Montana Moments – Favorite Stories

Huckleberry Finn got his name because, like huckleberries, he could not be domesticated.
Montana Moments – Favorite Stories
By: George Noga – August 19, 2018

        This post contains some favorite vignettes about life in Whitefish and NW Montana. The natural setting, adjacent to Glacier National Park, is so spectacular that (unbeknownst to viewers) many commercials you see were filmed here. You can go off the grid in nearby Polebridge which has no Wi-Fi, internet or electricity. Ted (Unabomber) Kaczynski did that for many years not too far away. Enjoy!

Bear Bell: The club where I play golf has a “blind” approach to the 18th green. To signal the group behind that it is safe to hit, departing players ring a loud bell as they complete the hole. When the bell inevitably rings, I act surprised and concerned and tell my visiting Florida guests that was the “bear bell“, warning that a grizzly is nearby. It works every time and the reactions from my unsuspecting guests are priceless.

Huckleberries: Hucks grow many places in the US, but are especially prized in NW Montana, which has huckleberry ice cream, pancakes, jam, syrup, martinis, etc. Hucks only grow in the wild and cannot be domesticated despite prodigious efforts to do so; that’s how Huckleberry Finn got his moniker – he was wild and undomesticated. Each season there are huckleberry festivals and the status of the current huck crop is a ubiquitous topic among Montanans. Families have secret huck patches handed down through many generations, the locations of which are jealously guarded secrets.

Poker Talk: I frequently play Texas Hold’em poker at live games which are legal in Montana. During games, which often last many hours, there is much conversation among the players. Once there was a particularly voluptuous lady in her 40s or 50s playing and a male player remarked several times that she looked “awful familiar” and hadn’t they met before. Finally, when the guy asked again for the umpteenth time, the lady averred, “Maybe you’ve seen me before; do you watch much porn?”

Judge Wears Jeans: Even government works better here, as most interactions with  citizens are polite and efficient. This is because Whitefish is such a small place that if any government employees behaved imperiously, word would soon get around and they would be shunned. I once went to city court to contest a speeding ticket. Upon entering, I noted the judge wore blue jeans and cowboy boots under his robe. When my turn came, I pointed out there were no speed limit signs posted on the road where I was ticketed. He conferred briefly with his clerk and promptly invalidated my ticket.

Great Northern Cabaret: Every Sunday at 9:00 PM there is live cabaret with a new show each month written and produced in Whitefish to incorporate local humor. For example, nearby Butte is the butt of jokes – much like Bithlo is for Central Florida. If you are somewhat priggish, this is not for you. By the way, a Scotch costs only $2.75.

Private/Public Partnerships: The 36-hole golf club where I play is governed by a board composed of half public and half private members because originally one course was public and one private before they merged. Whitefish also has “The Wave“, a massive indoor aquatic and fitness facility with pools, lockers, food court and myriad daily activities for all ages. During long winter months, it is so popular (and affordable) that some days 25% of the town’s population goes there. The golf club and The Wave both are well-run, first-rate facilities. Private/public partnerships seem to work in Montana.


Next on August 26th we discuss Mokita – truths that no one will discuss.

“A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy”

“Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business and eventually degenerates into a racket.”  (Eric Hoffer)
“A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy”
By: George Noga – August 10, 2018

        Great causes follow the same script. Wrongs cry out to be righted. Movements are founded by (usually) sensible leaders to seek redress; they are joined by people of good will throughout America. In time, the wrongs are righted via education and legislation. After achieving their initial aims, both leaders and followers move on. The movements are then hijacked by fanatics, with a small hard-core following; they degenerate into rackets; and they never, never go away. This post examines four such movements.

Animals Rights and PETA

         Animal cruelty once was widely condoned, particularly in medical/drug research and testing and other experimentation. Now, animal experiments are closely supervised by ethicists under strict guidelines; transgressions carry serious consequences. PETA is run by fanatics who believe “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy“. They believe animals are no different than people, bellowing “it doesn’t matter if we have fur, feathers or fins, we’re not different in any important way.” They are fond of showing a hip-hop video of a black man morphing into an Asian woman, then into a bear and a chicken. QED.

