Democrats have misplaced confidence

The world of progressive/statist/altruists must reside in a dimension slightly removed from reality. For all of their “liberalism” they think dogmatically. The more black voters we can get to the polls for an election, the better. The more young people we can get to the polls, the better. The more Hispanics we can get to the polls, the better. The more women we can get to the polls, the better. That may have been true in the recent past and may be mostly true even in the upcoming election, but they cannot count on this being true in perpetuity.

Many Democrats who are fighting to win re-election next week were swept into office in 2008 by millenial voters enamored of the lofty rhetoric of then candidate, Senator Obama. Young voters are no longer reliably Democratic. They more appropriately should be considered “swing voters.” (See: Harvard University Institute of Politics.) Among 18-to-29-year-olds who say they will “definitely” vote in the November 4 election, 51 percent prefer a Republican-led Congress, while only 47 percent prefer to have the Democrats in control. That constitutes a 12 point shift from the 2010 midterm election. This is a sea change among the youngest and largest generation of voters, who have supported Democrats reliably since 2004.

As I have said many times, it would be unthinkable that the vast majority of black voters would not support President Obama. But many black voters thought he would focus on the issues that have plagued black communities. They are beginning to wake up to the reality that their various “plights” are worse under the leadership of Barack Obama than they were under George W. Bush. There is “buyer’s remorse” even in the black community. You will find the following video illuminating – President Obama should watch it, too.

Hispanics have been voting for Democrats because many believe in amnesty for their fellow countrymen that are here illegally. While I disagree I can understand their point of view. But the English and Scots pioneers that forged this nation don’t sit around at election time thinking which candidate wants to give amnesty to English or Scots illegals – and there are English or Scots illegals. The passage of time will inexorably alter their perspective.

Importantly, Latinos are not blind to the amateurish administration led by Barack Obama. Latinos are split in their approval of President Obama, with 40 percent in favor of the president, while another 40 percent disapprove of him, according to a survey by Florida Atlantic University’s Business and Economic Polling Initiative. I also firmly believe that second and third generations of Latino voters will favor Republicans. These are hard working, independent, family-oriented Americans. They should be prime supporters of Republican ideals (if our Party can ever field a candidate that can make a reasoned argument illustrating those beliefs).

While more women polled would still like to see a Democrat-controlled Congress, the gap between those who prefer Democrat control and those who prefer Republican control has shrunk dramatically in recent weeks. Last month, there was a 14 point gap, 51 to 37 percent. The gap is now half that, at 47 to 40 percent The President’s approval rating among white women is only 32 percent, with a disapproval rating of 62 percent — a 30 point spread. Just last month, the gap was 24 points. Last month, that demographic hoped to see a Democrat controlled Congress, by a margin of four points. Now, 48 percent want to see the Republicans control Congress, while only 40 percent want the Democrats in power in the House and Senate.

These shifts can be made permanent if the Republican Party could simply come together and do some things that are both good for the country and good for their Party. Fellow Republicans, let us stop fighting each other and focus on solutions that maintain our core principles but encourage young voters, women voters, black voters, and hispanic voters to respect our principles of small government, equal opportunity and self reliance. It can be done.

Roy Filly

 

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Largest cities – just 16 years away.

I love graphs. Lots of information flows into our brains in seconds. Today’s graphs are somewhat speculative, but…

In 2030 the world population is expected to top 7 billion humans. I don’t worry about the total population. I worry about three factors – percent of the population that is aged, insufficient birthrates in Europe and Americans of European descent, and continued movement to major population centers. With regard to the latter, the graphs below should be of interest.

[Source: Reader Bran via Mike Shedlock]

When looking at the first graph keep in mind that in 1870, 70-80 percent of the US population was employed in agriculture. As of 2008, less than 2 percent of the population was directly employed in agriculture. Across the globe 20% of workers are employed in agriculture.

Approximately 27 percent of the world population will be aged 0 – 15 years by 2030. Currently, 20% of the US population is aged 0 – 15 years. Note, as well, in the third graph that by 2030 the United States will no longer have a mega-city in the world’s top ten.

