Hyperbole doesn’t make it a fact.

I will admit that our President can give a good speech with memorable “one-liners.” This ability, and being half black, got him elected to the most powerful position on planet Earth. He has been preaching “global warming” or “climate change” for years now. To say that he deals in hyperbole would be an understatement. Sadly, none of his “one-liners” is followed by facts to back his claims.

Here are some examples:

I refuse to condemn… future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing.

We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.

Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.

I don’t have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real.

Well, Mr. President, I don’t have much patience for a leader who denies the obvious. Our planet is in great shape!

[Source: The State of Our Planet Is Better Than Ever, by Stephen Moore]

Mr. Obama needs to add the following facts to his speeches.

1) Natural resources are more abundant and affordable today than ever before in history. Short-term (sometimes decades-long) volatility aside, the price of most natural resources—from cocoa to cotton to coal—is cheaper today in real terms than 50, 100, or 500 years ago. This has happened even as the world’s population has nearly tripled. Technology has far outpaced depletion of the Earth’s resources.

2) Energy—the master resource—is super abundant. Remember when people like Paul Ehrlich nearly 50 years ago and Barack Obama just three years ago—warned the we were running out of oil and gas. Today, thanks to the new age of oil and gas thanks to fracking, the United States has hundreds of years of petroleum and an estimated 290 years of coal. Keep in mind, this may be a low-ball estimate; since 2000, the Energy Information Administration’s estimates of recoverable reserves have actually increased by more than 7 percent.

We’re not running out of energy, we are running into it.

3) Air and water. Since the late 1970s, pollutants in the air have plunged. Lead pollution plunged by more than 90 percent, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide by more than 50 percent, with ozone and nitrogen dioxide declining as well. This means that emissions per capita have declined even as the economy in terms of real GDP nearly tripled. By nearly every standard measure it is much, much, much cleaner today in the United States than 50 and 100 years ago. The air is so clean now that the EPA worries about carbon dioxide which isn’t even a pollutant. (And, by the way, carbon emissions are falling too, thanks to fracking – RF). One hundred years ago, about one in four deaths in the U.S. was due to contaminants in drinking water. But from 1971-2002, fewer than three people per year in the U.S. were documented to have died from water contamination.

4) There is no Malthusian nightmare of overpopulation. (Again, see the post I linked to above to learn about Malthus’ prediction.) Birth rates have fallen by about one-half around the world over the last 50 years. Developed countries are having too few kids, not too many. Even with a population of 7.3 billion people, average incomes, especially in poor countries, have surged over the last 40 years. The number of people in abject poverty fell by 1 billion from 1981 to 2011, even as global population increased by more than 1.5 billion. (By the by, the entire population of the Earth could be housed in Texas and New Mexico with a lower population density than any of the top ten most populated cities – RF)

5) Global per capita food production is 40 percent higher today than as recently as 1950. In most nations the nutrition problem today is obesity—too many calories consumed—not hunger. The number of famines and related deaths over the last 100 years has fallen in half. More than 12 million lives on average were lost each decade from the 1920s-1960s to famine. Since then, fewer than 4 million lives on average per decade were lost. Tragically, these famines are often caused by political corruption—not nature. Furthermore, the price of food has fallen steadily in the U.S.—and most other nations steadily for 200 years. (Again, and by the by, actual global warming would only increase food supplies – RF)

6) The rate of death and physical destruction from natural disasters or severe weather changes has plummeted over the last 50 to 100 years. Loss of life from hurricanes, floods, heat, droughts, and so on is at or near record lows. This is because we have much better advance warning systems, our infrastructure is much more durable, and we have things like air conditioning, to adapt to weather changes. We are constantly discovering new ways to harness and even tame nature.

The Earth seems to be doing just fine despite the infestation of human beings that the progressive/statist/altruists would like to eradicate.

Roy Filly

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Helping Native Americans get an education.

I have published and republished the pitiable circumstances that arise when the federal government decides that it is the “solution.” The number of federally funded programs to “help” Native Americans is mind boggling. The results are catastrophic. Today in the news we learn that the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education spends nearly 56 percent more money than American public schools on each student. Nonetheless, Native Americans educational facilities languish in often deplorable conditions. If you go to the links above I ask that, if you do nothing else, please just peruse the number of federal programs “addressing” the needs of Native Americans (see footnote 2 in original post). If you ever need proof that, as President Reagan said, “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem,” live on an Reservation!

