Guns in America – Minimizing Mass Shootings

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Some mass violence is inevitable; however, it can be greatly reduced if we take off
our political and ideological blinders. This post shows the way to achieve that goal.
By: George Noga – February 7, 2016

     Following are five actions we can take to reduce mass gun violence; they are listed in the order of importance, i.e. the most effective are listed first.

1. Treat or institutionalize the violently mentally ill. Imagine living in a country where those with advanced dementia wander the streets without medical care, food or shelter. Imagine such a policy was based strictly on political dogma? That is precisely America’s policy for untreated violent schizophrenics. The 70,000 untreated and potentially violent mentally ill are condemned to tortured lives – and all in obeisance to liberal dogma. When there is a shooting by one of these miserable souls, liberals blame it on guns – also in obeisance to their dogma. Progressives refuse to institutionalize or force treatment due to their twisted beliefs. Since 1960, beds in US public psychiatric hospitals are down 90% despite an increase in population of 150 million.

2. Reform media coverage. Media should begin its reform with honest reporting about guns, including the 2.5 million times each year legal guns prevent or stop crime and all the mass shootings that were stopped by guns (listed in Part I). The key media reform is reducing the copycat effect caused by their over-the-top 24/7 reporting. When there is a copycat shooting, the media blame it on guns, ignoring their own culpability. The copycat effect is real and well documented since 1774 when Goethe’s classic, The Sorrows of Young Werther, resulted in a spate of copycat suicides.

3. Eliminate gun free zones. Signs proclaiming gun free zones are welcome mats for rampage killers. Gun free zones increase the danger to those within. The Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990 needs to be repealed. We need to make school choice universal so parents can choose to send their kids to a school where they are safe. How many liberals would then choose to send their children to a gun free school or to erect a sign in their front yard proclaiming: This home proudly is a gun free zone?

4. Learn from business. Mass killings in the workplace are down 70% in the past 20 years and without any changes to gun laws. Only 5% of recent shootings have involved businesses, which have become adept at understanding personality and risk. Most businesses use the run-hide-fight paradigm; they don’t ignore threats; they have violence prevention programs and they practice deterrence. They change the calculus in a killer’s mind that he will be able to control events until the SWAT team arrives. And yes, that involves guns. Corporate shootings are way down because businesses are non-political, non-ideological and are interested only in real solutions.

5. Change the culture. We have lowered standards for personal and civil conduct; long established rules, limits and barriers have been ignored and destroyed. We have removed all the guardrails for our society. When standards are lowered, those at society’s margins go off the tracks. Intellectual, political, media, cultural and religious elites need to rediscover good manners. Progressives need to bestir themselves and consider the effects of the vitriol they have injected into the public discourse.

We must recognize some mass killings are inevitable and not consternate over every one in a never-ending, in-your-face, 24/7 news cycle. There is much we can do now to reduce rampages. Taking the five actions outlined herein is a great place to begin. First, however, we must shed liberal shibboleths about guns and move forward in a non political, non dogmatic manner. We need a laser-like focus on truth, logic and real solutions, even if that means abandoning cherished myths about guns in America.


 Next up is Part IV – the final in our series: Guns in America.

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Guns in America – Comparison to Other Countries

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Comparisons to other countries prove beyond reasonable doubt that
gun violence is not related to gun laws or to the number of guns.
By: George Noga – January 31, 2016

    Gun ownership is a political right enshrined in our Bill of Rights for citizens to defend their liberty against tyrannical government. However, the second amendment states Americans have a right “to keep and bear arms” (emphasis added). It is thus a Constitutional right not only to own guns but to bear them, i.e. to hold or carry.
Source Note: The following data are from Pew Research, World Bank, UN and FBI.

     Pew reports the US homicide rate has halved over the past 20 years as population increased 60 million, guns 100 million and concealed/open carry rose. The murder rate in America is the same as in 1950. The ratio of murders to guns has fallen 70%. Due to anti-gun media bias, however, most Americans believe murder rates are soaring.        

    We begin by comparing New Hampshire (“NH”) to its neighbor, Quebec. NH enjoys the US second amendment but also has permissive gun laws, as should be expected of a state with the motto: Live Free or Die. Canadian gun laws are uber-strict with prohibitions against certain type guns and a national gun registry which includes handguns. Moreover, Quebec has the toughest gun laws in Canada. Surprise! Homicide rates in New Hampshire and Quebec are identical. New Hampshire and many other states are among the safest places on Earth for homicides. The NH homicide rate is even lower than Australia’s, which forcibly confiscated guns in 1996.

