Are we all Chavista’s now?

We are all Keynesians now.” ­— attributed to President Richard Nixon

In the depths of the Great Depression, economist John Maynard Keynes theorized that the government could control business cycles through monetary and fiscal policies.

Keynes was right to some extent. Lower taxes, higher government spending and lower interest rates stimulate the economy, at least for a while. Even Nixon came to believe in it.

The phrase “We are all Keynesians” caught on. Economics is the dismal science after all.

A Newsweek cover story in 2009 took the catchphrase a step further in proclaiming on its cover that “We are all socialists now” as they celebrated President Barack Obama’s promise to fundamentally transform America.

Maybe Newsweek didn’t really think socialism would save the world, but just hoped it would save Newsweek. Within a few years after that story, Newsweek was dead as a print magazine and was sold for one dollar. Which was worth less than seven cents in the 1930’s money used by Keynes.

Although socialism came too late for Newsweek, it came too early for Venezuela. Historically, Venezuela has always had an industrious workforce and abundant natural resources.

Which it has wasted.

To give just one example, Venezuela has the largest petroleum reserves in the world. But it currently imports oil from the United States because it now lacks the know-how and systems to run its oil fields beyond about 40 percent capacity.

How can that be?

Socialism, that’s how. The late socialist Hugo Chavez looted part of the country and ran the rest into the ground in the name of “Chavism.” The price of gasoline in Venezuela is about four cents a gallon, but you have to stand in line for hours and sometimes days.

Inflation in Venezuela in 2019 is projected to be 10 million percent per annum, says the IMF. Seriously.

That’s what happens under socialism. The dogma is “from each according to his ability and to each according to his needs.” The outcome, predictably, is a needy population with little ability.

The people running the show tend to have the highest needs and lowest ability of all. Chavez became a billionaire by destroying his country, as did all the others.

So what of America? Well, here are some sobering statistics.

Millennials favor socialism over capitalism by a margin of 51 to 45 percent according to a 2018 Gallup poll. At our universities, liberal professors outnumber conservatives by 12 to 1, a 2016 study by Econ Journal Watch found.

A full 18 percent of university professors are full-on, self-described Marxists, according to researchthat included a University of Colorado professor. These purportedly educated individuals are adherents to the philosophy that killed 100 million people in the 20th century.

Some 40 percent of Americans, according to the Cato Institute, think the government should prevent so-called hate speech with which they disagree, the First Amendment be damned.

That’s because socialists know that earners don’t surrender their earnings voluntarily. Their earnings must be taken. And dissent must be crushed — by censorship, by political correctness and by name-calling. Now that they’ve worn out the race card, their idea of persuasion is to call you a “motherf—er.”

If necessary, and sometimes just for the fun of it, they use violence. A Brookings Institution survey in 2017 found 19 percent of college students think it’s OK to use violence to stop speakers from speaking.

To disguise their thievery, socialists play word games. The newest incarnation of this ancient practice of taking from others whatever you need for yourself has been rebranded the “Green New Deal.”

“Green” refers to the money the government will confiscate under the proposed 70 percent tax rates (plus state and local taxes).

Whatever the branding, socialism does appeal to the mob. The mob would rather play than work, and would rather take than earn. They especially like to take from earners they envy and therefore hate.

Playing, taking, envying and hating are not the path to happiness that the mob assumes, but that point is for another column. Today’s point is that such shallow self-indulgence is not what saved us from the stultifying stank of socialist slums.

It’s the incentives, creativity, risk-taking and individuality of capitalism that did it. In America over the past century, shorter work hours and labor-saving machines attributable to capitalistic invention and investment produced a bounty of leisure time. Lifespans have increased by 50 percent and child mortality has dropped by over 90 percent. We don’t have just a chicken in every pot; we have two cars in every garage.

Even our poor enjoy more luxury than yesterday’s royalty, with cable television, air conditioning, pickup trucks and smartphones.

Our biggest problems are ones of abundance. No one involuntarily starves to death in America, but many people voluntarily eat themselves to death. We’ve nearly eradicated ancient bigotry based on gender, skin color and religion, but are now promoting it again in the name of identity politics.

We’ve almost earned our way to a real utopia, but we risk sacrificing it on the altar of a cult that promises counterfeit happiness and free stuff in the form of envy and stolen goods.

Give the Chavistas credit for one thing — there’s no problem with illegal immigration into Venezuela. People are instead fleeing that “workers’ paradise” just as they fled all the others.

