Saturday, December 31, 2011

Politics is Every Citizen’s Personal Responsibility!

A.J. Cameron 
Friday, December 30, 2011

Every thinking, patriotic citizen realizes that our country is under assault by elected politicians, front organizations that support these traitors, and the media, but how many ‘patriots’ are actually engaged in taking responsibility for remedying this situation?

One of my favorite quotes is ‘You can’t turn on the right people without turning off the wrong people.’  This concept will be tested through this column.

Life will give us only what we are willing to fight for!  Have you ever known anyone in Satan’s army of Progressives, Marxists, Socialists, Fascists and Communists admit to any fault, or back down from any of his/her offensive and abhorrent positions?  These miscreants don’t exist in a vacuum.  There is a saying in sales that ‘a person’s silence implies acceptance or agreement.’  We don’t have a silent majority; we have an irresponsible and timid majority.  When are the true patriots going to make saving our families, careers, quality of life, and democratic republic as high a priority as those who are masterminding the destruction of our families, jobs, quality of life and democratic republic?

If you are a parent, do you coach your children to take responsibility for their actions?  If so, how can you abdicate your responsibility to ensure that our democratic republic will be there for them and your grandchildren?  Way too many people do not want to get their hands dirty by dealing with politics; they perceive politics as being beneath them.  They believe politics is for others to deal with while they continue to pursue their careers and play taxi for their children.  Whatever happened to the belief of, ‘if it is to be, it is up to me?’  If this line of thought offends you, good!  Your motivation to take action is the motivation for this column!  After you cool down, maybe you will realize how selfish and irresponsible it is to run from the biggest fight our country has ever faced.  If not, you surrender any rights to ‘gritch and moan’ when your career crashes and/or the security of your healthy investment portfolio is hijacked by a government gone mad, or the OWS ghouls.

Those who avoid politics have a list of reasons for not becoming involved - what if our founding fathers had employed the same way of thinking?  Some say it is a dirty business.  Really, what was your first clue?  It is a dirty business because so few of those elected actually honor campaign promises and their oaths of office. 

Party leadership can coerce even those who go into politics with the best of intentions if they don’t have us holding them accountable for their actions.  The reality is that those in elected office are representing the small pool of individuals who are involved in politics.  We need to expand the school of those who are politically involved in the pool of politics, and get all of us swimming in formation!  As more of us become informed and involved, we will force the change necessary to return our political system to a representative republic of all of us, not just the fringe groups who have been willing to jump into the pool.  Others not involved say they are too busy.  If they were to be diagnosed with cancer, or some other life-threatening disease, they would be forced to alter their schedule.  Our political situation is this dire!  It is time for all who love our country and have a vested interest in preserving it, along with their quality of life, to quit hiding behind this overused excuse!  There are other excuses, but, after all, an excuse is, at best, an excuse, and one excuse is as irresponsible as another is!    

If you are familiar with Dave Ramsey, you know he is famous for his ‘envelope system’ for helping people control their financial responsibilities.  It is well past the time for those of us who abhor what is happening to our country to employ a similar system to incorporate our time, talents and treasury to address our political responsibilities.  The hurricane of the Barack ‘Katrina’ Obama regime has swept over the entire country and has buckled many of our Constitutional levees designed to protect us from just such an onslaught.

One of these levees is our moral underpinnings of our republic.  While many people focus upon the financial bankruptcy that is being thrust upon the American citizenry, individually, collectively, and inter-generationally, our social and moral bankruptcy is even more devastating.  Without a moral foundation, there is no basis for a sound financial foundation.     

Edmund Burke’s quote, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing’ is very apropos to our current fiscal, social and political environment.  We need to turn our frustration into motivation for our individual and collective benefit.  Think about how frightened the traitors and fringes of society will be when the masses, who are not currently involved, become involved in the political process. 

‘The more, the merrier’ is a quote that applies here also.  The scabs of society rely upon the irresponsible majority to remain uninvolved.  By coming together, each patriot can add his/her contribution, lessening the burden now upon the few who are standing against the evil that is permeating our country.  If the newcomers to the political scene are successful in business, they probably have skills that are needed to blunt the blitzkrieg of those who seek to raise themselves up by tearing the rest of us down.  They may also have the treasury to support those who seek to honor their oaths to represent us. 

According to Mark 8:36 – 38, ‘What profit does a man show who gains the whole world and destroys himself in the process?  What can a man offer in exchange for his life?  If anyone in this faithless and corrupt age is ashamed of me and my doctrine, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes with the holy angels in his Father’s glory.’  I realize the traditional focus of this passage is not about politics, but I believe it applies to our political plight and us.  Satan’s constant assault against God and mankind demands that we not abdicate our personal responsibility for our families, our communities, and our nation.   

Our Creator has blessed our nation beyond all other nations.  Why else are so many born outside of this country willing to risk everything, even their lives, to enter our country, legally, or illegally?  With these blessings comes the responsibility (darn, there’s that word again) for us to protect ourselves, and our republic, from all enemies, foreign and domestic.  Only Rip Van Winkle and those who don’t give a rip about our republic could feign to believe that these are not perilous times.

We don’t have to revert to an Arab Spring-like revolt to rescue our country from the agitators and traitors in our government and media, but the longer it takes for us to come together for our own benefit, and for the benefit of our nation, the greater our challenge is becoming to be successful in that effort.  The 2012 elections promise to be the dirtiest and most savage of our lifetime.  Those entrenched in power will not give up their power easily.  New Year’s is a time for making resolutions.  Let’s make a resolution to ourselves, and to each other, to take personal responsibility for saving our constitutional republic from the thugs who weigh upon us, carrying on the legacy of our founding fathers, and all who have sacrificed so much so that we are free to pursue our happiness.

Canada Free Press

Obama's Foreign Policy

December 31, 2011
By Elise Cooper

David Ignatius wrote in the Washington Post, "... foreign policy could actually be President Barack Obama's strong suit as he campaigns next year." American Thinker asked foreign policy experts if they agreed.

Candidate Obama in 2008 criticized President George W. Bush for being a unilateralist and having an attitude of America First through superiority.  Obama called for a change in the way foreign affairs is conducted through his concept of diplomatic engagement, having bilateral support for resolving conflicts.  The US should be part of a globalized world, engaging rogue states without preconditions.  The experts interviewed considered different areas of the world in answering the question: Is the United States better off, worse off, or the same regarding foreign affairs since Obama became President?

The War On Terror

The attitude of those interviewed, is that they would give President Obama a sliver of success in this arena because he was able to take out high value terrorist targets.  As Congressman Mike Rogers (R-MI), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee summarized, the President should be given credit for abandoning his theories and adopting many Bush policies; yet, this strategy of not taking prisoners means there is not much intelligence gathered.  On the other hand, when intelligence is gained, as in the Bin Laden raid, it was quickly made public. Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA cannot understand "why this administration releases so much information.  We got a cache of information from the Bin Laden raid and I am thinking 'why are you saying that?'" Ambassador James Woolsey, another former CIA Director, answered, "when this administration does this it is not just strange, but idiotic."


Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FLA), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, is disappointed that the President has decided to completely withdraw all troops against the advice of the military commanders.  He cites the fact that America released Ali Musa Daqduq, a terrorist associated with Hezb'allah and Iran's Revolutionary Guard, to the Iraqi government.  Rooney is also upset that the President gave up the debate with the Iraqi Prime Minister as to which country would be responsible for prosecuting American soldiers if they were suspected of getting into trouble.  Rooney feels that in both cases the President should have been tougher, that he could have leaned on the Iraqis privately, and "that he is not a good negotiator.  What kind of message does this send, especially to Iran, who has an interest in Iraq?  This was one place I thought we had a chance of a partnership." Instead, the experts see this withdrawal as telling those around the world that America can be pushed around.


As with Iraq the President has ignored military advice for political reasons, keeping a campaign promise as he runs for re-election. Woolsey strongly emphasizes, "There was no reason to have the surge and to press to withdraw a vast amount of fighters by next September, making them unavailable during the fighting season.  

The only reason to pull out that large a number of troops so early is that he wanted people to see on television a month or so before the election pictures of troops coming home.  This could prove to be a disastrous decision.  With Iraq and Afghanistan there is a very good chance he is going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory."

Then there is this administration's decision to negotiate indirectly with the Taliban terrorist, Mullah Omar, pursuing the policy of engaging the enemy.  Hayden explained, "Once the administration decided that the way out of this is a political settlement, that you are not going to totally win this on the battlefield, you have to talk to people.  However, with the American commitment to withdraw forces, the enemy knows that you will be less strong tomorrow than you are today. That's hardly an incentive for them to negotiate seriously now."

This arena can be considered another failure. Congressman Rogers summarized to American Thinker that nations are confused and told of a meeting with a very senior Middle Eastern intelligence official who stated, "tell us what your foreign policy is; we don't understand it." 


The President reached out, as part of his policy, and asked the Iranians to return the UAV they had captured.  Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) serves on the Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations. He believes that this was yet another example of making America look weak and foolish since "there was never a chance that Iran would return the lollipop. Let's not forget that Iran planned and almost pulled off a blatant political assassination in Washington DC."  Woolsey argues that Obama's attempts to negotiate have allowed the Iranians time to develop a nuclear weapon.  He does not understand "why this administration is dragging its feet on sanctioning Iran's Central Bank. They are behaving as if they are getting ready to live with an Iranian nuclear weapon, which will change the whole picture in the Middle East. Iran will have a lot more power behind their threats to dominate the region.  This policy has been absolutely worse than worthless." All interviewed agree that the dealings with Iran are a failure since there is a pattern of disrespect for America. 


A former high-ranking CIA official explained that under the Bush Administration there were decent relations.  The Bush policy was to find a way to work together, that they were able to find people who were willing to work with America.  However, they were not naïve and did not trust those in the Pakistani military or intelligence. Congressman Rooney sees the relationship deteriorating since Obama become President.  He relays the story that during a recent trip, "Pakistan told us to our face they plan on swapping out our relationship with a Chinese relationship.  Now our relationship is just horrible.  Before we had a relationship where we were comfortable with each other. We need to send a message that this is a two way street. The US should give aid to the Pakistani intelligence and military in exchange for cooperation." If not, Pakistan will become a failed state with nuclear weapons, which will be based on a failed foreign policy.


It appears that the Obama Administration has betrayed a long-standing ally. They make Israel feel as if America does not have its back. Elliott Abrams, a former Bush Middle Eastern advisor, feels that President Obama has managed to achieve very poor relations with both the Arab and Israeli governments.  The relations with Israel are terrible since this administration has decided to force Israel to make concessions without a quid pro quo from the Palestinians.  Abrams recounts, "Obama started out with his speech in Cairo where he did not visit Israel.  This gave Israelis the impression that he was pro-Arab and that the President did not understand their situation at all. He also had a miserable relationship with the Israeli Prime Minister from the first day.  Remember Obama became President first and then Bibi Netanyahu came in a couple of months later.  So it wasn't as if he had done anything that infuriated Obama and the White House.  The day he came into office they were hostile to him.  Obama has a completely bizarre policy, demanding a complete construction freeze of the settlements which no other President has ever done as a pre-condition for negotiations. The criticism has been completely unbalanced." 

Abrams sees this policy as a complete failure.  Furthermore, "The President does not have close relations with any of the foreign leaders unlike Clinton and Bush.  He seems to hold himself aloof.  Personal relationships matter and either he does not care much about them or he is not good at them." Woolsey agrees and goes further saying that Newt Gingrich has it correct, that "the Palestinians are an invented people. President Obama is being nice to the Palestinians, never criticizing them; yet, leaning hard on our ally, Israel, which has produced absolutely nothing useful."

North Korea

With the death of President Kim Jong II will President Obama be able to do something he has not done for the past three years, establish some kind of diplomatic relationship?  Hayden sees that Jong's death will result in instability over the issue of succession.  Since the regime will be focused on internal matters there will be no time for external negotiations. However, Hayden does refer to Kim Jong Un as "his father's son."  

Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX), a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, sees the policy toward "the bullies of the world, the outlaws, the North Koreans and Iranians, as a failure.  They don't fear us. The world is a more dangerous and insecure place."


The experts point to a number of instances in the last few years where China has shown a lack of respect for the US.  They do not play by the rules, having an "in your face" incident when the military unveiled a stealth jet during Secretary of Defense Gate's visit.  There is also the attempt by the Chinese to dominate the South China Sea as well as recently imposing tariffs on American SUV's coming into their country.  Hayden does not view China as an enemy; yet, also sees the need to have a strong American presence in the surrounding areas in order to "make it more difficult for the Chinese to do something they or we will regret in the future."

A high-ranking former CIA official is worried that America is way too dependent on creditors such as China, fearing it creates a fragile national security.  He stated, "We should not be indebted to another country since they hold power over us.  We need China more than we should, which means we sacrifice leverage.  This is not a good position to be in."


All interviewed scoff at the supposed "re-set," defining re-set as cuddling.  For example, the Russians were able to get this Administration to concede the placement of the missile defense program in Poland and the Czech Republic; even though it would have countered anything Iran develops. 

Congressman Rogers told American Thinker that at the end of a meeting a Russian General commented; "Its great to see this Administration admitting you are a nation in decline."

President Obama has failed to stand up to Russia or create a mutual relationship.  He loses the tough negotiations because he is constantly negotiating from a position of weakness. Congressman Rogers cites the uncooperativeness of both Russia and China in the handling of Iran. Since Obama has become President, the relationship with Russia has been a set back, not a re-set.


Everyone interviewed agrees with Congressman Rooney that Europe no longer knows what role America plays in the world and no longer "looks at us at the shining city on the hill." 

Congressman Rogers told of an incident where a bust of Winston Churchill, sent to America during the George W. Bush Administration to symbolize century old allies standing together, was packed up and returned by President Obama.  He used this example to show an overall policy of insulting friends.

Border Nations:  Canada and Mexico

President Obama certainly has not done anything to bolster the relationship with America's border nations.  Congressman Poe cannot understand why Obama chose to lose the opportunity of working with a close and stable ally.  The Keystone Pipeline project would have ended up in his district, creating more American jobs and allowing the oil to come from Canada instead of Saudi Arabia. He wonders if President Obama's reasons for the delay, requiring an environmental review, are seen by the Canadians as an insult, since "no one has ever accused Canada of being a polluting nation.  If any nation does it in an environmentally safe way it is the Canadians."

