Tuesday, February 20, 2018



The battle for time

The article below is from a Leftist source but it has half a point.  He says that when we assemble a flatpack we undervalue our time.  But do we?  It is probably time taken out of recreational activity such as TV watching and is itself pretty interesting, if not exactly entertaining.  So as recreational time we valued it at  nil commercially so nothing is gained or lost

Standing at a supermarket self checkout the other day I was struck by one of the paradoxes facing the modern consumer.

On the one hand we’re encouraged to buy products that save time like dishwashers and home-delivered meals.

But at the same time shops are inviting us to spend time on things that were once done for us – like the self checkout.

It is just one example where consumers have been convinced to supply their own labour to facilitate new business models and help boost company profits.

The most shrewd innovator of all may be Ikea. The Swedish furniture icon has persuaded generations of consumers to buy products in flatpacks and then devote hours of their own labour putting them together at home.

An Ikea guest bed I recently assembled with a family member had an instruction booklet that ran to 28 pages. I calculated the hours of labour we spent in assembly would have added at least $120 to the cost if we had been paid the minimum wage.

One of many discoveries of behavioural economics, which analyses how real-life human behaviour affects economic decision-making, is a tendency for consumers to undervalue their own time.

Despite all the talk about people being “time-poor” it turns out we are often willing to give time away for free.

Richard Thaler, a pioneering behavioural economist and latest winner of the Nobel prize for economics, emphasised how fallible humans can be when making economic decisions, in his acceptance speech just before Christmas

Rather than being the calculating, hyper-rational “homo economicus” of economics text books, humans are absent-minded, procrastinating and notoriously over confident, he said.

You can add the tendency to undervalue our own time to the list.

It’s a trait that crops up in all sorts of curious ways. Like a willingness to walk very long distances for cheaper parking or a determination to take a longish drive out of your way to save a few dollars at the petrol pump. My own huge underestimation of how many hours it would take to assemble that Ikea guest bed is a neat example.

The tendency to undervalue our own time creates all sorts of anomalies and inefficiencies in how we organise our economic life.

This is likely to become more problematic as fresh business models and methods of exchange are made possible by new digital technologies.

That’s because our tendency to undervalue time afflicts workers as well as consumers.

Economist Jim Stanford, director of the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work, says that when people undervalue their own time it easier for companies (and even governments) to take it for free - whether it’s working unpaid overtime or being stuck on hold.

“The way we organise society tends to trick a lot of people into thinking their own time is free,” says Stanford.

“The less we are aware of the value of our own time, the easier it becomes for employers and governments to steal it.”

There is a long history of employees and bosses fighting over the use of time at work, of course. Trade unions have sought to limit work hours and standardise employment relationships. Employers have strived for industrial rules that allow the highest output for the lowest labour cost.

But Stanford reckons trends in the jobs market today mean the “battle over time” is intensifying and will become a central issue in economic policy and regulation in years to come.

A key factor is the rapid growth in short-term, temporary jobs in the so called “gig economy”.

Valuing time in the gig economy can be tricky for workers.  While some professions, like legal services, have become very adept at charging “billable hours”, the army of freelancers offering their services in the gig economy are unlikely to be so savvy, especially if they are low-skilled. “People can be tricked into working for way, way below the minimum wage,” says Stanford.

He says new “peer-to-peer” digital platforms like Uber or Deliveroo rely heavily on the human tendency to undervalue our own time. “Uber drivers are paid by the ride, so any time that they spend waiting is free, and time they spending driving to pick up the next passenger is also free,” he says. “If Uber was unable to wrest that time for free from its drivers the business model would collapse.”

Meanwhile, mobile technologies are blurring the boundaries between leisure time, voluntary work and paid work.

A fashion vlogger, for instance, can now make videos at home and post them on YouTube in the hope of selling advertisements or being paid to make product endorsements. Or a software developer might give away some software for free in the hope that it will help snare future work as a consultant.

Is it worth the time? In many cases that’s likely to be complex calculation.

What we do know is that for consumers and workers time is surprisingly easy to squander. A recent study by academics Hal Hershfield, Cassie Mogilner Holmes and Uri Barnea underscored the difficulties people have making judgments about their time.

They asked about 4,000 Americans of various ages, income, jobs, and marital status whether they would prefer more money or more time. About two-thirds said they’d take the money. But the researchers also asked survey respondents to report their level of happiness and life satisfaction. It turned out the people who chose more time were on average statistically happier and more satisfied with life than the people who chose more money.

The upshot? There’s a strong link between our wellbeing and how we value time.

SOURCE

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How a sleazy pol went to the White House and became a reformer

I think we will all get what Jeff Jacoby is implicitly driving at below.  He used to be very anti-Trump.  He appears to have learned

WHEN CHESTER ALAN ARTHUR became president of the United States, everyone knew what to expect — and it wasn't good. Arthur was a thoroughgoing hack. He was a partisan crony who had risen to influence as a loyal henchman of Senator Roscoe Conkling, the arrogant and ruthless boss of the New York Republican machine.

The prospect of Arthur in the White House, lamented the Chicago Tribune, was "a pending calamity of the utmost magnitude." As the eminent diplomat and historian Andrew Dickson White would later recall, the most common reaction to the news in political circles was: "Chet Arthur, president of the United States?! Good God!"

But Arthur surprised them all. The sleazy insider redeemed himself. He governed honestly and conscientiously, putting country ahead of party and turning his back on the win-at-any-cost cynicism in which he had marinated for so long. On this Presidents Day weekend, the story of the nation's 21st president offers a reminder that power doesn't have to reinforce a political leader's worst inclinations. Sometimes it can awaken the best.

* * *

THREE YEARS before he was elevated to the highest office in the land, Arthur's political career appeared to be wrecked beyond repair.

In the summer of 1878, President Rutherford Hayes had fired Arthur from his job as collector of the Port of New York, one of the most lucrative positions in the federal government. Conkling had originally recommended Arthur for the job, and Arthur had milked it for the benefit of Conkling's machine. The nation's largest custom house became a hive of rigged hiring, illegal kickbacks, and political patronage: the spoils system at its most brazen. During political campaigns, every employee was required to pay an "assessment" — a cash contribution to the Republican Party. Jobs went to party loyalists, who routinely passed the application exam with flying colors — even when they didn't know any of the answers.

By the 1870s, disgust with the spoils system was rising in both parties. Hayes, a leader of the GOP's reform wing, had run for president on a platform of dismantling the sleazy arrangements perfected by Conkling's machine. On his first day in office, he had called for "thorough, radical, and complete" reform of federal hiring. He instructed the Treasury Department to investigate political manipulation and fraud at the nation's custom houses, and when it produced a scathing report on the unscrupulous practices in the New York Custom House, Hayes sacked the man who ran it.

Yet "rather than ruining Arthur's career," as Arthur biographer Zachary Karabell writes, "Hayes's vendetta catapulted him to national attention." He became a hero of the "Stalwarts," the anti-reform faction of the Republican Party. In 1880, Arthur led the New York delegation to the Republican national convention in Chicago. He and the other Stalwarts couldn't prevent the party from nominating another reformer to succeed Hayes — the widely-admired James A. Garfield. But Garfield knew he couldn't win the election if he didn't carry New York, and New York — Conkling's empire — was Stalwart territory. To balance the ticket, Garfield's campaign offered the vice-presidency to Arthur.

It worked. The Republicans won the November election, and the following March, Arthur was sworn in as vice president. But even then, he continued as before, looking out for Conkling's interests and not even pretending to back the new administration's reform agenda.

Then Garfield was murdered.

On July 2, 1881, in a Washington train depot, a deranged assassin shot the president twice. The gunman, who had delusions of being named an ambassador and was enraged when no offer was extended, convinced himself that Garfield's successor would give him the patronage post he craved. "I am a Stalwart, and Arthur will be President!" he proclaimed.

Garfield died painfully and slowly, clinging to life for more than two months. All the while, Arthur was distraught with grief and fear. "I pray to God that the president will recover," he said. "God knows I do not want the place I was never elected to." When word reached him that Garfield had finally died, a reporter knocked on his door to ask for a statement. Arthur's valet had to turn the man away: The new president was "sitting alone in his room sobbing like a child, with his head on his desk and his face buried in his hands."

Garfield's assassination made Arthur president, but there was no satisfaction or triumph in it. The awful knowledge that a good man had been murdered so that he could take his place and preserve the spoils system haunted him — and changed him.

Conkling and the Stalwarts were shocked by the transformation in their old friend and fellow hack. When Garfield's inner circle resigned, Conkling expected to be offered a top cabinet position. He also expected Arthur to name a reliable Stalwart to run the all-important New York Custom House. But Arthur was no longer taking orders from Conkling, and no longer committed to blocking civil service reform. Having acceded to the presidency as a result of Garfield's death, Arthur said, he considered himself "morally bound to continue the policy of the former president." When he wouldn't budge, a furious Conkling returned to New York and denounced Arthur as a traitor.

Arthur was only getting started. In his first Annual Message to Congress, he explicitly called for an overhaul of federal hiring practices. His support astonished those who had assumed Arthur would serenely return to corruption as usual. Around the country, civil service reform groups sprang into action. Democratic Senator George Pendleton of Ohio introduced legislation to mandate merit-based hiring in many federal agencies, and in 1882, Arthur endorsed it.

Thus did a champion of the Stalwarts drive the first nails into the coffin of political patronage as it had been practiced since the days of Andrew Jackson. Within a month of Arthur's endorsement, the Pendleton bill sailed through both houses of Congress. On January 16, 1883, Arthur — erstwhile flunky of Roscoe Conkling, ultimate creature of raw Republican bossism — signed it into law. He appointed qualified members to the new Civil Service Commission, and firmly enforced the commission's new rules.

