President Obama says government will have to build the nation out of the economic trough.
“We’re the country that built the intercontinental railroad,” Obama says. “So how can we now sit back and let China build the best railroads?”
Ironic that he mentions the Chinese. Progressives used to complain that to build the railroad, bosses abused Chinese workers — called them “coolies” and treated them badly. Now this is big success?
I guess Obama doesn’t know that the Transcontinental Railroad was a Solyndra-like Big Government scandal. The railroad didn’t make economic sense at the time, so the government subsidized construction and gave the companies huge quantities of the best land on the continent.
As we should expect, without market discipline — profit and loss — contractors ripped off the taxpayers. After all, if you get paid by the amount of track you lay, you’ll lay more track than necessary.
Credit Mobilier, the first rail construction company, made enormous profits by overcharging for its work. To keep the subsidies flowing, it made big contributions to congressmen.
Where have we heard that recently?
The transcontinental railroad lost tons of money. The government never covered its costs, and most rail lines that used the tracks went bankrupt or continued to be subsidized by taxpayers.
The Union Pacific and Northern Pacific — all those rail lines we learned about in history class — milked the taxpayer and then went broke.
One line worked. The Great Northern never went bankrupt. It was the railroad that got no subsidies.
We need infrastructure, but the beauty of leaving most of these things to the private sector — without subsidies, bailouts and other privileges — is that they would have to be justified by the profit-and-loss test.
In a truly free market, when private companies make bad choices, investors lose their own money. This tends to make them careful.
Read more here.
This week, I held a bake sale — a racist bake sale. I stood in midtown Manhattan shouting, “Cupcakes for sale.” My price list read:
Asians — $1.50
Whites — $1.00
Blacks/Latinos — 50 cents
People stared. One yelled, “What is funny to you about people who are less privileged?” A black woman said, angrily, “It’s very offensive, very demeaning!” One black man accused me of poisoning the cupcakes.
I understand why people got angry. What I did was hurtful to some. My bake sale mimicked what some conservative college students did at Bucknell University. The students wanted to satirize their school’s affirmative action policy, which makes it easier for blacks and Hispanics to get admitted.
I think affirmative action is racism — and therefore wrong. If a private school like Bucknell wants to have such policies to increase diversity, fine. But government-imposed affirmative action is offensive. Equality before the law means government should treat citizens equally.
But it doesn’t. Our racist government says that any school receiving federal tax dollars, even if only in the form of federal aid to students, must comply with affirmative action rules, and some states have enacted their own policies.
Advocates of affirmative action argue it is needed because of historic discrimination. Maybe that was true in 1970, but it’s no longer true. Affirmative action is now part of the minority special privilege machine, an indispensable component of which is perpetual victimhood.
Read more here.
By: John Stossel
You know what the mainstream media think about guns and our freedom to carry them.
Pierre Thomas of ABC: “When someone gets angry or when they snap, they are going to be able to have access to weapons.”
Chris Matthews of MSNBC: “I wonder if in a free society violence is always going to be a part of it if guns are available.”
Keith Olbermann, who usually can’t be topped for absurdity: “Organizations like the NRA … are trying to increase deaths by gun in this country.”
“Trying to?” Well, I admit that I bought that nonsense for years. Living in Manhattan, working at ABC, everyone agreed that guns are evil. And that the NRA is evil. (Now that the NRA has agreed to a sleazy deal with congressional Democrats on political speech censorship, maybe some of its leaders are evil, but that’s for another column.)
Now I know that I was totally wrong about guns. Now I know that more guns means – hold onto your seat – less crime.
How can that be, when guns kill almost 30,000 Americans a year? Because while we hear about the murders and accidents, we don’t often hear about the crimes stopped because would-be victims showed a gun and scared criminals away. Those thwarted crimes and lives saved usually aren’t reported to police (sometimes for fear the gun will be confiscated), and when they are reported, the media tend to ignore them. No bang, no news.
This state of affairs produces a distorted public impression of guns. If you only hear about the crimes and accidents, and never about lives saved, you might think gun ownership is folly.
But, hey, if guns save lives, it logically follows that gun laws cost lives.
Suzanna Hupp and her parents were having lunch at Luby’s cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, when a man began shooting diners with his handgun, even stopping to reload. Suzanna’s parents were two of the 23 people killed. (Twenty more were wounded.)
Suzanna owned a handgun, but because Texas law at the time did not permit her to carry it with her, she left it in her car. She’s confident that she could have stopped the shooting spree if she had her gun. (Texas has since changed its law.)
Today, 40 states issue permits to competent, law-abiding adults to carry concealed handguns (Vermont and Alaska have the most libertarian approach: no permit needed. Arizona is about to join that exclusive club.) Every time a carry law was debated, anti-gun activists predicted outbreaks of gun violence after fender-benders, card games and domestic quarrels.
