crypto · Culturalism · Economic History · Federal Government · investing · Uncategorized

Are We Wrong About Welfare?

An especially frightful bogeyman mustered by folks on the Plural Right to win elections is the idea of the welfare queen. This horrendous creature oozes about in life, deviously attempting to confiscate as much from the public dole as possible, and using taxpayer dollars to fund her luxurious lifestyle. She is often paired with her live-in boyfriend, a clownish drug dealer who uses his perch in a Section 8 housing complex to make tax-free money by selling controlled substances. Topping off the vignette are their countless children, who assist in generating those lovable food stamp checks which are annihilating the economy.

Effective as the idea may be for politicians, it betrays a fundamental unwillingness to understand the nature of the public support system, along with the actual status of people involved. Thus we must provide an overview of precisely what is available to welfare dependents, and for how long. Hopefully, a measure of clarity can help eliminate the misconceptions that inevitably fuel terrible corrective policy on the part of the State.

The first salvo ought to involve a popular 2012 study from Wisconsin distributed inside conservative circles. According to the authors, a family on welfare in the Badger State can rake in $35,000 annually post-taxes by yukking it up with a variety of government programs and not working. A similar 50-state analysis by the Cato Institute confirms such alarmism, noting how places like Hawaii grant payments of almost $50,000 a year to government dependents.

There is no doubt the proponents of such studies have justifiable concern about the nature of welfare. Unfortunately, they rely on rather self-serving conclusions to fit the bill of lolbertarian ideology. For one, the Wisconsin study relies upon an assumption that eligibility automatically equates to acceptance. In reality, analysts have concluded that less than 300 Wisconsinites would be able to draw the $35,000 amount of income, this in a state of almost 6 million people. Further complicating the matter is how most welfare programs require participants to be seeking a job or working, stipulations which undermine the suggestion they are simply mooching because they can.

Perhaps more critical to mention are the limitations on welfare programs themselves. In the case of SNAP benefits (food stamps), users without children are limited to 90 days in the service within a 36-month period by a federal law enacted in 2008, unless they can meet certain work requirements. When paid out, benefits average about $256.00 per month for a household or $127.00 a person, and come to around $1.40 for each meal. Higher payments materialize in the event of a household being extremely low income or with many kids, so not everyone receives the same amount of money.  It is worth noting that the Obama Administration promulgated an $8.7 billion cut to SNAP, despite its supposedly progressive credentials.

Section 8 housing also gets a bad rap due to the poor reputation of such communities, yet it too has strict standards for access, cutting out sizable swaths of the general population based on income and family status.  Quite crucially, the voucher system does not cater to illegal immigrants, as applicants must be citizens or possess eligibility for citizenship. The closely-associated LIHEAP program gives recipients help with heating and cooling bills providing they meet certain requirements. Strangely enough, President Obama also made repeated requests for Congress to cut funding to LIHEAP, instigating a move by the late Hugo Chavez to donate heating oil to Americans.  

Some critics will aim their guns at the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash support program to satisfy notions of dependency. Here again the issue is complex. TANF operates not as a long-term solution to poverty, but merely the helping hand to bring people back on their feet during hard times. Benefit checks in July 2020 ranged from just over $300.00 in Texas to $1,086 in New Hampshire, reflecting cost of living and state government decisions. The final point is important because individual states control the destiny of TANF money block-granted by the Fed, and are not obliged to offer a large (or elevated) amount. Furthermore, recipients are limited to 5 years on the TANF dole throughout their entire life, so it is hardly a career dependency model.

Welfare alarmism also flies in the face of the historical record. The 1996 welfare reform bill signed by Bill Clinton had the effect of eliminating the “entitlement” concept behind such programs by instituting stricter work requirements. Since 1997, spending on TANF has remained largely unchanged at $16.5 billion, and broader welfare caseloads have increased to 15 percent, while the assistance rolls remain down by 68 percent from the pre-reform highs, this even with the effects of the recession and Corona. As a percentage of the total federal budget, the programs amount to $361 billion, or 8 percent.

One final point to acknowledge regarding the 1996 reform lies with the impact on child support enforcement. Prior to the legislation’s passage, the State’s involvement in collection and insistence on men paying was decidedly more limited. Clinton’s bill changed that by requiring state authorities to more aggressively pursue orders on child support, and encouraging women to pursue it. So in a sense men replaced the State for a portion of the payments, arguably leading to the disaster of family courts today.

