%PM, %16 %917 %2019 %21:%Oct

Making Biden's kid wealthy

My father was a big shot in the worlds of engineering and education.

 

He retired as the Dean of the College of Engineering at Bradley University after a years long career, producing hundreds of engineers for companies like Caterpillar.  One of those young engineers was NOT me.

 

If I had come to his office one day, when I was still in college, and told my father that Caterpillar had hired me for (this was the 70s) say a mere $20,000 a month in an unspecified position with unspecified responsibilities he would have come unglued.

 

He would NOT have been proud and congratulated me.  

 

He would have rightfully called the Chairman at Caterpillar (in those days, his friend William L. Naumann), demand I be fired and would never have allowed such a conflict of interest to take place.  (I actually had to fight him over the $200 a month job of running the University’s radio station and he ultimately did have me fired after two years.)

 

Contrast that with former Vice President Joe Biden.

 

His son, Hunter, is a drug addict who got himself kicked out of the Navy.  Serious skillset there.

 

His father basically had a few responsibilities as Vice President.  In addition to staying alive in the event of the President’s untimely demise, two of those were representing President Obama’s policies in China and the Ukraine.

 

After he got kicked out of the United States Navy, Hunter hitched a ride to China on Air Force Two and a few days after they returned, Hunter’s private equity company got a BILLION dollar “investment” from China’s government.

 

Imagine that.  Coincidence?

 

Doubtful.  But to listen to the former Vice President, sonny boy didn’t do anything wrong—like he intimated the Trump children have.  There is, however, a difference.  The Trump children were in business long before their father ran for President.

 

Does Joe really want to take the position that someone who is a businessman CANNOT serve in public office? 

 

You see, Donald Trump is the first President we have had in many years who is NOT part of the political club.  Who is so wealthy he cannot be bought, despite the ridiculous claims by people that, somehow, he has become enriched by becoming President. However much the media hates him, it would be very hard for a President as vilified as he to actually increase his net worth while in office.

 

And his inability to be bought is just another reason he is vilified by people and institutions which would love to buy him.

 

How is it that a clown like Joe Biden could use his position to make his son wealthy and look the media in the eye and say that nothing was done wrong?  That during his tenure there was no corruption?

 

Simple.

 

That’s the very swamp which Trump is in the process of draining.  People expect this crap in DC, just as they used to expect the mob to control Chicago, New York and Las Vegas.

 

Biden would have you believe that he’s an honest man in Washington—that Donald Trump is corrupt.  That using his position as Vice President to enrich his son never happened.  And, if it did, well, that’s how things work in big time politics.

 

The truth can be divined in a quote from a video of Biden talking to the Council on Foreign Relations about a Ukrainian prosecutor who apparently was getting a little too close to Sonny Boy. “I said we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said ‘you can’t do that, you have no authority, you’re not the president. I said if the prosecutor’s not fired, you’re not getting the money.  Well, son of a bitch, he got fired." 

 

(Editor's note: This quote is taken from a one hour video of Biden (and others) discussing Biden's efforts on behalf of the Obama administration to pressure Ukraine into prosecuting corruption and firing prosecutor Viktor Shokin, who was universally recognized by diplomats and officials as an ineffective prosecutor who refused to go after corrupt politicians. Shokin's office was also investigating Burisma, a company that Biden's son Hunter, was a board of director member. Shokin was later fired and replaced by another prosecutor. Therefor, many are pushing an idea that, Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to fire the prosecutor in order to protect his son who must have done something illegal while he was on the board of directors of this company. The above quote is used as "proof." The first  problem with this is that Biden's quote is taken completely out of context and if you watch the full hour video, which is much more interesting than you would expect it to be, it speaks for itself. The second problem is that, if you read about the actual Burisma investigation it dealt with Ukraine's Ministry of Ecology, which allegedly granted special permits, that may or may not have been illegal, to Burisma between 2010 and 2012. Hunter Biden did not join the company until 2014. But, because the investigation was still on going when he joined the company it is factually accurate to say that Hunter Biden was on the board of directors while the company was being investigated by Shokin's office. But, as you can see, it would be impossible for Hunter Biden to have anything to do with the investigation since he wasn't even involved in the company until multiple years after the fact. Finally, the reason Shokin was actually fired was because he refused to go after corrupt politicians. He was replaced by a prosecutor who was known to go after corrupt politicians. So, while it is all true that Hunter Biden raised $1.5 billion with China's state bank by having his fater, who was Vice President at the time and was in China on a state vist, introduce him to some very wealthy Chinese folks, which is a bit shady. There is clearly nothing going on with the no story of the Burisma / Hunter Biden investigation as it was about an issue that was two to four years before Hunter joined the company.) 

 

Published in Opinion
%PM, %16 %911 %2019 %20:%Oct

Baseball’s greatest lefthander ever

Monday, April 4, 2016, the greatest sportscaster ever began his 67th and final season.

Don’t take the word of two life-long Dodger fans that 88-yearold Vin Scully, the Voice of Da Bums since 1950, is the best. His awards and recognitions are way too numerous to list, so here are the greatest highlights. The American Sportscasters Association named him Sportscaster of the Century in 2000 and first on its all-time Top- 50 list later. Numerous halls of fame, a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, etc.

The reasons for that extend from his encyclopedic knowledge of the game and technical broadcasting skills to his modesty, casual friendly manner, and personal warmth, all conveyed in a lyrically descriptive style via a dulcet voice. His vivid yet simple description of a game has thrilled fans for years.

