Monday, January 20, 2014

Fact-Free Liberals

Creators Syndicate ^ | January 21, 2014 | Thomas Sowell 

Someone summarized Barack Obama in three words — "educated," "smart" and "ignorant." Unfortunately, those same three words would describe all too many of the people who come out of our most prestigious colleges and universities today.
President Obama seems completely unaware of how many of the policies he is trying to impose have been tried before, in many times and places around the world, and have failed time and again. Economic equality? That was tried in the 19th century, in communities set up by Robert Owen, the man who coined the term "socialism." Those communities all collapsed.
It was tried even earlier, in 18th century Georgia, when that was a British colony. People in Georgia ended up fleeing to other colonies, as many other people would vote with their feet in the 20th century, by fleeing many other societies around the world that were established in the name of economic equality.
But who reads history these days? Moreover, those parts of history that would undermine the vision of the left — which prevails in our education system from elementary school to postgraduate study — are not likely to get much attention.
The net results are bright people, with impressive degrees, who have been told for years how brilliant they are, but who are often ignorant of facts that might cause them to question what they have been indoctrinated with in schools and colleges.
Recently Kirsten Powers repeated on Fox News Channel the discredited claim that women are paid only about three-quarters of what a man is paid for doing the same work.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Conservatives Embrace Fancy Book Learnin’! ^ | January 20, 2014 | Kurt Schlichter 

Who hasn’t had some liberal sneer at him, “Why don’t you conservatives go read a book?” This powerful critique of the intellectual deficiencies of my ideological brethren always cuts me to the bone. I’m usually so upset that I run weeping to my fine German touring sedan, completely forgetting to tip the nose-studded holder of a degree in Gender Neutral Puppetry who pointed out my educational failings while he fetched my latte.

This meme is nonsense. In fact, conservative tastes in books can be quite eclectic. One day last week, Amazon delivered Hugh Hewitt’s new book on happiness concurrently with bassist Peter Hook’s memoir of Joy Division, a band best known to the public for its lead singer hanging himself.

Joy Division’s often depressing, tragic music could provide an appropriate soundtrack for James V. Lacy’s Taxifornia: Liberals' Laboratory to Bankrupt America.If you like footnotes with citations to damning data, Taxifornia is for you. Lacy, a lawyer who I have never met but who shares a book agent and a publisher with me, makes an air-tight case that liberalism is crushing the California dream. There’s no way to come out of reading it not seeing that the reverse alchemy of liberalism is turning the Golden State into a commonwealth of rusty tin.

Lacy powerfully evokes the California’s past as a mecca for those striving to build their futures. My family moved here in 1972; I can still remember how vibrant, exciting and new it was. Today, California is a plodding, dull and decaying mess. Outsiders think of California as a state run by wacky, freaky kooks, but Lacy shows that’s not it at all. It’s now run by the most common and conventional liberal political hacks, Democrat politicians owned by rent-seeking public employee unions who would be comfortable in any Chicago ward. Give me the free spirited hippy-dippy wackos of the past over these cynical plunderers any day.

Much cheerier is Glenn Harlan Reynold’s The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself. It’s cheerier because it predicts the inevitable death of the bloated liberal educational complex that, from kindergarten to grad school, simultaneously vacuums up enormous resources while generally delivering very little in the way of results.

Reynolds curates the legendary Instapundit website, an oft-updated aggregation of links to the most interesting stuff on the web. I’ve been starting my day at Instapundit since around 9/11, and it seems to me he’s moved from more libertarian to straight-on conservative over the years. He’s certainly no friend of the statists, the collectivists, or the status quo.

Reynolds (who I have never met but know from Twitter) is a law professor, and every young person even thinking about law school should consider what he says about that foolish course of action. Law school used to be the go-to fall-back option for the liberal arts major with nothing better to do (Hello, me!). Now it’s a way to get $200,000 in debt in exchange for a 50/50 chance of getting a job making about what I made as a new attorney back in 1994.

