IS SOCIALISM ASCENDANT?

Socialism is on the rise in the US, according to an August 2018 Gallup poll. Democrats have a more positive view of socialism than capitalism by 57% to 47%. The trend is even more pronounced among young people aged 18 to 29, who favor socialism to capitalism by 51% to 45%. Obviously they don’t know about the repeated failures of socialism and the misery it always causes.

Membership in the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has increased. Two DSA members are now in Congress – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) and Rashida Tlaib (D). The DSA’s mission statement is: “…we share a vision of a humane society based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equity and non-oppressive relationships.” This may sound compassionate, but to achieve “control” they must confiscate private property, regulate anything they don’t confiscate and then prosecute anyone who breaks any of their many new rules. There is nothing “democratic” about this, and it is not compassionate.

The latest example of this failed idea is Venezuela. Since Hugo Chavez took over in 1999, 1.5 million have left the country. The Venezuelan economy contracted by 16% in 2016, 14% in 2017, and the prediction is for another 15% in 2018. Starving Venezuelans are looting stores to find food, and nationwide rolling blackouts have resulted in the death of hospital patients.

Another blazing example of socialism’s utter failure comes from the mother country, the United Kingdom. The UK gave us the hallowed institutions of private property rights, common law, rule of law and representative government. It is an efficient country; the trains and buses run more or less on time and the mail gets delivered. If any country could make socialism work, it’s the UK. But they couldn’t make it work.

In 1945 Britons tossed the conservative government of Winston Churchill in

a landslide in favor of Clement Attlee’s Labor government. The Labor slogan was “a socialist party and proud of it,” and they meant it.

The Attlee government nationalized banking, utilities, transportation, health care, mining and steel. What they did not take over they hyper-regulated. The coal industry is a prime example. At the time, coal was used to heat homes and power industry and the railroads; it was the fuel that made

British society go. The Minister of Fuel and Power (similar to a Cabinet appointee in the US but more powerful) appointed a board of nine coal industry leaders to run every coal company in the UK. Coal shortages left Britons in the cold during the unusually chilly winter of 1946-47. But the misery didn’t end there.

Britons still had food rations three years after the end of WWII. In 1948 the average weekly ration for each citizen was 13 oz. of meat, 1.5 oz. of cheese, 6 oz. of butter or margarine, 1 oz. of cooking fat, 8 oz. of sugar, 2 pints of milk and 1 egg. That’s for a full week. Naturally, people were losing weight.

When people are hungry and cold they will find ways to fill those needs, and that leads to prosecutions. The Ministry of Food criminally charged a grocer for selling a few extra pounds of potatoes. Another shopkeeper was fined for selling candy made with his own sugar ration.

Every vestige of this failed program has since been torn out, root and branch, except for the National Health Service (NHS). Why the creaking NHS remains is the subject of another article.

Certain of their success and giddy when they seized the reins of power, the socialists had said,“…a planned socialist system is more efficient than a private enterprise capitalist system…within democratic socialist planning the individual can be given broader social justice, greater security, and more complete freedom than under capitalism.” Does this sound familiar? These same tired promises are heard now from Bernie Sanders, AOC and the rest.

The term Democratic Socialist is literally non-sense. The DSA attaches the word “democratic” to socialism to make it sound friendly. The Nazi party was elected, too, but was Nazism democratic? No. An elected totalitarian is still a totalitarian. Fancy language and gaudy promises disguise the true intent, which is the intent of every totalitarian: control. Elections will not change the ugly spots on this dangerous cat.

Here’s what Winston Churchill said about socialism. “The French have a saying, ‘Drive nature away, and she will return at a gallop.’ Destroy the free market and you create a black market: you overwhelm the people with laws and regulations, and you induce a general disrespect for the law…you may try to destroy wealth, and find that all you have done is increase poverty.”

And now Democrat presidential candidates are proposing to nationalize health care and energy production in the guise of a “Green New Deal” and “Medicare For All.” Having failed to learn history, they want us to recreate the human misery caused by socialism.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.

NO PRINCIPLES!

Democrats have no principles. A bold statement, to be sure, but I can back it up. Just watch Governor Cuomo twisting himself into a logical pretzel over SALT (state and local taxes.) The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, better known as the Trump tax cuts, passed in December of 2017, limiting the amount of state and local taxes deductible on federal income tax returns to $10,000. This effects only wealthy taxpayers. Who else has deductions of state and local taxes of $10,000 or more?

