August 31, 2009

The free market trumps the government - empirical evidence

Every conservative worth his or her salt knows that the free market trumps government when it comes to filling needs and meeting consumer demands.  You probably don't need another example of how well the free market works and how poorly the government does when people are put in charge of making decisions best left to the free market.  Nonetheless, some empirical evidence never hurts.  After all, not everyone shares in the enlightenment. Now you probably don't care about the specifics of this example, but don't lose sight of the fact that it is meant to serve as yet one more weapon in your anti-socialism/anti-fascism arsenal.

Back in March of 2009, the municipal government of the city of Toronto, in it's infinite wisdom decided that for a city as ethnically diverse as Toronto, there was a distinct lack of diversity in the a la carte menus of Toronto's street vendors.  There were too many hot dog vendors, and not enough ethnic food vendors, or healthy food vendors.  Keep in mind that Toronto municipal government is very left leaning.  Voter turnout in municipal elections is abysmal.  But the socialists seem to turn out en masse, and the city keeps paying the consequences. Unfortunately, those consequences include the trampling of the free market.

In a city, like any other, with budget issues, transit issues, crime issues, the fact that the city even bothered to consider this 'issue' is a travesty.  Nevertheless they did.  What was the solution? The city announced 8 new vendors (yes 8, in the 5th largest municipality in North America after Mexico City, New York, L.A., and Chicago) that would serve Thai, Afghani, Persian, Greek, Middle Eastern, Eritrean, Korean and Caribfusion fare.  Not only that, they mandated where each type of food would be sold - at various locations around the city. Talk about micro-managing.  Of course in addition, the vendors each had to pay a registration fee of $25,000 to $40,000 for licensing to be in the program.  Clearly the whole approach is antithetical to free market solutions to the problem.

Don't forget, any street vendor could, in their application for a license, include the specifics of what they planned to offer outside of the hot dogs.  The free market has ensured that the city's needs are being served: there's a reason vendors sell hot dogs and sausages - it's what sells!  Meanwhile vendors complain that they are choking on the red tape.  It also appears that not many vendors are pounding down the door to get in on the program.

The real issue, though is that many of the vendors are experiencing, shall we say, less than brisk sales.  Since the government has taken away the free market approach to hot dog street food vendors, the free market is still acting rationally and people are looking elsewhere for their eats.  Like I always say, you can pretend supply and demand don't exist, but they are real.  Government interference in the free market ALWAYS causes more problems than it solves.  And it doesn't seem to matter how many times you tell the sophisticated intelligensia, they don't seem to get that the free market is smarter and more responsive than them. 

The lesson is obvious - keep the government out of the hot dog business, let the free market handle the heavy lifting.  The inference is even more important - keep the government out of health care.  If they can't manage the simple hot dog business then what could possibly lead anyone to believe they can do any better in the complex health care field? You listening President Obama?

UPDATE: Just to prove that it's not about the food ethnicity, in Portland Oregon the ethnic food carts are thriving. It isn't about the food, it's about the interference.

August 30, 2009

Reid: "I hope you go out of business."

Senate majority Harry Reid is a bully. Even to the media.

Read about it here.

Standard operating procedure is intimidating the opposition.  That is right before outlawing it - if you are a fascist.

The litany of McCain Errors - Part 6

After the Obama election victory, I went through the list of mistakes that the campaign had made. There were plenty of mistakes; it took 5 posts to cover off the problems.

You can see them here; Part 1,Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

I've come across another problem that I hadn't considered.  It's probably the most pertinent to his loss.  We've seen lots of footage of John McCain in boring, uninspiring speeches.  We never saw this campaign commercial.  It was different. It could have turned the tide.

Seriously, McCain, aside from nominating Sarah Palin, never energized Americans.  Now instead, we are stuck with President Obama.  We are stuck wondering not 'what could have been', but rather 'what could have been avoided'.

Perhaps in a weird way though, the lesser of two evils turned out to be the greater of two evils.  A McCain Presidency would have continued the slow agonzing slide into socialism, with his RINO views on so many issues.  A death of 1000 cuts as it were.  By Obama being elected, it's surely starting to serve the "I told ya so." crowd's well, "I told ya so".  But more importantly, a headlong rush towards socialism in health care, cap and trade, liberal activist judges and other things, has had an effect on the sleeping electorate.  People have been awoken to the frightening spectacle of socialism.  Obama's hubris will not only be his undoing but could serve as a revitalization of America's freedom, democracy and capitalism based roots.

Towards that end, to  paraphrase a radical community organizer, we are the hope and change we have been awaiting.

Chris Matthews views on a woman President

Chris Matthews on the electibility of a woman as President;

"I think a woman president would have to be very conservative to get elected. "

Does that means he thinks Sarah Palin could win?  Nah, that's too easy. He was talking about Hilary Clinton, whom I'm sure he views as very conservative.

August 29, 2009

Confirmed - Clinton not recession proof

I recently posted about how Bill Clinton was not able to draw a full house today at the Canadian National Exhibition.  Instead of the expected 25,000 attendees, they were looking at 10,000 to 12,000.  Well Bill Clinton spoke today and attendance was pegged at 10,000 (or 12,000 plus excuses if you read the apologistic National Post).  The CTV television network though, pegs it at 10,000 and as well, underwhelming.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton spoke to thousands in Toronto on Saturday during a late-afternoon speaking engagement at the Canadian National Exhibition.
Clinton flew into Toronto immediately after attending a funeral service for late Senator Edward Kennedy in Boston.

About 10,000 people gathered in BMO Field to hear the high-profile speaker. It was a disappointing number for CNE organizers who thought Clinton would draw in about 25,000 people.

At the last minute, the CNE announced it would be selling tickets to the event for $5 plus the cost of admission to the fair grounds. Tickets were originally priced between $20 and $50.
 Confirmed - Bill Clinton is NOT recession proof.  Surely, you're crushed by that.

Obamacare - will it die?

As President Obama eulogized Ted Kennedy today, Republican resolve to stop Obamacare grew. The problem of course is that they don't have the votes to stop a health care bill if the Democrats truly want to to pass the budget buster bill.

The question is do Democrats really have the resolve to pass Obamacare? Rumors have circulated that there aren't the votes in the Senate to pass the bill with a government paid option. With public support evaporating, Blue Dog Democrats would seem to be the next shoe to drop - permanently.

President Obama's vocal support for it has caused his job approval ratings to bleed.  It may be a price he's willing to pay, but with hundreds of Democrat Congress members and Sneators, all with their own motivations, and constituencies, the resolve may not be entirely the same.

