The Success of Socialism: Part 12 — Children are dying of malnutrition in #Venezuela

From The New York Times:

As Venezuela collapses, children are dying of hunger

For five months, The New York Timestracked 21 public hospitals in Venezuela. Doctors are seeing record numbers of children with severe malnutrition. Hundreds have died.

By Meredith Kohut and Isayen Herrera | December 17, 2017

Hunger has stalked Venezuela for years. Now, it is killing the nation’s children at an alarming rate, doctors in the country’s public hospitals say.

Venezuela has been shuddering since its economy began to collapse in 2014. Riots and protests over the lack of affordable food, excruciating long lines for basic provisions, soldiers posted outside bakeries and angry crowds ransacking grocery stores have rattled cities, providing a telling, public display of the depths of the crisis.

But deaths from malnutrition have remained a closely guarded secret by the Venezuelan government. In a five-month investigation by The New York Times, doctors at 21 public hospitals in 17 states across the country said that their emergency rooms were being overwhelmed by children with severe malnutrition — a condition they had rarely encountered before the economic crisis began.

“Children are arriving with very precarious conditions of malnutrition,” said Dr. Huníades Urbina Medina, the president of the Venezuelan Society of Childcare and Pediatrics. He added that doctors were even seeing the kind of extreme malnutrition often found in refugee camps — cases that were highly unusual in oil-rich Venezuela before its economy fell to pieces.

For many low-income families, the crisis has completely redrawn the social landscape. Parents like Kenyerber’s mother go days without eating, shriveling to the weight of children themselves. Women line up at sterilization clinics to avoid having children they can’t feed. Young boys leave home and join street gangs to scavenge for scraps, their bodies bearing the scars of knife fights with competitors. Crowds of adults storm Dumpsters after restaurants close. Babies die because it is hard to find or afford infant formula, even in emergency rooms.

There is a lot more at the original, including some very unpleasant photographs.

The magazine Foreign Policy noted:

The contrast with Venezuela’s own past — or the present of some once-struggling neighbors, like Colombia — is stark. In the 1960s, Venezuela was a beacon of transparency and democracy — and wealth. With democratic presidents Rómulo Betancourt, Raúl Leoni, and Rafael Caldera, Venezuela became a role model subsequently copied throughout Latin America, and one that offered refuge for political exiles seeking freedom.

But years of economic mismanagement under former president Hugo Chavez and then (Nicolas) Maduro, aggravated by a slide in global oil prices, have poleaxed Venezuela’s economy, giving it the world’s highest inflation and a dearth of food, medicine, and other basic goods.

Wealth? CNN’s Patrick Gillespie pointed out that Venezuela has the world’s largest proven petroleum reserves and “was once Latin America’s richest nation.” The ‘Bolivarian Socialist‘ government nationalized the oil industry and filled it with political cronies. Venezuela has been in the grip of Presidents Chavez and Maduro’s policies for 18 years now, plenty of time to have raised an entire generation of Venezuelans to take over from foreign nationals in the oil industry, yet the exodus of foreign managers is hurting. From Bloomberg Markets:

Venezuelan Oil Output Heads to 29-Year Low

By Lucia Kassai and Sheela Tobben | November 10, 2017, 11:20 AM EST | Updated on November 11, 2017, 12:01 AM EST

Venezuela oil productionVenezuela is set to pump the least oil in almost three decades, just when it needs petrodollars the most.

Output is expected to slump to 1.84 million barrels a day next year, the lowest compared with official government data since 1989, according to a survey with four analysts compiled by Bloomberg. Rig counts hit a 14-year low in October, as drilling companies including Schlumberger Ltd. reduce their exposure in the nation due to unpaid bills.

Owner of crude reserves larger than Saudi Arabia’s, Venezuela is teetering on the brink of default. Production of oil, the key commodity that brings in badly needed dollars to service Venezuela’s debt, will shrink for the seventh year. It’s not only that output is declining, says Thomas Olney, an analyst at consultant Facts Global Energy. Quality is going down as well, chipping away at revenues for state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

There’s much more at the link, and it shows the gross mismanagement of the oil industry. Yes, crude prices have fallen, down from the over $100 per barrel to the $57 range,1 but that means that oil production, which brings in 95% of the country’s export earnings, should have a priority of increasing, or at least maintaining production, not letting it fall.

Instead, neglect of maintenance led Phillips 66 to reject a shipment of Venezuelan oil, due to high salt content.

