Thursday, January 19, 2017

Losing Power Has Left the Democrat Party Dazed and Confused

The Democrats know they are in trouble, but they probably don’t know just how deep the trouble is. At the national level the party is now further out of power than it’s been since 1928. This lack of power and control is a problem in and of itself, but it is an even larger problem for what it portends for the party’s future. The party’s problems are deep and systemic and there are no clear remedies.

For the first time in over three generations the Republican Party controls the U.S. Senate, the Congress, and the White House. In all probability, there will soon be a conservative, not liberal, Supreme Court. Not only is there a vacancy on the Supreme Court that Donald Trump can fill, there are 104 vacant federal judgeships waiting for his nominations when he takes office. The judiciary has been the left’s go-to option when they fail to achieve their objectives legislatively. This change in the nature of the judiciary could last for decades.

Lack of power has profound implications for Democrats. Power is the Party’s raison d’ĂȘtre and sine qua non. Without power the party is broke and broken.

Consider, for example, one crucial element of their reliance on “identity politics,” specifically, organized labor. Organized labor is perhaps the single most important and dependable factor in the Democratic Party’s long-term success. In fact, Britain’s equivalent of the Democrat Party is called the Labour Party.

Democrats rely on a perverse variation of voluntary exchange. In exchange for votes, campaign contributions, and election workers, Democrats deliver legislation and regulations favorable to unions. The system works well for both entities, but it only works so long as Democrats have the power to keep their part of the bargain.

On the other side of the quid pro quo, there has to be a sufficient population of union members in order to generate an adequate amount of campaign funds. Unfortunately for the Democrats, the percentage of the U.S. labor force in unions has declined from 20 percent in 1983 to 11 percent now. Less than seven percent of the private workforce is unionized. Thirty-five percent of government employees are union members, but that too is in jeopardy. When President Trump fills the current Supreme Court vacancy, mandatory union dues could well be ruled unconstitutional. That could be a double whammy — reduced union membership and a reduced supply of campaign funds. Trump has said that he wants to reduce the federal workforce by 20 percent. What a glorious accomplishment that would be.

Another major contributor to the Democratic Party’s past success has been the mainstream media, i.e. the major television networks and big city newspapers. The media could not have tried any harder than it did to get Hillary Clinton elected President. They did everything in their power to convince voters that Donald Trump was a despicable racist and sexist, someone who was absolutely “unfit” to be President. It didn’t work. They can’t simply double down on their efforts in the next election because they’ve already exhausted that option.

The media tried so hard to elect Hillary their intentions became blatant and their efforts became counterproductive. They may well have increased rather than decreased Donald Trump’s popularity. Not only did their efforts backfire, the media also paid a high price in terms of credibility.

The media’s influence and power depend on credibility and trust, both of which it used to possess. Credibility and trust are fragile and fleeting commodities. Once they’re lost, it’s almost impossible to get them back.

In the years leading up to the election Hillary Clinton was able to command fees of $200,000 or more for her boring and vacuous twenty-minute speeches. Why was anyone willing to pay her so much for so little? There was a not-too-subtle assumption that once she had the power of the presidency their generosity would be rewarded. The exorbitant fees were little more than prepaid bribes.

A small but nevertheless telling detail of the recent election was the outcome in Washington, D.C. There Hillary Clinton trounced Donald Trump 94 percent to four percent. Residents of D.C. obviously know which party has their best interests at heart, and it’s not the Republicans. The Democrat Party is unquestionably the party of big government and concentrated power, but that party lost, and it lost big. Smaller government means fewer government employees and fewer public-sector union members. Maybe Bill Clinton (Hillary’s pretend husband) was only premature when he famously proclaimed, “The era of big government is over.”

This new and novel (for Democrats) distance from power will not only hurt them in the future, it will even hurt them retrospectively. Because the Democrats used their recent power so arrogantly and incompetently, much of what they’ve accomplished will soon be erased. Not only is Obamacare on the verge of annihilation, so are most of Obama’s executive orders. Obama’s legacy will be the thinnest and most transitory in presidential history.

Democrats have held power for so long they are lost without it. Their anger and frustration is almost palpable. The party is lost in the wilderness without a compass. Let’s hope they stay there for a long time. Maybe they can break the Old Testament record.