     It is not just Quebec and NH. British Columbia has one of the lowest homicide rates in Canada but 9 US states are equal or lower while 23 states have a rate equal or lower than Manitoba, which is average for Canada. In the US and Canada, the 5 highest murder rates are in 2 US states and 3 Canadian territories. Of states/provinces with the lowest homicide rates, some have permissive gun laws and some are restrictive; it is the same for states/provinces with high homicide rates. There is no correlation between homicide rates and gun laws; differences in murder rates are not the result of gun laws.

    Let’s take a peek at our other neighbor, Mexico. There is virtually no legal access to guns in Mexico; there is only one gun store in the entire country. Mexico’s weapons laws are so Draconian, the US embassy advises visiting Americans not to carry even a pocket knife. Nevertheless, the homicide rate in Mexico is 300% that of the US.

    Much of the US compares favorably to the rest of the developed world. The homicide rates in Europe, Asia and Australia range between 1 and 2 per 100,000; this is higher than NH with 1 murder per 100,000 people. Many other states also compare favorably. Even countries that confiscate guns experience little or no change in the overall homicide rate. Gun homicides may decrease slightly relative to total homicides, but the overall rate is unaffected. Changing the instrument by which you are murdered is not worth forfeiting your gun rights. Some conclusions jump out.

  • The homicide rate in much of the US is roughly the same as in Canada, England, Europe, Asia and Australia despite the vast differences in gun laws.
  • Parts of the US (and Canada) have higher (some much higher) homicide rates due to regional differences and irrespective of gun laws and gun availability.
  • Homicides rates are regional in nature; thus, national gun laws are irrelevant. In North America 3 of the 5 worst places for homicides are in Canada.
  • National and local gun laws and even confiscations are irrelevant to homicides.
  • Draconian gun restrictions (Mexico) do not prevent rampant homicide.
  • Easy access to guns does not lead to an increase in the murder rate and, in fact, coexists with a rapidly falling murder rate. More guns, less crime?
Part III of Guns in America is next; it offers solutions to mass shootings.

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Was 2015 The Hottest Year Recorded? Not So Fast!

Climate change acolytes and their yellow dogs in the media are flogging
2015 as the hottest year ever. This is a factual, objective look at the data.
By: George Noga – January 27, 2016

     One objective of the new MLLG blog is to be more attuned to current events. The media frenzy flogging 2015 as the warmest year on record and stoking global warming panic demands a timely response. Following are the facts and nothing but the facts.

Some data (surface readings) do indeed show last year as the warmest, although satellite data do not support that finding. What is not being reported is the temperature rise in 2015 was wholly the result of a powerful El Nino that began in early 2015 and hence influenced temperature for the entire calendar year. Without the El Nino effect, 2015 would have been another hum-drum year with no observed warming.

The warmest prior year on record had been 1998, not uncoincidentally the year of the last powerful El Nino which raised temperature .25 degrees over 1997. However, in 1999 when El Nino transitioned to La Nina, global temperature fell .30 degrees, more than offsetting the 1998 increase. Usually (but not always) the subsequent La Nina cooling is greater than the El Nino warming. Thus, temperatures in 2016 or 2017 will revert to where they were before the 2015 El Nino. Note: It may be 2017 only because the transition to La Nina will not coincide well with the calendar year.

Temperatures since 1998 (and data since the Little Ice Age) match up well with a solar caused, non anthropogenic climate model. There has been a secular warming trend for 150 years which began well before carbon dioxide was a factor. The warming has been moderate and non-linear, often with long periods of little or no change. There even have been intervals of cooling; witness the global cooling panic of the 1970s. With adjustments for El Nino, global temperatures for the most recent 20 year period have been flat and comport extremely well with the secular warming climate paradigm.

     Moreover, the gestalt of climate change fits the secular-solar model whereas computer models based on CO2 all yield wrong results. No computer model to my knowledge ever has been updated. Ponder that for a moment; there have been no changes to the models for 20 years despite highly contradictory real world data.

     There have been no updates to the computer models for one reason only. It is impossible to create a computer model that incorporates the actual results of the past 20 years while simultaneously projecting any significant global warming scenario. It is impossible because climate change is a solar phenomenon unrelated to CO2.

Bien-pensant climate fanatics and their media sycophants tout the temperature in 2015, the recent blizzard-of-the-century and any extreme weather event to support their climate religion. Yet, facts are stubborn things and they unambiguously tell us there has been no warming err, climate change for 20 years – net of El Nino.

Are there any climate religion fanatics out there willing to risk some of their own money on a significant wager that temperatures will not revert to the pre El Nino pattern in 2016 or 2017?  If so, I just may be able to get you some action.


The next post resumes our Guns in America series; look for it in a few days.