7 billion people 10 million Population 10 Mega Cities

 

It is worth remembering that while 7 billion is a big number, the surface area of land on Earth is a very big number. The area of Texas is 268,581 square miles. Add in California’s 163,696 square miles (total 432,277 square miles) and, assuming a world population of 7 billion people, that’s 16,193 per square mile. This means each person gets 1721 square feet, which is the size of a relatively large apartment (according to Multifamily Executive, as of 2013, the average apartment size was 982 square feet).

Therefore, you could fit a world population of 7 billion quite comfortably in Texas and California. The population density computed above (16,193 per square mile) is significantly lower than the pop density of NYC (27,779 per square mile) and far less than Union City, New Jersey (52,327 per square mile).

I do not know what these statistics portend for the United States. Just thought you would be interested in knowing them.

Roy Filly

 

 

 

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Pleasant surprise at the pump.

Americans have been pleased to see the price of gas plummeting. Gas is below $3 per gallon in a number of states – not California, of course. However, I paid $3.11 for gas today. These are the lowest prices we have seen in years. The reason is because the bottom has dropped out of the oil price market – currently 20-25% lower than its June peak of $105 per barrel. The savings to the American people may be as much as $200 billion. However, the reasons for this turn in events may surprise you.

I am confident the President will say that this boon is because his “green energy” policy is working. It’s not working and it’s not the reason gas prices are falling. For a President that HATES fossil fuels, you will soon see that fossil fuels are the only reason his “economic policy” is even working a miniscule amount.

[Source: The true reason gas prices are falling, by Stephen Moore]

One of the principle reasons that oil prices have fallen is that the United States has become a major new producer of oil. The “fracking” revolution (hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling) has begun to pay off in big dividends for America. Yes, FRACKING. Windmills – no! Solar power – no! Algae – no. Biofuels – no. I am not against continuing to explore alternative energy sources for the future, but not for the near future. Over the last five years the U.S. has increased its oil production by a gigantic 50 percent. And the U.S. is now the world’s leading natural gas producer. Importantly, the technology involved in this revolution was developed right here.

The above reason is good for America. Unfortunately, the next major cause for falling oil prices is not good for America. Demand has slowed down because the European economy is yet again on the brink of disaster. Even Germany, the only remaining economic power in European Union is flagging. I have been writing that the US would emerge from the financial meltdown as the leading economy. We do not want to accomplish that at the expense of Europe.

For all of the vitriol of the Obama administration toward fossil fuels, oil and natural gas are the only reason that the “stimulus” and the massive deficits of the current presidency have any economic legs at all. Without the massive economic boom of the energy sector the U.S. economy would scarcely have recovered from the Great Recession. From the beginning of 2008 through the end of 2013 the oil and gas extraction industry created 100,000 more jobs on net than did all other industries combined. More pointedly still with regard to the Obama “economic recovery plan,” the overall job market shrank by 970,000 jobs.

The final reason oil prices are declining is that Saudi Arabia is pumping oil in massive amounts. Why would they do that, ask you, when demand is falling? Because, answer I, they know that it is much cheaper to pump oil out of the giant cauldrons of the black stuff sitting below the Arabian desert than it is to extract it by fracking. They are trying to put fracking out of business by lowering prices in today’s market below what is economically feasible for US companies. A few billion dollars lost now, they reason, is worth the hundreds of billions of dollars they will reap in the future if they can plunge a knife in the back of US oil producers – many of which are small companies. Clever these Arabs – the bastards.

However, one of the most important potential benefits of the U.S. oil boom is that it will ultimately break the back of OPEC. You can’t have a cartel if the world’s largest producer — the U.S.A. — isn’t a member. OPEC will never again be able to hold the world with a knife at its throat. The ability to create the level of economic turmoil that the Arab members of OPEC engineered in the 1970s with their oil embargo will be gone forever!

Our President simply doesn’t get it! As recently as 2012 he declared that “the problem is we use more than 20 percent of the world’s oil and we only have 2 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves. Even if we drilled every square inch of this country right now, we’d still have to rely disproportionately on other countries for their oil.” Well, lying isn’t new to this administration. If the President actually checked his facts before spewing out progressive/statist dogma he would know that proven U.S. oil reserves of oil and gas are sufficient to supply our nation for hundreds of years.

