SOTU in a Nation of Dreamers

And so. I came home in the middle of the speech from a job site and listened to it on the internet, set as it usually is to the local BBC Station in Norfolk. It was quite the speech, and as usual, the analysis on the BBC was completely partisan. But as conservative we are used to that. The best write up I saw was on The American Spectator, no real surprise there.

[I]n all of the media’s blather about bipartisanship, it never acknowledges the Democratic radicalism that makes any national unity impossible. No sooner had Trump finished the State of the Union Address — a speech that could have been delivered by any Democrat before the radicalism of the 1960s and 1970s seeped into the party — than CNN was throwing a wet blanket on it. “There will be Democrats offended by the speech,” intoned Jake Tapper. “He was selling sweet candy with poison in it,” chipped in Van Jones.

What is the sound of one aisle clapping at the most basic and blameless expressions of nationalism, the nationalism that every functioning country on earth observes? Americans heard it Tuesday night. The Democrats couldn’t clap for the flag or fighting gangs (that elicited a groan from some of them). It couldn’t clap for the national anthem, secure borders, religious liberty, even vocational training. It saw poison everywhere, though they did perk up at Trump’s mention of second chances for criminals.

The Democrats have become the foreigners first party. Notice that one of the two official Democratic responses was in Spanish. The other one was delivered by Rep. Joe Kennedy III, whose digressions about “transgenderism” would have even confused his forbears. He too broke into a little Spanish during his response, before endorsing the open borders anarchism of La Raza. He approvingly quoted illegal immigrants who promised to “tear down” any future walls.

Trump’s speech contained few ideological edges. But Tapper, a former Democratic staffer, saw parts of the speech as “holding up a fist.” Other commentators, desperate to find something to attack in the speech, pronounced it “flat” and questioned its “cadence.” They liked that he larded it with a rainbow of “inspirational stories,” but turned their noses up at its policy ambitions, even though many of them (paid family leave and amnesty for Dreamers) represented substantial concessions to the Democrats.

Before the Democrats took their McGovernite turn, they would have agreed with almost everything in Trump’s speech and would have stood for much of it. Now it is a party of stale and geriatric radicalism. (Even Joe Kennedy III sounded like a young old fogey, delivering a speech that could have been written by George McGovern and Bernie Sanders.) And so the Democrats sulked through much of the speech. They fiddled with their phones and rolled their eyes even at the most banal lines. The black caucus slouched through Trump’s tribute to historic levels of black employment.

And that is what I saw as well, a Democratic party that has sold out its heritage as an American party to become the party of ‘Anybody but America’. It’s a sad turn, as I’ve often said my dad was a New Dealer, even though he was conservative because of experience. But the left has overturned any possible positive legacy from FDR, and there were several. Sad really, but hiding the truth doesn’t change what it is.

As Americans, it behooves us to remember at this time, as usual, we are an example to the world. Think about that, I, in Nebraska, listened to this speech from an American President, live. on a local station in East Anglia, England.

for wee must Consider that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all people are uppon us; soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our god in this worke wee have undertaken and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a byword through the world, wee shall open the mouthes of enemies to speake evill of the wayes of god and all professours for Gods sake;

So wrote John Winthrop long ago. It was then and it is now, people around the world look to America to see how freedom works. Yes, those in mud huts around the world, but those in England itself, who wonder how they got so far off course, look to the basics of Anglo-American freedom, as we state it. Where America leads, others follow. And the President is correct, we lead where our dreams take us. If our dreams are small, as they have been the last few years, our leadership is as well, but when we again dream large dreams, large things will happen. Not because of our force, applied wantonly, but because people will see that light on a hill, and be drawn to it.

And so for the first time in a decade, the State of the Union is good, and improving, because once again the dream is alive in Americans, and as we are seeing, especially in Central Europe, when America believe in the American Dream, others will follow, and once again the sky will be lit with the glow of liberty.

