On Thursday, May 7, 2015, AACONS Co-Founder, Marie Stroughter, was a guest on the Rod Eccles Show. Take a listen and tell us what you think:
On Thursday, May 7, 2015, AACONS Co-Founder, Marie Stroughter, was a guest on the Rod Eccles Show. Take a listen and tell us what you think:
It does not seem that long ago that I was in a distinct minority in arguing — inspired no doubt by some noted libertarian, though whom I do not recall — that government should avoid being involved in defining what is and who should be married.
My view was, and is, that should anyone who wished to do so should enter a civil union, which would afford them the rights and benefits of marriage, even if that person wished to enter into such an union with a partner of the same sex. I also felt, and feel, that no church, synagogue, mosque, or other religious institution should be required to recognize such an union as a marriage, if they choose not to do so.
As a Catholic (though a poor one, so far) who is legally divorced, I recognize that my right to remarry in the view of the State is limited only essentially by my ability to find a suitable partner — which is a challenge enough, believe me.
However, to have another marriage recognized by the Church would be much more cumbersome. As I understand it, it would require a Decree of Nullity from a marriage tribunal to free myself from my first marriage, and depending upon how they analyze the circumstances of my divorce, such a Decree might not be forthcoming. The Church makes itself very clear that it does not have the power to separate any persons who were united by God.
Similarly, if I was a homosexual, or wished to be a polygamist, I would not expect Father Anthony to perform my wedding ceremony, as gay and polygamist marriages are against the Church’s teachings. Yet here in NJ I could currently get married in the eyes of the law to a same-sex partner; or eventually, no doubt, to multiple partners.
This is a distinction that made sense to me as a young man, and I find it interesting to recall that my associates at the time, all of whom were liberals, disagreed. Marriage was for straights, they argued, and civil unions were for gays. Separate, but equal.
“I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage,” said Senator Obama in 2008. “I remain opposed to same-sex marriage. I believe marriage is an institution for the union of a man and a woman. This has been my long-standing position, and it is not being reviewed or considered,” said President Clinton in 1993. “Marriage has got historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman” said Senator Hillary Clinton in 2000. These are the three most prominent figures of the Democrat Party, a party that attracts about 75% of the gay vote.
Now, of course, most of the very same liberals who so doggedly support Obama and the Clintons would call anyone who holds their previously stated views on gay marriage ‘homophobic’, and deserving of bullying, ostracism, and vile conduct. Let us not forget the boycott against Chick-Fil-A after their COO said “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit” — a statement hardly different that what Obama or the Clintons once said. In fact, as I write this, there is a pizza shop in Indiana that is being boycotted and threatened with arson, because an owner said that “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding (?), we would have to say no.”
This calls to mind three quotations. One is Leviticus 20:13, which makes clear that although the Bible states that we should not become judges with evil thoughts, nonetheless “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.” The second comes from the first amendment of the US Constitution, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” I would think that these two quotes, taken in combination, would protect the rights of the Church or of people of faith against legal repercussions for not recognizing the legitimacy of same-sex marriage.
But perhaps the key quote comes from bluesman and theologian Blind Willie Johnson, who sang “Yes God, God don’t never change. He’s God. Always will be God.”
Progressives place their faith in Big Government, and argue that from Big Government we should derive our values. Yet how can we anchor ourselves to the values of Big Government when those values ebb and flow like a wave on a windy day?
As the quotes from Obama and the Clintons above indicate, often the values expressed by the men and women who lead Big Government today are very different from the values they expressed ten years ago, and God only knows what values these men and women will hold ten years from today.
But as Mr. Johnson points out, God is both eternal and immutable. So is then His Word. It is not subject to change from political opinion polls, peer pressure, threats of violence; or because of the demands of the State. His Word is a firm foundation on which we can stand.
On Wednesday, March 4, Dr. Ben Carson answered a question in such a way that it may have not only effectively ended his presidential campaign, but called into question his intelligence as well.
Asked on CNN whether homosexuality is a choice, Carson responded “Absolutely. Because a lot of people who go into prison, go into prison straight, and when they come out they’re gay. So did something happen while they were in there?”
