Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Political Digest for August 3, 2011

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Help your friends and relatives stay informed by passing the digest on.

For those who want further information about the topics covered in this blog, I recommend the following sites. I will add to this as I find additional good sources.

Senate passes debt-limit bill
We are saved! The can is kicked yet a bit further down the road. And only a curmudgeon would note that this will make the eventual reckoning with reality that much more painful. And I fear bloody. ~Bob. Excerpt: The Senate passed a landmark plan to raise the federal debt limit and reduce government spending Tuesday, ending a partisan stalemate that threatened to plunge the nation into default and destabilize the world economy. The measure was approved by a vote of 74 to 26. It now goes to President Obama to be signed into law, giving the government the money to pay its bills ahead of a midnight deadline. The Senate vote came a day after the House voted 269 to 161 to pass the plan, as recalcitrant Republicans and disappointed Democrats rallied around calls to avert the nation’s first default and rein in ballooning deficits. The measure immediately grants the Treasury $400 billion in additional borrowing authority, with more to follow.

Giffords votes yes on debt deal as lawmakers wipe away tears
A story all can appreciate and feel good about. ~Bob. Excerpt: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) made a dramatic return to Washington Monday evening to cast her vote in favor of the deal to raise the debt ceiling.
Returning to Capitol Hill for the first time since she was shot in the head six months ago, Giffords walked into the House chamber shortly after 7 p.m., accompanied by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and aides.

McConnell protects Republican brand while enhancing his own reputation
Excerpt: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) was the steadying hand that helped President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) strike a deal to raise the debt ceiling. At a time when Boehner faced repeated insurrection from Tea Party-affiliated freshmen, McConnell calmed financial markets by declaring from the outset that GOP leaders would not allow the nation to default on its debt. Over the weekend, he helped seal a bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling and avert the danger of missing the Aug. 2 deadline set by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. McConnell’s actions have won plaudits from Democrats, but they could make him the target of a conservative backlash. Despite the political threat from his right flank, McConnell kept focused on his goal of preserving Republican chances of capturing the Senate in 2012. He feared that prize could slip away if Democrats successfully blamed the GOP for causing a national default and damaging the economy.

Dems furious, see deal as GOP win
Excerpt: House Democrats on Monday expressed outrage at the White House for how it handled the debt-ceiling negotiations, claiming the administration caved to the GOP and left them in the dark. The irate lawmakers took exception to the lack of balance between cuts and revenues; they railed against the White House for excluding them from the process; and they accused President Obama of bowing to the demands of Republicans without putting up much of a fight. “Our negotiators weren’t tough enough,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said Monday. “They didn’t do the work.” House Democrats have been steaming for months after they were largely left out of high-stakes talks to extend the George W. Bush-era tax rates and fund the government this year. Many protest that the administration takes their support for granted, ignoring their policy concerns.

Our Work Has Only Begun
The changes needed are so politically painful, they will only happen when the pain of not changing is greater. I hope I’m wrong, but I greatly fear that will involve riots and bloodshed in the streets. ~Bob. Excerpt: Americans are disappointed. They are disappointed that the debate over our debt limit was about the needs of politicians instead of the needs of the country. They are disappointed with a broken government that refuses to fix itself. And they are disappointed that the Budget Control Act that passed the House last night and is likely to pass the Senate today does not make the transformative changes this nation requires. There are several elements of this plan that are simply unacceptable, even when framed inside the narrow political confines that limited a better outcome (i.e., the White House and Senate are still controlled by spend-tax-and-borrow liberals). … This plan is insufficient to protect our nation's AAA credit rating.

We The Stupid by Ann Barnhardt
Excerpt: I stand here in abject stupefaction. The so-called "right" or "Tea Party" in this republic is being so thoroughly rolled and defeated that I am struggling to come up with an adequate violent submission metaphor that does not involve prison rape . . . and they honesty think that they're "winning." Really? You call this winning? Obama gets over $2 Trillion to spend before the 2012 election. There are no real spending cuts. There is a massive tax increase effective January 1, 2013. Obama is going to be handed something in excess of $2 Trillion -- and he has made it perfectly clear that he will spend every penny of it before the November 2012 election. That's why he kept saying, " . . . so we don't have to do this again", meaning raise the debt ceiling again. The debt ceiling would only need to be raised if all of the money had been spent. Therefore, he has stated very clearly that he will spend every penny of any debt ceiling increase. He is going to burn through $2 Trillion-plus in the next sixteen months. This was the Obama regime's plan from day one. Geithner appeared before Congress in early May and told them this in no uncertain terms. This outcome has been a known quantity all along. There are no spending cuts in this plan. It is all accounting fraud.

