Friday, March 23, 2018

Lessons in History

The lessons we learn from history require a look at the “big picture” to see what we got wrong and what we got right.

We have a tendency to allow “the experts” to prevent our advancement to solving serious problems.  We are also slow to adapt to changes that have already happened.  I’ve been posting what we got right as we slogged our way through the industrial revolution.

Albert Einstein was interested in the nature of things and wanted his physics professors, the “experts” to address the big questions, like what is matter, what is light, what is electromagnetics, what is time, what is space and how does it all work. They didn’t know and didn’t care, but we did have some tools that could be used to find out.  They were the “experts” who were holding us back. They were well-funded and useless.

The “experts” who didn’t care about what caused plagues were most of the “physicians” in the 1600s through the 1800s. Water chlorination, water treatment, sewer systems and antibiotics were slow coming. The development of the microscope was distracted by our fascination with telescopes. The growth of big cities in the 1800s required to accomplish the Industrial Revolution neglected the preparation of these cities to be safe. The Medical profession was slow to catch on to understanding anything useful to treat inflammation or prevent and treat communicable diseases. 

We had centuries of plagues, but little interest in preventing them.  We simply survived them.  The bubonic plague that resulted in the death of 200 million people in the 1300s gave us no incentive to discover what caused it or how to prevent it. We were clueless about viruses and germs

In the 1400s, we continued to pursue trade between continents and with the discovery of America in 1492, we quickly established colonies to expand resource acquisition and trade. The governments and merchants of France, England and Spain became wealthy. In the 1600s European colonists gained the opportunity to own land and establish their own communities. The American colonies exported raw materials to Europe including timber, tobacco and cotton.

We were on a roll to get raw materials to turn into sellable commodities like lumber for building, cotton for clothing and new consumer goods like corn, wheat, sugar, fruit, vegetables and tobacco.

We were distracted by the task of expansion in the US and Europe was distracted by its ownership of the colonies and the commerce it brought.

Nobody was even interested enough in health to try to develop a microscope to discover viruses and cures and prevent the next plague until the 1700s. Nobody was interested enough to cure the plagues until the 1940s. Even then our “expert” local politicians were pissing money away on other things and didn’t want to spend the money on clean water, water treatment and sanitary sewers, so the federal government had to pay for that.

We were distracted with bright, shiny new things and we still are. We apparently like unnecessary tabloid news and social media gadgets.

The “experts” that were slow to adjust our international relations were the politicians, academics and bureaucrats who got us embedded in the Vietnam War. Our entire defense posture was based on preventing another Hitler from doing more damage with wars of expansion, so when the Soviets started land-grabbing, we declared the Cold War against Communism. But Communism is just a seriously flawed economic system that is easily forced on impoverished countries by thugs. President Kennedy was the only one who was right when he said: ‘unless the people of Vietnam are united against Communism, we will lose’.

We still haven’t learned. George W Bush tried “nation-building” in Afghanistan and Iraq and failed to recognize that these cultures are “tribal”. 

We must conclude that we cannot save the citizens of other countries from themselves. The voters in Venezuela had to learn their lesson about incompetent politicians, socialism and the promise of free stuff.

Trump arrived on the scene in 2016 asking the right questions and the “experts” hated it.

Norb Leahy, Dunwoody GA Tea Party Leader

Jobs & Unions

Labor had always been a commodity and was subject to the laws of supply and demand that determined the price of labor.  Those seeking jobs would approach employers and were free to accept or reject employment offers.  Those doing the hiring were free to hire or reject applicants.

Guilds developed in the middle ages and trades like masonry developed. It was common for a tradesman to have family members learn the trade as apprentices and work with their parents.  The Master-Apprentice relationship also applied to non-family members who had the skills.

Merchants also formed groups and associations to expand their list of commodities and their customer base. Free association was a natural part of freedom, but it didn’t interfere with the employer-employee relationship until unions developed in the 1800s.

