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The War on the Middle Class

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Victor Davis Hanson writes in National Review, Plutocratic Populism Pays

In mid-October, Hillary Clinton gave a short lecture at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas bewailing the crushing costs of a university education. “Higher education,” Clinton thundered, “shouldn’t be a privilege for those able to afford it.”

One reason tuition and student indebtedness have soared — UNLV’s tuition is set to go up by 17 percent next year — is that universities pay exorbitant fees to multimillionaire speakers like Hillary Clinton. College foundations sprout up to raise money for perks that might not pass transparent university budgeting. Clinton — or her own foundation — reportedly charged a university foundation $225,000 for a talk lasting less than an hour. For that sum, she could have paid the tuition of over 320 cash-strapped UNLV students. Is there a Clinton Tuition Fund, to which Hillary contributes a portion of her honoraria to exempt herself from the ramifications of her own accusations?

Could not Barack Obama blast billionaires somewhere else than at the homes of billionaires? If Hillary Clinton is going to deplore high college costs, could she not settle for $25,000 an hour rather than ten times that? Could not Mark Zuckerberg live among those he champions rather than driving up housing prices by buying a multimillion-dollar housing moat around his tony enclave? If Joe Biden swears that hedge funds and Wall Street are toxic, mightn’t he at least first advise his brother and son to steer clear of such tainted cash?

Modern liberalism is an ideology of the super-wealthy in alliance with those who need government assistance — often in opposition to the less liberal middle class, which bears the brunt of higher taxes, more regulations, and zero interest on savings. The vast growth of local, state, and federal government and their workforces, the huge increase in pensions and benefits, the spectacular rise in the number of people on government support, coupled with zero interest for those with modest savings, represents a huge transference of wealth from the middle class to those classes beneath them — even as the resulting booming stock market has enriched the already rich. In some sense, strident populist rhetoric is a psychological tic, an acknowledgment that Obama progressivism has all but destroyed the middle class. When Hillary Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg talk like populists, then we know populism is dead.

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Shaming the Kennedy Legacy

from The National Review Larry Kudlow writes None Can Call it Treason

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excerpts:

A couple of weeks ago at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, several hundred people went to their feet to applaud a speech delivered by David H. Koch. The occasion was the opening of the Met’s new façade on Fifth Avenue. It runs four city blocks, and is complete with new fountains, paving, lighting, landscaping, and seating areas for visitors. Mr. Koch contributed the entire $65 million cost of the project, which took years to complete.

And the people kept applauding. For several minutes. They wouldn’t stop in their gratitude for Koch’s generosity toward New York and one of the world’s great museums.

Now, contrast that with the arrogant, intolerant, petulant, radical-left environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Last week, at the People’s Climate March in New York, he accused the Kochs of polluting our atmosphere. He said, “Do I think the Koch brothers are treasonous? Yes, I do.” He added, “I think they should be enjoying three hots and a cot at The Hague with all the other war criminals.”

Let’s turn back to David Koch. His extraordinary philanthropy illustrates how America’s free-enterprise system creates massive wealth, which is then channeled to the public good by civic-minded people who have their hearts in the right place.

Koch has contributed roughly $1.3 billion to charity for medical research, education, culture, the arts, and policy studies. It’s an incredible story. Besides the Met museum, he just announced a $100 million donation to New York Presbyterian Hospital. He’s given $185 million to MIT, and another $100 million to Lincoln Center. The list goes on and on.

At the end of that speech at the Met, David Koch said he hoped his legacy would be that he “did his very best to make the world a better place.” That legacy is firmly in place.

Robert Kennedy Jr. should be ashamed of himself. Blissfully unaware of the scientific facts and existing solely in his self-centered world, he insults one of America’s great benefactors and stains the greatness of his uncle, John F. Kennedy, and his father, Robert F. Kennedy.

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Nasty Little Tyrants

robertkennedy

From National Review, Robert Kennedy Jr., Aspiring Tyrant by Charles Cooke

Excerpts:

Those who contend that global warming “does not exist,” Kennedy claimed, are guilty of “a criminal offense — and they ought to be serving time for it.”

Kennedy’s insidious aspirations are the inevitable consequence of his conviction that he is in possession of the truth and that all who have the temerity to question him are, in consequence, wreckers. At the best of times, and on the least shaky of epistemological ground, this is a dangerous instinct. In this area in particular, it is downright frightening. Of late, it has become drearily standard to hear theKennedys of the world pretend that if one acknowledges basic climate mechanics, one is forced to take notoriously unreliable computer models at face value and, further, to acquiesce in whatever political “solutions” are currently en vogue. Nothing could be further from the truth. Whatever “consensus” can be said to exist in the realm of climatology is largely limited to the presumption that industrial activity is bound by the same chemical, biological, and physical rules as is any other human pursuit, and to the acknowledgement that if one changes the makeup of the atmosphere, the atmosphere will change. Quite how it will change, to what extent, and to what degree any such transmutation represents a problem for life on earth, however, remain open questions. At present, there remain serious disagreements as to what has caused the current “pause” in global warming; as to what accounts for the embarrassing failure of so many of the forecasts on which we are expected to rely; as to how much of an effect modulations in the climate are having on extreme weather events; and as to how much we can possibly know about the future anyhow.