Persistent public pressure is needed for both the Republicans and Democrats from the public to kill this bill.  Obamacare can be killed, but not without continued public pressure. 

Saturday Learning Series - Free To Choose Part 8

Having looked at who protects the consumer, Milton Friedman turns his attention to the question of "Who Protects The Worker?" in his series Free To Choose.

For more on economics or historical learning, search Nonsensible Shoes for "Saturday Learning Series".

August 28, 2009

Bill Clinton is not recession-proof

Tomorrow, after attending Ted Kennedy's funeral, Bill Clinton will travel to Toronto Canada to speak before an audience of up to 25,000 people at the Canadian National Exhibition at BMO Field. Except that the audience isn't going to be 25,000. It's going to be much less. This is not the Bill Clinton you thought you knew and loved or hated. He was supposed to be Mr. Charisma. He was supposed to ooze success, despite never winning the Presidency with over 50% of the popular vote (hey, even George W. Bush managed to do that once, despite the media onslaught). Bill Clinton was supposed to be Mr. I-feel-your-pain. Mr. Empathy. Isn't he still?

The last time Bill Clinton spoke in Toronto it was a sold out engagement, and that was in May of this year (2009). Granted it was a smaller venue and he shared the stage with George W. Bush (unlike the visit tomorrow). Granted the audience was also higher end - the tickets sold for $200 to $2,500. This time advanced sales are at 7,000 and they are estimating final ticket sales to end up at only 10,000 to 12,000. Ironically there's a possibility the stadium will be less than 50% full. It's so disappointing in fact, that the promoters have decided to slash ticket prices from $20-$50 to as low as $5 at the gate.

Of course it doesn't necessarily have to be Bill Clinton's fault. Although the recession is supposed to be over in Canada, it's certainly not boom times. The liberal-leaning city though has always been friendly to Bill Clinton. He was apparently promised a large and receptive audience and the promoters who apparently are paying him an engagement fee of $175,000, are struggling to deliver as promised.

Bill Clinton's cache may be dropping here. Despite the recession, the lowered prices should help. $5 to see a former President should be a no-brainer, especially in a city of basically aligned ideology.

But the laws of supply and demand are real. In a struggling economy, seeing Bill Clinton live isn't the draw it once was. He's clearly not recession proof. The real question is whether the diminished star power will linger after the recession ends. Has Bill Clinton started to become the overweight Elvis of the Democrat party? It remains to be seen. One thing is certain, if this were 2000, a recession would not have mattered to the former President. Now, it appears it's the former President himself that does not matter.

Friday Musical Interlude - August 28, 2009

Tears For Fears - Everybody Wants To Rule The World

Especially Democrats.

August 27, 2009

The Kennedy rally has begun

Democratic Representative Carol Shea-Porter arguing that the Constitution doesn't cover health care, misses the point - the Constitution doesn't cover a lot of stuff but there are some basic concepts it does cover that should not be cast aside.

And Howard Dean goes on the offensive; the health care bill WILL contain a government paid option. Oh yes, it will.

This is just the start of the Democrat blowback, and they still have the overall numbers. Not to mention the legislative option of reconciliation.  Don't let the Town Hall momentum slide or this boondoggle will still get passed.

Key Democrat: You're with us or you're 'brain dead'

Arrogant, bullies.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A key House liberal suggested Thursday that party moderates who've pushed for changes in health care legislation are "brain dead" and out for insurance company campaign donations.

Moderate Blue Dog Democrats "just want to cause trouble," said Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., who heads the health subcommittee on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

"They're for the most part, I hate to say, brain dead, but they're just looking to raise money from insurance companies and promote a right-wing agenda that is not really very useful in this whole process," Stark told reporters on a conference call.

Your with us or your an idiot.  Looks like debate hasn't really opened up much. Debate is not name calling, it's not bullying.  It's about discussing objectives, competing plans and the merits, drawbacks and specifics of each.  Maybe I'm wrong but I just don't see that coming from Rep. Stark.

UPDATE: Confirmed - I'm not wrong.  Source: reality.

Where is the journalism?

Over the pond, at the Times (online), there's a story about Mohammed Jawad who was taken prisoner, allegedly at the age of 12, and sent to the prison at Guantanamo.

In December 2002, when he says he was only 12, he was arrested on suspicion of throwing a grenade into a Jeep carrying US special forces soldiers through Kabul, wounding two of them and an interpreter. He was taken first to an airbase north of Kabul, then to the US prison in Guantánamo Bay, where he remained until his release a few days ago after a ruling by a US judge that his confession had been obtained by force.
Mr Jawad is not the first Afghan prisoner to be released from the Guantánamo prison. But he is believed to be the youngest — although the Pentagon says that bone scans indicated that he was 18 when sent to Guantánamo in 2003.
 No mention of evidence against him, and whether there was proof of his crimes. No mention of whether his claims of his age were legitimate.
Leave the latter point to a commenter on the website;

Mary Spahr wrote:

Wait just a minute. Hold it! His father died in the 1980's? Unless this guy was conceived sometime in 1989 and born after his father's death in 1990, there is no way he could have been just 12 yr. old when he entered Gitmo. Since it doesn't appear that his mother was stoned to death in the public square for having a baby after being widowed, it seems very likely this man is older than he says.

August 27, 2009 3:24 PM BST
Where was the journalistic effort on this? People wonder why conservatives don't trust the media.  If people have to derive the facts themselves by piecing together parts of the story there's no wonder.
After all it is just simple math;
Father died as late as 1989 (possibly earlier). 
He was 12 in 2002 making his birth year at earliest 1990.
And that's the most optimistic case for him being 12.  the Soviets were in Afghanistan for 10 years. Meaning his age could have ranged from 12 to 22 at the time of his capture.  He wasn't 22, but he wasn't 12 either.
That doesn't matter - sensationalism does, especially on the left.

Congress In Fantasyland

Just go read this. Leadership and logic, don't seem to be congruent right now.

August 26, 2009

Rally 'round the Kennedy

Let me start by offering condolenses to the Kennedy family. A loss of a family member is always a sorrowful event.

Democrats are looking to revive Obamacare KennedyCare around the memory and the greatest wish of Ted Kennedy.  It's awfully difficult to not look at it as opportunism.  It's awfully difficult to not to mention some of the less than stellar Ted Kennedy initiatives.  And it's awfully difficult to not think of Mary Jo Kopechne.

