Propping Up A Dictator

One America News is reporting today that two Russian air force planes landed in Venezuela’s main airport on Saturday carrying a Russian defense official and nearly 100 troops. This is reported by a local journalist.

The article reports:

Reporter Javier Mayorca wrote on Twitter on Saturday that the first plane carried Vasily Tonkoshkurov, chief of staff of the ground forces, adding that the second was a cargo plane carrying 35 tonnes of material.

An Ilyushin IL-62 passenger jet and an Antonov AN-124 military cargo plane left for Caracas on Friday from Russian military airport Chkalovsky, stopping along the way in Syria, according to flight-tracking website Flightradar24.

The cargo plane left Caracas on Sunday afternoon, according to Adsbexchange, another flight-tracking site.

It sounds as if the Russians are attempting to duplicate what they did in Cuba many years ago, support an unpopular dictator who will be a thorn in the side of America. The Russians have another reason to want to keep Venezuela indirectly under their control.

On March 22nd The Miami Herald reported:

Cuba would have to spend nearly $2 billion a year to meet its domestic oil needs if Venezuela’s National Assembly and interim president Juan Guaidó manage to stop deliveries to the Caribbean island.

“Cuba’s demand for oil is about 130,000 barrels per day, and Cuba produces about 50,000 barrels per day, which means a deficit of about 80,000 barrels per day,” said Jorge Piñón, director of the Latin American Energy Program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Piñón estimates that Cuba has fuel reserves for about 45 days. But the end of deliveries by Venezuela’s PDVSA oil company would force the government to spend nearly $5.2 million per day at the market price of $65 per barrel for the 80,000 barrels per day it would need to import to meet demand.

By the end of one year, that would add up to nearly $2 billion for an economy that economists agree has not reached 2 percent annual growth in recent years and has probably experienced a recession.

The National Assembly, controlled by the opposition, recently ordered a suspension of crude shipments to Cuba, which started under an agreement to exchange oil for medical services negotiated by the late Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez.

PDVSA now ships an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 barrels per day to Cuba, not quite half of what the oil company sent before it spiraled into an unprecedented crisis under the Nicolás Maduro regime.

There is also another aspect of Venezuela’s oil shipments.

In November 2013, I reported:

On Friday the Associated Press reported that PDVSA, the government-owned oil producer in Venezuela, seized control of two oil rigs owned by a unit of Houston-based Superior Energy Services. The company had shut down the rigs because the Venezuela oil monopoly was behind on payments.

Nicolas Maduro, the successor to Hugo Chavez, has not taken over any industries during the six months he has been President of Venezuela. This is the first move he has made in that direction. When Hugo Chavez began taking over industries, one news analyst observed that it would be difficult for him to keep those industries running at their profit levels without the knowledge of the companies that owned them. The seizure of these two rigs, which are repair rigs, is an illustration of that point.

Like it or not, free enterprise generates more wealth for more people than socialism.

It is a safe bet that oil production is only a fraction of what it was before Maduro took over the oil industry. That adds to the financial woes of Venezuela and will also have an impact of Cuba.

Following The Money On Renewable Energy

John Hinderaker at Power Line Blog posted an article yesterday about the cost of the a green energy proposal in Minnesota. The article illustrates what will happen if this sort of program is attempted on a national scale.

The article reports:

Today Center of the American Experiment released a groundbreaking paper that addresses a relatively mild “green” proposal: legislation that would raise the renewable energy standard in Minnesota from 25% to 50%. Two of my staffers have been working on the paper for months, drawing on publicly available (but rarely consulted) sources to understand what would be necessary to achieve that 50% goal, what it would cost, how it would impact the state’s economy, and what effect it would have on global temperatures.

The paper is titled “Doubling Down on Failure: How a 50 Percent by 2030 Renewable Energy Standard Would Cost Minnesota $80.2 Billion.” With appendices, it runs to 75 pages. I am not aware of a similarly comprehensive analysis that has been done of any “green” proposal at either the state or the federal level. The paper is fully transparent: all assumptions, data and calculations are clearly set forth. The appendices are largely spread sheets. If anyone disagrees with the report’s conclusions, it should be easy to identify where and why those disagreements arise. You can read the paper here.

