Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cartoon of the Day!

Joe Biden, Basic Income, and Societal Capital

September 19, 2017 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty
Most economic policy debates are predictable. Folks on the left urge higher taxes and bigger government while folks on the right advocate lower taxes and smaller government (thanks to “public choice” incentives, many supposedly pro-market politicians don’t follow through on those principles once they’re in office, but that’s a separate issue).

The normal dividing line between right and left disappears, however, when looking at whether the welfare state should be replaced by a “universal basic income” that would provide money to every legal resident of a nation.

There are some compelling arguments in favor of such an idea. Some leftists like the notion of income security for everybody. Some on the right like the fact that there would be no need for massive bureaucracies to oversee the dozens of income redistribution programs that currently exist. And since everyone automatically would get a check, regardless of income, lower-income people seeking a better life no longer would face very high implicit tax rates as they replaced handouts with income.

But there are plenty of libertarians and small-government conservatives who are skeptical. I’m in this group because of my concern that the net result would be bigger government and I don’t trust that the rest of the welfare state would be abolished. Moreover, I worry that universal handouts would erode the work ethic and exacerbate the dependency problem.

And I have an ally of the other side of the ideological spectrum.
Former Vice President Joe Biden…will push back against “Universal Basic Income,”… UBI is a check to every American adult, but Biden thinks that it’s the job that is important, not just the income. In a blog post…timed to the launch of the Joe Biden Institute at the University of Delaware, Biden will quote his father telling him how a job is “about your dignity. It’s about your self-respect. It’s about your place in your community.”
I often don’t agree with Biden, but he’s right on this issue.

Having a job, earning a paycheck, and being self-sufficient are valuable forms of societal or cultural capital.

By contrast, a nation that trades the work ethic for universal handouts is taking a very risky gamble.
Let’s look at what’s been written on this topic.

In an article for the Week, Damon Linker explores the importance of work and the downside of dependency.
…a UBI would not address (and would actually intensify) the worst consequences of joblessness, which are not economic but rather psychological or spiritual. …a person who falls out of the workforce permanently will be prone to depression and other forms of psychological and spiritual degradation. When we say that an employee “earns a living,” it’s not merely a synonym for “receives a regular lump sum of money.” The element of deserving (“earns”) is crucial. …a job can be and often is a significant (even the primary) source of a person’s sense of self-worth. …A job gives a person purpose, a reason to get up in the morning, to engage with the world and interact with fellow citizens in a common endeavor, however modest. And at the end of the week or the month, there’s the satisfaction of having earned, through one’s own efforts, the income that will enable oneself and one’s family to continue to survive and hopefully even thrive.
Dan Nidess, in a column for the Wall Street Journal, opines about the downsides of universal handouts.
At the heart of a functioning democratic society is a social contract built on the independence and equality of individuals. Casually accepting the mass unemployment of a large part of the country and viewing those people as burdens would undermine this social contract, as millions of Americans become dependent on the government and the taxpaying elite. It would also create a structural division of society that would destroy any pretense of equality. …UBI would also weaken American democracy. How long before the well-educated, technocratic elites come to believe the unemployed underclass should no longer have the right to vote? Will the “useless class” react with gratitude for the handout and admiration for the increasingly divergent culture and values of the “productive class”? If Donald Trump’s election, and the elites’ reactions, are any indication, the opposite is likelier. …In the same Harvard commencement speech in which Mr. Zuckerberg called for a basic income, he also spent significant time talking about the need for purpose. But purpose can’t be manufactured, nor can it be given out alongside a government subsidy. It comes from having deep-seated responsibility—to yourself, your family and society as a whole.
An article in the American Interest echoes this point.
…work, for most people, isn’t just a means of making money—it is a source of dignity and meaning and a central part of the social compact. Simply opting for accelerated creative destruction while deliberately warehousing the part of the population that cannot participate might work as a theoretical exercise, but it does not mesh with the wants and desires and aspirations of human beings. Communities subsisting on UBIs will not be happy or healthy; the spectacle of free public redistribution without any work requirement will breed resentment and distrust.
Writing for National Review, Oren Cass discusses some negative implications of a basic income.
…even if it could work, it should be rejected on principle. A UBI would redefine the relationship between individuals, families, communities, and the state by giving government the role of provider. It would make work optional and render self-reliance moot. An underclass dependent on government handouts would no longer be one of society’s greatest challenges but instead would be recast as one of its proudest achievements. Universal basic income is a logical successor to the worst public policies and social movements of the past 50 years. These have taken hold not just through massive government spending but through fundamental cultural changes that have absolved people of responsibility for themselves and one another, supported destructive conduct while discouraging work, and thereby eroded the foundational institutions of family and community that give shape to society. …Those who work to provide for themselves and their families know they are playing a critical and worthwhile role, which imbues the work with meaning no matter how unfulfilling the particular task may be. As the term “breadwinner” suggests, the abstractions of a market economy do not obscure the way essentials are earned. A UBI would undermine all this: Work by definition would become optional, and consumption would become an entitlement disconnected from production. Stripped of its essential role as the way to earn a living, work would instead be an activity one engaged in by choice, for enjoyment, or to afford nicer things. …Work gives not only meaning but also structure and stability to life. It provides both socialization and a source of social capital. It helps establish for the next generation virtues such as responsibility, perseverance, and industriousness. …there is simply no substitute for stepping onto the first rung. A UBI might provide the same income as such a job, but it can offer none of the experience, skills, or socialization.
Tyler Cowen expresses reservations in his Bloomberg column.
I used to think that it might be a good idea for the federal government to guarantee everyone a universal basic income, to combat income inequality, slow wage growth, advancing automation and fragmented welfare programs. Now I’m more skeptical. …I see merit in tying welfare to work as a symbolic commitment to certain American ideals. It’s as if we are putting up a big sign saying, “America is about coming here to work and get ahead!” Over time, that changes the mix of immigrants the U.S. attracts and shapes the culture for the better. I wonder whether this cultural and symbolic commitment to work might do greater humanitarian good than a transfer policy that is on the surface more generous. …It’s fair to ask whether a universal income guarantee would be affordable, but my doubts run deeper than that. If two able-bodied people live next door to each other, and one works and the other chooses to live off universal basic income checks, albeit at a lower standard of living, I wonder if this disparity can last. One neighbor feels like she is paying for the other, and indeed she is.
In a piece for the City Journal, Aaron Renn also comments on the impact of a basic income on national character. He starts by observing that guaranteed incomes haven’t produced good outcomes for Indian tribes.
…consider the poor results from annual per-capita payments of casino revenues to American Indian tribes (not discussed in the book). Some tribes enjoy a very high “basic income”—sometimes as high as $100,000 per year— in the form of these payments. But as the Economist reports, “as payment grows more Native Americans have stopped working and fallen into a drug and alcohol abuse lifestyle that has carried them back into poverty.”
And he fears the results would be equally bad for the overall population.
Another major problem with the basic-income thesis is that its intrinsic vision of society is morally problematic, even perverse: individuals are entitled to a share of social prosperity but have no obligation to contribute anything to it. In the authors’ vision, it is perfectly acceptable for able-bodied young men to collect a perpetual income while living in mom’s basement or a small apartment and doing nothing but play video games and watch Internet porn.
Jared Dillian also looks at the issue of idleness in a column for Bloomberg.
I do not like the idea of a universal basic income. Its advocates fundamentally misunderstand human nature. What they do not realize about human beings is that for the vast majority of them, a subsistence level of income is enough — and those advocates are blind to the corrosive effects that widespread idleness would have on society. If you give people money for doing nothing, they will probably do nothing. …A huge controlled experiment on basic income has already been run — in Saudi Arabia, where most of the population enjoys the dividends of the country’s oil wealth. Saudi Arabia has found that idleness leads to more political extremism, not less. We have a smaller version of that controlled experiment here in the U.S. — for example, the able-bodied workers who have obtained Social Security Disability Insurance payments and are willing to stay at home for a piddling amount of money. …the overarching principle is that people need work that is worthwhile, for practical and psychological reasons. If we hand out cash to anyone who can fog a mirror, I figure we are about two generations away from revolution.

