Saturday, November 18, 2017

The IMF’s Recipe for Equal Levels of Decline and Stagnation

November 15, 2017 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty
Inequality is now a major dividing line in the world of public policy.
Supporters of limited government think it’s not a big issue and instead focus on the policies that are most likely to generate growth. Simply stated, they tend not to care if some people get richer faster than other people get richer (assuming, of course, that income is honestly earned and not the result of cronyism).

Folks on the left, by contrast, think inequality is inherently bad. It’s almost as if they think that the economy is a fixed pie and that a big slice for the “rich” necessarily means smaller slices for the rest of us. They favor lots of redistribution via punitive taxes and an expansive welfare state.

When talking to such people, my first priority is getting them to understand that it’s possible for an economy to grow and for all income groups to benefit. I explain how even small differences in long-run growth make a big difference over just a few decades and that it is very misguided to impose policies that will discourage growth by penalizing the rich and discouraging the poor.

I sometimes wonder how vigorously to present my argument. Is it actually true, as Thatcher and Churchill argued, that leftists are willing to hurt poor people if that’s what is necessary to hurt rich people by a greater amount?

Seems implausible, so when I recently noticed this amusing humor on Reddit‘s libertarian page, I was not going to share it. After all, it presumes that our friends on the left genuinely would prefer equal levels of poverty rather than unequal levels of prosperity.


But, after reading a new study from the International Monetary Fund, I’m wondering if I’m underestimating the left’s fixation with inequality and the amount of economic damage they’re willing to inflict to achiever greater equality of outcomes.

Here are some introductory passages to explain the goal of the research.
…it is worth reemphasizing some lessons from the “old masters” in economics who addressed this topic a few decades ago—including Arthur M. Okun and Anthony B. Atkinson in the 1970s. Their lessons—on how to elicit people’s views on inequality and how to summarize societal welfare using a monetary indicator encompassing both average incomes and their distribution—remain relevant for fiscal policymakers today. …a satisfactory theory of welfare must recognize that welfare depends on both the size and the distribution of national income. …This primer seeks to encourage more widespread use by policymakers of the tools developed by welfare theory. …the primer provides an in-depth, step-by-step refresher on two specific tools chosen because of their simplicity and intuitive appeal: Okun’s “leaky bucket” and Atkinson’s “equally-distributed-equivalent income.”
Please note that the IMF explicitly is saying that it wants policymakers to change laws based on what’s in the study.

And, as you continue reading, it should become obvious that the bureaucrats are pushing a very radical agenda (not that we should be surprised given the IMF’s track record).

Here’s the bureaucracy’s take on Okun and his pro-redistribution agenda.
Okun (1975) proposed a thought experiment capable of eliciting people’s attitudes toward the trade -off between equality and efficiency: Okun asked the reader to consider five families: a richer one making $45,000 (in 1975) and four poorer ones making $5,000. Would the reader favor a scheme that taxed the rich family $4,000 and transferred the proceeds to the poorer families? In principle, each poorer family would receive $1,000. But what if 10 percent leaked out, with only $900 reaching the recipients? What would the maximum acceptable leak be? The leak represented not only the administrative costs of tax-and-transfer programs (and, one might add, potential losses due to corruption), but also the fact that such programs reduce the economic incentives to work. …Okun reported his own answers to the specific exercise he proposed (his personal preference was for a leakage of no more than 60 percent). ….Okun was willing to accept that a $4,000 tax on the rich household [would] translate, with a 60 percent leakage, into a $400 transfer to each of the four poor households.
The only good part about Okun’s equity-efficiency tradeoff is that he acknowledges that redistribution harms the economy. The disturbing part is that he was willing to accept 60 percent leakage in order to take money from some and give it to others.
 
It gets worse. When the IMF mixes Okun with Atkinson, that’s when things head in the wrong direction even faster. As I noted last month, Atkinson has a theory designed to justify big declines in national income if what’s left is distributed more equally. I’m not joking.

And that IMF wants to impose this crazy theory on the world.
Atkinson (1970) showed that under the assumptions above and having identified a coefficient of aversion to inequality, it becomes easy to summarize the well-being of all households in an economy with a single, intuitive measure: the equally-distributed-equivalent income (EDEI), i.e., the income that an external observer would consider just as desirable as the existing income distribution. …The percentage loss in mean income—compared with the initial situation—that an observer would find acceptable to have a perfectly equal distribution of incomes was introduced by Atkinson (1970) as a measure of inequality.
The study then purports to measure “aversion to inequality” in order to calculate equally-distributed-equivalent income (EDEI).
The greater the observers’ aversion to inequality, the lower the EDEI. Table (2) reports for a few alternative ε coefficients, for the example above.
Here’s a table from the study, which is based on a theoretical rich person with $45,000 and a theoretical poor person with $5,000 of income. A society that isn’t very worried about inequality (ε = 0.2) is willing to sacrifice about $4,000 on overall income to achieve the desired EDEI. But a nation fixated on equality of outcomes might be willing to sacrifice $32,000 (more than 60 percent of overall income!).

I’ve augmented the table with a few of the aggregate income losses in red.



In other words, nations that have a higher aversion to inequality are the ones that prefer lots of misery and deprivation so long as everyone suffers equally.

Another use of this data is that it allows the IMF to create dodgy data on income (sort of like what the OECD does with poverty numbers).

It appears the bureaucrats want to use EDEI to claim that poorer nations have more income than richer nations.
…the ranking of countries based on the EDEI often differs significantly from that based on mean income alone. For instance, South Africa’s mean income is more than double that of the Kyrgyz Republic, and substantially above that of Albania. However, those countries’ lower inequality implies that their EDEI is significantly higher than South Africa’s. …Similarly, the United States’ mean income is considerably above that of the United Kingdom or Sweden. However, for an inequality aversion coefficient of ε=1.5, Sweden’s EDEI is above that of the United States, and for ε=2.0 also the United Kingdom’s EDEI is above that of the United States.
Here’s a table from the study and you can see how the United States becomes a comparatively poor nation (highlighted in red) when there’s an “aversion” to inequality.



In other word, even though the United States has much higher living standards than European nations, the IMF is peddling dodgy numbers implying just the opposite.

But the real tragedy is that low-income people will be much more likely to remain poor with the policies that the IMF advocates.

P.S. Fans of satire may appreciate this “modest proposal” to reduce inequality. I imagine the IMF would approve so long as certain rich people are excluded.

