How a 40-mile border wall changed San Diego — and Mexico

To understand what the area between San Diego and Mexico once was like in the 1980s there is book by Joseph Wambaugh that tells the true story. It is Lines and Shadows written and published by Wambaugh in 1984.

Back then the area was a crime infested desert that was safe for no one, most of all not safe for Mexicans entering the U.S. illegally. Most of the illegals were simply seeking gainful employment but they were preyed upon by criminals from both sides of the border.

Wambaugh’s book details how a group of San Diego police officers called the Border Crime Task Force were sent to patrol the area between San Diego and Mexico. Their mission was not to apprehend the thousands of illegal aliens slipping into the United States; that was the job of the U.S. Border Patrol. The Border Patrol did apprehend illiegals, so many that one-third of total illegals caught by the Border Patrol anywhere came from South of San Diego. The cops’ mission was to stop the ruthless bandits who preyed on these Mexican illegals — relentlessly robbing, raping, and murdering defenseless men, women, and children.

In 1991 an astounding change was brought to this region, a change that benefited both the United States and Mexico. This changes especially benefited poor Mexicans, the campesinos. Hardest hit were the ruthless bandits who were forced to go somewhere else to ply their deadly trade.

The Daily Signal has released a video explaining this change, which was a 40-mile long border wall which commenced contstruction in 1991. The wall stopped illegal crossings, but San Diego remains today as the busiest legal crossing between the United States and Mexico.

A lab in Texas has cured diabetes in mice

Researchers at the University of Texas Health San Antonio report they have essentially cured type 1 diabetes in laboratory mice by using gene transfer.

The discovery increases the types of pancreatic cells that secrete insulin, which represents a potential cure for type 1 diabetes and could end insulin dependence in type 2 diabetes.

Insulin used by the body to lower blood sugar is only made by beta cells. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system destroys beta cells resulting in the body producing no insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the beta cells fail and insulin decreases but is still produced by the body.

If this works in humans it will be the greatest break in diabetes research since the discovery of insulin.

The need for a taxpayer bill of rights to stop public employee greed

A couple of decades ago Colorado adopted by referendum a taxpayer bill of rights (TABOR) requiring all future tax increases to be approved by taxpayers, and all excess funds collected be returned to taxpayers via future tax reductions.  Of course, politicians and bureaucrats hate it. Oh, do they hate it. They’ve tried every tactic they could think of to weaken it. They’d really like to drive a stake through it and be rid of it for good.  They make all sorts of silly arguments as to why it’s an impediment to good government. For the last 6 years they’ve been in Federal Court trying to get a ruling that TABOR is unconstitutional. That case was dismissed yesterday. The court said the plaintiffs had not made out a case that established a controversy upon which a court could act.

Imagine what this was. Polticians and bureaucrats suing taxpayers for not willingly giving them more money to waste.  They sought in this case, not a rule of law, but a rule of politics. Taxpayers, you have no say in how much we tax you. It harks back to Runnymede swamp in 1215, when the Lords forced King John to sign the Magna Carta. By the way, British bureaucrats still hate the Great Charter. Runnymede is still there and bureaucrats can be heard yelling, “That’s where this nonsense started!”, as they drive across the Thames bridge on the M25.

Colorado’s TABOR does allow the various departments of state government to retain excess funds by putting it on the ballot of an election and letting the voters decide. More often than not, ignorant and credulous voters fall for the flimsy excuses given and so approve these requests.

The fact is that state governments not just in Colorado but everywhere, are greedy and will be unaccountable to taxpayers when they can get away with it. This is so entrenched as to have become human nature among government types who stand to personally benefit on the backs of taxpayers.

The greed is manifest in two widespread practices, the systematic underfunding of public pensions and the tricks used to boost the current and future compensation of public officials.

Public pension underfunding is accomplished in two ways: unrealistic assumptions of future yield on investment and delay of current year pension contributions. The idea is that the current year may be tight but it can be made up with excess contributions in future years when fiscal government is in better shape. The future never comes.

It is only public pensions that can get away with these tactics. Private pensions, those created by corporations for their employees [no new such pensions have been created for years] are subject to government oversight by the Public Pension Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), a government agency created to insure solvency of private pension plans.  Public pensions are not subject to PBGC oversight and policing.

While a corporate pension is rquired to make its projections of future yield on investment in accord ith PBGC guidelines, public pensions can make whatever assumptions they please. Thus the State of California has projected future yields to average 7.5% but saw only a 0.61 percent rate of return in its latest fiscal year. Because of this the state now intends to lower its future yield projection…to 7%.  The higher the projected yield in future years the lower the current year contribution needs to be. This is called kicking the can down the road. When it comes time to make up the deficit thus created the individuals who made this intentional mistake will have retired to a golf course in Scotland or Palm Springs.

The pension game is just one way for politicians and bureaucrats to raid taxpayers. They have also come up with tricky schemes to pad their personal compensation with dodgy overtime claims, retroactive back pay awards, bonuses and incentives that go way beyond anything seen in the private sector.  You can’t imagine just how far they will go, apparently confident that naive taxpayers won’t notice.

For an example of just one such egregious episode of all this, go here: The Grass Gets Greener: New Data Tells The Old Story of Public-Employee Greed

UPDATE: Twenty-five University of California retirees are each collecting pensions of at least $300,000, totaling more than $8 million annually, public documents show.

The non-profit California Policy Center obtained documents from the Office of the UC President this week through a California Public Records Act request, and shared those documents with CBS San Francisco.

The revelation that such large pensions are being received by UC retirees — both teaching faculty members and non-teaching staff — comes at a time when the Office of the President faces severe scrutiny after a slush fund of up to $175 million was discovered during an audit.

UC President is Janet Napolitano.

Insurance for pre-existing conditions?

Say your arrive home some night to find your house on fire. You remember you don’t have any fire insurance on your house, so you quick call an insurance agent to get a binder in effect right away. Because if there isn’t some insurance to pay for the fire damage you will be out thousands of dollars, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars.  So then, after you’ve secured an insurance policy, whew!, you remember to call the fire department.

The fire department comes and puts the fire out. About one-half of your house is now completely gone. You assume an insurance adjustor will arrive in the morning to assess the damage and cut you  a check.

Of course, this is a fantasy. There will be no insurance check to pay for the damage to your house. In fact, you knew that and so you never called the insurance agent. You knew that would be silly. You knew you cannot buy insurance to cover a loss that has already occurred, or is occurring now. You knew and you know that insurance is to cover unexpected losses that may, but probably won’t, happen in the future. Even though a catastrophic future loss probably won’t happen, you buy insurance anyway because it if does happen you don’t want to suffer a catastrophic financial loss as well.

You know all of this already. Everyone knows this. So somebody tell me, please. Why in the world are so many people acting like pre-existing health problems can be covered by buying health insurance?  My own representative in Congress, Mike Coffman, voted against the GOP bill to partially repeal Obamacare today because it didn’t limit what insurance companies can charge for health coverage, for pre-existing conditions!

Insurance companies don’t want to charge anything for pre-exisiting conditions. They don’t want to sell insurance for pre-existing conditions because the whole idea of insurance for pre-existing conditions is nuts. It’s not insurance when insurance companies are compelled to pay for someone’s pre-existing health problems. It’s welfare payments tyrannically imposed on private companies by corrupt governments. It’s not robbing Peter to pay Paul. It’s forcing Peter to make Paul his ward and dependent.

About 4% of Americans at any one time have uninsurable pre-existing conditions. The other 96% are probably healthy enough to get health insurance with few if any exclusions for pre-existing conditions.  Why does anyone think it’s a good idea to ruin the insurance market for 96% of Americans to make “insurance” available to that 4 percent?  I’ts not that they won’t be cared for. They always have been and they always will be. It’s not necessary to destroy the private health insurance market to make sure people with pre-existing conditions get health care.  Charity and welfare is the only way to take care of with uninsurable pre-existing conditions if they cannot affortd to pay for it themselves. In any event, they are not going to  be left to die. They never have been, they never will be.

House Bill Repeals Only 10% of Obamacare  Just another Republican broken promise.

But them there’s this: Obamacare Repeal Means a Major Tax cut

Henry David Thoreau — Civil Disobedience

First posted on March 5, 2015

Maxham daguerreotype of Henry David Thoreau, aged 39, made in 1856

Maxham daguerreotype of Henry David Thoreau, aged 39, made in 1856

Once upon a time Henry David Thoreau’s 1849 essay, “Civil Disobedience” was a staple of freshman writing classes in colleges and universities across America. I can’t say for sure that it no longer is, but I’d bet dollars to donut holes that it is not.  It would be found to be politically incorrect, I’m afraid.  After all, its opening line is: I heartily accept the motto, “ That government is best which governs least.”

Such sentiment would surely violate speech codes on most college campae of today.  At least it would be considered unacceptable as not politically correct.  How do I know this? Well, it’s a good guess because finding an authentic copy of Thoreau’s essay that has not been bowdlerized by the speech police can be a bit tricky. I haven’t seen one that actually inserts words Thoreau never wrote; the preferred method is to simply omit the most politically incorrect passages.

