WOLF: Democrats sneak Uncle Sam into your bedroom – Washington Times

WOLF: Democrats sneak Uncle Sam into your bedroom – Washington Times.

They give donors, political allies at Big Pharma a wet kiss

By Dr. Milton R. Wolf – The Washington Times

Pop quiz: What is the most expensive lunch you can buy? Answer: The one someone convinces you is free. Ask your average fifth-grader if there’s such thing as a free lunch. Now ask a Democrat. Care to wager who’s smarter? Another quiz: How can Democrats avoid discussions of Obamacare’s growing price tag, the failed stimulus, green job boondoggles, unemployment, bank bailouts, auto takeovers, food stamps, credit downgrades and soaring gas prices? Answer: Claim that Republicans want to steal your girly parts.

When the going gets tough, the left gets predictable. Democrats’ false promises of big-government utopia have collapsed once again and so they retreat to their well-worn playbook, which really only has three plays: class warfare, an overcharged race card and an equally overcharged gender card. Throw in some good old-fashioned corporate boondoggles and voila! Democrats have their re-election plan.

Under the sweeping powers of Obamacare, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is empowered to reach into our churches and direct how they will practice their religion. Yawn. Just another day under President Obama’s authoritarian regime. But why harass churches? Because, as New York Democrat Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney claims, there’s a “Republican crusade to limit access to birth control. …” There is?

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a spinoff of Planned Parenthood, “Virtually all women (more than 99 percent) aged 15-44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method.” This is a crisis of limited access?

Democrats showcased Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke and her plea for a $3,000 birth control free lunch. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart and Target pharmacies offer $9-a-month birth control – $108 a year. Why the wild difference? Because Democrats can’t enrich their cronies on a mere hundred bucks a year.

The new HHS provisions make no distinction between high-end, expensive birth control and generic versions. This is the big wet kiss to Big Pharma. They get rich much quicker collecting $3,000 for each coed instead of a measly $108. So Ms. Fluke gets a free lunch? Well, not quite. Somebody’s got to pay the increased taxes, higher insurance premiums and – mark my words – increased contraception costs. So the government simply transfers those bills to someone else, like the janitors at Georgetown Law, for example, who humbly clean up after spoiled kids. I’ll bet those janitors buy their own birth control at Wal-Mart without whining. But Ms. Fluke is entitled and I’m sure she’s worth it.

This corporate boondoggle that turns Big Pharma into a welfare recipient on the backs of the working class is not so different than the light bulb ban. General Electric gets rich much quicker if Ms. Fluke’s janitors are forced to buy $5 compact-fluorescent light bulbs instead of the 50-cent incandescent version. But it’s for the environment, right? That GE and Big Pharma contribute generously to Mr. Obama is just a mere coincidence.

Do you see the pattern here? Democrats solve the global warming “crisis” (even though the globe forgot to warm) and the “limit” on birth control access (even with essentially 100 percent access already achieved) always by making their friends richer, you poorer and themselves more powerful.

There’s another pattern here. Politicians are like drug dealers. Once you’re addicted to freebies, you suddenly realize the free lunch is not so free. Like the drug dealers, the politicians want your money, to be sure, but what they really covet is your submission. They love telling you what to do and they always claim it’s for your own good.

Think about it. The U.S. Constitution grants no authority to the federal government – and, in fact, the 10th Amendment prohibits it – to declare how fast you can drive your car or when you can buy your first beer or how many vegetable servings you must pack in your kid’s school lunch. And yet they still do all these things. How? By dangling highway funds or education grants like a carrot. Take that bait and you’ll soon learn in the fine print that you surrendered control of everything from how much water your toilet can flush to what websites your computer can access. And now the contraception free lunch is the politicians’ key to your bedroom door. Do you trust them with it?

Of course, Democrats assume there will always be an endless supply of birth control pills to dole out. But should they? The current prescription drug shortage epidemic is essentially limited to the medications that are most highly regulated by the government: injectable chemotherapies and antibiotics.

“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert,” economist Milton Friedman famously said, “in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.” Well I say, if you put the federal government in charge of birth control, there will be another shortage soon. We’ll call it the Obama Baby Boom.

Dr. Milton R. Wolf, a Washington Times columnist, is a radiologist and President Obama’s cousin. He blogs at miltonwolf.com.

Liberal Myths – John C. Goodman – Townhall Conservative

Liberal Myths – John C. Goodman – Townhall Conservative.

Did you know that Paul Krugman is more compassionate than you are? Or so he says.

In fact, just about everybody who is left of center is more compassionate than everybody who is right of center, Krugman explained in a recent New York Times editorial.

