Jokes of the day.

The most deadly inventions of man are the fourteen Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines. These submarines carry upwards of half of the United States’ nuclear arsenal onboard. Hey, Kim! Do the math! Each carries twenty-four Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missiles which can be fired from underwater to strike at targets more than seven thousand miles away. As a Trident II reenters the atmosphere at speeds of up to Mach 24, it splits into up to eight independent reentry vehicles, each with a 100- or 475-kiloton nuclear warhead. In short, a full salvo from an Ohio-class submarine—which can be launched in less than one minute—could unleash up to 192 nuclear warheads to wipe twenty-four cities off the map. This is a nightmarish weapon of the apocalypse. So, Kim, do you even have 24 cities in North Korea (Pyongyang has more people than the next 23 cities combined and fewer than ten could be called “cities”)? And, by the by, there are 9 of these submarines IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN where YOU LIVE!

The Democreeps will rue the day they decided to stonewall the Trump tax cuts. They are fretting over a trillion dollars in deficits over 10 years. This after they said nothing about $9 trillion in Obama deficits in a mere 8 years.

Poor Santa!

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is the most partisan agency in the federal government in terms of donations to candidates, according to campaign finance data. Employees at the CFPB gave EVERY PENNY of their campaign donations to Hillary Clinton or her rival, Senator Bernie Sanders. Agency employees made more than 300 donations during the campaign. Not one went to a Republican candidate.

Some of my readers complain that I never post jokes about President Trump. Well, as I see it, there are plenty of people filling that role. But this one is a beauty! I couldn’t help myself!

This is for our friends in “the media.” You’re such an embarrassment!

This is for the Republican Party. Shape up! We don’t have a tax revenue problem, we have a spending problem.

And thanks to BC who sent the “rat” comics to me. Hadn’t ever seen these before.

Roy Filly

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Four illuminating charts on the tax cuts.

The Democreeps and the media (is there a difference) want to see the Trump tax bill never become law. They are constantly saying it is a sham. And, of course, they have been in love with the “phrase that pays,” IT IS A TAX CUT FOR THE RICH for as long as I can remember. Democreeps never tire of that one! The Democreeps are “for the little guy” and the “tax cuts” are for “the big guy.”

Below are four charts using Americans from vastly different income settings as calculated by the Heritage Foundation. They calculate the change in taxes if the House version passes versus the Senate version. Can anyone say these are “tax cuts for the rich?” Can anyone claim the “middle class was left out so that the rich can get more?” You decide.

First is an Asian American teacher earning $50,000 annually, The median income in the US is $59,000 – so Mr. Wong is below the median. He is single, doesn’t own or home and is not a business owner.

Mr. Wong gets a 2% “bump” in pay. When one considers that following the recession in 2008, average wages fell almost consistently in real terms until mid-2014 and they are still not back to their pre-recession levels. So 2% is more than he got during the entire Obama “recovery!” Of course, as a portion of his actual federal taxes it is probably around a 13-15% tax reduction.

Next is Jones family. They are clearly well entrenched in “the middle class.” Mr. Trump has vowed to help these Americans. Is he a liar? The Jones’s both have jobs (Democreeps should want their constituents to have jobs instead of welfare checks). They own their own home.The Jones’s certainly would like the Senate version to pass. That would be a 3% bump in spendable income, but, more importantly it is a 30 – 60% decrease in their federal taxes (see footnote for the average tax burden of a family like the Jones’s). If that is not TAX RELIEF for the middle class I would certainly like to hear the Democreeps definition!

Third we have the Hispanic-American Fernandez family that is clearly in the upper class. They are small business owners and are solidly in the fourth quintile of taxpayers.

The Fernandez’s would pay in the range of 19-23% of their taxable income in taxes (footnote 2). The Fernandez family definitely wants the Senate version to pass (unless they are “altruists” and love to pay taxes “because it’s NICE”). But, note that the House version results in an increase in taxes – hardly a tax cut for the rich. The Senate version treats small business owners much better. The Small Business Association considers firms with fewer than 500 employees small, placing nearly every business in the country (99.7 percent of firms that have employees) under that umbrella term. Far and away they employ the most workers. So is cutting their tax burden a “good idea” or “bad idea?”

And, finally, we have a wealthy mixed-race American family, the Smiths. The Smith family is RICH. There’s no getting around that. People and households earning $1 million or more annually made up just 0.1 percent, or just over 235,000, of the 140 million tax returns filed in 2009 (hard to get more recent data).

Well, there is no doubt that the Smiths very much would like the Senate version to pass. But, if one considers that people in their tax bracket pay 29% on average in taxes, even the Senate savings is a pittance and the House version is anything but a TAX CUT FOR THE RICH!

The Democreep argument is totally fallacious. And, by the by, I keep looking for the Democreep alternative tax plan and, guess what? IT DOESN’T EXIST! It’s been more than a decade since any Democreep congressional leader has authored a tax reform plan!

Roy Filly

Footnote 1 (see reference):

 

Footnote 2 (see reference):

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Lipstick on a pig: The leftists are pros at this!

It never ceases to amaze me that leftists (centrists, progressives, socialists, altruists) are NEVER WRONG! No matter how disastrous the results of their beloved programs [War on Poverty ($20 trillion and counting), the “Stimulus” ($1 trillion plus with interest already paid), Obamanomics (worst ‘recovery’ of the post war era), etc.) They will smile and tell you “it’s great,” or the more commonly, “it’s not the fault of the program, which was perfect, but ‘not enough money was allocated,'” or “evil people were chosen to ‘run’ it.”

You never hear, “Sorry about that!”

[Sources: Venezuela and the real reason why “real” socialism has never been tried, by Kristian Niemietz; What’s the matter with Venezuela? It’s not socialism, it’s corruption, by Ryan Beitler]

If I were to pick the most flagrant disaster of the past two decades I would pick Venezuela. The latest experiment in socialism has ended in tragedy and likely will lead to a war. What do you mean by “tragedy,” ask you? What I mean, answer I, is devastation to an economy and the safety of its citizens! The description below is not from a Wall Street hedge fund mogul. It was the description in the SOCIALIST WORKERS newspaper!

“Venezuela is deep in crisis. It has the world’s highest inflation rate—720 percent and rising. Its currency has plummeted to less than 1 percent of its official value, making it hard to import food. Hunger is endemic. Buying food requires queuing for four hours, only on certain days, and sometimes still getting nothing. Medicines and sanitary products are scarce. Chronic power blackouts have seen factories close and public sector workers move to a two-day week – this in a nation with the greatest oil reserves on Earth!