Imagine that our President actually fostered this great gift to America. Instead he blocks pipelines, refuses to repeal the ban on oil exports, has hamstrung rather than expanded drilling on public lands, and tries at every turn to punitively tax and regulate the oil and gas industry out of existence.

Eight hundred and fourteen days and counting. Please, God, allow the United States of America to survive the Obama Presidency.

Roy Filly

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Civil Forfeiture: It’s much worse than I thought.

On October 15th I wrote about Civil Forfeiture. I featured a comic video by John Oliver (if you didn’t see it, it is a good starting point). Today’s post has many more examples, it is not remotely funny, and contains statistics that will… well, they will “freak you out!” The following article by Dan Mitchell is a must read for anyone who believes that our government is too big, too ineffectual, and too intrusive into the lives of Americans. If you don’t want to read the entire article, at least watch the short video at the end.

Roy Filly

Another Reason Why Decent and Moral People Are Libertarians

Daniel J. Mitchell

I don’t particularly care how people vote, but I do care whether they believe in freedom.

That’s why I periodically share stories that should convince everyone to believe in the libertarian philosophy of small government, individual liberty, and personal responsibility.

The stories that get me most agitated are the ones that involve innocent people being robbed by bureaucrats.

And when I say robbed, I use that word deliberately.

Such as the case of an elderly couple who had their hotel stolen by government.

Such as the case of the family grocer who had his bank account stolen by government.

Such as when the government wanted to steal someone’s truck because a different person was arrested for drunk driving.

Such as when the government tried to steal the bond money a family collected to bail out a relative.

Such as when the government seized nearly $400,000 of a business owner’s money because it was in the possession of an armored car company suspected of wrongdoing.

Such as when the government sought to confiscate an office building from the owner because a tenant was legally selling medical marijuana.

Such as when the government killed a man as part of an anti-gambling investigation undertaken in hopes of using asset forfeiture to steal other people’s cash.

With all this background, you can probably guess I’m going to add to that list.

And you’re right. We have a report from the New York Times that has me frothing at the mouth. I can’t imagine any decent person not being outraged by this example of big government run amok.

For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. For just as long, she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account, almost $33,000. The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes — in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report.

In other words, this is an example of two evil policies – asset forfeiture laws and money laundering laws – coming together in a vortex of we’ll-screw-you-over-even-if-you’re-law-abiding statism.

And you can forget about the Constitution’s presumption of innocence.

Ms. Hinders said in a recent interview. “Who takes your money before they prove that you’ve done anything wrong with it?” The federal government does. Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent. Many give up.

Of course, much of tax code enforcement is based on the upside-down premise that taxpayers are guilty and have to prove themselves innocent.

But that still doesn’t make it right. And the IRS is just the tip of the iceberg. Stealing is now a common practice by all sorts of bureaucracies at all levels of government.

The practice has swept up dairy farmers in Maryland, an Army sergeant in Virginia saving for his children’s college education and Ms. Hinders, 67, who has borrowed money, strained her credit cards and taken out a second mortgage to keep her restaurant going. Their money was seized under an increasingly controversial area of law known as civil asset forfeiture, which allows law enforcement agents to take property they suspect of being tied to crime even if no criminal charges are filed. Law enforcement agencies get to keep a share of whatever is forfeited. Critics say this incentive has led to the creation of a law enforcement dragnet, with more than 100 multiagency task forces combing through bank reports, looking for accounts to seize.

Here’s just one horrifying example of how this process works.

In one Long Island case, the police submitted almost a year’s worth of daily deposits by a business, ranging from $5,550 to $9,910. The officer wrote in his warrant affidavit that based on his training and experience, the pattern “is consistent with structuring.” The government seized $447,000 from the business, a cash-intensive candy and cigarette distributor that has been run by one family for 27 years. …the government seized $447,000, and the brothers have been unable to retrieve it. …Mr. Potashnik said he had spent that time trying, to no avail, to show that the brothers were innocent. They even paid a forensic accounting firm $25,000 to check the books. “I don’t think they’re really interested in anything,” Mr. Potashnik said of the prosecutors. “They just want the money.” …“We’re just hanging on as a family here,” Mr. Hirsch said. “We weren’t going to take a settlement, because I was not guilty.”

