Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Mitt Romney: Hillary’s Clinton Foundation Uranium One scandal “looks like bribery”

What looks like bribery? Well, read this story from the radically leftist New York Times, of all places. It should be the end of Hillary’s campaign.

Excerpt:

The headline in the website Pravda trumpeted President Vladimir V. Putin’s latest coup, its nationalistic fervor recalling an era when its precursor served as the official mouthpiece of the Kremlin: “Russian Nuclear Energy Conquers the World.”

The article, in January 2013, detailed how the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, had taken over a Canadian company with uranium-mining stakes stretching from Central Asia to the American West. The deal made Rosatom one of the world’s largest uranium producers and brought Mr. Putin closer to his goal of controlling much of the global uranium supply chain.

But the untold story behind that story is one that involves not just the Russian president, but also a former American president and a woman who would like to be the next one.

At the heart of the tale are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One.

Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.

And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.

At the time, both Rosatom and the United States government made promises intended to ease concerns about ceding control of the company’s assets to the Russians. Those promises have been repeatedly broken, records show.

[…]The path to a Russian acquisition of American uranium deposits began in 2005 in Kazakhstan, where the Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra orchestrated his first big uranium deal, with Mr. Clinton at his side.

The two men had flown aboard Mr. Giustra’s private jet to Almaty, Kazakhstan, where they dined with the authoritarian president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev. Mr. Clinton handed the Kazakh president a propaganda coup when he expressed support for Mr. Nazarbayev’s bid to head an international elections monitoring group, undercutting American foreign policy and criticism of Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record by, among others, his wife, then a senator.

Within days of the visit, Mr. Giustra’s fledgling company, UrAsia Energy Ltd., signed a preliminary deal giving it stakes in three uranium mines controlled by the state-run uranium agency Kazatomprom.

[…][T]he company’s story was hardly front-page news in the United States — until early 2008, in the midst of Mrs. Clinton’s failed presidential campaign, when The Times published an article revealing the 2005 trip’s link to Mr. Giustra’s Kazakhstan mining deal. It also reported that several months later, Mr. Giustra had donated $31.3 million to Mr. Clinton’s foundation.

[…][T]he ultimate authority to approve or reject the Russian acquisition rested with the cabinet officials on the foreign investment committee, including Mrs. Clinton — whose husband was collecting millions of dollars in donations from people associated with Uranium One.

Romney, in his interview with Hugh Hewitt, explained that because Bill and Hillary are married, their assets are co-mingled.

So what’s the problem with this deal?

The national security issue at stake in the Uranium One deal was not primarily about nuclear weapons proliferation; the United States and Russia had for years cooperated on that front, with Russia sending enriched fuel from decommissioned warheads to be used in American nuclear power plants in return for raw uranium. Instead, it concerned American dependence on foreign uranium sources. While the United States gets one-fifth of its electrical power from nuclear plants, it produces only around 20 percent of the uranium it needs, and most plants have only 18 to 36 months of reserves, according to Marin Katusa, author of “The Colder War: How the Global Energy Trade Slipped From America’s Grasp.”

“The Russians are easily winning the uranium war, and nobody’s talking about it,” said Mr. Katusa, who explores the implications of the Uranium One deal in his book. “It’s not just a domestic issue but a foreign policy issue, too.”

It’s a national security issue. We shouldn’t be selling uranium companies to countries like Russia who not only invade their neighbors, but also sell long-range missiles to Iran – and a host of other nasty things, too. This country is not friendly to us.

Hillary Clinton: secretive, entitled, hypoctritical

Hillary Clinton: secretive, entitled, hypoctritical

What was Hillary’s response? It’s a distraction invented by the vast right-wing conspiracy:

That’s some vast right-wing conspiracy that makes its way onto the nation’s most respected leftist national newspaper.

So, does this explain why Hillary Clinton deleted tens of thousands of e-mails and then wiped her private e-mail server clean? We’ll never know, because she destroyed all the evidence. But one thing is for sure – there is no reason to vote for this candidate for President, although some people will:

That’s the only “reason” that people will vote for her, because on the merits, she’s a stinker.