[Source: Federally-run Indian schools are in rough shape because of a broken bureaucracy, by Josh Hicks]

GAO official Melissa Emrey-Arras testified about the problems before a House subcommittee on Wednesday, saying some of the issues could impact Native Americans’ educational achievement. The structural problems include faulty construction, broken hot-water heaters, electrocution hazards and mold. In one example, auditors found that Indian Education spent $3.5 million on new roofs that began leaking shortly after they were finished.

A 2014 GAO analysis found that the agency spends an estimated $15,000 per pupil on average, while public schools nationwide spend an estimated average of about $9,900.

THERE MUST BE A SOLUTION TO THIS PROBLEM!!!! Of course there is says Big Government spokeswoman, Nedra Darling. It is the same solution that Bg Government proposes for EVERYTHING! “The president has asked Congress for significant increases in the budget to accomplish many of these goals and to increase staff available to serve tribal schools and BIE-run schools,” Darling said.

God save us from altruists running our government.

Roy Filly

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Tax and spend.

If ever a President should be awarded the “Tax and Spend” title our current President would be a top contender. Fortunately, he has not been able to enact every tax increase he desired. According to Grover Norquist, there have bee 442 of them.

The number of proposed tax increases per year is as follows:

  • 79 tax increases for FY 2010
  • 52 tax increases for FY 2011
  • 47 tax increases for FY 2012
  • 34 tax increases for FY 2013
  • 137 tax increases for FY 2014
  • 93 tax increases for FY 2015

Politifact disputes this number (Angie Drobnic Holan and Tim Ryan) because they say some have been proposed more than once. So perhaps it wasn’t 442 “new” increases in six years, but leave us not forget HE HAS TWO MORE YEARS to propose further tax hikes. At the rate he has been proposing them that would bring the total to well over 500. According to Bill O’Reilly the total does not include 20 tax hikes in ObamaCare.

Further to the point, the man’s dishonesty on the subject is classic progressive/statist /altruist misdirection. Not coincidentally but fortuitously, our President offered a budget with the lowest number of proposed tax increases to be released during his campaugn for reelection. Obama released his fiscal year 2013 budget, with “only” 34 proposed tax increases. Once safely re-elected, Obama came back with a vengeance, proposing 137 tax increases, a personal record high for the 44th president.

I don’t like this President. This is just one of ever so many reasons for my opinion of the man.

Roy Filly

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Terrorists by the handful.

Our President wants to close Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp. He claims that its mere presence invites Muslim youths to enlist in organizations like ISIS and al Qaeda. Therefore, it stands to reason that his methods of forestalling terrorist recruiting are superior. So what does his record look like?

[Source: UN report: More than 25,000 foreigners fight with terrorists, by Edith M. Lederer]

The number of fighters leaving home to join al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group in Iraq, Syria and other countries has spiked to more than 25,000 from over 100 nations, according to a new U.N. report.

The panel of experts monitoring U.N. sanctions against al-Qaeda said… that its analysis indicates the number of foreign terrorist fighters worldwide increased by 71 percent between mid-2014 and March 2015. It said the scale of the problem has increased over the past three years and the flow of foreign fighters “is higher than it has ever been historically.” The overall number of foreign terrorist fighters has “risen sharply from a few thousand … a decade ago to more than 25,000 today,” the panel said in the report to the U.N. Security Council…

Looking ahead, the panel said the thousands of foreign fighters who traveled to Syria and Iraq are living and working in “a veritable ‘international finishing school’ for extremists,” as was the case in Afghanistan in the 1990s… And it said hundreds of foreigners are fighting in Yemen, Libya and Pakistan, …in Somalia, and others in the Sahel countries in northern Africa, and in the Philippines. The number of countries the fighters come from has also risen dramatically from a small group in the 1990s to over 100 today — more than half the countries in the world — including some that have never had previous links with al-Qaeda associated groups, the panel said…

The simple truth appears to be that many young Muslims have become enamoured of terrorist groups and the “death to America” chants. Our only solution is to defeat them and bring them to the table to sign an unconditional surrender as was the case case with the Axis Powers in World War II. Otherwise we will be fighting this war for a 1000 years.