* * *

ARTHUR SERVED only a single term as president. His repentance and conversion to the cause of reform meant breaking with what today we would call his base, and the party leaders he alienated refused to nominate him for another four years. Not that Arthur wanted another term. Unbeknownst to the public, he was gravely ill. He was slowly dying of Bright's disease, a chronic inflammation of the kidneys that at the time was incurable. He would die at the age of 57, just 18 months after leaving office.

But while Arthur may have been in physical distress when his presidency ended, gone was the emotional distress that had tormented him at its start. He left office knowing that the American people thought far better of him than they had in 1881. No less a hard-boiled observer than Mark Twain wrote: "It would be hard indeed to better President Arthur's administration." The "pending calamity" so many dreaded when Arthur replaced Garfield hadn't materialized. Instead he had risen to the challenge of leadership — risen above his worst instincts, above his dishonest former comrades, above the habits of greed and partisanship that had defined his career.

Arthur isn't reckoned a great president. But he turned out, against all expectations, to be a genuinely decent one.

In the 1880s, as in the 2010s, decency in politics was something rare and admirable. Arthur deserves credit for presiding over a watershed reform in the workings of the federal government. But he deserves to be remembered for something else — for proving that even the most polarizing and distrusted politician can choose to heed the better angels of his nature, and become better than he was.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Monday, February 19, 2018


Unemployment under Trump

One of the clearest pieces of evidence showing that Trump's ideas are the right ones for America is that unemployment is now way down.  Getting people into jobs is the biggest welfare achievement that there is.

The Left, however, will have none of it.  That the white unemployment rate is now down to a historic low of 3.5% means nothing to them.  They probably wish it were higher.

But they have to give some justification for being so dismissive.  And what they say is that the fall under Trump is merely a fall that was already underway under Obama.  And they produce graphs to prove that.  Leftists have to be desperate to resort to graphs -- a sob-story is more their metier -- but on this issue they clearly are.  So let us ignore the graphs and look at the raw numbers.  Here they are:


White adult unemployment numbers from Bush to Trump

SOURCE

The months all tell much the same story but January is the only one we have for 2018 so let us look particularly at that.

And what we see is an enormous contrast.  As soon as Obama got in (2009) unemployment leapt. From 4.4% under Bush in 2008, it was double that by 2010.  And it stayed high through 2013.  By 2014, however, the fracking boom was well underway and unemployment declined from that point on.  And note that the fracking took place on private land with no encouragement from the government.  It had nothing to do with Obama.  It happened too quickly for the bureaucracy to step in and stop it.  And when the bureauucracy did notice it, it was already too big to stop.

So in the second year of Obama, unemployment was 8.8% while in the second year of Trump it was 3.5%.  Is there any comparison?

So what lies behind those numbers?  The key thing to know is the importance of being able to plan ahead.  To create jobs, businessmen need to be able to make reasonable predictions about the costs and benefits that will flow from putting on workers.  But prophecy is a mug's game so businessmen have to be pretty heroic to make such predictions.  And the only way that they can do so at all is to go by what is already happening and what has already happened.  They have to assume continuity with the past and present. If something is already working well or is known to have worked well, they assume that doing more of it will continue to work well.

But it is a nerve-racking business to see whether your strategy works.  Something like 90% of business startups go broke within the first 12 months.  So if some threat to your plans heaves into view you are going to be frantic and decide to lie low until you have seen how the future turns out.

And that is exactly what happened when Obama defeated the uselsss McCain.  The wishy-washy GOP put up two RINOs against Obama and lost badly.  When the grassroots rebelled and put up a real conservative, Republicans suddenly found themselves back inthe driver's seat.

Obama came to office after making a wildly-cheered campaign speech which promised that he would "fundamentally transform" America.  So all bets were suddenly off.  The President was promising to make the past no longer a guide to the future.  All business plans were suddenly based on sand.  So businessmen did all they could do.  They sat on their hands and hunkered down to wait and see. All plans ground to a halt, meaning that job creation also ground to a halt.  Obama destroyed business confidence.  He did one of the worst things a President could do. He was and is a dumb-cluck. The unemployment numbers tell the story.

Trump, by contrast, is himself an entrepreneurial businessman who is very encouraging and supportive towards business -- so when he got in businessmen nationwide breathed a sigh of relief and got on with doing what they were good at.

One President gets in and unemployment promptly leaps.  Another gets in and unemployment promptly falls.  That is what the numbers tell us.

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This Isn't Normal

Ben Shapiro

You've heard the phrase over and over again: "This isn't normal." We've heard it about President Trump's rhetoric, and his Twitter usage. We've heard it about his attacks on the media, and we've heard it about his legislative ignorance. We've heard it about his running commentary on the Mueller investigation, and we've heard it about his bizarre stream-of-consciousness interviews.

There's some truth to all of this. Trump has said some incredibly awful things (e.g. his comments on Charlottesville, Virginia, and Haitians). He's not a predictable, stable genius.

All of this "non-normality," however, has resulted in ... a relatively normal situation. The economy's booming. We're on more solid foreign-policy ground than we were when President Obama was in office — by a long shot. The constitution hasn't been torn asunder. The structures of government are still in place. Trump may be toxic rhetorically, but his presidency hasn't annihilated the norms that govern our society.

The same can't be said, however, of the media institutions that seem so consumed with saving the republic from the specter of Trump. Like self-appointed superheroes so intent on stopping an alien monster that they end up destroying the entire city, our media are so focused on stopping Trump that they end up undermining both their credibility and faith in American institutions.

Take, for example, the media's coverage of North Korea at the Winter Olympics. Suddenly, the worst regime on the planet has been transformed into a cute exhibit from "It's a Small World." Those women in red forced to smile and cheer on cue? Just an example of the brilliance of revolutionary North Korean "juche" ideology. Kim Jong Un's sister, a member of the inner cabinet of a regime that imprisons thousands of dissenters and shoots those who don't properly worship the Dear Respected? She's an example of Marxist humility and stellar diplomacy.

It's not just the media. This week, we learned that former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former Vice President Joe Biden and former President Obama held a last-minute meeting at the White House to discuss the possibility of Trump-Russia collusion. At that meeting, Rice wrote in an email, Obama reportedly asked whether there was any reason "we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia." That means that Obama asked his top staff, including the FBI, whether he could hide intelligence information from the incoming Trump team.

That amounts to a massive breach in the constitutional structure. The FBI is not an independent agency. It is part of the executive branch. The incoming Trump administration was duly elected by the American people and had every right to see all intelligence information coming from the FBI and the CIA. Yet it was the supposedly normal Obama White House exploring means of preventing that transparency.

Trump isn't a normal president. But the threat to our institutions doesn't reside only at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. — or even primarily there. It resides with those who are willing to side with any enemy and violate every rule in order to stop the supposed threat of Trump.

SOURCE

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Stop playing politics with school shootings

Something remarkable, and disturbing, has happened in the discussion about mass violence in recent years. Observers increasingly devote themselves to depoliticising acts of Islamist terror and to politicising mass school shootings. They downgrade Islamist-inspired slaughter, actively discouraging any kind of political, far less passionate reaction to such violence, and they upgrade school shootings, always insisting that we make them political, that we engage our passions in response to them, that we call them by the right word: ‘terrorism’. They drain the politics from what are clearly political acts of mass murder while injecting political meaning into what are clearly not political acts of murder. This is not only peculiar – it is positively dangerous.

We have seen this warped pattern repeat itself following the Florida school shooting. Almost instantly the cry went up from liberal observers that we should call this terrorism. After all, school shootings terrorise people. ‘The Florida school shooter is a racist terrorist’ – why won’t more people ‘call him that?’, asked one commentator (on the basis of claims that the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, has racist views). Slate says we must upgrade school shootings to a ‘national security threat’. Others demand that the White House declare war on this kind of ‘terrorism’ as seriously as they declared war on al-Qaeda after 9/11 – if not more seriously, given school shootings are more common in the US than Islamist terror attacks are.

All the things observers frown upon, and even demonise as a species of ‘racism’, in the aftermath of an Islamist terror attack suddenly become acceptable in the wake of a school shooting. So anyone who spoke of ‘Muslim men’ as a problem after the barbarism in Paris in 2015, or Brussels in 2016, or Westminster Bridge, London Bridge and the Manchester Arena in 2017, was instantly written of as prejudiced and hateful, possibly requiring investigation. After school shootings, though, the alleged problem of ‘white men’ becomes an acceptable, even widespread talking point. Mention ideology post-Islamist attack, so much as utter the word ‘Islamism’, and you will be shut down, shushed as an ‘Islamophobe’; yet everyone talks about the alleged ideology of gun fetishism post-mass-shooting. Link Islamist outrages in the West to ISIS and you’ll be told, ‘Don’t believe the hype, these are just individuals with a grudge’; yet just minutes after a mass shooting we hear about how these acts are the responsibility of ‘evil’ groups like the NRA.

This simultaneous freezing of politics in the wake of Islamist attacks and intense politicisation in the aftermath of mass shootings is striking and worrying for a number of reasons. First, because it points to a complete, and possibly witting, failure of basic linguistic and moral distinction. The idea that every act of mass violence is terrorism is bizarre. That suggests there is no difference between the dejected, suicidal drunk who mounts the pavement with his car because he’s had enough of life and the religiously convinced extremist who mows down pedestrians as part of a broader warped campaign to signal disgust for Western society and the freedoms its citizens enjoy. It is a vast abdication of moral seriousness, of common sense even, to fail to recognise the difference between a sullen youth who shoots up his former schoolmates and a tight-knit group of ISIS-inspired gunmen who take hostage an entire rock concert and then massacre 89 of the attendees. The former is murder; the latter is a religious, political statement designed to chill the free life of Western cities and inspire other Islamists similarly to strike against what they view as sinful nations and people.