Immediately the media reacted with a vitriol usually reserved for people who say that Obama does not love his country. Jeffrey Kluger wrote at Time.com for example that “If you’re a candidate dreaming of the White House with virtually no chance of actually winding up there, it sometimes helps to say something ridiculous.” Salon.com shared Kluger’s tone by reporting the comment under the headline “Neurosurgeon-turned-GOP presidential hopeful offers further evidence that an MD doesn’t guard against stupidity.” Even Joe Biden simply shook his head and muttered “God. Jesus” to the amusement of his audience in response to Carson’s comment, although it can be noted however that Biden did not publicly invoke the name of the Lord as slang when President Obama spoke about the gay “lifestyle choice” during a YouTube interview.
And it wasn’t just the Left who responded harshly to Dr. Carson’s statement. CATO scholar Walter Olson posted the story on his Facebook page with the heading “Your more-or-less daily reminder that Ben Carson is not and never has been a credible candidate for president.” And Glenn Beck said on his radio show that Carson made “a ridiculous statement.”
Yet as “ridiculous” as Carson’s comment may or may not have been, it is still the view of as many much of great percentage of the American people. According to the Pew Research Center, 42% of respondents believe that being gay is a choice, while 41% believe that gays were born gay.
The American public is so divided over whether homosexuality is a choice in part because the scientists who study this issue are not themselves of one-mind. As Carson said in his apology for his comment on his Facebook page, “Some of our brightest minds have looked at this debate, and up until this point there have been no definitive studies that people are born into a specific sexuality.”
The American Psychological Association for example writes “There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.”
Similarly, Sarah Knapton, science editor of Telegraph, reports that “Homosexuality is only partly genetic with sexuality mostly based on environmental and social factors, scientists believe. A study found that, while gay men shared similar genetic make-up, it only accounted for 40 per cent of the chance of a man being homosexual.”
Interestingly, many of those people who believe homosexuality is, or at least can be a choice are themselves gay. Actress Cynthia Nixon famously said “for me, [homosexuality] is a choice. I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me.” CNN commentator Sally Kohn wrote “I agree [with Carson], kind of…for me, the idea that people might be able to choose to be gay is a natural extension of eliminating the second-class, lesser-than status of gayness in society.” Author Camille Paglia put it most bluntly of all by writing “No one is born gay. The idea is ridiculous.” Imagine if Carson had said that!
There does seem to be some evidence that homosexuals (particularly male homosexuals) are genetically different from heterosexuals, but so far nothing has been discovered that seems indisputable. Science Magazine published a story in its November 2014 issue about a discovery of “a stretch on the X chromosome likely associated with homosexuality”, but the same story was quick to point out that “not everyone finds the results convincing. And the kind of DNA analysis used, known as a genetic linkage study, has largely been superseded by other techniques. Due to the limitations of this approach, the new work also fails to provide what behavioral geneticists really crave: specific genes that might underlie homosexuality.”
If among the scientists who study this question there is no clear consensus on whether gays are born gay or become gay, or whether it’s a bit of both, is why must there be a clear consensus among the rest of us? Why is it “hurtful and divisive” – as Carson’s comment was called – to have one opinion rather than the other?
Much like with the global warming debate, there is an air of “the science is settled” bullying that permeates the attacks upon Carson, and it originates not from the scientific community, but rather the political community. As J. Bryan Lowder wrote in slate.com, “many critics will argue that appealing to biology is the only way to protect against the attacks of the religious right—if God made me this way, surely you can’t hate me.”
So then to the homosexuals and others attacking Dr. Ben, it is not so much that Carson may be wrong – even if he is, people are wrong all the time, after all – or that they disagree with him; but rather that he expressed an opinion they do not think anyone should any longer be allowed to have.
The Left hates to have their patriotism questioned, regardless of how much contempt they openly display of it. They can call it “a congenitally racist country,” as The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates did; or say that “We began America with genocide, then built it with slaves”, as Michael Moore did; or “The U.S. is the world’s leading terrorist state,” as Noam Chomsky declared it to be – but if you respond by asking if they love this racist, genocidal, and terrorist state, they inevitably take great offense at the suggestion that they may not.