But before the end of the first day, there's a rally cry around Ted.
"You've heard of 'win one for the Gipper'? There is going to be an atmosphere of 'win one for Teddy,'" Ralph G. Neas, the CEO of the liberal National Coalition on Health Care, told ABC News.
Inappropriate. Opportunistic. Desperate.

If Democrats believe that all it takes to rally support for a bad idea is a death of a liberal stalwart, then no wonder they find themselves in the shape they are in with this health care debacle.  It won't change the minds of those with legitimate concerns.  And it won't rally the faithful who have been M.I.A. in this battle.  Youths don't care too much about health care.  Blue Dog Democrats don't care about Kennedy's legacy - they care about re-election.

While it might generate some temporary sympathy, it likely won't move any poll numbers.  Nor should it.  A death is a death.  Kennedy is not a martyr for the cause - to try to turn him into one is cheap, tawdry and disrespectful - even if it was Ted's wish, this is simply not respectable.

Law of Unintended Consequences: Banning DDT

The Law of Unintended Consequences stems from the idea that, when you try to manipulate a system to achieve a certain outcome, whether the consequence(s) you intended to create happen or not, things you did not intend to happen, will happen. These unintended consequences can be trivial or inconsequential, or they can be catastrophic and counter-intuitive. In many cases, the opposite of the intended result turns out to be the true result. Think of the Law of Unintended Consequences as a variant of Murphy's Law. The typical application of the idea of unintended consequences is with respect to government actions. Whether a government takes an action based on best intentions or not, does not matter - unintended consequences will still arise.
If you think about it for a moment, it makes perfect sense. Anything anyone does could lead to a virtually infinite number of possible outcomes. Anything can happen. That's because in the real world there is no such thing as a closed system. In a country the size of the United States, with 307 million citizens, there's about 307 million interpretations of the sentence "Change we can believe in." That means there's a possibility of 307 million different internalized reactions to it. Which means there are millions of possible outcomes that result from the statement.
Why is it important to think about the Law of Unintended Consequences? Because the government is adding new legislation every year. In the United States there are likely hundreds of thousands of laws enacted by various levels of government - if not millions. Each law has it's own set of consequences, intended or otherwise. That means that inevitably some laws are going to work well, and others, horribly. It should be incumbent upon legislators to explain not only the intended consequences of legislation they propose, but also how well thought out their proposals are. In other words - have they addressed as many of the 'what if' scenarios as they can before enacting the legislation?
Taking a more concrete example and analyzing it might leave you with a feeling of dread because it forces you to look at things not from the perspective of the heart (the liberal approach) but rather the head (the conservative approach). While thinking with the heart - wanting to do good and feel good about doing good - seems noble, what really matters is the results of that action.

The DDT Example

Take a look at what happened as a result of banning the use of the pesticide DDT. DDT was banned in the United States on December 31, 1972. According to the EPA website, William D. Ruckelshaus, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, concluded there were unacceptable risks associated with the pesticide;

The cancellation decision culminated three years of intensive governmental inquiries into the uses of DDT. As a result of this examination, Ruckelshaus said he was convinced that the continued massive use of DDT posed unacceptable risks to the environment and potential harm to human health.
The press release goes on to state;

DDT was developed as the first of the modern insecticides early in World War II. It was initially used with great effect to combat malaria, typhus, and the other insect-borne human diseases among both military and civilian populations.

A persistent, broad-spectrum compound often termed the "miracle" pesticide, DDT came into wide agricultural and commercial usage in this country in the late 1940s. During the past 30 years, approximately 675,000 tons have been applied domestically. The peak year for use in the United States was 1959 when nearly 80 million pounds were applied. From that high point, usage declined steadily to about 13 million pounds in 1971, most of it applied to cotton.
While this addresses the numerology of the ban, it does not address the specifics of the risks.According to the Malaria Foundation International, in 2000, the toxicity of the pesticide was actually quite small.

In summary, DDT can cause many toxicological effects but the effects on human beings at likely exposure levels seem to be very slight. However, the perceived rather than the calculated risks from DDT use are an important consideration in maintaining public confidence. Thus it would seem prudent that if its use was continued for antimalarial campaigns and the benefits of use outweigh the risks, tight control should continue and the effects of spraying DDT should be closely monitored.
The organization argues that toxicology tests proved that there was very little impact in humans, and where impacts were found they were either weak, or very rare. With respect to environmental impact, the chemical is not particularly soluble in water but is so in oils, including animal fats, which might help explain the low levels of toxicity in humans. DDT was also blamed for impacts on bird populations although the claims were dubious at best.

So if the environmental impacts were small, and the human impacts were smaller still, why was it banned? According to the website, Ruckelshaus ignored the findings on DDT and went ahead with the ban, in support of his own environmentalist views;

The environmental movement used DDT as a means to increase their power. Charles Wurster, chief scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund, commented, "If the environmentalists win on DDT, they will achieve a level of authority they have never had before.. In a sense, much more is at stake than DDT." [Seattle Times, October 5, 1969]

Science journals were biased against DDT. Philip Abelson, editor of Science informed Dr. Thomas Jukes that Science would never publish any article on DDT that was not antagonistic.

William Ruckelshaus, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who made the ultimate decision to ban DDT in 1972, was a member of the Environmental Defense Fund. Ruckelshaus solicited donations for EDF on his personal stationery that read "EDF's scientists blew the whistle on DDT by showing it to be a cancer hazard, and three years later, when the dust had cleared, EDF had won."

Extensive hearings on DDT before an EPA administrative law judge occurred during 1971-1972. The EPA hearing examiner, Judge Edmund Sweeney, concluded that "DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man... DDT is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man... The use of DDT under the regulations involved here do not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds or other wildlife." [Sweeney, EM. 1972. EPA Hearing Examiner's recommendations and findings concerning DDT hearings, April 25, 1972 (40 CFR 164.32, 113 pages). Summarized in Barrons (May 1, 1972) and Oregonian (April 26, 1972)]

Overruling the EPA hearing examiner, EPA administrator Ruckelshaus banned DDT in 1972. Ruckelshaus never attended a single hour of the seven months of EPA hearings on DDT. Ruckelshaus' aides reported he did not even read the transcript of the EPA hearings on DDT.
[Santa Ana Register, April 25, 1972]

After reversing the EPA hearing examiner's decision, Ruckelshaus refused to release materials upon which his ban was based. Ruckelshaus rebuffed USDA efforts to obtain those materials through the Freedom of Information Act, claiming that they were just "internal memos." Scientists were therefore prevented from refuting the false allegations in the Ruckelshaus' "Opinion and Order on DDT."
It would seem to be agenda driven, as so much of government legislation is. And what consequences resulted from the banning of DDT in the United States and many other countries? If the intended consequence was to save lives, the banning had a deleterious effect on that result. Why? Because people are dying of malaria.