At the end of the day, I can appreciate the rage against welfare. Those of us who work feel indignant about folks who simply take checks and live on the dole. Of course the truth is that many of the “takers” are actually employed, yet simply do not make enough to survive. Perhaps our bigger focus should be on the creatures and organizations regularly taking trillions from the government to bail them out whenever the economy turns south.

Culturalism · Economic History · Federal Government

Walled Off

There’s an older meme of Congressman Ron Paul smiling or waving his arms with the caption “It’s Happening!” The image is meant to imply that Paul was right, and simply got ignored by the broader masses of sheep who continue voting for establishment Democrats and Republicans. Most people throw it around sarcastically, and even less probably recognize Ron Paul anymore.

Except it’s not really a meme. According to reports from congressional testimony, incoming DHS head Alejandro Mayorkas will not commit to tearing down Trump’s spooky fence wall on the southern border region. This seems completely out of character for someone like him, who is only in power due to a political party which spent the last several years lamenting over immigrant detainment and access control. Are the Dems having some magical wake up call regarding border security?

Absolutely not. After all, Biden has encouraged the approaching wave of migrants to enter in the future, regardless of the damage such a move is bound to cause. Instead, the development from Mayorkas made me think back to an old debate from 2011, when Ron Paul answered a question on the long-legislated idea of immigration control:

What a fascinating idea: instead of the wall being used to keep terrorists and immigrants out, it is actually designed to prevent people who wish to leave. From a traditional conservative standpoint this sounds absurd, as who would really want to depart the United States? As it turns out, more than we might realize. The next couple years will begin to show people how all the security apparatus which they endorsed happily as a weapon against terror is going to be used against them. We already have folks getting kicked off platforms and denied flight access because they expressed views which are seen as toxic to the mainstream. How far are we from passport revocation on the same basis?

Not far at all. The IRS already possesses the ability to snatch a person’s passport on the basis of tax issues, so only an upgrade to “problematic political ideas” is needed for us to come full circle. After all, we can’t be exporting extremism and terror to other countries…that would be unacceptable.

This too shall be forgotten by next election.

Culturalism · Economic History · Federal Government

The Cult of Conventionalism

I hope this will be the last (contemporary) political post made on the blog for a while. As much as the topic is compelling, one cannot escape the feeling of its overall vapidity. We observe representatives voting to object to an election in small numbers, knowing well in advance the act is mere grandstanding to avoid what harsh realities a corrupt system has foisted on the people. They “do their part,” even while the finishing glaze was conjured up weeks ago.

Strangely enough, there is a different kind of electoral moralization going on in D.C. and state capitols around the country: that of defending convention. Not long after the fury blew up on Capitol Hill, empowered libertarian representatives quickly rushed to “defend the Constitution” by joining with Democrats and ratifying the results of an obviously corrupt election. These are the same characters frantically warning about excess spending, surveillance, and endless wars, yet the critical moment is simply too trying for their sensibilities. So instead of taking a principled stand to favor what they believe, the route is one of guarding the system and status quo.

What makes this behavior especially confusing is the purveyors’ own knowledge that they are waging a losing battle by being good town watchmen over modern day malevolence. The reason spending does not come down is because the decision gets devolved across fifty different states, all with various projects and payoffs lined up for fulfillment. Wars are similarly driven by money, and continue to be pushed by the uniparty majority despite public opposition. Such programs are not going anywhere on the basis of libertarian idea-spreading, and certainly no Balanced Budget is forthcoming.

Keeping all that in mind, what exactly do these steady tradition enforcers get in exchange for their complicity? The simple enough answer is as follows: an opportunity to flaunt moral self-righteousness by being “right” because they warned folks in advance. If the rest of us had only listened to the libertarians and conservatives, somehow the cities wouldn’t be burning, racism would hardly matter, and decency might reign supreme. Now that all is ashes, we should turn and recognize our steady friends who wouldn’t allow the structure to collapse, not for all the ideological triumph in the world.

Perhaps an addendum here should speculate as to whether the system defenders cultivate a martyr complex in their minds to feel better about the collapse of convention. It would certainly jive well with the sacrificial themes of those Abrahamic religions they follow, in which the upright are cut down while preaching forgiveness and respect towards their enemies. Thus they can die (or devolve into the political deserts) knowing their honor was bright, and the other side is wrong or sinful.