Women’s Rights and Feminism

        Women had many valid gripes: sexual harassment, back-alley abortion, unequal pay, hostile work environment, domestic violence, degrading treatment by police in rape cases and inferior legal status to husbands in some situations. Every one of these wrongs has been rectified by legislation and also by a sea change in public attitude.

        Where is feminism now? They hype a phony campus rape crisis and promulgate rules denying men due process and assuming guilt. They assert that regret is the same as rape. They cling to the canard that pay differentials persist. They demand abortion for gender selection and even infanticide. They dictate toxic masculinity be taught in kindergarten. They deny gender differences. Slaves to political correctness, they refuse to criticize Islam’s genital mutilation and treatment of women as mere chattel.

Gay Rights and the GLBTQ+ Movement

        I lived in Manhattan in 1968 during the Stonewall Inn uprising that marked the beginning of the gay rights movement. Like all people of goodwill, I disapproved of anti-gay discrimination and supported equal treatment and rights. Since Stonewall, the GLBTQ+ community has achieved its goals: marriage, military service, legal status for health/estate issues, adoption and anti-discrimination laws. There also has been a radical shift in public attitude toward full acceptance of the GLBTQ+ community.

        Instead of declaring victory and disbanding, they ratcheted up demands including NAMBLA-inspired lowering the legal age of consent and pro-gay indoctrination in schools. There now are 112 (and increasing) genders, many with their own pronouns. There are even genders for those who identify as dragons and unicorns. They have made the restroom issue into a cause celebre. They are insisting on gender discussions in elementary schools and support gender reassignment surgery for young kids.

Civil Rights and Racism

        No movement has faced the obdurate prejudice African-Americans suffered, nor has any accomplished so much so fast. When US population was 40 million, the KKK had 4+ million members – one in ten Americans. Now there are 6,500 members, one out of 50,000. Every initial objective of the civil rights movement has been achieved: desegregation, voting rights, affirmative action, equality. To cap it off, we had a two-term black president. Genuine racism in America is on the brink of being extinguished.

       Race is now a racket. Look no further than Starbucks’ unconscious bias. There were films, training guides, tool kits, instructors and programs, all highly profitable for the race racket and enough to make even Jesse Jackson blush. Equality of opportunity has been supplanted by equality of outcome. America overflows with diversity, equity and inclusion czars – all handsomely paid. Racial animus is worse today than ever; it won’t end as long as the race racket remains profitable financially and politically.

      I can’t make this stuff up. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy; genders for dragons and unicorns; and female genital mutilation is beyond criticism if practised by Muslims.


August 19th is our final Montana Moments posting for this summer. 

Debt Crisis Timetable Accelerating

When Titanic struck the iceberg, it remained afloat and the disaster was not yet apparent. However, its fate was irreversible from that moment; so it is with a 90%  debt/GDP ratio.
Debt Crisis Timetable Accelerating
By: George Noga – August 1, 2018

       I have a recurrent nightmare about an endless train, brimming with passengers and priceless cargo, slowly but inexorably hurtling along its tracks toward a bottomless abyss. The engineers, conductors, passengers and observers all know the train is going over the cliff; however, instead of trying to stop the train they are opening the throttle to speed it up. When I awake, I realize it is no nightmare; it is happening right now to the United States of America. Following are data just released by CBO and SS.

  • Social Security begins devouring reserves this year, 4 years earlier than projected last year. Reserves will be depleted in 15 years and benefits would require a 25% cut.

 

  • Medicare will be unable to pay scheduled benefits in 8 years; just during the past year this shortened by 3 years. What does that say about the integrity of the data?

 

  • Deficits average $1.5 trillion (total $15 trillion) over the next 10 years (based on current policy), raising the public debt/GDP ratio to 105% per the latest CBO estimate.

 

  • Interest on the debt will triple to just under $1 trillion per year within 10 years per the June 2018 CBO report. Debt service will soon overtake defense spending.

 

  • The really bad news is that the projections cited above, by government agencies, are wildly optimistic. None assumes a recession during the coming decade, while it is nearly certain there will be one or possibly even two. Recent projections made by private sector economists (Fortune Magazine, Cato Institute) are much worse.

       No one cares! For most Americans the problem is too abstruse; they are tired of hearing pundits cry wolf; and there is no discernable impact on their daily lives. For politicians, tackling the issue has no upside; it is all downside, including possible electoral loss. No constituency exists for reining in benefits, cutting spending or raising taxes; the political apparat favors the opposite. Each year that we dithered, the problem became more intractable and costly; now, finding a solution is virtually hopeless.