Still not convinced about the venality of big government? Here’s another nauseating example.

Army Sgt. Jeff Cortazzo of Arlington, Va., began saving for his daughters’ college costs during the financial crisis, when many banks were failing. He stored cash first in his basement and then in a safe-deposit box. All of the money came from paychecks, he said, but he worried that when he deposited it in a bank, he would be forced to pay taxes on the money again. So he asked the bank teller what to do. “She said: ‘Oh, that’s easy. You just have to deposit less than $10,000.’” The government seized $66,000; settling cost Sergeant Cortazzo $21,000. As a result, the eldest of his three daughters had to delay college by a year. “Why didn’t the teller tell me that was illegal?” he said. “I would have just plopped the whole thing in the account and been done with it.”

By the way, some of you may be thinking that these terrible examples are somehow justifiable because the government is stopping crime in other instances.

But that’s not true. Experts who have looking at money laundering laws have found that there’s no impact on genuine criminal activity. But lots of costs imposed on innocent people.

Which probably explains why the first two directors of the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Officenow say the laws should be repealed.

If you want more information, here’s my video on the government’s costly and failed war on money laundering.

Sigh.

By the way, the government also abuses people in ways that have nothing to do with money laundering or asset forfeiture.

And there are more examples where those came from.

 

 

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Why I blog.

Every collectivist revolution rides in on a Trojan horse of ‘emergency’. It was the tactic of Lenin, Hitler, and Mussolini… ‘emergency’ became the justification of the subsequent steps. This technique of creating emergency is the greatest achievement that demagoguery attains.

Herbert Hoover

We are sure living in a peculiar time. You get more for not working than you will for working, and more for not raising a hog than for raising it.

Will Rogers

A human group transforms itself into a crowd when it suddenly responds to a suggestion rather than to reasoning… to an affirmation rather than to proof, to the repetition of a phrase rather than to arguments…

Jean-Francois Revel

As my readers know, I am a Californian. I sometimes wonder why I continue to try to change Sacramento and Washington. It is akin to working at a church in the middle of Amsterdam’s red light district. I am wildly outnumbered by people with a different outlook on government. I feel like a cleric trying to save misguided souls.

I will share a personal story from a recent episode at the voting poll. The timing was the last primary election. You must declare your party affiliation at the precinct desk in order to obtain the correct ballot. I signed in and stated, “Republican.” I was handed my ballot and as I walked to the voting booth noted that it read, “Democrat.” I returned to the elderly lady at the precinct desk, handed her the erroneous ballot, and said, “No, Republican.” She looked at me, smiled, and said, “Oh! How refreshing!”

Ergo, I know my vote won’t count for much on November 4th. Nonetheless, I will be there to cast my ballot. I revisited my original post to reaffirm the reasons that I spent time every day for the past several years reading, researching, and writing the previous 781 posts. Here is what I wrote and still believe. (By the by, the last paragraph is why I always turn up at that voting booth.)

Posted on 10/15/2010.

I decided to write a blog at the suggestion of my son. I have developed a recent interest in politics. It is not that I ignored politics in the past. There has hardly been an election in which I did not vote over the past 45 years. What changed?

I feel very strongly that this country is headed in the wrong direction. By that I mean it is heading away from its founding principles. This has been happening for a long time but the acceleration in the wrong direction under Barack Obama has been breathtaking. It may sound trite, but I honestly think the votes that I cast on November 2, 2010 will be the most important of my citizenship. (I have felt similarly for every election since Barack Obama became President. I saw him immediately as the most dangerous President in our history. Americans are finally catching up to this notion. Our only salvation during his Presidency is that he is ineffectual – RF.)