The article cites a few highlights from the report:

* Building and maintaining “green” wind and solar facilities, along with transmission lines and necessary natural gas complementary plants (to provide electricity when the wind isn’t blowing, i.e. 60% of the time), would cost $80.2 billion through 2050. For a state like Minnesota, that number is out of the question.

* Every household in Minnesota would pay an average of $1,200 per year, in 2016 dollars, through higher electricity rates and otherwise.

* Electricity prices would rise by 40.2%.

* Electricity-intensive industries like mining, agriculture, manufacturing and health care would be hurt the most. Once again, urban greenies are hammering rural, and physically productive, America. [That last is my commentary, not found in the executive summary.]

* Higher electricity prices are a dead loss that will reduce spending in other areas as household budgets are squeezed. Therefore, according to economist John Phelan, using the generally accepted IMPLAN software, achieving the 50% renewable goal would cost Minnesota 21,000 permanent jobs, and reduce the state’s GDP by $3.1 billion annually. It is one small step on the road to Venezuela.

This really does not sound like a good idea. The push for green energy has always been about government power–whether at the state or federal level. It is interesting that the political left has chosen to attack fossil fuels just at the time when America has achieved energy independence because of fossil fuels and fossil fuels are driving our economic success. Economic success is the enemy of those who espouse socialism–if people are become prosperous, why would they want something different?

This Lady Needs To Read American History

The Herald Mail Media reported yesterday that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, speaking at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, stated the following:

“Capitalism is an ideology of capital — the most important thing is the concentration of capital and to seek and maximize profit,” Ocasio-Cortez said. And that comes at any cost to people and to the environment, she said, “so to me capitalism is irredeemable.”

Although she said she doesn’t think all parts of capitalism should be abandoned, “we’re reckoning with the consequences of putting profit above everything else in society. And what that means is people can’t afford to live. For me, it’s a question of priorities and right now I don’t think our model is sustainable.”

…While America is wealthier than ever, wealth is enjoyed “by fewer than ever,” she said.

“It doesn’t feel good to live in an unequal society,” she said, citing an increase in homelessness in New York City among veterans and the elderly while penthouses sit empty. “It doesn’t feel good to live in a society like that.”

Let’s look at those statements through the lens of American history. In November 2005, the Heritage Foundation published an article about communism in America.

The article included the following notes on American history:

Recalling the story of the Pilgrims is a Thanksgiving tradition, but do you know the real story behind their triumph over hunger and poverty at Plymouth Colony nearly four centuries ago? Their salvation stemmed not so much from the charitable gestures of local Indians, but from their courageous decision to embrace the free-market principle of private property ownership a century and a half before Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations.

Writing in his diary of the dire economic straits and self-destructive behavior that consumed his fellow Puritans shortly after their arrival, Governor William Bradford painted a picture of destitute settlers selling their clothes and bed coverings for food while others “became servants to the Indians,” cutting wood and fetching water in exchange for “a capful of corn.” The most desperate among them starved, with Bradford recounting how one settler, in gathering shellfish along the shore, “was so weak … he stuck fast in the mud and was found dead in the place.”

The colony’s leaders identified the source of their problem as a particularly vile form of what Bradford called “communism.” Property in Plymouth Colony, he observed, was communally owned and cultivated. This system (“taking away of property and bringing [it] into a commonwealth”) bred “confusion and discontent” and “retarded much employment that would have been to [the settlers’] benefit and comfort.”

The most able and fit young men in Plymouth thought it an “injustice” that they were paid the same as those “not able to do a quarter the other could.” Women, meanwhile, viewed the communal chores they were required to perform for others as a form of “slavery.”

On the brink of extermination, the Colony’s leaders changed course and allotted a parcel of land to each settler, hoping the private ownership of farmland would encourage self-sufficiency and lead to the cultivation of more corn and other foodstuffs.

As Adam Smith would have predicted, this new system worked famously. “This had very good success,” Bradford reported, “for it made all hands very industrious.” In fact, “much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been” and productivity increased. “Women,” for example, “went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn.”

The famine that nearly wiped out the Pilgrims in 1623 gave way to a period of agricultural abundance that enabled the Massachusetts settlers to set down permanent roots in the New World, prosper, and play an indispensable role in the ultimate success of the American experiment.

