By Nathan Barton
Good morning: still looking at things for the old year and the new year.
In 19 states, minimum wages went up on the 1st of January, passing the $10 mark in several states. In one of the most bizarre and long-lasting of economic myths, people believe that minimum wages help the economy and help lower-income wage workers. This is one more drag on the economy of every one of those states, including both South Dakota AND Colorado.
Postponing the Estate Tax is going to be attempted once again, in the new Congress. The federal estate tax — often called the death tax — is a tax on the transfer of a person’s assets at death… in essence adding insult to injury for a lot of folks. People have tried to get rid of it for years, but it is a key part of the Transzi platform, to ensure that small, less wealthy families (NOT members of “the elite”) do not come to challenge the superrich, who can hide with all kinds of benefits. Once more, government decisions harm the economy.
Looking back: Federal Agencies Ignore Recommendations to Improve Efficiency, Fraud, Waste The GAO warned the government in 1996 that domestic airlines could be targeted by terrorists without better passenger screening — five years before the attacks of September 11, 2001 (Bloody Tuesday, or 9-11)… The story goes on to list a half-dozen examples of how sensible suggestions have not been implemented, in some cases for 30+ years. Most of these recommendations (not all, by any means) would somewhat reduce the harm government causes to the economy: imagine if Bloody Tuesday had NOT happened and therefore had NOT been the excuse for trillions spent in Afghanistan, Mesopotamia, and at home!
Federal Child Care and Preschool Grants Come with Strings Attached. President Obama’s latest effort to improve childcare and preschool programs through federal grant programs brings with it a new set of problems… Just as a lot of us predicted would happen. More government control, more mandates, more prohibitions, and more headaches for teachers and parents. More harm to the economy, more harm to the nation.
Authorities: Police chief said he accidentally shot wife Mama Liberty: Intentional or negligent… those are the only two possibilities. Even if the gun malfunctions, if the “rules” are followed, nobody’s likely to get hurt. Nathan: When something like this happens, the “best” scenario is stupidity (as in the recent situation where the mom was shot and killed by her two-year-old in a WalMart because of the way the mom was carrying her gun in her purse). OR there is really a reason, and it is being hidden. (Oh, and yes, “stupidity” includes people who are drugged up or drunk… it was THEIR choice to get that way.) According to follow up reports, the “reason” seems to be there: apparently, this woman who was shot was the police chief’s EX-wife, and had been for more than a decade: he’d been married to another woman part of that time. Do I distrust what ANY cop says? You bet I do!
Muslim wars are of course continuing.
Nigeria ended 2014 and began the new year with the usual suicide bombing attacks, but in a good sign, BOTH failed to kill anyone but the bomber. In one case, a woman tried to get into a military barracks, was shot and blew up. In the second case, on New Year’s, a man on a small scooter tried to get past a church’s checkpoint to get into their meetinghouse, but blew himself up when stopped. Seven other people were injured. This shows the importance of armed defense and being careful, especially in a land like Nigeria. “The soldiers didn’t take chances with the woman and opened fire when she showed no sign of stopping to be searched,” Baballe said. North-east Nigeria has been continually rocked by attacks mounted by Boko Haram militants, increasingly using female suicide bombers. The extremist group, whose name roughly means “Western education is forbidden”, have killed thousands since it began a deadly insurgency in northern Nigeria in 2009.
Thirty-three people were killed on New Years in an attack on a Houthi religious observance in Yemen, although no group has yet claimed responsibility. The Houthi are Shi’a in a Sunni majority country, and part of a rebel group seeking autonomy for their home province in northern Yemen. This latest example of Muslim-on-Muslim violence, based on religious (and, admittedly, political) differences will no doubt be repeated again and again this year.
Looking back, 2014: Best Year on Record? Since 1990, the extreme poverty rate has been cut in half worldwide. Life spans, both in the West and in the Third World, are getting longer. People have more food, technology, and education. Despite the Ebola scare, death rates are down. The Telegraph talks about how, economically and even when talking about disease, life-span, and war, 2014 was a VERY good year, and compared it to the golden era leading UP to 1914, as major progress was made in nearly all aspects of life (as far as I’m concerned, the “golden era” of the beginning of the 20th Century ended with the election of Wilson in 1912 and the massive “democratization” of the United States in 1913. While the author has a strong argument, it should not distract us from the fact that a LOT went wrong and got worse in 2014, and we are moving closer by the day to a modern equivalent of the “Guns of August” in 1914: a crash of civilization that could make the 21st Century as evil as the 20th.