Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ethanol Production Wastes Corn -

The Great Corn Con
Published: June 24, 2011

FEELING the need for an example of government policy run amok? Look no further than the box of cornflakes on your kitchen shelf. In its myriad corn-related interventions, Washington has managed simultaneously to help drive up food prices and add tens of billions of dollars to the deficit, while arguably increasing energy use and harming the environment.

Even in a crowd of rising food and commodity costs, corn stands out, its price having doubled in less than a year to a record $7.87 per bushel in early June. Booming global demand has overtaken stagnant supply.

But rather than ameliorate the problem, the government has exacerbated it, reducing food supply to a hungry world. Thanks to Washington, 4 of every 10 ears of corn grown in America — the source of 40 percent of the world’s production — are shunted into ethanol, a gasoline substitute that imperceptibly nicks our energy problem. Larded onto that are $11 billion a year of government subsidies to the corn complex.

Corn is hardly some minor agricultural product for breakfast cereal. It’s America’s largest crop, dwarfing wheat and soybeans. A small portion of production goes for human consumption; about 40 percent feeds cows, pigs, turkeys and chickens. Diverting 40 percent to ethanol has disagreeable consequences for food. In just a year, the price of bacon has soared by 24 percent.

To some, the contours of the ethanol story may be familiar. Almost since Iowa — our biggest corn-producing state — grabbed the lead position in the presidential sweepstakes four decades ago, support for the biofuel has been nearly a prerequisite for politicians seeking the presidency.

Those hopefuls have seen no need for a foolish consistency. John McCain and John Kerry were against ethanol subsidies, then as candidates were for them. Having lost the presidency, Mr. McCain is now against them again. Al Gore was for ethanol before he was against it. This time, one hopeful is experimenting with counter-programming: as governor of corn-producing Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty pushed for subsidies before he embraced a “straight talk” strategy.

Eating up just a tenth of the corn crop as recently as 2004, ethanol was turbocharged by legislation in 2005 and 2007 that set specific requirements for its use in gasoline, mandating steep rises from year to year. Yet another government bureaucracy was born to enforce the quotas.

To ease the pain, Congress threw in a 45-cents-a-gallon subsidy ($6 billion a year); to add another layer of protection, it imposed a tariff on imported ethanol of 54 cents a gallon. That successfully shut off cheap imports, produced more efficiently from sugar cane, principally from Brazil.

Here is perhaps the most incredible part: Because of the subsidy, ethanol became cheaper than gasoline, and so we sent 397 million gallons of ethanol overseas last year. America is simultaneously importing costly foreign oil and subsidizing the export of its equivalent.

That’s not all. Ethanol packs less punch than gasoline and uses considerable energy in its production process. All told, each gallon of gasoline that is displaced costs the Treasury $1.78 in subsidies and lost tax revenue.

Nor does ethanol live up to its environmental promises. The Congressional Budget Office found that reducing carbon dioxide emissions by using ethanol costs at least $750 per ton of carbon dioxide, wildly more than other methods. What is more, making corn ethanol consumes vast quantities of water and increases smog.

Then there’s energy efficiency. Studies reach widely varying conclusions on that issue. While some show a small saving in fossil fuels, others calculate that ethanol consumes more energy than it produces.

Corn growers and other farmers have long exercised outsize influence, thanks in part to the Senate’s structural tilt toward rural states. The ethanol giveaway represents a 21st-century add-on to a dizzying patchwork of programs for farmers. Under one, corn growers receive “direct payments” — $1.75 billion in 2010 — whether they grow corn or not. Washington also subsidizes crop insurance, at a cost of another $1.75 billion last year. That may have made sense when low corn prices made farming a marginal business, but no longer.

At long last, the enormity of the nation’s budget deficit has added momentum to the forces of reason. While only a symbolic move, the Senate recently voted 73 to 27 to end ethanol subsidies. That alone helped push corn prices down to $7 per bushel. Incredibly, the White House criticized the action — could key farm states have been on the minds of the president’s advisers?

Even farm advocates like former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman agree that the situation must be fixed. Reports filtering out of the budget talks currently under way suggest that agriculture subsidies sit prominently on the chopping block. The time is ripe.

Steven Rattner was formerly counselor to the secretary of the Treasury and lead auto adviser. He has spent nearly 30 years on Wall Street as an investor and investment banker and is a contributing writer to Op-Ed.

The missing facts in President Obama’s news conference - The Fact Checker - The Washington Post

The missing facts in President Obama’s news conference
By Glenn Kessler

(Carolyn Kaster/AP) “The tax cuts I'm proposing we get rid of are tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, tax breaks for oil companies and hedge fund managers and corporate jet owners.”

— President Obama, June 29, 2011

A feisty President Obama met with reporters Wednesday — a sure sign that the dispute over the debt limit has reached a critical stage.

The president, clearly intending to increase pressure on the GOP, lambasted Republicans for, in his words, refusing to get rid of “tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires” before cutting aid to the less well-off. He also addressed questions on Libya.

Let’s parse some of his answers and explain what he means — and how factual he was.

“The tax cuts I'm proposing we get rid of are tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, tax breaks for oil companies and hedge fund managers and corporate jet owner. . . . Before we ask our seniors to pay more for health care, before we cut our children's education, before we sacrifice our commitment to the research and innovation that will help create more jobs in the economy, I think it's only fair to ask an oil company or a corporate jet owner that has done so well to give up that tax break that no other business enjoys.”

The White House and Congress have been looking for ways to cut the deficit over 10 years by $2 trillion to $4 trillion. Republicans want to cut spending, while Democrats have sought ways to increase revenues — a nonstarter for most Republicans.

While there have been reports the administration is seeking $400 billion in additional revenue, that’s apparently not a real number. At this point, the White House might accept just about anything that demonstrates what the president calls a “balanced solution.”

In a bit of class jujitsu, the president six times mentioned eliminating a tax loophole for corporate jets, frequently pitting it against student loans or food safety. It’s a potent image, but in the context of a $4 trillion goal, it is essentially meaningless. The item is so small the White House could not even provide an estimate of the revenue that would be raised, but other estimates suggest it would amount to $3 billion over 10 years.

Meanwhile, student financial assistance, just for 2011, is about $42 billion. So the corporate jet loophole — which involves the fact that such assets can be depreciated over five years, rather than the seven for commercial jets — just is not going to raise a lot of money. It certainly wouldn’t save many student loans.

Going after hedge fund managers might raise about $15 billion over 10 years, but in a different life The Fact Checker covered Wall Street and is pretty certain those financial wizards would figure out a way to avoid this tax shift. John Carney of CNBC actually outlined how that would work.

Eliminating oil and gas preferences would raise $44 billion over 10 years, according to administration figures (table S-8), so that begins to look like real money. But the real dollars are in what the president calls “tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires” — eliminating the ability of people making more than $250,000 to itemize their deductions. That proposal would raise $290 billion over 10 years.

Wait a minute, the president said he would target “millionaires and billionaires” and yet the fine print of his proposal would affect couples making more than $250,000 (and individuals making more than $200,000)? That’s right.

“If you are a wealthy CEO or a hedge fund manager in America right now, your taxes are lower than they have ever been. They're lower than they've been since the 1950s.”

This statistic comes from the 2010 Economic Report of the President (page 154), and it’s basically right. The top tax rates have declined significantly over the past half-century. However, the Congressional Budget Office has also looked at the data and concluded that while average tax rates now are relatively low, they were somewhat lower in 1986.

“Moammar Gaddafi, who prior to Osama bin Laden was responsible for more American deaths than just about anybody on the planet, was threatening to massacre his people. . . . As a consequence, a guy who was a state sponsor of terrorist operations against the United States of America is pinned down, and the noose is tightening around him.”

Yes, Gaddafi is a bad guy, but Obama conveniently ignores the fact that until the uprising, the administration was rushing to do business with him. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with one of Gaddafi’s sons, Mutassim Gaddafi, in 2009, declaring, “I’m very much looking forward to building on this relationship.”

It is especially strange for Obama to rhetorically place Libya back on the list of the state sponsors of terrorism when, in fact, it was removed four years ago — after Gaddafi gave up his illicit weapons programs, renounced terrorism and paid billions of dollars to settle claims with terror victims.

“What I have done — and this is unprecedented, by the way; no administration has done this before — is I've said to each agency, Don't just look at current regulations or don't just look at future regulations, regulations that we're proposing. Let's go backwards and look at regulations that are already on the books and, if they don't make sense, let's get rid of them.”

Watch out when someone says “unprecedented.” It’s almost never true.

That’s the case here. Obama clearly has forgotten Al Gore’s “reinventing initiative,” which supposedly resulted in the elimination of 16,000 pages of federal regulations. (Frankly, we were always suspicious of that claim.) Other presidents, such as George H.W. Bush, also pledged to cut down on red tape. It’s a hardy perennial.

The president should be careful about veering into Michele Bachmann-like hyperbole.

“So are we really going to start paying interest to Chinese who hold Treasurys and we're not going to pay folks their Social Security checks?”

There’s an interesting theoretical question here. Because Social Security holds $2.7 trillion in Treasury securities, does it have a claim on getting paid even though the nation has hit the debt limit? Administration officials say the answer is complex, but as a practical matter, the answer is no. That’s because the nation would have no cash with which to pay its bills — Social Security or otherwise.

There is a difference between a government shutdown and hitting the debt ceiling. In a government shutdown, Congress has not appropriated funds for many services, except that Social Security has permanent appropriation, so even during a shutdown, payments would be made. In the case of the debt ceiling, however, Congress has appropriated the funds but Treasury has lost the ability to borrow the money to pay for services that have been contracted.
The Pinocchio Test

We realize the symbolic value of things like corporate jets, particularly when Republicans appear to be refusing to accept even a single dollar of additional revenue, but Obama is misleading when he suggests that closing this loophole would make much of a dent in the federal budget. He also should made clear that he would like to raise taxes on people making more than $250,000, rather than just “millionaires and billionaires.”

