Category Archives: Political Science

A Smarter Form Of Marxism: Less Work Sets Us Free!

I remember when we moved back stateside back in early 2009, and I learned about TARP.  I realized that my country had passed a very important milestone, without me even knowing. (Yes, yes, I didn’t follow politics during our overseas duty station. I was a very bad citizen.  In my defense, I still voted in federal elections.  Our military absentee ballots didn’t show up until three weeks before the 2008 election, and who knows whether my “R” vote arrived in time.)

Back in the USSA (post-Obama-ascendency), I realized that most people still hadn’t noticed this important milestone: an American foray into the nationalization of industry and finance.

Nationalization!  Even if partial, it was still an important step toward socialism.  Socialism!  My public school education may have been substandard, but it was not yet completely propagandized.  So I knew how closely related Socialism is to Communism.

We hit another big milestone, didn’t we, when the Wealth-Spreader-in-Chief got re-elected in 2012?

Yep.

Well it’s been over a year since that time, and we’ve hit another major milestone.

Do you know what it is?

There’s a lot of news to choose from.

Most of it bad.

But this one is particularly important.  Yes, it’s also bad:

Obama has once again unilaterally and unlawfully delayed Obamacare’s mandate, regarding the requirement that businesses employing 50 to 100 employees offer “affordable healthcare coverage” or face a tax.

What’s that you say?  These unlawful delays have been going on for a while now?  This latest one can’t be more important than the rest?

Wrong.

The latest delay comes with some wicked regulatory finesse.  The IRS says that if your business wants to decrease its size and then apply for this unlawful waiver, then it has to swear allegiance to the regime:

“Company officials will be trapped in a catch-22. They can lay off as many people as they want because of Obamacare. But because they’ll have to swear to the IRS that their decisions had nothing to do with Obamacare, they can’t speak publicly about what’s happening. What a great way to silence the people who are on the front lines of dealing with Obamacare’s horrific effects.”

Let Soopermexican explain further:

“what the Republicans said would happen under the simplest, most easily understandable laws of free market economics is so likely to happen that the administration has to threaten businesses to shut up about it, or face the wrath of the highly partisan IRS.”

Yes, the Republicans said businesses would lay off employees in order to avoid the punitive taxation of Obamacare.  And yes, the Democrats were dishonest enough to disagree.

I have paid close attention to politics ever since 2009.  Yet, somehow, I didn’t see this latest milestone coming.  I didn’t imagine the point at which Federal Government feels comfortable dictating to Small Business which business decisions Are Not Appropriate.

Notice, it’s not a question of which business decisions Are Not Legal.

Illegality would not be a milestone.  Telling business, and even individuals, what actions are and are not legal is a long-standing and perfectly appropriate role of government–even in the opinion of “crazy” large “L” Libertarians.  It’s something we Tea Party Extremists like to call The Rule of Law.

The Obama Administration is dictating to private business what “should not be done” even though it is perfectly legal

Let Judge Learned Hand explain:

 “a transaction, otherwise within an exception of the tax law, does not lose its immunity, because it is actuated by a desire to avoid, or if one chose, to evade, taxation. Anyone may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose the pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes.”

Oh, but Learned Hand’s reasoning means little to our Constitutional-Scholar-in-Chief, I reckon.  Other than an obstacle to work around.

Guys, this is a gigantic milestone.  It is also a milestone which is likely to go largely unnoticed.  Sure, business-minded citizens are quick to notice the insanity.  This National Review commenter puts it better than I ever could:

“So, you need an additional line worker. You intend to pay that person $15/hr ($30k per year). You expect that person to generate incremental production worth $60k per year. So, under a rational analysis, you hire that person and increase your profit.

But under this law, hiring that person would result in a sharp loss. Instead of adding $30k to the bottom line, you would lose $180,000 ($30k in added profits minus $210k in new fines). So hiring that person goes from being a smart business decision to being completely ridiculous. No sane person would do it.

So you don’t make the hire. And the act of not hiring that person becomes criminal unless you swear to the IRS that the draconian fine you avoided had nothing to do with your decision….which is to say you have to swear to the IRS that O’Brien is holding up five fingers when plainly the correct answer is four.”

Sure, the usual suspects will squawk.  But will that mean any more than the squawking after Fast and Furious?  Benghazi?  After IRS corruption was revealed?

