Animal’s Daily Kooky California News

Before we get into this, check out the final chapter of The River over at Glibertarians.

Now then:  California Assemblyman Alex Lee has proposed something truly stupid, even by the standards of the California government.  Excerpt:

The proposal is, as a matter of economics, foolish beyond belief. In brief, the Democrats who have taken over the state now propose a “wealth tax” on the richest Californians, who are already fleeing the increasingly socialist state in alarming numbers.

A news story pretty much sums the coming disaster up:

Assemblyman Alex Lee, a progressive Democrat from San Jose, filed legislation that would tax an extra 1.5% on Californians with a worldwide net worth of more than $1 billion starting January of 2024, and 1% for those making more than $5o million starting in 2026.

Lee’s proposal aims to tax assets such as stocks and bonds that can skyrocket in value without incurring taxes until they’re sold. He said the tax would apply to the top 0.1% of California earners and could generate about $22 billion.

‘For far too long, we’ve allowed income inequality to deepen and fester in this state and this country while the rich get richer and the middle class shrinks behind,’ Lee said Monday.

The plan is both laughable and tragic because Californians have been fooled into thinking that having billionaires in your state is a bad thing. They do not understand that taxing wealth is taxing investment, and investment means jobs and incomes.

Here’s the onion:

But, as legal scholar Jonathan Turley notes, the proposed tax law is also deceptive, since it’s not really a “billionaire tax” at all.

“The law has a cynical bait-and-switch provision,” Turley writes. “The billionaire tax is just meant for the initial packaging and passage. It can therefore be sold as a ‘billionaire’s tax.’ However, in two years, the threshold drops to a worldwide net worth exceeding $50 million. While billionaires would stay at 1.5%, those in the lower tax bracket would be hit by a 1% added rate on worldwide assets.”

This is just staggeringly idiotic.  Never mind the fact that this will cause a 1849 Gold Rush in reverse, as the last few productive people still living in the once-Golden state move their bank accounts offshore and flee the state for greener pastures.  Never mind that California is sucking wind on the state budget, with unfunded liabilities totaling $1.6 trillion – yes, you read that right, a state that is in the hole for a bit over a trillion and a half dollars.  Never mind that the state Assembly is already rheee-ing about the possibility of cutting spending.

What California is considering doing is quite literally killing the goose that lays the golden eggs, and they’ve been building up to this for decades.  This isn’t the kind of stupid one just pops up with – this level of lunacy has to be nurtured over the course of a couple of generations.

There used to be a saying, “as goes California, so goes the nation.”  Let’s hope the nation has retained a little more sanity than this – although, given the last few years, I won’t bet anything on it.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove, Flappr, The Other McCain, Bacon Time and The Daley Gator for the rule Five links!

Recently, the libertarian Cato Institute released their 2022 Human Freedom Index, and it’s not encouraging.  Excerpt:

On a scale of 0 to 10, where 10 represents more freedom, the average human freedom rating for the 165 jurisdictions fell from 7.03 in 2019 to 6.81 in 2020. Most areas of freedom fell, including significant declines in the rule of law and freedom of movement, expression, association and assembly, and freedom to trade. Based on that coverage, 94.3 percent of the world’s population lives in jurisdictions that saw a fall in human freedom from 2019 to 2020, with 148 jurisdictions decreasing their ratings and 16 improving.

And the United States?  One of the nations that saw a lower human freedom rating.  Cato rates nations on a number of criteria:

This eighth annual index uses 83 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas:

  • Rule of law
  • Security and safety
  • Movement
  • Religion
  • Association, assembly, and civil society
  • Expression and information
  • Relationships
  • Size of government
  • Legal system and property rights
  • Sound money
  • Freedom to trade internationally
  • Regulation

And here’s where we, here in the United States, rank:

The countries that took the top 10 places, in order, were Switzerland, New Zealand, Estonia, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Selected jurisdictions rank as follows: Canada (13), Taiwan (14), Japan (16), Germany (18), United Kingdom (20), United States (23), South Korea (30), Chile (32), France (42), Argentina (74), South Africa (77), Brazil (80), Ukraine (89), Mexico (98), India (112), Russia (119), Nigeria (124), Turkey (130), China (152), Saudi Arabia (159), Iran (162), Venezuela (163), and Syria (165).

That’s right.  Cato rates us below Canada, Japan, Germany and the UK.

A reliable Canadian news broadcast.