It is important to remember that the left thought Hugo Chavez was Jesus reincarnated… the Second Coming! Just a few years ago leftists were praising Venezuela’s experiment with socialism. It was fashionable in the UK and other Western countries. Venezuela became a popular destination for political pilgrimages. (Footnote – you really need to read these fawning accolades and acclaim bestowed on Chavez by leftist sycophants)

But how do leftists view it now? They have an excuse for EVERYTHING!

Here are the excuses cited by Ms. Niemietz – before you read these comments you need to read the original praise by these leftists in the footnote:

  • Those who relish using Venezuela’s troubles for political point-scoring have no interest in the truth. – Owen Jones
  • Venezuelans who protest against shortages of food and medicines are either CIA-funded foreign spies and saboteurs, and/or members of the elites trying to restore their former privileges – Seumas Milne.
  • US-linked opposition leaders […] launched a campaign to oust Maduro […] [The] protests have all the hallmarks of an anti-democratic rebellion, shot through with class privilege and racism – Seumas Milne.
  • Evidence for the US subversion of Venezuela […] is voluminous – Seumas Milne.
  • Venezuela was never ‘really’ socialist – Noam Chomsky.
  • I never described Chavez’s state capitalist government as ‘socialist’ […] It was quite remote from socialism. Private capitalism remained […] Capitalists were free to undermine the economy in all sorts of ways, like massive export of capital – Noam Chomsky.

Here are the excuses from the Beitler article:

  • Venezuela has slid into an economic and political cataclysm under authoritarian President Nicolas Maduro (formerly a hero fo the leftists – RF)
  • Maduro’s authoritarianism is contrary to the economic egalitarianism established by his predecessor Hugo Chavez
  • the corruption, greed, and elitism of the democratically elected government is directly at odds with everything socialism represents and everything the people of Venezuela long for.
  • The vast natural resources in Venezuela… should make it an extremely profitable society, but those resources are instead used to directly profit the people in the authoritarian regime(I thought that’s what socialists accused Capitalists of doing – RF)
  • Chavez carried out his socioeconomic reforms but pursued less savory results in various bids to increased his executive power (again, I thought that’s what socialists accused Capitalists of doing – RF)
  • Unethical agricultural production, and an immoral financial services industry steeped in voracity are all consequences of corrupt and immoral capitalism (there it is! I knew they would blame CAPITALISM for the failure of SOCIALISM – RF)
  • The National Assembly Commission determined one of the most corrupt institutions in the government is the state-owned oil company Petroleum of Venezuela (PDVSA). (OK. Who “nationalized” the petroleum industry that was making Venezuela a rich nation? Oh right! It was Hugo Chavez – RF).

And there you have it, my friends. The leftists are NEVER WRONG!

Roy Filly

Footnote: Leftist praise for the Venezuelan experiment in socialism [From the Niemietz article]:

As the Guardian reported at the time:

“Meet the revolutionary tourists, a wave of backpackers, artists, academics and politicians on a mission to discover if President Hugo Chávez really is forging a radical alternative to neoliberalism and capitalism. From a trickle a few years ago there are now thousands […] exploring a leftwing mecca which promises to build […] “21st century socialism.”

One of those revolutionary tourists was Noam Chomsky, who, in 2009, summarised his impressions:

“[W]hat’s so exciting about at last visiting Venezuela is that I can see how a better world is being created […] The transformations that Venezuela is making toward the creation of another socio-economic model could have a global impact”.

Three years later, Owen Jones went on a pilgrimage to Caracas as well, and reported:

Venezuela is an inspiration to the world, it really does show that there is an alternative. I met so many people who told me how their lives had changed since the election of President Chávez”.

In the Independent, Jones wrote:

“Chávez […] is the first Venezuelan president to care about the poor. […] Under Chávez, the poor have become a political power that cannot be ignored […] [H]e has proved it is possible to lead a popular, progressive government that breaks with neo-liberal dogma.”

Seumas Milne also went to on a pilgrimage around the same time, and came back convinced that he had seen the future:

Venezuela’s […] success in bringing resources under public control offer lessons to anyone interested in […] new forms of socialist politics in the rest of the world. […] Venezuela and its Latin American allies have demonstrated that it’s no longer necessary to accept a failed economic model, as many social democrats in Europe still do.”

After Chávez’s re-election in October 2012, the General Secretary of Unite the Union, Len McCluskey, said:

“We welcome this result which is a clear endorsement of Hugo Chávez’s progressive social policies. Venezuela shows that governments that put the needs of ordinary working people first can expect strong support at the ballot box. […] Europe might want to learn the obvious lessons from Venezuela”. 

Andy Slaughter, the MP for Hammersmith, added:

“This is a great result for the people of Venezuela, progressive politics, and the democratic process”. 

In the weeks and months following Chávez’s death in 2013, there was no shortage of voices which praised his political legacy. The General Secretary of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), Bill Hayes, said:

“Hugo Chávez helped to inspire a new socialism for the 21st century and provided the spark that lit up the whole South American continent”.

The General Secretary of UNISON, Dave Prentis, believed that:

“Hugo Chávez will be remembered for his continuous struggle to raise up the poor, his commitment to social justice and his dedication to fairness and equality”.

The General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Frances O’Grady, added:

“Hugo Chávez saw the implementation of an impressive and highly progressive programme, lifting millions out of poverty”.

Jon Tricket, the MP for Hemsworth, called Chávez

A titan of a man. Progressive, democratic, garrulous. In turbulent times he made change happen for the poorest”.

Owen Jones described the legacy of Chavismo in the following terms:

“Chávez became an icon for Venezuela’s long-suffering poor. […] [H]is policies transformed the lives of millions of previously ignored Venezuelans. […] He will be mourned by millions of Venezuelans – and understandably so.”

At a pro-Chavez rally in London, Jeremy Corbyn said:

“Chavez […] showed us that there is a different, and a better way of doing things. It’s called socialism”. 

In an article on his website (now deleted), Corbyn wrote:

“Venezuela is seriously conquering poverty by emphatically rejecting […] Neo Liberal policies […] 

At a pro-Venezuela event in the UK, Diane Abbott opined:

“[Chavez] showed the region that it was possible to do things differently […] I feel particularly passionate about defending the revolution of Venezuela and the Chavez legacy.”

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Nuclear weapons: Who has them? How did they get them?

The lame stream media wants to portray President Trump as too dangerous to have his finger in the “nuclear trigger.” But all seem to admit that the North Korean nuclear threat has been brewing and mismanaged long before January 20, 2017. How did we get from “there” to “here?”

Who has nuclear weapons? Why did former administrations “allow” these nations to “become nuclear threats?” Let’s take a walk down memory lane with Victor Davis Hanson.

