July 31, 2009
Meanwhile enjoy the Musical Interlude.
No Heaven - DJ Champion (and a bonus thrown in below)
No message, just a catchy couple of tunes.
BONUS: Keep on Ridin' (not the original video, but the original song with a cool video added to it).
July 27, 2009
With the blistering pace of the spending that's occurred during the Leeroy Jenkins (WARNING: the link contains obscenities. But it is funny and also instructive.) approach to policy implementation over the last several months, things are bound to go wrong. And that's just from a planned perspective. Unplanned things will happen to a great degree, and based on past examples of unintended consequences, some of the possibilities can be anticipated. Because there are thousands of unread pages of legislation, some cannot be. And that's the real danger.
Everything from Cap & Trade, to the bank bailouts, to GM, to he health care plans all pose real threats, both seen and unsee.
The Library of Economics and Liberty provides the following definition of Unintended Consequences.
The law of unintended consequences, often cited but rarely defined, is that actions of people—and especially of government—always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended. Economists and other social scientists have heeded its power for centuries; for just as long, politicians and popular opinion have largely ignored it.The page on the topic goes on to site the Invisible Hand as described by Adam Smith as the most positive example of positive unintended consequences. I'd put it a little differently. The invisible hand is a positive reality that is in larger part responsible for many unintended consequences, both positive and negative.
If it's sometimes responsible for negative consequences, how can it be a positive reality? Because the invisible hand is people looking out for their own interests, and that's always a good thing - the alternative is the nanny state. But the negative consequences that can result from many people reacting the same way to the same new circumstance can be negative for the nation, or state or city.
And that's the point in the phrase above "and especially of government". Governments take actions, people react in order to further or defend their own interests, and the fallout can negatively or unexpectedly affect the government and the citizenry of the nation. And there are many examples that should be examined as instructive in today's governmental environment, already rife with unintended consequences, and poised to have those effects multiplied by reaction to the liberal policies being enacted.
The first and most complete analysis of the concept of unintended consequences was done in 1936 by the American sociologist Robert K. Merton. In an influential article titled “The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action,” Merton identified five sources of unanticipated consequences. The first two—and the most pervasive—were “ignorance” and “error.”
Merton labeled the third source the “imperious immediacy of interest.” By that he was referring to instances in which someone wants the intended consequence of an action so much that he purposefully chooses to ignore any unintended effects. (That type of willful ignorance is very different from true ignorance.)
That phrase sounds quite similar to "the fierce urgency of now". No doubt similarly, the unintended consequences will follow the same way the phrase from 1936 was recirculated in it's more modern form.
In the coming weeks, I will be taking a look at some of these examples in greater detail, and relate the fallout to current events.
You're going to ruin my Presidency. (And I won't let that happen.) But this isn't about me.
Although, things have been going so well up until now. I gave the Queen of England an iPod with my speeches on it. Even she realizes how great and important I am. The people of Europe adore me, just like in America. And I'm only just beginning.
Soon I'll have cancer cured, the middle east solved to my liking, China will on board with everything I do, health care and cap and trade are just the beginning.
I am so awesome! Just look at my press clippings! I'm the greatest President ever. I can do no wrong.
Does this mean that if things start to go wrong he will shave his head, divorce Kevin Federline and end up in celebrity rehab?
July 26, 2009
July 25, 2009
The Great Depression has been popularly viewed as a failure of capitalism. The stock market crash, the failure of the Bank of the United States, loss of personal savings, were visible symbols supporting this belief. As Friedman explains, the real cause was the unseen failure of government policy and action. Yet this crisis resulting from government failure leads to decades of government expansion.
July 24, 2009
July 23, 2009
In order to simplify the number of dimensions it's worth grouping them a little more tightly, which I've arbitrarily done below.-Acceptability-Accessibility
I'm supposed to be this rabidly political guy (and I am). But I just couldn't draw up much enthusiasm for this propaganda conference of Obama's last night. But this was my impression of the press conference:
Honestly, it held all the attraction of an unending egg timer. It was his fourth prime time press conference. That's something that Bush took 8 years to manage. Perhaps we were being spoiled by President Bush - his press conferences were no shining lights either. But he did manage far too few of them, just as Obama is doing far too many. They both offered different types of frustration. One had too little information - especially in light of the fact that 2 wars were being fought. The other has too little information - the press conferences reveal NOTHING other than getting more air time for The One in order to prop up his flagging job approval numbers and thereby help his Obamacare effort.