The president’s claim of an “unprecedented” effort to trim federal regulations is laughable. And it would be nice to hear Obama acknowledge for once that, until a few months ago, his administration was eager to do business with Gaddafi.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

OBAMA'S "CZARS"-- Read who they are and realize
what they want to do! KNOW YOUR CZARS!


Richard Holbrooke

Afghanistan Czar

Ultra liberal anti gun former Gov. Of New Mexico. Pro Abortion and legal drug use.
Dissolve the 2nd Amendment

Ed Montgomery

Auto recovery Czar

Black radical anti business activist. Affirmative Action and Job Preference for blacks. Univ of Maryland Business School Dean teaches US business has caused world poverty. ACORN board member. Communist Dubois Club member.

Jeffrey Crowley


Radical Homosexual.. A Gay Rights activist. Believes in Gay Marriage and especially, a Special Status for homosexuals only, including complete free health care for gays.

Alan Bersin

Border Czar

The former failed superintendent of San Diego . Ultra Liberal friend of Hilary Clinton. Served as Border Czar under Janet Reno - to keep borders open to illegal’s without interference from US

David J. Hayes

California Water Czar

Sr. Fellow of radical environmentalist group, "Progress Policy". No training or experience in water management whatsoever.

Ron Bloom

Car Czar

Auto Union worker. Anti business & anti nuclear. Has worked hard to force US auto makers out of business. Sits on the Board of Chrysler which is now Auto Union owned. How did this happen?

Dennis Ross

Central Region Czar

Believes US policy has caused Mid East wars. Obama apologist to the world. Anti gun and completely pro abortion.

Lynn Rosenthal

Domestic Violence Czar

Director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Vicious anti male feminist. Supported male castration. Imagine?

Gil Kerlikowske

Drug Czar

devoted lobbyist for every restrictive gun law proposal, Former Chief of Police in Liberal Seattle. Believes no American should own a firearm. Supports legalization of all drugs

Paul Volcker

Economic Czar

Head of Fed Reserve under Jimmy Carter when US economy nearly failed. Obama appointed head of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board which engineered the Obama economic disaster to US economy. Member of anti business "Progressive Policy" organization

Carol Brower

Energy and Environment Czar

Political Radical Former head of EPA - known for anti-business activism. Strong anti-gun ownership.

Joshua Dubois

Faith Based Czar

Political Black activist-Degree in Black Nationalism. Anti gun ownership lobbyist. WHAT DOES A FAITH BASED CZAR DO?

Cameron Davis

Great Lakes Czar

Chicago radical anti business environmentalist
. Blames George Bush for "Poisoning the water that minorities have to drink." No experience or training in water management. Former ACORN Board member (what does that tell us?)

Van Jones

Green Jobs Czar

(since resigned).. Black activist Member of American communist Party and San Francisco Communist Party who said Geo Bush caused the 911 attack and wanted Bush investigated by the World Court for war crimes. Black activist with strong anti-white views.

Daniel Fried

Guantanamo Closure Czar

Human Rights activist for Foreign Terrorists. Believes America has caused the war on terrorism. Believes terrorists have rights above and beyond Americans.

Nancy-Ann DeParle.

Health Czar

Former head of Medicare / Medicaid. Strong Health Care Rationing proponent. She is married to a reporter for The New York Times.

Vivek Kundra

Information Czar

Born in New Delhi , India . Controls all public information, including labels and news releases.

Todd Stern

International Climate Czar

Anti business former White House chief of Staff- Strong supporter of the Kyoto Accord. Pushing hard for Cap and Trade. Blames US business for Global warming. Anti- US business prosperity.

Dennis Blair

Intelligence Czar

Ret. Navy. Stopped US guided missile program as "provocative". Chair of ultra liberal "Council on Foreign Relations" which blames American organizations for regional wars.

George Mitchell

Mideast Peace Czar

Fmr. Sen. from Maine Left wing radical. Has said Israel should be split up into "2 or 3 " smaller more manageable plots".

Kenneth Feinberg

Pay Czar

Chief of Staff to TED KENNEDY. Lawyer who got rich off the 911 victims payoffs. (horribly true)

Cass Sunstein

Regulatory Czar

Liberal activist judge believes free speech needs to be limited for the "common good". Essentially against 1st amendment. Rules against personal freedoms many times -like private gun ownership and right to free speech.
This guy has to be run out of Washington!!

John Holdren

Science Czar

Fierce ideological environmentalist, Sierra Club, Anti business activist. Claims US business has caused world poverty. No Science training.

Earl Devaney

Stimulus Accountability Czar

Spent career trying to take guns away from American citizens. Believes in Open Borders to Mexico . Author of statement blaming US gun stores for drug war in Mexico .

J. Scott Gration

Sudan Czar

Native of Democratic Republic of Congo . Believes US does little to help Third World countries. Council of foreign relations, asking for higher US taxes to support United Nations

Herb Allison


Fannie Mae CEO responsible for the US recession by using real estate mortgages to back up the US stock market
. Caused millions of people to lose their life savings.

John Brennan

Terrorism Czar

Anti CIA activist. No training in diplomatic or gov. affairs. Believes Open Borders to Mexico and a dialog with terrorists and has suggested Obama disband US military

Aneesh Chopra

Technology Czar

No Technology training. Worked for the Advisory Board Company, a health care think tank for hospitals. Anti doctor activist. Supports Obama Health care Rationing and salaried doctors working exclusively for the Gov. health care plan

Adolfo Carrion Jr..

Urban Affairs Czar

Puerto Rican born Anti American activist and leftist group member in Latin America . Millionaire "slum lord" of the Bronx , NY. Owns many lavish homes and condos which he got from "sweetheart" deals with labor unions. Wants higher taxes on middle class to pay for minority housing and health care

Ashton Carter

Weapons Czar

Leftist. Wants all private weapons in US destroyed. Supports UN ban on firearms ownership in America

Gary Samore

WMD Policy Czar

Former US Communist. Wants US to destroy all WMD unilaterally as a show of good faith. Has no other "policy".

How lucky are we that these are the people who are helping President Obama in the RUNNING of our country and the White House?

Monday, June 27, 2011


Are you sitting down?

Okay, here's the bombshell. The volcanic eruption in Iceland, since its first spewing of volcanic ash has, in just FOUR DAYS, NEGATED EVERY SINGLE EFFORT you have made in the past five years to control CO2emissions on our planet – all of you.
Of course you know about this evil carbon dioxide that we are trying to suppress – it’s that vital chemical compound that every plant requires to live and grow, and to synthesize into oxygen for us humans, and all animal life.

I know, it's very disheartening to realize that all of the carbon emission savings you have accomplished while suffering the inconvenience and expense of: driving Prius hybrids, buying fabric grocery bags, sitting up till midnight to finish your kid's "The Green Revolution" science project, throwing out all of your non-green cleaning supplies, using only two squares of toilet paper, putting a brick in your toilet tank reservoir, selling your SUV and speedboat, vacationing at home instead of abroad, nearly getting hit every day on your bicycle, replacing all of your 50 cents light bulbs with $10.00 light bulbs...well, all of those things you have done have all gone down the tubes in just four days.

The volcanic ash emitted into the Earth's atmosphere in just four days - yes - FOUR DAYS ONLY by that volcano in Iceland, has totally erased every single effort you have made to reduce the evil beast, carbon. And there are around 200 active volcanoes on the planet spewing out this crud any one time - EVERY DAY.

I don't really want to rain on your parade too much, but I should mention that when the volcano Mt Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, it spewed out more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the entire human race had emitted in its entire YEARS on earth. Yes folks, Mt Pinatubo was active for over one year – think about it.

Of course I shouldn't spoil this touchy-feely tree-hugging moment and mention the effect of solar and cosmic activity and the well-recognized 800-year global heating and cooling cycle, which keep happening, despite our completely insignificant efforts to affect climate change.

And I do wish I had a silver lining to this volcanic ash cloud but the fact of the matter is that the brush fire season across the western USA and Australia this year alone will negate your efforts to reduce carbon in our world for the next two to three years. And it happens every year.

Just remember that your government just tried to impose a whopping new carbon tax on you on the basis of the bogus “human-caused” climate change scenario.

Hey, isn’t it interesting how they don’t mention “Global Warming” any more, but just “Climate Change” - you know why? It’s because the planet has COOLED by 0.7 degrees in the past century and these global warming bull artists got caught with their pants down.

And just keep in mind that you might yet have an Emissions Trading Scheme – that whopping new tax – imposed on you, that will achieve absolutely nothing except make you poorer. It won’t stop any volcanoes from erupting or prairie fires from starting (or being started), and that’s for sure.

But hey, relax, give the world a hug and have a nice day!

PS: I wonder if Iceland is buying carbon offsets?


Are you sitting down?

Okay, here's the bombshell. The volcanic eruption in Iceland, since its first spewing of volcanic ash has, in just FOUR DAYS, NEGATED EVERY SINGLE EFFORT you have made in the past five years to control CO2emissions on our planet – all of you.
Of course you know about this evil carbon dioxide that we are trying to suppress – it’s that vital chemical compound that every plant requires to live and grow, and to synthesize into oxygen for us humans, and all animal life.