        Economists believe the point-of-no-return is a public debt to GDP ratio >90%; the World Bank says 77%. The US already is at 77% and will reach 90% much earlier than believed only months ago. The crisis doesn’t begin when we exceed 90%; it just means there is no going back. The Titanic remained afloat a long while after it struck the iceberg and the crisis was not immediately evident to those aboard. Nonetheless, the moment Titanic hit the iceberg, its fate became irreversible; so it is with a 90% ratio.

       As my nightmare continues, nothing happens until after the train goes over the cliff and we are subsumed by crisis. Panicked politicians impose a VAT, modest at first, but rapidly ramped up to European levels of 20+%. Income taxes skyrocket. Only token changes are made to entitlements. Economic growth tanks. Defense is compromised. There is a 15-25 year lost generation as we morph into a European-style welfare state. People lead lives of quiet desperation and the USA, as we know it, ceases to exist.

      There are two certainties about the impending debt crisis: (1) if something cannot go on forever, it won’t; and (2) excess debt ultimately must be purged from the system. The debt can be purged only via higher taxes, less spending (especially entitlement spending), hyperinflation or repudiation; there are no other options.

      By the time the crisis hits, a combination of new and higher taxes and spending cuts totalling $1.25 trillion per year in today’s dollars (25% of the budget) for 15 straight years will be needed just to get back to today’s 77% debt/GDP ratio. That should give you some perspective about the devastation that purging the debt will wreak on America – as well as the reason for my recurrent nightmares.


Our next post on August 10th documents great causes turning into rackets.

Man-Made Global Warming (1988-2017) R.I.P.

Man-made global warming, a/k/a climate change, was a political construct from its  inception in 1988. It now has run its five-stage course and is dying a political death. 
Man-Made Global Warming (1988-2017) R.I.P.
By: George Noga – July 22, 2018
       Progressivism feeds man’s neurotic fear of social catastrophe while providing a path for moral redemption. It’s no different for global warming. This explains the fervor with which climate change was embraced – mostly in far left precincts. It now joins the pantheon of junk science in the dustbin of history. Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement was merely the end of a trend that was evident for some time.

      We will not recount the myriad reasons climate change has descended into the netherworld of liberal canards and environmental scare politics. We have been there, done that. There still is plenty of sound and fury emanating from warmists, but people tuned it out and quit listening some time ago. Most governments, if judged by their actions rather than their words, also are backing away from global warming paranoia.

        A five-stage life cycle for political movements was identified by political scientist Anthony Downs in 1972. Following is the life cycle for man-made global warming.

Stage 1 Public problem identified: Man-made warming was born on June 23, 1988 when NASA scientist, James Hansen, testified before Congress that he was 99% certain burning fossil fuels created a greenhouse effect that alters global climate and will affect life on Earth for centuries to come. Note: Hansen has been proven wrong.

Stage 2 Politicians and media embrace the issue: This is the messianic stage where activists jump in with a rush of dopamine, making it a spiritual, metaphysical and even an existential issue. They predict the end of the world unless we do what they want to save mankind from the over-hyped peril. This stage began immediately after Hansen’s testimony and peaked in 2006 with publication of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.

Stage 3 Pivot due to skepticism about costs, benefits and underlying facts: This stage, overlapping slightly with stage 2, began with the Kyoto Protocol taking effect in 2005. A gradual and spreading realization began to dawn on the public that the costs weren’t worth the putative and uncertain benefits. Many began to doubt the facts underlying man-made warming and noted the failure of warmists’ dire predictions to be realized.

Stage 4 Public interest wanes: As stage 3 morphs into stage 4, public interest wanes both in terms of public concern and intensity; this stage goes from circa 2012 to 2017. In recent years the public consistently has rated climate change dead last out of 20 issues of concern. Only 1 in 4 or 5 Americans now rate climate change a priority.

Stage 5 Post-problem stage is prolonged limbo: Man-made global warming died on June 1, 2017 when Trump withdrew the US from the Paris Agreement. The issue is effectively dead although there may be spasmodic recurrences of interest. Climate change’s death throes will be agonizing because it had such a maniacial following. We have reached the tipping point on climate change – just not the one warmists expected.

