Disorder on the Border

Los Soles

The Suns protest Arizona's stance with special uniform

The owner of the Phoenix Suns basketball team, Robert Sarver, opposes Arizona’s Immigration Law because he is fearful of the damage to gate receipts from a boycott of the Suns by NBA fans in San Antonio, Phoenix and Los Angeles, cities that are all heavily Hispanic. Three times last season he had his team wear “Los Suns” jerseys to appeal to Hispanic fans.

In responding to Mr. Sarver’s latest criticism of the Arizona law, Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona released the following statement:  “What if the owner of the Suns discovered that hordes of people were sneaking into Suns games without paying? What if they had a good idea who the gate-crashers are, but the ushers and security personnel were not allowed to ask these folks to produce their ticket stubs? Thus non-paying attendees could not be evicted. Furthermore, what if the Sun’s ownership was expected to provide those who sneaked in with complimentary eats and drinks? And what if, on those days when a gate-crasher became ill or injured, the Suns had to provide free medical care and shelter?”

Sounds to me like Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is a woman of uncommonly good sense.

Bob Hazard

August, 2010

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Number One in the World

As we close out the summer season in our paradise on the Pacific with a late burst of beautiful sunny weather, soft ocean breezes and impossible traffic on Coast Village Road, it is interesting to watch traditionally liberal Newsweek rank the “Best Places to Live” based on Education, Healthcare, Quality of Life, Economic Dynamism and Political Environment. The surprising winner is Finland, a place that is as different from Montecito as flip flops are from furry mukluks.

The survey set out to decide if you were born today, which country would provide you the very best opportunity to live a healthy, safe, reasonably prosperous and upwardly mobile life? The # 1, 2, 3 best countries on the face of the Earth were Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, with the United States coming in at #11, behind Denmark, Japan, Netherlands, Canada, Norway, Luxembourg and Australia. The three Nordic nations–Finland, Sweden and Norway–finished #1, #2 and #6, indicating cold may be better than hot.

Finland shot into the lead based in part on its 100% literacy rate and 17.1 average years of schooling. 100% of the population over the age of 15 can read and write Finnish. The U.S., with its 8 to 20 million illegal residents, many of whom do not speak English, has a massive high school dropout rate, and can only boast of a 15.8 average years of schooling.

Finland’s  population of 5.3 million people, equal in size to either Minnesota or Wisconsin, has only one language, one flag and little multi-cultural diversity. Finns have a life expectancy of 72 years, compared to the 310 million people in the United States with a 70-year life expectancy. The higher life expectancy in Finland is partially explained when you learn that Finland has only 93 McDonald’s while the U.S. offers 12,804, all serving double cheeseburgers with super-sized fries. That means that Finland has a thinner and more fit population than the U.S. which faces a rising obesity epidemic from our coddled “couch potato” children thumbing away on their Sony Play Stations, XBoxes or cable TV.

Our country has over 700,000 Finnish-Americans, equal to one-eighth of the population of Finland, living mostly in Minnesota, Wisconsin and the northern half of Michigan, where the U.S. life expectancy is 78.9 years. Some credit the preponderance of saunas for increased life expectancy in Finland.  After all, if 5.3 million people habitually get naked, pour water on steaming hot rocks, jump into a 140⁰ hot box, beat each other with birch branches and then throw themselves into a snow bank in December, they deserve to live longer.

In quality of life, the Finns rank higher than the U.S. Their government has succeeded in forced income redistribution. Finland is about equal to the U.S. in gender pay disparity, much lower in consumption spending per capita, lower in homicides per 100,000 and slightly lower in unemployment. On the other hand, Finland has a much higher suicide rate, probably due to those long dreary winters and a much higher consumption of Vodka. Unfortunately, Finland is also the first country in the developed world to officially double-dip into a second recession, putting a crimp in its #1 economic dynamism rating.

The Finns also rank lower in their innovation index than their counterparts in this country. Finland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe with the vast majority of its people huddled in the South for warmth where they go into hibernation for much of the Winter.

Finland has 60,000 lakes and a lot of ice, snow and reindeer. The country was once a Grand Duchy of Imperial Russia and was a latecomer to the industrial revolution. Its mostly agrarian population fled to Sweden and America in the Great Migration from Finland between 1870 and 1930. Since then the Finns have given us lots of uncomfortable furniture; Eero Saarinen (the architect who designed the St. Louis arch and the TWA terminal at JFK); and famous Finns like Matt Damon (actor) and Pamela Anderson (the Baywatch babe, Playboy centerfold and onetime wife of Motley Crew drummer Tommy Lee.)