Secondly, there’s the loss of perspective. There is something especially galling in the way that European observers who are cagey about politicising the problem of Islamist terror rush to condemn mass shootings in the US. Last year, 117 Americans were killed in mass shootings (defined as shootings in which the killer and the victims were generally unknown to each other and in which more than four people were killed). That’s the highest it has ever been, largely down to the Las Vegas massacre in which 58 people were killed. More people were killed on one night in Paris in November 2015 than were killed in mass shootings in the US last year. More people were killed in the Nice terror-truck attack in 2016 – 86 – than have been killed in any entire year of mass shootings in the US from 1982 onwards (excluding 2017). Even from the point of view of moral perspective, the disproportionate politicisation of mass shootings doesn’t add up.

And the third reason this decommissioning of politics post-terror and engagement of politics post-mass-shooting is disturbing is because it smacks of moral cowardice – and of a moral cowardice that could have lethal consequences.

It is becoming increasingly clear that many observers in the West are deeply devoted to downplaying any serious discussion about the problem of radical Islam. And they will do this by any means necessary: by branding your concerns about Islamists as ‘Islamophobia’, by snootily reminding us we’re more likely to die getting out of the bath than in an Islamist attack, by mocking as ‘fearful’ or even ‘far right’ anyone who says anything critical or mean about Islam. And, increasingly, they downplay Islamist terror through comparison; through saying, ‘Well, look at mass shootings: aren’t they just as bad, or even worse?’. Anything they can do to deflect the public focus from issues of religious tension, and from the strains of ‘multiculturalism’, and from the question of why some people in the West hate the West so much that they will massacre hundreds of its citizens, they will do it.

This is bad because it virtually criminalises legitimate debate about new forms of religious violence that have killed hundreds of people in Europe and scores in the US in recent years. And it’s bad because, by extension, it imbues mass shootings with greater meaning and power than they deserve. This is the dangerous game the cynical politicisers of shootings play: the more they say ‘let’s call this terrorism’, the more they say these shootings are on a par with, if not worse than, mass violence carried out by ISIS-linked individuals, the more they say such shootings are a greater ‘national security threat’ to the West than Islamist ideologues are, the more they flatter and empower the 17-year-old loser with a gun. They turn him from a tragic, nihilistic individual into a greater menace to the West than radical Islam. They make his every fantasy come true.

And other cut-off, unstable individuals out there who are thinking of executing a similar destructive and self-destructive act of murder are given more impetus to go ahead. Because they now know that, courtesy of the cynical politicisers of their vile act, they will be instantly transformed from anti-social no-marks into Al-Qaeda Mark II. Playing politics with school shootings is a lethal pursuit. Today’s intellectual cowardice has consequences.

SOURCE

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Truly Sickening: Liberals Attack Trump Over Hospital Visit To Victims of shootings

President Trump visited with wounded students and brave first responders in Florida after the horrible shooting at the high school in Parkland, Florida.

One of the students with whom he visited was girls basketball player Maddy Wilford who was shot several times and in the immediate aftermath of the shooting was described as ‘fighting for her life.’ She is now in stable condition and was able to receive a visit from Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on Friday night.

They spent several minutes with Wilford and members of her family giving her encouragement and talking with her doctor. Pictures were taken of Wilford with the President and the First Lady, surrounded by her family members.

He also took time to thank the doctors and the hospital workers while at Broward North Medical Center in Deerfield Beach, giving them a thumb’s up for their efforts.

He also praised first responders for their quick response during the shooting.

But even in the midst of the tragedy, the left just couldn’t stop the attacks. What do you think they attacked? The fact that Trump was smiling in some of the pictures.

How dare he smile with the victims, the first responders and the hospital workers (who are all also smiling)?  They even attacked the family of the victim for smiling with him.

More HERE

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Sunday, February 18, 2018




All phobias are not equal

As an academic psychologist with extensive publications on clinical psychology topics, I think I am in a good position to comment on phobias. In psychiatry and psychology, a phobia is a mental state, a strong fear, that manifests in an extreme and irrational avoidance of certain objects or people.  In politics, "phobia" is simply a term of abuse.  It is used in politics however as a pretense that the accused "phobic" person is mentally defective. So let us look at HOW deranged the alleged phobics are.

"Homophobia" is a complete misnomer.  I can find distasteful the thought of a man sticking his dick into another man's anus without fearing anything from the deviants concerned.  And most normal men DO find the idea distasteful.  It is because of that general distaste that the behavior concerned was for so long illegal.  I cannot see that there is anything to fear from the acts of two unfortunates in their bedroom.  So there may be a few cases around of true homophobia but most people who are critical or unacceptant of homosexuality are not that way because they fear it.  They may simply think the act is distasteful or they might accept Bible teachings about it or have some other reason -- thinking that it is inimical to family formation etc.

So what about Islamophobia?  It is a term commonly applied by the Left to people who are critical of Muslim behavior.  And there is much to be critical of in that murderous religion.  The big sufferers from Muslim savagery are other Muslims of a different Muslim sect  but aggression seems to be lurking just under the surface wherever there are Muslims.  People who want peace -- most Westerners -- can quite reasonably be critical of people who are inimical to peace.  I personally think it is none of my business how Muslims treat one another but when they inflict random savagery on peaceful law-abiding people in my own community, I  think I have every right to be critical. But whether that criticism rises to the status of a phobia I cannot see.  Don't forget that a phobia is an IRRATIONAL fear whereas I think that fear of what Muslims do and might do is perfectly rational.

And there is another attitude that could be called a phobia:  A tendency to avoid blacks, seen most clearly in white flight.  Such attitudes are not normally called phobias because Leftists have another handy-dandy term that is even more accusatory:  "Racism".  But the same considerations apply.  Avoidance behavior is not per se racism.  The rate of violent crime among people of African ancestry is stratospheric wherever they are to be found.  Among American blacks, the rate of  violent crime is 9 times the white average.  And a wish to avoid being victimized by that is neither racist nor phobic.  It is self preservation.  Anti-discrimination laws have made such avoidance difficult but ways can be found

And the term 'racism" denotes more than avoidance behavior.  The example of "racism" that springs to everybody's mind is the policies and deeds of Adolf Hitler.  Yet Hitler is not at all representative of racial consciousness.  In Hitler's day just about EVERYBODY, was antisemitic. But racially discriminatory attitudes did not normally translate to physical harm towards Jews.  A good example is 19th century Britain. Brits of that era thought that THEY were the master race and they were very suspicious of Jews. To get much social acceptance, a Jew had to convert to the Church of England -- a dismal fate but not a life-threatening one.

So when a brilliant conservative political politician came along who was Jewish, what did the "racist" Englishmen do?  Did they send him to the gas ovens or otherwise harm or restrict him?  No.  They made Benjamin Disraeli their prime minister.  And he was quite outspoken about his Jewishness -- right down to his surname,  which means "Of Israel".  So calling racial consciousness "racist" calls on irrelevant history.  A German socialist like Hitler was atrocious indeed in what he did but the example of racial consciousness that people of British descent or culture should look to is the Conservative British politicians who gave a Jew the highest political distinction that they could.  Their "racism" was innocuous.

Incidentally, the British political leader who declared war on Hitler was Neville Chamberlain (Yes.  Neville, not Winston) and Chamberlain was known to have antisemitic views. So racial consciousness and beliefs can coexist with very benign behavior.  They are not automatically wrong in any sense and  should not be condemned of themselves.

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AG Sessions on shootings: ‘It’s No Good to Have Laws If They Are Not Enforced’

Speaking to the Major County Sheriffs’ Association on Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed to study “the intersection” between mental health and criminality” in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

He noted that in the first quarter of the Trump administration after he was sworn in, there was a 23 percent increase in federal gun prosecutions - the most in a decade.

“Since the day I took office— in conjunction with our state and local colleagues— we have prioritized violent crime and violations of federal firearms laws. In the first quarter after I was sworn in, we saw a 23% increase in gun prosecutions and have now charged the most federal firearm prosecutions in a decade,” Sessions said.

“It’s no good to have laws if they are not enforced,” the attorney general said.

Sessions said he has directed the DOJ’s Office of Legal Policy to work with the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, and Homeland Security “to study the intersection of mental health and criminality and identify how we can stop people capable of such heinous crimes.”

“It is too often the case that the perpetrators of these terrible attacks had given of signals in advance. You are experienced professionals. You and I know that we cannot arrest everybody that somebody thinks is dangerous, but I think we can and must do better. We owe it to every one of those kids crying outside their school yesterday and all those who never made it out,” he said.

“The most important thing that any government does is to protect the safety and the rights of its citizens, and I understand the importance in this country of respecting the civil rights of every American, but the first civil right is the right to be safe. Everything else that we do as a government depends on that,” Sessions said. “We cannot allow politics or bad policies to get in the way of that mission.”

Sessions said the country and certain political leaders lost focus on the importance of “proper support and affirmation” of law enforcement and as a result, violent crime went up by seven percent nationwide from 2014 to 2016. He said robberies went up, assaults increased by nearly 10 percent, rape went up nearly 11 percent, and murder rose more than 20 percent.

In contrast, in the last year alone, the DOJ “brought cases against the greatest number of violent criminals in a quarter of a century,” Sessions said. “We also arrested and charged hundreds of people suspected of contributing to the ongoing opioid crisis.”

