The Federal Reserve is not an Off-Budget Item

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“Atlas Shrugged,” the movie: An Industrial Soap Opera

 Neil Boortz introduced last night’s viewing of “Atlas Shrugged,” and did so with this question: How many of us in the packed theater had not read the book? Like many, I had to raise my hand. He was surprised, and asked the audience members who had read it, disapprovingly, Are you surprised to see so many hands raised?
Perhaps this is a case where one really must read the book to appreciate the movie, for I went into “Atlas Shrugged” expecting a film pitting evil Government forces against virtuous industrialists. That is not what I found. In this movie, the government is off camera, largely unseen, with the single appearance of Armin Shimerman (best known as Principal Snyder in the television series “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer”), in one of the film’s most obviously didactic moments.
Instead, the villains are rich industrialists who use the power of government to strike down innovators and risk takers, to beat the two likely winners, Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden, via regulation when they’re in danger of losing in the marketplace. In this film’s world, most of the action consists of very rich men sitting around sumptuous meals in exclusive restaurants, drinking hard liquor or exclusive wines, plotting how to use corrupt science and government fiat to protect their own interests against Dagny and Hank.
The problem is all the characters are merely puppets, stick figures put through their paces to make a point. And although we are told in the beginning it’s the year 2016, gas is $27 a gallon, and society is crumbling under the weight of Middle Eastern conflicts, pollution, and economic decay, the viewer only gets to see the effect of this collapse in passing — usually as one of the two virtuous protagonists are exiting their limo to rush into their next discussion in a protected enclave of affluence.
Upon reflection, I realized there is a reason for average people to only be glimpsed standing on street corners holding cardboard signs asking for help, or milling aimlessly around on streets — they are irrelevant, and might as well be dead. Dagny and Hank fall for each romantically because they are virtually the only two admirable people who remain in their circle of acquaintances. Even the failing industrialists who plot against them are portrayed as cartoonish and conniving, of consequence only because they have enough money to be nuisances.
On his April 13th show, Bill O’Reilly asked Dennis Miller if he bought the idea that rich people should give more of their money to support the poor. Dennis replied, in part, “We’re dangerously near a tipping point in this country, some sort of continental divide line, where…let’s just say it as it is, there are some people in the ‘working class’ that aren’t working as hard as they used to be. And the people who never get credit for it, the ‘piggish overlords,’ still like busting their tail and they want to get ahead. And they have to deem how many people in the working class are helpless people who deserve help, and how many are clueless people who don’t deserve the time of day. I think that’s the time we’re reaching in American history. Americans, good hearted people, want to take care of the helpless, don’t give a rat’s ass about the clueless anymore. Times are too tough. I think that’s the point where we’re at…I do think people want to give, but I think they’re sick of propping up losers. And I think we’ve reached a point in history where we have to separate those who break our hearts and deserve it, and those who are just screw ups. This is the Serengeti plain. If somebody is going to perpetually exhibit a limp, they’re going to get fed on. That’s the way life works.”
Whether you agree or disagree with Dennis’s sentiments, the thirty seconds it took for him to express them on air is a more interesting and concise expression of that thought than we received from the entire “Atlas Shrugged” movie.
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Is Some Work Beneath Americans?



State Rep. Matt Ramsey is best known right now as the primary author of HB 87, the “Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011.” When I first heard of his efforts to combat the influx of illegal migrants, I found his blog and posted upon it. Earlier this evening, looking for an update on whether the legislation is still being stifled by Sen. Bill Hamrick, I found my post had been commented upon. The exchange follows, but I have to wonder aloud…

Part of “Steve F’s” argument against the bill is that Americans see themselves as above doing menial work, so those jobs will remain unfilled.

Where do we get this idea that Americans are above harvesting the food they will eat or helping to construct the homes in which they’ll live, or even landscape a yard? We live in a land where any day’s YouTube footage will show a bikini clad mother of two stalking Burger King employees, while exuberant, joyous fellow diners laugh and spontaneously join in, filming themselves proudly doing so. And this is just the latest in a seeming wave of uncivilized behavior in eateries such as Denny’s and IHOP.

