I am thankful for being a middle class person today instead of the richest person in the world 200 years ago

I am thankful for being a middle class person today instead of the richest person in the world 200 years ago.

I can have a real time conversation with someone who is 1,000 miles away.

I have light bulbs.

I can get from New York to California in hours instead of weeks.

Antibiotics will save my life if I step on a rock and cut my foot.

I don’t have to worry about getting smallpox, measles, or polio.

I can eat ice cream in July, without having to hire an expedition to climb a mountain to bring back ice.

I could buy an air conditioner if I wanted one (although I don’t actually have or want one. I live in Pittsburgh, and don’t think it’s necessary). But think about being a rich person living in Atlanta in July before air conditioning was invented – that would have sucked.

I can listen to just about any music, watch just about any movie, or watch just about any episode of just about any TV show, whenever I want.

My access to information online is bigger than any library that the richest person owned in the past.

I have a flush toilet.

I can take a hot shower whenever I want.

I don’t have to worry about my drinking water being infected with deadly bacteria or parasites.

My clothing is more comfortable than any that existed in the past.

I have zero problem with the fact that there are some people today who have thousands of times as much money as me.

I am grateful for what I do have. I am not resentful for the fact that other people have way more money than me.

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November 22, 2017. Tags: , , , , . Economics, Holidays. Leave a comment.

San Francisco developer builds 160 unit apartment building on 9,000 square foot lot

I just came across this wonderful success story in San Francisco.

At 16:00 in the video below, the developer says:

“This is only a 9,000 square foot lot and yet we have 160 apartments in it. It comes to about 800 units an acre.”

I have no idea how he got permission to build such dense housing. (See here for an explanation of how San Francisco politicians deliberately prevent affordable housing from being built.)

The video also explains how these “micro-apartments” cater specifically to people who do not own cars.

The amenities in the building are quite amazing.

This type of high density apartment building is exactly what the city needs. And they need a huge number of them.

I wasn’t deterred by the video’s 20 minute length. I watched the entire thing, and I found it to be quite enjoyable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LI0tqVmGtI

October 1, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , . Economics. 2 comments.

In Venezuela, they were teachers and doctors. To buy food, they became prostitutes.

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/venezuela/article174808061.html

In Venezuela, they were teachers and doctors. To buy food, they became prostitutes.

September 22, 2017

ARAUCA, Colombia – At a squat, concrete brothel on the muddy banks of the Arauca River, Gabriel Sánchez rattled off the previous jobs of the women who now sell their bodies at his establishment for $25 an hour.

“We’ve got lots of teachers, some doctors, many professional women and one petroleum engineer,” he yelled over the din of vallenato music. “All of them showed up with their degrees in hand.”

As Venezuela’s economy continues to collapse amid food shortages, hyperinflation and U.S. sanctions, waves of economic refugees have fled the country. Those with the means have gone to places like Miami, Santiago and Panama.

The less fortunate find themselves walking across the border into Colombia looking for a way, any way, to keep themselves and their families fed. A recent study suggested as many as 350,000 Venezuelans had entered Colombia in the last six years.

But with jobs scarce, many young — and not so young — women are turning to the world’s oldest profession to make ends meet.

Dayana, a 30-year-old mother of four, nursed a beer as she watched potential clients walk down the dirt road that runs in front of wooden shacks, bars and bordellos. Dressed for work in brightly-colored spandex, Dayana said she used to be the manager of a food-processing plant on the outskirts of Caracas.

But that job disappeared after the government seized the factory and “looted it,” she said.

Seven months ago, struggling to put food on the table, she came to Colombia looking for work. Without an employment permit, she found herself working as a prostitute in the capital, Bogotá. While the money was better there, she eventually moved to Arauca, a cattle town of 260,000 people along the border with Venezuela, because it was easier to send food back to her children in Caracas.

The previous night, her sister had traveled by bus for 18 hours from Caracas to pick up a bundle of groceries that Dayana had purchased — pasta, tuna, rice, cooking oil — and then immediately jumped on a bus back home.

“If you had told me four years ago that I would be here, doing this, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Dayana, who asked that her last name not be used. “But we’ve gone from crisis to crisis to crisis, and now look where we are.”

“The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing,” President Donald Trump stated before the United Nations on Sept. 19, 2017. He later called on other countries to do more to address the crisis in Venezuela under the dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro which “has inflicted terrible misery and suffering on the good people of that country.”

With inflation running in excess of 700 percent and the bolivar currency in free fall, finding food and medicine in Venezuela has become a frustrating, time-consuming task. Dayana said she often would spend four to six hours waiting in line hoping to buy a bag of flour. Other times she was forced to buy food on the black market at exorbitant rates. Hunger in Venezuela is rampant.

That has fueled a scramble to earn hard currency — Colombian pesos or, even better, the U.S. dollar, which is the legal tender of Ecuador and Panama.

Dayana said that on a good night she makes the equivalent of $50 to $100 dollars, selling her services 20 minutes at a time.

“Prostitution obviously isn’t a good job,” she said. “But I’m thankful for it, because it’s allowing me to buy food and support my family.”

Selling sex is legal in Colombia, and even small towns have red-light districts where authorities look the other way. So while immigration police were actively hunting down Venezuelans selling trinkets and panhandling in Arauca’s central square, the women along brothel row said they were rarely harassed.

Marta Muñoz runs the Casa de la Mujer, a municipal program that focuses on women’s health and rights. She said that prostitution is something of a blind spot for local authorities who are more focused on blatant crimes, like child trafficking, rape and the abuse of minors.

“I know that some of them are being paid unfairly and being treated very poorly,” Muñoz said of the Venezuelan prostitutes. “But how do we protect them without strong public policies?”

Sánchez and others in the sex industry say Venezuelans dominate the trade now because they’re willing to work for less pay.

“I would say 99 percent of the prostitutes in this town are Venezuelan,” he said. All 12 of the women who work for him are from the other side of the border.