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Healthcare Reform, American Style

The £ Daily Mail (and all the other papers) has a story about an 81-year-old woman who died at home while waiting over four hours for an ambulance. Terrible story and made worse by the obfuscation and hiding behind excuses of the emergency services, not to mention the NHS. Which as usual in failing to plan for a busy winter, planned to fail, well I was going to say the customer, but that is inaccurate, the customer of health care in Britain is not the sick person, it is the NHS itself, and or its various unions. The sick and injured are merely a vehicle to suck money out of the taxpayers.

They have a kerfluffle every winter about long wait times, for ambulances and Accident & Emergency beds, and then the weather gets a bit warmer and it’s all forgotten till next year. Oh, except for demanding still more money from the taxpayer, for gender changing amongst other things.

American healthcare is insanely expensive, but it is quite a lot better than that, but it has been tending in that direction. A drift badly exacerbated in the last decade by Obamacare, but we haven’t reached the nadir that the British have. The American Spectator has noticed a trend, and Hunt Lawrence and Daniel J. Flynn wrote about it.

By the time Congress gets around to reforming health care, the private sector will have already done so.

The pending acquisition of Aetna by CVS Health indicates as much. This purchase follows Amazon’s forays, both sub rosa and in plain sight, into the medical industry. CNBC reported in July, for instance, on Amazon’s top-secret project codenamed “1492,” which allegedly seeks to revolutionize such healthcare fields as telemedicine, electronic medical records, pharmacy benefit management. As the name indicates, Jeff Bezos believes the project changes everything.

In a world in which Google develops cars and Elon Musk seeks to colonize Mars, Amazon’s project makes perfect sense. And let’s face it, any field with as much waste as healthcare appears ripe for the efficiency of an Amazon.

And expect CVS and Amazon to face competition.

Surely the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Apple — all vying to become the world’s first $1 trillion company — join the fray. Companies, like bank robbers, follow the money. Healthcare overflows with it.

What does the Amazonization of medicine look like?

Alexa and the Apple Watch may replace the personal physician. Amazon’s medical service may monitor health data, including exercise, regular checkups, and prescriptions. Alexa figures to direct patients to clinics and emergency rooms, as it already does, as needed. Hospital, drug delivery, and doctors’ efforts will be sourced and paid by Amazon’s medical service.

Apple currently researches a way to monitor blood sugar levels through its watches. Microsoft and Google just invested heavily in the startup DNAnexus, described by HeathCareITNews.com as “a network of enterprises to effectively gain insight from large genomic and biomedical datasets.”

I, like I suspect many of you, am not overly comfortable trusting my medical data to Google, Microsoft, and Apple, individually or together. But I think I can overcome that easier than ending up with a US version of the NHS.

I grew up in a world where if you needed to go to the doctor you went, without worrying about the cost. An office call cost ten dollars as I remember, and knowing Doc, I’m pretty sure if you couldn’t afford it, he never bugged you. Drugs usually came from Doc (what were probably samples that the drug companies gave him) in any case, they were free. I suppose at some point he would write a prescription if you were going to need a drug long-term, but nobody was considering medicating boys for being boys in those days, so that wasn’t my problem.

That’s all very well, and even sort of exciting, but I think the real solution is putting the health care consumer (Patient, you and I) back in control. Why did Doc in my childhood charge ten bucks for an office call? Because that what the market would bear. At $15, a fair amount of the community could not have afforded him, and at $5 he could not have kept the lights on.

In those days, insurance did not pay for office calls or drugs, and so it was on you to get the best deal. And you get to define what best means for you, it may not mean the same for me. Now, when the government or insurance is paying many of our countrymen simply go to the ER, thereby exercising the most expensive and least effective model of health care.

Yes, Britain has a similar problem, because its NHS doctors are majority part-time at this point, and so they are chronically short staffed. I’d guess it doesn’t do a lot for their competence either. You know, practice makes perfect and such.

As we (if we) continue to deregulate the healthcare field, we are likely to find exciting opportunities to improve care while reducing our cost. That is what market forces do. And the little bit of market still in our healthcare is why, even with our nosebleed prices, our healthcare is far superior to the Stalinist NHS.