I know, it's very disheartening to realize that all of the carbon emission savings you have accomplished while suffering the inconvenience and expense of: driving Prius hybrids, buying fabric grocery bags, sitting up till midnight to finish your kid's "The Green Revolution" science project, throwing out all of your non-green cleaning supplies, using only two squares of toilet paper, putting a brick in your toilet tank reservoir, selling your SUV and speedboat, vacationing at home instead of abroad, nearly getting hit every day on your bicycle, replacing all of your 50 cents light bulbs with $10.00 light bulbs...well, all of those things you have done have all gone down the tubes in just four days.

The volcanic ash emitted into the Earth's atmosphere in just four days - yes - FOUR DAYS ONLY by that volcano in Iceland, has totally erased every single effort you have made to reduce the evil beast, carbon. And there are around 200 active volcanoes on the planet spewing out this crud any one time - EVERY DAY.

I don't really want to rain on your parade too much, but I should mention that when the volcano Mt Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991, it spewed out more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the entire human race had emitted in its entire YEARS on earth. Yes folks, Mt Pinatubo was active for over one year – think about it.

Of course I shouldn't spoil this touchy-feely tree-hugging moment and mention the effect of solar and cosmic activity and the well-recognized 800-year global heating and cooling cycle, which keep happening, despite our completely insignificant efforts to affect climate change.

And I do wish I had a silver lining to this volcanic ash cloud but the fact of the matter is that the brush fire season across the western USA and Australia this year alone will negate your efforts to reduce carbon in our world for the next two to three years. And it happens every year.

Just remember that your government just tried to impose a whopping new carbon tax on you on the basis of the bogus “human-caused” climate change scenario.

Hey, isn’t it interesting how they don’t mention “Global Warming” any more, but just “Climate Change” - you know why? It’s because the planet has COOLED by 0.7 degrees in the past century and these global warming bull artists got caught with their pants down.

And just keep in mind that you might yet have an Emissions Trading Scheme – that whopping new tax – imposed on you, that will achieve absolutely nothing except make you poorer. It won’t stop any volcanoes from erupting or prairie fires from starting (or being started), and that’s for sure.

But hey, relax, give the world a hug and have a nice day!

PS: I wonder if Iceland is buying carbon offsets?

Neal Boortz: Bush tax cuts didn’t create the deficit  |

Neal Boortz: Bush tax cuts didn’t create the deficit

By Neal Boortz

For The AJC

One of the most noxious and irritating sounds on the face of this earth (other than the sound of Sarah Palin’s voice) is the noise made by a Democrat sheep bleating endlessly about the “Bush tax cuts, Bush tax cuts, Bush tax cuts.”

One such Democrat, Congressman Xavier Becerra of California, crawled out from a smoke-filled den of irrationality to appear Wednesday on “Your World with Neil Cavuto” on Fox News.

The discussion concerned how to address the budget and debt negotiations that dissolved into chaos Thursday.

The question: “What ideas do you have to reduce the deficit?”

Becerra’s response? The Bush tax cuts caused the deficit.

When Cavuto asked him about cost cutting, Becerra again said, “’But you can’t just say disregard the thing that drove us into the large deficits; the Bush tax cuts!” No matter how many times Cavuto asked the question the answer was the same: Bush inherited a surplus and brought us deficits with his tax cuts.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is quoted as saying that the Bush tax cuts “[took] a $5.6 trillion surplus and turned it into deficits. ...”

Is that true? If we were to actually crunch the numbers would they show that Bush really did blow a surplus and bring us bigger deficits?

Time for a little painful truth.

The surplus? It never existed. It was never there. The surplus was nothing more than a prediction by the Congressional Budget Office in 2001 as to what was going to happen over the next 10 years. This prediction was based on several assumptions.

First, the economic growth of the late 1990s and the growth in the Dow would continue generating record tax revenues.

Second, the surplus prediction was based on the improbable idea that discretionary spending would fall to levels last seen in the 1930s. The CBO prediction also failed to take into account terrorist attacks and the resulting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Now, the tax cuts. Brian Riedl, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, points out that if you take Kerry’s imaginary $5.6 trillion surplus and work your way to the predicted $6.1 trillion deficit for 2011, you have a 10-year swing of $11.7 trillion. Riedl crunches the CBO numbers from January 2001 until the present and finds that the Bush tax cuts for the evil rich amount to just 4 percent of that swing. So much for Becerra’s “blame the Bush tax cuts” angle. Sorry, Xavier.

Here’s something else you might not remember about the Bush tax cuts. Congress thought it would be a good idea to phase these tax cuts in over several years. Didn’t work. The economy continued to shed jobs, so the Congress decided to let the tax cuts take effect immediately, and threw in a cut in capital gains and dividends to boot. It worked. Eight million jobs were created and tax revenues increased.

Did you catch that? Tax revenues increased after a tax cut. Democrats just hate this, but increased revenues are the norm after tax cuts. Why? Because tax cuts spur economic growth. The CBO said that the Bush tax cuts would lower 2006 revenues by $75 billion. Oops! Wrong again! Revenues actually increased by $47 billion. What about jobs? In the 18 months before the Bush tax cuts our economy lost 267,000 jobs. In the 18 months following the cuts it added over 300,000 jobs. In the next 19 months another 5 million jobs were added.

This doesn’t just work for Republicans. Kennedy cut taxes with similar results, as did Bill Clinton. (Of course Clinton had a Republican congress pushing for the tax cuts.)

Rove: Why Obama Is Likely to Lose in 2012 -

Why Obama Is Likely to Lose in 2012
Even a small drop in the share of black voters would wipe out his winning margin in North Carolina.


President Barack Obama is likely to be defeated in 2012. The reason is that he faces four serious threats. The economy is very weak and unlikely to experience a robust recovery by Election Day. Key voter groups have soured on him. He's defending unpopular policies. And he's made bad strategic decisions.

Let's start with the economy. Unemployment is at 9.1%, with almost 14 million Americans out of work. Nearly half the jobless have been without work for more than six months. Mr. Obama promised much better, declaring that his February 2009 stimulus would cause unemployment to peak at 8% by the end of summer 2009 and drop to roughly 6.8% today.

Columnist Peggy Noonan surveys the current crop of GOP candidates.

After boasting in June 2010 that "Our economy . . . is now growing at a good clip," he laughingly admitted last week, "Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected." The humor will be lost on most. In Wednesday's Bloomberg poll, Americans believe they are worse off than when Mr. Obama took office by a 44% to 34% margin.

The last president re-elected with unemployment over 7.2% was FDR in 1936. Ronald Reagan overcame 7.2% unemployment because the rate was dropping dramatically (it had been over 10%) as the economy grew very rapidly in 1983 and 1984. Today, in contrast, the Federal Reserve says growth will be less than 3% this year and less than 3.8% next year, with unemployment between 7.8% and 8.2% by Election Day.

Mr. Obama also has problems with his base. For example, Jewish voters are upset with his policy toward Israel, and left-wing bloggers at last week's NetRoots conference were angry over Mr. Obama's failure to deliver a leftist utopia. Weak Jewish support could significantly narrow Mr. Obama's margin in states like Florida, while a disappointed left could deprive him of the volunteers so critical to his success in 2008.

President Obama is now at the mercy of policies and events he has set in motion.

Mr. Obama's standing has declined among other, larger groups. Gallup reported his job approval rating Tuesday at 45%, down from 67% at his inaugural. Among the groups showing a larger-than-average decline since 2009 are whites (down 25 points); older voters (down 24); independents and college graduates (both down 23), those with a high-school education or less, men, and Southerners (all down 22); women (down 21 points); married couples and those making $2,000-$4,000 a month (down 20). This all points to severe trouble in suburbs and midsized cities in states likes Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Nevada.

There's more. Approval among younger voters has dropped 22 points, and it's dropped 20 points among Latinos. Even African-American voters are less excited about Mr. Obama than they were—and than he needs them to be. For example, if their share of the turnout drops just one point in North Carolina, Mr. Obama's 2008 winning margin there is wiped out two and a half times over.

While many voters still personally like Mr. Obama, they deeply oppose his policies, and he tends to be weakest on issues voters consider most important. In the June 13 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 56% disapprove of Mr. Obama's handling of the economy. Fifty-nine percent in the Economist/YouGov poll of June 14 disapprove of how he's dealt with the deficit.
About Karl Rove

Karl Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy-making process.

Before Karl became known as "The Architect" of President Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, nonpartisan causes, and nonprofit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden.

Karl writes a weekly op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, is a Newsweek columnist and is the author of the book "Courage and Consequence" (Threshold Editions).

Email the author atKarl@Rove.comor visit him on the web at Or, you can send a Tweet to @karlrove.

Click here to order his book, Courage and Consequence.

And his health-care reform still holds its unique place as the only major piece of social legislation that became less popular after it was passed. According to yesterday's average of recent surveys, 38% approve of ObamaCare, while its survey average when the bill was passed in March 2010 showed that 41% approved.

Finally, Mr. Obama has made a strategic blunder. While he needs to raise money and organize, he decided to be a candidate this year rather than president. He has thus unnecessarily abandoned one of incumbency's great strengths, which is the opportunity to govern and distance himself from partisan politics until next spring. Instead, Team Obama has attacked potential GOP opponents and slandered Republican proposals with abandon. This is not what the public is looking for from the former apostle of hope and change.

In politics, 17 months can constitute several geological ages. Political fortunes can wax and wane. And weak incumbents can defeat even weaker challengers.

At the same time, objective circumstances like an anemic economy and bad decisions not only matter; they become very nearly dispositive. Mr. Obama is now at the mercy of policies and events he has set in motion. He can't escape accountability, especially on the economy. He's not done yet, but it will be tough to recover. More in a future column.

Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush

Articles: Economic Slavery: Modern-Day Indentured Servitude

Economic Slavery: Modern-Day Indentured Servitude
By Frank Ryan

The "tax the rich" hysteria gripping this nation is absolute insanity. Cries to raise taxes on those with incomes over $250,000 or some other magical number are unbelievable.