[Source: Who Gets to Have Nuclear Weapons and Why? By Victor Davis Hanson: How many nukes would it take to render Earth uninhabitable, by Ryan Rastegar]

I do not mean to be cavalier about this issue. I grew up in the Cold War when the United States constantly had nuclear armed B52s and ICBMs at the ready to strike the USSR. When I was stationed at March Air Force Base (15th Air Force Strategic Air Command) in the early 1970s there were B52s with nuclear weapons aboard constantly positioned ON THE RUNWAY ready for takeoff. If the DEFCON number was critical enough, they sat on the runway with their engines running.

Today’s Millennials have no experiences like that. So when a lunatic (Kim Jung Un) could potentially have deliverable nuclear bombs what should any president do and what have previous president’s done?

[From the Davis Hanson article] In the free-for-all environment of the 1940s and 1950s, the original nuclear club included only those countries with the technological know-how, size and money to build nukes. Those realities meant that up until the early 1960s, only Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the United States had nuclear capabilities.

Members of this small club did not worry that many other nations would make such weapons because it seemed far too expensive and difficult for most.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States adhered to an unspoken rule that their losing Axis enemies of World War II — Germany, Italy and Japan — should not have nuclear weapons. Despite their financial and scientific ability to obtain them, all three former Axis powers had too much recent historical baggage to be allowed weapons of mass destruction. That tacit agreement apparently still remains.

The Soviet Union and the United States also informally agreed during the Cold War that their own dependent allies who had the ability to go nuclear — including Eastern Bloc nations, most Western European countries, Australia and Canada — would not. Instead, they would depend on their superpower patrons for nuclear deterrence.

By the 1970s, realities had changed again. Large and/or scientifically sophisticated nations such as China (1964), Israel (1967) and India (1974) went nuclear. Often, such countries did so with the help of pro-Western or pro-Soviet patrons and sponsors. The rest of the world apparently shrugged, believing it was inevitable that such nations would obtain nuclear weapons.

The next round of expansion of the nuclear club, however, was far sloppier and more dangerous. Proliferation hinged on whether poorer and more unstable nations could get away enriching uranium or acquiring plutonium in secret.

Some nations let on that they were developing nuclear weapons and were stopped by preemptive military strikes, such as Iraq and Syria. Others, including South Africa, Ukraine and Libya, were persuaded to halt their nuclear projects.

Pakistan was the rare rogue that managed to hide its nuclear enrichment, shocking the world by testing a bomb in 1998. Pakistan rightly assumed that once a nation proves its nuclear capability, it is deemed too dangerous to walk it back through disarmament.

Nonetheless, until the official nuclearization of North Korea in 2006, the nuclear club remained small (eight nations) and was thought to be manageable. Why?

First, those nuclear countries that were relatively transparent and democratic (Britain, France, India, Israel and the United States) were deemed unlikely to start a nuclear war.

Second, the advanced but autocratic nuclear nations (China and Russia) were thought to have too much at stake in globalized trade and national prosperity ever to start/lose nuclear war.

Third, any unstable rogue nuclear nation (Pakistan) was assumed to be deterred and held in check by a nearby nuclear rival (India).

The nuclear capability of dictatorial North Korea (and likely soon, theocratic Iran) poses novel dangers far beyond the simple arithmetic of “the more nuclear nations, the more likely a nuclear war.”

Neither North Korea nor Iran is democratic. Neither is a stable country.

Neither has an immediate nuclear rival that can deter and persuade it not to dare use a nuclear weapon. Both started nuclear programs in secret. Both hate the United States and its allies.

More importantly, their flagrant violations of nonproliferation accords and their perceived aggressiveness will prompt relatively powerful regional neighbors such as Egypt, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Taiwan to consider developing nuclear capability.

The nuclear club could get very big very quickly. Because those nations are “pro-American” does not mean that they do not have their own ambitions and perceived “enemies.” The United Nations may have good intentions, but clearly has been impotent to change the tide of development. The nuclear poker game, sadly, has become much more dangerous.

There are currently more than 20,000 nuclear weapons – more than sufficient to end life on Planet Earth. But what about smaller nuclear conflicts of a regional nature, say Pakistan and India. What might such a conflict wreak? A 2014 report published in the journal Earth’s Future found that even a regional war of 100 nuclear detonations would produce 5 teragrams of black soot (that’s 5,000,000,000 kg!) that would rise up to Earth’s stratosphere and block sunlight. This would produce a sudden drop in global temperatures that could last longer than 25 years and billions could die.

With that happy thought, enjoy your day.

Roy Filly

 

 

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The Mayflower Compact. This is worth knowing.

Yesterday we visited the Journal of William Bradford, the first Governor of Plymouth Colony. These early colonists learned the futility of “common wealth” and abandonment of private property rights.

But Bradford, besides being and astute observer of the abject failure of socialism, also provided a document that would be foundational in developing our Nation.

[Source: The Mayflower Compact and the seeds of American democracy, by Jeff Jacoby]

A storm drove the Mayflower far off course. For that reason the ship and passengers ended up hundreds of mile from the Virginia Colony. Because their “patent” was issued by the Virginia Company of London and as the passengers were not “in Virginia” some argued strongly that they were no longer bound by the original plan. Bradford wrote that several passengers began to make “discontented and mutinous speeches,” announcing that when the ship anchored they would go their own way and that “none had power to command them.”

Mr. Jacoby’s missive is so well written I will largely quote it. [From the Jacoby article] Something had to be done to keep the group united. That something turned out to be the Mayflower Compact, the foundation stone of American democracy.

That may sound like an absurdly grand claim for a document barely 200 words long and improvised in haste. It contained no laws or blueprint for the governance of their new settlement. Some of those who signed were illiterate and made their mark with an ‘X’. Many of the signers would be dead within the year.

And yet the Mayflower Compact was something new under the sun. More than a jerry-built expedient to keep the group together, it established the first government in the New World based on the voluntary consent of the governed. Every free man on the ship was invited to sign — including those who in England, as mere uneducated laborers, would have had no political rights. Virtually all of them did so, forming what the Compact called “a civill body politick” with the power to elect leaders and make “just and equall lawes, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices” for the general good of the colony.

… they claimed authority to rule themselves not in the king’s name, but from their own free will. The agreement… declared their intention to “covenant and combine our selves togeather” for the purpose of self-government. When each man “promise[d] all due submission and obedience,” it was to the colony they were poised to launch in America, not to the throne back in London.