Certain jobs had always been “high risk” and not everyone took these jobs, but these jobs were always plentiful.  Crews for merchant ships were often commandeered against their will and slavery and indebted servitude was common in the 1700s and resented by the 1800s.

If you didn’t like a job, employees were always free to find another job they would like better. These employees move for various reasons. They may not like their current crop of co-workers or may not like their new supervisor. They may not love what they do and need to find a different job to get closer to what they might like. These moves might be accomplished by moving to a different department.

The reasons for changing companies are different. They may have moved to another state. They might like to shorten their commute. They might believe they are “dead-ended” in their current company. They might believe that their plant or office or company or industry would shrink or fail.  

I worked in manufacturing and saw employees make their choices and advance in Non-Union companies. The Union model was set up for life-long employment by force with the same company. It was employee-centered and ignored the consumers and the laws of economics and no longer exists.

Norb Leahy, Dunwoody GA Tea Party Leader

US is better than Europe

If Sweden and Germany Became US States, They Would be Among the Poorest States, by Ryan McMaken, 10/26/15

The battle over the assumed success of European socialism continues. Many European countries like Sweden have gained a reputation as being very wealthy in spite of their highly regulated and taxed economies. From there, many assume that the rest of Europe is more or less similar, even if slightly poorer. But if we look more closely at the data, a very different picture emerges, and we find that the median household in the US is better off (income-wise) than the median household in all but three European countries.

Worse than Mississippi? 

Last year, a debate erupted over how Britain would compare to individual US states. In the 
UK Spectator, Fraser Nelson explained "Why Britain is poorer than any US state, other than Mississippi." A week later, TIME shot backwith an article titled "No, Britain Is Not Poorer than Alabama." The author of the TIME article, Dan Stewart, explained that, yes, Britain is poorer than many US states, but certainly not all of them. (See below to confirm that the UK is, in fact, poorer than every state.)

The main fault of the Spectator article, its critics alleged, was that it relied primarily on GDP and GDP per capita to make the comparisons. The critics at TIME (and other publications) correctly pointed out that if one is going to draw broad conclusions about poverty among various countries, GDP numbers are arguably not the best metric. For one, GDP per capita can be skewed upward by a small number of ultra-rich persons. After all, it is just GDP divided by the total population. That gives us no idea of how the median household is doing is those areas. Also, it's best to avoid averages and stick with median values if we're looking to avoid numbers that can be pulled up by some wealthy outliers.

This same criticism was applied to 
a 2007 study by Swedish economists Fredrik Bergström and Robert Gidehag(and an article by Mark J Perry) who had asserted that according to their calculations, Sweden was poorer than most US states.

The Bergstrom and Gidehag study was no back-of-the-envelope analysis, but given that they did rely largely on GDP per capita data, I thought it might be helpful to use data that relies on median income data instead, so as to better account for inequalities in income and to get a better picture of what the median resident's purchasing power. Click for full size:

The nationwide median income for the US is in red. To the left of the red column are other OECD countries, and to the right of the red bar are individual US states. These national-level comparisons take into account taxes, and include social benefits (e.g., "welfare" and state-subsidized health care) as income. Purchasing power is adjusted to take differences in the cost of living in different countries into account.

Since Sweden is held up as a sort of promised land by American socialists, let's compare it first. We find that, if it were to join the US as a state, Sweden would be poorer than all but 12 states, with a median income of $27,167. 

Median residents in states like Colorado ($35,830), Massachusetts ($37,626), Virginia ($39,291), Washington ($36,343), and Utah ($36,036) have considerably higher incomes than Sweden.

With the exception of Luxembourg ($38,502), Norway ($35,528), and Switzerland ($35,083), all countries shown would fail to rank as high-income states were they to become part of the United States. In fact, most would fare worse than Mississippi, the poorest state.

