Is Islam a ‘race?’

Is Islam a ‘race’? By Peter Burrows, 5/25/20 elburropete@gmail.com – silvercityburro.com 

Is Islam a ‘race’? Most people I know would think that is a really, really dumb question, but most people I know aren’t liberals.  The liberals I know have to think about that question, proving that all you have to do to turn a liberal’s brains to mush is to mention the word ‘race.’  

For proof, see the following, from a liberal, one who even has a Ph.D.:  

re: is Islam a race? As a biologist, that is a difficult question because the genetic necessity of the category does not hold up to statistical testing. In other words, if racial categories are considered statistical treatments, we find more variability within the treatments than between them. At the scale of the individual case and only considering the evidence you have presented for cause and effect (which is again a problem of scale), then I would, of course, and meaninglessly, agree with you. 2/25/20 

I know what you’re thinking: “You made that up, Burro! Nobody, NOBODY could be so creatively stupid!” 

Nope.  I’m flattered if you think I’m smart enough to come up with such a convoluted parody of liberal thinking. It brings to mind something George Orwell once said: “One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.” 

To clarify the above answer from my liberal friend, his PhD. Is not in biology, but Forestry, and while he ends by agreeing with me, I had proffered no opinion, so I assume he knew that I don’t think Islam is a ‘race.’ In that he is correct.  

After all, if Islam is a race than Christianity is also a race, as is Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.  These ‘races’ must be further divided into sub-species, e.g., Islam would have the Sunni race, and the Shi’a race; Christianity would have the Catholic race and the Protestant race; and the latter would have its own subspecies, e.g. the Baptist race. 

All of which would mean that my Lutheran wife and I have had a very long biracial marriage, me being raised a Methodist. Of course, if I wished to join the Muslim race, all I would have to do is repeat the shahada: “There is one God who is Allah and His prophet is Muhammad.”  

Voila! I have changed my race! About now you are thinking, “Enough, Burro! We get it. Nobody can possibly think a religion is a race.”  

Au contraire, mon frere.  Trump’s terrorist travel ban targets mostly Muslim majority countries and has been called “blatantly racist” by the National Council of Churches. When Trump expanded the travel ban last January, The Executive Director of The National Immigration Justice Center said, “This Muslim Ban expansion is founded on nothing more than cruelty and racism.”  

Sadly, the terrorist travel ban should be against all Muslims but it isn’t. Trump was on the right path when he campaigned on an anti-Muslim theme, saying in 2015 that he was “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the Hell is going on. We have no choice.” 

That was then. Unfortunately, while the word ‘race’ turns liberals’ brains into mush, it also turns conservatives’ SPINES into mush. Trump advisors John Bolton and Sebastian Gorka, who were familiar with Islamic ideology are gone, and Trump now sounds like so many other politically correct morons. 

For example, the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, is celebrated with a dinner called Eid al-Fitr, “Festival of Breaking the Fast.” The White House had hosted such diners since 1996 as a gesture of friendship to the Muslim world. Trump ended that tradition in 2017, and I had hopes there would never be another. However, he reinstated the dinner in 2018, continuing in 2019 and 2020.   

This year he put out a press release that read: “On Eid al-Fitr, the First Lady and I send our warmest greetings to Muslims in the United States and around the world as they celebrate. —Now more than ever we are reminded of the reassuring peace, uplifting love, and heartening fellowship that religion brings into our lives.  We send our best wishes for a blessed and joyous Eid al-Fitr.” 

“Reassuring peace”?  The Religion of Peace website has this tally for acts of atrocity committed by Muslims during this year’s Ramadan: 718 deaths in 175 attacks in 20 countries. The site notes that this year’s Ramadan didn’t have any incidents “in the name of other religions or from the much-touted ‘right-wing’ threat.” 

So, what has changed Trump the realistic campaigner into Trump the delusional President? I doubt he thinks Islam is a ‘race,’ and I hope he is engaging in some Machiavellian strategy to lull Muslims into a false sense of security, but I’m afraid that’s not the case. I think he just doesn’t understand Islamic fundamentals and for political reasons is trying to refute the charge that he’s a ‘racist.’. 

