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Give Hostess credit. At a time when a blizzard of companies are paying their employees bonuses, raising their wages or improving their benefits, Hostess conceived of a great idea for their bonuses. According to this article, “The company produces bakery snack cakes such as Twinkies, Ho Hos, Zingers and Sno Balls. Each week this year, a representative from one of the company’s bakeries will choose a different product, which employees will take home in multi-packs, according to Bloomberg. Workers will receive the monetary bonus in the form of $750 in cash and a $500 contribution to their 401k.”

I’m just wondering when some liberals will criticize Hostess for contributing to America’s obesity problem.

It must frost Democrats to read “Hostess is the latest in a string of companies who have said they will use the large corporate tax cut in the new GOP tax law to invest in their workers. Starbucks, Disney, Home Depot, JP Morgan Chase and others have announced wage raises, one-time benefits or other bonuses for employees.”

After reading the article, I posted this tweet:


Later, someone replied:

It’s fun watching socialists, aka Democrats, pull their hair out watching Trump’s tax cuts work. The socialists, aka Democrats, aren’t upset that the tax cuts, aka capitalism, are failing. Democrats are upset because capitalism is succeeding.

With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Michael Goodwin states “The cash-in-the-pocket benefits are great news to many families, but the boom is doing something else too: It’s giving the millennials a firsthand lesson in economics. Following eight slow-growth years under President Barack Obama and an election where their favorite candidate, Bernie Sanders, railed against the wealthy and promised free stuff for everybody else, many young Americans were taught that socialism is their friend and capitalism their enemy. Now they are getting proof that the opposite is true. They are eyewitnesses as capitalism provides more opportunities and financial security to more people than any other system.”

Despite the prosperity that’s becoming increasingly clear, Democrats still won’t admit that the Trump/GOP tax cuts are working. Prominent Democrats like Nancy Pelosi “likened them to cheese on a mouse trap. Former party boss Debbie Wasserman Schultz told a crowd that ‘I’m not sure that $1,000 goes very far for almost anyone.'”

This must drive Democrats nuts:

The contrast with Trump is striking. His “America is Open for Business” spiel at Davos was consistent with his promise to get the economy roaring. Never a shrinking violet, he is most convincingly authentic when cheerleading for jobs, jobs, jobs.

He starts his second year in office with the dividends piling up. As The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, the tax cuts are “rippling through” the economy and leading all kinds of firms to explore expansion and some to consider new plants and acquisitions.

Many companies also are increasing their charitable contributions, with JPMorgan Chase saying it will boost its community-based philanthropy by 40 percent, to $1.75 billion over five years. That, too, is unique to capitalism, people and businesses freely giving away their money.

Trump is the modern-day version of economist Milton Friedman, a salesman for capitalism par excellence:

As the tax cuts kick in and as businesses continue handing out bonuses and pay increases, Democrats will be put into the difficult position of explaining why every Democrat in the House and every Democratic senator voted against the tax cuts. To this day, that’s one of the most stunning political mistakes in modern political history. Truthfully, it’s inexplicable, foolish.

A good friend of LFR sent me a video of this weekend’s episode of the Wise Guys. This week, host Bill Bennett invited panelists Alan Dershowitz, Ollie North, Ari Fleischer and Steve Wynn into an intelligent debate about a wide range of subjects. The video is almost 42 minutes long, though it feels like it’s a 10 minute video. That’s because, in my opinion, these gentlemen spoke past the shiny object BS that we’re weighed down with. Instead, they spoke about the fundamentals that built this nation. Ari Fleischer spoke about how our political system, over the long sweep of history, fixes itself. Professor Dershowitz asked Steve Wynn how he deals with the jealousy so prevalent in today’s society. Hint: Wynn’s reply to that question was both refreshing and bold. Ollie North said he didn’t fear the future the way Professor Dershowitz did because he thinks that tomorrow’s leaders will come from colleges, not the Ivy League.

