Thursday, April 24, 2014

America's Regulatory Nightmare

     I recall growing up in the 1970s and hearing stories about the old Soviet Union, and other totalitarian societies. The characteristics of those cultures that made the biggest impression on me, I guess because they were so far removed from the operations of my own country, were lack of supply and lack of work ethic. In the Soviet Union, it could take a person months to receive a part for their car, and then weeks after that for the mechanic to install it. The old saying in the Soviet Union was, "They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work."
     I never thought that ethos would take hold of my free country and transform it into a society that exhibits the same behaviors as ones ruled by totalitarians. But it is happening right in front of our eyes. Many of the vendors I deal with in my job do not return phone calls because they are swamped, and can not hire more people because of the cost of ObamaCare and other federal regulations. And even when they call back, the part I need must be ordered because no one keeps much inventory anymore.
     The hallmark of an authoritarian society is government control of the means of production. In the old Soviet Union and other authoritarian regimes, that meant owning the businesses outright. Our Leftist government figured out that they can control the means of production through mountains of regulations. Just last year alone the Obama administration added 75,000 pages of new regulations to the Federal Registry. And even that gargantuan pile of regulations was less than the over 80,000 pages added in the administration's busiest year, 2010.
     The effect in dollars of all those regulations is enormous. Each new government regulation costs the economy in some way, and of course costs taxpayers in added expense for the government bureaucracy to administer them. Growth is stifled and smothered by the burden businesses have to bear in complying with government edicts. In some industries, the time spent in compliance activities matches or exceeds time spent on the actual business functions. The superfluity of regulations imposed by the Obama administration in the last 5 years, has been responsible for the longest sustained stagnation in the U.S. economy since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
     But the more sublime effect of America's regulatory nightmare is the crushing of the human spirit. There is a growing lack of prowess and concern in the minds of many workers with the way in which they perform their jobs. This behavior is easily witnessed with the all too regular lack of customer service received in more and more businesses throughout this country. Much of it is a result of a younger generation that has had no instruction in the traditional American work ethic. But even among older workers, the hopelessness of an over burdensome government has zapped the hope for a brighter tomorrow.
     The creation of government regulations for the sake of giving control of corporate America to politicians who know nothing about those businesses, is like the build up of sludge in a car's engine, Over time it inhibits the performance, and eventually will lead to that engine grinding to a halt. We must eliminate the sludge of federal regulations from the economic engine of the United States before a majority of us just "pretend to work" for an authoritarian regime that "pretends to pay us." 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Supreme Court Gets This One Right

     This week, the Supreme Court upheld the state of Michigan's ban on Affirmative Action as a means of providing racial preference to students entering its universities. Justice Sotomayor, the wisest Latina woman in the world, dissented from the majority opinion of the court by making the incomprehensible comparison of it to the Jim Crow laws that Democrats passed in the South to discriminate against blacks. Proving once again that the Left is incapable, either by true ignorance or by deliberate purpose, to distinguish between race-based discrimination and race-based preference.
    The discriminatory practice of Affirmative Action was actually, and unfortunately, started by a Republicant, Richard M. Nixon. President Nixon formulated the Philadelphia Order, which gave preference to blacks based on race when companies filled construction positions. The goal was to stem the practice of some companies that refused to hire black workers based solely on their race. That "experiment" in Philadelphia morphed into federal policy over the years to become the largest government-sanctioned discrimination practice in history.
     One can hardly expect to solve discrimination against one group by transferring it to another. But as per usual in the Leftist ethos, advantage is not given to the most industrious or qualified, but a member of the victim class that belongs to the Democrat voting cabal. Preference for blacks based solely on their skin color should be as abhorrent to any decent minded person as discrimination against blacks based on skin color. But the Left daily pays disrespect to the brilliant and heartfelt words of the Reverend Martin Luther King, who lived and died to promote the ideal of "every man being judged by the content of his character, not the color of his skin."
     Those on the Left turn the Reverend King's dream upside down, and 180 degrees out of phase, by wanting blacks and others to receive preferential treatment based not on the content of their character, but the color of their skin, ethnicity, sex, or any other physical attribute the Left can use to assign victim status. Once assigned and accepted, the victim group must then be "helped" by bigger government and more bureaucrats being hired at taxpayer expense to ensure "fairness."
     The real tragedy is that the evidence has shown that racial preference practices like Affirmative Action have actually hurt those they intended to help, as well as those not belonging to an elite victim group. Democrats have disadvantaged blacks through social programs that have destroyed their families, encouraged out-of-wedlock births, and taught their young men the ways of thuggery and irresponsibility. The solution, Democrats postulate, is then to create bigger government programs like Affirmative Action to help those they have disadvantaged, and the cycle continues.
     This week's Supreme Court decision is a small step in the right direction towards the Reverend King's dream of every man being judged on his own merit, and not by the color of his skin or ethnicity. A society and culture which encourages industry in the individual, and rewards the excellence of results, regardless of physical attributes, is inherently the fairest, most decent, and diverse system.    