As a CPA, I find the "tax the rich" schemes to be pure junk science. To that end, the illogical precepts underpinning these arguments must be exposed. (Incidentally, by way of full disclosure, I would not be personally affected by these tax increases. I merely want to expose the scheme for the fraud that it is.)

Many in Congress have attempted to make earning an income distasteful, so those pitiable enough to earn an income are subjected to public scorn. Politicians and many in the media are collectively pushing policies to "punish those people" by taxing them into economic slavery and involuntary servitude.

The scheme perpetuated by those demanding higher taxes goes something like this:

* The wealth gap has widened since the "Bush" tax credits.
* So raise the taxes on the wealthiest in the nation.
* The higher taxes will pay down the nation's deficit.
* Money can then be redistributed to those in need.

These reasons are pure fiction!

To start, it is inaccurate to equate wealth with income. The super-rich (billionaires) contribute significantly to political candidates who then perpetuate this myth. By deflecting taxes from the super-wealthy, the super-rich are supporting candidates who favor taxing income and not assets.

Myth 1: Income is not wealth. Assets are wealth.

In the Berkshire Hathaway Annual report for 2010, the company indicated that its average returns from 1965 to 2010 were over 20%. In Buffett's letter to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he qualifies his gift of stock of Berkshire Hathaway with the condition that "BMG (or any intermediary) must continue satisfying legal requirements qualifying my gifts as charitable and not subject to gift or other taxes." The tax deduction Buffett receives against ordinary income on the contribution of stock which has appreciated and for which he has not paid capital gains taxes virtually translates to a tax subsidy by other taxpayers to Buffett himself. Buffett has, through wise tax counsel, been able to reduce his taxes while at the same time recommending that you pay more!

The perception that higher taxes will pay down the deficit is sheer madness. The "super-rich," as the press likes to call those who work, could pay their entire incomes to the federal government and barely make a dent in the deficit. The top-10% income earners already pay 90% of the tax liability. Involuntary servitude, perhaps?

If we applied the same "hatred" of the "rich" to a protected class of citizen, we would call it a hate crime.

Myth 2: Tax increases will not affect tax receipts. Taxes are a cost to a taxpayer. Increasing taxes reduces disposable income and consumer spending, which results in fewer jobs and higher unemployment. If you do not believe me, ask the Treasurer of the State of Illinois, which recently raised taxes 66% and is now feeling the reduced income for its misguided policies.

The "redistribution to those in need" philosophy merely encourages those on the income-earning side to migrate to the unemployment line. Kill the incentive to work, and you kill an economy. In economic warfare, the objective is to debase the opponent's ability to wage war. Today, politicians favoring such tax tactics are committing economic suicide with their reckless spending programs.

Myth 3: Income redistribution works. See the history of the Soviet Union for more details. Need I say more?

Granted, the wealth gap has increased throughout the world, but blaming this on the tax code can be attributed only to nothing short of intellectual bias. Congress has spent decades trying to make you dependent to help its members get reelected. Wealth gaps are created for a multitude of reasons, with creation of social programs to "protect the poor" being one of the main culprits.

Myth 4: The tax code is not progressive. This is pure fiction as well. The Brookings Institute analysis and the IRS both confirm that higher earners pay up to 30% of their incomes in taxes, whereas lower-income citizens pay significantly less and, in most cases, zero.

Until the American people demand accountability from our government and rational analysis of proposed laws, we will continue to suffer economically. We will fail to address the real issues of our day with real solutions. We will, in effect, reinstitute involuntary servitude on our children and grandchildren, as they have to pay for our fiscal irresponsibility.

The solution is simple. Stop spending.

Frank Ryan, CPA specializes in corporate restructuring and lectures on ethics for the state CPA societies. He is on numerous boards of publicly traded and non-profit organizations. He can be reached at

Friday, June 24, 2011

Articles: Understanding Supply Side Economics

Understanding Supply Side Economics
By Henry Oliner

It has been derided as voodoo economics by George H.W. Bush and contemptuously as 'trickle down' economics by opponents from the left and some from the right. When Ronald Reagan embraced supply side economics many Republicans and Democrats were skeptical. When unemployment shot up to 11 percent and interest rates spiked to 20%, Reagan's own party and even members of his cabinet were questioning the wisdom of cutting taxes at the high end of the rates.

High unemployment, painful as it was, helped bring inflation under control. Interest rates and unemployment fell.

Supply side economics has retained a bitter opposition. Economics is often not intuitive: at first glance the proposition seems illogical, but after further consideration and analysis it proves to make good sense. Unfortunately few issues get beyond first glances before minds are ossified, and fail to understand the principle.

It is not immediately intuitive that decreasing tax rates (percentages) can possibly yield greater tax revenue (dollars). It is unsatisfactory to describe the process as a trickledown effect: that by leaving more money in the hands of the wealthier taxpayers that they will generate more income that will trickle down to the less fortunate. Supply side theory states that this can happen, but it does not apply in unlimited situations.

The famous graph shows a bell with zero tax rates on one extreme and a 100% tax rate on the other extreme. It assumes that with a zero tax rate no tax revenues will be generated. This seems obvious except for those very few who will voluntarily share their wealth with the government. On the other extreme a 100% tax rate will also generate no tax revenues since few people will work for no compensation.

As you move from a zero tax rate to 5%, and gradually higher you will generate increasing revenue up to a point. Revenue dollars are also increased as you drop from 100% downward to a point where further cuts generate no additional revenue. Theoretically, at some point between the extremes there is a rate that maximizes revenue; where either raising or lowering tax rates will generate less revenue dollars.

The curve of course is a model, and in reality the bell is not a smooth symmetrical shape and the shape may change over time. But the bell model demonstrates two realities: first is that lowering tax rates does not always increase revenues, nor does raising taxes always increase revenues. Furthermore, depending on your position on the curve, raising tax rates can decrease revenues and lowering taxes can increase revenues.

Secondly it shows that there are usually two different rates that will generate the same revenues. Assume the graph shows that a 30% tax rate and a 70% tax rate will generate the same revenue. There are some who would prefer the 70% rate because it would make the wealthier pay a bigger share of the bill. Why would we care whether the rate is 30% or 70% if it generates the same dollar revenue?

The answer is that the 30% rate will support a larger growing economy, more innovation and startups, and lower unemployment. If we can choose from two rates why not choose the rate that is much more likely to generate a robust growing economy? It is not a matter of wealthier people generating more wealth that trickles down. It is a matter of stimulating a wider distribution of wealth generating activity.

How much improvement a lower tax will generate depends largely what it is being dropped from, competitive tax rates in other countries, and the type of tax considered. A tax on personal income for most people is hard to avoid. If a worker making $800 a week gets a 3% increase in taxes there is little he can do about it. If taxes on capital gain are increased it is very easy to avoid by simply holding onto investments longer, by moving assets into tangible matter such as art or collectibles, or by simply investing less. The undesirable irony here is that a tax increase is more likely to raise revenue if it is levied on those at the lower end of the income spectrum. This may have been the secret to Bill Clinton's economic success; having raised income taxes and lowered taxes on capital gains and dividends.

Reagan's economic miracle was largely fueled by a shift of trillions of dollars from tangible assets, sought to protect investors from the ravages of inflation in the 1970's, to financial assets that fueled the dramatic stock market growth and entrepreneurial activity. Reagan's success was as much because of the control of inflation as it was the reduction in taxes and regulation.

Supply side theory stresses the value of a stable dollar and the elimination of frictions to investment and income growth. Such frictions can be increases in taxes or regulation.

With a different background such reductions in friction costs may not yield the same growth as the Reagan years, and there is a threshold that must be reached to move a population that does not trust the government to stay with any policy for a long enough period of time to benefit them. Timid moves will cause little change, and even larger moves must also be accompanied with a restoration of trust and consistency.

But those who quickly dismiss supply side theory as 'trickle down' show little understanding of the reality or the theory. Supply side programs have been successful for Democrats under Kennedy and Clinton, and for Republicans such as Coolidge and Reagan.

This administration is joining the ranks of Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter as those who failed to understand this theory reality and devastated the economy as a result.

Henry Oliner blogs at

The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation » Morning Bell: The Truth About Tax CutsThe Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation » Print

Morning Bell: The Truth About Tax Cuts

Posted By Mike Gonzalez On June 22, 2011 @ 9:41 am In Entitlements,The Morning Bell | 90 Comments

All you are likely to hear about low tax rates from liberals and their echo chamber in the media is that they don’t work—that they fail to gin up economic or job growth. Exhibit A for this preposterous proposition is the Bush tax cuts. The left wants you to accept it as conventional wisdom that the policy was a bust.

Don’t believe it. The tax cuts enacted by the U.S. Congress in 2003 were an important cause of an economic expansion that roared for some 50 months and created 8.1 million jobs. The opposite philosophy—a stimulus that has crowded out private investment, plus an enormous health bill and a nightmarish financial regulatory package that are killing job creation—has only delayed recovery and left us with 9.1% unemployment.

You won’t hear this from liberals. What you hear instead is a straw man argument that the tax cuts failed to pay for themselves. The Bush Administration and congressional leaders at the time went out of their way to be clear that the tax cuts were not expected to pay for themselves.

Bereft of any other apparent principle, the liberal canon now includes one and only one organizing idea: government cannot be cut; it can only grow or stay at its current gargantuan size. For that to happen, liberals must use the concerns about massive deficits pushed up by a tremendous Obama spending surge to cow the nation into accepting big tax hikes and bigger government. Unfortunately, even some otherwise conservative stalwarts are falling for it.

