Friday, January 31, 2014

Fwd: House

‘U.S. House Republican leaders backed a broad outline for legislation that would legalize undocumented immigrants and stop short of granting citizenship.


“There will be no special path to citizenship for individuals who broke our nation’s immigration laws,” according to the document obtained by Bloomberg News. “Rather, these persons could live legally and without fear in the U.S.”


The guidelines, distributed to Republican lawmakers today at a private policy retreat in Cambridge, Maryland, stipulate that legislation should ensure U.S. visas and green-card allocations “reflect the needs of employers.” Temporary job programs should help the agricultural industry, and not displace U.S. workers, according to the document…



Boehner said a piecemeal approach to advancing immigration legislation -- in contrast to the comprehensive measure the Senate passed -- would build confidence among Republican lawmakers and their voters…


The legalization plan hinges on unspecified “enforcement triggers” that would have to be implemented.


“You can’t begin the process of immigration reform without securing our borders, and the ability to enforce our laws,” Boehner said. “Everyone in our conference understands that’s the first step.”’



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Administration fears part of health care system so flawed it could bankrupt insurance companies

“I’m thrilled that we’re going to have millions of people for the first time that have health security,” she said.


Shortly after the website went live, one official told Congress a critical part of the system – what is known as the “back end” -- had not even been built yet.


Doug Holtz-Eakin, former head of the Congressional Budget Office, says "the back end -- that information is supposed to be transmitted to an insurance company, the insurance company knows who you are, they know what policy you've picked."




Obama To Americans: You Don't Deserve To Be Free

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fwd: China

'Wednesday in the first of a rapid series of trials to punish numerous activists who tried to expose corruption and promote government transparency in China.


Both aims are stated goals of Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, but the trials this week of up to nine activists show that the non-elected rulers of the world's second-largest economy continue to abuse Chinese law to squash civil society, said legal experts and human rights groups.


In the first and most prominent case, Xu Zhiyong, 40, faces a five-year sentence for what his lawyers say are trumped-up charges meant to punish Xu for his expressed belief that one-party China should establish a liberal system of constitutional democracy.


All nine of the accused took part in small-scale protest gatherings under the umbrella of the New Citizens' Movement, a social initiative and loose network of activists founded by Xu in 2012. The protesters demanded that government officials disclose their assets as well as equal education rights for children of migrant workers.


State prosecutors have charged Xu and the others with "assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place."…


Xu scares Beijing because his ideas "encourage so many Chinese people to stand up to fight for their fundamental rights" both online and in real-world street protests, said Teng. "The central government feels a threat to the whole political system," he said.


Authorities "definitely censor the Internet for dissenting opinions, but they fear most that these protests were organized around the country, and centered on a theme (corruption) with great resonance in China," said Maya Wang, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Human Rights Watch.'


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Kordale And Kaleb, Gay Black Fathers, Respond To Twitter Outrage Over Instagram Photos

Falling Prices Threaten Fragile Growth, IMF Head Says. (You've got to be kidding me!)

Is America Becoming Europe?

Tech industry: Obama's NSA reforms 'insufficient'

Analysis: Egypt vote muddies political outlook

Fwd: Russia/Iran/Syria

'Iran's foreign minister, Mohamed Zarif, took a diplomatic victory lap as he arrived in Moscow to meet Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. Russia's Foreign Ministry released this statement: "We intend to continue the expansion of mutually advantageous relations with Iran and interaction in the interest of regional stability and international security…We expect to strengthen positive trends in every sphere of Russia-Iran cooperation."


Zarif's mission to Moscow quells any lingering hopes that Russia can be seduced away from Syria or Iran. Putin has made a simple calculation: Assad will protect his interests better than anyone. Russia, in turn, has made it clear that it will prop up Syria's tyrant and their Iranian backers at almost any cost. Zarif arrived in Moscow to expand cooperation with Russia and pay homage to his sugar daddy for making all of this possible…


Zarif's visit to Russia comes days after a trip to Lebanon where he honored master Hezbollah terrorist Imad Mughniyeh. Does a "moderate" pay homage to one of the most ruthless terrorists in modern history, a man who killed hundreds of American and Jews around the world? Is there anything Zarif could do to forfeit his credentials as a "moderate"? Apparently not.'


Best wishes,

John Coffey

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Fwd: Health Care

'While the Obama administration offers life support to its Affordable Care Act, in the UK a growing number of people are asking whether it's time to pull the plug on the National Health Service (NHS), which is in critical condition.


For many years the UK media have carried stories that not only bode ill for the future of government-run health care, but also continue to serve as a "code blue" warning to the U.S. as to what might be in our future if we decide to go down that road.