But, we can do far better.

Voyages and Voyagers

Click to make bigly

Well, the Alabamans are electing their new Senator. I’ll be surprised if it’s much of a surprise, but that’s why they have the election.

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and was listening to BBC Norfolk, as I usually do. The call-in show was discussing whether they should allow Trump to make a state visit. The host obviously (although I doubt he thought it obvious) favored not allowing it. I was surprised though, by the time I went back to sleep about five people had called in, all favored the visit, and several vociferously called out his obvious bias. Frustrated indeed, was he, and yes, it was a joy to hear.

The other day, you may have heard, NASA fired a secondary set of thrusters on Voyager 1. Yes, they worked perfectly. But let’s think a bit here. Voyager 1 and 2 launched in 1977, the year Star Wars came out. Voyager 1 is about 13 billion miles away now, well out of our solar system, it took 19½ hours to find out if the commands worked.

NASA back in the day was one of the glories of America and this is why, they simply did things right. Not cheap (even if built by the lowest bidder) they built for the ages and now the stuff simply works.

And now, I hear that President Trump has told NASA to prepare to return to the moon in order to mount a mission to Mars. I’m skeptical but pleased, remembering how it pulled us together in the sixties, so we’ll see.

You know overall, having him as President sort of reminds me of what Gordon Sinclair, a Canadian said back in 1972.

The United States dollar took another pounding on German, French, and British exchanges this morning, hitting the lowest point ever known in West Germany. It has declined there by 41% since 1971, and this Canadian thinks it’s time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous, and possibly the least-appreciated, people in all the world.

As long as sixty years ago, when I first started to read newspapers, I read of floods on the Yellow River and the Yangtze. Well who rushed in with men and money to help? The Americans did, that’s who.

They have helped control floods on the Nile, the Amazon, the Ganges, and the Niger. Today, the rich bottom land of the Mississippi is under water and no foreign land has sent a dollar to help. Germany, Japan, and to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy, were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts. None of those countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States.

When the franc was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up, and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. And I was there — I saw that. When distant cities are hit by earthquake, it’s the United States that hurries into help. Managua, Nicaragua, is one of the most recent examples.

So far this spring, fifty-nine American communities have been flattened by tornadoes. Nobody has helped.

The Marshall Plan, the Truman Policy, all pumped billions upon billions of dollars into discouraged countries. And now, newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent, war-mongering Americans.

Now, I’d like to see just one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion of the United States dollar build its own airplanes. Come on now, you, let’s hear it. Does any country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet, the Lockheed Tristar, or the Douglas 10? If so, why don’t they fly them? Why do all international lines except Russia fly American planes? Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or a woman on the moon?

You talk about Japanese technocracy and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy and you get automobiles. You talk about American technocracy and you find men on the moon, not once, but several times, and, safely home again. You talk about scandals and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everybody to look at. Even the draft dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They’re right here on our streets in Toronto. Most of them, unless they’re breaking Canadian laws, are getting American dollars from Ma and Pa at home to spend up here.

When the Americans get out of this bind — as they will — who could blame them if they said “the hell with the rest of the world. Let somebody else buy the bonds. Let somebody else build or repair foreign dams, or design foreign buildings that won’t shake apart in earthquakes.” When the railways of France and Germany and India were breaking down through age, it was the Americans who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose. Both of ’em are still broke.

I can name to you 5,000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble. Can you name to me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don’t think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake.

Our neighbors have faced it alone, and I’m one Canadian who is damned tired of hearing them kicked around. They’ll come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they’re entitled to thumb their noses at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles. I hope Canada is not one of these. But there are many smug, self-righteous Canadians.

And finally, the American Red Cross was told at its 48th annual meeting in New Orleans this morning that it was broke.

This year’s disasters — with the year less than half-over — has taken it all. And nobody, but nobody, has helped.