“American politics is fundamentally about different moral visions,” he wrote. If you identify with Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose” vision you are today part of the “free to die” crowd.

That last bit is a reference to Republican presidential candidates foolishly stumbling over a Wolf Blitzer question about what should be done with a man who willfully chooses to be uninsured and then discovers needs lifesaving medical care. No, in case you are wondering, none of them said “let him die.” But Krugman would like you to believe that is the position of the entire Republican Party.

[Democrats, by the way, would also have trouble with that question. In fact there is nothing in Obama Care that guarantees health care for someone who ignores the government mandate and remains uninsured.]

Krugman is not alone. Writing at Health Affairs the other day, Princeton University economist Uwe E. Reinhardt described the current budget impasse in Washington by declaring that this country has been in:

…a long ideological war fought over the distribution of economic privilege in this country, a war that has been raging unabated for over three decades now.

One side in this war believes that the current distribution of income and wealth in this country is fair, as it rewards generously those who contribute commensurately to the economy and properly gives short shrift for those who do not — e.g., unskilled workers…

The opposing faction believes that the current distribution of income and wealth no longer is the product of a genuine meritocracy, and even if it were, that health care, education and legal care are so-called social goods to which rich and poor should have access on roughly equal terms, regardless of their own ability to pay.

Although Reinhardt doesn’t engage in the kind of ad hominem personal character attacks that are Krugman’s stock in trade, the message is still the same: one side cares about the unfortunate and the other side doesn’t.

Before going further, there is something you should know. There is no evidence whatsoever – zero evidence – that liberals are more compassionate than conservatives. In fact all the evidence points in the other direction. More about that in a moment.

Since Krugman is a Nobel Prize winning economist, I would like to turn first to the science of economics, just as Adam Smith did more than 200 years ago. What Smith realized was that it’s not compassion, or any other feeling that is going to eliminate most deprivation and suffering around the world. It’s sound economic policies, produced by rational thought.

Several years ago, I was at a conference at the Vatican and I heard another Nobel laureate, University of Chicago economist Gary Becker, make a remarkable statement. Becker said, “I believe in capitalism. The reason: capitalism confers its greatest benefits on those at the bottom of the income ladder. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be a capitalist. And Milton Friedman thinks the same way.”

Non-economists are generally unaware of how much evidence there isin support of the Becker/Friedman position. If you look around the world, you will find that the bottom 10% of the income distribution gets about the same percent of national income in countries with the least economic freedom (2.5%) as they do in the countries with the most economic freedom (2.6%). Whether a country is capitalist or socialist doesn’t seem to matter. But there is a huge difference in the absolute level of income. In fact, the bottom 10% gets almost ten times more income ($8,474 per persons per year vs. $910) in capitalist countries than in non-capitalist countries.

Given that disparity, what is the most compassionate economic system? It is the system advocated by the University of Chicago economists and other classical liberals: a system that leaves people free to use their intelligence, their creativity and their innovative ability to pursue their own interests. In other words, it is a system in which people are “free to choose.”

That freedom and free enterprise are good for poor people is a fact of economic science. It has nothing in particular to do with compassion. But since the issue has been raised, who are the most compassionate people? It turns out, they are not liberals. In an exhaustive study of this issue American Enterprise institute president Arthur Brooks discovered that:

In 2000, households headed by a conservative gave, on average, 30 percent more money to charity than households headed by a liberal ($1,600 to $1,227). This discrepancy is not simply an artifact of income differences; on the contrary, liberal families earned an average of 6 percent more per year than conservative families, and conservative families gave more than liberal families within every income class, from poor to middle class to rich…

The differences go beyond money and time. Take blood donations, for example. In 2002, conservative Americans were more likely to donate blood each year, and did so more often, than liberals. If liberals and moderates gave blood at the same rate as conservative, the blood supply in the United States would jump by about 45 percent.

What about Krugman, personally? I don’t know him. But the next time he is on television, mute the sound and focus on the image on the screen. Is there anything about Paul Krugman that seems to be the least bit compassionate? Not to me.

The Welfare State: Too Many Takers — Not Enough Givers – Larry Elder – Townhall Conservative

The Welfare State: Too Many Takers — Not Enough Givers – Larry Elder – Townhall Conservative.

The Irish cabdriver complained almost nonstop during our half-hour drive to the Belfast International Airport. He especially worried about the job prospects for his 20-something son and, for that matter, about those for the generation of young people who face a “sh-tty” future on this beautiful island full of friendly people.

“Give me,” I finally said, “the No. 1 reason for the economic problems here.”

He looked almost stunned.

