsville have done that at a fairly high rate. More than half of Laytonsville children live with both parents, but of the remainder, 30 percent live with their fathers while 13 percent live with their mothers.