As I write this California is burning, and fighting it is a huge effort. It is an American effort, as it always is. But not quite, there’s bunch of very brave men out there, who came to help, all the way from Australia. Friends indeed, as they always have been.

But the others should be a bit cautious, perhaps. As the Marines are wont to say, “No better friend, no worse enemy”. And our memories work just fine, why we remembered that the Voyagers are out there, still working, after all these years.

The Week: This Year in Jerusalem Edition

Welp, that time again, lots going on so let’s dive into the swamp.

Al Franken thinks we need to have a ‘National Conversation’ about sexual harrassment, I don’t see why, as far as I can see it only needs a short statement from such vermin’s employers. For instance, “You’re fired.” Perhaps followed with the suggestion that they don’t use us as a reference, ever. Sorry, but I’ve found that only the incompetent make excuses.

Will the second edition be titled, “Giant Jerk of the Senate”?

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The Colossus of Freedom

Real Socialism

I need one of these!

Then there is this guy

My kind of lawn mower

And, of course

As usual, most (but not all) from PowerLine and Bookworm.

The System IS the Scam

I grew up watching Chicago television, and the obvious and ongoing corruption was not so much normal as a cost of doing business, like the flames shooting out of the blast furnaces at US Steel. It just was, always had been, and likely always would. As somebody at Second City Cop said recently, the last time Chicago Aldercreatures were honest was sometime before early 1837. But it was honest corruption, in a sense. You could get things done, it just cost a ridiculous amount, and often wasn’t done all that well. But not too many people died, and the pols got rich, so…

But, this, even by that standard is ridiculous. From The American Spectator.

The best rackets are legitimate.

A century ago, the people accepted flagrant public corruption. Dim cynicism the popular spirit, it’s likely they’d still be so disposed today. But the politicians and their swarms of supplicants have acquired subtlety and subterfuge. Why press their luck?

We still have the graft and boodle that Lincoln Steffens chronicled in The Shame of the Cities, but now it’s all above-board. The best schemes are almost indistinguishable from the regular function of government. Almost. In the back rooms, somebody puts in a word for somebody, somebody threatens somebody, but that’s the part we don’t hear about.

It’s the bad luck of Terry McAuliffe, the Clinton barnacle-turned-Democratic governor of Virginia and a rumored presidential candidate in 2020, that his wheedling and arm-twisting inside the federal bureaucracy is now a matter of public record. He got sued last week, along with Hillary Clinton’s brother Anthony Rodham, accused of running “a $120 million scam” to defraud Chinese immigrants.

Did McAuliffe break the law? That’s almost beside the point. The essence of modern graft is crony capitalism — you don’t break the law, you make the law work for you.

The game: set up an obstacle, then offer a way past it for a price. We usually think of crony capitalism as tilting the field in favor of one company or one industry through preferential regulation, but McAuliffe’s arrangement was an even purer form. After all, what is the nature of government? It is to forbid, to restrict, to alter affairs from their natural course. Government creates problems and then pretends to offer a solution.

The EB-5 investor visa program is one long chain of government-created problems and solutions.

Foreign direct investment is of course an unalloyed good for the U.S. economy, but immigration law stands in the way of many potential investors. The laissez-faire thing to do would be to make visas freely available and get out of the way, but that would be too simple.

Much better to complicate it with all sorts of rules and red tape, that can’t all be complied with so the only solution is to buy yourself some interest (otherwise known as pull).

McAuliffe was one of the guys who ran GreenTech, a company whose business model was designed to fit even more government regulations and incentives: GreenTech made electric cars, little Neighborhood Electric Vehicles that go 25 mph, and cost $16,000. You’ll notice I said “made,” and not “sold,” as there has been zero consumer interest in a pricey golf cart that can’t even hold golf clubs. […]

That had a lot to do with why the state of Virginia had refused to get involved with the project, despite McAuliffe’s pull there. In 2009, the state’s veteran economic development director told colleagues, “(I) still can’t get my head around this being anything other than a visa-for-sale scheme with potential national security implications.”