“Huh…” he said, “let me think.”

We drove silently for nearly a half-mile. Then he turned to me and said, “Too many takers — not enough givers.”

Little by little, inch by inch, drop by drop, governments both in America and in Europe began taking more and more from people, diminishing the incentive of those on both sides of the transaction — the taker and the giver. In America, nearly half of wage earners pay not one single dime in federal income taxes. Many of them trudge down to the local polling place or vote via absentee ballot — and vote themselves a raise.

The Founding Fathers conceived a brilliant document to restrain the federal government and allow maximum freedom for the people to make their own way. It leaves people the power to make their own decisions and to deal with the consequences. Almost before the ink dried, Congress tried to circumvent the Constitution.

James Madison, the fourth U.S. president and the “Father of the Constitution,” warned against using the document — especially the “general welfare” clause — to dispense money, no matter how well-intended or deserved: “With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers (enumerated in the Constitution) connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”

When Congress appropriated $15,000 to assist French refugees in 1792, an appalled Madison wrote, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution, which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”

“Too many takers — not enough givers.”

Hollywood left-wingers understand the corrosive effect of burdensome government on their own industry. Those working in Hollywood long complained about “runaway” productions, where other states and countries lured television and movie productions away from California by offering tax incentives and less restrictive union rules.

What did Hollywood do about this?

The industry lobbied state and city lawmakers to lower the tax and regulatory burden on production companies in order to keep the work local. It worked. Still the left screams at “Big Oil” for taking advantage of legal tax breaks — offered to other companies — to reduce their tax burden, just as Hollywood producers try to do.

Meanwhile, an MSNBC pundit talks about the damage inflicted on the East Coast by Hurricane Irene. This shows, he said, the vital and unique role played by the federal government in disaster relief. He criticized some Republicans for wanting Irene disaster relief offset by spending cuts elsewhere in the budget. But aside from Republican-libertarian presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul and his senator son, has anyone asked under what congressional authority does Congress take money from its citizens to pay for state “disaster relief”?

Obama, after a two-year spending and regulatory binge, has learned nothing about Economics 101. He recently nominated left-wing economist Alan Krueger as chairman of his Council of Economic Advisers. President Clinton, among others, relied on Krueger’s widely cited minimum-wage study to push for a higher minimum wage. Economists disagree about a lot of things, but there is a mighty strong consensus among them on this: Forcing employers to pay higher entry-level wages means fewer people will be hired.

Economist Milton Friedman called minimum-wage regulations among the “most anti-black” laws on the books. Why? A disproportionate number of blacks are unskilled and, therefore, are disproportionately harmed when laws force employers to pay more than the market value of labor. In fact, before federal minimum-wage laws began in the 1930s, black teens were more likely to be employed than white teens because they were willing to work for less. Bosses, no matter how racist, were more than willing to pay less for labor. Similarly, so-called federal and state “prevailing wage” laws and “living wage ordinances” disproportionately hurt low-skilled workers of color, women and others who wish to work part time. Yet like clockwork, Democrats and many Republicans pass laws to raise the minimum wage to an “affordable level,” unconcerned about the unnamed person now out of a job.

The “welfare state” chickens, as the Belfast cabbie observed, are now coming home to roost. As governments take more away from their producing citizens and give it to their nonproducers, growth stagnates and opportunities dry up.

As my eighth-grade dropout, WWII ex-Marine dad used to say, “When you try and get something for nothing, you usually end up with nothing for something.” Dad would have enjoyed chatting with the cabbie: “Too many takers — not enough givers.”

GHEI: A Capitol crash course – Washington Times

GHEI: A Capitol crash course – Washington Times.

Congress needs remedial instruction in basic economic principles

By Nita Ghei – The Washington Times

A quick check of congressional voting records confirms the obvious. When it comes to economic matters, members for the most part have no idea what they’re doing. They approve hundreds of billions in new spending year after year and call massive increases “cuts.” They seem confused when the only outcome is the predictable piling up of trillions more in debt.

The questions facing Congress on their return from recess include the possibility of another expensive stimulus, an extension in the payroll tax cut, and the three regional trading agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Since it’s unlikely many legislators toted along copies of great economists like Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek and David Ricardo to read while relaxing during the break, going over the basic principles of fiscal and monetary policy would help explain the consequences of their upcoming choices.

People – whether they act as consumers, investors or employers – are basically rational. They will not change long-term behavior in response to what they recognize as a short-term change. Resources are limited; our wants are not. Short-term fixes won’t cure long-term problems.

