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The Authoritarian Defense

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Kevin Williamson writes The Unmanageable Man in The National Review.

Excerpt:

The responsibility of conservatives is to draw ever nearer to reality. And one unpleasant aspect of our current reality is that the pain the Left is feeling as its planning ambitions run up against reality will be redirected, notably into tribalism and authoritarianism.

We are experiencing a terrifying moment of authoritarianism among mainstream Democratic politicians: Harry Reid’s highly personal campaign of vicious demagoguery against Charles and David Koch is a national disgrace, but his party’s attempt to repeal the First Amendment is a national crisis. While Harry Reid wages war on free speech, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. calls for the literalimprisonment of people with the wrong ideas on climate change. These aren’t Occupy terrorists trying to blow up a bridge in Cleveland; this is the United States Senate and a man bearing one of the most famous names in American politics.

The Left no longer has a credible intellectual case for its core program of control and planning. But, as Hayek predicted, the failure of central-planning aspirations is not going to be met with a renewed sense of humility on the part of our would-be rulers, but with denunciations of enemies of the people and demands for ever-more-extraordinary powers to deal with the emergency, which is now, it goes without saying, permanent. The world is moving on from command and control; the campus of Google might as well be on a different planet from the Rayburn House Office Building, its inhabitants practically alien. Power is shifting decisively in the direction of technology, capital, and innovation, and the planners are on the verge of losing, and spectacularly.

HKO

from C.S.Lewis,   “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

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Authoritarian Posers of Capitalism

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Joel Kotkin writes Choosing Fortune Over Freedom

Excerpts:

This is not surprising, given the rapid progress that country has made in recent years. China has expanded its share of global gross domestic product from 2 percent in 1995 to 12 percent in 2012. Its economic model – communist control of thought and politics but welcoming to most enterprise – has vastly outperformed that of the strongest democracies, the United States, the European Union and Japan, particularly in light of the Great Recession. This recalls the 1930s, where Germany’s state-directed economy and that of the Soviet Union seemed to cope far better with the Depression than their Western democratic counterparts.

Chinese success has made it painfully clear that globalization of capitalism does not require pluralism or Western standards of legality. Nor has it done much to promote global understanding, in the China Sea or elsewhere in the world. Religious and ethnic divisions are, if anything, ever more pronounced. The failure of the much-heralded Arab Spring to create anything remotely pluralistic epitomizes this trend, leaving the West with the dilemma of selecting which repressive regimes to ally with to defeat even more heinous entities, like Hamas or the Islamic State.

HKO

Democratic Capitalism requires broad participation, a strong legal foundation, and a virtuous population. Authoritarian posers are mere cronies.  This success will be short lived as we found our fascination with Fascism to solve conditions of economic turmoil to unwind.

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Lessons Unwanted

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Bret Stephens writes in The Wall Street Journal, Obama Needs to Call Bush

Excerpts:

Maybe President Obama also calls Mr. Bush every now and then, just to talk, and one day we’ll find out about it. But I suspect not. No president has so completely built his administration with a view toward doing—and being—the opposite of his predecessor. Long private talks wouldn’t just be out of character for this president. They’d be awkward.

But having a long conversation with Mr. Bush is what Mr. Obama needs to do if he means to start salvaging his failing presidency. It would be an act of contrition: for six years of vulgar ridicule and sophomoric condescension. Also, humility: for finally understanding that the intel is often wrong (and that doesn’t make you a “liar”), that the choices in war are never clear or simple, that the allies aren’t always with you, and that evil succumbs only to force.

And it would be an act of bipartisanship: not the fake kind to which the president pays occasional lip service, but the kind that knows there is no party monopoly on wisdom, and that there is no democracy without compromise, and that there can be no compromise when your opponents sense you hold them in contempt.

Maybe then the two presidents can start talking about a few things they have in common. Like going from big re-elections to dismal ratings in a matter of months. Like realizing that you will soon lose the Congress, and that your own party is turning on you. Like figuring out that your top cabinet officers and White House confidantes are failing you. Like having your past boasts about military success rendered ridiculous by events. Like needing to come up with a new strategy, quickly, before a foreign-policy setback becomes a full-blown calamity.

Don’t make promises in private that you’ll renege on in public.  Don’t give speeches denouncing Republicans as mean and greedy. Listen as if you might actually learn something. Give something if you want to get something.