Extremists who won’t compromise?
68% of R freshman (59/87) voted 4 deal. So did 50% of Ds (95/190). So which party has more "xtremists" who won't compromise??

Liberal attack group finds itself on receiving end of IRS complaint
Excerpt: On Sept. 20, 2010, right after Tea Party favorite Christine O’Donnell became the GOP’s U.S. senatorial nominee in Delaware, a political watchdog group filed two ethics complaints against her. Miss O'Donnell subsequently was dragged through the mud by the liberal press for weeks before the election, accompanied by red-hot rhetoric such as this from Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which filed the complaints: “Christine O'Donnell is clearly a criminal, and like any crook, she should be prosecuted. Ms. O'Donnell has spent years embezzling money from her campaign to cover her personal expenses … thieves belong in jail, not the United States Senate.” On July 15, U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III sent a letter to Miss O'Donnell’s campaign attorney, Cleta Mitchell, informing her that “this office has closed its review and does not intend to pursue criminal charges at this time.” The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is still reviewing a similar CREW complaint against Miss O'Donnell. The FEC recently ended an investigation of whether Miss O'Donnell and the California-based Tea Party Express illegally coordinated campaign spending.

Worth reading: Misleading Words by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: Recent statistics on the average wealth or net worth of blacks are a painful reminder that rhetoric favoring blacks does not mean that politicians using such rhetoric are actually helping blacks. The media seized upon the statistics published by the Pew Research Center to show that whites averaged far more net worth than blacks, and that this disparity was now greater than it was in years past. But what is even more revealing is that the net worth of blacks in 2009 was less than half of what it was in 2005. What happened to cause such a sharp loss in such a few years? After all, the Republicans controlled both the Congress and the White House in 2005, and the Democrats had control by 2009. There was now a black President of the United States, with much of the media celebrating the beginning of a new era in race relations. What happened was that the political words had no relationship to the economic reality. But few people judge any administration's effect on blacks by what actually happens to blacks under that administration. A finer breakdown of the data on the net worth of blacks shows that the most drastic loss of net worth was in the value of the homes owned by blacks. This occurred after years of both Democratic and Republican administrations pushing policies designed to enable more blacks to buy homes. … It worked. In fact, it worked so well that many blacks got loans that they could not have gotten otherwise. Now the statistics tell us, belatedly, that blacks lost out, big time, from this "favor" done for them by politicians.

Syrian Crackdown Hardens Resolve on Both Sides
Excerpt: Syria continued its brutal crackdown on anti-government protests, a day after state forces killed at least 80 civilians in the city of Hama. The use of tanks and live ammunition on civilians has further isolated Syria's regime, prompting new sanctions from the European Union. "The reports out of Hama are horrifying and demonstrate the true character of the Syrian regime," President Obama said in a statement released by the White House. "Syria will be a better place when a democratic transition goes forward. In the days ahead, the US will continue to increase our pressure on the Syrian regime, and work with others around the world to isolate the Assad government and stand with the Syrian people," the statement said. Syrian forces killed more than 140 across the country Sunday, including at least 80 in the Islamist center of Hama. The city was the scene of a famous massacre in 1982, where the regime suppressed an Islamist uprising by killing at least 10,000 people. Both sides seem to be preparing for more conflict during the month of Ramadan, with the size and voracity of Sunday's violence hardening resolve on both sides.

Justice Department Sues Alabama Over Controversial Immigration Law
Excerpt: The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against Alabama's new controversial immigration Error! Hyperlink reference not valid., essentially fighting Alabama on grounds similar to its legal battle with Arizona over that state's controversial law. In both cases, the Justice Department argues that the states are overstepping their authority by wading into something that is a strictly federal responsibility: immigration enforcement. Gov. Robert Bentley signed the Alabama law in June, but it's not set to take effect until Sept. 1. The law makes it a crime to be an undocumented immigrant in Alabama and allows law enforcement to detain individuals they have a "reasonable suspicion" of being in the country illegally. The law also makes it illegal to give undocumented immigrants rides and requires school districts to check on the immigration status of students who enroll.