Now, I haven’t seen their raw data, but I have to say I’m skeptical.  New Zealand was notoriously strict on the COVID lockdowns, and Canada – well, since PM Zoolander has been in charge up there, liberty seems to be taking a beating up in the Great White North.

But here’s the prime takeaway:

Jurisdictions in the freest quartile enjoy more than twice the average per capita income ($48,644) of those in the other quartiles ($23,404 for the second freest). On average, the freest jurisdictions in the world have a much higher per capita income than those that are less free. The HFI also finds a strong relationship between human freedom and democracy.

And there it is:  Free people are more prosperous.  That’s the answer:  To oppression, to poverty, to so many other things.  Free people are more prosperous.  Prosperous people are happier, more generous and more peaceful.  This is just another data point proving that assertion.

Rule Five Davos Friday

Issues & Insights gives us a Davos wrap-up profiling two of the most insufferable, pompous pricks on the planet.  Excerpts, with my comments, follow:

John Kerry, former senator, former secretary of state, and now chief climate alarmist for the Biden administration, said in so many words Tuesday during his World Economic Forum rant that it’s too late to save the planet from global warming. Yet he claimed climate programs still need more “money, money, money, money, money, money, money.” The only reason he’s not the worst person in the world is because he has so much competition at Davos.

What Kerry actually said was that he is “not convinced we’re going to get there in time to do what the scientists said, which is avoid the worst consequences of the crisis,” meaning that he doubts that the global temperature will stay under the cap of 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial temperature set by scientists (though it is actually a random figure with no scientific support).

Of course the cap of 1.5 degrees is arbitrary; it’s also rather arrogant to assume that we humans, who have been around for about 300,000 years (3 million or so if you count the totality of genus Homo) should know what the planet’s ‘correct’ temperature is.  Throughout most of the planet’s 4.55 billion year history it has been warmer than it is now.  As recently as the Miocene earth had little or no in the way of polar icecaps.  And these assholes want you to eat bugs – I’m not kidding about that – for 1.5 degrees.

Yet he continues to crusade for a cause that hopes to strip Westerners of both their wealth – yes, according to the United Press International, he said “money” seven times – and freedom to move about.

With absolutely zero self-awareness, the man who flies in private jets, has multiple homes (which most of us would consider mansions) and more cars than most families, and up until a few years ago owned a yacht, preached about “the way we live,” and thundered against “the incredible sort of destructive process of growth the way we interpret it.” He called it “robber-baron growth.”

John Kerry can fuck right off.  This insufferable prick jets around the world lecturing other people on their carbon footprint, and clearly has no intention of giving up his own Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous.

But his luxurious lifestyle and those of the other wealthy men and women fighting global warming must be OK, because he assured members of his fawning audience that they are all special, “a select group of human beings” who “are able to sit in a room and come together and, uh, actually talk about saving the planet.”

Yes, and we all are just plebs who need to be forced into line, for our own good.

No less nauseating was the performance of another failed presidential candidate, Al Gore, the mother of the global warming cult. He came off like the crazy uncle that the family tries to keep away from the outside world. Author and columnist Michael Walsh said that Gore is a man who appears to need help. During his tirade, Gore gesticulated “wildly, his face reddening, his voice rising,” said Walsh. “The former vice president of the United States became a man in the deadly grip of a panicked, violent, superstitious reaction to … the weather.”

The video of Gore confirms that Walsh was not exaggerating. Gore is a man whose pot is cracked. Once just a hypocrite, he’s now an all-out headbanger.

Now Al Gore is more than just an insufferable prick – although he is that.  He is unhinged, and has been since losing the 2000 Presidential election by the skin of his teeth.  Although he hasn’t been unhinged enough to prevent him amassing a fortune from preaching climate terror.

This kind of thinking, this kind of activism, this kind of condescending prickery, is precisely why I’ve been preaching for liberty all these years.  Forget making government act more the way we want it to – the only way to handle this kind of thinking is to strip government of the power to make these kinds of decisions.  As Barry Goldwater famously said, “I have no interest in making government more efficient; I mean to make it smaller.”  Make it smaller and weaker, move most governance to as local as it can be, devolve power to the states, devolve state powers to counties or cities as much as possible, cut, cut, cut, make people responsible for the consequences of their own decisions and actions.

Then let people like John Kerry and Al Gore blather all they want.  They have First Amendment rights too, after all.  But if there is no government with the ability to implement their tyranny, we can rest a little bit more easily.