And thanks to HP for brining this to my attention.

Roy Filly

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Genocide.

Young Turk: Young progressive of a movement or political party. 

Urban Dictionary

There is an evil in the world today. It must be named. It must be confronted. That evil is the Muslim genocide of Christians. A brave person has gone to the United Nations and passionately pleaded the case. Sadly, that brave person was not the President of the United States.

The world must confront this abomination. The United States of America, as the leader in the world, must confront it. But, most importantly, Muslims of good faith must confront it.

The Muslim Genocide against Christians is old – more than 100 years old. It began with the Muslim Turkish genocide of Armenians. The atrocities committed against the Armenian people of the Ottoman Empire during W.W.I are called the Armenian Genocide. The Armenian Genocide was centrally planned and administered by the Turkish government against the Christian Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire. It was carried out during W.W.I between the years 1915 and 1918. The Armenian people were subjected to deportation, expropriation, abduction, torture, massacre, and starvation. The great bulk of the Armenian population was forcibly removed from Armenia and Anatolia (the Asian portion of Turkey) to Syria, where the vast majority was sent into the desert to die of thirst and hunger. The decision to carry out a genocide against the Armenian people was made by the political party in power in the Ottoman Empire. This was the Committee of Union and Progress, popularly known as the Young Turks (so when you use the phrase, Young Turk, your basically calling the person a mass murderer).

Most Armenians adhere to the Armenian Apostolic Church. This Church is the world’s oldest national church. Christianity began to spread in Armenia soon after Jesus’ death, due to the efforts of two of his apostles, St. Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew. In the early 4th century, the Kingdom of Armenia became the first state to adopt Christianity as a state religion.

I was made aware of this speech through the Bay Area Patriots, an organization in which I am proud to be a member. So, fellow members, when you receive this speech again via my website, please watch it if you did not before.

Roy Filly

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Hillary.

I couldn’t help becoming irate at Hillary’s opening salvo as she hit the campaign trail. Striking a populist note and standard class-warfare theme, Clinton said American families were still facing financial hardship at a time “when the average CEO makes about 300 times what the average worker makes.” Why should I become irate at standard pitter patter from a progressive/statist/altruist, ask you? Because, answer I, from March 1973 until September 2013 I had a “similar” job to Hillary. I simply compared my “salary” to hers.

From March 1973 until September 2013 I was a national and international speaker (on medical topics, of course). After a bit of research I was able to ferret out that Hillary receives an average of $250,000 per speaking engagement. Her highest stipend for a lecture was $300,000. My average compensation for a lecture was $250 and the highest I ever received was $1000. So, according to Hillary a CEO “makes 300 times what the average worker makes” (more on that momentarily) while, on average, she made 1,000 times more as a speaker than I made. That would not be a very “populist” or “popular” admission on her part.

The other thing that gripes me is that Hillary chose to use data from an article by Lawrence Mishel and Alyssa Davis which by my reading uses spurious assumptions. They use data from “the top 350 U.S. firms and include the value of stock options.” Mark Perry disabuses this nonsense:

Every time that CEO salaries of large companies are reported, there’s always a lot of hand-wringing, criticism of “excessive CEO compen-sation,” and the inevitable comparisons of rising CEO salaries to stagnant pay for average workers and how that fuels rising income inequality, etc. It must be that time of year again – “CEO bashing season” … with the typical comparisons to average worker pay...

While the huge multi-million pay packages of a few hundred CEOs get all of the media attention, what usually receives much less attention is the small number of CEOs represented in the annual salary surveys, especially compared to the total number of CEOs in the US. For example, the WSJ’s survey included only 300 CEOs at large, U.S.-traded public companies, and the AP analyzed compensation figures for only 337 companies in the S&P 500. An analysis of CEO pay by USA Today in April looked at only 200 CEOs in the S&P500. The AFL-CIO did an analysis of the CEOs of 350 companies in the S&P500…

Although these samples of 200-350 CEOs are representative of large, publicly-traded US companies, they certainly aren’t very representative of the average US company or the average US CEO. According to the US Census Bureau, there are more than 27 million private firms in the US, so the samples of 200-350 firms for CEO pay represent only one of about every 100,000 private firms in the US, or about 1/1000 of 1% of the total firms. And yet the AFL-CIO, AP and others compare the average annual wages of hundreds of millions of full-time employees working at the more than 27 million US companies to the CEO pay of executives at only several hundred companies, which is hardly a fair comparison.