 

The Fall of the Clinton Cabal


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Uranium One FBI Informant Is Revealed: Will Testify, Provide Evidence
by | Nov 16, 2017 | Crime/Corruption

The former federal informant who knew about political influence and the Uranium One deal and whose silence was demanded by the Loretta Lynch-run DOJ has been identified by Reuters as an ex-lobbyist for a Russian firm.

The former lobbyist, William D. Campbell, was interviewed by Reuters and admitted that he’s the secret witness in the investigation into the 2010 sale of a uranium company to Russia’s Rosatom. Mr.Campbell  told Reuters that he will testify and provide documents to Congress about the Obama Administration’s 2010 approval of the sale of Uranium One, a Canadian company with uranium mines in the United States, to Russia’s Rosatom.......To Read More.....

Hillary Goes Ballistic As DOJ Prepares to Examine Uranium One Deal
By Andrew West November 16, 2017

There are two types of people in this world:  Those who are ready, willing, and able to admit their wrongdoings, and then there are the Hillary Clintons of the world.

The former Secretary of State has been implicated in a number of enormous, egregious scandals over the course of her long and bizarre career in politics, with a number of heinous realities coming to light over the course of the last year.  Her illegal private email server was merely the tip of the iceberg, as Clinton was quickly inundated with evidence that she implemented a “pay to play” scheme while running the State Department.

Following those allegations were email disclosures from Wikileaks that showed Clinton working hand in hand with the DNC to rig the primaries against rival Bernie Sanders and cheat at the televised debated with the help of CNN and Donna Brazile.

And don’t get us started on Seth Rich…To Read More....


To think… all it took was the rush to condemn a Republican to make sure that liberals
finally see Bill Clinton for what he really is… a sex assaulting deviant.
 

Bill Clinton, the Media, and Sexual Harassment Armageddon
By Stephen McGhee

The allegations against Roy Moore, Harvey Weinstein, and now Al Franken, each more damning by the hour, have awakened the conscience of the media. As if on cue, thoughtful voices in the press have been reflecting on their own past sins. Our willingness to believe Moore’s accusers, the pundits say, stands in stark contrast to our treatment of the women who once accused Bill Clinton. Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times says: “I believe Juanita Broaddrick.

Chris Hayes of MSNBC: “As gross and cynical and hypocritical as the right's "what about Bill Clinton" stuff is, it's also true that Democrats and the center left are overdue for a real reckoning with the allegations against him.”

CNN’s Jake Tapper: “The accusers of Bill Clinton… were never given the credence and treated with the same respect that these women are being treated…”

Matt Yglesias, writing in Vox: “What (Bill Clinton) did to Monica Lewinsky was wrong, and he should have paid the price"................ More 


The Clinton era is over

By J. Marsolo November 18, 2017
 
Bill and Hillary may finally have to defend themselves, even from their most ardent former supporters.  Among his many lies, Bill Clinton said in the State of the Union speech on January 23, 1996 that "the era of big government is over."   To paraphrase Bill Clinton, the era of Clinton is over. Now it is time for the Clintons to pay up........Donna Brazile started the party by confirming that Hillary manipulated the DNC and primary system to beat the hapless Bernie Sanders............ The most serious charge is the rape of Juanita Broaddrick. Rape is a felony. Prison time. In addition, Hillary, according to Ms. Broaddrick, threatened her to be quiet about the rape.............The Clintons are wealthy, with the book deals, selling pardons, Moscow speeches, and the money from the sale of 20% or our uranium. It is time to for them to compensate Ms. Broaddrick. Bill and Hillary said the rape charge is a lie.   Man up, Bill and Hillary. Admit the rape and pay up, or waive the statute of limitations and have a trial. Time to come clean. More 
 
Deplorables all, from the Clintons to Brazile to Gillibrand, and now Franken!

By Silvio Canto, Jr. November 18, 2017

We've been watching what they call "the reckoning of Bill Clinton." What we are really seeing is the implosion of a political party that made a pact with the devil and corrupted itself to the core. It sort of started with Donna Brazille's book Hacks and her explosive comments about Mrs. Clinton's campaign.

I was listening to a radio interview with Miss Brazile last night and could not help but say: "Donna -- why now and not 18 months ago? What job in a future Clinton White House did you have mind that forced you to say silent?"

Now we have Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York saying that President Clinton should have resigned in 1998, when the scandal exploded. Okay -- I guess that it's better late than never. However, this whole episode just proves how corrupt the Democrat Party really is. They are nothing but a bunch of dishonest opportunists who have suddenly discovered that President Clinton was not a very nice gentleman after all.

As for Senator Gillibrand, the hypocrisy is overflowing. She replaced Mrs. Clinton in the U.S. Senate and never refused to have President Clinton campaign on her behalf. In fact, not long ago she praised him for campaigning for her seat...............More





Be Careful For What You Wish For

By Rich Kozlovich

Be careful for what you wish for. How often have you heard that phrase? The Democrats demanded an investigation into Trump's 2016 Presidential campaign following Hillary's whine about Russian interference being responsible for her loss. Somehow thinking the election result could be overturned and Hillary be sworn in as President of the United States. How brain dead was that?

Well, they got their investigation and now I'm willing to bet a whole lot of Democrats, including Hillary, are wishing it never happened. Oh sure, Mueller is stomping around the pasture messing up the grass, but when it's all over - he may be in jail himself, right along with his good buddy Comey.

It turns out there was a bunch of illegal interaction with the Russians, but it was by Democrats. All of this is exposing how corrupt Hillary has been from the beginning, both she and Bill, and the Department of Justice will have to go after them, and their cabal who made it all possible.

I love how these leftists scream about abuses of government by government for doing the very things they've been doing forever. But in this case the DOJ will actually be obeying the law (unlike the DOJ under Holder and Lynch who really did abuse government power, and that wasn't the only government agency full of corrupt practices under Obama) in going after these criminal leftists. Obedience to law is not abuse by the government.

You have to wonder why anyone would be a Clintonista? Why they're still mourning her failure to get elected? This is the reason. I've stated in the past - and I'm saying it now - they didn't just want Hillary to win - they needed her to win to stay out of jail.

And when she finally gets prosecuted the most profound question that will asked and answered is this: Which ones, and how many, will turn on her to save their own skins? I'm willing to bet there will be a waiting list. Let’s face it - the only Clintonistas who actually loved Hillary were the sheeple who wept at her loss. She's so contemptible in her treatment of people those in the power structure must have secretly despised her, but they needed her for their own advancement and enrichment, and as it turns out – they needed her to win in order to stay out of jail.