I’m saddened because I was hoping to cast a proactive vote for a president this year, instead of voting against whomever the Democrats nominate. But alas, Trump has joined his two predecessors, Obama and G.W. Bush, as just another useful idiot in the spread of Islam. I cannot vote ‘for’ a president who doesn’t recognize that Islam is an existential threat to our country. 

I wish there was a “None of the Above” on the ballot.  

 

Economics for Dummies and Liberals

Economics for Dummies and Liberals by Peter Burrows 5/19/20 elburrpete@gmail.com – silvercityburro.com

Most people hear the word “economics” and their minds shut down.  That’s too bad because the basic fundamentals of economics are not difficult to understand.  Most people would think that these fundamentals are just common sense. Maybe we should call it ‘simplenomics” so people wouldn’t be intimidated.

The most fundamental rule of economics is what I call the Brezhnev rule, named after the former Russian dictator. (I’d call it the “Burro” rule but then you wouldn’t be impressed.) Leonid Brezhnev ruled the Soviet Union from 1964 to 1982, longer than anyone except Stalin.  By most accounts, he wasn’t a bad guy as Russian dictators go. He certainly was reflective, as this statement reveals:

“It is an elementary fact that a society cannot consume what is not first produced and transported.” He made this statement, as I recall, when addressing the Duma, the Soviet Parliament, in a state-of-the- union type address.  It is an unremarkable economic statement except for the “and transported” part, which caught my attention and is why I remember it so clearly.

At the time I recalled pictures of piles of cabbages rotting at rail depots in Russia because their economic system was so poor in the “transporting” function, and I could understand why Brezhnev would mention it.  It’s not something an American would even think of because we take our distribution system for granted.  That doesn’t just mean roads and rails and trucks. It’s also Walmart and Kroger’s and McDonalds and all the enterprises involved in getting products from the producer to the consumer.

By mentioning “and transported,” Brezhnev was revealing a weakness in central planning that hadn’t occurred to me. Also, his comment that production was required before consumption impressed me as an elementary fact that I had never heard articulated before, certainly not by any Western politician.

I think trying to run a state-run economy is a crash course in “elementary” economic fundamentals, and If there is a more elementary economic fundamental than that things must be produced before they can be consumed, I don’t know what it is.  This has always been true. If you were a hunter-gatherer and the rains didn’t come and the berries dried up and the deer disappeared, you died.  It’s true regardless of the economic system, feudal, free or state-run.

Since a corollary fundamental is that the more a society produces, the wealthier that society becomes, the question then becomes: which economic system produces the most?  Experience has proven beyond a doubt that the most prosperous economies are free-enterprise economies.  Contrast East and West Germany, North and South Korea, or try to find a Walmart in Cuba.

If everybody looked at the world with this production-then-consumption view, we could avoid a lot of stupid government economic policies. For example, minimum wage laws are very popular but they put the economic cart before the horse.  For example, the purpose of a $15 per hour minimum wage is to ensure that workers can consume $15 worth of goods for each hour they work. However, if they can’t produce $15 per hour, they won’t have a job. Period.

In common sense language, you can’t be paid more than you earn. Seen in that light, minimum wage laws don’t make economic sense.  Such laws are widely blamed for dramatic increases in teenage unemployment over the last 70 years, but minimum wage laws are “feel good” and emotional. Facts don’t matter,

The same could be said of capital gains taxes, which reduce the capital of successful investors, precisely the group society should want to have more capital to invest. Why? Because private investors are much better investors than government bureaucrats.

Here’ an analogy to ponder. Imagine we are bench-sitters on a basketball team starring Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. Who do you want to see taking shots, those two guys or the referees?  Do we really want to take capital away from people like Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, and Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, and put that money in the hands of government officials?

Unfortunately, that’s precisely what some people want to do. The accumulation of private wealth is offensive to their egalitarian sensibilities, even though such wealth was earned fair and square, not a penny stolen from anybody. From a legal standpoint, that’s also true for Chicago janitors retiring on $100,000 per year, presidents of marginal New Mexico universities making over $300,000 per year, or managers of tiny New Mexican cities being paid $100,000 per year, and on and on and on.

Libertarians have a cute little phrase, “taxation is theft,” technically inaccurate but morally apt in all too many cases.  I notice that those who would penalize Bezos don’t seem to have any problem with overpaid government workers.