For example, Mississippi has a higher median income ($23,017) than 18 countries measured here. The Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, and the United Kingdom all have median income levels below $23,000 and are thus below every single US state. Not surprisingly, the poorest OECD members (Chile, Mexico, and Turkey) have median incomes far below Mississippi.

Germany, Europe's economic powerhouse, has a median income ($25,528) level below all but 9 US states. Finland ranks with Germany in this regard ($25,730), and France's median income ($24,233) is lower than both Germany and Finland. Denmark fares better and has a median income ($27,304) below all but  13 US states. 

On the other hand, were Australia ($29,875), Austria ($28,735), and Canada (28,288) to join the US, they would be regarded as "middle-income states" with incomes similar to the US median of $30,616.

We Should Adjust for Purchasing-Power Differences Among States 

But, I'm really being too conservative with the US numbers here. I'm comparing OECD countries to US states based on a single nation-wide purchasing power number for the US. We've already accounted for cost of living at the national level (using PPP data), but the US is so much larger than all other countries compared here, we really need to consider the regional cost of living in the United States. Were we to calculate real incomes based on the cost of living in each state, we'd find that real purchasing power is even higher in many of the lower-income states than we see above. 

Using the BEA's regional price parity index, we can take now account for the different cost of living in different states, and the new graph looks like this: 

We now see that there's less variation in the median income levels among the US states. That makes sense because many states with low median incomes also have a very low cost of living. At the same time, many states with high median incomes have a very high cost of living.

Now that we've accounted for the low cost of living in Mississippi, we find that Mississippi ($26,517) is no longer the state with the lowest median income in real terms. New York ($26,152) is now the state with the lowest median income due to its very high cost of living. 

This has had the effect of giving us a more realistic view of the purchasing power of the median household in US states. It is also more helpful in comparing individual states to OECD members, many of which have much higher costs of living than places like the American south and midwest. 
Now that we recognize how inexpensive it is to live in places like Tennessee, Florida, and Kentucky, we find that residents in those states now have higher median incomes than Sweden (a place that's 30% more expensive than the US) and most other OECD countries measured. 

Once purchasing power among the US states is taken into account, we find that Sweden's median income ($27,167) is higher than only six states: Arkansas ($26,804), Louisiana ($25,643), Mississippi ($26,517), New Mexico ($26,762), New York ($26,152) and North Carolina ($26,819). 

We find something similar when we look at Germany, but in Germany's case, every single US state shows a higher median income than Germany. Germany's median income is $25,528. Things look even worse for the United Kingdom which has a median income of $21,033, compared to $26,517 in Mississippi. 

Meanwhile, Colorado ($35,059) has a median income nearly identical to Switzerland ($35,083), and ten states (Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, and Washington State) show higher median incomes than Switzerland. Luxembourg ($38,502), on the other hand, shows a median income higher than every state except New Hampshire ($39,034).

None of this analysis should really surprise us. According to the OECD's own numbers (which take into account taxes and social benefits, the US has higher median disposable income than all but three OECD countries. Sweden ranks below the US in this regard, as does Finland and Denmark. 

The fact that the median level in the US is above most OECD countries thus makes it no surprise that most of these countries then rank below most US states. The US states that have income level above the median US level will, not surprisingly, outpace many OECD countries by a considerable margin. 

Methods and Data

I began with the OECD's "median disposable income" metric. This is a metric developed by the OECD to compare among all member states. The measure takes into account taxes and social benefits provided.

Then, we must adjust the numbers for purchasing power parity using the 
World Bank's index. At that point, we can see how the US compared to other members using dollars across all countries. I provided an analysis at the national level here.

But, in order to compare to individual US states, we have to come up with a way to make US states comparable. The OECD does not measure individual US states, so I had to use the 
Census Bureau's measure of median income for a place to start (2012-2013 2-year average medians). The Census numbers are much higher than the OECD numbers for a variety of reasons. In fact, the OECD income number of the US is only 59 percent of the Census number.

