Thursday, July 10, 2014

Defund the IRS

Steve Forbes hits a home run in the current issue of Forbes: Because of the IRS targeting-of-conservatives scandal, which is reminiscent of the fascistic Europe that Obama and his morally diseased supporters idealize and hope to emulate, the IRS should be defunded until the scandals are resolved.

Forbes notes that the current Obama administration is wracked with scandal more significant than the Teapot Dome in the 1920s, which preceded Warren G. Harding's death, and Watergate.  For some reason the totalitarians in the Democratic Party claim that their Fuehrer did not know, a claim that they would have ridiculed in 1974 when Nixon was president.

Forbes does not go far enough, of course.  The IRS is a criminal organization that should be permanently closed, not just until the Obama scandal is investigated.  With a crooked, fascistic president in Washington, the claim that the federal government is a force for good is nonsense.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Professional Staff Congress: a Left-wing Tax Scam

She thinks she's Che Guevara
In Harris v. Quinn, decided last week, the Supreme Court suggested that coercing public sector employees who prefer not to join a union into paying an agency fee may violate the First Amendment.  Agency fees are charged to those who prefer not to join a union, and they usually equal the dues less the amount the union spends on unrelated political activity.  Other forms of union security arrangements are the open shop, the union shop, and the closed shop. The open shop gives employees the freedom to neither join nor pay dues. The union shop coerces employees into joining after they are hired. The closed shop coerces employees into joining before they are hired, and it coerces employers into hiring union members.

The rationale for the agency fee is that nonmember employees benefit from the union's collective bargaining, and were they not to pay an amount equal to the dues, they would be free riders.  In the 1977 case that has governed agency fee arrangements, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the Supreme Court held that agency fees are legal, but the union must be willing to refund the proportion of dues spent on political lobbying unrelated to bargaining activities.  The reason is that violently coercing nonmembers to support lobbying with which they don't agree violates their freedom of speech. 

But what if a union spends little time on collective bargaining and other workplace-related activities so that all dues either are for unrelated lobbying or are otherwise unrelated to improving working conditions?  That has to be the case with the CUNY faculty union, the Professional Staff Congress (PSC),  because it contributes nothing to my wages.  I earn less than I would in a nonunion environment.  Hence, the Abood claim that I would be a free rider were I to not join my union is nonsensical. 

In the recent Harris v. Quinn case, the court has raised the question as to whether agency fees can ever not involve violations of agency fee payers' First Amendment free speech rights.  The reasons are manifold:  It is difficult to extricate political from other activities; unions lie about how much they spend on politics; ultimately, all public sector union activity may be political.

In the case of Seidemann v. Bowen  (also here) decided in 2009, Brooklyn College geology professor David Seidemann sued to determine the actual amount of  dues that the PSC spends on political activity.  The union repeatedly lied about the amount; initially, they claimed less than one percent, yet the case was settled at a point at which Seidemann and his pro bono Jones Day attorney had determined that they spend 14%.  Seidemann believes that the true amount is closer to 20%, but the cost of further pursuing the case has been prohibitive. Part of the settlement was that the union paid $250,000 in legal fees to Jones Day. Few foundations can afford that kind of money for a venture with an ambiguous outcome.

As left-wing extremists led by President Barbara Bowen, an authoritarian, left-wing kook who thinks she's Che Guevara, the union leadership thinks little about using government-enforced violence to coerce dues money from faculty who do not agree with them.  They have repeatedly refused to represent faculty with whom they disagree, and they chiefly support the left-wing Working Families Party, a simple-minded band of economic illiterates who favor failed, reactionary, big-government solutions.  In choosing to openly affiliate itself with and pay the lion's share of campaign contributions to a third party, the PSC has ensured that conservative Democrats and Republicans will have little interest in supporting its cause.

The union serves as a conduit of tax-favored money from the taxpayers to the fringe left.  Public money is budgeted to CUNY and used for faculty salaries; as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization CUNY pays no taxes; faculty dues are collected on a tax-deductible basis; the union does not pay taxes, and as a 501(c)(5) tax-exempt organization, it donates the dues tax free to the Working Families Party, likely claiming that all of the issues it lobbies about are related to its purpose, which is what 501(c)(5) requires. That, of course, is nonsense.   