SOURCE

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Feds to Repeal 298 Tax Regulations

The Treasury Department plans to eliminate nearly 300 outdated tax regulations, getting tax rules off the books that in some cases have not applied since the 1940s.

The department announced its proposal to eliminate unnecessary tax regulations this week, in compliance with two executive orders signed by President Donald Trump last year to reduce regulatory burdens and simplify the tax code.

"We continue our work to ensure that our tax regulatory system promotes economic growth," said Secretary Steven Mnuchin. "These 298 regulations serve no useful purpose to taxpayers and we have proposed eliminating them."

"I look forward to continuing to build on our efforts to make the regulatory system more efficient and effective," he said.

Executive Order 13789, signed last April, instructs the Treasury to "bring clarity" to the tax code and identify all tax regulations that "impose an undue financial burden on United States taxpayers," "add undue complexity to the Federal tax laws," or "exceed the statutory authority of the Internal Revenue Service."

The department's latest action addresses the complexity of the tax code. The proposed rule would remove tax regulations that have already been repealed; repeal regulations that have been significantly changed from their original purpose; and repeal regulations that are no longer applicable.

"This notice of proposed rulemaking proposes to streamline IRS regulations by removing 298 regulations that are no longer necessary because they do not have any current or future applicability under the Internal Revenue Code and by amending 79 regulations to reflect the proposed removal of the 298 regulations," the department said in a rulemaking notice published Thursday.

Included in the roughly 300 tax rules to be removed from the tax code are exemptions that were repealed more than seven decades ago in the Public Debt Act of 1941. The law raised the debt limit to $65 billion. The current debt ceiling sits at $20.5 trillion.

A tax exemption for dividends from shares and stock that was repealed in 1942 would also be removed.

Regulations from the Excise Tax Reduction Act of 1965, the Tax Reform Act of 1976, and the last substantial tax reform in 1986, would also be removed.

SOURCE

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Why Leftists Are So Unhappy

Dennis Prager

One of the most important differences between the right and the left—one that greatly helps to explain their differences—is the difference between unhappy liberals and unhappy conservatives.

Unhappy conservatives generally believe they are unhappy because life is inherently difficult and tragic, and because they have made some unwise decisions in life.

But unhappy liberals generally believe they are unhappy because they have been persecuted.

Ask unhappy leftists why they are unhappy and they are likely to respond that they are oppressed. This is the primary response given by unhappy leftist women, blacks, Latinos, and gays.

For example, the more left-wing the woman, the more she will attribute her unhappiness to American society’s “patriarchy,” “sexism,” and “misogyny.” She therefore considers herself oppressed—and believing one is oppressed makes happiness all but impossible.

Likewise, the more left-wing the black, the more he or she will attribute his or her unhappiness to racism. And how is a black person living in a racist white country supposed to be happy?

If you have ever spent time with black conservatives, one of the first things you will notice is that they have a much happier disposition than left-wing blacks. I receive many calls to my radio show from black listeners. I almost always know immediately whether they are on the right or the left solely by their tone of voice. The cheerful black caller is almost always a conservative.

The left cultivates unhappiness by cultivating anger. It does this for the same reason wine growers cultivate grapes: no grapes, no wine. No anger, no left (and no Democratic Party). And angry people are not happy people.

Last week in Atlanta, I spoke for about 40 minutes to six randomly chosen black students from a local black college (for the upcoming film “No Safe Spaces” that Adam Carolla and I are making). Each one said he is oppressed.

When I told them I didn’t think blacks in America are oppressed, I sensed that they had never actually been told that by anyone. It was akin to telling physics students that gravity doesn’t exist. And when I added that I don’t think women are oppressed either, they were equally shocked.

Ask yourself this question: Is a black child likely to grow up happy if he is told by his parents, his teachers, his political leaders, and all his media that society largely hates him?

Of course not.

Raising a black child to regard America as racist and oppressive all but guarantees an unhappy black adult.

Let me offer a counterexample. My father, an Orthodox Jew, wrote his college senior thesis on the subject of anti-Semitism in America. In it he described quotas on Jews in college admissions, Jews prohibited from joining country clubs, Jews prohibited from law firms, etc.

In other words, my father fully acknowledged the existence of anti-Semitism in the United States. Yet he raised my brother and me in an America-loving home and told us that he believed American Jews are the luckiest Jews in history—because they are American.

I therefore never knew what it was like to walk around thinking most of the people I met hated me. That alone contributed to my happiness.

Leftism makes one other major contribution to leftists’ unhappiness: it promotes ingratitude.

In my book on happiness (“Happiness Is a Serious Problem”) and my talks on happiness, I emphasize the central importance of gratitude to happiness. Without it, one cannot be happy. There isn’t one ungrateful happy person on Earth. Yet ingratitude toward America is central to the left’s worldview—further reinforcing the unhappiness of its adherents.

Unhappy Americans on the right blame the problems inherent to life, and they blame themselves. Unhappy Americans on the left blame America.

That alone goes far in explaining the unbridgeable differences between right and left.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Friday, February 16, 2018



Democrats Overplay Their Hand With Extreme DACA Demands 

The current immigration debate is surreal, worthy of a chapter in a Lewis Carrol novel, where logic is turned upside down and words have no meaning whatsoever because they mean what their utterers want them to mean in that moment.

The current crisis du jour is the pending end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as “DACA,” through which Barack Obama granted protection against deportation for hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens.

In 2010, with Democrats firmly in control of Congress, Obama faced immense pressure to push amnesty for millions of illegals. At first, Obama rightly recognized the limits of his power, stating, “I am not king. I can’t do these things just by myself.” In March 2011, he reiterated that position, saying, “With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case.” In 2012, desperate for Hispanic voters to bail him out at the ballot box, Obama did an about-face and announced the implementation of the DACA program.

Of course, Democrats never allow the truth to ruin a political narrative, so despite Obama’s confession that DACA is unconstitutional, and despite the courts concurring, Democrats now claim President Donald Trump is a heartless racist for ending a program that Obama had no right to implement. And two activist judges have issued orders to block Trump’s move.

In actuality, Trump is being far more compassionate than the law requires. In exchange for securing the border and ending chain migration and the visa lottery, Trump is offering to grant not only amnesty but a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegals — nearly three times more than signed up for Obama’s DACA program.

Such generosity has been met with extreme demands by Democrats: amnesty without border security, and a continuation of chain migration, further exploding the number of illegals entering the U.S.

There is zero legal obligation for the U.S. to grant amnesty to any illegals, and even the claim of a moral obligation is tenuous at best. The blame lies solely with the parents of the illegals who were brought here as children in direct defiance of U.S. immigration laws.

Regardless, because Americans are a compassionate people, there is widespread agreement that those illegal alien children who are truly here through no fault of their own, and who have known no other country, should be allowed to stay. Even Numbers USA, which advocates for strict limits on immigration, supports giving the so-called “Dreamers” legal status.

It is important to delineate between the “Dreamers” under DACA and what might be called “DACA-plus.” The DACA recipients took advantage of Obama’s (illegal) program and applied for the deferral, paid fees and were issued work permits that allowed them to be hired by American employers. There were about 800,000 who took advantage of the program, minus the approximately 110,000 who were deported for crimes, or failed to renew their green cards, or married U.S. citizens. These are the people Americans support allowing to stay.

Not good enough, say Democrats. They cynically shut down the government last month to pressure Republicans to capitulate to their demands to expand the amnesty pool to include illegals who came here late in their teens, who were not born here, and for whom America is not their only home. It was a showdown they lost, but it was a revealing moment.

What is particularly galling to many Americans is to have their compassion rewarded with contempt and ingratitude. The job of the American government is first and foremost to protect the rights and interests of American citizens. As President Trump stated in his State of the Union Address, “My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans, to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream. … Because Americans are dreamers, too.”

Democrats are overplaying their hand, and it will come back to bite them. Nothing will erode the goodwill of the American people like being told that their kindness is not only owed to the illegals who broke our laws but that it is insufficient.

No other nation takes in as many immigrants as the United States. No other nation treats them as well as we do. Not only have we allowed them to stay, we have spent tens of billions of dollars feeding, housing and educating them.

Compare that to Mexico, home to many of these illegals. Mexico is in the process of a harsh crackdown on illegals coming up through Central America. In Mexico, instead of access to welfare programs and education, illegals are rounded up in police raids, imprisoned, beaten and often tortured.

America’s current situation is untenable. Our immigration laws must be reformed to deal with those here and those who want to come here. But in doing so, Americans and their interests should come first. Not one single immigrant or illegal alien has a “right” to come to America. Those allowed to stay do so out of the kindness of the American people.

And limiting immigration to those who truly love America, who want to embrace our history and culture, who promise to obey our laws, and who will be a net gain for our country is not an unreasonable demand.

SOURCE

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Trump proposes cutting all federal funds for NPR, PBS

The 2019 federal budget that the White House unveiled Monday again proposes cutting all federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which funnels money to NPR and PBS -- a potential move that the CPB president quickly slammed.

In a statement, President and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Patricia Harrison excoriated the proposal, suggesting it might even lead to fatalities.

“Americans place great value on having universal access to public media’s educational and informational programming and services, provided commercial free and free of charge,” Harrison said in a statement Monday.

“Since there is no viable substitute for federal funding that would ensure this valued service continues, the elimination of federal funding to CPB would at first devastate, and then ultimately destroy public media’s ability to provide early childhood content, life-saving emergency alerts, and public affairs programs," the statement continued.