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Do tax hikes, welfare spending and minimum wage hikes lower income inequality?

Here’s Heritage Foundation economist Stephen Moore to explain.

He writes:

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently appeared on one of the late night talk shows, beating the class warfare drum and arguing for billions of dollars in new social programs paid for with higher taxes on millionaires and billionaires. In recent years, though, blue states such as California, Illinois, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland and Minnesota adopted this very strategy, and they raised taxes on their wealthy residents. How did it work out? Almost all of these states lag behind the national average in growth of jobs and incomes.

So, if income redistribution policies are the solution to shrinking the gap between rich and poor, why do they fail so miserably in the states?

The blue states that try to lift up the poor with high taxes, high welfare benefits, high minimum wages and other Robin Hood policies tend to be the places where the rich end up the richest and the poor the poorest.

California is the prototypical example. It has the highest tax rates of any state. It has very generous welfare benefits. Many of its cities have a high minimum wage. But day after day, the middle class keeps leaving. The wealthy areas such as San Francisco and the Silicon Valley boom. Yet the state has nearly the highest poverty rate in the nation. The Golden State, alas, has become the inequality state.

In a new report called “Rich States, Poor States” that I write each year for the American Legislative Exchange Council with Arthur Laffer and Jonathan Williams, we find that five of the highest-tax blue states in the nation—California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois—lost some 4 million more U.S. residents than entered these states over the last decade. Meanwhile, the big low-tax red states—Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia—gained about this many new residents.

What’s wrong? Isn’t raising taxes, growing government and spending more on welfare supposed to make reduce income inequality? Well, the trouble is that you need to think about things from the point of view of the people who create the jobs. People who want to start a business prefer to move to states where they can keep more of the money they earned. So, that’s why there is a mass exodus from states that don’t allow job creators to keep the money they earn. And naturally, they hire workers in their new state once they get there. Eventually people in the high-tax states move to where the jobs are, too.

Stephen Moore has actually measured it:

The least “regressive” tax states [high tax states] had average population growth from 2003 to 2013 that lagged below the national trend. The 10 most highly “regressive” tax states [low tax states], including nine with no state income tax, had population growth on average 4 percent above the U.S. average. Why was that? Because states without income taxes have twice the job growth of states with high tax rates. 

[…]Ohio University economist Richard Vedder and I compared the income gap in states with higher tax rates, higher minimum wages and more welfare benefits with states on the other side of the policy spectrum. There was no evidence that states with these liberal policies had helped the poor much and, in many cases, these states recorded more income inequality than other states as measured by the left’s favorite statistic called the Gini Coefficient.

[…]The 19 states with minimum wages above the $7.25 per hour federal minimum do not have lower income inequality. States with a super minimum wage—such as Connecticut ($9.15), California ($9.00), New York ($8.75), and Vermont ($9.15)—have significantly wider gaps between rich and poor than states without a super minimum wage.

No, I am not an economist, but I think that this is because the real minimum wage is ZERO, and that’s what more people in high minimum wage states make compared to people in low minimum wage states. If Seattle raises the minimum wage to $15 and the workers end up making the real minimum wage (ZERO) because job creators can’t pay them, then naturally the gap between rich and poor increases.

I think it’s always a good idea for people to think about things from the point of view of the small business job creator, and it all makes sense. If you want to get trained in how to do this, I recommend picking up introductory books by economists like Thomas Sowell, Milton Friedman or even F.A. Hayek. The goal here is to achieve good results, not to have good intentions.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , ,

Dennis Prager: why the left doesn’t care about bad economic news

This was posted last night on Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

Almost everywhere the left is in control — in California, for example — the economic news is awful. But this has no effect on the ruling Democrats, the Los Angeles Times editorial page, New York Times economics columnist Paul Krugman or others on the left.

There is one overriding philosophical reason and one political reason for this.

He lists a number of the economic problems in California – a state that is controlled top to bottom by Democrats.

Why doesn’t it bother Democrats that economies decline when they are in control?