By the way, it’s not just American Indians and Saudi Arabians that are getting bad results with universal handouts.

Finland has been conducting an experiment and the early results don’t look promising.  The bottom line is that our current welfare system is a dysfunctional mess. It’s bad for taxpayers and recipients.

Replacing it with a basic income probably would make the system simpler, but at a potentially very high cost in terms of cultural capital.

That’s why I view federalism as a much better approach. Get Washington out of the redistribution racket and allow states to compete and innovate as they find ways to help the less fortunate without trapping them in dependency.


At the Emmys, Hollywood's eminentos make fools of themselves

By Jack Hellner

If  anyone wants to see how important Hollywood believes it is compared to the rest of us, including the president and politicians, all you have to hear is Alec Baldwin’s acceptance speech at Sunday night's Emmy awards.

Here is some of what he said:
“I just want to say if I leave anybody out, I'm sorry, but I do want to get this in. Which is I always remember what someone told me, that is when you die, you don't remember a bill that Congress passed or a decision the Supreme Court made or an address made by the president. You remember a song. You remember a line from a movie. You remember a play. You remember a book, a painting, a poem. What we do is important. And for all of you out there in motion pictures and television, don't stop doing what you’re doing. The audience is counting on you.”

I happen to believe that we remember the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln's freeing of the slaves, the Constitution, women’s right to vote, civil rights laws, Roe vs. Wade, Medicare, Medicaid, etc., more than anything that Baldwin or other actors have done. But to Baldwin, what Hollywood does is important and the rest of us don’t matter much.

Can anyone remember who won the Emmys, Oscars, Grammys or Tonys last year?  I bet many more know that Kennedy said, "Ask not what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." than any line in a movie, television show or song from last year......To Read More....

How do you solve a problem like Hollywood?

By Patricia McCarthy September 19, 2017
You ignore it.  Aside from the D.C. establishment of both parties, there are no people who revere themselves more than the core of the wealthiest and most privileged members of the film and television industry.    The Emmy awards program was an outsized testament to their self-love and to their contempt for all those who do not live by their mindless devotion to the ideology of the anti-American left.  They all believe they are unique, special and gifted.  Some of them are talented but talent does not always come with brains or a moral compass.  Those who graced the stage at the Emmys were the worst of the worst:  Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Alec Baldwin, Kate McKinnon, etc.  It is a long list of arrogant, elitist snobs who have ruined the television and film industries with their politicization of entertainment and endless self-aggrandizement.....To Read More.... 

The Cavalry is Coming for Judge Roy Moore in Alabama Senate Race

By Andrew West September 19, 2017

The same storm that was brewing over Washington D.C. a year ago is now sweeping into the great state of Alabama, where one conservative hero is poised to make history. Those whipping winds of change are blowing over the straw houses of the republican establishment, who themselves have been tarnished by being willfully beholden to special interest groups and industry magnates. In their place will soon stand a number of true conservative Washington outsiders looking to make their mark on our nation........To Read More.....

Hamilton may be a Popular Musical, but Alexander Hamilton Ruined America

By Onan Coca September 19, 2017

The Broadway musical Hamilton has been a phenomenon, taking New York City and America by storm. The music is well written and beautifully performed, the script is masterful, and the performances have been touted as powerful. Sadly, the play is mostly a tremendous work of historical fiction. The Alexander Hamilton that graces the Broadway stage bears little resemblance to the Founding Father whose philosophical beliefs may yet destroy the nation he helped found. 
While Hamilton’s impact should be remembered and studied, it should be done with the understanding that his ideas would lead to Big Government and less freedom. He also laid the foundations for our economic pains and the dominance of well-heeled upper-class oligarchy.......To Read More.....