Now let us pose one final query: should the more radical Rightists somehow seize power in the future, what shall the libertarians and conservatives do? Will they yet lament the collapse of the system, which holds the bulk of their spiritual wealth, or simply revert to becoming grifters aligned to that triumphant cause?    

Like Descartes, I leave the answer to my dreams.

Culturalism · Economic History · Federal Government

The Opposition Death Squad

A few days ago, an octogenarian called Botoxi was reelected to lead the House of Representatives over the next two years of bland political soap opera. While a narrow outcome, the result was hardly unexpected, as Democrats possessed a 222-211 majority in the new chamber. Nevertheless, five centrist Dems refused to cast their ballots in the Speaker’s favor, either voting for other candidates or simply dropping “present” on the lectern. Botoxi was thus denied a clear numerical majority, sailing through on the force of a 216-209 tally.

Yet it should have been worse. In a move entirely predictable for their ilk, all six members of the Democratic Socialist “Squad” voted to return Nancy to power. Supreme Leader Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had this statement to justify the empowered decision:

“Well, you know, I think when you look at the razor-thin margin … We are just an extremely slim amount of votes away from risking the speakership to the Republican party and this is, it’s, it’s bigger than any one of us and that is consequential. But I also think it’s important that we realize that what kind of communities, which communities and all of the communities that, that creates Democratic power, power,”

The last several words are highlighted for a reason. Against all claims of fighting the system and opposing corporate influence, the Plural Left’s freedom fighters marched right back into the loyalty column when times demanded it. Though one could dismiss the issue as minimal, those brave partisans might have placed real pressure on the Democrats by embarrassing them with a Kevin McCarthy victory, thus setting up a consequence, but of course they did not.

 AOC’s mental recriminations reminded me of an observation made by Georges Sorel in Reflections On Violence:

“A cunningly conducted agitation is extremely useful to Parliamentary Socialists, who boast before the Government and the rich middle class of their ability to moderate revolution; they can thus arrange the success of the financial affairs in which they are interested, obtain minor favors for many influential electors, and get social laws voted in order to appear important in the eyes of the blockheads who imagine that these Socialists are great reformers of the law.”

Notice the bit on “minor favors,” and then go back to AOC’s quote about the slim amount of votes. She is essentially admitting that the only way for the Squad to oppose Botoxi was if the Speaker’s success had already been guaranteed, presumably by a large Democratic majority. Hence progressive opposition is merely a pipe dream involving the securement of a subcommittee seat or symbolic commitment to generalities like “universal healthcare,” all while the system chugs on in contentment.

Later on, Sorel considers the fakery of DemSoc reforms:

“The social revolution is conceived by Jaures as a kind of bankruptcy; substantial annuities will be given to the middle class of today: then from generation to generation these annuities will decrease. These plans must often seem very alluring to financiers accustomed to draw great advantages from bankruptcies; I have no doubt that the shareholders of L’Humanite think these ideas marvelous; they will be made liquidators of the bankruptcy, and will pocket large fees, which will compensate for the losses which this newspaper has caused them. ”

That, in effect, is Democratic Socialism. Any pronounced opposition is annihilated as soon as money and power become matters of discussion. Just keep spinning and ranting about Wall Street taxes.

Culturalism · Economic History · Federal Government

Is AOC Actually Wrong?

Ever since her victory in the 2018 Democratic primary over incumbent corporate Dem Joe Crowley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been the prevailing fodder of Conservatism Inc. They love yukking it up over her air-headed takes on the issues, and lamenting the seemingly-delusional slide of her millennial supporters towards socialism. As irrelevant as she happens to be in the grand scheme of things, they simply can’t let go of the entertainment factor.

The latest iteration of their guffawing comes in the form of the following tweet, in which she gets angry at people dismissing her as a do-nothing social media icon:

Of course we have the obligatory Cernovich reply below, which, coming from the biggest Twitter prostitute of all, drips of smug hypocrisy:

Much as we might like to dismiss AOC’s complaint, it feels rather legitimate in the context of modern politics. Sure, she mostly makes big statements and tweets, but then again, what politician doesn’t do the same? Trump certainly is guilty of this, and for that reason alone he may have lost considerable support. Take a look at these examples:

So he’s “closely monitoring” a situation as the country tears itself apart, just like he promised an executive order on birthright citizenship, and the classification of AntiFa as a terrorist organization. Then we have Jim Jordan screeching about Big Tech, all while planning to do nothing, These are supposedly “strong” indications of action, but in the end they manifest as nothing more than empty words, just like AOC’s public proclamations. The deceptive smoke blows both ways.