He didn't speak truthfully. Even the Associated Press is starting to figure that out. He didn't offer details. He attacked Republicans (as I'd expected). Really, there was nothing new there. It was for the purpose of getting his face out there again in prime time and remind everyone about the feel-good days of the Obama victory and then flip that energy into a pro-Obamacare direction. It just might fail this time.
Up until that point his deceptions and inconsistencies were tolerated because it was necessary to stay on message - hope and change - for victory. Even after the victory there was euphoria and there was a need to have the "I told you so." moment. So the deceptions were still tolerated. And the delays in implementing utopia were okay.
But the time for a grace period will not be indefinite. And if the situation merits it, the press will throw Obama under the bus faster than you can say "abysmal job approval ratings". Its a matter of self preservation. If the press is seen as backing the guy everyone sees as ineffective or worse, you lose whatever credibility you think you still have.
That's not to say the mainstream press aren't true believers. They predominantly are. But they are as much true believers in their liberal utopia as the are believers in The One. If he becomes a threat to that utopia because of his unpopularity, it is as bad as if he were a threat to their supposed credibility. With reluctance, they could jettison him.
It won't happen on its own. They may be impatient or somewhat disillusioned that he hasn't cure the world's ills yet, but they still believe. They still think he inherited economic and international hell from that devil Bush. He still has a grace period with them that would, unimpeded extend beyond four years.
But external factors like his level of popularity, will influence the level of their kid gloves with him. It will influence their patience and ultimately, if things deteriorate enough, their belief in his messiah-like status.
This is good news for conservatives as the cracks have already started to appear. Today, the Associated Press did a fact check on Obama's propaganda conference last night. They found mistakes. Would that have been possible at the Love-In that was his first propaganda conference? Well, it didn't really happen. Instead he got questions like 'if you were a tree...' from the NY Times.
What it means for Republicans in 2010
True it took 6 months for his popularity to come down this far. In this climate, the popularity decline was bound to be front-end loaded. So Obama's continued popularity decline may continue at a slower pace than we've seen so far. But over 10 points in 6 months (Gallup had him at 68% day one and 57% today) means that even at have the rate of decline to date, he will be down by 15 points in his first year. From 68% to 53% by next January, still seems manageable for Democrats in the mid-term elections. If the popularity decline continues at an even slower pace, his popularity might be at or slightly below 50% by the November 2010 election day. Good news for Republicans.
Of course not as good as if you straight-lined the decline in which case his popularity would be in the tank. If he has lost roughly 10 points in 6 months, then over the 22 months from inauguration day until the mid-term elections he will have lost 36% of his job approval rating, and he'd be sitting 32%. Hardly a winning recipe for Democrat success. But that's not going to happen. Here's why - at that rate over the 46 months from his inauguration until the next Presidential election, his job approval ratings would have fallen by 77% from their starting point of 68% (that's not 77% of 68%, but rather 77% total). In other words, his popularity would be at minus 9%. Absurd.
But it displays the fallacy of straight-lining his popularity decline. It doesn't work. And it doesn't continue at that rate for another reason. Each incremental percentage point of loss is theoretically more difficult than the last. As you move from reluctant Obama voters, to fence sitters and towards die-hard Obama supporters, each becomes harder and harder to convince the President is doing a bad job. So the rate of popularity decline - barring an unforeseen event like a national disaster or national major achievement (which would reverse it) - has to slow down.
The President is becoming less and less popular - no one could live up to the pre-election hype and reality is setting in for many people. It will continue, and you can expect that depending on the speed of the decline, the press to increasingly join in with the blue dog Democrats, who are apparently destroying the Obama Presidency.
July 22, 2009
By charging out of the gate on the stimulus package, and then the omnibus bill, by not letting the crisis 'go to waste', the President set himself up for resistance and potentially failure on any subsequent bill. Cap and Trade squeaked through Congress and may die in the Senate. The Health Care bill, once it exists, may face stronger resistance and may in fact fail entirely. President Bush, if you recall, wanted to spend the political capital from his second election win in 2004 (NOT his first, in case you are a stolen-election-of-2000 zombie). He tried to spend it on "Social Security and tax reform, moving this economy forward, education, fighting and winning the war on terror."
Notice what he said first - Social Security. Did it change? No. Did it go anywhere? Not really. Why? It was too aggressive an issue . It happened to President Bush and it's starting to happen to President Obama - resistance. When confronted with radical agendas, politicians in Congress scurry back to the middle of the political spectrum to protect their careers. The political middle is the same thing as inertia because change is hard and doing nothing is easier for people to take. The President may want to have universal health care, but the cost, rightly, scares many Democrats. Particularly those in vulnerable districts, but in general, Congressional Representatives don't want to rock the boat too much. They want to be re-elected.