It’s not just a border phenomenon. Fidelia Suarez, the president of Colombia’s Union of Sex Workers, said her organization has seen a dramatic influx of “Venezuelan women and men working in the sex trade” across the country.

While it’s impossible to quantify how many might be working in the trade, Suarez said her organization is trying to safeguard the vulnerable migrants.

“We want to make sure they’re not being harassed by authorities or taken advantage of,” she said. “Being sexually exploited is very different than being a sex worker.”

In a sense, Venezuela’s economic crisis has been so severe that it has even upended long-held social norms.

Marili, a 47-year-old former teacher and grandmother, said there was a time when she would have been ashamed to admit she’s a prostitute. Now she says she’s grateful to have a job that allows her to buy hypertension medication for her mother back in Caracas.

“We’re all just women who are working to support our families,” she said. “I refuse to criticize anyone, including myself. We all have to work.”

Both Marili and Dayana said they had told their families how they make a living. “I don’t like to keep secrets,” Dayana explained.

Even Sánchez, the 60-year-old brothel owner, says he was forced into the business by the Venezuelan crisis. Like many Colombians, Sánchez moved to the neighboring country 30 years ago, when the oil rich nation was booming economically and Colombia was mired in violence.

There, he had solid work in Caracas repainting cars. When the crisis killed that job several years ago, he began smuggling Venezuelan wood and its cheaper-than-water gasoline into Colombia.

Eventually, things got so bad he decided to return to Colombia permanently. He and his wife opened the brothel, called “Show Malilo Night Club.” Sánchez’s nickname is Malilo.

“This place is mine, thank God,” he said of the modest building, strung with Christmas lights to provide ambiance. “But it hurts me deeply what’s happening over there.”

Marili said the couple had been lifesavers — giving her a place to stay and a way to make a living.

“Not just anyone will lend you a hand,” she said. “These people are humanitarians.”

There seems to be no end in sight for Venezuela’s economic pain. Last month, the Trump administration restricted Caracas’ ability to borrow money from American creditors, which will undoubtedly deepen the crisis. And yet, President Nicolás Maduro has been digging in, avoiding the economic reforms that economists say are necessary.

Dayana dreams of a day when she’ll be able to go home and start a small clothing boutique. Asked when she thought that might happen, she shook her head.

“No one knows,” she said. “We just have to be patient.”

September 25, 2017. Tags: , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

My new book “The Maduro Diet” is ranked #1 in the amazon sales category Books > History > Americas > South America > Venezuela

My new book The Maduro Diet is ranked #1 in the amazon sales category Books > History > Americas > South America > Venezuela

Here’s a partial screen capture:


Full title: The Maduro Diet: How three-quarters of adults in Venezuela lost an average of 19 pounds in 2016

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075W2LXT8


September 24, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Books, Communism, Economics, Venezuela. 2 comments.

I just published this new book about the food shortages in Venezuela

I just published this new book about the food shortages in Venezuela:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075W2LXT8

September 24, 2017. Tags: , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

Walter Williams: The black family is struggling, and it’s not because of slavery

https://stream.org/black-family-struggling-not-slavery/

The Black Family is Struggling, and It’s Not Because of Slavery

The black family was stronger the first 100 years after slavery than during what will be the second 100 years.

By Walter Williams

September 20, 2017

That the problems of today’s black Americans are a result of a legacy of slavery, racial discrimination, and poverty has achieved an axiomatic status, thought to be self-evident and beyond question.

This is what academics and the civil rights establishment have taught. But as with so much of what’s claimed by leftists, there is little evidence to support it.

The No. 1 problem among blacks is the effects stemming from a very weak family structure.

Children from fatherless homes are likelier to drop out of high school, die by suicide, have behavioral disorders, join gangs, commit crimes, and end up in prison. They are also likelier to live in poverty-stricken households.

But is the weak black family a legacy of slavery?

In 1960, just 22 percent of black children were raised in single-parent families. Fifty years later, more than 70 percent of black children were raised in single-parent families.

Here’s my question: Was the increase in single-parent black families after 1960 a legacy of slavery, or might it be a legacy of the welfare state ushered in by the War on Poverty?

According to the 1938 Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, that year 11 percent of black children were born to unwed mothers. Today about 75 percent of black children are born to unwed mothers.

Is that supposed to be a delayed response to the legacy of slavery?

The bottom line is that the black family was stronger the first 100 years after slavery than during what will be the second 100 years.

At one time, almost all black families were poor, regardless of whether one or both parents were present. Today roughly 30 percent of blacks are poor.

However, two-parent black families are rarely poor. Only 8 percent of black married-couple families live in poverty. Among black families in which both the husband and wife work full time, the poverty rate is under 5 percent. Poverty in black families headed by single women is 37 percent.

The undeniable truth is that neither slavery nor Jim Crow nor the harshest racism has decimated the black family the way the welfare state has.

September 20, 2017. Tags: , , . Economics, Racism. 3 comments.

Price controls and nationalization of more than 10 million acres of farmland have destroyed Venezuela’s ability to feed itself

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/venezuelas-paradox-people-are-hungry-but-farmers-cant-feed-them/2017/05/21/ce460726-3987-11e7-a59b-26e0451a96fd_story.html

Venezuela’s paradox: People are hungry, but farmers can’t feed them

May 22, 2017


Above: A once-packed henhouse stands empty on Saulo Escobar’s farm in Aragua state, Venezuela, earlier this month.

YUMA, Venezuela — With cash running low and debts piling up, Venezuela’s socialist government has cut back sharply on food imports. And for farmers in most countries, that would present an opportunity.

But this is Venezuela, whose economy operates on its own special plane of dysfunction. At a time of empty supermarkets and spreading hunger, the country’s farms are producing less and less, not more, making the caloric deficit even worse.

