Rule Five Friday

2015_04_24_Rule Five Friday (1)This is a good idea.  Excerpt:

As the economy improves, should states continue waivers that were enacted during the recession to allow healthy adults who are not working to get food stamps longer than the law’s time limit? Maine is one of the states that say no.

Last year, the administration of Gov. Paul R. LePage, a Republican, decided to reimpose a three-month limit (out of every three-year period) on food stamps for a group often known as Abawds — able-bodied adults without minor dependents — unless they work 20 hours per week, take state job-training courses or volunteer for about six hours per week. 2015_04_24_Rule Five Friday (1)Maine, like other states, makes some exceptions.

“You’ve got to incentivize employment, create goals and create time limits on these welfare programs,” said Mary Mayhew, the commissioner of health and human services in Maine. She said the measure was in line with Mr. LePage’s efforts to reform welfare.

The number of Abawds receiving food stamps in Maine has dropped nearly 80 percent since the rule kicked in, to 2,530 from about 12,000. This time limit is an old one, written into the 1996 federal welfare law. But, during the recession, most states took advantage of a provision that allows them to waive it when unemployment is persistently high, which meant poor adults could stay on the program regardless of their work status.

2015_04_24_Rule Five Friday (2)Of course this is a good idea!

Welfare benefits must not come with no strings attached.  There is no good reason why able-bodied recipients should not repay the taxpayers’ generosity with work.  There are plenty of streets that need sweeping, and a dozen men with picks and shovels could do the work that would ordinarily cost the state the price of a backhoe and operator.

This should be reasonable, mind; there is the old apocryphal story of Milton Friedman in Europe, when observing a gang of men digging a trench with shovels, commenting that “in America they would have a machine doing that work.”  His guide replied that this was a government make-work project, and that the manual work with shovels would employ more men.

2015_04_24_Rule Five Friday (3)“Then you should take away the shovels,” Friedman replied, “and give them spoons.”

That’s beyond what should be done, but public works could always use some help.  Picking up litter in parks, sweeping sidewalks, raking leaves, mowing grass – there’s any amount of unskilled work that welfare recipients could perform.  And if they have any skills, they would be even more useful – filing, data entry, clerical work – that could even lead to permanent employment.

The moral principle is simple:  The taxpayers have every right to expect some value in return for the money spent on welfare 2015_04_24_Rule Five Friday (4)payments.

From the Manifesto:

It is not the proper role of government to shield people from the consequences of their bad decisions.   There will always be a need for a modern, prosperous society to care for the truly helpless, such as people disabled through no fault of their own, children with no adults to care for them, and so forth.  But the lazy, the indigent, the irresponsible – they have no moral claim on the fruits of the labor of the industrious.  Government, and only government, has the power to tax – to claim a portion of your resources with force of law, with the implied threat of armed force if you try to abstain.  In our age of ever-increasing welfare entitlements, that government has claimed a portion of every taxpayer’s proceeds toward just such a shield – requiring the industrious to toil longer and harder to support the indigent.

But if we are to continue to pay out for people’s poor decisions, or to be fair, the occasional bit of bad luck – by all means, let’s get something in return.  There is no good argument against this policy.

2015_04_24_Rule Five Friday (5)

Animal’s Daily News

 

Excellent BearThe U.S. Constitution Actually Bans Hillary’s Foreign Government Payola.

No shit.  Excerpt:

 The Washington Post reported last week that the tax-exempt foundation run by Bill and Hillary Clinton accepted money from seven foreign governments while Hillary served as U.S. Secretary of State (it’s unclear how much foreign money the organization accepted while Hillary was a U.S. Senator). Super shady, right? It’s worse than that, though, because Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution actually bans foreign payola for U.S. officials.

The constitutional ban on foreign cash payments to U.S. officials is known as the Emoluments Clause and originated from Article VI of the Articles of Confederation. The purpose of the clause was to prevent foreign governments from buying influence in the U.S. by paying off U.S. government officials. Here’s the text of the clause:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

But the Clinton Foundation isn’t the Clintons themselves, right?  Well, not so much:

Facepalm-bearBetween 2009 and 2012, the Clinton Foundation raised over $500 million dollars according to a review of IRS documents by The Federalist (2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008). A measly 15 percent of that, or $75 million, went towards programmatic grants. More than $25 million went to fund travel expenses. Nearly $110 million went toward employee salaries and benefits. And a whopping $290 million during that period — nearly 60 percent of all money raised — was classified merely as “other expenses.” Official IRS forms do not list cigar or dry-cleaning expenses as a specific line item. The Clinton Foundation may well be saving lives, but it seems odd that the costs of so many life-saving activities would be classified by the organization itself as just random, miscellaneous expenses.

And this woman, with her staggering disregard for normal standards of ethics for public servants – she wants to be President?