Malaria remains the world's most devastating human parasitic infection. Malaria affects over 40% of the world's population. WHO, estimates that there are 350 - 500 million cases of malaria worldwide, of which 270 - 400 million are falciparum malaria, the most severe form of the disease. Malaria kills in one year what AIDS kills in 15 years. For every death due to HIV/AIDS there are about 50 deaths due to malaria. To add to the problem is the increasing drug resistance to the established drug.
The solution should be DDT;

The best method of protection against malaria, in use for 50 years, is indoor residual spraying (IRS), which consists simply of spraying insecticide on the interior walls of houses. And the most effective, safest, cheapest, longest-lasting insecticide for this job is DDT—it crucially deters mosquitoes from entering a building where it has been sprayed. DDT eradicated malaria from the U.S. and Europe and its careful use led to dramatic declines in many other parts of the world. But over the last four decades environmental activists have persuaded public health professionals against using insecticide sprays, especially DDT.
The reason DDT is not the solution is because people have felt good about banning it, counting best intentions above actual results. The unintended consequences is that 2.7 million people per year die from malaria about 90% of which are pregnant women or children under 5 years of age. That equates to approximately 100 million malaria related deaths since 1972.

If DDT could have saved merely 50% of those deaths, that means roughly 50 million people have died who could have been able to live. 50 million and likely DDT could have saved far more. That's roughly the number of deaths in all of WW II. Unlike most of the deaths of WW II, these deaths were entirely preventable.

Liberals love throwing around labels about their detractors, but it would seem to me that based on the decisions of a cabal of empowered environmentalists around the globe, 50 million plus deaths occurred as an unintended consequence that, since the decisions were never reversed, could arguably be called one of the worst genocides in human history.

August 25, 2009

Money, money, money - from where O?

The Obama administration, less quietly today, announced that the budget deficit expected over the next 10 years will grow by not $7 trillion, but rather $9 trillion. And yet they had the temerity to blame it on Bush.  That's two memes behind.

At the end of it all, the national debt  is expected to be 75% of the economy (GDP).  That's World War II levels, except that back then they were in the process of saving the world, not ramping up 'freebie' handouts.  Wow - that's huge!

But if you think about it an additional $9 trillion over 10 years equates to $900 billion in deficit PER YEAR!

$9 trillion in new debt on top of the current $11.7 trillion means a national debt over $20 trillion.  That number is beyond ridiculous.

And according to Fox News, the interest payments will be $774 billion (linkable source needed).   INTEREST PAYMENTS.

I don't know if enough Americans understand how devastating this will be to the economy, and it sure doesn't seem that the administration does.  If it did it would completely abandon health care reform as they have proposed it and start concentrating on cancelling programs right away.

Liberal eugenicists and health care

What seems like a long time ago, I wrote about Eugenics in America - in particular about how Democrats could seize opportunities to somehow breed conservatism into non-existence (even I thought it was a bit of a stretch).  I posed it as a 'what if' scenario, although I can't say it's posted specifically that way, it was my intent on discussing it.

Fast forward to the discussion of 'death panels'.  If the government can reduce the quality of life to a formula, and provision health care based on the result, it's not a stretch to reason that political pre-disposition could be a variable factored into that calculation.  That's not to say that it would be done, but if you were a liberal government czar, it would be an awfully strong temptation.

What the Democrats have in mind becomes more and more chilling the more you think about it.  Whether they would intend to manipulate things in such a manner is beside the point. The fact is that much of what they propose and legislate makes such thing possible.  While they decry the protesters as un-American, the truth is that so much of what they espouse is not just un-American, it's anti-American.  It's antithetical to life and/or liberty and/or the pursuit of happiness.

Some people still remember what those words mean though.  If you count yourself among those people, it's time to get involved.  You know that expression "There's no rest for the wicked"?  The truth is the wicked take no rest, and the rest of us should expect no respite from staving off their attacks on freedom.  Now is the time to get involved.  A democracy as great as the United States could survive any attack from the outside, but this attack is more sinister because it's internally generated.  If you believe in liberty, stand up for it and be counted while you still can; protest until the march towards socialism is put to a halt.

Predicition: Jobless rate will rise in August

The Bureau of Labor Statistics on September 4th will release the August unemployment figures. Expect the seasonally adjusted numbers to head back up.  That's in addition to further possible layoffs coming from other companies. I fully expect the jobless rate to climb in August to 9.6%, or more. I'm not big on pessimism, but...

In July auto makers typically lay off shifts for part of the summer. That affects the seasonal adjustment. And this year, a lot of layoffs that happened were prior to the regular layoff period, and they were more permananent than in other years. Just as the July statistic did not account for this and therefore understated the real unemployment, the August numbers will be back to reflecting reality.

If that's the case, then the DJIA will probably take a hit.  Consumer confidence likewise will be affected.  Those hoping for a V-shaped recovery or even a U-shaped one could be disappointed.  Some are calling for a W recovery now (ironic, given the monicker of the last POTUS).  I still thinka hockey stick recovery is a distinct possibility, which means years before the job losses reach the mid 2007 employment levels.  It could be well into 2013 before that happens.  Of course that assumes no further unhealthy Obama shocks to the system.

Danger: Train wreck in progress

Do you hear that? It's a sound of a train wreck in progress.

After falling flat on their face over the health care issue, and losing considerable job approval ratings in the process, the Obama administration brand marketing wizards have decided that it might be a good idea to divert attention from the carnage in order to repair the Obama brand.

That's not a bad idea. In fact, given the drubbing their agenda has taken at the hands of the Town Hall protesters (or more accurately hard questioners), a diversion might just stem the flow of ratings points away from the President. 

That's not the problem.  The problem is what they did to divert the public's attention.   Keep in mind that as a very leftward leaning President, Obama has his left ear closer to the ground than his right ear.  Consequently he's more likely to hear feedback, both positive and negative, from the far left than from the right.  Town hall protesters are deemed un-American, but complaints from his base are taken seriously.

