Why Expand Your Business If the Government Will Soon Close It Down? thumbnail

Why Expand Your Business If the Government Will Soon Close It Down?

By Neland Nobel

Progressives seem to be confused about inflation. Inflation is an increase in the supply of money and credit at a rate faster than the rise in the production of goods and services. It is monetary on the one hand and a supply issue on the other.

Therefore, the solution lies in restricting money growth to a level approximate to that of economic growth and allowing natural market forces to increase supply. Wherever there are legal bottlenecks to production and distribution, such as taxes, laws that serve as barriers to entry for competitors, import restrictions, and above all senseless regulations; government can play an active role in getting out of the way of production.

It is said the answer to high prices, is high prices. That is true if the government gets out of the way. High prices cause consumers to restrict demand while higher profits in the affected sectors attract capital and create more supply.

At the centerpiece of the worst inflation in 40 years, is the cost of oil and natural gas.

Insofar as the supply issues are concerned, Progressives and their sock puppet President Biden seems to understand that the drop in global supply has something to do with the increase in prices. But when asked if we can do anything to increase supply, they stare off into space as if the power supply to their brain has been generated by a windmill, and the wind just quit blowing.  The only increase in supply they can conceive of is if the extra supply comes from Iran or Venezuela as opposed to West Texas.

Just this week, Secretary of Treasury Yellen turned her attention away from abortion and gun control long enough to state that the Administration has done all it can do about rising oil prices.

Really?

What if Progressives allowed all that gas in the Marcellus shale, which can be pumped in Pennsylvania but is forbidden in New York, was allowed to be developed?  What if the great oil production that once came from California was permitted to grow?  What if the reserves in Alaska could be tapped? What about all the opportunities offshore and on Federal land?

In short, America has plenty of both existing and new oil and gas geography to be developed, but environmental fanatics will not permit it to be developed. For years, their strategy has been to remove available land with energy resources off the market and elsewhere harass development with endless regulations and lawsuits.

And now, the government explicitly has set goals to phase out oil and gas usage by 2030.

Meanwhile, the ESG movement does everything it can to make energy companies a pariah and starve them of capital. If you don’t have money, you can’t expand.

Put yourselves in the shoes of an oil or gas company executive. Prices are rising, profits are good, but the government intends to put you out of business in about 8 years. Why would you make substantial investments in projects that have a usable life of 30 to 50 years, knowing full well your business will be shutting down in just a few more years? 

A more rational response is to recover what you can under the circumstances. Use your profits to buy back stock, benefiting management and your loyal shareholders that have stayed with you through this constant attack from the government and distributing dividends to your shareholders as well. But these strategies while rational, do not produce an ounce of new energy.

You wouldn’t and that is why in the present situation rising prices will not do their magic, that is, call forward new production to alleviate the shortages.

This crisis in the short term has been aggravated by Putin. But the guilty parties are homegrown, the environmental movement and their allies in the Democrat party.

This energy crisis is wholly artificial, designed to drive the economy away from inexpensive oil and gas and towards the new Green nirvana of solar and wind. They want fossil fuels to be expensive so that their forced alternatives look better. They don’t want a level playing field where one energy source competes against the other. They want to cram their ideas down our throats because of the hubris of their movement. They think among all the variables that cause the climate to change over time, they alone can change the climate of the earth over the next 100 years.

If you can’t afford to drive to work or feed your family, you are just collateral damage necessary to achieve their greater goal.

What is even more insane is that they seem pleased if the oil and gas are produced elsewhere, as if the earth’s atmosphere can tell the difference between Alaskan oil and Venezuelan.

This push from the top down to change our energy system is aggravating the inflationary problems touched off by wild deficit-financed spending and a Federal Reserve Board that has gone out of its way to remove any restraint on the legislative and executive branches of government. Combined with the environmental movement, that has locked us into devastating inflation that will be hard to escape.

Unfortunately, market forces will not be unleashed to help alleviate the problem. There simply is no incentive under the circumstances to make new long-term investments in the sector.

Why invest in more hydrocarbon production if they are simply going to put you out of business?

Only one other solution exists. We must vote out of office those who grovel to the environmental movement and encourage all forms of energy development. If we don’t, our standard of living, and national security, will be in grave jeopardy. Then we need a program of fiscal responsibility and monetary restraint coupled with massive deregulation of American business.

TAKE ACTION

The highly choreographed January 6 Select Committee that is being performed on primetime TV over the next several weeks can only be described as political and partisan trash. It is not about truth or acting in the interests of American citizens. It is about the 2024 election – clear as day.

Please click here to inform our elected leaders how you feel about the partisan travesty unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Inside the Title IX Tribunal

By Scott Yenor

American universities have long been intensely concerned with civil rights. Every institution of higher learning proclaims its commitment to protecting civil rights on campus. Elite schools compete with one another in finding civil rights violations—so they can show that they are more energetic than other universities about addressing them. At the same time, campus civil rights regimes are potent tools for undermining one of the university’s most important and defining commitments: it’s commitment to free inquiry and open exchange of ideas. As I have learned, no one is safe from this threat, not even tenured full professors at red-state universities.

The details of my story are banal—I criticized feminism and feminists in a national speech. Strong nations, I argued, cannot exist without strong families. Strong families in turn need respectable men capable of providing, and women interested in having children. Neither of these things happens automatically. Much of our culture, informed through feminist ideology, undermines or dishonors male achievement, while it promotes a vision of womanhood that discounts motherhood. Universities, which I called the “citadels of gynocracy,” contribute to this problem by treating male-dominated majors like engineering as problems to be solved. I also claimed that women shaped by feminism will more likely be unhappy, or, as I put it at the time, “medicated, meddlesome, and quarrelsome.”

These sound bites gave my critics ammo. A swarm formed, mostly through social media, in the weeks following the speech. It started with a trickle, but eventually led to a full-on cancellation attempt. Creepy, threatening phone messages arrived daily for months. I received streams of vulgar and hateful emails. National media coverage began—I was even asked to appear on the Dr. Phil show to work out my issues. Letters to the editor appeared in our local papers. People tried to hack my accounts. Emails tempting me with intimate photos and pornography began to arrive at my university email. Many wanted me fired.

Boise State University (BSU), my home institution, made a show of defending free speech as the swarm gathered. At the same time, but under the public radar, the university began to solicit discrimination and harassment complaints from students. University spokesmen shared contact information for students to use if they felt harassed or ill-treated.

Seven days after my speech went quasi-viral, BSU charged me with six civil rights violations.

Here is a flavor of the charges. The first charge against me was that I “graded women lower than their male peers based solely on sex and not performance.” The university had had access to my grades for the past twenty-one years. BSU should have known that an aggrieved student would not be in the position to know anything about aggregate grades over decades. (It was also in a position to know that such grades would and did vindicate me). One activist-accuser even mentioned that she got A’s in my classes, but that was only because she was a good writer and better than her colleagues. Sounds like pretty good evidence against her claims. Yet the case proceeded.

One student-activist had alleged that I did not provide feedback on papers written by female students, while I provided copious feedback on papers written by males. Others made similar allegations. Students were not asked to produce their papers or communications. As it happens, I email students extensive comments on their papers, so I rebutted these charges with three clicks of my phone during my interview with the single investigator. My emails are university property: it could have confirmed this just as quickly as I did.

Officially, of course, everyone pretends that the harassment and discrimination charges had nothing to do with the speech. In the official record, all complaints were “unsolicited.”

My episode highlights an unsettling truth: mechanisms that secure civil rights have become threats to free inquiry and the freedom of the mind, and any traditional understanding of political liberty. Since universities are ostensibly committed to free speech, it is difficult to punish people directly for their unpopular views, but civil rights processes offer another effective method for silencing dissent. Harassment and discrimination policies set by universities often serve this purpose.

On campuses, students and underrepresented minorities get to determine what is and what is not discrimination when making allegations. Is giving men lower grades than women discrimination against women (holding men to higher standards) or against men (hurting their grade point averages)? Is giving students lots of feedback on papers, but lower grades, discrimination, or is it more discriminatory to give them high grades without much feedback? Students decide. Title IX policies grease the skids for willing student accusers, promising them anonymity, immunity from cross-examination, and shields from perjury laws. Then universities use the process itself as a punishment, even if they find no violations.

To preempt the conservative press and conservative state legislatures, universities declare that free speech is never threatened on our campuses. Nevertheless, everyone understands the lesson about the acceptable limits of discourse. In short, people can say what they want, but if they say certain things, or ask certain questions, discrimination charges are coming. This has happened again and again across the country to heterodox professors.

How can free speech be protected if the university refuses even to acknowledge the possibility that campaigns like the one levied against me might themselves be intended to suppress inquiry?

Once BSU invoked civil rights laws, I was headed for a Title IX investigation. This is no trial according to traditional due process. Witnesses are not named. Accusers cannot be cross-examined. The motives of the accusers are never explored and are assumed to be pure. Charges are amorphous and subject to change. The investigator and judge are the same person. Any country whose judicial system used such procedures would immediately be denounced by all world organizations as bogus. But not in America, when it comes to the sacred word “discrimination.”

Nor do universities necessarily follow their own policies. BSU, for instance, initially made allegations that were outside its own statute of limitations (which was 180 days). When I asked why allegations outside the statute of limitations were allowed to proceed, BSU’s Title IX office dropped them without comment.

But more witnesses and more charges emerged. Students made accusations of “racism” to go with the initial charges of misogyny. BSU believed or pretended to believe all students. In fact, under the current rules, students are encouraged to invent false charges against wrong-thinkers.

I built a portfolio to rebut the charges. I went through years’ worth of class notes and grades to build up a case that I graded both sexes fairly, without any disparities showing disadvantages for females. I crunched numbers on every assignment. I listened to hour after hour of old class recordings. I searched email communications. Time that would otherwise have been spent in productive labor was lost to rebutting spurious charges.

Even if their accusations are determined to be false, students face no consequences. For me though, the cloud of suspicion never entirely dissipates. In fact, I am more likely to get in trouble, precisely because I have been exonerated by a formal investigation. If I ever mention a lying student’s name, or allude to the lie so it could be traceable to a specific student, I will be guilty of “retaliation” under BSU’s Title IX policy. Accusers are given a platform on which to lie, then are protected from punishment when the falsehoods are exposed. The process hampers self-defense: it takes place in the dark and mostly stays in the dark. If I brought or bring the charges out of the dark, I will have committed the nebulous violation of retaliation.

The university still insists that free speech is protected on its campus and that free exchange is highly valued. But how can free speech be protected if the university refuses even to acknowledge the possibility that campaigns like the one levied against me might themselves be intended to suppress inquiry? “It is irrelevant what motivated the individuals to report Dr. Yenor’s behavior to the University,” the report states. From this, it would seem to follow that the university does not mind if students contribute to a Title IX investigation with the explicit goal of silencing a professor whose views displease them.

My interview with the investigator took just over an hour, whereas most of those accused suffered through much longer ordeals. There were six charges. All were completely ridiculous and quite easily refuted. I was prepared because I have been in this position before; four years ago the university conducted a similar investigation after I stirred controversy by writing that transgender ideology in the hands of government bureaucrats poses a threat to parental rights. I record and store all of my lectures so that students cannot lie about what I say. I keep meticulous records of all grades. I keep all of my paper comments in email files. In this case, the investigator had no choice but to give me the most complete vindication that this farcical affront to due process can earn. He found “insufficient evidence” to support BSU’s charges.

“Insufficient evidence”? That’s a lame way to describe vindication. Welcome to the civil rights regime on the modern campus. No one accused is innocent. I am, according to my experienced attorney, one of the few to survive a Title IX hearing with no adverse action.

Free speech is indeed a valuable bedrock of academic life, but my episode shows that a commitment to free speech is not enough in the face of the civil rights apparatus that has emerged in our universities. Harassment and discrimination processes make for ideological hegemony on campus. All the free speech legislation in the world will not protect universities from this kind of civil rights regime.

Scott Yenor is a professor of political science at Boise State University and a Washington Fellow at the Claremont Institute’s Center for the American Way of Life. His latest book is The Recovery of Family Life: Exposing the Limits of Modern Ideologies (Baylor University Press, 2020).

*****

This article was published by Law & Liberty and is reproduced with permission.

TAKE ACTION

The highly choreographed January 6 Select Committee that is being performed on primetime TV over the next several weeks can only be described as political and partisan trash. It is not about truth or acting in the interests of American citizens. It is about the 2024 election – clear as day.

Please click here to inform our elected leaders how you feel about the partisan travesty unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Is It Ethical to Purchase a Lithium Battery Powered EV? thumbnail

Is It Ethical to Purchase a Lithium Battery Powered EV?

By Ronald Stein

With numerous state governors have issued executive orders to phase out the purchasing of gasoline-driven cars within the next decade or so, and the automobile manufacturers’ efforts to phase into only manufacturing EVs here’s some food for thought about the lack of transparency about “Clean Energy Exploitations”.

The top image is an oil well, where 100 percent organic material is pumped out of the ground, taking up around 500 to 1000 square feet. Then it flows in pipelines safely transporting the oil to refineries to be manufactured into usable oil derivatives that are the basis of more than 6,000 products for society, and into transportation fuels needed by the world’s heavy-weight and long-range infrastructures of aviation, merchant ships, cruise ships, and militaries.

The lower image is just one lithium supply mine where entire mountains are eliminated. Each mine usually consists of thirty-five to forty humongous 797 Caterpillar haul trucks along with hundreds of other large equipment. Each 797 uses around half a million gallons of diesel a year. So, with an inventory of just thirty-five, the haul trucks alone are using 17.5 million gallons of fuel a year for just one lithium site.

There is virtually non-existing transparency of the environmental degradation and the human rights abuses occurring in developing countries with yellow, brown, and black-skinned people. Both human rights abuses and environmental degradation are directly connected to the mining of the exotic minerals and metals that are required to manufacture wind turbines, solar panels, and EV batteries.

Today, a typical EV battery weighs one thousand pounds. It contains twenty-five pounds of lithium, sixty pounds of nickel, 44 pounds of manganese, 30 pounds of cobalt, 200 pounds of copper, and 400 pounds of aluminum, steel, and plastic. Inside are over 6,000 individual lithium-ion cells.

It should concern you that all those toxic components come from mining. For instance, to manufacture each EV auto battery, you must process 25,000 pounds of brine for the lithium, 30,000 pounds of ore for the cobalt, 5,000 pounds of ore for the nickel, and 25,000 pounds of ore for copper. All told, you dig up 500,000 pounds of the earth’s crust for just one battery.

The current fossil fuel infrastructure is less invasive than mining for the exotic minerals and metals required to create the batteries needed to store “green energy”. In developing countries, these mining operations exploit child labor and are responsible for the most egregious human rights’ violations of vulnerable minority populations. These operations are also directly destroying the planet through environmental degradation. The 2022 Pulitzer Prize-nominated book “Clean Energy Exploitations – Helping Citizens Understand the Environmental and Humanity Abuses That Support Clean Energy“, does an excellent job of discussing the lack of transparency to the world of the green movement’s impact upon humanity.

How many environmentalists are going to support lithium mines in America? There are two things needed to make the EV technology work for the billions of lightweight cars:

Get the mining practices for these exotic minerals and metals to the point that they are acceptable to the environmental movement and stop the environmental degradation and humanity atrocities occurring in developing countries where people are being exploited with yellow, brown, and black skin.

Further development of battery technology to somewhat clone how phones have been reduced in “size” with smaller and smaller batteries and increased capabilities in those small phones and reduce the alarming tendency of lithium batteries and their charging sources from spontaneously catching fire without warning.

If You’re Worried About Rising Gas Prices, watch this 11- minute video about why NOT buy an EV. Since you’ve probably read about EV fires, here’s a site that keeps tabs just on TESLA EV fires https://www.tesla-fire.com/, now at 85 and growing almost daily.

So, the next time you are thinking about purchasing an electric vehicle, or driving your EV car, before congratulating yourselves on saving the environment, remember that it came at a cost of entire mountains in developing countries, thousands of square miles of land and billions of gallons of oil and fuel.

We should all know that an electric vehicle battery does not “make” electricity – it only stores electricity produced elsewhere, primarily by coal, uranium, natural gas-powered plants, and occasionally by intermittent breezes and sunshine. So, to say an EV is a zero-emission vehicle is not at all valid as 80 percent of the electricity generated to charge the batteries is from coal, natural gas, and nuclear.

Since twenty percent of the electricity generated in the U.S is from coal-fired plants, it follows that twenty percent of the EVs on the road are coal-powered.

Since forty percent of the electricity generated in the U.S is from natural gas, it follows that forty percent of the EVs on the road are natural gas-powered.

Since twenty percent of the electricity generated in the U.S is from nuclear, it follows that twenty percent of the EVs on the road are nuclear-powered.

Life Without Oil is NOT AS SIMPLE AS YOU MAY THINK as renewable energy is only intermittent electricity from breezes and sunshine as NEITHER wind turbines nor solar panels can manufacture anything for society. Climate change may impact humanity but being mandated to live without the products manufactured from oil will necessitate lifestyles being mandated back to the horse and buggy days of the 1800s and could be the greatest threat to civilization’s eight billion residents.

America’s obsession with green electricity to reduce emissions must be ethical and should not thrive off human rights and environmental abuses in the foreign countries providing the exotic minerals and metals to support America’s green passion. Check out the quick 7-minute video interview between Ronald Stein and Rick Amato on “Your America TV” about The Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) movement to divest in fossil fuels, that may be leading society back to the decarbonized world of the 1800s and before.

So, before your next vehicle purchase, be knowledgeable that most of the exotic minerals and metals to build EV batteries are being mined in developing countries.

EV buyers should be aware that they may be contributing to the pursuit of “blood minerals” to achieve their efforts to go green. If you feel comfortable supporting the environmental degradation and humanity atrocities occurring in those developing countries, then proceed with your purchase.

*****

This article was published by CFACT, Committee for A Constructive Tomorrow and is reproduced with permission.

TAKE ACTION

The highly choreographed January 6 Select Committee that is being performed on primetime TV over the next several weeks can only be described as political and partisan trash. It is not about truth or acting in the interests of American citizens. It is about the 2024 election – clear as day.

Please click here to inform our elected leaders how you feel about the partisan travesty unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives.

A Time for Reckoning thumbnail

A Time for Reckoning

By Antony Davis

Consumer prices are up almost nine percent from where they were a year ago. For the median U.S. household, that’s equivalent to an almost $6,000 pay cut. Politicians have blamed corporate greed, the Ukraine war, and the supply chain because they are keen to get voters to latch on to any explanation as long as it isn’t the correct explanation.

The correct explanation implicates the entire political class.

For four decades, economists have warned, and warned, and warned again that the federal government should not spend money it doesn’t have. But during each of a string of crises, politicians insisted that a “temporary” bout of deficit spending was necessary to get us through to the other side. Deficit spending was needed, politicians said, to deal with the Soviet threat in the 1980s, then the Savings and Loan crisis in the 1990s, then 9/11 in the 2000s, then the housing crisis in the 2010s, then COVID in the 2020s. If they have their way, next up will be more deficit spending in the 2030s to deal with the looming Social Security insolvency crisis. In today’s dollars, politicians added $3 trillion to the debt in the 1980s and again in the 1990s. They added $6 trillion in the 2000s, then almost $10 trillion in the 2010s. According to the Congressional Budget Office, we can expect politicians to add more than $17 trillion in the 2020s. Each generation of voters has complained about the debt, and each generation of politicians has kicked the can down the road, despite knowing that future generations would have to deal with the consequences.

We are that future generation and the inflation we’re seeing today is just one of the consequences.

Today, the federal government collects, from all taxes combined, around $4 trillion per year. But it owes $30 trillion and has committed to paying another $100 trillion to $250 trillion (beyond what it collects in future payroll taxes) to future Social Security and Medicare recipients. For perspective, that’s like a household with a $60,000 income being $450,000 in debt, and then promising to pay for 18 kids to attend four-year private colleges. If that sounds unsustainable, you’re beginning to understand economists’ concerns over the past forty years.

What happened?

Despite all this borrowing, inflation has been very tame for a very long time. What changed is that the debt has become so large that the government is now running out of places on planet Earth to borrow more. American citizens, businesses, and state and local governments lend money to the federal government. So too do foreign citizens, businesses, and governments. Until recently, the largest lender was the Social Security trust fund. Until 2010, Social Security collected more in payroll taxes than it paid out in retirement benefits and loaned the difference to the federal government. But around 2010, the surplus dried up. For the past decade, not only has Social Security had nothing to loan to the government, it’s been needing back money it previously loaned.

As the government has needed to borrow more and more, and the Social Security trust fund has been able to lend less and less, the Federal Reserve has had to take up the slack. But, unlike any other lender, when the Federal Reserve loans money, the money supply increases. And if the money supply increases faster than the economy grows, we get inflation.

The cure for inflation is to contract the money supply, but contracting the money supply raises interest rates. That’s good news for lenders and bad news for borrowers – and the single largest borrower on the planet is the federal government. At $30 trillion, just a one-percentage-point increase in interest rates would cost the federal government an additional $300 billion annually. A two-percentage-point increase in interest rates would cost the federal government almost as much as the entire Department of Defense – every year.

The growth in the federal debt has painted the Federal Reserve into a corner. The Fed must now choose between preserving the purchasing power of the dollar and preserving the financial stability of the federal government. If the Fed contracts the money supply, it keeps inflation down but interest rates go up. If the Fed expands the money supply, it keeps interest rates down but inflation goes up.

But if it’s true that printing money causes inflation, why has it taken so long for the inflation to materialize? The lion’s share of the recent bout of money printing occurred in 2020 when the Fed increased the money supply by a whopping 20 percent. Over just four months, from March to July 2020, the Fed increased the money supply by as much as it had over the prior five years. Yet, inflation remained low through January of 2021. Where was the inflation?

For a clue, notice something strange. From April through August of 2020, the S&P 500 rose 60 percent, more than reversing the plunge it took at the start of the lockdowns. What’s strange is that the S&P 500 was showing a strong recovery during the same period in which the economy was suffering its worst contraction since the Great Depression. Large swaths of the economy were shut down, unemployment peaked at 14 percent – quintuple what it had been just a few months earlier. No one knew how long any of this was going to last, nor what condition we’d be in when it finally did end. Yet, here was the stock market chugging along at a dot-com era pace.

A possible explanation for the missing inflation is that it was hiding in financial markets. If those trillions of dollars the Fed pumped into the money supply landed in financial markets, rather than goods and services markets, then we’d expect to see prices of financial assets rise while prices of goods and services remained steady. Since prices of financial assets aren’t included in inflation calculations, official inflation numbers would remain low despite the massive increase in the money supply. And, if indeed the inflation were hiding in financial markets, then when the covid crisis subsided, that money would start to move out of financial markets and into goods and services markets, causing stock prices to top-out or even fall, while goods and services prices skyrocketed.

And that’s exactly what happened.

In September of 2020, the stock market’s steady upward march faltered, and at the same time, inflation numbers, which were already showing signs of rising, broke out into territory not seen since the 1980s.

A comparison of money growth to prices over the past decade appears to show no link between the money supply and inflation. It appears that it didn’t matter for inflation whether money growth was large or small.

But, if we add together inflation and the growth in the S&P 500 (understanding that the combination is an ad hoc measure), the expected relationship emerges. On average, as the money supply has risen, the sum of inflation and stock price growth has risen also. This suggests that inflation can hide in financial markets, making it appear that increasing the money supply has no deleterious effects.

What comes next?

Defenders of large government will argue that the COVID crisis is simply a hiccup. They will argue that we have a long history of deficit spending combined with low inflation and that, once the supply chain and Ukraine problems are sorted out, we’ll be able to return to business as usual. They’ll argue that we can keep kicking the can down the road.

That’s incorrect. We’ve reached the end of the road, and that end is Social Security. The Social Security board of trustees estimates that Social Security will be insolvent thirteen years from now. At that point, one (or a combination) of three things must happen if Social Security is to continue: (1) payroll taxes must rise by 25 percent; or (2) retiree benefits must be cut by 20 percent; or (3) the Federal Reserve must print an additional $250 billion per year, which, other things equal, would permanently boost inflation even further. 

Social Security’s looming insolvency is a financial fork in the road. One path, increased taxes, leads to more pain for workers. Another path, cutting benefits, leads to more pain for retirees. The third, printing money, leads to more pain for consumers as we all struggle to afford things that were once affordable.

What went wrong?

What went wrong is that we allowed the limited federal government the Founders created to escape its limits. First, politicians discovered that they could win elections by paying off voters with other people’s money. And so modern elections have become contests in which politicians vie with each other to offer “free” stuff to their constituents. “Free” phones, housing, health care, and education are free only to the recipients. Politicians simply force others to pay the bill.

Second, the Supreme Court decided that its job was to “rewrite” the Constitution by reading all manner of things into the document that the plain words on the page didn’t say. Ironically, this began at the same place that the story will ultimately end: Social Security. Politicians and voters wanted Social Security, yet nowhere in Article I, Section 8’s list of federal powers was any mention of establishing a national retirement and disability program. The Supreme Court shot down Social Security. Politicians tried again. The Supreme Court shot it down again. This continued until the Supreme Court finally gave in and concluded that despite the plain words on the page, the Constitution did, after all, empower the federal government to create Social Security. From there, it was simply more of the same to get the CDC, the FDA, the EPA, ATF, and the thousands of federal departments, agencies, programs, and initiatives we have today.

Third, we abandoned the gold standard. Because the quantity of gold is (largely) fixed, when dollars are tied to gold, the quantity of dollars is fixed also. And when the quantity of dollars is fixed, not only can the Fed not wantonly print money, but also the federal government is restrained because the only way it can grow is by taxing the people more. This gives voters an incentive to apply the brakes to runaway government. 

The inflation we feel today is the beginning of the end of a century-long experiment in unlimited government. By kicking the cost of government down the road, generations of politicians have managed to make it look like unlimited government is affordable – possibly even “free.” But we’ve reached the end of the road and found that the people who must ultimately pay for unlimited government is us. Whether through taxes or inflation, pay we will.

*****

This article was published by AIER, American Institute for Economic Research, and is reproduced with permission.

TAKE ACTION

The highly choreographed January 6 Select Committee that is being performed on primetime TV over the next several weeks can only be described as political and partisan trash. It is not about truth or acting in the interests of American citizens. It is about the 2024 election – clear as day.

Please click here to inform our elected leaders how you feel about the partisan travesty unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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On the Road Again

By Bruce Bialosky

As we approached the start of our annual trip to foreign lands, we were excited that the mask mandate for airplane flights was ending the day before our departure. We did not believe the Biden Administration would be foolish enough to extend it; then they did. We were thoroughly dejected. Then we met Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle. And we were exultant.

There were two reasons we were so happy. People being required to wear masks on airplanes is the ultimate act of bureaucratic overreach. Airplanes are the safest place you can be with the best and cleanest recirculated air you can experience. Victory for common sense and science. The second reason we were happy is that it set the Left into a tizzy of gargantuan proportions. They attacked Judge Mizelle, but in the multiple commentaries I read on the issue never once did they comment on the legality of her ruling. Only ad hominin attacks.