It all starts with his signature introduction: “It’s time for Dodger baseball! Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good day/evening to you, wherever you may be.”

When the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles in 1958, fans began bringing their transistor radios to the ballgame because he added so much to what they saw. Part of his charm is his mastery of baseball history and anecdote, which makes fans feel a special connection to him and the game.

He learned early on to be objective and understated, not a home-team shill and loud. And he always kept in mind that sportscasting is about the players and the game, not about him.

He’s witnessed more spectacular sports history moments than anyone. He was there (but not calling the action) for baseball’s most famous moment ever, Bobby Thomson’s pennant-winning “shot heard ‘round the world” homerun in 1951 for the Giants that broke Dodger hearts forever.

Four years later, he called the seventh game of the Dodgers’ first World Series championship ever, which Scully recalls as his favorite moment. On the last out, he said simply, “Ladies and gentlemen, the Brooklyn Dodgers are the champions of the world.” Then he turned the mic to the cheering crowd for an extended time in what became another signature move.

He explains that as an eighty year-old boy, he used to lay his head on a pillow under the large radio counsel in his parents’ home and let the sounds of the crowd and the game wash over him as ate crackers and drank milk. That memory comes back at every good baseball moment, and that’s what he shares with fans.

Other highlights? Kirk Gibson’s 1988 World Series walk off homer that’s widely viewed as the second most memorable moment in baseball history. Hank Aaron’s 715th homer in 1974 that broke Babe Ruth’s most famous career record. Barry Bonds’ 71st, 72nd and 73rd home-runs in 2001 to capture the single-season record.

Did we mention that he called “The Catch” on TV in 1982, when the San Francisco 49ers’ Joe Montana and Dwight Clark beat the Dallas Cowboys and started a dynasty? Yes, he’s great at television, too, plus football, golf and tennis broadcasting.

He’s called five baseball perfect games – no one else has two – beginning with Don Larsen’s in the 1956 Series, the first perfect game in 34 years. And 18 no-hitters, including four by Sandy Koufax, culminating with his perfecto in 1965. Two more perfect games in 1988 and 1991. Then, in 1999 he played himself in arguably the best sports (and date) film ever, For Love of the Game. As the hero takes the mound for the ninth inning, seeking to finish his perfect game, Scully says: “Billy Chapel is 40 years old, arm weary and aching. And you know, Steve, you get the feeling that Billy Chapel isn’t pitching against left-handers, he isn’t pitching against pinch-hitters, he isn’t pitching against the Yankees. He’s pitching against time. He’s pitching against the future, against age, and even when you think about his career, against ending. And tonight I think he might be able to use that aching old arm one more time to push the sun back up in the sky and give us one more day of summer.”

Vin Scully used that dulcet voice to push the sun back up in the sky for one more summer for all of us.

 

--

 

Ron Knecht is a contributing editor to the Penny Press - the conservative weekly "voice of Nevada." You can subscribe at www.pennypressnv.com. This is an edited version of his column which has been reprinted with permission. 

Published in Sports
%PM, %09 %889 %2019 %20:%Oct

Medicare hypocrisy for all

Ever since Senator Bernie Sanders made “Medicare for All” (M4A) the centerpiece of his campaign, it has attracted support, and others have joined the bandwagon. In a Kaiser Family Foundation poll earlier this year, 56 percent of respondents and 81 percent of Democrats backed “a national health plan, sometimes called Medicare for all,” which has been used to assert a mandate for M4A.

Medicare’s Unfunded Liability

Since exactly what M4A details (where the devil lurks) are less than crystal clear, and even the best-articulated versions are more like political talking points than complete plans, backed by questionable, if not provably incorrect assumptions, the goal is clearly to pass a bill that would be very hard to undo before most citizens have any clear idea of what is involved.

Consequently, it is important to remember what most stories hyping the popularity of M4A leave out: When people were informed it would entail a massive increase in costs and taxes, support cratered. Given that Sanders’ proposal could add $3.2 trillion in annual government spending (when America now spends $3.5 trillion annually on health care), that is easy to understand. However, there is also another multi-trillion-dollar reason why many who now support M4A might switch sides: Medicare’s massive unfunded liability.

As with other Social Security expansions, when Medicare was created in 1966, those in or near retirement paid little or no more in taxes but got substantial benefits throughout retirement. That imposed a large unfunded off-budget liability on later generations. And every expansion since (most recently, Medicare Part D’s prescription drug benefit, whose officially estimated unfunded liability at the time was $17 trillion) has created another free lunch for those older, expanding the huge tab facing later generations.

The same sort of conclusions were reached in an Urban Institute study of Medicare, which found that in 2012, average-earning males were “buying” $180,000 in Medicare benefits for $61,000, while similarly situated females, with smaller lifetime contributions and longer life expectancies, did even better.

Optimistic Assumptions

The result, as reported by Michael Tanner, was a 2015 forecast of almost $48 trillion of unfunded liabilities under implausibly optimistic assumptions. A return to higher medical cost inflation rates could make it $88 trillion. A continuance of lower birthrates than forecast would push it higher. So would including future commitments to recipients who have qualified for but not yet received all their benefits as of the end date of a study.

So why might recognizing that massive unfunded liability and its continued expansion move Americans into the “anti-M4A” camp?

Because of the wealth transfer to early enrollees, as well as from ensuing expansions, Medicare provided many with a great deal. But that deal was the result of dumping an enormous bill on future generations (bigger than the unfunded liabilities for Social Security plus the national debt).

With that bill starting to arrive, Medicare is not even close to sustainable in its present form, much less to be leveraged to cover the entire population (although one can understand the vote-buying potential in promising massive new M4A generational transfers).

Not only is a massive expansion of an already far-in-the-hole Medicare program a fool’s errand, but the massive unfunded liabilities it has built up also mean that the previous costs were far higher than what recipients paid and continue to be so (even underestimates of its unfunded liability growth add more than $1 trillion per year of hidden costs to Medicare).

As a result, Medicare was a far worse deal than M4A salesmen and women admit, and it is now decaying at an increasing rate, making its extension to all a 14-digit boondoggle, not a boon. And doubling (or more) down on the already unpayable burdens Medicare has laid on future generations also highlights the blatant hypocrisy of backers who, at the same time, preen about all the new plans they have to “invest in the future.”

 

--

 

Gary M. Galles is a professor of economics at Pepperdine University. His opinions are his own. This article originally appeared on fee.org, then pennypress.com Reprinted with permission. 

Published in Money

Oooooh…The President said “Bullshit” in a tweet as a description of Adam Schiff’s and Nancy Pelosi’s actions in the latest kafuffle regarding his phone call with the President of the Ukraine.  That’s a comment even Schiff can understand.

 

And at least two of the three broadcast TV news divisions could not resist mentioning it.

 

This is nuts.

 

You want an enemy of the people?  Just watch the evening news.  Even during the dog days of Viet Nam it wasn’t this bad.  ABC and CBS should be ashamed.

 

Most of these clowns cannot see or admit that something smells, even when the derelict son of a then-sitting Vice President took huge amounts of money from companies in the very countries his father was assigned to monitor.  What a coincidence!  Even some Pulitzer Prize winning twit at the Wall Street Journal called the Biden corruption “widely discredited.” Which should bring a new level of scrutiny to the Pulitzer Prizes.

 

I have a friend of long standing, who, among other positions in a long, distinguished career of public service, served as a United States Attorney.  He has a serious understanding of the United States Code.  Asked if he could cite any specific portion of the law which the President could have violated with the phone call being bandied about by Adam Schiff, here was his reply: “No treason. No bribery. No criminal conduct.”

 

This “impeachment” inquiry has zero basis in law and, if it goes too much further, will be regretted by the saner elements (if there are any) of the Democrat Party should it ever gain any serious power again.

 

They are making this crap up as they go along.  And here’s a big hint it’s crap.  None of the TV lawyers on the various cable channels can name a single section of the U.S. Code that the President appears to have violated.

 

Now keep something in mind.  Every day, the average American commits three felonies. So argues civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate in his book Three Felonies a Day, the title of which refers to the number of crimes he estimates that Americans perpetrate each day because of vague and overly burdensome laws.  Yet, all the media and Democrats can talk about where President Trump is concerned are generalities.  Collusion is not a crime.  Asking a fellow head of state to look into a former sitting government official’s actions is not a crime. 

 

This is purely political.  

 

And it will surely come back to bite certain purveyors of Trump conspiracy theories on their well upholstered asses.

 

As I am writing this, I just heard Jessica Tarlov tell Fox news that this was “an abuse of power” and thus a “constitutional violation”.  Well…that was certainly a valid use of her Bryn Mawr College B.A. in history and two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in political science and government from the London School of Economics and Political Science. 

 

It’s just amazing what professors teach people these days.

 

The Constitution is NOT to be confused with the law.  It is a framework.  The Constitution does not codify “abuse of power.”  Ms. Tarlov is a classic know nothing who was educated by people who know less.

 

And yet, Fox uses her so it can trumpet Fair and Balanced as if having a slightly older Greta Thunberg parrot Democrat talking points allows a conversation to be “balanced.”

 

Undoing an election means telling 63,000,000 Americans to pound sand. 

 

Before these leftist screamers take the first step to doing exactly that, maybe they ought to consider what other nations look like which try to tamper with the will of the people.

 

Look closely at Hong Kong.  Or Great Britain, where the elites are trying to not do what the public voted for in Brexit.

 

What might the reaction of 63,000,000 voters be if the elites in Washington keep it up?

 

----

 

Fred Weinberg is a columnist and the CEO of USA Radio Network. His views and opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GCN. Fred's weekly column can be read all over the internet. You can subscribe at www.pennypressnv.com. This is an edited version of his column, reprinted with permission. 

Published in Opinion

You know the cliché “power corrupts,” but what does corruption look like? Wherever people have a little bit of power over other people, at least some will misuse it. Most people are not evil or cruel, but if they think they’ll get away with it, they’ll game the system to get rich.

Each year, at least 5 percent of the global gross domestic product (GDP) is wasted by corruption. Corruption makes everything cost more. You might be forced to pay bribes for a permit to build your house, pay police to use roads or bridges, pay kidnappers to avoid violence, to save your child’s life from disease. But corruption costs more than just money.

When the wealthy and well-connected get special access to power, we all suffer. Corruption threatens civic and human rights. Citizens lose autonomy over their bodies and their property, journalists lose their right to speak truth to power. Checks and balances get weaker: elections may be cancelled or rigged to protect the corrupt. Prosecutors and judges are bribed into silence. The rule of law begins to unravel.

Around the world and throughout the centuries, people with power have found ways to exploit others and enrich themselves. The costs—both economic and humanitarian—are devastating.