I do, because I don’t have any choice in the matter, but I’m OK with Bezos becoming the world’s first trillionaire. I buy a lot of stuff from Amazon, and I watch ‘Bosch’ on Amazon Prime. Thanks, Jeff, for enriching this bench-sitter’s life, you stupid liberal.

(Note to economic geeks: All of the above can be interpreted as a version of Say’s Law, from the 18-Century Frenchman Jean Baptiste Say, who famously noted; “Products are paid for with products.” This is another way of saying that the essence of all economic activity is barter, your pig for my cow, etc. The invention of currency both greatly increased economic efficiency and stared to complicate things. ‘Produce before consume’ is nice and simple. Even I can understand it.)   

 

Being Mao-for-a-day

Being Mao-for-a-day by Peter Burrows 4/30/20 elburropete@gmail.com – silvercityburro.com 

Over the years, Thomas Friedman, the renowned New York Times columnist, has fantasized about America being “China for a day,” because then “— we could actually authorize the right solutions, on everything from the economy to the environment.” (Meet the Press, 5/23/10) 

By “authorize” he means “dictate,” and by “right solutions” he means what HE thinks are the right solutions. That’s a little redundant. Friedman’s solutions are obviously the “right” solutions because they’re Friedman’s solutions.  

What Friedman is really saying is that since China is a dictatorship, he, Tom Friedman, would like to be dictator for day, and who was China’s iconic dictator? Why, Mao Zedong, who modernized Chinese agriculture with his “right solutions.”  A few people had to die – 40 to 50 million – but they were just ordinary people, not gifted visionaries like Mao and Friedman.    

I believe Friedman first expressed his Mao-for-a-day dream in a highly acclaimed book he wrote in 2008, “Hot, Flat, and Crowded.” There was a chapter, “China For A Day,” in which the focus of his fantasies was dictating what we would today call the Green New Deal: “–imposing all the right taxes, regulations and standards needed to launch a clean power system in one day.” 

Here are some of the reviews Friedman’s book received, downloaded from Amazon:  

“A convincing case for the green revolution required to rescue us from an unsustainable course.”–USA Today; “He gets the big issues right.”–The Washington Post; “A compelling manifesto that deserves a wide reading, especially by members of Congress.”–The Boston Globe; “If Friedman’s profile and verve take his message where it needs to be heard, into the boardrooms of America and beyond, that can only be good–for all our sakes.”–The New York Times Book Review 

This was back in 2008, and since then Germany has pretty much done what Friedman recommended to achieve a clean power system. By 2025 Germany will have spent $580 billion on renewable energy and will have reduced fossil fuel use by maybe ten percent. Electricity bills have gone up over 50 percent and will go up a great deal more if the country achieves its goal of 100 percent renewable electric generation by 2050.  

California is having a similar experience with its push for renewables, and New Mexico is about to impoverish itself as it pursues the renewable goals in the recently passed Energy Transition Act.  None of the renewable goals, Germany’s, California’s, New Mexico, wherever, are achievable without self-destructive costs.  

This has been known for quite some time.  Bill Gates once said the cost of 100 percent renewable electricity would be “beyond astronomical.” He also said something to the effect that it would be nice if people would “bring a little math” to the problem.   

In time, I have no doubt the math will prevail, but that will take decades. In the meantime, math has no chance against the emotional appeal of a messianic mission to save humanity. The environmentalists and their useful-idiot lawmakers see themselves engaged a moral crusade to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. So far, they have been oblivious to the disastrous consequences of their policies.  

That may change.  Michael Moore’s’ new documentary, “Planet of the Humans.,” available for free on You Tube, pulls the plug on renewable energy and exposes some of the villains involved.  Sadly, it doesn’t mention the number one villain: Government. Without mandates and subsidies, the renewable energy industry disappears.   

Still, Moore’s documentary could provide the emotional fervor that is needed to counter the emotional fervor pushing renewables.  Michael Shellenberger, and others, have long made the argument that renewables aren’t going to save the environment, and in fact we must save the environment FROM renewables.  Moore’s documentary dramatizes that fact.  