Congressman Gosar, whose State borders Mexico, sees America's relationship worsening.  There are the drug cartels, which move freely in and out of the US because of an unsecured border, and the debacle of putting guns into the hands of known criminals, which caused at least 200 Mexican casualties.  Then there is the lifting of the moratorium on drug laundering money by this administration.  He noted, "this President misuses facts and lies about them.  For example, the administration said that the moratorium was lifted with the cooperation of Mexico; yet, Calderon, the Mexican President, is vehemently denying it and saying 'we don't know what you are talking about.' We had an opportunity to build up this relationship and instead are tearing it down."

The way this administration deals with America's border nations is to avoid making tough decisions, never wanting to be held accountable, and lacking transparency.


The consensus of those interviewed is that America has a precarious position in many areas of the world and after thinking long and hard could not come up with too many parts of the world where the US is better off since Obama became President.  As Congressman Poe clearly stated, "It seems to be a trend to treat our enemies better than we treat our allies.  Instead of negotiating from a position of strength we negotiate from a position of timidity, a policy that is the antipathy of President Reagan." Despite his rhetoric as a Presidential candidate that blamed President Bush's policy and style, going nation-by-nation Obama's foreign policy is a failure.  There cannot be anything worse for foreign affairs than if Obama is re-elected, except Ron Paul becoming President.

American Thinker

Building the Perfect Beast: How the Political Class & Their Cronies Rig the System

The Political Class has honed a dangerous skill, building the perfect undetectable fraud machine. Americans need to learn to spot these scams for their own protection and realize that the perpetrators can come from either political party and often work in cahoots with attorneys or big business.

Think about three seemingly unconnected news stories, all examples of costly or dangerously indictable fraud machines…
  • The economic collapse of 2008 was caused in part by relaxed mortgage rules that allowed borrowers to get a home loan without a down payment or even proof of income in some cases.
  • In the Pigford settlement, claimants were able to get $50,000 checks by asserting without proof that they had “attempted to farm.”
  • In a move strongly supported by the NAACP and other liberal advocacy groups, the Obama Department of Justice just stopped South Carolina’s plan to put in place some minimal ID requirements for voting. Currently voters in a number of states don’t need to show any photo ID or other identity checks in order to cast a ballot.
All three stories are examples of systems that have been intentionally set up with such low standards that they invite fraud. But ingeniously, they have also been set up in a such a way that makes them almost critic-proof because the lack of standards makes detection of fraud nearly impossible. When the system is questioned, the defenders, creators and beneficiaries then point to the lack of “proof” of fraud as a reason to keep the status.

Thus, a self-perpetuating fraud scheme is kept alive as long as possible.

Make no mistake, these scams are costly….

  • In the mortgage crisis, politicians got to claim they were helping the poor become homeowners, thus helping to shore up their voter base. Meanwhile the politicians made insider trading profits and eventually bailed out the too-big-to-fail financial institutions. The cost of this one is almost too large to calculate; it helped trash the entire economy.
  • In Pigford, politicians (mostly Democrats and the Congressional Black Caucus but some Republicans as well) got to claim they were helping black farmers in order to help them win elections. The USDA was able to claim victory without ever solving the underlying problems of racism. Attorneys made tens of millions of dollars.  Taxpayers shelled out billions in fraudulent claims
  • In the voter ID clashes, both sides seem to agree that having lax voter ID laws favors the Democrats. Ironically, though, the law that allows the Obama Department of Justice to stop South Carolina voter ID law was forced through by a Republican who wanted to keep gerrymandering to protect GOP seats.
I first recognized the existence of the fraud machine while working on the Pigford story. Defenders of the Pigford settlement would sometimes ask for proof of the fraud, as though I were going to pull out a long list of names with red circles around them and say, “See! Bill Johnson committed fraud! Here’s right here on the list!”

No such proof exists, and I quickly realized the scam; it can’t exist. The system is set up so that almost nobody gets caught. The whole purpose is for nobody to get caught. In the case of Pigford, $50,000 checks were given out to people who claimed that they went to USDA and were sent home with no paperwork.

There’s no possible way to prove or disprove such a claim but in Pigford, that’s enough to get you a nice fat check and to get your lawyer a nice fat cut of that check. Who set up the system? The lawyers and politicians who benefit the most from it, that’s who.

Defenders of the system weasel out of arguments by claiming “there is no proof” while ignoring the fact that the very nature of the systems don’t allow for any proof. Sometimes, the proof comes later after the entire system has collapsed (as in the mortgage crisis) or when large disparities are shown in collected data (such as the fact that there are three times more Pigford claimants than there were black farmers) that are impossible to for rational people ignore.

But we’re not dealing with disinterested rational people. We’re dealing with multi-billion dollar scams that keep the establishment firmly in place.

Any system with no reasonable checks is indefensible on its face. The actual incidents of fraud aren’t what need to be proven in order for the system to be criticized.  A system that clearly invites lying, cheating and stealing will probably prove to have plenty once they are exposed but the regular folks falling prey to the temptations of a corrupt systems shouldn’t be the main focus of inquiry. It’s the people who built the indefectible fraud machines who need to be exposed and prosecuted. The small time fraudsters are the grease that keeps the Political Class’s money engine pumping. It’s time for citizens to throw wrenches in these scam systems once and for all.

Big Government

Ezra Klein, Chris Hayes Reveal What DC Media Knew: Obama Was Willing to Let Payroll Tax Cut Expire

Larry O’Connor’s well-caught “sound bite for the day” yesterday deserves further elaboration.

Yesterday, on MSNBC, left-wing journalists Chris Hayes of The Nation and Ezra Klein of the Washington Postno strangers to Democrat-media collusion–revealed that they had been part of an off-the-record White House briefing in which it was made clear that President Barack Obama planned all along to let the temporary payroll tax holiday expire, and then blame Republicans.

The meeting may have been the one first revealed on December 19, 2011 by ABC News’s senior White
House correspondent, Jake Tapper, who tweeted that day that “a group of progressive media stars” had attended a private meeting at the White House with the President.

However, if Hayes is to be believed, the message of that meeting may have extended far beyond the “progressive” media niche at MSNBC, and reached a broader audience in Washington.

According to Hayes, “everyone in Washington” knew that Obama wanted the payroll tax extension to fail–and yet the same journalists eagerly covered the subsequent payroll tax debate as if Republicans were the only obstacle to an extension. The result of the media’s collusion was a year-end political victory for Obama and the Democrats at the expense of House leaders, the Tea Party, and Republicans in general.

Here is the exchange between Hayes and Klein (0:44 to 1:04), with MSNBC contributor Melissa Harris-Perry chiming in encouragingly (transcript follows):

Hayes: You and I went to the White House and, you know–off-the-record conversation, but it was very clear–
Klein: (Laughing) Shhhhh!
Hayes: –it was very, it was very clear–
Harris-Perry: You know, this will be on the record (laughs)–
Hayes: OK. And this was nothing that wasn’t reported.
Klein: That’s right.
Hayes: They [the White House] were willing to let them [payroll tax cuts]. They were willing.
Klein: Yeah.
Hayes: Everyone knew that. Everyone in Washington knew it, [House Speaker] John Boehner knew it–everyone knew they were willing to let them expire. That’s the one confrontation they won.