The lesson is that if you are too aggressive, you lose support quickly. It's hard to imagine now, but at this rate, Obama could be a lame duck President by the end of his first year in office. No doubt it will end up being tagged as a problem of racism if that happens. As a corollary to the lesson, it may turn out that any future President's real impact ends up being determined in the first 100 days. Beyond that they might end up predominantly as an administrator. If that turns out to be the rule - beyond 100 days you can't get anything done, then the lesson is to be as aggressive as you can in those early days to take advantage of the grace period you've been given. Or perhaps it's a chicken and egg argument. Maybe a less aggressive first 100 days might free up more flexibility beyond that window. That version of events is not likely to happen to any future President. America is a quick fix society, with short attention spans and heavy political filters on the people's focus.
There's another lesson to be taken from Obama-land, just over 100 days into it. That lesson is that experience matters. Lack of understanding has led to a lot of questionable decisions by the President. From alienating Israel, to allowing North Korea to run wild, to embracing socialist dictators and responding slowly and meekly to an uprising in Iran, the decisions have lurched from wrong to bad to worse. On cap and trade and the stimulus bill he's put ideology before pragmatism - in the midst of a steep recession, he's spent trillions and loaded the country up with unsustainable debt.
Community organizer experience, a barely warmed Senate seat and a campaign for President, did not give the man any qualifications for the Presidency and it shows. He still views the Presidency as a soap box and will use it at every chance he gets to try to convince people of his ideology. That's not running the country, it's running his agenda. It's more in tune with his underexposed activist roots than what the country needs.
John McCain may have been a mamby-pamby ultra-soft lefty conservative, but you would not now be a majority shareholder in GM. Wait, scratch that, you aren't - the government is. The government isn't you - it's Obama and Pelosi and Reid. You get nothing.
Experience matters. Obama doesn't realize it, and neither does the press, or much of the public. But he's in over his head and things will only get worse until he is forced to cool his jets on his torrid pace of attempts at radical reform. It will be interesting to see if time, combined with the growing reluctance of Democrats manage to cool those jets for him.
Congress has only weeks before it's recess (the irony that word implies is just too rich), and Obama wants it done. Way to rush it Mr. President. Keep pushing and you'll guarantee it gets killed. And that's a good thing.
So just a quick temperature check before the speech. These ratings will likely still get a bump after his address tonight, but I suspect they won't be as big or prolonged as they were on previous attempts at pinning the ratings up.
Here's the data dump from Gallup;
Let's look again in a few days.
CIT is not small. If it were to fail, it would represent the biggest bank collapse since Washington Mutual last year.
July 13 (Bloomberg) -- CIT Group Inc., the century-old lender that hasn’t been able to persuade the government to back its debt sales, says its demise would put 760 manufacturing clients at risk of failure and “precipitate a crisis” for as many as 300,000 retailers.
A collapse would ripple across the “small and medium-sized businesses who rely on CIT to operate -- to pay their vendors, ship goods to their customers and make their payroll,” the New York-based lender said in internal documents obtained by Bloomberg News that make the case for its importance to the U.S. economy. CIT spokesman Curt Ritter declined to comment on the documents.
CIT executives spoke with regulators during the past two days, according to a person familiar with the talks, after its bonds and shares tumbled on concern that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. won’t allow the lender into its bond-guarantee program created last year to unfreeze debt markets. CIT may default as soon as April, when a $2.1 billion credit line matures, according to Fitch Ratings.
The FDIC is concerned that standing behind CIT debt would put taxpayer money at risk because the company’s credit quality is worsening, people familiar with the regulator’s thinking, who declined to be identified because the talks are private, said last week. Since Nov. 25 the FDIC has backed $274 billion in bond sales under its Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program, designed to give creditworthy borrowers access to funds after debt markets seized up following the failure of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.
The federal agency, run by Chairman Sheila Bair, is in discussions with CIT about how the lender can strengthen its financial position to get approval, including raising capital, said one of the people. CIT’s measures to improve its credit quality, such as by transferring assets to its bank, have been insufficient, the person said.
The TARP bailouts were poorly thought out, and poorly executed. The poor execution continues. Even though TARP was a bad idea, it is done. The money is set aside to bail out failing banks. Perhaps CIT does not meet the federal means tests. It doesn't matter. This is not about CIT. CIT could fail catastrophically for all it matters to me, if they made bad banking decisions. Remember, recessions are a necessity - they weed out inefficient companies and undesirable business practices - they should be allowed to happen. CIT may have made some terrible decisions and should be allowed to fail. Or maybe they made good decisions. Again it doesn't matter because it's not about CIT.