The left's and NeverTrumps' attacks on Trump come up short

By David Zukerman September 19, 2017

The left's ad hominem attacks on President Trump are not working. So reports Politico's Edward-Isaac Dovere, September 13 ("Teflon Don Confounds Democrats"). Based on data gathered for the Democrats "from a range of focus groups and internal polls." The hostile New York Times is not persuaded by the Democratic findings cited by Politico.  The lead editorial in the Times, September 16, "Morality Is Negotiable for Mr. Trump" cited the president's September 13 dinner with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi as occasion to warn "No one should cheer Mr. Trump's latest moves as pivot toward principles. So far his main operating principle seems to be service to himself." But the Times was not satisfied in maintaining its war on the president on its own initiative.......To Read More.....

Ingraham: Pelosi ‘Got a Little Taste of the Medicine’ Left Gives Conservatives Often

LifeZette editor-in-chief says disruption of Democratic leader's press conference shows illegals' 'entitlement mentality'

September 19, 2017 by Kathryn Blackhurst

LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham warned that there is “an entitlement mentality for a whole new generation of people who are in this country” illegally after a group of immigrants shouted down House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at a Monday press conference.........

Pelosi held the San Francisco conference to reiterate her support for illegal immigrants who had been brought to the U.S. as children who qualified under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. President Donald Trump announced that he would be ending the program after six months while punting the responsibility over to Congress to deal with the DACA recipients...........".... you give someone an inch, they take a mile. An inch across the border, then it's a mile, then we want rights, now we want benefits, now we want in-state tuition, then we want free health care, and then we want grandma to come in, now we want mom and dad,"..........This escalation....has created "an entitlement mentality for a whole new generation of people who are in this country"....... "this is the problem with not enforcing the rule of law.....".........To Read More....

CNN has Proof: Team Trump was Wiretapped Before and After the Election!

By Jeff Dunetz September 19, 2017

But wait…CNN Said Trump’s claim that his campaign was wiretapped was a lie.  Now they are saying it’s true. CNN is reporting that Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was wiretapped via a secret court order before the election as an outgrowth of Manafort’s relationship with Viktor Yanukovych, and Manafort’s failure to register as a foreign agent. The wiretap continued after the election–then wiretap’s purpose was to gather information into the Russian interference with 2016 election..........To Read More.....

Why States Can’t Prevent a Runaway Convention

By Publius Huldah September 18, 2017

 The danger of an Article V convention (which made James Madison “tremble”, caused Alexander Hamilton “dread”, and Chief Justice John Jay to say that another convention would impose an “extravagant risque”) is this: the delegates to the convention can run away: instead of proposing amendments to our existing Constitution, they can write a completely new Constitution with a new – and easier – mode of ratification.....The convention lobby implicitly acknowledges this danger when they say State Legislatures should pass “unfaithful delegate” laws to control delegates.......To Read More....

Front Page

South Florida Muslim Leader Sofian Zakkout Promotes Farrakhan Video Calling Jews “Satan Joe Kaufman September 20, 2017

Richard L. Cravatts September 20, 2017
The Unaccompanied Muslim Minor Refugee Terror Attack in London
Daniel Greenfield  September 18, 2017

Acid Attack on American Tourists in France
Joseph Klein  September 18, 2017

Climate Hoaxers Forced to Take Huge Step Back After Report Drops

By Andrew West September 19, 2017

The debate over the liberal concept of manmade global warming has been raging for decades, but today, another nail in the coffin was pounded into place.   Thanks to alarmists such as former Vice President Al Gore and Hollywood heathen Leonardo DiCaprio, the concept of manmade global warming has been continuously circulating within the liberal world for some time.  Gore was particularly verbose in his “sky is falling” routine, likely due to his investment in a “carbon credits” company meant to profit from the eco-guilt that he himself was creating with his propaganda film “An Inconvenient Truth”.........Today’s latest developments, however, could sink the SS Global Warming for good, and Gore will likely be forced to go down with the ship..........To Read More.....

Hooray for Carbon Dioxide! It's Helping to Feed the World's Hungry
H. Sterling Burnett
We should praise carbon dioxide for helping to feed the world, not demonize it..........More.

Trump Vindicated on Wiretaps, Hillary Ukraine Collusion

Obama's DOJ and James Comey were both liars in denying the wiretapping for which Trump was widely mocked.

Daniel John Sobieski

Well, well, well. Hope the "destroy Trump" media enjoys the taste of crow now that it has been revealed that, yes, Virginia, Trump Tower and its occupants who were in contact with both candidate and President-elect Trump, including one Paul Manafort, were in fact wiretapped as Trump claimed. Obama’s DOJ and James Comey were both liars in denying the wiretapping for which Trump was widely mocked...............More

Trump's Stand at the UN for America

A bold call for freedom and a stern warning to its enemies.
Shock: CNN reporters don't understand Trump UN speech,  Are the Clinton News Network's partisans really this stupid?.....

Trump threatens to 'totally destroy' North Korea if forced to defend self or allies, President Trump's debut speech today at the U.N. was one for the history books.....

When Bill Clinton Threatened to ‘End’ North Korea, Have liberal critics of President Trump’s remarks yesterday forgotten how they reacted 24 years ago? The liberal media is going ballistic over President Trump’s UN speech, launching into collective orbit over Trump again mocking little man Kim as “rocket man.” This time, President Trump made that jab not from his Twitter account on a Sunday morning but from the world’s biggest international stage: the vaunted assembly of the United Nations in its diplomatic splendor on the East River. The media exploded over Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” North Korea if crazy Kim attacked the United States or its allies..........

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Is Tylenol 'By Far the Most Dangerous Drug Ever Made?'

By Josh Bloom — September 11, 2017 @ The American Council on Science and Health

If you own Johnson and Johnson stock you probably have enough problems on your hands. The company keeps getting hammered by lawsuits alleging that talc in baby powder has given women cancer (1). So you sure don't need me smacking down Tylenol, which had worldwide sales of almost $2 billion in 2016.

