Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Girls Will Be Girls

The parents of the girl who was beaten for thirty minutes by a bunch of high school savages are pulling their daughter out of public school and home schooling her. Who can blame them?

Perhaps the proceeds they'll no doubt receive from suing the parents of the eight individuals involved will enable them to hire full-time tutors or send their daughter to a private school.

The victim suffered a concussion and damage to her eye and hearing. The girls and two boys who were involved in this sickening episode are facing felony charges. They should also be facing a massive financial judgment that'll take them many years to pay off.

HT: Hot Air


Upper-Class Misers

Jason calls our attention to an article in NRO by Arthur C. Brooks on Mr. and Mrs. Obama's charitable giving habits. It turns out that the Obamas managed to free themselves of a whopping 1% of their income between 2000 and 2004 despite earnings of about $245,000. Their explanation for their niggardliness (look it up) was that they just couldn't afford to give more.

You'd think that the only Americans with the nerve to use such an excuse for not giving would be the poor. But in fact, it is the poor - specifically the working poor - who can most teach upper-class misers a charity lesson. The working poor are America's most generous givers when we measure giving as a percentage of income. Most studies have shown that the working poor tend to give away between four and five percent of their incomes, on average, while the rich give away between three and four percent. (Both groups give away significantly more than the middle class.)

The Obamas got rich in 2005. Their income increased sevenfold from 2004 to 2005, mostly because of Mr. Obama's book royalties, and stayed very high in 2006 for the same reason. In 2006, another wealthy political couple with significant book royalties was Mr. and Mrs. Cheney, who had a combined income of $8.8 million, largely due to Mrs. Cheney's books and the couple's investment income. Just how much did the Cheneys give to charity from their bonanza? A measly 78 percent of their income, or $6.9 million. (No, that is not a misprint.)

The Obamas' penny-pinching would not be at all offensive if it weren't for their eagerness to raise the taxes the rest of us pay to essentially fund programs that would help the same people that much charitable giving helps.

Brooks goes on to note another astonishing fact:

In 1996, the General Social Survey asked a large sample of Americans whether they agreed that, "The government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality." Those who "disagreed strongly" with this statement gave an amazing twelve times more money to charity per year, on average, than those who "agreed strongly." People disagreeing strongly also gave nine times more to secular causes than those agreeing strongly, and even gave more to traditionally progressive causes, such as the environment and the arts.

When the government becomes anything more than a last resort for people who are struggling it does several things. It discourages the development of the virtue of charitable giving, it generally does little to help the people who receive the taxpayers' largesse, and it impoverishes you by taking more money out of your wallet and filtering it through several layers of bureaucracy before it gets to its intended recipient.

I read once that out of every dollar taxed for welfare, only twenty seven cents makes it to the person in need. No wonder people don't want the government doing welfare.


Why the Poor Stay Poor

There are lots of reasons why the worst off among the world's people are mired in poverty. Some of it is due to forces beyond their control, as Paul Collier points out in his excellent book titled The Bottom Billion, but as he also points out a lot of it is not.

This e-mail from a missionary friend of mine in Haiti suggests that there is an ingrained self-destructiveness and stupidity afflicting at least some of the poor that just traps them in perpetual poverty and wretchedness:

Hello, everyone.

Prices have been rising here (as everywhere, apparently). The problem here is that people always seem to think that taking to the street and breaking up stuff will bring a solution. SO, the last week has been marked with riots and road-blocks all over the island. In the name of protesting against high prices, rioting crowds have burned vehicles, broken into food-storage buildings, burned houses, and blocked major roads. It's one more episode of shooting at your own feet.

Sadly, the president here has been making jokes about the situation. That only seems to send the crowds toward greater mischief. We're not sure where this is headed. Prices are high. No supplies will be coming in our way. I'm already out of cash. We're not sure when we'll be able to move around again, and even if the roads open up that doesn't mean that businesses will be back on line right away. So, we can say it's getting worse quickly.

Pray for peace here in this crazy place. The UN has been under attack as part of the riots. They're eating well and driving nice vehicles while no one is able to really determine what good they are actually doing here. That makes them a target.

We'll be in touch. Andy

I don't know which is more pathetic, the behavior of the mobs or the fecklessness of the U.N. Given the history of the last sixty years neither is very surprising.

If anyone would like to help Andy, let me know, and I'll put you in touch with him.


Change We Can Believe In

"We need more white people." At least that's what the Obama people were saying as they tried hard to manufacture the appearance of diversity at a campaign rally. Can you imagine a Republican operative saying something like that? The media would attack him like a swarm of bees until the unfortunate fellow was forced to flee his post.

Don't expect journalists in the liberal media to point out hypocrisy in the Obama camp, though. They're hip-deep in it themselves. Sam Alito was almost denied an appointment to the Supreme Court because when he was in college he held nominal membership in an all-male, all-white organization. Barack Obama belongs for twenty years to a church whose pastor is a bigoted fabulist, and the media quietly tip-toes away from the implications of his association, as though they were leaving the bedroom of a sleeping child.

Obama is, moreover, an acquaintance, and possibly a friend, of a man named William Ayers who in the sixties was responsible for bombing several government buildings and who recently averred that he wished he'd done more damage than he did and wouldn't rule out doing it again. You probably haven't heard about this if you get your news from the MSM, but if a GOP candidate had had such an association that'd be all you'd be hearing about. Ayers has contributed to Obama's campaign and the two of them have been neighbors and associates for years. At the very least Obama should explain the nature of the relationship, it being a little awkward to have a president who consorts with unrepentant terrorists, but don't count on the media to force the issue.

Obama also has ties that go back 17 years to an indicted political financier by the name of Tony Rezko, a Chicago slumlord, currently under indictment for demanding kickbacks from companies with which he had business relationships. Obama worked for the law firm that Rezko employed during the nineties.

Rezko's housing units in Chicago lacked heat from December 1996 to February 1997 because Rezko claimed he didn't have the money to get the heat turned on, but during that span he came up with $1000 for Obama's campaign for the state senate. Since then he's raised over $50,000 for Obama and worked out a sweetheart sale of a house and lot to Obama, selling him a home for $300,000 less than the asking price.

The irony of this is that Obama was a community advocate for affordable housing for the poor, and here he was being mentored by a man who was a typical slumlord. The association certainly has the odor of political and ethical sleaze about it, but the media seems unable to catch the scent. Their noses are attuned only to sleaze that bears the smell of GOP corruption.

Nor is Hillary in a position to press Obama on matters of ethics, so it's doubtful that she'll bring it up except as a last ditch attempt to wrest the nomination from Obama. It'll be interesting, though, to see the extent to which Republicans in the general campaign will demand answers to the questions raised by Obama's coziness with Wright, Ayers, and Rezko.