He writes:

Why do these state-crushing economic statistics — nearly every one of which is the result of left-wing policies — have no effect on California’s Democrats, the Los Angeles Times editorial page, New York Times economics columnist Paul Krugman or almost anyone else on the left?

The answer is that they don’t care.

Yes, of course, as individuals with a heart, most people, right and left, care about people losing their jobs.

But in terms of what matters to the left and the policies they pursue, they don’t care. The left and the political party it controls do not care if their policies force companies to leave the state (or the country).

They don’t care about the coming high inflation caused by quantitative easing (printing money) — Krugman calls it the inflation obsession — or the job-depressing effects of high taxes or energy prices that hurt the middle class or compelling businesses to leave.

They don’t care because the left is not interested in prosperity; the left is interested in inequality and in the environment.

Furthermore, the worse the economic situation, the more voters are likely to vote Democrat. The worse the economic situation, the greater the number of people receiving government assistance; the greater the number of people receiving government assistance, the greater the number of people who will vote Democrat.

Therefore, both philosophically and politically, the left has no reason to be troubled by bad economic news. And it isn’t. It is troubled by inequality and carbon emissions.

He could have done the same analysis in Detroit, where Democrats govern unopposed by Republicans, and have for years.

The main problem of the left is “inequality”. If they put in place policies that make everyone earn minimum wage, regardless of what they do, that would be a great victory for them. If the price of prosperity is “economic inequality”, then so much the worse for prosperity. If you tax people who produce more value than a minimum wage worker so that they make the same as a minimum wage worker, you can forget about the kinds of businesses that produce cars, computers and appliances. People invent these things and start businesses in order to make a profit. That’s why they spend their savings and take the risk to start a business. But if everything they earn is taxed away, then we will have to do without new products and services. This is understood in the private sector, but not by the government, nor by the low-information voters who vote for bigger government.

We have to stop allowing the Left to pain themselves as saints because they talk about the poor. What they don’t like about the poor is the rich. If everyone were poor, they wouldn’t talk about the poor – because everyone would be equal. That’s their goal.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , ,

Questions for proponents of government-controlled redistribution of wealth

George Mason University economist Donald Boudreaux wrote a couple of articles asking people who complain about income inequality whether their solution of letting government redistribute wealth from some people to others makes sense. After he is done asking his questions, I am going to complain a little about what it is like to study hard things and do hard work

In the first article, he asked a series of questions to the wealth redistributers.

Here were a few that caught my eye:

Do you teach your children to envy what other children have? Do you encourage your children to form gangs with their playmates to “redistribute” toys away from richer kids on the schoolyard toward kids not so rich? If not, what reason have you to suppose that envy and “redistribution” become acceptable when carried out on a large scale by government?

Suppose that Jones chooses a career as a poet. Jones treasures the time he spends walking in the woods and strolling city streets in leisurely reflection; his reflections lead him to write poetry critical of capitalist materialism. Working as a poet, Jones earns $20,000 annually. Smith chooses a career as an emergency-room physician. She works an average of 60 hours weekly and seldom takes a vacation. Her annual salary is $400,000. Is this “distribution” of income unfair? Is Smith responsible for Jones’ relatively low salary? Does Smith owe Jones money? If so, how much? And what is the formula you use to determine Smith’s debt to Jones?

While Dr. Smith earns more money than does poet Jones, poet Jones earns more leisure than does Dr. Smith. Do you believe leisure has value to those who possess it? If so, are you disturbed by the inequality of leisure that separates leisure-rich Jones from leisure-poor Smith? Do you advocate policies to “redistribute” leisure from Jones to Smith — say, by forcing Jones to wash Smith’s dinner dishes or to chauffeur Smith to and from work? If not, why not?

In the second article, he had even more questions for the wealth redistributers.

Here are the two that I liked best:

When you describe growing income inequality in the United States, you typically look only at the incomes of the rich before they pay taxes and at the incomes of the poor before they receive noncash transfers from government such as food stamps, Medicare and Medicaid. You also ignore noncash transfers that the poor receive from private charities. Why? If you’re trying to determine whether or not more income redistribution is warranted, doesn’t it make more sense to look at income differences after the rich have paid their taxes and after the poor have received all of their benefits from government and private sources?

Do you not share Thomas Sowell’s concern that efforts to “de-concentrate” incomes among the people require concentrating power among the politicians? Asked differently, if you worry that abuses of power are encouraged by concentrations of income, shouldn’t you worry even more that abuses of power are encouraged by concentrations of power?

Mark Perry of AEI saw this column, and he had two more questions.

Many extremely wealthy people (movie stars, celebrities like Oprah, businessmen like Warren Buffet, filmmaker Michael Moore, and Robert Reich for example) who are in America’s “top 1%” by income (some are easily in the top 1/0 of 1%), often complain about income and wealth inequality in America. And yet these wealthy individuals rarely take any direct actions themselves that could reduce income inequality immediately, e.g. giving away a majority of their multi-million dollar annual salaries and unburdening themselves of millions of dollars of their wealth (stocks, real estate, cars, airplanes, etc.) and living on a modest, but still very comfortable incomes of say, $200,000 per year. Isn’t it inconsistent that most of these individuals hoard a majority of their income and wealth to live lavishly without taking immediate steps to redistribute their largess to those less fortunate and reduce the income/wealth inequality they complain about?  If not, why?

Many Americans express great concern about income inequality in the United States, but seem relatively unconcerned about global income inequality. For example, nearly half of the world’s richest 1% of people live in the U.S., and the threshold required to make it into that elite group is only $34,000 per person, according to World Bank economist Branko Milanovic.  Is it inconsistent for an American making $34,000 to complain about the incomes and wealth of the top 1% in the United States and yet show no concern for the fact that he himself is in the top 1% of the world’s population based on income? Many Americans making $34,000 and above support income redistribution schemes (e.g. raising taxes on the top 1%) to reduce income inequality in America. Because they are themselves in the top 1% of the world’s population by income, shouldn’t these Americans also support redistribution of income and wealth from themselves (the world’s top 1%) to dirt-poor countries like Zimbabwe? If not, why not?

One quick point about who pays taxes in this country as it is now.

CNS News reports on a study by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Excerpt:

The top 40 percent of households by before-tax income actually paid 106.2 percent of the nation’s net income taxes in 2010, according to a new study by the Congressional Budget Office.

At the same time, households in the bottom 40 percent took in an average of $18,950 in what the CBO called “government transfers” in 2010.

Taxpayers in the top 40 percent of households were able to pay more than 100 percent of net federal income taxes in 2010 because Americans in the bottom 40 percent actually paid negative income taxes, according to the CBO study entitled, “The Distribution of Household Income and Federal Taxes, 2010.”

This is where the money comes from for all our lavish social programs, which I do not even use.

My choices

I remember growing up as the son of poor immigrants and having to struggle to do well in school. When I was growing up, I didn’t learn to ride  bicycle until very late. We didn’t have a car to drive anywhere. We had a black and white TV. We took public transportation to go anywhere. I remember that we used to eat macaroni and cheese with sliced hot dogs quite a lot. We went to a sit-down restaurant for dinner less than five times as a family. I always took school very seriously from the beginning, and I remember having conflicts with the popular students, who were having more fun than me because they had more wealth and more friends and they did more expensive things for fun. I chose not to drop math, even though I struggled with it more than English and computer science. I remember my friends buying Apple IIe and Commodore 64 computers, and I didn’t have any video game system much less a computer. I would go over to their houses and play games at their houses. I never had a summer off. I was always in summer school or working, and that working summers continued through my undergraduate degree.

When the time came to go to college, I chose computer science. Some of the courses I took during that time were so hard that I cried. I had not been well-prepared for college in high school, it was a big stretch for me. I remember failing a test in second year calculus, the first test I ever failed. I can remember doing calculus problems and crying about how hard it was, and my Dad looking on wondering if he had made the right decision when he snudged me toward computer science, when I wanted to do something easy like English. But I graduated with a 3.4 GPA, and went on to graduate school, where I finished with a 3.9 GPA. I chose to do both of my degrees locally, and lived at home. I never went out drinking or to a club or anything like that. The school I chose was not the best, but I saved money, and graduating with a few thousand dollars in the bank was important to me. I didn’t want to go into debt in order to learn how to program a computer.

