Socialist Self-Deception: Einstein and the USSR to Bernie Sanders and Venezuela 

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Even socialists who traveled to the Soviet Union and saw its immense poverty with their own eyes could not be shaken from their faith.

To explain our insane fascination with socialism, I have pointed to a growing body of academic research, which suggests that we are, by nature, envious of and resentful toward people who amass “disproportionate” wealth and power.

Moreover, research suggests that we find it difficult to comprehend, let alone appreciate, what Friedrich Hayek called extended order — or the use of specialization and trade to create “an information gathering process, able to call up, and put to use, widely dispersed information that no central planning agency, let alone any individual, could know as a whole, possess or control.”

Our minds have evolved to deal with issues faced by our hunting and gathering ancestors (e.g., an exchange of meat for favors), not to deal with issues facing us today (e.g., outsourcing the assembly of the iPhone to China to make it more affordable in America). The extended order, in other words, has evolved in spite of, not because of, our best efforts.

Today, I want to address another reason behind the persistent appeal of socialism: the power of self-delusion, or our ability and willingness to go on believing in things that are patently not true.

Soviet Five-Year Plan propaganda poster.

Soviet Five-Year Plan propaganda poster.

Consider the following two examples. In 1985, my Czechoslovak aunt Kate visited the USSR. She was a committed Communist Party member all of her adult life, and, as a reward, she was given a chance to spend a couple of weeks in the workers’ paradise. When she returned, I impetuously asked her if she had brought me anything. “Nothing,” she replied much to my disappointment, “the USSR is a very poor country.” Yet Kate never wavered in her commitment to the principles of communism and remained a party member until 1989, when her entire value system came crumbling down along with the Berlin Wall.

[Read the full story here, at Foundation for Economic Education]

Some ten years later, an American college professor of mine recalled his own visit to the USSR. In 1970, he and his wife spent two weeks in Leningrad, Moscow, and Kiev. During their stay in the communist country, he was shocked by the poverty and inefficiency he saw. (From Kiev, he wrote a letter to his parents in New York, which I have transcribed, with his permission, below.) All the other tourists that he met expressed similar sentiments.

When he returned to the United States, however, he kept on reading reports in mainstream publications, including Time magazine and The New York Times, which maintained that the Soviet economy was working. These reports were written by people who lived in the USSR, spoke Russian and had Soviet friends. As such, he concluded that the impressions he had made during his stay in the USSR were not valid.

If the above two examples failed to convince you of the power of self-delusion, consider our Nobel Prize-winning physicist from Ulm.

Einstein was a self-declared socialist. In 1949, he even published an essay titled “Why Socialism?” In it, Einstein wrote, “The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil [of human suffering]… I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate… [this evil], namely through the establishment of a socialist economy.”

It is striking that the most brilliant scientist of the 20th century, who escaped from national socialist Germany (Hitler called his party “socialist” for a reason) and moved to the capitalist United States, published an essay castigating capitalism and calling for socialism — while Stalin was still alive and busy butchering millions of Soviet citizens. Read the rest of this entry »


Debt Under Obama Up $9,000,000,000,000

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As of the close of business, on Wednesday, Oct. 5—the latest day for which the Treasury has reported—the total federal debt was $19,663,411,497,797.40. That means that so far in Obama’s presidency, the federal debt has increased $9,036,534,448,884.32.

Terence P. Jeffrey reports: The federal government passed a fiscal milestone on the first business day of fiscal 2017—which was Monday, Oct. 3—when the total federal debt accumulated during the presidency of Barack Obama topped $9,000,000,000,000 for the first time.

On Jan. 20, 2009, when Obama was inaugurated, the total debt of the federal government was $10,626,877,048,913.08, according to data published by the U.S. Treasury.

As of the close of business on Friday, Sept, 30, the last day of fiscal 2016, the total federal debt was $19,573,444,713,936.79. At that point, the total federal debt had increased under Obama by $8,946,567,665,023.71.

On Monday, Oct. 3, the first business day of fiscal 2017, the total federal debt closed at $19,642,949,742,561.51. At that point, the debt had increased under Obama by $9,016,072,693,648.43 from the $10,626,877,048,913.08 it stood at on the day of Obama’s inauguration.

[Read the full story here, at cnsnews.com]

As of the close of business, on Wednesday, Oct. 5—the latest day for which the Treasury has reported—the total federal debt was $19,663,411,497,797.40. That means that so far in Obama’s presidency, the federal debt has increased $9,036,534,448,884.32. Read the rest of this entry »


Byron York: ‘Democrats are particularly anxious about immigration because of the unusually tenuous nature of President Obama’s policies on the issue. Those policies can be undone unilaterally’

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions is Democrats’ nightmare.