These common-sense ideas apply to the legislation that could put our children and grandchildren further into debt. Stanford University economist John Taylor’s lucid study on the impact of the first stimulus, which put us into debt to the tune of $825 billion, shows that the market’s response to the stimulus was entirely rational. According to the Obama administration, the stimulus was supposed to jump-start the economy by increasing spending by the federal government directly in infrastructure and other expensive projects, by consumers through a one-time payment via a tax credit, and through the state governments through various giveaways.

Turns out, there were almost no “shovel-ready” projects for the federal government to spend its borrowed funds on. Consumers, very sensibly, saved their little windfall. State governments, equally sensibly, either paid down debt or saved their federal funds. The entire stimulus was a bust. There is no reason to repeat that insanity.

There is talk of further “quantitative easing,” which basically means printing up a lot of currency and buying bonds in the hope the economy will be stimulated by the influx of cash. But interest rates are at historic lows. The interbank rate is 0.08 percent; the one-year Treasury yield is 0.11 percent. The excess reserves of banks have been growing steadily and are around $1.6 trillion right now. There is plenty of liquidity in the market. In fact, the more money there is in the system, the greater the risk of inflation. Inflation hurts the thrifty, the savers, whose money in the bank becomes worth less and who are already being hurt by the low interest rates, and it rewards the profligate who borrow too much. Are these the incentives we want?

Short-term fixes, like extending the payroll tax cut for another year, won’t fix long-term problems, including the uncertainty that businesses face. Corporations have cash but are reluctant to undertake long-term investment in an environment of regulatory uncertainty. A big chunk of this treasure is sitting and being invested overseas thanks to onerous U.S. corporate tax rates. The key to getting this money back into the system is a long-term strategy that involves serious tax and regulatory reform.

Nita Ghei is a contributing Opinion writer for The Washington Times.

Balancing the Budget – John Stossel – Townhall Conservative

Balancing the Budget – John Stossel – Townhall Conservative.

The political class predicted “disaster” if Congress didn’t raise its debt limit.

I think that was a scam to get more money. See, the poor politicians don’t have enough, and they need to borrow more. We taxpayers are cheap. This year we’ll give them only $2.2 trillion. They want to spend $3.8 trillion.

The president said if he didn’t get more money, Social Security checks wouldn’t go out. Why not?

With $2 trillion, they can pay Social Security, Medicare, the interest on the debt and still have billions left. It’s billions more than the government spent when President George W. Bush took office. What’s the problem?

The problem is that Republicans and Democrats under Bush and President Obama doubled spending. Now, Obama wants more taxes.

Taxes shouldn’t be the answer when spending is the problem.

Grover Norquist, who heads Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), leads the charge to keep the focus on spending. Norquist and ATR are famous for asking officeholders and candidates to sign a pledge not to raise taxes. Some say he is the reason the debt-ceiling debate was so drawn out.

“I think the reason there isn’t a tax increase on the table,” he told me, “is that 235 members of the House of Representatives signed a pledge never to raise taxes, a pledge to their voters, and 41 senators did. …

“Only if you take tax increases off the table do you even begin to … focus on spending, and that’s what Obama wants to keep our focus off of. He wants us to talk about the deficit, not spending.”

I pointed out that Obama might have scored points with the public because new revenues he sought — even though they wouldn’t do much to shrink the deficit — would come from closing unpopular tax “loopholes.”

Norquist said he favors that — if tax rates are lowered at the same time.

“(We) want to simplify the code,” he said. “(We) want to take a lot of the goodies that politicians have laced into that code … as long as you reduce tax rates and it’s not a hidden tax increase.”

Milton Friedman always said taxes don’t tell the whole story. What counts is how much of our resources government spends, however it acquires them. The doubling of spending under Bush and Obama hasn’t gotten enough attention.

“We need to ask what it is government should do,” Norquist said. “But it’s going to be knockdown, drag-out. All government overspending creates the constituency for its own perpetuation. … Weaning people off, that is very difficult.”

He’s right. When politicians make little cuts in the rate of spending growth, every interest group mobilizes to protect its little piece of the pie. That’s why you must cut government like you take off a Band-Aid: quickly and all at once.

It’s not hard to balance the budget. On my show, we made enough cuts to create a $237 billion surplus. I cut whole departments, like Education and Commerce. I cut two-thirds of the Defense Department (which still leaves it much bigger than China’s). I indexed Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to inflation, raised the retirement age, and took away benefits for rich people. But I don’t have to run for office. Congressmen do, and they can’t even manage to cut ridiculous tax breaks like those for ethanol.