Writing in The Daily Telegraph under the headline, "It's time to make difficult decisions about the NHS," columnist Judith Woods says, "The NHS, dying on its feet for decades, is in a critical state. The promised injection of cash may stabilize it temporarily, but the chances of a full recovery are nil."


She is not alone.


A headline in The Guardian, declares the NHS "on the brink of extinction."


While in America there are concerns about an insufficient number of younger people signing up for Obamacare, in the UK among the latest causes for concern is a plan that the Guardian writes "...would only see new drugs licensed for NHS if judged to be a benefit to wider society."'


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fwd: Israel

'While the United States is pushing hard for a final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has expressed his great skepticism of these efforts…


"Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) is alive and well thanks to us," Ya'alon said. "The moment we leave Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) he is finished. In reality, there have been no negotiations between us and the Palestinians for all these months – but rather between us and the Americans. The only thing that can 'save us' is for John Kerry to win a Nobel Prize and leave us in peace."


Ya'alon, who was IDF chief of staff from 2002-2005, at the height of the second intifada, also has little regard for the US-devised security provisions for a post-peace region.


"The American security plan presented to us is not worth the paper it's written on," Ya'alon said. "It contains no peace and no security. Only our continued presence in Judea and Samaria and the River Jordan will endure that Ben-Gurion Airport and Netanya don't become targets for rockets from every direction. American Secretary of State John Kerry, who turned up here determined and acting out of misplaced obsession and messianic fervor, cannot teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians."


"There are no actual negotiations with the Palestinians. The Americans are holding negotiations with us and in parallel with the Palestinians. So far, we are the only side to have given anything – the release of murderers – and the Palestinians have given nothing."

In talks with the Americans, Ya'alon has argued that Abbas is not a partner for a final arrangement due to his intransigence.',7340,L-4476582,00.html


Friday, January 10, 2014

Fwd: wages

'"In March, every Republican in the House voted against a measure to raise the minimum wage. `When you raise the price of employment, guess what happens? You get less of it,' said Speaker John Boehner in February, espousing a party-line theory that most economists agree has been discredited." -- New York Times editorial, Jan. 2, 2014.


This is one of the more outrageous political statements dressed up as economic theory from the editorial board of the New York Times. They should be ashamed of themselves.


As for the discredited theory -- the law of supply and demand -- here's Paul Krugman in a Feb. 17, 2013, New York Times column, explaining it to his colleagues on the opposite page:


"Economics 101 tells us to be very cautious about attempts to legislate market outcomes. Every textbook -- mine included -- lays out the unintended consequences that flow from policies like rent controls or agricultural price supports. And even most liberal economists would, I suspect, agree that setting a minimum wage of, say, $20 an hour would create a lot of problems."


Krugman goes on to support an increase in the $7.25-an-hour minimum wage, relying on a 20-year old study of the fast-food industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that found no adverse effect on employment. In fact, it stands out like a sore thumb.


Economists David Neumark and William Wascher reviewed more than 100 studies on the minimum wage in a 2006 paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research: "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Review of Evidence from the New Minimum Wage Research." Here's a summary of their findings: "The oft-stated assertion that recent research fails to support the traditional view that the minimum wage reduces the employment of low-wage workers is clearly incorrect." What's more, almost all the papers they reviewed "point to negative employment effects" for the U.S. and many other countries.'



'Job creation stumbled in December, with the U.S. economy adding just 74,000 positions even as the Federal Reserve voted to take the first steps in eliminating its stimulus program.


The unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent, below economists' estimates and due primarily to continued shrinkage in the labor force.


It was the weakest job creation in almost three years. Economists said the frigid weather might have had an impact.


"I describe this as a weather-related clunker," said John Canally, investment strategist and economist at LPL Financial. He pointed to a 16,000 drop on construction jobs, which are mostly outdoors, versus a drop of 1,000 in transportation and warehousing.


He added that the weather was pretty frigid in January, too, so it may take a couple of months before there's a clearer reading on the employment situation.


Economists Mark Zandi and Austan Goolsbee said on CNBC the numbers likely will be revised higher in future counts.


Economists had expected the U.S. economy to add 200,000 jobs in December, with the unemployment rate holding steady at 7.0 percent.'


Monday, January 6, 2014

"How much government is necessary?"

For the first 16 minutes, Stephan Molyneux makes his interesting case for Anarchism, which has developed quite a following, but I see this as a temporary fad.