Natural Gas Flip-Flop: Big environmental groups were for fracking before they were against it.
Excerpt: The world’s projected natural gas supplies jumped 40 percent last year. Until a decade ago, experts believed it would be technically infeasible to exploit the natural gas locked in 48 shale basins in 32 countries around the world. Then horizontal drilling, combined with hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, was introduced. The shale gas rush was on, and last year the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) dramatically raised its estimate of available natural gas. The ability to produce clean-burning natural gas from shale could transform the global energy economy. Right now we burn about 7 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas to generate about 24 percent of the electricity used in the United States. The U.S. burns a total of 23 TCF annually to heat homes and supply industrial processes as well as produce electricity. Burning coal still produces about 45 percent of U.S. electricity. A rough calculation suggests that 100 percent of coal-powered electricity generation could be replaced by burning an additional 14 TCF of natural gas, boosting overall consumption to 37 TCF per year. The EIA estimates total U.S. natural gas reserves at 2,543 TCF, which suggests that the U.S. has enough natural gas to last about 70 years if it entirely replaced the current level of coal-powered electricity generation. 

The Virtues of Free Markets
Excerpt: Free markets have many virtues. Arguably, the most recognized is the expansion of individual choice—and thus freedom—through mutually beneficial exchange (see Bauer’s definition of economic development in Dorn 2002: 356). This proposition is at the heart of the enduring impact of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations ([1776] 1937) which aptly spells out the benefits of the Invisible Hand for citizens and societies. In Capitalism and Freedom (1962), Milton Friedman articulates why the economic freedom at the heart of free markets is also a precondition for political freedom. Freedom of expression is not possible when the means of production are under government control and individuals lack the economic means to sustain themselves and their points of view. This article argues that free markets promote other important virtues that have heretofore received scant attention. Specifically, through fostering an indefinitely-lived series of exchanges, free markets create a future promoting integrity and trust. This is because the more the future matters, the better behaved are individuals in the present. Therefore, rather than being castigated, as they so often are in the popular media and political arena, for encouraging immorality, free markets should be praised for fostering integrity and cooperative behavior through their promotion of ongoing mutually beneficial exchange.

Tea party won’t take down Allen West, but Democrats might
Excerpt: Talk of a tea party challenge to Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) is overblown. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be in the House come 2013. The announcement last week that tea party groups were targeting West for supporting the debt ceiling plan proposed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) — a plan that could not get enough Republican support to pass the House — was taken as a sign that the movement had started to eat its own. In 2012, West was propelled into office by tea party activists; he’s a fixture on the tea party circuit. If he can’t survive one controversial vote with his reputation intact, no one can. West has continued to stand behind GOP leadership, saying over the weekend that the compromise deal scheduled for a House vote Monday night was a “good one.” Should he be worried? … A far bigger threat to West is that he’ll be swept out of office by a Democrat. He’s in a senior-heavy district that runs from West Palm Beach to Ft. Lauderdale that voted Democratic in the past three presidential elections. Republicans control redistricting here and could try to shore up West, but a new state constitutional amendment mandating fair lines limits their power. The Fair Districts amendment requires that lawmakers draw districts that are contiguous, compact, respect boundaries and are not intended to protect an incumbent or party.

From NRO Morning Jolt by Jim Geraghty
Somewhere along the line in our modern political discourse, "terrorist" became a synonym for "someone who won't give me what I want." After the debt-ceiling deal was struck, it took Vice President Joe Biden milliseconds to reinforce the suggestion that the administration and its allies are so morally myopic that they are almost genetically incapable of understanding what actually motivates the Tea Party and others worried about runaway spending: Vice President Joe Biden joined House Democrats in lashing tea party Republicans Monday, accusing them of having "acted like terrorists" in the fight over raising the nation's debt limit, according to several sources in the room. (I guess the Veep wasn’t listening when the President called for more civility in political discourse out in Arizona. Note that Biden has now denied this. ~Bob.)