Unfortunately, Mao-Moore agrees with Mao-Friedman that the world needs drastic action to avoid an inevitable environmental apocalypse. Since green energy is proving to be a bust, the only thing that can save us is population control.  For over 50 years, environmentalists, most notably Paul Ehrlich, have been predicting mass starvations, but those pesky humans keep figuring out new ways to feed themselves.  

The unacceptable result is that they keep multiplying, using up the earth’s resources and in this greed-driven process, are KILLING THE PLANET!  

What would Mao Zedong do to solve this crisis? We know that if Friedman had been Mao-for-a-day, by now we would have needlessly sacrificed even more billions of dollars on the altar of Global Warming. (Always capitalize a religion.)  With Moore as Mao-for-a-day, would that mean that in ten years we will have sacrificed billions of PEOPLE?  Isn’t that what the real Mao would see as “the right solution” to the “problem” of overpopulation?  

The lesson here is twofold. One, people filled with invincible moral and intellectual certitude are almost always WRONG. Two, such people can do a lot of harm if they are in positions of power.  Examples abound, and not just dictatorships. Neville Chamberlain and Angela Merkle come to mind, as well as L. Ron Hubbard, Jim Jones, and any American president who listens to people with the “right” solutions. The list is long. 

That’s not to say that there shouldn’t occasionally be a Mao-for-a-day.  Some potential Maos are in fact morally and intellectually superior people who would do a lot of good, not just on the big stuff, like climate change, but in helping individuals with their personal problems.  

In this regard, Mao-Burro has noticed both Thomas Friedman and Michael Moore are, to put it charitably, a little chunky.  A couple of years helping Cuba harvest sugar cane would do both of them a lot of good, whether they know it or not.  

Well, fellas, Mao-Burro knows, and someday you’ll thank me.  

 

     

    

New Film: “Planet of the Humans.” Watch it!

New Film: “Planet of the Humans.” Watch it!  by Peter Burrows, Libertarian Leanings, 4/22/20 elburropete@gmail.com – silvercityburro.com 

Michael Moore has just posted his latest documentary film, “Planet of the Humans,” on You Tube where you can watch it for free. It’s free because he doesn’t want anything to get in the way of the film’s message: ‘Green’ energy is a disastrous, profit-driven scam. 

It’s an hour and forty minutes long, but it flies by.  Like other Moore documentaries, it’s very one-sided, but unlike other Moore documentaries, green energy doesn’t have a mitigating “side” to show.  Any way you look at it, green energy, aka renewable energy, is an economic waste that does more environmental harm than good.  

The film takes on the big three, wind, solar and biomass, and devastates them all, especially biomass. Along the way, it also devastates a few leading environmentalists, most notably Al Gore and the Sierra Club.  It asks if the green energy pushers are delusional, ignorant, or something else, and comes up with something else, namely they’re in it for the money.  

A disinterested observer would note that “stupid” was left off the list, but stupid is how the noted environmentalist Bill McKibben comes off, pathetically so, and ‘stupid’ is the only way you can describe people who are only now waking up to the fact that wind and solar power are intermittent and therefore need instantaneous backup power, which ADDS to the cost even after ‘free’ sunshine and wind.   

The film even reveals the arcane fact that electric vehicles are charged by fossil fuels, not solar panels, and that there is no company that runs 100% on wind and solar alone, in spite of what they may claim.  That would also apply to any city that made the same claim, but the documentary is tellingly free of criticizing government at any level.  

That’s the main problem I have with the film. The green energy disaster is the result of government policies, not a “cancerous form of capitalism” driven by profits and billionaires who “are not our friends,” as the film claims.    

Nowhere does the film cite government mandates, such as renewable portfolio standards and biofuel blending regulations; nowhere does it mention production tax credits for wind producers or tax credits for solar panel makers; nowhere does it mention tax credits for the wealthy consumers who buy Teslas or put solar panels on their homes. 

The bottom line is that without government incentives, there would be no ‘green energy’ industry.  This is as obvious as the fact that solar panels don’t work at night, but liberals like Michael Moore can’t see it. They blame the recipient for taking the government subsidies, not the government for giving the subsidies. Mindboggling, isn’t it? 