The fact that even Republicans may have known that Obama did not intend to extend the payroll tax holiday strengthened the White House’s negotiating position.

It is also, however, a glaring indictment of the mainstream media, which knew of Obama’s true plan while encouraging Americans to blame the Tea Party and the Republicans, eagerly echoing Democrats’ accusations that the Tea Party had held the nation “hostage” for political gain.

In fact, as Hayes and Klein admit–laughingly, and why not?–Obama was the one holding a gun to the heads of the American people, knowing that a dutiful Washington press corps would erase his fingerprints.

Big Journalism

Friday, December 30, 2011

Obama Has United the World…in Opposition to Bad U.S. Tax Policy

Last year, I came up with a saying that “Bad Government Policy Begets More Bad Government Policy” and labeled it “Mitchell’s Law” during a bout of narcissism.

There are lots of examples of this phenomenon, such as the misguided War on Drugs being a precursor to intrusive, costly, and ineffective money laundering policies.

Or how about government healthcare subsidies driving up the price of healthcare, which then leads politicians to decide that there should be even more subsidies because healthcare has become more expensive.

But if you want a really stark example of Mitchell’s Law, the internal revenue code is littered with examples.

The politicians created a nightmarishly complex tax system, for instance, and then decided that enforcing the wretched system required the erosion of civil liberties and constitutional freedoms.

The latest example of this process involves the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, a piece of legislation that was imposed in 2010 because politicians assumed they could collect lots of tax revenue every single year by getting money from so-called tax havens.

This FATCA law basically imposes a huge regulatory burden on all companies that have international transactions involving the United States, and all foreign financial institutions that want to invest in the United States. It is such a disaster that even the New York Times has taken notice, recently reporting that:
…the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or Fatca, as it is known, is now causing alarm among businesses outside the United States that fear they will have to spend billions of dollars a year to meet the greatly increased reporting burdens, starting in 2013. American expatriates also say the new filing demands are daunting and overblown. …The law demands that virtually every financial firm outside the United States and any foreign company in which Americans are beneficial owners must register with the Internal Revenue Service, check existing accounts in search of Americans and annually declare their compliance. Noncompliance would be punished with a withholding charge of up to 30 percent on any income and capital payments the company gets from the United States. …The I.R.S., under pressure from angry and confused financial officials abroad, has extended the deadline for registration until June 30, 2013, and is struggling to provide more detailed guidance by the end of this year. But beginning in 2012, many American expatriates — already the only developed-nation citizens subject to double taxation from their home government — must furnish the I.R.S. with detailed personal information on their overseas assets. …He said his sense was that Fatca required companies “to prove your innocence.” …Then there is a question of reciprocity: Would the United States accept the same demands for information from the tax authorities in other countries — say Russia or China?
It’s worth noting at this point that FATCA only exists because of bad tax law. If the United States had a simple and fair flat tax, there would be no double taxation of income that is saved and invested. As such, the IRS wouldn’t have any reason to care whether Americans had bank accounts and/or investments in places such as London, Hong Kong, and Panama.

But as is so often the case with politicians, they choose not to fix bad policy and instead decide to impose one bad policy on top of another. Hence, the crowd in Washington enacting FATCA and sending the IRS on a jihad.

By the way, the New York Times was late to the party. Many other news outlets already have noticed that the United States is about to suffer a big self-inflicted economic wound.

Indeed, what’s remarkable about Obama’s FATCA policy is that the world in now united. But it’s not united for something big and noble, such as peace, commerce, prosperity, or human rights. Instead, it’s united in opposition to intrusive, misguided, and foolish American tax law.

Let’s look at some examples.

o From the United Kingdom, a Financial Times column warns that, “This summer, the senior management of one of Asia’s largest financial groups is quietly mulling a potentially explosive question: could it organise some of its subsidiaries so that they could stop handling all US Treasury bonds? …what is worrying this particular Asian financial group is…a new law called the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act…the new rules leave some financial officials fuming in places such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong and Singapore. Little wonder. Never mind the fact that implementing these measures is likely to be costly. …Hence the fact that some non-US asset managers and banking groups are debating whether they could simply ignore Fatca by creating subsidiaries that never touch US assets at all. “This is complete madness for the US – America needs global investors to buy its bonds,” fumes one bank manager. “But not holding US assets might turn out to be the easiest thing for us to do.”

o From India, the Economic Times reports that, “FATCA, or the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, will require overseas banks to report U.S. clients to the Internal Revenue Service, but its loose definition of who is a U.S. citizen will create a huge administrative burden and could push non-residents to slash their U.S. exposure, some bankers say. …Bankers say the scheme will be extremely costly to implement, and some say that as the legislation stands, any bank with a client judged to be a U.S. citizen will be also obliged to supply documentation on all other clients. “FATCA will cost 10 times to the banks than it will generate for the IRS. It is going to be extremely complicated,” said Yves Mirabaud, managing partner at Mirabaud & Cie and Swiss Bankers Association board member.”

o Discussing the impact in Canada, Reuters notes, “The new regulation has drawn criticism from the world’s banks and business people about its reach and costs. ..”Hundreds of millions of dollars spent on developing compliance processes to target Canadian citizens would not be a useful exercise, and they are, for the most part, people who actually have no tax liabilities because they do not earn income in the United States,” [Canadian Finance Minister] Flaherty said.”

o A Taiwan news outlet said, “Taiwan’s domestic banks will reportedly reduce holdings of American bonds worth an estimated NT$100 billion (US$3.33 billion) due to the U.S. government’s recent decision to impose 30% tax on foreign-investment income in U.S. securities as bonds. Taiwan’s eight government-linked banks reportedly hold U.S. financial products worth over US$2 billion… On April 8, 2011, the U.S. government issued a notice advising foreign financial institutions to meet certain obligations under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), under which foreign financial institutions are subject to complex reporting rules related to their U.S. accounts.”

o From the Persian Gulf, the Bahrain Daily News noted, “A US law…has drawn the criticism of the world’s banks and business people, who dismiss it as imperialist and “the neutron bomb of the global financial system.” The unusually broad regulation, known as FATCA, or the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, makes the world’s financial institutions something of an extension of the tax-collecting Internal Revenue Service – something no other country does for its tax regime. …Even the European Commission has objected, and experts say other countries may create their own FATCA-style regimes for US banks or withdraw from US capital markets. In a barrage of letters to the Treasury, IRS and Congress, opponents from Australia to Switzerland to Hong Kong assail FATCA’s application to a broad swath of institutions and entities.”

o A story from Singapore finds, “For many years, thousands of foreign investors have put their money into American shares or other investments. Now, however, a somewhat obscure law called the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) may make investments in the United States for everyone, from billionaires to the man on the street, here in Singapore far less attractive. …some banks or investment managers may advise customers not to invest in the US. … “private bankers are publicly advising their clients to clear their portfolios of all US securities”. A fund manager here told me his company is also advising clients to avoid US investments, and other companies may similarly start telling large clients as well as smaller ones the same story. Investors could then see recommendations not to invest in the US, and they may put their money elsewhere. …As consulting firm PwC said, “some institutions could decide that complying with the due diligence and verification provisions may not be cost effective” so they may stop making investments in the US. Banks or other asset managers may similarly decide it is easier not to offer US investments than to try and comply with the FATCA.”

