With 700,000 “Excess Deaths,” What’s Next for America?

There has been a lot of speculation, much of it backed up by evidence, that over the past year, America’s “cause of death” statistics have been skewed. For reasons alleged to be both political and financial, people who did not have a fatal case of COVID were reported as dying from the disease. The classic example is the young man who died in a horrific motorcycle accident, who tested positive for COVID in the post-mortem and was listed as a COVID victim.

Less likely, however, is the possibility that “deaths from all causes” have been misrepresented. Assuming these are CDC statistics that we can rely on, the data tells a grim story. During the 12 month period between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, the number of people dying in the United States exceeded the recent historical average for that same April through March period by 701,680. If anything, this number is understated, because CDC data can take up to eight weeks to fill in completely and our dataset is only updated through May 12.

This is an astonishing increase, representing a 25 percent increase over total deaths in previous years, even when adjusting for population growth. The average deaths for the same 12 month period over the last six years, prior to the most recent twelve months, were 2,845,200. That compares to 3,546,880 in the twelve month period through March 31, 2021. COVID may have mostly targeted the old and the weak, but target them it did. Based […] Read More

Social Conservative, Fiscal Liberal

Much has been made of Kaitlin Jenner’s entry into the California gubernatorial free-for-all. Much of the political buzz about Jenner, notwithstanding her celebrity status, is that she is “socially liberal, fiscally conservative.”

This is supposed to be a magic formula that can transform politics. In places like California, a firm hand is needed on the financial tiller of this high-tax, spendthrift state, yet on social issues the successful politician must be equally uncompromising, i.e., anything goes.

It’s nothing new. Way back in 1980, the politically moderate congressman John Anderson defected from his Republican party to run against Ronald Reagan and incumbent Jimmy Carter in the presidential election. Anderson was also known as a “fiscal conservative and social liberal,” although it may have been a little easier to define those terms back in those days when we only had two sexes and the national debt to GDP ratio was only 32 percent.

So what is a fiscal conservative and a social liberal? Perhaps the socially liberal part of it is somewhat easier to imagine. In California, to be a social liberal is to accept a Byzantine and constantly evolving set of rules that include the following: Men can have periods and women can have penises, but all white people are immutably white and hence suffer from privilege, fragility, and unconscious bias. To continue, the social liberal believes that heroin or methamphetamine addiction is a legitimate lifestyle, and theft is typically not […] Read More

Newsom’s Latest Binge

“It is our hope that all schools will be able to physically open for five days per week in the fall but local conditions will determine whether that is possible.” – Cecily Myart-Cruz, President, United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA Update 5/14/2021)

It’s impossible to know what “local conditions” are going to look like when kids go back to school this Fall, but two things are certain: Whatever the United Teachers of Los Angeles want, the United Teachers of Los Angeles are going to get, and to the extent “local conditions” involves money, there’s going to be plenty of it.

California’s budget bonanza, just announced last week, capitalizes on conditions unique to California that in retrospect are obvious. The COVID lockdown may have decimated California’s working families and small businesses, but the explosion in online activity delivered stupendous windfalls to California’s high tech industry. In California’s top heavy income tax model, the more money California’s super rich make, the more money pours into the state treasury. And pour it did. Quoting from the May Revision of California’s 2021-22 state budget:

“Compared to a projected budget deficit of $54 billion a year ago, the state now has a projected $75.7 billion surplus. Combined with over $25 billion in federal relief, this supports a $100 billion California Comeback Plan—a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

This hundred billion dollar binge is a welcome distraction for the embattled Governor Newsom, who faces a recall election later this year. And of course, spreading an extra $100 […] Read More

Raising the Minimum Wage is Not the Answer

If President Biden gets his way, the Federal Minimum Wage will soon more than double, from the current $7.25 to $15.00 per hour. To quote our Commander in Chief, “if you work for less than $15 an hour and work 40 hours a week, you’re living in poverty.”