But the idea must win the approval of a skeptical Congress to become reality. Just last year, the White House made a similar proposal to defund the CPB, although Congress effectively ignored the request.

"The Budget proposes to eliminate Federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) over a two year period," the 2019 proposal states.

Republicans have long suggested that PBS and NPR, which some politicians and commentators say are left-leaning and partisan, should not receive federal funds.

But the Trump budget, rather than raising the issue of bias, simply asserts that the money is not necessary.

"CPB funding comprises about 15 percent of the total amount spent on public broadcasting, with the remainder coming from non-Federal sources," the propsal says, under a section titled "Justification."

"This private fundraising has proven durable, negating the need for continued Federal subsidies," the proposal continues, adding that NPR and PBS could make up the shortfall by "increasing revenues from corporate sponsors, foundations, and members."

SOURCE

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Love Trumps Hate? Media Swoon Over Kim's Murderous Sister

Some of you may recall many years ago when CNN founder Ted Turner made some cringe-inducing bromides about North Korea. In 2005, he portrayed the murderous regime of Kim Jong-il — the father of current madman Kim Jong-un — as fairly typical and not altogether lacking human decency. He deliriously pontificated: "I am absolutely convinced that the North Koreans are absolutely sincere. ... I looked them right in the eyes. And they looked like they meant the truth."

In reference to Kim, he stated, "He didn't look too much different than most other people." He added, "I saw a lot of people over there. They were thin and they were riding bicycles instead of driving in cars, but ... I didn't see any brutality." And the Non Compos Mentis gold medal goes to...

Fast forward to today, and Turner's impaired perception of North Korea is no different from what the Leftmedia despicably showed during Friday night's Olympic Games opening ceremony. In fact, the Olympics were quickly tarnished by Trump Derangement Syndrome. Vice President Mike Pence, who was on hand for the ceremony, was eviscerated for his refusal to overlook North Korea's abhorrent and tyrannical dictatorship. North and South Korea had recently — and no doubt apprehensively — agreed to show harmony at the Olympics, such as processing together for the opening ceremony and sporting a joint women's hockey team. That's their prerogative, and everyone hopes that something good can come out of it.

But the U.S. certainly shouldn't be shamed for its cautionary approach to the Koreas' decision and the inevitable outcome. According to The New York Times, "Mr. Pence drew the greatest reaction for where he did not appear: most pointedly, at a dinner [South Korean President] Moon [Jae-in] hosted before the opening ceremony. That meant that he avoided spending much time with the North Korean delegation, including Kim Yong-nam, the country's ceremonial head of state." Pence also refused to stand when the combined Korean delegate was accentuated during the opening ceremony. The Times wrote that critics view the snub as "disrespectful of the athletes and his host, Mr. Moon."

Naturally, the Left quickly pounced on Pence's stern but substantive conduct. This isn't surprising, but what's absolutely despicable is the length to which media outlets went to shown their disdain for the Trump administration — and love for the North Korean communists. Kim Jong-un did not attend the opening ceremonies but instead dispatched his sister, Kim Yo-jong. And she was quickly adopted as the new face of the anti-Trump "Resistance." CNN — the same network on which Ted Turner extolled the "virtues" of North Korea — ran with the atrocious headline, "Kim Jong Un's sister is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics." The New York Times wasn't much better, tweeting, "Without a word, only flashing smiles, Kim Jong-un's sister outflanked Vice President Mike Pence in diplomacy."

Reminder: North Korea is so impoverished that soldiers ransack farms for food while Kim and his family eat to their hearts' content and while precious money is diverted toward nuclear weapons proliferation. The state has executed hundreds of innocent people, including Kim's own brother. It's facilitated numerous global hacking campaigns. It's threatened time and time again to annihilate America and its allies. And some 300,000 people have defected since 1953. Who knows how many lost their lives trying or didn't try at all out of fear.

Complicit in all this? Kim's sister. And the Leftmedia want to slam Pence for not acquiescing to North Korean propaganda? Yo-jong is just as ruthless as Jong-un is. Together they have committed atrocities most Americans can't comprehend. And President Donald Trump knows that what North Korea wants is not at all reflected in what it's trying to sell at the Olympics. The media in the Age of Trump perpetually lecture us that "Love Trumps Hate." Unless, of course, they can prop up someone who literally hates all that lives and breathes and who can serve to promote the Left's equally hateful agenda of trying to destroy the Trump administration.

SOURCE

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Flushing Obama's Potty Policies

Stories of President Donald Trump's administration undoing the bankrupt policies of Barack Obama's White House are especially welcome news. The latest episode is the announcement from Betsy DeVos's Department of Education that it will no longer intervene in kerfuffles over public school bathroom use on behalf of transgender individuals.

In May 2016, Obama's school powder room police dictated that public schools must accommodate kids suffering from gender dysphoria — not by actually helping them, of course, but by forcing female students to share bathrooms and locker rooms with males claiming to be females. Federal funding always comes with strings attached. It was nothing less than part of a growing pattern of progressive child abuse.

The law in question says simply, "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." The key word is "sex."

Education Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Hill explained, "Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity. In the case of bathrooms, however, longstanding regulations provide that separating facilities on the basis of sex is not a form of discrimination prohibited by Title IX." Indeed, words mean things, and leftists' constant redefinition of accepted terms is a big part of enacting their agenda. "Sex" does not mean gender "identity."

Unfortunately, what was enacted by a pen and undone by a pen can be re-enacted with a pen by the next Democrat administration — at least until the courts weigh in, and at least one case is headed to the Supreme Court. Regardless, leftists will by no means concede defeat in the bathroom wars. For the moment, however, there is some semblance of common sense coming from the Department of Education.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Thursday, February 15, 2018



Trump and House GOP push for stricter work requirements for welfare

Republicans, flying high after big victories on tax cuts and military spending increases, are turning their sights to shrinking the nation’s safety net, targeting food stamps, Medicaid, and other social service programs for poor Americans.

President Trump’s proposed budget released Monday reinforced the emerging theme, with cuts of $17 billion from the nation’s food stamp program, known as SNAP, next year and a claim that “millions of Americans are in a tragic state of dependency” on the federal government and should be funneled into the workforce.

Trump’s plan dovetails with proposals from House Republicans to reduce spending on entitlement programs, an initiative that House Speaker Paul Ryan recently branded as “workforce development.” GOP lawmakers acknowledge the phrase could make slashing eligibility more palatable to the broader public by focusing on the job requirements and job training aspects of their plans.

Presidential budgets are more likely to be used as door stops than as legislative blueprints in Congress, which jealously guards its power of the purse. But Trump’s support for cutting food stamps lends much-needed political momentum to House Republicans, who have had a hard time persuading the more moderate Senate to take on the safety net in an election year.

“You can tell [Trump] understands it, you can tell he gets it,” said Republican Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, who introduced a bill to stiffen job requirements for food stamps and other entitlement programs in the House over the summer.

$4.4 trillion budget proposal adds $7 trillion to deficits
The budget calls for steep cuts in domestic programs and entitlements, and large increases for the military.

The recent budget deal, passed late last week, increased federal spending by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next two years and sparked Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky to blast his fellow Republicans over their deficit hypocrisy. That criticism has also increased interest in cutting spending on entitlement programs such as Medicaid and food stamps.

The first piece of the plan is to tighten work requirements for food stamps in the new Farm Bill, which is likely to come up for a vote over the next six months.

Currently, unemployed SNAP recipients with minor children must look for work, but Jordan and other House Republicans would like to require them to work or job train 100 hours a month, unless their children are under 2 years old. (Those with children between 2 and 6 years old would need to work 80 hours per month.)

In his budget, Trump has also asked for a significant chunk of food stamp money to be delivered to the program’s 43 million recipients in the form of a box of food from the Department of Agriculture instead of money loaded on a debit card to be spent at the grocery store.

Jordan is also pushing to tighten work requirements for Medicaid and public housing. Trump’s budget would cut rental assistance for poor people by nearly $1 billion and calls on Congress to pass legislation to require able-bodied tenants in public housing to work. Trump also seeks $250 billion cuts in Medicaid, the state-federal program that provides health coverage for low-income people and others.

The broad effort to cut entitlement spending and require that recipients work was aired earlier this month at the GOP lawmakers’ annual policy retreat at the tony Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, where the lawmakers at an hourlong workshop discussed mandating new work requirements as a condition for receiving aid.

There, Tarren Bragdon, the president of a think tank that pushes for welfare overhaul called the Foundation for Government Accountability, presented findings from a poll he commissioned that suggested more than 80 percent of Americans would support requiring people to work or volunteer in order to receive food stamps or public housing. Seventy-five percent backed work requirements for Medicaid.

“I think they were pleased by it,” Bragdon said of the lawmakers’ reaction to the poll. “We looked at some key demographics of our poll — how do suburban women feel about this? How do independents feel about this?”

The poll showed that while Americans are more skeptical about changing Medicare or Social Security, which benefit older Americans of all income levels, they are open to reforms to social safety net programs designed for the nation’s poor.

Ryan is also not pitching the program to fellow House Republicans as a way to cut costs, even though many GOP lawmakers say they are eager to find a way to reverse their deficit spending spree so far.

The tax overhaul and last week’s bipartisan spending deal have set the stage for a $1.2 trillion deficit next year, with annual deficits topping $1 trillion “indefinitely,” according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. (In 2014, the deficit was $483 billion.)

Any move to cut food stamps and other antipoverty programs would face fierce resistance from Democrats.

“President Trump may have been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but many Americans have to work long hours doing backbreaking work just to get by,” said Democratic Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, who sits on the Agriculture Committee. “With the heartless cuts to SNAP — our country’s premier antihunger program — President Trump will be taking food out of the mouths of millions of families desperately working to escape poverty.”