This is especially true of President Obama. His allies in politics and in the press reacted to Rudy Giuliani questioning his love of country as if the Mayor had commented blasphemy against the Lord Himself (which, I suspect, in many of their eyes, is precisely what Giuliani had done).
“Thou Shalt Not Question Another’s Patriotism” is then a new commandment. Such questioning is “racist,” according to a number of observers. It was a “ghoulish, repulsive, race-baiting assertion,” said US News & World Report. He has fallen from his role as America’s Mayor, laments CNN. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said he felt sorry for Giuliani, “It’s sad to see when somebody who’s attained a certain level of public stature and even admiration tarnishes that legacy so thoroughly.”
Of course this commandment is a very specific one. It only applies to Democrats whose patriotism is challenged by Republicans. How else can one explain the lack of outrage elicited from Senator Harry Reid calling the Koch Brothers “un-American,” or Democratic Congresswoman Linda Sanchez accusing Tea Partiers of being “unpatriotic,” or Bill Nye “The Science Guy” calling those who don’t accept his views on climate change as gospel “unpatriotic?”
Senator Obama called President Bush’s deficit spending “unpatriotic.” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews called both President Bush’s and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s actions regarding the Iraqi War “unpatriotic.” Yet, neither has been called “racist” for their opinions. Josh Earnest isn’t weeping over their tarnished legacies, as far as I can tell.
Yet more than just calling out Giuliani’s critics for their hypocrisy, it is also important to acknowledge the accuracy — even the ordinariness — of his remarks.
To speculate that anyone with mentors like terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dorhn, communist Frank Marshall Davis, or firebrand Jeremiah Wright; or has a wife who was not “really proud” of her country until she was in her mid-40s, is not patriotic hardly qualifies as a leap of reasoning. Obama was, after all, the Presidential candidate, who, in 2008, initially refused even such perfunctory displays of patriotism such as wearing a flag pin, or placing hand over heart during the Pledge of Allegiance. But, what provides best evidence to support Giuliani’s remark is not so much Obama’s associations, but rather who he is.
Who he is is a Progressive. Progressivism is an anti-Western philosophy. The United States is a Western nation. It only follows that Obama would not love America.
America’s political philosophy is marked by a belief in a government limited by federalism, the separation of powers, a constitution, and a foundation of Judeo-Christian values. It is a belief in free markets and the right to private property. Perhaps most of all America’s Western view is rooted in the belief in the natural and God-given rights of the individual.
This has been so since the publication of a number of enormously influential works, especially that from St. Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, Adam Smith, Thomas Sowell, Edward Coke, Frédéric Bastiat, Ludwig von Mises, Frederick Douglass, Friedrich Hayek, Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, and many others. It was these men and women who helped shape Western civilization – from the writing of the Magna Carta to the formation of the U.S. Constitution to even the civil rights movement of the 1960s, as expressed by Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”.
Progressivism is a rejection of these views. Instead of this Western tradition, Progressives favor the more Eastern approach to government, which is – though this may be an oversimplification – that of a political and economic collectivism under the guidance of a Benevolent Dictator.
Rather than a central government with limited powers, Benevolent Dictatorships takes power from the individual, the states, and the legislative and judicial branch as well, all for (and they never seem to feel they’ve emphasized this point heavily enough) the greater good. As President 0bama says, “We are not just going to be waiting for legislation to in order to make sure that we are providing Americans with the kind of help that they need. I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone.”
We see America’s shift towards Benevolent Dictatorship exhibited in a myriad of forms almost daily; including Obamacare, Common Core, Net Neutrality, Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley, a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and minimum wage laws. All of these concentrate power in the hands of the executive. But we see it particularly in the rise of what is often called ‘the fourth branch of government’. These are the government agencies such as the EPA and the FCC that have been increasing in strength since the Franklin Roosevelt administration which now seem unaccountable to anyone except for the will of the President.