Respect is a mixture of fear and affection. The Swamp People will never love Trump, but he can make sure they fear his power, and when he starts putting these criminals in jail, the level of respect will take a major jump. If Trump wants to really drain the swamp he has to have what it takes to make Sessions finally do his job.

As for the Judge Moore situation: The Democrats just about passed out in euphoria over this, at least until the Weinstein scandal broke, and that broke a damn they never wanted anything to pour out of - just how contemptible the party of women's rights really is.

Leftists never saw a moral cause they couldn't scream about as an indictment of their foes. They never saw a moral dilemma they couldn't embrace and dismiss if it involves one their own. Leftists have no moral foundation or code in which they believe. Except for one over riding passion. The desire to gain and hold power. In order to do that they will embrace anything that will help to attain it, no matter how immoral, degraded or treasonous it may be.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Yet Another Water Birth Goes Awry

By Jamie Wells, M.D. — October 24, 2017 @ American Council on Science and Health

Another underwater birth, another near-fatal consequence. This time the imperiled, septic newborn endured unnecessary multi-organ failure that necessitated a two-month hospitalization in the intensive care unit (ICU).

The case of this infant was published yesterday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). To appreciate the life-threatening clinical picture and need for aggressive intervention, I have highlighted some essential facts of the patient’s course (obtained and abridged from this CMAJ link):
  • Infant born at home in hot tub that was pre-filled for 3 days prior to delivery.
  • On day of life #8 when first evaluated for care, the baby girl had 1 day of fever, poor feeding, and fussiness. She had fever of 102.4 degrees Fahrenheit, a rapid heart rate and increased work of breathing. Chest X-ray demonstrated right upper lobe pneumonia.
  • Later that day she deteriorated expeditiously and was transferred to ICU needing intubation, ultimately on a mechanical ventilator for 5 weeks.
  • She was in multi-organ failure, had blood cell abnormalities and hemodynamic instability (aka septic shock) necessitating powerful continuous intravenous medications to increase her heart's ability to pump (chronotropic agents) and to constrict her blood vessels so that they would deliver oxygen and nutrients more effectively (pressor agents). 
  • Treated with or exposed to:
    • ampicillin, cefotaxime, meropenem, vancomycin, azithromycin, piperacillin-tazobactam (antibiotics)
    • acyclovir (anti-viral)
    • Rifampin for synergy
    • Resuscitative high dose pressors
    • Repeated imaging that emits radiation, like computed tomography scan (CT Scan) showing necrotizing pneumonia, multiple procedures etc.
  • Culprit: Legionella. Also grew Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Cupriavidus gilardii - known to be in water from birthing pools.
  • Discharged on home oxygen and close monitoring
What is Legionnaires’ Disease?

This is a serious, severe type of pneumonia caused by the bacteria Legionella. The lung infection can be treated by antibiotics usually in a hospital setting with the majority of people faring well. Despite that, the CDC estimates 1 in 10 who acquire Legionnaires’ Disease die from it. Most healthy individuals do not contract it when exposed. People most at risk tend to be already at a higher chance of becoming ill (e.g. compromised immunity by medication or disease, over age 50, smokers). Breathing in or aspirating small droplets of Legionella contaminated water triggers this infection. Hot tubs among other man-made water systems tend to be frequent culprits, in particular, when not properly maintained. See here and here to learn more about Legionnaires’ Disease.

Is neonatal legionellosis common? Why is it so dangerous for them?

It is not a common diagnosis in newborns, but cases have been reported in water birth. As per CAMJ, “overall mortality rates in neonates are up to 55% and the disease may be uniformly fatal if untreated.” The high concentration of the bacteria in the water put even an infant with minor aspiration at risk of severe disease. Symptoms of infection routinely appear 3-14 days after the exposure from contaminated water systems, in particular with vulnerable populations.

Signs of water intoxication, aspiration or infection are typically progressive over time. In the newborn period, for instance, a fever of 100.4 or above is considered abnormal. Babies this young have difficulty localizing infection, so are at higher risk for generalized spread of disease. Additionally, they have a less robust immune system using mom’s passive antibodies while they slowly make their own.

In Legionnaires' Disease Latest Worry For Baby After Water Birth, I discuss despite pneumonia and infection being among the litany of known complications following a water birth, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported two cases of Legionnaires’ Disease in newborns in Arizona born this way at home. Further investigation identified another Legionellosis death of an infant after a water birth in 2014 in Texas.

Proponents of water birth rely on claims that a protective primitive reflex prevents such aspiration by the infant until the umbilical cord is cut. Evidence has shown that that reflex can be overridden. Given that both of these cases experienced Legionnaires’ Disease, this theory gets further undermined. It takes very little volume at that age and size to cause problems. For example, a teaspoon or so of fluid can cause pulmonary edema from drowning.

Why add a risk factor?

The question for expectant parents should always be: If water birth goes awry, can I live with the consequences?

It is important to learn about the risks and benefits of any therapy or procedure—of which with respect to water birth there are no proven medical benefits— before making an informed decision that is best for you and your family. Learn the facts and decide for yourself.
Among the issues babies have suffered:
  • The type of brain damage when an infant’s brain does not receive adequate oxygen and blood
  • Aspiration
  • Radiologic findings of fresh water drowning with pulmonary edema
  • Respiratory distress
  • Seizures as a result of very low sodium from water intoxication
  • Challenges of thermoregulation
  • Group B Strep (GBS) meningitis
  • Snapped umbilical cords prompting blood loss with the need for transfusion, possible shock, and death. 
Maternal risks include: loss of control of blood loss, decreased fetal monitoring, limited alternative analgesia, ineffective contractions, higher risk of infection especially with membrane rupture etc.
Having published a case of a near drowning of an infant via water birth in Neoreviews and written repeatedly on the topic, I suggest you review Just Say No to Water Birth for clarification as well as Water Birth: To Breathe or Not To Breathe? where the focus is on the science behind water birth, reported cases of adverse events and detailing the recommendations of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics. I also discuss the flawed data advocates cite and provide a more comprehensive understanding of water birth.

Bottom line…

Most viral videos or media reports on the topic neglect to show that when negative outcomes occur they have ranged from significant to catastrophic.

Most babies today are born healthy as a direct result of medical advances (eg. infection control measures). Maternal and infant mortality rates have dramatically improved due to such developments. This is wonderful news. Given the unpredictable scope of childbirth for all parties— mother and baby, why add a risk factor?

Delivery is a dynamic event. Uncomplicated and even low risk pregnancies are not guaranteed to occur without situations warranting intervention. Fortunately, we are more readily identifying problems before they arise, but unexpected issues are par for the course.

