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Free Market Accountability Project

Government Should Stop Subsidizing Tesla, Billionaire Musk

By 6.22.15

Multibillionaire Elon Musk made his first billion as the inventor of PayPal — and, as we all know, the first billion is the hardest.

Musk once showed he knew how to fill a market niche, but lately he has specialized in taking the easy way to more wealth, bilking taxpayers out of billions of dollars through various crony socialist schemes requiring generous state and federal subsidies doled out to his high tech money-losing efforts.

The amount of money the government gives to Musk is a truly shameful, indefensible example of welfare for the well-to-do.

Musk invested the money he made in PayPal in companies making electric cars (Tesla Motors), selling solar panels (SolarCity Corp.), and making and flying rockets (SpaceX).

Together, Tesla, SolarCity, and SpaceX have benefited from more than $4.9 billion in subsidies, tax credits, grants, and payments, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Public Policy

Public Safety Was the Last Thing on Their Minds

By 6.22.15

Everyone has a story: The time an unlicensed driver rear-ended me. The time an unlicensed driver ran a red light and killed a co-worker’s dog as her husband was walking the dog in a crosswalk. It seems as if there are so many unlicensed drivers in California that authorities are not capable of deterring the unlicensed from getting behind the wheel.

In fact, according to a report by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, 17 percent of licensed California drivers have suspended driver’s licenses — not for dangerous driving but for failing to pay off citations for minor traffic offenses. In March, the U.S. Department of Justice faulted authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, for engaging in a toxic pattern of burying African-American residents in fines and penalties for minor offenses with the goal of serving “revenue rather than public safety needs.” It turns out California has been dishing out the same dirty treatment to its diverse commuting class.

A Further Perspective

Terror, Sanctions, and a Chinese Wall

By 6.21.15

The State Department on Friday released its Annual Report on Terrorism, and we can read all about it in the Washington Post. We learn that there was a 35 percent increase in terrorist attacks around the world, “driven by extremist groups in the Middle East and Africa.” In Iraq, these “extremist groups” have declared “a caliphate.” For our State Department—and its propaganda arm—Islam is the religion that dare not speak its name.

Main Street U.S.A.

A Moral Moment

By 6.21.15

Each in his own way, each to a wholly different purpose, the pope and Dylann Roof, the suspected Charleston gunman, have hold of something major.

Which is — I trust I do not surprise anyone — the failings of the liberated human spirit.

Let’s see what we can do with this improbable pairing.

First, consider Pope Francis. To quote a Wall Street Journal headline, “Pope Blames Markets for Environmental Ills.” Markets? Meaning what? Meaning the virtually uninhibited choice that economic markets offer consumers: I’ll have some of this; I’ll have some of that. For the environment’s degraded condition the pope, in a new encyclical, blames bad choices, reflecting “the interest of the deified market, which become the only rule.” Francis would enjoin, as he sees it, more responsible choices, concerning stewardship of our earthly home and its resources.

A Bigger Perspective

A Call to Courage in the Hour of Evil

By 6.19.15

Among the nine innocents murdered at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston Carolina this past Wednesday was Pastor Clementa Pinckney. Reverend Pinckney is my cousin, and our parents lived just across the field growing up in Marion, South Carolina. Our families have remained very close over the years. I knew them before I knew the world. We were all molded from the same clay.

Pastor Pinckney was the real deal. He was always one of the bright ones. He did very well in school, and was called to preach at the age of 13. By the age of 18 he had become a pastor. After college he served as an intern for a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives. When she retired, Clementa ran for her seat, and at the age of 23 was the youngest person ever elected to serve in the House. In another unprecedented achievement, Pinckney was elected to the South Carolina Senate at age 27. In between raising a family and serving as a pastor, Pinckney earned at least two masters degrees. At the age of 41 he was just beginning to fulfill all of the promise his hard work and dedication had earned him.