Excess water and contaminants such as salt accelerate corrosion of pipes and equipment, resulting in unwanted downtime just as refineries are running hard to meet growing global fuel demand. Vessels sit outside Venezuelan ports for days waiting for inspectors hired by U.S. buyers to verify if the crude meets specifications.

In Asia, a buyer said claims for refunds on the poor-quality oil are piling up. In addition to the cost to repair damage from corrosion, refiners have to spend more money to treat the contaminated mix of water and oil, known as slops.

A refiner in Europe and another in Japan say they have reduced purchases of Venezuelan oil not only because of low quality, but also because of growing concerns over doing business with the state oil company amid the ongoing humanitarian crisis and U.S. sanctions. The buyer in Japan said PDVSA has been attempting to lure them back by offering “steep” discounts.

Lady Margaret Thatcher once said, “Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money.” By allowing its oil industry to fall apart, Venezuela has, quite literally, been running out of other people’s money. Petroleum exporting nations are, in effect, importing other people’s money, importing the fruits of the labor of foreigners, yet the socialist government of Venezuela, and the nationalized oil company PDVSA defaulted on a loan payment on November 13th. 2

From The New York Times again:

President Nicolás Maduro has acknowledged that people are hungry in Venezuela, but he has refused to accept international aid, often saying that Venezuela’s economic problems are caused by foreign adversaries like the United States, which he says is waging an economic war against his country.

Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world. But many economists contend that years of economic mismanagement set the stage for the current disaster. The damage was masked when oil prices were high, giving the government large resources. But when oil prices began a steep fall at the end of 2014, scarcities became common and food prices skyrocketed. Inflation could reach 2,300 percent next year, the International Monetary Fund warned in October.

The Health Ministry and the National Institute of Nutrition did not respond to requests for interviews or official health reports containing malnutrition statistics. But the nation’s political opposition, which has been stripped of its power by the government, continues to sound the alarm.

While I’m sure that the left would want to blame the evil Donald Trump for this, Venezuela’s problems began long before Mr Trump was even nominated; Barack Obama, hardly a foe of socialist governments, was President then.

It’s time to tell the truth: socialism is not just an authoritarian, anti-democratic political system, but it is a wholly failed economic system. Capitalism is the only economic system we have ever known which raised more than a tiny minority — tiny minority meaning: the people with military power — above the subsistence level. Now, once capitalist Venezuela, not that long ago the wealthiest nation in South America, has people starving to death under socialism.

This is what the socialists and the ‘Bernie bros‘ want to bring to the United States! Oh, that’s not what they think, of course: to the socialists, their policies will make everybody well-to-do in the Western sense. They’ll all live in upscale urban apartments and have their Starbucks every morning, on the way to their six-hour-a-day well-paying professional jobs, with their beautiful secretaries there, smiling, everyday.3

Alas! despite their fevered imaginations of how great America would be under socialism, we happen to have examples of where socialism, in one form or another, was put into practice:

  • The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which ultimately collapsed;
  • The People’s Republic of China, which abandoned socialism for a capitalist economy, which then took off to become second largest in the world;
  • Venezuela, with the world’s largest proven petroleum reserves, and is now in almost complete collapse;
  • Cuba, a land of poverty and totalitarianism; and
  • North Korea.

The equality promised by socialists has turned into equal poverty; only a small minority live better than squalor, and that small minority is, of course, the people with guns.4

The truth of socialism, as revealed by its history, is that the Bernie bros and their ilk wouldn’t have those upscale urban apartments, but would be sent out in the fields, because that’s where the food is grown, and they’d be needed to work the crops. Socialism means poverty, and socialism means totalitarian control. Nowhere has it been tried with any different results.
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  1. $WTI was at $57.36 when I was writing this article, not far down from it’s 52-week high of $59.05, set a couple of weeks ago, and well off its low of $42.06. Venezuela’s ‘heavy, sour’ crude sells for much less.
  2. From OilPrice.com December 15, 2017:  Venezuela’s cash-strapped state oil firm PDVSA said that it had initiated bank transfers on Thursday to pay US$539 million in interest on four separate bonds, just hours before grace periods on those payments expire between Friday and Sunday.
  3. Hillary Clinton blamed, among other, the ‘Bernie bros’ for her defeat, saying that they were “more than a little sexist.” She wasn’t the only one to make that claim.
  4. No socialist nation has ever allowed its subjects to keep firearms.