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Renaming Earth Day

     Today is "Earth Day," the time when arrogant Leftists try to spread their delusional thinking that the planet somehow needs them to survive, instead of the other way around, to as many unsuspecting persons as possible. They don their hemp clothing, fill their cloth shopping bags with "natural" snacks and bottled water, then head to their local celebration. The object of "Earth Day" is to make the attendees feel a twisted sense of superiority over those who do not attend, because the non-attendees obviously do not care about "Mother Earth" as much as those who slip on some disgusting sandals, tie-dye tee shirts, put their children into a cloth wagon, and stumble to the altar of human arrogance and hubris like some envirozombies.
     "Earth Day"  should be renamed "Brutally murder your girlfriend and stuff her lifeless body into a trunk---day," because that is exactly what the founder of Earth Day, Ira Einhorn, did to Holly Maddux. Ira fled the country, and with financial support from the Hollywood Left, managed to escape justice for 25 years. The Ira Einhorn story is educative of the total moral void that exists among the Left. Because on the Left, it does not matter what sort of heinous crime you commit, as long as you recycle, all your sins are forgiven.
     The church of Leftism requires of its members no strict moral code or adherence to a set of principles or values, only belief in their manufactured crises and sacraments of death. Not only the death of unwanted children, but the death of common sense, natural law, reason, and probity. The modern day environmental cult is exemplary of my preceding statement insomuch as it is not based on any science, but on politics and ideology.
      I do not know, maybe old Ira was trying to help "Mother Earth" by keeping the population to a minimum, starting with eliminating his girlfriend. And maybe those Hollywood elites that supported him on the lamb all those years he was living it up in Europe, thought that the life of one girl was insignificant compared to the continued freedom of the creator of "Earth Day." And maybe all those envirozombies that make their pilgrimage each year to "Earth Day" celebrations around the country are as ignorant of Ira's crime as they are of the lack of any scientific evidence to support their faith. Let others do as they may, I am going to "celebrate" Earth Day by going to work and thanking God, the creator of the earth, for his blessing of the resources and beauty he has bestowed upon us on every day.   

Monday, April 21, 2014

Vladimir's Strategy and His Hope for Its Continuation

     Ever since Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev, Ukraine for Russia as a result of the pro-European Union protests which made the continuation of his pro-Russian administration untenable, Vladimir Putin has been one step ahead of the West. In fact, I would surmise that the Russian president has been five or six steps ahead of the obtuse and arrogant U.S. president and other leaders in the "international community." During the last few months, the world has witnessed an escalation of the crisis, not a move towards reconciliation. This is exactly what Mr. Putin seeks. While he talks resolution, his small units of special operations experts have been ginning up unrest and violence.
     In the war strategy of old, a country would muster as many troops as it could against its enemy, rush across its border, and aim to capture its capital city. But Vladimir Putin is on the path to taking more of Ukraine by employing a massive special ops apparatus, not the brute force of an army rushing across the border. His goal is to slice off bits of Ukraine's sovereignty in the fatty Russian-speaking East first, and slowing move his way into the meatier portions, and finally go right for the bone of the capital.
     And while Mr. Putin's special ops teams are fomenting unrest in the East, as they did in Crimea, the Russian president is denying any connection to the unrest, saying it has been locally grown. In fact, he looks like a democrat, supporting the Eastern Ukrainian people's right to have special elections to become autonomous and ostensibly join the Russian federation. He has slowly and brilliantly been making the case all along that while Russian troops have not been involved to this point, that could change if his fellow Russians living in Ukraine are threatened.
     The apparent violence over this past weekend at a checkpoint in Slavyansk, Ukraine is being called a "staged event" by the new government in Kiev. But the event, whether staged or not, is the new kind of warfare being waged in the 21st century. Putin is building his case for further Russian involvement, not based on any facts-on-the-ground that preexisted Russian involvement, but were a direct result of it. Russian speaking persons were never in any danger after the ouster of Yanukovych. But Vladimir Putin has been saying they are, and incidents like the one in Slavyansk will be used to justify his "protection" being employed for the benefit of such people.
     The world can expect a much more aggressive Russia in the next three years while Mr. Putin has the benefit of an enervated West, made so by the "leading from behind" United States president. But the Russian aggression will more likely take the form of the passive-aggressive strategy that the Russian president has employed in Ukraine, not full-force military invasion. It is my humble opinion that by the time Barack Obama leaves office in January of 2017, Eastern Ukraine, and perhaps even more than that, will be an accepted part of the Russian federation. Yes, Vladimir Putin is going to miss Barack Obama when his term is ended. But not to fear Mr. Putin, there is always the hope for a Hillary Clinton presidency and her big, red reset button.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Great Bundy Ranch Conspiracy