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders called the budget “morally bankrupt.”

But Republicans in the House who are leading the effort describe the changes as morally necessary — a way to ensure that people in poverty have a chance to move out of it and climb up into the middle class. Ryan has talked about reinvesting the savings from people who stop collecting benefits into job training programs.

“What we have to do is change an entire culture of thinking so that the government is there to maybe be a bridge sometimes but it’s not there to be your eternal resting place,” Walker said.

Walker sees welfare changes as part of a “profamily agenda” that includes reducing the high number of incarcerated people in the country. He is expecting a “backlash” once Republicans begin tackling the issue but thinks Americans will eventually be sold on it.

“I can tell you historically that just because something isn’t popular from the start doesn’t mean that it’s not good for the American people,” Walker said. “We can talk government policy, we can talk the civil rights movement, we can talk a whole lot of things.”

Even if the House adopts Trump’s ideas on food stamps, it is unlikely that every Senate Republican plus nine Democrats would sign on as well, which is what it would take to pass the Senate. When President Clinton sought stiffer work requirements for temporary cash assistance for poor families in the 1990s, a Republican-led House crafted a bill that both parties backed.

“Unless people are going to be serious about sitting down and doing bipartisan entitlement reform we’re probably not going to make any progress,” said Representative Charlie Dent, Republican of Pennsylvania. “We could pass a bill every now and then out of the House, but nothing will get to the president’s desk.”

 SOURCE

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Venezuela’s economy is so bad, parents are leaving their children at orphanages

We were at Venezuela’s largest orphanage, just after lunch. The yard was an obstacle course of abandoned children. A little chunk of a boy, on the cusp of 3, sat on a play scooter. He was called El Gordo — the fat one. But when he was left here a few months ago, he was skin and bones.

He zoomed past a 3-year-old in a pink shirt with tiny flowers. “She doesn’t talk much,” one of the attendants said, tousling the girl’s curly hair. At least, not anymore. In September, her mother left her at a subway station with a bag of clothes and a note begging someone to feed the child.

Poverty and hunger rates are soaring as Venezuela’s economic crisis leaves store shelves empty of food, medicine, diapers and baby formula. Some parents can no longer bear it. They are doing the unthinkable.

“People can’t find food,” Salazar told me. “They can’t feed their children. They are giving them up not because they don’t love them but because they do.”

Ahead of my recent reporting trip to Venezuela, I’d heard that families were abandoning or surrendering children. Yet it was a challenge to actually meet the tiniest victims of this broken nation. My requests to enter orphanages run by the socialist government had gone unanswered. One child-protection official — warning of devastating conditions, including a lack of diapers — confided that such a visit would be “impossible.” Some privately run child crisis centers worried that granting access to a journalist could damage their delicate relations with the government.

My Venezuelan colleague Rachelle Krygier introduced me to Fundana — an imposing cement complex perched high on a hill in southeastern Caracas. Her family had founded the nonprofit orphanage and child crisis center in 1991, and her mother remains the head of its board and her aunt its president. Rachelle remembered volunteering there a decade ago, when she was a student and the children were almost exclusively cases of abuse or neglect.

There are no official statistics on how many children are abandoned or sent to orphanages and care homes by their parents for economic reasons. But interviews with officials at Fundana and nine other private and public organizations that manage children in crisis suggest that the cases number in the hundreds — or more — nationwide.

Fundana received about 144 requests to place children at its facility last year, up from about 24 in 2016, with the vast majority of the requests related to economic difficulties.

“I didn’t know what else to do,” said Angélica Pérez, a 32-year-old mother of three, near tears.

On a recent afternoon, she showed up at Fundana with her 3-year-old son and her two daughters, ages 5 and 14. She lost her job as a seamstress a few months ago. When her youngest came down with a severe skin condition in December and the public hospital had no medicine, she spent the last of her savings buying ointment from a pharmacy.

Her plan: leave the children at the center, where she knew they would be fed, so she could travel to neighboring Colombia to find work. She hoped she would eventually be able to take them back. Typically, children are allowed to stay at Fundana for six months to a year before being placed in foster care or put up for adoption.

“You don’t know what it’s like to see your children go hungry,” Pérez told me. “You have no idea. I feel like I’m responsible, like I’ve failed them. But I’ve tried everything. There is no work, and they just keep getting thinner.

“Tell me! What am I supposed to do?”

Venezuela descended into a deep recession in 2014, battered by a drop in global oil prices and years of economic mismanagement. The crisis has worsened in the past year. A study by the Catholic charity Caritas in poorer areas of four states found the percentage of children under 5 lacking adequate nutrition had jumped to 71 percent in December from 54 percent seven months earlier.

Venezuela’s child welfare ministry did not respond to requests for comment on the phenomenon of children being abandoned or put in orphanages because of the crisis. The socialist government provides free boxes of food to poor families once a month, although there have been delays as food costs have soared.

For years, Venezuela had a network of public institutions for vulnerable children — traditionally way stations for those needing temporary or long-term protection. But child-welfare workers say the institutions are collapsing, with some at risk of closing because of a shortage of funds and others critically lacking in resources.

So, increasingly, parents are leaving their children in the streets.

In the gritty Sucre district of Caracas, for instance, eight children were abandoned at hospitals and public spaces last year, up from four in 2016. In addition, officials there say they logged nine cases of voluntary abandonment for economic reasons at a child protective services center in the district in 2017, compared with none the previous year. A child-welfare official in El Libertador — one of the capital’s poorest areas — called the situation at public orphanages and temporary-care centers “catastrophic.”

“We have grave problems here,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisals from the authoritarian government. “There’s definitely more abandoned children. It’s not just that there are more, but also their health conditions and nutrition are much worse. We can’t take care of them.”   

With the public system overwhelmed, the burden is increasingly falling on private facilities run by nonprofit organizations and charities.

Leonardo Rodríguez, who manages a network of 10 orphanages and care centers across the country, said that in the past, children placed with his centers were almost always from homes where they had suffered physical or mental abuse. But last year, the institutions fielded dozens of calls — as many as two per week — from desperate women seeking to give up their children so that they would be fed. Demand is so high that some of his facilities now have waiting lists.

To manage the surge in demand at Fundana, the organization opened a second facility in Caracas with the aid of private donors. But it still had to turn down dozens of requests to take in children. At Bambi House, Venezuela’s second-largest private orphanage, requests for placements surged about 30 percent last year, said Erika Pardo, its founder. Infants, once in high demand for adoption or foster placement, are also lingering longer in the organization’s care.

“Foster families are asking for older children because diapers and formula are either impossible to find or too expensive,” she said. The number of pregnant women seeking to put their children up for adoption is also jumping.

José Gregorio Hernández, owner of one of Venezuela’s main adoption agencies, Proadopcion, said that in 2017, his organization received 10 to 15 requests monthly from pregnant women seeking to give up their babies, compared with one or two requests per month in 2016. Overwhelmed, the organization had to turn down most of the women. It accepted 50 children in 2017 — up from 30 in 2016.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Leftists are born unhappy

A reader has drawn to my attention a journal article from 2010 that suppports my contention that Leftists are born miseries. The author tries to put a leftist spin on it but the facts pretty well speak for themselves.  The abstract is below. I will add some comments at the foot of it

Political leanings vary with facial expression processing and psychosocial functioning 

Jacob M. Vigil

Abstract

Conservative, Republican sympathizers show heightened threat reactivity, but greater felt happiness than liberal, Democrat sympathizers. Recent evolutionary models interpret these findings in the context of broader perceptual and expressive proclivities for advertising cues of competency (Republicans) and trustworthiness (Democrats) to others, and in ways that facilitate the formation of distinct social networks, in coordination with individuals’ life histories.

Consistent with this perspective, I found that Republican sympathizers were more likely to report larger social networks and interpret ambiguous facial stimuli as expressing more threatening emotions as compared to Democrat sympathizers, who also reported greater emotional distress, relationship dissatisfaction, and experiential hardships. The findings are discussed in the context of proximate and ultimate explanations of social cognition, relationship formation, and societal cohesion. Keywords evolution, group identity, neuroscience, political psychology, social cognition

SOURCE

So let us look at the findings and not the interpretations

Conservatives are happier.  That always comes out and Leftists hate it.  They claim that conservatives are maladjusted misfits but happy misfits is not a very persuasive notion.

"Threat reactivity"? A fancy way of saying conservatives are more cautious, which we already knew.

Conservatives have more friends.  "Laugh and the world laughs with you.  Cry and you cry alone"

Democrat sympathizers reported greater emotional distress, relationship dissatisfaction, and experiential hardships.

My case rests:  Conservatives are the happy people. Leftists are the angry people.

These findings derive from a survey of students so are not authoritative by themselves but they do confirm what we see  in Leftist politics all the time.

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Apparently, white Americans should either feel ashamed, guilty or apologetic — simply for being white 

“Common hatred unites the most heterogeneous elements.” —American philosopher Eric Hoffer

Something repellently “uniting” is emerging from the more feverish fever swamps of progressive ideology: White Americans should either feel ashamed, guilty or apologetic — simply for being white.

That’s the premise behind “White Racism,” a course taught by professor Ted Thornhill at Florida Gulf Coast University. Thornhill believes a color-blind society is “a myth” that keeps both whites and misguided people of color “from recognizing the everyday realities that show the United States is white supremacist in nature.”

Unsurprisingly, Thornhill has a decidedly one-sided view of those who colonized America, insisting they “practiced all manner of inhumanity against non-whites,” including “genocide, slavery, murder, rape, torture, theft, chicanery, segregation, discrimination, intimidation, internment, humiliation and marginalization.”