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Guns in America – Liberal Bogeyman

Progressives use guns as a bogeyman because they do not have real solutions. They
won’t confront the reality of evil so they inveigh against the instruments of evil.
 By: George Noga – January 24, 2016

     To begin this Guns in America series, there is one categorical truth to be chiseled in granite. The right to own and bear arms is not about target shooting, hunting, militias or even self-defense. It is first and foremost a political right put in the Constitution specifically for citizens to protect their liberty against tyrannical government. The literature is rife with quotes from the founding fathers to that effect.

Let’s turn to President Obama’s recent actions. First some history. The 1968 Gun Control Act mandated gun sellers obtain a federal firearms license even if they sold only a few guns from home. President Clinton changed that in 1994 by requiring a storefront operation for retail sales but licensing exemptions for other gun sales. Fast forward to 2016; Obama reversed Clinton, claiming storefronts are irrelevant and mandated home, gun show, flea market and internet sellers be licensed. All Obama has done is take the country back to where it was 48 years ago – basically rearranging the furniture. Predictably, this will have absolutely no effect on anything.

Gun control is a progressive kabuki. Liberal politicians dog whistle to their base but kowtow to the 42% of gun owning households. They promote toothless incremental changes. When the inevitable tragedy occurs, they resort to the same antediluvian canards knowing they will fail and then blame the NRA when it happens.

Despite all evidence and logic against it, gun control has become part of the liberal pantheon along with climate change, organic food and recycling. Following is but a partial list of the contradictions and disingenuity inherent in their beliefs.

  • No Obama action would have prevented any mass shooting. Reporters asked Josh Earnest (Obama press secretary) at a news conference to name any mass shooting that would have been stopped by Obama’s actions; he couldn’t.
  • Gun homicides in America decreased by nearly 50% since 1993; gun violence not resulting in death plummeted by way over half. This happened while population increased 60 million and gun ownership proliferated.
  • Over half of gun deaths are suicides and fewer suicides are from guns than from prescription drugs. The US suicide rate is similar to countries with strict gun laws and is far below paradigms of gun control such as Japan and South Korea. The ultimate liberal contradiction is they favor assisted suicide and euthanasia all the while railing shamelessly against gun suicides. Go figure.
  • Gun violence is greatest where there is liberal governance with uber-strict gun laws; think, inter alia, Chicago, Washington, Cleveland and Detroit.
  • Guns are used 2.5 million times a year to stop or prevent crimes. The only time terrorists were foiled was in Texas by an armed off-duty cop. Other mass killings stopped by armed citizens: Appalachian State, Shoney’s, Pearl Mississippi High School, Clackamas Mall, Edinboro School and New Life Church.
  • Broken window policing (gun control for bad guys) was working until liberals put an end to it. They don’t just want the bad guys’ guns, they want yours.
  • Liberals’ revulsion of guns is cultural. They live in a plastic bubble and never meet gun owners. They hear of guns only in connection with crimes. They are arrogant and condescending such as in “clinging to their guns and religion“.
  • Every time the left has a paroxysm over guns, there is a rush to buy more guns and ammo. It is a godsend to gun stores; you’d think they would learn.

Liberals use guns as an imaginary monster because they have no real solutions to problems such as Islamic terrorism, failing schools, a torpid economy or mass shootings. They just trot out their same fusty, doctrinaire, dog-eared shibboleths.


Next up is Part II – Guns in America compared to Canada and other countries.

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Keys to the 2016 US Presidential Election

By: George Noga – January 17, 2016

  With Iowa caucuses two weeks away, now is a good time to present some perspective about the forces that will shape the final outcome in November. There are three general electoral keys that have stood up from Washington’s time to today.

  1. There are no permanent majorities in America: Progressives and the media dream the present demographics of race, gender, age and class will result in a permanent majority. They are ignorant of history and the genius of Madison’s Constitution. These are the same folks who consternated in 1988 that the GOP enjoyed a permanent majority. Issues, positions, alliances and demographics continually shift and minority parties skillfully adapt.
  2. The longer a party is in power, the more likely it is to lose: The odds get ever and ever higher that a party will lose the longer it holds office. Only once in the past 150 years (Reagan-Bush Sr.) did the same party succeed a full two-term president. Americans like change and understand power corrupts.
  3. Economics trumps all else: Remember Bill Clinton’s mantra “It’s the economy, stupid“? People talk about other issues but vote their pocketbook. The US is experiencing chronic stagnation and many key economic metrics have tanked. Business is not investing due to higher taxes, hyper regulation and uncertainty. When the Democrats soak the rich, they drown the middle class.

Following are some electoral keys specific to the current political landscape.