      Our first posting was about global warming and we have blogged about it more than any topic. We will miss global warming, much as we miss the former USSR, because it provided a soft, inviting and comedic target. Fear not; we will revisit climate change from time to time during its death throes. It was fun while it lasted; wasn’t it?

        As Eric Hoffer said: “Every cause begins as a movement, becomes a business and eventually degenerates into a racket.” Global warming has been a racket for quite some time with Al Gore and other rent-seeking environmentalists loading up at the trough. From the git-go, climate change was purely a political issue and whatever lives by politics, also dies by politics. Global warming (1988-2017) – rest in peace.

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Our next post revisits the the US debt crisis.

Montana Moments: The Canadian Connection

Only 50 miles from Canada, Whitefish has a massive Canadian presence from which Montanans can learn many lessons about sky-high taxes and nationalized health care.
Montana Moments: The Canadian Connection
By: George Noga – July 15, 2018

          Whitefish is 50 miles south of Canada and a mere 4 hour drive from Calgary and its 1.3 million people; altogether, 2 million Canadians live within an easy drive. Given the profuse attractions of Whitefish and Glacier National Park, the massive Canadian presence during summers is no surprise. Alberta’s energy economy and the favorable exchange rate (until recently) bring in Canadian hordes flush with petrodollars.

          Canadians also are attracted by the nightlife and incredibly cheap prices vis-a-vis Canada. They come for weekends, vacations and endless holidays; they even come for their weddings which, due to rock-bottom prices, can cost up to 50% less than home. Mainly however, they come to party because of the absurdly cheap booze. They party so frenetically that in the argot of Whitefish, drunkencanadian is one word.

         Cocktails in Whitefish are one-third the price and twice the size of those north of the border due to Canada’s sky-high alcohol taxes. A scotch costs $2.75 and beer $1.00. During happy hour, our tab once was $32.00 for 27 drinks! Moreover, some watering holes accept Canadian loonies at par which makes cocktails ridiculously cheap. Before leaving Montana, they pack as much food and potables as allowed into their SUVs to beat the oppressively high Canadian prices and value added taxes.

         Not all Canadians come for cheap booze; many come for medical care. There are long waits for procedures in Canada while Montana offers same day service. They are so desperate, they pay out-of-pocket at great sacrifice. I have heard many heart wrenching stories about Canada’s system and most of my Canadian interlocutors passionately forewarn me against Canadian style socialized medicine for the USA.

        The median wait time between referral and treatment in Canada is over 21 weeks, 42 weeks in some provinces and a staggering 4 years in extreme cases. The wait for a CAT scan is 11 weeks and increasing – while Montana has no waiting whatsoever. Over 1 million Canadians (3% of the population) are in line. The long waits are not just inconvenient; they often transform potentially reversible conditions into chronic or permanent disabilities. Free medical care is not much good if you can’t get it.

        While in Montana, I make it a point to ask our northern visitors how satisfied they are with Canadian healthcare. Out of the scores I have thus queried, only two said they were satisfied. The first said he liked the care in Canada but came to Montana whenever the wait times were problematic. The second defended the Canadian system by asserting is was very good at triage, i.e. if you were mired on a long wait list and your conditioned deteriorated, they would move you up on the list.

       So, what can we learn from the Canadian connection? First, Canada has a high cost of living due to confiscatory taxation. The federal income tax rate is 29%; provincial income tax rates are 15%-20%; health care is 6% and a 13% VAT is embedded in all purchases. If you are keeping score, the total is 64% to 68%!

       Second, Canada is a nanny state that doesn’t want its children, err citizens drinking and imposes alcohol taxes that make cocktails 600% more costly than in Montana. That shouldn’t be unexpected from a country whose founding documents tout “peace, order and good government” instead of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

       Finally, we learn much about the disaster that is Canada’s national healthcare. When anything is in great demand, it must be rationed via either time or cost; that’s an immutable economic law. Since healthcare is free, it can’t be rationed via cost; that leaves time. Bingo! How comforting it must be for Canadians to know that if their condition seriously deteriorates, they may be moved above the other 1 million poor, desperate souls waiting in line for treatment that is instantly available in Montana.