And what pray-tell is his base unsettled over?  Or rather, going crazy over? The possiblility of the single-payer option  the government-paid option being taken off the table by the administration.  The comments by Sebelius that government as a "competitive" provider is not mandatory to reform, drew far left ire.  Big time.  And the Obama administration heard it.  They were probably prepared to have points siphoned off from the conservatives they felt were willing to give him a chance.  They may have even been prepared to lose some appeal to moderates (though not all).  But to start bleeding support from all sides?  That's the making of a train wreck.

The administration, when confronted with a challenge go back to the playbook.  Early on it was 'blame Bush'.  And up until recently it has been trotting out the President to speak to the press, yet again.  They probably went to the well too often, too soon with that ploy because while it created spikes in approval ratings in the past, it has not stemmed the general tide of downward sloping approval ratings.  They had to try something different.

With their ear to the left side of the ground, they remember what got them elected in the first place.  Their grassroots support had a huge anti-war component to it.  Obama, having made some initial traction with his support base on Gitmo and on ending Iraq, decided to beef up Afghanistan.  It plaed well to the middle because it supported his sales pitch that it was supposed to be about Bin Laden, not Iraq.  The argument probably was tolerated by the far left as a necesary evil to oust the Republicans and to get a Democrat into the White house.  But that anti-war goodwill started getting eaten up with Afghanistan and the apparent cave in on health care may have hastened the President's dilemna.

So going back to the well, and shoring up the liberal support probably seemed like a good idea.  What worked really well for them were the 'impeach Bush' and 'try the war criminals' memes.  So Eric Holder re-ignites the prosecute the CIA fires.  Let's put some people in jail.  This from the same left who felt that protests against Bush would cause Marshall Law to be imposed and every protester would be imprisoned and elections cancelled forever with Bush as the perma-President.  Yes, the hypocrisy is almost comical; they want to prosecute people who were trying to protect the country from an actual foe, whereas they were imagining a foe of freedom in Bush and believed they were going to be prosecuted for it.

The idea of prosecuting CIA personnel for trying to defend the country is assinine.  So bad in fact that there are rumors that liberal Leon Panetta, he of the no-intelligence-experience-but-now-heading-the-CIA fame gets it.  Apparently there were rumors he threatened to quit over it.  If he gets it, why doesn't Holder?  And does Holder have free rein here?  Has Obama lost control of his team?  That would certainly lead to a train wreck.

Alternately, if the White house is behind this agenda, then they have misjudged the American people.  This comes across as a vendetta and worse, as putting the nation's safety at risk by tying the hands of the covert defenders in order to score political points.  If that perception takes hold, you can count on another 10 points dropping off the President's job approval.  Yep, for them, that's a train wreck too.

The last possibility is that since Place Holder is leading this charge, and Obama and Holder have pulled this Alphonse and Gaston routine before, it's all contrived.  Maybe the script calls for Obama once agains to sweep in and say, we're not going to proceed with this - we have to look forward not backwards.  With that approach they temporarily appease the far left with the thinking that CIA folks are going to jail.  They can reclaim the middle ground with Obama saying that Holder's efforts are counter-productive and Obama is more bi-partisan and forward looking.  Of course the left might be enraged again, but if he frames it as saying "I'm above this petty stuff, trust me", maybe they'll buy it for a while.  By buying himself time, perhaps he can still sneak through health care 'reform' (shouldn't that be 'deform') in some shape.  That will appeal to his base partially.  It might keep them content.  And it might buy him time for Democrats in 2010 with the same old tired line that "this will take time to make a difference, so trust us".  Is there a train wreck in there too?  Absolutely - for that ploy to work in Obama's favor, every calculation described above has to go his way.  What could possibly go wrong?

For starters, the conservative giant has been awakened.  People in middle America won't sit still for CIA personnel being charged with crimes.  It might play well in Tehran, but in Atlanta? No way.  People intrinsically understand that in the broader world, you sometimes have to play outside the box in order to protect the Americans.

Secondly, who is to say the far left won't be completely disillusioned if Obama calls off Holder?  And who is to say Panetta won' actually quit?  That damages the President's credibility on both vetting (yet again) and on believability over whether CIA prosecutions make any kind of sense to even entertain.  And if Obama is losing the middle ground rapidly, this also starts to look a lot like waffling on the issue. Even if Holder is under control, it starts to look like he may be a loose cannon. That harms his visionary image and reinforces the lack-of-experience image.

There's just too many what-ifs for raising this issue now to be considered a good idea.  This is certainly a train wreck that's under way.  Stay out of the way of the debris that's going to fly everywhere.  On the other hand, it's in America's best interest for the Obama train to come to a screeching halt.  And if protests help hasten that impact, they need to keep going - even if it means contributing to a train wreck, because the alternative to an Obama train wreck, is an American train wreck.

August 24, 2009

Robert Gibbs trains the White house press corps

Is Gibbs trying to teach the press corps how to do their jobs? Is it being testy? Is it being arrogant?

It certainly is not the most comfortable briefing we've seen for the Obama administration.

Frightening Quote

Put in context, the monetary policies put in place by the current administration that we've been warned could lead to hyper-inflation and thereby wipe out the value of the dollar, are dangerous.

More dangerous in fact than any given spending plan, health care debate or Supreme Court Justice nomination:

Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose."

~John Maynard Keynes, "Economic Consequences of the Peace" (1919)


Is this where the administration is going?  Deliberately?

US Economic Outlook - What's the reality?

The US economic recovery looks to be getting a bit of a foothold, at least that's how investors seem to see it. But what's the reality? To be honest, if I knew where the economy was headed over the next 12-18 months I probably wouldn't be blogging about it - I'd be investing accordingly and profiting from the information. But everyone in the world has a vested interest in knowing where the economy of the US and the world economy is headed. Everyone has their own opinion. Despite the recent hint of optimism from investors, there's some things that I'd like to throw out there for consideration. The United States recovery is impacted by a host of factors from the tangible to the intangible and by unforeseen events.

Brief Economic Explanation

The economy is impacted heavily by a few key factors. Consumer spending represents the lion's share of economic activity (GDP). The economy is also impacted by government spending and business spending. A recession in fact represents negative growth in spending - spenders spending less than before. Spending is in turn impacted by the rate of savings (i.e. money being set aside to not be spent) and by the amount of money available to either save or spend. The amount of money available is known as the money supply. This is governed in large part by monetary policy. Monetary policy is a powerful force in determining what happens next. It is not something that has immediate impact, but it has a bigger impact than a tax cut or a government works program (which is essentially, spending).