Like Lacy, Reynolds points out the incalculable damage teachers’ unions do – I’d ban them and consign the concept of tenure to hell along with them. His recitation of the vast number of useless, costly “diversity deans” at my own alma mater, the University of California, is as sickening as it is hilarious.

Reynolds is kind of a techno cheerleader – I guess he never got the memo about how conservatives hate science.The New School makes a compelling case that the unsustainability of ever-rising costs and the growing perception of a low return on investment, combined with technological advances, will totally change education as we know it. Why pay a fortune to sit with a thousand other suckers in a cavernous lecture hall learning almost nothing – except that America is a heteronormative vortex of imperialist oppression – when you can do it online for 5% of the cost? Reynolds predicts that soon no one but spawn of the super-rich will.

Then there is the cheeriest of the books, The Happiest Life: Seven Gifts, Seven Givers & the Secret to Genuine Success by radio host and Townhall columnist Hugh Hewitt. Hugh’s point about happiness is an old one, and it’s no secret really. You get by giving, not mere material goods but a part of yourself. You gain joy by choosing to sacrifice your attention, your effort, your time – and the book is infused with reminders that we only have a limited time in this life.

Hugh lives that ethic too – he’s given me and many other folks a lot of help along the way. It must work. Hugh is also, without a doubt, one of the most consistently cheery people I’ve ever met, despite his being a high profile lawyer.

The Happiest Life firmly places the responsibility for happiness upon the shoulders of the individual; happiness is a result of how you choose to live your life. Though it is not a political book, it begs the question regarding how a liberal might view happiness. Liberals believe in giving too, except they “give” what are another’s material possessions to those the liberal believes more deserving. But this seems to bring liberals no happiness – they often seem so miserable – and under Hugh’s construction it cannot. Redistribution not an act of sacrifice; it’s an exercise of power.

I found myself stopping frequently to think about what I had just read, and I cannot conceive of higher praise. Also, you’ll also find one of the best selection of epigrams ever, including my new favorite from Thucydides: “The secret to happiness is freedom, and the secret to freedom is courage.”

Oh, and Unknown Pleasure: Inside Joy Division is a brilliant book, illuminating and often hilarious. It’s also deeply conservative. The lads weren’t snooty artist types (though that became their fan base after Ian Curtis’s tragic suicide). They were working class Brits who really wanted to be musicians and worked hard to do it. Joy Division’s story is as inspiring as their music is classic.

The uppity barista who chides conservatives for failing to measure up tome-wise would be well advised to take his own advice and do a little reading himself. Taxifornia might help him understand why the best job he can get is making coffee drinks for lawyers who laugh at his pretentions. And The New School might have warned him away from taking on $150,000 in debt to end up with a job making coffee drinks for lawyers who laugh at his pretentions.

As good as it is, The Happiest Life probably isn’t going to help him find happiness – the discussion of faith might make him spontaneously combust – but Unknown Pleasures at least might get him into some cool music and away from that Mumford & Sons crap.

Finally, here’s a shameless plug for my own writing. My short, snarky parody of liberal love 50 Shade of Liberal just came out on Amazon Kindle, and Post Hill Press will publish my book, Conservative Insurgency: The Struggle to Take America Back 2013-2041, this spring.

Yeah, liberals, maybe conservatives would read more books if we weren’t so busy writing them.

Custom Writing Service Says Students 'No Longer Have to Face the Burden of Academic Coursework'