The next post is TBD

Collection of Micro and Ultra-Short Posts

Government could pay every SunRail passenger $30 to take Uber and that would cost less than the subsidy for operating SunRail!
Collection of Micro and Ultra-Short Posts
By: George Noga – July 8, 2018

Micro Posts: Look upon the Obama presidency as a vaccination that inoculated the body politic with a low dose of socialism which may protect us from later contracting a more virulent form of the disease; don’t snicker; it worked in 2016. . . . . . . Kim Jong Il  reportedly shot 38 under par, including 11 holes-in-one, the first (and only) time he played golf; this is all you need to know about the NoKos. . . . . . . Nuclearization of Iran and North Korea, once considered by all as unacceptable, became irreversible under Obama/Clinton/Kerry – then along came Jones – err, Trump. . . . . To justify his belief in climate change, Obama said carbon dioxide emissions exacerbated his daughter Malia’s asthma; oops, it’s sulfur dioxide (not CO2) that is linked to asthma.

From the WWII Caen Memorial: “Instead of peace, the end of the war saw the creation of two competing economic systems. One was the United States which adopted a messianic form of capitalism emphasizing consumption above equality resulting in an intensely materialistic society. The greater wealth created by its acquisitive capitalistic system was devoted to support a hedonistic life style. The other system, championed by the USSR, was based on common ownership of resources. Although this system proved less efficient, it led toward a much more equal distribution of the wealth in its society.” 

 

Americans buried at nearby Normandy did not fight for messianic capitalism; but the Caen Memorial is right in one way: communism more equally distributed its poverty. And all those people fleeing communism probably could have used a little hedonism.

Climate Claptrap: A recent US government scientific report is hokum. It reports sea levels increasing at a higher rate while failing to note this has occurred often in the past 100 years. It reports heat waves are more common but doesn’t acknowledge the peak was during the 1930s dust bowl years and they are no more common now than 120 years ago. It claims hurricanes have increased in power, ignoring a NOAA finding of no detectable human impact on hurricanes. Remind me; who are the science deniers?

Capitalism and government: If your kids love government and hate capitalism, this may cure them. Capitalism brings us: Uber, Waze, Venmo, Google, Spotify, Kindle, iPhones, Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Android, Apple, Disney, FedEx, UPS, Airbnb, internet, Lyft, laptops, notebooks, tablets, 4K-HDTV, Nintendo, iMac, Roku, Amazon Echo, Xbox, and Google assistant. Government brings us: IRS, USPS, DMV, airport security, public schools, Medicaid, taxis, $700 toilet seats, waste, fraud, abuse, Amtrak, student debt and (horrors) SunRail (see below).

All Aboard: SunRail is the second biggest con job in Florida history after the lottery. Every scient person (except teachers, who fell en masse for the lottery) knew exactly what would happen. Ridership is 30% below its worst case estimate and is decreasing! SunRail costs $35 million to operate and fares bring in only $1.9 million. Government could pay every SunRail passenger $30 to take Uber and it would save money. And Uber picks you up and drops you off 24/7 anywhere, any time  – without timetables.

Despite abject failure, SunRail is adding 17 miles and plans more extensions. SunRail makes even Amtrak, which charges $9.50 for an inedible hamburger that costs $16 to make, look good. Amtrak loses $1 billion/year on food for which it has a monopoly.

Trains are deeply embedded in progressive DNA. When liberals hear the word train, they become catatonic and involuntarily begin to chant their mantra: “all aboard – all aboard – all aboard“. This is in part due to their aversion to cars and fossil fuels but trains have a more primal attraction for progressives, i.e. their desire for collectivism and disdain for individualism. Cars freely go whenever and wherever, making the driver the master of his fate. Trains go on a timetable devised by government experts, who know better than individuals what choices are best for them. All aboard!

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More Montana Moments is next as we explore Montana’s Canadian Connection

Whitefish Discovered!

If you can’t be happy here, you can’t be happy anywhere.
Whitefish Discovered!
By: George Noga – July 1, 2018

       This is the first 2018 post in our remarkably popular summer series about life in the Flathead Valley of NW Montana. Unfortunately, our initial posting this year is a jeremiad. I regret to report that Whitefish and its environs have been discovered by the masses, much to the lament of both locals as well as us summer residents.