If we examine democracy from a broader perspective, this is not exactly new. Politicians have always made large declarations about their intentions or ideas to do something, for the simple fact that election or reelection depends upon visibility and assumed competence. A leader who chooses to play it safe and focus on the policy wonk aspects is liable to be smothered, as the media will not report anything beyond the headline, apart from C-SPAN at least. Thus these short messages are strategic, even if they amount to little in the end.

The relative “problem” caused by AOC is not so much “only tweeting,” but rather the manner in which she has somewhat dislodged the established “conservative” alternative media from its fine pedestal. Prior to her rise, the leftist burn-bringers online were largely made up of the Young Turks or ripped segments from cable news. While useful, these sources lack the power of an indignant and uncompromising opposition. AOC on the other hand injects a certain vitality into the narrative which they cannot control, especially in regards to the role of government versus corporations. That is the main issue.

Tweet on, and do nothing.   

Culturalism

What I Saw In DC

Thanks to a profoundly unGoldberg move today, in which I ventured up to Washington D.C. to check out the MAGA March, some observations must now be made. We’ll allow the pictures to tell a story:

Young People Are Nationalists

When Nick Fuentes began speaking, the more youthful crowd pretty much ignored establishment Republican speakers, who kept loling about courts and not being waycists. Ironically, lots of minorities were in the Fuentes crowd, despite what the media would suggest.

Westboroesque Trads Presented

Some lolbertarians began arguing with them, while others encouraged a policy of ignoring their language.

LOTS of Anti-CCP Protestors

This was a small part of a massive parade led by Chinese folks against the CCP. Taiwanese activists were there as well.

AntiFa Girls Love Sweatshop Companies

People Trust SCOTUS To Help Trump

Those Numbers Tho

Culturalism · Federal Government · Uncategorized

The Wrath of Undecideds

MSNBC recently interviewed an Ohio voter to gauge his opinion of the Trump-Biden debate. The chap, who is undecided, gave a prototypical spiel about both candidates being negative, and asked them to provide more specifics. I had to stifle a laugh, because his line is so grimly predictable for an “independent moderate.” Such folks are trotted out every election, almost as if to maintain the fantastic faith people place in democracy, and the notion that votes somehow matter. The race becomes all about those swing ballots, with politicians desperately courting the enlightened few in hopes of seizing that magical 50.1 percent ticket so their legacy is protected. Democracy lives another glorious day.

But does it really? This sycophantic obsession with undecideds may warm individual hearts, yet in truth it simply masks the great scam which is civic duty in the United States. Headstrong souls march about feeling self-important in front of the reporter’s microphone, when in fact they reveal the bitter shallows of their own brain, and those of the comrade travelers nearby.

Fly back to 2012 for a moment. Obama and Romney were battling it out for the sainted executive office, and CNN began its custom of assembling a car of simpletons identified by their unwillingness to pick red or blue ahead of the election. Easily the most infuriating to hear blabber was our friend Joe:

The picture is everything here. Despite claiming to be the former owner of a flooring company, which probably required him to manage employees and make tough decisions, Stoltz remained dreamy-eyed until the very end, also demanding “more specifics” from Diversity Corporate Guy and Magic Underwear Corporate Guy.  Perhaps I expect too much of people, but how difficult is it to predict what a president will do based on history? Republicans like to spend on the military and cut taxes for the rich, while Democrats increase trans-revenue and expand welfare. Overlap exists, but namely on the Carebearland question.

 For a grown man who has lived through different elections to be still playing footsie with both parties right before the balloting day indicates either a lazy mind or pure ignorance, but not the foundations for brilliance and the sanctity of the vote. Joey would ultimately cast his paper for Obama after the president “was forceful” when responding to Romney, and because Billy Boy Clinton endorsed him. Furthermore, Obama’s mention of education in the debate really sealed the deal:

“That third debate sunk it all the way in for me — since I am in school and Obama was focused on education.”