Though many have had successful experiences with water birth, the issues that have occurred in infants fall within the extreme end of the spectrum. This case report shows heroic measures were vital to keeping this baby alive. There can be long-term ramifications to such interventions and scope of disease. If it can be avoided, then why take that chance?

 

Sixty nails in climate alarmism's coffin

By Jerry Shenk November 16, 2017

There are plenty of well-credentialed, objective, if little-publicized, climate skeptics, but few who are able to present their material in layman’s terms to an audience of curious, unschooled, but receptive climate truth-seekers. A new resource provides a point-by-point review and response to each of the climate industry’s claims, citing the “normalcy” of much of their “alarming” data. In an entertaining, easy-to-read, elegantly-written, meticulously-researched, well-documented and illustrated 143-page book (including citations) entitled “Inconvenient Facts: The science that Al Gore doesn’t want you to know,” geologist Gregory Wrightstone presents a clear picture of the climate alarmism that attracts cynical big-government advocates and grips much of the scientific community, complicit media and the gullible among us.............Read more

Jonah's Off Target Again

By Paul Gottfried November 16, 2017

In his latest anti-Trump tear, National Review editor Jonah Goldberg warns that “the GOP can’t afford to chase away its own.” The GOP’s own, for Goldberg, means “middle-class suburbanites,” whom he depicts as the base of his party. These suburbanites, who are supposedly the heart and soul of the Republican Party, share Jonah’s ostentatious revulsion for Trump, which is now on display 24/7. The recent (for the Republicans) disastrous election in Virginia, in which Democrats swept to victory in statewide elections, is a godsend for Jonah and others at NR, who enjoy flailing away at the Donald. Goldberg identifies “conservatives” with Republican regulars, such as John McCain, Mitt Romney, Luther Strange, and Ben Sasse. Since Trump doesn’t fit into this restricted club of moderates, Jonah views him as an unwelcome visitor from Mars..........Two, from what I can tell, Goldberg is a socially liberal Republican and an urbanite who doesn’t fancy the working-class and rural white constituencies that voted for Trump. He’d like to be in a party that features people like him, that is, well-heeled, agnostic urban dwellers who are well-disposed toward gay marriage and other progressive causes...........To Read More....

My Take - I read Goldberg's book Liberal Fascism and was thoroughly impressed.  I started reading all of his stuff after that - although I've stopped reading him more and more.  I put him in the category as George Will and Charles Krauthammer, over educated and under smart - and I keep wondering who really wrote his book.  

There's a contingency within the Republican party that professes to be conservative - and in point of fact they allude to the idea they're the only real conservatives and define conservatism as they see fit.  But that definition has no parameters.  Many of them are also atheists like Will and Krauthammer, as a result they have no solid moral foundation. 

They are what they do and say - liberals who don't like spending money quite as much as those on the far left, and shift their positions due to the sandy foundation of their values, thinking and views.   I keep coming back to this singular question for these people. 

What is your end goal? 

Trump’s failing revolution

The President must appoint more good, loyal people – or swamp creatures will triumph

Scot Faulkner
 
President Trump made draining Washington’s Swamp the centerpiece of his Presidency. The swamp is winning.  Its RINOgators are on the verge of destroying the Trump Presidency. 
 
Trump’s Executive Branch is now running on empty. His appointment process is the slowest since Jimmy Carter in 1977. He recently defended his depleted ranks of loyalists, “we don’t need all of the people. You know, it’s called cost saving.” 
 
In fact, Trump not bringing in his loyalists means the Executive Branch is being run by Obama holdovers, and senior careerists, who run the government from acting positions. They owe their last eight years of promotions and bonuses to their loyally enforcing and implementing Obama’s policies.
 
The swamp is exploiting Trump’s misunderstanding of “people equal policy.” 
 
The few political managers Trump has placed are completely isolated and outmaneuvered. Worse, most of Trump’s appointments are people who owe their loyalty to everyone but Trump. The inner circles of the White House, and legions of political operatives in the Departments and Agencies, wish Jeb Bush were President. Their disloyalty to Trump is manifest in leaks and their ineffectual and slow paced efforts to change anything.
 
Insiders explain that Trump dislikes people with government experience and that he feels Reagan and his appointees could have done more to shrink government. If that is so, why is he fixated on bringing in Bush alumni who grew government? 
 
Trump declared that he would drain Washington’s swamp by not hiring lobbyists. During the transition, countless personnel clearance forms were used supposedly to prevent lobbyists insinuating themselves. This failed. USA Today reports that more than 100 former federal lobbyists are now working inside the Trump Administration.
 
Trump has been ill-served and misled from the very beginning. During the spring of 2016, key elements of the Reagan coalition, including Reagan Administration alumni and key think tanks, were ready, willing and able to help Trump be successful. They were ignored.
 
In June 2016, Trump realized he needed to prepare for being President. Instead of turning to those conservatives who were openly and passionately supporting him, Trump turned to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
 
Where Trump conservatives would have opened the door to legions of proven change agents, Christie opened the flood gates to Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush operatives. Where Trump loyalists would have worked for free, Christie spent millions on hiring the Boston Consulting Group to run the Transition. The Boston Consulting Group had never run a Presidential Transition, but the Managing Partner in charge of the contract was the daughter of longtime Bush loyalist.
 
The Trump Transition ended up preparing for the Romney/Bush Administration. Even Steve Bannon was duped into believing only the Washington Establishment was capable of helping Trump prepare for his Presidency. Highly capable conservatives, Reagan alumni and professionals who were for Trump since June 2015, were systematically shut out. Never-Trumpers, even ones who ran anti-Trump floor operations at the Republican National Convention, were welcomed.
 
The Romney/Bush Transition became the Romney/Bush Administration on January 20, 2017. At the same time, Reince Priebus and his minions from the Republican National Committee (RNC) took over core White House operations. This included the Office of Presidential Personnel that clears and recommends all political appointees.
 
Priebus rightly deserves credit for quelling Republican rebellion in the final months of the 2016 campaign. For this, Trump should have rewarded Preibus with the non-critical Ambassadorship of his choice. Instead, Priebus became Chief of Staff and proceeded to fill Trump’s inner circle with RNC operatives, few of whom even liked Trump.
 
The RNC operatives in charge of Presidential Personnel placed their friends on Trump’s political front line. They even conducted purges of the few Trump loyalists who had made it inside.   Ironically, Never-Trumpers got away with accusing Always-Trumpers of being disloyal.
 