This year is the first time in my adult life that I attended a political rally. I may be late to the game, but I have decided to play and I believe I have something to say. Once I begin to play, I will not quit. As Admiral Yamamoto declared following his country’s attack on Pearl Harbor, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant.” In this instance, however,  Obama has awakened a Lilliputian. But watch out! Gulliver learned that Lilliputians can bring you down!

It matters little to me whether anyone ever reads what I write, but the need within me to write about my perceptions is profound. An argument needs to be made. Every individual needs to speak out, if only to say “I disagree…”

Roy Filly

 

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Waste, waste, and more waste!

The American people have a distrust of the federal government’s stewardship of the money they pay in taxes. It appears the American people are reasonably intelligent. Big Government is a terrible steward when it comes to spending.

In a recent survey, Americans believe that 51% of our tax dollars are misspent and wasted. In a recent Gallup poll Americans estimated that the federal government wastes 51 cents of every dollar it spends, a new high in a Gallup trend question first asked in 1979. Of course, Americans have long known that the federal government wastes money. But, we have reached a new high in distrust.

The lowest recorded poll result was nearly 25 years ago (38% in 1986) and Americans have become progressively less trusting of the federal government’s administration of their hard earned money. Why would American’s believe that the government wastes so much money, ask you? Because, answer I, they see egregious examples of “spending stupidity” on a regular basis. They reason that if, in a given instance, the government wastes virtually every penny of an expenditure, they probably waste most of every expenditure.

In a most telling example from the recent news, federal employees on administrative leave received their back pay. In other words, if you were a “bad boy or girl,” but you work for the federal government, your bad behavior is rewarded, not punished. Sounds like a perfect message to send to employees to me. No wonder dealing with federal agencies is among an average American’s worst nightmares! Oh boy! Tomorrow I get to visit the Internal Revenue Service! I’ll get up early and dress in my best suit!

But here is the most shocking aspect of this debacle. We gave these employees $700 million in back pay. Did you get that? $700 million!

The GAO, analyzing data for 60 percent of the federal civilian workforce for the 2011-2013 period, found that more than 57,000 employees were put on paid administrative leave at a cost of $700 million in salary — benefits costs were not included in the estimate. Some were on leave for as long as one to three years. Nice paid vacation for malfeasance! Imagine if they analyzed 100% of the federal civilian workforce and extended the surveillance period for more that two years.

More startling is the revelation that, by far, the biggest reason cited for extended periods of paid administrative leave is “personnel matters.” GAO said this includes such things as investigations into alleged misconduct, criminal matters, or security concerns as well as settlement agreements, pending adverse actions due to INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR! You should consider doing something “inappropriate” if you work for the federal government! Maybe grab your bosses ass and make a lewd comment. That should get you a nice long paid vacation!

OK. To lighten the mood let us move on to those federal expenditures that make the average American scratch his or her head in wonder. My readers are well aware that Senator Tom Coburn has been compiling a list of the 100 most egregious misallocations of federal funds for many years. Sadly, Senator Coburn is leaving the Senate next year. We can only hope someone will continue his work.

So, let’s take a look:

[Source: The Heritage Foundation]

Since last year billions more taxpayer dollars have been flushed down the toilet on projects and studies that have zero redeeming value. Sen. Coburn and his staff release their annual report showing the truly astonishing ways bureaucrats and politicians in Washington spend your money. This year was no different, of course. Some highlights:

Coast guard party patrols – $100,000

Watching grass grow – $10,000 (Yes, I know – $10,000 is a pittance, but WATCHING GRASS GROW!!! – RF)

State department tweets @ terrorists – $3 million

Swedish massages for rabbits – $387,000

Paid vacations for bureaucrats gone wild – $20 million

Mountain lions on a treadmill – $856,000

Synchronized swimming for sea monkeys – $50,000

Pentagon to destroy $16 billion in unused ammunition — $1 billion (A billion dollars to destroy a prior $16 billion expenditure  – Good God – RAF)

Scientists hope monkey gambling unlocks secrets of free will –$171,000

Rich and famous rent out their luxury pads tax-free – $10 million

Studying “hangry” spouses stabbing voodoo dolls – $331,000

Promoting U.S. culture around the globe with nose flutists – $90 million (OK. I actually think nose flutists are pretty cool, but $90 million? Did everyone stay at the Four Seasons and fly on private jets as they jauntily traveled the world? Even Michele Obama doesn’t spend that much on a vacation! – RF)

“Synchronized swimming for sea monkeys” and “watching grass grow.” This is just a taste of how wasteful Washington is with public money; read the full report here.