CNS ^ | 1-20-14 | Susan Jones 

A Dallas-based company that writes research papers, essays and other classroom assignments -- so students don't have to -- says it is doing so well that it has expanded its staff from just a few writers to more than 100 in the past year.
The company bills itself as the one "students trust to write professional, in-depth and plagiarism-free essays that receive the highest grades for all levels of they no longer have to face the burden of academic coursework."
It says the writing is done for an "affordable" fee; and it has foreign writers on staff for non-American students.
In a news release announcing the "custom writing service" for students in the United States, the company includes the following testimonial:
"I enjoyed using the service," one student is quoted as saying. "The paper was written excellent (sic)...My professor was satisfied, and so am I."
Other testimonials on the company's website read:
"I've sent the paper to evaluation first 'cause I wasn't sure if they can find a writer with a relevant academic background...But yes, they did! It seems like she read my thoughts and written the paper (sic) as if I did it myself, lol :-)"
And this: "Cool essay. Couldn’t been done better (sic). Just noticed a few typos, but that’s okay."
The company offers discounts of 5 percent after ten orders; and 15 percent after 20 orders.
In August, President Obama announced his plan to tie federal financial aid to colleges and universities that do well in a yet-to-be-announced college rating system. As reported at the time, the rating system means the government will define what a good college is.
Increasing the number of students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds "is at the top of the list," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in October. Another key criteria is college "affordability." And third is "outcomes" -- graduation rates, job placement, and post-graduate salaries that are high enough to help young people pay back their college loans.
For the record, the essay writing company mentioned above says it also writes college admission essays. -

Ted Cruz to GOP Establishment: Stop the ‘Carpet Bombing’

National Review Online ^ | January 17, 2014 1:00 PM | Eliana Johnson 

‘Much of the Washington establishment wants to spend 2014 hiding in the caves,” Ted Cruz tells me. To say the least, the freshman senator won’t be spending the next year in the shadows. Though 2014 has been uncharacteristically quiet for him thus far, he is as provocative as ever chatting about the year ahead, vowing to escalate his battle against the Washington establishment and to tangle with members of both parties on issues from immigration reform to income inequality.
Cruz, who enraged his colleagues at the end of last year by spurring a government shutdown, continues to stick his thumb in the eye of the city’s elites. On Monday, he announced that he had hired, as his deputy chief of staff, Paul Teller, the longtime executive director of the Republican Study Committee, the group of lawmakers that has sought to drag the party to the right. Teller was fired last month after leaking private communications to outside conservative groups, allegedly in an attempt to scuttle Paul Ryan’s budget agreement with Democratic senator Patty Murray.
Cruz is a Princeton- and Harvard-educated lawyer — with all the talent that implies — who uses his perch as a member of the country’s most powerful legislative body to argue that the elites and the institutions they populate are failing. He calls on K Street consultants to stop “carpet-bombing” conservatives and warns the GOP to resist the “siren call of Republican political consultants to silence what they view as the unwashed masses.” If they fail, he says, the consequences will be dire: Harry Reid will remain majority leader in 2015 and “send bouquets of roses to the Washington greybeards who appear on television saying all they care about is winning as they run losing campaign after losing campaign.”
The Washington elite, in Cruz’s telling, has lost touch with the grassroots, but he takes pains to demonstrate that he has not. #MakeDCListen is a favorite Twitter hashtag of his whose popularity exploded during Cruz’s 21-hour filibuster against Obamacare. He doesn’t claim credit for devising the strategy that led to the government shutdown. Instead, he gushes about it as a product of the effort of “millions of Americans” who managed to focus national attention on the president’s disastrous health-care bill. As for the midterm elections, victory is at hand for the GOP so long as Republicans don’t “demoralize and beat down grassroots conservatives.”
“I will note the almost daily reports one gets from the Washington establishment that their focus in 2014 is not on actually winning elections and defeating Democrats and retiring Harry Reid,” he says, “but rather on crushing into the ground conservatives so they will never be heard from again.”
As House Republicans prepare to issue guiding principles for a set of immigration reforms that closely mirror the Gang of Eight bill passed in the Senate, Cruz is ready to rally the opposition. “Anybody supporting immigration reform should put on the back of their car a bumper sticker that says ‘Harry Reid for majority leader,’” he says. Many have accused Cruz of training his fire unfairly on members of his own party. He thinks that too often the powers that be in the GOP train their fire at the party’s base, and he considers any immigration-related legislative efforts from the House GOP an attempt to silence conservatives.
The freshman firebrand proved to be the most disruptive force in Washington in 2013. As the prospect of a government shutdown loomed in Washington, Cruz appeared on Fox News Sunday. “This has been one of the strangest weeks I’ve ever had in Washington,” host Chris Wallace marveled. “As soon as we listed Ted Cruz as our featured guest this week, I got unsolicited research and questions, not from Democrats but from top Republicans, to hammer Cruz. Why are Republicans so angry at Ted Cruz?”

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Which Nation Has Increased Welfare Spending the Fastest of All? ^ | January 19, 2014 | Daniel J. Mitchell 

There’s an old joke about two guys camping in the woods, when suddenly they see a hungry bear charging over a hill in their direction. One of the guys starts lacing up his sneakers and his friend says, “What are you doing? You can’t outrun a bear.” The other guys says, I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just need to outrun you.”
That’s reasonably amusing, but it also provides some insight into national competitiveness. In the battle for jobs and investments, nations can change policy to impact their attractiveness, but they also can gain ground or lose ground because of what happens in other nations.
The corporate tax rate in the United States hasn’t been changed in decades, for instance, but the United States has fallen further and further behind the rest of the world because other nations have lowered their rates.
Courtesy of a report in the UK-based Telegraph, here’s another example of how relative policy changes can impact growth and competitiveness.
The paper looks at changes in the burden of welfare spending over the past 14 years. The story understandably focuses on how the United Kingdom is faring compared to other European nations.
Welfare spending in Britain has increased faster than almost any other country in Europe since 2000, new figures show. The cost of unemployment benefits, housing support and pensions as share of the economy has increased by more than a quarter over the past thirteen years – growing at a faster rate than in most of the developed world. Spending has gone up from 18.6 per cent of GDP to 23.7 per cent of GDP – an increase of 27 per cent, according to figures from the OECD, the club of most developed nations. By contrast, the average increase in welfare spending in the OECD was 16 per cent.
This map from the story shows how welfare spending has changed in various nations, with darker colors indicating a bigger expansion in the welfare state.
Welfare Spending - Europe
American readers, however, may be more interested in this excerpt.
In the developed world, only the United States and the stricken eurozone states of Ireland, Portugal and Spain – which are blighted by high unemployment – have increased spending quicker than Britain.
Yes, you read correctly. The United States expanded the welfare state faster than almost every European nation.
Here’s another map, but I’ve included North America and pulled out the figures for the countries that suffered the biggest increases in welfare spending. As you can see, only Ireland and Portugal were more profligate than the United States.
Welfare Spending - NA + WE
Needless to say, this is not a good sign for the United States.
But the situation is not hopeless. The aforementioned numbers simply tell us the rate of change in welfare spending. But that doesn’t tell us whether countries have big welfare states or small welfare states.
That’s why I also pulled out the numbers showing the current burden of welfare spending – measured as a share of economic output – for countries in North America and Western Europe.
This data is more favorable to the United States. As you can see, America still has one of the lowest overall levels of welfare spending among developed nations.
Welfare Spending - NA + WE -Share GDP
Ireland also is in a decent position, so the real lesson of the data is that the United States and Ireland must have been in relatively strong shape back in 2000, but the trend over the past 14 years has been very bad.
It’s also no surprise that France is the most profligate of all developed countries.
Let’s close by seeing if any nations have been good performers. The Telegraph does note that Germany has done a good job of restraining spending. The story even gives a version of Mitchell’s Golden Rule by noting that good policy happens when spending grows slower than private output.
Over the thirteen years from 2000, Germany has cut welfare spending as a share of GDP by 1.5 per cent… Such reductions are possible by increasing welfare bills at a lower rate than growth in the economy.
But the more important question is whether there are nations that get good scores in both categories. In other words, have they controlled spending since 2000 while also having a comparatively low burden of welfare outlays?
Welfare Spending - The Frugal FiveHere are the five nations with the smallest increases in welfare spending since 2000. You can see that Germany had the best relative performance, but you’ll notice from the previous table that Germany is not on the list of five nations with the smallest overall welfare burdens. Indeed, German welfare spending consumes 26.2 percent of GDP, so Germany still has a long way to go.
The nation that does show up on both lists for frugality is Switzerland. Spending has grown relatively slowly since 2000 and the Swiss also have the third-lowest overall burdens of welfare spending.
Hmmm…makes you wonder if this is another sign that Switzerland’s “debt brake” spending cap is a policy to emulate.
By the way, Canada deserves honorable mention. It has the second-lowest overall burden of welfare spending, and it had the sixth-best performance in controlling spending since 2000. Welfare outlays in our northern neighbor grew by 10 percent since 2000, barely one-fourth as fast as the American increase during the reckless Bush-Obama years.
No wonder Canada is now much higher than the United States in measures of economic freedom.