A profoundly religious man, Bradford saw the hand of God in the Pilgrims’ economic recovery. Their success, he observed, “may well evince the vanity of that conceit…that the taking away of property… would make [men] happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.” Bradford surmised, “God in his wisdom saw another course fitter for them.”

There will always be inequities in wealth. A person who works 12-hour days will generally earn more than a person who works a 6-hour day. People who invent things or have new ideas generally do very well financially. Rewarding innovation provides an incentive for progress. Capitalism (or the free market economy) is not perfect, but it creates fewer problems than any other economic system. Those touting the wonders of socialism need only look at the economic history of Venezuela during the past ten years. Once the wealthiest country in South America, now a place of unspeakable poverty. That is the fruit of socialism or communism.

Representative Ocasio-Cortez, please learn your history.

The Details Matter

Campus Reform posted an article today about college students’ reaction to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. As might be expected, the students loved the idea–until they learned the details.

YouTube posted the video of the students’ reactions:

So what can we learn from this? When the 2020 campaign begins (actually, it already has), the key to success for Republicans will be getting the information out about what the Green New Deal actually entails and what socialism actually is. The example of Venezuela does not have traction for some reason, but when college students are confronted with the idea of people who don’t contribute to society getting paid, they seem to wake up a bit.  Venezuela is a striking example of a socialist society–there is no middle class–the majority of the population is equally poor. A small minority of the population is extremely wealthy. That’s not economic justice–that’s theft.

A Rookie Mistake Or A Portent Of Things To Come?

Not every country in the world has freedom of speech. In a case recently decided, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff appealed an Austrian court’s conviction of her for denigrating the beliefs of an officially recognized religion by uttering “hate speech” against the prophet Mohammed. Unfortunately the European Court of Human Rights ruled against her appeal.

For those who came in late, the hateful words uttered by Elisabeth were in the form of a rhetorical question about Mohammed’s sexual relationship with a 9-year-old girl: “What would you call it, if not ‘pedophilia’?”

The European Court of Human Rights is made up of a group of countries considered to be part of western civilization. What Ms. Sabaditsch-Wolff said is true, but evidently that fact did not help her case. How in the world did we get here? We need to realize that free speech is a gift that needs to be protected.

Meanwhile back in America, yesterday The Federalist posted an article about a recent statement by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Admittedly the new Congresswoman is not known for her knowledge of the U.S. Constitution or any familiarity with her new job description, but her comment is somewhat chilling.

The tweet below is her response to a meme about socialism that she did not find humorous:

There are some problems with that statement.

The article notes:

Now, in a perfect world, we’d be holding debates about the merits of state-controlled economies versus markets via more dignified forums and mediums, but that’s not how things go in 2018. Not only is this all absurdly juvenile, but Ocasio-Cortez should be aware that, per page 150 of the House Ethics Manual, “Members…are not to take or withhold any official action on the basis of the campaign contributions or support of the involved individuals, or their partisan affiliation. Members and staff are likewise prohibited from threatening punitive action on the basis of such considerations.”

This seems like a small matter, but it is not. Essentially it is an incoming member of Congress threatening to use subpoena power against someone she disagrees with. Combine that with the censorship of conservatives on social media, the concept of ‘hate speech’ (who determines hate speech?), and the rumblings that the First Amendment is no longer needed, and you have the potential for Americans losing a large portion of their freedom. Pay attention and stay tuned. This may not have been a casual remark.

 

 

The Dangers Of Not Closely Monitoring Immigration

On Tuesday The Daily Wire posted an article about some recent information from the Department of Homeland Security.

The article reports:

The Department of Homeland Security revealed Tuesday that the threat of “fake families” declaring asylum together at the United States’ southern border is no joke; more than 150 illegal immigrant “families” have used non-familial children or adults to attempt to convince border patrol agents to allow them to remain in the country.

The Daily Caller reports that “there has been a 110 percent increase in male adults showing up at the border with children. Further, DHS separated 507 illegal immigrants between April 19 and September 30 because they fraudulently claimed they were part of a family unit.”