First, here’s the video:

Here’s Professor Dershowitz’s question on jealousy and Steve Wynn’s reply:

PROF. DERSHOWITZ: We have a man, Steve Wynn, who is a multibillionaire and the American Dream. He earned it all the hard way from nothing and yet, when they see the kind of wealth you have, there are people who resent it. I don’t think they have the right to resent it. I think they have the right to demand a safety net. I think they have the right to demand a decent life but they have no right to take their wealth away. That’s jealousy and it destroys one of the most important engines of capitalism but the perception of the disparity of wealth has become greater than it’s become before because of the media and it is a real problem. So I wanted to ask Steve how do you deal with this in your personal life? How do we deal with it institutionally?
STEVE WYNN: In fact, I don’t. Because I can’t do anything about what other people think. My counterpoint to jealousy or envy is the only constituency that a successful businessman has is the jobs he’s created, the people that work for him and the opportunities for a better life it gives to the people who are involved in his business family. The fact of the matter is the distribution of wealth on this planet is outrageously imbalanced. The 5 of us at this table are part of a group, Americans, who sit in one-tenth of one percent of the almost 8,000,000,000 people who occupy this planet. Just being in this country, we’re privileged beyond any fair measure of meta-distribution. It has always been so…

Finally, Wynn nails it, saying “the only thing that’s ever created a better life for a human being in the history of humanity is the demand for their labor. The more there is, the better the life.”

First, if you have the time, watch this video. If you don’t have the time, watch it, too. Watching Alan Dershowitz and Steve Wynn, both registered Democrats, discussing the role of government and the successes of capitalism was fascinating. Watching Wynn talk about not worrying about other people’s jealousy towards his wealth, then pivoting to talk about his obligation to make his employees’ lives better, was inspirational.

Government’s role in the economy is to make sure everyone has a fair shot at prosperity. Special carve-outs stifle fairness and make prosperity for all difficult to achieve. This discussion was inspirational because it focused on foundational things rather than paying attention to click-bait things.

It’s time for Republicans and Democrats to stop focusing on shiny objects and to start focusing all of our attention on foundational things.

This week, President Obama tried taking credit for what Maria Bartiromo has titled “the Trump Boom.” The truth is that President Obama’s policies have nothing to do with the reinvigorated economy. In fact, businesses are saying the opposite. According to Ms. Bartiromo, “Corporate earnings have risen and corporate behavior has changed, measured in greater capital investment. Businesspeople tell me that a new approach to regulation is a big factor. During President Obama’s final year in office the Federal Register, which contains new and proposed rules and regulations, ran to 95,894 pages, according to a Competitive Enterprise Institute report.”

These businesses certainly know why they’re doing what they’re doing. What they’re saying with their actions and their words is that President Obama’s regulatory policies stifled growth, not entirely but significantly, by adding tons of regulatory compliance costs. When capital formation shrinks, job creation shrinks, too.

Others have noticed that there’s been a change and have adjusted accordingly:

For the first time in a long time the world is experiencing synchronized growth, which is why Goldman Sachs and Barclays among others have recently predicted 4% global growth in 2018. The entire world benefits when its largest economy is healthy, and the vibrancy overseas is reinforcing the U.S. resurgence.

This paragraph is especially enlightening:

Much has changed this year. Companies from Broadcom to Boeing have announced they’ll move overseas jobs back to the U.S. American companies hold nearly $3 trillion overseas and may soon be able to bring that money home without punitive taxation. Businesses have begun to open up the purse strings, which is why things like commercial airline activity are rising substantially as executives seek new opportunities. Companies are looking to invest in growth.

Investing in growth requires employees participating in the rewards. When corporations get into ‘merger and acquisition mode’, employees suffer. It’s easier for companies to merge with foreign corporations, then get taxed at lower rates. Democrats can whine about them doing that but it’s their own fault. It’s easier to work with corporations than trying to punish them. The government never wins in those match-ups.

Obama recently said that President Trump doesn’t have an answer for how he’ll get the economy growing. Either Obama is an economic illiterate or he’s intentionally lying. President Trump’s answer is to lower taxes and reduce regulations. That facts speak for themselves. Economic growth has virtually doubled under Trump’s watch. Consumer confidence is soaring. Companies are moving back from overseas. Contrary to what President Obama said, this isn’t a coincidence:

Finally, there’s this:

The Federal Register page count is down 32% this year. Mr. Trump says red tape becomes “beautiful” when it is eliminated, and people who manage businesses certainly agree.

I’m not alone in thinking that Trump’s policies are working. I’m predicting that President Obama’s policies will be discredited within another year.

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This LTE explains in very personal terms why tax simplification is required. A few paragraphs into the LTE, it says “But the tax reform proposal introduced by the U.S. House could undo much of that success. It breaks a bipartisan deal agreed to at the end of 2015 to phase down the wind energy Production Tax Credit by 2020. House lawmakers are looking to re-write the rules in the middle of the game, and that puts our economy and U.S. workers at risk.”

There’s no disputing that the new tax legislation will put some businesses at risk. Entrepreneurship requires taking risks. Why should a renewable energy business not face risk but farmers live with the prospect of getting wiped out every minute of their lives?

It’s time that the federal government got out of the corporate welfare business. If a product is a quality product and it’s essential to enough people, it will succeed. If it isn’t that essential, people might ignore it, in which case the company will soon be bankrupt. That’s capitalism and it’s the best economic model in the history of mankind. Here’s what Milton Friedman thinks of capitalism:

Congress developed the PTC to help wind developers gain access to the private investment capital they need to build wind farms. That in turn keeps U.S. factory workers busy making new wind turbines, and it keeps construction businesses like ours stay busy installing them. Our workers depend on these orders, and the PTC has helped keep our construction queue full.

What this company is apparently lobbying for is lower corporate tax rates and corporate welfare, too. Taxpayers shouldn’t shoulder the burden on whether a company succeeds or fails.

This is crony capitalism at its worst. For the foreseeable future, companies will introduce studies that highlight the benefits of corporate welfare:

That’s why American wind power added jobs nine times faster than overall economy last year, and keeping the investment policies stable will create an additional $85 billion in economic activity through 2020, according to Navigant Consulting. It will also grow an additional 50,000 American jobs, including more 8,000 jobs at U.S. factories, by the end of President Trump’s first term.

With all due respect, we don’t know that. I’m certainly not willing to trust a self-serving report. Companies that commission these types of reports frequently can’t survive without corporate welfare.

It’s time to cut this cord.

Headline of the day? This headline might get unanimous support from the Fraters crew:

Wisconsin Man Locked in Beer Cooler Cited for Drinking

The headline is great. The article is pretty good too.

Apparently, this nation has undergone a significant transformation from being a confident nation that loved free trade to being a nation that thinks the middle class gets screwed over by every free trade agreement. It’s sad to see the Party of Reagan getting duped into believing that we’re a nation that can’t compete by our party’s nominee.

Let’s unclutter this argument. Do you trust Donald Trump more than you trust Ronald Reagan and Milton Friedman? That’s what this comes down to. Ronald Reagan took over a struggling economy, cut taxes and dramatically reduced regulation while negotiating trade deals. As a result of President Reagan’s economic policies, the US economy created over 20,000,000 jobs in 8 years. In September, 1983, the economy created 1,100,000 jobs.

Compare that with Donald Trump’s record of failed businesses and bankruptcies. That’s right. That isn’t a comparison. That’s more like Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn. It isn’t much of a fight. That’s before getting into Milton Friedman’s lecturing Phil Donahue on the virtues of capitalism and free trade:

Here’s what Milton Friedman told Donahue:

In the only cases in which the masses have escaped the types of grinding poverty that you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history, and where they have had capitalism and largely free trade.

Anyone that thinks that Trump knows what’s best compared to President Reagan and Dr. Friedman isn’t dealing with reality. The biggest reasons why jobs have moved overseas are the overtaxation and overregulation, the increase in regulatory compliance costs here in the United States and the lowering of marginal tax rates in other countries. Add into that Obamacare and this administration’s war on cheap energy prices (think Solyndra and Hillary’s statement that she was going to shut down coal plants) and it isn’t surprising that companies are leaving.

Without question, we’ve hesitated to call trading partners out when they’ve broken the agreement’s provisions. That’s proof of political spinelessness. It isn’t proof that trade agreements are counterproductive.

Anyone that trusts a man who opened a casino in flush economic times, then saw that casino go bankrupt, more than they trust the greatest president of the last 125 years and one of the most accomplished economists in modern history is a blithering idiot. I’ll trust President Reagan and Dr. Friedman over Donald Trump any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

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Prior to Super Tuesday’s primaries and caucuses, Donald Trump’s ceiling of support seemed to be in the 35%-36% range. He won handily in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. It’s particularly noteworthy that those 3 states were open states where Democrats were allowed to cause mischief or where independents could vote.

Yesterday’s events were closed events, with only Republicans voting. This table shows yesterday’s results:

Combining the 4 events together, Sen. Cruz got 41% of the votes cast. Meanwhile, Trump got 33.3% of the vote.

I haven’t hidden my disgust with Trump. If I were king for a day, I’d banish him to Gitmo and throw away the key to his cell. I’ve got great company in not respecting Trump. Steve Hayes’ article lowers the boom on Trump, especially this part:

The worst of these moments may have come when Trump mocked the disability of a journalist who had criticized him. At a rally in Sarasota last November, Trump was discussing Serge Kovaleski, a reporter for the New York Times. “The poor guy, you’ve got to see this guy,” Trump said, before flailing in a manner that resembled a palsy tremor. Kovaleski suffers from arthrogryposis, a congenital condition that affects the movement and positioning of his joints.

When Trump was criticized, he said he couldn’t have been mocking the reporter because he was unaware of Kovaleski’s condition. That wasn’t true. Kovaleski had interviewed Trump a dozen times and said they had interacted on “a first-name basis for years.” Trump then accused Kovaleski of “using his disability to grandstand.”

This came up last Friday, as I drove my 8-year-old son to see the Washington Capitals play. I’ll be gone on his birthday, covering presidential primaries, so this was an early present.

My son and his older sister have followed the campaign, as much as kids their age do, and they’re aware that I’ve traded barbs with Trump. So we sometimes talk about the candidates and their attributes and faults, and we’d previously talked about Trump’s penchant for insulting people. On our drive down, my son told me that some of the kids in his class like Trump because “he has the most points,” and he asked me again why I don’t like the Republican frontrunner.

I reminded him about the McCain and Fiorina stories and then we spent a moment talking about Kovaleski. I described his condition and showed him how physically limiting it would be. Then he asked a simple question:

“Why would anyone make fun of him?”

Why indeed?

I’d flip this around a bit. I’d ask what qualities or policies would convince me to vote for Mr. Trump. In terms of national security policy or taxes, regulations, federalism, the Constitution and the rule of law, I find Mr. Trump utterly deficient. Listening to Trump answer a question on national security is torture. At times, he’s said that he’d “bomb the s— out of ISIS.” At other times, he’s said he’d talk Putin into taking out ISIS. Bombing the s— out of ISIS sounds great but that’s just part of the threat ISIS poses. That does nothing to stop ISIS from radicalizing Muslims in Europe or the United States. Apparently, Trump hasn’t figured that out, mostly because he doesn’t even have an elemental understanding of foreign policy.

On national security, Trump says he’ll be strong and frequently pronounces himself “militaristic.” But he doesn’t seem to have even a newspaper reader’s familiarity with the pressing issues of the day. He was nonplussed by a reference to the “nuclear triad”; he confused Iran’s Quds Force and the Kurds; he didn’t know the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah. The ignorance would be less worrisome if his instincts weren’t terrifying. He’s praised authoritarians for their strength, whether Vladimir Putin for killing journalists and political opponents or the Chinese government for the massacre it perpetrated in Tiananmen Square. To the extent he articulates policies, he seems to be an odd mix of third-world despot and naïve pacifist.

Like Steve Hayes, I’m a proud member of the #NeverTrump movement. While pundits like Sean Hannity and Andrea Tantaros talk about Trump like he’s a conservative god, I won’t. That’s because I care more about the principles that make conservatism and capitalism the most powerful forces for positive change.

Why anyone would vote for a disgusting, immoral liberal like Donald Trump is mind-boggling. Personally, I won’t.

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I’ve got news for all the people talking about the new pope in glowing terms. The Vatican has lost its way. Badly:

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican officially recognized the state of Palestine in a new treaty finalized Wednesday, immediately sparking Israeli ire and accusations that the move hurt peace prospects.

The treaty, which concerns the activities of the Catholic Church in Palestinian territory, makes clear that the Holy See has switched its diplomatic recognition from the Palestine Liberation Organization to the state of Palestine.

The Vatican had welcomed the decision by the U.N. General Assembly in 2012 to recognize a Palestinian state. But the treaty is the first legal document negotiated between the Holy See and the Palestinian state and constitutes official diplomatic recognition. “Yes, it’s a recognition that the state exists,” said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.

The Israeli foreign ministry said it was “disappointed.” “This move does not promote the peace process and distances the Palestinian leadership from returning to direct and bilateral negotiations,” the ministry said in a text message.

It’s pretty pathetic that the Vatican would recognize the Palestinians without demanding that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. That isn’t the only mistake the Vatican is making:

Pope Francis’ closest adviser castigated conservative climate change skeptics in the United States Tuesday, blaming capitalism for their views.

Speaking with journalists, Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga criticized certain “movements” in the United States that have preemptively come out in opposition to Francis’s planned encyclical on climate change.

“The ideology surrounding environmental issues is too tied to a capitalism that doesn’t want to stop ruining the environment because they don’t want to give up their profits,” Rodríguez said, according to the Boston Globe’s Crux blog.

As an evangelical Christian, I don’t understand what climate change has to do with a person’s religious faith. It doesn’t have anything to do with the 2 greatest doctrines of the church, the Great Commandment or the Great Commission.

As for Cardinal Maradiaga’s vilification of capitalism, that’s warped thinking, too. It’s impossible to think that Cardinal Maradiaga could fashion a persuasive argument that one economic system is less sinful than another.

Though there isn’t tons of material to base opinions of Pope Francis off of, there’s still sufficient material to say that he’s wading into political issues more than all other popes prior to his papacy in my lifetime. There’s little doubt, too, that Francis is the most liberal pope of my lifetime.

I wrote this post in December about a proposed condo development in downtown St. Cloud. At the time, I thought it inconceivable that an entrepreneur would propose such a monstrosity. I was wrong. An entrepreneur has proposed this project. Here’s something that I wrote in response to the first Times Our View editorial:

The Times editorial board isn’t too bright if they think this is worthy of serious consideration. The former Dan Marsh Drugs building is less than 100 yards from 5 major bars (the Red Carpet, the Press Bar & Lounge, DB Searles, The Office and MC’s Dugout). There are other restaurants and delis within a stone’s throw from where Dan Marsh used to sit. All of these businesses are open well past midnight.

Why would anyone aspire to live that close to businesses that will keep them up well past midnight?

This week, the Times Editorial Board wrote this editorial singing the praises of this project:

First, when the condo project is built, the city will begin to receive property tax payments from the owners of the 46 units. The units range in price from $165,000 to $200,000. Even if it takes time to sell those units, the immediate benefits go far beyond just the tax collection.

Market-rate housing downtown will provide the missing piece of a strong, ongoing rebound for downtown.

With the River’s Edge Convention Center expansion has come a boost in downtown bars, restaurants and some retail. On the west end of downtown, the continued success of the Paramount Theatre and Visual Arts Center has been a strong anchor.

The proximity of downtown offices, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud Technical & Community College and St. Cloud Hospital makes the condo project attractive to several demographic groups, including young professionals, retirees and single people.

The downtown bars are still within a stone’s throw of the proposed condo. They’re still noisy well past midnight. Here’s the key phrase:

Even if it takes time to sell those units, the immediate benefits go far beyond just the tax collection.

It’s unlikely that this condo project will take off quickly. There’s a decent chance it won’t take off. That being said, if this company wants to build this white elephant, that’s their right. They should know, however, that they won’t get a bailout from the taxpayers if it fails.