Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Real Story Of Thanksgiving

It’s almost Thanksgiving here in Puerto Rico.  In honor of the holiday, enjoy:

Each year at this time school children all over America are taught the official Thanksgiving story, and newspapers, radio, TV, and magazines devote vast amounts of time and space to it. It is all very colorful and fascinating.

It is also very deceiving. This official story is nothing like what really happened. It is a fairy tale, a whitewashed and sanitized collection of half-truths which divert attention away from Thanksgiving’s real meaning.

The official story has the pilgrims boarding the Mayflower, coming to America and establishing the Plymouth colony in the winter of 1620-21. This first winter is hard, and half the colonists die. But the survivors are hard working and tenacious, and they learn new farming techniques from the Indians. The harvest of 1621 is bountiful. The Pilgrims hold a celebration, and give thanks to God. They are grateful for the wonderful new abundant land He has given them.

The official story then has the Pilgrims living more or less happily ever after, each year repeating the first Thanksgiving. Other early colonies also have hard times at first, but they soon prosper and adopt the annual tradition of giving thanks for this prosperous new land called America.

The problem with this official story is that the harvest of 1621 was not bountiful, nor were the colonists hardworking or tenacious. 1621 was a famine year and many of the colonists were lazy thieves.

In his ‘History of Plymouth Plantation,’ the governor of the colony, William Bradford, reported that the colonists went hungry for years, because they refused to work in the fields. They preferred instead to steal food. He says the colony was riddled with “corruption,” and with “confusion and discontent.” The crops were small because “much was stolen both by night and day, before it became scarce eatable.”

In the harvest feasts of 1621 and 1622, “all had their hungry bellies filled,” but only briefly. The prevailing condition during those years was not the abundance the official story claims, it was famine and death. The first “Thanksgiving” was not so much a celebration as it was the last meal of condemned men.

But in subsequent years something changes. The harvest of 1623 was different. Suddenly, “instead of famine now God gave them plenty,” Bradford wrote, “and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.” Thereafter, he wrote, “any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.” In fact, in 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists were able to begin exporting corn.

What happened?

After the poor harvest of 1622, writes Bradford, “they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop.” They began to question their form of economic organization.

This had required that “all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means” were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, “all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.” A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take out only what he needed.

This “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving. Bradford writes that “young men that are most able and fit for labor and service” complained about being forced to “spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children.” Also, “the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak.” So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.

To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines.

Many early groups of colonists set up socialist states, all with the same terrible results. At Jamestown, established in 1607, out of every shipload of settlers that arrived, less than half would survive their first twelve months in America. Most of the work was being done by only one-fifth of the men, the other four-fifths choosing to be parasites. In the winter of 1609-10, called “The Starving Time,” the population fell from five-hundred to sixty.

Then the Jamestown colony was converted to a free market, and the results were every bit as dramatic as those at Plymouth. In 1614, Colony Secretary Ralph Hamor wrote that after the switch there was “plenty of food, which every man by his own industry may easily and doth procure.” He said that when the socialist system had prevailed, “we reaped not so much corn from the labors of thirty men as three men have done for themselves now.”

Before these free markets were established, the colonists had nothing for which to be thankful. They were in the same situation as Ethiopians are today, and for the same reasons. But after free markets were established, the resulting abundance was so dramatic that the annual Thanksgiving celebrations became common throughout the colonies, and in 1863, Thanksgiving became a national holiday.

Thus the real reason for Thanksgiving, deleted from the official story, is: Socialism does not work; the one and only source of abundance is free markets, and we thank God we live in a country where we can have them.

Go now, earn your wages.  Keep what is yours and sell what you want.

We will all be happier.

Big Ten = 16

I’m from Minnesota and live in North Carolina.

That makes this big news:

As Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald writes: “Let’s just get on with it.”

His topic: The next round of expansion for the Big Ten, about which Barfknecht contends: “Commissioner Jim Delany is a smart, powerful man who knows the era of four 16-team superconferences is coming sooner than any of us wanted to believe.”

And who would those schools be? How about one that the Gophers just paid $800,000 to avoid on their football schedule?

Barfknecht: “Four BCS conference coaches and administrators I talked to Tuesday said they think the Big Ten is actively hunting for members 15 and 16, and mentioned the Tar Heels and Jayhawks.”


President Obama’s Mandate

Here’s what Coyote thinks of Obama’s mandate:

Barack Obama argues that the last election gave him a mandate to raise taxes on the rich.  Put another way, he is arguing that 52% of the people voted to raise taxes on 2%.


