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Exploiting Government

hillary-clinton-winking

from the Wall Street Journal, Clinton Cronyism

excerpts:

For those who have followed the Clintons, this is the latest chapter in an old story. Only weeks ago we learned how foreign governments made donations to the family foundation while Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State. Even her son-in-law is taking to the family way of doing business, with his hedge fund now benefitting from big investments by the Wall Street friends of Bill and Hillary.

Then again, is anyone really surprised? This is the same woman who as first lady of Arkansas managed to turn a $1,000 investment in cattle futures into $100,000 over 10 months with an assist from some friends.

Liberals like Mrs. Clinton typically berate tea partiers and conservatives for denigrating government. But if American trust in government is at historic lows, this may have something to do with the sight of a Beltway where people become fabulously wealthy not by bringing some superior product or service to market but by cashing in on their political connections.

The Clintons didn’t invent crony capitalism. But when it comes to exploiting government for private gain, nobody does it better.

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Shutting Down Startups

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Perhaps nothing reflects the descent of the Yeomanry better than the fading role of the ten million small businesses with under 20 employees, which currently employ upwards of forty million Americans. Long a key source of new jobs, small business startups have declined as a portion of all business growth from 50 percent in the early 1980s to 35 percent in 2010. Indeed, a 2014 Brookings report revealed that small business “dynamism,” measured by the growth of new firms compared with the closing of older ones, has declined significantly over the past decade, with more firms closing than starting for the first time in a quarter century.

This decline in entrepreneurial activity marks a historic turnaround. In 1977, Small Business Administration figures show, Americans started 563,325 businesses with employees. In 2009, they launched barely 400,000 business startups, long a key source of new jobs, which have declined as a portion of all businesses from 50 percent in the early 1980s to 35 percent in 2010.

There are many explanations for this decline, including the impact of offshoring, globalization, and technology. But in part it reflects the impact of the ever more powerful Clerical regime, whose expansive regulatory power undermines small firms. Indeed, according to a 2010 report by the Small Business Administration, federal regulations cost firms with less than 20 employees over $10,000 each year per employee, while bigger firms paid roughly $7,500 per employee. The biggest hit to small business comes in the form of environmental regulations, which cost 364 percent more per employee for small firms than for large ones. Small companies spend $4,101 per employee, compared to $1,294 at medium- sized companies (20 to 499 employees) and $883 at the largest companies, to meet these requirements. 20 The nature of federal policy in regard to finance further worsened the situation for the small- scale entrepreneur. The large “too big to fail” banks received huge bailouts, yet they have remained reluctant to loan to small business. The rapid decline of community banks, for example, down by half since 1990, particularly hurts small businesspeople who have depended historically on loans from these institutions.

From The New Class Conflict by Joel Kotkin

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Innovation vs Regulation

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from Sultan Knish, The Technophobic Democrats

Excerpts:

Democrats like technology the way that they like science in general, as an inspiring progressive idea, not as the messy uncertain reality that it really is. But applying their logic of “settled science”, in which a thing is assumed to work because their ideology says it should, to technology leads to disaster. Technology is a real life test of ideas. Its science is only settled when it can be objectively said to work. Healthcare.gov was an example of the GIGO principle that governs information technology and life.

That’s why Democrats hate technology. Real science doesn’t give you the results you want. It doesn’t care about your consensus or how you massaged the numbers. It gives you the results you deserve.

The new lefty Luddite loves gadgets; he just hates the limitations that make them work. He wants results without effort or error. He wants energy without pollution, consensus without experiment and products without industry. The same narcissism that causes him to reject the fact that he has to give something to get something in human affairs leads him to also reject the same principle in technology.

He wants everything his way. He thinks that makes him an innovator, when it actually makes him a regulator. Innovators understand that every effort comes with risk. Regulators seek to eliminate risk by killing innovation. The progressive Luddite believes that he can have innovation without risk. But that’s just the classic progressive fallacy of confusing regulation with innovation and control with results.

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Hillary’s Icarus Moment

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Peggy Noonan writes in the Wall Street Journal, Hillary Seems Tired, Not Hungry.

Excerpt:

Everyone knows what the scandal is. She didn’t want a paper trail of her decisions and actions as secretary of state. She didn’t want to be questioned about them, ever. So she didn’t join the government’s paper-trail system, in this case the State Department’s official email system, which retains and archives records. She built her own private system and got to keep complete control of everything she’d done or written. She no doubt assumed no one outside would ask and no one inside would insist—she’s Hillary, don’t mess with her.

She knew the story might blow but maybe it wouldn’t, worth the chance considering the payoff: secrecy. If what she did became public she’d deal with it then. When this week she was forced to, she stonewalled: “The server will remain private.”

Is it outrageous? Of course. Those are U.S. government documents she concealed and destroyed. The press is not covering for her and hard questions are being asked because everyone knows what the story is. It speaks of who she is and how she will govern. Everyone knows it.

HKO

Perhaps this is her McCarthy moment. Perhaps it is her Icarus moment.

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The Most Treacherous Political Myth

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from Don Boudreaux at the great Cafe Hayek, Quotation of the Day:

… is from page 144 of Anthony de Jasay’s brilliant 1998 volume, The State (original emphasis):

Private property, capital as the source of countervailing power, reinforcing the structure of civil society versus the state, used to be considered valuable both to those who owned some and to those who did not.  Liberal thought no longer recognizes such value.  It considers that democratic procedure is the source of unlimited sovereignty.

This truth is as sad as it is undeniable.  Modern “liberals” – “Progressives” – are both suckered by, and proponents of, what is perhaps the most treacherous political myth to be held by modern humans, namely, that regular corruption-free elections with a wide franchise are sufficient to keep the power of the state within appropriate bounds.  It isn’t only that “Progressives” stubbornly ignore public-choice realities.  They also believe in the existence of a mythical ‘People’s will’ or ‘People’s voice’ that they treat as a god whose desires and commands (always, of course, interpreted by the secular priests called ‘politicians’ and a select few high-church pundits) ought always override the wishes and desires of puny flesh-and-blood individuals.

HKO

It is a profound mistake to believe that the popular vote, also known as voter accountability, is considered enough to secure freedom.  It is not. It is the independence of the individual and private property that affects the greater check on tyranny.  In another post Boudreaux noted “Markets allow us to have faith in strangers.” ( a reader’s comment)

It is ironic that the early progressives such as Woodrow Wilson believed in the common will as true democracy yet recognized true leadership as one able to bend and form that will.  In those two thoughts he seemed to find little difference between democracy and the tyranny imposed by a demagogue.