Reminding the left what terrorism really looks like
In pictures. ~Bob.

Liberal Hate Speech
Excerpt: If we try real hard, maybe we’ll be able to detect a pattern developing here on how liberals elites are reacting to what they see as conservative Republican intransigence in the debt ceiling debate. Let’s start with one of the elitist elites, Tom Friedman, star columnist at the New York Times, who compared the Tea Party to Middle East terrorists. “If sane Republicans do not stand up to this Hezbollah faction in their midst,” he wrote, “the Tea Party will take the G.O.P. on a suicide mission.” Then there is fellow liberal elite journalist Peter Goodman who used to write about economics for the New York Times and is now business editor at the Huffington Post. He minced no words in a post (that was later toned down by higher-ups): “The same Republicans who have so eagerly prosecuted the war on terror, running up huge deficits in the process, are now behaving like the enemies on which they have squandered so much blood and treasure: They are acting like terrorists. Yes, terrorists.” (Liberals believe that anyone who disagrees with them is evil, stupid or both, thus they see no contradiction in calling for civility and using inflammatory hyperbole. And since their cause is so just, they see no contradiction in using illegal or thuggish tactics in support of it. On point, see the next story. ~Bob.)

Crying fire in a crowded democracy
Is this a "dirty trick," or do we need a whole new category? Ron P. Excerpt: The group calls itself Californians Against Identity Theft (CAIT) and the radio spot is about identity theft. Well . . . sorta. Not really, though. It’s actually an attempt to frighten people about identity theft so that they will refrain from engaging in the democratic process by signing petitions to place citizen initiative measures on the ballot for voters to decide. A number of petitions now gather up steam for a batch of newly proposed ballot initiatives, some strongly opposed by organized labor. Tom Adams, CAIT’s secretary-treasurer, says “We’re not targeting any particular ballot measures,” but also refuses to disclose who is funding the effort, or why. The Sacramento Bee reports that the new Californians Against Identity Theft “does not appear to have any ties to established organizations dedicated to protecting consumers from identity theft.” Meanwhile, State Building and Construction Trades Council of California President Bob Balgenorth admits he helped brainstorm the idea, telling the Bee that people circulating petitions are “all paid bounty hunters,” and adding, “I think the whole initiative process needs to be looked at.” Wait a second, is this about identity theft . . . or the initiative process?

Narco Sub With 7.5 Tons of Cocaine Caught in Caribbean
Excerpt: "It was immediately obvious to our boarding crew that the SPSS [self-propelled semi submersible vessel] was taking on water and was being scuttled by its crew," said Cmdr. Charles Fosse, commander of the Coast Guard cutter Seneca. "We recovered two packages and the SPSS sank seconds after that."  An FBI dive team later recovered 7.5 tons of cocaine from the boat. The interdiction was the first in the Western Caribbean; according to the Coast Guard, submarines are regularly used to move contraband in the Eastern Pacific. (This has to be taken seriously. The heaviest bomb ever lifted in an aircraft is believed to be “Fatman,” the 2nd atom bomb dropped on Japan. It was supposed to have weighed between 5 and 6 tons. It is known that terrorists and the drug cartels are cooperating on some things. This hard to catch delivery system is probably one of them. There may be a short A/V ad before the story loads in your browser. Ron P.)

This Just in: Media and Obama on Same Side in Debt Ceiling Debate. Bernie Isn’t Shocked.

China Wants To Construct A 50 Square Mile Self-Sustaining City South Of Boise, Idaho
So, then we do what any other banana republic would do and “nationalize” it. ~Bob. Excerpt: Thanks to the trillions of dollars that the Chinese have made flooding our shores with cheap products, China is now in a position of tremendous economic power. So what is China going to do with all of that money? One thing that they have decided to do is to buy up pieces of the United States and set up "special economic zones" inside our country from which they can continue to extend their economic domination. One of these "special economic zones" would be just south of Boise, Idaho and the Idaho government is eager to give it to them. China National Machinery Industry Corporation (Sinomach for short) plans to construct a "technology zone" south of Boise Airport which would ultimately be up to 50 square miles in size. The Chinese Communist Party is the majority owner of Sinomach, so the 10,000 to 30,000 acre "self-sustaining city" that is being planned would essentially belong to the Chinese government. The planned "self-sustaining city" in Idaho would include manufacturing facilities, warehouses, retail centers and large numbers of homes for Chinese workers. Basically it would be a slice of communist China dropped right into the middle of the United States. According to the Idaho Statesman, the idea would be to build a self-contained city with all services included. It would be modeled after the "special economic zones" that currently exist in China.

