Category Archives: Totty

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Rule Five Shutdown “Crisis” Friday

National treasure John Stossel has some thoughts on the shutdown.  Excerpt:

This government shutdown is now longer than any in history. The media keep using the word “crisis.”

“Shutdown sows chaos, confusion and anxiety!” says The Washington Post. “Pain spreads widely.”

The New York Times headlined, it’s all “just too much!”

But wait. Looking around America, I see people going about their business — families eating in restaurants, employees going to work, children playing in playgrounds, etc. I have to ask: Where’s the crisis?

Pundits talk as if government is the most important part of America, but it isn’t.

We need some government, limited government. But most of life, the best of life, goes on without government, many of the best parts in spite of government.

Of course, the shutdown is a big deal to the 800,000 people who aren’t being paid. But they will get paid. Government workers always do — after shutdowns.

Columnist Paul Krugman calls this shutdown, “Trump’s big libertarian experiment.” But it’s not libertarian. Government’s excessive rules are still in effect, and eventually government workers will be paid for not working. That makes this a most un-libertarian experiment.

Here’s the kicker:

The Washington Post ran a front-page headline about farmers “reeling… because they aren’t receiving government support checks.”

But why do farmers even get “support checks”?

One justification is “saving family farms.” But the money goes to big farms.

Government doesn’t need to “guarantee the food supply,” another justification for subsidies. Most fruit and vegetable farmers get no subsidies, yet there are no shortages of peaches, plums, green beans, etc.

Disclaimer:  I come from a long line of farmers, on both sides of my family.  Both of my grandfathers farmed.  My Dad farmed for much of his life.  But there is a distinct tendency these days to treat “the family farm” as though it’s some holy calling.  It’s not.  It’s a business, like any other, and when new business models prove more efficient, old ones die out – and should be allowed to die out.

Speaking of dying out, is anyone in the Imperial City taking a good look at these “defunded” agencies that we seem to be doing quite well without?  There’s an opportunity here that nobody seems to be – heh – capitalizing on.  News stories on the fake crisis of the “shutdown” bemoan the “non-essential” government employees that have been furloughed.

Okay.  If they’re non-essential, then why the hell are we paying them with taxpayer dollars?

Barry Goldwater had it right when he said “I have no interest in making government more efficient, for I mean to make it smaller.”  But the two are not only not contradictory, they may actually be complimentary.  But I’ll settle for smaller, less intrusive government.  By hook or by crook.

We are seeing just a little bit of that right now.  More, I say!

Rule Five Political Hypocrite Friday

I know, I know – the title is a redundancy, but there you are.  A powerful – and by that, read “crooked as a snake with a busted back” – Chicago politician has not only been busted, but the notoriously anti-gun pol has been ordered to turn in his own personal collection of twenty-three guns.  Hah!  Excerpt, with my comments:

Alderman Ed Burke, 75, is charged with one count of attempted extortion for conveying to company executives in 2017 that they’d get the (city remodeling) permits only if they signed on as clients at Burke’s private property-tax law firm in Chicago, a 37-page complaint unsealed on Thursday says.

Apparently Alderman Burke was fond of the old-school “nice contracting business you’ve got there – shame if something were to… happen to it.”

For many Chicagoans suspicious of dealings behind closed doors at City Hall, Burke has personified the city’s machine politics for decades. Dozens of aldermen have entered U.S. District court on corruption charges, but Burke seemed too powerful, too wealthy and too savvy to land himself in the kind of legal trouble he now faces.

A career state police officer of my acquaintance some years back once told me that every criminal he ever encountered combined three character traits in various proportions:  Greedy, mean, and stupid.  Apparently the same applies to Chicago aldermen.

He sat in a packed Chicago federal courtroom Thursday afternoon with his arms folded, wearing his trademark pinstriped suit with a pocket square. Minutes later, he stood before U.S. Magistrate Sheila Finnegan, who asked if he understood the charge and that a conviction could carry a lengthy prison sentence.

“Yes, your honor,” he answered calmly.

And if there is any justice to be found in Cook County – a highly doubtful supposition – that prison sentence will indeed be lengthy.

Burke’s attorney, Charles Sklarsky, commented briefly to reporters as he left the courthouse with his client, saying he looked forward to proving Burke did nothing wrong.

“The transaction described in the complaint does not make out extortion or an attempt to extort,” he said.

Which statement is lawyerly hogwash.

Here’s the punch line:

Prosecutors told the judge that Burke, who has publicly opposed the National Rifle Association and proposed multiple gun-control ordinances over the years, had 23 guns at his offices alone. The judge said one condition of his continued release is that he gets rid of all his guns, including any at his home. He also was required to turn over his passport.

Haw!

If I had a dollar for every anti-gun politician who ascribed to the “laws for thee, but not for me” school of thought, I’d have… well, a whole bunch of dollars.  Like Dianne Feinstein and her politically-connected CCW permit, or Mike Bloomberg and his retinue of armed guards.

Of course this is Illinois, which state in general and Cook County in particular has a long history of political corruption, as the linked article points out:

Burke joins a long list of Illinois lawmakers charged criminally, including former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is serving a 14-year prison term on multiple federal corruption convictions.