That every group of human beings was guilty of all manner of inhumanity at various times in history? That Thornhill has a platform on a college campus and in the media to disseminate his twisted worldview, due to those same colonists establishing a republic where freedom of speech remains a bedrock principle? That they wrote a Declaration of Independence and Constitution establishing inalienable human rights that laid the groundwork for ending inhumanity best exemplified by slavery — slavery practiced by every ethnic group — at a cost of 360,000 lives? That this nation has gone even further, establishing affirmative action programs that continue redressing inequality, or the pernicious concept of disparate impact that presumes discrimination even where none is evident, based on nothing more than disproportionately negative impacts on protected classes of individuals?

Thornhill insists American is little more than a nation “comprised of laws, policies, practices, traditions and an accompanying ideology … that promotes the biological, intellectual and cultural superiority of whites to dominate other groups.”

What about non-white racism? Thornhill concedes non-whites can have “prejudices,” but racism accrues solely to whites because they are beneficiaries of “systemic privilege.”

Such mindless absolutism might surprise many whites whose systemic privilege consists of enduring decades of Rust Belt hopelessness — sometimes relieved by tuning into multi-millionaire black athletes taking a knee during the Star-Spangled Banner portion of an NFL football game. Yet for those who believe skin color is the sole arbiter of privilege, it is not surprising.

It’s not new, either. Critical Race Theory, a philosophy established by Harvard professor Derrick Bell, has long asserted that America is a permanently racist nation whose legal structures are invalid because they are designed to support white supremacy.

Meritocracy, equal opportunity, and colorblindness? Nothing more than illusory concepts used to maintain the racist status quo.

Another club in the assault on whiteness is “cultural appropriation,” as in the idea that the dominant culture inappropriately adopts or utilizes elements of a minority culture — with the attendant subtext that such appropriation is driven by colonial impulses, and an imbalance of power violating the “collective intellectual property rights” of the minority culture.

This separatism-on-steroids is another one-way street whereby certain aspects and/or manifestations of culture are reserved solely from minorities, even as those minorities are free to embrace any aspect of the dominant culture, absent similar recriminations for doing so.

And in a nation where progressive ideology far too often substitutes for a genuine education, such contemptible nonsense is becoming part of the classroom experience. “Social justice activists at a New York high school successfully shut down a production of ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ after a white student landed a lead role,” Fox News reports.

The protests began when Maddi Carroll, a black 17-year-old senior, quit the production as a result. “It shows you that theater wasn’t made for you,” she insisted. “And it shows you that, if you can’t get the parts that are written for you, what parts are you going to get?”

Perhaps the role of Angelica Schuyler, a white woman portrayed by 2016 Tony Award winning actress Renee Elise Goldsberry in “Hamilton,” the hit Broadway play where the nation’s white Founding Fathers were also played by minority actors.

Regardless, students banded together in a group called Students United Ithaca, and they wrote a letter that reveals how twisted their thinking has become. While they insisted the white student who landed the role “is a stellar actor, singer, and dancer” that “any stage, would be lucky to have” she is nonetheless the “epitome of whiteness.” Thus, casting her in this role is at best “cultural appropriation,” and at worst “whitewashing, a racist casting practice which has its roots in minstrelsy.”

The group doubled down on its Facebook page, posting a list of demands aimed at the Ithaca City School District. Two of them stood out. “STOP the racist and openly stated policy of ‘color blind’ casting in the ICSD,” stated one. “STOP ignoring and denying that you have created a white centered program run by white adults for the benefit of white children. White children should also be educated about interrupting these practices of White supremacy,” stated the other.

In other words, meritocracy be damned, along with anything else that doesn’t accord itself with progressivism’s racialist, bean-counting, cultural fiefdom worldview.

Moreover, when color-blindness is deemed racist, that worldview is plumbing Orwellian depths.

But, but, but… acting, singing and dancing talent is subjective and thus open to interpretation, right? “The U.S. Olympic Committee says it’s taking its most diverse team ever to a Winter Games, an impressive and deserved boast that requires a caveat of sorts,” The Washington Post reports. “Yes, USOC officials are pleased the team includes more African-Americans and Asian-Americans — and even the first two openly gay men — than recent winter squads. But they also realize this year’s U.S. Olympic team, not unlike those of most other nations gathering in Pyeongchang this week, is still overwhelmingly white.”

The paper added, “‘We’re not quite where we want to be,’ said Jason Thompson, the USOC’s director of diversity and inclusion. … ‘I think full-on inclusion has always been a priority of Team USA. I think everybody’s always felt it should represent every American.’”

One might be forgiven for assuming that full-on ability would be the priority for an Olympic team. Moreover, the notion that every American can’t be represented by any Olympian — utterly irrespective of ethnicity, sex or sexual orientation — reveals how obsessed the American Left is with identity politics.

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood,” declared Martin Luther King in 1963.

Fifty-five years later, that dream is in danger of being exterminated by an American Left’s “common hatred” for America’s common culture. It is a common hatred that demands E Pluribus Unum give way to a hodgepodge of cultural fiefdoms where contempt for “the other” is the common currency, and where identity politics arrives at its most repugnant and virulent destination.

The destination where whiteness per se is tantamount to the Original Sin.

SOURCE

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A big audience for Peterson in Edmonton Feb. 11

The more they try to block him, the bigger his audiences get

Dr. Jordan Peterson’s every move sprouts another interview or article that sparks miles-long Twitter brawls and sharp YouTube comment section duels. The controversial clinical psychologist is on tour promoting his new self-help book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

His event, scheduled in Edmonton on the 11th, was declined by the Citadel on the grounds of his rhetoric not aligning with the theatre’s “mandate, values or vision statement,” which they further explained later.

His event was then moved to the Hyatt, which quickly sold out, and was rescheduled yet again to be held at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Centre in Sherwood Park, which has again, sold out.

SOURCE

Peterson tweeted:  "Finished my talk to a packed house of 750, 3x the size of the max audience at the canceled Citadel appearance, to a welcoming Alberta audience. Thanks Edmonton."

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For over a year we’ve heard…

A)Trump is unpopular.

B)Trump is not just unpopular, but historically unpopular.

C)Trump is the most unpopular president in his first year ever.

The latest respected Rasmussen poll was released on February 7th of last week. Trump was at 48% approval. That makes President Trump MORE popular than Obama at the exact same date of his presidency.

On Feb 7th, 2010 Obama was at 44% approval.

On Feb 7th, 2018 Trump was at 48% approval.

How is this possible? I thought Trump was universally hated? I thought he had the lowest approval ratings in history? Yet he’s four points more popular than Obama at the exact same time of his presidency.

If Trump is “historically unpopular” and he’s four points higher rated than Obama, what does that make Obama? But we never heard a word back then from the media.

By the way, by week's end Trump was even higher- at 49%.

More problems for the Democrats. The latest Quinnipiac Poll shows Americans now give Trump credit for the economy 48% to 41%.

The latest Real Clear Politics average of many respected polls shows Democrats have lost dramatic ground on the issues of economy, jobs, immigration and national security. The GOP now leads 45-36 on the economy, 43-37 on jobs, 46-33 on national security, and 43-37 on immigration. Blue wave? Sounds like a red tsunami to me.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018



Who are Jordan Peterson’s followers?

Justin Murphy is a self-described Left-libertarian who has collected some statistics from Reddit which enable him to see who are the supporters of Peterson.  He does some analyses which I don't entirely agree with but it is clear that the most popular politician among Peterson supporters is Donald Trump, followed by Gary Johnson, the libertarian party candidate who many other libertarians dismissed as too Leftist (on gun control etc.)



So Murphy shows that there is a large silenced population and that Peterson has picked up the ones who are put off by Trump's very simplistic approach.  He sees both Peterson and Trump as having similar messages but with Peterson being the intellectual and impeccably scholarly representative of the same basic ideas.  And from Murphy's eigenvector analysis it seems clear that the suppressed ideas are on the whole simply traditional conservative ones

I wrote a book in 1974 under the title "Conservatism as heresy".  It seems that not much has changed since.  Excerpt only below


In many educated circles, support for Donald Trump is seen as somewhere between insane and evil, quite seriously. Yet, about 50% of the Americans who voted did so for him, so we know at least a non-trivial number of educated people voted for him. But who are they? I haven’t really had strong intuitions about this, and my sense is you just don’t really see or hear from educated and highly thoughtful Trump supporters. I’m aware this could definitely be “my bubble,” but I don’t think it’s just that. I think there exist thoughtful educated Trump supporters, but I think they are systematically unlikely to appear in mainstream culture.

But I have been watching closely the explosion of popularity enjoyed by academic psychologist Jordan Peterson, and it has seemed to me that his constituency might just be some of the educated Trumpians. It is also consistent with my “long-term mass suppression” thesis, because this helps to explain how a random academic psychologist achieved genuinely extraordinary, anomolous levels of fame, all of a sudden. It’s the same pattern with Trump (though I’m not, at all, equating the two individuals): a massive unexpected and rise-to-power indicating a massive reservoir of public interest in something that has hitherto been systematically under-supplied by the status quo.

As an ultralefty who is also 90% on board with Peterson’s key messages, I honestly did not expect this many of the Peterson disciples to be Trump supporters. I was thinking I’d find a sizable minority and say “Aha! A little evidence for my hypothesis.” But Trump is far and away the most favored candidate.