1. Russia: (Cost of Corruption: 30 Percent of GDP)

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russians were pressured to pay for a “krysha” (literally “roof” but meaning “protection”), essentially safety from criminal gangs. Recently, extortion has become an accepted function of government. The government offices that control access to medical care, education, housing, and utilities are highly corrupt bureaucracies, and demand bribes just to do their jobs.

Officials who can hand out contracts or land triple their salaries in graft and kickbacks. Police can be bought off and judges bribed, so criminal extortion often goes unpunished. Organized crime syndicates conspire with government ministries to exploit average people and then evade justice.

2. China: (Cost of Corruption: 10 Percent of GDP)

Though growing wealthier by the day, China has lagged behind other developed economies due to corruption. Bribery of public officials is commonplace, with 35 percent of Chinese companies admitting to paying bribes for special licenses or to evade taxes.

Average citizens often must pay “facilitation payments” to access public services. An accepted system of favors, bribes, and gifts known as guanxi (literally: ‘relationship’) obscures the total cost of corruption, which may be 10 percent of China’s GDP.

Recent crackdowns that saw 58,0000 corrupt officials indicted were politically motivated and highly selective. The strict rule of the Communist Party in China, and its close ties to the military, perpetuates further enriching the wealthy through “public” power.

3. South Africa: (Cost of Corruption: 10 Percent of GDP)

South African police officers are among the most corrupt in the world. Women are particularly vulnerable, sometimes accused of being sex workers and then assaulted by officers as a “test.” Actual sex workers suffer abuse to avoid arrest. Police often accuse drivers of being under the influence, then demand money to release them.

Prison-building corporation Bosasa secured profitable deals by bribing individual cabinet ministers and the president’s close associates with cash, cars, vacations, and homes. Bosasa’s executives also bribed journalists and prosecutors, resulting in (according to Corruption Watch) “the near destruction of the law enforcement agencies responsible for investigating and prosecuting perpetrators of corruption.”

4. Somalia: (Cost of Corruption: Up to 20 Percent of GDP)

Somalians live with corruption in every aspect of civic life. 80% of state funds are withdrawn by individuals, and not spent on social services. Would-be voters meet with violence, threats, and harassment. Journalists—at least 30 since 2008—have been murdered for investigating corruption or human rights abuses.

Entrepreneurship is barely legal, and most transactions include bribes or violence. Trade is dominated by those with financial ties to the ruling elite. The embezzlement of public funds saps what little money Somalia has to invest in the welfare of its people. Courts lack authority to prosecute corruption.

5. India: (Cost of Corruption: 1.5 Percent of GDP)

As many as 90 percent of Indians work in semi-legal “gray” markets, so they live in constant fear and become easy to extort. Two-thirds of Indians report bribing an official at least once last year. The typical fee to obtain a driver’s license is more than doubled by bribes, and truckers are routinely stopped at makeshift highway checkpoints where regulators or police demand cash.

An exceptionally high tax rate is selectively applied; buying favorable rates or exemption from fines is an established part of the tax system. Few independent media sources exist, and investigative reporting on corruption, especially at high levels, is dangerous for journalists.

6. Venezuela: (Cost of Corruption: >50% of GDP)

The well-publicized devastation of the Venezuelan economy followed a decade of embezzlement and rampant theft at the highest levels of government. Customs officials sell illegal passports to non-citizens, often for the purposes of transporting weapons or drugs.

Government price controls encouraged officials to overstate the costs of basic goods, then sell subsidized goods on the black market for personal gain. Venezuela’s military was caught trafficking food rations. Shortages of medicine, electricity, and clean water are still widespread. Government officials went on printing (and then pocketing) money as inflation increased to nearly 1 million percent. Now 90 percent of the population of a once-wealthy nation lives in poverty.

To retain power while the country’s economy fell apart, President Maduro murdered journalists, attacked protesters, jailed opposition leaders, and terrorized their population.

Is Corruption Human Nature? Is There Hope?

US data is much harder to acquire. Trillions can get lost, $16 Billion missing here, $10 Billion overpaid there... a person could get suspicious. Likely, it’s 5-10 percent of government spending, or 3-5 percent of GDP.

In general, the wealthier and freer the people, the less corrupt and more transparent their government.

Independent courts, a free press, lower taxes, and less government spending all contribute to oversight of power and the ability of citizens to oust abusers.

Corruption is a constant, but strong civic institutions can help combat its worst effects.

 

Dr. Laura Williams  teaches communication strategy to undergraduates and executives. She is a passionate advocate for critical thinking and individual liberties. Her opinions are her own. This article originally appeared on fee.org, then pennypress. This is an edited version, reprtinted with permission. 

Published in World

Let’s say that during a previous administration, this nation had a Vice President who is such a nebbish that he personifies what former Vice President John Nance Garner meant when he called the office a “warm bucket of spit.”

 

And, let’s say that when he was a sitting Vice President he took his son, a drug addict who was kicked out of the Navy, on Air Force Two to China and a Chinese bank “invested” a BILLION and a HALF dollars in his son’s “private equity” firm.

 

And, let’s say that the same son was given a board seat in a foreign oil firm, for which he was paid $50,000 a month in spite of the fact that the only fracking he had any experience in involved needles and opioid injections.

 

And then, let’s say that the currently sitting President asked a favor of the leader of the nation which domiciled the company which hired the young drug addict.