More than 180 years later, future president John Quincy Adams regarded what the Pilgrims had done with awe. Their shipboard agreement, he said in 1802, “is, perhaps, the only instance in human history of that positive, original social compact which speculative philosophers have imagined as the only legitimate source of government.” What Locke and Rousseau would theorize about, the men on the Mayflower actually did: “Here was a unanimous and personal assent, by all the individuals of the community, to the association by which they became a nation…”

They did something else, too. They underscored that the right of free people to govern themselves came from God…

Thus, in just 200 words, were sown the great themes of American democracy: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with basic rights, that government derives legitimacy from the consent of the governed. Those themes would be enshrined in a world-changing Declaration of Independence in 1776, but they had their birth a century and a half earlier, as a tiny band of Pilgrims prepared to step ashore to a wintry wilderness in the New World, and start life anew.

I never knew that.

Roy Filly

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Reposting my usual Thanksgiving remembrance.

Dear Readers,

First, I would like to wish each of you a Happy Thanksgiving and thank you once again for reading the meanderings of my mind put to words. Today I will repost the observations of Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford. They are prescient of the circumstances in which America finds itself entangled today.

Roy Filly

The Democrat Party never considers the possibility that socialism, statism, collectivism, central control, and progressivism are failed concepts. It can’t possibly be that the failed notions of John Maynard Keynes should be buried alongside him.

I read a story recently that really brought this home to me. It was from the very foundations of our nation, the Plymouth Colony. It recounts why progressivism and socialism only sound nice, but do not work!

This is a simple historic recounting from the diary of Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford. From the Heritage Foundation: “The first Pilgrim winters in America were tough. The colonists failed to produce adequate food and shelter, and as a result, many did not survive. But eventually the colony rebounded. The Pilgrims did build sufficient homes and did plant enough crops to feed the entire colony. So great was their bounty that they celebrated with a harvest feast that eventually became the Thanksgiving holiday that we celebrate today. But what was the key to the colony’s turnaround? What drove them from poverty to prosperity? The answer may surprise you.

When the first Pilgrims founded the Plymouth Colony, all property was taken away from families and transferred to the “common wealth” (Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia still refer to themselves as Commonwealths, instead of States. Delaware calls itself a commonwealth in its State Constitution, and Vermont is somewhat more schizophrenic about the term, referring to itself in its State Constitution using both the terms “State” and “Commonwealth.” However, the term no longer implies communal sharing of all property as it did in the Plymouth Colony – RF). In other words, the Pilgrims tried to do away with private property. The results were disastrous. According to Bradford, the stronger and younger men resented working “for other men’s wives and children without any recompense.” And the women, forced to cook and clean for other men, saw their uncompensated servitude as “a kind of slavery.” The system as a whole bred “confusion and discontent” and “retarded much employment that would have been to [the Pilgrims’] benefit and comfort.” Unable to produce their own food, some settlers “became servants to the Indians,” cutting wood and fetching water in exchange for “a capful of corn.” Others tragically perished.

It was not until private property rights were restored and every man was allowed to “set corn for his own particular” that prosperity came to the colony. Bradford reported, “This had very good success for it made all hands very industrious…Much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. Women went willingly into the field and took their little ones with them to set corn.”

After witnessing the experiment Bradford concluded that the elimination of private property was incompatible with human nature. Venezuela is the most recent experiment of this kind. The result was the same. What was Einstein’s definition of insanity? It was “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

The problems with progressivism/socialism/statism aren’t the bad breaks of the economy or the evil players arrayed against their “benevolent” goals. The problem is that it is incompatible with human nature! To my progressive friends, you are never ever going to win that one! As it turns out, you are dealing with HUMANS.

Of some interest, the foundation of Ayn Rand’s (my guru’s) concept for the true role of government, is that governments must, first and foremost, protect individual property rights.

Roy Filly

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A little tidbit on the origins of the “minimum wage” – Democrat racism.

I fully realize that the leftist drive for a major increase in the “minimum wage” is no longer in the headlines. Also news feeds on racist statuary have taken a back seat to powerful men groping women – the topic of the day. But today, I learned about the racist history of the minimum wage – just one more thing the leftists try to hide knowing the electorate is poorly informed. I thought you might be interested.

[Source: Stalking horses, by Walter E. Williams]

The national minimum wage first became law in 1931 with the passage of the Davis-Bacon Act. As well in 1931 Jim Crow Laws were fully in effect (Jim Crow laws were a wholly owned subsidiary of Democrat Governors and state houses). The history of the origins and passage of the Davis Bacon Act is anything but “altruistic.” Quite to the contrary, it was just another racist, Jim-Crow-type move by the Democrat Party.

Because of European wars immigration to the US from Europe dropped during the 1920s and 1930s. This was simultaneously a time when northern state industry required additional labor. As a result, northern industry and entrepreneurs began to recruit laborers from the South.

White northern workers were competing against this new southern labor, many of whom were, of course, black. Union bosses and their Democrat Party lackeys saw this as an effort to “break unions” (and Democrats could not have their most important constituency “broken.”).

The explicit intent of Davis Bacon was to discriminate against black construction workers. [From the Williams article] During the legislative debate on the Davis-Bacon Act, quite a few congressmen, along with union leaders, expressed their racist intentions. Rep. Miles Allgood, D-Ala., said: “Reference has been made to a contractor from Alabama who went to New York with bootleg labor. This is a fact. That contractor has cheap colored labor that he transports, and he puts them in cabins, and it is labor of that sort that is in competition with white labor throughout the country.” American Federation of Labor President William Green said, “Colored labor is being sought to demoralize wage rates.”

The Davis-Bacon Act is still law today. Supporters do not use the 1931 racist language to support it. Plus, nearly every black member of Congress supports the Davis-Bacon Act. But that does not change its racially discriminatory effects. In recent decades, the Davis-Bacon Act has been challenged, and it has prevailed. That would not be the case without unions’ political and financial support to black members of Congress to secure their votes.

Well, whaddaya know about that! The racist past of the Democrat Party keeps sneaking out!

Roy Filly

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Withholding. Sneaky bastards.

Don’t ever think the federal government is stupid. One of their cleverest ploys is “tax withholding.” The notion of tax “withholding” is so ingrained in our psyches that most people don’t give it a second thought.

What’s your “take home pay?” After all, that’s the amount that goes into your bank account. That’s the number you write in your checkbook. That’s the starting point from which you begin deducting the cost of food, housing, gasoline, utilities, etc.

Somewhere in your cerebral cortex you understand that your employer is forced to “withhold” (footnote) state and local taxes, social security taxes, Medicare taxes and federal taxes (although this later withholding can be avoided with some risk). But you have been conditioned to think… well. I’ll probably get a “tax return”… someday I’ll get “Social Security benefits”… “eventually Medicare will pay all my medical expenses.” It’s like “a savings account.”

Indeed, each year the IRS issues tax refunds to tens of millions of Americans. In 2016 alone, the IRS issued refunds to more than 102 million Americans (out of 140 million returns filed). That means three out of four returns filed for 2016 called for money back. All told, the government sent about $318 billion to taxpayers, with the average refund being around $2,700.