The thing to remember here is that there are people in various countries in South American coaching people on how to break into America. If that is a harsh word, I’m sorry–it is what is happening. I will admit that our immigration system needs serious reform, but that is no excuse for people thinking they can simply come here illegally and stay. Right now America is severely in debt. We have neglected our veterans and are not doing a good job of taking care of anyone. We cannot afford to be overrun with non-citizens who want to be taken care of.

When evaluating what is happening at our border, it might be wise to consider the Cloward-Piven strategy from the 1960’s. Cloward-Piven was a strategy to convert America to a socialist state (taken from Discover the Networks):

Inspired by the August 1965 riots in the black district of Watts in Los Angeles (which erupted after police had used batons to subdue a black man suspected of drunk driving), Cloward and Piven published an article titled “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty” in the May 2, 1966 issue of The Nation. Following its publication, The Nation sold an unprecedented 30,000 reprints. Activists were abuzz over the so-called “crisis strategy” or “Cloward-Piven Strategy,” as it came to be called. Many were eager to put it into effect.

In their 1966 article, Cloward and Piven charged that the ruling classes used welfare to weaken the poor; that by providing a social safety net, the rich doused the fires of rebellion. Poor people can advance only when “the rest of society is afraid of them,” Cloward told The New York Times on September 27, 1970. Rather than placating the poor with government hand-outs, wrote Cloward and Piven, activists should work to sabotage and destroy the welfare system; the collapse of the welfare state would ignite a political and financial crisis that would rock the nation; poor people would rise in revolt; only then would “the rest of society” accept their demands. 

The key to sparking this rebellion would be to expose the inadequacy of the welfare state. Cloward-Piven’s early promoters cited radical organizer Saul Alinsky as their inspiration. “Make the enemy live up to their (sic) own book of rules,” Alinsky wrote in his 1971 book Rules for Radicals. When pressed to honor every word of every law and statute, every Judaeo-Christian moral tenet, and every implicit promise of the liberal social contract, human agencies inevitably fall short. The system’s failure to “live up” to its rule book can then be used to discredit it altogether, and to replace the capitalist “rule book” with a socialist one. 

This may well be what the caravans are actually about. If this theory is too wild for you, step back and look at the movement toward socialism in the recent election.

Looking Forward And Protecting Your Gains

Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an article about some of Representative Nancy Pelosi’s plans should she become Speaker of the House. Say what you will about the lady, she wants to protect the Democrat party from themselves.

The article reports:

Democratic leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in the midst of fending off a coup to derail her return to the House speakership, is proposing a series of rules changes that could kneecap liberals from pursuing a bold agenda in the new Congress.

Among the many proposed rules changes the incoming majority plans to make in a draft document obtained by the Washington Post, is one backed by Pelosi and Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, that would “[r]equire a three-fifths supermajority to raise individual income taxes on the lowest-earning 80% of taxpayers.”

The proposed changes also hint at restoring some sort of “reasonable rule” aimed at making sure legislation is paid for, though there isn’t much elaboration.

Below is a chart from Pew Research Center illustrating who pays taxes. The chart is from 2016:

Raising taxes on the lowest 80 percent of taxpayers would theoretically even the tax burden, but it would be another blow against the Middle Class. Keep in mind that one of the signs of a country with a healthy economy is a thriving Middle Class. I would like to see all Americans pay some income tax–everyone needs ‘skin in the game’, but simply raising taxes on the lower 80 percent of Americans makes no sense–it will only slow down the economy and not raise revenue.

The article concludes:

Now, I suppose Democrats technically would have some wiggle room if the new rule were adopted. Because the proposed rule specifies “income taxes” it leaves an opening to raise money in other ways — payroll taxes, VAT taxes, and so on. But politically, that’s really a nonstarter. If Democrats make the 80 percent pledge and end up raising taxes on the middle class, Republicans will be able to effectively campaign against it as a broken promise, and any Democratic candidate trying to claim, “Well, we said income tax, but not payroll tax,” will be scorched.

I mean, I didn’t expect Pelosi to suddenly go full speed ahead with the Sanders agenda, but I also wouldn’t have predicted that she would have cut liberals down right out of the gate.

Representative Pelosi is attempting to protect her party’s chances in the 2020 presidential election. As much as I don’t wish her success, her fellow party members would do well to pay attention to what she is doing–she is trying to protect the future of the party. Older Americans are the majority of the voting population, and generally speaking, they do not support socialism–they have seen too much.