  1. Polling as we know it is dead: Polling also is unreliable, often fraudulent and manipulated by the media. Statistics are fine for randomly picking a few marbles from a jar and making accurate inferences about the contents of the entire jar. Political polling no longer works because 40% of Americans have no land lines; caller ID screens calls; phones are used only for outgoing calls and when someone does answer, they refuse to be interviewed. Gallup and Pew have given up and will not conduct any presidential primary polls in 2016.
  2. ObamaCare remains wildly unpopular: The recent Kentucky election is a case in point. Four days before the election for governor, the Democrat (Conway) led the Republican (Bevin) by 3 points; for senate, the Republican (McConnell) led by 7 points. Bevin won by 9 points – a swing of 12 points and McConnell won by 15 points – an 8 point swing. All or most of this swing is attributable to voter dissatisfaction over ObamaCare which Bevin made a huge issue.
  3. Demographics cut both ways: Democrats may enjoy an edge among certain ethnic, age and gender groups; however, in the 2014 election, Republicans made notable gains among Hispanics, women, Asians and millennials. It will be easier for Republicans to make further gains in these groups (and gains among black voters) than it will be for Democrats to increase their support among white males, which is at 35% and in free fall. Moreover, it is apparent that race, class, gender, age and economic warfare are losing their effectiveness.

I close with two final keys: (1) Real votes trump polls. After Iowa and New Hampshire, real people casting real votes will result in clarity that cannot be found in any poll. (2) It is far, far too early. In 1988 Dukakis led Bush by 17 points and Bush won by 7 points, a swing of 24 points in a short time. Reagan trailed Carter into October of 1980 and in November won by 10 points and carried 44 states.

 

Barring a meltdown by one party or the other, it will be a dogfight and we are not likely to have a good idea of the outcome until at least some time in October.

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The next post will be part I of our multi-post series entitled, Guns in America.

  Part I explains why guns are a liberal bogeyman. Don’t miss this provocative series.

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My Days with Jeb Bush and Rand Paul 

By: George Noga – January 10, 2016

     I have spent the better part of entire days one-on-one with Jeb Bush and Rand Paul; this is a simple account of the time I spent with each. Let’s begin with Jeb.

In the 1990s I founded the first school choice program in Florida by raising money to pay for private school for disadvantaged kids. The program was an instant success and I asked Jeb to speak at our inaugural banquet. While conversing with Jeb at the dinner, he asked if there was anything further he could do to help. Not being one to pass up an opening of such magnitude, I averred that since we had a waiting list of over 2,500 children, he could help me raise more money to fund these kids.

Without a moment’s hesitation, Jeb committed a day of his time to help raise money. The arrangements soon were made; I was to pick up Jeb at the airport one morning and drop him where he had a speaking engagement later that afternoon. Jeb was by himself, without staff or security, and we spent the day driving from meeting to meeting with heads of foundations and corporations. Jeb was well briefed and did his best to help me raise money. He solicited my thoughts about how best to expand school choice in Florida. He always was pleasant, modest and unassuming.

Jeb later got a corporate tax credit scholarship bill through the legislature permitting businesses to obtain dollar-for-dollar tax credits for donations to qualified scholarship funding organizations such as the one I started. Fast forward to 2016; the organization I founded now raises $300 million annually to fund nearly 70,000 scholarships for children from poor families attending failing government schools.

My day with Rand Paul occurred recently. Senator Paul and his family had planned a vacation to Disney World and, being a low handicap golfer, he wanted to play a great course while here. I serve as co-chair of the Center-Right Coalition of Central Florida and am known in political circles; further, my son had once done volunteer work for the senator. To complete this circle, I happen to belong to a club with a highly regarded golf course. The arrangements soon were cemented.

Rand drove his wife and children from Kentucky to Orlando without staff or security, He arrived at my club precisely on time. We practiced, played 18 holes (sharing a golf cart) and had a two hour lunch afterward. He never once used or even looked at any electronic device. He was an accomplished golfer and shot his handicap on a difficult golf course. At lunch, where we were joined by a few others I had invited, he solicited advice from each person about what needed to be done for the good of the country and answered all questions in a straightforward manner.

Both Jeb and Rand met Teddy Roosevelt’s famous approbation of “Hale fellow, well met“. They were unerringly pleasant, modest and solicitous of others. They did exactly what they said they would. Our beloved republic would be in good hands with leaders that had the character of Jeb Bush and Rand Paul.
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The next MLLG post identifies the keys to the 2016 election – look for it in about a week

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The MLLG Blog Returns for 2016 

By: George Noga

      It’s baaacck! After taking 2015 off for reflection and discernment, the MLLG blog returns. To be sure, there are changes of which the principal ones are:

  • We have a new commercial email provider with greatly enhanced readability; with few exceptions (such as mobile devices and Roadrunner email), you will see exactly what was written in the format it was written;
  • Our website is being upgraded to contain past posts from June 2011 onward and new posts on a timely basis; there will be subject and chronological indexes as well as a section containing the best of MLLG writings. The new site should be 100% functional soon; when it is ready, we will let you know on these pages;
  • Posts are shorter – 500 words more or less – readable in 2-3 minutes;
  • Current events and opinion are emphasized; however, economic, political and human interest content continues – fact based and principled as always; and
  • Frequency is not on a set schedule but expect 3-6 posts per month.