When an economic development official, whose business is crony capitalism, finds your model suspect, I think you’re due some congratulations. That’s like making Louis C.K. blush.

Eventually, McAuliffe set up shop in Mississippi, thanks to $8 million in land, grants, and other incentives. The state is now in litigation to claw back $6.4 million from the company.

It’s true when the influence peddlers think your scheme is too blatant a fraud, well maybe your scheme is, uh fraudulent.

The real problem, the more general problem, is that the government is in any position to be assessing the viability of a commercial venture, one that’s bent out of shape from the start thanks to political dictates.

If we’re going to do investor visas, they ought to be straightforward, and useful for any type of legitimate investment in American business. Allowing unapproved start-ups, of course, could open the door to different sorts of scams — a fake business goes belly-up and slips the cash back to its “investors.”

But that is a different problem, one with reasonably straightforward solutions, if one wants to solve problems, rather than create new ones to solve, for a price. Usually a very high price.

A Taxing Subject

So we have a tax cut, at long last, I guess. I haven’t read into it deeply, to me, tax language is about the fifth circle of Hell, and that day is coming soon enough, so why volunteer. But from what I’ve read there is some pretty good stuff in it, and some bad, no doubt. Well, that’s how legislating goes, and frankly, what we are trying to undo would have better never been started. Bookworm at Watchers of Weasels has some thoughts about some of the good stuff in it.

I’m not an economist, but I was blessed with a fair amount of common sense. Despite Democrat hysteria, it’s obvious that “the little people” will fare better under the proposed tax bill than they do now — and for a reason the Republicans ought to be speaking about a lot but, because they’re bozos, they are not.

That last sentence may be the most self-evident piece of truth ever written. They are indeed bozos, who wouldn’t know a good policy if it bit them on the ass. But we both digress.

Currently, America ostensibly does not have a “Regressive” tax system. This is a lie. America’s tax code is highly regressive. This is because we have the highest corporate tax rate in the Western world. Yay, say Lefties. Let’s stick it to the corporations. That sentiment proves that Lefties are either stupid or uninformed.

The reality is that corporations don’t pay taxes. This is because the buck doesn’t stop with the corporation, meaning that corporate shareholders will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that their return on investment is not affected by the tax. After all, once that money goes into their pockets, it will again be subject to a tax.

To avoid double taxation on corporate dollars, corporations do two things: they place a cap on employee wages and — here comes the regressive part — they pass the costs on to the consumers. The higher the tax imposed on corporations, the higher the cost of consumer goods and services.

A widget that would sell for $10 under a lower tax code is priced at $20 to offset taxes while still showing a profit. This kind of price mark-up is bad all around. It makes the product less desirable, which can hurt corporate sales and, potentially, drive the corporation out of business. It also places on poor people a disproportionate burden connected to buying the item. For Jeff Bezos, that extra $10 is as insignificant as a microscopic speck of dust falling on a $100 bill when he opens his wallet to pay. For the guy who mows my lawn, that $10 means that he cannot buy the product, even if he needs it, or that, if he must buy the product, his available money is substantially decreased.

That is why this article is here, she just gave the best description I’ve read of why the corporate income tax is not only counterproductive but downright evil. It disproportionately hurts the poor, by raising the price of literally everything you buy, even if you buy things that allow you to make the things you need yourself. Literally, everything you use or buy from birth to death is subject to this hidden tax, and that doesn’t even mention the (perhaps many) things you simply cannot buy (indeed that you may never have dreamed could exist) because the corporations could not make enough on them to market them.

It’s pretty obvious that it also increases unemployment. Why? Because while to employ somebody, they have to make enough to cover the costs involved in employing them, and that includes the overhead of the tax one pays on their labor. Actually to be accurate the amount of tax that the customer is willing to underwrite for whatever they do, which is a different, higher number.

And yes, the corporate tax rate really should be 0.00%. It is an iniquitous fraud perpetrated by the government on those not paying enough attention to what the government is doing. Sadly, that’s us, almost all of us.

 

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