I particularly like his illustration:

Let’s take a look at two propositions [in California]:

  • Prop 30, which propose to raise taxes on on the rich to help close the deficit (there was a token 0.25% sales tax increase for cover, but everyone knew it to be a tax on the rich).
  • Prop 39, which was a broad-based income tax increase which raised taxes on most everyone (or at least on the 50% or so who pay income taxes).

So, let’s look at the results:

  • Raise taxes on only the very rich:  PASS
  • Raise taxes on everyone (including me):  FAIL

Wolves and lunch and lambs people.  Wolves, lunch and lambs.

Who Is John Galt

Hat Tip: Ryan Grace

Now That Would Have Been Some Useful Nuance Two Months Ago

A significant aspect to the Presidential campaign was how each candidate planned on reducing the deficit and addressing the fiscals woes of the nation.

Romney rolled out a plan based on rate reductions and deduction eliminations.  Romney was short of specifics; when working with a divided senate and house, the bill delivered may not contain the exact details promised on the trail.

He was ridiculed as being vague and without a clue.

Now NPR is reporting on a method to raise revenues in order to meet the President’s goal.  A method suggested by none other than one Mitt Romney:

That’s a tall order. One approach that was suggested by Mitt Romney during the campaign, and endorsed by the Wall Street Journal‘s editorial page last week, is to cap tax deductions at a specific dollar level. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has analyzed the idea. Its co-director, Donald Marron, says capping deductions for all taxpayers at $17,000 could produce $1.7 trillion in revenue over 10 years. That would meet the president’s dollar goal.

To be fair, there is a problem with that approach:

“That would get to the president’s revenue target, but obviously it would violate his desire not to raise taxes on people below the top 2 percent,” he says.

Even raising the limit would still put Obama at odds with his promise:

If you push that cap on deductions higher, let’s say, up to $25,000, you could meet that $1 trillion revenue target. But you still don’t eliminate the political problem, because around a quarter of the added tax burden would still fall on the middle-class taxpayers the president has pledged to protect.

In the continuation of fairness, Romney’s plan would have lost revenue on that rate reduction; a loss that he claims would have been made up by an expansion of the economy.

Whatever, it would have been refreshing to have had this open and honest discussion regarding Romney’s plan back when Romney was viable.  The man knows finance; he knows what businessmen like and what they don’t.  He knows why they invest and when.

I guess if America can benefit by his wisdom, even with the Statist in Chief in office, we;re better off for it.

Wherein Pino Puts His Tail Between His Legs

Last week I stepped in it.

Look, the guys over at Poison Your Mind are wonderful thinkers and really good writers.  They’re wrong almost all the time, save the majority of their musical picks, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are careful and thoughtful guys.

Further, after many many months and debates I’m convinced that they care; they care about America, Americans, non-Americans and ideas that make up all that.

They’re open to debate, both at their own joint and here, as they comment in spite of my often less eloquent style.  To be sure, the debate sometimes isn’t about changing the Cardinal Direction as much as it is about subtle corrections to course.  That is, while my general ideas, thoughts and opinions may not change, I walk away with another valid perspective that I find myself challenged to refute, to think harder to validate my position and confirm where I’m coming from and why.

Debates like that, with these guys, and anyone of quality that we disagree with, demands a level of discourse above the average.

And I was below average.  By at least 2 standard deviations.

I owe the boys an apology:

Guys, I’m sorry.

Where we are as a nation, as a people and as a thinking population that desperately wants to make things better, pits us against each other as we naturally have different plans and thoughts and road maps on how we get there; hell – sometimes I suspect we’re arguing past each other as we don’t agree on where it is we’re going.  Elections intensify that.  Presidential ones even more so.

And so it is, than in the course of my personal life I find myself in debate with friends, co-workers, neighbors and even strangers over the course of things.  Of destinations, of journeys, of short-cuts and detours.  And it can get rough, real rough.  Legitimate critiques against the “them” can, and often do, feel  like specific attacks on the “me.”

And so it was that when RR offered insight into Romney’s comments regarding gifts to specific minority groups, specifically African Americans and Hispanics, I responded as if he were offering critique of me.  And I did it without reading the story he quoted.

I showed my ass.

Those guys over there at PYM specifically, and the larger debate in general, demand and deserve better.

I have to work on that.

Walmart Wants To Pay People More

So, I’ve already commented on the fact that a union decided that a 100% pay cut was better than an 8% pay cut.