I noticed in my research:  the prominent MSM article about this latest Obamacare tweak didn’t even mention the IRS certification requirementA professional article about this latest Obamacare tweak did mention it, but in as milk toast a manner as possible:

“Those that claim the exemption for 2015 will need to certify under penalty of perjury that they did not reduce their workforce to fewer than 100 employees in order to qualify.”

No mention about how this strong-arming is illegal.  Unlawful.  Dictatorial.  Totalitarian.

No.  It’s all normal.  Nothing to see here.  Move along.

Okay.  The truth is, that is exactly what I will do:  move along.  Isn’t that what most of us do, every time a new constitutional violation is introduced into our lifestyle?

As I move along, however, I remember something I learned from Sitting On The Edge Of The Sandbox.  I cannot find the specific post (maybe you can help me with that, Missy).  But I remember how, in her parents’ experience in the USSR, work was not just a right but an obligation.  The right to a job meant that you were legally required to work.

And I wonder.  If under Obamacare, a business does not have the right to fire you unless approved by the IRS, does an employee have the right to quit?  Logically, there is no difference between the employer who wants to decrease the number of employees for tax reasons, and the employee that wants to quit working for tax reasons.

I wonder further, how did the USSR treat this problem when businesses wanted to lay off employees in order to maximize profit?

Derp.  A quick Google search reminds me that businesses were not in charge in the USSR.  Decreased profit was not a concern, because all businesses had been completely nationalized.

How diabolically clever our modern statists have become.

In the earlier stages of the Communist Revolution, Communists thought that the workers would simply fall in line with their view of Utopia, once the Capitalist Pigs were dethroned.  It turned out, of course, that reality did not fall in line with their view of Utopia.  It turned out, the right to a job turned into the creation of the “letun,” “rvach,” “bezdel’nik,” “lentyaj,” “lodyr,” and “progul’shchik.”  Those are all terms for folks who could work but chose to be lazy instead.

By 1940, Stalin imposed criminal penalties for workers quitting their job.

Wouldn’t be a winning platform for the Democrats in this day and age, would it?

That’s why they are now so clever.  The Left has learned that nothing is to be gained by taking over the means of production, and then cracking the whip on the workers who don’t comply with the latest production plan.

How much better, to let those Dirty Capitalists retain ownership in name only, while forcing them to do the dirty work of The State.

How much better, to let those workers be as lazy as they wish, and proclaim such behavior to be a virtue.

We are well and truly doomed.

Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013

My homeschool peeps alerted me to a New Bill in the Senate.  It is purported to be a Big Bad Bill that creates a new (and bad, but I repeat myself) National School Board.

It appears that federal meddling into the local issue of education came to fruition with an “Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.”  I have no idea what that law entailed.

The next big thing to hit the federal landscape was Dubya’s No Child Left Behind.  Which.  Can I just say?  That is every bit as Orwellian doublespeak of a title as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

So then Obama topped Dubya’s concern for the children with his own “Race to the Top” law embedded in the Stimulus Package of 2009.  This law incentivized the adoption of Common Core.

Now, we have step four (or maybe step four thousand nine hundred eighty-four, if considering the Gramscian March approach to politics) in the transformation of education from a local issue to a federally overseen “right.”

All I’ve done in this post is digest and regurgitate the table of contents of this proposed law.  Pretty thick stuff, even so.  Further translation of this bill will follow in later posts.

Without further ado, I introduce to you the table of contents for this education bill, as annotated by yours truly:

A BILL

To amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, and for other purposes.

Sections:

  1. Short title
  2. Table of contents
  3. References
  4. Transition
  5. Effective dates
  6. Table of contents of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
  7. Authorization of appropriations

Section 1.  Short Title.

This act may be cited as the “Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013.”  (Because the title “Finishing Off That Pesky American Exceptionalism” would be too obvious.)

Section 2.  Table of Contents.

Title I–College and Career Readiness For All Students (you do want your children to be ready for college and career . . . don’t you?)

  • Part A of Title I–Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged (Sect 1111-1126–you do want the disadvantaged to achieve academics . . . don’t you?)
  • Part B of Title I–Pathways to College
  • Part C of Title I–Education of Migratory Children
  • Part D of Title I–Prevention and Intervention Programs for Children . . . Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk
  • Part E–Educational Stability of Children in Foster Care
  • Part F–General Provisions

Title II–Supporting Teacher and Principal Excellence (you do support excellent teachers and principals . . . .don’t you?)