There are extensive, and in some cases, strict immigration laws on the books, passed by bipartisan majorities of Congress. Obama wanted Congress to change those laws. Congress declined. So Obama stopped enforcing provisions of the law that he did not like. A new administration could simply resume enforcement of the law.

Byron York writes: President-elect Trump’s transition team knew that nominating Jeff Sessions for Attorney General would set off controversy.

Tucker Carlson Embarrassed DNC Stenographer, Politico ‘Reporter’ Jonathan Allen

Democrats and their allies in the press have at key times in the past called Sessions a racist — they’re now using the Alabama senator’s full name, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, to heighten the Old South effect — and now, as they oppose Trump at nearly every turn, they’ve turned to race again.

“There are extensive, and in some cases, strict immigration laws on the books, passed by bipartisan majorities of Congress. Obama wanted Congress to change those laws. Congress declined. So Obama stopped enforcing provisions of the law that he did not like.”

Here’s why the effort to stop Sessions is likely to intensify as his confirmation hearings near. Sessions is the Senate’s highest-profile, most determined, and most knowledgeable opponent of comprehensive immigration reform. Democrats are particularly anxious about immigration because of the unusually tenuous nature of President Obama’s policies on the issue. Those policies can be undone unilaterally, by the new president in some cases, and by the attorney general and head of homeland security in other cases. There’s no need for congressional action — and no way for House or Senate Democrats to slow or stop it.

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“A new administration could simply resume enforcement of the law — a move that by itself would bring a huge change to immigration practices in the United States. No congressional approval needed.”

There are extensive, and in some cases, strict immigration laws on the books, passed by bipartisan majorities of Congress. Obama wanted Congress to change those laws. Congress declined. So Obama stopped enforcing provisions of the law that he did not like.

[Read the full story here, at Washington Examiner]

A new administration could simply resume enforcement of the law — a move that by itself would bring a huge change to immigration practices in the United States. No congressional approval needed.

“It will be possible for the Trump administration to dramatically increase enforcement of immigration laws by using what is now on the books.”

— Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies

There are laws providing for the deportation of people who entered the U.S. illegally. Laws providing for the deportation of people who entered the U.S. illegally and later committed crimes. Laws for enforcing immigration compliance at the worksite. Laws for immigrants who have illegally overstayed their visas for coming to the United States. Laws requiring local governments to comply with federal immigration law. And more….(read more)

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“Democrats are particularly anxious about immigration because of the unusually tenuous nature of President Obama’s policies on the issue. Those policies can be undone unilaterally, by the new president in some cases, and by the attorney general and head of homeland security in other cases. There’s no need for congressional action — and no way for House or Senate Democrats to slow or stop it.”

President Trump could throw PEP out the window. And that would be just a start. The Center for Immigration Studies has published a list of 79 Obama policies the new administration could change without any action by Congress. (The list was compiled in April 2016, before anyone could know who the next president would be.) Among them:

1) End the embargo on worksite enforcement. “Experience has shown that employers respond very quickly and voluntarily implement compliance measures when there is an uptick in enforcement,” Vaughan notes, “because they see the potential damage to their operations and public image for being caught and prosecuted.”

2) Restore ICE’s authority to make expedited removals of illegal immigrants who are felons or who have recently crossed into the United States.

Read the rest of this entry »


China challenges U.S. leadership to grow a pair, confront debt crisis

China understandably concerned about their $1.3tn of investments

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhu Guangyao watches in helpless horror as U.S. budget talks burst into flames and threaten to spread global panic and chaos

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhu Guangyao watches in helpless horror as U.S. budget talks burst into flames

China, the biggest foreign creditor of the United States, has waded into the American budget crisis, warning Congress that it must resolve the political impasse over the debt ceiling without further delay.

The Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, Zhu Guangyao, told America’s deadlocked politicians on Monday that “the clock is ticking” and called on them to approve an extension of the national borrowing limit before the federal government is projected to run out of cash on 17 October.

“We ask that the United States earnestly takes steps to resolve in a timely way the political issues around the debt ceiling and prevent a US debt default to ensure the safety of Chinese investments in the United States,”  Mr Zhu told reporters in Beijing. “This is the United States’ responsibility,” he added. Read the rest of this entry »