Our children are falling further behind in their educational rankings, our bellies are growing ever more round from physical sloth, and even our so called elites, the best of us we elected to Congress, squabble over cutting thimblefuls  of spending as a tsunami of debt rushes toward us all.

I simply do not see any evidence, from the lowest class to the educated, elite class, that Americans are above doing unskilled labor.

ralphrainwater said…

Matt, I first heard of you and this bill while listening to the Rob Johnson show on WGST Friday morning. As a citizen whose life is being affected directly by the burden of illegal aliens in Cobb County at multiple levels, I immediately found the text of your bill, read it, then watched the entire Judiciary hearing on the web. Yours is the first legislative action that has ever attracted my attention enough at the Georgia state level to follow the proceedings so carefully.
Although you’re going to be assaulted by groups on both the Libertarian side (my party), and the progressives of various denominations, HB 87 is a good and necessary addition of tools for citizens and local officials to take away the incentive for local businesses to hire illegals.
Your reasoned answers at the hearing Friday morning, and the text of the bill itself, have inspired me to use all the resources of a private citizen (Facebook, my own blog, and contacting my own state representative) to support your efforts as they continue.
Good job so far, and good luck.
Ralph Rainwater
Marietta, GA

February 5, 2011 6:36 PM

Anonymous Steve F said…

I am interested to know how far you researched the economic impact of removing the labor force of much of South Georgia’s farming economy and how you think it would be replaced. It is not simply a matter of removing one labor source and replacing with another. Many Americans have an attitude that they are above the types of jobs filled by illegal immigrants (and even those here legally on work visas) and won’t take those jobs, even when they have no other choice. Further, what does the law enforcement system – already stressed as you note – do with the people taken into custody? What about the court system? I support the idea that the immigration system needs serious attention, however I do not believe in criminalizing it with a racial profiling bill as you have put forth. The problem is systemic and needs a holistic approach rather than a simple view of one part of the problem.

February 6, 2011 8:36 AM

Blogger Talbotsgt said…

Great job yesterday! Your statement during the rally was dead on. We need those jobs back in Georgia and I wanted to say my family and I appreciate you holding to your guns while facing so many that oppose our views.
To the poster Steve F..
Those jobs and positions in the past were filled with kids fresh out of school and adults that need jobs. I have worked my fair share of landscaping and labor jobs in my younger years and have a few friends right now who would take ANY job right now to make ends meet. I truly believe that filling those positions will not be a problem once we have them back for legal Georgia citizens.
Keep up the good work Matt!

March 25, 2011 7:45 AM

Anonymous Ralph Rainwater said…

Steve F —
Sorry for not checking in recently and appearing to ignore your objection. That some Americans feel they’re above the kind of work illegal aliens do now is not an argument for continuing to accept an invasion for the sake of cheap labor, but an indictment of Americans.
I spent my teenage years and early 20s in the San Joaquin Valley of California, where air-conditioned jobs were not available for unskilled labor. Picking fruit, processing vegetables, working on a chicken ranch — all of those were tough jobs that serve me well 30 years later whenever I want to whine about an employer today.
Given the vast numbers of unskilled people collecting unemployment and SNAP today, with no real opportunity to become employed in an economy where only those with specialized skills are needed, I can’t believe that turning down a job is an option if the alternative is having one’s government benefits cut off.
Or, to be more blunt, nobody has a right to live off their neighbor’s taxes if they have a chance to earn their own way. Any labor confers more dignity upon the recipient than living with one’s hand out, expecting others to put food and cash in it.
As someone recently laid off, at fifty, if I cannot find employment in my past fields, then I will gladly harvest our fields again if my only other choice is homelessness.