        My wife and I have a proclivity for finding idiosyncratic destinations long before they are unearthed by the multitudes. In the 1980s we were habitues of Santa Fe, NM while that city different still retained all its cachet. When the hordes descended and Santa Fe became overly commercialized, losing much of its erstwhile charm, we decamped to still-virginal Telluride, CO. Alas, when it too fell victim to the throngs, we stumbled onto Whitefish, MT and instantly were smitten. Now, after 12 summers in Whitefish, gaggles of visitors are again swarming in. It too is now discovered.

         Whitefish, and NW Montana, remains a priceless gem but its setting, especially in summer, is becoming tarnished. Its crown jewel, Glacier National Park (“GNP”), has seen a record crush of visitors flocking to the park. Last year visitors to GNP were up a staggering 30% over 2016 necessitating a first-ever (brief) closure of the park over the July 4th weekend.  Even the usually slow shoulder months of June and September now attract herds. And all this happened despite dreadful forest fires and smoke hazards much of last summer that closed off parts of GNP for weeks at a time.

      Inside GNP, parking at popular Logan Pass now is closed to cars during peak months. Parking at trailheads often is a futile search. Traffic on iconic Going-to-the-Sun road creates monstrous traffic jams. All lodges inside the park are booked a year in advance. I now caution visitors about coming from July 1 through Labor Day.

        Whitefish has not escaped unscathed. With a population of only 6,500, it simply can’t handle even a few thousand more visitors at a time. In recent years, new hotels and RV parks have opened and can accommodate thousands more people. The added traffic has made parking in Whitefish a challenge – despite the recent addition of a new downtown parking garage. Indeed, nearby Kalispell and the Flathead Valley are the fastest growing parts of Montana. Traffic at Glacier Park International Airport is up double digits and surpassed 500,000 last year – a lot for a four-gate airport.

        One of my Montana readers emailed me last year: “George, if you keep this up (meaning all the favorable posts describing Whitefish) too many people will come.” It looks like he was right, although it is not due to my lame blogging efforts. After this post, I may get back into the good graces of my Montana readers, none of whom particularly likes the swarm of visitors. Nevertheless, I must end on a sanguine note.

        As packed as Glacier National Park has become, it still remains infinitely better than Yellowstone, Yosemite and all the rest. And although it is true that summer crowds in Whitefish and Glacier create inconvenience, NW Montana remains truly the last best place in America. Local residents have a saying that I have heard expressed on numerous occasions: “If you can’t be happy here, you can’t be happy anywhere.” After twelve summers in Whitefish, it is a sentiment with which I cannot disagree.

       P.S. After this post was written, the Whitefish City Council formed a committee to consider whether tourism has reached a tipping point whereby further increases in visitors should be discouraged because it erodes the quality of life and what makes Whitefish so special to locals.


Next on July 8th, we feast on a collection of micro and ultra-short topics.

Progressives Pin Hopes on Sports Betting

Gambling revenue is a pipeline of money flowing from the poor and vulnerable to the affluent and educated. It is highly regressive and amounts to a tax on stupidity.
Progressives Pin Hopes on Sports Betting
By: George Noga – June 24, 2018

          MLLG has a strong libertarian bent and opposes banning any activity undertaken freely by adults. Hence, we are okay with the Supreme Court decision permitting states to legalize sports betting. Nonetheless, sports wagering joins lotteries, slots and their ilk in the pantheon of schemes to exact more money for the state from its poorest and most vulnerable citizens. Following is the back story about state sponsored gambling.

Sports betting impetus comes from blue states. New Jersey, a fiscally irresponsible state, was the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case. Progressive politicians and their public sector union sidekicks conspired to seek another desperate fix for their failing blue state governance model with its unsustainable taxing, spending and borrowing.

State sponsored gaming is dishonest at its core. Lotteries are frauds from inception as they invariably are sold to voters as a means to increase spending on education – all the while its advocates (except gullible teachers) know full well that is a lie. Florida instituted a lottery in 1986 devoted entirely to education. Yet real per pupil spending on schools has actually decreased since 1986 as lottery money simply supplanted other funds. The same pattern occurs everywhere lotteries have been instituted.

