THE VALUE OF SPEAKING UP

desperate-enough-yetMost of the time we should be quiet and listen. Because we don’t know very much, very few of us have much say. Yet there are times when we should say something. What is funny is how often we have to tell indiscreet elected officials to leave well enough alone.

THE MARSHALL MESSAGESee No Evil Republicans

Dear Friends:

Your calls and emails are having an impact on the Obama Trans-Pacific Partnership trade legislation contained in HR 1314, but we can’t stop now!

The two-part Obama Trade bill will be reconsidered Tuesday, June 16 in the House of Representatives to overcome a temporary setback for Obama.

The first vote was on Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA provision), which provided job retraining and other assistance to American workers who will lose jobs from the Obama Trade bill (HR 1314). If Obama’s Trade proposal is such a good deal, why will Americans lose jobs?

The TAA vote lost 126 Yeas to 306 Nays. Representatives Beyer, Comstock, Connolly, Hurt, Rigell vote YES. Representatives Brat, Forbes, Goodlatte, Griffith, Scott, Wittman voted NO.

The House then voted on the Trade Promotion Authority provision (TPA). That passed 219 Yeas, to 211 Nays. Representatives Beyer, Comstock, Connelly, Forbes, Goodlatte, Hurt, Rigell voted YES. Representatives Brat, Griffith, Scott, and Wittman voted NO. (Please thank these four Congressmen for their opposition.)

POLITICO notes that the TPA’s provisions are treated as national security secrets with tight restrictions on who can read the bill and under what conditions:

“If you want to hear the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal the Obama administration is hoping to pass, you’ve got to be a member of Congress, and you’ve got to go to classified briefings and leave your staff and cellphone at the door.

If you’re a member who wants to read the text, you’ve got to go to a room in the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center and be handed it one section at a time, watched over as you read, and forced to hand over any notes you make before leaving.

And no matter what, you can’t discuss the details of what you’ve read.”

Congressman Dave Brat, commenting on the TPA bill, said: “fatal conceit is to think that I’m smart enough to walk in a room and read 400 pages of legalese and believe it and know everything that’s in a trade bill that’s 400 pages long and digest it with everything that can go wrong … Ask your congressmen to explain to you what they know about it. And if they don’t tell you anything, say, I don’t trust the current regime. And I want a no vote out of you.”

Senator Sessions (R-AL) responded to the mixed vote on the Obama Trade bills:
“A vote for TAA next week is a vote to send fast-track to the President’s desk and to grant him these broad new executive authorities. … it will empower the President to form a Pacific Union encompassing 40 percent of the world’s economy and 12 nations—each with one equal vote. “Once the union is formed, foreign bureaucrats will be required to meet regularly to write the Commission’s rules, regulations, and directives—impacting Americans’ jobs, wages, and sovereignty. The union is chartered with a ‘Living Agreement,’ and there is no doubt it will seek to expand its membership and reach over time.

Fast-track … can expedite an unlimited number of yet-unseen international compacts for six years. … which includes labor mobility among more than 50 nations, further eroding the ability of the American people to control their own affairs. …The same people projecting the benefits of leaping into a colossal new economic union could not even accurately predict the impact of a standalone agreement with South Korea … which promised to boost our exports to them $10 billion, instead only budged them less than $1 billion, while South Korea’s imports to us increased more than $12 billion, nearly doubling our trading deficit. … opening our markets to foreign imports while allowing our trading partners to continue their non-tariff barriers that close their markets to ours.

If we want a new trade deal with Japan, or with Vietnam, then they should be negotiated bilaterally and sent to Congress under regular order. Under no circumstances should the House authorize, through fast-track, the formation of a new international commission that will regulate not only trade, but immigration, labor, environmental, and all manner of commercial policy.”

The vote on TAA will be on Tuesday, June 16th. Please let your Congressman know that you want to know how they voted, and that you will share how they vote with family and friends. Contact your representative by visiting the House of Representatives website and fill in your zip code in the top right corner to be connected to your Congressman’s website or contact the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121, ask for your Congressman by name and you will be connected. If you call ask to speak to either the Chief of Staff or the Legislative Assistant who handles Trade issues.

Thank you so much for your help!

Sincerely,

Delegate Bob Marshall

P.S. If you would like to donate you can do so below or if you’d like to volunteer to help my campaign you can do so at my website at www.DelegateBob.com

Because Marshall is a Conservative, he is rarely indiscreet. He has taken the time to understand why things are as the are. He also displays an understanding that his job is about serving the people of Virginia, not his own ambitions.

We have an election coming up in November, as is usual here in Virginia. In Prince William County, we will be electing our delegate and senator to the General Assembly. In addition, we will be filling all the elected offices in our county. So as Marshall suggests, if we want to make a difference in the outcome, there is no time like the present.

