Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Stupid British Leftist policies have been self-defeating

More equality is the declared British Leftist aim but after 12 years of Labour Party rule, social mobility has DECREASED. The major road out of a poor background for capable kids was the Grammar school system: Government schools run on private school lines that took only academically brighter kids. They were a great success but the Labour government has done its best to destroy them because they were "elitist". So you mostly have to be rich to get a good (private) education in Britain these days. Even a bright working class kid now has to go to a sink school which will teach him virtually nothing and ensure that he stays mired in the poverty he grew up in. So the latest Labour Party idea is to FORCE barely-educated kids into positions where they are unlikely to cope

The gulf between the richest and poorest in society is at its widest since the Second World War, an official report has found. The National Equality Panel, set up by ministers to investigate inequality, says there are “very large” differences in wealth between the classes. Britain is now one of the world’s most divided countries with children born into a wealthy family having far more advantages than those who are not. The report shows that, while gender and ethnic background are all factors in determining a child’s success, it is the social class into which they are born that is still most important.

The report is an embarrassment for the Government as it shows how the gap between rich and poor has failed to narrow under Labour. It will be seized upon by Harriet Harman, the Minister for Women and Equality, who commissioned it two years ago. She is pushing for equality legislation designed to give the working classes better career opportunities.

The report sets out big differences between the haves and have-nots. It says: “It matters more in Britain who your parents are than in many other countries.” It suggests that the “scale of differences in wealth, for instance, may imply that it is impossible to create a cohesive society.” The report finds:

* Parents of public school-educated sons can expect their children to be paid eight per cent more by their mid-20s than boys educated at state schools;

* At school poor British white boys are well below the national average by the time they are seven, deteriorating further after they are 11.

* Women are paid 21 per cent less than the national average, despite women into their 40s having better qualifications than men;

* Britain has one of the most unequal societies in the world, with income inequality ahead of Ireland, Japan, Spain, Canada, Germany and France. Inequality is worse in England than Wales and Scotland;

* A typical professional on the verge of retiring is worth nearly £1 million compared with just £59,000 for someone who is long-term unemployed.

* Poverty rates are among the worst in Europe, with only Italy, Spain and Greece faring worse.

* Average and below average White British children are less likely than those from minority ethnic groups to go on to higher education.

* More than half of children educated at private schools, andmore than 40 per cent of those with professional parents, go to thetop Russell group of universities.

* Two-thirds of those with professional parents receive firsts orupper seconds, but only half of those with unskilled parents.

The panel identifies a number of areas, ranging from education and pensions to taxes and neighbourhood renewal, where action is needed to tackle inequalities.

Theresa May, the Conservatives’ women and equalities spokesman, said: “It is unbelievable that Labour thinks it can claim to be the party of aspiration when its failure to tackle the causes of poverty has let down so many lives.”

Miss Harman said: “We have made progress over the last 13 years, especially in tackling poverty, and halted the rising growth of inequality that dates back to the 1980s. "But we will do more to increase social mobility and tackle the barriers that hold people back unfairly.”

Brendan Barber, the TUC’s general secretary, said that while inequality “took hold” in the 1980s “even in recent years the best that can be said is that it hasn't got any worse”. He added: “We have now tested to destruction the theory that wealth trickles down - it doesn't. Politicians of every party must meet the challenge set by this devastating analysis."

Neil Kinghan, director general of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: "The value of this report is how it pinpoints the combinations of circumstance that create the most acute instances of disadvantage: that as well as socio-economic class, race, gender, disability and other factors still matter very deeply."



Obama Donor Gets Sweetheart Real Estate Deal from Obama's man in Chicago

Donations to Obama rewarded by a million-dollar discount on the sale of a public property

Chicago real estate developer Thomas Bennett thought he had a deal in hand to purchase the old Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) building at 626 West Jackson, just blocks from Union Station. Bennett thought he was paying a fair price for the property as he had a written commitment from two tenants –SEIU and ACORN- to occupy office space in the building.

Bennett was dealing with Chicago Housing Authority Chairman Marty Nesbitt on the attempted purchased and put forth an offer of $9 million for the building.

But Bennett didn’t put forth the winning bid. A company called Sterling Bay properties had the top bid. Actually, top bid is not the proper description. Sterling Bay won with a $7.7 million bid, $1.3 million less than Bennett’s $9 million offer....

But later Bennett discovered Nesbitt also had another role: treasurer of the Obama Victory Fund. Sterling Bay made a substantial campaign contribution ($28,500) to the Obama Victory Fund within months of the deal closing in late December 07. This $28,500 donation was after about $16,000 worth of campaign donations by Sterling Bay principals (Scott Goodman, Andrew Gloor and Craig Golden) to various Obama campaign funds going back to his U.S. Senate bid in 2004.

Bennett was willing to move on, but something keeps nagging him about the deal. “I put in the highest bid…a credible deal…and I lost to a party with a track record of contribution to Obama’s campaign and Nesbitt has a track record of being Obama’s money guy,” Bennett said. “Look at how political fundraising has evolved. This appears to be a very corrupt quid pro quo involving campaign contributions.”