o From Switzerland, a story “about the backlash from United States expats and the financial sector to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)” reports that, “Growing numbers of American expatriates are renouncing their US citizenship over a controversial new tax law and ever more burdensome fiscal and reporting obligations. …banks and business people who are supposed to enforce it on behalf of the US tax man are worried about its costly administrative burden… it’s just too expensive. The consequence will be that they cut out US clients and stop investing in the US. …Three or four years ago no one talked about renouncing nationality – now it’s an open discussion. That’s a major shift in mentality.

o Writing about the reaction from Europe, one columnist noted, “FATCA encourages foreign financial institutions to limit their exposure to U.S. assets. In a joint letter to the Treasury and the IRS, the European Banking Federation and the Institute of International Bankers, which together represent most of the non-U.S. banks and securities firms that would be affected by FATCA, warned that “many [foreign financial institutions], particularly smaller ones or those with minimal U.S. investments or U.S. customers, will opt out of U.S. securities rather than enter into a direct contractual agreement with a foreign tax authority (the IRS) that imposes substantial new obligations and the significant reputational, regulatory, and financial risks of potentially failing those obligations.” A widespread divestment of U.S. securities by institutions seeking to avoid the burdens of FATCA could have real and harmful effects on the U.S. economy.”

These press excerpts help demonstrate the costs of FATCA, but what about the benefits? After all, maybe the law will lead to lots of good results that offset the high regulatory costs and lost investment for the American economy.

Well, the only “benefit” anybody had identified is that FATCA will transfer more money from the productive sector of the economy to the government. Indeed, Obama argued during the 2008 campaign that cracking down on “tax havens” with proposals such as FATCA would give politicians lots of additional money to spend.

But when the legislation was approved in 2010, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the new law would raise only $8.7 billion over 10 years, not the $100 billion that Obama claimed could be collected every single year. This video has some of the damning details.

One final point demands attention.

While it appears that the rest of the world is against FATCA, that’s not completely true. Some international bureaucrats in Paris, funded by American tax dollars, actually want the rest of the world to adopt the same Orwellian system. Here’s a blurb from the New York Times story.
Jeffrey Owens, a tax expert at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said catching tax evaders was “a concern that many member countries share.” If countries could agree to new global reporting standards for exchanging information, he said, then “maybe there’s a way forward.”
In other words, the pinhead bureaucrats at the OECD think FATCA’s such a swell idea that they want to create a global network of tax police. So not only would America erode the sovereignty of other nations because of our bad tax law, but those other nations would be able to impose their bad tax law on income earned in America!

And just in case you think that’s just irresponsible demagoguery, it’s already beginning to happen. Check out this IRS regulation, proposed by the Obama Administration, that would require American banks to put foreign law above American law.

Big Government

Our Growing Police State

December 30, 2011
By Matt Holzmann

Last week, the FBI released its preliminary crime statistics for the first half of 2011, and across the nation violent crimes dropped 6.7% while property crimes dropped 3.7%. This continues a downward trend that dates back to the 1970's.

Many of the violent crimes reported this year have been sensational.  Representative Gabrielle Giffords and Federal Judge John Roll were targeted by a lone, crazed gunman and there were a number of other gruesome crimes. The Giffords/Roll shooting was brought to an end by a bystander. The Ft. Hood massacre on November 5, 2009, which killed 13 American soldiers and wounded 29 others was brought to an end by two base police officers using conventional sidearms and procedures. The warning signs for this terrorist attack, the first on American soil since 9/11, were ignored and yet it was the local cops on the beat who faced and dealt with a terrible crime.

Every case one can think of was resolved by conventional methods.  And yet the police powers of government on a local and national level have been growing at an alarming rate.  And despite a dissonant data base there is a growing trend towards militarization of police forces and of an invasive state security apparatus.

The concept of militarization of police forces in this country began with the Special Weapons & Tactics (SWAT) teams in Los Angeles in 1967 -68.   Its formation was a response to  events including the Watts riots of 1965, and the emergence of snipers such as Charles Whitman, who killed 13 people on the campus of the University of Texas in 1966; the rise of armed revolutionary groups such as the Weathermen and, later, the Symbionese Liberation Army. Eventually SWAT returned to a more traditional police role of hostage/barricade incidents and suicide intervention.

Prior to and concurrent with this, the FBI in its battle with communism regularly investigated American citizens and the Hoover Files became famous.  Today they are known primarily for salacious tidbits in the files on celebrities such as John Lennon and Marilyn Monroe.  It was a time with different mores and the democratic principles of the country were in a cold war with a real and formidable enemy.  Such was Hoover's justification.

With the fall of the Soviet Empire, instead of the "end of history", the world was fragmented into dysfunctional states and many of the same pawns used during the Cold War turned their hands towards criminal operations.  The drug wars became the new front for  law enforcement. Sometimes the gangs were as well or better equipped than the police.

Today, Afghanistan provides 90+% of the world's heroin while the largest military action in the 21st Century takes place in that country; the opium poppies in many cases grow right up to the razor wire of American bases.  A de facto civil war is taking place between the government and the narcotraficantes in Mexico that has cost 36,000 lives.  Today the street prices of cocaine and heroin are at historic lows.  It would seem that the War on Drugs is truly lost and that our government simply doesn't care.  And yet over $20 Billion/year is spent on the War on Drugs; most of it on law enforcement. This seems to be a very poor return on the investment.

On September 11, 2001 the jihad being waged against the West since the mid 90's struck at the heart of the infidel empire and 3,000 civilians were murdered. Everything changed that day. The West invaded Afghanistan and then Iraq with the goal of defeating the jihadists.  Over 10 years later there has not been a single successful attack on the United States.  Attacks in the UK, Spain, and Indonesia were successful, but there has been a steady decline caused by greater global cooperation and information sharing as the primary differentiators.

Along the way a massive security infrastructure and bureaucracy was created. The Patriot Act authorized the broad use of enhanced surveillance techniques and intelligence gathering while including domestic terrorism under the scope of the intelligence services. To date the only truly domestic terror prosecution seems to have been a few retired white supremacists in Georgia. The Ft. Hood massacre was officially classified by the White House recently as a workplace related shooting.

A key provision of the Patriot Act was the expansion of the authority of the Department of the Treasury to investigate money laundering, and yet the narcotics trade has risen from $321 Billion in 2003 according to the United Nations to an estimate of $500 Billion this year by the Center for Strategic & International Studies.  In Afghanistan, hundreds of millions of dollars in cash are shipped out to banks in Dubai openly and with the government's approval with no questions asked. The opium/heroin trade alone is estimated at $4 Billion/year which funds both the warlords on our side and the Taliban warlords. So Afghanistan is not only bleeding our military, but also our civilian population.