But rather than explicitly say “raise taxes” liberals talk about “revenue enhancements” (which somehow liberals think the American people won’t get), “fairness” and “shared sacrifice.”

But for that to work the American people must be made to accept that lower taxes fail to stimulate anything and that, by implication then, higher taxes won’t hurt the economy. This why liberals work so hard to spin the Bush years. But here’s what really happened:

President Bush signed the first wave of tax cuts in 2001, cutting rates and providing tax relief for families by, for example, doubling of the child tax credit to $1,000.

At Congress’ insistence, the tax relief was initially phased in over many years, so the economy continued to lose jobs. In 2003, realizing its error, Congress made the earlier tax relief effective immediately. Congress also lowered tax rates on capital gains and dividends to encourage business investment, which had been lagging.

It was the then that the economy turned around. Within months of enactment, job growth shot up, eventually creating 8.1 million jobs through 2007. Tax revenues also increased after the Bush tax cuts, due to economic growth.

In 2003, capital gains tax rates were reduced. Rather than expand by 36% as the Congressional Budget Office projected before the tax cut, capital gains revenues more than doubled to $103 billion.

The CBO incorrectly calculated that the post-March 2003 tax cuts would lower 2006 revenues by $75 billion. Revenues for 2006 came in $47 billion above the pre-tax cut baseline.

Here’s what else happened after the 2003 tax cuts lowered the rates on income, capital gains and dividend taxes:

* GDP grew at an annual rate of just 1.7% in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts. In the six quarters following the tax cuts, the growth rate was 4.1%.
* The S&P 500 dropped 18% in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts but increased by 32% over the next six quarters.
* The economy lost 267,000 jobs in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts. In the next six quarters, it added 307,000 jobs, followed by 5 million jobs in the next seven quarters.

The timing of the lower tax rates coincides almost exactly with the stark acceleration in the economy. Nor was this experience unique. The famous Clinton economic boom began when Congress passed legislation cutting spending and cutting the capital gains tax rate.

In late 2007 the economy began to cool. By 2008, it entered a recession. The housing bubble burst, precipitating a financial crisis. But after 50 months of unimpeded growth, it is ludicrous to insist that the tax cuts caused the recession, let alone the global financial meltdown. Even after the Fannie and Freddie Mac-induced bust, there were still one million net jobs created during the Bush years.

President Obama inherited a difficult economic situation but made a robust recovery less likely by embracing a failed Keynesian economic philosophy based on deficit spending. The blast of stimulus the federal government gave the economy far exceeded anything previously contemplated in the textbooks. It is shocking that there are still a few who actually insist that the stimulus failed only because it was too small and want to double down on another one.

Since tax revenues move up and down with GDP, the common-sense way to increase tax revenues is to expand the economy. This should start with a commitment not to raise taxes. Beyond that commitment, pro-growth policies such as revenue-neutral tax reforms dedicated to reducing tax rates, restrained federal spending, minimal regulation and free trade would raise more tax revenues than would be raised by self-defeating tax increases.

In The Heritage Foundation’s plan, Saving the American Dream [1], issued last month, we call for tax reform [2]. We lower tax rates to encourage economic growth but maintain tax revenues at 18.5% of GDP—their historical level. We do it by expanding the tax base by eliminating economically unjustified deductions and credits and we plow all those revenues back into keeping rates low.

Liberals want to raise your taxes because they love big government. They will tell you that lower tax rates accomplish nothing, but government spending will. Don’t buy it.

You can follow Mike Gonzalez on Twitter @Gundisalvus [3]

Quick Hits:

* If the White House and Congress want to “fundamentally change” the growth of the national debt, their goal of $2 trillion in cuts by 2021 is not enough, [4] Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said on Tuesday.
* Up to three million middle-class Americans will get nearly free insurance designed for the poor thanks to Obamacare [5]. Democratic lawmakers say it’s not a loophole.
* The Taliban are responsible for about 85 percent of all civilian casualties [6] in the war in Afghanistan, an increase from last year, according to a new study.
* While working for Members of Congress, congressional staffers earned $13 million [7] from outside sources in 2009. The maximum salary for most aides was about $168,000 in 2010.
* President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board has been aggressively reinterpreting the law to foist unions on workers [8]—whether they want them or not.

Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation:

URL to article:

URLs in this post:

[1] Saving the American Dream:

[2] tax reform:

[3] @Gundisalvus:!/gundisalvus

[4] their goal of $2 trillion in cuts by 2021 is not enough,:

[5] will get nearly free insurance designed for the poor thanks to Obamacare:

[6] responsible for about 85 percent of all civilian casualties:

[7] congressional staffers earned $13 million:

[8] aggressively reinterpreting the law to foist unions on workers:

Blog: Minimum wage madness exposed

June 24, 2011
Minimum wage madness exposed
Thomas Lifson

A real life experiment has revealed the madness of raising the minimum wage. One of the tenets of brain dead liberalism is that raising the minimum wage benefits workers. In the imaginary world of liberals, government edicts make the world run, and market forces count for nothing. Such thinking can only come from people who have never invested their own money, taken responsibility for hiring and paying people, and had to live with market responses.

The GAO has just released a report (summary here) on the effect of raising the minimum wage in American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands to mainland US levels. What cause could appeal more to liberals? Eliminating discrimination! Treating all American citizens the same! Rescuing exploited workers from evil companies exploiting them!

Well, in the real world, if employees cannot produce value in excess of what they are paid, they don't have jobs anymore. Anyone who has had to meet a payroll knows this, though people who have made their lives in academia and government can remain immune from this learning.

Here is what happened:

In 2007, the United States enacted a law incrementally raising the minimum wages in American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) until they equal the U.S. minimum wage. American Samoa's minimum wage increased by $.50 three times, and the CNMI's four times before legislation delayed the increases, providing for no increase in American Samoa in 2010 or 2011 and none in the CNMI in 2011. As scheduled, American Samoa's minimum wage will equal the current U.S. minimum wage of $7.25 in 2018, and the CNMI's will reach it in 2016.

Despite the delays in further increases, serious damage has already been done:

In American Samoa, employment fell 19 percent from 2008 to 2009 and 14 percent from 2006 to 2009. Data for 2010 total employment are not available. GAO questionnaire responses show that tuna canning employment fell 55 percent from 2009 to 2010, reflecting the closure of one cannery and layoffs in the remaining cannery. Average inflation-adjusted earnings fell by 5 percent from 2008 to 2009 and by 11 percent from 2006 to 2009; however, the hourly wage of minimum wage workers who remained employed increased by significantly more than inflation. Private sector officials said the minimum wage was one of a number of factors making business difficult. In the tuna canning industry, future minimum wage increases would affect the wages of 99 percent of hourly-wage workers employed by the two employers included in GAO's questionnaire. The employers reported taking cost-cutting actions from June 2009 to June 2010, including laying off workers and freezing hiring. The employers attributed most of these actions largely to the minimum wage increases. Cannery officials expressed concern in interviews about American Samoa's dwindling global competitive advantage.

Hat tip: Randall Hoven

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Articles: Atlas Is Shrugging In The US And Flexing His Muscles Elsewhere

Atlas Is Shrugging In The US And Flexing His Muscles Elsewhere
By Monty Pelerin

Ayn Rand was mostly correct when she wrote her magnum opus "Atlas Shrugged." She was incorrect in one important area. She assumed the final option for the wealthy and entrepreneurial class was to go on "strike" and retire to Galt's Gulch. In the modern world the movers and shakers don't strike, they migrate.

Atlas is shrugging in the US. Capital is relocated to regions where it is treated more favorably. Within the country, we see capital and jobs leaving the overtaxed, overregulated Blue states and migrating to smaller government Red states. That provides partial relief, but onerous federal policies cannot be avoided by moving within the country.

The increasingly adverse climate at the federal level motivates moving outside the country. This motivation and the resulting movement has been underway for years. Initially, much relocation was due to comparative advantages in regions around the world as economics would predict and welcome. Recently, much movement of resources is increasingly a flight from onerous government policies. The process is simple: first parts of businesses leave (outsourcing), then manufacturing and finally intellectual capital (the entrepreneurs).

Intelligent and talented people investigate overseas opportunities. Jobs and opportunities are increasingly more plentiful in some areas of the world. Taxes are less onerous and living conditions have modernized. Dual citizenship is not uncommon and an attractive option for people who want/need to leave the US. Americans renouncing citizenship and living outside the US is at an all-time high. The citizenship decision is made for an obvious reason -- to escape the predatory IRS which claims partial ownership of all income regardless of where earned.

Over the next decade or two, unless we see a change in US governmental policies, a serious "brain drain" is likely to devastate the US talent pool. Our society and economy benefited immensely from the immigration of talent over the last 70 years. It was an attractive place for talented, motivated individuals. That flow is now reversing. Instead of being a destination for talent, we are becoming a departure point. Much of the rest of the world does not punish productive people. According to Wayne Allen Root:

Places like Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Monte Carlo, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, Bahamas, and Cayman Islands are low-tax havens that appreciate business owners and their sacrifices. They welcome wealthy expatriates. They celebrate individual achievement. They reward instead of punish business owners and financial risk-takers. They are wonderful places to live and are aggressively pursuing Americans.

Wealth used to be tied up in steel mills, railroads, automobile plants and other big, physical, fixed assets. This wealth was fixed in place and not easy to move. It was easy for governments to hold it hostage while extorting tribute in the form of onerous taxes and regulations. Wealth is no longer as physical as it once was. It is more intellectual, easily outsourced and highly mobile. This wealth is not easily held captive. Even so-called fixed assets are not fixed forever.