Title III–Language and Academic Content Instruction for English Learners and Immigrant Students

Title IV–Supporting Successful, Well-Rounded Students (you do want well-rounded students, don’t you?)   Sect 4101 thru 4111–(increasing access is good, and you are feeling very sleepy)

Title V–Promoting Innovation (you do promote innovation, don’t you?)

  • Part A–Race to the Top
  • Part B–Investing in Innovation
  • Part C–Magnet School Assistance
  • Part D–Public Charter Schools
  • Part E–Voluntary Public School Choice

Title VI–Promoting Flexibility; Rural Education

Title VII–Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native Education

  • Part A–Indian Education
  1. subpart 1–formula grants to local educational agencies
  2. subpart 2–special programs and projects
  3. subpart 3–national activities
  4. subpart 4–federal administration
  5. subpart 5–definitions & authorization of appropriations
  • Part B–Native Hawaiian Education; Alaska Native education
  1. subparts 1 & 2–mindnumbingly boring details

Title VIII–Impact Aid

Title IX–General Provisions

Sec 9101. Definitions

Sec 9102. Unsafe school choice option.

Sec 9103.  Evaluation Authority.

Sec. 9104.  Conforming amendments.

Title X–Commission on Effective Regulation and Assessment Systems for Public Schools

Sec. 10011.  Short title

     A bunch more tedious sections . . .

Title XI–Amendments to Other Laws; Miscellaneous Provisions

  • Part A–Amendments to other Laws
  • Part B–Misc. Provisions

Section 3. References.

Unless otherwise stated, references of repeal are assumed to apply to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 USC 6301).

Section 4. Transition.

a) Multi-Year Awards.  If you are a recipient of a multi-year award under the old 1965 law, you shall continue to receive those funds until Sept. 30, 2014, then it’s tough luck, unless you get a “flexibility waiver,” but only if it was granted before enactment of this here new school-strengthening bill, and only for as long as the original waiver period.

b) Planning and Transition.  If you get funds under the 1965 law prior to this new bill’s enactment, you can use it towards implementation of this here new school-strengthening bill if you like.  We are magnanimous that way.

c) Orderly Transition.  The Secretary of Education will make sure things are orderly.

Section 5. Effective Dates.

 a) In General.  This bill is effective law upon date of enactment, unless otherwise stated.

b) Noncompetitive Programs.  For these programs, this new bill will take effect July 1, 2013. Because retro-active is all the rage.

c) Competitive Programs.  For these programs, this new bill will take effect fiscal-year 2014.

d) Impact Aid.  For stuff done under Title VIII, this new bill will take effect fiscal-year 2014.

Section 6. Table of Contents of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

Section 2 of the 1965 Act is amended by sticking Title I thru Title IX of this new bill into it.

Section 7. Authorization of Appropriations.

The old 1965 Act is amended by inserting the following after sec. 2:  “sec 3. Authorizations of Appropriations:  The money needed to carry out Title I, part A (except for sec. 1116(g), 1125A, 1132, & subpart 4 of part A) for fiscal year (fy) 2014 and the next 4 fy can be appropriated.

Also, the Secretary of Education can reserve 2% of appropriations for national activities described in sec. 1116(f)(6).

Also, funds can be appropriated for the administration of State assessments under the National Assessment of Educational Progress, for fy 2014 and the next 4 fy.

Also, funds can be appropriated for part B, C, and D of Title I, for fy 2014 and the next 4 fy.

Also, there are about 7 more pages about how appropriations are authorized, and I cannot continue to slog thru them.

Common Core and Useful Skills

It’s getting towards the end of June and I haven’t posted for a while, so I better.  I had a great idea to juxtapose De Tocqueville quotes from Levin’s book with real life examples, but I haven’t gotten to it.

Then some gruesome Common Core stuff popped up, which I have an opinion on, but neither the will nor time to put it into written form.  While I now feel removed from the school system generally, I understand that there is still concern over Common Core being foisted upon homeschoolers.

Precisely how they foist it upon homeschoolers remains to be seen, but I guess the most immediate worry is that Common Core standards will make it difficult for homeschooled children to fulfill high school graduation requirements and/or college entrance exams.

Still, I am not too worried.  Yet.  We went with the Iowa Test for Older Son’s standardized testing this year.  Turns out, Common Core “state standard domains” are incorporated into it.  Who knew?