Drive around the countryside outside the capital, Caracas, and there’s everything a farmer needs: fertile land, water, sunshine and gasoline at 4 cents a gallon, cheapest in the world. Yet somehow families here are just as scrawny-looking as the city-dwelling Venezuelans waiting in bread lines or picking through garbage for scraps.

Having attempted for years to defy conventional economics, the country now faces a painful reckoning with basic arithmetic.

“Last year I had 200,000 hens,” said Saulo Escobar, who runs a poultry and hog farm here in the state of Aragua, an hour outside Caracas. “Now I have 70,000.”

Several of his cavernous henhouses sit empty because, Escobar said, he can’t afford to buy more chicks or feed. Government price controls have made his business unprofitable, and armed gangs have been squeezing him for extortion payments and stealing his eggs.

Venezuela’s latest public health indicators confirm that the country is facing a dietary calamity. With medicines scarce and malnutrition cases soaring, more than 11,000 babies died last year, sending the infant mortality rate up 30 percent, according to Venezuela’s Health Ministry. The head of the ministry was fired by President Nicolás Maduro two days after she released those statistics.

Child hunger in parts of Venezuela is a “humanitarian crisis,” according to a new report by the Catholic relief organization Caritas, which found 11.4 percent of children under age 5 suffering from moderate to severe malnutrition, and 48 percent “at risk” of going hungry.

‘The Maduro diet’

The protesters who have been marching in the streets against Maduro for the past seven weeks scream, “We’re hungry!” as riot police blast them with water cannons and tear gas.

In a recent survey of 6,500 Venezuelan families by the country’s leading universities, three-quarters of adults said they lost weight in 2016 — an average of 19 pounds. This collective emaciation is referred to dryly here as “the Maduro diet,” but it’s a level of hunger almost unheard-of outside war zones or areas ravaged by hurricane, drought or plague.

Venezuela’s disaster is man-made, economists point out — the result of farm nationalizations, currency distortions and a government takeover of food distribution. While millions of Venezuelans can’t get enough to eat, officials have refused to allow international aid groups to deliver food, accustomed to viewing their oil-rich country as the benefactor of poorer nations, not a charity case.

“It’s not only the nationalization of land,” said Carlos Machado, an expert on Venezuelan agriculture. “The government has made the decision to be the producer, processor and distributor, so the entire chain of food production suffers from an inefficient agricultural bureaucracy.”

With Venezuela’s industrial output crashing, farmers are forced to import feed, fertilizer and spare parts, but they can’t do so without hard currency. And the government has been hoarding the dollars it earns from oil exports to pay back high-interest loans from Wall Street and other foreign creditors.

Escobar said he needs 400 tons of high-protein imported animal feed every three months to keep his operation running, but he’s able to get only 100 tons. So, like many others, he’s turned to the black market. But he can only afford a cheaper, less nutritious feed, meaning that his hens are smaller than they used to be — and so are their eggs.

“My quality went down, so my production went down, too,” he said.

Escobar’s hogs also are skinnier. An average full-size pig weighed 242 pounds two years ago, he said. “Now they weigh 176.” Last year, he lost 2,000 hogs in three months when the animals got sick and he couldn’t find vaccines.

The piglets born since then are undersized. Many have bloody wounds at the tips of their ears. “When an animal has a poor diet, it looks for nourishment elsewhere,” explained Maria Arias, a veterinarian at the farm. “So they end up chewing off the ears of other pigs.”

‘There are no profits’

Venezuela has long relied on imports of certain foodstuffs, such as wheat, that can’t be grown on a large scale in the country’s tropical climate. But trade statistics show that the land policies of the late Hugo Chávez, Maduro’s predecessor, made Venezuela more dependent on imported food than ever.

When oil prices were high, that wasn’t a big problem. Now Venezuela’s blend of heavy crude is worth barely $40 a barrel and the country’s petroleum output is at a 23-year low, in part because refineries and pipelines are breaking down and investment in new infrastructure isn’t keeping pace.

The government hasn’t published farming data in years. But Machado, the agriculture expert, said annual food imports averaged about $75 per person until 2004, then soared after Chávez accelerated the nationalization of farms, eventually seizing more than 10 million acres. The government expropriated factories, too, and Venezuela’s domestic food production plummeted.

By 2012, annual per capita food imports had increased to $370, but since then, oil prices have slumped and imports have dropped 73 percent.

Instead of spurring growth in domestic agriculture, the government has strangled it, farmers say. Domestic production of rice, corn and coffee has declined by 60 percent or more in the past decade, according to Venezuela’s Confederation of Farmer Associations (Fedeagro), a trade group. Nearly all of the sugar mills nationalized by the government since 2005 are paralyzed or producing below capacity.

Only a small, well-off minority of Venezuelans can afford to buy much food on the black market, where a pound of rice imported from Brazil or Colombia sells for about 6,000 bolivares. That’s roughly $1 at the black-market exchange rate, but for an ordinary Venezuelan worker it’s an entire day’s wage, because the bolivar has lost 99 percent of its value in the past five years.

Venezuelans who don’t have access to hard currency depend on government-subsidized groceries doled out by pro-Maduro neighborhood groups, or wait in supermarket lines for rationed, price-capped items. Those who join anti-government protests have been threatened with losing their food supplies.

The price controls have become a powerful disincentive in rural Venezuela. “There are no profits, so we produce at a loss,” said one dairy farmer in the state of Guarico, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared retaliation from authorities. To get a new tractor, he said, he would have to spend all the money he earns in a year. “It’s a miracle that the industry is still alive,” he said.

Four of his cows were stolen this month, probably by hungry families in the nearby village, he said.

According to Vicente Carrillo, the former president of Venezuela’s cattle ranchers’ association, the overall size of the country’s herd has dropped in the past five years from 13 million head to about 8 million.

Carrillo sold his ranch more than a decade ago, tired of threats from squatters and rural activists who accused him of being an exploitative rural capitalist. His family had owned the land for more than a century. “I dedicated more than 30 years of my life to this business, but I had to leave everything behind,” he said.