“If CDC can’t impose an unintrusive requirement to wear a mask to prevent a virus from going state to state, then it literally has no power to do anything,” said public health law expert Lawrence Gostin, faculty director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. And that was in PBS online, which we pay for. It may be unintrusive to you buddy, but it is not to us. Maybe this guy has not been on a plane for a while, but most people are wearing useless cloth masks anyway so why do they have them on in the first place? Lastly, the CDC does not make laws; they administer laws passed by Congress. Since not one person I have read has said the ruling did not fit the law I am wondering what the problem is.

Robert Kuttner of The American Prospect, a far-Left publication, wrote “I will be flying from Boston to D.C. next week. It is my first air travel in more than two years, and many of the yahoo passengers will be unmasked. I will be wearing a mask, maybe two masks.” He is supposedly part of the intelligentsia.

The worst part is that Biden said he would defer to “the scientists” to make the decision regarding a possible appeal. On its face, this is a reason to throw this guy out of office. We did not elect scientists; we elected you. They consult, and you decide. He still does not get he is President except when he wants to give our money away without clear constitutional authority.

At any rate, we had a delightful, maskless ten-hour flight. Sadly, most of the passengers are still listening to the fearmongering from the Left and wore masks.

After a short layover in London, we headed toward Iceland. There is a lot of talk about Iceland these days. It has really made strides since it entered the world stage in 1986 when it hosted the Reagan – Gorbachev summit in the capital, Reykjavik. This country is now a major draw for tourism and with good reason, after having supported itself on fishing for many years. Just a reminder, it only became a republic eleven days after D-Day.

The Beautiful Wife through her travel blog and travel consulting business has developed many contacts over the years. We still traveled just the two of us, but she consulted with a gentleman who has been to Iceland 25 times and has a business planning travel to Greenland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands (our next destination). We had detailed plans of what to see for our four days in Iceland.

Iceland is a fascinating country of 345,000 people which is the tenth lowest population density in the world. It is 93%, Icelandic natives. It has its own language and currency. Neither of those makes much sense in an ever-shrinking world with four times as many tourists annually as there are residents. It is a thoroughly modern society built on a prehistoric landscape.

When you start driving here (you must drive or bus to tour the area) you see the country is a giant wetland. If this place were the United States, the EPA would make an argument they should control every inch of land. As a Californian, one must adjust as you have no fear of wasting water or energy here. Water is everywhere. This is the only country in the world that is on 100% of renewable energy. It is all geothermal and hydropower. Gavin should take a family vacation here and find out how to replace our current energy sources without medieval windmills. Since they did so much Game of Thrones filming here the windmills would probably make sense.

The country is staggeringly beautiful in a unique way. Driving along the main southern route (1) you do not go far until you see a waterfall, then another and another and another. Some smaller, some larger but they are all over the place. There was one outside our bedroom window at one of our hotels. At least for the southern coast, it is all built on volcanic rock, ice, and sand.

We previously traveled to Southern Africa to see the famous Victoria Falls. Though we did not see a waterfall that size, there were so many beautiful ones here in Iceland. We have been on beaches all over the world where people speak of the whitest sand. Here they have beaches that stretch for miles that are totally black sand.

We had a guide who showed up in our hotel even though his tour was canceled (we had opted to go it alone). It was very fortuitous he was there because he took us to the edge of a volcano that is 14 years past its regular eruption period. When that happens, it will rock the Northern hemisphere. His name is Thor (no joke) and he told us his family heritage was traced back to the Vikings (common here) who settled Iceland about 1,000 years ago. The first Vikings settled here in 870 AD. As the son of a lifetime guide, this gentleman (who was in his late fifties) was a fountain of information.

When we were walking, we told him we had a similar experience last year hiking to see the Silverback gorillas in Uganda. What a contrast. Here they put what appears to be tire chains on your boots (“crampons”) to make sure you do not slip on the ice. The ice is largely black from volcanic activity, but we were still on a glacier.

After getting friendly with him we asked whether he led tours in other languages, and he said yes. We then asked him who were his favorite people to tour. He immediately blurted out – Americans. He said they are the friendliest, happiest people. He told us he goes to a local bar, and he can tell when there are Americans there because the sound of chatter and laughter radiates. He sometimes tours people from other countries, and they spend the entire tour not saying anything or engaging him. Just another reminder we are loved worldwide, and we are blessed to be Americans.

When we were returning to our hotel, he reminded us that Iceland has the best tap water in the world. He grabbed the Beautiful Wife’s water bottle, which was half-empty, stopped the vehicle in the middle of the stream and jumped out, and filled the bottle. It was cold and delicious. There are few places where one will have that experience, not to mention done by a Viking descendent.

Iceland is a special place of unique beauty and picturesque experiences. Bring a warm coat. Don’t look for any shade – there are no trees.

TAKE ACTION

The highly choreographed January 6 Select Committee that is being performed on primetime TV over the next several weeks can only be described as political and partisan trash. It is not about truth or acting in the interests of American citizens. It is about the 2024 election – clear as day.

Please click here to inform our elected leaders how you feel about the partisan travesty unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives.

This Flag Day Remember How High The Stars and Stripes Have Flown! thumbnail

This Flag Day Remember How High The Stars and Stripes Have Flown!

By Editors of CFACT

One of the most iconic images from the Apollo 11 mission is of Buzz Aldrin saluting the American flag on the surface of the Moon. The decision to plant the American flag on the Moon was made rather late in the lead-up to the mission. NASA Administrator Thomas O. Paine created the Committee on Symbolic Activities for the First Lunar Landing and appointed Willis H. Shapley, NASA Associate Deputy Administrator, as its chair on Feb. 25, 1969. The committee received advice from the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, the Archivist of the United States, the NASA Historical Advisory Committee, the Space Council, and congressional committees. The most common suggestion received was to carry an American flag and plant it on the Moon, and that is what the committee recommended to Administrator Paine.

Robert L. Gilruth, Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center in Houston, selected Jack A. Kinzler, Chief of the Technical Services Division, to design a flag and mechanism to allow it to “fly” in the airless lunar environment. With less than three months before the first Moon landing flight, Kinzler, assisted by Deputy Division Chief David L. McCraw, designed the mechanism in just a few days. The flag itself was a standard 3-by-5-foot nylon flag, with the only modification being a hem sewed along its top edge to allow a metal rod to slide through – that gave the flag rigidity in the windless environment so that it appeared to wave. The flag was attached to an 8-foot flagpole that the astronauts planted into the lunar soil.  The vertical and horizontal poles were gold-anodized aluminum tubes. The overall Lunar Flag Assembly (LFA), including a stainless steel case to protect the flag against temperature extremes, weighed 9 pounds 7 ounces. Thomas L. Moser of the Structures and Mechanics Division performed the analysis that showed it would be safe to attach it to the forward landing leg of the Lunar Module (LM) and that it would withstand the heating from the LM’s descent engine during the landing. Moser, Kinzler, and William E. Drummond of the Parachute Support Section carefully folded the flag into its case. Kinzler hand-carried the flag assembly to the Kennedy Space Center where workers attached it to the LM Eagle’s landing leg just three days before launch.

Watch a video of Apollo 11 astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin deploying the American flag on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. The split screen shows the live TV downlink on the left, synchronized with film taken by an automatic camera set up inside the LM on the right. The photograph above is superimposed in the video at the time that Armstrong took it.

    

Left: The Lunar Flag Assembly prior to assembly and installation on the LM Eagle. Middle: Folding the flag, (left to right) Moser,

Drummond, and Kinzler. Right: McCraw demonstrating how the LFA was attached to the LM’s landing leg.

Over the next three years, five more flags joined the one left by Apollo 11. Photographs taken in recent years by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) show that the flags left by Apollo 12, 16, and 17 appear to be still standing. The first flag left by Apollo 11 cannot be seen and is presumably no longer standing. The film taken from inside the LM as the astronauts lifted off from the Moon begins after the LM is already airborne and the flag cannot be seen, but Aldrin claims he caught a glimpse of the flag getting knocked over during liftoff. On the later landings, astronauts planted the flags farther from the LM. The status of the Apollo 14 and 15 flags cannot be determined conclusively, although it looks like the Apollo 14 flag took quite a beating from the LM engine exhaust during liftoff. The flag that Apollo 17 left on the Moon was somewhat unique. It was a flag that went to the Moon and back on Apollo 11, hung on the wall in Mission Control until it made a return trip to the Moon, this time to stay. An identical flag made a round trip on Apollo 17 and now hangs in Mission Control.

  

Left: Apollo 12 Commander Conrad holding the flag at the Ocean of Storms landing site.

Right: Orbital view of the Apollo 12 landing site from LRO taken in 2012 shows the shadow of

the flag (at upper left), indicating that our flag is still there.

  

Left: Apollo 14 Commander Shepard holding the flag at the Fra Mauro landing site.

Right: Apollo 15 Commander Scott saluting the flag at Hadley-Apennine, with the LM Falcon

and Lunar Rover.

  

Left: Apollo 16 Commander Young giving a leaping salute to the flag at Descartes, with the

LM Orion and Lunar Rover in the background. Right: Apollo 17 Commander Cernan holding

the flag at Taurus-Littrow, with the Earth in the background.

The first American flag to leave Earth was aboard Alan B. Shepard’s Mercury-Redstone 3 flight in May 1961. The success of this flight that placed the first American in space inspired President John F. Kennedy to commit the nation to landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth before the end of the decade. The 23- by 36-inch cloth flag came from Cocoa Beach School located near Cape Canaveral, Florida, and was rolled up and stowed in a wire bundle in the Freedom-7 spacecraft. Shepard was not aware the flag was there until after his mission was over. The same flag flew into space again in 1995 aboard the STS-71 Space Shuttle flight, the 100th American crewed mission that also marked the first docking of a U.S. space shuttle to Russia’s Mir space station. After returning from space for a second time, the flag was presented by Shepard and STS-71 commander Robert L. “Hoot” Gibson” for display at the Astronaut Hall of Fame in the Kennedy Space Center’s Visitor Complex, where it remains today.  John H. Glenn’s Friendship-7, the first Mercury orbital flight, was the first spacecraft to have an American flag painted on its outside.

  

Left: The first American flag in space carried aboard Freedom-7 in 1961, on display at the Astronaut

Hall of Fame. Right: The first American flag painted on a spacecraft, Glenn’s Friendship-7, in 1962.


Credits: Smithsonian.

In addition to the American flags carried into space and to the Moon by astronauts, the Stars and Stripes have travelled to all eight planets as well as dwarf planets, asteroids, and comets, carried there by an extensive fleet of robotic explorers. The first flag on the surface of Mars arrived on the Viking 1 Lander, which made its touchdown on the red planet on July 20, 1976, exactly seven years after the Apollo 11 Moon landing, and during America’s Bicentennial year. Five American flags are leaving our solar system, aboard Pioneer 10 and 11, Voyager 1 and 2, and New Horizons. The farthest of those, the one aboard Voyager 1, is currently 11.7 billion miles from Earth.

  

Left: First US flag on Mars in the Viking 1 Lander in 1976. Right: Project Manager John Casani displays

one of the U.S. flags that were placed aboard the two Voyager spacecraft.

With NASA’s plans to go forward to the Moon by 2024, American flags will be returning to the lunar surface, carried there by the next man and the first woman to land on the Moon. And soon thereafter, astronauts will hopefully be carrying American flags to the surface of Mars.

John Uri

NASA Johnson Space Center

This article originally appeared at NASA.

*****

This article was published by CFACT, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and is reproduced with permission.

TAKE ACTION

The highly choreographed January 6 Select Committee that is being performed on primetime TV over the next several weeks can only be described as political and partisan trash. It is not about truth or acting in the interests of American citizens. It is about the 2024 election – clear as day.

Please click here to inform our elected leaders how you feel about the partisan travesty unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Arizona News – June 14, 2022 thumbnail

Arizona News – June 14, 2022

By The Editors

The Prickly Pear will provide current, linked articles about Arizona consistent with our Mission Statement to ‘inform, educate and advocate’. We are an Arizona based website and believe this information should be available to all of our statewide readers.

Maricopa County Tells Residents ‘Educate Yourself’ on LGBTQ+ Ideology

Scottsdale School Club Implementing Controversial Sexuality, Anti-Racist Programming

“Diversity” Requirements: NAU Has Replaced Academic Rigor With Indoctrination

None of Arizona’s Three Universities Ranked Within Top 100 of Best National Universities

Hospital Visitation Right Passes Arizona Senate Without Opposition

A Gas Tax Holiday Is a Gimmicky Talking Point with No Real Long-Term Benefit

West Valley Candidate’s Life Story Inspires Conservative Beliefs And Personal Attacks

A Candidate Comes To Town And Passes Muster

Lake, Finchem ask judge to stop use of electronic voting machines in Arizona

Arizona lawmakers eyeing budget surplus to pay pension debt

TAKE ACTION

The highly choreographed January 6 Select Committee that is being performed on primetime TV over the next several weeks can only be described as political and partisan trash. It is not about truth or acting in the interests of American citizens. It is about the 2024 election – clear as day.

Please click here to inform our elected leaders how you feel about the partisan travesty unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives.

A Conversation About Gun Violence thumbnail

A Conversation About Gun Violence

By Charles M. Strauss

We need to have a conversation about gun violence!

OK, you start.

You hate children!

That’s slander, not a conversation, but go ahead.

Schools should be Gun-Free Zones.