Cuomo and his Democrat buddies run New York. They have held every statewide office since 2007 and enjoy a 2:1 advantage in voter registration. Democrats are always trying to increase taxes on the “rich.” They have demonized the rich

since FDR – he called them “princes of privilege” and “economic royalists.” Now Democrats call them greedy, selfish and so on. This is as dumb as it is cynical. So when the Republicans limited the SALT deduction, effectively raising taxes on the wealthy, you would think Democrats would be rubbing their hands in glee. But no, they were angry. They blamed Trump and his Republican colleagues for raising taxes on the wealthy – which wouldn’t be possible if Cuomo and company hadn’t raised them to begin with.

The following may be too sensible for most Democrats to grasp, but state and local taxes are the responsibility of the states and localities. What Cuomo is angry about is that his high taxes are no longer subsidized by other states with lower taxes. Cuomo and his cronies are now exposed, they have to own the effects of their “tax the rich” policies, and he is not happy.

New York is now facing a shortfall in projected revenue of $3.2 billion, the direct result of wealthy New Yorkers leaving the state. Cuomo calls this “serious as a heart attack.” The top 1% of New York’s highest earners pay 46% of all taxes. Maybe Democrats should now love the rich; 46% of all taxes sounds like the rich are “paying their fair share.” A reporter asked if the state should yet again raise taxes on the rich.” Cuomo said, “Tax the rich, tax the rich, tax the rich. We did! Now, God forbid the rich leave.” When average New Yorkers leave the state, as they have been, Cuomo is unfazed. We’ve lost 1.9 million people between 2005 to 2016, well before the SALT limitations took effect. First Cuomo blamed the weather for the New York exodus, now he blames Republicans.

Democrats (progressives) love taxes and regulations and hate incentives, which is what is needed. In the competition between the states for jobs, taxpayers wealthy and not, New York is the loser. Cuomo never mentioned the things that would bring people back to the state, a meaty tax cut and a corresponding reduction in New York state’s bloated government.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.

WHO ME?

Progressives usually blame the country (us) for their failures. And so it is with a new report from the Brookings Institute (a left-leaning think tank) on urban racial income inequality.

The author, Alan Berube, details racial income inequality (RII) in the nation’s 100 largest cities from 2014 to 2016.

https://www.brookings.edu/research/city-and-metropolitan-income-inequality-data-reveal-ups-and-downs-through-2016/

New York has its share of RII. On May 20, the Elmira Star-Gazette’s headline blared: “A startling racial income gap in Monroe County.”

According to the Brookings report, whites make twice as much as blacks in Monroe county. Onondaga county is the seventh worst county in the nation, while Kings County (Brooklyn) is 18th worst. Two New York cities made the RII top ten, New York (7th) and Buffalo (10th).

Politicians predictably reached into their bag of politically correct cliches. Rochester mayor Lovely Warren said: “The data in this report confirms what we’ve known for a long time – that there is a lack of equality in our work force.” (What exactly does that mean?)

Naturally, there’s a program to address the issue, the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative. Its director, Leonard Brock, says the program is focused on institutional racism, stating, “We could give people jobs all day, but that doesn’t necessarily mitigate some of the structural challenges that create inequality.” (Wait – a $25-per-hour job wouldn’t help?)

The lack of imagination, critical thinking and common sense on the part of politicians and the press are, to borrow a phrase, “startling.” Every city in the top ten is governed by Democrats. The study covered a period when Democrat Barak Obama had been President for six years. Cuomo, a Democrat, had been Governor for four years. Cuomo said he wanted New York to be “the progressive leader” of all states. Every statewide office in New York is held by Democrats, who outnumber Republicans in New York by 2:1.

Psychologists call it externalization, which means fixing responsibility outside yourself. In the minds of progressives, their policies never lead to bad outcomes; it’s racism, sexism or some kind of “ism”, which means it’s your fault – you, the citizen, with no power to make policy, simply going about your business each day. Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren acts like an innocent bystander. Her party, her political philosophy and her decisions as mayor are in no way culpable.

Where’s the press skepticism of Democrats in power? Where are the editorials asking why their policies haven’t worked? The press never asks such questions of them.

African-Americans vote 90% Democrat. Progressives build straw-men to deflect from their incompetence and keep minorities voting for them. This is the progressive Houdini trick: to slip the shackles of responsibility and point the finger of blame away from them and at the rest of us.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D

 

NAILS

According to the Urban Dictionary, a nail in the coffin is an event leading to inevitable failure. Upstate New York is in a generations-long decline which was already underway 56 years ago, when President Kennedy noted it in his 1962 speech to the New York Economic Club.

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/jfkeconomicclubaddress.html

Governor Cuomo has said he wants to revive the upstate economy. However, he has driven three nails into the coffin of Upstate: paid family medical leave, the $15 hourly minimum wage, and the ban on shale gas development. All three are popular progressive policies and job-killers.