The United Nations is not some form of world government It has no authority whatsoever over American government decisions

From The Hill:

UN Security Council weighs resolution saying Jerusalem decisions are void

By Max Greenwood | December 16, 2017 | 03:04 PM EST

The United Nations (U.N.) Security Council is weighing a draft resolution that would essentially seek to nullify any move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The resolution, drafted by Egypt and circulated among the Security Council’s 15 members, does not directly mention the United States or President Trump, who moved last week to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city, according to Reuters, which viewed a copy of the text.

To be sure, any effort by the Security Council to call for the U.S. decision to be withdrawn would be largely symbolic. As one of the body’s five permanent members, the U.S. wields veto power over any resolution, and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley is almost certain to shoot the measure down. . . . .

According to Reuters, the resolution “affirms that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.”

There’s more at the original, including noting that the United States has veto authority over any Security Council resolution.

US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. (Official government portrait.)

But what the article does not point out is that there is no such thing as international law, nor does any other nation or organization have authority over the sovereign decisions of the United States government. ‘International law’ is simply a pretext to assert that one nation or group of nations can use military force to compel others to comply with whatever the men with guns decide, along with an assortment of treaties. The United States has the sovereign authority to recognize what is the truth, that the Israelis have declared Jerusalem to be their capital, and that’s where their governing authority resides. As long as the Israelis consent, the United States is perfectly free to build a new embassy in Jerusalem, and has, in fact, a long term lease on land within the city to do so.

Perhaps the Security Council believe they have the authority to declare for any nation where their nation’s capital must sit; could the Security Council decide that no, they didn’t like Washington, DC, and insist that the United States move our capital to New York City or Lexington, Kentucky or Muskogee, Oklahoma?

Or, perhaps, the members believe that they have the authority to determine a nation’s government? After all, President Trump is only a temporary head of government, not something as long-lasting as a nation’s capital. Do the Security Council have the authority to declare that no, they don’t like him — which is certainly true for most of the members — and that he should be unseated in favor of Hillary Clinton?

The younger President Bush did decide that he had the authority to determine the leadership of Iraq, and he had the military power to do just that. But, that’s the whole point: such was determined by military force, not by ‘international law’ or some other cockamamie claim. The Security Council can determine where the capital of Israel sits when it musters the military power to enforce its judgement.

The left fret about budget cuts to Department of Education In reality, the cuts do not go deeply enough

From The Wall Street Journal:

Trump Job Cuts at Education Department Worry Civil-Rights Advocates

The government office that responds to such issues as sexual harassment and racial discrimination is losing significant numbers of employees

By Michelle Hackman | December 15, 2017 5:30 AM EST

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

WASHINGTON—The Education Department is cutting staff at its Office for Civil Rights as part of a push to reduce Washington’s footprint in education. But critics say the move will blunt the office’s response to issues like sexual assault on college campuses and racial discrimination in public schools.

The department has offered voluntary buyouts overall to 207 employees as part of a broad staff reduction there, officials say. Of those, 45 offers were made in the civil rights office, the most for any unit in the department. The office with the next highest number of departures is Federal Student aid, where 36 employees were offered buyouts. .  .  .  .

Some civil rights advocates are skeptical of the department’s explanation, saying the buyouts are determined by department chiefs who they say are targeting the civil rights office.They also follow the departure of a host of staff attorneys and other investigators following President Donald Trump’s inauguration—staff who won’t be replaced under a department-wide hiring freeze. Agencies have trimmed thousands of jobs as part of the Trump administration’s efforts to reduce the size of government.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has said she wants to shrink the federal government’s involvement in education, including civil rights enforcement. In a Wall Street Journal interview last month, Mrs. DeVos said the department is “doing a very serious housecleaning,” citing both personnel and Obama-era regulations.

There’s more at the original, but this is a very good thing; the biggest problem is that budget cuts at the Department of Education are not deep enough. My preferred budget figure for the federal Department of Education would be $0.00. Public education is supposed to be a state and local function, not a federal one.

The ‘response’ of the DoE under President Obama to sexual assault claims was to push universities to set up administrative systems within the colleges, systems which made a mockery of due process, and were tilted in favor of those making sexual assault accusations, instead of turning such claims over to law enforcement. This had two effects:

  • It led to the punishment of students accused of sexual assault without any clear proof of guilt; and
  • Since the limit to which colleges could punish students accused of sexual assault was expulsion, it left any real rapists expelled out on the streets, where they could rape other women.