The Common Core standards may have had an impact on Older Son’s math scores, due to the latest lingo and new-mathy statistics-reading.  (Seriously, I have no idea when data is discrete and when it’s continuous, and I’m not sure it matters.)  Mostly, though, his math score was his lowest (which was still average: score!) because math is his weakest subject.

Meanwhile, the non-math Common Core-ish questions were easy to answer.  Older son is still giggling about the question “Why is the boy sad?” paired with a picture of a child trying to fish downstream from a horribly polluting horrible factory of some sort.  It’s easy to sort out which answer was “correct” (hint: the answer was not that he was sad his teachers don’t want to teach, they only want to propagandize).

Also, I’m not too fussed about my sons going to college at all.  I’m not saying it’s out of the question.  I’m just saying, hey.  An undergraduate degree did almost nothing for me, and that was 20 years ago. /gasp!/

College degrees are even less valuable now.

You know what’s valuable?

Useful skills.  Farming, plumbing, framing, and flooring.  Auto mechanics and electricians, too.  These skills are valuable no matter how badly our currency inflates, and they can be learned without indentured servitude to The Government That Provided The (high interest, high risk, low payoff) Loan.

So, okay Powers That Be.  Try to test homeschoolers out of higher education by asking them “why is the boy sad,” instead of asking them about what they actually learned this year.  Give them no points for learning Latin, studying World War I and II in-depth, or any of the other myriad things that homeschoolers learn.

They’ll probably still ace your tests.  Maybe even win a spelling bee or something.

Okay, I got to get some rest.  I’m recovering from a cold and Younger Son’s birthday sleepover.  Tomorrow, I’m making dinner for a grieving family.  God bless the De Jesus family.  They just lost their dad to cancer.  If you have a Paypal account and some extra dollars, consider sending them a few.

Good night all!

Individuals Used To Matter

We old-fashioned types are pretty shocked when we hear crazy collectivist talk spewing out of what is at least in theory a mainstream media outlet.  We shake our heads and shake our fists and cry out in despair and confusion, “What the hell is going on here? What is wrong with you people?”

It’s hard.  It’s hard to understand what has happened to our country.  How have we managed to elect and reelect a man demonstrably uncomfortable with the constraints of our Constitution?  How have we devolved from the land of opportunity to the land of entitlement?

The scary results before us now are the fruition of many years of individual abdication.  We, as individuals, keep relinquishing our responsibilities.  Young adults wandering the streets today are the grandchildren of a culture that demands both rights and blamelessness.

Nobody wants to take responsibility anymore.  We could list examples all day long, but that doesn’t really help us to understand how we got here.

The devil’s in the details.

Even the smallest decision can resonate far beyond its initial design.

Older son learned to read early.  We naively expected schools to take this skill into account, but by the final year of his brick-and-mortar experience, we knew that would never happen.  In third grade, the slow and thorough application of “reading strategies” to standardized (and therefore lame) material was not only the norm but mandatory, regardless of a child’s reading level.

They have to go through this process, I was told.  Even if they can mechanically read the words, they won’t be able to comprehend the meaning unless we use these strategies to teach them, I was told by Educators Who Are Well Meaning But Shall Remain Nameless.

I might have bought this premise, too, were it not for my own experience.  I was a child once, and a good reader.  My 1st grade teacher noticed.  She told me one day, go to the 2nd grade classroom during reading time.

While my classmates recited aloud the latest 1st grade adventures of Dick and Jane, I went upstairs and into a strange 2nd grade classroom.  The teacher there informed me that her class was at P.E., and I was to read all the “readers” at my own pace.  The shelf of readers extended the length of one wall.

No one ever asked me to apply a reading strategy.  No one ascertained whether I was really reading, or just messing about and taking advantage of the situation.  By the end of the year, I had ingested every reader shelved on that wall.

Fast forward thirty years.  I proposed the same arrangement to a very kind and capable teacher, and she looked at me as if lobsters were coming out of my ears.  You can’t do that, she protested.  The schedule won’t allow it.

Right.  The schedule won’t allow it.

In other words, its not her responsibility.

Thirty years ago, an underpaid urban public school teacher didn’t think twice about taking responsibility for the needs of an early reading student.  The arrangement was probably concocted in the teacher’s lounge.  They probably didn’t even run the idea by the principal first.