Those signs have been up since 1990. I said then that Gun-Free Zones wouldn’t work, and I was right, wasn’t I? What else?

Background checks!

We’ve had background checks since 1985. I said then that background checks wouldn’t work, and I was right, wasn’t I? Almost all of the mass shooters passed background checks. So, you want to do even more of what hasn’t worked; got it. What else?

Ban assault weapons!

We did that for 10 years; and as I predicted, it didn’t work, did it?

Yes, it did! The president said so!

The president also said he drove an 18-wheeler, graduated at the top of his class, hit a baseball off the wall in Nationals Stadium, was recommended for the Naval Academy, and was arrested in South Africa while protesting apartheid. The president is one of those people who say things that are not true. There is a word for such people; the president is a … you know, the thing. The Department of Justice study concluded the Assault Weapons Ban didn’t do a damn thing. What else do you want to have a conversation about?

If the shooter had not had an AR15, he would not have killed so many children.

Yes, he would have. In most mass shootings, the shooters have used handguns, shotguns, and hunting rifles. When victims are trapped and helpless, weapon type is irrelevant, because the shooter can take his time. What else?

Then ban all guns!

Yeah, that would work as well as banning alcohol did, and how is that War On Drugs coming along? Lots of people have been killed in those noble, well-meaning experiments. Anyway, when psychos don’t have guns, the body count goes up… way up. They use truck bombs (Murrah Building), pressure cooker bombs (Boston Marathon), fire (Happyland Social Club), and vehicles driven into crowds (Waukesha). Why are you proposing something that would cause more people to be killed? Whose side are you on? What else?

Red Flag Laws!

Those have failed just like background checks have. Many of the mass shooters and school shooters were already on the police radar with red flags flying all over the place. Many states already have red flag laws, and mostly they get used by vengeful ex-spouses and co-workers trying to make trouble with false accusations. Because (as you probably don’t know), the essence of a red flag law is taking somebody’s guns away without due process — just an accusation, no hearing, no right to deny the accusation or show exculpatory evidence. Somebody makes an accusation and that automatically makes someone guilty.

But we have to Do Something!

Something stupid and counterproductive, or something that might actually help?

Well, what are your child-hating ideas, you child-hater? Arming teachers?

Glad you have an open mind. Not “arming” teachers, but “allowing” teachers to carry guns if that is their choice. (You’re in favor of choice, right?) Take down those stupid Gun-Free Zone signs, and assure teachers they will not be arrested and fired if they are serious adults who actually want to protect their students.

You are crazy! What other crazy ideas do you have that I have already decided not to listen to?

Long-term, work toward encouraging families with fathers. Almost every mass shooter has come from a family with no father, an absentee father, or a father who was abusive and/or a criminal. There is no correlation between mass shooters and any particular gun or gun law, but there is a strong correlation with fatherlessness.

You hate children! Also, you are a racist.

Thanks for the conversation.

TAKE ACTION

The highly choreographed January 6 Select Committee that is being performed on primetime TV over the next several weeks can only be described as political and partisan trash. It is not about truth or acting in the interests of American citizens. It is about the 2024 election – clear as day.

Please click here to inform our elected leaders how you feel about the partisan travesty unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Cheney Seals Her Doom With Wyoming Voters at Jan 6 Show Trial thumbnail

Cheney Seals Her Doom With Wyoming Voters at Jan 6 Show Trial

By Bob Adelmann

Liz Cheney effectively ended her political career in Wyoming Thursday evening. As co-chair of the January 6 committee (which Democrat lawyer Alan Dershowitz dismissed as a “kangaroo court”), she called the January 6, 2021 protest and riot an “invasion” of the Capitol aided and abetted by President Donald Trump. She said Trump “claim[ed] that the election was stolen,” which justified the “invasion.”

Two recent polls have revealed the growing support among Wyoming Republican voters — who make up three-quarters of the electorate in the Cowboy State — for Cheney’s opponent in the August 16 Republican primary, Harriet Hageman. The latest, conducted by Tony Fabrizio with results released on Monday, reported:

Over the past six months, Harriet Hageman has become known to nearly all Wyoming [Republican Primary Voters], and as she has done so, her net favorable image has increased from +21 to +29.

A 58% majority now view her favorably while just 29% have an unfavorable opinion.

The incumbent, four-term representative Cheney, on the other hand, has lost what little ground she previously occupied among those voters:

Conversely, the already unpopular Congresswoman Liz Cheney has become even more disliked, with her net favorable falling from -40 to -47.

A whopping 73% of GOP primary voters have an unfavorable view of Cheney, including 66% who view her very unfavorably.

Fabrizio allayed any fears that Cheney could somehow pull out a victory in the primary by appealing to the few Democrats and Independents in the state to change their party affiliations and register as Republicans the day of the election:

Hageman has successfully captured the bulk of these anti-Cheney voters by winning over undecideds and some Bouchard [third candidate running] voters, leaving little doubt as to whom will win this race….

Harriet Hageman is now the overwhelming favorite to remove Liz Cheney from Congress.

The disaster awaiting Cheney in August could be even worse. Fabrizio’s survey occurred before Cheney’s remarks on Thursday night. And, when asked, “Do you approve or disapprove of the job Liz Cheney is doing as Congresswoman?” 70 percent of those polled by Fabrizio disapproved.

A straw poll conducted by the Wyoming State Central Committee in January showed Hageman winning 59 votes and Cheney only six.

*****

This article was published by The New American and is reprinted with permission.

TAKE ACTION

The highly choreographed January 6 Select Committee that is being performed on primetime TV over the next several weeks can only be described as political and partisan trash. It is not about truth or acting in the interests of American citizens. It is about the 2024 election – clear as day.

Please click here to inform our elected leaders how you feel about the partisan travesty unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives.

AIER’s Everyday Price Index Rises a Record 12.8 Percent Over the Last 12 Months thumbnail

AIER’s Everyday Price Index Rises a Record 12.8 Percent Over the Last 12 Months

By Robert Hughes

Editors’ Note: There are different ways to calculate inflation. Unfortunately, the government tends to dominate the field with its CPI or Consumer Price Index. But the government is often not an unbiased observer. For one thing, the government changes its methodology from time to time, making historic comparisons challenging. Government historically causes inflation in most cases through excessive monetary creation to fund its chronic inability to control spending. As a consequence, they have a vested interest in downplaying the blowback they get from an angry public. In the realm of a conflict of interest,  Social Security benefit adjustments are indexed to their numbers, hence they have a financial interest in understating inflation. So critics think they tinker with the data, especially using hedonic accounting. This is an attempt to correct for quality changes that occur over time. They also can manipulate the weighting of the index. They also use rental equivalence as opposed to the outright cost of real estate. AIER some years ago developed its own proprietary index and it has been quite good at assessing inflation closer to reality.  Right now, they suggest prices are up over 12% while the government suggests they are up about 8.5%.  That is a whopping difference of almost 50%. If you choose to accept government numbers that is your privilege. The CPI still shows a very serious inflationary problem.  However, private indices show the problem is much worse, and that is a real concern. If AIER is correct, we are now in a rare double-digit inflation crisis. These levels can create social chaos as inflation is like a compound interest curve in reverse. A 10%  inflation rate, would mean our money would lose half of its purchasing power in just a little over seven years. That can wipe out the savings of the middle class and lead to social revolution. It is a tremendous burden on the elderly on a fixed income who live mostly on savings. With the Biden Administration, like so many issues, a good case can be made that either it is the result of stupidity or it is intentional to create the environment for radical change. Either way, it is irresponsibility of the highest order.

AIER’s Everyday Price surged 2.1 percent in May after a 0.5 percent increase in April, a 3.0 percent jump in March, and a 1.3 percent gain in February. Over the first five months of 2022, the EPI is up at an annualized rate of 20.6 percent. From a year ago, the Everyday Price Index is up 12.8 percent, the fastest on record dating back to 1987.

Price increases continue to be generally broad-based with 19 components showing gains versus four showing declines, and one unchanged in May. Motor fuel prices, which are often a significant driver of the monthly changes in the Everyday Price index because of the large weighting in the index and the volatility of the underlying commodity, led the gainers with a 7.8 percent rice rise for the month (on a not-seasonally adjusted basis), contributing 108 basis points to the monthly increase.

Household fuels and utilities were the second-largest contributors in May, adding 43 basis points, followed by a 34-basis-point contribution from food at home, and an 11-basis-point contribution from food away from home (restaurants). The remaining contributions were four basis points or less.

The Everyday Price Index including apparel, a broader measure that includes clothing and shoes, rose 2.0 percent in May after gaining 0.4 percent in April, 2.8 percent in March, and 1.4 percent in February, contributing to an annualized rate of rise of 20.0 percent for the first five months of 2022. Over the past year, the Everyday Price Index including apparel is up 12.2 percent, also a record high back to 1987.

Apparel prices fell 0.1 percent on a not-seasonally-adjusted basis in May. Apparel prices tend to be volatile on a month-to-month basis. From a year ago, apparel prices are up 5.0 percent.

The Consumer Price Index, which includes everyday purchases as well as infrequently purchased, big-ticket items and contractually fixed items, rose 1.1 percent on a not-seasonally-adjusted basis in May. Over the past year, the Consumer Price Index is up 8.6 percent, the fastest pace since December 1981.

The Consumer Price Index excluding food and energy rose 0.6 percent for the month (not seasonally adjusted) while the 12-month change came in at 6.0 percent. The 12-month change in the core CPI was just 1.3 percent in February 2021 and 2.3 percent in January 2020, before the pandemic.

After seasonal adjustment, the CPI rose 1.0 percent in May while the core increased 0.6 percent for the month. Within the core, core goods prices were up 0.7 percent in May and are up 8.5 percent from a year ago. Significant increases for the month were seen in used cars and trucks (1.8 percent), pet food (1.6 percent), motor vehicle parts and equipment (1.5 percent), new cars (1.1 percent), new trucks (1.0 percent), and sporting goods (0.9 percent).

Core services prices were up 0.6 percent for the month and are up 5.2 percent from a year ago. Among core services, gainers include airfares (up 12.6 percent for the month and 37.8 percent from a year ago), health insurance (up 2.0 percent and 13.8 percent from a year ago), cable and satellite television services (1.3 percent and 5.8 percent from a year ago), other lodging away from home including hotels (up 0.9 percent for the month and 19.3 percent from a year ago), car and truck rentals (up 0.8 percent and 10.4 percent from a year ago), and owners’ equivalent rent (which accounts for 23.8 percent of the CPI, rose 0.6 percent for the month and 5.1 percent from a year ago).

Price pressures for many goods and services in the economy remain elevated due to shortages of supplies and materials, logistical and supply chain issues, and labor shortages and turnover. Sustained elevated price increases are likely distorting economic activity by influencing consumer and business decisions. Furthermore, price pressures have resulted in a new Fed tightening cycle, raising the risk of a policy mistake. In addition, turmoil surrounding the Russian invasion of Ukraine and renewed lockdowns in China are sustaining a high level of uncertainty for the economic outlook. Caution is warranted.

TAKE ACTION

The highly choreographed January 6 Select Committee that is being performed on primetime TV over the next several weeks can only be described as political and partisan trash. It is not about truth or acting in the interests of American citizens. It is about the 2024 election – clear as day.

Please click here to inform our elected leaders how you feel about the partisan travesty unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Disney Doubles Down On LGBTQ Programming With ‘Lightyear’ And More thumbnail

Disney Doubles Down On LGBTQ Programming With ‘Lightyear’ And More

By Josh Sheperd

Same-sex romance is prominent in the latest ‘Toy Story’ entry, and Disney Plus has several LGBTQ-themed films and series coming out.

Disney is going all-out in joining leftists’ June celebration of Pride Month, making same-sex themes central to a new “Toy Story” feature film spin-off, and adding more than 100 hours of LGBTQ titles to family-targeted streamer Disney Plus. 

After advance screenings, critics say animated space adventure “Lightyear” — opening in theaters on June 17 — “takes queer representation to infinity and beyond,” to quote USA Today, highlighting that a lesbian couple “at one point [greets] each other with a kiss on the lips.”

Following backlash over Disney creative executives discussing their ongoing efforts at “queering” children’s entertainment, it seems Disney has decided to dismiss the concerns of many conservative parents. That collective shrug in Hollywood could be missing the big picture. A Harris Poll released in late May ranking the nation’s Top 100 brands found that The Walt Disney Company dropped from 37th to 65th place in reputation just since last year. 

“Disney’s about-face shows the reputational hit that comes when the public perceives you as being calculating rather than clear in what you believe in and stand for,” said Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema. Disney also recently reported less-than-stellar streaming subscription growth.

Entertainment critic for faith-based outlet Crosswalk Michael Foust says the clash of cultural mores between Hollywood and faith-driven families has been building for years. “Disney does not operate from a biblical worldview, so it is no surprise that it keeps offering content that frustrates many in the faith community,” he stated via email.

Melissa Jacobs and her husband, Jeremy, raising seven children in St. Louis, canceled Disney Plus this spring. While the family has enjoyed shows like “Bluey,” along with Star Wars and Marvel films, she stated that “the direction Disney was leaning” prompted their decision.

“Many of their programs no longer have a traditional family and instead highlight and celebrate queer, transgender, and homosexual characters,” she stated. “In many shows, kids are openly disrespectful to their parents. It’s all contrary to what we are trying to teach our children.”

Christians Object to Plot Twist in ‘Toy Story’ Franchise

The first Pixar production to hit theaters in more than two years, “Lightyear” is tied loosely to beloved “Toy Story” films. It’s billed as young Andy’s favorite movie, the one that compelled him to cast aside his cowboy Woody in the original 1995 film.