There is no cost to receive posts via email or internet. We will not request financial support until 2017 at which time we may ask readers and supporters to make voluntary contributions. The costs of operating the blog are not onerous but are nonetheless very real. There are costs for using a commercial email service for tens of thousands of emails and for, inter alia, maintaining a domain name and website.

Why do we need another blog and what can MLLG offer that is not currently being provided elsewhere? If you stay with us for a while, you should agree that you are receiving perspectives not usually found elsewhere. The author’s background as a financial analyst, economist, CPA and high level political operative confers a special knack for combining fact, logic and insight – not to mention well over a half century as a keen observer of life in these United States and beyond.

We unabashedly approach matters from a more liberty – less government perspective but never – absolutely never – at the expense of facts or logic. We have many progressive readers who respect being presented with principled analyses, even ones contrary to their cherished beliefs. However, the MLLG blog is not intended to convert liberals – but to witness the blessings of liberty to a candid world.

      Enough explanation. The next MLLG post you will soon receive is a memoir of the days the author spent with Jeb Bush and Rand Paul. Not many bloggers have spent full days one-on-one with two 2016 presidential candidates. Other upcoming posts deal with the 2016 election, radical Islam, EPA carbon regulations, how bottled water gives the lie to socialism and a special multi-part series about guns in America. Stay tuned!

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Final Posting and Valediction

By: George Noga – December 15, 2014

        This is my final posting for the More Liberty – Less Government Foundation. It comes after more than 7 years and 300 posts totaling 1,000 pages and 500,000 words. The name says it all; those four words “more liberty – less government” are my creed. Deconstructing the name, you will see that, above all, I love liberty; that’s why in the logo the “more liberty” part is bigger and bolder. It is impossible to overstate the importance of liberty.

To borrow from Clarence Darrow: “Liberty is the most jealous and exacting mistress that can beguile the brain and soul of man. She will have nothing from him who will not give her all. She knows that his pretended love serves but to betray. But when once the fierce heat of her quenchless, lustrous eyes has burned into the victim’s heart, he will know no other smile but hers. Liberty will have none but the great devoted souls, and by her glorious visions, her lavish promises, her boundless hopes, her infinitely witching charms, she lures her victims over hard and stony ways, by desolate and dangerous paths, through misery and obloquy.” I proudly am one of lady liberty’s devoted souls.

“Of all who ever have lived, less than 1% experienced liberty.”

The second part of the name “less government” is the corollary of the first. They are mutually exclusive; one cannot have both more liberty and more government; they always move in opposing directions, i.e. if we have more liberty we, ipso facto, have less government. And government is the eternal archenemy of liberty. Of the 110 billion humans who have walked on this earth, less than 1% lived their lives in liberty. Even in the 21st century only about 10% of the world’s 7+ billion souls live in relative liberty. I used the term “relative” advisedly as liberty in contemporary democracies is partial at best. Moreover, the clear trend today is toward more government and less liberty.

Through these pages I have labored mightily to present different and compelling ways to show the blessings of liberty and the evils of government – always in a fact-based and principled manner. I have not engaged in name-calling or besmirching those whose views differ; I attack their ideas while respecting them as people. Again, I used the term “evil” advisedly; I began by calling government “malevolent” but over the years of writing, I came to believe “evil” is more accurate; this is a view I do not shy away from and which has been well documented on these pages.

Reasons for Writing this Blog

        Authoring this blog for 7 years and 500,000 words was, first and foremost, a cri de coeur for America. However feebly and briefly, I ventured into the world of ideas. Using William Buckley’s construct, I stood athwart our beloved republic’s march toward oblivion and yelled “stop“! If I failed, at least I failed daring to try and was not among those timid souls outside the arena. However, I would like to believe I accomplished my mission, providing our children’s children that infinitesimally better chance for liberty. If that was accomplished, that would be a fitting enough valedictory.

“First and foremost, this blog was a cri de coeur for America.”

Although my primary reason for writing was to stop America’s march toward statism as a way station on her longer march to ultimate oblivion and to provide my progeny with a better chance for liberty, there was a second, much darker, motive. In the event it proves too late to prevent the self destruction of our civilization, I wanted to leave a historical record so my children’s children would know there once was such a wondrous thing as the fire of liberty and that some of us took great care to preserve embers of that flame until at some future day the embers could be resurrected and used to reignite the torch of liberty. Perhaps, my progeny might even be among those reigniting the torch.