 

Should this President be impeached?

 

Well, since all of the above happens to be true, apparently only if you’re a Democrat who is fixated on overthrowing a duly elected President who you hate.

 

It follows, then, that Nancy Pelosi and her buddies, apparently have read a little history of Nazi Germany (or, in the case of Adam Schiff have had it read to them) and think that Joseph Goebbels’ and Adolph Hitler’s Big Lie Theory will still work right here in the USofA.

 

Goebbels theorized that, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

 

That was based on a line from Hitler’s Mein Kampf , “The great masses of the people... will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.”

 

But back in those days, the population of Germany was only around 69-million and the state controlled all the media, which consisted of a few newspapers and a few radio stations.  And those were not people accustomed to having any freedom.

 

Can the Big Lie Theory work in 2019 in the United States?

 

Well, the left sure thinks it can.

 

Here’s what the left does not understand:

 

  1. There’s a whole nation out there West of the Hudson River, East of the Los Angeles County line and South of the Cook County line which mostly thinks that what happens in Washington ought to stay in Washington and really doesn’t care much about the supposed wrongs that Donald Trump has allegedly committed.  These are the people who elected him.
  2. The people in Washington who do NOT understand number 1 are so cemented into their positions that they do not believe any real power emanates from the voters described in number 1.  They believe they absolutely control the levers of power.  Many of them are in the media and the rest are part of the deep state which really DOES exist.
  3. The people described in number 2 are leading the nation into uncharted territory and they have no idea of what can happen if their calculus is wrong.  Here’s a hint:  Hong Kong.  Only our military is NOT the Red Chinese Army and its members probably will NOT fire on their fellow citizens.

 

This could be ugly.

 

But the big question is how hard will anybody fight for Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff?

 

My neighbors mostly say it won’t even be a fight. That the Democrats will fold like the cheap suits they are.

 

----

 

Fred Weinberg is a columnist and the CEO of USA Radio Network. His views and opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GCN. Fred's weekly column can be read all over the internet. You can subscribe at www.pennypressnv.com. This is an edited version of his column, reprinted with permission. 

Published in Opinion
%PM, %25 %909 %2019 %20:%Sep

Envy, the root of many modern evils

To dislike a person because of the color of his skin is racism. To scorn someone because of her same-sex preference is homophobia. To disdain for reasons of gender is sexism. To frown upon people because of their foreign origins is xenophobia. Such manifestations of bigotry, to a person of peace, tolerance, and logic, are shameful and indefensible.

Why?

Color, sex, sexual orientation, and national origin have nothing to do with the content of one’s character. That’s one reason.

Another is that humans are not a blob; each human is a unique individual. If one is to be judged, he should be judged by his choices and behavior—that is, by his own sins and virtues and not by the sins and virtues of others who simply share some accidental resemblance to him.

A third reason is that finger-pointing takes the spotlight off self-improvement. Scapegoating is not a pathway to achievement for either persons or nations. It’s what losers do.

A Politically Acceptable Scapegoat

But suppose you despise and seek to punish an entire class of people because they’re rich or successful. Is that bigotry, or is that the foundation of a political campaign? Sadly, it’s both. Frequently.

Second only to Donald Trump—a specific individual whose sins and virtues we can largely identify and hold him responsible for—the number one punching bag every political season is “the rich.” They are monotonously demonized by candidates who vie for your vote and affection and count on your ignorance and myopia.

It would be both unpopular and stupid to express a dislike for “the poor” as an income group. We all know that among the poor there are both good and bad people. Some are poor through little fault of their own and possess strong personal character. Others are poor because of bad choices and lousy behavior rooted in rotten character. We surely want to determine the difference and render our judgments and reactions accordingly.

Listen to presidential “debates” carefully, and you’ll easily see a very different perspective with regard to the rich. Income bigotry is on full and proud display. Candidates don’t define “the rich” precisely, but they do hope that you’ll think you’re not among them. You’re supposed to be the victim of the rich so the politician can be your savior. The demagogue doesn’t say he wants to sift the good rich from the bad rich and treat them accordingly. He wants to go after them all, just for their richness.

You can be rich because you stole something or used your political connections to get special favors, or you could be rich like most of the rich, that is, because you created and built something; worked long, hard, and smart for what you have; added enormous value to society; invested resources wisely; or just entertained 50,000 happy, paying customers many times at concerts. Doesn’t matter which.

When New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declares with fire in his eyes that he will “tax the hell out of the rich,” he means all of them. His competitors, as well as large swaths of their audiences, cheer because of the perverse satisfaction they derive from just thinking about the punishment. Suggest that “taxing the hell” out of anybody might be counter-productive to philanthropy, job creation, or economic growth, and you’ll quickly be the skunk at the garden party because it’s the punishment that matters, not outcomes.

Envy Is the Root

Welcome to the ugly world of envy, defined by philosopher Immanuel Kant as

“…a propensity to view the well-being of others with distress, even though it does not detract from one’s own. [It is] a reluctance to see our own well-being overshadowed by another’s because the standard we use to see how well off we are is not the intrinsic worth of our own well-being but how it compares with that of others. [It] aims, at least in terms of one’s wishes, at destroying other’s good fortune.”

Envy is almost as old as the world itself. It was Cain’s motive for killing Abel. Professor Paul Fairfield of Queen’s University in Ontario describes it as an animosity “that eats away at you from the inside out and that hides itself behind a dubious morality.” It comes in several shades.