Reading between the lines of some critics’ effusive praise, families get the plot’s general drift. Sent on a peacekeeping mission, space ranger Buzz and his co-pilot Alisha face off against aliens on a strange planet. When subsequent damage to their ship maroons them for years, stranded Alisha meets a female romantic interest and the two “start a family together.”

For the Jacobs family, fans of past “Toy Story” films, “Lightyear” won’t be a summer outing to the multiplex. The mother of seven is author of “Livin’ the Dream,” which includes their story of adopting a daughter. She says the Bible guides their views on sex, marriage, and family.

“As a mom, I can see clearly that there are needs my children have that only I can fill,” stated Melissa. “Meanwhile, there are needs they have that only their dad can fill.” She added that single-parent friends of their family “seek out support” so their kids have “both a mother-type figure and father-type figure” involved in their lives.

Similarly, Foust, who is raising four kids with his wife in rural Illinois, observed cultural trends run counter to Chrisitan theology on marriage and sexuality. “Hollywood may consider us strange for even questioning the content of ‘Lightyear,’ but that shouldn’t surprise us,” said Foust. “After all, 2,000 years ago the Apostle Peter reminded us that we are ‘strangers’ and ‘temporary residents’ in this world.”

Two of the filmmakers behind “Lightyear” — director Angus MacLane and producer Galyn Susman — are “Toy Story” franchise veterans who say they’re eager to make something “exciting and awesome.” MacLane says they didn’t want the LGBTQ plotline to be “a superfluous thing” but an “accurate representation.”

If anyone is puzzled by this being the flick supposedly referenced in 1995’s “Toy Story,” while reflecting cultural mores far left of the mainstream in that era, producer Susman explained: “Though it’s the film Andy saw, we were still making it for today’s generation.”

Promoting Alternative Lifestyles to Children

Will many families forgo a much-hyped movie featuring favorite spaceman Buzz? For those who are Disney Plus subscribers, it’s merely the start of new additions to navigate during Pride Month.

In June, six seasons of “Glee,” three seasons of “Love, Victor,” and LGBTQ-themed “Trevor: The Musical” will be added to the streamer’s Pride Collection. (Last year, Pixar’s short “Out” with similar themes premiered.) Such a deluge of titles involving same-sex romance among minors could prompt some to readjust parental controls or bail on Disney Plus altogether.

Foust, an evangelical Christian, says believers uphold the dignity and worth of every person. It’s praising sin to children that is problematic. “We are to love our neighbors unconditionally — while not being conformed to this world by the entertainment we consume,” he stated.

No Christians Wanted

Disney’s leftist drift seems to be accelerating. As part of an initiative called Reimagine Tomorrow, Disney outlines its association with LGBTQ advocacy groups like GLAAD. Reporting on this initiative, the Los Angeles Times linked to a letter by current Disney employees who have chosen to remain anonymous. 

“As much as diversity and inclusion are promoted, the tomorrow being reimagined doesn’t seem to have much room for religious or political conservatives within the company,” state these Disney cast members. “This politicization of our corporate culture is damaging morale and causing many of us to feel our days with [Disney] might be numbered.”

Several players in family entertainment, such as Angel Studios and GAC Family, are working to produce and distribute films and shows that appeal to families who object to Disney’s direction.

This all reflects how entertainment continues to splinter to reach varied audiences, said Foust. “More and more, it is obvious that if the faith community wants entertainment framed within a biblical worldview, the faith community alone must produce it.”

*****

TAKE ACTION

The highly choreographed January 6 Select Committee that is being performed on primetime TV over the next several weeks can only be described as political and partisan trash. It is not about truth or acting in the interests of American citizens. It is about the 2024 election – clear as day.

Please click here to inform our elected leaders how you feel about the partisan travesty unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Could Chile Turn Its Back on Freedom? thumbnail

Could Chile Turn Its Back on Freedom?

By Ken Veit

Editors’ Note: Chile is a beautiful country, as is the United States of America. This article is clearly about America as much as it is about the potential loss of liberty and a far leftist takeover in Chile. The parallels are stunning with actors like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and the radical progressives (Obama inspired) driving the out-of-control Biden presidential bus. It is an important read and an important message for freedom loving, hard working, and law abiding American citizens who believe in the foundational principles of individual sovereignty and the rule of constitutional law that has guided the greatest experiment in governing by consent of ‘We the People’.

Most people outside of South America do not follow trends there very closely. You may not be aware that democracy and freedom are being threatened in the most successful country in Latin America: Chile. That development threatens us here as well.

A quick history lesson. In 1970, Chile became the first country to freely elect what became a Communist government under Salvador Allende. The Chilenos did not want Communism. Allende was elected with only a little more than a third of the total votes when the other two candidates split the Conservative vote. Allende quickly became a puppet of the extreme left, and the country spiraled into chaos, pushed along by Henry Kissinger and the CIA. Things got so bad in terms of inflation, unemployment, etc. that on August 22, 1973, Congress by a large majority asked the armed forces to put an end to multiple violations of the Constitution.  General Augusto Pinochet staged a coup d’etat on September 11, 1973, ousting Allende who shot himself in the Presidential palace.

Pinochet became dictator until 1989 when he freely relinquished office after honest elections. He gets a bad press in the U.S. because of the brutal methods he used to suppress the Communists, who were not about to give up power easily. It was during the Pinochet era that I was traveling regularly to Chile. The reality on the ground was quite different from what we NorteAmericanos were told by our media.

Anyone could walk around the cities and talk freely about politics and the government, as long as you did not promote insurrection. If you did, you might find that the Police would come down on you with una mano dura (an iron fist). But for the most part, there was no censorship. Restaurants were full. Most people led normal lives and were comfortable speaking their minds.

Most people liked Pinochet. He quickly restored order from chaos. I asked friends how they felt about the allegations of brutality, which were true. None approved of it, but generally, I was told, “You weren’t here. Anything is better than how it was under Allende.” What was so bad about him? It was largely the fact that he promised everything to everyone for free, all at Government expense. Naturally, this was popular with the poor and the uneducated, but it was totally unsustainable. The economy collapsed.

Pinochet hired a group of economists from the University of Chicago, disciples of Milton Friedman, to come down and tell him how to straighten things out. Among other things, they revamped their Social Security System which was bankrupt. Taxes were still collected, but instead of turning the money over to the politicians to spend, a group of companies was allowed to compete to be managers of the pension funds that were seen to belong to the individual citizens. This was how I became involved, as my company became one of those investment managers.

The program was wildly successful. Chile became one of the few countries anywhere that had a public pension system that was not built on smoke and mirrors. Among other things we established a system where individuals could go to a public kiosk, punch in their Social Security ID, and learn exactly how much they had accumulated on their behalf.

Not everyone was happy, however. The Pinochet reforms primarily benefited those who worked. Chilenos are serious people. If you work, you benefit. If you don’t, you can’t look to the Government to take care of you. This is anathema to people who see society as a global village where everyone is responsible for everyone. Politics is usually about the division of the spoils, and inevitably the pendulum of power swings back and forth between those who are content with the way things are and those who would like things to be more favorable to their interests.

After Pinochet, Chile tried Governments of the Left and of the Right over the next 30 years, but generally, they did not stray too far from the precepts of Milton Friedman. People always speak of Chile as a model for South American governments, which historically have tended to be either corrupt or inept.

In the last few years, however, the gap between the Haves and the Have-nots has widened dangerously. This is a global phenomenon that threatens to topple Governments. With the Internet, social media, and cell phones ubiquitous, public opinion and public action can be mobilized rapidly.

In Chile, the Have-nots are rising. Not surprisingly, they resent the fact that those who have been contributing and saving for retirement are in better financial condition than they are. Chile’s social safety net is not satisfactory. With rising power, those on the political Left have forced a Constitutional rewriting. Recently, a 600-page draft was released which, if adopted, would put the country back on the path they abandoned when Allende fell.

Among other things, the draft calls for a more socially just allocation of retirement assets. Put bluntly, that would mean giving the Government the power to seize all the accumulated retirement assets of individuals and spread the money around to the less fortunate. Another name for confiscation is “theft”, but to the apostles of social justice, this is dismissed as just an excuse for keeping poor people down.

In today’s world, to be poor is seen as being a victim of elites in an unjust society, which is translated into having rights denied. As more and more people come to see themselves as victims, they are increasingly using the political system for a redress of grievances over rights denied.

“Rights” are things to which one has a proper claim. Some, like freedom of religion, if enshrined in law, are ours to enjoy without regard to anyone else. But many rights also place obligations on others to facilitate or pay for those benefits or alter their behavior. The so-called right to health care, or the right to security in old age, involve costs that have to be paid for somehow by someone. In other words, many rights are affected by the political process that determines obligations associated with those rights.

Increasingly, politicians and judges have invented rights like the right to privacy, the right to an abortion, etc. It is not so much a matter of appropriateness as it is a matter of funding. This largely depends on political power. This is what is playing out in Chile. The proposed new Constitution is full of rights, but vague on how they will be financed. Chilenos will vote in September. Most likely, few will have actually read the entire document, relying instead on political slogans.

What has this to do with the United States? Politicians like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are at the forefront of politicians proclaiming the existence of many rights on the grounds of morality. Their answer to the question of who pays is the greedy rich and greedy corporations. Chilean politicians make similar arguments. Isn’t it immoral for some to have so much more than they could ever need when so many are currently in desperate need? The BLM movement argues that many of the great corporations and great fortunes were built on the backs of slaves, and therefore reparations are in order to right old wrongs. Proposed “wealth taxes” are merely confiscation by another name.

These are powerful arguments that swing voters, ignorant of the fatal flaws inherent in what is essentially a Communist core belief. (“To each according to his needs from each according to his ability.”)

There are no easy answers. However, I was disturbed by a recent article in the Wall Street Journal that highlights the potential fragility of Capitalism in our time. Jamie Dimon, the popular CEO of JPMorgan-Chase Bank was awarded a $52.6 million dollar “special” bonus on top of his regular compensation of $32 million. That doubled his pay from the previous year. Now Dimon had not invented a cure for cancer or “saved” JPM in a time of great financial peril. He had simply done a good job, as he usually does.

Shareholders overwhelmingly refused to approve the special bonus. However, the Journal calmly reported that it is doubtful he will give it back. Jamie is not like a baseball pitcher who argues he should get a bonus because when he pitches the attendance always goes up. Dimon manages a large bank and does it well. It is unquestionably a challenging task. But $80+ million dollars?

I don’t believe that Chilean corporations pay their CEOs as lavishly. But the Dimon incident gives ammunition to those who find the “wealth gap” intolerable. As political power shifts back and forth, those of us who believe in Capitalism would be well advised to minimize examples of excesses that fan the flames of resentment. The mob always has the power of numbers.

Watch the Chilean referendum on the new Constitution carefully. The vote will be on September 4. The betting is that it will not be approved because it goes too far to the Left. But you never know. The winds of change will still be blowing even if it is defeated.

TAKE ACTION

The highly choreographed January 6 Select Committee that is being performed on primetime TV over the next several weeks can only be described as political and partisan trash. It is not about truth or acting in the interests of American citizens. It is about the 2024 election – clear as day.

Please click here to inform our elected leaders how you feel about the partisan travesty unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Housing Bubble Ready to Pop thumbnail

Housing Bubble Ready to Pop

By Wolf Richter

Mortgage applications to purchase a home drop to lockdown lows. “Bad Time to Buy” hits record amid sky-high prices, spiking mortgage rates. refinance mortgage applications collapsed to the lowest since the year 2000.

This just keeps getting worse: Applications for mortgages to purchase a home dropped 7% for the week, and were down 21% from a year ago, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported today. An indicator of future home sales: Potential homebuyers try to get pre-approved for a mortgage, lock in a mortgage rate, and then start house-hunting.

Mortgage rates have soared this year, and home prices have soared for years to ridiculous levels, causing layers and layers of potential buyers to abandon the market, amid “worsening affordability challenges,” as the MBA called it. And these applications to purchase a home hit the lowest point since the depth of the lockdown in April 2020 (data via Investing.com):

The MBA’s Purchase Mortgage Applications Index has now dropped below the lows of late 2018. By November 2018, the Fed had been hiking rates for years (slowly), its QT was in full swing, and mortgage rates had edged above 5%, which was enough to begin shaking up the housing market. Home sales volume slowed, prices began to come down in some markets, and stocks were selling off. But with inflation below the Fed’s target, and with Trump, who’d taken ownership of the Dow, constantly throwing darts at Powell, the Fed signaled in December 2018 that it would cave, and instantly mortgage rates began to fall, and volume and prices took off again.

Today, raging inflation is the #1 economic issue, and the Fed is chasing after it, with backing from the White House, so this issue in the housing market is just going to have to play out.

Holy-Moly Mortgage Rates

The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate with conforming balances and 20% down rose to 5.40% this week, according to the MBA today, having been in this 5.4% range, plus or minus a little, since the end of April, the highest since 2009.

I call them holy-moly mortgage rates because that’s the reaction you get when you apply this rate to figure a mortgage payment for a home at current prices and then accidentally look at the resulting mortgage payment (data via Investing.com):

“Bad time to buy a home.”

Turns out, sky-high home prices to be financed with holy-moly mortgage rates, plus uncertainty about the economy, dropping stock prices, and inflation eating everyone’s lunch make a toxic mix for homebuyers.

The percentage of people who said that now is a “bad time to buy” a home jumped to 79%, another record-worst in the data going back to 2010, according to Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey for May. Sentiment has been deteriorating since February 2021.

*****

Continue reading this article at Wolf Street.