My favorite author is Whitaker Chambers and my parting gift to you is to again suggest you read Chambers’ books, particularly his classic Witness. Even if you don’t read the entire book, you owe it to your family to read Chambers’ forward which is in the form of a letter to his children; it constitutes arguably the best 85 pages in American literature. Following is how Chambers in his book Cold Friday describes the wreck and possible resurrection of liberty.

“It is idle to talk about preventing the wreck of western civilization. It already is a wreck from within. That is why we can hope to do little more now than snatch a fingernail of a saint from the rack or a handful of ashes from the faggots, and bury them secretly against the day, ages hence, when a few men begin again to dare to believe there once was something else, that something else is thinkable, and need some evidence of what it was, and the fortifying knowledge there were those who, at the great nightfall, took loving thought to preserve the tokens of hope and faith.”

Valediction

        My blog succeeded beyond expectations – albeit in a different manner than originally contemplated. It began with 150 readers and USPS mail. During the past few years, readership has grown to over 100,000. In addition to the thousands who receive it directly via email, my postings have been routinely republished by some large blogs and electronic journals – one of which has 160,000 hits a week, another with 1.6 million hits per month and yet another with 10,000 hits per day. Countless readers forward some or all of the posts to their own extensive email networks and the recipients, in turn, forward it to yet more readers and on ond on. Some posts have received thousands of “likes“.

“The MLLG blog has gone from 150 to over 100,000 readers.”

Despite this success – or perhaps because of it – the time to move on has come. I have written about every topic I set out to write about 7 years ago – often more than once. As the curtain now closes on the More Liberty – Less Government blog, I look forward to moving beyond the cares and drudgeries of researching and writing a weekly post. I look forward to time to reflect and perhaps to devote to other challenges – both seen and unseen.

I look forward to kicking back and reminiscing about my great enthusiasms and devotions and to ponder my once and future deeds, but – at age 71 – I suspect mostly past deeds. I will summon up the living and the dead and replay old coups and scenes of tenderness. As time magically melts away, I am young again, alive with hope; grace smiles upon me and thoughts of mortality recede into the far distance – morphing into the remote horizon.

        Thanks to all of you for you kind support and may God bless the United States of America.

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Principles of American Politics

By: George Noga – December 7, 2014

      Eons ago, I spent considerable time in politics at the local, state and national levels. I learned a great deal and have been an acute observer ever since. I always had believed Truman’s observation that voters could always spot a phoney. That was before Barack Obama. America can survive a Barack Obama who, after all, is merely a pathological narcissist; our beloved republic is less likely to survive an electorate that enabled him – not once, but twice. In the end, Truman was vindicated; most Americans now understand Obama is a phoney; it just took them far too long and only after great damage to the republic. Following are some of the other enduring lessons I learned from my time in politics.

Enduring Principles of American Politics

     So, what is the true state of American politics today? Nearly everything promulgated by the media is both pap and spurious to boot. Four principles I learned many decades ago and which remain valid today are:

  1. There are no permanent majorities: There never has been, is not now, and never will be a permanent majority in American politics. You can put that in the bank! The media like to claim and progressives like to dream that, given present demographics of race, gender and class, Democrats have built a permanent electoral majority. These are the same charlatans who in 1992 said the GOP had a permanent majority. Anyone believing in permanent majorities is ignorant of history and also of Madison’s genius in writing the Constitution. In Madison’s words:“Extend the sphere, and you take in a greater variety of parties and interests; you make it less probable that a majority of the whole will have common motive  . . . or if such motive exists, it will be more difficult to act in unison.” Issues, positions, alliances and demographics continually shift and minority parties skillfully adapt. In a nation as vast and diverse as 2014 America, any electoral coalition is inherently short term and unstable.
  2. The longer a party is in power, the more likely it is to lose:  This principle is straightforward and has held up throughout the 238 years of our republic. It remains true despite any and all issues and demographics. The longer a party is in power, the odds continue to get ever higher and higher that it will lose. Power corrupts.
  3. Economics trumps everything: Recall Bill Clinton’s mantra: “It’s the economy, stupid“. Far more so than any other issue, economics is paramount. Demagoguing the rich is absolutely of no benefit if the average voter perceives the economy as tepid. The US has experienced stagnant living standards for the vast majority of Americans and there is a downward trend in take home pay. Business is not investing and worker productivity suffers as a result. Wages increase when each worker uses more capital, as his marginal productivity rises. Democrats are okay with low growth as they continue to strangle business, oppose Keystone, thwart energy development, keep corporate taxes high and support unions. When Democrats try to soak the rich, they drown the middle class.