When the likes of Robert Kennedy reveal themselves to be the nasty little tyrants that we have always suspected them to be, this lattermost question comes screaming back into focus. If this affair has revealed any “treason” at all, the guilty party is not the skeptical population of the United States, but Robert Kennedy and his enablers. To fantasize about jailing one’s opponents is, I’m afraid, a sure sign of mental imbalance, and a gold-leafed invitation to be quietly excluded from polite society. Goodbye, Robert.

Scientific knowledge, by its nature, cannot ever be said to be so “settled” as to justify the silencing of critics. Still, even were the debate over climate change in some way to be resolved in perpetuity, the prospect of incarcerating those who dissented would be no less grotesque. In the small part of Planet Earth in which man can be said to be free, governments exist to secure the liberty of those that employ them, not to serve as arbiters of truth. When Robert Kennedy contends that there ought to be “a law” with which the state “could punish” nonconformists, he is in effect inviting Washington, D.C., to establish itself as an oracle, to ensconce in aspic a set of approved facts, and to cast those who refuse to accede as heretics who must be hunted down and burned in the interest of the greater good. In other words, he is advising that we dismantle that most precious of all liberties: the right to our own conscience. As the blood-spattered history of the human race shows us in appalling and graphic detail, the wise response to the man who insists that the Holocaust did not happen, or that 2 + 2 = 5, or that the United States is geographically smaller than Sweden is to gently correct him — and, if one must, to mock or ignore or berate him, too. It is never — under any circumstances — to push him through the criminal-justice system. The cry “but this is different” remains in the case of climate change precisely what it has always been: the cry of the ambitious and the despotic. Once the principle of free speech is subordinated to expedience, circumstances can always be found to justify its suppression.

And yet the importance of keeping Kennedy’s view at the fringes goes much, much deeper, relating as it does to core questions about liberty, scientific inquiry, and the manner in which the two feed and support one another. There are fair arguments to be had about surface temperatures, chlorofluorocarbons, and the troposphere, but not a single one of them can be productively indulged if the price of the game is the destruction of its less popular players.

HKO

“The urge to save mankind is often a cover for the urge to rule it.”

The less tolerant of dissent, the more likely the theory is wrong.

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Raising Incomes vs Reducing Inequality

Kevin Williamson writes What to Do About Wages in The National Review.

Excerpts:

Inequality as such should be a complete non-issue. It is utterly meaningless as a measure of anybody’s real-world standard of living or of national prosperity. If real wages for the bottom half of households were growing at an average of 1 percent a year and those for the top half were growing at an average of 1.5 percent a year, we’d have a situation in which everybody’s standard of living was improving at a very good clip even though the pay gap between the highest-paid jobs and the lowest-paid jobs was poised to get much larger over time. That’s exactly the kind of problem you want to have.

The Left talks about “inequality” rather than about bringing up real wages for low- to middle-income households because the Left — like the Right — does not really have a plausible policy agenda for raising those incomes. Inequality rhetoric is simply an exercise in sleight-of-hand, turning a conversation about poverty and low or stagnant wages into a conversation about what is going on with the incomes of hedge-fund managers and Fortune 500 CEOs. Doing something to their income is pretty straightforward: You implement confiscatory taxes. They’ll retaliate in various ways — sometimes you move the corporation to Switzerland, sometimes you move yourself to Singapore. But you could, if you were serious about it, significantly reduce incomes for U.S. corporate managers, investors, and financial operators. You might even decrease measured inequality in doing so.

And all that would do squat to raise incomes — not government benefits, but incomes – in the middle and at the bottom.

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Ambitious Failure

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from National Review, Theodore Dalrymple writes Islam’s Nightclub Brawl to explain why such violent jihadists (interesting that spell check for jihadists comes up ‘sadists’) come from Britain.

Excerpts:

Are there more British jihadis, for example, because the condition of Muslims in Britain is worse than elsewhere? In answering this question it is well to remember that Muslims are not just Muslims and nothing else. The Muslims in Germany are mainly of Turkish origin; in France, of North African; and in Britain, of Pakistani or Bangladeshi. Any difference in their collective behavior, therefore, might be attributable to their origin as much as to the country of their upbringing.

The position of the Muslims in Britain is not “objectively” worse than that of their coreligionists in France; if anything, the reverse. It is considerably easier for a young Muslim man to obtain a job in Britain than in France, and social ascent is easier. Britain is more obviously a class society than France, but also more socially mobile (the two things are often confused, but are different). And there has been no legislation in Britain against the public use of that cherished Muslim symbol of male domination, the veil.

But failure is not necessarily easier to bear in a more open society than in a closed one: On the contrary, resentment is all the stronger because of the additional element of personal responsibility for that failure, actual or anticipated. In some ways, life is easier, psychologically at least, when you can attribute failure entirely to external causes and not to yourself or anything about yourself. The relative failure of Muslims (largely of Pakistani origin) is evident by comparison with Sikhs and Hindus: Their household wealth is less than half that of Sikhs and Hindus (immigrants at more or less the same time), and while the unemployment rate of young Sikhs and Hindus is slightly lower than that of whites, that of young Muslims is double. Sikh and Hindu crime rates are well below the national average; Muslim crime rates are well above. Racial prejudice is unlikely to account for these differences. Jihad attracts ambitious failures, including those who are impatient or fearful of the long and arduous road to conventional success. Jihad is a shortcut to importance, with the added advantage of stirring fear in a society that the jihadists want to believe has wronged them, but that they are more likely to have wronged.

HKO

An interesting observation.  It does make me wonder why we have not seen more of this behavior in Pakastini Muslims from the US.