Plymouth Rock Began As A Socialist Colony.

The new Democrat party has moved left very quickly in the past two years. The term Democratic Socialist has been used to describe some of the young Democrats just getting their footing in the party. Actually, Socialist would probably be a better description. These young Democratic Socialists are a tribute to the damage done in recent years by our education system. They have not been taught the failures and atrocities associated with Socialism and believe that it is a fair system. They are not familiar with the Pilgrims early socialist experiment.

OffTheGridNews has a brief description of what happened:

Since the Pilgrims did not have enough funds to outfit for the journey and establish a colony, they sought help from the Virginia Company of London and the Virginia Company of Plymouth, companies known as “adventurers,” which were organized to fund and equip colonial enterprises.

One of the key points of the contract between the Pilgrims and the Adventurers said that all colonists were to get their food, clothing, drink and provisions from the colony’s “common stock and goods.” In addition, during the first seven years, all profits earned by colonists would go into the “common stock” until they were divided.

“Today we would call this a socialist commune,” Patton wrote. “In other words, the Pilgrims accepted the socialist principle, ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.’ Each person was to place his production into the common warehouse and receive back, through the Governor, only what he needed for himself or his family. The surplus after seven years was to be divided equally, along with the houses, lands, and chattels, ‘betwixt the Adventurers and Planters.’”

The Pilgrims actually wanted to own their own lands and homes and to work two days a week for their own gain, but the adventurers would not allow it.

Once the agreement was signed, two ships were outfitted for the journey, the Speedwell and the Mayflower. But the Speedwell proved unseaworthy, so everyone still willing to make the journey—102 persons—crowded aboard the Mayflower and set sail.

Patton wrote that after landing on Dec 21, 1620, the Pilgrims suffered horribly their first winter, with around half the colonists perishing. Aid from the now-famous native, Squanto, helped them survive with new planting techniques, but the harvests of 1621 and 1622 were still small.

The colony’s governor, William Bradford, wrote that its socialist philosophy greatly hindered its growth: Young men resented working for the benefit of other men’s wives and children without compensation; healthy men who worked thought it unjust that they received no more food than weak men who could not; wives resented doing household chores for other men, considering it a kind of slavery.

Governor Bradford wrote that to avoid famine in 1623, the Pilgrims abandoned socialism, Patton said.

“At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land,” Bradford wrote.

The colonists, each of whom now had to grow their own food, suddenly became very industrious, with women and children who earlier claimed weakness now going into the fields to plant corn. Three times the amount of corn was planted that year under the new system.

Yes, America began as a socialist colony. When socialism did not result in prosperity, the Pilgrims switched to a free market economy and everyone prospered. We need to learn the lessons of history.

The Economic System That Works

We have all heard the expression, “The proof is in the pudding.” In other words, you can judge the value of something by how well it works. Sounds like common sense, but somehow common sense occasionally takes a vacation from our political dialog. Recently, the left wing of the Democrat party has come out in support of socialism. Tom Steyer and George Soros have invested millions of dollars into Democrat candidates who support socialism while many Democrats are trying to play down the fact that the party is flirting with socialist ideas. Capitalism has dropped in approval among the public while socialism is popular in many circles. Yet when you compare the results of the two economic systems, capitalism helps many more people than socialism.

Yesterday Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial titled, “The Coming Global Middle-Class Majority: Thank Capitalism, Not Socialism, For The Boom.”

Here are some highlights from the editorial:

…capitalism in the last few decades has had the most revolutionary impact on improving human lives in history.

And yes, that’s a fact, one reaffirmed in a new study by the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution think tank.

The study validates what some have known now for years: Capitalism makes everyone wealthier, even the poor. But it also magically turns hundreds of millions of poor people into the middle class. It’s the greatest economic transformation ever.

The Brookings study, by Homi Kharas, asserts that in just two years — 2020 — the majority of the world’s estimated 7.5 billion people will be “middle class.” Kharas defines middle class as anyone who can pay for food, shelter and clothing, with enough left to supply some luxuries, including TV, a motorbike or car, higher education, home improvements and better food.