There are many. Thoreau believed a lot of things that ring true for conservatives today.  Thoreau’s distrust of government was not that it is sometimes or just a little corrupt or unjust but that the government is primarily an agent of corruption and injustice.  Conservatives today would modify that slightly to say that there always exists a danger that government will be corrupt and unjust and that is exactly why the government should be limited and restricted to doing no more than those few things which governments must do, such as enforce a rule of law, provide a stable currency and defend against foreign enemies. It is when government tries to go beyond its necessary and proper functions that it is most likely to become the agent of corruption and injustice.  In Lincoln’s words, government should do only those things which the people cannot do for themselves.  Thoreau would say it this way: Government should not attempt to do those things which the people can do for themselves, and can do better:

Governments show thus how successfully men can be imposed on, even impose on themselves, for their own advantage. It is excellent, we must all allow. Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way. For government is an expedient by which men would fain succeed in letting one another alone; and, as has been said, when it is most expedient, the governed are most let alone by it. Trade and commerce, if they were not made of india-rubber, would never manage to bounce over the obstacles which legislators are continually putting in their way;

Today’s “leave us alone” conservatives heartily agree.

Thoreau did not believe that the majority was always a legitimate ruler. Merely constituting a majority does not guarantee wisdom and virtue.  In the following passage Thoreau seems to have contemplated what is today called the “low-information voter:”

I hear of a convention to be held at Baltimore, or elsewhere, for the selection of a candidate for the Presidency, made up chiefly of editors, and men who are politicians by profession; but I think, what is it to any independent, intelligent, and respectable man what decision they may come to? Shall we not have the advantage of his wisdom and honesty, nevertheless? Can we not count upon some independent votes? Are there not many individuals in the country who do not attend conventions? But no: I find that the respectable man, so called, has immediately drifted from his position, and despairs of his country, when his country has more reason to despair of him. He forthwith adopts one of the candidates thus selected as the only available one, thus proving that he is himself available for any purposes of the demagogue. His vote is of no more worth than that of any unprincipled foreigner or hireling native, who may have been bought. O for a man who is a man, and, as my neighbor says, has a bone in his back which you cannot pass your hand through!

In the followed passage I have marked out some words, which will be evident, and entered new ones in bold type, to show how Thoreau’s essay presaged a phenomenon we are living with today:

The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war Obamacare, executive amnesty, etc., the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for, in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure.

Thoreau seems to have contemplated much more about what would have been to him, the future, and is now what we see before us today:

This American government — what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity? It has not the vitality and force of a single living man; for a single man can bend it to his will.

If I am correct and Thoreau’s essay is no longer read by college freshman, that is a tragedy. I remember reading it for the first time when I was a freshman, and reveling in it. If today’s millennials would read it they might be on the road to discovering the real roots of their discontent.

UPDATE:  Thoreau’s essay is more timely than ever, as shown by this sampling from current news:  California Prosecutor Falsified Transcript of Confession and this important new book, Licensed to Lie, Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice.

Cable TV Going Dark?

Cord Cutting Spikes Fivefold in Cable TV’s Worst Quarter Ever

Cable’s day of reckoning has come. With all the major cable and satellite companies having reported their quarterly numbers, analyst firm MoffettNathanson put together a new cord-cutting report, and things are bad. Pay-TV providers lost an estimated 762,000 pay-TV subscribers over the first three months of this year—five times more than they lost during the same period last year. To make matters worse, Q1 has historically been a strong season for pay TV.

“For the better part of 15 years, pundits have predicted that cord-cutting was the future,” an apocalyptic Craig Moffett wrote. “Well, the future has arrived.”

But Comcast actually added cable customers in the first quarter

Don’t Tell Comcast About the Cord-Cutting Crisis

The Philly cable powerhouse continues to buck the industry trend of customers abandoning linear pay television in favor of streaming services. In its Q1 2017 earnings report this morning, Comcast said it added 42,000 pay TV subscribers in the first three months of the year, most of whom were residential customers. This has been something of a rosy pattern for Comcast. It was the only legacy cable company to end 2016 with a net gain of pay TV customers. According to Leichtman Research, it added 161,000 for the year. Comcast’s many customer service woes earned it a certain level of infamya few years ago. These days, it credits customer gains with its fancy X1 platform, which is now being used by more than half of its residential customers.

Comcast is not very cooperative with customers who want to reduce the number of channels they get in order to lower their bill. They will certainly let you choose a different “package” of channels, but invariably your bill doesn’t go down by much. I don’t think Comcast’s rosy situation will last. Especially if the network dramas that people like become available on Netflix. In fact, they already are available on Netflix you just can’t get them during the same season they appear on cable. If you’re willing to wait to watch your favorite series one season behind, you don’t need cable.


Taxing the Rich Doesn’t Work

Connecticut did well financially before 1991 when it didn’t have a state income tax. That encouraged a lot of Wall Street fat cats and other corporate moguls to move from New York City to Connecticut because the commute was reasonable and they could keep more of their money. Connecticut benefited from all the other taxes they paid plus the jobs they created by spending more of their money in Connecticut.