“With no one watching over the vast bureaucracy, the problem is not just what Washington isn’t doing, but what it is doing.” Sen. Coburn emphasized that “Only someone with too much of someone else’s money and not enough accountability for how it was being spent could come up [with] some of these projects.”

My friends, WAKE UP! Big Government is Bad Government! It’s axiomatic.

Roy Filly

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Gradual response to exponential problems.

Ebola

National debt

Annual federal deficits

Declining military funding

Growth of welfare

Impending collapse of Social Security (exhausted in 2033)

Impending collapse of Medicare/Medicaid (exhausted in 2026)

Impending college debt default

Declining birthrate (younger Americans are delaying having children and an exceptionally large group of Americans are reaching mortality – the gap between births and deaths in the U.S. is the smallest it’s been in nearly four decades)

Out-of-wedlock births (the number of first-born U.S. babies born into a home with a married mother and father has fallen below 60 percent for the first time in American history)

Decline of marriage as an institution (and I am adding in gay marriages – of which I approve)

Irresponsible sale of strategic companies to foreign ownership (sold over 16,000 of our best wealth producing companies to foreign corporations)

One cannot solve problems that grow exponentially with a gradual response. The math is strongly against that formula. And in the immortal words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

Roy Filly

 

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Wealth distribution

Progressive/statist/altruists bemoan the maldistribution of wealth. To some extent I do not disagree. There is definitely wealth inequality. The data are unassailable. The issue from my perspective is that progressive/statist/altruists believe they have the solution to the problem when the data suggests they do not.

[Source: The millionaires’ club expands, by Robert J. Samuelson]

Credit Suisse Research has been tracking the world’s wealth since 2000. Since 2008 the Democrat Party controlled either two or all three of the three seats of elected power, the Presidency, the House of Representatives and the Senate. Under the Obama administration – the nearest thing to a socialist government the US has seen in many decades – the maldistribution of wealth has increased, not decreased. During the nation’s economic recovery (i.e., during the Obama administration), the mean net worth of households in the upper 10% of the wealth distribution rose by an estimated 28%, while the mean net worth of households in the lower 90% dropped by 4%, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data. I could speculate as to the origins of this change – and likely would be correct – but the change is dramatic. The change can be directly traced to the Obama administration’s handling of the economic recovery (QE 1, QE 2, QE “infinite,” the “stimulus,” and the massive deficits – see footnote).

The wealth totals calculated by Credit Suisse add the value of people’s homes, businesses and financial assets (stocks, bonds) and subtract their loans. Credit Suisse did a special analysis of wealth inequality and, not surprisingly, found plenty of it.

The United States is far the wealthiest nation – total net worth of $84 trillion, about one-third of the world’s total wealth of nearly $263 trillion. In the United States, the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans own about 75 percent of the personal wealth. Let’s compare this to Sweden, a socialist nation, where the top 10% controls 69 percent of the nation’s wealth. In Switzerland (nearer to socialist than otherwise) the top 10% controls 72 percent of the wealth. In Denmark, a highly socialistic state, the top 10% control 68 percent of the nation’s wealth. While the US share is slightly ahead of these more socialist nations, the socialists are far from touting that they have a solution to the problem.

There is another country worthy of mention. While no longer a “communist” nation they have the longest tradition of communist thought influence. They also have the highest level of wealth inequality. It is “so far above the others that it deserves to be placed in a separate category.” This is Russia. In 2014, the wealthiest 10 percent owned 85 percent of personal wealth.

We can have a goal of deceasing wealth maldistribution, but we must apply the correct solutions. Taking money from “the rich” and distributing it too “the poor” will alter the balance only until the rich become poorer and the poor become poorer still. Socialism and communism are tried and FAILED equations.

Review the ad below that I recently posted. Socialism and wealth redistribution by progressive/statist/altruists is not the solution.