So, to roughly adjust state income levels for OECD methods, I cut down state level income levels to 59 percent of their Census total. This brought the median income level in Illinois, for example, down from approximately $54,000 (Census value) to $32,000 (to estimate OECD value). Similarly, one could also adjust for OECD methods by taking the OECD median income for the US ($30,616) and then adjusting to fit each individual state's median income  in relationship to the nationwide median. For example, since Wyoming (according to the Census) has a median income that is 109% of the national median income, we simply set Wyoming's median income at ~ $33,600 which is 109% of the OECD median income value of $30,616.

When adjusting for cost of living in US states, I then adjusted each state using the regional price parity numbers provided by the Bureau of Economic Affairs. Naturally, median income numbers for individual states are already in US dollars.
Is median income a good metric for poverty comparisons? Maybe, but in any case it's what OECD and UNICEF use. Typically, the "poverty rate" is calculated as either 50% or 60% of the national median income. So, apparently, the UN and OECD do think it's a relevant figure, and if poverty rates are going to be invoked as reasons for new public policy, then median incomes must be analyzed.

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is the editor of Mises Wire and The Austrian. Send him your article submissions, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado, and was the economist for the Colorado Division of Housing from 2009 to 2014. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.

GA Voters Unnecessary

The Georgia Legislature opposes any voter control over any government expenditures.

This includes passing Charters that ensure that city councils and county commissions can ignore voters and spend whatever they want.  It includes the right of these entities to add whatever they want to the public debt. The voter abuse in Cobb County over the funding of the Braves Stadium is the most visible example. Everyone wondered how the Cobb County Commission could make Cobb taxpayers to add $billions in bond debt and exacerbate Cobb highway gridlock without taking this to a vote. We still wonder why we subsidize professional sports businesses at all.

The last Charter for the City of Dunwoody expanded spending and borrowing with no voter control by authorizing the city to spend and borrow whatever it wants by creating “taxing districts”.  The only limit to the amount cities can borrow includes using all private property value on the digest as collateral, not the value of city owned assets.

This is government of the government, by the government and for the government, not a government of the people, by the people and for the people.  We attempted to send candidates to challenge this treason, but the “establishment” doubled down to defeat them.

In 2010 Georgia morphed its regional planning commissions into regional taxing entities to introduce unelected governance, transit villages, megacities, greenspace and on-street bike lanes required by Agenda 21 implementation.  In 2012, these Georgia Regional Commissions put an $18 billion TSPLOST on the ballot.  It failed to be approved by the voters in 9 of the 12 regions. This defeat made national news. 

The first problem with the $7 billion TSPLOST in Metro Atlanta was that none of the projects proposed would even begin to solve the congestion problem.  Metro Atlanta had not expanded its roads and highways to accommodate its growth.  The next problem was that Georgia had adopted the Agenda 21 view that “transportation” had to be redefined to include public transit and the $3.5 billion expansion of the unsustainable MARTA system.  The next problem was that road construction costs had instantly and magically doubled in cost.  The chamber of communists spent $10 million on the campaign and my rebel band spent $10 thousand and defeated them.

Despite the fact that UN Agenda 21 is dead, the laws remain on the books. The Georgia Legislature is still packed with members who are only beholden to the special interests and the largest special interest group in Georgia is government. We have a real dilemma in Georgia. We would be crazy to elect Democrats and our Republican “establishment”: is anti-voter.  I would have thought that Trump’s populism would have converted some of our Republican legislators, but that is not the case.

The latest offering is GA HB 820, Revenue and taxation; procedure for counties following a rejection of a tax digest. It allows counties to create their own versions of MARTA.

The other special interest groups pushing this are MARTA, GRTA, the unelected regional commissions, the developers, who want to continue “economic development” scams, the construction companies, the bond sellers and the free-spending city and county officials.

All public transit should be privatized.  It is too expensive to operate as a government entity. Ridership is abysmal and these agencies will never be self-supporting.  It’s the last thing we need.  We need to replace GDOT with engineers who will solve the gridlock.