We can get a more accurate and complete picture of CEO compensation in the US by looking at wage data released recently by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its annual report on Occupational Employment and Wages for 2013. The BLS report provides “employment and wage estimates by area and by industry for wage and salary workers in 22 major occupational groups, 94 minor occupational groups, 458 broad occupations, and 821 detailed occupations,” including the occupational category “chief executives.” In 2013, the BLS reports that the average pay for America’s 248,760 chief executives was only $178,400… The larger sample of almost a quarter-million CEOs reported by the BLS gives us a much better understanding of “average CEO compensation.”

For the larger sample of CEOs reported by the BLS, their average pay of $178,400 last year was an increase of only 0.88% from the average CEO pay of $176,840 in 2012. In contrast, the BLS reports that the average pay of all workers increased by 1.42% last year to $46,440 from $45,790 in 2012. That’s right, the average worker last year saw an increase in their pay that was more than 60% greater than the increase in pay for the average US CEO. And the “CEO-to-worker pay ratio” for the average CEO compared to the average worker is only about 5X, nowhere close to the pay ratio of 331X reported by the AFL-CIO using the 350 highest-paid CEOs in the country.

Bottom Line: Discussions about “excessive CEO pay” and comparisons to average worker pay are distorted by looking at only an outlier group of the 200-350 CEOs of America’s largest companies, out of a total of almost 250,000 chief executives nationwide. Of course, many younger, risk-taking CEOs are running early stage startups and tech companies, and probably make even less than the average CEO reported by the BLS, as Scott Drum pointed out to me last month in an email. Further, he commented that “The startup CEOs are usually not in it for the salary in the early years. They’re in it for the big payoff in the long run if things go exceptionally well. If we reduce or limit the size of the Big Payoff, don’t we reduce the number of people trying to get there?”

The fact that there are almost 250,000 ambitious CEOs making less than $200,000 today on average who are trying to someday be listed by USAToday or the Wall Street Journal as one of the top 200-350 highest-paid CEOs is a sign of a dynamic, wealth-generating, job-creating economy. We should applaud the richest 200-350 CEOs as a group of the most successful American business professionals, and not vilify them. And we should keep in mind that the CEO compensation surveys that generate all the media attention are always based on a tiny, elite outlier group, and not representative of the average CEO in America –  who earns about as much as the average dentist and only about 5 times more than the average worker.

My statistics on pay for speaking are REAL. Hillary’s statistics on CEO compensation are BOGUS.

Roy Filly

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Libertarians.

Paul Krugman is often wrong. Recently he potentially added to his long list of errors by stating, “there basically aren’t any libertarians.” So, is he correct this time?

I suspect that you have taken one or another of the same tests I have taken that purport to tell us where we stand in the spectrum of politics from the far left to the far right. Typically those tests place me closer to a libertarian than to a conservative. If I were not a rabid defense hawk I am certain those tests would place me even closer to being a libertarian (footnote).

[Source: Libertarians outnumber both liberals and conservatives, by John C. Goodman]

Gallup, which has been polling on the issue for quite some time, finds that 38 percent of the public identifies as “conservative” and 24 percent as “liberal” in the latest poll.

Gallup doesn’t ask people if they are libertarian, but fortunately other polls have asked that question in various ways. In 2006 the Cato Institute commissioned Zogby International to ask… this question: “Would you describe yourself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal?” Fully 59 percent of the respondents said “yes.”

Then Zogby asked the same question of the same number of voters, but this time they added the “L” label: “Would you describe yourself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, also known as libertarian?” David Boaz recounts the results:

The addition of the word “libertarian” clearly made the question more challenging. What surprised us was how small the drop-off was. A healthy 44 percent of respondents answered “yes” to that question, accepting a self-description as “libertarian.”

If that result is anywhere close to accurate it means that libertarians outnumber both conservative and liberals among the electorate. Or perhaps more precisely, more people seem to lean libertarian than lean conservative or liberal.

In any event, regardless of the nominee, the Republican platform should probably reflect this reality.

Roy Filly

Footnote:

Key Concepts of Libertarianism

By David Boaz

The key concepts of libertarianism have developed over many centuries. The first inklings of them can be found in ancient China, Greece, and Israel; they began to be developed into something resembling modern libertarian philosophy in the work of such seventeenth- and eighteenth-century thinkers as John Locke, David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine.

Individualism. Libertarians see the individual as the basic unit of social analysis. Only individuals make choices and are responsible for their actions. Libertarian thought emphasizes the dignity of each individual, which entails both rights and responsibility. The progressive extension of dignity to more people — to women, to people of different religions and different races — is one of the great libertarian triumphs of the Western world.

Individual Rights. Because individuals are moral agents, they have a right to be secure in their life, liberty, and property. These rights are not granted by government or by society; they are inherent in the nature of human beings. It is intuitively right that individuals enjoy the security of such rights; the burden of explanation should lie with those who would take rights away.

Spontaneous Order. A great degree of order in society is necessary for individuals to survive and flourish. It’s easy to assume that order must be imposed by a central authority, the way we impose order on a stamp collection or a football team. The great insight of libertarian social analysis is that order in society arises spontaneously, out of the actions of thousands or millions of individuals who coordinate their actions with those of others in order to achieve their purposes. Over human history, we have gradually opted for more freedom and yet managed to develop a complex society with intricate organization. The most important institutions in human society — language, law, money, and markets — all developed spontaneously, without central direction. Civil society — the complex network of associations and connections among people — is another example of spontaneous order; the associations within civil society are formed for a purpose, but civil society itself is not an organization and does not have a purpose of its own.

The Rule of Law. Libertarianism is not libertinism or hedonism. It is not a claim that “people can do anything they want to, and nobody else can say anything.” Rather, libertarianism proposes a society of liberty under law, in which individuals are free to pursue their own lives so long as they respect the equal rights of others. The rule of law means that individuals are governed by generally applicable and spontaneously developed legal rules, not by arbitrary commands; and that those rules should protect the freedom of individuals to pursue happiness in their own ways, not aim at any particular result or outcome.

Limited Government. To protect rights, individuals form governments. But government is a dangerous institution. Libertarians have a great antipathy to concentrated power, for as Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Thus they want to divide and limit power, and that means especially to limit government, generally through a written constitution enumerating and limiting the powers that the people delegate to government. Limited government is the basic political implication of libertarianism, and libertarians point to the historical fact that it was the dispersion of power in Europe — more than other parts of the world — that led to individual liberty and sustained economic growth.

Free Markets. To survive and to flourish, individuals need to engage in economic activity. The right to property entails the right to exchange property by mutual agreement. Free markets are the economic system of free individuals, and they are necessary to create wealth. Libertarians believe that people will be both freer and more prosperous if government intervention in people’s economic choices is minimized.

The Virtue of Production. Much of the impetus for libertarianism in the seventeenth century was a reaction against monarchs and aristocrats who lived off the productive labor of other people. Libertarians defended the right of people to keep the fruits of their labor. This effort developed into a respect for the dignity of work and production and especially for the growing middle class, who were looked down upon by aristocrats. Libertarians developed a pre-Marxist class analysis that divided society into two basic classes: those who produced wealth and those who took it by force from others. Thomas Paine, for instance, wrote, “There are two distinct classes of men in the nation, those who pay taxes, and those who receive and live upon the taxes.” Similarly, Jefferson wrote in 1824, “We have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.” Modern libertarians defend the right of productive people to keep what they earn, against a new class of politicians and bureaucrats who would seize their earnings to transfer them to nonproducers.

Natural Harmony of Interests. Libertarians believe that there is a natural harmony of interests among peaceful, productive people in a just society. One person’s individual plans — which may involve getting a job, starting a business, buying a house, and so on — may conflict with the plans of others, so the market makes many of us change our plans. But we all prosper from the operation of the free market, and there are no necessary conflicts between farmers and merchants, manufacturers and importers. Only when government begins to hand out rewards on the basis of political pressure do we find ourselves involved in group conflict, pushed to organize and contend with other groups for a piece of political power.