Gambling is a pipeline of money from the poor to the rich. In the argot of economics, gambling is an inferior good, i.e. demand is higher on the lower rungs of the economic ladder than on the upper rungs. The poor spend seven times more money than the well off and impoverished neighborhoods have triple the lottery vendors per capita. It is the most regressive tax and is tantamount to a tax on stupidity. Gambling revenue is a pipeline of money flowing from the poor and susceptible to the affluent and educated.

State sponsored gaming is a monopoly and a fool’s game. There is no competition and its payout is worse than when organized crime controlled it. The mafia paid out 60% in bolita and in after-tax dollars. The present value of a lottery payout is around 30% after tax – half that of the mob. It is an unfair exploitative wager and a sucker’s bet.

State advertising encourages destructive behavior. Although MLLG believes adults should be free to gamble, it is wrong for the state to promote it. They use dishonest and deceptive advertising promoting a harmful, addictive activity. The state restricts advertising for tobacco and alcohol. What’s next; will the state run ads promoting legal marijuana? Lottery sales are fueled by a stream of slick advertising encouraging suckers and glorifying a fool’s game all the while devaluing hard work and thrift.

Gaming sends the wrong message to our children. It signals that good things in life come from a winning lottery ticket, not from knowledge, initiative, work and savings. Lottery numbers already scroll across our TVs and devices. With sports betting, this will explode with wagers on every possible event – telling our kids this is important.

Legal gambling can be fixed. State advertising must be banned and honest disclosures about the odds and payouts must be prominently displayed. Lotteries and other forms of gaming should be privatized and opened to competition. Let private vendors compete to offer the best odds; even the mafia offered odds twice as good as the state.

       State sponsored gaming exposes the ugly underbelly of progressivism. States run by liberals (and some conservatives) shamelessly exploit their poorest and most vulnerable citizens to feed their unsated appetite for money and power. In Florida, lottery money comes disproportionately from the poorest precincts but goes to fund Bright Futures scholarships, 90% of which go to highly educated, affluent families.

       Progressives claim to be for minorities and the poor. All they really care about is clinging to power. They are addicted to higher taxes even if it means eating their own.

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Next is the first of our popular summer Montana Moments postings.

American Birthright Accounts: Readers Respond

This post compares American Birthright Accounts to Social Security and responds to readers’ questions about seeming too good to be true.
American Birthright Accounts: Readers Respond
By: George Noga – June 17, 2018

       Reaction to our May 20th post about American Birthright Accounts (“ABA”) was extensive and spirited. If you missed the original post or wish to reread it, you easily can access it on our website: www.mllg.us; however, we provide a summary in the next two paragraphs. Reader responses (addressed herein) centered on (1) comparisons with Social Security; and (2) questioning whether ABAs were too good to be true.

       American Birthright Accounts are an original MLLG idea, although the name is borrowed. ABAs are simple and affordable. Every child born in the USA receives a professionally managed, tax-free account funded by government for $5,000 at birth and $500 per year thereafter until age 65. If the account grows at 7% net of inflation, which mirrors the average annual performance of markets since 1930, the account will exceed $1 million at age 65 and generate $6,000 per month of retirement income.

         A retired couple, both with ABAs, receives $12,000 a month tax-free, equivalent to $200,000 per year taxable. They own their own accounts and have $2 million to bequeath to their heirs – all tax-free and in today’s dollars. The cost to the government is equal to one-half of one percent of the federal budget, or 25% of what we will spend this year just on food stamps. ABAs also would vastly reduce inequality in America!

How Do ABAs Compare with Social Security?

       An American working from age 20 to 67 earning the median income ($60,000) pays $430,000 into Social Security (“SS”) and receives a real (net of inflation) rate of return of 1.2% (per Heritage Foundation) resulting in a notional value of $738,000 at retirement. The average SS beneficiary receives $16,000 per year, or a rate of return of 2.2%. Because SS is 85% taxable, the benefit is equivalent to $13,000 after tax – equal to a real return of 1.8%. Finally, SS benefits are unsustainable at their present level and after circa 2030 beneficiaries can expect to receive only 75% of present benefits.

        Let’s put SS side by side with an ABA. The average cost of SS is $430,000, for an ABA it is only $37,500 ($5,000 at birth and $500 a year for 65 years). Average SS benefits are $13,000 per year after tax; for ABAs the comparable number is $72,000. At death, the value of your SS account is zero, zilch, nada; the value of your ABA is over $1 million. Everyone benefits equally from an ABA, whereas the benefits vary wildly for SS. I could go on ad infinitum in this vein, but I believe you get the drift.