Escobar, the chicken and hog farmer, said the only way for farmers to remain in business today is to break the law and sell at market prices, hoping authorities look the other way.

“If I sold at regulated prices, I wouldn’t even be able to afford a single kilogram of chicken feed,” he said.

If it’s not a fear of the government that keeps Escobar awake at night, it’s criminal gangs. Since one of his delivery trucks was robbed in December, he has been forced to make “protection” payments to a mafia boss operating out of the local prison. Every Friday, three motorcycles stop by the farm to pick up an envelope of cash, he said. Calling the police would only escalate the danger.

“I know how to deal with chickens and pigs,” Escobar said, “but not criminals.”

September 8, 2017. Tags: , , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

Media bias: once again, a news article about a financially struggling single mother trying to raise her children makes absolutely no mention of their father

The Guardian recently published this article about a single mother who is having financial troubles as she tries to raise her two children on the salary that she gets from working at a fast food restaurant.

As is always the case with articles like this, the article makes absolutely no mention of the children’s father. (I have written about this media irresponsibility before – see here and here.)

In this particular case, the article refers to the woman as “a single mother of two.”

It doesn’t say that she is “divorced,” or that she is “widowed.”

The article makes absolutely zero mention of the children’s father.

The article does quote the woman as saying:

“At the top of America, when it comes to Trump and them, their goal is to keep us down. Between these billion-dollar companies and Trump, it’s a power trip.”

So now it’s Trump’s fault that this woman is a single mother of two.

I’d like to see the results of the DNA test for that.

If Trump is in fact the father of her children, then yes, it is Trump’s fault that she is having so much financial trouble.

Otherwise, Trump has no fault whatsoever in her situation.

The article also talks about how the woman is part of the movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

But in the real world, even liberals themselves do not want to pay fast food workers $15 an hour.

In December 2013, I made this blog post, which is titled “I dare liberals to buy a McDonald’s franchise, and pay the workers $15 an hour.”

More than three years later, I followed it up with this blog post, which is titled, “Hypocrite liberals have rejected my challenge for them to buy a McDonald’s franchise and pay the workers $15 an hour.”

I also made this other blog post, which is titled, “In the real world, no liberal has ever bought a McDonald’s franchise and paid the workers $15 an hour.”

So even liberals themselves are not willing to pay McDonald’s workers $15 an hour.

Here is some information that liberals never talk about:

Let’s consider two groups of people in the U.S. The first group has a poverty rate of 2%. The second group has a poverty rate of 76%.

The first group consists of people who followed all three of these steps:

1) Finish high school.

2) Get a full-time job.

3) Wait until age 21 and get married before having children.

The second group consists of people who followed zero of those three steps.

Among people who follow all three of these steps, the poverty rate is 2%.

Among people who follow zero of these steps, the poverty rate is 76%.

(My source for that information is this article, which refers to this PDF, and the relevant data is on page 15 of the PDF. The study uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau.)

Finally, here is a seven minute video with information that liberals never talk about. In my opinion, every middle school and high school in the U.S. should show this to all of their students, repeatedly, every year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ru4SVUlNfMY

 

 

August 23, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . Economics, Media bias. 1 comment.

Some Venezuelans have not had a full meal in days

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/hungry-venezuelans-turn-colombia-plate-food-49206924

Hungry Venezuelans turn to Colombia for a plate of food

Associated Press

CUCUTA, Colombia — Aug 14, 2017

Under a scorching sun just a short walk from Colombia’s border with Venezuela, hundreds of hungry men, women and children line up for bowls of chicken and rice — the first full meal some have eaten in days.

An estimated 25,000 Venezuelans make the trek across the Simon Bolivar International Bridge into Colombia each day. Many come for a few hours to work or trade goods on the black market, looking for household supplies they cannot find back home.

But increasingly, they are coming to eat in one of a half-dozen facilities offering struggling Venezuelans a free plate of food.

“I never thought I’d say this,” said Erick Oropeza, 29, a former worker with Venezuela’s Ministry of Education who recently began crossing the bridge each day. “But I’m more grateful for what Colombia has offered me in this short time than what I ever received from Venezuela my entire life.”

As Venezuela’s economy verges on collapse and its political upheaval worsens, cities like Cucuta along Colombia’s porous, 1,370-mile (2,200-kilometer) border with Venezuela have become firsthand witnesses to the neighboring South American nation’s escalating humanitarian crisis.

According to one recent survey, about 75 percent of Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds (8.7 kilograms) last year.

The Colombian government has crafted contingency plans in the event of a sudden, mass exodus, but already church groups and nonprofit organizations are stepping in, moved by images of mothers carrying starving babies and skinny men trying to make a few bucks on Cucuta’s streets to bring back home.

Paulina Toledo, 47, a Colombian hairstylist who recently helped feed lunch to 900 Venezuelans, said seeing how hungry they were “hurt my soul.”

“Those of us here on the border are seeing their pain,” she said.

People living on either side of the Colombia-Venezuela border have long had a foot in both countries: A Colombian who lives in Cucuta might cross to visit relatives in San Cristobal; a Venezuelan might make the reverse trip to work or go to school.

In the years when Venezuela’s oil industry was booming and Colombia entangled in a half-century armed conflict, an estimated 4 million Colombians migrated to Venezuela. Many started coming back as Venezuela’s economy began to implode and after President Nicolas Maduro closed the border in 2015 and expelled 20,000 Colombians overnight.

Oropeza said he earned about $70 a month working at the Ministry of Education and selling hamburgers on the side — twice Venezuela’s minimum wage but still not enough to feed a family of four. Once a month his family receives a bundle of food provided by the government, but it only lasts a week.

“So the other three weeks, like most Venezuelans, we have to make magic happen,” he said on a recent afternoon.

