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Archive for the ‘ecomomics’ Category

The Hoover Institution/Victor Davis Hanson

Sunday, May 13th, 2018

Victor Davis Hanson was one of the top conservative thinkers of the 20th century and remains so, as well, in our early 21st century. He has just received a highly coveted award from the Hoover Instite at Stanford University.

Victor Davis Hanson Wins Edmund Burke Award
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Hoover Institution, Stanford University

This week Victor Davis Hanson won the 2018 Edmund Burke Award, which honors people who have made major contributions to the defense of Western civilization.

The honor is given annually by The New Criterion, a monthly journal of the arts and intellectual life. Edmund Burke was an 18th century Irish political philosopher who is credited with laying the foundations of modern conservatism.

Hanson, the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, studies and writes about the classics and military history. He received the sixth Edmund Burke Award for Service to Culture and Society at an April 26 dinner in New York City.

“I was honored to receive the award because Edmund Burke is often identified as both a defender of republican values and traditions and a foe of both autocracy and the radical mob rule of the French Revolution. I grew up on a farm and still live there most of the week. I’ve learned over a lifetime from rural neighbors and friends that agrarianism can inculcate a natural conservatism that I think Burke and others saw as an essential check on radicalism and an independence necessary to resist authoritarianism,” Hanson wrote in an email afterwards.

He noted that “candor, truth, and defiance in the face of historical and unfounded attacks on the West are essential.”

Western civilization has always been the only nexus where freedom, tolerance, constitutional government, human rights, economic prosperity, and security can be found together in their entirety, Hanson added.

“We can see that in the one-way nature of migrations from non-West to the West and in the alternatives on the world scene today. The great dangers to the West, ancient and modern, have always been its own successes, or rather the combination of the affluence that results from free-market capitalism and the entitlement accruing from consensual government. The result is that Westerners can become complacent, hypercritical of their own institutions, and convinced that they are not good if not perfect, or that the sins of mankind are the unique sins of the West,” he said.

This complacence, he said, and the idea that “utopia is attainable often results in amnesia” about the past and a sort of ignorance about the often brutal way the world works outside the West.

“Obviously if we do not defend our unique past and culture, who else will?” he said.

In his remarks on April 26, Roger Kimball, the editor and publisher of The New Criterion, said “Victor cuts across the chattering static of the ephemeral, bringing us back to a wisdom that is as clear-eyed and disabused as it is generous and serene.”

Hanson is also the chairman of the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict Working Group at the Hoover Institution.

The Rapid Decay and Slow Death Of Major Cities In “Blue” States.

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

A scathing report on life in major cities run by Democrat administrations. If the Democrats win nationally, state wise, and locally in 2018 and 2020, look out! All our major cities will look the same.

 The Hill

The Great Exodus Out of America’s Blue Cities

Kristin Tate

4/24/18

 

Am I the only one in my spinning class at Equinox in Manhattan who’s fed up paying $200 every month for a gym with clean showers, $3,000 in rent every month for an apartment without cockroaches and $8 every morning for a cup of coffee? Am I the only one moving through the greater part of New York City boroughs and seeing an inexorable march of urban decay matched with the discomfort of crowding and inexplicable costs? I know I am not.

 

New York is the most expensive city in America. Its lower-cost neighborhoods are riddled with crime and homelessness. Its public schools, some of which are among the worst in the nation, look more like prisons than places of learning.

 

With between up to 50 percent of their paycheck going to a combination of federal, local and city taxes, not including other consumer taxes baked into every aspect of their consumer practices, residents don’t even have the comfort of knowing that their tax expenditures are going to the improvement of their lives in the city. New York infamously misuses the hard-earned tax revenues of its citizens in ways that scarcely benefit them.

 

Eventually, city and state taxes, fees, and regulations become so burdensome that people and corporations jump ship. More people are currently fleeing New York than any other metropolitan area in the nation. More than 1 million people have moved out of the New York City metro area since 2010 in search of greener pastures, which amounts to a negative net migration rate of 4.4 percent.