The editorial notes the difference between perception and reality:

Put another way, thanks to the free-market revolution that is still reshaping the world, per person global output increased more in the 15 years after the fall of communism than it had in the previous 10,000 years of human civilization.

To say this is an underrecognized, underreported phenomenon is an understatement. Today, in our colleges and universities, our best students learn that the world is bifurcated sharply into haves and have-nots, a result of capitalism run amok. And that capitalism leaves a small handful of people richer but the rest of us poorer.

Simply not true. Indeed, most of the world is getting richer, largely due to free trade, more open investment, and the recognition by many countries that not all regulations are good. And among those who have benefited the most are those who are the poorest.

Socialism didn’t achieve these things. Capitalism, now a dirty word, did. Yet, as we’ve mentioned before, a recent Gallup Poll shows that among those aged 18 to 29, 51% have a positive view of socialism while just 45% have a positive view of capitalism. They’re sadly mistaken.

As left-leaning economist Robert Heilbroner so eloquently wrote in the pages of the New Yorker all the way back in 1989, “Less than 75 years after it officially began, the contest between capitalism and socialism is over: capitalism has won … Capitalism organizes the material affairs of humankind more satisfactorily than socialism.”

The editorial concludes:

Yes, growth cycles go up, and they go down. But there is no question that the free market policies put in place in the early 1980s under U.S. President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher have had an enormous effect around the world. The ideas they fostered and that other governments picked up made the world a much wealthier place. They helped pull literally hundreds of millions out of poverty and misery.

Remember that the next time you hear Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren or congresswoman wannabe Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez extol the wonders of socialism. Capitalism creates wealth. Socialism creates poverty. And the explosion in the global middle class proves it.

I guess those who support candidates espousing socialism need to study recent economics and history.

But It Sounds So Good

On Wednesday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about the cost of free stuff. Yes, you read that right.

The editorial reports:

In a devastating piece that appeared on the left-of-center web site Vox (to its credit), Manhattan Institute fellow Brian Riedl went through the simple math of what free actually costs. It’s a lot.

It’s not just the free aspect, but the fact that the democratic socialists have made so many promises that must be paid for that will make it so tough to swallow for most voters.

Riedl looked at the 10-year costs of all the various promises made by Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and other self-described democratic socialists. He was as generous as could be in his estimates, often accepting the democratic socialists’ cost estimate even when it was patently and absurdly too low. It’s quite a laundry-list of promises with enormous costs: “Free college” ($807 billion); Social Security expansion ($188 billion); single-payer health care ($32 trillion); guaranteed jobs at $15 per hour plus benefits ($6.8 trillion); infrastructure ($1 trillion); student loan debt forgiveness ($1.4 trillion).

Net cost: about $42.5 trillion over 10 years, give or take a few hundred billion. To paraphrase the late, great Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen: “A trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”

I wonder if the young people who support socialism understand how much it costs.

The article reminds us that our spending is already out of control:

As it is, current federal estimates expect about $44 trillion in tax revenues over that same period, with a deficit of roughly $12.4 trillion. Remember: All this democratic socialist spending comes on top of what we’re already spending.

Please consider this when you vote. If you want the government to take less of your money, the only hope you have (although it is a small hope) is to vote Republican.

It Has Never Worked, Why Did They Think It Would Work?

Fox News posted an article today about Finland’s decision to end its universal basic income program by the end of the year.

The article reports:

The Finnish government reportedly announced Tuesday that it will end the country’s universal basic income program by year’s end — and appears to be taking on new measures to cut benefits to those who do not actively seek employment.

Finland was considered the first European country to pay a monthly check of $685 to its unemployed between ages 25 and 58. It was considered a pilot program — serving 2,000 randomly selected jobless people — that its founders hoped to expand.

…”Proponents said the program wasn’t comprehensive enough to gauge its merits,” Whitley wrote. “Critics say it would have required a 30 percent tax increase on an already over-taxed population to be viable.”

This is a chart showing Finland’s Personal Income Tax Rate. The source is a website called tradingeconomics:

This is what taxes look like under socialism. Consider this–if you are making $15 an hour in Finland, you are making slightly less than $8 an hour after taxes. This is what the conservative members of Congress are trying to avoid. We need to cut spending in America–we need to learn the lesson of socialism–giving people something they did not work for is not a plan for a successful economy.