While President Trump was signing Executive Orders and making inspiring speeches, the RINOgators of the Washington, DC swamp were commandeering key positions, making sure Trump’s vision would never become a lasting operational reality. They are doing everything possible to protect their swamp.
 
The most tragic result of Trump being misled is that he is spending his time on actions that will be swept away with the next Administration.
 
The Washington swamp is drawing Trump into this trap. Time magazine recently ran an alarmist cover story on Trump’s regulatory reductions. Even Trump’s inner circle believes the hype.
His communications director declared, “No President or Administration has deregulated or withdrawn as many anticipated regulatory actions as this one in this short amount of time.” In reality, saving $560 million is a pittance against the $2+ trillion regulatory burden faced by America business.
 
At best, stopping new regulations is like trimming kudzu. All these bad policies and regulations have only been driven underground. They remain in desk drawers and computer files ready to be unleashed. Unless the underlying policies, people, and laws are changed, all these sidelined regulations will spring forth the moment Trump leaves office.
 
The people who would actually pull-up the regulatory kudzu by its roots are not in place. Washington, DC’s “RINOgators” have settled in to protect their status quo and wait out Trump.
Real and lasting change will happen only if Trump appoints sufficient numbers of his actual loyalists as soon as possible. He must act quickly and decisively to remove Bush/Romney traitors and replace them with those fully committed to his revolution.
 
Perhaps the dual attacks by Bush 41 and 43 will open Trump’s eyes to the treachery around him.
 
Scot Faulkner advises corporations and governments on how to save billions of dollars by achieving dramatic and sustainable cost reductions while improving operational and service excellence. He served as the Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives. He also served on the White House Staff, and as an Executive Branch Appointee.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Avalanches of global warming alarmism

UN climate cataclysm predictions have no basis in fact and should not be taken seriously
 
Dr. Tim Ball and Tom Harris
 
Throughout the United Nations Climate Change Conference wrapping up in Bonn, Germany this week, the world has been inundated with the usual avalanche of manmade global warming alarmism. The UN expects us to believe that extreme weather, shrinking sea ice, and sea level rise will soon become much worse if we do not quickly phase out our use of fossil fuels that provide over 80% of the world’s energy.
 
There is essentially nothing to support these alarms, of course. We simply do not have adequate observational data required to know or understand what has happened over the past century and a half. Meaningful forecasts of future climate conditions are therefore impossible.
 
Nevertheless, this year’s session has been especially intense, since the meeting is being chaired by the island nation of Fiji, a government that has taken climate change fears to extremes.
 
COP23 (the 23rd meeting of the Conference of the Parties on climate change) conference president, Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, has called for “an absolute dedication to meet the 1.5-degree target.” This is the arbitrary and most stringent goal suggested by the Paris Agreement. In support of Bainimarama’s position, the COP23/Fiji Website repeatedly cites frightening forecasts made by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
 
One prediction stated: “The IPCC recently reported that temperatures will significantly increase in the Sahel and Southern African regions, rainfall will significantly decrease, and tropical storms will become more frequent and intense, with a projected 20 per cent increase in cyclone activity.” 
To make such dire forecasts, the IPCC relies on computerized models built on data and formulas to represent atmospheric conditions, and reflect the hypothesis that carbon dioxide is the principal factor driving planetary warming and climate change.
 
However, we still do not have a comprehensive, workable “theory of climate,” and thus do not have valid formulas to properly represent how the atmosphere functions. We also lack data to properly understand what weather was like over most of the planet even in the recent past. Without a good understanding of past weather conditions, we have no way to know the history, or the future, of average weather conditions – what we call the climate.
 
An important data set used by the computer models cited by the IPCC is the “HadCRUT4” global average temperature history for the past 167 years. This was produced by the Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, both based in the United Kingdom.
 
Until the 1960s, HadCRUT4 temperature data were collected using mercury thermometers located at weather stations situated mostly in the United States, Japan, the UK, and eastern Australia. Most of the rest of the planet had very few temperature sensing stations, and none of the Earth’s oceans (which cover 70% of the planet) had more than occasional stations separated from the next ones by thousands of kilometers of no data. Temperatures over these vast empty areas were simply “guesstimated.”
 
Making matters even worse, data collected at weather stations in this sparse grid had, at best, an accuracy of +/-0.5 degrees Celsius (0.9 degrees F), and oftentimes no better than +/-1.0 degree C. Averaging such poor data in an attempt to determine past or future global conditions cannot yield anything meaningful – and certainly nothing accurate or valid enough to use in making critical energy policy decisions.
 
Modern weather station surface temperature data are now collected using precision thermocouples. But, starting in the 1970s, less and less ground surface temperature data was used for plots such as HadCRUT4. Initially, this was done because governments believed satellite monitoring could take over from most of the ground surface data collection.
 
However, the satellites did not show the warming that climate activists and computer models had forecast. So, bureaucrats closed many of the colder rural surface temperature sensing stations, while many stations in the vast frigid area of Siberia were closed for economic and other reasons. The net result was that cold temperature data disappeared from more recent records – thereby creating artificial warming trends, the very warming that alarmists predicted, desired and needed for political purposes.
 
Today, we have virtually no data for approximately 85% of the Earth’s surface. Indeed, there are fewer weather stations in operation now than there were in 1960.
 
That means HadCRUT4 and other surface temperature computations after about 1980 are meaningless. Combining this with the sensitivity (accuracy) problems in the early data, and the fact that we have almost no long-term data above Earth’s surface, the conclusion is unavoidable:
It is not possible to know how or whether Earth’s climate has varied over the past century and a half. The data are therefore useless for input to the computer models that form the basis of the IPCC’s conclusions.
 
But the lack of adequate surface data is only the start of the problem. The computer models on which the climate scare is based are mathematical constructions that require the input of data above Earth’s surface as well. The models divide the atmosphere into cubes piled on top of each other, ideally with wind, humidity, cloud cover and temperature conditions known for different altitudes. But we currently have even less data above the surface than on it, and there is essentially no historical data at altitude.
 
Many people think the planet is adequately covered by satellite observations – data that is almost global 24/7 coverage and far more accurate than anything determined at weather stations. But the satellites are unable to collect data from the north and south poles, regions that are touted as critical to understanding global warming.
 
Moreover, space-based temperature data collection did not start until 1979, and 30 years of weather data is required to generate a single data point on a climate graph. The satellite record is far too short to allow us to come to any useful conclusions about climate change.
 