Commuter trains need to be in densely populated enclaves like Manhattan where ridership is high allowing it to break even.  Atlanta is the least dense city on the planet.  MARTA is the creature of DeKalb and Fulton and should not expand.

Commuter bus service needs to be privatized, otherwise we will continue to pay for empty buses to operate. Politicians should not saddle taxpayers with any service that requires endless tax subsidies and could be provided by the private sector.

Norb Leahy, Dunwoody GA Tea Party Leader

Somali Crime in Minneapolobad

Minneapolis: Somali police officer who killed Australian woman charged with murder, by Ann Corcoran 3/22/18

The murder happened last July—sure took a while!
On Tuesday, Leo Hohmann reported the latest at VDARE here.  I’ve posted some snips, but please read the whole thing. There is more information and a whole bunch of links to guide you to even more information on this case and related cases.

The Somali immigrant Affirmative Action cop who gunned down Australian Justine Ruszczyk Damond in Minneapolis last July 15 has finally been charged with murder and manslaughter. 

Justine Damond had called police at about 11:30 p.m. to report a suspected rape in progress behind her south Minneapolis apartment. A squad car responded, but as Damond approached the car in her night clothes, Officer Mohamed Noor fired across his partner, Matthew Harrity, killing her.

Freeman’s task is “daunting” because Noor has refused to cooperate with the investigation, other than to say that he was startled by an unidentified noise.

Incredibly, other police officers involved in the incident have also refused to co-operate. Both Noor and his partner Matthew Harrity had apparently “forgotten” to turn on their bodycams, a violation of procedure. A cover-up is obviously underway. [Or could it be fear of the Somali ‘community’ keeping them silent?—-ed]

Justin Damond’s killing received spotty coverage in the U.S. Main Stream Media, which was busy hyping the Black Lives Matter movement and not interested in some white woman killed by an immigrant cop from East Africa. But the case garnered international interest, particularly from Damond’s home country of Australia. He was Hodges’ hire. Former Mayor Betsy Hodges.

Noor entered the country as a child refugee and was the first Somali to be employed by the Minneapolis Police Department’s 5th precinct. He was one of five Somalis on the entire force and the city is making a special effort to recruit Somalis as part of its affirmative-action plan.

The city’s Affirmative Action program requires it to give preferential treatment to minorities, not only those hired by the city but by all contractors awarded contracts of more than $100,000.

So, a few months later when the department hired Mohamed Noor in March 2015, it was a big deal. The mayor herself, Betsy Hodges, issued a public statement boasting about the hire on Facebook.

The hiring of Noor was supposed to show the world that male Somali refugees could grow up to become model citizens, not just terrorists.

Much more here.  If there is a trial, will the mainstream media give it any serious attention?  Don’t hold your breath because this case goes against everything the failing media have been pushing on the public for years. My previous posts on the case are here.

Norb Leahy, Dunwoody GA Tea Party Leader

Unreported Terror Killing

Florida man shouts “Allah Akbar: before attacking family, by Steven Ahle, 3/21/18


His partner, Kenyetta Barron, and daughter are now dead and his son is suffering from stab wounds and burns from where his father set the house on fire. Witnesses heard him shout “Allahu Akbar” before he went on his killing spree. Police are baffled about the motive. If only he had said something relevant to give them a clue……….

Minutes after Barron’s call, Oneal called police saying, “I’ve just been attacked by some white demons. Her name is Ke-Ke and she tried to kill me and I just killed her.”
Police tried to help Barron where she lay but soon forced their way into Barron’s home when they noticed the fire. Oneal walked out toward officers through the garage. 

Officers tasered Oneal and incapacitated him after he refused to comply with their orders to get on the ground.  Officers said that Oneal continually shouted “Allah Akbar” from the back of the police cruiser in which they placed him.