     This week giddiness must be running rampant inside the White House over the Bundy Ranch standoff. The Obama administration could not have orchestrated a better performance to support candidate Obama's 2008 statement about "bitter clingers," than the scene being broadcast to Americans from Nevada. When the Bundys climbed up on their horses with their firearms at the ready to repel the federal agents there to illustrate the heavy hand of government, they could not have played into the stereotype that the Left propagates about the South more unless they would have had barbecue sauce on their chins and black slaves in tow. A stereotype which has no merit, but is the Lefts favorite characterization of the South.
     The object of this post is not to re-litigate the two court decisions that were adjudicated against Mr. Bundy, or to question the Nevada state constitution which relinquished claim of the land in question to the federal government in 1864. Nor is my purpose to re-legislate the 1934 Taylor Grazing Act, which explicitly defined grazing permits as having no rights of either ownership of the land, or of unlimited rights to even graze said land by those who held such permits. I feel bad for the Bundy family, whose previous generations labored under a false assumption of non-existent rights to the land they used to graze their cattle. A false assumption they bequeathed to their descendants.
     What Barack Obama the community organizer knew, was that if he sent federal bullies to the Bundy ranch he would elicit a response from the Bundys like the one he got. Having the agents back off made the Bundys look like the aggressors in the minds of a large swathe of an uniformed American public. If this was a planned response by the administration, it would be part and parcel to the Saul Alinsky tactic of marginalizing political opponents. And what better way for the Obama administration, and the tyrannical Left, to gain support among the non-gun owner population of this nation, than to have a group of armed cowboys confront and repel federal agents from federal lands? Whether those lands are legitimately owned by the federal government or not.
     One has to wonder why the Obama administration has not charged the Bundys with sedition, having taken up arms against the United States government. It is because the spectacle of armed militias guarding federal lands to keep out federal agents on the evening news, is more politically advantageous to President Obama than video of God-fearing people being forcibly removed and put in handcuffs.
     There is no greater proponent of smaller, less intrusive government than me, anyone who has read my past posts would know this. But far from making the case for smaller government, the Bundy standoff has, in the opinion of the politically uninvolved American public, made the case for just the opposite argument. Liberty implores and requires her defenders to make her case with level heads and reasoned arguments, not by taking up arms against the United States government.
     I know that I am in the minority in Conservative circles with my opinion. But I fail to see what the end game is of armed confrontation with federal agents. It will not serve to make things right in the minds of the Bundys or generate sympathy among most Americans for their case. I would like to ask a question of those who seem intent on securing liberty through armed conflict with our government. If by some miracle you were successful, what then? Do you then make Hollywood bend to your will at the point of a gun, or the news media, or educators? Are you not just substituting a tyranny you despise for one you do not? And in so doing, do you not enervate the cause of liberty and give fodder to the Obama cannons of an even more restrictive government?
     Our founders fought a war to secure the rights of a free people. But they also implemented a brilliant and divinely inspired Constitution so that future battles for our freedom would exist within the context of the public square, two chambers of congress, and the intellectual pursuit of winning the minds and hearts of the populace. To take up arms while the mechanisms of the Constitution are, admittedly worn and abused, but not yet exhausted, would be a sin against common sense, reason, and that very document we claim to want to protect.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fringe Right Hurts The Cause Of Liberty ?