The less harmful version, for example, is when you count the other guy’s blessings instead of your own but try to attain them for yourself peacefully—by trade or by emulating the decisions of the successful. A more malicious type takes this form: You despise someone for who he is or what he has and take personal delight in punishing him for it in the hope that you’ll benefit in one way or another. Maybe you’ll get some of his stuff or attain power by vilifying him.

The worst kind of envy shows up when you take action to make sure no one can ever possess what the successful person has because you believe equality in misery is more virtuous than inequality, period.

Perhaps the 20th century’s best book on the subject was the Austrian-German sociologist Helmut Schoeck’s Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior, which appeared in the late ‘60s. Schoeck noted that “to claim ‘humanitarian motives’ when the motive is envy and its supposed appeasement, is a favorite rhetorical device of politicians.”

It’s a tactic that politicians have been using for ages—profoundly evidenced at least as far back as the sad, final decades of the old Roman Republic. I know of no moment in history in which the encouragement or practice of widespread envy produced anything but a bad outcome.

For good reasons, it’s counted as one of the seven deadly sins. It builds nothing up but concentrated state power; it tears everything down from the object of the envy (e.g., the rich) to the very souls of the envious themselves.

Envy Rots the Bones

You don’t have to take my word for it. Several thousand years ago, the tenth of the Ten Commandments warned of envy’s close relative, “coveting.” Many Biblical passages from both Old and New Testaments caution against it, including Proverbs 14:30 (“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones”) and Ecclesiastes 30:24 (“Envy and wrath shorten the life”).

What follows is a representative sampling of historical wisdom on the matter from across the centuries since.

The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Democritus noted that a free and peaceful society would actively seek to discourage envy.

The laws would not prevent each man from living according to his inclination, unless individuals harmed each other; for envy creates the beginning of strife.

Seneca the Younger was a prominent Roman Stoic thinker and statesman of the 1st century AD. He was well aware that envy played a key role in the demise of the Republic in the previous century:

It is the practice of the multitude to bark at eminent men, as little dogs do at strangers.

Envy generates an internal struggle in three stages, according to the 13th century’s St. Thomas Aquinas. In the first stage, the envious person attempts to defame another’s reputation; in the second stage, the envious person receives either “joy at another’s misfortune” (if his defamation succeeds) or “grief at another’s prosperity” (if it fails); the final stage sees envy turned into hatred because “sorrow causes hatred.”

Italian poet and author of The Divine Comedy Dante Alighieri saw envy as “a desire to deprive other men of theirs.” In his Purgatory, the envious are punished by having their eyes sewn shut with wire “because they gained sinful pleasure from seeing others brought low.”

Leonardo da Vinci, the quintessential Renaissance Man, wrote:

“Envy wounds with false accusations, that is with detraction, a thing which scares virtue.”

In the 17th century, the English essayist Francis Bacon condemned envy as an enervating attitude that leads directly to deplorable actions:

“A man that hath no virtue in himself, ever envieth virtue in others. For men’s minds, will either feed upon their own good, or upon others’ evil; and who wanteth the one, will prey upon the other; and whoso is out of hope, to attain to another’s virtue, will seek to come at even hand, by depressing another’s fortune.”

A hundred years later, the English theologian Robert South echoed Bacon.

“Of covetousness, we may truly say that it makes both the Alpha and Omega in the devil’s alphabet, and that it is the first vice in corrupt nature which moves, and the last which dies.”

At about the same time, the famous playwright Joseph Addison observed that envious people are usually unhappy people.

“The condition of the envious man is the most emphatically miserable; he is not only incapable of rejoicing in another’s merit or success, but lives in a world wherein all mankind are in a plot against [him].”

When the Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville toured America in the early 1830s, he found that one of the country’s strengths was that we were focused on building things and people up instead of tearing either down. Prophetically, he predicted that if envy took root, the result would be suicide.

“I have a passionate love for liberty, law, and respect for rights. Liberty is my foremost passion. But one also finds in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to want to bring the strong down to their level, and which reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom.”

Equality is a slogan based on envy. It signifies in the heart of every republican: “Nobody is going to occupy a place higher than I.”

Theodore Roosevelt regarded himself as a “progressive” of his day (late 19th and early 20th century), but he understood then what most “progressives” today do not: namely, that envy is the root of much evil.

“Probably the greatest harm done by vast wealth is the harm that we of moderate means do ourselves when we let the vices of envy and hatred enter deep into our own natures.”

Philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand was an avowed atheist who would never argue that envy is evil because God says so. But she certainly regarded envy as evil and destructive. She equated it with “hatred of the good,” by which she meant “hatred of a person for possessing a value or virtue one regards as desirable.”

“If a child wants to get good grades in school, but is unable or unwilling to achieve them and begins to hate the children who do, that is hatred of the good. If a man regards intelligence as a value, but is troubled by self-doubt and begins to hate the men he judges to be intelligent, that is hatred of the good.”

Robert Barron is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and founder of the popular Catholic ministerial organization Word on Fire. In his view:

“Envy is a capital sin. It refers to the sadness at the sight of another’s goods and the immoderate desire to acquire them for oneself, even unjustly. When it wishes grave harm to a neighbor it is a mortal sin: St. Augustine saw envy as “diabolical sin.” [In Augustine’s words,] “From envy are born hatred, detraction, calumny, joy caused by the misfortune of a neighbor, and displeasure caused by his prosperity.”