Did this arrangement substantially improve my education?

I don’t know.

It sure feels significant, though.  It sure feels like proof that the individual used to matter.

But not anymore.

The Tragedy of The Commons, Children’s Edition

The whole “the kids don’t belong to you; they belong to the community” bit is just a less cagey way of saying “it takes a village,” so at least Melissa Harris-Perry gets points for honesty.

My favorite part of the “All Your Children Are Belong To Us” MSNBC Promo comes at the end:

“Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments.”

I marvel at the sheer act of willful blindness required in order to believe such a complete load of male bovine manure.  I mean, let’s all apply this to our front yards, shall we, and then hold our breath while we wait for the neighbors to come mow ours?

You know, corporations are a kind of microcosm of the larger society.  Corporate-y type folks who make their living ensuring that a corporation “makes better investments” have noticed that the truth is exactly inverse to Ms. Harris-Perry’s statement:

When everyone is responsible, no one is responsible.

And haven’t the sociological/psychological types done study after study and pretty much come up with the same truth regarding human nature?

I wonder if Ms. Harris-Perry, being a good collectivist and all, would respect Garrett Hardin‘s belief that human overpopulation is a serious global threat?  If so, maybe she could also put some merit into his concept of The Tragedy of the Commons:

“In 1974 the general public got a graphic illustration of the “tragedy of the commons” in satellite photos of the earth. Pictures of northern Africa showed an irregular dark patch 390 square miles in area. Ground-level investigation revealed a fenced area inside of which there was plenty of grass. Outside, the ground cover had been devastated.

The explanation was simple. The fenced area was private property . . . .”

Yeah.  Let’s all ignore a truth so obvious that even a Malthusian human ecologist with totalitarian tendencies can see it, and let’s “break through” the private idea that kids belong to their parents.  Let’s engage in an experiment called The Tragedy of the Commonly Cared-for Children, because Miss MSNBC Lady says things’ll turn out just peachy.

Good grief.

I haven’t seen a more sure sign of the decline of our society since I first saw somebody pushing one of those dog strollers through the park.

Yeah, that's right.  I'm hating on the cute dog's stroller.

Yeah, that’s right. I’m hating on the cute dog’s stroller.

Shouldn’t Conservatism Be the Biggest Tent of All?

“The Left” as a political group has a “big tent” policy:  they never kick someone out of the tent for failure to agree on all issues.  As long as they can agree on one thing–say, for example, Christians stink on ice–they get along like gangbusters.  Nevermind the fact that one group would gleefully stone his feminist or homosexual allies if given the chance.

But shouldn’t conservatism be the biggest tent of all?

It’s bad enough to witness GOP establishment RINO Senator McCain call his fellow senator “wacko bird” and CPAC refuse to allow Chris Christie and GOProud to even attend their conference.

Then I read an article by some dude named Cliff Kincaid, in which he breezily asserts that there is no such thing as a “gay conservative” unless the term “conservative” has lost all meaning.

Look.  You can believe that someone’s lifestyle is sinful as hell, and still let him in your tent.  You can believe that a particular governor is way too RINO to be nominated to a leadership position, and still let him in your tent.  You can believe that a certain brash young Senator is too libertarian, and still let him stay in your tent.

You can do this because that tent is so dang large.  At this point in American politics, the conservative tent is so friggin’ immense that the folks who don’t get along can just stay on opposite ends and never even see each other!

bigtent

What’s more, they never have to worry about whether their political ally would eventually try to stone them.  This worry never arises because the single principle which supports this gigantic tent is such a rock solid foundation in and of itself:

Leave Me Alone.

That’s it.  If one believes that he should be left alone to run his own life, and if he is willing to leave others alone to run theirs, well come on in.  There’s plenty of room.

People may want to be left alone for different reasons, but the specifics aren’t mutually exclusive.  You do your thing, and I’ll do mine.

The funniest part is the fact that conservatives didn’t even build this gigantic political tent.  It was created for them by the pencil-pushing tyrants from all levels of government, county and city on up.  The tent is strong, waterproof and wind resistant, for it is tightly woven with the myriad regulations and restrictions that chafe us all.

All conservatives have to do is have enough sense to keep from chasing everybody away.

Happy New Year!

Here’s a gift.  Some common sense from Rand Paul.  Here’s to getting more of folks like him elected in 2014.

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