The June 19, 2014 minutes of the Delegates Assembly of the Professional Staff Congress states that the assembly resolved that the ROTC should not be institutionalized at CUNY. It spent much of its time discussing how situations in which it, and the American Federation of Teachers, to whom it contributes, should coordinate situations in which the two organizations make donations to different candidates.  It also passed a resolution favoring restitution of pensions to Detroit municipal employees.  It also developed a foreign policy.  Its resolution says this:

Resolved, the AFT concur with the AFL-CIO National Executive Committee, which declared in August 2011: 'The miliatarization of our foreign policy has proven to be a costly mistake. It is time to invest at home,' and that the AFT call for funds freed by reductions in military and national security spending to be reallocated to many urgent human needs; and

Resolved, that the AFT call for US foreign policy regarding international conflicts to be guided by strategies that prioritize the needs of working people everywhere and the use of negotiation and diplomatic means over military deployment, whether in Syria, Ukraine, Iran, Pakistan, or other 'hot-spots' as they may emerge...

In addition, it passed resolutions concerning the legacy of slavery, the Mayday$5K national movement for slavery, and Coca Cola's abuse of children and violation of human rights. Coca Cola's exploits overseas are indubitably within the purpose of a New York faculty union. Obama says so, for why should the PSC pay taxes if Tony Rezko and Timothy Geithner didn't?

In addition, about 5% of the minutes describe a collective bargaining update in which Bowen describes two contract settlements at the UFT and TWU.  The minutes do not explain why CUNY has not drawn up a contract with its faculty since 2007, nor do I sense from the minutes that they  care.

The question the Supreme Court should have raised and didn't is whether public sector unions serve as scams to avoid income taxes on contributions to left-wing Democrats, the Working Families Party, and other left-wing causes.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Is Climate Science Data Falsified Junk?

A July 5 article in the UK Daily Mail (h/t Mike Dovich) says that UN climate data and climate predictions are falsified junk. The article starts by noting that there is more polar ice in the southern hemisphere than there was 35 years ago. The article also says that 40% of temperature gauging stations are down and that  "authorities" have been imputing temperatures using neighboring stations without revealing the gaps in their data. That may or may not be a serious problem depending on the representativeness of the working stations.  Ethical scientists would discuss the data gaps and the limitations, if any, on their estimation procedures. The article seems to imply that the gaps have not been openly discussed, although that is not clear. If they haven't been, then the scientists are not doing a good job. 

A bigger problem to which the article alludes is this:

It has also been discovered that the  US’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is using estimates even when perfectly good raw data is available to it – and that it has adjusted historical records.

Why should it do this? Many have noted that the effect of all these changes is to produce a warmer present and a colder past, with the net result being  the impression of much faster warming.

 If the article is right, i.e., if climatologists are revising data in a biased way and replacing real data with estimates that flatter their hypothesis,then, well, I could just scream. In that case universities are even worse than I thought, and that's pretty bad.  I'm not surprised when the dummies at the United Nations make up whoppers about things like climate change, but if scientists are yanking our chain, just what purpose do universities serve?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Immigration, Monetary Policy, and the Impoverishment of Americans

According to Karen Zeigler and Steve Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies, all job growth since 2000 can be matched to immigration into the US.  In other words, Americans who were living in the US in 2000 have experienced negative job growth.  That is on top of declines in the real hourly wage, which is lower today than it was in 1964.  

A basic economic principle is that if you cut a price, demand will increase.  Wages have been cut, and demand has indeed increased, but because of immigration none of the gains--increased job opportunities-- has gone to the people whose wages have been cut.  

The expansion of the money supply has been accompanied by vast foreign holdings of dollars and US Treasury bonds.  China and Japan combined hold a value of US treasury bonds equal to the total US money supply.  Estimates of the amount of US currency held abroad varies from 65% to Edwin Feige's 35%  of the $1.2 trillion of US currency in circulation.  The entire US money supply is currently $2.8 trillion.

The large amount of overseas dollar holdings props up the dollar, keeping manufacturing jobs out of the US.  Thus, America's monetary policy is a source of stagnant job opportunities. It is also the source of stagnant real wages and income inequality. The reason is that wages lag inflation while monetary policy, the source of inflation, props up the stock market. 

The supposed income-inequality issue on which Obama and his dumbed-down followers harp is a direct function of the Keynesian money-printing orgy that has occurred since the Fed's founding.  The Fed’s increasing the money supply reduces interest rates, so the present value of future stock dividends is increased. 

A dividend dollar payable next year is worth more today with a lower interest rate because the alternative use of the dollar, putting it into a savings account, draws less interest.  If you put a dollar into a bank account that pays 1% interest, you have $1.01 (1.01 x $1) next year.  If you put a dollar into a bank account that pays 2% interest, you have $1.02  (1.02 x $1) next year. 