Of course, to the women in the university, the laundresses and convenience store clerks who remained as potential victims somehow weren’t as important as the coeds.

Why should people be allowed to shield income from taxation?

Heather Long discusses the (supposedly) final version of the Republican tax bill in The Washington Post, and I came upon this part:

Andrew Devendorf has contacted Sen. Marco Rubio’s office every other day for the past month to beg the Florida Republican to make sure Congress’s final tax bill doesn’t make graduate school unaffordable for him and 179,000 other PhD students in the United States. Rubio has emerged as a potential swing vote on the tax bill, giving him possible leverage as Republicans finalize their plan with the goal of getting legislation to President Trump’s desk by Christmas.

It looks like Devendorf’s efforts paid off. Tuition waivers for graduate students are expected to remain tax-free. The medical deduction, which helps 8.8 million Americans with severe conditions like Alzheimer’s, is also expected to remain.

“Nothing’s final of any of this stuff, but we’re trying to make sure that the provisions in law that are available to students for education continue to be available,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the conference committee, said Wednesday.  .  .  .

Devendorf is in the first year of a PhD program in clinical psychology at the University of South Florida in Tampa. His older brother committed suicide. Since then, Devendorf said, he has dedicated his life to studying psychology in the hope that he can help others with mental health issues. (Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Americans ages 15 to 34, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.)

At the university, he receives a $14,000 a year stipend and pays taxes on that income. But under the bill that passed the House, he would have to pay taxes on that stipend plus the $30,000 tuition waiver he gets from his university, even though he never actually receives any money from the waiver. Taxing the waiver would bump up his tax bill substantially, making it difficult for him to continue his studies.

“Our stipend is already super hard to live on . . . how am I going to fund myself it this passes?” he said this week. “I come from a middle-class family. This isn’t a lucrative field.”

There’s more in the original article, but this one jumped out at me: is Mr Devendorf not receiving (roughly, I suppose) $30,000 in value from the waiver? In effect, USF is paying him $44,000, but is helping him to hide $30,000 of income.

This is just another version of hiding income in kind. The biggest income hiding comes in the form of employer-sponsored health insurance plans. According to the Henry J Kaiser Foundation:

This annual survey of employers provides a detailed look at trends in employer-sponsored health coverage including premiums, employee contributions, cost-sharing provisions, and employer opinions. The 2016 survey included more than 1,900 interviews with non-federal public and private firms. Annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $18,142 this year, up 3 percent from last year, with workers on average paying $5,277 towards the cost of their coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Education Trust 2016 Employer Health Benefits Survey. The 2016 survey includes information on the use of incentives for employer wellness programs, plan cost-sharing as well as firm offer rate. Survey results are released here in a variety of ways, including a full report with downloadable tables on a variety of topics, summary of findings, and an article published in the journal Health Affairs.

In other words, people in employer-sponsored health insurance plans are receiving an average of $12,865 per year in untaxed compensation. Of course, some employers have more, or less, generous health insurance plans, so some people are receiving more untaxed income than others, both for health insurance. And those who do not have employer-sponsored health insurance, but are relying on the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges, are having to spend income that is subject to taxation for their insurance. Of course, those using the Obamacare exchanges for their insurance, but get a government subsidy to pay for it, or help pay for it, aren’t paying taxes on the subsidies. Basically, it’s only the middle-class self-employed who are being taxed on the full amount of what they pay for health insurance.

In a system in which we tax people based on their income, we should at least treat everybody the same. Instead, we allow Mr Devendorf to hide 68% of his real income from taxation, and the remainder is mostly shielded by the personal exemption and standard deduction.1 Applying the 2017 personal exemption of $4,050 and standard deduction of $6,350,2 Mr Devendorf’s total federal income taxes would be only $360, or 10% of the $3,600 unshielded income after the personal exemption and standard deduction. $360, on an effective annual income of $44,000.

Yet, if a single person earned $44,000 in payroll, his taxes would be $3360!