Unless wealth is treated properly, it migrates to places where it is wanted and treated with respect. As expressed by Mr. Root:

The high tech revolution has freed businessmen to run their businesses from anywhere in the world. The same high tech tools and toys that toppled a powerful and invincible 30-year dictator in Egypt and now threaten to topple powerful leaders throughout the Arab world, also offer mobility and freedom to U.S. taxpayers. Obama better learn the lesson of Mubarak before millions more business people decide they do not need to put up with looters, free loaders, and politicians who despise them.

There are three important differences between today's world and the time when Ayn Rand published "Atlas Shrugged."

* 1. Other parts of the world have become more business savvy and conducive to capitalism. Rand's home country Russia, while hardly a bastion of freedom, is an example of where capital is now welcome.
* 2. Technology and transportation advances made decentralized operations across continents feasible.
* 3. Living conditions in many parts of the world have reached or exceeded parity with those in the US.

When Rand wrote her most famous novel, these options were not available to the extent that they are now. As a result, her storyline had the wealthy punishing both themselves and the economies they left when they "dropped out" of the system. Today, the wealthy have other options. They drop out of one society but enter another.

In that sense, it is easier for Atlas to shrug than Ayn Rand imagined. It has already happened and continues to happen. Atlas does not have a binary on-off switch as envisioned by Rand. Atlas shrugs regionally rather than universally.

The economies Atlas abandons suffer, but Atlas does not. Instead of retreating to Galt's Gulch and presumably golf, Atlas moves to that part of the world which will treat him properly. Today there are plenty of places where government and the dependency class do not get in the way and parasitically drain the host. It is to these locations, not Galt's Gulch, that Atlas goes.

Receiving economies are rewarded with economic growth as are the entrepreneurs who join them and produce it. Atlas Shrugging is not an absolute loss of talent as envisioned by Rand. It is a relocation of talent. Atlas is not suffering, he is merely relocating.

Societies that drive Atlas away suffer. Wealth and job creation declines. Living standards decline. People become poorer. Governments become even more active, spending more, printing more and pretend to offset the loss of entrepreneurial spirit. But governments are unable to create jobs, wealth or improve overall standards of living. The more they try, the worse they make matters. When governments assume the role of managing an economy, Socialism kills whatever vestiges of Capitalism remain. As Ludwig von Mises observed:

A society that chooses between capitalism and socialism does not choose between two social systems; it chooses between social cooperation and the disintegration of society. Socialism: is not an alternative to capitalism; it is an alternative to any system under which men can live as human beings.

Zombie economies and societies result. These hollowed-out shells are merely stages on Hayek's famed "Road to Serfdom." That is the road the US has chosen for the better part of the last 100 years. A heritage of freedom and property rights prevented us from beginning this journey as early and quickly as most other countries. But these protections are now eroded.

Despite government protestations to the contrary, there is absolutely nothing government can do to reverse the process of decline other than to reverse their own policies. That means drastic reductions in both regulations and spending. In order for an economy to return to vitality, wealth creation and higher living standards, conditions must be made attractive enough for entrepreneurs to return.

The madness that passes for government and economic policy must stop now before it is too late. Capital and intellect cannot be held hostage, although governments will try (unsuccessfully). Talent and capital driven away does not return easily or quickly. Even reversing foolish policies today may not be enough to affect the current generation materially.

A reversal of Western governing philosophy that has dominated for over a century is required. If it occurs, it is not likely to occur quickly. It will be incremental and take generations to accomplish. Talent and capital driven away will not return easily or quickly so long as other societies provide more favorable climates for entrepreneurs.

Competitive downsizing of government is likely once some societies decide to compete for prosperity. Few governments look forward to that, but the movement will be driven by those who understand that a smaller piece of a larger pie is better than a bigger piece of nothing.

When the world is viewed from this perspective, it becomes clear why Statists want a One-World government. World government, with uniformly harmful regulations and taxation, make escape impossible. Then Statist predators can impose any kind of poor economic and redistributive policies. Wealth can then be confiscated with abandon because there is no longer any place to hide.

Freedom poses the ultimate threat to the almighty State. Entrepreneurs vote with their feet and pocketbooks. That limits the amount of bad policies any government can impose. That flight may be the only safeguard that stands between us and absolute tyranny.

If that happens, Atlas will head to a remote area in Colorado for golf lessons. Who is John Galt? Why he is the teaching pro at that remote resort in Colorado.

Articles: The Purposeful Flooding of America's Heartland

The Purposeful Flooding of America's Heartland
By Joe Herring

The Missouri River basin encompasses a vast region in the central and west-central portion of our country. This river, our nation's longest, collects the melt from Rocky Mountain snowpack and the runoff from our continents' upper plains before joining the Mississippi river above St. Louis some 2,300 miles later. It is a mighty river, and dangerous.

Some sixty years ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) began the process of taming the Missouri by constructing a series of six dams. The idea was simple: massive dams at the top moderating flow to the smaller dams below, generating electricity while providing desperately needed control of the river's devastating floods.

The stable flow of water allowed for the construction of the concrete and earthen levees that protect more than 10 million people who reside and work within the river's reach. It allowed millions of acres of floodplain to become useful for farming and development. In fact, these uses were encouraged by our government, which took credit for the resulting economic boom. By nearly all measures, the project was a great success.

But after about thirty years of operation, as the environmentalist movement gained strength throughout the seventies and eighties, the Corps received a great deal of pressure to include some specific environmental concerns into their MWCM (Master Water Control Manual, the "bible" for the operation of the dam system). Preservation of habitat for at-risk bird and fish populations soon became a hot issue among the burgeoning environmental lobby. The pressure to satisfy the demands of these groups grew exponentially as politicians eagerly traded their common sense for "green" political support.

Things turned absurd from there. An idea to restore the nation's rivers to a natural (pre-dam) state swept through the environmental movement and their allies. Adherents enlisted the aid of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), asking for an updated "Biological Opinion" from the FWS that would make ecosystem restoration an "authorized purpose" of the dam system. The Clinton administration threw its support behind the change, officially shifting the priorities of the Missouri River dam system from flood control, facilitation of commercial traffic, and recreation to habitat restoration, wetlands preservation, and culturally sensitive and sustainable biodiversity.

Congress created a committee to advise the Corps on how best to balance these competing priorities. The Missouri River Recovery and Implementation Committee has seventy members. Only four represent interests other than environmentalism. The recommendations of the committee, as one might expect, have been somewhat less than evenhanded.

The Corps began to utilize the dam system to mimic the previous flow cycles of the original river, holding back large amounts of water upstream during the winter and early spring in order to release them rapidly as a "spring pulse." The water flows would then be restricted to facilitate a summer drawdown of stream levels. This new policy was highly disruptive to barge traffic and caused frequent localized flooding, but a multi-year drought masked the full impact of the dangerous risks the Corps was taking.

This year, despite more than double the usual amount of mountain and high plains snowpack (and the ever-present risk of strong spring storms), the true believers in the Corps have persisted in following the revised MWCM, recklessly endangering millions of residents downstream.

Missouri Senator Roy Blunt agrees, calling the management plan "flawed" and "poorly thought out." Sen. Blunt characterized the current flooding as "entirely preventable" and told reporters that he intends to force changes to the plan.

Perhaps tellingly, not everyone feels the same apprehension toward the imminent disaster.

Greg Pavelka, a wildlife biologist with the Corps of Engineers in Yankton, SD, told the Seattle Times that this event will leave the river in a "much more natural state than it has seen in decades," describing the epic flooding as a "prolonged headache for small towns and farmers along its path, but a boon for endangered species." He went on to say, "The former function of the river is being restored in this one-year event. In the short term, it could be detrimental, but in the long term it could be very beneficial."

At the time of this writing, the Corps is scrambling for political cover, repeatedly denying that it had any advance warning of the potential for this catastrophe. The official word is that everything was just fine until unexpectedly heavy spring rains pushed the system past the tipping point.

On February 3, 2011, a series of e-mails from Ft. Pierre SD Director of Public Works Brad Lawrence sounded the alarm loud and clear. In correspondence to the headquarters of the American Water Works Association in Washington, D.C., Lawrence warned that "the Corps of Engineers has failed thus far to evacuate enough water from the main stem reservoirs to meet normal runoff conditions. This year's runoff will be anything but normal."

In the same e-mail, he describes the consequences of the Corps failure to act as a "flood of biblical proportions." His e-mails were forwarded from Washington, D.C. to state emergency response coordinators nationwide. The Corps headquarters in Omaha, NE which is responsible for the Missouri river system, claims they heard no such warning from Lawrence or anyone else. Considering the wide distribution of this correspondence, and the likely reactions from officials in endangered states, their denials strain credulity.

Whether warned or not, the fact remains that had the Corps been true to its original mission of flood control, the dams would not have been full in preparation for a "spring pulse." The dams could further have easily handled the additional runoff without the need to inundate a sizeable chunk of nine states. The Corps admits in the MWCM that they deliberately embrace this risk each year in order to maximize their re-ordered priorities.

MWCM (Sec 7-07.2.6):

Releases at higher-than-normal rates early in the season that cannot be supported by runoff forecasting techniques is inconsistent with all System purposes other than flood control. All of the other authorized purposes depend upon the accumulation of water in the System rather than the availability of vacant storage space. [Emphasis added.]

Perhaps the environmentalists of the Corps grew tired of waiting decades to realize their dream of a "restored Missouri River." Perhaps these elements heard the warnings and saw in them an opportunity to force an immediate re-naturalization of the river via epic flood. At present, that is impossible to know, but to needlessly imperil the property, businesses, and lives of millions of people constitutes criminal negligence. Given the statements of Corps personnel, and the clear evidence of their mismanagement, the possibility that there is specific intent behind their failure to act must be investigated without delay.