To rehash the minimum wage debate would be redundant. Anyone with business experience should see what’s going to happen. Many small independent businesses, retail stores and restaurants that pay minimum wage, will go under. Meanwhile, major corporate chains will automate, shedding workers and raising prices, consolidating their grip on every market sector where they’re active. Unionized government workers will automatically get raises because their wages are indexed to the minimum wage – putting even more pressure on government budgets and taxpayers. People in the private sector who have dedicated decades towards learning a skill and as a result of this hard work can now earn $25/hour or $30/hour, will become justifiably disgruntled, because they will no longer be making much more than minimum wage. The underground economy will explode.

And so on. And then there’s the ongoing COVID inspired, enhanced unemployment benefits. Why work? Working is for chumps.

While reason and common sense seem to be wasted on the economic wizards that advise President Biden, the debate over minimum wage nonetheless should be viewed in its historical context. Below is an updated chart showing what the minimum wage would have been over the past several decades, if it were paid Read More

Biden’s Union Agenda Betrays American Workers

The consequences of Democrat control of Congress and the White House are just beginning to be felt, as one of the most disruptive pieces of legislation in American history quietly moves from the House of Representatives to the Senate, where only a successful filibuster may prevent its passage. The “Protect the Right to Organize,” or “PRO Act,” goes a long way towards completing America’s transition into a corporate oligarchy. Because it will also make the elite captains of Big Labor more powerful than ever, they don’t care.

The PRO Act, like the more visible H.R. 1, is an example of disastrous legislation that is packaged and labeled as advancing the interests of the American people, when in fact they are designed by special interests to destroy democracy and deny upward mobility. The overall theme is simple and tragic: in America, big labor, big business, and big government no longer engage in healthy conflict. Rather than checking and balancing each other, on the biggest issues they display a corrupt unity.

Here are some of the provisions of H.R. 842, the PRO Act:

1 – Eliminates the secret ballot in union elections, replacing it with “card check.” In this new system, employers would be compelled to give unions the personal information about their employees, including their phone numbers and home addresses. Union operatives could then approach these workers, repeatedly, attempting to get them to sign a card approving unionization. Once signed cards were collected from a majority of […] Read More

We Must Hang Together, Or Surely We Shall Hang Separately

The special election to recall Gavin Newsom is coming up this Fall, and the two questions on the ballot might serve as a metaphor for the dilemma confronting Republicans in California. Question one is binary: Do you want to recall the governor, or don’t you? On this question, California’s Republicans have come together. They all would like to see Newsom go.

Question two, however, presents fundamental challenges to Republican unity. It is a multiple choice question, “who do you want to replace Newsom?,” with candidates galore to choose from. So far, all of them are Republicans. Inevitably and increasingly, these candidates are choosing not only to disparage their common foe, Governor Newsom, but also to disparage each other.

In a broader sense, this typifies what Republicans have been doing for years in California. They cohere fairly well on what they oppose. Taxes are too high, there are too many regulations, and public schools are failing, especially in low income communities. Poverty rates lead the nation, as does homelessness. The forests are burning, crime is rising, and the state remains on partial mass lockdown. But what are California’s Republicans for?

The unanimity of California’s Republicans against the failed policies of Governor Newsom, and by extension the party he represents, deserves recognition even if it isn’t enough to merely come together to oppose a candidate and his party. What happened over the past year was a triumph of teamwork. It was a triumph of shared purpose over endemic rivalries and turf wars. […] Read More

Housing the Homeless: Tents for Everyone, or Palaces for a Few?

When Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced plans to spend another $1.0 billion to “address homelessness,” politically connected developers and donors must have been thrilled. These corrupt special interests are part of an ecosystem of crony businesses, “nonprofits,” public bureaucrats, litigators, professional agitators and public relations wizards. Known as the Homeless Industrial Complex, for years they’ve been getting filthy rich, wasting billions, solving nothing.

It doesn’t take a math whiz or an economist to see the scandalous absurdity at work. When you spend a half-million, or more, for every unit of “permanent supportive housing,” you will never get everyone under a roof. This is particularly the case when you are not only offering the homeless an apartment that’s better than the working poor could ever hope to afford, but you’re not even demanding they stop smoking crack as a prerequisite for getting free housing.