Molyneux is one of my favorite people to listen to on YouTube, because is he is a prolific and very intelligent speaker on many topics.  However, his faith in anarchism seems highly misplaced and defies common sense notions.  He could argue that our common sense notions are incorrect, but so few would agree with him that the burden of proof belongs in his court.

His makes the points that governments were created for the purpose of violating people's rights, and therefor cannot protect rights, and that if we raise children in an atmosphere of non-violence that people will not be as aggressive toward each other.  The first notion is incorrect and the second misunderstands human nature.

All animals and people compete within their own species for resources.  Most species understand either the concepts of property and/or territory.  I saw one squirrel aggressively chase another squirrel out of a tree.  Just as ostriches will fight each other for the best place to roost, many different animals will either defend their territory or forcibly fight to take over the territory of others.  What keeps another from stealing the place where you live or your food is the use of force or the threat of force.

The reason why some animals and people are social and form groups is simply because there is safety in numbers.  A tribe of 1 or 2 people would not last very long because all it takes is a slightly bigger tribe to chase them away or kill them.  Small groups formed for mutual defense and protection of territory.  As human population increased, this necessitated the smaller groups turning into bigger groups.  The need for mutual defense seems self evident since the first few thousand years of human civilization saw almost nothing but different groups invading, killing and/or enslaving other groups.   If you lived in the bronze age, a powerful authoritarian society might suck, but it might also be the safest place for you to be.  If your government was weak, it would be taken over by a different powerful authoritarian society that likely would have even less regard for your well being and survival.   

A small group of 20 cannot function very well without leadership, otherwise the group will splinter over disagreements, many of which will be about property, territory and rights.  Having leadership is what allows a group to get bigger, and therefor have a better chance at survival.  There is a Darwinian selection process for the groups that function the most efficiently.  As groups grew into societies, this lead to concentration of power, which certainly lead to all kinds of abuses.  As Milton Friedman pointed out, freedom is not the natural state of man.  Human beings have always lived under the thumb of some kind of authority.

The brilliance of the United States Constitution is that it created a government with many checks and balances to protect individual liberty.  The fact that the government has gotten out of hand just shows that the checks and balances were just not good enough.  Amending the constitution could help.   Still, it is one of the best governments in the world.  There are other countries that score higher on The Freedom Index, but compared to most nations, the United States interferes a lot less with its citizens.    

Abandon all government and the concepts of property and rights disappear instantly.  We would be back to the animal state where the strongest get what they want.  The power vacuum would be so great that humans would immediately start to form groups for their protection and to resolve conflicts.  These quasi-governments would eventually evolve into actual governments out of necessity because these different groups would conflict with each other.  My theory is that if you abandon all government, those who are powerful now, corporations, unions, organized crime and religion would immediately start to take over.  If had to pick one, I would guess that organized crime would only need about a week to rule the world. 

So governments were created to protect people's rights, and if that were the only role of government then I would gladly pay taxes for its protection, and it is the natural state of man to live under some kind of authority.  Despite the many flaws of government, it is possible for some people to construct governments that are much better than others.  So the goal here should not be to eliminate government, but to make it better.

Best wishes,

John Coffey

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Anarchist argument about helping the poor

... the problem with the argument is that people are concerned about the free rider problem.  There are certain burdens that people think that should be shared by everyone, in some sort of fair manner proportional to ability to pay.   People are typically unwilling to donate their resources if they think that others aren't going to do so.   And even if you think that 99% of the population will contribute, your contribution will make so little difference that you have no incentive to contribute.

If the free market is a game where the object is to accumulate or maintain wealth, then you have no incentive to part with your resources.  The only thing that might compel you to do so is compassion, but as long as there are other compassionate people out there, then you might figure that they can take care of the problem.  On the other hand, a "public" charity, and the same rational applies to other public burdens like police and national defense, gives people reassurance that everyone is sharing in the burden.  Nobody gets a free ride.  Nobody gets filthy rich because all his neighbors are compassionate and he isn't. 

In other words, people are willing to vote for public charity that will cost them money provided that they think it is fair.

As a practical matter, if you have a society that depends totally on voluntary contributions, then nobody really knows how much to contribute, because nobody knows how much anyone else is contributing.  If only a third of the people contribute, then they would all have to donate 300% of the amount that they would need to contribute if everyone did.   Individual contributors do not know how much to budget for charity, but a central authority would.

On the other hand, the problem with any taxpayer or third party payer payer program is that it becomes an all you can eat buffet.  There is no incentive for people to not to take a hand out.  The number of people dependent upon public charity tend to grow over time as more and more people become dependent upon public charity.   To combat this, you need to have incentives built into the system.