Animal’s Daily School Choice News

My old home state of Iowa has passed a comprehensive school choice bill, a good first step for which I have advocated for years.  Excerpt:

Under House Study Bill 1 or the “Students First Act,” students in private school will receive $7,598, the average cost the state spends on a public school student, per year for any family in the state to cover private school expenses. The bill, signed by Reynolds on Tuesday, passed the Iowa House in a 55-45 vote and the Iowa Senate in a 31-18 vote on Monday, according to KCCI 8 News.

“For the first time we are funding students, instead of a system,” Reynolds said at a Tuesday press conference. “We are rejecting the idea that the answer to improving education is simply pumping more money into the same system year after year without making significant changes.”

The law creates the Education Savings Account (ESA) program which provides families who withdraw their students from public schools and enroll them in private school with taxpayer funds. Under the Iowa law, the student is eligible to receive funding until they are 20 years old.

In the first year of the program every Iowa kindergartener and every public school student, regardless of income, is eligible. By the third year of the program, every Iowa family will be eligible for the ESA program.

As I said, this is a good start.  My desired end-state would be eliminating all government involvement in education at any level – and, for that matter, ending all government involvement in energy, in housing, in marriage, and in almost everything else.  Especially the Imperial government.

But politics is the art of the possible, and this is what Iowa could get at this moment.  We have to take this thing in steps.

Incidentally, this is why I always describe myself as a “small-l libertarian” and generally vote Republican.  The GOP is less horrible than the Democrats, and the national Libertarian Party just seems to be all too willing to fall on their swords; they’ve gotten very good at that and not very good at anything else.  That, plus their “open border” policy, loses them a lot of support.

Frankly they should all be taking a closer look at Iowa right now.

 I’m just going to leave you all with this.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

We’re a month past the winter solstice now, and you can see the sun beginning its long march north.  We’re still seeing some long nights right now, as the sun is rising today at 9:41AM and setting at 4:44PM – but on the day of the solstice it rose at 10:14AM and set at 3:41PM, so we’ve already gained back well over an hour.

Sunshine!

Best of all, the sun is higher in the sky.  One of the first signs of returning spring here is when the afternoon sunshine actually hits our driveway in front of the house, which as you can see here, it did last Saturday.  Spring is on the way!

Don’t get me wrong, I do love Alaska winters.  But by this time of year I’m always ready for spring to come along.

And so…

On To the Links!

Yeah, the Big Guy is losing it.

This headline is a massive understatement.

How dinosaurs fought.

Bend over, put your head between your legs, and kiss your ass goodbye.

Never.  Apologize.

Tucker nails it.

Seriously, fuck these guys.

Yeah, pouring billions of dollars into a corrupt European shithole is in our best interest.

Rare blonde moose sighted here in Alaska.

Michael Shellenberger nails it again.

Bill Maher dishes out some sense.  The guy’s a liberal, but he’s not a proggie nutbag, and he has been hammering the far left pretty hard.

AntiProfa tried, but Atlanta ain’t having it.

Haw haw haw!

When you’ve lost MSNBC…

New discovery sheds some light on modern bird development.  This is cool stuff.

Who’s next?  Someone equally stupid and useless, no doubt.

This Week’s Idiots:

Rolling Stone’s Kara Voght is an idiot.

CNN’s Julian Zelizer is an idiot.

The Palm Beach Post’s Frank Cerabino is an idiot.

The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel is an idiot.

The Nation’s Joan Walsh is an idiot.  (I’m sensing a pattern.)

Reason’s Billy Binion is an idiot.  Alec Baldwin had that gun in his hands.  He was responsible for knowing the status of that gun.  He is responsible for Halyna Hutchins’ death.

Juan Williams (Repeat Offender Alert) continues to beclown himself.

CNN’s Paul LeBlanc is an idiot.

NY Magazine’s Jonathan Chait (Repeat Offender Alert) is an idiot.

Bill Gates can fuck right off.

California is run by idiots.

MSNBC’s Steve Benen is an idiot.

This Week’s Cultural Edification:

I liked Little Feat a lot back in the day.  (Still do.)  A while back I presented in a Wednesday post my favorite of their tunes, Representing the Mambo.  But they did a lot of good tunes; here’s a song one of you True Believers mentioned at that time.  This is from the 1973 album Dixie Chicken – here is Fat Man in the Bathtub.  Enjoy.

Animal’s Daily Stupid Ideas News

Before we get into President Biden(‘s handlers) latest stupid statement, check out the next installment of The River over at Glibertarians!