Peace. Libertarians have always battled the age-old scourge of war. They understood that war brought death and destruction on a grand scale, disrupted family and economic life, and put more power in the hands of the ruling class — which might explain why the rulers did not always share the popular sentiment for peace. Free men and women, of course, have often had to defend their own societies against foreign threats; but throughout history, war has usually been the common enemy of peaceful, productive people on all sides of the conflict.

… It may be appropriate to acknowledge at this point the reader’s likely suspicion that libertarianism seems to be just the standard framework of modern thought — individualism, private property, capitalism, equality under the law. Indeed, after centuries of intellectual, political, and sometimes violent struggle, these core libertarian principles have become the basic structure of modern political thought and of modern government, at least in the West and increasingly in other parts of the world.

However, three additional points need to be made: first, libertarianism is not just these broad liberal principles. Libertarianism applies these principles fully and consistently, far more so than most modern thinkers and certainly more so than any modern government. Second, while our society remains generally based on equal rights and capitalism, every day new exceptions to those principles are carved out in Washington and in Albany, Sacramento, and Austin (not to mention London, Bonn, Tokyo, and elsewhere). Each new government directive takes a little bit of our freedom, and we should think carefully before giving up any liberty. Third, liberal society is resilient; it can withstand many burdens and continue to flourish; but it is not infinitely resilient. Those who claim to believe in liberal principles but advocate more and more confiscation of the wealth created by productive people, more and more restrictions on voluntary interaction, more and more exceptions to property rights and the rule of law, more and more transfer of power from society to state, are unwittingly engaged in the ultimately deadly undermining of civilization.

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It’s true. But how did it happen?

To say that I am not a fan of Dana Milbank of the Washington Post would be a gross understatement. He is a fierce, leftist writer. But I do feel a need to read his drivel from time to time in order to see what the other side is thinking. Today he wrote an interesting piece that touches on something we have all seen happening in this country.

Milbank quotes a study from two Stanford social scientists that speaks volumes regarding the current political atmosphere in the United States. My friends from the left complain that there is no “compromise” any longer in the halls of congress (of course, they blame Republicans for this). I have said that it is because the federal government is financially bankrupt so “compromises” can no longer be “purchased” on a quid pro quo basis. The Stanford social scientists have found a different reason.

Milbank interviewed Alan Grayson. When one speaks of extreme partisanship, Grayson is the poster child for the left. He was the Congressman who famously said that the Republican health-care plan is to “die quickly.” In the interview Grayson said that “Essentially there are no undecided voters. Everybody has picked a team. The only question is, do your guys vote or not?” In today’s politics the “get out the vote team” is more important than the “platform team.” I oppose this style of politics. Unfortunately, I can’t effectively argue that he is wrong.

The Stanford study more than backs this notion. American politics not only “appears” to have become remarkably partisan, it really is remarkably partisan. The study’s data documents that partisanship has infiltrated the American political scene, and indeed, the entirety of American life, to a degree that few would have guessed.

It has long been agreed that race is the deepest divide in American society (Milbank does not posit that the left fostered this divide. They “play the race card” at every opportunity – RF). But that is no longer true, say Shanto Iyengar and Sean Westwood, the academics who led the study. Using a variety of social science methods (for example, having study participants review résumés of people that make both their race and party affiliation clear), they document that “the level of partisan animus in the American public exceeds racial hostility.”

Americans now discriminate more on the basis of party than on race, gender or any of the other divides we typically think of — and that discrimination extends beyond politics into personal relationships and non-political behaviors. Americans increasingly live in neighborhoods with like-minded partisans, marry fellow partisans and disapprove of their children marrying mates from the other party, and they are more likely to choose partners based on partisanship than physical or personality attributes.