In fact, there is insufficient data of any kind – temperature, land and sea ice, glaciers, sea level, extreme weather, ocean pH, et cetera – to be able to determine how today’s climate differs from the past, much less predict the future. The IPCC’s climate forecasts have no connection with the real world.
 
Sherlock Holmes warned that “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”
 
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote this famous quote for fiction, of course. But it applies perfectly to today’s global warming debate, especially where the IPCC’s scary conclusions and forecasts are involved. Of course, this will not stop Bainimarama and other conference leaders from citing IPCC “science” in support of their warnings of future climate catastrophe.
 
We should use these facts to spotlight and embarrass them every time.
___________
 
Dr. Tim Ball is an environmental consultant and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba. Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition.
                                                              

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Race to Censor Internet News

Posted by Daniel Greenfield Monday, November 13, 2017 4 Comments @ Sultan Knish Blog.

How can you tell that internet censorship is really taking off? Easy. It’s becoming a business model.

Steven Brill is raising $6 million to launch News Guard. This new service will rate news sites on their trustworthiness from green to red. Forget politically unbiased algorithms. The ratings will be conducted by "qualified, accountable human beings" from teams of “40 to 60 journalists.” Once upon a time, journalism meant original writing. Now it means deciding which original writing to censor.

"Can trust be monetized?" The Street’s article on News Guard asks. But it isn’t really trust that’s being monetized. It’s censorship. It’s doing the dirty work that Google and Facebook don’t want to do.

The Dems and their media allies have been pressuring Google and Facebook to do something about the “fake news” that they blame for Trump’s win. The big sites outsourced the censorship to media fact checkers. The message was, “Don’t blame us, now you’re in charge.”

Facebook made a deal with ABC News and the AP, along with Politifact, FactCheck and Snopes, to outsource the censoring for $100K. When two of these left-wing groups declare that an article is fake, Facebook marks it up and viewership drops by 80%.

Facebook is reportedly considering adding the Weekly Standard to its panel of fact checkers. Even if that were to happen, it would be the difference between putting the New York Times without David Brooks or the Times with David Brooks in charge of deciding what you can read on Facebook. Adding a token conservative who is acceptable to the left doesn’t change the inherent bias of the system.

Not only does the roster of fact checkers lean to the left, but so do its notions of what’s true and false. For example, Snopes and Politifact both insist that General Pershing’s forces never buried the bodies of Muslim terrorists with pigs. But General Pershing specifically stated in his autobiography, "These Juramentado attacks were materially reduced in number by a practice that the Mohamedans held in abhorrence. The bodies were publicly buried in the same grave with a dead pig.”

Both the New York Times and the Scientific American reported on it at the time. Despite that Snopes rated this widely accepted historical fact as “False” and Politifact marked it as “Pants on Fire”.

Snopes also recently marked a story that Christ Church in Virginia is removing a George Washington plaque as false even though the church publicly announced that it was doing so.

Politifact and Snopes are entitled to their incorrect opinions. The trouble is that they don’t extend the same privilege to those they disagree with. And Google and Facebook promote fake fact checks while burying sites that discuss actual historical facts. The big internet companies don’t want to get involved in all these arguments. But nor are they willing to let their users decide for themselves anymore.

And so Net Nanny for news has become an actual business model. Instead of protecting children from pornography, News Nanny protects adults from news. And from views outside the left’s bubble.

By adopting the News Nanny model, Google and Facebook are treating their users like children.

The News Guard model is in some ways even more insidious than biased fact checking because it sets up lists of approved and disapproved sites. Google is rolling out something similar with its “knowledge panels” for publishers. Search for the New York Times and the panels will tell you how many Pulitzers the paper has won. Search for Front Page Magazine and the panel note describes it as, “Political alignment: Right-wing politics”. No note listing a left-wing political alignment appears in the panel for the New York Times despite its recent laudatory series about the Soviet Union and Communism.

The media never has an official political orientation. Not even when it’s cheering Communism. But its opponents and critics always have one. Follow Google’s link for Front Page’s political alignment and the top entry states, “Right-wing politics hold that certain social orders and hierarchies are inevitable”.

That’s a wholly inaccurate description of either Front Page Magazine or conservative politics in America. And it’s another example of how the fight against “fake news” by the left actually ends up producing it.

And it isn’t meant to stop there.

The Google Blog casually mentions that the panels will also list, “claims the publisher has made that have been reviewed by third parties”. You get one guess as to who those “third parties” will be.

Fact checking has become a pipeline to censorship. The big social and search companies outsource fact checking to third parties and then demonetize, marginalize and outright ban views and publishers that those third parties disagree with. Fact checks are no longer an argument. They’re the prelude to a ban.

Google and Facebook respectively dominate search and social media. When they appoint official censors for their services, those left-wing fact checkers become the gatekeepers of the internet.

And the internet isn’t supposed to have gatekeepers.

Senator Al Franken, of all people, made that point at the Open Markets Institute. OMI’s people have emerged as the leading opponents of big tech monopolies on the left.

“No one company should have the power to pick and choose which content reaches consumers and which doesn’t,” Franken said. “And Facebook, Google and Amazon, like ISPs, should be neutral in their treatment of the flow of lawful information and commerce on their platform.”

There is no more obvious example of the lack of neutrality than Facebook and Google’s partnership with “fact checkers”. If Net Neutrality means anything, it should strike down Google’s partnership with Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network and Facebook’s use of Snopes to silence conservatives.

When sites picked and chose content based on algorithms, they were deciding which content reached users based on what was likely to be popular. And, occasionally, based on their own agendas. Now they are picking and choosing which content reaches users based on political orientation. While the advocates for Net Neutrality rage against cable companies, Comcast and Charter aren’t engaging in political censorship. No matter how they disguise it, Google and Facebook’s news nannies are.

News Guard is an ominous warning that online censorship is becoming a viable business model as the big tech companies look around for someone else to do their dirty work for them. But subcontracted censorship is still censorship. And the only people impressed by the credentials of the “fact checkers” are those who share their politics. Unfortunately that covers the leadership of Google and Facebook.

Discussions about fake news often begin and end with “trust”. Major media outlets with Pulitzers are trustworthy. Major fact checking operations are also trustworthy. Even Snopes is somehow trustworthy despite its utter lack of professionalism, and its founders accusing each other of embezzlement,

But “trust” has more than one meaning. We trust those people and organizations we like. And sometimes those organizations form a trust. And anyone who isn’t in, is untrustworthy.

Trust in the mainstream media has never been lower. Yet the big tech companies insist that mainstream media sources are the only trustworthy ones. They want us to trust them, because they don’t trust us.