Crackheads of America! Come to Los Angeles! And they come, wave after wave. Drugs are legal and petty crimes are decriminalized. And now they’ve occupied the city. Residents are told that to complain is racist, or classist, an unacceptable expression of “privilege.” They’re told that they are victims of “quality of life” infractions, a second order of concern, while the “right to housing” is a first order concern. And yet – at half a million a pop – the demand increases much faster than the supply.

California’s homeless explosion didn’t merely occur because the housing industry got so overregulated that developers could no […] Read More

California’s Gubernatorial Candidates Need to Show True Grit

In a recent Facebook post, one of the many Republican candidates hoping to replace Governor Newsom had this to say:

“Californians can’t afford to make ends meet because Gavin Newsom and his allies keep raising taxes. We need to make our state more affordable for our middle class. I spoke to @EvieFordham [Fox Digital Reporter] about lowering the tax burden in our state.” Rah rah. This was a consultant approved message.

The problem with “lowering taxes” is that high taxes, and they are horrendously high, isn’t the biggest reason California has a punitive cost-of-living. Saying you’ll “lower taxes” is the irresponsible trope that Republicans and their billionaire backers (who, by the way, have now largely abandoned them) have been saying for decades. With Republicans, all we end up with is taxes increasing at a slower rate, while deficits increase at a faster rate. That’s our choice. It’s a false choice.

The biggest problem is not taxes, it’s regulations. Excessive regulations are the reason housing costs so much. Excessive regulations are the reason utility rates are so high. Excessive regulations are the reason good jobs are leaving California.

This actually does connect back to taxes, but taxes are the cart. Overbuilt government, seeking to justify its existence and feed for its prodigious mass, is the horse.

This is where California’s politicians could do something, if they had the will. And it’s what California’s insurgent candidates could at least make the focal point of their social media posts and public statements, […] Read More

Money For Nothing

During 2020 the U.S. Federal budget deficit was $3.1 trillion, equal to over 15 percent of GDP. The deficit hasn’t been this big since the end of World War Two. The difference between now and 1945, however, is deeply unsettling. Back then, Americans were a unified, patriotic people that had just emerged relatively unscathed from a horrific conflict that left most of the world in ruins.

In the aftermath of World War Two, the American economy exploded. Industries previously on a war footing turned to manufacturing automobiles and appliances that were sold all over the world. Government funded projects – from interstate highways to reservoirs and commercial airports – were built in record time. The economy boomed, unemployment was low and wages were high. The American middle class expanded to become a majority of the total population.

Today America’s economy is fitfully emerging from being nearly shut down in 2020. Entire economic sectors – travel, entertainment, hotels, food services, retail, small businesses – have been devastated with no end in sight. The windfall the lockdown imparted to high tech companies only served to increase their ongoing assault on legacy retail and media industries. The deficit spending that back in 1945 had been used to build a war machine and spawn countless spin-off technologies was used in 2020 to help ordinary Americans buy food and pay rent. And for that, too, there is no end in sight.

There’s plenty of room for debate in this scenario, of course. Economic […] Read More

Empathy for the Thought Criminal

“Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury.” Leviticus Chapter 24, Verses 19–20

This ancient law from Judaism is perhaps the first written expression of a principle that informs justice in all civilized nations to this day, that the punishment must fit the crime.

If the Old Testament introduces this concept of reciprocal justice, the New Testament might be a very early expression of restorative justice. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus refers to Leviticus, but offers a revolutionary twist:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”

The concept of restorative justice, introduced by Leftist intellectuals and now spreading across America, regardless of whether or not it is inspired by Christian precepts, rejects imposing consequences proportional to the crime. Violence is a product of oppression. Looting is a consequence of poverty. Rather than punish offenders, given them counseling, give them money, and forgive their crimes.

This leniency towards crime, central to Leftist ideology today, does not extend to cancel culture. People who commit thought crimes against values sacred to the Left are shown no mercy. They are not only denied the empathy that thugs and thieves are granted, they […] Read More