The critics of the program may have known something that those backing the program did not:

The initial move was met with skepticism from citizens who questioned whether an unemployed young person would be motivated to find a job if they were making a steady income, albeit small.

“There is a fear that with basic income they would just stay at home and play computer games,” Heikki Hiilamo, a professor at the University of Helsinki, told the paper.

The problem isn’t really socialism as much as it is human nature. There is something built into us that generally is not willing to work for something we can get for free.

Propaganda Or Ignorance?

The dream of the political left is to have a successful socialistic state. The idea of everyone having everything they need and everyone being financially secure is wonderful. The only problem is that is doesn’t seem to work in real life. Europe is an example of government spending to provide government benefits, but does not seem to be prospering. A few years ago, the political left thought Venezuela was going to prove that socialism worked.

An article appeared in Salon Magazine with the title, “Hugo Chavez‘s economic miracle” with the subtitle, “The Venezuelan leader was often marginalized as a radical. But his brand of socialism achieved real economic gains.” Chavez’s early years were very successful. He served as President of Venezuela from 1999 to 2013. So what happened?

The article at Salon reports:

For instance, according to data compiled by the UK Guardian, Chavez’s first decade in office saw Venezuelan GDP more than double and both infant mortality and unemployment almost halved. Then there is a remarkable graph from the World Bank that shows that under Chavez’s brand of socialism, poverty in Venezuela plummeted (the Guardian reports that its “extreme poverty” rate fell from 23.4 percent in 1999 to 8.5 percent just a decade later). In all, that left the country with the third lowest poverty rate in Latin America. Additionally, as Weisbrot points out, “college enrollment has more than doubled, millions of people have access to health care for the first time and the number of people eligible for public pensions has quadrupled.”

 Part of Chavez’s success can be attributed to the high cost of oil during that time.

OilPricesHowever, the Venezuelan government began to take over private companies that were keeping the oil flowing. The government did not have the technical skill to continue to operative those companies successfully. (rightwinggranny) As the price of oil began to fall, there was no one to help increase the efficiency of oil production–the companies had been nationalized so there was no incentive. The free market was not allowed to work.

So where are they now. CBN News posted a story yesterday.

CBN News reported:

Venezuela, a country rich in natural resources, is the fifth largest exporter of oil in the world. Despite its assets, however, the economy is disintegrating.

Basic necessities are scarce, and inflation is skyrocketing, with some reports suggesting it could go as high as 700 percent.

“The people of Venezuela are suffering from violence, a world record of daily murders and random kidnappings,” European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said.

“They are suffering permanent shortages of food, basic goods, most medicines and medical care,” she continued. “Water is scarce and no longer guarantees the former sanitary standards. Even electricity is subject to frequent rationing.”

Socialism doesn’t work–when there is no incentive, people do not innovate. Even though it is not perfect, the free market is the only economic system in the world proven to lift people out of poverty and give everyone the opportunity to achieve. That is the history of socialism and the history of free market economics. I don’t know if the people at Salon knew that history and were hoping that Venezuela would be different, or if they didn’t know that history. Either way, the article misled anyone who does not understand economics.

Does the ignorance of economic policies and their consequences explain the acceptance of Bernie Sanders as a Presidential candidate?

The Results Of Socialism

A picture is worth a thousand words. This picture is from the Independent Journal Review:

You Can See Socialism From Space…

The heading of the article with the picture is, “You Can See Socialism From Space….”

The article points out:

In newly released nighttime photos from NASA, the disastrous economics effects of socialism can be clearly seen. Causes: North Korea’s stifling government control yields power generation and per-person economic activity that is less than 10% of that in South Korea. Still think socialism is “good on paper”?

If we lived in a world of perfect people, socialism would work. Unfortunately, we live in a world of flawed people–all flawed in different ways. Socialism was tried by the early settlers of America. The Puritans instituted a form of socialism–they abolished private property and stated that all property would be held in common. Half the colonists died of starvation. At that point, private property rights were restored, and each man farmed his own land. As a result of the decision to restore private property rights, more food was produced, and fewer people faced starvation. Americans can learn from their own history as well as the history of other countries. Socialism is a wonderful utopian idea that does not work. It’s really that simple.

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