Roy Filly

Footnote:

The total federal debt of the U.S. government has now increased more than $7 trillion during the slightly more than five and a half years Barack Obama has been president. That is more than the debt increased under all U.S. presidents from George Washington through Bill Clinton combined, and it is more debt than was accumulated in the first 227 years of this nation’s existence–from 1776 through 2003. The total federal debt first passed the $7-trillion mark on Jan. 15, 2004, after President George W. Bush had been in office almost three years.

By the numbers:

When President Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009, the total federal debt was $10,626,877,048,913.08. As of the close of business on July 30, 2014, it had risen to $17,618,599,653,160.19–up $6,991,722,604,247.11 from Obama’s first inauguration day. By the close of business on July 31, 2014, it had risen to $17,687,136,723,410.59—up $7,060,259,674,497.51 since Obama first inauguration day. As of June, there were 115,097,000 households in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The $17,687,136,723,410.59 in debt the federal government had accumulated as of the end of July equaled $153,671.57 per household. The $7,060,259,674,497.51 in new debt that the federal government has taken on during Obama’s presidency equals $61,341.82 per household.

 

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Government forecasts are inaccurate, specious, fallacious and unsound.

Some of the worst predictions of all time.

I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.

Thomas J. Watson, 1943, Chairman of the Board of IBM

It doesn’t matter what he does, he will never amount to anything.

Albert Einstein’s teacher to his father, 1895

Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?

H. M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927

640K ought to be enough for anybody.

Bill Gates, 1981

Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.

Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.

Popular Mechanics, 1949

We don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.

Hewlett-Packard’s rejection of Steve Jobs

The American colonies have little stomach for revolution.

King George II, 1773

[ObamaCare] puts our budget and economy on a more stable path by reducing the deficit by more than $100 billion over the next ten years – and more than $1 trillion over the second decade – by cutting government overspending and reining in waste, fraud and abuse.

White House Blog, 2010

I hope you enjoyed the above quotes. It is not the first time I have published them.

Our federal government lives on predictions. The problem is that its predictions are usually far off the mark. I anticipate that the prediction about ObamaCare will join the pantheon of misbegotten predictions and rival, “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers,” by the Chairman of IBM. Too bad for us!

[Source: Accuracy of macroeconomic forecasts, by Chris Edwards]

The former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Edward Lazear, has recently written about the inaccuracy of government forecasting models:

My analysis of 1999–2013 reveals that the [Congressional Budget Office]’s real GDP growth forecasts for the next year were off, on average, by 1.7 percentage points, either too high or low. Administration forecasts were similarly off by a slightly larger 1.8 percentage points on average, also too high or too low. Given that the average growth rate during this period was only 2.1%, errors of this magnitude are substantial.

Perhaps most damning: History is a better predictor of annual growth than government forecasts. Simply assuming that GDP growth will be 3.1% in each year—the average annual rate for the 30 years that precede the study period—results in an average forecast error of 1.5 percentage points.

Lazear’s article should be posted above the desk of every reporter and pundit writing about the macroeconomy. And it should be kept in mind by politicians, who often claim that such-and-such policy will create such-and-such number of jobs based on such models.

Big Government is Bad Government. It’s axiomatic. Our government needs to stop spending money it doesn’t have and institute zero-based budgeting (see footnote).

Roy Filly

Footnote:

Zero-based budgeting is an approach to planning and decision-making that reverses the working process of traditional budgeting. In traditional incremental budgeting (Historic Budgeting), departmental managers justify only variances versus past years, based on the assumption that the “baseline” is automatically approved. By contrast, in zero-based budgeting, every line item of the budget must be approved, rather than only changes. Zero-based budgeting requires the budget request be re-evaluated thoroughly, starting from the zero-base. This process is independent of whether the total budget or specific line items are increasing or decreasing.

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Top three myths about capitalism

The following video repudiates three of the false notions about capitalism that progressive/statists commonly spew forth when condemning it. Dr. Miron is a professor at HARVARD, certainly one of the most liberal institutions in this country. The video is short, clarifying, and illuminating.

Roy Filly

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