The message the film delivers about green energy has been around for a long time, as anybody who has followed Bill Gate or Michael Shellenberger would know. Those two weren’t mentioned in the film, probably because both advocate nuclear energy as the only viable solution to climate change.  The film’s solution: population control.  

Sigh. Just when the film was about to make total sense, it goes Malthusian on us.  This is the no-fault default position of elitists, as witness the success of Paul Ehrlich, who has been predicting food shortages and mass starvation for years, starting with his book, The Population Bomb, published in 1968.  That’s not a typo: 1968. 

Ignore the apocalyptic parts of the film.  The important thing is the fact that an unassailable liberal icon, Michael Moore, has pulled the plug on renewable energy.  Thanks to him, it’s possible the entire renewable energy push will be questioned, perhaps even ended, not just in America, but around the world.  

Michael Moore has a much better chance to do that than somebody like Bill Gates, a calm guy who throws facts around. Michael Moore is a self-righteous raging bull who throws bombs around, especially “f” bombs. You disagree with him, he’ll get in your face and bellow.  Maybe that’s what it takes.  

Stay tuned folks. This is going to get VERY interesting.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk11vI-7czE 

  

   

Mail-in Ballots? No thanks

Mail-in Ballots? No thanks by Peter Burrows 4/17/20 elburropete@gmail.com – silvercityburro.com 

The New Mexico Supreme Court last Tuesday unanimously rejected a petition by New Mexico Democrats to hold the upcoming June 2 primary entirely by mail.  The Court authorized ballot APPLICATIONS to be sent to all registered voters, but not ballots. The distinction is important, because applications require voter signatures and address verifications. 

 If the Court would have approved the Democrats’ request, I have no doubt the next step would have been mail-in ballots for all statewide elections, not just primaries. That would have opened a Pandora’s Box of problems, not the least of which would be the opportunity to steal elections. Democrats are quick to claim there is no evidence of voter fraud here in New Mexico, but that is simply not true. For examples, Google the following:   

-Espanola vote fraud 

Torres-small vote fraud 

-Public interest legal foundation new mexico voter registration  

In general, while both Republicans and Democrats have been guilty of stealing elections, it’s the Democrats who are really good at it. They do so with a clear conscience because they believe that government is a force for good, Since Democrats are morally superior people, they are therefore the best people to be in charge of the government. If it takes voter fraud to win elections, it’s for the good of the country. (1)  

That explains why Democrats always advocate for anything that makes voting easier, and oppose anything that makes voting a verified act by a living citizen, done once.  The idea of a special voting ID, such as Mexico requires, is opposed as racist “voter suppression.”   

True to form, the Coronovirus pandemic has inspired not just New Mexico Democrats, but also Democrats in Washington. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has proposed Federal laws that would require every state to allow mail-in voting, same day registration, 30 days of early voting, and a sworn statement of identity instead of a voter ID. Gosh, what could go wrong?  

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has joined the parade and wants vote-by-mail for the upcoming presidential election: “A voter gets a ballot with a postage-paid return envelope. They vote, they sign it, and they send it back. It’s easy to vote by mail,”  

“It’s easy to vote by mail.” Really? In fact, national vote-by-mail would be enormously difficult and would need years to implement. It isn’t as simple as absentee ballot voting, where a ballot is requested by a registered voter.  This ProPublica article is a good accounting of the problems:    

https://www.propublica.org/article/voting-by-mail-would-reduce-coronavirus-transmission-but-it-has-other-risks  

While voting by mail has a number of advantages, such as convenience and higher voter turnout, especially in local elections, whether it saves money is debatable.  Printing and mailing costs can be substantial and may be in addition to normal polling place expenses.    

What is not debatable is the potential to steal elections. Charles Stewart, who studies election administration at MIT, said “The consensus among people who study fraud carefully is that voting by mail is a much more fertile area for fraud than voting in person.” He was referring to absentee ballots. Imagine if all the ballots were mail-in.  

J.Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, said, “Absentee ballot fraud is the most common the most expensive to investigate, and can never be reversed after an election. The status quo was already bad for mail balloting. The proposed emergency fix is worse.” 