Three-Way Race: Romney 34%, Bachmann 27%, Perry 26%
Excerpt: Candidates will fall by the wayside as the primary battle for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination gets under way. If the race were already down to just the three top candidates, Mitt Romney would still be just slightly ahead. In a three-way race between Romney, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Texas Governor Rick Perry, Romney earns 34% of the vote, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary Voters. Bachmann picks up 27% support, while Perry, the only one who has yet to formally declare he’s a candidate, gets 26%. Five percent (5%) like some other candidate, and eight percent (8%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here .)

China blames deadly Xinjiang attack on separatists
Excerpt: China says Muslim separatists trained in Pakistan were behind an attack which killed six civilians in the western region of Xinjiang on Sunday. (No! I’m shocked! ~Bob.)

Iraq says to buy 36 F-16 fighters from U.S
Excerpt: Maliki's government is discussing whether to ask for civilian contractors rather than keep U.S. troops on the ground after the withdrawal deadline, according to Iraqi sources. Keeping American soldiers on Iraqi soil is a sensitive issue for the fragile power-sharing coalition. Violence in Iraq has eased since the bloody days of sectarian conflict in 2006-2007, but Sunni Islamist insurgents and Shi'ite militias still carry out almost daily attacks and assassinations.

The Fed Audit
Excerpt: The first top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve uncovered eye-popping new details about how the U.S. provided a whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. An amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to the Wall Street reform law passed one year ago this week directed the Government Accountability Office to conduct the study. "As a result of this audit, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world," said Sanders. "This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you're-on-your-own individualism for everyone else." Among the investigation's key findings is that the Fed unilaterally provided trillions of dollars in financial assistance to foreign banks and corporations from South Korea to Scotland, according to the GAO report. "No agency of the United States government should be allowed to bailout a foreign bank or corporation without the direct approval of Congress and the president," Sanders said.

Who is to blame for the stumbling economy
I think you can still vote in this poll by a Massachusetts newspaper (one that used to cover me). ~Bob.

Excerpt: Sen. Marco Rubio [R-FL] took to the Senate floor for a 15 minute speech on the Debt Ceiling debate. … Sen. John Kerry [D-NVA] thought he would try and debate him. Hilarity ensued. “To the Senator from Massachusetts I would say that it is impossible to negotiate with someone who doesn’t have a plan”

Climate Thuggery
Excerpt: The tactic of suing critics of AGW theory to silence them isn’t Mann’s alone, and it isn’t the only extracurricular means the global warmists use in attempts to shut up dissenters. The BBC recently announced that in an effort to be more attuned to the scientific “consensus,” it would no longer strive to provide balanced coverage of climate issues. Its decision followed a report by the BBC Trust, “Review of impartiality and accuracy of the BBC’s coverage of science.” In 2007, Weather Channel meteorologist Dr. Heidi Cullen seemed to call for the firing of meteorologists who expressed doubt about AGW. She later clarified to The New York Times that “I didn’t exactly say that. I was talking about the American Meteorological Society’s seal of approval. I was saying the A.M.S. should test applicants on climate change as part of their certification process. They test on other aspects of weather science.” In 2009, Environmental Protection Agency economist Alan Carlin was subjected to a gag order by an EPA administrator after submitting a report that was critical of the role of CO2 in recent global warming. The techniques vary. The results, however, are similar: What cannot be established by transparent science can be imposed by coercion and intimidation. (A really great first-hand look at how AGW proponents react when faced with a skeptic. Ron P.)