I wonder how long before there will be nowhere to escape. Are we all Chavistas now?

(Published Jan 13, 2019 in the Aspen Times at https://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/glenn-k-beaton-are-we-all-chavistas-now/)

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Ringing in the New Year and wringing out the old

This is the time of year when we ring in the new year, wring out the old, and mop up the drippings with a newspaper column. Here goes.

Aspen Skiing Co. announced this year that it is reining in dogs, since lately the whole town has been raining in dogs. Dogs don’t heed warnings from skiers like “On your left.” Maybe they heed snowboarders better, who just shout “Dude! Outta my way!”

And dogs do doo-doo on the slopes just like bears do doo-doo in the woods. I’d rather fall on a rock or on bear doo-doo than on doo-doo done by a dog.

The overgroomed inhabitants of the Aspen Labradoodle Sanctuary, otherwise known as the Red Mountain neighborhood, are barking and woofing about this crackdown. But their dogs couldn’t care less.

In local politics, the former mayor et cetera of Aspen who spent decades on government payrolls emerged this year from taxpayer-subsidized housing that he got for dimes on the dollar in search of another government job, something like Punxsutawney Phil emerging periodically from his rent-free hole in search of his shadow. This is after a few years underground where he monetized political connections with his “consulting” (his word) business.

Back when he was mayor, his counter “argument” to one of my political columns was to tell me in a social media post: “Aspen. It’s not for everyone. Maybe you should move on.”

I wasn’t persuaded.

This is his second try for elected office after vacating the mayor’s office. In his first try, he suffered a trouncing by a newcomer by nearly a 2-to-1 margin. In this second try, he suffered another trouncing by another newcomer by another nearly a 2-to-1 margin.

His persuasion skills evidently work no better with the citizens of Aspen than they worked with me. They think by nearly a 2-to-1 margin that Aspen is not for everyone and maybe he should move on.

The longtime assistant city manager already has. With persuasion skills rivaling those of the former mayor, he asked rival bureaucrats in the county to rubberstamp his proposals by calling them “motherf—ing extortionists.”

Now he’s out of a job. The conflict reminded me of the Iran-Iraq war about which Henry Kissinger lamented: “It’s a pity both sides can’t lose.”

In national politics, someone has spent nearly two years and about 100 gazillion taxpayer dollars chasing a president for being mostly a Republican with totally bad orange hair.

The portion of the evidence that hasn’t been destroyed by this indefatigable Javert shows beyond a reasonable doubt that the president is guilty on both counts as shown by his appointment of sex criminals to the Supreme Court who are known members of the notorious criminal gang called “Republican white males.”

It’s true that the sex crimes were only alleged, not proven, and happened a third of a century ago if they happened at all, and most of the allegations were withdrawn when the accusers were put under oath. But the evidence that the appointees were Republican white males is compelling.

Expect the Democrats to vote for impeachment.

You ask, what about the non-crime that the investigator was paid to investigate — the non-crime of “collusion” with the Russians?

Well, the evidence shows that this president has never colluded. Period.

He has never colluded with the Russians to steal an election, has never colluded with our allies to run the free world, has never colluded with his chief of staff to manage the White House, has never colluded with his secretary of defense on military strategy and has never colluded with his hair stylist for a normal haircut.

This guy is simply too frowsy to be capable of collusion in any way, shape or form. If he and another person were trapped together in a wet paper bag, they couldn’t collude their way out.

He’s the anti-colluder. Jeremiah Johnson did more colluding alone in the wilderness.

He even failed to collude with his lawyer to pay hush money to enterprising women out of campaign funds — or out of taxpayer dollars, as congressmen routinely do. The lawyer was indicted for instead paying the women out of personal funds.

If you can figure out how that’s a crime, then you too can be a very special counsel.

Despite the president’s inability to collude with others, give him credit for tossing some dirty bathwater — and sometimes some babies along with it — into the dustbin of history, to use the phrase favored by Leon Trotsky and other Democrats.

Such as American apology tours, black unemployment, ISIS (remember them?), good manners (remember those?), much of illegal immigration, trade agreements that screw American workers, the ban on saying “Merry Christmas,” a little of our mass-incarceration of racial minorities, perpetual war in Syria, good manners, trade agreements that help American consumers, economic lethargy, grammar, all but approximately two of the genders, good manners, a capital of Israel that is not her ancestral home and good manners.

And the Clintons.

As for the new year and the slow motion (I hope) stock market crash, I’ll pass along investment advice from Will Rogers (and if you know who that is, then you’ll soon be with him):

“Don’t gamble. Take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don’t go up, don’t buy it.”