 

The recently passed tax bill, which repeals the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, will only speed up the exodus. Thanks to the bill’s passage, many New York taxpayers will save little or nothing despite a cut in the federal rate. The state’s highest earners — who have been footing an outsized share of the bill — will pay tens of thousands of dollars more in income taxes in 2018. In New York alone, loss of the SALT deduction will remove $72 billion a year in tax deductions and affect 3.4 million residents.

 

And make no mistake: What’s happening in the Big Apple is a microcosm of what’s happening in the nation’s blue states, cities and towns. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago — the places where power and capital have traditionally congregated — have become so over-regulated, so overpriced and mismanaged, and so morally bankrupt and soft on crime that people are leaving in droves. Of course, these high-tax cities are the same places hit hardest by the removal of the SALT deduction.

 

The cost of popular moving truck services, like U-Haul, is largely created through the ironclad rules of supply and demand. Turns out, there is much higher demand for trucks leaving high-tax blue states heading to low-tax red states than vice versa.

 

A route from California to Texas, for example, is more than twice as expensive as a route from Texas to California. Want to go from Los Angeles to Dallas? $2,558. Returning back? $1,232. Texas is the No. 1 state people move trucks to, with states like Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina and Colorado rounding out the top 10. The states people are fleeing? New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois — and at the top, California.

 

These facts are not coincidences. In fact, in 2016 the Golden State lost almost 143,000 net residents to other states — that figure is an 11 percent increase from 2015. Between 2005 and 2015, Los Angeles and San Francisco alone lost 250,000 residents. The largest socioeconomic segment moving from California is the upper-middle class. The state is home to some of the most burdensome taxes and regulations in the nation. Meanwhile, its social engineering — from green energy to wealth redistribution — have made many working families poorer. As California begins its long decline, the influx outward is picking up in earnest.

 

The only way to slow the great exodus out of America’s blue meccas is to make these areas more affordable for middle-class families; the most significant way to do that is to lower state and city income taxes. And if residents don’t want to be “double taxed” following the removal of SALT deductions, the solution is simple: remove state and city income taxes altogether.

 

Houston is the nation’s fourth-largest city and is able to operate, while funding massive infrastructure projects to support its population, without income tax revenue. When residents keep more of their hard-earned money, they are more incentivized to spend that money in ways that make their community a better place.

 

This is a lesson high-tax states and cities need to learn if they want to avoid transforming into ghost towns.

 

Kristin Tate is author of the new book How Do I Tax Thee?: The Field Guide to the Great American Rip-Off. Follow her on Twitter @KristinBTate.

Republicans’ Worst Fears

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Trump is out to face political suicide. If he could only: keep his bloody mouth shut, STOP TWEETING, and go on a nation wide tour touting all he has accomplished and that he needs more Republican senators and more Republican representatives in order to prevent the Democrats from destroying all he has done.

Washington Examiner

 Trump Confirms Republicans’ Worst Fears

By David Drucker

3/20/18

President Trump is confirming House Republicans’ worst fears about the depth of their midterm woes after spending a weekend lashing out at special counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation.

House Republicans were relying heavily on the $1.4 trillion tax overhaul to counteract concerns about the president and revive their 2018 fortunes, burdened with traditional midterm headwinds made exponentially worse by dissatisfaction with Trump’s polarizing leadership.

But they need Trump’s cooperation to pull it off, and the president appears uninterested.

He has sidelined the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in favor of tariffs, while unleashing a tweet storm of attacks on Mueller and the Russia probe that amplify personal traits that make him such a liability for Republicans in November.

He’s a mercurial figure,” Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., who represents a battleground district in suburban Chicago, said in a recent interview with the Washington Examiner editorial board. “If he’d put the Twitter feed away, what a glorious thing; what a glorious thing. But I just don’t think that’s going to happen.”

House Republicans have staked their 23-seat majority on tax reform, signed into law by Trump in late December after clearing Congress amid unanimous Democratic opposition. Tax cuts and economic expansion, plus proof that Republican governance could deliver tangible results, is the party’s recipe for maintaining power.

For a time, it appeared the strategy was working. Trump and congressional Republicans worked together in January and most of February to promote the tax bill, a period that coincided with positive news about the national economy.

Voters’ optimism about the future jumped, Trump’s approval rating ticked up, and the generic ballot gauging which party Americans would prefer be in charge on Capitol Hill swung back toward the GOP. But Trump’s fascination with tax reform and his historic legislative victory had waned by early March.

Last week, during a fundraiser in Missouri to boost the Republican Senate front runner, state Attorney General Josh Hawley, the president briefly mentioned tax reform, reserving much more of his speech to defend new tariffs on steel and aluminum. A few days later, Trump targeted Mueller, an escalation of sorts of his criticism of the special counsel’s Russia investigation — he had never singled out Mueller personally in a tweet.

The president also lit into the FBI after Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired senior agent Andrew McCabe based on the finding of an as-yet unpublished inspector general probe into his role in the bureau’s investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she served as secretary of state.

“A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!” Trump tweeted on Monday, as his tirade continued.

But, Trump isn’t completely ignoring the tax law. He did manage one tweet highlighting it in the past week: “Six months ago I promised that we would cut taxes and bring Main Street roaring back — and that is exactly what is happening,” he said. And, his official outside group, America First Policies, is holding town hall meetings across the country to boost the law, featuring Vice President Mike Pence. The next event is Thursday in Manchester, N.H.

And, Trump still stands to boost Republicans in the battle for the Senate, where the party holds a slim 51-49 majority.Democrats are defending a handful of seats in red states that embrace the president. In states with influential rural and exurban populations, like Missouri, North Dakota, and West Virginia, Trump’s trade policies appeal to working class voters. To them and other Republicans in these conservative bastions, the president’s capriciousness as evidence that he is shaking up Washington — just like he promised.

House Republicans are in a tougher spot, especially after the Democratic upset last week in a special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District, which sided with Trump in 2016 by 20 percentage points. Their majority could hinge on defending nearly two-dozen districts won by Clinton in the 2016 election that are comprised of upscale, educated suburbs inclined to vote Republican but are unhappy with Trump.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was the GOP’s way of telling these voters — especially skeptical women — the party was delivering on traditional conservative goals despite Trump’s unorthodox behavior. It’s why House Republicans are so sensitive to the topics and messages favored by the president.

Earlier in the year, it appeared doable. The Democrats’ advantage on the generic ballot dwindled, as Trump and his allies in Congress focused equally on promoting the tax law. But as Trump has drifted back into old habits, the polling has drifted back toward the Democrats. In the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, Democrats led the generic ballot 50 percent to 40 percent.

“No plan for anyone on the Hill should start with what the president is saying, it should start with what we can get done and send him to sign,” said a veteran Republican operative, advising as to the best way for Republicans to deal with Trump and survive the midterms. “No matter what his daily focus is, the fact remains that if congressional Republicans could pass things and put them on his desk, he would sign them.”

The challenge Republicans face is competing with Trump’s megaphone. Presidents always influence the political landscape; their personas and message tend to define their parties, no matter how hard down-ticket candidates work to create separation.

Trump dominates the media environment more than his recent predecessors, making it that much more difficult for Republicans in Congress to be heard above the din generated by the president. But they’re trying. Along with affiliated big money advocacy groups on the outside, the Republican Party aside from Trump is stubbornly promoting the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, viewing their ability to sell the bill as integral to their midterm prospects.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC, and its sister political nonprofit, American Action Network, both aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., are investing millions this year to advance the tax bill. So is Americans for Prosperity, the conservative grassroots organization affiliated with the Koch political network.