Rooting out Envy

It would be easy to supply the reader with a thousand more quotes on the subject of envy. The difficult thing would be to find one that defends it. The irony is this: Universally condemned, envy is nonetheless widely practiced. Ayn Rand christened our times as an “Age of Envy.”

Search your conscience. If you find envy within it, expunge it before it does its awful work.

--

Lawrence W. Reed is President Emeritus, Humphreys Family Senior Fellow, and Ron Manners Ambassador for Global Liberty at the Foundation for Economic Education. His opinions are his own. The article originally appeared on fee.org reprinted with permission. 

Published in Opinion

Let me put it plainly: 

 

Joe Biden is a liar, his son is a bumbling crook and any member of our so-called national security team who somehow has access to a Presidential phone call with the leader of another nation and files a whistleblower complaint should be in prison for the rest of his or her life.

 

That clear enough for you?

 

Joe Biden told a reporter that he has not discussed his son’s off shore investments.  When was that?  On Air Force Two when Sonny Boy hitched a ride?  Bullcrap.

 

I don’t care what Andrew Napolitano said on Fox.  The Judge is losing his fastball just like Biden.  What’s happening here is that the Mueller investigation turned out to be a nothingburger as opposed to the smoking gun Democrat like Adam Schiffhead were assuming it would be.

 

And later, the news is that in this case the so-called whistleblower may not even have sat in on the call but heard about it second hand.

 

Did any of that end it?

 

Nope.

 

This President had the discourtesy to beat Saint Hillary in 2016 and the swampmonsters are not going to stop trying to eject him from Washington like a heart transplant which won’t take.

 

The problem they are having is that the American public has wised up to these clowns and no longer accepts the CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC version of things.

 

Democrats want to impeach the President?  Please.  Stop hinting.  Do it.  American voters will make the final decision on the first Tuesday after the first Sunday in November of 2020 because—pure and simple—anything the House does do is merely mental masturbation.  They, quite simply, don’t have enough votes or support to do anything else.

 

Never Trumper Bill Weld (Mitt Romney lite) wants Trump executed for treason?  Honest.  Saw his rant on TV.

 

When pink pigs fly from his butt.

 

Meanwhile, we’ve seen the tape of Joe Biden bragging in 2018 about getting a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating Sonny Boy’s company fired or he was going to withhold a BILLION DOLLARS in United States foreign aid,

 

Talk about your quid pro quo.

 

And, by the way, this is what some woman at the Wall Street Journal named Rebecca Ballhaus called “widely discredited” in her story about this set of facts.  The Wall Street Journal! For comparison purposes, I happen to be the CEO of the USA Radio Networks in real life and if any of my news anchors used that phrase, they would be fired before their next newscast.  This bundle of genius is a 28 year old millennial who has already won a Pulitzer prize.  Not exactly Brit Hume.

 

The fact is that these people are unhinged.  This is Trump Derangement Syndrome on steroids.

 

Forget the opioid crisis.  This is a crisis of stupidity involving people who are so busy throwing a tantrum they have no idea how entirely moronic they look.

 

Worse, it’s as big an indication that there IS a deep state which needs to be excised.

 

And the only way to solve the issue may well be arrests—a lot of them—and jail terms.

 

They could load up a whole wing of a Federal Prison with these people—starting with the first batch, James Comey, Andrew McCabe and the FBI lovers, Peter Strozk and Lisa Page.

 

----

 

Fred Weinberg is a columnist and the CEO of USA Radio Network. His views and opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GCN. Fred's weekly column can be read all over the internet. You can subscribe at www.pennypressnv.com. This is an edited version of his column, reprinted with permission. 

 

 

Published in Opinion

In college 50 years ago, I took Introduction to Political Science from Stephan A. Douglas.  Not the short, fat Little Giant who debated Abe Lincoln.  But a very good tall and angular professor at Illinois.

The main thing I remember from his class is his explanation about a compelling revolution in political science and economics that began a decade earlier.  Traditionally, he said, political scientists sought to explain how institutions, practices and people in political and economic processes worked to promote the public interest and the common good.  It was Pollyanna-ish: All for the better.

Then some iconoclasts said that’s not how things work at all.  Most folks in the political and economic spheres aren’t trying to promote the public interest.  To the extent they can, they use institutions and practices to promote their own special interests.  This insight, which today seems obvious, changed political science and helped foster a branch of economics known as public choice theory – which has produced a number of Nobel Prizes in economics.

Against the background of the Viet Nam war and the turmoil in American politics in the 1960s, it was a bracing idea, and it quickly became a formative part of my intellectual make-up.  It has served me well in politics and public service.

Now come our corporate leaders with a perfect example of how political and economic behavior masquerades as public-spirited when it’s really completely self-serving.  The Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of America’s largest companies, issued a new “Statement of the Purpose of a Corporation,” signed by 181 CEOs.

“While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders,” reads the key sentence.  It names those stakeholders: customers, employees, diversity and inclusion, suppliers, the communities where they work, the environment and sustainability.  Oh, yes, also “effective engagement with” company stockholders.

Since 1997, their periodic “Principles of Corporate Governance” statements have endorsed the notion of shareholder primacy: that corporations exist primarily to serve stockholders.  In the New York Times Magazine on September 13, 1970, economist Milton Friedman, one of the intellectual giants of the 20th Century, said business executives who pursue a goal other than making money for their equity investors are wrong.