And  we now have a Department of Homeland Security that employs over 216,000. The Transportation Security Agency consists of over 58,000 of those employees.  The Border Patrol is of equivalent size, while ICE employs approximately 20,500.  In an address delivered by retired General Barry McCaffrey, he emphasized the real dangers of the War on Drugs and an out of control border. The criminal networks have become ever more sophisticated and now act as paramilitaries, destabilizing one of our most important allies. And yet the inward directed nature of much of our security establishment does nothing to address real and present dangers.

The Wall Street Journal in an article entitled "Federal Offenses: law enforcement teams grow at government agencies" wrote on Saturday of the proliferation of heretofore nonexistent police forces in federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Commerce, Labor Department, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Agency, and many others who have the power to conduct investigations, seek indictments, or simply raid violators of even regulatory violations.  Cases where armed agents have raided homes and workplaces have included the infamous Gibson Guitar raid for illegal wood; documentation errors on otherwise legal imports, and even the recent batch of a 881 lb. Bluefin Tuna by a New Bedford trawler. "Put the tuna on the ground and raise your hands".

The Internal Revenue Service has been strong arming countries around the world to open their bank records not to trace narcotics cash or Russian mobsters, but income tax evaders. The "Stop On Line Piracy Act" (SOPA) and the recent NDAA Act, which is now law, have broadened the policing authority of the Federal government to a never before greater degree at a time when ordinary crime is decreasing. The SOPA  Act, in the words of one IT manager, would make our internet similar to China's. The NDAA allows for the President to indefinitely detain terrorism suspects, including American citizens. The law then becomes a matter of semantics to the unprincipled.

In the meantime, corruption and cronyism have risen to a level not seen since the 1870's.
Nat Hentoff has written extensively on the assault on civil liberties and on due process starting with many of the measures of the Bush Administration.  This accelerated, according to Mr. Hentoff, under President Obama, who has concentrated power in the White House to an extraordinary degree. By avoiding Congressional approval and his own Executive Branch through the appointment of "czars" ranging from the auto industry to  regulation to ethics to climate to consumer affairs, the president has subverted the separation of powers repeatedly in an imperial presidency that is unparalleled.

Crime rates have been dropping for 20 years and yet today there is more danger to civil liberties posed by government than ever before. Our government continues to expand the definition of crime while approving special powers usually found in police states.

When Members of Congress urged the President to ignore their own branch of government during the recent Congressional debt ceiling debate and act by fiat or the insistence of some of those same Members of Congress on the recusal of Justice Thomas in the health care case before the Supreme Court, one can easily understand the danger of even a well intentioned government to its own people.

As the terrorism threat used to rationalize many of these powers has receded, government power has never been greater or more at odds with the Constitution.  In the meantime the narcoterrorism network which funds many those terrorist organizations, is on the sidelines.  The law is at odds with itself.

Our government has built an anti-Constitutional framework that can and will eventually be turned against our citizens. On one side we have our civil/criminal system, and the other the growing power of  Orwellian dysfunction. Think about it.

American Thinker

Same Politico Obsessed with Palin’s Wardrobe Ignores First Lady’s Pricey Duds

John NoltePosted by John Nolte Dec 29th 2011 at 1:16 pm in Politico, elections 2012, media bias 

Personally, I don’t care what Michelle Antoinette wears on her taxpayer-funded lavish Hawaiian vacations with her husband President FailureTeleprompter Duffer. Thanks to an autobiography that was probably ghost-written by domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, Obama’s a millionaire and more power to him. If the First Lady wants to lord over the peasantry her fashionable dresses and skirts and purses that cost enough to feed about 500 hungry families, that’s Our Champions Of The Poor’s business. The same is true with what the GOP chooses to spend their money on during a campaign. The attacks directed at Governor Sarah Palin over the clothes supplied to her during the 2008 election were silly, stupid intentional distractions ginned up by Obama’s MSM Palace Guards.

What isn’t silly and stupid is that the left-wing, journOlist-infested institution known as Politico was obsessed with Palin’s wardrobe in ‘08 and one of the prime drivers of that narrative. Just for starters see here, here, here, and most especially here.

And now for the news that will surprise no one. A good faith search has revealed that the left-wing, journOlist-infested institution known as Politico isn’t at all interested in Michelle Obama’s pricey wardrobe.

Nothing here or here. And if I did miss a mention, it still won’t compare to their Palin firestorm.

In their defense, however, Politico has been awfully busy.  Why, there’s White House spin to spread, those hundreds of articles necessary to cover 15 year-old harassment claims against Herman Cain, strategic memos to craft in order to get Obama’s Occupy Wall Street allies back in the 2012 game, and the frantic journOlisiting necessary to protect Obama from critics of his excessive golfing.

After all, being consistent, objective, and unbiased requires time.
And integrity.

Big Journalism

Politico Paints Eric Holder As The Compassionate Attorney General He Is!

The media will do anything to keep Eric Holder in a good light. Politico has a piece up about Mr. Holder’s statements on more police deaths. According to Politico the statistic jumped 13% in 2011 and Mr. Holder said it is “a devastating and unacceptable trend.” He blames them on illegal firearms.

Yes, the man who is in charge of the department that allowed 2,000 guns to be illegally bought and walked into Mexico — resulting in the deaths of 300 Mexican civilians and Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry — is upset about deaths caused by people using illegally purchased guns. Mr. Holder goes on to say:
“This is a devastating and unacceptable trend. Each of these deaths is a tragic reminder of the threats that law enforcement officers face each day,” Holder in a statement. “I want to assure the family members and loved ones who have mourned the loss of these heroes that we are responding to this year’s increased violence with renewed vigilance and will do everything within our power — and use every tool at our disposal — to keep our police officers safe.”
What a slap in the face to Brian Terry’s family. It wasn’t until Senator John Cornyn asked Mr. Holder if he apologized or expressed remorse to Mr. Terry’s family that Mr. Holder finally did say something to them.

Ironically it was Politico (and the article was written by Tim Mak, author of this article) who leaked the apology to the public before Mr. Terry’s mother even had a chance to see and open it. It’s nice Mr. Holder is reassuring the family members of these fallen heroes, but why did it take so long for him to say something to Agent Terry’s family, especially since one of the guns from Operation Fast and Furious was used to murder Agent Terry?

But wait it gets better. Mr. Mak ends his article with this [bold my emphasis]:
For much of the past year, one fatality in particular has weighed heavily on Holder’s mind, that of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, whose December 2010 murder sparked interest and public investigations into the Justice Department’s botched Fast and Furious gun-walking program.
Again, Mr. Mak, if Mr. Holder is so bothered by Agent Terry’s death why did it take nearly a year after Agent Terry’s death for him to even say something to the Terry family, especially his parents? If Mr. Holder is so bothered by Agent Terry’s death why must Congress have to pull teeth to receive any information from the Department of Justice? Why is it whenever Mr. Holder talks or whenever the DOJ provides documents we’re left with more questions than answers?

I hope Politico is trying to get in touch with the Mr. Holder and the DOJ to ask them the questions I just did because it makes no sense why he would be bothered by these deaths & the illegal sale of guns, but doesn’t appear to care too much about Agent Terry & his own department illegally selling guns.