Defending the SCOTUS decision on Citizens United

Bad arguments have been proliferating in the wake of this week's Citizens United case, which struck down restrictions on political expenditures by corporations and unions. The opinion leaves in place limits on campaign donations, but frees up corporations and unions to spend as much as they like to disseminate political messages. Here is a rogue's gallery of the most common arguments I've heard against the holding, followed by brief explanations of their profound misguidedness.

1) This 5–4 decision is a blatant example of judicial activism, and conservatives are hypocritical for supporting it.
Judicial activism occurs when judges abandon constitutional or statutory meaning and impose their policy preferences instead. A decision that faithfully applies the First Amendment is not activism but rather a proper exercise of the judicial responsibility to keep Congress within its constitutional bounds. The government argued in Citizens United that it had the power to outlaw books and movies produced by unions and corporations, both non-profit and for-profit, if they included even a single line addressing an election or a political issue. Such blatant censorship of core political speech falls well within the text and original meaning of the First Amendment, which supported an open marketplace of ideas by declaring in broad terms that "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech." Contrast this with the paradigmatic examples of left-wing judicial activism, which have manufactured a host of "fundamental" rights without anything resembling such a clear textual basis.

2) Political expenditures are not "speech" and should not be protected under the First Amendment.
The force of this seductive argument evaporates upon the realization that spending money is an indispensable component of effective political speech, especially when it involves any audience above a trivial size. If the government could ban expenditures related to speech, it could easily circumvent the First Amendment simply by targeting the necessary funding underlying any communication. Imagine the New York Times being prohibited from paying for its writers, production, advertising, and distribution. Wonderful as this might sound in some of its particulars, you can see how the paper's right to free expression might be crimped. And so it goes for any person or group wishing to disseminate a political message through print or broadcast media, which is why the Court has properly subsumed the right to political expenditures within the right to free speech.

3) The protections of the Free Speech Clause properly apply only to individuals, not corporations.
Justice Scalia dispatched with this argument nicely in his concurring opinion by pointing out that the First Amendment has long been extended beyond isolated individuals to groups and associations whose members gather for a wide variety of purposes ranging from political to commercial. The Democratic party, the Sierra Club, and the New York Times aren't individuals, but their speech nonetheless falls under the umbrella of First Amendment protection. But the formalistic obsession with whether a corporation should have the legal status of a "person" with a "right" to free speech quite misses the substantive issues at stake, which concern how the principle of free expression should be applied to the political speech of certain types of social groups. In particular, is there something uniquely harmful and/or unworthy of protection about political messages that come from corporations and unions, as opposed to, say, rich individuals, persuasive writers, or charismatic demagogues? Which brings us to our next point:

4) A deluge of corporate and union speech will corrupt the democratic process.
The very idea that political speech in an open democracy can be "corrupting" rests on fundamentally illiberal assumptions about individuals' capacity for reasoned deliberation and self-government. The First Amendment was designed to allow all speakers to put their messages out into the public debate, be they rich or poor, vicious or virtuous. The underlying principle is that over the long run, a society of free individuals is best equipped to evaluate the merits of political arguments for themselves, and that a distrustful government cannot ban speech out of the worry that its citizens will be unduly swayed by it. Rich individuals and talented polemicists have always been permitted to put out quantities and qualities of speech that may exert a disproportionate influence on society, but political opponents and voters have always been trusted to evaluate these speakers' arguments for themselves, respond with counter-arguments, and ultimately make up their own minds about the truth of any matter of controversy. Especially with the explosion of diverse viewpoints and avenues of expression that have come from the Internet media revolution, it simply defies common sense to think that any corporation or union could ever hope to so overwhelm the political debate as to prevent dissenting voices from being heard and reasonably contemplated by the electorate. Of course, this freewheeling political dialogue may be messy, imperfect, and prone to abuses, but the First Amendment makes it constitutionally preferable to censorship targeted at disfavored groups.

5) This decision will radically increase powerful corporate influence in politics, compared to the status quo.
History and economics together suggest that powerful corporate interests operating under an extensive regulatory state will always find a way exert a strong influence in politics. Up until now, campaign-finance regulations have had two ugly impacts: First, they have imposed huge legal costs on those wishing to participate in the political process, effectively shutting out smaller voices who cannot afford to pay campaign lawyers and risk legal trouble in getting their messages across. Loosening legal restrictions on smaller businesses will now allow them to enter the marketplace of political ideas on a more equal footing with their larger competitors. Second, campaign-expenditure limits have driven corporate money away from public dialogue and into channels that have been more corrosive and less transparent (think lobbyists, lawsuits, and regulatory capture). While these more pernicious forms of corporate influence are not likely to disappear any time soon, they may be mitigated to the extent that corporations can now pursue their policy objectives through a more open, deliberative process.