But, don't blame me. This is not my quote. It's part of a written interview I did back in July with Aric Hausknecht, M.D, "Pain In The Time Of Opioid Denial: An Interview With Aric Hausknecht, M.D."
"Tylenol Is By Far The Most Dangerous Drug Ever Made"
Aric Hausknecht, M.D. July 30, 2017 

Why would Dr. Hausknecht, a New York neurologist and pain management specialist, say this? Taken out of context, such a sweeping statement may seem to be hyperbolic. The most dangerous drug ever made? I asked him to elaborate. He did:
"Each year a substantial number of Americans experience intentional and unintentional Tylenol (acetaminophen) associated overdoses that can result in serious morbidity and mortality. Analysis of national databases show that acetaminophen-associated overdoses account for about 50,000 emergency room visits and 25,000 hospitalizations yearly. Acetaminophen is the nation's leading cause of acute liver failure, according to data from an ongoing study funded by the National Institutes for Health. Analysis of national mortality files shows about 450 deaths occur each year from acetaminophen-associated overdoses; 100 of these are unintentional."
Therapeutic Index - A cornerstone of pharmacology

When evaluating drug toxicity, a critical parameter is called the therapeutic index (TI). The TI is the ratio of the toxic dose to the effective dose. Obviously, the higher the TI the better, since the greater the separation of the therapeutic and toxic doses, the less likely an overdose. Here are some examples of low TI drugs:
  • Lithium (bipolar disorder)
  • Warfarin (blood thinner)
  • Theophylline (asthma)
  • Digoxin (various heart conditions)
And some examples of high TI drugs:
  • Benadryl (diphenhydramine, antihistamine, sleep aid)
  • Valium (sedative, hypnotic) (2) 
  • Neurontin (gabapentin, restless leg syndrome, multiple off-label neurological indications)
Tylenol (acetaminophen) an analgesic (pain reliever) gets a free pass in the minds of many people because it doesn't come with the liabilities of the NSAIDs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen - bleeding, heartburn, kidney toxicity. ulcers, and salicylate allergy. The absence of gastrointestinal toxicity is responsible for the widespread perception that Tylenol is safer. In some ways it is, but in others, it is not. It may leave your stomach alone, but not your liver.

Dr. Hausknecht's statistics may seem puzzling. How can there be 50,000 emergency room visits and 25,000 hospitalizations, yet only 450 deaths per year?  This is because, when treated in time, irreversible liver damage from an acute overdose of acetaminophen can be prevented. There is an antidote called N-acetylcysteine. But the danger of the drug is not only from acute doses. Both acute and chronic use of acetaminophen can lead to permanent liver damage, not because acetaminophen itself is toxic, but because the liver converts it into something that is (Figure 1), sealing its own fate in the process. (Apologies for the biochemistry.)

Figure 1: Metabolic activation and detoxification of acetaminophen. Oxidation by liver enzymes forms N-acetylbenzoquinoneimine, a chemically reactive, toxic molecule. The carbon atom (red arrow) irreversibly "attacks" various proteins in the liver. The antidote, N-acetylcysteine sops up (deactivates) the benzoquinone imine, but only if given in time. It does not reverse liver damage. 

So, what is the therapeutic index for Tylenol? You may be rather surprised. Before 2011 the maximum daily dose of acetaminophen recommenced by the FDA was 4,000 mg. It is now 3,000 mg. The estimated lethal dose of the drug is 10 grams in one day, which is not terribly different from the maximum daily dose. The TI is thus about 3, which is pretty bad, especially compared to other drugs which are perceived as far more dangerous:

** Therapeutic index (TI) is an approximate, but indicative measure of the likelihood of a toxic or lethal overdose. It is not a measure of absolute toxicity, rather, the safety margin between therapeutic and toxic or lethal doses.
Approximate therapeutic indexes for some common drugs. The higher the TI, the lower probability of an overdose. 

Rather interesting that the CDC, which has inserted itself firmly up your doctor's anus for writing scripts for Valium or hydrocodone, is only too happy to recommend that pain patients take a drug that is more likely to cause an overdose than either of them.
"Several nonopioid pharmacologic therapies (including acetaminophen, NSAIDs, and selected antidepressants and anticonvulsants) are effective for chronic pain. In particular, acetaminophen and NSAIDs can be useful for arthritis and low back pain..."
CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain — United States, 2016
Next: "So, Tylenol isn't that safe, but at least it works, right?"


(1) It would seem that evidence of harm is totally irrelevant in the courtroom. It is far from clear that talc is harmful. But it is even further from clear that there is *any* proof that Eva Echeverria, a victim of ovarian cancer who used baby powder her whole life, contracted the disease from the powder. Lawyers 1, Science 0.

(2) It is very difficult to die from a Valium overdose in the absence of alcohol, opioids or other central nervous system depressants. (See: "Can Valium Kill You?"). In two case studies, people survived overdoses of 500 and 2,000 mg (50 and 400 five milligram pills, respectively). But, 50 regular strength Tylenol pills (16.25 g) is approximately twice the estimated lethal dose. Yes, a single dose of 500 Valium pills is less dangerous than 50 Tylenol pills.

Discovered: 4th Major Mechanism for Antibiotic Resistance to Spread

By Alex Berezow — September 8, 2017

Unlike animals, bacteria can readily share genetic information with other bacteria, even those of entirely different species. Because of this, one clever microbiologist likened bacteria to smartphones and genes to apps. When bacteria share "apps" that encode antibiotic resistance, it poses trouble for humanity.

As individual bacterial strains are exposed to antibiotics, natural selection favors the survival of those that have mutated to become resistant. That hard-earned resistance can then be given to other bacteria. Microbiologists have long known of three major mechanisms by which this occurs: Transformation, transduction, and conjugation.

Transformation occurs when a bacterium dies and sheds its DNA into the environment. Some bacteria are capable of snatching it up and incorporating it into their own DNA. This process was discovered nearly 90 years ago when harmless bacteria were mixed with dead, but lethal, bacteria and injected into mice. The mice died. It was eventually ascertained that the harmless, living bacteria took up the DNA from the dead, lethal bacteria and were transformed into lethal, mouse-killing microbes.......To Read More.....

Keynesian Economics and the Fallacy of Boosting Growth by Destroying Wealth

September 18, 2017 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty
Keynesian economics is like Freddie Krueger, constantly reappearing after logical people assumed it was dead. The fact that various stimulus schemes inevitably fail should be the death knell for the theory, which is basically the “perpetual motion machine” of economics.

Indeed, I’ve wondered whether we’ve reached the point where the “debilitating drug” of Keynesianism has “jumped the shark.”
Yet Keynesian economics has “perplexing durability,” probably because the theory tells politicians that their vice of profligacy is actually a virtue.
But there are some economists who genuinely seem to believe that government can artificially boost growth. They claim terrorist attacks and alien attacks can be good for growth if they lead to more spending. They even think natural disasters are good for the economy.
I’m not joking. As reported by CNBC, the President of the New York Federal Reserve actually thinks the economy is stimulated when wealth is destroyed.
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma actually will lead to increased economic activity over the long run, New York Fed President William Dudley said in an interview. …”The long-run effect of these disasters unfortunately is it actually lifts economic activity because you have to rebuild all the things that have been damaged by the storms.”
I’m always stunned when sentient adults make this kind of statement.

Should we invite ISIS into the country to blow up some bridges? Should we dynamite new buildings? Should we pray for an earthquake to destroy a big city? Should we have a war, featuring lots of spending and destruction?

All of those things, along with hurricanes and floods, are good for growth according to Keynesian theory.

Jeff Jacoby explains why this is poisonous economic analysis.
Could anything be more absurd? The shattering losses caused by hurricanes, earthquakes, forest fires, and other calamities are grievous misfortunes that obviously leave society poorer. Vast sums of money may be spent afterward to repair and rebuild, but society will still be poorer from the damage caused by the storm or other disaster. Every dollar spent on cleanup and reconstruction is a dollar that could have been spent to enlarge the nation’s reservoir of material assets. Instead, it has to be spent replacing what was lost. …No, hurricanes are not good for the economy. Neither are floods, earthquakes, or massacres. When windows are shattered, all of humanity is left materially worse off. There is no financial “glint of silver lining.” To claim otherwise is delusional.
By the way, I don’t think any Keynesians actually want disasters to happen.

They’re simply making a “silver lining” argument that a bad event will lead to more spending. In their world, what drives the economy is consumption, and it’s the role of government to either consume directly or to give money to people so they will spend it.

In a recent interview, I pointed out that investment and production are the real keys to growth (which is why I prefer GDI over GDP). Increased consumption, I explained, is a result of growth, not the cause of growth.

You’ll notice I also threw in a jab at the state and local tax deduction, a loophole that needs to be abolished as part of tax reform.

But let’s not get sidetracked.

For those who want to do some additional reading on Keynesian economics, I recommend this new study by a couple of professors. Here’s a blurb from the abstract.
…Keynesians assert that even wasteful government spending can be desirable because any spending is better than nothing. This simple Keynesian approach fails to account, however, for several significant sources of cost. In addition to the cost of waste inherent in government spending, financing that spending requires taxation, which entails an excess burden. Furthermore, the employment of even previously idle resources involves opportunity costs.
I’ll close by augmenting theory and academic analysis with some real-world observations. Keynesian economics didn’t work for Hoover and Roosevelt, hasn’t worked for Japan, didn’t work for Obama, and didn’t work in Australia. Indeed, Keynesians can’t point to a single success story anywhere in the world at any point in history.

Though they always have an excuse. The government should have spent more, they tell us.

P.S. Since their lavish tax-free salaries are dependent on pleasing the governments that finance their budgets, international bureaucrats try to justify Keynesian economics. Here’s some recent economic alchemy from the IMF and OECD.

P.P.S. I frequently urge people to watch my video debunking Keynesian economics. Though I admit it’s not nearly as entertaining as the famous video showing the Keynes v. Hayek rap contest, followed by the equally enjoyable sequel, which features a boxing match between Keynes and Hayek. And even though it’s not the right time of year, here’s the satirical commercial for Keynesian Christmas carols.

Miles McEvoy: Organic Marketing Is Losing A Key Government Advocate

By Hank Campbell — September 12, 2017 @ The American Council on Science and Health

For the last 17 years, the United States government has given organic food corporations a key ally within their halls. But things may get a little more difficult now that Miles McEvoy, deputy administrator of USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP), is stepping down.

If you are not aware, organic food has long had its own special section inside USDA - the National Organic Standards Board.  (1) In the 1990 Farm Bill was a then-obscure handout for the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990. It created a National Organic Program under USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to define organic farming practices and create a list of organic production inputs so food could claim it "Meets USDA Organic Requirements." it was such an afterthought the budget allocated was only $120,000.

How things have changed. Today, their budget is 80X the original one and that is to manage 80 certifying agents. What qualifies as "organic" is literally picked by organic industry lobbyists, friendly believers on a "citizen" panel, and overt evangelists like McEvoy. And they have done well, directly leading to a $120,000,000,000 worldwide industry.  (2) Their deft advocacy is also why there are dozens and dozens of exemptions that allow for synthetic ingredients and chemicals while still being labeled organic. And then a blanket exemption, where synthetic compounds can be used if there is no "organic" version. It's why clearly non-organic compounds like pheromones on fruit crops as pesticides and animal vaccines get a hypocritical free pass.  (3) You can grow organic food with no soil in plastic containers and still be called organic. Guiding the industry through such rationalization during the organic food boom has been McEvoy. 

The creation of this group was the work of organic industry lobbyists, and at the time it was harmless. Organic was just a niche process and they wanted the stamp of government legitimacy. If kosher food organizations had done similar work they might also have their own fiefdom inside USDA as well. They might also have ballooned into a Big Food juggernaut the same way because both say they are superior for the body and the soul.

