Monthly Archives: December 2013

Neither Scrooge Nor Patsy Be

Neither Scrooge Nor Patsy Be  12/13/13

A few weeks ago I came across Sean Hannity interviewing a panel of college kids, seven liberal and seven conservative.  I normally don’t watch Hannity, but this time I did because I wanted to see if the lib-kids met my expectations. They did.

One liberal young lady, for example, began to hyperventilate about how she wanted to live in a world where there were police, firefighters, ambulances, schools, blah blah blah, gush gush gush, and all the good stuff associated with government.

Her implication was that liberals like herself are morally and intellectually superior because THEY want the law and order we pay for through taxes, while anybody who wants to cut taxes wants to return to the law of the jungle.

Well now, young lib-lady, this may come as a shock to you, but we all want to live in the civilized world you describe, but the issue is not civilization vs. anarchy.  The issue is how a society keeps in check the self interests of the people in government.

In other words, how do we balance the needs of society vs. what the government bureaucracies want? They aren’t the same thing. Regardless of what the bureaucracies are supposed to do, their real number one job, as they see it, is looking out for themselves.  People act in their self-interest. That’s how the world works.

One of the principles of our society is (was?) government is supposed to work for the people, not the other way around, and the other way around is what happens if we the people don’t keep an eagle eye on those in government. Power is inherent in government, and the old adage that power corrupts is not a myth.

So, questions for the young lady:  Can government workers be paid too much?  Can government workers be retired too early? Can government workers enjoy pensions and benefits that are too generous?  Yes, to all of the above.  In fact, government workers ARE paid too much, retired too early, retired too generously, and, to add salt to the wound, are damn near impossible to fire.

The government gravy train stretches all the way from the school down the street to Washington, D.C., and passengers include retired 52 year-old teachers, city managers paying themselves $790,000 per year (Google: Bell CA) and GSA managers sitting in hot tubs in Las Vegas on the taxpayer dime.

Overpaid bureaucrats are perhaps the least of things to fear from government, but it is not a trivial problem. In the last twenty years or so, state and local government pay, pensions and benefits have grown to far exceed private sector levels and have exploded into huge liabilities that cannot be paid. Cannot. Period. Detroit.

Pay and pension troubles in Detroit and elsewhere are finally sparking public awareness of the problem, but the grim economic realities were no secret to anybody paying attention.  Many cities have been teetering on the edge of financial collapse and bankruptcy for years, e.g. San Jose, Baltimore, Houston, Harrisburg, and on and on, but the really biggie is Chicago, where President Obama’s former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is the Mayor.

Emanuel has told state legislators that Chicago’s “day of reckoning has arrived.” Emanuel would like the state of Illinois to bail Chicago out, but that’s not going to happen.  Illinois is itself a basket case. He’ll soon ask the Federal Government to ride to the rescue. That’s not going to happen either.  You want your 1040 to take a hit to rescue a city that pays the average city worker $95,406 per year, and allows some of them to retire as early as 50?

Taxpayers have been conned, robbed and sucker-punched by government employees, their unions and their elected enablers.  The mutually beneficial partnership of public unions and the liberal politicians the unions generously support has begun to run out of other peoples’ money. The government gravy train is starting to derail across the country.

Expect public unions to scream bloody murder as their pay and benefits get cut. The largest public employee union is The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME.  That‘s usually pronounced af-SCAM-me.  How appropriate. Scam me, scam you, scam all of us, but the patsy-public is starting to catch on to the scam.

Profiling, Racial and Otherwise

Profiling, Racial and Otherwise 12/1/13

“As a black man, I am far more wary of the real black criminal than the imagined white racist.” The Rev. E.W. Jackson.

Racial profiling has always been a controversial law enforcement tactic. Some people see it as pure racism, others as a triumph of common sense over political correctness.  It’s an issue that doesn’t neatly divide the left and right, as can be seen in the controversy over “stop and frisk” in New York City.

The mayor-elect of New York, an old school liberal, has vowed to put a stop to the practice while retiring liberal mayor Michael Bloomberg credits “stop and frisk” with dramatically reducing street crime, especially murder.  Former mayor, libertarian-leaning Rudy Giuliani, agrees with Bloomberg.

In the next year or so, we’ll find out if “stop and frisk” has been the instrument of crime reduction its advocates claim, or just a needless irritant to New York’s black population, who will pay the price if the new mayor is wrong.

An honest discussion of the issue would start by recognizing that “profiling” is a fact of life.  All of us make initial assumptions about people based upon their race, age, sex, grooming, dress, weight, demeanor, education, vocabulary, accent, religion and so on.  Today we’d have to add “type, quantity and location of tattoos.”  Oh, my.

Over the years, no one has written about racial profiling with more insight and wit than the economist Walter Williams.  In a couple of his columns, he used the example of stepping out your front door and being greeted by a tiger. What would your reaction be, and why? You’d jump back inside and seek safety, right?  You don’t know anything about this particular tiger, you’ve simply prejudged, or stereotyped the tiger.