Desperate for money to feed his family, he left his job and traveled to the Venezuelan border town of San Antonio. He wakes up at 4 a.m. each morning to be among the first crossing the bridge into Cucuta, where he earns money selling soft drinks on the street.

He goes straight to the “Casa de Paso,” a church-run shelter that has served 60,000 meals to Venezuelans since opening two months ago. On an average day, 2,000 Venezuelans line up for meals, getting a ticket to reserve their spot and then waiting four hours for a meal served at outdoor plastic tables.

Workers stir gigantic metal pots filled with chicken and rice set on the bare dirt floor. Volunteers hand out boxes of juice to tired-looking children. Adults sit quietly, savoring their bowl of food as chickens waddle between them.

“Every day I have to remind myself why I am here,” said Oropeza, dressed in a faded striped collared shirt. “I try to repeat it to myself so that I won’t, you know, so those moments of weakness don’t affect you so much.”

When he’s not helping out or waiting in line at the shelter kitchen, Oropeza sells malted soft drinks for about 50 cents each. He’s been able to bring money back to his family and has earned enough to buy a cellphone, which he’d lacked for two years.

Jose David Canas, a priest, said his church will continue to serve food “as long as God allows.”

“Until they close the border,” he said. “Until everything is eaten or until the province tells us that they no longer have lunches to give out. And then it’s the end.”

August 16, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

A woman who was raised by Nigerian immigrants explains why so many American blacks live in poverty

This is the best commentary on black poverty that I have heard or read in my life.

The speaker in this video is a child of Nigerian immigrants.

She spends the entire seven minutes saying one politically incorrect thing after another.

Her basic point is that black poverty is caused by bad behavior, not by racism.

And she cites numerous statistics to back this up.

For example, she points out that Nigerian-Americans have higher average incomes than whites, and she attributes this to their behavior, including strong commitments to marriage, education, and obeying the law.

She says that if Black Lives Matter truly cared about black people, it would tell them to stop having babies out of wedlock.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ru4SVUlNfMY

August 3, 2017. Tags: , , , . Black lives matter, Economics, Politics, Racism. 1 comment.

Hypocrite liberals have rejected my challenge for them to buy a McDonald’s franchise and pay the workers $15 an hour

It’s been more than three years since I wrote the following:

I dare liberals to buy a McDonald’s franchise, and pay the workers $15 an hour

Liberals are always talking about how easy it would be for McDonald’s to pay its workers $15 an hour.

However, so far, no liberal has actually bought a McDonald’s franchise and paid those wages.

So, I dare liberals to prove that it’s as easy as they claim it is. I dare liberals to buy a McDonald’s franchise, and pay the workers $15 an hour.

Unfortunately, liberals have rejected my challenge.

 

May 24, 2017. Tags: , , , , , . Economics, Unions. 3 comments.

There is no gender wage gap

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcDrE5YvqTs

March 6, 2017. Tags: , , , . Economics, Sexism. 1 comment.

Here’s how most Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds in 2016, and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again in 2017

(more…)

February 21, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Food, Military, Police state, Politics, Social justice warriors, Venezuela, War against achievement. 4 comments.

Libertarian doctors start their own clinic, post all their prices online, and charge way, way, way less than everyone else

Can you imagine what would happen to the price of gasoline, if you couldn’t see the price until after you put it into your car? The price would skyrocket like crazy.

Same thing with groceries, clothing, and well, pretty much anything.

Right now, health care is the only industry where most customers don’t get to see the prices until after the service has already been provided. This is why prices are so absurdly high.

The health care clinic in this article and video is completely different. They list all of their prices online, so customers can see how much everything costs before they actually get the service. As a result, the prices charged by this clinic are way, way, way less than what everyone else charges.

This is a wonderful policy.

In my opinion, the government should require all health care providers to post all of their prices online.

Here’s an article and a video about this particular clinic:

http://reason.com/blog/2017/01/27/what-happens-when-doctors-only-take-cash

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uPdkhMVdMQ

January 31, 2017. Tags: , . Economics, Health care. Leave a comment.

Economically illiterate Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney, who signed a soda tax, says it is “wrong” and “misleading” for businesses to pass the tax on to their customers

This idiot has just proven that he knows absolutely nothing about economics or how to run a business:

http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2017/01/10/retailers-blame-soda-tax-mayor-kenney-responds-with-harsh-words/

Retailers Blame Soda Tax; Mayor Kenney Responds With Harsh Words

January 10, 2017

Philadelphia shoppers have been finding steep surcharges on grocery bills since the sweetened beverage tax kicked in, but Mayor Jim Kenney describes some of it as “gouging” by retailers who want to make customers angry about the tax.

Signs went up in stores and on vending machines telling customers price hikes were part of the beverage tax, receipts were programmed to charge the tax as a separate line item, it was applied to items that weren’t taxed and retailers blamed the complex process of passing the tax along.

All of it, said Mayor Kenney, is “wrong” and “misleading.”

“This is what they do. They spent 10 1/2 Million dollars in an advertising campaign to beat the tax, they lost,” he said. “They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and they lost. And they’ll continue to lose because their legal case is not sound and their public case is not sound.”

Kenney said he believes most customers understand the reason for the tax and he believes it doesn’t need to impact them as much as it has.

“They’re gouging their own customers.”

Among retailers, only Shop Rite has responded, saying they are passing the tax along because it greatly increases sweetened beverage prices and it wants customers to know.

January 13, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Economics. 1 comment.

I agree with Sarah Palin’s criticism of Trump’s actions regarding Carrier

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trumps-carrier-swindle-setting-scary-170000444.html

“When government steps in arbitrarily with individual subsidies, favoring one business over others, it sets inconsistent, unfair, illogical precedent. Meanwhile, the invisible hand that best orchestrates a free people’s free enterprise system gets amputated. Then, special interests creep in and manipulate markets. Republicans oppose this, remember? Instead, we support competition on a level playing field, remember? Because we know special interest crony capitalism is one big fail. Politicians picking and choosing recipients of corporate welfare is railed against by fiscal conservatives, for it’s a hallmark of corruption.”