The NOP is really the biggest reason why that process has had such a dramatic increase in revenue and they can and will thank McEvoy. He has been their greatest Apostle. While organizations like Organic Consumers Association, an industry front-group, gnash teeth and wrend garments if anyone in government is remotely supportive of science within EPA or USDA, they roll out press releases when McEvoy or others issue platitudes about what Politico journalist Helena Bottemiller Evich termed "kumbaya organics": "We will be much more successful if we support each other as we confront challenges of water availability and climate change. We will be more successful if we treat each other with respect and dignity."

"Respect and dignity" from NOP - except for conventional farmers and scientists

I think they do treat each other with respect and dignity, it is scientists and conventional farmers they smear. And they lie to their customers, letting organic marketing groups suggest their food contains no chemicals, like pesticides or fertilizer, and around 80 percent even think organic food has no DNA. For being wealthy elites that self-identify as being more educated, they have a shocking lack of knowledge about agriculture. Their customers don't know that only 5 percent of farms claiming to be organic will get tested. That means they could go up to 19 years just fabricating claims and not get caught. If they claim to be a small farm they can say they are organic without any certification at all.

How capable is NOP and NOSB of managing such a large food segment? McEvoy bragged that the organic revenue boom occurred even as his program's funding remained "flat." (4) Why would their budget need to go up? There is no enforcement for organic food standards, which is why foreign companies were able to just slap an organic sticker on boxes and get them into Whole Foods. No one cares about anything more than the sticker - except consumers after the fact, who rightfully felt cheated because they were paying 40-50 percent more for the same food. But they kept buying it even though there is still no surprise spot testing of organic farms, a farmer can grow organic and conventional food side-by-side, the only difference being the pesticide used. Consumers have no way to know if it was grown using copper sulphate or glyphosate.

And though they have spent ridiculous amounts of money trying to get warning labels on the products of their competitors, organic marketing groups shut down the conversation (5) when it comes to what chemicals are used in their process, or how many strains of their organic food were created using genetic modification techniques like mutagenesis.

Will USDA put a check on organic marketing now?

Most people do not realize that USDA, which is responsible for food safety and quality, has been kept at arm's length from organic food by McVey and NOP. (6) Yes, when someone gets ill due to having feces on their organic food, it will get recalled, but compared to regular food oversight is really lax. The rest of USDA believes it should monitor organic food the same way it monitors the rest of agriculture, and not let them do it themselves. When NOSB was rechartered in 2014, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack made sure to reaffirm that it is a time-limited Advisory Board. Activist groups and companies, including the companies who have employees on NOSB, were enraged. They think NOSB should be "independent" of USDA.

Let that sink in. Activists and organic corporations control the panel and don't want USDA involved in determining what organic claims should be. So they got other groups, on whose advisory boards NOSB panelists also sit, to petition USDA to remove organic food from USDA control. Center for Food Safety, Organic Consumers Association, Food & Water Watch, it was a cornucopia of environmental sue-and-settle groups, industry flacks and paid shills for corporations all mobilized around the same agenda.

What is missing from all of those groups? A scientist who can show that organic food is better for any group outside shareholders at the organic companies benefiting from a government created health halo.


(1) On the NOSB are an employee in a state organic sticker certification group, an ecologist, a MOM’s Organic Market employee, reps from two organic food processing corporations (e.g. Clif bar), employees of four organic farms, and employees from six anti-science activist groups - including a naturopath whose Ph.D. was in college administration. They get five-year terms. It's odd that an employee of Beyond Pesticides, who also is on the Board of US Right To Know, an industry front group, could be on a government organic board certifying organic pesticides while raising money from organic corporations suggesting that the produce of his clients has no pesticides.

(2) The US is nearly $50 billion of it. Here is a 10-year snapshot through 2015.
Source: Organic Trade Association, which really just asks organic farmers how much money they made.

(3) Baking soda. Sorry, not organic. But good luck making organic bread without that synthetic compound. And carrageenan is not only entirely synthetically processed, it contains low molecular-weight poligeenan. Anti-science groups insist it is carcinogenic. They can use xanthan gum instead of caregeenan, though that is scientifically created by biologically changing sugar and mixing it with isopropyl alcohol. Then it is used in factories and in cosmetics along with food. But it's allowable under organic standards.

(4) Only a bureaucrat could say that with a straight face. They went from $6.9 million in 2012 to over $9 million in 2014. Every private sector executive would be happy with that revenue increase, but to an organic food official that is flat.

(5) Literally. When Food Chain organic-friendly radio host Michael Olson saw his organic trade group guest was flummoxed by my question wondering why she insisted that organic consumers don't want to know what pesticides are used on organic food, he literally interrupted me and went to an emergency commercial break, muted me, and talked to her about where to go next. He forgot to mute them.

(6) Some think he has not done enough. The radical Cornucopia Institute claims McVey was "under investigation" for being too cozy with "corporate agribusiness." The investigation was solely by them and pretty much consisted of pictures of organic farms that were too big, in their opinion. They also signed the petition to make NOSB independent. Before that they had lauded McEvoy as a "true believer" in their food religion because he was once an organic food inspector in Washington State.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Feel the Bern: Dark Humor from the Socialist Hellhole of Venezuela

September 17, 2017 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty
Back in 2015, I mocked Venezuelan socialism because it led to shortages of just about every product. Including toilet paper.

But maybe that doesn’t matter. After all, if people don’t have anything to eat, they probably don’t have much need to visit the bathroom.