TAKE ACTION

The highly choreographed January 6 Select Committee that is being performed on primetime TV over the next several weeks can only be described as political and partisan trash. It is not about truth or acting in the interests of American citizens. It is about the 2024 election – clear as day.

Please click here to inform our elected leaders how you feel about the partisan travesty unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Housing Bubble Getting Ready to Pop: Mortgage Applications to Purchase a Home Drop to Lockdown Lows, “Bad Time to Buy” Hits Record amid Sky-High Prices, Spiking Mortgage Rates thumbnail

Housing Bubble Getting Ready to Pop: Mortgage Applications to Purchase a Home Drop to Lockdown Lows, “Bad Time to Buy” Hits Record amid Sky-High Prices, Spiking Mortgage Rates

By Wolf Richter

Refinance mortgage applications collapsed to the lowest since the year 2000

This just keeps getting worse: Applications for mortgages to purchase a home dropped 7% for the week, and were down 21% from a year ago, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported today. An indicator of future home sales: Potential homebuyers try to get pre-approved for a mortgage, lock in a mortgage rate, and then start house-hunting.

Mortgage rates have soared this year, and home prices have soared for years to ridiculous levels, causing layers and layers of potential buyers to abandon the market, amid “worsening affordability challenges,” as the MBA called it. And these applications to purchase a home hit the lowest point since the depth of the lockdown in April 2020 (data via Investing.com):

The MBA’s Purchase Mortgage Applications Index has now dropped below the lows of late 2018. By November 2018, the Fed had been hiking rates for years (slowly), its QT was in full swing, and mortgage rates had edged above 5%, which was enough to begin shaking up the housing market. Home sales volume slowed, prices began to come down in some markets, and stocks were selling off. But with inflation below the Fed’s target, and with Trump, who’d taken ownership of the Dow, constantly throwing darts at Powell, the Fed signaled in December 2018 that it would cave, and instantly mortgage rates began to fall, and volume and prices took off again.

Today, raging inflation is the #1 economic issue, and the Fed is chasing after it, with backing from the White House, so this issue in the housing market is just going to have to play out.

Holy-Moly Mortgage Rates

The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate with conforming balances and 20% down rose to 5.40% this week, according to the MBA today, having been in this 5.4% range, plus or minus a little, since the end of April, the highest since 2009.

I call them holy-moly mortgage rates because that’s the reaction you get when you apply this rate to figure a mortgage payment for a home at current prices and then accidentally look at the resulting mortgage payment (data via Investing.com):

“Bad time to buy a home.”

Turns out, sky-high home prices to be financed with holy-moly mortgage rates, plus uncertainty about the economy, dropping stock prices, and inflation eating everyone’s lunch make a toxic mix for homebuyers.

The percentage of people who said that now is a “bad time to buy” a home jumped to 79%, another record-worst in the data going back to 2010, according to Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey for May. Sentiment has been deteriorating since February 2021.

*****

Continue reading this article at Wolf Street.

TAKE ACTION

The highly choreographed January 6 Select Committee that is being performed on primetime TV over the next several weeks can only be described as political and partisan trash. It is not about truth or acting in the interests of American citizens. It is about the 2024 election – clear as day.

Please click here to inform our elected leaders how you feel about the partisan travesty unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Today’s Left Opposes Everything Jimmy Carter Proposed on Elections thumbnail

Today’s Left Opposes Everything Jimmy Carter Proposed on Elections

By Hayden Ludwig

Two decades ago, a commission chaired by Jimmy Carter and James Baker III proposed sensible election reforms. Today’s Democrats oppose them all.

Believe it or not, the nation could learn a few things about how to run elections from Jimmy Carter.

In 2005, Carter co-authored a study on America’s election systems with James Baker III, who ran George H.W. Bush’s 1980 primary campaign against Carter and later served as Ronald Reagan’s treasury secretary and chief of staff. The resulting Baker-Carter Commission report still stands as a monument to how to run free, fair, transparent elections—which makes it all the sadder that today’s leftists bitterly oppose everything the report proposed.

Contradictions

For example, the Baker-Carter report warned about mail-in ballots, flatly contradicting the views held by today’s leftists that vote by mail is key to increasing voter participation. Baker-Carter says otherwise: “While vote-by-mail appears to increase turnout for local elections, there is no evidence that it significantly expands participation in federal elections.” (Recent studies suggest the same.)

Those activists also claim that vote-by-mail and private collection bins helped make 2020 the “most secure election in U.S. history.” Baker-Carter: “Vote-by-mail is . . . likely to increase the risks of fraud and of contested elections” in the states, especially where the “safeguards for ballot integrity are weaker.”

In short, mail-in ballots can work in some spots, but not everywhere—particularly in areas with a high risk of ballot trafficking.

Baker-Carter Recommendations

Instead, Baker-Carter proposed five pillars as the foundation of a “modern electoral system”:

  1. “A universal and up-to-date [voter] registration list,”
  2. “A uniform voter identification system that . . . increases, not impedes, participation,”
  3. “Measures to enhance ballot integrity and voter access,”
  4. “A voter-verifiable paper trail and improved security of voting systems,” and
  5. “Electoral institutions that are impartial, professional, and independent.”

Anyone familiar with today’s election battles knows that the Left has consistently opposed all these measures.

The Electoral System We Have

The states’ voter rolls are notoriously flawed, riddled with the names of people who’ve died or moved. Efforts to clean them up have been attacked by Democrats. For example, as one of the last acts of the Obama administration, Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department tried to block Ohio from purging its voter rolls, claiming it would discourage minority turnout. (Trump officials reversed the federal government’s position in 2017, and the Supreme Court upheld Ohio’s practice a year later.)

What about voter ID laws? Last June, the Biden administration sued Georgia and Texas for implementing “voter suppression” bills that require—among other things—voter ID for mail-in ballots.

Improving voter access is about the only recommendation on this list that today’s Left supports—but not if it means improving ballot integrity and security. Democrats went all in on mail-in ballots to defeat President Trump in 2020, effectively turning it into the country’s first all-mail election in many places. Yet mail-in and absentee ballots are extremely vulnerable to ballot harvesting since there’s rarely any oversight from the time the ballots are sent out to when election officials collect them. In many cases, establishing a paper trail is impossible, particularly in places with privately funded drop boxes, which enable illegal ballot harvesters to prey on the poor and elderly, claiming to “assist” while really stealing their votes.

In the last election, we learned just how far left-wing activists will go to taint election offices when the Mark Zuckerberg–funded Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) dumped $350 million into thousands of local elections offices in the fall of 2020. These COVID-19 “relief grants” effectively privatized the election in battleground states, including Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Georgia, where “Zuck bucks” overwhelmingly favored Democratic vote-rich counties.

For example, in Georgia, we found that CTCL spent an average of $5.33 per capita in Biden counties and only $1.41 in Trump counties. Over 94 percent of the $42 million in Zuck bucks that flowed to Georgia went to counties Biden won.

I doubt that even CTCL believes that private money from a partisan mega-donor encourages “electoral institutions that are impartial, professional, and independent.”

But Wait, There’s More

The Baker-Carter report was paid for by a set of liberal foundations, many with familiar names: Carnegie Corporation of New YorkFord FoundationKnight Foundation, and the Omidyar Network, which is bankrolled by eBay founder and liberal billionaire Pierre Omidyar.

Omidyar himself sits on the board of Nonprofit VOTE, which registers voters to advance “racial equity.” Speaking of Hawaii specifically, Omidyar et al. tellingly argued, “If we want to get out the vote, we’ve got to mail it in.”

We’ve traced grants from these foundations to a host of groups demanding Americans oppose the very policies proposed in the Baker-Carter report:

  • State Voices, which coordinates get-out-the-vote campaigns among likely Democratic voters and endorsed the John Lewis Voting Rights Act (H.R. 4), which would give the Justice Department control of the redistricting process in many (mostly Southern) states.
  • Rock the Vote, which registers young, left-leaning voters to push for socialized health care, abortion rights, and legalizing marijuana and encouraged them to vote by mail in 2020.
  • National Vote at Home Institute, one of the top groups responsible for normalizing vote by mail on the Left. Its former head, Amber McReynolds, sits on the oversight board for the U.S. Postal Service with the aim of transforming it into the Democrats’ premier mail-in ballot machine.
  • Demos, which wants federal agencies to register voters for mail-in ballots and to spend $10 billion to expand vote-by-mail nationwide.
  • Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), which spent roughly $350 million to virtually privatize the 2020 election in key battleground states.
  • Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR), which accepted close to $70 million from Mark Zuckerberg to fund state get-out-the-vote and “voter education” drives in 2020. CEIR is run by David Becker, a former activist for the far-left group People for the American Way. We’ve traced its grants to a $2 million campaign to turn out Democratic-leaning voters in Baltimore and counties neighboring Washington, DC.
  • Center for Civic Design, which redesigns ballots to help Democratic voters, particularly non-English speakers. One of its key recommendations to policymakers: permanent vote by mail, with advice from its partner the National Vote at Home Institute.
  • Trusted Elections Fund, a “pop-up” campaign run by the Arabella Advisors “dark money” network. A secret donors’ memo reveals the group’s goal to stop “viral misinformation” and “post-Election Day violence” by angry Trump supporters.
  • Safe Voting Fund, another Arabella-run “pop-up” that promoted vote by mail to keep voting “safe” in 2020.
  • Center for Secure and Modern Elections (CSME), which demands automatic voter registration and hired Democratic consultants to help funnel Zuck bucks to county elections officials in at least two states in 2020.
  • Secure Democracy, which wants more drop boxes for mail-in ballots, looser absentee voting laws, and restoration of voting rights to felons.

But this shouldn’t surprise anyone who paid attention to the last election cycle and the Left’s shenanigans.

*****

This article was published by Capital Research and is reproduced with permission.

TAKE ACTION

The highly choreographed January 6 Select Committee that is being performed on primetime TV over the next several weeks can only be described as political and partisan trash. It is not about truth or acting in the interests of American citizens. It is about the 2024 election – clear as day.

Please click here to inform our elected leaders how you feel about the partisan travesty unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Why Handwritten FBI And DOJ Notes The Special Counsel Just Released Are Huge thumbnail

Why Handwritten FBI And DOJ Notes The Special Counsel Just Released Are Huge

By Margot Cleveland

Recently released handwritten notes reveal the FBI either lied or U.K. intelligence fed information to the U.S. agents investigating Donald Trump and his associates.

Recently released handwritten notes from a briefing of the acting attorney general on the status of Crossfire Hurricane reveal the FBI either lied about the source of intel or the British intelligence community fed information to the U.S. agents investigating Donald Trump and his associates.

As part of the pre-trial discovery in the government’s prosecution of former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, the special counsel provided defense lawyers notes taken on March 6, 2017, during a high-level briefing of acting Attorney General Dana Boente about the then-ongoing investigation into supposed Russia collusion.

Boente, who held oversight of the DOJ and FBI related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation because of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal, received an update during the meeting from the FBI’s then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, then-assistant director of the FBI Counterintelligence Division Bill Priestap, and Counterintelligence Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok. DOJ officials Tashina Gauhar, Mary McCord, and Scott Schools took notes during the briefing, and those notes became public during the Sussmann trial that ended in an acquittal last week.

Soon after the release of the notes, Hans Mahncke and Stephen McIntyre detailed for The Federalist, several passages that indicated the FBI had lied to the DOJ during the March 6, 2017 meeting in numerous ways. From the cryptic notes, Mahncke and McIntyre deciphered and exposed several significant false storylines sold to the acting attorney general, making their article a must-read.

While any lies, misrepresentations, or material omissions matter—or should, especially when told to the acting attorney general related to an investigation connected to the president of the United States, the note’s references to “CROWN reporting” prove particularly significant because of the FISA court’s insistence that the DOJ included Christopher Steele’s background as an MI6 agent in the FISA application prior to the secret surveillance court issuing an order to surveil Carter Page.

The phrase “CROWN Reporting” appeared multiple times in one set of handwritten notes taken during McCabe, Priestap, and Strzok’s March 6, 2017, FBI briefing of the DOJ and Acting Attorney General Boente. Next to “CROWN Reporting,” the notes referenced “convention,” Crimea” and “NATO” and “soften stance for exchange of Russian energy stocks.” These notations fell under the header of points related to Manafort.

A second reference to “CROWN source reporting” came during the FBI’s briefing of Boente concerning the investigation of Carter Page, with the notation following the general discussion of Page.

Huge Implications No Matter the Source

The notes do not elaborate on the “CROWN source” or who provided the “CROWN source reporting.” There are two possibilities, both of which have huge implications for the ongoing special counsel investigation.

First, the claimed “CROWN source” could be former MI6 spy Steele. To date, Steele remains the only person with a connection to British intelligence publicly known to have provided the FBI with information related to Trump and individuals connected to Trump during the Russia collusion investigation.

But if by “CROWN source” the FBI meant Steele, the individual briefing Boente lied to him in several ways, did so in a material way, and there is likely a paper trail that can confirm an earlier, similar lie by FBI agents.

While Steele had at one time served in the British intelligence service, his MI6 status ended long ago, when he retired in 2009 to start the private intelligence service Orbis Business Intelligence. Further, as the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (OIG) reported more than two years ago, Steele told the OIG that the source network he used to compile the memoranda, referred to colloquially as the Steele dossier, did not involve sources from his time as an MI6 agent. On the contrary, his sources were “developed entirely in the period after he retired from government service.”

So not only was Steele not a “CROWN source, but” his supposed “intel” also lacked any connection to “Crown Source Reporting.” Accordingly, unless the FBI had a still publicly unknown “CROWN source” who provided the information on which agents briefed the DOJ during the March 6, 2017 meeting, they lied to the DOJ.