Now let’s look at it from the other side. “Withholding” makes the $3.3 trillion in taxes collected last year essentially “invisible” to the average American voter. As well, the government did what it pleased with the additional $318 billion Americans OVERPAID in taxes. It eventually “gave the money back” but that was a part of the “deficit.” Even that is a federal LIE! The federal debt increases each year by more than the deficit. For FY 2016 the federal budget estimates that the federal debt will increase by about $1 trillion – more than enough to hide the piddling $318 billion in “tax refunds.” That’s about $250 billion more than the official “deficit.” 

When taxpayers think of that “tax return” as a “windfall” (rather than a penalty) they are more likely to spend it UNWISELY. A tax refund is definitely no windfall – it’s money that you earned to which you should have had access during the year. But when it arrives in a lump sum in the form of a “tax refund,” it seems like a good excuse to do some extra spending. 

Also, IRS collection costs would be substantial without withholding. But withholding transfers those costs to your employer. That money could otherwise increase your pay, increase investment by the company, create more jobs….

Let’s think about the difference if the law didn’t require “withholding,” but, instead, required you to write checks to the state, Medicare, Social Security and the federal government every month. These would be among the largest checks the average American writes month after month after month. One’s “perspective” on taxes would not be “a savings account” or a “future benefit,” but a never-ending series of LARGE CHECKS.

My friends, you have been hoodwinked by the government. The government counts on your apathy to tax payments. That apathy contributes to increased government size and spending year after year after year. Withholding is a brilliant ploy to make it easier for the government to increase taxes without citizens protesting.

Roy Filly

Footnote:

The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) is the federal law that requires employers to withhold three separate taxes from the wages they pay their employees. FICA is comprised of: a 6.2 percent Social Security tax; a 1.45 percent Medicare tax (the “regular” Medicare tax). Employers also are required to withhold taxes for the locality in which wages are earned. The Internal Revenue Service does not require the employer to withhold a specific amount of federal taxes but in order NOT to withhold federal taxes the employee must use Form W-4. Form W-4 contains instructions for claiming exemptions from withholding. If the employee claims “sufficient exemptions” he/she can avoid withholding of federal income tax. However, an employee may be subject to a $500 penalty if he or she submits, with no reasonable basis, a FormW4 that results in less tax being withheld than is required.

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Bassackwards. Blue states throw a fit over SALT.

SALT. No, it’s not what you shake on your steak. And it no longer applies to Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties. It refers to the Republican Congress’ plan to shrink or repeal the state and local tax (SALT) deduction.

You would think there had been terrorist attacks in Sacramento, Trenton and Albany. Budgetary alarm bells are sounding loud and clear in high-tax states. The Democrat led state houses are beside themselves with anger. If the Senate version of tax reform passes New Yorkers will lose approximately 68 – $72 billion in federal tax deductions and Californians will lose a hefty $101 billion. Ouch! (As a Californian who pays lots of taxes I will be affected.)

These are the “high tax states.” But, do they reflect the anger upon themselves for becoming “high tax states?” No. That would be too logical for Democrats.

[Source: In Democrat-led state capitals, GOP tax reform push could scramble fiscal plans, by Laura Nahmias, Katherine Landergan, and Carla Marinucci]

“We’re going to have to re-evaluate everything” if the state and local tax deductions are repealed, so says New Jersey’s Senate president. He added,”I’m just saying that what’s happening in Washington is concerning the hell out of me.”

These state governments will likely need to reduce taxes or make big cuts to schools and social services. And why would they need to do that, ask you? Because, answer I, there could be a mass exodus of those individuals paying those high taxes.

It was already happening before SALT became something other than a condiment. California’s “skyrocketing” housing costs and high tax rates have prompted an “exodus of residents,” reported the San Jose Mercury News (hardly a right wing news outlet) in June 2016.

During the 12 months ending June 30, the number of people leaving California for another state exceeded by 61,100 the number who moved here from elsewhere in the US, according to state Finance Department statistics. ‘They are tired of the expense of living here. They are tired of the state of California and the endless taxes here,’ said Scott McElfresh, a certified moving consultant. ‘People are getting soaked every time they turn around.’

As you will see, even a few hundred people (let alone 61,000) leaving a state can have a profound fiscal impact if the top few hundred earners decide to find a lower tax environment. (When France faced a similar issue around 42,000 millionaires left.) The trap in making “the rich pay their fair share” is that New York tax revenues are heavily reliant on just a handful of wealthy tax filers (Footnote). If a mere 250 of the highest earners leave it could cost the state $700 million in tax revenues.

In New Jersey, plans for a new “millionaire’s tax” (one of incoming Gov. Phil Murphy’s biggest campaign promises), will be dead in the water, as the saying goes, when the Republican tax plan passes. (It WILL PASS and I plan to write a post listing all the pundits who said “it will never happen.”)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Democrat, New York) said that the GOP tax plan could “lead wealthy New Yorkers to leave the state.” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney responded: “Whose fault is that? … Is it the federal government’s fault that New York taxes are so high that they’re driving people out of the state? …I don’t think it’s up to the federal government to save New York from its bad decisions.” Amen to that, Brother Mulvaney.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein charged that “Californians will be hit especially hard by the elimination of the state and local tax deduction… Six million California households claim the deduction…”

Someone needs to explain to these Democrats in high tax states what the term “bassackwards” means. “In the end, people’s appetites for paying taxes aren’t endless — and if you raise their taxes by taking away their deductions, their willingness to be taxed again to fund cut services is going to be harder,” said Chris Hoene, executive director of the non-partisan California Budget and Policy Center. Hey DEMOCRATS, there’s a news item!!! People’s appetites for paying taxes isn’t endless! Mirabili dictu!

Roy Filly

Footnote:

[From the Nahmias, Landergan, Marinucci article] …New Yorkers who make more than $100,000 a year pay 83 percent of personal income tax revenues for the state, while people who earn more than $1 million make up more than 40 percent of personal income tax revenue. And while New York City residents who earn more than $1 million a year make up less than one percent of all city taxpayers, those residents together bring in more than $4.2 billion in income tax revenue, or 43.6 percent of all the income tax revenue the city receives.

E.J. McMahon, research director at the nonpartisan Empire Center for Public Policy, said the increase in New Yorkers’ effective tax rate could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for a slice of wealthy people weighing whether or not to spend their golden years in New York or elsewhere.

In 2015, roughly 2,500 people in the state had adjusted gross income of more than $10 million, he said. If just one-tenth of them, or 250 people, decided to leave, it would cost the state $700 million.