As law professor Jonathan Turley argued, “the rise of this fourth branch represents perhaps the single greatest change in our system of government since the founding. We cannot long protect liberty if our leaders continue to act like mere bystanders to the work of government.” (A good discussion on administrative law can be found here).
Progressivism also largely rejects religion, especially Western religion. Although Obama himself is Islamophilic, rejection of Western religious values – such as the sacredness of the life of the unborn – is commonplace among the Left.
In fact, according to Gallup faith in God is significantly lower among Liberals than Conservatives. Jews, one of America’s most reliable Progressive voting blocs, is — again according to Gallup — the least theistic of all religious groups, with 54% of Jews describing themselves as non-religious.
Western faith is an object of scorn to most of the intelligentsia of the Progressive movement. Saul Alinsky, for example, who is yet another of Obama’s mentors, was an agnostic who described the Catholic Inquisitions as one of ‘the greatest crimes in history perpetrated by religious fanatics.’ Socialist Noam Chomsky describes “the God of the Bible” as a genocidal “creature” who was “ready to destroy every living creature on Earth because some humans irritated Him.” Frank Marshall Davis, according to his biographer Paul Kengor, disdained both God and Christianity.
So it is no surprise to hear President Obama display such open contempt for Christianity, the primary faith of the West, as he did when he compared the Crusades to Islamic terrorism, while he promotes the ‘religion of peace,’ Islamism, – the faith of the East.
Biblical faith is antithetical to Progressivism because the Benevolent Dictatorship cannot tolerate fealty to anything other to itself. If “the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God,” as President Kennedy argued in 1961, what role is left for the Benevolent Dictator? He becomes the mere protector of those rights, rather than the benefactor of them.
More than his educational background, it is Obama’s Progressivism that made Giuliani’s comment resonate so loudly. Many Progressives do love an America – but they love the America they are fundamentally transforming America into rather than the America of Western values that presently exists.
On Sunday, February 15, 2015, almost immediately after a Jew was murdered outside of a synagogue in Copenhagen, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a Facebook message that amazed much of the world:
“Radical Islamic terror struck again in Europe, this time in Denmark. We send our condolences to the Danish people and the Jewish community in Denmark. Again in Europe Jews were murdered just because they are Jews in a wave of attacks that is expected to continue, including also murderous anti-Semitic attacks.
“The Jews are entitled to protection in each country and state, but we say to our brothers and sisters to Jews: Israel is your home. We are calling for the integration of immigrants from Europe. I would like to say to all European Jews, and Jews everywhere: Israel is the home of every Jew.”
This offended a number of Europeans leaders and several have come forward to say so, but few will fail to see the reasoning behind Netanyahu’s comment – not when even French President Hollande is standing in front of a cemetery with over 250 desecrated Jewish graves and asking “Must we put soldiers in front of cemeteries?”
Nor can many argue Netanyahu’s point while a viral video has emerged of an Israeli journalist, Zvika Klein, walking the streets of Paris wearing his yarmulke and being put upon with insults, spitting, and threats.
Statistical measurements of anti-Semitism are a bit fuzzy, as different countries measure anti-Semitic incidents differently (and I also suspect that many incidents such as the ones Klein encountered are too commonplace to report) but it is clear anti-Semitism is at a dangerously high level in the West. And I contend that this high level of anti-Semitism is linked to the West’s increasing Progressivism.
Today’s anti-Semitism is not quite the anti-Semitism of old. Today’s Jew-haters are not predominately people who think Jews killed Christ or Jews control the world economy. Nor are today’s anti-Semites all Islamists. Today’s anti-Semites in Western countries are primarily Progressives who in fact hate the West. And to much of the world Israel is a Western state as much as it is a Jewish one.
As activist Natan Sharansky of the Jewish Agency for Israel states, “There is a strengthening of the Islamist community and a growing hatred of Israel from the direction of the liberal community. The two things together make Europe a very uncomfortable place for Jews.”