Now then:  Last week, President(ish) Biden made another stupid statement about guns and how police use them.  Excerpt:

Joe Biden knows nothing about guns. It’s rather concerning that he’s so ignorant and yet, he’s in the position he’s in — talking about policy and laws, as well as constantly pushing gun control.

Biden was at the White House on Friday, talking about “retraining” police.

But first, with Joe Biden being Joe Biden, he faced the battle of the microphone and just being able to speak clearly.

But even as he’s talking about “retraining,” he has no idea what he’s talking about. He said that police need to be trained not to “shoot to kill,” but to “shoot to stop.”

This is of course ignorance of the highest order; police are trained to shoot center mass to bring the criminal down, and you don’t fire unless you are prepared to kill the subject because of the threat. Biden seems to have some farcical belief that you should shoot people in the leg, rather than shooting to kill. He doesn’t understand that makes it unlikely you would hit a moving target, much less stop them, plus that wouldn’t guarantee that you wouldn’t kill the person anyway, if you winged them in the femoral artery.

“Shoot to stop” is the standard already; that is, shoot until the threat is gone.  That means shooting for center mass, to maximize your chances of an effective hit.  And that also  means you keep shooting until the threat is neutralized; if that also means dead, well, so be it.

Biden – along with most Democrats – know bugger-all about guns or about defensive shooting.  It’s not a target range or a friendly plinking session in the cornfield.  The shooter may be taking return fire.  It’s more than likely dark.  The shooter may be crouching or prone, adrenaline will be rushing through his body, his hands will be shaking; he’s shooting at unknown range but likely close enough that the attacker may be able to reach him and negate the one advantage you have, being able to keep an attacker at a distance.  The assailant may be jacked up on drugs, or just berserk with rage.  The shooter doesn’t know.

If one tried to “shoot to wound,” then the shooter may be risking their own life.  You shoot to stop the threat.

Shooting to wound or shooting the gun/knife out of an assailant’s hand may have worked for Randolph Scott – and I do love those old Westerns where the hero does just that.  But those are fiction, and have no impact on the real world.  But then, Joe Biden increasingly seems to have an only tenuous connection to the real world himself.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain, Pirate’s Cove, Flappr, (new this week!) The Daley Gator, Whores and Ale and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!

This just in:  The World Economic Forum wants to put you in a Habitrail.  (In case you’re wondering, this is a Habitrail.)  Excerpt:

Back in 2018, the WEF told us that we would “own nothing” and be “happy”–and everything would be within 15 minutes. Why? So, you wouldn’t have to have vehicles (or the freedom those vehicles bring).

They’ve since scrubbed that video from their website, although not from their Twitter account. Elon Musk said that video gave him “the willies.”

But some have moved along further on the idea. Fast forward to the idea that was laid out during one of the WEF panels — this is what is being envisioned in 2023 for 2045 — the 5-minute city “utopia.”

You’ll live in modules, completely enclosed [so, it looks like they could keep you in, if they wanted to], everything within 5 minutes’ walk, and no cars.

Where is your private yard or your freedom? 80,000 people living within 5 minutes of each other in a pod, so you reduce the number of businesses and you only have one big store for the “catchment area” of 80,000 people? What happens to all the private businesses you just eliminated? What are these people thinking, and do they not know anything at all about humanity? The betterment of humanity gets sacrificed for the “zero-carbon” emissions and everything being controlled.

Remember what I keep saying about this kind of crap?  It’s about control – it’s always about control.  Do you think for a moment that Barack Obama will give up his beachfront Martha’s Vineyard estate to move into one of these rabbit warrens?  Think Al Gore will give up his Tennessee mansion?  Bernie Sanders, any of his three comfortable homes?  Hell no.  But you and I?  We may very well not be given the option.

No.  We may well not be given the option.  This kind of life would involve us being contained, our food and clothing rationed, our travel dictated – or eliminated.

Granted it’s easy for me to say “no thanks” to this kind of crap.  Mrs. Animal and I are comfortably ensconced in our rural Alaska home, with a safe full of guns and a freezer full of local fish and game.  I’d rather go down fighting than to live like this.  But the younger folks, who have their whole lives in front of them?  Do you think the Davos crowd, once these giant Habitrails are built, would hesitate to tell young people “move in, or your bank accounts will be frozen, your driver’s license suspended.  Move in and submit!”