“These people pay such a huge proportion of the state’s taxes that you don’t need an exodus, you just need a few hundred more people to decide that they’re gonna go to Jackson Hole, Charleston, Boca Raton, to make a huge difference,” he said. “You’ve given them all the reason the world to think harder about that.”

 

 

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Are voters knowledgeable?

I am confident that my readers believe they know the answer to this question. I also am confident that they believe they are knowledgeable about the issues but anyone who is voting differently than they are voting is not.

I occasionally post on a website called the Thomas Sowell Foundation. Yesterday a member (William Able) posted a study that fairly answers the question.

[Source: National Poll Shows Voters Are Widely Misinformed About Key Issues, by James D. Agresti]

Republicans think Democrat voters are uninformed and Democrats think Republican voters are uninformed. It turns out that:1) Republican voters are better informed than Democrat voters, and 2) more than half of Republican voters are poorly informed.

Democrat pundits like to say that the victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton was a “victory of the uneducated and uninformed.” Trump’s rejoinder is that the media is full of “fake news” (the ratio of registered Democrats to registered Republicans among journalism/communications professors at leading U.S. universities is about twenty to one). Ergo, it is abundantly clear that each side believes the other side is ignorant, partisan, and dishonest.

[From the Agresti article] So-called “fact checkers” claim to settle such disputes, but they often mislead readers by overlooking vital facts, misrepresenting the sources they cite, and reporting the opinions of selected “experts” as if they were facts.

The following poll was conducted by Conquest Communications Group  They are a professional polling group. The particulars of the polling sample can be found in footnote 1. Of importance, the poll published the actual questions (Footnote 2). Frequently, the way of wording a question can get “the desired” response. They polled only those who vote in all or nearly all elections.

It was not a “public opinion” poll, but instead a poll that measured voters’ knowledge of issues that affect their lives in tangible ways. If you go to the footnote you can take the test yourself. The questions are not easy, but they are questions from areas that dominate the news during election cycles (i.e., healthcare, taxes, national debt, pollution, etc.). I think you will agree that the poll covers the salient issues.

Results for All Voters:

[From the Agresti article] For each question, voters were offered a selection of two or more answers, one of which was true. Voters also had the opportunity to say they were unsure.

On average, voters gave the correct answer 38% of the time, gave an incorrect answer 52% of the time, said they were unsure 9% of the time, and refused to answer 1% of the time. A majority of voters gave the correct answer to only five of the 24 questions. These results indicate that many voters may be casting ballots based on warped notions of reality.

The highest levels of ignorance were found on questions related to child hunger, tax burdens, landfills, hurricanes, health insurance copayments, and Social Security finances. In these cases, 25% or less of voters provided the correct answer, and in one case, only 8% of voters did.

Results by Age, Gender, and Politics

The poll also recorded voters’ ages, genders, and political party preferences. This allows the poll to pinpoint segments of society that are most and least informed about specific issues. The results show deep partisan and demographic divides, with different groups being more or less knowledgeable depending upon the questions.

In total, the rates at which voters gave the correct answers varied from a high of 47% for Republican voters to a low of 31% for Democrat voters:

  • 47% for Republican voters
  • 42% for males
  • 40% for third-party voters
  • 39% for 35 to 64 year olds
  • 37% for 65+ year olds
  • 36% for undecided voters
  • 34% for females
  • 31% for Democrat voters

The sample size of 18 to 34 year olds was too small to produce meaningful data.

Roy Filly

Footnote 1: Poll information

Just Facts commissioned a professional polling firm to conduct a scientific, nationwide annual poll of people who vote “every time there is an opportunity” or in “most” elections. In other words, these are engaged citizens who regularly exercise their right to choose the politicians who govern them.

The responses were obtained through live telephone surveys of 700 voters across the continental United States on November 1–9, 2017.

The margin of sampling error for all voters is plus or minus 4% with at least 95% confidence. The margins of error for the subsets of voters are 6% for Democrat voters, 7% for Republican voters, 10% for third-party voters, 11% for undecided voters, 5% for males, 5% for females, 6% for 35 to 64 year olds, and 5% for 65+ year olds.

Footnote 2: Questions and results: The links in the questions and answers do not work on my webpage. To activate these go to the original posting in JustFacts.

Education

Question 1: Relative to other nations, how do you believe U.S. fourth graders rank in terms of their reading and math ability? Are they in the bottom 50% or in the top 50%?

Correct Answer: Top 50%. In international tests administered to students in dozens of nations, U.S. fourth graders rank in the top 20% of nations for reading and the top 30% for math. Confusion about this issue may stem from the fact that the relative performance of U.S. students declines over time, and by the age of 15, they drop to the bottom 50% in reading and to the bottom 20% in math. This suggests that the problems of the U.S. education system may occur in the later years, not the early years, as many have claimed.

Correct answer given by 39% of all voters, 42% of Democrat voters, 35% of Republican voters, 38% of third-party voters, 39% of undecided voters, 39% of males, 38% of females, 43% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 34% of 65+ year olds.

Question 2: On average across the United States, how much do you think public schools spend per year to educate each classroom of students? Less or more than $150,000 per classroom per year?

Correct Answer: More than $150,000. The average cost to educate a classroom of public school students is about $280,000 per year.

Correct answer given by 34% of all voters, 30% of Democrat voters, 41% of Republican voters, 31% of third-party voters, 30% of undecided voters, 37% of males, 32% of females, 36% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 32% of 65+ year olds.

Question 3: In your mind, what portion of 17- to 24-year-olds in the U.S. are unqualified for military service because of weak educational skills, poor physical fitness, illegal drug usage, medical conditions, or criminal records? More or less than half?

Correct Answer: More than half. According to various agencies within the Department of Defense, two-thirds to three-quarters of all 17- to 24-year-olds are unqualified for military service because of weak educational skills, poor physical fitness, illegal drug usage, medical conditions, or criminal records.

Correct answer given by 41% of all voters, 36% of Democrat voters, 44% of Republican voters, 48% of third-party voters, 37% of undecided voters, 40% of males, 42% of females, 40% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 41% of 65+ year olds.

Question 4: When conventional public schools are subject to school choice programs that allow students to leave for private or charter schools, do you think the children who remain in the public schools academically decline?

Correct Answer: No. At least 21 high-quality studies have been performed on the academic outcomes of students who remain in public schools that are subject to school choice programs. All but one of the studies found neutral-to-positive results, and none of the studies found negative results. This is consistent with the theory that school choice stimulates competition that helps public schools to improve.

Correct answer given by 40% of all voters, 39% of Democrat voters, 40% of Republican voters, 42% of third-party voters, 36% of undecided voters, 40% of males, 39% of females, 43% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 36% of 65+ year olds.