The internet was a revolutionary environment that liberated individuals to make their own choices. Bloggers could compete with big media. Leaked emails could bring down a government. But the internet is becoming less free. Access is controlled by a handful of tech companies that keep getting bigger and bigger. The survivors of the scale wars will combine cable, content and commerce in new ways. And in a politicized culture, they won’t just signal their political views, they will enforce them.

If we don’t fight now, ten years from now conservatives will be the rats in the walls of the internet.

The Continuing Moore Saga

'Mooring' Bill Clinton
November 15, 2017

Compared to Clinton, Roy Moore looks like a gentleman.

That it is appalling to go back 38 years and dig up a "he said she said" story. After all, how many of us remember everything that happened that far back? I mean no disrespect to the very serious issue of sexual mistreatment but 38 years is a long time ago.  It's unfair to Judge Moore and it is using the women for political purposes, whether the victims realize it or not!

Sorry, but this is not good journalism to me. Nevertheless, it is the partisan journalism we have. But where does former President Clinton fit into this? Would it be fair for reporters now to go back and interview the women who were generally ignored years ago? Should they get a hearing?.............More
   

By Thomas Lifson  November 14, 2017

Another thought-leading progressive publication has connected the dots and realized that Bill Clinton cannot be allowed to skate on his abuse of women.  In The Atlantic, Caitlin Flanagan writes a political history of the feminist movement and Bill Clinton's sexual predation. The sub-headline says it all:

Feminists saved the 42nd president of the United States in the 1990s. They were on the wrong side of history; is it finally time to make things right?

 
The piece is accompanied by a copyrighted graphic (see it here) designed for a strong social media impact.  Those who see it on Facebook and click will find a well written, long, substantive, and thoughtful article.  Feminists who care about the movement will read it and absorb it, as will progressives in general.  Then they will start to speak out to their contacts.  And so on, and so on, as new ideas predictably propagate [i].
Chris Hayes was the first progressive thought leader to ask his followers to think it through and realize what is at stake.  He opened the door with a tweet:
 
As gross and cynical and hypocrtical as the right's "what about Bill Clinton" stuff is, it's also true that Democrats and the center left are overdue for a real reckoning with the allegations against him.........More
 
By Jack Hellner November 14, 2017
 
I have no idea whether the stories about Roy Moore are true or not, but neither do the Washington Post reporters and all the other reporters who just repeat the unverified story with no investigation.  Forty-year-old allegations are especially hard to disprove.
 
I find it odd that this story came up after the primary and after decades of service by Roy Moore.  Why did the Washington Post reporters wait until after no one else could be put on the ballot to run a 40-year-old story?  Isn't it also strange that a supposed sexual predator would have all of a sudden quit going after young girls 40 years ago?  Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Bill Clinton never quit.  Clinton couldn't control himself even when he was in the White House.
 
Who gave the reporters the story?  They certainly didn't come up with the story on their own, and the women didn't come to them, so how did they get it?  Did the Democratic National Committee funnel money to a law firm so it could pay someone like Fusion GPS to come up with this?
 
We know from DNC emails last year that there was a stable of reporters Democrats could plant stories with and that they would print the stories with few questions asked.  We also know from Ben Rhodes at the White House that the Obama administration could plant false stories on the Iran deal with reporters that they would run with no questions asked.  So who planted the story?
 
The Roy Moore story has a familiar ring and methodology to it..........More
 
Jon N. Hall November 15, 2017

The allegations of sexual improprieties with minors against GOP senatorial nominee Roy Moore have created tumult in Republicans circles. Several sitting U.S. senators have opined that Mr. Moore is unfit to serve. We’ve even heard some wonder whether Moore, if elected, should be seated...........The refusal of the United States Senate led by Harry Reid to seat Roland W. Burris fails that test............Mr. von Spakovsky made a solid case that the Senate does not have the authority to deny any duly elected senator his rightful seat.............If the U.S. Senate were to not seat Moore, it would surely set off a constitutional contretemps between the feds and a state, and the Senate would ultimately lose. However, the Senate does have the authority to expel its members, and expulsions are final, not appealable......More

 
 By Steve Flesher November 15, 2017 

Up until one week ago, the worst thing one could claim about Judge Roy Moore was that he stood for the Ten Commandments as a judge and ticked off the ACLU. While arguments exist constitutionally around that particular matter, Moore's actions in doing so were certainly not indicative of a man with a weak character who would exploit young ladies. In fact, he stood for something and risked losing a political position. Another matter that put Moore's political post at risk was his stance on marriage. Again, he didn't go along to get along. He stood for what he believes in. His steel spine is yet another objective fact we're able to consider. This is why Alabama voters trust Moore, who has proven himself when he promises to stand on important issues: religious liberty, securing our borders (which includes building a wall), the Second Amendment, protecting the unborn, etc.............More
 

Yes, Virginia, there is vote fraud

By Robert Knigt November 15, 2017

If ever there were an election that proved the importance of accurate voter rolls, it was Virginia’s on Nov. 7.With control of the General Assembly hanging in the balance, at least three Democratic candidates demanded recounts of their Republican opponents’ razor-thin victory margins.

One candidate led by 106 votes, another by 86, and a third led by only 10. Another five races were decided by fewer than 900 votes. The Democrats need to flip only two more seats to take control of the lower chamber. Every vote counts, and every name listed on a voter registration roll can be voted, legitimately or illegitimately.

People who oppose efforts to clean up voter rolls or to check voter IDs say that it could discourage some people from voting. But in the rare instance in which someone is removed from the rolls who is eligible to vote, that person can still vote.

He or she can fill out a provisional ballot and furnish proof of residency later. So there is no justification for inaccurate voter rolls. In 2013, Democrat Mark Herring defeated Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain for attorney general by only 165 votes out of more than 2.2 million votes cast.

Nobody knows how many fraudulent votes are cast in any election, but we do know that literally thousands of ineligible voters are on Virginia’s voter rolls, including illegal immigrants and convicted felons.

In 2016, the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) investigated registrations in six Virginia counties and two cities and published the findings in a report, “Alien Invasion in Virginia.” PILF found more than 1,040 noncitizens on the voter rolls and that 200 of them voted.