How government spends its money (for example the ARRA stimulus spending) and how government collects money, is known as fiscal policy. fiscal policy can also be used to encourage or discourage consumers and businesses to spend or save their money, in particular ways. For example an Investment Tax Credit would lower taxes for businesses or consumers who make certain types of investments - thereby altering the behavior in a ways that suits the government objectives. In theory at least.

Another factor that influences business and consumer spending is psychology. for example, if people believe that unemployment will rise, they tend to spend less and save more in case they might be the ones losing their job. The same is true for business - if they expect unemployment to rise, they see less demand for their goods or services, so they need to supply less, which means, layoffs. Whether the unemployment would have risen or not, the psychology can lead to a self fulfilling prophecy or have other sorts of impacts as well.

One final consideration is that the US economy does not work in isolation. External economies impact and are impacted by the US economy. Who sells to or buys from the United States? How much do they 'trade'? That impacts the value of the dollar, it impacts demand and supply.

How does all this relate?

Again it's a complex system with millions of variables impacting what ultimately happens. It's impossible (for now at least) to do calculations on those levels. But there are some key factors that will influence where things are headed. These include, in no particular order;

(1) Housing sales / housing starts
(2) Automotive sales
(3) The demand for oil
(4) Government purchases and government debt
(5) The money supply / credit markets

Housing Sales

There appears to be good news in housing sales. Keep in mind that because of the recessionary pressure, new housing starts will lag behind sales - there's excess inventory.
Investors poured into stocks after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the prospects for a near-term recovery in the world's largest economy appeared to be good. Also boosting confidence was a better-than-expected rise in U.S. home sales last month that helped relieve some of the fears about American consumers that have held stock markets down lately.
While that sounds positive, there's some interesting factors that have boosted this sort of consumer spending. There's the psychology of the recovery, which if it turns sour hurts sales. There's interest rates, which if they head upwards (as a result of monetary policy) would kill the recovery and there's a little tax incentive that is due to end in November 2009. That will definitely slow things down to some extent.

…first-time buyers rushed to take advantage of a tax credit that expires Nov. 30. Sales jumped 7.2%, the National Association of Realtors said yesterday.

"We've got tens of thousands of homes perfect for the first-time homebuyer and we've taken advantage of that," said George Hackett, president of Coldwell Banker Real Estate in Pittsburgh.

The risks to that healthy pace, however, are job cuts, mortgage rates and the looming end to the homebuyer tax credit. "I would not be at all surprised to see a dip (in home sales) at the end of the year once the tax credit expires," said Robert Dye, senior economist with PNC Financial Services Group.

How much of a slowdown once the credit ends remains to be seen. But while the credit is available people are being pushed into buying during the window. some of the demand is new demand, but some is shifting demand forward to get people to buy now while the tax incentives last.

Automotive Sales

The apparent success of the cash for clunkers has a lot of people excited about what it's done for car sales and/or the environment. As with the housing market, some of any incentive program is attributable to a temporal shift in demand. In other words people who might have bought in 4 months bought this month - cash for clunkers ends today after all. When else are you going to get a few thousand dollars from the government to buy a car?

Setting aside that the import brands seem to be outperforming the domestic brands and that many dealers opted out of the program early because of the administrative nightmare, there's still the issue of what has it done for auto sales long term? And what has it done, more specifically, for domestic auto sales? The staying power of the increased demand is tenuous at best.

Like homes, automotive sales are a large ticket purchase. Psychology has a larger than normal impact on the demand. And another demand influencer is the ability to get a loan to buy the vehicle. That is influenced in turn by monetary policy, which impacts credit markets, and therefore car loans.

Demand for Oil

Oil is always an interesting indicator. Oil is needed to run an economy. In many senses it's the blood of industry, and it's also important to consumers directly. When the price of oil rises, speculation aside, it means demand has risen. That in turn should be a good signal for the economy - oil being used means manufacturers manufacturing and consumers consuming. This is one of those world economy situations though.

Firstly, the oil spending is going offshore to among others, OPEC countries (not exactly the best of world citizenry). It contributes greatly to a national trade imbalance, which carries impacts and consequences of its own.

Secondly, demand for oil, and a rising price, does not predominantly come only from the United States any longer. China is becoming a serious player in the oil consumption game. Oil prices can go up without a requisite recovery in the United States.

What does that mean? It means inflation can more easily co-exist with unemployment and other recessionary indicators - a state known as stagflation.

Higher inflation means higher interest rates. Higher interest rates means more savings and less spending, as purchasing power is declining. Less spending leads to well, recessionary pressure. In theory this is all supposed to work to create an equilibrium, but it doesn't always work out for the best, especially in the stagflation scenario.

Government Spending and Government Debt

ARRA spending is supposed to start kicking in soon. If consumer demand doesn't pick up, the idea is that the government programs spending the money will pick up the slack in demand and keep the economy moving. Rather than re-iterating a well made argument from the Heritage
Foundation, take a look at this interesting read;

Budgetary restraint should be viewed as an opportunity to make an economic virtue out of fis­cal necessity. Simply stated, most government spending has a negative economic impact. To be sure, if government spends money in a productive way that generates a sufficiently high rate of return, the economy will benefit, but this is the exception rather than the rule. If the rate of return is below that of the private sector—as is much more com­mon—then the growth rate will be slower than it otherwise would have been. There is overwhelming evidence that government pending is too high and that America’s economy could grow much faster if the burden of government was reduced.

The deficit is not the critical variable. The key is the size of government, not how it is financed. Taxes and deficits are both harmful, but the real problem is that government is taking money from the private sector and spending it in ways that are often counterproductive. The need to reduce spending would still exist—and be just as compel­ling—if the federal government had a budget sur­plus. Fiscal policy should focus on reducing the level of government spending, with particular emphasis on those programs that yield the lowest benefits and/or impose the highest costs.

Controlling federal spending is particularly important because of globalization. Today, it is becoming increasingly easy for jobs and capital to migrate from one nation to another. This means that the reward for good policy is greater than ever before, but it also means that the penalty for bad policy is greater than ever before.

What does this all of this have to do with the economic recovery? If the ARRA money starts to kick in, there will definitely be an increase in demand. It may be inflationary on it's own, but not necessarily. The real worry is the government printing or borrowing money to finance the projects.

The government will have to borrow money from China or simply print more money. Either case has its own downside. However the simple matter is that if you increase the money supply, without increasing the overall economic output of the country, you have inflation. With such a huge increase in the money supply expected, you have the potential for very large inflation.

With housing and automotive spending having the potential to slip off the table, thereby exerting recessionary pressures, it would seem that the recession could drag on. However oil demand could exert inflationary pressures and government spending could do the same. The ultimate picture is still not clear.