Are ABAs Too Good to be True?

      Some readers had trouble with the mathematics of ABAs, wondering how it is possible for everyone to be a millionaire? The math is straightforward; the initial $5,000 increases to $435,000 and the $500 per year grows to $573,000 for a total of $1,008,000, all computed from standard compound interest formulas. ABAs compound from birth for 65 years, whereas SS doesn’t begin until 20 years later. ABAs grow at a market rate, while SS grows at the much lower short-term government bond rate.

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      There is a much larger lesson here. ABAs succeed due to the power of markets, while SS fails because of the evils of government. Progressives oppose privatizing SS, fearing market success will turn workers into nascent capitalists by giving them a big stake in the free-market economy. Liberal poseurs oppose making everyone rich because it doesn’t fit their nihilist, tribalist, class warfare, identity group narrative.


Next up: The Supreme Court decision to permit sports betting. 

Sacrificing Children on the Altar of Gun Control

Guns in schools, as part of a proper plan, create a speed bump for killers; this is like having a fire extinguisher or wearing a seat belt.
Sacrificing Children on the Altar of Gun Control
By: George Noga – June 10, 2018

       In the aftermath of recent school shootings, progressives opt for political posturing and moral preening instead of immediate practical measures that will help prevent, and also minimize the toll from, school shootings. They disregard children’s safety to push for pie-in-the-sky gun control, which likely is unconstitutional and the effect, if any, is in the distant future. They have forfeited any claim to the moral high ground.

       Liberals refuse to acknowledge any cause, other than guns, of school shootings even though government failure at all levels was a major cause of Parkland. The FBI failed; the sheriff failed and local government failed. School administrators failed by imposing a loopy Obama policy of not suspending students or calling police regardless of the number or seriousness of offenses. Where is liberal angst about these things?

        Why is federal gun legislation the only remedy ever proffered by liberals? If there were mass shootings at Starbucks, would there be calls for federal action, or would people simply say that Starbucks needed to beef up its security? The latte left opposes guns in schools for one reason only: they fear to acknowledge guns ever can be a positive force as it would destroy their anti-gun mantra. At a minimum, guns in schools (as part of a proper plan) would create a rather large speed bump for killers.

          Not only would guns deter rampage killers, they also would minimize casualties. If armed school personnel start shooting back at wannabe killers, it messes up their plans. The best way to stop killers is an immediate, violent response; school personnel can respond instantly whereas police require 10-15 minutes. When armed civilians stop an attack, the average number of people shot is 2.5; when police stop an attack, the average number shot is 14; this is solely attributable to the faster response times. Many low-casualty incidents never even make the national news because rapid responses by armed civilians stop the killers before casualties have time to mount.

         Guns won’t prevent all school shootings just as fire extinguishers won’t prevent fires and seat belts won’t prevent accidents – but they all save lives. It’s all about an immediate response which can save an average of 11.5 lives compared to waiting for police. An immediate response can come only from within the school. Although arming school personnel does not deal with the root cause, neither does banning guns. The root cause is people deranged enough to want to commit such horrific acts.

      Nevertheless, progressives reflexively reject immediate, practical measures, like guns in school, to reduce the butcher’s bill from rampage attacks. Instead, they smugly and disingenuously hold out for a feel-good solution they know will take many years and likely will have little or no effect. In the meantime, they leave our school children vulnerable because of dogmatic obeisance to their anti-gun religion.

        Ending school gun-free zones saves children’s lives. Even the possible presence of guns deters would-be killers, whose fantasies would be ruined by an immediate violent resistance. Once an attack began, guns instantly change the killer’s calculus from mass killing to self defense. Guns significantly reduce casualties from an attack and can be introduced immediately with little cost. Liberals would not remove fire extinguishers from schools, yet they want to ban analogous instruments from schools.

       By doctrinaire opposition to guns in schools, progressives make their long-term, unconstitutional and unattainable gun control fantasy the enemy of the present good. They are sacrificing our school children on the altar of their gun control religion.


Next, we respond to numerous reader comments about American Birthright Accounts