I’d like to think very few younger people would let themselves be so cowed.  But I’m not very optimistic.  Look at the governments of the world overstepping on COVID-19, look at how many people meekly acquiesced, and see how far things have gone already.

Rule Five The More Things Change Friday

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  The Mises Institute recently released Rome’s Runaway Inflation: Currency Devaluation in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries.  Excerpts, with my comments, follow.

By the beginning of the fourth century, the Roman Empire had become a completely different economic reality from what it had been at the beginning of the first century. The denariusargenteus, the empire’s monetary unit during the first two centuries, had virtually disappeared since the middle of the third century, having been replaced by the argenteusantoninianus and the argenteusaurelianianus, numerals of greater theoretical value, but of less and less real value.

The public excesses in the civil and military budgets, the incessant bribes and gifts, the repeated tax increases, the growth of the state bureaucracy, and the continuous requisitions of goods and precious metals had exhausted the Roman economy to incredible levels. To cap this disastrous reality, inflation had risen from 0.7 percent per year in the first and second centuries to 35.0 percent per year in the late third and early fourth centuries, impoverishing all social strata of the empire by leaps and bounds.

Holy crap!  Does any of that seem familiar to you?  There’s an old truism that states that ‘history may not always repeat, but it frequently rhymes.’  This is one of those cases.  Almost every one of those issues in fourth-century Rome are also issues of twenty-first century America:  Excessive government spending, corruption, the runaway growth of the Deep State, and inflation.  And, as happened in Rome, none of these things are going away.

In 301, Diocletian sought to put an end to this out-of-control situation by promulgating the Edictum de pretiis rerum venalium (Edict Concerning the Prices of Goods for Sale), which prohibited, on pain of death, the raising of prices above a certain level for almost thirteen hundred essential products and services. In the preamble to the edict, economic agents were blamed for inflation, labeled as speculators and thieves, and compared to the barbarians who threatened the empire.

Most producers and intermediaries, therefore, opted to stop trading the goods they produced, to sell them on the black market, or even to use barter for commercial transactions. This weakening of supply drove real prices even higher, in an upward spiral that further deteriorated the complex Roman economic system. Just four years later, in 305, Diocletian himself, overwhelmed by his political and economic failures, abdicated in Nicomedia and retired to his palace in what is today Split, Croatia.

The Nixon Administration flirted with price and wage controls in the Seventies.  A number of people on the political Left are advocating for the idea today.  And, in some ways, wage controls are already here; what is a state-mandated minimum wage if not a wage control?  As Diocletian did in 301, so the United States does today, moving increasingly towards central control.

During the fourth and fifth centuries, the Roman economy finally deteriorated completely, taking with it society and, consequently, the ambitions of the politicians of the time. The Roman Empire was now a failed and outdated project. The persistent excess of public spending between the first and third centuries forced Roman rulers to devalue the currency continuously. This chronic devaluation, together with the decline in population and economic activity throughout the third century, triggered price inflation throughout the empire, a phenomenon that the Romans did not know how to handle.

Roman rulers attempted to use harmful price controls in order to mitigate the decline in the effective purchasing power of the middle and lower classes. For instance, the Edictum de pretiis rerum venalium of 301 ended up withdrawing what little supply of products remained on the white market, making them more expensive on the black market. It is truly shocking to note how many politicians and populist parties of all ideological stripes continue to propose these same “remedies” even today.

The response to attempted market control is always the rise of black markets.  The Soviet Union was notorious for goods and services being sold Nalevo, or “on the left,” in the thriving black markets that sprang up almost on the inception of the Soviet system.  America has a thriving black market in recreational drugs.  Market demands will always be met by supplies.

And that, True Believers, is the rub; currency, like any other commodity, is subject to the rules of supply and demand.  When the currency supply is increased, the value decreases.  When the currency is degraded, the (relative) price of every other commodity increases.  Black markets will spring up, and barter will increasingly replace currency.  That was the case in the Roman Empire, and it’s the case now.

The article concludes:

Taken together, the aggregate effects of public overspending and inflation on the Roman economy in between the first and third centuries ultimately led to an unprecedented structural weakening of the economic capacity of fourth- and fifth-century society, reflected in the incompetence of its rulers and elites to hold the empire together in the face of external threats, which, to quote Ludwig von Mises himself, “were not more formidable than the armies which the legions had easily defeated in earlier times. But the Empire had changed. Its economic and social structure was already medieval.”

Look at the headlines in any major economic news source today, and the parallels are inescapable.

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