There are “three keys” to withstanding a possible Democratic wave, a top Republican consultant said: “Localize your campaign; win on the tax issue,” and make the elections a referendum on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

 

Soros/Krasner/Philadelphia is the Victim

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Larry Krasner, Philadelphia’s new district attorney who was backed by billionaire George Soros, recently rolled out sweeping policy changes “to end mass incarceration and bring balance back to sentencing” in the City of Brotherly Love.

The progressive Democrat issued a memo to 300 assistant DAs last Tuesday outlining several bold reforms crafted to reduce the number of people in jail. The procedural shifts instruct prosecutors to stop charging people for possession of marijuana, seek lighter sentences with plea deals, and directs them to obtain approval from supervisors before requesting more punitive penalties.

As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

Krasner highlighted one element of the memo at a news conference Thursday: the requirement that prosecutors, when asking a judge to sentence a defendant to prison, specify how much it will cost taxpayers to keep the person behind bars.

Taken in full, the five-page document – which also addresses policies around plea offers, diversion programs, and some charging decisions – is likely to impact thousands of criminal cases in the state’s busiest prosecutor’s office and one of the nation’s most violent cities.

Criminal justice experts said some of the guidelines appeared to be unprecedented, a blend of research and practices touted by reform advocates but perhaps never made so explicit in writing by a top prosecutor.

The memo encourages prosecutors to consider several department talking points before making their sentencing recommendations, such as:

“The cost of one year of unnecessary incarceration (at $42,000.00 – $60,000.00) is in the range of the cost of one year’s salary for a beginning teacher, police officer, fire fighter, social worker, Assistant District Attorney, or addiction counselor.”

“Pennsylvania’s and Philadelphia’s over-incarceration have bankrupted investment in policing, public education, medical treatment of addiction, job training and economic development – which prevent crime more effectively than money invested in corrections,” wrote Krasner, who had never prosecuted a criminal case before taking office two months ago.

During his thirty years as a defense attorney, Krasner became known for filing 75 civil rights lawsuits against the city’s police department and representing radical activists from groups like Black Lives Matter and Occupy Philadelphia, pro bono. After making his lack of prosecutorial experience a focal point of his campaign, Krasner won in a landslide last November, capturing 75 percent of the vote.

“This is a story about a movement,” Krasner said after his victory. “And this is a movement that is tired of seeing the system that has systematically picked on poor people – primarily black and brown people.”

Black and brown residents constitute approximately 57 percent of Philadelphia’s population.

Soros had contributed more than $1.6 million to a political action committee that supported Krasner’s candidacy.The organization, called Philadelphia Justice & Public Safety, paid for people to walk neighborhoods campaigning on his behalf and also financed television commercials and other advertisements.

Krasner, who was sworn-in on January 2, fired 31 prosecutors who did not share his vision during his first week on the job. Last month, he eliminated cash bail for low-level offenses. His anti-incarceration platform is the latest of many Soros-backed reform efforts intended to reverse local sentencing laws throughout the nation.

In 2011, Soros’ international grantmaking network and other deep-pocketed foundations began funding multi-pronged drives demanding California change its policies on crime and imprisonment. Since then, Soros has spent millions convincing voters in the Golden State to approve ballot measures that reclassified many felonies to misdemeanors and revamped the state’s parole guidelines. Soros-funded political action committees – like the one that supported Krasner – started sprouting up around the country in 2015, established to elect progressive prosecutors on the local level.

As Politico previously reported:

Soros has spent on district attorney campaigns in Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas through a network of state-level super PACs and a national “527” unlimited-money group, each named a variation on “Safety and Justice.” (Soros has also funded a federal super PAC with the same name.) Each organization received most of its money directly from Soros, according to public state and federal financial records …

Some of these targeted, Soros-influenced races had been researched by progressive groups that identified potential regions and electorates which might be more receptive to transform its local criminal justice system fundamentally.

“There is without question a national movement toward having progressive prosecutors all over the country,” Krasner told HBO’s “Vice News Tonight” in an interview broadcast last Wednesday. “It’s in Chicago; it’s in San Francisco, Houston, it’s happening quickly. The rate of winning is high.”


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