It wasn’t always this way. Through much of Israel’s early decades, the Left embraced Israel. But as Joshua Maravchik wrote in his book “Making David Into Goliath: How The World Turned Against Israel” Israel displayed such power in defeating the combined might of the Arab world during the 1967 Six-Day War that Israel would never again be seen as a sympathetic sort of retirement home for Holocaust survivors. Israel instead was seen as it was, and is – a major force for Western values. From there it was easy for those who consider the United States an imperial super-powered oppressor of the world’s poor to start seeing Israel in this same light. And the world’s poor (the Davids) became the people who called themselves Palestinians.
This anti-Israeli sentiment by the Left is evident in America as well. We see it in books by Jimmy Carter, at Democratic National Conventions where recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is booed, and in the Obama White House, which is organizing a boycott of the Netanyahu speech to Congress.
But it is most evident where we are most Progressive,on our college campuses, and it takes the form of the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement.
Professor William Jacobson of LegalInsurrection.com explains the BDS movement here:
“[BDS] is mostly radical leftwing faculty who hate Western civilization, who hate Israel, and who are willing to tolerate just about anything to get at Israel. … They have taken what started as an anti-Jewish call at the Durban conference. It was based on Jew hatred. It goes back at least to the 1920s in what was then the British mandate of Palestine, and now they are pushing it forward.
They don’t boycott Syria. They don’t boycott Iran. They don’t boycott China. You can take any of the excuses they use for boycotting Israel and you can apply them to a dozen or two dozen or three dozen countries. But they don’t. They only do it to Israel, and that’s where I have the problem.
You have Islamists who outwardly hate Jews and Leftists who say they don’t but are willing to align themselves with the Islamists in order to get at Israel. And so it really is a clarifying moment of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the radical Left that have taken over our universities.
If there was just one black country in the world, and it were treated differently, and it was singled out for standards applied to no one else, and if it were punished based on standards applied to no one else, you would say its racism.
So why is it when they apply it to the only Jewish country in the world it’s not anti-Semitism? ”
One can, of course, be pro-Jewish and anti-Israel, or even anti-Jewish and pro-Israel. Facebook has no shortage of these sort of “Jews Against Zionism” pages. But Israel and the Jewish people are entwined, especially in the eyes of the Progressives who hate Israel. As Dr. Martin Luther King is quoted as saying, “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism.”
One of the economic facts that President Obama touted in his 2015 State of the Union address to demonstrate that his “middle class economics” policies are working, is that “our deficits [have been] cut by two-thirds.” This has been a source of great pride for the Obama administration, and for the media for some time now, as this recent White House tweet, which essentially makes the same point, demonstrates:
Of course, the media, especially the especially progressive media, have picked up and amplified Obama’s message. Many of the most popular memes that left-wing sites circulate amongst themselves — variations of a picture of a cool-looking President Obama (maybe wearing sunglasses and smiling), a list of Obama’s accomplishments, and a message of “Thank You, Mr. President” — list prominently how the deficit was less than 3% of the GDP in 2014.
Even in Forbes one can find almost verbatim summations of the President’s talking points on this issue. Columnist Stan Collender writes “If you’re a troll, you refuse to celebrate the extraordinary reduction in the federal deficit that has happened in such a short time. The only comparable period in U.S. history was immediately after World War II when the budget went from a 29 percent of GDP deficit in 1943 to small surpluses in 1947-49.”
I do in fact celebrate this “extraordinary reduction,” and not merely to avoid Mr. Collender’s name-calling. The 2014 budget deficit of $469 billion does not even make the Top Ten of Budget Deficit lists (adjusted for inflation) since 1940, and is nearly a trillion dollars lower than the $1413 billion deficit of 2009.
In fact, again in inflation adjusted dollars, the deficit has been reduced an impressive average of 19.50% a year since Obama has been president. Gee, if we can just keep lowering the federal deficit every year by about 19.50% from 2014 on, then we can have a practically balanced budget by around 2040, and we would have only have added about … $700 billion to the deficit! Yay!