That’s because ballots would be mailed to every registered voter, and voter registration records are notoriously inaccurate. Nationwide, the Government Accountability Institute estimates that there are 24 million inaccurate or ineligible voter registrations, including 2 million dead voters and nearly three million registered in more than one state.   

 As an aside, I have never heard of an initiative, anywhere in the country, by the Democrat Party to clean up the voter registration lists.  It’s always the Republicans who want accurate voter rolls. Why is that?  

You may be surprised to know that in the 2016 Presidential election, 21 percent of the votes were already mail-in votes, and that there are five states that allow voting by mail for all elections, including federal elections.   Four of the five states, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Hawaii, were won by Hillary Clinton and one, Utah, by Donald Trump. The camel’s nose is in the tent, folks.     

While Presidential elections should be the most difficult to steal thanks to the Electoral College, it only takes a key state or two to do the trick, e.g., Illinois swung the 1960 election to JFK thanks to widespread voter fraud in Chicago, and disputed votes in Florida almost swung the 2000 election to Al Gore.  With mail-in voting, it won’t take the Democrats long before the swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio join New York, California and Illinois as permanent Democrat strongholds.   

In addition, Democrats want to expand the number of eligible voters, most notably by reducing the voting age to 16.  You may not be old enough to purchase a gun, an alcoholic drink, or a cigarette, but you’re old enough to vote for a Democrat. They would also allow voting by felons, even if still in prison, and voting by both legal and illegal aliens.  Do it all by mail, and Democrats will soon control congress and enough states to be able to change the Constitution in any way they please.  

Some of you are thinking, “All that from mail-in voting, Burro?” Well, it’s a start and we shouldn’t allow it to happen.  

(1) There are a number of books about Democrats stealing elections, but none that I could find about Republicans doing the same. On Amazon, you will find the following books: “Stealing Elections,” by John Fund; “Who’s Counting?” by John Fund and Hans Von Spakovsky; “If it isn’t close, they can’t steal it” by Hugh, Hewitt; and “Fraud” by Eric Eggers. 

 

Verily, It is Written: “He who does not work, neither shall he eat.”

Verily, It Is Written: “He who does not work, neither shall he eat” by Peter Burrows, elburropete@gmail.com – silvercityburro.com 4/1/20 

“He who does not work, neither shall he eat.” I bet some of you progressives are thinking, “Old Burro is showing his Evangelical roots, quoting some Biblical parable to justify Trump’s latest effort to take food stamps away from millions of able-bodied Democrats who can’t find dignified, living wage jobs with the government.”  

No, I didn’t find that little cautionary aphorism in the Bible.  Take another guess.  

“Hmmm.  Sounds like something from the Republican Party National Platform.  Just what you’d expect from Republicans. No compassion for the poor! They’d let people starve in the streets. One more reason we need Bernie! Food justice, baby, food justice! Food is a right! FREE food is a right!” 

Sorry, wrong again. The line is from the 1936 Constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. From Article 12: “In the U.S.S.R. work is a duty and a matter of honour for every able-bodied citizen, in accordance with the principle: ‘He who does not work, neither shall he eat.’” 

It should come as no surprise that in the Workers’ Paradise “work is a duty and a matter of honour.” What is surprising is that part about “neither shall he eat.” That doesn’t seem to jibe with what Karl Marx famously said would be the denouement of Communism: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!” 

I think we can all agree that there is no more basic “need” than the need to eat. In fairness to Marx, this utopian state would occur only when the basic goodness and generosity of people were freed from bourgeois selfishness. Here’s what Marx wrote: 

“ —after labor has become not only a means of life but life’s prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly—only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!” 

In essence, after Communism has abolished private property, nobody will work for exploiting capitalists. Everyone will work for themselves and people will WANT to work more than anything else in life. The result will be an abundance of production, the “cooperative wealth” which will flow to those who need it.  

Marx thought that eventually no government would be needed to enforce this emergent “from-to” benevolence of humanity. Some of you may think that’s obviously absurd, that Marx had no inkling about human nature.  

It was worse than that. Marx thought human nature could be changed, indeed, would change, if only people were ruled by the right kind of government. Of course, people would need lots of reeducation, lots of RULING before they were perfected.  