“Unlike race, gender and other social divides where group-related attitudes and behaviors are constrained by social norms, there are no corresponding pressures to temper disapproval of political opponents,” they conclude. “If anything, the rhetoric and actions of political leaders demonstrate that hostility directed at the opposition is acceptable, even appropriate. Partisans therefore feel free to express animus and engage in discriminatory behavior toward opposing partisans.” Harry Reid recently admitted to several lies about Republicans and expressed pride about lying (e.g., “Mitt Romney has paid no incomes taxes for the last 10 years.”) When confronted with the lie he said, “Well, he didn’t win, did he?”

Milbank, the extreme leftist, complains about this sad state of affairs, but he does not mention the relentless drumbeat of the Democrat Party that seeks to divide Americans. “The rich need to pay their fair share.” “Hands up, don’t shoot.” “Women are not paid as much as men.” When a black liberal is criticized, he cries racism. When the President fails to get his way, his Democrat sycophants cry racism. Despite the election of a black president racism has become the ever-present background noise of the Democrat Party.

Let’s face it Democrats, class warfare is your stock in trade. I have said many times that it is a dangerous game. It appears you have won. Congratulations! See what you have wrought!

Roy Filly

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US Debt. Despite the lack of congressional attention, it is important.

One of my readers asked if Americans have forgotten our $18 trillion national debt? I doubt that they have, but such numbers are incomprehensible and thus are relegated to “white noise” in the sphere of politics. Nonetheless, such high levels of debt do have consequences. The highly respected Hoisington Quarterly Review explains.

Hoisington Quarterly Review and Outlook – First Quarter 2015.

Characteristics of Extreme Over-Indebted Economies

Over the more than two thousand years of economic history, a clear record emerges regarding the relationship between the level of indebtedness of a nation and its resultant pace of economic activity. The once flourishing and powerful Mesopotamian, Roman and Bourbon dynasties, as well as the British empire, ultimately lost their great economic vigor due to the inability to prosper under crushing debt levels. In his famous paper “Of Public Finance” (1752) David Hume, the man some consider to have been the intellectual leader of the Enlightenment, wrote about the debt problems of Mesopotamia and Rome. The contemporary scholar Niall Ferguson of Harvard University also described the over-indebted conditions in all four countries mentioned above. Through the centuries there are also numerous cases of less prominent countries that suffered a similar fate of economic decline resulting from too much debt as a percent of total output.

The United States has experienced four bouts of great indebtedness: the 1830-40s, the 1860- 70s, the 1920-30s and the past two decades. Japan has been suffering the consequences of a massive debt over-hang for the past three decades. In its first of three thorough studies of debt, the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) identified 32 cases of extreme indebtedness from 1920 to 2010. Of this group, 24 were advanced economies of their day.

The countries identified in the study, as well as those previously cited, exhibited many idiosyncratic differences. Some were monarchies or various forms of dictatorships. Others were democracies, both nascent and mature. Some countries were on the Gold Standard, while others had paper money. Some had central banks and some did not. In spite of these technical and structural differentiations, the effect of high debt levels produced the clear result of diminished economic growth. Indeed, the fact that the debt impact shows through in these diverse circumstances is a clear indication of the powerful deleterious impact of too much debt. Six characteristics seem to be uniform in all circumstances of over-indebtedness in historical studies, and these factors are evident in contemporary times in the U.S., Japanese and European economies.

Six Characteristics

  1. Transitory upturns in economic growth, inflation and high-grade bond yields cannot be sustained because debt is too much of a constraint on economic activity.
  2. Due to inherently weak aggregate demand, economies are subject to structural downturns without the typical cyclical pressures such as rising interest rates, inflation and exhaustion of pent-up demand.
  3. Deterioration in productivity is not inflationary but just another symptom of the controlling debt influence.
  4. Monetary policy is ineffectual, if not a net negative.
  5. Inflation falls dramatically, increasing the risk of deflation.
  6. Treasury bond yields fall to extremely low levels.

As you can see from the six characteristics above that is exactly where the US stands. As well, you are also aware that the US economy simply cannot seem to leave the doldrums. We do indeed have diminished economic growth. I wish i could blame it all on the Democrats, but we all know it would be a lie.

Roy Filly

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Is the debate to simplify the tax code over?

Every Republican candidate for president mentions “simplification” of the tax code and “tax reduction.” I greatly applaud these comments. But will any of them ever act on their words? Our tax code is approximately 74,000 pages long. Tax reform has been singularly distinctive among issues that politicians talk about, campaign about, but in the end; do nothing about.