And trade in the labradoodle for some of that taxpayer-subsidized housing.

(Published Dec. 30, 2018 in the Aspen Times at https://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/glenn-k-beaton-ringing-in-the-new-year-and-wringing-out-the-old/)

Psychosexual Dysfunction and Pickup Trucks

“I love my truck, she’s right outside

I ain’t got much love, but I sure got a ride”

— Glen Campbell

Driving along the street the other day, I coasted toward a red stoplight half a block away. A pickup truck loomed large in my rearview mirror.

It closed to within a millimeter of my back bumper. I couldn’t see the driver in my mirror because he was about 11 feet off the ground. I saw only the grill of his Ford F350.

Or it might have been a Chevy Monstrosity or a Toyota Enormity or a Nissan Malignancy. It could have been a Dodge Rammer because I think I saw horns on that shiny grill, but those might have been the real thing and not a logo.

He swerved wildly to the other lane, gunned past me, honked his horn and flipped his bird. He swung back into my lane in front of me and accelerated right up to the stop light, where he screeched to a halt.

In due course, I eased up behind him at the stoplight. But I have to admit, he had me beat by 17 feet. Given the size of his vehicle, it could have been 23 feet.

What makes a person want a pickup truck? Continue reading

Group victims to group guilt — the left’s identity politics

The immolation of Judge, now Justice, Brett Kavanagh didn’t keep him off the Supreme Court, but it did offer a road map to the left’s identity group politics.

The left has long been telling certain groups that they are victims. If those striving for victimhood can’t point to any specific instance of persecution, no matter. To be a victim, says the left, it’s enough that you’re a member of a group with other members or ancestors who were victims. If you are, then we’ll pretend you’re a victim too.

The left does this to get votes. They promise to champion these victims/voters for the recompense or maybe even the reparations to which they believe they’re entitled, if only they’ll vote Democrat.

This group victim idea was destructive enough, but now it’s evolved to something even worse. Continue reading

I Bird, Lime, Lyft and Spin ‘cuz I was born to be wild

“Get your motor runnin’,

Head out on the highway,

Lookin’ for adventure,

And whatever comes our way.”

— Steppenwolf, 1969

I’m so hip that I use kick scooters. You’ve seen them, the annoying little vehicles about the size of a skateboard with a motor in the base and a handle on top.

They won’t get you from Aspen to Glenwood Springs. Heck, they won’t even get you past the roundabout. But once they’re offered in Aspen, they’ll transport you the mile from one side of Aspen to another.

For that, they’re great. They’re what Silicon Valley calls a “disruptive technology” and what the rest of us call a “game changer.” They make more sense for you, me and the planet than hauling around 3,000 pounds of steel, glass and rubber everywhere we go.

For the benefit of my two or three readers who are less hip than I, here’s how they work. Continue reading

Sick of Mick, more than ever

Here in Aspen, we had a mayor named Mick Ireland. After a while, yard signs popped up saying “Sick of Mick.” A website even popped up, called SickofMick.com (the website is still up).

We finally got over Mick, we thought, but it turns out he was just in remission. Now he’s back.

A 2014 story in this newspaper shows how unpleasant this ailment can be. Mick crashed a private party in the park, ate their food and drink and abused a lady guest with profanities. When an 84-year-old at the party tried to escort him away, Mick took a swing at him.

Mick later claimed on Facebook that he’d been assaulted, contrary to the statements of everyone else at the party. And Mick made no mention that his “assaulter” was 84.

I once criticized Mick’s position on a political issue. He posted my column on Facebook with the comment “Aspen. It’s not for everyone. Maybe you should move on.”

I wondered what kind of mayor tells a citizen to leave town for disagreeing politically.

I soon found out. Continue reading

James Madison doesn’t want your dead cat to vote, and maybe not you either

In 1987, the eminent jurist Robert Bork was nominated to the Supreme Court. The American Bar Association evaluated Bork, as they have evaluated nominees since 1956. Despite the fact that the ABA leans left and Bork leaned right, they gave Bork their highest “Well Qualified” rating.

No matter. Bork was “borked” by a senate smear campaign led by failed presidential candidate, failed husband, failed drinker, failed driver and failed swimmer Ted Kennedy, who avoided failure in only one thing in life — getting repeatedly re-elected by foolish voters in Massachusetts who liked his family name.

After Bork was defeated, a replacement nominee was named, Anthony Kennedy. Continue reading