While this was going on, the Dictatorship of the Proletariat would determine the real “needs” of people as opposed to what people thought were their “needs.” After all, is there anything more subjective than “needs”?  

More ominously, the Dictatorship of the Proletariat would also determine what abilities people had. For example, a commissar would immediately see that a talentless soul such as myself has the ability to dig ditches, pick up garbage, whatever, even though I may not have known I had such abilities.    

And if I didn’t work as ordered? In theory, that’s where “neither shall he eat” kicks in.  In practice, workers who went on strike in the Workers’ Paradise of the U.S.S.R. were simply shot. That’s a lot quicker than starvation, although millions of people also starved to death in Russia, something happening now in Venezuela.  

I wonder if Bernie Sanders, who honeymooned in Russia in 1988, would stick to Marx’s utopian ideal or if Bernie would agree with the practical change that Stalin made to socialist doctrine. If old Bernie goes with Uncle Joe, we should expect some changes, or at least some qualifications, to calls for more food stamps, higher minimum wages or demands for a “living wage” law.  

Here is the rest of Article 12 from the 1936 Constitution of the U.S.S.R quoted above.  Observant readers will note the slight change Stalin made to Marx’s glorious nonsense: 

“The principle applied in the U.S.S.R. is that of socialism: From each according to his ability, to each according to his work.”   

Income and Wealth Inequality, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Part Two: The bad

Income and Wealth Inequality, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – Part Two: The Bad by Peter Burrows 5/4/16 elburropete@gmail.com – silvercityburro.com (Note: I somehow failed to enter this blog back in May of 2016. It has been retyped and entered 3/20/2020. Still apt.) 

Bernie Sanders is on to something when he says the top one percent of American workers are screwing the rest of us royally, and it’s all because they enjoy special privileges and protections from the government.  The system is rigged, all right.   

Where Bernie is wrong is saying it’s only one percent. It’s closer to seven percent. Here’s how I figure it:  The number of state, local and federal civilian workers is about 17 million. (1) Add almost seven million retired government workers and the number is about 24 million, or seven percent of the total population of 324 million. (2) This is the REAL “one percent.”  

This privileged group of fat cats is under-worked, overpaid, impossible to fire, retired too early and retired too generously. Most are unionized, and most are Democrats. Some enjoy job security that is absolutely scandalous.(3)  They form the backbone of the Democrat Party, supplying money, volunteers and party officials. Attend a meeting of your local Democrat Party and there they are: Government workers, active and retired, federal, state and local.  Don’t forget: School teachers and college professors are BIG in this group.   

These people enjoy the REAL income inequality we should do something about, not the meritorious inequality that Bernie et al hyperventilate about. I suspect part of the “one percent” meme is a smoke screen to divert attention from the inequality government workers enjoy, at taxpayers’ expense. This pay inequality is for the most part undeserved and simply a function of politicians buying the votes of government employees.  

The clueless Republicans should make this inequality an issue, and they should also raise the moral issue that part of the public payrolls are essentially involuntary donations to the Democrat Party from taxpayers who aren’t Democrats. Union dues, after all, come out of the workers’ pay that first comes out of the taxpayers’ pockets. 

We’re not talking trivial stuff here.  At the federal level, a Cato Institute study last year put the average difference in pay AND benefits at an astounding $52,000 per year, which amounts to federal employees receiving 78% more than workers in comparable private jobs.  The author of the study summed it up pretty well: “The federal government has become an island of secure and high-paid employment, separated from the ocean of average Americans competing in the economy.” (4) 

At the state and local level, things are not much better. The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the total cost of a state or local worker at 45% more than for an equivalent private sector worker. (5) In fact, the state and local government jobs are by far the bigger problem. While the number of civilian employees at the federal level has been surprisingly flat for the last twenty years or so at about 2.7 million, state and local government employment has gone from six million in the 1950’s to over 19 million today. (6) 

Let me be clear about a number of things. First, I don’t blame the workers. They are taking advantage of a good deal that they individually had little to do with. At a recent visit to my dermatologist, while he was carving and freezing spots on my haggard old visage, he was opining that he should have gone to work for the VA years ago and I was saying I should have gone to work for the IRS. Why, instead of sitting in his office, we’d probably both be sitting on deck chairs enjoying a Caribbean cruise and blah, blah, blah. Hindsight.  