I don’t get it, but hey, maybe the principle behind the whole thing mattered.

Then I hear of the story of Walmart workers who are mad at the prospect of making more money:

Along with Target and Sears, Wal-Mart has plans to open retail stores at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. Employees said they weren’t given a choice as to whether they would work on Thanksgiving and were told to do so with little warning. “They don’t care about family,” said Charlene Fletcher, a Wal-Mart associate in Duarte, Calif. She said she is expected to report for work at 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. The workers said that when they complain about scheduling and other problems, management cuts their hours or fires people.

I make a decent living.  In fact, I suspect I’m in the top 10% of Americans in terms of salary.  I enjoy the benefits of this condition.  However, there are sacrifices I have to make:

  1. When I got married, my wife and I stayed at a beach house.  I brought my laptop and was working everyday during my honeymoon.
  2. No matter where I go or what time it is,  I have my cell phone and am available night and day.  I often get called.
  3. Never, EVER, in my career have I let my management ever get the slightest inclination that I was a guy who would turn down work or responsibility.
  4. I remember a time when I worked 47 days straight, right through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.  Every. Single. Day.
  5. If all goes well, I’m on a plane right now to Puerto Rico for a weeks vacation with family over the Thanksgiving holiday.  My laptop is in my luggage; I’ll work every day.

I don’t get it.  I don’t get the concept that says that hard work doesn’t pay off.  That sacrifice doesn’t lead to rewards.  I don’t understand how people who want money are resistant to working to earn more money.

Or at least I didn’t understand.

I saw a Facebook post recently regarding the strike at Hostess and the totally shocking result of the closing of the business.  One of the comments went something like this:

If they strike and  get released, at least they’ll get 100 weeks of unemployment.

I added that they would also now get free healthcare.

And that reminded me of this:

More and more these people don’t need jobs.  If they lose their job they’ll get unemployment for nearly 2 years.  Plenty of time to work something out.  Further, with the election of Obama, they are sure to get free healthcare as well.

Literally, what is it that would incent these people to work?  If they lose their jobs, what really is the downside?  How much would they net lose?

What kind of perverse incentives are we building into our society?



Benghazi – Can We All Agree Now

Obama has been lying the whole time.  He knew.  They ALL knew.

The attacks in Benghazi were terrorist attacks and Obama refused to admit that fact.  He specifically mentioned Benghazi 7 times in the Rose Garden speech and not once did he refer to them as terrorist attacks.  Only when speaking about the general 9-11 attacks in the large view did he use the words terrorist attacks.

The White House marched Patraeus out and had him repeat their lie:

Former CIA Director David Petraeus told lawmakers at a closed-door briefing Friday the agency believed the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Libya was a terrorist attack from the beginning.

Now, let’s admit that:

  1. Obama mishandled the whole crisis.
  2. Covered up the fact that they knew.
  3. Leveraged Patraeus’ affair in order to get him to repeat the video story.
  4. The perceived weakness of the White House may be behind the attacks in Israel.

Oh yeah, and that this had EVERYTHING to do with the elections.

The Impact Of The Fiscal Cliff – CBO Analysis

Anyone who pays attention, and even a few of us who don’t, know that we are facing what the experts are calling “The Fiscal Cliff.”  This is in reference to the set of economic or fiscal policies set to be enacted if nothing changes.  That is, it is already law and will be implemented unless new laws are passed to change them.  Key among this cliff are two main components:

  1. Allowing the Bush Tax Cuts to expire.
  2. Sequestration – Mandatory budget cuts.

Recent headlines have cited a CBO report issued earlier this month.  In it, the CBO reports that tax hikes on the wealthy won’t really hurt the economy:

(Reuters) – Allowing income tax rates to rise for wealthy Americans, and maintaining rates for the less affluent, would not hurt U.S. economic growth much in 2013, the Congressional Budget Office said on Thursday, stepping into a dispute between Republicans and Democrats over how to resolve the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

The report by the authoritative non-partisan arm of Congress is expected to fuel President Barack Obama’s demand for higher taxes on the rich, part of his proposal to avoid the full impact of the expiring tax cuts and across-the-board spending reductions set to begin in early 2013 unless Congress acts.

The narrative is that allowing Obama to follow through on the class warfare rhetoric wouldn’t really be that harmful to the economy; almost saying that any negative impact is worth it in order to restore “fairness.”