Taxes

Question 5: The average U.S. household spends about $28,000 per year on food, housing, and clothing combined. If we broke down all combined federal, state, and local taxes to a per household cost, do you think this would amount to more or less than an average of $28,000 per household per year?

Correct Answer: More than $28,000. In 2016, federal, state and local governments collected a combined total of $4.9 trillion in taxes or an average of $39,000 for every household in the U.S.

Correct answer given by 39% of all voters, 39% of Democrat voters, 39% of Republican voters, 42% of third-party voters, 33% of undecided voters, 35% of males, 43% of females, 38% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 40% of 65+ year olds.

Question 6: On average, who would you say pays a greater portion of their income in federal taxes: The middle class or the upper 1% of income earners?

Correct Answer: The upper 1%. The Congressional Budget Office, the Obama administration Treasury Department, and the Tax Policy Center have all documented that households in the top 1% of income pay an average effective federal tax rate of about 34%, while middle-income households pay about 13%. These tax rates account for nearly all income and federal taxes. Claims to the contrary, which are often voiced by politicians and the media, are based on misleading calculations that exclude large portions of people’s taxes and/or incomes.

Correct answer given by 21% of all voters, 8% of Democrat voters, 38% of Republican voters, 21% of third-party voters, 20% of undecided voters, 26% of males, 16% of females, 23% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 19% of 65+ year olds.

Spending

Question 7: Now, changing the subject from taxes to spending, suppose we broke down all government spending to a per household cost—do you think the combined spending of federal, state and local governments amounts to more or less than $40,000 per household per year?

Correct Answer: More than $40,000. In 2016, federal, state and local governments spent a combined total of $6.3 trillion or an average of $50,000 for every household in the U.S. For reference, the average U.S. household spends about $42,000 per year on food, housing, clothing, transportation, and healthcare.

Correct answer given by 39% of all voters, 31% of Democrat voters, 52% of Republican voters, 36% of third-party voters, 39% of undecided voters, 40% of males, 39% of females, 41% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 36% of 65+ year olds.

Question 8: Do you think the federal government spends more money on social programs, such as Medicare, education, and food stamps—or does the federal government spend more money on national defense, such as the Army, Navy, and missile defense?

Correct Answer: Social programs. In 2016, 63% of federal spending was for social programs, and 18% was for national defense. In 1960, the opposite was true, and 53% of federal spending was for national defense, while 21% was for social programs.

Correct answer given by 36% of all voters, 17% of Democrat voters, 63% of Republican voters, 32% of third-party voters, 35% of undecided voters, 41% of males, 31% of females, 35% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 37% of 65+ year olds.

National Debt

Question 9: What about federal government debt? The average U.S. household owes about $119,000 in consumer debt, such as mortgages and credit cards. Thinking about all federal government debt broken down on a per-household basis, do you think federal debt amounts to more or less than $119,000 per U.S. household?

Correct Answer: More than $119,000. Federal debt is now $20.5 trillion or $163,000 for every household in the United States. Such levels of debt can have far-reaching negative consequences like reduced living standards and reduced life expectancies.

Correct answer given by 69% of all voters, 66% of Democrat voters, 75% of Republican voters, 67% of third-party voters, 69% of undecided voters, 68% of males, 70% of females, 67% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 70% of 65+ year olds.

Question 10: From the time that the Great Recession ended in 2009, which do you think has grown at a faster rate, the U.S. economy or the national debt?

Correct Answer: The national debt. From the time that the Great Recession ended in 2009, the national debt grew by 78%, while the U.S. economy grew by 36%.

Correct answer given by 81% of all voters, 73% of Democrat voters, 88% of Republican voters, 86% of third-party voters, 84% of undecided voters, 84% of males, 78% of females, 80% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 81% of 65+ year olds.

Global Warming

Question 11: Would you say the earth has become measurably warmer since the 1980s?

Correct Answer: Yes. According to both satellite-measured data and ground-level thermometers, the earth’s average temperature has increased by about 0.6 to 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1980s. This increase is greater than the range of measurement uncertainty. For a point of comparison, a temperature analysis of a glacier in Greenland found that it was about 22ºF colder during the last ice age than it is now.

Correct answer given by 65% of all voters, 90% of Democrat voters, 37% of Republican voters, 62% of third-party voters, 61% of undecided voters, 62% of males, 68% of females, 66% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 64% of 65+ year olds.

Question 12: Again, thinking about the whole planet, do you think the number and intensity of hurricanes and tropical storms have generally increased since the 1980s?

Correct Answer: No. Data published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters shows that the number and intensity of hurricanes and tropical storms have not generally increased since the 1980s. Likewise, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reported: “There is low confidence in any observed long-term (i.e., 40 years or more) increases in tropical cyclone activity (i.e., intensity, frequency, duration), after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities.” Certain media outlets have spread false claims to the contrary by ignoring key facts and cherry-picking timeframes and geographical locations.

Correct answer given by 25% of all voters, 6% of Democrat voters, 49% of Republican voters, 28% of third-party voters, 22% of undecided voters, 33% of males, 17% of females, 27% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 24% of 65+ year olds.

Pollution

Question 13: Now, just thinking about the United States, in your opinion, is the air generally more polluted than it was in the 1980s?

Correct Answer: No. EPA data shows that ambient levels of all criteria air pollutants have declined significantly since the 1980s. Criteria air pollutions are those that are deemed by the administrator of the EPA to be widespread and to “cause or contribute to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare….” Likewise, combined emissions of hazardous air pollutants have declined by about 50% since the 1990s. Lower pollution levels can improve human health and reduce problems like learning deficits and behavioral disorders.

Correct answer given by 52% of all voters, 42% of Democrat voters, 65% of Republican voters, 53% of third-party voters, 49% of undecided voters, 65% of males, 40% of females, 57% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 48% of 65+ year olds.

Question 14: If the U.S. stopped recycling and buried all of its municipal trash for the next 100 years in a single landfill that was 30 feet high, how much of the nation’s land area would you think this landfill would cover? Less than 1%, 1% to less than 5%, or more than 5%?

Correct Answer: Less than 1%. At the current U.S. population growth rate and the current per-person trash production rate, the landfill would cover 0.06% of the nation’s land area. More realistically, the actual area in use will be an order of magnitude smaller, because:

  • the U.S. recycles, burns, or composts 47% of its trash.
  • landfills can be more than 200 feet high
  • after 30-50 years, landfills are often covered and used for purposes such as parks, golf courses, ski slopes, and airfields.

Correct answer given by 8% of all voters, 5% of Democrat voters, 13% of Republican voters, 10% of third-party voters, 4% of undecided voters, 14% of males, 3% of females, 9% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 7% of 65+ year olds.