Underwater Discovery Sparks Rumors Of Crashed UFO In Baltic Sea Between Finland And Sweden
Excerpt: For now, it's an unidentified submerged object. But a strange circular formation deep below the Baltic Sea has sparked great excitement among UFO believers who think it might be a crashed flying saucer. While searching for shipwrecks in the waters between Finland and Sweden on June 19, a Swedish team of nautical salvagers say they uncovered a "very strange anomaly" -- a round object about 60 feet across resting about 300 feet below sea level. "You see a lot of weird stuff in this job, but during my 18 years as a professional I have never seen anything like this. The shape is completely round," Peter Lindberg, leader of The Ocean Explorer team, told the local press, according to MSNBC. The circular object -- described by Gizmodo as resembling Star Wars' Millenium Falcon -- is also trailed on one side by what appears to be a lengthy patch of displaced seabed. That has lead some UFO believer[s] to surmise the strange circle is a wrecked UFO, which crashed onto the seafloor and left behind a path of destruction measuring some 900 feet, according to (I would love to have a friendly discovery of alien life happen. I suspect this isn’t it, though. If you follow the links in the article, the “object”—that may well be many smaller objects clustered together—isn’t round but irregular, and, if you click to enlarge, the “round” part may not include all of the object(s) which would make it even less circular. No doubt some government will take a look—if they haven’t already—and we’ll never hear of it again, either way. Ron P. If the mainstream media gets a-hold of it, it will be a right-wing, Christian, Tea party plot against civilization. ~Bob.)

How the Obamas (and the Guilty Left) Can Pay More Taxes
Excerpt: President Obama and others on the "guilty left" love to talk about all of the "Bush tax breaks" they receive but don't need -- a theme that was again prevalent in Obamas address to the nation Monday night on the debt ceiling. … If Obama and the others with incomes over $250,000 genuinely believe that they are "not paying their fair share" of income taxes, then here are a few tax strategies they can use to increase the amount owed each year to Uncle Sam. (Well, I’m not against all tax increases. I could support, say, a 50% tax on speakers’ fees over $100,000 paid to ex-politicians. Like the $100m Al Gore has made on global warming, or the $10m Bill Clinton took in last year. ~Bob.)

Dems eat Satan sandwich, GOP looks to next course
Excerpt: There's nothing like a vote on federal spending cuts to make one of the most liberal lawmakers on Capitol Hill sound like a Tea Partier. "We're going to read this document," Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, said Monday, referring to the debt ceiling agreement reached Sunday night. "We're going to understand it before we vote for it." Lee, who helped rush the 2,000-page Affordable Care Act through the House before nearly anyone had a chance to read it, promised to pore over the 74-page Budget Control Act in what turned out to be an unsuccessful effort to stop trillions of dollars in federal spending cuts. Last year, after the passage of Obamacare, Republicans running for the House included in their "Pledge to America" a promise to allow the public sufficient time to read bills before lawmakers voted on them. "We will give all representatives and citizens at least three days to read the bill before a vote," the pledge said. (Obama also promised, way back in 08, to post bills on the Internet for three days before he signed them. But he broke that promise long ago. ~Bob.)

Something can be done about cruel laws
Funny how Democrat-run cities keep minorities out of businesses if there is big money involved. ~Bob. Excerpt: What does it take to be able to own and operate a taxi and earn $30,000, $40,000 or more a year? You need to purchase a used car and liability insurance. Compared with other businesses, the startup cost to become a taxi owner/operator is modest; that's until you have to come up with money for a license. In May 2010, the price of a license, called a medallion, to own one taxi in New York City sold for $603,000. As referenced in my recent book, "Race and Economics," New York City is not alone. In Chicago, a taxi license costs $56,000, Boston $285,000 and Philadelphia $75,000. It's not rocket science to understand the effect of laws that produce these prices: They discriminate against anyone getting into the taxi business who lacks tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars or bank credit to be able to get a loan. … One would think that civil rights organizations, leftists and progressives would be fighting the battle for people's right to earn a living. The fact of business is that they are often on the other side, and it's the Washington-based Institute for Justice that has been waging war against entrenched incumbents who use government to protect them from competition. … Arbitrary licensing and permitting laws foreclose many occupations that are ideally suited to people of modest means, particularly minorities. Here's my bet: Ask any liberal politician, from the president and the Congressional Black Caucus to civil rights organizations and black local politicians, whether he'd take up the fight to eliminate these barriers to upward mobility. You'll get answers, but they won't be a simple yes. The reason is the ins contribute to their political campaigns and the outs don't.

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