The lesson learned from the Newsweek survey is that to reach the top it helps (1) to be small in population, (2) to have a relatively homogenous society lacking significant minorities of low-wage immigration workers, and (3) to be a country where 91% of citizens speak a common language. It is also notable that the Finns have a single religion; 83% are Lutherans with a strong sense of right from wrong. These are uncomfortable messages for all of us, including the liberal staff at Newsweek. As former Senator Fred Thomson said in explaining the low U.S. ranking, “The U.S. does have some flaws. For example, it is where Newsweek is located.”

Bob Hazard

August, 2010

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Stupid Is As Stupid Does

The War on Terrorism
In the name of Islam, a peaceful religion, Muslim fundamentalists between the ages of 17 and 40 murdered Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic games in 1972. They stormed the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979; blew up the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983; shot and threw overboard in his wheelchair a disabled American tourist, Leon Klinghoffer, on the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985; hijacked TWA Flight 847 and killed a Navy diver in 1985. They blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew members in 1988; bombed the World Trade Center for the first time in 1993; destroyed U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998; attacked the U.S. Cole, killing 17 sailors and wounding 39, in 2000.
They hijacked four airliners, flying two into the World Trade Center and killing 3,000 people, one into the Pentagon and the fourth, headed for the White House, plunged into a field in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. They attempted to ignite a “shoe bomb on American Airlines Flight 63, Paris to Miami, in December 2001; abducted and beheaded Wall St. Journal Bureau Chief Daniel Pearl on video, simply because he was Jewish in 2002; killed 191 and injured 600 when 10 bombs were detonated in Madrid on train lines in 2004; killed 52 and injured 700 when three bombs were detonated in London’s underground and a fourth on a double-decker bus in 2005. They caused the death of 54 tourists and injured 266 civilians in a dump-truck bombing and fire at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan in 2009; murdered 13 and wounded 31 American soldiers when Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan shot them at Fort Hood 2009; attempted to murder 290 passengers on a Northwest flight into Detroit when the underwear bomber concealed plastic explosives in his skivvies in 2009 and; attempted to detonate a shrapnel-laden car bomb in Times Square in 2010.
Do Not Offend Muslims
In an our efforts to avoid offending Muslims, our country has chosen to ban the use of the words “Islamic terrorists” and “Jihadist” in the naive hope that if we play nice, moderate Muslims will wrest power from extremists who are trying to blow us up. In the name of political correctness we still randomly wand 80-year-old grannies, nursing mothers and children instead of focusing on Muslim males, age 17 to 40. Airport profiling is offensive to many Americans and to Muslims who do not support radical Islam, but it is the price we must pay for our collective security. Appeasement of terrorists doesn’t work. Dean Acheson warned us a half a century ago: “No people have ever survived who thought they could protect their freedom by making themselves inoffensive to their enemies.”
Radical Islam
There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, second only to Christians at 2 billion. Of these, 38 million Muslims have settled in Europe and 3 million in the U.S. No one knows for sure what percentage of Muslims view attacks on the West as an acceptable weapon of intimidation. While we in the West espouse tolerance and co-existence with Muslims, many in the Muslim world seek to impose a global Caliphate on the wicked West, including the conversion of all non-believers. If that doesn’t work, fatwa’s issued by Ayatollahs, imams, mullahs and clerics suggest a “grand jihad” to murder non-believers and destroy us from within. The battle cry of “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is greater) is both a warning and a prediction.
The goal of Islamic fundamentalists is to install a worldwide religious theocracy under Sharia law, eliminate freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly. Sharia Law is non-negotiable with respect to women. Muslim men can marry a girl as young as one year and have sexual intimacy by the age of nine. A husband has the moral right to beat his wife for disobedience or for perceived misconduct. Even when abused, women cannot divorce; they are not allowed to marry non-Muslim men while Muslim men can have up to four wives, all of them non-Muslim, plus a fifth temporary wife at his discretion.
Search for Solutions
The latest folly in the West is to condemn Israel for its blockade of Gaza. In trading land for peace in 2005, Palestinians got their first ever homeland. Israel’s reward has been more than 7,000 rocket attacks on unarmed civilians. Now the international community and many Americans condemn Israel for its right to defend itself. There is no moral equivalency between Israel’s right to stop the flow of rockets and missiles into Gaza that maim and kill Jewish civilians and the right of Hamas or Hezbollah jihadists right to destroy Israel using nuclear or conventional weapons.
Winston Churchill warned: “There is no greater mistake than to suppose that platitudes, smooth words and timid policies offer a path to safety.” Many in this country and in Europe favor the middle road of moderation, forgetting that there is nothing in the middle of the road except yellow stripes and dead armadillos. Forest Gump got it right: “Mama always said–stupid is as stupid does!” Sometimes well-meaning people can do some dumb things.

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Summertime Blues, Nation in a Funk

All my life I have shared a pride in America’s exceptionalism, its moral leadership and the American spirit of enduring optimism. Today, I find it more difficult to be enthusiastic about our future. One in 10 U.S. wage earners is officially out of work. Fifteen million American workers are unemployed. An official 9.5% unemployment rate skyrockets to 18% when you count those who have given up trying to find jobs. Construction unemployment is in the range of 35%. There are few summer jobs for teens and not many for graduating college seniors.

By 2 to 1 Americans feel our country is on the wrong track–staggering deficits, fewer jobs, higher taxes and increased spending. The number of U.S. homes foreclosed on and repossessed by banks, hit a record high in the second quarter, up 38% over last year. The estimate is for 1 million American homes to be lost in 2010. Budget-strapped states, cities and counties are cutting services, shedding workers or raising taxes and fees.

The President has called for the most massive redistribution of wealth in U.S. history. He has put us on the road to national healthcare, bringing more uncertainty to businesses and the medical community. Like it or not, ObamaCare will most certainly take away the power of doctors and patients and hand it over to federal bureaucrats. Based on past performance within similar systems, it is not unreasonable to predict government rationing of healthcare, lower quality and higher costs to consumers and business.

The President supports amnesty for illegal immigrants without an effective plan to seal the border. His cap and trade energy plan would mean higher energy costs for consumers. Federal bailouts of big banks meant that Goldman was adjudged to be too big to fail but Lehman Brothers was not. The federal takeover of GM ran roughshod over traditional bankruptcy protections; it stiffed the bondholders to pay off union workers.

Common Sense, Limited Government

Government has inserted itself into every aspect of our lives from how to flush our toilets to how to save the snail darter. Central planning cannot solve every problem. Public education is a mess. The clean-up of the oil in the gulf has been late and uncoordinated. The feds can’t do their job and seal our southern border. The State of Arizona says to the feds if you can’t do your job, we’ll help you do it. The feds cry “racial profiling” and sue the State of Arizona for enforcing federal law while turning a blind eye to sanctuary cities and those who ignore our immigration laws. How bizarre is that?

We the people are over-taxed, over-stimulated and over-regulated by an arrogant political class whose main mission is to buy votes to stay in power. This nation is in deep, deep gumbo–and it’s a lot worse than just tar balls on our beaches from a nasty oil leak.

Manufacturing has been shipped overseas; we are now a service-based economy. When I was young, the United States was the greatest industrial power in the world–the arsenal of democracy. Now we have become de-industrialized; we no longer make steel, autos or even toys. Instead, we import, borrow and spend and charge it to our grandchildren. We owe China and the Saudis a staggering $7 trillion, enough to buy all the companies listed on the NY Stock Exchange. Nations that have taken our jobs are on-fire economically. Our prosperity has been shipped offshore.

Job Creation

We must focus on policies that promote private sector growth, not more entitlements. Most of our problems would be lessened by robust private sector job creation which would lead to greater government revenues, fewer home foreclosures, increased consumer spending, greater national prosperity, less business and consumer uncertainty. So what does the president do? He has turned a tin ear to our anemic private sector job creation. He bashes the free enterprise system that has created the greatest opportunity and the most wealth for the most people in the history of the world; he relentlessly attacks private business and profits; he raises taxes and adds more regulations–all job creation killers.

Last year’s $862 billion stimulus bill was a flop because instead of creating private sector jobs that pay for the cost of more government, this stimulus bill was loaded with pork to create and save government jobs in states that overspent. The expansion in the size and scope of the federal government is frightening. Do we really need 42 new unaccountable Czars that will cost $100 billion over the next five years?

The federal government can’t pay its bills; neither can the State of California; and increasingly the County and City of Santa Barbara are faced with layoffs to pay the costs of unsustainable runaway government pensions and benefits. There is budget gridlock in Washington; there is gridlock in Sacramento; and gridlock in Santa Barbara.

Two years ago, the majority of us supported freshman Senator Barack Obama for president, not on his military, legislative or private sector accomplishments (there weren’t any) but on his vow to end politics-as-usual and bring transparency and integrity to government. His appeal was a clam to office that he could transcend the partisan divide. Sadly, come November we get to make another choice.

Bob Hazard

August 2020

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Ground Zero

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