The Obama Administration has been marked by some of the most pathetic incompetence we have seen in the White House, but another Clinton Administration with Queen Hillary instead of good old randy Bill – that may be more than the country can stand.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Thanks once more to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Why are liberals pro-choice on abortion, but nothing else?  Excerpt:

The country has just endured an angry debate over whether businesses whose owners object to gay marriages on religious grounds should be forced to assist them anyway. Generally speaking, liberals said: Yes, because the principle of equal treatment trumps freedom of conscience. Generally speaking, conservatives and libertarians said the opposite. (If you want to read a calm, intelligent and thought-provoking piece on the subject, check out “Discriminating Between Discriminations” at juliansanchez.com.)

As with any complex debate, however, this one involved more than just two ways of parsing the issue.

GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio recently drew a distinction between discriminating against people (e.g., by refusing to serve an LGBT customer at a restaurant) and declining to participate in an event (e.g., by refusing to officiate at a same-sex wedding). And there is another distinction, spelled out in an amicus brief by Eugene Volokh in the Elane Photography case, between forcing people to provide services that have no expressive component (such as driving a limousine) and services that do (such as writing press releases for various groups).

Given that, as Volokh wrote, “speech compulsions are generally as unconstitutional as speech restrictions,” you could argue that photographers, writers, and perhaps even cake-makers have a First Amendment right not to provide expressive content with which they disagree.

This goes far beyond speech restrictions (take a look at the “speech codes” on college campuses) and abortion.  The political Left in the United States has become the antithesis of “pro-choice,” unless they are the ones doing the choosing.  Let’s say I choose to:

  • Own a gun
  • Work a few hours a week at the corner hardware store for $5.00 an hour
  • Drive a 3.5 ton Ford Excursion
  • Hunt
  • Own a gun
  • Choose who I do and do not wish to serve in my own private business
  • Drink giant-size sugary colas
  • Smoke
  • Keep what I earn
  • Or own a gun

Harp BearThose are bad choices, and must not be allowed.

Bear in mind that the label “pro-choice” when applied to the abortion debate is only marginally accurate, when compared to the stunning anti-choice stance of most of the political Left on a huge host of other issues, but the label “pro-life” is just as cynically wrong; it implies that anyone who holds an opposing view is “anti-life,” which is laughably wrong – well, most of the time.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to choose to own guns, drive a pickup truck, smoke cigars, and make lots of other “bad” choices.  Thanks for asking.

Animal’s Daily News

Sleepy-Bear

I, For One, Welcome Our New Burger Flipping Overlords.  Excerpt:

The Momentum Machines website is low-key right now, but that may have something to do with high-profile arguments in the press and protests in the streets demanding that fast-food chains pay workers $15 an hour to do the job the company’s robots are designed to fill. Even before those placard-wielders decided to raise their costs in terms of dollars and grief, the San Francisco-based start-up announced that they were obsolete.

Momentum Machines’ old, boastier website claimed:
Fast food doesn’t have to have a negative connotation anymore. With our technology, a restaurant can offer gourmet quality burgers at fast food prices.

Our alpha machine replaces all of the hamburger line cooks in a restaurant.

It does everything employees can do except better:

  • it slices toppings like tomatoes and pickles only immediately before it places the slice onto your burger, giving you the freshest burger possible.
  • our next revision will offer custom meat grinds for every single customer. Want a patty with 1/3 pork and 2/3 bison ground after you place your order? No problem.
  • Also, our next revision will use gourmet cooking techniques never before used in a fast food restaurant, giving the patty the perfect char but keeping in all the juices.
  • it’s more consistent, more sanitary, and can produce ~360 hamburgers per hour.

This, True Believers, is the future of the minimum-wage debate.

There is and always will be a real minimum wage, and that is $0.00/hour.  There is and always will be a law of economics , and that is that a job is only worth the value that the employee returns to the employer.  If the wage is artificially raised above that value, then the job will go away – and above you see that happening.  Minimum wage raised above the value a fast-food employee returns?  Replace them with automated order-taking kiosks and robotified burger lines.

When I myself was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck (with a pink carnation and a pickup truck) most fast-food and other minimum-wage jobs were held by high-school kids making a few extra bucks to spend on cars, girls and other entertainments.  Now you hear a lot about how “you can’t support a family on minimum wage,” to which I can only reply that if you are trying to support a family on one minimum-wage job, you really need to take a good, hard look at your life – and, by the way, teenagers today are mostly unable to gain that valuable entry-level work experience because they are priced out of the market.

Relaxed BearAnd there’s one more little thing:  Nowhere in the U.S. Constitution is the Imperial Federal government allowed to meddle in voluntary contracts between employee and employer.

But then, it’s not like the denizens of the Imperial City pay all that much attention to the Constitution any more.

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Another workweek, another series of plane rides ahead. Oy.

Question:  Why do cable/satellite  television bundles work the way they do?

Being one of those oddballs in today’s world – a sports-illiterate – I experience no small annoyance when I see how much of the cable (Comcast, to be specific) package I’m paying for consists of sports programming.  Why can a cable or satellite television company not offer an ala carte programming scheme, wherein one can only pay for the specific channels one will actually watch?

There are only two television shows I make any effort to watch these days, and they are South Park – the best social satire available today – and Archer, which manages to mix a healthy dose of Sixties spy-show spoofery with a  mix of raunchy, cutting humor.