Unfortunately this recent deficit trend is not expected to continue. In fact, it is expected to reverse. According to the Congressional Budget Office, “annual budget shortfalls are projected to rise substantially—from a low of $469 billion in 2015 to about $1 trillion from 2022 through 2024.”
And that whole “deficit as a percentage of the GDP” stat Obama and the Progressives are crowing about turns out to be no big deal – deficits are expected to stay around 3% of the GDP. It’s just that we will owe about $7 trillion more then than we do now.
Of course, these are just projections, but given that President Obama has just presented a budget to Congress that will increase the deficit by 20%, it is easy to be pessimistic at the CBO’s optimism.
It is interesting how subjectively empirical data can be reported. Recently, for example, when the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that 2014 GDP was 2.4%, it was lauded by Lawrence Summers (one of the media’s favorite economic minds, probably behind only Warren Buffett and Paul Krugman, now that Jonathan Gruber has been demoted) as “vindication of Obama’s policies,” despite it being about 25% lower than the average GDP between 1950 and 2014, and an astounding 54.1% lower than the GDP growth we saw at this point in the Reagan Recovery.
Similarly, one wonders when a deficit of over $400 billion will no longer be seen as good news. In 1983 the US saw a deficit of $207 billion ($493 billion in today’s dollars) and this was bad, but the debt was $1.3 trillion (about $3.3 trillion in today’s dollars). But in 2015, with a debt already at $18 trillion, six times as large as 1983’s debt, and that has probably increased by about $10 million in the time it took me to type ‘$18 trillion’. I’m not saying we are at the point of it being the straw that broke the camel’s back, but another $400 billion deficit, with a debt of $18 trillion, feels a little scary.
One would think the context of certain numbers would mean more than it does. If Mike, of TV’s Mike and Molly fame, went to one of his Overeater’s Anonymous meetings saying he only gained 5 pounds last week, I doubt if his group would be very impressed, even if he were to say, “but the week before I gained 8 pounds!” or “5 pounds is less than 2% of my body weight!”
Too bad our media and our academics aren’t as honest as Overeaters Anonymous.
The Forgotten Man, Amity Shlaes’ famous history of the Great Depression, actually takes its title from another book, which was written by libertarian philosopher, William Graham Sumner, and titled What Social Classes Owe To Each Other.
Published in 1883, Sumner used the term “The Forgotten Man” to distinguish the men who are the creators of government’s massive social welfare programs, and those who chiefly benefited from them, from the forgotten, or the men and women who with their taxes and labor bore the price of these programs.
As Sumner writes, “The State cannot get a cent for any man without taking it from some other man, and this latter must be a man who has produced and saved it. This latter is the Forgotten Man.”
Today Sumner would see that the Forgotten Man may not be the same man he was in the 19th century, but he has not disappeared, nor have the demands placed upon him been made any less cumbersome. As our progressive state continues to demand sacrifice for an increasing stream of social policies and programs that will not benefit him, he continues to be the one who must bear the weight.
He is the inner city teenager who searches, perhaps, for a fast-food job to supplement his family’s income, but finds many of those jobs being given to illegals.
He is the worker who is seeking a high paying energy job, only to find politicians — in the name of the deception that these jobs will cause kitchen faucets to become flame throwers — have prevented their creation, though he will still find that he must pay his share of the three billion dollar tab left from heavily taxpayer subsidized “green companies” going bankrupt.
He is the senior who wants to supplement his retirement income by working at a retail job but finds that because employers must reduce hiring to avoid Obamacare penalties and to offset a higher minimum wage, those jobs have become increasingly scarce.
He is the taxpayer who must pay $50,000 per Obamacare enrollee, according to the Congressional Budget Office and his own premiums increasing.
Or he is the STEM worker whose wages have remained frozen for decades, but is grateful for the opportunity to work in his field as the government and Big Business interests continue to lobby to have him replaced with less expensive foreign workers with H1-B visas
Clearly Obama, despite his State of the Union shout-out to his political operative Rebecca, has put in place that have made it harder for these men. But unfortunately, their problems can not be blamed solely on the Left. Numerous Republicans, such as Senator Bob Corker, who ran for office with tax pledges to lower taxes, now line up to impose a gas tax that will not only be massive but regressive as well. Another 10 cents a gallon will be very little to the man who is getting a $7500 tax rebate for buying a new $130,000 Tesla, but it means a great deal to the Forgotten Man.