Now hypocrisy isn’t against the law, for which fact many members of Congress no doubt breathe the occasional sigh of relief.  But there should damn well be some cost on Election Day; should be, but in all too many cases there isn’t, as much of the electorate apparently expects nothing else from pols of either party.

Rule Five Socialist Sweden Friday

OK, so the title is a bit misleading, as national treasure John Stossel explains to us that Sweden is not a socialist country, and that proponents of socialism should stop pointing it out as an example.  Excerpt:

For years, I’ve heard American leftists say Sweden is proof that socialism works, that it doesn’t have to turn out as badly as the Soviet Union or Cuba or Venezuela did.

But that’s not what Swedish historian Johan Norberg says in a new documentary and Stossel TV video.

“Sweden is not socialist — because the government doesn’t own the means of production. To see that, you have to go to Venezuela or Cuba or North Korea,” says Norberg.

“We did have a period in the 1970s and 1980s when we had something that resembled socialism: a big government that taxed and spent heavily. And that’s the period in Swedish history when our economy was going south.”

Per capita GDP fell. Sweden’s growth fell behind other countries. Inflation increased.

Even socialistic Swedes complained about the high taxes.

Astrid Lindgren, author of the popular Pippi Longstocking children’s books, discovered that she was losing money by being popular. She had to pay a tax of 102 percent on any new book she sold.

“She wrote this angry essay about a witch who was mean and vicious — but not as vicious as the Swedish tax authorities,” says Norberg.

Sweden’s regulations on business are much less onerous than those in the United States, even after a round or two of Trump-era deregulating.  Their schools, pension programs and mass-transit systems have been privatized.  They do run a substantial welfare state, but they are able to do so because of their free market policies, not because of socialist ones.

Words mean things.  Here’s what “Socialist” means:

1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods

2a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property

b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state

3 : a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

None of those apply to Sweden; they do apply to Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea.  They applied to the old Soviet Union and to East Germany.  Now take a look at the standard of living in those places.

People who want to apply socialist policies to the United States are advocating for economic ruin, whether they realize it or not.

Here’s an extended lesson on why socialism always fails:

At the moment aspects of the U.S. economy are being dragged in the direction of socialism; you have, even in the halls of Congress, nitwits like the soon-to-be-seated Ocasio-Cortez advocating for “democratic socialism,” which is a contradiction in terms; you can’t have government control of an economy and any level of citizen control over government at the same time.

It would be damned nice if our elected leaders employees had the same level of economic understanding as Mr. Stossel.

 

Rule Five Hoofed Rats Friday

RealClearScience scribe Ross Pomeroy informs us that whitetailed deer are a menace and we should kill more of them.  I know plenty of wildlife biologists, farmers and rural residents agree.  Excerpt:

In 2017, the total deer population in the United States was an estimated 33.5 million, down from 38.1 million in 2000. Hunters should rejoice over their excellent shooting, and then get outside and kill millions more.

This macabre call to arms might unsettle anyone whose heart ached at viewing the plight of poor Bambi, but it’s a prescription that’s sorely needed, for at their current population, deer are ravaging ecosystems across the country.

This wasn’t the case at the turn of the nineteenth century. Then, after decades of wanton hunting, there may have been as few as 300,000 deer left roaming the wilds of America. Hunting moratoriums, favorable human-caused ecosystem changes (i.e. more farm land), declining wolf and cougar populations (the major natural predators of deer), two world wars (leaving fewer hunters at home), and yes, the influential film Bambi, all combined to send deer populations skyrocketing during much of the 20th century. The recovery was wonderful for deer, but terrible for other organisms.

Deer devoured countless wildflowers close to extinction and devastated saplings of cedar, hemlock, and oak. All of this eating, amounting to more than 2,000 pounds of plant matter per deer per year, might account for widespread declines of North American songbird populations, which rely on many of the plants upon which deer gorged themselves.

Observing the detrimental changes wrought by grazing deer, legendary ecologist Aldo Leopold wrote, “I have seen every edible bush and seedling browsed, first to anaemic desuetude, and then to death. I have seen every edible tree defoliated to the height of a saddlehorn.”

“I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer.”

It’s important to note that Aldo Leopold, an old-fashioned naturalist as opposed to how the term ‘ecologist’ is tossed around willy-nilly today, was himself a hunter and advocated the use of scientifically managed hunting as a vital tool in wildlife management.  In fact, Leopold is generally regarded as the father of modern wildlife management.

I remember when I was a little kid in Iowa in the late Sixties and early Seventies, seeing a deer was kind of a big deal.  It was exciting – “hey, I saw a deer the other day!”  By the time I left for good in the mid Eighties, they were a damned nuisance.

The various states need to open up deer hunting.  Some Eastern states are starting to; in some places you can shoot one doe a day.  And does are what we need to kill.  They’re the ones that breed.  And they’re great eating.

A population that outgrows the land’s carrying capacity is headed for a bad end, by starvation or pandemic.  We’re already seeing the spread of chronic wasting disease in cervids all over North America.  Bringing to population down some would help prevent what might be a catastrophic end to our deer herds.

The bad thing is, numbers of hunters are dropping in the US.  Take a kid hunting!  It’s good for the kid and good for the environment.

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.