Monetary Policy: The money supply

The more money that gets put into the economy, whether borrowed or printed, the bigger the inflationary pressure. So what does it look like?

Again - what does the next 12-18 months have in store? Continued unemployment? Inflation? Recovery? There's potential for all of it. But as I've written in the past - it's still too early to climb aboard the recovery bandwagon just yet. There's still plenty that could go very, very wrong.

August 23, 2009

Obama quietly adjusts deficit forecast

The Obama administration has quietly adjusted it's budget forecast for the next 10 years. The verdict, it's worse than they were telling you earlier this year. In fact more in line with the Congressional Budget Office.

From Reuters:

The Obama administration will raise its 10-year budget deficit projection to approximately $9 trillion from $7.108 trillion in a report next week, a senior administration official told Reuters on Friday.

The higher deficit figure, based on updated economic data, brings the White House budget office into line with outside estimates and gives further fuel to President Barack Obama's opponents, who say his spending plans are too expensive in light of budget shortfalls.

The White House took heat for sticking with its $7.108 trillion forecast earlier this year after the Congressional Budget Office forecast that deficits between 2010 and 2019 would total $9.1 trillion.

"The new forecasts are based on new data that reflect how severe the economic downturn was in the late fall of last year and the winter of this year," said the administration official, who is familiar with the budget mid-session review that is slated to be released next week.

"Our budget projections are now in line with the spring and summer projections that the Congressional Budget Office put out."

To paraphrase Hudson from the movie Aliens, "That's just great!...Why don't you put them in charge?"

Oh wait, I think you beat me to that judging by how you're handling your health care agenda.

Red Meat: Obama tanking faster

From Rasmussen today, this graph:

Seems pretty clear to me. While they have overall approval at 48% and disapproval at 51%. Meanwhile, Gallup still has it at 54% approve to 38% disapprove. Clearly though, things are still heading south.

Found: The Obama Agenda (aka Failathon)

Or perhaps the inspiration behind it:

(I defy you to get the soundtrack out of your head).

And some bonus failures:

And one more for fun;

August 22, 2009

Saturday Learning Series - Free To Choose Part 7

Milton Friedman asks, "Who Protects the Consumer?" in his series Free To Choose.

For other historical and economic learning series, search Nonsensible Shoes for "Saturday Learning Series".

August 21, 2009

Tornados in Toronto?

Not in keeping with the general topic on my blog, but interesting nonetheless. For me at any rate. Toronto Canada, is not exactly known as tornado alley. There's a touchdown in the area every few years. But they're usually in some farm community and usually very, very brief. For many Americans particularly in the mid-West, this might not be a big deal. But for me it's the equivalent of seeing a volcanic eruption in Arkansas. It just isn't something you see.

[NOTE: Not my personal footage.]

I'm not sure how people could live in tornado alley day-in day-out. Tornadoes are impressively scary. Then again, I'd likely be one of those fools to run out and gawk at it. I'm sure a few liberals would be happy if I did.

See, I knew I'd find a way to bring it back to politics.

Bonus footage - some serious darkness and lightning came along with this storm. Below are a couple of other storms in Toronto - one from last week and one from two years ago showing the CN Tower being hit by lightning.

Lightning strikes;

Conservatives against Palin

Understand this, everyone has their own horse in the race. Therefore either overtly, or covertly, everyone on the right is not desirous of seeing Sarah Palin as the GOP nominee in 2012. And therefore some have a vested interest in tearing her apart at every opportunity. Perhaps even a desire to do so.

Peggy Noonan stole my thoughts!

Relax, I'm kidding. Peggy Noonan did not steal my thoughts. She did however echo something I've been saying for some time, in more general terms.*

In today's Wall Street Journal in discussing the health care battlefield, she had this to say;

Every big idea that works is marked by simplicity, by clarity. You can understand it when you hear it, and you can explain it to people. Social Security: Retired workers receive a public pension to help them through old age. Medicare: People over 65 can receive taxpayer-funded health care. Welfare: If you have no money and cannot support yourself, we will help as you get back on your feet.

These things are clear. I understand them. You understand them. The president's health-care plan is not clear, and I mean that not only in the sense of "he hasn't told us his plan." I mean it in terms of the voodoo phrases, this gobbledygook, this secret language of government that no one understands—"single payer," "public option," "insurance marketplace exchange." No one understands what this stuff means, nobody normal.
Noonan goes on to say that if people don't understand it, they won't buy into it. She's exactly right. I'm glad more people are starting to see and/or say that simple means sensible. No health care bill requires 1000 pages. Who wrote this monster? Was it one super intelligent being? No, Obama wasn't involved *sarcasm*, he left it to Congress.

*In previous blog posts I've said this;

Think of a business model. Think of the laws of physics. Think of your favorite song (it's probably not an 18 minute jazz opus). Think of the concept of hard work pays off. Think of effective corporate slogans and logos (for example Nike, what's their slogan, and their logo?). The fact of the matter is simplicity, simply, works. It just does. It's the KISS principle - Keep It Simple Stupid (either that or Gene Simmons).


So if simplicity works, why do people including government officials (elected or otherwise) assume that the government has to be so complex? Not meaning to go all libertarian on you, could the United States government not go miles towards easing economic problems by simply easing up on the complexities they have imposed on American business? The tax code is over 67,000 pages long. Does that seem reasonable to anyone other than a bureaucrat or a lawyer? I can't begin to imagine how many pages of federal laws there are.

and this with respect to keeping government's role small and simple;
The government doesn't tell you what part of the sandbox to play in. It doesn't tell you what games to play, what toys to play with in the sandbox or how long you can play for. It's there to make sure the sandbox is okay to play in and those playing in it aren't harming each other. Period.
and more recently, this;
The message that will connect with voters has to be clear, concise and simple to understand. The wrong approach to take is to emulate the Obama approach - vagueness. It worked for him in 2008, but his believers are turning to skeptics. Why? Because vagueness breeds an internalization of what the candidate means. The internalization is to see the candidate in the best or worst possible light. What you get after the fact, is the stark reality of how the candidate really governs. The issue is, Obama used up the tactic. Because of the disillusionment over his real governing style, it can't be used again because people will demand more up front accountability. Simply put, that same tactic won't work for at least another 20 years.
I'm not claiming invention of the concept of simplicity, even as applied to politics. The Bill Clinton campaign in 1992 thrived on it. I'm just saying that in the current climate of legislative clutter, simplicity is what will cut through and connect with people. Every message has to be distilled down to it's simplest form. It can have all the sophisticated analysis behind it that might be required, if it is. It needs to be based in truth, and to be able to be substantiated. But it MUST be simple. "Death panels" is a great example.