But, naturally, there’s more! Social Security and Medicare taxes (6.20% and 1.45%, respectively) are applied to all salary and wage income, so the personal exemption and standard deduction do not apply. Mr Devendorf would pay, on $14,000, $868 in Social Security tax, plus another $203 for Medicate. Yet the single worker earning $21.15 per hour, or $44,000 per year, would pay $2,728 plus $638 in Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Why, I have to ask, should a regular worker would owe $6,726 in total federal income-based taxes, while Mr Devendorf’s liability is only $1,431? Why should the man lucky enough to have an employer-based health care plan receive a tax-free benefit of $12,865 — that’s over $1,000 a month — while the man who isn’t so fortunate have to pay taxes on all the money he must spend on health insurance?

The obvious answer is that, in an income-based tax system, we should treat everybody the same, and tax all income, not allowing people to ‘hide’ compensation through such means. It would require a lowering of tax rates, to make up for this, but it should be done.
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  1. The tax bill, if it passes, will eliminate the personal exemption, in favor of a larger standard deduction. I mentioned the personal exemption as well, because the tax bill has not yet passed.
  2. Calculation assumes that the taxpayer is unmarried and has no dependent children.

Expel Roy Moore from the United States Senate! Alabama voters kept that from being needed

Originally, this post was supposed to have appeared this morning, saying that the Senate should expel Roy Moore if he had been elected; I wrote it early, because I wanted to have it ready to go.

But, Alabama voters rejected Mr Moore’s candidacy: in a choice between a man who may have tried to f(ornicate) underaged girls nearly four decades ago, and a man who will f(ornicate) the whole country now, they chose the latter.

There was only one good thing to come from this election: Roy Moore will be consigned to the garbage dump of Republican history. If he couldn’t win in a deeply Republican state, he’ll never be nominated for anything, ever again.

The bad? The Washington Post article noted that Doug Jones’ election victory should be certified somewhere between December 27th and January 3rd,1 and Republicans have to get the stop-gap spending bill passed by December 22nd to avoid a government shutdown. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has already said that he will not vote for any ‘budget-busting’ spending bill, which means that the GOP cannot afford to lose more than one more Republican vote; the Democrats have already stated that they will not support any stop-gap spending bill which does not include a legislative endorsement of the DACA program allowing illegal immigrants who were brought to this country as minors to stay in the United States.

“I’m remembering Missouri and Indiana in 2012 — two can’t-lose states where we nominated crap candidates and lost,” said Steven J. Law, president of the Senate Leadership Fund, a group affiliated with (Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell (R-KY) that opposed Moore in the primary.

Yup, that’s what happened in Alabama, though Mr Moore became a “crap candidate” only due to revelations about his past that came after he won the nomination.
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  1. Count on the Democrats trying to rush this to happen early, to get another Democratic vote in the Senate.

protecting your property

Interesting Ways to Protect Your Property

If you’re concerned about protecting your family and your property, then you might be wondering what tools and strategies are available to you. As it happens, there are a variety of excellent methods for protecting property, and some of them are relatively inexpensive as well. With that in mind, here’s a quick overview of some of the best methods for protecting property, regardless of whether you’re looking after a home or a larger plot of land.

Fence Off Your Property

While it won’t stop the most committed people, a chain link fence can have a profound impact as a deterrent. When people have to choose between various places to rob, they’re naturally going to go after the one that requires the least amount of effort, assuming all other factors are equal. With that in mind, a chain link fence can help to protect your property while, in some cases, adding to the overall aesthetic as well. If you own a particularly large piece of property, you might want to rent a chain link fence machine, in order to ensure that the entire area is properly covered.

Get a Guard Dog

If you’re comfortable around animals, you might want to consider getting a guard dog. As with fences, a dog can serve as an excellent deterrent for burglars or robbers, as they’d much rather spend their time targeting areas that are less of a hassle. Of course, it’s important to note that a guard dog is more than just a prop, so you probably shouldn’t get one if you don’t think you can treat it with the love and respect it deserves. It’s also worth noting that even a guard dog can’t handle intruders by itself, but it can at least help keep you aware of your surroundings late at night.

Surveillance System

Digital surveillance systems have improved tremendously over the past several years, and that means they’re particularly useful for people who own large tracts of land. When it comes to managing a digital surveillance system, it’s important to make sure you have your system set up in a variety of unique locations, so that people can’t hide in angled shadows away from the cameras.

As overwhelming as it might seem to try and protect your property, there are plenty of tools out there to help streamline the process. By following this guide, you’ll hopefully have a better idea of what it is you need to do in order to make you and your family feel safe.