March 30, 2011 7:17 PM

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Fighting Indentured Servitude: Georgia House Bill 87

In my opinion, employers who use illegal aliens for their workforce are engaged in a modern day version of indentured servitude. Anybody who claims to respect human dignity should be against the forces that encourage human beings to work below minimum wage, without benefits, and living in conditions during their non-labor hours that legal immigrants or American citizens would never tolerate for themselves.

While listening to the “Rob Johnson” show on 640 WGST  last Friday (their new morning host, a splendid improvement over the eminently bland Michael Smerconish), I became aware of, and took an interest in, a Georgia House bill for the first time. And for a very personal reason: as anyone who lives in Cobb County knows, we have a massive population of illegal aliens. Does anybody need a rundown on the myriad ways illegal aliens degrade the quality of life in Cobb County? No? Good.

State Representative Matt Ramsey came on WGST on Feb. 4th to discuss his bill, HB 87, the “Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011.” Rep. Ramsey is a relative newcomer to elective office, and sounds it. That is, he doesn’t seem to be parsing his words, to weigh them for maximum deniability, worried about giving his opponents sound bites in a future election.

His bill seeks to increase the risks and reduce the profitability for employers of hiring illegal aliens. Although HB 87 has several provisions, this one caught my eye:

“A person who transports or moves an illegal alien in a motor vehicle, where such person knows or recklessly disregards the fact that such person being transported is an illegal alien, shall be guilty of the offense of transporting or moving an illegal alien.
A person convicted of transporting or moving an illegal alien who moves seven or fewer illegal aliens at the same time shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000.00 or imprisonment not to exceed 12 months, or both. A person convicted of transporting or moving an illegal alien who moves eight or more illegal aliens at the same time shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not less than $5,000.00 or more than $20,000.00 or by imprisonment of not less than one or more than five years, or both.”

Might employers who pick up day laborers loitering outside Quik-Trip or Racetrack parking lots think twice knowing they could go to jail?

Since I have time on my hands these days, I found the live feed and watched Rep. Ramsey take questions for a couple hours on each provision of the bill from other members. What is most striking is Ramsey’s concern for this bill to pass constitutional muster. Why re-enact the same battle lost in Arizona?

This post is merely a first effort to acquaint all who care about illegal immigration with this effort to combat it at the state level. Please do get involved.

HB 87 works on multiple fronts. To read the bill for yourself, click here: HB 87

To read Rep. Ramsey’s blog posting on his bill, click here: Matt Ramsey’s blog

To hear Rep. Ramsey’s interview with Rob Johnson, here is an excerpt from the podcast featuring only the two men discussing this topic: Discussing HB 87

As you might expect, this bill is coming under attack from all quarters.  Although one would expect Progressives to immediately start the cries of racism flowing, and they have, I find the Libertarian attacks to be the most perplexing. Those debate points can wait for another post.

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With a GDP record, ‘economy is back’ – Washington Times

I read this article and can’t believe the disconnect between claims of the economy being “back” and the experience of actual people. As others have noted in comments to this article, job growth is now a “feel good” measure? We’re on the edge of a precipice, with class warfare rampant, socialists demonstrating on the street in favor of Egyptian style revolution happening here — and the Washington Times wants to look at inflated, massaged GDP numbers to proclaim the crisis over? This just doesn’t make sense, even in an abstract, ivory tower way.

With a GDP record, ‘economy is back’ – Washington Times

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“We’re All Salesmen Here”

“Can I help you find what you’re looking for?” I asked the tall young man wandering the printer aisles. He had the air of a business professional who’d dressed down for the weekend, wearing shorts and a tee-shirt in the horrible Atlanta summer, yet somehow conveying an air of being a suit and tie fellow during the weekdays.

“Nothing, thanks. I’m just looking,” he said, dismissing me politely. It’s then I noticed he had a smartphone in his hand. On the screen was a picture of the printer he happened to be standing in front of. He was on CNET’s website, a fine, independent tech authority, that lists both user and professional reviews, with a list of prices for each item at multiple retailers. With a flick of his finger, he scrolled down to do research, before turning his back to me to cut off any further communication.