Williams makes this cogent observation: “By observing this person’s behavior, there is no way one can say unambiguously whether the person likes or dislikes tigers.” I think using dogs instead of tigers makes his point even better. Most people love dogs, but most people wouldn’t think of petting a strange dog found growling on their front steps. That one they don’t love.

Everyone is aware of the unfortunate fact that crime is highly correlated with young black males, and it doesn’t make you a racist if you act on that assumption. Jesse Jackson once said, “There is nothing more painful for me at this stage of my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start to think about robbery and then look around and see it’s somebody white and feel relieved.”

Does that mean Jackson hates black people? Of course not.  He was simply being a realist.  The innocent victims of racial profiling are the law abiding black citizens pulled over while driving, stopped on the street for questioning, refused a taxi ride and so on.   But who‘s to blame? To quote Williams: “The rightful recipients of (their) anger should be those blacks who’ve made black synonymous with high crime and not the taxi driver — or the policeman.”

On racial profiling, Williams sums it up nicely: “We must be more intelligent about race in order to solve racial problems. A good beginning is to recognize what is racism and what is not.” That’s worth repeating: “A good beginning is to recognize what is racism and what is not.”

That quote is the last sentence from a column Williams wrote over 20 years ago (Sept. 1, 1993.) Likewise, the Jesse Jackson quote is from over 20 years ago (Nov. 27, 1993.)  In the intervening 20 years, have we made any progress in addressing the real issues surrounding race, or is “racism” still a political bludgeon?

Hint: If you are opposed to the administration’s position on Common Core,  you are a “white suburban mom.”

Eric Holder Was Right, Part Two

17 November 2013

When Attorney General Holder said we were “a nation of cowards” on issues of race, I agreed wholeheartedly.  Very few people have the courage to point out that blacks in America suffer from self-inflicted pathologies, aided and abetted by liberal policies.

Any criticism of blacks, or of those policies, is immediately branded “racist.”  For example, many liberals, black and white, attribute any criticism of ObamaCare as motivated by race. It can’t be that ObamaCare is a bad law. Oh, no.  Critics of ObamaCare can’t be motivated by facts and principle, the racist SOBs.

An almost amusing form of this accusation was used by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. recently on MSNBC. Gates became famous after a confrontation with some white cops in Cambridge, MA, a confrontation President Obama used to show us that he is quick to play the race card. You can Google it up.

Anyway, Gates was pushing his new PBS documentary, and in the course of the conversation he mentioned that opposition to the Affordable Care Act was motivated by racism, even if “subconsciously.”  I thought, “Oh, my. I’ve heard that one before.”

“Before” was some years ago in Wisconsin when I heard a talk by Judy Goldsmith, former head of NOW and, at the time I believe, Dean of the University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac.  She mentioned in the course of her speech that all white people were racists, we “just didn’t know it.”

I thought, “Wow! What an argument.  How can you say you’re NOT a racist when you don’t know you’re one?”   I also thought, “Gee, Ms. Goldsmith, you and all your likeminded liberal friends are MORONS and don’t know it.”

I take exception to Professor Gates and Ms. Goldsmith about the white subconscious.  Personally, my prejudices about black people are right up front. My “prejudgments” have changed over the years, but I’ve had them almost my entire life.

It all started when I was about 12, when I discovered Louis Armstrong and wanted to BE Louis Armstrong. My parents, wise as parents are, indulged my little fantasy with a well-worn, beat-up trumpet that cost a dollar or two. It took about two weeks for me to figure out I wasn’t going to ever become Louis Armstrong. (As an aside, I wonder how many people today would know who “Satchmo” was or what “Satchmo” means?)

Over the next couple of years, I developed lifelong attachments to a number of other black geniuses, especially  someone I call “The original Edward Kennedy” to confuse one and all, especially libs. (Edward Kennedy ELLINGTON.) In fact, for awhile I believed if you were some shade of “black, brown and beige” that God had gifted you musically.

Today, my prejudgments are of a different order.  When I first meet a black person, my conscious thoughts are:
1. This person doesn’t like me because I’m white.
2. This person thinks racist white America is responsible for all of  black America’s problems.
3. This person thinks welfare is good and there should be more of it.
4. This person thinks affirmative action is good.
5. This person has never read anything by Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, etc.
6. This person votes for Democrats.
7. This person did not earn whatever academic degree claimed.

“Pleased to meet you. I’m Pete and your name again??”  (And please prove me wrong about you. All that negative baggage is such a bother.)

Oh, I’m prejudiced all right, in ways I didn’t use to be, and who’s fault is that?  If you say it’s my fault, you’re one of those subconscious morons, you poor thing.  Sadly, our first black president has reinforced my prejudices. No Nelson Mandela he.