That’s right, he voted for a politician who dropped the “education” word in a televised debate, because he is also in school. These are the creatures holding out to the end, my friends. Child-like minds agitating over trigger words and the prospect of being given something. Here are a couple more photos for good measure:

Is this the Try Guys convention?
Who’s writing this blog again?
The undecided “Radical for Jesus”

Ahh, is democracy not happiness?          

Culturalism

The Power of Chant Warfare

While in college, I wrote a piece about the futility of “respectable discourse” in the modern age. I pointed out that those who practice such behavior are made out as suckers and left to drown in the popular swill of rage.

To be quite sullen, I think I was correct. We have already long witnessed the analysis of “post-truth politics”, although this descriptor implies a nostalgic longing for some better time, which probably never existed. You can cycle back and study the 1800 election for good measure.

The better general term to use is “Chant Warfare.” Whenever someone attempts to inject reality into a discussion, the normal response is to hoot and holler until they cannot be heard.

Think back to Occupy Atlanta and their “agenda.”

Consider being a representative supporting Obamacare, or one desiring to replace it. The advanced human species will ensure you have a reasoned discussion.

Best of all, try presenting facts to the caravan of paranoid Del Spooners who want a paycheck. The floodgates will gush.

The danger lies with how these “Scream first, listen after ten years” attitudes will play out in November. If their guy, gal, or someone in the trans community fails to make the Oval, what happens next?

Culturalism

The Impoundment Act Is Unconstitutional

Trump broke the law.

That’s the shrill new screech echoing in the footsteps of the GAO report, which claims his administration was a bit naughty when it withheld foreign aid to the government of Ukraine. According to the GAO, this constitutes a violation of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974.

Of course this output presents a critical question: how has the federal law on impoundment not been ruled unconstitutional?

As a bit of background, the legislation was passed under the administration of President Nixon to curtail congressional rage over his “setting aside” of money he did not believe in spending. To be clear, Nixon was not vetoing the spending, but simply declining to release it for specific programs.

The Act simply represented another attempt by Congress to keep the coffers flowing and hamstring the president into agreeing to “all or nothing.” We see the consequences regularly today with Trump signing massive spending bills because there is no way to pick and choose based on practicality or need.

Supporters of impoundment restrictions will point to the alleged supremacy of the legislature, but history undermines them sharply if we assume the branches are co-equal.

For instance, Congress passed the Line Item Veto Act of 1996, giving the president power to pick and choose what he would accept from appropriations. Bill Clinton used this mechanism 82 times to help bring the budget under control, but the legislation was struck down by a liberal-conservative SCOTUS majority in Clinton v. City of New York, which concluded that the president must to accept all or nothing with spending bills.

In his dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer noted:

“does not violate any specific textual constitutional command, nor does it violate any implicit Separation of Powers principle.”

Now, if we stick with the court’s majority opinion that Congress’ power to spend cannot be moderated or limited save on a “take it or leave it” basis without a constitutional amendment, then how exactly is it permissible for them to turn around and restrict the president’s power to release funds using only a legislative act?

It’s time to challenge the Impoundment Act before the Supreme Court.

Culturalism · Personal Finance

The Broken Male

I tend to avoid aimless social meandering, but sometimes an image rolls by that says everything without speaking a word. Let’s take a look:

What makes it odd? Well, this is a campaign promo pic, typically meant to showcase the warmth and nonthreatening Americanism embodied by the office-seeker. Instead, we have an unsmiling man forced into the process, perhaps to “keep the peace” at home.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is jayapal2.jpg

Maybe it’s a cheap shot, but does the tight-lipped Mr. Jayapal look even remotely happy? The expression signals passivity and resignation to the dominion of another person. He looks scared and restless, as if he wants nothing more than to escape the setting and play a few hours of Railroad Tycoon III, but only with the wife’s permission.

As you can see, his hands aren’t around the wife’s back, or clasping hers, suggesting a coldness or distance between them. Affectionate couples usually strive to showoff their union in public, particularly in politics. Case in point:

Trump firmly clasps his wife’s arms, and doesn’t lean away from her when posing. Whether you believe there relationship is sincere or not, it looks like one bathed in affection and admiration.

Mr. Jayapal on the other hand seems to be a prisoner of the sanctified institution known as marriage.