 

 

 

Only New York, New Jersey and California have paid family medical leave, a policy guaranteed to inhibit business development. How do employers fill the position vacated for the 12 weeks that the “benefit” allows? They must pay both the employee and the replacement. New York’s benefits are the most generous in the nation, a huge expense, not to mention the red tape.

Businesses will quite naturally choose more hospitable states that are cheaper and less regulated. The minimum wage is $7.25 in Pennsylvania, $8.60 in New Jersey and $10.50 in Vermont. No state bordering New York has a minimum wage anywhere near $15.

Cuomo’s ban on gas development robbed our neighbors of their right to the natural gas under their land. In almost any other state, landowners enjoy that right, profit by it, and thereby enrich the community as a whole. Gas development would have been like a jolt of electricity to the flagging Southern Tier economy. The gas industry was going to invest billions in upstate, mostly here in the beleaguered Southern Tier. In states where gas development is allowed, people prosper. The national average median income is $50,502, while the average gas industry job pays $71,220.

The effect of Cuomo’s policies is continued decline. According to a recent Department of Labor report, for the year ending in March 2018 (Cuomo’s been in office since 2011), Elmira had a 1.2 % decline in private sector employment, the worst in the state. Binghamton had zero job growth.

In the competition between states for people, New York is the loser. Upstate lost another 3,596 people in the year ending in July 2017. Since the last census in 2010, upstate has lost 61,688 people. Chemung, Steuben, Schuyler and Tioga counties saw population declines of 4%, 1%, 3.5% and 5.6% respectively.

If Cuomo’s policies were effective, people would be arriving, not leaving.

If the states are laboratories of democracy, then progressive policies in New York have failed.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.

Translation

Jon Campbell, in the Saturday, April 7th Elmira Star-Gazette, writing about the Democrat takeover of the New York State Senate, said:

On paper, a Democrat-led Senate would clear the way for a variety of progressive-favored policies and issues to take hold in New York, given that Cuomo is a Democrat and the party dominates the Assembly.

Cuomo and legislative Democrats, for example, have called for a variety of voting reforms, including allowing early voting that would clear the way for voters to cast their ballot prior to Election Day.

Democrats have also pushed for measures that would install federal abortion rights in state law and allow college-tuition aid to go to those without legal immigration status — measures staunchly opposed by the GOP.

But a Democrat-led Senate wouldn’t automatically mean those issues would pass.

If Democrats hold only 32 votes, they would have to stay completely unified for the measures to pass.

That’s not a given, especially considering Felder leans conservative on many issues.”

The link to Mr. Campbell’s article appears below.

https://www.stargazette.com/story/news/politics/albany/2018/04/06/what-control-ny-senate-means/493142002/

With all due respect to Mr. CampbelI, I think this article requires a translation from Democrat to plain-spoken, common-sense, experience-based English, as follows.

With the State government now firmly in Democrat hands, New Yorkers (especially upstaters) beware. Tax increases, regulations and reductions in your freedoms will follow. Your Second Amendment Rights are in serious jeopardy. In spite of their denials, Democrats don’t believe in the 2nd Amendment and will confiscate every gun as soon as they’re able.

The upstate economy has been in a depression for generations. Democrats will assure its continued decline. Why? Because they love sky-high taxes, voracious regulatory-state agencies and the dependency this creates.

Democrats have added a high minimum wage and family medical leave to the enormous burden already borne by upstate businesses and by extension, the economy. No other state in the northeast is so hobbled. The Democrats don’t care who will win the competition for jobs between the states, as long as they remain in power.

Democrats will make voter fraud easier with early voting. They’ll continue to issue driver’s licenses and ID cards to illegal aliens so they can vote early and often, because illegals are more likely to vote for Democrats.

Dems will keep the gifts coming to illegals, sending them to State Universities for free, while New Yorkers must pay.

Because Democrats care more about people here illegally than about our own citizens.

No Constitutional right is more important to Democrats than abortion. They value it above free speech, freedom of religion, the right to self-defense and private property rights. Therefore, they will enshrine the right to abortion in the NYS Constitution.

Mr. Campbell’s article is informative and plays it straight. But Dem-speak requires a conservative translator to make plain what the Dems really mean.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.

 

MONOPOLY

MONOPOLY

We used to think that concentrated monopoly power was bad for business, bad for competition and really bad for consumers. The point of monopolies is to eliminate all competition and to fix prices, maximizing profit for the monopoly owners. Merriam Webster defines a monopoly as “exclusive ownership through legal privilege…exclusive possession or control…a commodity controlled by one party.” To prevent monopolistic practices like price-fixing and restraint of trade we passed several antitrust laws, the first of which was the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. Its aim was to promote competition, leading to lower prices, better products and services and greater consumer choice, keeping free markets free. Having a monopoly and making a handsome profit was fine, as long as businesses did it by besting their competition.