WHY WOULD A MAN HANG HIMSELF? — PART 3B

The image above is from the Cult of Reason

Examples Of The Failure Of “Reason” Part B

The post continues from WHY WOULD A MAN HANG HIMSELF? — PART 3A.  In Part 3A we considered how some, when their reasoning fails them, elevate the enjoyment of sex over God. Here we will consider examples of the failure of reason with respect to stuff and state (For an explanation of the gods of sex, stuff, state and self, see AN ABUSE OF THE IMAGINATION.).

Examples Of The Failure Of “Reason”:  STUFF

Pride, greed, and fear can combine to make us grasping, thieving fools. Instead of considering the greater good, we may crave more and more stuff. Instead of thoughtfully trying to contribute to our society, we may just look out for #1.  What will be the result? When a free people begin to think only of #1, their society slowly disintegrates.
Consider the economic system that produces our stuff. Originally, we based our economic system upon CapitalismCapitalism works off the moral principle embodied in the 8th commandment.

Exodus 20:15 The New Revised Standard Version

You shall not steal.

The rights to own, buy, and sell our labor and property exist implicitly in the 8th commandment.

Unfortunately, we have a government that no longer respects the right to property. More and more often we find our government interfering in the market place, even to the point of taking from some people and giving to others. Our leaders would like us to believe their interference is for the greater good, but what is resulting from their shenanigans is Crony Capitalism.

DEFINITION OF ‘CRONY CAPITALISM’
A description of capitalist society as being based on the close relationships between businessmen and the state. Instead of success being determined by a free market and the rule of law, the success of a business is dependent on the favoritism that is shown to it by the ruling government in the form of tax breaks, government grants and other incentives.

What kind of businesses receive favored treatment? Large corporations and those run by the wealthy.

Ideally, our government would charter relatively few corporations, and those corporations would be carefully managed by their stockholders, but that’s not necessarily the case. If a company is not being managed well, only stockholders with a large stake in a company will be inclined to vote their stock and choose a new management. Because it is easier, those with a relatively small amount of stock in a company (that’s most of us) will just sell their stock in a troubled company.

Instead of investing for the long-term, we now look for short-term profits. In fact, buyers of exchange-traded funds and index funds have no interest in managing the assets they purchase.

Meanwhile, the poor complain the rich are growing richer (see here and here). Incited by the news media and political activists they demand government do something, and the well-connected make certain it is they who receive the greatest benefits from the changes the poor demand. Thus, it is the assets of the lesser “rich” that the poor actually receive.

Consider what three systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich say they have discovered (here).

Three systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have taken a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide and analyzed all 43,060 transnational corporations and share ownerships linking them. They built a model of who owns what and what their revenues are and mapped the whole edifice of economic power.

They discovered that global corporate control has a distinct bow-tie shape, with a dominant core of 147 firms radiating out from the middle. Each of these 147 own interlocking stakes of one another and together they control 40% of the wealth in the network. A total of 737 control 80% of it all. (continued here).

Are the theorists correct? It seems so. In Retort: The 147 Companies That Run The World? They’re You, the author observes: “most of the companies on the top 50 list are simply investment companies – they aren’t operating companies.” Hence he sees no conspiracy and nothing to be concerned about.  Just the same, the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and those folks we call the middle class seem to be slowly fading away.

Is it possible we have forgotten that when we own an investment we must make certain that investment is properly managed? How do you manage your investments?

Examples Of The Failure Of “Reason”:  STATE

Those who worship at the altar of stuff use their own reason to acquire stuff. Those who worship the state seek to earn their rewards from “the system” and the dear leaders they empower to run “the system.” Such desire their leaders to reason for them and seek some form of Utopia as their reward for their loyalty to “the system.”

How long has some notion of Utopia existed?  Who knows? Plato provided us his own version of Utopia in The Republic, but before anyone wrote about perfect government, men worshiped their leaders as gods.

The difference between a Utopian government and a government that recognizes that men owe their first allegiance to God did not stand out starkly, however, until the French Reign of Terror.

The French Revolution began in 1789, about five or six years after the end of the American Revolutionary War. That revolution began hopefully, but what had begun hopefully degenerated when the revolutionaries tried to scrap the traditional values the French people and replace those values with a Cult of Reason (for other views, see here, here, and here too). The leaders of the French Reign of Terror intended to use this cult to dechristianize their nation.

The Cult of Reason was explicitly anthropocentric. Its goal was the perfection of mankind through the attainment of Truth and Liberty, and its guiding principle to this goal was the exercise of the human faculty of Reason. In the manner of conventional religion, it encouraged acts of congregational worship and devotional displays to the ideal of Reason. A careful distinction was always drawn between the rational respect of Reason and the veneration of an idol: “There is one thing that one must not tire telling people,” Momoro explained, “Liberty, reason, truth are only abstract beings. They are not gods, for properly speaking, they are part of ourselves.” (from here)

Since that tragic example in France, the world has seen many other revolutions that featured a government based upon “reason” as their central goal. These included Communist revolutions in Russia, China, Vietnam, Cuba, and Cambodia.

Was Nazism an ideology based upon “reason”? Probably. The Nazis argued that their racism and their eugenics programs were based upon science.