Sara Palin cut through the health care clutter like a knife through butter.

And it worked. Those two words tore through the health care debate and affected a change in the crafting of the bill.

Let's face it, I'm not really one to talk about simplicity. I'm typically too verbose for my own liking, let alone someone else's. But I know truth when I see it, and I know

Simpler = more gooder.
[Hat tip for the phraseology; Opie and Anthony]

Your thoughts on an Obama cabinet shuffle?

Based on absolutely no factual evidence, not even gossip or innuendo, I've started speculating about who might be the first to get axed out of the Obama administration (not including lower level names, and not including Walpin - who isn't a cabinet member nor able to be fired by the President...wait, what?).

Why? Mainly because it's fun.

Here's some preliminary thoughts I had on the possibilities:

-Based on the primary battles with Clinton and perhaps Obama's feeling that he had to hire her, maybe she's a contender to get let go. She seems stressed about Bill, but underneath there could still be Obama stress

-Holder continues to say all the right wrong things so he's probably safe.

-Robert Gibbs, I'm surprised doesn't just give up and quit on his own. Seeing him makes me want to yell at my TV screen "It's over Johnny!"

-Biden you can't really fire but at least they're keeping him better hidden for now.

-Emmanuel - no chance, he's the hatchet man not the victim. Where's his off switch?

-Axelrod? Maybe if there's some stickiness to the scandal.

-Sebelius? Nope - too partisan to let go. Perhaps shuffled to the Department of Used Rags.

What are your thoughts? Anyone care to handicap the favorites? And how about the timing?

Friday Musical Interlude - August 21, 2009

Friday Musical Interlude - August 21, 2009

The Pixies - Here Comes Your Man

I think I've overlooked the 80's a bit on Fridays, so here's a catchy piece.

August 20, 2009

Obama and the Benjamins

Let me see if I've got this right...

1. Obama was against "Drill, baby Drill." No oil drilling off the coast of America under Obama.

2. In August 2008 George Soros invested heavily in Brazilian national oil company Petrobas.

4. The Obama administration this week underwrote $2 billion of offshore drilling. In Brazil.

5. George Soros converted his Petrobras common stock to Petrobras preferred which paid dividends 2 days prior to the Obama announcement.

6. In a big recession, jobs are needed and investment in America in any form is better than invstment offshore.

7. The reason given to not drill in America during the campaign was that it wasn't green enough.

Conclusion #1

So, it's okay to drill in Brazil because their oil is greener. It's okay to pass a $787 stimulus bill to supposedly stimulate the economy but then spend $2 billion on Brazilian oil.

The disconnect is crazy.

The reason this was done, clearly looks like a payoff to Soros for the election.

Additional considerations

-The cash for clunkers program ended up helping out Japanese automakers more than American automakers.

Conclusion #2

This is all about the Benjamins. Obama payoffs, insider trading Chicago style politics, and Blagojevich 2.0.


If this were a third world banana republic, it'd be laughable. In America, it's inconceivable that this could go on. Be ashamed. Be very ashamed.

One Version of a Conservative Roadmap - Part 2

In a recent article in Commentary Magazine, authors Peter Wehner and Michael Gerson wrote about the path to Republican revival. I had some previous comments about it with respect to how the Republican party representation in the House, Senate and White house has gotten to such a sorry state as it is in today. But their article goes on to focus on the more important issue of how the GOP can work it's way back from the wilderness. That, in my opinion, the most important thrust of the article. The remedies proposed by Wehner and Gerson have a dual focus. They concentrate on WHO to win demographically (improve vote share) and WHAT platforms to espouse in order to do so. By combining these two focal points, they may be avoiding falling into the classical conservative trap - have the right ideas and the votes will come. If only it were that simple, Obama would not be President, and his main opponent in the election would not have been John McCain, but a more conservative Republican. Such is clearly, and sadly, not the case.

August 19, 2009

You and America, Hamstrung!

The dizzying array of new legislation piling onto the American economy, both passed (the stimulus bill, the omnibus bill) and pending (cap and trade, and the pending government health care bill(s)) have garnered for the President a dual image. By the left he's been primarily viewed as working towards what he said he'd do - the exception may have been that unexpected gasp that maybe a government plan was off the table for health insurance. Looks like that trial balloon fell flat.

[NOTE on image: Source unknown]

On the other hand conservatives, and certainly many moderates see him as pushing way to hard, way too fast - launch the torpedoes and damn the consequences. There's a growing body of evidence that suggests the consequences could very well be quite dire. Unimaginable debt levels are around the corner. An erosion of another bit of freedom in the name of equality is in the works with the health care bill. That equality of opportunity and equality of outcome are two different things and define the very difference between capitalism and socialism doesn't seem to matter. In fact most people have never stopped to consider the distinction. It's an important one.

Historically, what made in turn Great Britain and the United States great, was the economic power that capitalism provided as an engine for the economy. Conversely the slow decline of Great Britain and in turn the relative (slow but accelerating) decline of the United States over the last 40 years has been the erosion of those systems with the slowly changing belief that equality of outcome is more important than the equality of opportunity. Such notions are anathema to individual liberty - who decides what equality of outcome means? Certainly not the individual. But it is the individual who is forced to adapt and comply with the results of those decisions.

As an extemporaneous example, suppose Barney Frank was put in charge of the health care equality department. Upon investigation he decides that accidental drownings put too much of a burden on hospitals in coastal regions. As a result he decides to push for legislation to outlaw water sports? Or further still any aquatic activity at all, including fishing and shipping? Entire industries in addition to individuals have just had their freedoms eroded. Significantly. And at the whim of a bureaucrat. That's not freedom.

In other words, as an individual, with respect to personal freedom, you are hamstrung.

To destroy or hinder the efficiency of; frustrate: "These worthwhile books are often hamstrung by unimaginative formats and inaccurate art" (Don Lessem).
Equally importantly, if not more importantly, the United States, as a nation is growing ever more hamstrung by the creeping form of socialism that the Democrats have incessantly tried and succeeded in foisting upon the nation since the days of FDR.

If the United States is going to continue to be an economic superpower - and make no mistake, if you want real freedom it costs not just blood, but a lot of money - then this incremental death by 1000 socialist cuts HAS to be stopped.
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