– Sarah Palin

December 6, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Donald Trump, Economics. Leave a comment.

Why trophy hunting can be good for animals

A trophy hunter pays $350,000 to legally kill a specific male rhinoceros which is old and has stopped breeding, and which has been harassing the younger males and preventing them from breeding. The money is used to pay to care for the living rhinos. Under this kind of policy, one population of rhinos increased from 100 to 18,000.

I myself am a vegetarian, but I have to admit that the logic in this video is quite sound. This is a good lesson in economics and the benefits of property rights.

I do understand why some people might have emotional objections to this, but even they can’t argue against the real world results of this kind of policy.

If the opponents of trophy hunting wanted to bring an end to it, all they would have to do would be to outbid the trophy hunters. As of yet, I don’t see any examples of them having done so.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUA8i5S0YMU

 

October 14, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Animals, Economics. 1 comment.

Venezuelans wait in line for five hours for one pound of bread

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/21/world/americas/venezuela-oil-economy.html

September 20, 2016

One hundred people waited in line for five hours in June to buy a ration of about a pound of bread from a small bakery in Cumaná.

five-hours

September 20, 2016. Tags: , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

Venezuelan government arrests people because they were waiting in line for food

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/in-a-hungry-venezuela-buying-too-much-food-can-get-you-arrested/2016/09/14/b20276d6-755f-11e6-9781-49e591781754_story.html?wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1

In a hungry Venezuela, buying too much food can get you arrested

September 15, 2016

BARQUISIMETO, Venezuela – The hunt for food started at 4 a.m., when Alexis Camascaro woke up to get in line outside the supermarket. By the time he arrived, there were already 100 people ahead of him.

Camascaro never made it inside. Truckloads of Venezuelan troops arrived in the darkness, arresting him and nearly 30 others seemingly pulled from the queue at random, according to his lawyer. Camascaro, 50, was charged with violating laws against interfering “directly or indirectly” with the production, transportation or sale of food. He has been in jail for three months, awaiting a hearing.

“I went to see the prosecutors and explained that he was just buying some food for his family. He’s not a bachaquero,” said Lucía Mata, Camascaro’s attorney, using the Venezuelan term for someone who buys scarce, price-capped or government-subsidized goods to resell on the black market.

Camascaro was snared in a new crackdown on Venezuelan shoppers, part of President Nicolás Maduro’s attempt to assert greater control over food distribution and consumption. Maduro blames this oil-rich country’s chronic scarcities on an “economic war” against his government waged by foreign enemies, opposition leaders, business owners and smuggling gangs.

Many economists attribute the shortages to simpler, less conspiratorial factors. Price controls and excessive regulation, they say, have discouraged domestic production, making Venezuelans ever more dependent on imported food. With petroleum prices slumping, though, hard currency for imports is lacking, leaving supermarket shelves bare.

Deadly food riots have exploded in several Venezuelan cities this year, and Maduro in recent weeks has faced rowdy pot-banging protests. In July, he gave Venezuela’s defense minister extraordinary powers to oversee the government’s elaborate system of price controls and consumer regulations, including the fingerprint scanners used to ensure that Venezuelan shoppers don’t exceed their purchase limits.

The enforcement campaign appears to be sweeping up a significant number of ordinary shoppers, many of them poor, while achieving a kind of vertical integration of economic blame.

‘Dracula’s Bus’

In a country with one of the world’s highest homicide rates, and where carjackings, muggings and kidnappings often go unpunished, the Venezuelan government has arrested or detained at least 9,400 people this year for allegedly breaking laws against hoarding, reselling goods or attempting to stand in line outside normal store hours, according to the Venezuelan human rights organization Movimiento Vinotinto. Many were taken into custody by the Venezuelan troops assigned to police the checkout aisles and the long lines snaking from supermarkets.

Ismary Quiros, a deputy director at Movimiento Vinotinto, said the law doesn’t define exactly what constitutes illegal hoarding, smuggling, or reselling goods. She said the government’s real goal is to find scapegoats for the scarcities.

The queues typically materialize whenever high-demand, government-subsidized items arrive, such as corn meal or sugar. Those goods are among the few basics that remain affordable to ordinary Venezuelans who are paid in bolivares, the country’s increasingly worthless currency. Other supermarket items that aren’t price-capped are typically better stocked but out of reach to most families.

According to the Caracas-based rights group Provea, national guard troops have periodically carried out a mass-arrest operation nicknamed “Dracula’s Bus” to round up Venezuelans trying to wait in line overnight for groceries, now a banned practice. More than 1,000 people were loaded onto buses in such sweeps last year and accused of being black marketeers, Provea researcher Intis Rodríguez said.

The operations appear to be expanding. Over one weekend in June, more than 3,800 people were detained in Barquisimeto, a city west of Caracas, for attempting to spend the night outside supermarkets, according to news reports.

Officials at Venezuela’s justice ministry did not respond to requests for information about the crackdown.

In other Venezuelan cities, pro-government mayors have ordered alleged bachaqueros — named after a jungle ant that can carry loads many times its weight — to perform community service or clean the streets. “These people were not only denied their due process rights, but also they were also given punishments that aren’t even established under Venezuelan law,” said Rodríguez, whose organization has documented 60 such cases in the state of Yaracuy.

‘All of them normal people’

The crackdown began with Maduro’s 2014 decree, the Law of Fair Prices, which was aimed at punishing businesses he said were “destabilizing” the Venezuelan economy. But few expected the government to apply the law broadly to ordinary consumers.

Clara Ramírez, an attorney in the state of Táchira along the border with Colombia, said since the beginning of the year she has represented six clients arrested after allegedly buying goods for resale on the black market. “All of them were normal people, men and women with families who were just looking for food to feed their children,” she said.