Other Posts In This Series

To Be Continued. In this post, we have consider our inability to correctly apply human reason to the subjects of stuff and state. On Tuesday evening, I hope to post Part 3C,  Examples Of The Failure Of “Reason” — Part C. That post will consider our inability to correctly apply human reason to the subject of our self.

 

AN EXAMPLE OF A BIG FAT LIE

mortgage3The Washington Post (more accurately The Compost) ran one of its pathetic hit jobs today. Did The Compost target a particular politician? No. Instead, furthering the cause of statism, they attacked the mortgage lending industry for a problem largely created by government. In Broken by the bubble, The Compost presents us a tear-jerking story about well-paid people who during the housing boom in 2006 and 2007 bought more expensive houses than they could easily afford. Therefore, when the bubble burst, they could not continue their payments, and the banks foreclosed on them. That, of course, made their foolishness the fault of “predatory lenders.”  In fact, it makes it the fault of racist predatory lenders.

Marsh, uniquely trained to understand just such a neighborhood transformation, can see both sides of the equation.

“As a resident, I welcome and celebrate the socioeconomic and family type of diversity present in Fairwood,” she said in an e-mail to The Post. “As a sociologist and demographer, I am troubled that Fairwood was hit hard in the housing crisis, especially given the number of black Fairwood residents. It begs the hypothetical yet sociological question: Would the same magnitude of predatory lending have taken place in Fairwood if it were a predominantly white middle-class area?”

Subprime loans were largely prohibited until Congress in 1980 passed legislation lifting state interest rate controls on out-of-state banks.

At first, just a handful of small lenders made subprime loans. But as investors in the 1990s sought more mortgage-backed securities, which bundled subprime loans with other loans, demand grew. The high rates of return on the securities quickly made subprime loans the darlings of Wall Street. (from here)

Keep in mind that this a story about homes once valued at $700,000 purchased by people with median incomes of more of than $170,000.  So we are not talking about naive citizens. Instead, we are talking about people who received subprime loans to buy expensive homes. In fact, what is ironic about the charges of racism is that the lenders probably felt pressured by the government to make subprime loans to minorities.

The Compost attributes these subprime loans to “predatory lending,” but who loans their own money to someone who cannot pay them back with interest? Nobody. Therefore, somebody bought the loans these “predatory lenders” were making. Who? Check out SOME BACKGROUND ON OUR FINANCIAL MESS. Our government and government sponsored agencies used our money to help create this mess, but is that what The Compost wants us to believe? No. We are just suppose to feel sorry for people who bought more house than they could afford.  Yep! The taxpayer is suppose to be the big sucker and bail out everyone, even those predatory lenders.

SAUDI ARABIA IS A TRUSTED ALLY?

 

oilOil prices are dropping and Saudi Arabia is determined to maintain its market share. So Businessweek reported late in October.

With the U.S. on track to become the world’s largest oil producer by next year, it’s become popular in Washington and on Wall Street to call America the new Saudi Arabia. Yet the real Saudi Arabia hasn’t relinquished its role as the producer with the most influence over oil prices. Its reserves of 266 billion barrels, ability to pump as many as 12.5 million barrels a day, and, most important, its low cost of extracting crude still make it a formidable rival to the U.S., whose shale wells are hard to exploit. “Saudi Arabia is the only one in the position of putting more oil on the market when they want to and cutting production when they want to,” says Edward Chow, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. The Saudis are also the most powerful member of OPEC, the 12-member group that’s increasingly facing off against Russian, U.S., and Canadian production. (continued here)

Yet there was a little unease in that Businessweek article. What was it?

An unanswered question is whether sustained lower prices will hurt the U.S. shale boom. Busting oil out of miles-deep shale using hydraulic fracturing and sideways drilling costs $50 to $100 a barrel, says the International Energy Agency, vs. pumping costs of $10 to $25 a barrel in the Mideast and North Africa. The point at which shale drilling turns broadly unprofitable is debated by analysts. The IEA says only 4 percent of U.S. shale oil production needs prices above $80 a barrel; Sanford C. Bernstein analysts put it around one-third. Shale oil accounts for 55 percent of U.S. production. (from here)

So where are we at now? MarketWatch reported this today.

Crude-oil prices again tumbled to five-year lows Monday, pressured by forecasts that a global glut of oil will persist into the first half of next year.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude futures for January delivery CLF5, -0.76% dropped $2.79, or 4.2%, to settle at $63.05 a barrel. The U.S. oil benchmark logged the lowest settlement for a front-month contract since July 16, 2009, sliding further just one session after ending at levels last seen on July 29, 2009. (continued here)

When anyone suggests we might have to fight in the Middle East, Democrats wail and complain its all about oil. So why don’t we make some effort to protect our oil industry? Saudi Arabia — an OPEC member — is not a free market player. Saudi Arabia is a government that owns and sells oil. To protect our free market players, our government must not allow Saudi Arabia to deliberately under price our oil producers. That is a vital national interest. In fact, this is so obvious we should be wondering why our leaders have so little to say about it. What kind of dunderheads are we?