Energy

Question 15: Without government subsidies, which of these technologies do you think is the least expensive method for generating electricity? Wind turbines, solar panels, or natural gas power plants?

Correct Answer: Natural gas power plants. Determining the costs of electricity-generating technologies is complex, but data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that natural gas is considerably less expensive than wind, and wind is considerably less expensive than solar. Affordable energy has many important benefits, and for poorer people, it can mean the difference between life and death.

Correct answer given by 39% of all voters, 27% of Democrat voters, 54% of Republican voters, 46% of third-party voters, 37% of undecided voters, 52% of males, 28% of females, 38% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 40% of 65+ year olds.

Question 16: Without government subsidies, which of these fuels do you believe is least expensive for powering automobiles? Gasoline, ethanol, or biodiesel?

Correct Answer: Gasoline. Data from the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Energy Information Administration show that in 2015, the unsubsidized cost of ethanol was 38% more than gasoline, and the unsubsidized cost of biodiesel was 118% more than gasoline.

Correct answer given by 46% of all voters, 38% of Democrat voters, 58% of Republican voters, 48% of third-party voters, % of undecided voters, 54% of males, 38% of females, 45% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 45% of 65+ year olds.

Question 17: Worldwide, which of these technologies generates the most electricity? Solar panels, natural gas power plants, coal power plants, or nuclear power plants?

Correct Answer: Coal power plants. Due to the low cost and widespread availability of coal, coal power plants generate about 40% of the world’s electricity, as compared to 22% for natural gas, 11% for nuclear, and 1% for solar.

Correct answer given by 31% of all voters, 24% of Democrat voters, 38% of Republican voters, 38% of third-party voters, 31% of undecided voters, 43% of males, 20% of females, 33% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 29% of 65+ year olds.

Hunger

Question 18: On an average day, what portion of U.S. households with children do you believe will have at least one child who experiences hunger? Less than 1%, 1% to 10%, or more than 10%?

Correct Answer: Less than 1%. Per the latest data from the USDA, on an average day, less than one fifth of one percent (0.16%) of households with children have a child who experiences hunger. Those who claim that child hunger is more common often falsely equate the term “food insecure” with “hunger,” but most food-insecure households never experience hunger during any point of the year.

Correct answer given by 14% of all voters, 8% of Democrat voters, 24% of Republican voters, 16% of third-party voters, 10% of undecided voters, 18% of males, 11% of females, 12% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 16% of 65+ year olds.

Social Security

Question 19: Do you think Social Security’s financial problems stem from politicians looting the program and spending the money on other programs?

Correct Answer: No. By law, all Social Security taxes and revenues can be used only for the Social Security program, and the federal government has never failed to abide by this law. What some call “looting” is actually a legal requirement (established in the original Social Security of 1935) that all of the program’s surpluses be loaned to the federal government. The government is required to pay back this money with interest, and it has been doing this since 2010. Social Security’s financial problems primarily stem from the fact that the ratio of workers paying taxes to people receiving benefits has fallen by three times since 1955 and is projected to fall further.

Correct answer given by 14% of all voters, 15% of Democrat voters, 13% of Republican voters, 15% of third-party voters, and 13% of undecided voters, 18% of males, 11% of females, 16% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 11% of 65+ year olds.

Question 20: Some policymakers are proposing that individuals be allowed to save and invest some of their Social Security taxes in personal accounts instead of paying these taxes to the Social Security program. In your view, do you think such proposals generally improve or harm the finances of the Social Security program?

Correct Answer: Improve. As shown by analyses conducted by the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration and a bipartisan presidential commission, proposals to give Social Security an element of personal ownership generally strengthen the program’s finances. Although some tax revenues that would have gone to the program instead go to people’s personal retirement accounts, these tax revenues are more than offset by the savings of not paying these individuals full benefits.

Correct answer given by 23% of all voters, 10% of Democrat voters, 36% of Republican voters, 35% of third-party voters, 18% of undecided voters, 27% of males, 20% of females, 28% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 18% of 65+ year olds.

Health Care

Question 21: In 1960, governments paid for 24% of all healthcare costs in the U.S. Do you think governments now pay a greater portion or a lesser portion of all healthcare costs in the U.S.?

Correct Answer: A greater portion. In 2015, governments paid for 49% of all healthcare expenses in the United States.

Correct answer given by 56% of all voters, 42% of Democrat voters, 71% of Republican voters, 61% of third-party voters, 57% of undecided voters, 67% of males, 46% of females, 56% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 56% of 65+ year olds.

Question 22: When health insurance copayments are high, people tend to spend less on healthcare. Do you think that this reduced spending typically has a negative impact on their health?

Correct Answer: No. Multiple studies have shown that when copayments are high, people generally spend less money on their healthcare without negatively impacting their health. This is because when people directly pay for more of their healthcare bills, they are more likely to be responsible consumers and use only those services that actually benefit their health. An exception to this rule is the poorest 6% of the population, who do experience negative effects when copayments are increased.

Correct answer given by 13% of all voters, 6% of Democrat voters, 21% of Republican voters, 20% of third-party voters, 10% of undecided voters, 16% of males, 11% of females, 14% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 12% of 65+ year olds.

Question 23: In 2010, Congress passed and President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” This law uses price controls to save money in the Medicare program. Do you think these price controls will worsen Medicare patients’ access to care?

Correct Answer: Yes. As explained by Medicare’s actuaries, the price controls in the Affordable Care Act will cut Medicare prices for many medical services over the next three generations to “less than half of their level under the prior law.” The actuaries have been clear that this will likely cause “withdrawal of providers from the Medicare market” and “severe problems with beneficiary access to care.”

Correct answer given by 44% of all voters, 24% of Democrat voters, 69% of Republican voters, 46% of third-party voters, 48% of undecided voters, 46% of males, 43% of females, 45% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 44% of 65+ year olds.

Race and Police Use of Deadly Force

Question 24: Relative to the rates at which people of different races commit murder, are police more likely to use deadly force against African Americans than other races?

Correct Answer: No. African Americans represent about 13% of the U.S. population, 53% of murder offenders, and 33% of people killed by police. A 1985 Supreme Court ruling prohibits police from using deadly force unless “the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.” From 2006 to 2015, 65 officers were charged in fatal shootings, and 11 were convicted. Because the U.S. has more than 325 million people, 900,000 law enforcement officers, and 16,000 murders per year, the media can create misleading impressions by focusing on selected events.

Correct answer given by 41% of all voters, 13% of Democrat voters, 71% of Republican voters, 43% of third-party voters, 49% of undecided voters, 44% of males, 37% of females, 43% of 35 to 64 year olds, and 39% of 65+ year olds.

Detailed poll results for all voters are available here, and the results broken down by their choice for president, sex, and age are available here.

 

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