They are, he said, “unwitting puppets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.”  They become “unelected government officials” who essentially tax employees and customers.  They violate their legal and ethical fiduciary duties.

But the new diktat declares all “stakeholders” equal – leaving corporate moguls, our enlightened visionary betters, to decide how to balance their interests via corporate actions.

The concept of corporate stakeholders arose soon after the public choice revolution.  Originally, it was descriptive: It described the groups that were affected by actions of corporations.  But once the term was invented, it morphed into a normative concept suggesting the stakeholders have some kinds of claims on the actions of companies and their decision-makers that legitimately compete with the fiduciary duties owed to those who put their capital at risk by investing in the firm.

Now the CEOs have thrown in the towel and joined these predatory special-interest claimants.  Why?

It’s something I’ve observed the last 40 years in regulation, politics and business.  Essentially, executives are – surprise! – pursuing their own self-serving interests.  They want to be lionized everywhere as great leaders, compassionate souls, visionary intellectuals.  They want to use the resources their stockholders have entrusted to them to buy off everyone – unions, politicians, predatory special interests such as environmentalists, and the lamestream press.

Maximizing long-term discounted stockholder value within ethical norms crimps those aspirations.

This rot is clearest with regulated utilities, where executives can cut implicit (sometimes explicit) deals with regulators: We’ll do almost any foolish thing you want us to, as long as we can pass on the costs to ratepayers.

The problem started a century ago when large corporations were no longer managed by their primary owners, but instead by hired professional managers with their own self-serving agendas.  Ironically, consumers, employees and the real public interest in economic growth and fairness suffer with stockholders in this scheme.  Friedman was more right than he knew.

 

--

 

Ron Knecht is a contributing editor to the Penny Press - the conservative weekly "voice of Nevada." You can subscribe at www.pennypressnv.com. This is an edited version of his column which has been reprinted with permission. 

Published in Money

“Baby shots” used to be a boring subject, and taken for granted. As the number of vaccines grew from seven in the 1980s to 16 requiring 70 doses now, most parents obediently brought their children to the doctor when shots were “due.” The compliance rate was more than 90 percent. Parents who objected for one reason or another just got an exemption from school-attendance mandates and kept quiet. Every state had a medical exemption, most had a religious exemption, and many had easily obtained philosophical or personal-belief exemptions.

Now that states are repealing exemptions, parents are descending on state capitals en masse, many with severely injured children in tow. Thousands rallied outside an Albany courthouse as a lawsuit challenging an end to religious exemptions was heard.

Despite vociferous objections and attempts to disrupt hearings, the California legislature passed a law (SB 276) severely limiting medical exemptions, the only kind available. “Rogue doctors” were allegedly selling exemptions.

The bill’s author, Sen. Richard Pan, M.D., said that everybody who really needed an exemption would get one. However, 882 out of 882 pediatric practices told a mother that they would not write an exemption for a child who had had anaphylactic shock. This life-threatening allergic reaction, which kills rapidly by closing off the airway, is one of the few allowable indications for an exemption. But now, a parent not willing to risk recurrence cannot send her child to school.

Doctors are no doubt afraid of being targeted by the medical licensure board. SB 276 mandates scrutiny of doctors who have issued more than five exemptions, including exemptions made before the bill takes effect.

Parents are besieging legislators with reports of children who died or experienced devastating illnesses or disability after getting their shots. Interchanges on Twitter are passionate. One juxtaposed a sign saying “Vaccinate your f****** children” with a photograph of a gravestone and the message “We did.”

Whatever happened to hundreds of once-healthy children—it’s impossible to prove that the shot did it—the public-health dogma is: “Vaccines are safe and effective.” So safe and so effective that vaccines should be the exception to the rule that medical interventions are illegal and unethical without informed consent?

Two articles in the fall issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons challenge the orthodoxy that vaccines should be mandated, overriding patients’ liberties in an effort to eradicate vaccine-preventable diseases.

How much risk can a person be compelled to take, even to save the life of another? In other contexts, such as exposure to radiation or lead, a risk of 1 in 10,000 or even less is considered unacceptable. Yet a much higher risk from vaccines cannot be ruled out. According to the most current information available, only 1 percent of serious side effects (such as death or permanent disability) are likely reported to the government’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

The 1905 Supreme Court precedent for upholding mandates, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, concerned a raging, deadly smallpox epidemic. Later courts have ignored warnings about the potential abuse of state police power, and permitted mandates to prevent possible future epidemics of much milder diseases. Now, a measles outbreak of some 1,200 cases—thankfully no deaths so far—has triggered the demand for stricter laws, suppression of “anti-vaxxer” information, and harsh measures including $1,000 fines for refusing vaccination in Brooklyn.

Even if at least a few of the tragedies are caused by a vaccine, isn’t it worth it to wipe out dread diseases?

In the 20th century, mankind seemed to be winning the war on microbes. Smallpox was eradicated, and antibiotics were vanquishing infectious diseases. The growing threat of microbial resistance has caused senior public health officials in the UK and the U.S. to be concerned about the “post-antibiotic apocalypse” and the “end of modern medicine."

Parental outrage might cause reexamination of vaccine orthodoxy. It also raises the question of where to draw the line against encroachment of our freedom.

 

--

 

Jane M. Orient, M.D. obtained her undergraduate degrees in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and her M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1974. Her views and opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GCN.  Her column can often be found at www.pennypressnv.com. This is an edited version of her column, reprinted with permission.

 

 

Published in Opinion
Page 1 of 6