Now cast your mind to health care, and change the word profit to power. Instead of the filthy-rich monopoly man lighting his big cigars with $50 bills, you have politicians greedy for power and seeking to acquire even more – the power to decide who suffers and who is healed, all to make us beholden to them. This is the essence of so-called single-payer health care. Make no mistake, power is what politicians crave, and they wield it with the same casual ease that we give to changing our socks.

If enacted, single-payer would be the single biggest monopolistic concentration of power in the history of the United States. In its many iterations, single-payer health care is authoritarian (directed from a central authority) and is the very definition of a monopoly (total control over the vast array of products and services that make up health care.) Consider that any single-payer system must control the manufacture of prostheses, drugs, imaging devices, doctors, hospitals and, of course, prices.

Bernie Sanders, the avowed socialist from Vermont, has a plan which outlaws all private insurance – it’s BernieCare or nothing. He wants the secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a “national health budget.” But what happens when a surgical procedure for a painful condition nudges just over the “national health budget?” Oops, sorry – no care for you, madam, and no relief for your pain.

Bernie says we spend too much on health care. Canada spends less per person, he says. But Canadians wait 10 weeks for a referral to a gynecologist, 38 weeks for any kind of joint surgery and 47 weeks for neurosurgery. Why do Canadians wait in pain? Because their government tells them they must.

There is more bad news from the fantasyland that is single-payer health care. The Veterans Administration has been hiring doctors who have had their licenses revoked by their state licensing boards. This is the reality of any government-run system: you don’t get the best, you get who they give you, competent or not.

A review of the NHS (the National Health Service, UK’s government agency in charge of health care) found that NHS cannot meet the growing demands for services. It has gotten so bad that the NHS has been paying people with spare bedrooms to take post-surgical patients into their homes to ease the overcrowding in NHS hospitals.

A recent UK Independent headline blared, “NHS extends suspension of all non-urgent care as doctors warn of winter crisis.” As a result, the NHS “deferred” 55,000 operations. An operation deferred means suffering continued.

The whole point of antitrust legislation outlawing monopolies was to promote competition and provide better service to consumers. A monopoly made by building a better mousetrap comes about through competition and is earned. Single-payer would fall upon us by the exercise of raw political power and the unshakeable belief by elites that they are smarter and more compassionate than we are. It doesn’t matter who has the monopoly, concentrated power is a bad thing.

Monopoly is a game. People pretend to be landowners or railroad barons. A government health care monopoly is no game. Senator John Sherman, author of the law that bears his name, said, “If we will not endure a king as a political power we should not endure a king over the production, transportation and the sale of any necessaries of life.” The title of the autocrat does not matter: Your Highness, Senator, Secretary or Madam President. Because single-payer is a tyranny disguised as compassion. And we, as a free people, deserve better.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.

 

ZERO GROWTH TAX CUTS

ZERO GROWTH TAX CUT

I’ll bet you didn’t know that some New Yorkers are getting a tax cut, which was actually passed a year ago. But it’s not like the economy super-charging tax cuts passed by the Republican Congress and signed into law by President Trump. Upstate New York’s decades-long trend of out-migration (first in the nation) won’t change. The upstate economy will not reverse its decades-long decline. The budget for 2017 included the biggest (delayed) personal income tax cut since the 1990’s, which should be a cause for celebration, but sadly isn’t. Tax cuts are supposed to unleash buoyant optimism, what economists call Animal Spirits, the breath that awakens the human mind to limitless potential and possibility. New Yorkers aren’t talking about these tax cuts because the cuts are puny, and they take seven years fully phase in. Those who designed the cuts in this way are economic illiterates.

Here are the details. If you make between $42,750 and $321,050 your taxes will decrease a tiny fraction – .12% per year from 2018 to 2025, where the tax rate finally lands at 5.5%. But only if your income falls in that range. No other brackets see a cut. The least affluent and the most affluent New Yorkers remain strangled by the highest taxes in the nation. With their earned money captured by the rapacious New York State government, they have less to invest, save and spend as they see fit.

Freedom is a finite thing: either you have it or you don’t. When it comes to your money, New York State is in charge. When your money is controlled by the government, it will not generate growth, prosperity and jobs. After all, who is best able to decide how, what and where to spend your money, a distant government bureaucrat in Albany or you yourself? I’ll go with you every time.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.