Big Journalism

War Games, An Energy Crisis, and the Iranian Threat

December 30, 2011

A picture released by Fars News Agency on December 29, 2011, shows a U.S aircraft carrier spotted in an area of the Iranian navy ongoing maneuver zone on the Sea of Oman, near the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran. UPI/ Abdollah Arab Koohsar/Fars News

The Strait of Hormuz lies between Iran and the United Arab Emirates, providing passage for some 15.5 million barrels of crude oil per day, amounting to one third of the world’s seaborne oil shipments. In a word, it is a 34-mile-wide chokepoint, making Iran’s threat this week to shut down the strait all the more serious for the global community.

The Iranian regime’s provocative warnings came on Tuesday from Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi who threatened to close the strait if Iran faces sanctions for its nuclear ambitions. And Wednesday, Iran’s top naval commander Habibollah Sayyari said, ”Closing the Strait of Hormuz for Iran’s armed forces is really easy … or, as Iranians say, it will be easier than drinking a glass of water.”

Iran’s closing of the strait — and its economic ramifications — is a scenario that has been contemplated before. From December 2006 to March 2007, Heritage Foundation scholars conducted a computer simula­tion and gaming exercise that examined the likely economic and policy consequences of a major oil disruption in the Persian Gulf. Specifically, the war game was based on a scenario in which Iran began blockading the Strait of Hormuz in January 2007.

What did they find? Based on their modeling, if Iran succeeded in fully blockading the strait for up to one week, Americans would see a massive spike in oil prices, a one-quarter drop in GDP of $161 billion, the loss of one million jobs, and a drop of real disposable personal income costing more than $260 billion.

With those threats at hand, the scholars recommended a series of steps to manage the theoretical blockade and its worldwide economic consequences:
A focused but restrained use of military power oriented toward objectives that address vital national interests would demonstrate U.S. determination to uphold freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz, help to calm global markets, and reassure American consumers, and measures liberalizing energy policies and rolling back regulatory restrictions would allow the marketplace to work to meet global energy needs.
At the time this war game analysis was conducted, the scholars described why a potential blockage of the Strait of Hormuz would be such a significant threat. Their words ring true today. They looked back to the energy crises during the Arab oil embargo in 1973-1974 and the Iranian revolution in 1978-1979 — both of which led to fuel shortages, long gas lines, gasoline rationing, high inflation, and energy-related dam­age to the overall economy.

In those instances, they wrote, America suffered not only as a result of the changes in global oil supply, but also because of policies emanating from Washington:
At almost every turn, Washington policymakers exacerbated the already challenging energy situation with their own policy blunders. The federal government’s newly created maze of economic and environmental regulations and implementing agencies greatly hampered domestic energy supplies and limited the private sector’s ability to respond to events.
In retrospect, the U.S. government probably caused at least as much harm as any foreign entity did. Much of the energy crisis was self-inflicted by bad decisions made in Washington. The errors of the 1970s should serve as a cautionary tale as Amer­ica again faces similar energy challenges.
Today, Washington is throwing up similar roadblocks to energy independence. President Barack Obama has postponed a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport 700,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada to refineries in Texas, and give a major boost to the U.S. economy. Meanwhile, his Administration has blocked access to shale resources and slowed down and even halted offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, which supplies 30 percent of domestic oil production. And the Environmental Protection Agency is imposing new, costly regulations on energy production. And all of this comes as Iran is threatening to cut off a quarter of the world’s energy supply.

As Heritage’s war game analysis showed, there are things America can do to respond to such provocations from Tehran, but no actions can totally eliminate the economic consequences. However, there are things Washington can and should do today to help America become less dependent on the Middle East for its energy and soften the blow should Iran choose to lash out at the West. America’s security depends on it.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Margaret Thatcher Debunks the Leftist Agenda on Income Equality

 Daniel J. Mitchell 

The statists are making a big issue out of income inequality, hoping to convince ordinary Americans that redistribution is their only hope for a better life.

I’ve explained with a pizza analogy that this is horribly misguided because it falsely assumes the economy is a fixed pie.

Simply stated, it doesn’t make sense – or help anybody – if inequality is reduced by policies that hurt everyone, but happen to hurt upper-income people more than lower-income people.

Moreover, redistribution tends to create a “poverty trap” as people get seduced by dependency.

That’s why I’ve argued that economic growth is the best way of helping the less fortunate.

But I have to admit that Margaret Thatcher does a much better job of eviscerating the left’s agenda on this issue.

While it’s inspiring to watch Thatcher in action, it’s also painful to realize that the current crop of GOP presidential candidates seems generally incapable of making similar arguments. Can you imagine, for instance, Mitt Romney making these remarks?

Last but not least, Thatcher’s remarks remind me about Churchill’s famous quote, which is very appropriate for this discussion.
The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.

And if you want real-world examples, look at this chart comparing North Korea and South Korea, or this chart comparing Chile, Argentina, and Venezuela. Now ask yourself a simple question: Which societies have generated more prosperity and higher living standards for ordinary people?

The Democratic Party's War on the Poor

December 29, 2011
By John F. Di Leo

It was a proud day in Medellín, Colombia.  Mayor Alonso Salazar smiled as he announced the city's latest accomplishment, and a sycophantic press reported his happy message verbatim.

The 12,000 desperately poor people of Medellín's Comuna 13, a shantytown set high atop a steep hill, had spent generations climbing up and down some 530 mountainside stairs to reach their homes.  It has always been a 35-minute walk, each way, a challenge for even the healthiest among them.  But it is no longer.

What did the city do to alleviate the pain of its most destitute?  The city of Medellín, long known as the home of one of the world's most notorious drug cartels, built the people of Comuna 13 six sets of escalators.  One column up, one down, both outdoors, both designed to carry the poorest of Medellín's poor back up to their miserable a cost to the taxpayer of some USD 6.7 million.

Yes, you read it right: two sets of escalators, uncovered, up and down the side of a hill, to and from a ghetto.  That's 1,260 feet of escalator, each way, outdoors, at a time of year in which thunderstorms are predicted for every one of the first ten days of its operation (plans to enclose it are under consideration, but if they don't move fast, perhaps they may as well save themselves the bother). 

Now, why do we turn to a foreign country for an example of the critical failing of the American Democratic Party?  Because the way American conservatives and liberals react to this story of misguided social programs is the American economic debate in a microcosm.

Giving an A for Effort

The modern American liberal looks to the effort of the do-gooder and cheers.  You see people in pain, anguished and weakened by a lifetime of climbing that mountain -- down to shop or work, back up to sleep, day after day, year after year -- and you want to help.  So you build them an escalator.

The new escalator will soften the poverty a bit.  It won't cure it, of course, because such poverty cannot be cured.  In the zero-sum world of the American left, the poor remain poor, the middle class remain middle-class, and the wealthy remain wealthy.  So the goal must be to take some of the money from the latter two groups to allay the pain of the poor.  This is what government is for, after all.

If the rain shorts out the electricity so one, then two, then three of these escalators cease to work, that's okay; you can't help the weather.  If the idea of enclosing it later instead of beforehand to protect it from the elements in a region of heat and rain and mudslides didn't seem odd to anyone, that's okay; it hasn't been done before, so it's okay that there were some bugs left to work out.  And if the people stay poor, that's okay; they were going to stay poor anyway.  At least now they're poor people who don't have aching feet and backs from a 28-story climb.