The reason this is important, in my view, is that Trump and Trump supporters are genuinely seen as unworthy of intellectually serious debate in progressive educated circles. But Peterson is an undeniable intellectual master of the most authentic kind. What this means is that genuinely educated progressives who are opposed to Trump need (if they are serious and sincere) to go through Peterson and his intellectual community. In other words, educated progressives cannot pretend there are no serious intellectual forces associated with Trump. There is at least one, and it’s the cluster of ideas Peterson has been working on for decades.

To be clear, I am not saying Peterson has caused support for Trump and I’m not saying Peterson himself supports Trump (I don’t know, but he generally avoids naïve blanket identifications.) I am just saying that, as far as I can tell, his perspective represents a major, public intellectual force that coincides with at least some vectors of support for Trump.

And the sizable minority of left libertarians makes sense to me (because that’s me, basically). So it’s interesting that left-libertarians are communicating thoughtfully in a community with many Trump supporters. I want to show this to all the left libertarian activists I know (who are very different than left libertarian people in general). To show them there is serious intellectual content in the new seeming “right-wing” ecology of ideas and figures

More HERE 

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From the 'Settled Science' Files: USDA Nutrition Guidelines Upside Down

New research finds that high carbohydrate intake is worse for one's health than a diet high in fats. 

Go ahead and put a slice of cheese and extra bacon on that burger. A recently published study in The Lancet calls into question the long-running nutritional guidelines advocated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) since its formation in 1960. The study, which followed 135,335 people in 18 countries on five continents, found that “high carbohydrate intake was associated with higher risk of mortality, whereas total fat and individual types of fat were related to lower total mortality.” It was also concluded, “Total fat and types of fat were not associated with cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular disease mortality, whereas saturated fat had an inverse association with stroke.” The researchers suggest, “Dietary guidelines should be reconsidered in light of these findings.”

This research seems to corroborate a 2010 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that asserted, “There is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease.”

Yet the USDA nutritional guidelines continue to promote the notion that a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet is healthier. Meanwhile, the obesity problem in America has only been getting worse. Of course, government-recommended dietary guidelines on food consumption may not be the primary culprit for America’s obesity epidemic, as lower average activity levels since the 1980s may be the greater cause. But the point is that the science is not settled on this issue, even though the USDA has projected it as such for decades.

Might there be a lesson here for those who think “the science is settled” on global climate fluctuations?

SOURCE

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Our Infrastructure Is Not 'Crumbling'
   
One of the great myths of American politics, no matter who is president and no matter who runs Congress, is that our infrastructure is “crumbling.” Former President Barack Obama repeatedly warned us about our “crumbling infrastructure.” President Donald Trump now tells us that our infrastructure is “crumbling.” The next president is going to hatch a giant plan to fix our crumbling infrastructure as well, because most voters want to believe infrastructure is crumbling.

The infrastructure is not crumbling. Ask someone about infrastructure and his thoughts will probably wander to the worst pothole-infested road he traverses rather than the hundreds of roads he drives on that are perfectly safe and smooth. That’s human nature.

So “crumbling infrastructure” peddlers play on this concern by habitually agonizing over things like the impending outbreak of tragic bridge collapses that will kill thousands. They bring up tragedies like the 2007 disaster with the Interstate 35 bridge over the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis even though, according to federal investigators, the collapse was due to a design flaw rather than decaying infrastructure. Many outlets and politicians simply ignore the inconvenient fact that the rare fatality involving infrastructure typically has nothing to do with “crumbling” and everything to do with natural elements or human error.

In reality, the number of structurally deficient bridges, never high to begin with, has been dropping over the past 30 years despite all the hand-wringing. The overall number has fallen from over 22 percent in 1992 to under 10 percent in 2016. According to a Reuters analysis of those bridges, only 4 percent of those that carry significant traffic need repairs. Of the nation’s 1,200 busiest bridges, the number of those structurally deficient falls to under 2 percent — or fewer than 20 bridges in the entire country. And none of those bridges need repair to save them from collapse.

That has never stopped politicians from fearmongering, however. “Our roads and bridges are falling apart; our airports are in Third World condition,” Trump claimed during his 2016 campaign. Yet as The Heritage Foundation’s Michael Sargent points out, the percentage of airport runways deemed as poor has fallen from 4 percent in 2004 to 2 percent in 2016. And for the past 30 years, the number of “acceptable” or above roads has remained relatively consistent at approximately 85 percent.

Perhaps because they’re constantly being told that America’s roads are on the verge of disintegrating into dust, some voters aren’t aware that federal, state and local governments spent $416 billion on transportation and water infrastructure in 2014 — around the same 2.4 percent of gross domestic product they’ve been spending for decades. About $165 billion of that $416 billion, incidentally, was spent on highways. (This doesn’t count the bipartisan Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015, which added another $305 billion over five years.)

It’s also worth remembering that when liberals talk about infrastructure, they don’t necessarily mean roads or bridges or airports or water-processing plants. They mean expensive social engineering projects and Keynesian job-creation schemes. In 2017, Senate Democrats unveiled their own $1 trillion infrastructure plan, claiming the additional spending would create 15 million jobs over 10 years. Despite years of hearing otherwise, there is still no evidence that infrastructure bills create self-sustaining jobs — or any jobs, for that matter.

According to a 2010 Associated Press analysis, the first 10 months of Obama’s economic stimulus plan showed virtually no effect on local unemployment rates, which rose and fell regardless of money spent on infrastructure projects. It barely even helped construction jobs. What it did do was fund cronyistic ventures and debt-padding waste.

Around $90 billion of Obama’s infrastructure-heavy “stimulus” plan went to green energy companies (many of which are now in bankruptcy) rather than repairing bridges. Another $1.3 billion went to subsidize Amtrak rather than repairing the roads you actually drive on. Another $8 billion went to various other rail projects (with a priority on high-speed rail) rather than highways or byways or your local street.

Now, though one expects Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill to focus more on traditional projects, the case for the new spending is predicated on the same chilling and misleading rhetoric we’ve been hearing for years. Although still nebulous, the White House’s plan apparently features some attempt to reduce the regulatory burden that the private sector must wade through before gaining approval for building permits. This is a positive step considering the vast majority of infrastructure is still built by the private sector. This should be a goal of the administration with or without the massive infrastructure bill.

How we fund the infrastructure, and who builds these projects, is certainly a debate worth having. But it’s a debate worth having without ever using the word “crumbling.”

SOURCE

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Public Utility Avoids Fixing Damage by Paying Fancy Law Firm Triple the Money

To dodge its obligation, a state utility company paid a fancy law firm triple the amount of money required to fix damages caused by one of its trucks. It’s yet another example of government wasting taxpayer dollars, a senseless misuse of public funds that is all too common in government at all levels. It’s also a bizarre—and costly—struggle between one of the nation’s largest public power utilities and a small business owner whose security cameras captured the truck crushing the drainage system under the asphalt of her parking lot. The utility truck, which weighs nine tons, left a hole in the pavement and a broken drain pipe underground when it used the parking lot to turn around.

The case comes out of Phoenix Arizona where a single mother and respected professional is simply trying to get the parking lot of her chiropractic business fixed. The culprit is the Salt River Project (SRP), which has served central Arizona since 1903 and provides electricity to approximately 1 million customers in a 2,900-square-mile area, including most of metropolitan Phoenix. In addition to four officers and eight executive managers, SRP has more than 40 elected board members, directors and council members. The utility’s website describes it as a “community-based, not-for-profit organization”  that has adopted a “leaner, greener and even more customer-centric” strategy that meets customers’ needs. SRP assures the public that funds that it is committed to foundational values that have the best interest of the communities it serves.

SRP’s strategy in the Phoenix chiropractor case seems to contradict its promises and certainly cannot be considered in the best interest of the taxpayers who sustain it. The damage to the property is estimated to be $43,000, according to licensed experts hired by the chiropractor, Melody Jafari. She has spent about $20,000 trying to get the utility company to pay for the damage to her parking lot, including legal costs, an expert witness and temporary repairs to keep her business running. Rather than pay for the repairs, SRP has blown $129,000 so far to avoid taking responsibility. The public utility hired a multi-million-dollar national law firm called Jennings Strouss with offices in Phoenix, Peoria, Tucson and Washington D.C. The law firm boasts of leveraging its resources regionally and nationally and having a litigation department that stands as one of the most respected in the Southwest.

Jafari and SRP have been engaged in a tug of war since the incident occurred in early August 2015. The Phoenix area had just been hit with a fierce monsoon storm and power outages were occurring throughout the region. A utility truck was in the area tending to power lines that had been damaged by the storm, though none were in the vicinity of Jafari’s business. The SRP truck making rounds simply used the parking lot to turn around and that’s when the weight of the truck crushed the drainage system under the asphalt parking lot, leaving a large hole in the pavement and a broken drain pipe. Jafari has numerous security cameras monitoring her property and the entire incident was captured on video. When Jafari initially contacted SRP she says they seemed responsive and she was optimistic the utility would fix the damage. Instead, SRP chose to lawyer up and pay three times the cost of conducting the repairs on attorneys’ fees. Judicial Watch reached out to SRP through its media relations department but never heard back.

In the meantime, Jafari has been left to fend for herself. Her unbelievable years-long ordeal with the utility caught the attention of the local police labor counsel, Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA), which is litigating on her behalf. PLEA’s attorney of four decades, Mike Napier, has partnered with Judicial Watch numerous times to address rule of law and conservative issues in the nation’s fifth-largest city and fastest growing county, Maricopa. Napier told Judicial Watch that back in December 2015 SRP offered to compensate Jafari $750 for a hot patch repair of the pavement, which doesn’t begin to cover the magnitude of the damage.

SOURCE

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For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)

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