When I graduated, I started working in a different city, and I remember that my apartment had firebrats, which is a kind of insect infestation. I chose a modest apartment because I wanted to save money. I saved most of what I earned because I anticipated that I would soon be married and starting a family. During my career to this day, I have seen politicians express their desire to take what I earn and give it to people who were born in this country, but who made different decisions from me. Some of them dropped out of high school. Some of them had sex before marriage. Some of them drank alcohol. Some of them smoked. Some of them dropped math. Some of them chased women. Some of them drank and smoked and did drugs. Some of them went on expensive trips. Some of them went to movie theaters and bought popcorn. But I never saw these people in the computer lab at 3 AM trying to help me with my assignments. I never saw these people show up to work weekends when I was working 70-hour weeks in a startup company trying to build sweat equity.

Somehow, people in government, at all levels, have decided that I don’t deserve to keep what I earn. They have decided that other people can get subsidies, but I have to pay full price. I walk into the grocery store and see people buying better food than me, and paying with food stamps. I am paying for my groceries and paying for theirs, too. Somehow, a significant number of people in our society have decided that I should not be allowed to keep what I earn, buy the things I want, and live my life the way that I planned to live it. My earned income is my freedom to express myself, and the politicians have decided that I am allowed to get up and go to work to earn the money, but that I am not allowed to express myself using my earned income. They get to take the money I earned and express their views, instead.

To learn more about why income inequality is not something for government to solve, read this article from the American Enterprise Institute.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , ,

The importance of the traditional family for income mobility

Michael Barone writes about a new report on the family by Nick Schultz of the American Enterprise Institute.

Excerpt:

[I]t is an uncomfortable truth that children of divorce and children with unmarried parents tend to do much worse in life than children of two-parent families.

(I’ll leave aside the sensitive issue of children of same-sex marriages, since these haven’t existed in a non-stigmatized atmosphere long enough to produce measurable results.)

As Schulz points out, that uncomfortable truth is not controversial among social scientists. It is affirmed by undoubted liberals such as Harvard’s David Ellwood and Christopher Jencks.

Growing up outside a two-parent family means not just lower incomes and less social mobility, Schulz argues.

It also reduces human capital — “the knowledge, education, habits, will power — all the internal stuff that is largely intangible a person has that helps produce an income.”

While children are born with certain innate capacities, those capacities can be broadened or narrowed by their upbringing.

The numbers indicate that single or divorced parents — however caring and dedicated — are unable, on average, to broaden those capacities as much as married parents can.

These differences have sharp implications for upward mobility.

Schulz points to an Economic Mobility Project analysis showing that, among children who start off in the bottom third of the income distribution, only 26% with divorced parents move up, compared to 42% born to unmarried mothers (who may marry later, of course) and 50% who grow up with two married parents.

All this matters more than it used to because two-parent families are much more uncommon than they used to be. In 1960 about three-fourths of Americans 18 and over were married. In 2011, less than half were.

Now, you might say to yourself “what exactly have the secular left down to improve the income mobility of the poor by promoting marriage?” And the answer would be that the left promotes premarital sex for people who are not even ready for marriage, made contraceptives taxpayer-funded, subsidized the largest provider of abortions with hundreds of millions of dollars, promoted the first redefinition of marriage through their feminism and trial lawyer lobbying groups, and now redefined marriage to mean either no biological father or no biological mother. Barack Obama himself has praised every other kind of non-traditional family arrangement as being equal to the traditional family. That’s the sort of nonsense that passes for wisdom on the morally relativistic left. They just don’t like the idea that there are moral rules that apply to sexual activity.

The left isn’t really interested in income mobility. They talk about it as if it’s a problem, but their “solutions” to the problem actually make the problem worse.

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