To the liberal, this story is a success, a feel-good tale to reassure the reader of the basic goodness of government.

An Indictable Offense to the Senses

The American conservative has the opposite reaction in virtually every way.  The American conservative is horrified that they would build an electrically operated escalator outdoors on a muddy hill in the rainy season without even enclosing it first -- horrified that all this tax money is spent on free transportation to a crime-ridden danger zone -- horrified that the press didn't respond critically, attacking the idea for the ridiculous waste that it is.

Consider the basic idea of placing an outdoor escalator in an undesirable part of town: both the conservative and the liberal know that, for a little more money, it can be made relatively weatherproof.  But both also know that such bells and whistles make breakdowns more likely, more frequent.  The liberal doesn't mind -- to him, it's the thought that counts.  The conservative minds very much -- he knows that tales of elevator breakdowns in American public housing -- left unrepaired for months or years -- are ubiquitous.  It is the conservative who thinks ahead, who contemplates the cost of the increased likelihood of needed repairs, of repairs that will be postponed, for longer and longer intervals, until finally the city loses interest entirely and leaves it a permanent shambles, as befitting its location.  The bigger the scale of the do-gooder's project, the more crushing its eventual collapse will be to the community it was unwisely installed to serve.

The liberal would assume that this means that the American conservative is heartless, because the liberal sees nothing past the aching ankles and backs of the residents.  But the conservative is in fact the one who really cares, because the conservative gauges the effectiveness of a proposal by whether it raises its charges out from poverty or not.  The conservative knows that addressing symptoms without addressing the cause is no cure.

One of the best definitions of the difference between the conservative and the liberal is this (which I first heard enunciated by Newt Gingrich, though I have no idea whether it's original to him or not): the liberal defines success by how many people he has managed to help through government action; the conservative defines success by how many people he has freed from need of such assistance.

Viewed from this vantage point, we see that the mayor and his friendly press down there in Colombia have exactly the wrong attitude: they are spending $6.7 million to help return people to a shantytown every day.  

What they should be doing is trying to free these poor people from Comuna 13 -- to help them earn better salaries so they can, one day, come down from that mountaintop and never, ever be compelled to return!

The Deathly Goal of the Living Wage

For a century or more, one of the greatest goals of the left has been to ensure that every wage is a living wage.  The left advocates a minimum wage that would first allow a worker to support himself, then himself and a spouse, then himself and a family.  If the employer balks at the idea that every employee at every level should be paid well enough to support a family, the employer is branded as heartless, and the unions rise up and picket him or shut him down.

The American left has loaded up the employer with mandates: the boss must provide health insurance, unemployment insurance, a retirement plan.  What they can't force directly, they add to the list of what the state will provide, and then force the employer to pay for it through his taxes -- hence the burden of schools and parks and community colleges and public buses and public commuter trains.  All so that the burden of being on the bottom -- the entry-level clerk or assembly line worker or forklift operator -- is less distasteful than it would have been without all these benefits.  Without all this, those entry-level personnel might work harder to get a promotion, to escape the distasteful aspects of being on the bottom.  And anything you do to make the basic more bearable, the less likely it is that those already there will expend the extra effort to move up.

This is exactly what we've done in America with the poor.  We've softened the blow of poverty to such an extent that the will to pull oneself up from its clutches is lessened.

If you have to work to pay the rent for a hovel, you'll work a little harder to get a better place.  If you have to work to pay for rotten food, you'll work a little harder to afford better food.  If you have to work to buy poor clothing, to send your children to substandard tutors, to bicycle to work, then you'll appreciate the immense advantage of working a little harder for the promotion that allows you to buy a little better clothing, to send your children to more accomplished teachers, and to drive an air-conditioned compact car instead of riding a bicycle in the rain and heat.

But ever since FDR's New Deal and LBJ's Great Society, the left has insisted on giving out the crummy housing rent-free, giving food stamps for free food, and doling out free tuition to crummy grammar schools and danger-zone high schools.  We subsidize the public transportation of our cities so that the poor can ride in an air-conditioned bus or train for free or nearly free.

All this does not make it a joy to be poor, of course.  It's still a miserable life.  But all these freebies, all these misguided little benefits, have warped the ability of individuals to rationally judge the delta between their current lifestyle and their potential future lifestyle in a job, their potential future lives in the middle class.

From work to harder work and potential promotion is a small additional effort, often producing great advancement in happiness.  But from non-work to work is a massive additional effort.  Once the person can get subsistence for free, the ratio is warped, making the delta of quality of life look impossible to justify.

Contrary to the liberals' assumption of their opponents' motives, it isn't that the conservative doesn't want the poor to stop suffering; it's specifically because the conservative cares about the poor that he opposes these golden handcuffs of government benefits.  The conservative wants everyone to be inspired to work to the best of his ability, to earn the advancement of that work, to advance in life and class.  The conservative wants the rolls of the poor to diminish, and the rolls of the middle class to swell with hardworking and deserving new arrivals.

In addition to the sociology of the matter, the conservative does the math, too.  The conservative knows that every penny paid out to the unproductive must have first been generated by the productive.  The employers we desperately need to hire these poor people are starved of operating capital by rising taxes.  The American business sector would love to expand, love to hire and promote more and more from the ranks of the unemployed and underemployed.  But they can't, because every dollar they'd like to pay for employees is instead snatched by the greedy paws of the leviathan.

And then the leviathan acts benevolently, passing out the free housing, free cheese, free health care, free tuition...utterly oblivious to the fact that it's this very mountain of freebies that has crushed our employers, robbing the poor of opportunities, keeping them in their misery.

The Democrats tell the poor that they support them; they care for them; they will work for more benefits, more checks, more "refundable tax credits" (the Newspeak of 1984 has indeed arrived, in that one).  The Democrats claim to be the party of the poor, perhaps never even realizing that their every measure tightens the lock on the fences that keep the poor in their current condition.

How Prescient "The War on Poverty"

We never knew when the Democrats announced "the war on poverty" that they meant it literally.

The American left has spent a century filling our cities with addictive little handcuffs of fool's gold for America's poor.  These substandard freebies are plentiful, but they're lost if you work, or work harder, or get a promotion, or marry the father of your children. 

The day the American welfare system first made it more desirable to stay on relief than to move up to just the next notch upward -- that was the day that the Democrats truly declared war on America's poor.

The right may not look like Santa Claus nearly as often as the left does, but the right is always the one with the best interests of the poor in mind.  If only the rank-and-file Democrat electorate would consider these issues objectively for once, and come over to the side of logic!

Where the poor are concerned, the American left cheers as potential employers are strangled by taxes and regulations that fund an ever-expanding downward spiral of institutional anchors for everyone unlucky enough to be born or otherwise drawn into their miserable subculture.

No, the American right will never cheer any escalator that makes it easier for the downtrodden to return home to a hilltop shantytown of drugs, violence, and poverty.  The American right knows that only the limitless potential of limited government can cure what ails our cities -- and that the cure is always capitalism, never statism.

America's Democrats may cheer the construction of this "stairway to hades" all they want; the American right will cheer only when those poor residents are someday able to depart from their hellish shantytown for good.

John F. Di Leo is a Chicago-based Customs broker and international trade lecturer.  His columns appear regularly in

American Thinker