The Washington Post reports that farmers are producing less and less food because of government intervention, even though the nation is filled with hungry people.
Venezuela, whose economy operates on its own special plane of dysfunction. At a time of empty supermarkets and spreading hunger, the country’s farms are producing less and less, not more, making the caloric deficit even worse. Drive around the countryside outside the capital, Caracas, and there’s everything a farmer needs: fertile land, water, sunshine and gasoline at 4 cents a gallon, cheapest in the world. Yet somehow families here are just as scrawny-looking as the city-dwelling Venezuelans waiting in bread lines or picking through garbage for scraps. …“Last year I had 200,000 hens,” said Saulo Escobar, who runs a poultry and hog farm here in the state of Aragua, an hour outside Caracas. “Now I have 70,000.” Several of his cavernous henhouses sit empty because, Escobar said, he can’t afford to buy more chicks or feed. Government price controls have made his business unprofitable…the country is facing a dietary calamity. With medicines scarce and malnutrition cases soaring, more than 11,000 babies died last year, sending the infant mortality rate up 30 percent, according to Venezuela’s Health Ministry. …Child hunger in parts of Venezuela is a “humanitarian crisis,” according to a new report by the Catholic relief organization Caritas, which found 11.4 percent of children under age 5 suffering from moderate to severe malnutrition… In a recent survey of 6,500 Venezuelan families by the country’s leading universities, three-quarters of adults said they lost weight in 2016 — an average of 19 pounds. This collective emaciation is referred to dryly here as “the Maduro diet,” but it’s a level of hunger almost unheard-of… Venezuela’s disaster is man-made, economists point out — the result of farm nationalizations, currency distortions and a government takeover of food distribution. …The price controls have become a powerful disincentive in rural Venezuela. “There are no profits, so we produce at a loss,” said one dairy farmer.
Here’s where we get to the economics lesson. When producers aren’t allowed to profit, they don’t produce.

And when we’re looking at the production of food, that means hungry people.  Even the left-wing Guardian in the U.K. has noticed.
Hunger is gnawing at Venezuela, where a government that claims to rule for the poorest has left most of its 31 million people short of food, many desperately so. …Adriana Velásquez gets ready for work, heading out into an uncertain darkness as she has done since hunger forced her into the only job she could find at 14. She was introduced to her brothel madam by a friend more than two years ago after her mother, a single parent, was fired and the two ran out of food. “It was really hard, but we were going to bed without eating,” said the teenager, whose name has been changed to protect her. …Venezuela’s crisis has deepened, the number of women working at the brothel has doubled, and their ages have dropped. “I was the youngest when I started. Now there are girls who are 12 or 13. Almost all of us are there because of the crisis, because of hunger.” She earns 400,000 bolivares a month, around four times the minimum wage, but at a time of hyperinflation that is now worth about $30, barely enough to feed herself, her mother and a new baby brother.
This is truly sad.

Our leftist friends like to concoct far-fetched theories of how prostitution is enabled by everything from low taxes to global warming.

In the real world, however, socialism drives teenage girls (or even younger) to work in brothels.

That’s such a depressing thought that let’s shift the topic back to hunger and toilet paper.
Especially since Venezuela’s dictator is bragging that the nation’s toilet paper shortage has been solved!

This is definitely a dark version of satire.

But Venezuela is such a mess that it’s hard to know where to draw the line between mockery and reality.

For instance, here’s another “benefit” of limited food. If you don’t eat, it’s not as necessary to brush your teeth.

And is the socialist paradise of Venezuela, that makes a virtue out of necessity since – surprise – there’s a shortage of toothpaste.

The Washington Post has the grim details.
Ana Margarita Rangel…spends everything she earns to fend off hunger. Her shoes are tattered and torn, but she cannot afford new ones. A tube of toothpaste costs half a week’s wages. “I’ve always loved brushing my teeth before going to sleep. I mean, that’s the rule, right?” said Rangel, …“Now I have to choose,” she said. “So I do it only in the mornings.” …The government sets price caps on some basic food items, such as pasta, rice and flour. …those items can usually be obtained only by standing in lines for hours or by signing up to receive a subsidized monthly grocery box from the government… Since 2014, the proportion of Venezuelan families in poverty has soared from 48 percent to 82 percent… Fifty-two percent of families live in extreme poverty, according to the survey, and about 31 percent survive on two meals per day at most.
Isn’t socialism wonderful! You have the luxury of choosing between two meals a day, or one meal a day plus toothpaste!

By the way, the central planners have a plan.

Though it won’t make Bugs Bunny happy.

Rabbit is now on the menu! Here are some excerpts from a CNN report.
Let them eat rabbits. That was basically the message from President Nicolas Maduro to Venezuelans starving and struggling through severe food shortages… The Venezuelan leaders…recommend that people raise rabbits at home as a source of food. …The agriculture minister argued that rabbits easily reproduce and are a source of protein. He also recommended citizens consider raising and growing other animals and vegetables at home. It’s just the latest attempt to try and solve the food shortage problem. The government forces citizens to pick up groceries on certain days of the week depending on social security numbers.
Gee, isn’t this wonderful. The government cripples markets so they can’t function and then advocates people live like medieval peasants.

Maybe there should be price controls on clothing, along with having the government in charge of distribution. That will wreck that market as well, so people can make their own clothes out of rabbit pelts.

I wonder whether a certain American lawmaker is rethinking his praise of Venezuelan economic policy?

Based on what he said as recently as last year, the answer is no.

Hillary's Anti-Presidential Campaign

Posted by Daniel Greenfield 0 Comments Saturday, September 16, 2017 @ Sultan Knish Blog

-Three creatures on earth are impossible to get rid of: lice, cockroaches and Clintons.

Hillary Clinton spent a third of her miserable adult life trying to get into the White House. Now the nation’s failed Harridan-in-Chief is determined to spend her remaining years blaming everyone, from Matt Lauer to the Electoral College, for having to live out the rest of her life in flat broke poverty in the eleven rooms of her Georgian Colonial mansion (and the neighboring mansion in their cul-de-sac too).

Current ‘blamees’ include the FBI, millions of white people, sexism, the Russians, Russian sexism, Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, Joe Biden, Matt Lauer and the Electoral College.

And probably the starting lineup of the Denver Broncos. You’ll have to buy the book for the full list.

But What Happened, Hillary’s spiteful magnum opus, does actually answer its titular question.

Hillary happened.

Hillary Clinton is a terrible person. Her politics are terrible. She’s a nasty creature whose hatred, entitlement and greed are in direct proportion to her mountainous avalanches of self-pity.

And What Happened sums up those qualities the way that none of her previous biographies ever did.

What Happened isn’t Hillary unfiltered. The only people privileged to witness that were the Secret Service agents she threw things at and the aides who had to frantically cater to her every whim.