Second, not all government workers are Democrats. I know two Republicans in good health who retired, in their 50’s, from good government jobs and both are very active in Republican politics.  Both should still be on the job, but that’s just my opinion, one they would both take issue with, to put it mildly.  

Third, some government workers are worth every penny they are paid. Cops come to mind, some teachers, plenty of health workers, and the occasional conscientious vin ordinaire bureaucrat. But the 634 school custodians, a.k.a. janitors, who made over $100,000 per year in New York City for the school year 2013-2014? (7) Not them.  Also, not Chicago school teachers, whose median salary is $71,017, of which only two percent goes toward their fat pensions. This is outrageous considering that almost 92 percent of the Chicago schools have over half their students NOT proficient in reading or math for their grade level. (8) 

The Republicans share the blame for this inequity in government pay. When in control in Washington, D.C., they’ve done nothing to rein in Federal worker compensation, and today there are 32 states with Republican governors and Rauner of Illinois is the only one I know of who’s tried to get a handle on state pensions – unsuccessfully, I might add.  

A good start would be to tie state and local retirement outlays to the age requirements in the Social Security system.  For example, a state worker spends thirty years on the job, is 52, fully vested and wants to retire. Well, congratulations and Bon Voyage! Oh, by the way, your retirement checks won’t start showing up in your mailbox until you are 62, or 67 or whatever the Social Security ages are for partial and full payment. It’s a thought. 

The huge problem of unfunded pension/benefit obligations is beginning to get noticed. At least a couple of states, New Jersey and Illinois, have obligations that are simply unsolvable short of bankruptcy, an escape hatch states are not legally able to pursue.  Cities have the bankruptcy option but will first raise taxes, as is happening in Chicago, and then turn to their state governments for bailouts, and then from there will join their state governments in the queue to get the Federal government to foot bail-outs. Bet on it.  

I can hear the arguments now: If they did it for General Motors, they can do it for Poughkeepsie (or wherever.) If this is allowed to happen, the unions representing state and local workers will have pulled off a major tax swindle: Negotiate state and local labor contracts that pay the moon and send the bill to Washington.  

To prevent this, the stated need the potion of bankruptcy law protection. Bankruptcy allows contracts to be rewritten or even annulled, including pension agreements.  The Federal law disallowing state bankruptcies should be changed, but I’m not sure it will ever happen.  Too many retirees will flock to D.C. to tell their tales of impending doom, many of them absolutely true.  

FI don’t know how this problem can be solved without a lot of pain. Perhaps some sort of grandfathering scheme for pensioners with reasonable benefits, some sort of claw-back for pensioners with unreasonable benefits, but SOMETHING has to be done.  

Allowing states to declare bankruptcy still wouldn’t do anything about the Federal workers and their fst pay and fatter retirement benefits. Maybe Bernie will start bitching about this inequality, the inequality that government can, and should, do something about. I’m not holding my breath.   

(1) http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2014/11/07/the-federal-government-now-employs-the-fewest-people-since-1966/                                                                                                                    (2) I tried, hard, to get a number for all retired government workers, state, local and Federal. The best I could do is to use a number, seven million, implied in an article in the Wall Street Journal, 12/29/15, “States’ Pension Woes Split Democrats and Union Allies” by Timothy W. Martin and Kris Maher.                                                                                              (3) http://nypost.com/2016/01/17/city-pays-exiled-teachers-to-snooze-as-rubber-rooms-return/                                                                                                                                                  (4) http://freebeacon.com/issues/study-government-workers-make-78-percent-more-than-private-sector/                                                                                                                                     (5) http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2014/03/13/government-workers-cost-45-more-than-private-sector/                                                                                                                    (6) ibid (1)                                                                                                                                                (7) “Most New York City Custodians Do Really, Really Well” by Matt Vespa, Townhall 9/21/15                                                                                                                                                    (8) http://townhall.com/columnists/timbenson/2016/01/13/thanks-to-teachers-union-chicago-public-schools-are-a-perpetualmotion-machine-of-mediocrity-n2103697                  (9) http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2016/02/01/pension-bill-on-hold-despite-rauner-cullerton-agreement/