Furthermore, examine the argument put forth by Bryan Caplan, noted libertarian economist and open border advocate. In his paper Why Should We Restrict Immigration? Professor Caplan actually concedes that “Under open borders, low-skilled wages are indeed likely to fall.” However, this is fine, because as Caplan adds “most Americans are not low-skilled.” Open borders will not affect the salary Caplan makes as a professor, nor will it affect the salary of his friends and neighbors. But it will affect the salary of the forgotten.
The Forgotten Man, as I am defining him, is the man who finds his taxes higher, and his employment opportunities limited, by the State. Often he is the man who can not find employment at all.
As economic professor (and AACON guest) Peter Morici wrote “The [December 2014] unemployment rate fell to 5.6%, but that may only be because so many working age Americans quit looking for work and are no longer counted in the official jobless tally. If the same percentage of adults were in the labor force today as when Presidents Obama took office, the jobless rate would be about 9.9%.”
As The New York Times put it: “Working, in America, is in decline. The share of prime-age men — those 25 to 54 years old — who are not working has more than tripled since the late 1960s, to 16 percent. More recently, since the turn of the century, the share of women without paying jobs has been rising, too. The United States, which had one of the highest employment rates among developed nations as recently as 2000, has fallen toward the bottom of the list.”
He is made more expendable by technology. Companies like Amazon are building robots which can eliminate the need for thousands of warehouse workers at companies, and the computer screens will eventually replace cashiers at McDonald’s the way ATMS have replaced bank tellers. Financial Advisor quotes a study that claims 47 percent of workers could be put out of work by robotics. “If you have self-driving automobiles, will you need cab drivers, truck drivers, auto insurers and chiropractors?”
However, the consequences of such a large segment of society not working has not yet been fully seen, although we have seen glimpses of what that would portend. The Heritage Foundation, in their most recent Index of Dependence on Government, writes “America is increasingly moving away from a nation of self-reliant individuals, where civil society flourishes, toward a nation of individuals less inclined to practicing self-reliance and personal responsibility. Government programs not only crowd out civil society, but too frequently trap individuals and families in long-term dependence, leaving them incapable of escaping their condition for generations to come. Rebuilding civil society can rescue these individuals from the government dependence trap.”
Perhaps it will be more than increased government dependency. At the economic summit in Davos, the experts bemoaned the youth unemployment in nations like Italy of more than 50%, and reminded that high unemployment rate in Greece were partially responsible for their 2008 riots. In the US, there are counties in which the non-employment of men ages 25-54 is as high at 74%. And many of the counties with high employment are so because of drilling jobs which are disappearing now that oil is selling for less than $45 a barrel.
Liberal economists and politicians are fond of obsessing over the income gap, but ironically they continue to favor the Quantitative Easing and low-interest rates remedies that have exasperated the gap. Perhaps their proclamations of social unrest caused by the income gap are not as sincere as they pretend. If they were, they would warn less about the societal effect of having a working class of CEOs who can earn more in a day than his employees can earn in a year, and more on the societal effect of having a working class that is no longer working.
It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my friend and colleague, Dr. Timothy F. Johnson. Tim was founder of the Frederick Douglass Foundation, an organization for which I proudly served as Communications Director for California’s state chapter for three years.
Like many conservatives of note, Tim appeared on our show, and discussed his passion for Christian principles, limited government, free market principles and Republican values, the cornerstones upon which the Frederick Douglass Foundation is based.
Unlike many of the guests on the show, I was blessed to meet Tim in person, and was struck with his easy friendship, his fierce conservatism and his passion for making a difference in our community and our country.
However, though he may be gone in body, his legacy lives on through the amazing work of the many dedicated men and women he has mentored and impacted, and the Foundation he has left behind to carry out his mission.
If you wish to make a donation in his memory, you may do so at the fund set up in his honor by the family.