A True Picture!

Young Adults Gain Most in 2013 ^ | January 20, 2014 | Political Calculations 

The December 2013 Employment Situation Report included the BLS' annual revision of the estimated number of employed Americans by age group, which affected the monthly data going back to January 2009. Our chart below
Change in Number of Employed by Age Group Since November 2007 Total Employment Peak, through December 2013
After the revision, it's clear that both young adults (Age 20-24) and adults (Age 25+) were the biggest winners in the U.S. job market in 2013. Here, the number of employed young adults rose by 439,000 from 13,436,000 in January 2013 to 13,875,000 in December 2013, while the number of adult Americans rose by 771,000, from 125,438,000 to 126,209,000.
Since Americans between the ages of 20 and 24 account for 9.6% of all Americans with jobs, their 439,000 increase from January through December 2013 makes them the biggest winners for jobs during the year.
Meanwhile, the number of U.S. teens with jobs actually fell by 8,000 from January 2013 to December 2013, declining from 4,510,000 to 4,502,000.
Meanwhile, Matt Yglesias reports that the number of employed women in the U.S. workforce has recovered to its pre-recession levels. This is largely because men were the most economically displaced workers during the recession, particularly because the most negatively affected industries, construction and automobile manufacturing, were those that had employed disproportionately large numbers of men. To a lesser extent, it is also because the Obama administration's desire to impose "gender equality" upon the workforce led it to deliberately adopt policiesthat failed to address the real needs of the majority of American workers who were the most negatively impacted during the recession.
Looking back at the economically displaced by age group, we see for young adults, 2014 could be the year where their numbers in the workforce climb back above the level they were when the total employment level in the U.S. peaked in November 2007, just before the Great Recession began. The December 2012 data puts them within 126,000 of that total.
We would also anticipate that American adults will climb back over their previous employment peak level in 2014 as well. There's no reason however to expect much improvement for the employment situation for U.S. teens, since the reason for their displacement from the American work force has a great deal to do with the level to which the minimum wages that apply across the nation have been set.

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The nomination or else!




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I am watching them take my country from me!

American Thinker ^ | 1/20/2014 | David Lawrence 

I am watching them take my country from me -- the Obamas, the de Blasios, the Holders, the generic Democrats with their imaginary sincerity and their simplistic complaints about income inequality. As if excellence and the ability to earn are wicked traits.

In the meantime, Obama and his ilk are living pretty well. They are not sleeping in boxes on cold urban streets. Like thieves in the night, they try to steal the votes from the poor so that they can live even richer lifestyles. They pretend to identify with the middle class, as if their lifestyles and prestige even resemble such a thing as "middle class."
"Oh, the Republicans are rednecks and racists," says Josh, a Brooklyn liberal friend at Gleason's Gym whose southern grandfather was a member of the KKK.
They throw cookies of self-approval to those knocked out by their policies. They count them out while they pretend that they want to help the poor.
Liberals believe that conservative ideas are zombies, the walking dead. They don't see that their naïve ideas make them like sophomoric girls on spring break in a boat: silly, but sincerely out to satisfy themselves.
While Obama parties in Hawaii, I box in Brooklyn. I can probably write better than Obama. Maybe not Bill Ayers, who tried to blow up the Pentagon and is accused of ghostwriting Obama's books. If only I could speak as well as Obama, read the teleprompter as well. I'd be all sunshine, too. In Hawaii. In make-believe. In Never-Never Land.
How dare I compete with the president? Well, he has diminished the office enough that there's room for angry men like myself.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...