But if I could, I would love to pay for only a few television channels, maybe one premium movie channel, and forgo all the sports and music programming entirely.  Why can I not have this option at, say, a third of the price of my current package which includes dozens and Excellent Beardozens of channels which I will ignore until the end of time?

The cable company that solves this problem will likely gain a lot of subscribers.

Rule Five Friday

2015_04_17_Rule Five Friday (1)Her Majesty Hillary the First’s initial Iowa campaign appearance, during which the media shamelessly made fools of themselves, was all staged.  Who didn’t see that coming?  Excerpt:

Hillary Clinton’s astroturf candidacy is in full swing in Iowa.

Her Tuesday morning visit to a coffee shop in LeClaire, Iowa was staged from beginning to end, according to Austin Bird, one of the men pictured sitting at the table with Mrs. Clinton.

2015_04_17_Rule Five Friday (2)Bird told Daily Mail Online that campaign staffer Troy Price called and asked him and two other young people to meet him Tuesday morning at a restaurant in Davenport, a nearby city.

Price then drove them to the coffee house to meet Clinton after vetting them for about a half-hour.

The three got the lion’s share of Mrs. Clinton’s time and participated in what breathless news reports described as a ’roundtable’– the first of 2015_04_17_Rule Five Friday (3)many in her brief Iowa campaign swing.

Bird himself is a frequent participant in Iowa Democratic Party events. He interned with President Obama’s 2012 presidential re-election campaign, and was tapped to chauffeur Vice President Joe Biden in October 2014 when he visited Davenport.

‘What happened is, we were just asked to be there by Troy,’ Bird said Wednesday in a phone interview.

There is not, nor has there ever been, anything authentic about 2015_04_17_Rule Five Friday (4)Hillary Clinton.

Bear in mind  Her Highness’s campaign has been characterized as an “astroturf” candidacy in the linked article, which appears in that notorious right-wing rag, the U.K. Daily Mail.  Funny how clearly the Mail sees the truth of this from all the way over in Blighty, while the crowd of sycophantic reporters that was sucked into this “event” never had a clue.

But it won’t win Hillary Clinton the White House.

Already there is some unrest in the Democrat ranks over the apparent coronation of Hillary Clinton as their 2016 candidate.  Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has said – correctly – that the Presidency isn’t “some crown to be handed back and forth between two families,” and that’s a good point.  But more to the 2015_04_17_Rule Five Friday (5)point is this:  Hillary Clinton has no record of successful public works.

When she was the carpetbagger Senator from New York, she did not sponsor any significant legislation.  Her tenure as Secretary of State lurched from mistake to disaster to calamity, bookmarked by the failed Russian “reset” and ending with the murder of a U.S. Ambassador at Benghazi.  She is the last person the Democrats should be putting up as President.

But that’s not going to stop Her Highness from trying.

It’s going to be an interesting primary season.

2015_04_17_Rule Five Friday (6)

Animal’s Daily News

 

Girls with GunsNow that Her Highness Hillary the First has announced her candidacy coronation for the Democratic Presidential nomination, one might wonder what her stance is on the Second Amendment.  Wonder no more.  Excerpt:

If Hillary Clinton ever gets around to telling voters her positions on controversial issues, it is not clear what she will say about gun control. Over the years, her stance has ranged from support for gun licensing and registration to an NRA-esque desire to “enforce the laws that we have on the books.” Still, her disregard for armed self-defense is a fairly consistent theme. Here are some highlights since she ran for the U.S. Senate the first time:

June 1999: “If you own a gun,” Clinton says on Good Morning America, “make sure it’s locked up and stored without the ammunition. In fact, make it stored where the ammunition is stored separately. We’ve made some progress in the last several years with the Brady Bill and some of the bans on assault weapons, but we have a lot of work to do.”

“Some progress” that proved worthless.  The assault weapon ban had no impact on crime rates, which have continued to fall since it – rightly – expired.

July 1999: “If you have guns in your home,” Clinton tells middle school students on Long Island, “tell your parents to keep them away from you and your friends and your little brothers and sisters.” Addressing the National Education Association in Orlando, she says, “It does not make sense for us at this point in our history to turn our backs on the reality that there are too many guns and too many children have access to those guns—and we have to act to prevent that.”

gun controlThere are not too many guns; there are too many criminals and irresponsible nutbars, but the vast majority of guns in private hands are never, ever involved in any kind of crime or acts of violence.  No other inanimate object engenders this kind of irrationality on the Left; cars are used in crime far more often than guns, but you never hear of waiting periods or one-car-per-month schemes, much less restrictions on high-performance vehicles.

Back to Queen Hillary:  In other words, she’s a typical Democrat where guns are concerned – she wants strict restrictions, and would not be averse to outright bans.

So much for “shall not be infringed.”

That’s another reason to vote for somebody else.

Ant-Man

This looks interesting.  I remember seeing Ant-Man in the comics back in the day, and often wondered how a man who could shrink to insect size and command a horde of ants could stack up against Iron Man, Captain America and Thor.  It will be interesting to see how Marvel pulls this out.

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.