Of course, the most fitting tribute any of us can give, is to live a life of service dedicated to God and country, and continue on in the work Tim started.
UPDATE: This afternoon, The National chapter of the Frederick Douglass Foundation issued an official statement.
It was the President after all who said as a presidential candidate in 2007 that “I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year,” and continued to make promises of cost reduction even while his Obamacare adviser Jonathan Gruber was warning him and others that almost everyone who didn’t have employer-sponsored or public insurance would be hit with a 41 percent increase. It was the President and his allies who also skillfully manipulated the CBO scoring of the Affordable Care Act to – as Gruber puts it – “get credible savings on cost control that the Congressional Budget Office would recognize and score as savings in this law.” So with the White House putting its full weight towards pushing a lie, then perhaps we can be forgiven for finding the “how much is it gonna cost us?” question so confusing.
But we got a reminder this week that not is it going to cost us, it is cost us a lot. In The New York Times Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel suggested skipping the ‘worthless annual exam’ as a way to cut health costs. Why this is significant is that Dr. Emmanuel is yet another “Obamacare architect,” which had promised that “As part of the health care reform law, all insurance plans are required to cover preventive care at no cost. It saves lives and it saves money. It’s a lot cheaper to prevent an illness than to treat one.”
This is what I call a Newlywed Transition – during the courting it’s a regular table at Spago, now that the honeymoon is over we’re lucky to get DiGornio’s.
Former AACONS radio guest Avik Roy says that, “The average U.S. county saw a rate increase of 49%” in individual market premiums. That’s not the $2500 decrease we were told to expect.
However, the greater sticker shock comes from another AACONS radio guest, University of Chicago professor Casey B. Mulligan who wrote compellingly in his new book Side Effects: The Economic Consequences of the Health Reform that “I predict that that the ACA’s impacts – that is, the difference between the economy with the ACA and a hypothetical and otherwise similar economy without the ACA – will include 3 percent less employment, 3 percent fewer aggregate work hours, 2 percent less GDP, and 2 percent less labor income.”
Let’s focus on the “2 percent less GDP” part. This is staggering. To put this into perspective, Newt Gingrich once argued that “1 percent increase in our economic growth rate would shrink the federal deficit by $640 billion over the next seven years, would increase federal tax revenues by $716 billion without a tax increase, and that each and every adult citizen would earn $9,600 more than they would in the current growth projection.” If this is so, and one percent in economic growth equates to about $100 billion in tax revenue a year, it may follow that a 2 percent decrease in economic growth would equate to a decrease in tax revenue of about $200 billion a year.
Like two fighting eagles, unemployment and low GDP will find themselves entangled by the talons and locked together in a downward spiral. Low GDP growth begets high unemployment, and high unemployment depress GDP growth. And together they both decrease the amount of money in tax revenue our government takes in and increases the amount it must pay out (in unemployment insurance, EBT, Medicaid, etc., for example). This at a time when we are already facing a budget debt of over $18 trillion dollars, that is increasing almost $2 million dollars a minute.
As Professor Mulligan’s book reminds, in economics and business, disincentives matters. We can also be reminded of this by sports teams. Look at the number of awful teams, such as the NY Knicks or LA Lakers, who are disincentivized from winning. Why struggle to finish the season with a mediocre record, putting Kobe or Carmelo out there for 30 minutes a game night after night, when one can coast through the season and perhaps have a shot at drafting the next Wilt Chamberlain?
Similarly, businesses are disincentivized by Obamacare into hiring fewer full-time workers since they must pay the fee of having to provide health insurance for at least 95% of their employees if they hire 50 or more full-time workers. Workers are disincentivized from working full-time because they will be ineligible for Obamacare subsidies if they work full-time. Professor Mulligan gave an example in which a part-timer working 29 hours per week with a gross salary of $37,700 will actually have a greater net salary (after taxes, expenses, and subsidies) than a full-time worker with a gross salary of $52,000 a year.
Again, disincentives matter. And the disincentives Obamacare puts on our economy are overwhelming.
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