Ramírez said her clients were typically released after a few days. But in a country where people who are awaiting a court hearing account for more than half of the prison population, many of the accused get stuck in jail for weeks or even months.

Some of those arrested in the crackdown were caught in possession of goods without receipts, or proof of how they obtained excess quantities of items such as rice, toilet paper or deodorant. Others had what soldiers deemed suspicious amounts of cash. Some, like Camascaro, aren’t even sure exactly what they are accused of doing.

Raymar Tona, 34, was arrested on a Friday in May while waiting to buy diapers for her baby.

A national guardsman pulled her out of the supermarket line, burrowed into her purse and found 10,000 Venezuelan bolivares, she said. In the past, it would have been a lot of cash, but in today’s Venezuela, which has the world’s highest inflation rate, her bank notes added up to about $10.

“It was my salary for two weeks,” said Tona, a receptionist at a medical clinic. She was accused of selling spots in line, a common practice.

After spending the weekend in jail, Tona said, she decided to plead guilty and was released.

Maduro’s decrees establish prison terms of up to 14 years for the worst black-marketeers. In June, he announced that he was creating a special jail “where we will imprison all those who are responsible for bachaquero crimes.”

According to Venezuelan economist Sary Levy, as much as half of the country’s workforce has come to depend on black market income to survive — selling food, moonlighting at second jobs, or hawking goods on the street. With annual inflation running at more than 700 percent, “it’s normal that formal jobs become unattractive,” she said, and people try to sell whatever they can to get by.

With prescription drugs and hospital supplies also running low, Venezuelans in desperate straits have found themselves accused of hoarding medicine.

Isaura Pérez, 66, said she traveled three hours to Barquisimeto in July to deliver hard-to-find drugs for her 38-year-old diabetic cousin, Georgina Delgado, who was in intensive care. National guard troops arrested Pérez at the hospital entrance for allegedly trafficking medical supplies, she said.

The drugs were confiscated by the soldiers, Pérez said. Her cousin died three days later.

 

 

September 15, 2016. Tags: , , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. 1 comment.

A growing, catastrophic food crisis sows unrest in Venezuela

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJApHJAkGG8

September 14, 2016. Tags: , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

Venezuela Food Shortages Claim Lives of Malnourished Children

https://panampost.com/sabrina-martin/2016/08/26/in-venezuela-scarcity-comes-between-mothers-and-their-children/

Venezuela Food Shortages Claim Lives of Malnourished Children

August 26, 2016

When 18-month-old Royer Machado died from malnutrition in Zulia, Venezuela, the authorities did not arrest his mother.

The child had gone more than 72 hours without eating, but his mother lived in extreme poverty and couldn’t get the resources she needed; that was just the nature of Venezuela today.

The boy’s mother told officers she ran out of money, and then out of food. The baby continued to cry, so she wrapped him in a rag, gave him water and rocked him to sleep. After several days, the crying stopped. He was no longer breathing.

Officers interrogated the boy’s mother, looking for any sign of violence or mistreatment, but there was none.

“She really had no food,” one officer said.

This isn’t the only case of malnutrition taking the life of a small child over the last two months.

Ligia González, 8 months, and Elver González, 2, died from critical malnutrition in Guajira, on the west side of the country.

Hospitals in Venezuela are struggling to handle the amount of malnutrition cases coming through their doors.

At least every four days, a malnourished child arrives unconscious to the Central Hospital in San Felipe. Others tell doctors they no longer eat three times a day.

A survey conducted earlier this year by Venebarómetro showed that almost 90 percent of Venezuelans buy less food than before, and 29 percent of them are fed less than three times a day.

The study also revealed 70 percent of Venezuelans assess their economic situation as “bad,” while 89.7 percent do not have enough money to dress themselves. Seventy-nine said their income is insufficient for buying food and medicine.

Seven protests for food took place just this last July, adding to the 209 for the year. That’s an increase of 70 percent compared to July 2015, according to a study of the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict.

September 14, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. Leave a comment.

Hypocrisy alert! Most environmental groups OPPOSE Washington state’s carbon tax initiative

Well, well, well. Even though pretty much every economist agrees that the most effective and efficient way to reduce carbon emissions is by placing a tax on each ton of carbon emissions, most environmental groups are actually against such a proposal in Washington state because the revenue from the tax would be used to lower other taxes.

In other words, protecting the environment is not the primary goal of these environmentalists.

Instead, their primary goal is to make the government bigger.

And this proves it:

 

https://www.heartland.org/news-opinion/news/most-environmental-groups-oppose-washington-states-carbon-tax-initiative

Most environmental groups oppose Washington state’s carbon tax initiative

August 19, 2016

Many environmental groups have come out against an initiative in Washington state that would impose the first carbon tax in the nation because it is revenue neutral.

Environmental activists in Washington State running a campaign called “Carbon Washington“ successfully obtained the required number of signatures to get ballot initiative 732 (I-732) on the November ballot.

I-732 would impose a carbon-dioxide tax of $25 per metric ton on fossil fuels consumed in Washington State. If the voters approve the initiative, Washington would become the first state in the nation to impose a tax on carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.

The initiative aims to be revenue neutral, reducing the state sales tax a full percentage point and providing up to $1,500 per year for 400,000 low-income working households. In addition, in a nod to the fact the carbon-dioxide tax will increase the cost of manufacturing in Washington State, relative to competing states, the initiative effectively eliminates the state’s Business and Occupation tax for manufacturers.

Most environmental groups—including the Sierra Club, the Washington Environmental Council, Climate Solutions, and the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy—say they oppose I-732. They say rather than using the revenues generated by the tax to fund programs they support, the referendum returns the money to taxpayers.

“Revenues from its carbon tax would not be invested in ramping up jobs in clean fuels infrastructure or energy efficiency,” says the Sierra Club on its website.