The November jobs report

From The Wall Street Journal:

U.S. Employers Hire at Healthy Rate in November

Unemployment rate holds at 17-year low of 4.1%

By Eric Morath | Updated December 8, 2017 | 11:03 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON—The economy appears to be on its firmest footing in at least a decade, with hiring picking up from earlier this year and the unemployment rate holding at a 17-year low in November.

Nonfarm payrolls rose a seasonally adjusted 228,000 in November, the Labor Department said Friday. It was a slight slowdown from October hiring, which was boosted by a rebound from late-summer hurricanes, but was well above the pace recorded earlier this year. Revised figures showed the economy added 3,000 more jobs than previously estimated in October and September.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate remained at 4.1% last month, matching the lowest level since December 2000.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected 195,000 new jobs and a 4.1% unemployment rate last month.

Slightly further down:

The one gray mark in Friday’s report was wage growth. Average hourly earnings for private-sector workers increased by a nickel last month after declining in October. Wages rose just 2.5% from a year earlier in November—near the same lackluster pace maintained since late 2015, despite a much lower unemployment rate.

Is that bad? Not when you compare it to inflation:

The core inflation rate was 1.8 percent year over year, below the Fed’s 2.0 percent target. The Federal Open Market Committee will probably wait until December before raising the fed funds rate again. Higher past core inflation rates encouraged it to raise the rate 1/4 point at its June FOMC meeting.

But the Fed prefers the Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index. Its core inflation rate was 1.3 percent YOY as of September 2017. That’s from the most recent release from the Personal Income and Outlays report.

If wages rose 2.5% year-over-year, but the inflation rate was only 1.8%, then workers, on average, are seeing real gains.  They may not be much, but the Journal story was incomplete. Back to the Journal:

Central bankers, however, could be more inclined to push rates up at a slightly faster pace next year if the job market keeps cranking out strong monthly gains. In September, Fed officials forecast the unemployment rate would end this year at 4.3%, and end next year at 4.1%, meaning the job market has already hit the milestones officials thought would take an additional year to reach.

“The Fed has to be cognizant of the fact that if we run employment at 4%, inflation could rise above their 2% target,” said Gus Faucher, economist at PNC Financial Services. “If they let unemployment get too low, they may have to raise rates more aggressively, and that risks causing a recession.”

This is the kind of thing that inspired people to vote for Donald Trump. Why on God’s earth would the Federal Reserve be concerned if unemployment “get(s) too low”? If unemployment gets lower, that will put upward pressure on wages, and — hopefully — get more people off welfare.

The article also noted that U-6 was down to 7.9%, though the actual government release has U-6 at 8.0%. U-6 includes discouraged workers and those who want full-time jobs, but are stuck in part-time positions. The drop in U-6 — the number I find more important — is big, because it tells us that not only are more people finding better jobs, but that there is still room for labor force growth. U-6 at 8.0% is still three percentage points higher than U-5, which means that unemployment dropping gives hope to those stuck on part-time jobs that full-time work could become available to them. The U-5 rate of 5.0% indicates that there are more potential workers who could re-enter the workforce if economic conditions improved.

Mr Faucher’s statement indicates the problem: too many people think that the government can somehow control the economy. The Fed thinks it can, by tinkering with a couple of interest rates and the money supply, but if the Fed could do that, we’d never have recessions, would we?

The conventional wisdom is that the economy needs a certain number of unemployed workers to keep inflation down; that’s the kind of thinking which says that, hey, you being in poverty helps everybody else.

The Fed needs to just leave things alone.

All of a sudden, the left are trying to think about what motivates the right

Fresh on the heels of CNN publishing a reasonably fair and balanced story about President Trump, The New York Times tries to commit journalism:

Liberals Need to Take Their Fingers Out of Their Ears

Thomas B. Edsall | December 7, 2017

Given the triumph of contemporary conservatism, it may be time for liberals to take a look at the vulnerabilities of their own orthodoxies.

Democrats who yearn for President Trump to be taken down should examine this list of Republican strengths: victories in all three contested special elections for the House of Representatives this year; Trump’s 82 percent approval rating among Republican voters; his success with the current tax bill; his swift evisceration of key regulatory policies; the Gorsuch appointment to the Supreme Court; economic growth of over 3 percent in the last two quarters; the Dow Jones topping 24,000; and the unemployment rate dropping to 4.1 percent.