     This past week I have been corresponding with some of the fringe elements of the Right through Face Book. It is an ideology which seeks to protect the Constitution of the United States of America by using the same thug tactics that the Left uses to supplant that document with their own form of "freedom." While the Lefts version of "freedom" is constructed of bigger government that supplies an ever longer list of free stuff, the fringe Rights' version of "freedom" is constructed of no government and armed rebellion to bring it about. I have been unfriended by Neanderthal "fringies" who will tolerate nothing less than their own words regurgitated back to them. They are not interested in facts or data, and as such are much like the Left that they say they abhor.
     Intellect being the better part of perspicacity, the fringe Right would do well to read the constitution and not just simply use it as a symbol around which to rally the misguided troops. The only sane way in which to stem the tide of the bureaucratic tyranny practiced by federal agencies like the Bureau of Land Management, and hundreds more, is by employing the instruments of redress prescribed by the Founders in the documents which form the basis of this nation. Any other method will destroy the very freedom the fringe Right claims to want to protect.
     As defenders of the Constitution we must elect leaders who will have the intestinal fortitude to purge the federal slate of the Leftist influence that permeates the government and destroys all the decent and moral concepts that were bequeathed us by our ancestors. It is going to take courage for these men to keep stabbing at the beast that has been created while being pummeled by media and Leftist politicians whose benefit it serves to keep the beast alive. Men like Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Trey Goudy, et al. What we do not need are pretenders to the throne of liberty like Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Jeb Bush, and the rest of the "Hole In The Constitution Gang" that can not shoot straight when liberty and freedom beckons.
     The Left has been patient, and has brought this nation to the brink of tyranny over the last hundred years. We must be just as patient and diligent in pulling it back. Victory for liberty does not come in a neat little package of one stand off at a ranch in Nevada, or in the election of a "savior" for president. It may take decades to undo the damage done over the last hundred years. The ship of state is a massive vessel, and turning it around is not an easy or quick task. And the only president of the last hundred years that shrank the federal government during his tenure was Calvin Coolidge. So the massive intrusion of government into the lives of the citizen did not begin with Barack Obama, it has traversed this last century and has taken up residence in Republicant administrations as well as Democrat ones.
     The fringe elements on the Right would suggest through their behavior and words, as well as their unwillingness to be intellectually honest enough to admit to information that contradicts their goals, that it is not liberty for which they struggle, but anarchy. And anarchy is more closely related to tyranny than it is to liberty. I had a vision last night that Woodrow Wilson was smiling and Ronald Reagan was crying. The former because his progressive dream was becoming a reality, and the latter because his life in the service of liberty is quickly coming to nothing because of those on the Left who wish to oppress a free nation, and those on the fringe Right who seem to want to usher in an age of nihilistic anarchy that is just as dangerous.    

Thursday, April 17, 2014

U.S. Stock Market, Modern Day Nero

     Roman mythology says that first century Roman emperor Nero was so oblivious that he played his fiddle while Rome burned. The recent behavior of the stock market is reminiscent of Nero's obtuseness. But instead of ignoring a city in flames, those in the market have ignored economic data that would need an extension ladder just to rise to the level of mediocrity, corporate earnings that can barely jump the hurdle of the market's lowest expectations, and a brewing civil war in Ukraine orchestrated by Vladimir Putin.
     The market has reached new highs even as the economy makes its obvious lurch towards recession. This slowdown is not only evidenced by the economic data that is worst than last year at this time, which was no great shakes even then, but by companies reporting first quarter results that, even when they meet lowered expectations for earnings, have missed on revenues. And even companies who have met expectations on both earnings and revenue, have not, for the most part, met their previous year's sales. Of the nation's three biggest banks, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup, the two former missed even the lowered expectations for earnings, and Citigroup barely eked out a mediocre performance.
     Author Michael Lewis recently penned a tome called, "Flash Boys," in which he surmises that the stock market is rigged by high frequency traders. High frequency traders are those who ply their trade in the milliseconds between when an order for a stock purchase is made and when it is filled on the exchange. They use high powered computers near the exchanges, and even higher powered mathematical algorithms to intercept these trades and make fractions of a penny on millions of shares, thousands of times a day.
     The market is rigged, not by high frequency traders, but by the big money players. That is why the market no longer responds to economic data or corporate earnings like it should. Instead, the market is like a marionette, having its strings pulled by the likes of Warren Buffet and others who control its direction. When the Federal Reserve's insanely low interest rates for the last 6 years, and their quantitative easing program which has pumped three trillion dollars into the market, is added to the mix of big money players, the market becomes a rigged game, no more honest than a street level version of Three Card Monty.  
     The mid and low level brokers who are successful, do not acquire that success through studying market fundamentals and corporate earnings, but through following the money flows of the "Big Guys." In  other words, what drives the market is the old adage, "Follow the money." And while the "Rome" of our economy and the stability of geopolitical relationships "burn," the Neros in the market continue to "fiddle," oblivious to anything but driving stocks higher simply because they can.