    “When Democrats soak the rich, they drown the middle class.”

  4. The roll of money is significant but overstated: Money is important and can be effective; however, its marginal utility decreases as spending increases; there is a point at which the marginal utility of money turns negative.

Political Campaigns Versus Governing

     A few things have changed since my heyday in politics many decades ago. By far the biggest is that political campaigns have become permanent and there no longer is any meaningful distinction between campaigning and governing. This is an uber serious problem and no solution is in sight; it affects both political parties. This overemphasizes short term politics and severely shortchanges the true interests of the country. There are clear and significant differences between public opinion in polling and focus groups and the long term best interests of the people.

We must recreate a way to govern in the long term best interests of the nation.”

Something needs to change or the perpetual campaign mentality will result in more hostility between factions and confusing political formulations for objective reality. Our current system rewards those adept at campaigning at the Iowa state fair while devaluing their ability to govern. Madison anticipated something like this may happen; he wrote: “We will wait in vain for public-spiritedness to become a pervasive motive in our politics. Instead, we must create – and if necessary recreate – institutions that channel human  nature as it is toward promoting the permanent interests of the community.”Therefore,  it is up to us to recreate a way for America to govern in the long term best interests of the nation or we will live out our lives in a perpetual political campaign where everything is determined by polls and focus groups.

Political Calculus in America Today

      While bearing in mind the principle cited supra that there are no permanent majorities in American politics, let’s take a look at the political calculus following the November 2014 election. Following is my take on where things stand.

  • Most pundits relegate Republicans to permanent minority status because of their low share of the black, latino, Asian. millennial and women’s vote. Democrats should be far more worried about their very low support from white males – currently 35% and in free fall. It will be far easier for Republicans to increase their share of the Asian, latino, women. millennial and even black vote than for Democrats to reverse the trend among white males.
  • The media is right on about a political party being dragged down by extremists – however, it is the Democrats who have by far the greater problem is this regard. Their contretemps with radical socialists and environmentalists eclipses any issues the Republicans have with the tea party. The situation already is so bad that Democrats cannot truthfully campaign (or even govern) based on what they really want for America.

     “There is a political party dragged down by extremists, the Democrats .”

  • The Democrats cannot win with their present economic agenda; yet they are wedded to perpetual low economic  growth by virtue of their inflexible, socialist ideology. Attacking the rich and ramping up class warfare have lost whatever traction they once may have possessed. Their race, class and gender warfare is no longer effective.
  • Demography has been ballyhooed as the enemy of Republicans. Democrats have crowed that the future belonged to them as their lock on ascendant voter groups would overwhelm aging Republicans. This was dispelled by the 2014 election as Republicans made substantial gains among women, hispanics, Asians and millennials. The Democrats (or any other party) ignore James Madison and American political tradition at its own peril!

Readers should take away four main principles: (1) there are no permanent majorities in America; (2) the longer a party remains in power, the more likely it is to lose; (3) economics always trumps every other issue; and (4)  do not read too much into any one (or two) election result. Finally, we must heed Madison’s words and recreate a way to govern America in the long term best interests of all Americans – and not strictly with polls and focus groups.

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MLLG

School Choice: The Civil Rights Issue of Our Time

By: George Noga – December 1, 2014
        In seven years of authoring this blog, I  wrote about school choice only one other time – once in 300 posts. I have shied away from that subject despite (perhaps because of) having been deeply involved in the school choice movement for ten years from 1994 to 2003. I started the first school choice program in Florida, and only the fourth in the entire USA, in 1995. The program I began (now called Step up for Students) funded 68,000 scholarships this year with a budget of nearly $300 million. During much of that time I also served on the board of the leading national school choice organization, Children First America, which began school choice programs in 100 US cities. This subject is not a new one to me.
“Imagine many kids died because ambulances drove right past private hospitals and would take seriously injured kids only to a public hospital.”
        It is not hyperbole or overstatement to assert school choice is the civil rights issue of our time. Actually, it is far more than that. Although people of color suffer most from the current educational paradigm, everyone is victimized. Imagine there was a terrible accident involving a school bus full of kids and there was a private hospital nearby ready, willing and able to provide high quality care. Now imagine the ambulances would not take the severely injured children to the nearby private hospital – insisting they could only be taken to a more distant public hospital that provided inferior care. Imagine some kids died as a result and imagine the ensuing public uproar. That is precisely what is happening in our schools; poor and middle class kids are dying educationally (and some literally) – yet there is little or no public outcry.

       Never have I seen an issue so demagogued and so rife with downright lies and with those promulgating the lies knowing full well they are lies. In the following parts of this post, I address many of these canards.

  1. School choice takes money from public schools: Let’s stipulate there are one million students in a particular school district and spending is $12,000 per pupil; total spending therefore is $12 billion. If 20% are given vouchers for $6,000 (50%) and total spending remains the same, the per pupil spending on the remaining 800,000 kids in public school now is $13,500 – an increase of $1,500 per pupil. Yet educrats and teachers unions want you to believe public school funding has been cut when it actually increased $1,500 per student or 12.5%. If every student had a voucher we could slash spending on education by 30% to 40% and improve school quality to boot.
  2. Private schools are not accountable: This is the biggest lie of all. If a parent has a problem with a public school, it is nearly impossible to seek redress. Public schools are accountable only to stultified bureaucracies and unresponsive school boards and not to students or parents. Private schools are directly accountable to students and parents. A consumer armed with a free choice is the most potent force on earth – recall New Coke and Blackberry.
  3. We don’t spend enough on schools: Real (inflation-adjusted) spending has doubled or even tripled in recent decades while schools got much worse. The US spends more per pupil than nearly any other OECD country while test scores in math, science and reading are in the middle of the pack. Actual public school spending is much higher than reported because much of it is hidden, i.e. off the school budget in capital budgets, pension plans, health care, debt service and grants. Often, real spending is double that shown on the education budget. Washington D.C. in 2010 spent $30,000 per pupil and had the worst schools in America. Sidwell Friends, one of the most elite private schools in the USA and where the Obamas send their children, spends only slightly more. Moreover, there is no proven correlation between school spending and any measure of educational output.
  4. Teachers unions and educrats care about students: The educational blob is nothing more than a jobs program for adults. New York state (population 19 million) has more school administrators than all of Europe with a population of 700 million. The head of the teachers union once said he would begin to care about students once they started paying union dues. Out of over 100,000 teachers in California, an average of 2.2 are fired each year for poor performance. Union tenure and seniority rules are nothing but a union racket.
  5. Private schools skim the best students: Every study published shows this is false. Voucher students in private schools are indistinguishable from public school students in every demographic. There is absolutely no skimming of the best students. The popular movie, Waiting for Superman, depicts the cri de coeur  from ordinary, anguished parents facing long odds to save their kid’s life by securing a voucher in a lottery.
  6. Teachers are underpaid: If this ever was true in the past, it has not been true for a long time. When accounting for hours worked and all benefits, teachers are overpaid by more than 50% per a study by the American Enterprise Institute. A typical teacher with a $50,000 salary will receive another $52,000 per year in benefits compared to $20,000 in benefits for a worker in private industry. Teachers have great pay, outstanding benefits, light work loads and ironclad job security despite graduating in the bottom two quintiles of their class.
  7. Vouchers favor the rich, resegregation, scare tactics: With all the facts against them, the education blob (educrats, unions, politicians) resort to scare tactics. They play the class warfare card by asserting vouchers favor the rich. News flash: the rich already have school choice by controlling where they live and via private schools. The blob then says the “rich” could add to the vouchers and send their kids to even better schools. Their argument is they don’t want to help poor kids just because some rich kids might possibly do even better. Race baiters play the race card claiming private or charter schools are more segregated – an argument shot down by the Supreme Court.
         In addition to the above myths, many other significant facts favor school choice. Foremost among these is the matter of values. Public schools teach a vapid, secular, valueless orthodoxy. School choice permits parents to select schools that reinforce, rather than contradict, parental values. Another issue is child safety. Public schools require metal detectors and a perpetual police presence and for good reason. Public schools, particular those in inner cities, have become petri dishes for social dysfunction and breeding grounds for behavioral pathologies. The blob is holding the kids hostage.
“Inner city schools are petri dishes for social dysfunction and pathologies.”
         The favorite story from my time in the school choice movement concerns Tommy. When he attended a failing public school, he continually feigned illness and did everything possible to avoid going to school. In utter desperation, his parents applied for a voucher from our organization for Tommy to attend a private school. After a few months at his new school, Tommy awoke one morning with a fever and obviously was ill. Nonetheless, Tommy insisted on attending school that morning. When his astonished mother asked him why, Tommy replied, “Because my teachers are counting on me.”
        There are millions and millions more Tommies in America and we are killing them educationally just as surely as the ambulances that would not take dying kids to a private hospital. The ones we don’t kill, we doom to lives of dysfunction and desperation. Shame on educrats, teachers unions, politicians, NAACP and their enablers. And yes, shame on unionist public school teachers too, for they are part of the problem. All these people are standing in the schoolhouse door, just like Orval Faubus in 1957, blocking desperate children from leaving. School choice is the civil rights issue of our time!

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