Fox News reports the Audubon Society is nearly alone among national and state environmental organizations in supporting the measure. Speaking with Fox News, Gail Gatton, executive director of Audubon Society-Washington State, said, “I think for us, I-732 isn’t about money. It really is about what are the market-based incentives that will drive people to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Gatton also told Fox News, it’s the first time that she can remember in which the Audubon Society was at odds with the Sierra Club and other green groups in the state.

Battle Is for Revenue, Not Carbon Cuts

Some believe the rift exposes a secret about the environmental movement: Many regulations and green programs are about money, not protecting people or the environment.

“Are left-wing environmental activists more afraid of climate change or tax cuts?” said Todd Myers, environmental director at the Washington Policy Center. “Their opposition to this initiative makes it clear they fear tax cuts more.

“The same people who say ‘we can’t wait’ to fight climate change are willing to wait if the policy doesn’t increase taxes and expand government,” said Myers. “It is the type of hypocrisy we see again and again from the Seattle environmental community.

Robert Bradley Jr., CEO of the Institute for Energy Research, says the fact environmental groups are fighting the I-732 in Washington State shows they are against consumer choice.

“The anti-fossil-fuel Left is playing some strange new cards,” said Bradley. “Some now want nuclear no matter what the cost, and the latest is any carbon tax must add to existing taxes for new tax-and-spend programs.

“A clearer example of anti-consumerism could not be given,” Bradley said.

August 30, 2016. Tags: , , , , . Economics, Environmentalism. Leave a comment.

How sad. This guy from Milwaukee doesn’t seem familiar with the concept of earning money.

A guy who has lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin his entire life complains that rich people aren’t giving money to poor people.

I feel so sad for this guy. Apparently, it never occurred to him that a person could obtain money by obtaining education and job skills and earning the money.

Who taught him to think the way he does? Was it his parents? Was it his teachers? Whoever it was that taught him to think like this, they were wrong.

I hope for this young man’s sake that he will eventually come to realize that what these people taught him was wrong.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1Ex5NZKvCg

August 15, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Black lives matter, Economics, Racism. 6 comments.

Venezuelans make 36 hour round trip to Brazil just to go grocery shopping

http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-venezuela-brazil-idUKKCN10L1KE

Venezuelans flood Brazil border in 36-hour grocery run

August 10, 2016

Government employee Jose Lara this month used some vacation days to take a long scenic bus ride through the verdant plateaus and sweeping savannas of southern Venezuela, but the trip was anything but a holiday.

It was a 36-hour grocery run.

Lara took an overnight bus and then a pick-up truck to get across the border to neighboring Brazil to buy food staples that have gone scarce in Venezuela’s crisis-stricken economy.

“Workers can’t even enjoy vacation anymore. Look where I am! Buying food for my children,” said Lara, 40, who was preparing to load 30-kilo (66-pound) packages of rice and flour onto a bus to complete a journey that takes close to 36 hours.

Venezuelans seeking to escape their socialist economy’s dysfunction are flooding into the remote Brazilian town of Pacaraima in search of basic goods that are prohibitively expensive or only available after hours in line.

Shoppers have been coming for months, primarily from the industrial city of Puerto Ordaz – already a 12-hour bus ride – but lately they’re also arriving from even more far flung regions across the country.

Venezuelans spend hours in supermarket lines. Many increasingly complain that they cannot get enough food to eat three meals per day.

Low oil prices and massive debt-servicing costs have left the country without foreign exchange to import goods, while price and currency controls have crippled domestic companies’ capacity to produce locally.

President Nicolas Maduro says the government is the victim of an “economic war” led by the United States.

‘THE LINE’

Under pressure from local residents after Maduro shut the western border with Colombian border in 2015, Venezuelan authorities allowed several temporary openings for similar shopping excursions in July. Colombia last month halted those trips after more than 100,000 people crossed in a single weekend.

The more remote Brazilian border was never closed.

In the Pacaraima, known to Venezuelans as “La Linea” or “The Line” because it is immediately across the border, cramped shops are now piled high with sacks of rice, sugar, and flour.

Products piled to waist height stand at the entrance of convenience stores, auto parts shops and even a farm supply store.

“It’s good business, but the price of everything is going up in Boa Vista,” said Mauricio Macedo, 26, who works at a family business that sells artisanal decorations such as clay figurines but for three months has been primarily focused on food items.

Venezuelan regulations require that staple products be sold for a pittance – a kilo of rice is set at the equivalent of $0.12. But obtaining goods at those prices requires waiting in long lines that are increasingly the site of robberies or lootings. That leaves Venezuelans reliant on the black market, where the same bag of rice fetches the equivalent of $2.20.

In Pacaraima, sugar and rice sell for about 40 percent to 45 percent less than what they would cost on Venezuela’s black market. The discount is worth it despite the cost of the trip.

Shoppers usually take a 12-hour overnight bus ride from Puerto Ordaz to the town of Santa Elena de Uairen. They then travel roughly 15 minutes by van or pick-up truck to La Linea. They spend the morning and much of the afternoon shopping, then head back across the border to catch another overnight bus.

“We’re in an economic crisis and I have to come to another country to buy food,” said Juan Sansonetti, 31, standing under the sun with a large sack of flour on his shoulder. “There isn’t much more to say, is there?”

 

August 10, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Communism, Economics, Venezuela. 1 comment.

Venezuelan police threaten to put BBC reporter in jail if he doesn’t delete video footage of customers waiting in line for 12 hours at a supermarket

The BBC reports:

Thrown out of a Venezuelan supermarket by police

July 28, 2016

Shortages and the failure of systems to distribute goods make shopping for the essentials of daily life a huge challenge for many Venezuelans.

In one supermarket, where shoppers have been queuing for up to 12 hours to buy food, BBC reporter Vladimir Hernandez is surrounded by police and told to leave.

The crowd of shoppers shouts, “Let them film!” but the police threaten to hold the crew overnight in a police cell unless they delete their footage.

Here is the video footage in question:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-bef4NkNP8

August 4, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , . Economics, Venezuela. 1 comment.

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