In recent decades, many universities have steeped their Natural Sciences curriculum in the green tea of earth-activism, producing radically eco-centric graduates who naturally seek positions with the government agencies where they can best implement their theories. Today, many of these men and women have risen high in their fields, hiring fellow travelers to fill subordinate positions and creating a powerful echo chamber of radical environmentalist theory.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a victim/tool of the above-described process. The horrifying consequence is water rushing from the dams on the Missouri twice as fast as the highest previous releases on record. Floodgates that have not been opened in more than fifty years are in full operation, discharging water at a rate of 150,000 cubic feet per second toward millions of Americans downstream.

This is a mind-boggling rate of release. Consider that 150,000 cubic feet of water would fill a football field instantly to a depth of four feet. This amount of water, being released every second, will continue unabated for the next several months. The levees that protect the cities and towns downstream were constructed to handle the flow rates promised at the time of the dam's construction. None of these levees have ever been tested at these levels, yet they must hold back millions of acre-feet of floodwater for the entire summer without failing. In the flooding of 1993, more than a thousand levees failed. This year's event will be many orders of magnitude greater.

There are many well-publicized examples of absurd obeisance to the demands of radical environmentalists resulting in great economic harm. The Great Missouri River Flood of 2011 is shaping up to be another -- only this time, the price will likely be paid in lives lost as well as treasure. Ayn Rand said, "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

We need to begin the investigations immediately. It seems that it is sanity, and not the river, that needs to be restored.

The author writes from Omaha, NE and may be reached at

Monday, June 20, 2011

Articles: Crony Capitalism and Obama's Anti-Coal Crusade

Crony Capitalism and Obama's Anti-Coal Crusade
By Ed Lasky

Barack Obama has long sought to bankrupt the coal industry. But, Cook County politician that he is and always will be, the relevant question is: who benefits from his plans wreck a major portion of our economy while also boosting electricity prices across America?

A clue: he and his pals from Chicago have incestuous ties to the one company whose prospects will be boosted by Obama's policies.

While Barack Obama has broken many promises he made along the campaign trail to the Oval Office, one promise seems close to whatever heart he may have: to bankrupt the coal industry.

He told the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle on January 17, 2008 of his plans:

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted.

That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, biodiesel and other alternative energy approaches.

The only thing I've said with respect to coal, I haven't been some coal booster. What I have said is that for us to take coal off the table as a (sic) ideological matter as opposed to saying if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can.

It's just that it will bankrupt them.

He also promised that under his plans to transform the energy industry "electricity prices would necessarily skyrocket."

While he failed in Congress to pass the cap-and-trade bill that would have been a direct assault on the coal industry (Democrats from coal-mining states, such as Senator Jay Rockefeller from West Virginia joined with Republicans to derail these efforts) and that would have ineluctably led to his goal of sending utility bills soaring, Obama (as is his wont) has used indirect means at his disposal to circumvent Congress and kill off coal. This is his modus operandi: take steps behind the scenes that the media will not disclose to bully his programs to fruition.

He has used his executive power to seal off vast areas of federal land from coal mining.

But it is primarily through the use of his regulatory empire (the number of federal regulations has skyrocketed under his administration) that he has put a chokehold not only on the coal mining industry but also on utilities that burn coal to generate electricity. And, incidentally, this will put a chokehold on Americans trying to balance their budgets (of course, Obama doesn't care about balancing budgets -- such a concept is foreign to him; were it so for us).

Lisa Jackson, the head of the EPA, has been her point person in driving this agenda.

Her most recent and dramatic step has been to pass environmental regulations to make coal-fired generating plants that produce about half the nations' electricity, much more expensive to operate. The Chicago Tribune reports:

Consumers could see their electricity bills jump an estimated 40 to 60 percent in the next few years.

The reason: Pending environmental regulations will make coal-fired generating plants, which produce about half the nation's electricity, more expensive to operate. Many are expected to be shuttered.

The increases are expected to begin to appear in 2014, and policymakers already are scrambling to find cheap and reliable alternative power sources. If they are unsuccessful, consumers can expect further increases as more expensive forms of generation take on a greater share of the electricity load.

Already, prices for electricity are jumping at a time our economy and consumers can least afford more blows.

But there are also those who would benefit from such plans and they include people and companies quite close to President Obama.

From the Tribune article:

One company that expects to benefit from the changes is Chicago-based Exelon Corp., which has a large fleet of nuclear power plants that have low emissions and are cheap to run compared with coal plants.

"The upside to Exelon is unmistakable," CEO John Rowe said last year. "Every $50 per megawatt-day as a change in capacity prices, translates to almost $350 million of additional capacity revenue for Exelon in 2014 and subsequent years."

Rowe said energy prices are also expected to rise if coal plants are retired and replaced with other energy sources, like natural gas. "These changes add up quickly," he said. "A $5 per megawatt-hour increase in energy prices would be $700 million to $800 million of incremental annual revenue to Exelon on an open basis. We expect that at least some of that upside will be realized in the next two to four years."

Sadly, the paper -- an early promoter of Barack Obama's career -- does not delve further into who else may reap the rewards at the American people's expense. What political figures close to Barack Obama have long ties to Exelon?

David Axlerod, Obama's campaign strategist and chief domestic policy adviser (who had the office closest to the Oval one before he left the White House to return to the 2012 campaign trail), has reaped quite a few rewards from doing business with Commonwealth Edison, which became part of the Exelon octopus through corporate mergers (this corporate history is linked to Rahm Emanuel, see below).

Axelrod's firm, ASK Public Strategies, is the "gold standard in Astroturf organizing" (Astroturf organizations are fake grassroots groups that are actually funded and promoted by corporate interests).

From a Business Week article :

ASK's predilection for operating in the shadows shows up in its work. On behalf of ComEd and Comcast, the firm helped set up front organizations that were listed as sponsors of public-issue ads...

ASK's relationship with ComEd goes back much further: The Chicago-based utility says ASK has been an adviser since at least 2002. ASK's workload picked up in 2005, as the Exelon subsidiary was nearing the end of a 10-year rate freeze and preparing to ask state regulators for higher electricity prices. Based on ASK's advice, ComEd formed Consumers Organized for Reliable Electricity (CORE) to win support.

CORE (and Com Ed and David Axelrod's ASK) were successful in their efforts to fool people and pressure regulators and politicians into accepting rate hikes.

Now we have Barack Obama, his hand-picked appointees and his cronies pursuing policies that will again boost electricity bills and benefit Com Ed and its corporate parent. A richer Exelon is a happier client for David Axelrod. While Barack Obama has angered many in the corporate community, rest assured that dollars will flow from the corporate coffers and officers of Exelon to fund Obama's road to the White House. History repeats itself as farce.

Who else may benefit from this rape of electricity consumers? There are the legions of investors in green schemes who are Obama supporters and whose uneconomic projects can only succeed through government arm-twisting (an Obama talent).

Then there is Rahm Emanuel, Obama's longtime political ally and his former Chief of Staff who recently became Chicago's mayor. But between stints in politics he took the revolving door between politics and business and signed up for a very lucrative and brief career in investment banking. This is the very same revolving door Obama has promised to close. Who was his major client? Need one ask? The aforementioned John Rowe, Chief Executive Officer of Exelon.

In a Forbes magazine article from 2009, Rowe boasted of his decade-long planning for more expensive coal. His plans have borne luscious fruit.

Rowe, 64, the longest-serving utility executive in the industry and chief executive of Exelon, the country's most valuable utility by market value, is indeed in the catbird seat. While Exelon and the rest of the utility industry has been battered by a weak economy and suddenly low electricity demand and prices, Exelon has a lot to look forward to. Soon after Rowe created Exelon in 2000 with the merger of the Chicago utility Unicom (parent of Commonwealth Edison) and the Philadelphia utility Peco, he sold off most of the company's coal plants and focused the company on nuclear. He created a generation subsidiary that sells the power produced by 17 reactors, by far the largest nuclear fleet in the nation and the third biggest in the world.

This statement (commendable in its brute honesty) is akin to a smoking gun: Exelon is the biggest and most direct beneficiary of Obama's energy policies. Rowe knows Chicago politics as well as he knows how to run nukes (he has an admirable record in doing so). Whose bread was buttered over the years as Exelon grew ?

Exelon has very deep ties to the Obama Administration. Frank M. Clark, who runs ComEd, helped advise Obama before he ran for President and is one of Obama's largest fundraisers. Obama's chief political strategist, David Axelrod, worked as a consultant to Exelon. Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, helped create Exelon. Emanuel was hired by Rowe to help broker the $8.2 billion deal between Unicom and Peco when Emanuel was at the investment bank Wasserstein Perella (now Dresdner Kleinwort). In his two-year career there Emanuel earned $16.2 million, according to congressional disclosures. His biggest deal was the Exelon merger.

For history buffs, Com Ed at one time was headed by Tom Ayers, a power broker par excellence in Chicago. Ayers was the father of Bill Ayers -- the former Weatherman terrorist who gave birth to Obama's political career and had close Obama ties through Chicago-based activist groups (he was not just "some guy in the neighborhood" whose kids play with Obama's daughters as Axlerod characterized Bill Ayers; Ayers' children are adults -- what kind of play did they have with Obama's prepubescent daughters? Journalists never asked that question and many others that they should have back in 2008).

Obama learned a great deal from his time spent in the muck of Cook County politics. There is a saying in Chicago that when people seek positions or contracts from Chicago politicians and their bureaucratic puppets they are asked " Who sent you?"

All too often the answer has been Exelon. But now the question should be asked not in Cook County but by journalist in Washington, D.C. when electricity prices "necessarily skyrocket" across America.

Think about that when you rush to turn off your lights: Obama and his cronies like to keep us int he dark.

Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker

Articles: More Enviro-Anomalies

More Enviro-Anomalies
By Gary Jason

Some recent news reports shed light onto anomalies in the environmentalist weltanschauung, a peculiar form of paganism I have characterized elsewhere as driven by self-loathing hominids.

The first report brings us more news about the downside of wind power. The believers in eco-faith who form the core of the environmentalist movement have been pushing "renewable energy" sources (paradigmatically wind and solar power) while waging a jihad against all forms of fossil fuel.

Nowhere has this cult of the renewable been as strong as it has been in California, where Governor Jerry Brown, long a high priest of the environmentalist faith, is back in power. About five months ago, Governor Moonbeam signed a law he helped push through the state legislature that mandates that by 2020, one third of the state's electricity must come from renewable energy sources.

Ah, but here's the rub (or more exactly, the shred): the preferred renewable that has been used in California -- to wit, wind power -- is killing massive numbers of birds. This includes some species that are endangered, such as the golden eagle.

In particular, the story details that the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area -- a large wind power facility in the Bay Area with roughly five thousand wind turbines -- is destroying the golden eagle population, a species already on the endangered species list. The wind turbines have killed an average of 67 eagles a year for thirty years now. This is far beyond the capacity of the existing number of birds to replace through reproduction. And the turbines kill more than eagles, of course. They kill at least two thousand raptors (probably many more, but the carcasses get moved by scavengers) a year. Moreover, they kill many bats at night.

Indeed, nationwide, wind farms kill an estimated 440,000 birds a year -- and again, because that estimate is based on counts of the bodies of shredded birds, the estimate is very likely too low. But amazingly, not one wind farm operator has been sued by the gazillion federal agencies that supposedly enforce laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Act.

Contrast this with the treatment of fossil fuel companies: should they even threaten an obscure lizard, the EPA or some other federal agency will pounce on them like a golden eagle on a rabbit. The recent report on the obscure dunes sagebrush lizard makes this much clear.

This five-inch-long lizard, supposedly dying out, has a habitat that stretches across southeastern New Mexico and west central Texas, smack-dab in the middle of the longest-exploited and most productive oil field in America, the Permian Basin field. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to get this lowly lizard listed as an endangered species, claiming that oil and gas development is ruining the lizard's habitat.

Of course, if the feds declare this banal reptile "endangered," all drilling companies in the affected area will immediately come under the iron fist of the Fish and Wildlife Service, which will demand that they work without "harming" the habitat (viz., sand dunes) of the mundane creature. Fish and Wildlife will accordingly threaten the drillers with massive fines for disturbing those dunes.

By the way, nobody knows the size of this repellant reptile's population to begin with, which raises the question of how exactly we know that it is endangered. (Not to mention the question that you always want to ask: what makes this or any other species "endangered" by human activity, as opposed to merely dying out because it is no longer fit for survival?)

Naturally, local folk fear for their jobs. As New Mexico's Republican Governor Susana Martinez said, "the future of our state's economy and livelihood of so many employers and hardworking New Mexicans are at stake." And, also naturally, environmentalists are pooh-poohing the notion that jobs will be lost. For example, Noah Greenwald, "endangered species director" at the Center for Biological Diversity -- the activist organization that first proposed putting this lowly creature on the endangered species list -- replied, "They are totally baseless claims that are being made by politicians who feel that there's political gain."

Considering the massive loss of jobs that resulted from putting the infamous spotted owl on the endangered species list, and the annihilation of so many jobs in California's Central Valley from the delta smelt being ruled endangered, Greenwald's demurral is manifestly intellectually dishonest.

The third story reports some interesting news about the new and virulent strain of E. coli that has poisoned people all over Europe, killing thirty-five already.

It turns out that the source of the contamination lies in Germany, despite early efforts by the German government to put the blame on Spanish cucumbers. In fact, in the absolute acme of irony, the source of the new bug "organic" farm! Yes, an organic farm growing sprouts -- using some mixture of manure, as soi disant organic farms are wont to do -- creating a natural laboratory for new strains of bacteria.

What is even more ironic -- since this is beyond the acme of irony, let's call it transcendent irony -- is that Germany is one of the few countries that has seen fit to ban an extremely effective way to combat food poisoning: irradiation. After a German spice maker started a program to irradiate its products in 1957, the historically powerful German Green movement (hell, even Hitler was a dog-loving vegetarian!) got the government to ban the practice in 1959.

This, despite the fact that irradiation can neutralize up to 99.999% of E. coli and other bacteria, and was found to be a safe technology by the U.S. FDA nearly fifty years ago.

Scratch up more deaths to the Greens. But then, as self-loathing hominids, they are probably celebrating the removal of more human vermin from the divine planet.

Gary Jason is a contributing editor to LibertyUnbound.

Articles: The Socialist Phobia of Scarcity

The Socialist Phobia of Scarcity
By Andrew Thomas

Well, my daughter's Brooklyn wedding went off without a hitch on May 21st, and the world didn't end. That was fortunate, as it would have spoiled a wonderful event.

My new son-in-law is an enthusiastic member of ISO, the International Socialist Organization. He is on the verge of a Master's in Political Science, with the goal of becoming a college professor. With his philosophical bent, I think it's a slam-dunk. Prestigious universities appear to value extreme radical leftism over all other qualifications for their faculties, so I expect he will be a very successful propagandist for young mushy minds.

Per my wife's strict admonitions, I avoided all potentially incendiary topics of discussion in his presence before the wedding. The happy couple departed on their honeymoon while my wife and I dog-sat for them in their Brooklyn apartment.

After their return from a lavish tropical paradise getaway, I spent the evening chatting with my new son-in-law. We threw back a few Beefeater and tonics, and both of us felt our constraint melt away.

I calmly expressed my curiosity about his membership in the International Socialist Organization.

He explained that ISO believes in the philosophy of Trotsky and Lenin in the establishment of a workers' paradise. Their mission is the destruction of capitalism and the imposition of a global socialist government. Capitalism is inherently evil, he stated, as it exploits and oppresses workers and steals their wealth.

I retorted that government is the primary source of oppression and exploitation, and the greatest danger exists when markets are in collusion with government. The result is the socialist economic perversion known as "crony capitalism".

We began to get louder and louder, and I feared waking my wife and daughter. "Are YOU oppressed?" I asked. He surprised me with an emphatic "Yes! I have been oppressed all of my life."

At this, I belly-laughed uncontrollably. It's amazing, I opined, that a pitiable victim of wretched corporate oppression could return from a week of snorkeling and surf & turf at a posh resort in the Virgin Islands to their upscale apartment and watch their brand new 60 inch state-of-the-art 3D TV.

After the continued ratcheting up of rhetoric we agreed to a truce, both of us acknowledging that our stimulating debates were ultimately enjoyable and enlightening. Time for another B & T.

Later, I thought about my son-in-law's concept of an all-powerful Wall Street sucking the cash out of workers' pockets, leaving them destitute. I can understand the propensity of some to portray bankers, CEOs, and hedge fund managers as insatiably greedy boogeymen. But the idea that a small group of people amassing great wealth means that there is less left for the rest of us is patently absurd to a free market thinker.

Part of socialist angst may be due to class envy, but I believe most of it is based on the phobia of scarcity.

If you are a socialist, chances are you believe that there is only a limited amount of wealth in the world. People are impoverished only because rich capitalists are hoarding it.

You probably also believe that global natural resources are scarce, the world's water supply is drying up, and irreplaceable species are becoming extinct.

This irrational fear of scarcity is what drives the socialist advocacy for abortion of the unborn and euthanasia of the aged and infirm.

As it turns out, the "population bomb" has thus far been a dud. Paul Ehrlich's 1968 book of the same name predicted mass starvation and global social upheavals by the 1980s. Although this never happened, it has not deterred true believers.

Just as the followers of Harold Camping haven't lost faith after his May 21 end of the world prediction fell flat (it's now October 21, 2011), Ehrlich and his followers are ever faithful to the cause. In fact, in 1999 Ehrlich said the book was too optimistic about the future.

The irrational fear of vanishing species drives extraordinary, some would say self-destructive, behavior through regulatory action. Fear of extinction of the little Delta Smelt has caused government regulators to shut off the water supply to California's San Joaquin valley, costing thousands of jobs and farmers' lost livelihoods. Approximately 12% of America's food production has been devastated as a result.

If you are a conservative and an advocate of the free market, it is likely you believe in abundance. You believe wealth is not limited, but rather can be created and multiplied. You don't need to grab your piece of the pie from someone who has more than you. You know that everyone can have more as the pie grows bigger.

You believe that natural resources exist for the purpose of supporting and advancing mankind, not to be in competition with humans for the Earth.

Water is not disappearing from the planet. There is the same amount now as there was billions of years ago. It exists as a solid, a liquid, and a gas, and it recycles, refreshes and renews itself.

Species come and go. New ones are created as fast as old species die out. In fact, Darwin's theory of natural selection demands that weaker species disappear in order to make the ecosystem stronger. Ultimately, many of the extraordinary measures taken in the cause of protecting the environment may in fact be endangering it.

The free market conservative has faith that as long as man is free, wealth and natural resources will be abundant and mankind will thrive. The socialist believes in the power of government to forcibly redistribute wealth and resources, control the population and the environment, and micromanage mankind into a heretofore unseen utopian society. Never mind that all previous attempts at this have been abject failures, frequently resulting in the mass murder and death by starvation of tens of millions of socialist citizens.

Oppressive government regulation kills the golden goose of abundance, and transforms the phobia of scarcity into a self-fulfilling prophesy. If the self-destructive irrationality of socialism is not a psychotic mental disorder, perhaps it is at least a serious neurosis.

Andrew Thomas blogs at