But it’s close enough.

What Happened is still told in Hillary’s treacly insincere voice. But for the first time, its topic isn’t a bunch of insincere platitudes assembled by some combination of aides, staffers, ghostwriters and pollsters.

All that is over.

The carefully constructed machine built to take Hillary to the White House broke down on Wisconsin Highway 14, Florida State Road 20 and Pennsylvania Route 22. Only a skeleton staff of loyalists stayed to help Hillary turn her name recognition and remaining connections into filthy lucre and filthier spite.

That’s what What Happened is. Hillary gets to lash out at everyone and get paid for it. Not only is she upstaging Bernie’s book tour while trying to tie him to Trump, she’s taking shots at another likely Dem 2020er, Joe Biden, not to mention her own badly used DNC and everyone who didn’t vote for her.

If Hillary can’t be president, she’s going to make damn sure that none of her Dem rivals will either.

Hillary will be taking the millions that she had to spend to fight off Bernie in state after state out of his hide piece by piece. And Biden’s vacillation about the entering the race will cost him too.

How much vengeance can Hillary extract with a book? Ask Bernie.

The Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution print edition will be out on September 14. Hillary’s What Happened will be out on September 12.

Two days earlier.

Hillary’s book currently tops Amazon’s bestseller list. Bernie’s is at 39.

Bernie’s book tour will suffer similarly. He’s already being forced to respond to Hillary’s accusations. Instead of being able to position his brand for 2020, the book tour will be a repeat of the primaries.

He sabotaged Hillary’s campaign launch. He cost her time, money and energy that she needed for the general election. Now she’s repaying him in kind.

That is who Hillary is.

Joe Biden will have his own book launch in November. And Hillary will be there playing Tonya Harding. Biden’s efforts to get in the race made some Dem donors delay their funding of her campaign.

And Hillary has not forgotten.

What’s the point? Her political career is over. After the last election, there’s no way that even the Green Party or the Pedophile Cannibal Satanists of America would let her top their ticket.

And doesn’t kneecapping Bernie and Biden help Trump?

But Hillary doesn’t care. This isn’t about politics. It’s spite. And she would rather see Trump win another term than have Bernie in the White House. That’s who she is. That’s who she has always been.

What Happened is a unique post-campaign biography: it chronicles why its author should never have been president.

After a catastrophic defeat, Hillary has spent her political retirement dividing the country by casting doubt on her opponent’s victory. The Russia conspiracy theory was the brainchild of her political operatives and it helped convince Dems to push for impeachment while calling Republicans, traitors. The unhinged ravings of Louise Mensch and Keith Olbermann have their origins in her conspiracy theory.

This wasn’t a gift to the Dems.

The conspiracy theory was wholly self-serving. It excused her from any of the blame and prevented the Dems from figuring out what went wrong. Instead of learning how to talk to the white working class voters they lost, the Democrats reeled further to the left and bet everything on impeachment.

But Hillary didn’t just turn our national politics into Chernobyl and call it a day. Instead she’s obsessed with settling scores with her primary opponents and even, like Biden, potential primary opponents.

Nobody who ran or even thought of running against her should be allowed to become president. Trump, Bernie and Biden are all on the list. So is everyone who ever questioned or undermined her.

They all must pay.

If you want to wake up screaming in the middle of the night, imagine the same twisted spiteful creature orchestrating all this being able to control the entire country, instead of just appear on NBC or CNN.

But while Democrats wish Hillary Clinton would go away, she embodies today’s left better than anyone.

Hillary was America’s First Crybully: the malicious professional victim, the abuser who claims to be the abused, the black nationalist thug throwing cinderblocks at police while shrieking, “Hands up, don’t shoot” and the leftist campus protesters screaming how afraid they are while they terrorize speakers.

What Happened is Hillary’s crybullying text. It’s an attack posing as victimhood.

It’s Hillary pretending to be frightened of Rick Lazio, her Republican opponent in the Senate race, crying in New Hampshire during the first primaries before launching an attack on Obama and exploiting her husband’s infidelity for her Senate run. It’s every low and shameful moment condensed into a post-campaign biography that no one, except the devils on both her shoulders, asked for.

There’s always a vast conspiracy that explains her malfeasance. And her own crimes, corruption and character flaws become weapons to be used against her critics and rivals.

What happened is Hillary.

"Evil destroys even itself," Aristotle observed. “And when present in its entirety becomes unbearable."

The ancient Greek had her number. Hillary destroyed her own campaign. Twice. And as her malice spews out unchecked, even her own former supporters are finding her unbearable.

Hillary failed to build a successful presidential campaign. Now she is building an anti-campaign.

Unable to create, she is following the natural trajectory of evil to destroy. It doesn’t matter to her whether she destroys Republicans or Democrats as she poisons the well of public discourse that we all drink from. If Hillary can’t rule over America, she might as well bring it down in flames.

There’s no political future for the Clintons. Bill is an erratic and faded figure. Chelsea will never evolve beyond a failed internet troll. And Hillary is tethered to them and to her own political disasters.

Nothing awaits her except the inevitable ravages of mortality.

In 2013, I wrote, Why Hillary Will Lose Again which concluded with, “At the Benghazi hearings, Hillary famously demanded to know what difference it made. The same can be said of her life.”

But Hillary will not go gracefully. She will not wander the woods of Chappaqua, appear at occasional fundraisers (at a high fee) and sit on the board of some environmentalist group. As the darkness approaches, she will lash out and harm all those who frustrated her political ambitions. She will rage, wreck and ruin. The only difference she will make will be through her hatred and destruction.

Her presidential campaign is over. Her anti-presidential campaign has begun.

There two profound sentences in this article that need highlighted forever - "But while Democrats wish Hillary Clinton would go away, she embodies today’s left better than anyone", and "Evil destroys even itself," Aristotle observed. “And when present in its entirety becomes unbearable."

Hillary has now become the gift that keeps on giving by exposing the left for what it was, what it is, and what it will always be.  Unbearable!