Conversely, the present value of a dollar at 1% interest payable in one year is $0.99 today (1/1.01 x $1) while the present value of a dollar at 2% interest payable in one year is $.98 today (1/1.02 x $1).  By reducing interest rates from 2% to 1% you increase the present value from $.98 to $.99.  The same occurs with stocks. 

That is why Keynesian and monetarist economists, virtually all economists in universities, are great friends of the super rich.  The advocacy of monetary expansion is tantamount to the advocacy of stock market gains at the expense of wages.  Both parties, Democrats and Republicans, have advocated increasing the money supply, stealing wealth from employees, and handing it to stockholders. I'll bet you didn't hear that on C-Span or CNN, but who owns C-Span and CNN?

Wages don't keep pace with inflation, though, which Keynes points out in the beginning of his book.

Thus, this is what stock market growth looks like despite stagnating real wages and declining job opportunities: 

People who've been invested in the stock market have done well thanks to the Fed, while people who hold cash or earn wages, the working class, have done miserably.  Yet, they keep voting for Democrats and Republicans because America is an idiocracy, and they are the idiots. 

Obama the Least Competent but Not the Worst Postwar President

A July 2 Quinnipiac University poll finds that 33% of voters consider Obama to be the worst post-World War II president while 28% consider Bush to be the worst.  None of the others comes close.  The largest percentage of voters, 35%, like Ronald Reagan best.  Journalists who say that it takes years for historians to determine the true quality of a president so that the numbers aren't meaningful are misguided.  First, most historians are left or statist biased so that their opinions mean zero.  Historians are ideologues, and they frequently place their ideology before the facts. Second, historians are filled with future-oriented biases and typically lack a full grasp of the gestalt of a given era.  Future historians will be at a disadvantage in interpreting today's facts.

That said, I don't agree that Obama is the worst postwar president because Nixon did more to expand government than Obama did.  Obama is a traitor and a dummy, and his freeing a traitorous soldier a few weeks ago was the result. As well, his ill-conceived healthcare act is and will be a disaster, and he has magnified the economic errors of the Bush and preceding administrations.

The opinions of Americans mean little, for America is a dumbed down idiocracy. For example, a slightly greater number say that they like Obama better than Bush on the economy, but I doubt any can identify real differences between the policies of Bush and Obama because there have not been any.  The great debate between Democrats and Republicans about the economy during the Obama years was the $800 billion stimulus spent on crooked Obama cronies, but Bush had also overseen a stimulus. I recall getting the check for a few hundred dollars.

David Vogel's Fluctuating Fortunes: The Political Power of Business in America traces the history of business-government relations in the postwar era.  The book was copyrighted in 1989, so it doesn't tell the whole story, but the book makes clear that if you consider the president to have been worst who has most expanded government, then Nixon is worst.

Vogel describes how Nixon got into a pissing contest with Senator Edmund Muskie to see who could pass the more aggressive environmental regulation. He signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act,the Cigarette Advertising Act, the Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act of 1972, and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972. Regarding the Clean Air Act, Vogel writes this (p.73):

With the passage of the House bill, the Nixon administration had firmly established a preeminent position in the field of environmental protection. It had initiated a significant strengthening and broadening of the federal government's regulatory authority over what was literally the most visible dimension of pollution control...

Vogel adds (p. 90):

The period of industry's greatest vulnerability--at least in the areas of social regulation and tax policy--coincided with the presidency of Republican Richard Nixon.  Just as it took the presidency of Lyndon Johnson to enact the legislative agenda of John Kennedy's New Frontier, so were many of the most important regulatory initiatives of Johnson's Great Society approved during the presidency of Richard Nixon.

As well, Nixon introduced what was probably the most socialistic American policy of the post-war period: wage and price controls and controls on oil prices. Not only did this policy fail; it generated Soviet Union-style lines at gas stations and was punctuated with the worst inflation since the one following Woodrow Wilson's venture into wartime socialism during World War I.

Vogel barely mentions the chief harm that Nixon did to the US: the abolition of the remnant of the gold standard that had survived under the Bretton Woods agreement. This opened up the door to ongoing expansion of government and money printing, which continues today.  I have to revise my former belief that Johnson was the worst president; Nixon was even worse than Johnson.

It is also true that the three presidents who introduced unnecessary wars, Truman, Johnson, and Bush, deserve demerits.  When you put the Vietnam War together with the Great Society, Johnson comes close to Nixon.  The abolition of the gold standard, though, was so far reaching that it reduces Nixon's position to worst.

It is shocking that a candidate as inept as Barack Obama received the adulation that he did, not only from dumbed down college students who have trouble spelling their own names but also from their professors.  It is the students who will ultimately pay the price for their choice, though.