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CAPITOL DESK Losing Power Has Left the Democrat Party Dazed and Confused

Ron Ross Ph.D. is a former economics professor and author of The Unbeatable Market. Ron resides in Arcata, California and is a founder of Premier Financial Group, a wealth management firm located in Eureka, California. He is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma and can be reached at rossecon@gmail.com.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sacramento’s High-Output Law Factory

The New Year’s Day front-page headline in the San Francisco Chronicle read, “1st Day of Year Brings Hundreds of New Laws.” The exact number of new California laws taking effect on that day was 898. Unfortunately, there is nothing unusual about 2017. The corresponding number for last year was 807; in 2015 there were 930 new laws.

Every year hundreds of new laws are passed by the Democrat-controlled state legislature and dutifully signed into law by the Democrat governor. The lawmakers will soon get to work dreaming up hundreds of additional laws.

Why so many laws? Lawmakers pass laws because that’s what lawmakers do, especially in California. The state Senators and Assembly-persons have the ability to pass laws (needed or not) so they do. From their leftist perspective, the more laws, the better. If they were capable of passing 10,000 laws a year they probably would. They are essentially law hoarders. Sacramento, more than anything else, is a law factory. Liberals fervently believe that the road to paradise is paved with legislation.

It’s doubtful that any of the legislators who passed the almost 900 laws could tell you what even a hundred of them were. The laws are on the books but most of them will never be known about or enforced. That simply isn’t possible.

The lawmakers almost never kill any of their previous creations. Nor are they ever curious as to whether or not the laws achieved their goals and purposes. “Evidence? We ain’t got no stinking evidence!”

The following is a representative sample of their latest offerings:

Schools in the state are now banned from using “Redskins” as a mascot, which lawmakers said is “racially derogatory” to American Indians. (In anticipation of the new law Calaveras High School conducted an on-line poll to choose a new mascot for the school. The vote was to change the mascot to nothing.) California businesses have until March 1 to make all of their “single-user” public restrooms accessible to all genders, instead of one for women and one for men. Public and private health plans are required to cover a year’s supply of birth control, instead of requiring refills every 30 or 90 days. The lawmakers took pity on women being burdened by refilling prescriptions at unreasonable intervals. Smokers are prohibited from smoking within 250 feet of a youth sports event.
In the politicians’ eyes the citizenry is composed of perpetual Peter Pan-like children. Not to worry, however: the politicians are there to protect them. California politicians’ inflated sense of self-importance is beyond imagining.

The proliferation of laws is analogous to inflating a currency. The rampant growth of laws reduces the value and respect for laws in general as well as making effective enforcement impossible.

As the result of a November ballot initiative, California now has a statewide ban on plastic bags, such as it is. There are so many exceptions and intricacies to the law that it really isn’t a ban at all, sort of a ban in name only. The “ban” applies only to plastic bags at the check-out stand, and even that has exceptions. Plastic bags are still permitted in the produce and meat sections of stores.

If you don’t have your own reusable bag when you check out, you are charged ten cents for each paper, “biodegradable” bag. However, low-income Californians are protected from the bag fee because shoppers paying for their groceries with food stamps get their paper bags free of charge. (Because of the stigma associated with the term “food stamps,” the California version is officially called “Cal Fresh.”) Stores are allowed to keep the revenue generated by the dime penalty.

Is the ten-cent penalty sufficient to have any measurable impact? Probably not, and that’s typical of many of the asinine new laws as well as the thousands already on the books. It is as though a subconscious objective of the lawmakers is simply to annoy people. Maybe the laws are a kind of revenge on the citizenry for being so dense and uncooperative with the politicians’ grand schemes.

Ultimately Californians will have so many laws that they will no longer need to make their own decisions. California will have achieved law nirvana. Provided life in California doesn’t grind to a halt, it will be perfect.

In the meantime, for the rest of the country California is worth watching because it’s such a clear object lesson of what happens when Democrats have unconstrained political power. California is what happens when Democrat dreams come true. Obamacare resulted from a similar set of circumstances.

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Sacramento’s High-Output Law Factory January 10, 2017

Ron Ross Ph.D. is a former economics professor and author of The Unbeatable Market. Ron resides in Arcata, California and is a founder of Premier Financial Group, a wealth management firm located in Eureka, California. He is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma and can be reached at rossecon@gmail.com.

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