I walked off to assist another shopper, the “Can I help you find what you’re looking for?” mandated question ready on my lips. Why that question? Because it assumes a sale. No, “How can I help you?” or “How are you doing?” pleasantries are acceptable in this economy. In a previous career, selling yellow page ads for Verizon, I used to tell businesses when people have cracked open the phone book,, they’ve already decided to buy. The only question is to whom they’re going to give their money. That same thinking pervades the retail culture now – people came in the door expecting to buy and, even more, to be sold.

Moments later, the young man who’d refused my help, who ostensibly came in to merely to look, carried a printer to the cashier and hurried out the door.

Well, this means I failed to meet the requirements of my position. A sale without accessories – ink, paper, printer cable, service plan, tech services  – is a financial loser.  Nor had I been given a chance to be the trusted advisor and help the customer target a printer that might be more suitable to his needs.

And yet, the customer mislead me intentionally so he’d be left alone. How could I, as the company says, “complete the sale?”

The answer is simple: I couldn’t. Because the customer saw me as having an agenda. And that agenda is to sell him stuff, lots of stuff, particularly the stuff our company wants us to sell. Given his smartphone and internet access, why would he engage in a conversation with me? He had a world of independent experts at his fingertips. I’m just a guy wearing the company logo and a nametag.

This happens more often than in the past, even by low tech customers. No smartphone? Then they’ll take copies of the price tags and go home to research on the web before making a decision. In this case, the retail store functioned more as a showroom so they could physically see the item, yet will go back home to seek information from multiple sources.

This is to be admired.

For what I see all these skeptical customers as really saying is this: Nobody is to be taken at face value. Not the salesman with his questions that are never innocuous. Not the talking heads on cable news channels opinion shows, nor their guests from the Republican or Democratic parties, not the business experts, not anybody.

We live in an age of ulterior motives. We are drenched in the spray of words by those who wish to nudge us.  Whether it’s the President and his talk of “Recovery Summer” as job losses  mount and a tidal wave of debt rushes toward us, or the local church pastor who preaches we’re not prosperous because we’re not giving him 10% of our income, or MSNBC and it’s estimate of 87,000 people who attended the 8/28 rally when anybody with eyes could clearly see 300,000 to 500,000 were present – all figures in authority seem to be lying to us. Politics, the Church, the Media, all of them treat us like target markets, sheep to be herded into believing whatever they need us to believe, to behave in the ways they need us to behave, despite the facts.

This corrosive skepticism, this inability to trust anyone who is interacting with you in an official capacity, reflects a fundamental resurgence in the American value on self-reliance. Who do we trust? The man or woman who proclaims, “Don’t take my word for it. Do your own research and come to the truth.”

I argue that whether it’s on trivial issues, such as not trusting a retail employee to give you intelligent, unbiased advice, or on big issues, such as whether national health insurance would save the country money, that Americans are choosing to think for themselves is a good development – the best change for which we could have hoped.

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Talking about Why We Celebrate Constitution Day

 For those who know George Will, the speech he gave for Hillsdale College is another reminder why he is a national treasure on the media scene.

Erudite, funny, insightful, speaking without any apparent outline or notes, Mr. Will makes the most lucid case I’ve yet heard for why citizens have become interested in our Constitution once again. He is Limbaugh without the bombast shtick, Beck without the histrionics and, unlike both of those fine men, he is self-consciously calm and intimidatingly well-educated. Although I’ve seen him, as everyone who follows news has, on ABC’s "This Week" for years, and read his columns online, this is the first time I’ve seen a formal speech. Nobody speaks off the cuff this way without utter immersion and passion in the subject. No talking points, and any jabs he makes at Progressives don’t involve name calling, but simple irony and juxtaposition of facts.

Click here to watch:

Although the President of Hillsdale is himself engaging, go to about the 30 minute mark to see George Will’s speech.


Why We Celebrate Constitution Day

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