If They Lied, It Really Matters

Falsely attributing “intel” to a “CROWN source” proves significant, not merely for Boente’s oversight of Crossfire Hurricane, but also for Boente’s decision to approve the third application to surveil Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). And the DOJ’s representation of a connection between Steele and British intelligence in the FISA applications appeared dispositive to the FISA court’s decision to authorize surveillance of Page.

Two little-noticed passages, separated by some 50 pages in the OIG’s 478-page report on FISA abuse, revealed the importance the FISA court put on Steele’s connection to British intelligence in ordering surveillance of Page. According to the OIG, before filing its official FISA application, the DOJ submitted a “read copy” to the FISA court to obtain feedback from the FISA court’s legal advisor on whether the application met the statutory requirements and on any issues of concern raised by the legal advisor or the FISA judge handling the application.

In the first read copy submitted to the FISA court related to Page, the application “contained a description of the source network that included the fact that Steele relied upon a Primary Sub-source who used a network of sub-sources, and that neither Steele nor the Primary Sub-source had direct access to the information being reported.” The draft application “also contained a separate footnote on each sub-source with a brief description of his/her position or access to the information he/she was reporting.”

After reviewing the read copy, the FISA court’s “legal advisor asked how it was that Steele had a network of sub-sources.” In response, the government’s Office of Intelligence (OI) attorney “provided additional information to him regarding Steele’s past employment history.”

The FISA court’s legal advisor then requested that additional information be included in the final application, resulting in the final version of the October 2016 FISA application including a footnote detailing Steele’s prior work for British intelligence. The FISA court granted the revised FISA application, ordering surveillance of Page to begin in October 2016. The FISA court renewed the surveillance order three additional times, once in December, again in March, when Boente signed the application, and finally on June 29, 2022, when Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein signed the final FISA application.

All of the applications referenced Steele’s past service in British intelligence, but, as noted above, Steele’s source network was unrelated to his government work and came entirely from his private work. Given that the FISA court’s legal advisor questioned “how it was that Steele had a network of sub-sources,” and that the advisor directed the OI attorney to expressly include Steele’s previous work as an MI6 agent in the application, the FISA court clearly believed Steele’s network of sources came from his time as a British agent.

Further, given the significance the FISA court placed on that fact, it seems likely the FISA court would have denied the surveillance order had it been told the truth—that Steele’s network of sources had been privately acquired.

FBI Liars Could Still Be Held Accountable

The FBI’s representation during the March 6, 2017 meeting that the supposed intel related to Manafort and Page came from “CROWN sources,”—again, assuming the agent meant Steele—suggests the Crossfire Hurricane team deceived the DOJ from the beginning, resulting in the OI attorney representing to the FISA court that Steele’s network of sources were sources used by British intelligence. That deception also likely affected Boente’s decision to sign the second renewal application.

While these events occurred more than five years ago, and a five-year statute of limitations governs false statement offenses, the D.C. Circuit has held that if a defendant engages in a scheme “to falisf[y], conceal[], or cover[]up” material facts, the limitations period does not begin to run until the scheme ends.

In this case, then, any FBI agents involved in concealing from the DOJ during the final preparation and review of June 29, 2017, FISA application that Steele’s sources were not “CROWN sources” or connected to his work in British intelligence could still face criminal liability.

Go Get ‘Em, Durham

Further, while the Sussmann trial proved memories fail—sometimes conveniently—uncovering the individuals responsible for representing Steele’s source network as connected to his past life as an MI6 agent seems a relatively straightforward venture given what we learned from the special counsel’s conviction of Kevin Clinesmith.

Clinesmith pleaded guilty nearly two years ago to altering an email related to Page to make it appear that Page “was not a source” for the CIA. Clinesmith’s undoing came from the fact that in preparing the FISA application and renewals, the various government actors used email to confirm details, including Clinesmith.

The OIG report on FISA abuse detailed that process, noting there were many “back-and-forth exchange[s]” “between the OI Attorney and the FBI, during which the OI Attorney asked many questions about Page, as well as about Steele’s reporting and the structure and access of his source network.” “To further address reliability, the OI Attorney sought information from the FBI to describe the source network in the FISA application,” according to the OIG report. And that information-gathering process included email exchanges and written summaries of briefings.

Either that briefing left the OI attorney with the impression that Steele’s source network came from his MI6 work, or after the FISA court legal advisor asked, “how it was that Steele had a network of sub-sources,” the OI attorney pushed the FBI for more information. If the latter, emails likely memorialize the exchanges.

Whether the FBI agents affirmatively misrepresented Steele’s source network as connected to his British intelligence work in their communique with the OI attorney, and in turn, the OI attorney relayed that information to the FISA court, is unknown to us, but hopefully not to Special Counsel Durham.

Even if no one lied to the OI attorney and he merely assumed Steele’s source network carried over from his time with MI6, a misrepresentation to Boente during the March 6, 2017, briefing that Steele was a “CROWN source” still matters because the FISA surveillance orders were renewed two more times after that meeting.

That, of course, is assuming the FBI meant Steele when they referenced a “CROWN source”—something not entirely clear. More on that shortly.

*****

This article was published by The Federalist and is reproduced with permission.

TAKE ACTION

The highly choreographed January 6 Select Committee that is being performed on primetime TV over the next several weeks can only be described as political and partisan trash. It is not about truth or acting in the interests of American citizens. It is about the 2024 election – clear as day.

Please click here to inform our elected leaders how you feel about the partisan travesty unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives.

World Bank Sees Stagflation for Several Years thumbnail

World Bank Sees Stagflation for Several Years

By Neland Nobel

After both the Federal Reserve and the Biden Administration suggested that inflation, was “transitory”, inflation has gotten much worse and is now embedded in much of the price structure.

The Biden Administration denies any role in causing inflation by spending hugely, gunning the money supply, and restricting energy output. Instead, it tends to blame Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Biden Administration also mistakes the economic comeback from “lockdown” as somehow a validation of their policy rather than the natural rebound one would expect after the government used its police powers to shut down the economy, supposed to save us from the virus.

This claim is tantamount to taking credit for the victim starting to breathe again after you decide to take your boot off his neck. 

It would seem the public is not buying their lame excuses and is becoming increasingly worried about both inflation and the economy. A recent Gallup Poll suggests that the public sees their economic status declining. Confidence readings are now lower than they were in 2009, at the end of the last financial crisis.

The World Bank has joined in with a newly issued report suggesting stagflation, not seen since the 1970s, will persist for a number of years. They have significantly downgraded their estimate of economic growth going forward.  

It is beginning to feel like Jimmy Carter is back in the White House.

This report seems to reinforce what the public is feeling. Things will be getting worse.

This is not what the Biden Administration wants you to hear, as it runs counter to their narrative that they have handled things well, the economy is booming and inflation is all the fault of Russia.

A quick summary from the forward from their report:

“Just over two years after COVID-19 caused the deepest global recession since World War II, the world economy is again in danger. This time it is facing high inflation and slow growth at the same time. Even if a global recession is averted, the pain of stagflation could persist for several yearsunless major supply increases are set in motion. Amid the war in Ukraine, surging inflation, and rising interest rates, global economic growth is expected to slump in 2022. Several years of above-average inflation and below-average growth are now likely, with potentially destabilizing consequences for low- and middle-income economies. It’s a phenomenon—stagflation—that the world has not seen since the 1970s. Our forecasts reflect a sizable downgrade to the outlook: global growth is expected to slow sharply from 5.7 percent in 2021 to 2.9 percent this year. This also reflects a nearly one-third cut to our January 2022 forecast for this year of 4.1 percent. The surge in energy and food prices, along with the supply and trade disruptions triggered by the war in Ukraine and the necessary interest rate normalization now underway, account for most of the downgrade.”

Notice the passage “unless major supply increases are set in motion.”

That is very important because the Biden Administration and its ESG allies are busy cutting supplies and deliberately driving up energy costs to force the adoption of the Green New Deal. The resultant spike in natural gas has caused fertilizer to spike, inhibiting the production of food. Biden then adds greater injury by pushing ethanol, which basically has us burn our remaining food to make fuel. All this is the reverse of increasing supplies of key commodities.

They add:

“The danger of stagflation is considerable today. Between 2021 and 2024, global growth is projected to have slowed by 2.7 percentage points—more than twice the deceleration between 1976 and 1979. Subdued growth will likely persist throughout the decade because of weak investment in most of the world. With inflation now running at multidecade highs in many countries and supply expected to grow slowly, there is a risk that inflation will remain higher for longer than currently anticipated.”

Note the blame attributed to Covid.

It is not the virus per se that caused widespread disruption, it rather was the way governments chose to deal with Covid. This is not mindless quibbling. There is a difference between the damage the virus did and what damage government policy did. Never before in history was “lockdown” used, which instead of isolating the sick, shut in the healthy instead. So, we part company with the bank on causation. If the government had left the economy alone, and instead simply aided hospitals, the global slowdown would not have been as severe as that caused by the lockdown.

Many scientists at the time, argued against lockdown on both economic and health grounds, particularly the Great Barrington Declaration.  It has been subsequently supported by studies that show little in the way of reduction in mortality was achieved at great cost to the economy, and to the detriment of health in a variety of other ways. But that was buried by Dr. Fauci and the Federal medical establishment. To paraphrase Colin Powell, if you break it, you own it.  The Biden Administration and even the World Bank, simply won’t own up to the catastrophic series of mistakes made by government officials.

Compounding the economic trauma, worried about a drop in demand, governments and their central banks then flooded the system with money, boosting demand. But lockdown policies shut down supply as well, creating more demand than supply, a sure recipe for inflation.

Later on, the World Bank continues:

“The current juncture resembles the early 1970s in three key respects: supply shocks and elevated global inflation in the near-term, preceded by a protracted period of highly accommodative monetary policy in major economies, together with recent marked fiscal expansion; prospects for weakening growth over the longer term, which echo the unforeseen slowdown in potential growth of the 1970s; and vulnerabilities in EMDEs to the monetary policy tightening by advanced economies that will be needed to rein in inflation.”

It is good they acknowledge the “highly accommodative monetary policy” and fiscal expansion of the 1970s, but deficit spending has been far worse recently than in the 1970s, private debt growth far worse, and the QE policies and zero interest rates did not even exist during the 1970s. 

In short, the excesses of the recent period are far worse than the 1970s and it was all a policy choice.

Many asset classes and economic growth have been distorted by years of easy money and negative real interest rates, even before lockdown. As inflation has worsened, it has required that monetary policy be thrown in reverse with sales of central bank assets (Quantitative Tightening) and rising interest rates. Worldwide markets have shuddered as the easy money support for assets is being removed. We have had a sharp decline in stocks, bonds, cryptocurrencies, SPACs, NFTs, and other asset classes favored by easy money. Real estate is also beginning to show signs of weakness as interest rates rise, increasing the cost of monthly payments for housing.

It remains to be seen whether the damage to markets will rival that of the 1970s. The stock crash of 1973-74 was the worst since the Great Depression and brought the major stock indices down 50%.

While the World Bank’s description of the causation of stagflation is in our view too narrow, their estimate of the impact on growth looks pretty solid. In short, we agree with many of their conclusions even though their explanations are far too kind to governments.

But we agree with their overall economic conclusions. Stagflation seems likely for some time.

Just remember whom to blame for this. It is almost all the fault of bad policy decisions by government health officials, central bankers, diplomats, and politicians.

As a final thought, while not a subject of the World Bank Report, many comparisons are being made with the era of Jimmy Carter, an ineffectual President in many ways, but in others, he was a decent man who did not use his office to enrich himself. The occasional drunken gaffe from his beer-swilling brother Billy seems almost quaint compared to the constitutional shaking scandals of the Biden Family business ties to foreign powers, the pornographic rage of son Hunter, the clear path of mental decline by the President, the raw abuse of power by the FBI and the CIA, the Russian collusion hoax, and the electoral shenanigans of the Biden years.

Carter was a devout Southern Christian, a Navy veteran of the nuclear submarine fleet.  Biden has embraced and promoted truly radical social revolutionary movements ranging from Black Lives Matter, the 1619 Project, and the transgender extremists. He calls those that disagree with him, domestic terrorists and white supremacists. He either believes this crap or he is too addled to oppose those who want to exploit his creeping dementia.

The combination of social disintegration, stagflation, and a loss of confidence in government create an environment far worse than what existed under Carter. Biden in a sense has pulled off the impossible. He has made Jimmy Carter look like a great President.

TAKE ACTION

The highly choreographed January 6 Select Committee that is being performed on primetime TV over the next several weeks can only be described as political and partisan trash. It is not about truth or acting in the interests of American citizens. It is about the 2024 election – clear as day.

Please click here to inform our elected leaders how you feel about the partisan travesty unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives.

What are ESG Scores? thumbnail

What are ESG Scores?

By Neland Nobel

And why are so many advocates of liberty deeply concerned about them?

Klaus Schwab and a growing list of powerful global economic and political elites, including BlackRock CEO Larry Fink and President Joe Biden, have recently committed to a global “reset” of the prevailing school of economic thought. They seek to supplant the entrenched “shareholder doctrine” of capitalism, which—as Milton Friedman famously espoused over 50 years ago—holds that the only purpose of a corporate executive is to maximize profits on behalf of company shareholders.

To replace shareholder capitalism, Schwab, Fink, Biden, and a legion of their peers have promulgated a nouveau “stakeholder doctrine,” commonly referred to as “stakeholder capitalism.” This approach, which aims to harness the growing clamor for more socially conscious corporate decision-making, authorizes, incentivizes, and even coerces corporate executives and directors to work on behalf of social objectives deemed by elites to be desirable for all corporate stakeholders—including communities, workers, executives, and suppliers.