Obama predicted disaster if the debt ceiling wasn’t raised. Some predict disaster if the ratings agencies downgrade Treasury bonds. I’m dubious. In 1995, President Clinton and Republican Congress couldn’t agree on a budget, so the government shut down twice, the second time for three weeks.

Did the economy grind to a halt? No. During the first shutdown, the stock market went up. During the second, it dropped then recovered.

The alarmists screamed that the fight over the debt ceiling would discourage lenders. Wrong. Ten-year Treasury bonds sold for a measly 3 percent interest (versus 15 percent in 1981).

I wasn’t worried that Congress would fail to raise the debt ceiling. But I am worried that Congress will keep spending.

Blog: The ‘Gimme Mine’ mentality and the American Spirit – American Thinker

Blog: The ‘Gimme Mine’ mentality and the American Spirit – American Thinker.

Chuck Roger

No emotionally stable person viscerally likes inequality. Within both conservatives and liberals lives a strong distaste for what poverty does to people. Recognizing this universal revulsion, in The Quest for Cosmic Justice, Thomas Sowell wonders “why do… inequalities persist? Why are we not all united in our determination to put an end to them?”

In the way of explanation, Sowell offers a quote by Economist Milton Friedman:

A society that puts equality–in the sense of equality of outcome–ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.

The human suffering that existed in the Soviet Union and Mao’s China illustrated the truth of Friedman’s assertion. The social and economic price tags associated with forcibly redistributing life’s outcomes are too high. So why do liberals (progressives) ignore the costs of wealth redistribution? Do they refuse to see? Do they see but not care?

Liberals cling to emotionalism, while conservatives and libertarians take a pragmatic approach to the prospect of equalizing life’s outcomes. Liberals, libertarians, and conservatives alike feel bad that some people suffer poverty. But responses to the bad feeling differ dramatically.

Desperate to escape the feeling, liberals advocate equalization of life’s outcomes, ignoring the approach’s non-achievability and societal downsides. On the other hand, conservatives and libertarians face bad feelings head-on, confident that sound logic applied to unvarnished truth best yields human progress. Conservatives and libertarians recognize key realities: hard work, minimal government interference, unleashed businesses, and low taxes create jobs, moving people from poverty to prosperity. Acknowledging such facts requires no mental gymnastics or philosophical epiphany, merely an understanding of human history and human nature. Liberals seem genuinely incapable of such straightforward logic. Not a slur, a product of observation.

A recent Gallup poll suggests that the liberal viewpoint on inequality is losing ground in America after temporarily crowding out the conservative/libertarian viewpoint. Back in 1998, 45 percent of Americans surveyed said that government should forcibly redistribute wealth. By 2007, the number had grown to 49 percent. But now, after a huge recession and still in the midst dreary economic times and high unemployment, we Americans seem to be regaining our senses. Gallup’s 2011 numbers indicate that 2007’s percentages have been reversed: 49 percent now reject forced wealth redistribution. Of no great surprise is the Democrat-Republican split: 71 percent of Dems want government to forcibly take wealth from some people and give it to others, while nearly as high a percentage of Republicans oppose the tactic.

One pair of statistics reveals something refreshing about today’s America. While only 47 percent of respondents want government to redistribute wealth, 57 percent believe that wealth is indeed unfairly distributed. So while most people don’t like big disparities in net worth, some of the same people don’t want government closing the gap. Perhaps compassionate but levelheaded Americans want government to stop rewarding underachievement.

The Gallup poll also contains something truly stunning. Thirty-one percent of respondents believe that America contains too many rich people, while only a fifth think that there are too few. In other words, half-again as many respondents favor an America populated by poorer people than by richer people. Instead of taking the view that if more people were wealthy, then more money would flow into more businesses, employing more people, and creating greater prosperity, the dark side of human nature appears more prevalent in today’s America: “Since I am not rich, other people shouldn’t be rich.”

Nearly a third of Americans holding the dark side view does not bode well for recovery from our Obama-turbocharged bout with class warfare. The work ethic seems damaged, the American spirit in jeopardy. Worse still, Gallup shows that the number of dark-siders has increased by 50 percent in twenty years.

On the other hand, today’s 31 percent who favor forced wealth redistribution represent a drop from an all-time high of 37 percent in the year before Obama was elected. So then, is the “Gimme mine” mentality eating America alive, or is a six percentage point drop indicative of Americans waking up to the moral and economic bankruptcy of Barack Obama’s class warfare mantra? The answer will grow clear in early November 2012.

 

A writer, physicist, former high tech executive, and Cajun, Chuck Rogér invites you to sign up to receive his “Clear Thinking” blog posts by email at http://www.chuckroger.com/. Contact Chuck at swampcactus@chuckroger.com.