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The latest statistics on taxation by earnings shows that the distribution of income taxes is very progressive. Is that what the “progressive” appellation in progressive/statist/altruist represents? If it is, then they have succeeded. If President Obama wanted the “rich” to pay their “fair share,” then he succeeded. The question is, will any of the Republican aspirants ever succeed in simplifying or reducing federal income taxes?

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[Source: The tax revolt, RIP, by Robert J. Samuelson]

It’s mid-April, and Karlyn Bowman — the astute public opinion analyst at the American Enterprise Institute — has noticed something significant. Tax Day “comes and goes without a ripple,” she recently wrote. There’s not much fuss.

Discontent with the income tax has ebbed. To buttress the point, Bowman cited intriguing survey data. A recent Gallup Poll found that only 1 percent of Americans rated taxes the nation’s top problem. In a Pew poll, respondents ranked “reforming” the tax system 16th out of 24 problems. Indeed, Gallup reports that roughly half of Americans think their income-tax burden is about right. Of course, the other half of Americans think their burden is too high. But that’s down from about 70 percent..

Part of the reason for the lassitude is that most Americans pay little in taxes. The tax cuts of George W. Bush were by and large accepted by the Obama administration. For approximately 80% of Americans Social Security and Medicare taxes exceed income taxes.

Americans, even the staunchest Republicans, aren’t “worried” about the “rich” or even the upper-middle class. The dramatic rise in the share of income taxes paid by the wealthiest 1 percent (a rise from 18 percent to 35 percent since the Reagan presidency), after all is said and done, does not affect 99% of Americans. Even if a middle class or lower income American perceives this as “unfair,” they would be unlikely to “fight for the rights” of someone driving a Mercedes.

Additionally, taxes are, for the most part, unseen. They are withheld. And, indeed, when tax day comes around, 77 million Americans get a check from the government (a tax refund). Thus the “unseen taxes” suddenly become a very visible wad of cash in their pocket.

Finally, the huge tax code pictured above has a plum for just about everyone in the country, rich or poor. Nearly everyone either gets a transfer payment (earned income tax credit, child tax credit, etc.) or, for the better off, a mortgage interest deduction. Everyone fears that once politicians begin to fool around with the tax code their particular benefit will magically disappear while everyone else’s will remain in place.

For Republicans, the impetus to “change the tax code” is marginal at best. Democrats do not fear losing the “black vote” or the “union vote.” Republicans do not fear losing the “top 1% vote” – unless it’s Gwyneth Paltrow or Leonardo DiCaprio.

Can anything be done? Here’s an idea.

[Source: A Modest Proposal: Let’s Sunset The Tax Code, by Matt Vespa]

So, where do we go from here? What’s the first step? Let Freedom Ring, a non-profit, nonpartisan public policy organization has a modest proposal; let’s sunset the entire tax code. Colin Hanna–the organization’s president–wrote in February that it’s an immensely popular policy initiative:

No other path to tax reform can unite, even if only temporarily, those who prefer some kind flat tax on income with those who prefer a tax on consumption. At least one private poll suggests that sunsetting the current tax code may be supported as many as 80% of voters. As former House Speaker Newt Gingrich once said, “Find 75 or 80% [popularity] issues. Stand next to them and smile. Let your opponent frown!” Seventy-five or 80% issues are rare, but they have the potential to upset the usual political calculus.

For instance, conventional political wisdom holds that sunsetting the tax code would be widely supported by Republicans but not Democrats, and that a bill to sunset the code would probably fail in the Senate if it passed in the House, as it likely would. A “Tax Code Termination Act” passed the House twice before, in 1998 and 2000, and in the last Congress, a version introduced by Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte garnered 122 co-sponsors, including 2 Democrats, but never made it to the House floor for a vote.

If it were promoted so that it became a major issue with the public, isn’t it at least plausible that it could win the support of seven Democratic Senators? If it passed the Senate, President Obama would be faced with an interesting veto decision: would he really want to veto the will of the American people – especially when there was no real downside to signing the bill, since the effective sunset date would be well after he left office?

I like it!

Roy Filly

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