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) scores—a social credit framework for sustainability reporting—are being used as the primary mechanism to achieve the shift to a stakeholder model. They measure both financial and non-financial impacts of investments and companies and serve to formally institutionalize corporate social responsibility in global economic infrastructure.

Environment, social, and governance scores are theoretically supposed to incentivize “responsible investing” by “screening out” companies that do not possess high ESG scores while favorably rating those companies and funds that make positive contributions to ESG’s three overarching categories. A company’s ESG score has become a primary component of its risk profile.

Who Are the agents responsible for this shift, and what have they done to bring it about?

Although there have been many ESG frameworks developed over the past decade, in the past three years alone, three major documents and compacts have been signed by a coalition of corporate governors, political elites, central bank directors, international organization representatives, and other powerful individuals. Together, they have had a substantial impact on the global economy and the shift to ESG.

In August 2019, The Business Roundtable (TBR)—comprised of 181 of the most powerful corporate executives in the United States—officially revised its conception of a corporation’s purpose to “promote an economy that serves all Americans.” The companies these CEOs represent hail from nearly all sectors of the U.S. economy, including major financial institutions, media conglomerates, technology firms, defense contractors, pharmaceutical companies, and myriad others.

Many of these executives are likely unaware that their  ESG ideas come dangerously close to the social credit system run by the Chinese Communist Party. It applies to corporations instead of individuals, but the principles are the same. Nor do they likely recognize that their policies result in starving the fossil fuel industry of capital, thus contributing to soaring energy costs to consumers and rampant inflation. Besides Biden, think of these leaders when you fill up your tank!

For businessmen to betray the principles of private ownership of capital, and free enterprise, and buy into the agenda of a particular political party, marks quite a change in the role of business in society. Heretofore, with the exception of tax-free foundations funded by businesses (think of the Ford Foundation), corporations rarely have been so politically active outside of election activities. This is causing evolutionary tension with our political parties. The Democrat party increasingly has become the party of Big Money and Big corporations, while the Republican party is increasingly less friendly to Big Business and sides more with small business people and consumers.

A case in point is the state of Florida. Previously quite friendly to Walt Disney, state leaders took affront when that giant corporation that had received special favors from the state, decided it would take it upon itself to interfere directly and publicly with legislation that would restrict the teaching of transgender ideology to those in kindergarten through the third grade. The result was the loss to Walt Disney of the Reedy Improvement district, which gave that corporation almost the power of self-government.

You will note in the map provided, that Arizona has down well on this front, largely due to Republicans in the legislature.

If the upcoming elections go badly for Democrats and the Green New Deal, Republicans need to keep in mind that Big Business has not been their friend. The result should be a reexamination of the relations of business to government. Special favors, subsidies, and tax breaks, all need to be eliminated. Republicans should strive to eliminate regulations and barriers that reduce competition.  It is bad enough to have socialism constantly foisted upon us by Democrats. It is quite another to expect that from Big Business. Republicans will have to deal with “Business Roundtable” types within our own ranks.

Vote with your dollars as well and try to avoid doing business with corporations that betray your trust and the economic system that made this country great. More than half the country identifies as conservative so make these companies pay whenever you can. True, it takes some work to find substitutes, but where you can, hit them in the pocketbook. But it is easy in some cases to avoid buying shoes for example from Nike, buying anything from Disney, buying a car from GM, and turning off the NBA is quite easy. Some choices, like the NBA, are not even “necessities” in the normal course of life and can easily be dismissed. Find money managers other than BlackRock, and move your checking account away from Chase and other large banks, to smaller independent banks. It can be difficult finding substitutes on occasion but where you can, avoid doing business and avoid buying the stocks of companies in the Business Roundtable, or at least directors of the Roundtable.You can actually make spending your money a political “lifestyle” choice.  It is fun and you will feel good about doing so.

Corporate leaders will soon get the message.  If you go woke, you will go broke.  Other than the transgender craze, nothing has been more woke than ESG.

*****

This article is adapted from materials published by The Heartland Institute and is reproduced with permission.  However, the opinions are that of the author.

TAKE ACTION

The highly choreographed January 6 Select Committee that is being performed on primetime TV over the next several weeks can only be described as political and partisan trash. It is not about truth or acting in the interests of American citizens. It is about the 2024 election – clear as day.

Please click here to inform our elected leaders how you feel about the partisan travesty unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Instead of Uniting the World, Globalization Has Set Nation against Nation

By Paul Tolmachev

Total globalization has brought the world order into crisis. The difference in interests, conditions, and opportunities, as well as the socioeconomic regimes of the participants initially implied risks of imbalances. As a result, the wrong policy of coordination—excessive integration with resource autocracies or forced physical (military) coercion to change regimes—led the situation to economic and ideological contradictions. The world has once again clustered into democratic and authoritarian and is obviously already in a phase of conflict between the two poles, deglobalization trends, and a tightening of economic and social conditions.

Integration problems and deglobalization processes have also begun in developed countries, such as the problems of the European Union’s economic homogeneity and Brexit. However, these are the problems of homogeneous liberal democracies. Accordingly, whatever contradictions they possess, the processes of finding equilibrium are on a civilized track. Moreover, as the focus shifts from internal contradictions to external contradictions, to threats from the authoritarian world, internal imbalances weaken and, on the contrary, integration processes begin to strengthen again. A vivid example of this is the creation of various alliances in various areas, such as the Anglo-Saxon alliance, the alliance of a special US information-exchange regime with Pacific countries, a potential cartel of oil consumers, and, finally, the cohesion of democracies with regard to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Until now, Western democracies have followed mainly two political directions with respect to autocracies: external military intervention or deep socioeconomic integration with a de facto agreement to maintain authoritarian regimes according to the principle “your internal affairs are your affairs.” Both, as we can now see, have negative consequences.

On the one hand, attempts at institutional liberalization and democratization of autocracies and dictatorships through military intervention and forced external forms of reform of the socioeconomic frame are obviously an inefficient way to civilize autocratic regimes for a number of reasons. Métis in autocracies—that is, ethical and cultural values, customs, traditions, and established social rhetoric—contradict or are in some way inconsistent with the liberal market values of the Western world.

Elites have no positive incentives to change preferences, and the population has no positive incentives to protest. Thus, military invasion and the use of force exacerbate the social crisis, fail to create the conditions and incentives for liberalization and delay the transformation of the mestizo for the entrenchment of market institutions and democracy.

On the other hand, the deep integration of autocracies into global value-added processes, primarily to reduce production and resource costs, has led to a significant strengthening and reinforcement of authoritarian regimes. In autocracies, elites are rent-seeking entrepreneurs unfettered by society. Their success and well-being depend on budget revenues, and under conditions of expanding global integration, such regimes ensure for themselves an increase in budget revenues and maximize their sustainability. There is no question of access to the budget: in authoritarian regimes, this is an absolute monopoly of the regime elite, and competition can only come from the inside.

When budget revenues are large, they are enough to ensure the stability of the status quo of the ruling elite. Against the background of the concept of “noninterference” in the internal affairs of such authoritarian countries, the stability of their regimes, ensured by the abovementioned factors, entails the expansion of opportunities for the ruling elites in propaganda, obtaining public support, repression of dissenters, and—most importantly—in potential external aggression.

An alternative path to the first two described above is a policy of disintegration, a policy of limiting the involvement of authoritarian regimes in global economic and social processes on the same terms. This is a necessary measure to both reduce the production and resource dependence of the developed world on resource dictatorships and create incentives to change or transform regimes in the future and incline the necessary cooperation in the present. Such constraints would reduce the opportunities for rent-seeking enrichment by autocratic elites, increase social discontent through falling incomes and living standards, and reduce opportunities for external aggression.

Reducing the production outsourcing and logistics potential of autocratic economies, as well as their resource exports, will reduce the dependence of the civilized world on resource and production-component imports and will strengthen production and resource security.

Disintegration with autocracies may well give impetus to progradation in various aspects: both in alternative energy and technology since higher costs and lower margins in the new rigid environment will be an incentive to innovative development and search for ways to improve efficiency.

The resource and production leverage provided by autocratic regimes is actually some kind of “resource curse” of Western economies when the motivation to increase efficiency and innovation falls against the background of voluminous and cheap resources. Such leverage has contributed to the decline of entrepreneurial initiative and individual responsibility in the Western world, expanding state expansion and social subsidies. As a result, agents’ dependence on the state increased, and redistribution of benefits became more vertical.

This is why, paradoxically, the tightening of economic conditions in advanced economies can stimulate the state to reduce social welfare and expenditures, and economic agents to increase entrepreneurial initiative and individual responsibility. In other words, it would stimulate a shift away from the “leftist” discourse of social and economic policy toward the important ethical and social values of market capitalism, individualism, and meritocracy.

In fact, such a disintegrative policy could take several directions.

The first direction is the creation of so-called friendly chains—i.e., the building of resource and production close ties within friendly countries. This implies the removal of much of the production capacity outside the autocratic countries and the relocation of resource sources.

The second direction is the creation of a maximum number of restrictions that cut off authoritarian regimes from global economic processes and create unfavorable conditions for their domestic economies. This is realized through sanctions restrictions, both direct and indirect, aimed at creating an intolerable environment for creative economic activity.

The third direction is positive incentives aimed at the elites as the force that actually makes decisions, and at the population, which can be a catalyst for such decisions. Here it is important to understand that it is possible to condition the progressive decisions of both the elites (be it a voluntary change of political course by the current government or a change through a forced rotation within the elites, usually referred to as a palace coup) and the population, to give impetus to their passion in the right direction only when both of them as agents understand and correctly assess the benefits and costs. And for this, firstly, it is necessary to clearly mark up the benefits, costs, and tasks, and secondly, to create the conditions that condition the change of preferences and maximize the efforts of the elites and the population in regime change.

In fact, all this is already relevant and is being implemented, unfortunately, with a great delay and in completely different extreme conditions. The aggressive geopolitical actions of a single autocracy in eastern Europe have forced Western countries to adopt this political paradigm, putting an end to a conciliatory policy that has lasted since at least 2007.

The externalities for the developed world will certainly be significant. Moreover, they are already significant today. They take two main forms: social and economic. Economic effects are inflation as a result of resource—and production—deficits arising from recanalizations.

The social negative effects are a continuation of the economic ones: an increase in social tensions amid falling incomes and rising costs caused by inflationary spiking. In authoritarian countries, the inevitable growth of social tensions will lead, among other things, to increased immigration to developed countries.

However, both of these externalities can be neutralized in the foreseeable future, as I will discuss in my next article. What I can say here is that models and research on this topic clearly point to acceptable ways of dealing with these problems.

Another important potential cost is geopolitical. It is the intensification of the processes of unification of autocracies. However, autocracies are different, and it is necessary to create conditions in which autocracies are more comfortable cooperating with the developed world and changing their preferences than joining the camp of authoritarian regimes. In fact, this is exactly what has been done with respect to Russia now, including all sorts of sanctions and impending restrictions on imports of hydrocarbons. Creating conditions of contradiction between the interests of the various autocracies and stimulating their transformation is a necessary part of the policy of disintegration.

Limiting integration and encouraging regime change is a long-term process. However, one must understand that the world order has indeed changed. It is neither possible nor dangerous to be in a state of illusory optimism and to believe that maximum rapprochement with countries where authoritarian regimes are entrenched, social openness, geopolitical inclusiveness, and productive globalization is the real path to a bright future. It is precisely this kind of conciliatory policy or, on the contrary, the policy of forced external military intervention that has brought the world into a state of turbulence.

The path to cooperation under conditions of acute conflict and lack of empathy lies in two directions: coercion of the opposite side through negative and positive incentives and the alignment, or maximization, of the costs of both sides. 

The first is the way the developed world should go, and the second is the way of direct confrontation, which should be avoided. The West with great delay is following the first path. We can only hope that there is an understanding that the second path is a disaster.

Arizona News – June 11, 2022 thumbnail

Arizona News – June 11, 2022

By The Editors

The Prickly Pear will provide current, linked articles about Arizona consistent with our Mission Statement to ‘inform, educate and advocate’. We are an Arizona based website and believe this information should be available to all of our statewide readers.

Pope Francis Appoints New Bishop For Diocese Of Phoenix

Arizona Aggregate Gross Income, Population Grew From Those Fleeing High-Tax States

Inflation Crisis in Arizona at Historic Worst, Phoenix Most Impacted

New Election Integrity Laws Will Provide Cleaner Voter Rolls

Arizona enacts law citing late Justice Scalia’s advice on voter integrity

Arizona judge upholds mail-in voting

Another Guilty Plea in Yuma County Demonstrates How Voter Fraud Is a Real Problem

The Left’s New Ballot Measure Would Make It Easy to Cheat and Hard to Catch in Arizona Elections

Arizona Republican gubernatorial primary a dead heat, poll shows

Senate Passes Requirement to Teach High Schoolers About Evils of Communism

Red4ED Is One of the Most Expensive Failures in Arizona Political History

Scottsdale Unified Accused Of Using “Unitown Club” As Cover For Gender Identity Propaganda

Arizona Lawmakers Split As House Passes Gun Reform After Uvalde Shooting

TAKE ACTION

The highly choreographed January 6 Select Committee that is being performed on primetime TV over the next several weeks can only be described as political and partisan trash. It is not about truth or acting in the interests of American citizens. It is about the 2024 election – clear as day.

Please click here to inform our elected leaders how you feel about the partisan travesty unfolding in the U.S. House of Representatives.