Ben Stein's Diary

‘We Just Have to Stay Prayed Up’

By 6.19.15

I learned about the killings in Charleston Thursday as I was driving around the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, across its flat gray endless horizons. At first, I could not believe it was possible. This is 2015, not 1964. I know and love South Carolina and spend much of the year in Greenville. I have never seen more harmonious race relations anywhere.

But it was true. A deranged 21 year old with a brutal paranoia and a brutal gun had killed nine people just as they sat and prayed.

Little by little the news filtered out. As is always the case, he did not have many friends. His parents were divorced. He spent a lot of time playing video games. He had drug problems. Recently, he had reportedly been put on a potent opiate called Suboxone often used to get people off illegal street drugs like spice and bath salts. I know the subject well. 

So, it’s a story about kids and guns, about drugs, about hate — he told his victims he was killing them because they were black and were raping white women. It’s just a horrible story. I thought about it all day as titanic lightning and thunder storms barreled through the Eastern Shore and across the Bay.

The Nation's Pulse

Meet the New Boss

By 6.19.15

Twenty-five-year-old bosses are the next big thing. The next big, little thing, that is. From the digital pages of Forbes, who should know something about the matter, we hear that more and more old(er) workers are reporting to young(er) bosses. Grok this:

According to human resource and career consultants, older workers are reporting to younger bosses more and more these days. A 2014 survey by the jobs website CareerBuilder found that 38% of workers reported that they currently work for a younger boss.

Last Call

Sweet Black Angel

By 6.19.15

Rachel Dolezal is neither a black woman nor a white one but an angel sent by God to jar us from our collective insanity.

Dolezal at least passes for Angela Davis’ younger sister. Bruce Jenner could pass for one of the Twisted Sisters, but that’s about it. We mock Dolezal’s claims of blackness yet rush to call Jenner, a still-musclebound six-foot-two-inch man, “Caitlyn.” Our dishonesty rises to the pathological level at least as much as Dolezal’s does. Spokane’s Sweet Black Angel merely lies to us. Caitlyn Jenner compels us all to pretend as a matter of politeness.

An age that accepts fiction as fact naturally finds Dolezal fielding offers to display her irreality on a reality television show. The a.m. TV talkers rush to conduct confessional interviews that elicit more dishonesty. On cue, reports of the obligatory sex tape surface.

Why do they hate us?

The Washington Spectator

Income Inequality, Beltway Style

By 6.19.15

I had to be in Washington the other day, so I squirreled away an hour to drive by my old house in northern Virginia. My wife Jane and I had bought it when we went to Washington with Reagan. Heady days, those. We were young and idealistic and determined to help the Gipper beat the Soviets in the Cold War, free up the American economy, and put a halt to the spreading bureaucracy of central government. In time, we came around to the idea that two out of three ain’t bad.

It was a great house to raise a family — a graceful Cape Cod-style clapboard with a big yard. Shade trees with swings for the kids. A garden for Jane, a library for me. First thing in the morning, and then again after school, you’d see a pride of pigtailed riders trotting their horses down the trail behind the house. Teenaged girls and horses — I don’t pretend to understand it, but there’s some kind of magic going on there. Roadside stands were the place to buy your corn, cukes, and tomatoes, all farm fresh. Good schools, safe streets. Demographers would have called our life exurban, I suppose. We called it just about right.

Free Market Accountability Project

Laudato Si’: Well Intentioned, Economically Flawed

By 6.19.15

In the lead-up to the release of Pope Francis’ new encyclical Laudato Si’, most commentary focused on its likely-implications for the world’s climate change debate. An effort to influence that discussion—much of which has, like Al Gore, long since faded from public prominence and become confined to international organizations, NGOs, government bureaucrats, and professional lobbyists—is clearly part of the encyclical’s immediate intent. Moreover, despite the text’s occasional wandering into very technical subjects, such as the impact of air-conditioning (55), this long (and, at times, awkwardly written) document’s deeper significance will surely be how it shapes Catholic theological reflection upon man’s relationship with the natural world.