Oneal’s son later walked out of the house as firefighters entered it and reportedly said “My father shot my mother.” Firefighters found the daughter dead inside the house.
The sheriff’s office said Oneal’s son suffered from severe burns, stab wounds to the torso and neck, and smelled of gasoline or some other accelerant, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The son is now in stable condition after undergoing surgery as of Monday afternoon.

Oneal has been charged with two accounts of first-degree murder, arson, attempted murder, and resisting arrest. Both Barron and their daughter were pronounced dead at the scene and the son has been taken to the hospital for treatment.

Norb Leahy, Dunwoody GA Tea Party Leader

Thursday, March 22, 2018

ICE Wins Sanctuary Cities Ruling

Finally - A Reasonable Ruling against Sanctuary Cities, by The Common Constitutionalist, 3/21/18
What people could our founders be referring to? All the Earth’s people? NO – of course not. They were referring to the people, or citizens, of the United States, and those who are otherwise here legally. Seems crystal clear to me.
It’s nice when the law is written in plain English so as to be understood by someone like you and me. Of course, you still have to pick it up and read it.

On March 13, 2018, it was reported that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a rather stunning panel decision regarding immigration and sanctuary cities. And for once, a federal court, via a three-judge panel, sided with the good guys - mostly. The good guys being us – the law abiding, tax paying American citizen. Considering the make-up of most courts, and the hot potato issue that is illegal immigration and sanctuary cities, any win is encouraging.

The court didn’t rule as the Trump administration and most of us would have liked. They never do. Trump has been demanding that sanctuary cities by stripped of federal funding until they comply with federal immigration law.
However, they did rule that “the federal government’s [ICE] detainer requests, which ask local governments to hold illegal immigrants for pickup, are legal.”

The ruling stemmed from a Texas law that was challenged in court. “Known as SB4, the legislation Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed last year requires police to determine the legal status of those they encounter during their duties.

The law also punished local elected officials, police chiefs and other law enforcement leaders who enacted or carried out sanctuary policies that refused cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The law explicitly said local jurisdictions should comply with detainer requests. Immigrant rights advocates and a number of Texas cities objected. They said detainers forced state or local police to hold illegal immigrants beyond their usual release time, infringing on their Fourth Amendment rights.”

To this, the judge who crafted the opinion, hedged a bit by stating that it is not entirely clear if illegal immigrants are covered by the Fourth Amendment.

Well, I’m not a judge, an attorney, or a Constitutional scholar, but I can certainly read. The Fourth Amendment states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”
Now, this court ruling is in regards to a Texas State law, not a federal law, which prompts the age old question. Just who is in charge of immigration? Is it the States’ or the federal government?

Let’s go back to the supreme law of the land – the Constitution. Remember – not a scholar, but I can read - blah, blah, blah.

Normally, I’m a Tenth Amendment guy – States rights and all. But not this time. It’s clear that immigration is the sole responsibility of the feds.

Let’s start with the obvious – Article I, Section 8, clause 4, which states that, Congress shall “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization...” Naturalization is simply put as the means or mechanism of a non-citizen to become a U.S. citizen.
But some will say that it doesn’t mention immigration. No, not in Section 8.  For this, we must simply advance one article.

Article 1, Section 9, Clause 1 states:
“The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight...”

See how easy this is? It’s nice when the law is written in plain English so as to be understood by someone like you and me. Of course, you still have to pick it up and read it.

So what does it mean? It’s quite obvious that Congress had no authority to limit immigration prior to 1808. So by simple extension, it means that they do after 1808. Last I checked, it’s after 1808.

And by further extension we can state emphatically that it is the job of Congress to establish laws pertaining to immigration and further that it is the President’s job, through the Executive branch, to faithfully execute those laws. It is additionally known that no State or locality can usurp the United States Constitution, either by local or State law, State Constitutional Article or Amendment.

In other words, what Congress passes regarding immigration – goes. I guess sometimes it helps not to be an egghead scholar.

Norb Leahy, Dunwoody GA Tea Party Leader