 If you extrapolate this to the state’s other 127 counties, it suggests that the Old Dominion’s voter rolls are bloated with thousands of ineligible voters. In May 2017, PILF issued a sequel, “Alien Invasion II,” which found:
  • Virginia election officials quietly removed 5,556 voters for non-citizenship between 2011 and May 2017;
  • 1,852 of those removed as noncitizens cast ballots;
  •  A total of 7,474 illegal ballots were cast from the pool of removed noncitizens;
  •  Some records of illegal voting date back to the 1980s, way before their respective removals;
“Virginia election officials routinely fail to alert law enforcement about these illegal votes or registrations,” the report said............To Read More.....

Feel the Bern: Venezuela Goes Bust

Another lesson in the price of lending to a socialist regime.

By The Editorial Board

Milton Friedman once joked that if you put the government in charge of the Sahara Desert in five years there would be a shortage of sand. He could have been talking about Venezuela and its oil wealth. But it is no joke.

On Monday Caracas missed interest payments due on two government bonds and one bond issued by the state-owned oil monopoly known by its Spanish initials PdVSA. Venezuela owed creditors $280 million, which it couldn’t manage even after a 30-day grace period.

Venezuela is broke, which takes some doing. For much of the second half of the 20th century, a gusher of oil exports made dollars abundant in Venezuela and the country imported the finest of everything. There were rough patches in the 1980s and 1990s, but by 2001 Venezuela was the richest country in South America...........To Read More..... 

100 Years of Communism, 100 Million Deaths, and the Economic Performance of Nations that Escaped Soviet Tyranny

November 14, 2017 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty
 
Over the past few weeks, I’ve written several columns about the 100th anniversary of communism. I’ve looked at that evil ideology’s death toll, and I’ve written about the knaves and fools who defended and promoted communism in the west (included, sad to say, some economists). And I’ve even shared some anti-communist humor to offset the dour material in the other columns.

Let’s continue that series today by looking at the very practical question of what happens when a nation breaks free from communist enslavement?

Professor James Gwartney and Hugo Montesinos from Florida State University analyzed the economic performance of former Soviet Bloc nations (they refer to them as formerly centrally planned – or FCP – countries) over the past 20 years.

The good news is that these countries have been growing, especially if they get decent scores from Economic Freedom of the World.
The economic record of the FCP countries during 1995-2015 was impressive. This was particularly true for the seven FCP countries that moved the most toward economic liberalization. The average growth of real per capita GDP of these seven countries exceeded 5 percent during 1995-2015. Real per capita GDP more than doubled in six of the seven countries during the two decades. …While the real GDP growth of the middle group was slower, it was still impressive. The population weighted annual real growth of per capita GDP of the middle group was 3.78 percent.
And to elaborate on the good news, growth rates in FCP nations has been faster than growth rates in rich countries.

But that’s to be expected. Convergence theory tells us that poorer places should grow faster than richer places (at least in the absence of unusual circumstances).

But government policy can be a wild card. As you can see from Table 14 of the report, Gwartney and Montesinos parsed the data and found that the FCP nations that adopted the most pro-market reforms have enjoyed the fastest growth rates, while growth rates were less impressive in the FCP countries with lesser amounts of economic liberalization (relative growth rates highlighted in red below).



The goal, of course, is for FCP nations to catch up with rich nations.
And there has been a decent amount of convergence.

…the relative income increases are impressive. The ratio of the mean per capita GDP of the most economically free group compared to the high-income economies more than doubled, soaring from 19.9 percent in 1995 to 40.6 percent in 2015. The parallel ratio for the middle group increased by approximately 50 percent from 36.9 percent in 1995 to 53.0 percent in 2015. Finally, the ratio for the bottom group increased from 13.0 percent in 1995 to 24.6 percent in 2015, an increase of 90 percent. The largest increases in relative income were registered by Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia, Armenia, Albania, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The ratio for each of these countries more than doubled between 1995 and 2015. Note that five of these eight countries are in the group with the highest 2015 EFW ratings.
There’s country-specific data in Table 13 of the report.

And you can see, once again, that the nations with the most economic freedom and enjoying the fastest convergence rates. From the top group, I’ve highlighted both Georgia and the Baltic countries for their impressive results. And I also highlighted Poland and Slovakia from the second group because both countries have converged at a rapid pace thanks to some good policies.



Looking at the bottom group, it’s sad to see Ukraine doing so poorly, but that’s a predictable result given the near-total absence of economic freedom in that unfortunate country.

The obvious moral of the story is that nations will grow faster and generate more prosperity if they follow the recipe of free markets and limited government.

So let’s take a look at that recipe by examining how FCP nations have performed when looking at the various ingredients. More specifically, Economic Freedom of the World looks at five major policy areas: fiscal, trade, money, regulation, and legal.

And it’s that final category (which measures factors such as property rights, the rule of law, and government corruption) where these countries have not done a good job.
…the FCP countries…have a major shortcoming: their legal systems are weak and little progress has been made in this area. Given their historic background, this is not surprising. Under socialism, legal systems are designed to serve the interests of the government. Judges, lawyers, and other judicial officials are trained and rewarded for serving governmental interests. Protection of the rights of individuals and private businesses and organizations is unimportant under socialism.
Here’s some fascinating data from Table 17, which shows how scores for the five major categories have changed over time in both FCP nations and countries from Western Europe. You’ll see that FCP countries have liberalized policy and closed the gap in Area 3 (money), Area 4 (trade), and Area 5 (regulation). And you’ll also see how the FCP nations do a better job in Area 1 (fiscal), which I’ve highlighted in red. But the most startling – and depressing – result in the absence of progress in Area 2 (legal), which is also highlighted in red.



These results, for all intents and purposes, are a much more detailed version of an article I wrote for the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformers in Europe earlier this year.

Unfortunately, even though we have the same diagnosis, we don’t really have an easy solution. In this final excerpt, the authors explain that it’s not that easy to change the culture of a nation’s political class.
It is a major challenge to convert a socialist legal system into one that enforces contracts in an unbiased manner, protects property rights, permits markets to direct economic activity, and operates under rule of law principles. …Economists have provided policy-makers with step by step directions about how to achieve monetary and price stability, liberalized trade regimes, and adopt tax structures more consistent with growth and prosperity. …But, a recipe for developing a sound legal system is largely absent. We know what a sound legal system looks like, but we have failed to explain how it can be achieved.
I don’t even thank socialism deserves the full blame (though it deserves the blame for many bad things). There are many nations in many regions of the world that get very bad scores because of inadequate rule of law and weak property rights. But I fully agree that it’s not easy to fix.

But I’ll close with a very upbeat observation that all of the FCP nations are better off because the Soviet Union collapsed and communism is fading from the world. Liberal socialism may not be good for an economy, but it’s paradise compared to Marxist socialism.