For the moment, the left is both stunned and infuriated by the vehement animosity it faces from red America, which is made up of counties that are 84 percent less dense than blue America, 37 percent less racially and ethnically diverse, and 34 percent more white.

Voters in red America are 44 percent less likely to be college graduates and 22 percent more likely to have served in the armed forces. Geographically speaking, red counties are virtually nonexistent on the West Coast and on the East Coast north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Many Democrats continue to have little understanding of their own role — often inadvertent, an unintended consequence of well-meaning behavior — in creating the conditions that make conservatives willing to support Trump and the party he is leading.

There is a lot more at the link. He points out how the left have contributed to the rise of the right, but it is his conclusion which interests me the most:

Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard, observes that “believers in liberal democracy have unilaterally disarmed in the defense of the institution” by agreeing in many cases with the premise of the Trump campaign: “that the country is a hopeless swamp.” This left Democrats “defenseless when he proposed to drain it.”

Where, Pinker asks,

are the liberals who are willing to say that liberal democracy has worked? That environmental regulations have slashed air pollutants while allowing Americans to drive more miles and burn more fuel? That social transfers have reduced poverty rates fivefold? That globalization has allowed Americans to afford more food, clothing, TVs, cars, and air-conditioners? That international organizations have prevented nuclear war, and reduced the rate of death in warfare by 90 percent? That environmental treaties are healing the hole in the ozone layer?

Pinker remains confident:

Progress always must fight headwinds. Human nature doesn’t change, and the appeal of regressive impulses is perennial. The forces of liberalism, modernity, cosmopolitanism, the open society, and Enlightenment values always have to push against our innate tribalism, authoritarianism, and thirst for vengeance. We can even recognize these instincts in ourselves, even in Trump’s cavalier remarks about the rule of law.

Pinker continues:

Over the longer run, I think the forces of modernity prevail — affluence, education, mobility, communication, and generational replacement. Trumpism, like Brexit and European populism, are old men’s movements: support drops off sharply with age.

Pinker is optimistic about the future. I hope he is right.

The problem is that even if Pinker is right, his analysis does not preclude a sustained period in which the anti-democratic right dominates American politics. There is no telling how long it will be before the movement Trump has mobilized will have run its course. Nor can we anticipate — if and when Trumpism does implode — how extensive the damage will be that Pinker’s “forces of modernity” will have to repair.

Dr Pinker and Mr Edsall are hoping for the same thing: the reduction of the will of the masses to upset the apple cart, the anti-establishment bent so common in our politics. Other than 1988, since the Depression I cannot see a non-incumbent presidential election in which the more ‘establishment’ candidate lost. It didn’t matter whether the more establishment candidate was Republican or Democrat, the American people like to change things up, and that’s bad news for people who believe in the ‘establishment.’

Being prepared for an automobile accident

Prepare for a Car Accident

The vast majority of car accidents that happen occur out of the blue. They are unforeseen occurrences that no one was prepared for. Most people were just going about their day and enjoying their life when they were involved in a car accident. While no one likes the idea of being involved in a car accident, there are a variety of benefits that come from preparing for this unforeseen circumstance. Thinking through what you would do in the case of a car accident can help you in case you are the victim of a car accident.

What is the first thing that you should do when you are involved in a car accident? The very first thing to do is check for injuries. You want to assess your own health, the health of your passengers, and the health of any pedestrians who were involved or individuals who were in other vehicles involved in the accident. It is important to get medical help right away. Call 911 yourself, or make sure someone else does.

If it is a situation where no one was badly injured, you can focus on other things. The next step is making sure that further damage will not occur. Putting cones on the street is a great way to warn others that an accident has occurred. Be careful of oncoming traffic as you get out and assess the situation.

The police should be notified in order to assess the situation. Unless it is just a small fender bender and both parties are happy to walk away without exchanging information, the police should be informed so that they can assess the situation and make any necessary documents.

The next thing to do is start documenting the situation. If you have your cell phone or something else you can use to take pictures, start snapping pictures right away. This will be especially important if you need to speak with in Oregon auto accident attorney eventually in order to file a claim or to seek compensation.

It is also advisable to get the contact information of others who were at the scene of the accident and saw what happened. It can be extremely difficult to track down passersby or others who may have witnessed what happened later on.

Going through a car accident is something that can be very traumatic. However, if you think ahead about the steps that you would take in case an accident happens, you will be better prepared to handle the situation.