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Cherry-picking CEO Data

Economist Mark Perry writes in Carpe Diem When we consider all US CEOs and all US workers, the ‘CEO-to-worker pay ratio’ falls from 331:1 to below 4:1

Excerpts:

The AFL-CIO is comparing: a) the average salary of a small sample (350) of the highest paid US CEOs, out of a total CEO population in 2013 of 248,760 CEOs, according to BLS data here, and b) the average worker pay for production and nonsupervisory workers, which represents only 8.5 million factory workers out of a total of 136.3 million payroll employees nationwide. In other words, the AFL-CIO’s reported “CEO-to-worker pay ratio” of 331:1 is calculated by ignoring 99.9% of all US CEOs and 93.8% of all US workers. A more accurate description would be to call it a ratio of the pay for 350 of the highest-paid US CEOs to the pay of only 6.2% of the American labor force, or a ratio of an unrepresentative, infinitesimally small, and statistically insignificant group of CEOs to a small minority and unrepresentative group of US factory workers. It’s a completely bogus and meaningless comparison.

The top chart above shows a more statistically valid comparison of CEO pay to average worker in the US pay by considering: a) the average annual pay of all US CEOs in every year from 2002 to 2013 (data here) and b) the average annual pay of all US workers in a comprehensive, national BLS dataset that includes workers in 22 major occupational groups, 94 minor occupational groups, 458 broad occupations, and 821 detailed occupations (132.6 million workers for 2013). Based on those data, the average CEO earned $178,400 last year, the average worker earned $46,440, and the “CEO-to-worker pay ratio” was 3.84:1, and that’s a LOT different from the AFL-CIO’s ratio of 331:1 by a factor of more than 86 times! Call it a “statistical falsehood-to-truth ratio” of 86:1 for the AFL-CIO’s exaggerated, bogus ratio. The chart also shows that the real CEO-to-worker pay ratio has not been increasing as is frequently reported, but instead has been remarkably constant over the last 12 years, averaging 3.8:1 in a tight range between a maximum of 3.89:1 in 2004 and a minimum of 3.69:1 in both 2005 and 2006. The ratio of 3.84:1 in the most recent year (2013) was actually slightly lower than the ratios in 2004 (3.89:1) and in all years between 2009 and 2012.

Likewise, the bottom chart displays a more statistically valid comparison of average CEO pay to the annual pay of a full-time minimum wage worker. In 2013, a full-time minimum wage worker earned $14,500, and therefore the CEO-to-minimum-wage-worker pay ratio was only 12.3:1 compared to the grossly inflated 774:1 ratio reported by the AFL-CIO. That’s a “statistical falsehood-to-truth ratio” of 63:1 for the AFL-CIO’s exaggerated ratio. Because of the recent increases in the minimum wage between 2007-2009, the CEO-to-minimum-wage-worker pay ratio in recent years has been lower than the most recent 12-year average of 12.76:1.

HKO

They cherry pick data to compare a subgroup of the wealthiest CEOs with a subgroup of the lowest paid production workers.  This is statistical malfeasance of such a high order that any student of statistics can see right through it.  Is this a matter of incompetence or fraud?

This gross misuse of such data is becoming both typical and dangerous.  Is the media too ignorant of basic statistics to see such obvious flaws or are they so monolithically indoctrinated that they refuse to consider that the complete information may shake their poorly founded beliefs about their reality?

A simple Google search will reveal that there are far more articles available that reinforce this falsehood than there are to correct or clarify it.  This is also true in the discussion of inequality,  AGW, and other social issues that require clear information to make correct policies.

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” Winston Churchill

 

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Squandered Opportunities

Bret Stephens writes The Meltdown in the September Commentary.

Excerpts:

If anything, the international situation Obama faced when he assumed the presidency was, in many respects, relatively auspicious. Despite the financial crisis and the recession that followed, never since John F. Kennedy has an American president assumed high office with so much global goodwill. The war in Iraq, which had done so much to bedevil Bush’s presidency, had been won thanks to a military strategy Obama had, as a senator, flatly opposed. For the war in Afghanistan, there was broad bipartisan support for large troop increases. Not even six months into his presidency, Obama was handed a potential strategic game changer when a stolen election in Iran led to a massive popular uprising that, had it succeeded, could have simultaneously ended the Islamic Republic and resolved the nuclear crisis. He was handed another would-be game changer in early 2011, when the initially peaceful uprising in Syria offered an opportunity, at relatively little cost to the U.S., to depose an anti-American dictator and sever the main link between Iran and its terrorist proxies in Lebanon and Gaza.

Incredibly, Obama squandered every single one of these opportunities. An early and telling turning point came in 2009, when, as part of the Russian reset, the administration abruptly cancelled plans—laboriously negotiated by the Bush administration, and agreed to at considerable political risk by governments in Warsaw and Prague—to deploy ballistic-missile defenses to Poland and the Czech Republic. “We heard through the media,” was how Witold Waszczykowski, the deputy head of Poland’s national-security team, described the administration’s consultation process. Adding unwitting insult to gratuitous injury, the announcement came on the 70th anniversary of the Nazi-Soviet pact, a stark reminder that Poland could never entrust its security to the guarantees of great powers.