This report, and other just like it, are using the individual analysis of each portion of the fiscal cliff:

Extending all expiring tax provisions other than the cut in the payroll tax and indexing the AMT for inflation— except for allowing the expiration of lower tax rates on income above $250,000 for couples and $200,000 for single taxpayers—would boost real GDP by about 1¼ percent by the end of 2013. That effect is nearly as large as the effect of making all of those changes in law and extending the lower tax rates on higher incomes as well (which CBO estimates to be a little less than 1½ percent, as noted above), primarily because the budgetary impact would be nearly as large (and secondarily because the extension of lower tax rates on higher incomes would have a relatively small effect on output per dollar of budgetary cost).

So, by keeping the tax cuts for everyone under 250k we grow by 1.25%.  But if we keep ALL tax cuts we grow by 1.5%.  And the analysis is that the 1/4 point in GDP isn’t significant.  Perhaps.  But it represents 16.67% more growth than if we raise the taxes on the wealthy.

16.67 percent seems like a pretty big “get,” especially when the President is struggling as is.

But how about jobs:

The CBO said the tax hikes for the wealthy would reduce job growth by around 200,000 jobs…

For a President that is interested in growing jobs, he has a funny way of showing it.

So, what happens if we avoid the cliff?

Output would be greater and unemployment lower in the
next few years if some or all of the fiscal tightening scheduled
under current law—sometimes called the fiscal
cliff—was removed.


But is that all?

However, CBO expects that even if
all of the fiscal tightening was eliminated, the economy would remain below its potential and the unemployment rate would remain higher than usual for some time.  Moreover, if the fiscal tightening was removed and the policies that are currently in effect were kept in place indefinitely, a continued surge in federal debt during the rest of this decade and beyond would raise the risk of a fiscal crisis (in which the government would lose the ability to borrow money at affordable interest rates) …

Yeah….that’s interesting, but what happens if we do nothing and just fall over the cliff?

…Moreover, if the fiscal tightening was removed and the policies that are currently in effect were kept in place indefinitely, a continued surge in federal debt during the rest of this decade and beyond would raise the risk of a fiscal crisis (in which the government would lose the ability to borrow money at affordable interest rates) and would eventually reduce the nation’s output and income below what would occur if the fiscal tightening was
allowed to take place as currently set by law.

Not for nothing, but I think that reading ALL THE WAY to the second paragraph and reporting on the part of the report that kinda isn’t friendly to Obama is somewhat important.

Be that as it is, if it were me and I was the Speaker, I’d tell the Barackness Monster to go to hell, hold on and jump.  We’d be better off.



Obama won the election.  I think the man was born in America.  I don’t think he stole the election.  I’m sure democrats cheated in some polls and voter registration drives; I’m equally sure the republicans did the same thing.

I think that Obama didn’t have a platform.  I think he is an “American Idol” “Dancing With The Stars” president.  He appears on The View, Late Night and The Tonight Show.  He conducted interviews on MTV and local rap stations.

But the man won the election.  And this talk of secession is crazy and nothing more than than that; crazy people saying crazy things.

Which reminds me:

In the days after the election, fantasies of blue-state secession ricocheted around the Internet. Liberals indulged themselves in maps showing Canada gathering the blue states into its social democratic embrace, leaving the red states to form their own “Jesusland.” They passed around the scathing rant from the Web site Fuck the South, which lacerated the chauvinism of the “heartland” and pointed out that the coasts, far from destroying marriage, actually have lower divorce rates than the interior.

These sentiments were so pronounced that they migrated into the mainstream. Speaking on “The McLaughlin Group” the weekend after George W. Bush’s victory, panelist Lawrence O’Donnell, a former Democratic Senate staffer, noted that blue states subsidize the red ones with their tax dollars, and said, “The big problem the country now has, which is going to produce a serious discussion of secession over the next 20 years, is that the segment of the country that pays for the federal government is now being governed by the people who don’t pay for the federal government.”

A shocked Tony Blankley asked him, “Are you calling for civil war?” To which O’Donnell replied, “You can secede without firing a shot.”

Lawrence O’Donnell.  The, ahem, famous talk show host on MSNBC once spoke of secession. When asked if he was calling for a civil war he simply replied, Well yeah, I guess kinda.”

So yeah, the talk about secession is crazy.  It’s also not new.  Nor is it an indication of the unraveling of a party specific.  It’s just the ramblings of a few folks who’ve invested a lot in their guy winning.

Or losing.

By the way, notice the comment about who is supporting whom.