6) Corporate political expenditures violate shareholders' rights to withhold funds from messages they disagree with.
Two problems here. First, like members of any free association, shareholders have an absolute and easy-to-exercise right to exit from any corporation — in this instance, by simply selling their shares and relocating their investments. It is true that mutual funds and retirement accounts can complicate things, but shareholders maintain the ultimate legal right of control over their assets, including initial investment decisions. In any event, the level of "message subsidy" involved in most of these cases will be so diffuse as to be negligible, especially when compared to government policies and messages that taxpayers must fund despite strong disagreement. Second, corporations commonly disseminate non-political messages and make corporate decisions, including charitable donations, that might strongly offend shareholders. This is tolerated as part of the trade-off inherent in the structure of corporate governance, wherein shareholders voluntarily surrender control of their companies' day-to-day operations in exchange for the efficiencies of corporate decision-making.

7) This decision will harm Republicans by rallying public opinion in favor of populist-progressive reform and against the "conservative" Supreme Court majority that decided the case.
While four members of the Citizens United majority might fairly be called conservatives, the actual author of the opinion was Justice Kennedy, who defies easy political categorization. In the past few years, he has been repeatedly toasted in liberal circles for penning such sweeping decisions as Lawrence v. Texas and Kennedy v. Louisiana, declaring a constitutional right to sodomy and forbidding the death penalty for non-homicidal child rape, respectively. At the very least, those opinions give him some credibility as an independent voice. But perhaps more importantly, a recent Gallup poll shows that a majority of the public actually agrees with the Court that corporations and unions should be treated just like individuals in terms of their political-expenditure rights, and that the government should not attempt to protect its citizens from hearing seductive messages put out by sinister, powerful interests.




Taxpayers should demand a permanent ban on funding to ethically-challenged Acorn: "If you think Congress stripped all federal funding from the ethically-challenged group ACORN, think again. Though it voted to ban federal funding for ACORN — aka the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — this September, funding for the disgraced group could resume whenever Congress stops renewing the continuing resolution containing the funding ban. What’s more, ACORN could receive a windfall should the cap-and-trade legislation now making its way through the Senate eventually become law. In June, the U.S. House passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act — better known as Waxman-Markey for its Democratic sponsors, Henry Waxman of California and Ed Markey of Massachusetts — ostensibly to alleviate global warming by mandating an 83 percent reduction in U.S. carbon emissions by 2050. A similar bill, introduced in the Senate by Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA), has been approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Buried in both bills are provisions that would allocate vast amounts of federal money to community development organizations such as ACORN."

US suspends aid to Kenya’s education ministry (rather amazingly): "A U.S. diplomat says the U.S. has suspended a five-year plan to fund Kenya’s education programs because of corruption allegations. The U.S. made the decision based on claims late last year that Education Ministry officials misappropriated $1.3 million of Kenyan government and donor funds to finance the country’s much-lauded free primary school education program, U.S. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger told a luncheon of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kenya.” [After decades of sending billions to line the pockets of corrupt African government officials, they're stopping now?]

US redefines antiterrorism strategy for Yemen: "The terrorism incubator in Yemen, birthplace of the Christmas Day airliner attack, is forcing the United States and allies to pour millions of dollars into a shaky government that officials suspect won’t spend the money wisely and isn’t fully committed to the battle against al-Qaida. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other world leaders meet in London on Wednesday to hash out a plan.”

A more highly educated military now: "The number of new recruits who hold bachelor’s degrees jumped by nearly 17 percent last year, from about 5,400 in 2008 to more than 6,400 for the armed services, Pentagon statistics show. The number of enlistees with associate’s degrees from community colleges also increased, though more modestly, from roughly 2,380 to just over 2,570. The number of recruits with four- and two-year degrees represents 5.2 percent of the total 2009 military recruitment of 168,000. They are part of a strong recruitment year fueled by high unemployment, particularly when compared with two years ago, when the Pentagon struggled to fill its ranks despite offering five-figure enlistment bonuses and granting waivers to recruits who failed to meet its standards.”

Income angst? Not for public sector: "Last month, the US economy shed another 85,000 jobs. It marked a miserable end to a calamitous year in which an estimated 4.2 million American jobs were liquidated, and unemployment rose to 10 percent. In addition, more than 920,000 ‘discouraged workers’ left the labor force entirely, having given up on finding work and therefore not included in official unemployment data. Meanwhile, millions of Americans who do have jobs have been compelled to work part-time or at reduced wages; many others have not seen a raise in years. But not everyone is having a rotten recession. Since December 2007, when the current downturn began, the ranks of federal employees earning $100,000 and up has skyrocketed.”

Obama’s bank-busting regulation full of bugs: "President Obama’s proposal on Thursday to bring back 1930s-era separation of commercial and investment banking would do little to prevent the problem of financial institutions being too big to fail. What it would do is hurt economic recovery, reduce types of financing available to businesses big and small and give European and Asian financial services firms a huge competitive advantage over their U.S. counterparts.”


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


No comments: