fascism

Smiley face fascism

Some call it "crony capitalism," some "public-private partnerships." How about we stop futzing around with the English language (something American collectivists have raised to the level of a fine art) and call it what it really is: fascism.

My, that sounds nasty, doesn't it?  That's because it is. It NEVER ends well.

The National Council for Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) has a website with lots of pretty photos on it, and they define a PPP as

a contractual agreement between a public agency (federal, state or local) and a private sector entity. Through this agreement, the skills and assets of each sector (public and private) are shared in delivering a service or facility for the use of the general public. In addition to the sharing of resources, each party shares in the risks and rewards potential in the delivery of the service and/or facility.

Sounds peachy, until you realize that it's

...the government still maintaining the final say over the delivering of the service.  Taxpayers now have the noose of being forced to guarantee an “acceptable rate of return over the term of the partnership” to the contracted company around their neck.

In fact, PPPs are "a way to mask ever-intrusive government."

There are lots of examples of PPPs ranging from the Federal Reserve System to Solyndra to...Common Core, the Jeb Bush and Bill Gates-led race to the bottom destined to further enslave America's children:

Common Core is the conclusion of many years of the expansion of nationwide controls over educational issues...The current Common Core standards are limited to English and Math, but will expand to include all subjects in coming years.
 
The beginnings of Common Core can be traced to the 2009 Stimulus bill which gave $4.35 billion to the federal Department of Education which then created the “Race to the Top” competition between states. In order to qualify for funding, the states needed to adopt Common Core sight unseen...
Why would states do anything so stupid? Well, this followed on the heels of the 2008 stock market crash when many states found themselves in dire budgetary straits. And you know what they say—never let a crisis go to waste.  Anyway, check out the entire Stop Common Core NY website.
 
Who stands to gain from Common Core? Microsoft, Apple, News Corp (Rupert Murdoch), Pearson Publishing, ETS (you know, SAT and ACT), companies like Affectiva Inc. that produce biometric sensor wristbands to be used on students (but it's all very benign), data companies such as InBloom, where all NYS student data (including name, address, Social Security number, attendance, test scores, homework completion, career goals, learning disabilities, hobbies, attitudes about school) for all students (including homeschoolers) has already been uploaded—with an eye toward "steering" the students toward certain career paths...what could possibly go wrong?  See the the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) 2013 Legislative Conference Workbook for a list of "partners." 


But in a sense, I digress. While Common Core may seem so huge that it's dificult for us here at Redneck Mansion to wrap our minds around, there are other examples of proposals for PPPs that are smaller in scope, close to home—and being proposed by our own congressman:

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, is looking to revitalize American manufacturing.
 
Reed, along with U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-MA, recently introduced to Congress the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2013. The legislation aims to create a network of regional institutes across the country, each focused on a unique technology, material or process relevant to advanced manufacturing. It would include local industry, academia and other stakeholders. The institutes would work to expand research and development, close the gap between R&D and commercialization of products, support small and mid-sized manufacturers and train a top-tier advanced manufacturing workforce...
 
The network would be funded by a one-time, $600 million investment in the National Institute of Standards and Technology...
 
"I care about building things here in America and selling it abroad," Reed said. "That will create long-term, good-quality, high-paying jobs. This act is right up the alley of accomplishing that goal. The purpose of the act is to create centers and institutes focused on bringing public-private partnership together...

What's wrong with this?  This:

...There is actually another, more accurate term for public-private partnerships.  It’s called fascism; plain and simple.  Private business may act as an administrator but the state still pulls the reins.  From a political perspective, public-private partnerships are quite ingenious.  Politicians remain in control while convincing voters they believe in the efficiency of a robust private sector.  And when issues arise over the performance of a service, whatever private firm was granted the monopolistic privilege of delivery can be treated like a scapegoat despite having to operate within government established guidelines.  The state escapes criticism as the public ignorantly clamors for more protection from those evil hearted businessmen.  To the ruling establishment, public-private partnerships are “heads I win, tails you lose.”
 
What the non-exploitive supporters of public-private partnerships tend to forget is that it isn’t just the administration of the service in supposedly private hands that adds to its betterment.  Why the market functions so well is that it is driven by competition from businesses that don’t rely on assistance from the band of thieves who occupy the offices of the state.  Government assistance gives some businesses an upper hand on competitors which can lead to diminishing innovation.  Why compete when Uncle Sam has your back to ensure a decent rate of profit?  Then there are government grants of monopoly which give the chosen company absolutely zero incentive to cut costs.  All of the advantages of private ownership become effectively nullified in public-private partnerships to the detriment of the taxpayer.
 
In our world of unceasing centralization of power, lawmakers are finding more deceptive ways to mask their lust for dominance.  Public-private partnerships are the embodiment of what Mussolini dubbed “corporatism;” that is the “merger of state and corporate power.”  Under corporatism, the ruling class is able to expand unbeknownst to the Boobus Americanus and its equivalent in other countries.  The Average Joe still has his wallet forcefully stripped of its contents but now the state’s cronies get to partake in the plunder.  Meanwhile the same big businessmen who benefit from government privilege still maintain their praise for free markets while working with politicians to forcefully subdue their competition...
Remember that, despite what lefty loons are always trying to tell us, PPPs fascism is not the product of some vast right-wing conspiracy of (supposedly) Republican congresscritters. Fascism is a collectivist economic theory. It believes that the state is the most important element of the economy, not the individual. That's why fascism is a leftist system—it elevates the good of the collective over the good of the individual.  If the individual, or individual private business, is not doing enough for the good of the collective, the state simply gives those individuals a little nudge.  It starts out with a smiley face, with "merely" public-private plunder of taxpayers. Then the nudge morphs into a shove, and then eventually, wah-lah, you've got full-blown statism.
 
It never ends well.
 
There are members of Congress who actually get this: Justin Amash and Tim Huelskamp in the House and Mike Lee and Ted Cruz in the Senate come to mind. Those that don't get it need to be dispatched at the first available opportunity, which for all House members is 2014.
 
Our congressman doesn't get it. As far as we can tell, he's a tool of the left...an unwitting tool, probably, but a tool nevertheless.
 
We in this district need a Republican primary in 2014.
 

Another HUD Secretary from NYS is in charge of something important

This time in the wake of Hurrican Sandy.  What could possibly go wrong?

At American Thinker:

On November 15, Obama, speaking in New York, announced his choice of a federal "point person" in dealing with the recovery efforts:
 
On the federal level, because this is going to be such a big job, I wanted to assign one particular person who would be in charge from our perspective, who would be our point person...our outstanding HUD Secretary, Shaun Donovan, who used to be the head of the New York Housing Authority -- so he knows a little bit about New York and building -- is going to be our point person. And he's going to be working with the mayor, the governor, the borough presidents, the county officials to make sure that we come up with a strong, effective plan. And then, I'll be working with the members of Congress to do everything we can to get the resources needed to rebuild. And I have every confidence that Shaun is going to be doing a great job, and so people should feel some confidence about that.
Don't you feel all warm and fuzzy?
 
Since we often don't know very much about our less visible cabinet secretaries, meet our class-warfare czar:
I would never believe that the private sector, left to its own devices, is the best possible solution. I’m in government because of the role of government in setting rules and working in partnership with the private sector.
As the blogger, Daren Jonescu, writes
For "setting rules" here, read "rigging the market." Having first set the rules in this manner, the "partnership" to which he refers is approximately analogous to the "partnership" between a protection racket and the shop owner who has been intimidated into paying the protection money.
Hey—nice place ya got here.  Wouldn't want anything to, y'know, happen to it.
 
A recent article by the Huffington Post's Peter S. Goodman showed how one homeowner from the Bronx has continued to struggle to save her home because of the outrageous treatment she's received at the hands of the bank that services her loan. Reporting with painstaking detail the obstacles Bank of America has thrown up as Katie Diaz spent months trying to secure a mortgage modification that lowered her monthly costs, Goodman's piece highlights the reality too many homeowners have faced during this crisis -- the dropped calls, lost paperwork and poor customer service that leaves them frustrated, confused and unsure whether they will be able to save their home.
 
Unfortunately, the author assigned much of the blame for these failures not to Bank of America, Ms. Diaz's servicer -- but rather to the $25 billion mortgage servicing settlement that Bank of America and four other servicers agreed to this spring. The largest mortgage relief effort in history, the settlement provides $17 billion in consumer relief and billions more to states that can be used for proven anti-foreclosure efforts like housing counseling. It also creates tough new customer service standards that require servicers to put an end to the kind of behavior faced by Ms. Diaz.
 
However, from Goodman's piece, the reader is left to believe that the settlement has failed before it has even fully taken effect.
 
Not only does the piece fail to cite any of the homeowners who have already received significant relief through the settlement, it isn't until the fourteenth paragraph that the article even mentions that the new servicing standards designed to protect Ms. Diaz and others from the abuses documented in the article won't be fully implemented until early-October -- when the settlement requires the banks to fully comply with more than 300 specific servicing standards...
As Jonescu points out
This is not an SEIU rabble rouser, or a Communist Party Obama supporter. This is a member of the president's cabinet. The explicit "eat the rich," 99%, class warfare vocabulary in this op-ed would have been fairly shocking, even for a Democratic administration, prior to the current one. Now, of course, it is so commonplace, including from the president himself, that we hardly even notice anymore.
 
If all this sounds just a tad familiar—albeit even more extreme—that may be because of one of Donovan's predecessors at HUD. At the Village Voice no less, in 2008:
...Andrew Cuomo, the youngest Housing and Urban Development secretary in history, made a series of decisions between 1997 and 2001 that gave birth to the country's current crisis. He took actions that—in combination with many other factors—helped plunge Fannie and Freddie into the subprime markets without putting in place the means to monitor their increasingly risky investments. He turned the Federal Housing Administration mortgage program into a sweetheart lender with sky-high loan ceilings and no money down, and he legalized what a federal judge has branded "kickbacks" to brokers that have fueled the sale of overpriced and unsupportable loans. Three to four million families are now facing foreclosure, and Cuomo is one of the reasons why.
 
What he did is important—not just because of what it tells us about how we got in this hole, but because of what it says about New York's attorney general, who has been trying for months to don a white hat in the subprime scandal, pursuing cases against banks, appraisers, brokers, rating agencies, and multitrillion-dollar, quasi-public Fannie and Freddie...
Long, but definitely read the whole thing.
 
Has this particular leopard, a presumed 2016 POTUS wannabe, actually changed his spots?  To listen to NYS Republican legislators, you would think so.  But keep that Village Voice piece in mind as we move FORWARD! (you might say) to the end of the Obama presidency.
 
Also remember that Mario's kid was for a 45% NYS Thruway toll hike before he was against it.  And then there's this (via South of 5 and 20):
ALBANY, N.Y. — Cash-strapped New York has tentatively chosen the highest bidder to produce driver's licenses under a disputed contract that would provide only black-and-white photos and end up costing the state nearly $38 million more than the current contract if it's approved.

According to court papers reviewed by The Associated Press, the losing vendors, including the company that has produced New York licenses with color photos for 16 years, are protesting the $88.5 million award to a Canadian company.

The award to CBN Secure Technology Inc. of Ottawa is also being reviewed by the state comptroller.
 
CBN is part of the Canadian Bank Note company that prints Canadian money, passports and driver's licenses worldwide. Company officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
 
The DMV tentatively awarded the contract to the high bidder 10 months after New York advised the current vendor, De La Rue North America Inc., that because of "significant budgetary constraints" the state would have to reduce the cost of the contract, according to the court filings. As a result, De La Rue submitted a bid 10 percent lower for the new, eight-year contract, which ended up being nearly $38 million less than CBN's bid...
Apparently, Andy hasn't sullied his hands with filthy lucre from this particular company, though:
State records show no campaign contributions from its top officers to any New York officials. CBN, founded in 1897, also has a lottery systems division for gaming run by governments, but has no contracts with New York where Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to expand gambling.
 
Call me skeptical, but these leopards never really change their spots.
 
 
 

Enviromanticism

Here at Redneck Mansion, we have several Pre-Raphaelite paintings hanging—well, they're not the actual paintings, just prints. We used to see the natural world much as painters like Rossetti did—perfect, unspoiled, immutable.
Then we grew up.


In the Ithaca Journal, Caroline (the navel of the universe when it comes to energy conservation) Town Supervisor Don Barber writes:

We are in a time when it is takes much more energy to extract fossil fuel (for example, tar sands and shale gas) than in the past, which means less net energy is being produced.

Wait a minute.  It's not a zero-sum game. If it were, the price of natural gas would have risen rather than fallen precipitously as it has. Increased fossil fuel use leads to 1) research into more efficient utilization as well as 2) creating more of an economic incentive for locating additional resources. This has the results of 1) lower per capita usage and 2) increased supply.

Emerging, manufacturing-based economies, such as China, are rapidly expanding their use of energy.

I'll buy that one—it's hard to argue with.

And we are past peak oil, consuming it faster than we are finding it. These result in fossil-fuel energy becoming more precious each year.

See "wait a minute," above.  Same thing applies. In The Guardian:

...As then (1979), we are led to believe that the world's fossil fuel resources are finite and known, and that the peak of production has either been already met or will come soon. Gas, it is assumed, will follow oil. Put simply, we are going to run out of fossil fuels, and they will therefore get (much) more expensive. For the peak oil advocates, the convenient truth is that de-carbonisation via renewables and nuclear is not only good for the climate, but sound economics too. Almost all of this is nonsense – and some of it is dangerous nonsense. There is enough oil and gas (and coal too) to fry the planet several times over. The problem is there may be too much fossil fuel, not too little, and that fossil fuel prices might be too low, not too high....

Barber's argument is entirely based on the zero-sum game fallacy, thusly (emphasis mine):
Then fossil fuels afforded us quantum leap advances in technology, life experiences and comfort. With the pending decline in availability of fossil fuel, will those socio-economic gains be lost?...
Sigh.
"Buying local" requires less energy to transport goods between purchaser and creator. Buying local supports both small businesses and the entrepreneurs that create local wealth, and it circulates money through the local economy several times...
We denizens of Redneck Mansion highly recommend buying local. 90% of all Americans live within fifteen miles of a Wal-Mart.
...We can insure vibrant local food sources for generations to come through buying produce and value added food products from farm stands, farmers markets, and Community Support Agriculture...
Know what?  CSAs?  Been there, done that.  No more. Why?  Because you're limited to those things that someone else has deemed economic to produce. We finally got tired of coming up with 365 ways to prepare very expensive bok choy. Wal-Mart now sells more food than any other store in the world—and at prices that regular people can afford.  Just sayin'.    
...Businesses can make energy management a top priority, harnessing nearly all energy they consume and finding ways to multiply energy such as geothermal, which creates 3.5 units of energy for every unit of energy producing it. Products and services from these businesses will cost less to produce...
Really? That's quite a claim in view of the fact that "alternative" sources of energy are definitely not cheap to install. But energy is definitely a cost of goods sold, a cost of doing business.
...We can embrace energy sources that are available everywhere and to everyone no matter of economic status. These decentralized energy sources can result in individual or local ownership and in time lower cost. They include, for example, solar (photovoltaic and heat); wind; biomass (direct to food, heat, or processing to another fuel source); geothermal; and gravity (hydro-power)...
It's true that the sun shines on everyone equally and while the photo above was taken before the arrays were installed on the roofs at Redneck Mansion during our primitive period, we do have solar panels. But can you say Solyndra? Name us one "alternative" energy company that is not engaging in crony capitaism—it's a system formerly known as fascism, and it has a bad reputation for a good reason. It never ends well.   
Passenger and freight trains and transport by water use fuel more efficiently than cars and trucks. Buses and carpools save fuel and create opportunities to converse with our neighbors, thereby building community. Bicycling puts us more in touch with our surroundings and benefits our bodies.
Systems that re-use vehicles like trains and buses can't be directly compared to vehicles that get parked at their destination. Anybody who's ever observed TCAT buses realizes that they sometimes run on schedules and routes with little patronage. Hmmm...unless, of course, patrons are left with no choice because cars and pick-'em-up trucks are no longer....well, never mind.
 
Comparing fuel efficiency across different modes of transportation usually involves comparing apples and oranges. Overall, system efficiencies likely won't be as advertised.  But by all means, let's get more "in touch," shall we?  
Some of these examples are back to the basics, adopting practices that made communities self-sustaining before the Industrial Revolution....

Some local businesses are apparently already going back to pre-Industrial Revolution days  wink

No one wants to be wasteful just as no one wants dirty air or dirty water. But a seemingly innocuous and well-intentioned, even romantic, attachment to the past can morph into something not nearly as pretty in the hands of people who see themselves as others' moral and intellectual superiors. That's not a road we want to be going down.

h/t's David & Tom

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