Connecticut succumbed in 1991 and adopted a state income tax. It started out at a farily low rate but as always, the rates began to climb so that today the rich in Connecticut pay almost all of the state income tax. It’s an example of the rich not paying their share, because they are paying everyone’s share. As one would expect, this is not a sustainable circumstance. The rich will always look for ways to reduce their tax burden, and moving away from a high-tax state is easier for them than it is for the average working class Joe six pack.

The tax incentive to live in Connecticut is gone and the state is losing population, as well as the tax revenue that comes from an elite and wealthy resident population. To his credit, Democrat Governor Malloy recognizes this reality. He said, “The reality is that in Connecticut we get most of our money from very few people and that can produce some very wild swings.” He seems to understand that soaking the rich gets rid of the rich. Connecticut is now facing a $2.2 Billion deficit as tax revenue collapses.

Culture of corruption in the Obama White House

President Trump campaigned on abolishing the Export-Import bank. Candidate Obama in 2008 rightly charaterized the Ex-Im as a slush fund for corporate welfare. Trump met with former Boeing CEO Jim McNerney in the White House on April 12, and the next day he filled out Ex-Im’s board of directors. I suppose that indicates he won’t push Congress to cut off its funding and abolish it. Trump ought to read this from today’s Washington Examiner reporting that a study has shown how access to the White House by Ex-Im clients helps big companies like Boeing and GE reap enormous profits, all while doing little for small firms.

As president, Obama forgot his campaign rhetoric and learned to love Ex-Im for what it could do for him. He pumped money into it to favor companies like Boeing and GE. In return, they became campaign financiers for Obama and his cronies. Obama pulled this off because the Republican Congress gave him a magic carpet ride throughout his presidency. They were too scared of being called racist to oppose him on much of anything.

During the campaign Trump seemed to agree with Obama’s original assessment of Ex-Im. We have to hope he isn’t now embracing the same strategy as Obama by giving access to the White House to fat cats in exchange for campaign cash. I suspect it isn’t money that is motivating Turmp. It’s more likey that he wants help in making trade deals that are open to criticism because they look like protectionism.  At least we can count on Congress not to give Trump a free ride, as they did for Obama.  Republicans don’t fight Democrats with any vigor, but they do love to eat their own. The GOPe doesn’t much like Trump anyway and will be glad for an excuse to pound on him.

Conrad Black on the Vital Importance of Economic Growth

Make-or-Break Moment At Hand For America Over Economic Growth

[Democrats] will cling to the pieties of fiscal responsibility as long as they can, perfectly oblivious to their party’s magnification of the federal debt accumulated in 233 years of American independence by 125 percent in the Obama years. No sane participant in the American political process can dispute that economic growth is desirable, and that it can absorb and defray a large chunk of increased spending.

GDP growth declined from 4.5% annually in the last six Reagan years, to 3.9% in the last six Clinton years (as the current-account deficit and the housing bubble ballooned), to 2% in the George W. Bush years, to 1% in the Obama years. If per capita GDP had increased in the first 15 years of this new century as it had in the years between 1945 and 2000, families and individuals in the United States would be 20 percent wealthier than they are. In the Reagan years, the federal debt increased to 50% of GDP from 40%. That debt declined a little in the Clinton years, but, in this century, even as a percentage of GDP, it has more than doubled.

These are extremely dangerous trends. The average American is aware of a 15-year flat-lined income in terms of buying power, and the absence of job security despite an official level of unemployment of a very acceptable 4.7%. Most would know, from their own experiences or acquaintances, that the labor force has shrunk, in fact by 15 million people.

There are now over 20 million Americans of prime employment age (25 to 54) who have dropped out and are sustained by the benefit system, especially Medicaid-supplied painkillers, food stamps, and activities that generally escape official compilation.

Conrad Black has written one the best articles on America’s economic growth problem I’ve read a long while. He’s pretty good at turning a phrase too, such as this one: “The foolishness about Mr. Trump’s campaign collusion with Russia will soon be hanging around the necks of the Democrats like a toilet seat.”

Don’t gloss over Black’s use of the term, “Medicaid-supplied painkillers.” There’s a big story behind that and it’s told quite well in Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic.


The “Kook Caucus” is running out of steam

100 Days of #TheResistance’s Humilitating Failure:

Really, that #TheResistance could throw at us, because #TheResistance is not really resisting Trump as much as it is resisting us. The elite establishment is outraged that we normals have demanded to govern ourselves rather than begging for scraps from our betters in DC, NY and LA. It wasn’t just that horrible, sick old woman that we rejected; it was them. And by doing so, we “stole” what they see as their birthright to reign sovereign over us. They try to cover up their humiliation with tales of “Russians” and “hacking” because the truth is too painful to face. This election was about the people they sought to rule looking at them and their track record of failure and saying, “Nah, you suck.”

Kepp it up, Kooks. You’re showing Mr. and Mrs. America who you are.