John Lott, in “More Guns, Less Crime,” explains that crime fell by 10 percent in the year after the laws were passed. A reason for the drop in crime may have been that criminals suddenly worried that their next victim might be armed. Indeed, criminals in states with high civilian gun ownership were the most worried about encountering armed victims.
In Canada and Britain, both with tough gun-control laws, almost half of all burglaries occur when residents are home. But in the United States, where many households contain guns, only 13 percent of burglaries happen when someone_s at home.
Two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled in the Heller case that Washington, D.C.’s ban on handgun ownership was unconstitutional. District politicians then loosened the law but still have so many restrictions that there are no gun shops in the city and just 800 people have received permits. Nevertheless, contrary to the mayor’s prediction, robbery and other violent crime are down.
Because Heller applied only to Washington, that case was not the big one. McDonald v. Chicago is the big one, and the Supreme Court is expected to rule on that next week. Otis McDonald is a 76-year-old man who lives in a dangerous neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. He wants to buy a handgun, but Chicago forbids it.
If the Supremes say McDonald has that right, then restrictive gun laws will fall throughout America.
Despite my earlier bias, I now understand that striking down those laws will probably save lives.
Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/Guns-save-lives-96983924.html#ixzz0rmJXRrhU
By: John Stossel
I ride my bike to work. It seems so pure.
We’re constantly urged to “go green” — use less energy, shrink our carbon footprint, save the Earth. How? We should drive less, use ethanol, recycle plastic and buy things with the government’s Energy Star label.
But what if much of going green is just bunk? Al Gore’s group, Repower America, claims we can replace all our dirty energy with clean, carbon-free renewables. Gore says we can do it within 10 years.
“It’s simply not possible,” says Robert Bryce, author of “Power Hungry: The Myths of ‘Green’ Energy.” “Nine out of 10 units of power that we consume are produced by hydrocarbons — coal, oil and natural gas. Any transition away from those sources is going to be a decades-long, maybe even a century-long process. … The world consumes 200 billion barrels of hydrocarbons per day. We would have to find the energy equivalent of 23 Saudi Arabias.”
Bryce used to be a left-liberal, but then: “I educated myself about math and physics. I’m a liberal who was mugged by the laws of thermodynamics.”
Bryce mocked the “green” value of my riding my bike to work:
“Let’s assume you saved a gallon of oil in your commute (a generous assumption!). Global daily energy consumption is 9.5 billion gallons. … So by biking to work, you save the equivalent of one drop in 10 gasoline tanker trucks. Put another way, it’s one pinch of salt in a 100-pound bag of potato chips.”
How about wind power?
“Wind does not replace oil. This is one of the great fallacies, and it’s one that the wind energy business continues to promote,” Bryce said.
The problem is that windmills cannot provide a constant source of electricity. Wind turbines only achieve 10 percent to 20 percent of their maximum capacity because sometimes the wind doesn’t blow.
“That means you have to keep conventional power plants up and running. You have to ramp them up to replace the power that disappears from wind turbines and ramp them down when power reappears.”
Yet the media rave about Denmark, which gets some power from wind. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman says, “If only we could be as energy smart as Denmark.”
“Friedman doesn’t fundamentally understand what he’s talking about,” Bryce said.
Bryce’s book shows that Denmark uses eight times more coal and 25 times more oil than wind.
If wind and solar power were practical, entrepreneurs would invest in it. There would be no need for government to take money from taxpayers and give it to people pushing green products.
Even with subsidies, “renewable” energy today barely makes a dent on our energy needs.
Bryce points out that energy production from every solar panel and windmill in America is less than the production from one coal mine and much less than natural gas production from Oklahoma alone.
But what if we build more windmills?
“One nuclear power plant in Texas covers about 19 square miles, an area slightly smaller than Manhattan. To produce the same amount of power from wind turbines would require an area the size of Rhode Island. This is energy sprawl.” To produce the same amount of energy with ethanol, another “green” fuel, it would take 24 Rhode Islands to grow enough corn.
Maybe the electric car is the next big thing?
“Electric cars are the next big thing, and they always will be.”
There have been impressive headlines about electric cars from my brilliant colleagues in the media. The Washington Post said, “Prices on electric cars will continue to drop until they’re within reach of the average family.”
That was in 1915.
In 1959, The New York Times said, “Electric is the car of the tomorrow.”
In 1979, The Washington Post said, “GM has an electric car breakthrough in batteries, now makes them commercially practical.”
I’m still waiting.
“The problem is very simple,” Bryce said. “It’s not political will. It’s simple physics. Gasoline has 80 times the energy density of the best lithium ion batteries. There’s no conspiracy here of big oil or big auto. It’s a conspiracy of physics.”
Examiner Columnist John Stossel is nationally syndicated by Creators Syndicate.