It's about the 760 manufacturing clients and 300,000 retailers. That's a lot of jobs. That's a lot of GDP dollars. Unless you want to put all of that at risk, wouldn't this be a bank worth taking a second look at rescuing? If rescue is required, and now the law of the land (TARP), then who more worthy than a bank that is the lender of choice to so many employers? What about those lost jobs, or missed payrolls? And what of the ripple effect caused by allowing it to fail?
If you aren't trying to deliberately shoot the economy in the foot, doesn't it seem counter-productive to create a TARP fund and then not use it in this case? Unless of course, rescuing the economy is not your goal - damaging it is. Or perhaps the real goal is to line the pockets of friends of the victorious. Maybe it's just who you know. Friends of the President get free taxpayer bailout money. If you aren't on that list then too bad for you.
I'm anti-bailout. But TARP is a done deal. Since those funds are already allocated for bank rescues, since that's a sunk cost at this point, it begs the question - if not this type of situation, what exactly are they saving those funds for anyway?
For most Americans, aggravating as it is to those of us who focus on politics and national interest, this means filtering out the daily flow of information involving political events. It's not important to the day-to-day lives of most Americans. That works as a positive for politicians of every stripe, who seemingly can get away with virtually anything and still be re-elected or even elected (like the President). People's attention focuses on those issues only during a narrow election cycle window that typically doesn't even include the primaries. And when it comes into focus, it's easy enough to throw up an array of interpretations that are at odds with the truth and obscure people's understanding enough to get re-elected (like Ayers, et. al.).
So it comes as no surprise that lessons from the distant past are not learned by the people or by the politicians in charge. The public doesn't have time for it and the politicians don't have a need for it. That's why they can recycle the Keynesian arguments in pretty new packaging and make it seem innovative and a break from the past. People don't have time to fact check this stuff, and the 'journalistic' press typically won't do it for them because they (1) love the Democrats and BELIEVE in them, particularly Obama and (2) they suffer from the same myopic problem of attention span as everyone else, plus they are apparently afflicted with a good dose of sloth, too busy parroting what someone else has said to actually do investigative work. Maybe it's just budgetary constraints, I can't say for certain.
But there are lessons to be learned from the past, that have clearly been missed. Case in point back in 1975, New York city was on the verge of bankruptcy. Milton Friedman wrote in Free To Choose;
New York City is the most dramatic example in the United States of trying to do good through government programs. New York is the most welfare-oriented community in the United States. Spending by the city government is larger relative to it's population than any other city in the United States - double that in Chicago. The philosophy that guided the city was expressed by Mayor Robert Wagner in his 1965 budget message: "I do not propose to permit our fiscal problems to set the limits of our commitments to meet the essential needs of the people of the city." Wagner and his successors proceeded to interpret the "essential needs" very broadly indeed. But more money, more programs, more taxes didn't work. They led to financial catastrophe without "meeting the essential needs of the people", even on a narrow interpretation, let alone Wagner's. Bankruptcy was prevented only by assistance from the federal government and the State of New York, in return for which New York City surrendered control over it's affairs, becoming a closely supervised ward of the state and federal governments.
New Yorkers naturally sought to blame outside forces for their problem, but Ken Autella wrote in a recent book, New York "was not compelled to to create a vast municipal hospital or City University system, to continue free tuition, institute open enrollment, ignore budget limitations, impose the steepest taxes in the nation, borrow beyond its means, subsidize middle-income housing, continue rigid rent controls, reward municipal workers with lush pension, pay and fringe benefits."
He quips, "Goaded by liberalism's compassion and ideological commitment to the redistribution of wealth, New Yorker officials helped redistribute much of the tax base and thousands of jobs out of New York."
Anyone paying attention to that situation that occurred back in 1975, would know the obvious lessons encompassed in those 3 short paragraphs. California didn't learn the lesson and got themselves as a state into the same trouble. The President, being not much older than myself (he's closing in on 48) might not be aware of the events that transpired in NYC in the late 1960's and the 1970's. But he certainly either hasn't seen or hasn't learned the lesson. He talked about much of the same time-worn, disproven policies that NYC was trying decades ago and failed. He specifically mentioned spreading around the wealth to Joe the plumber during the election campaign. If he wasn't aware of the lessons from NYC, surely he must of seen the same problem being faced in California today? Could he not learn from that scenario instead? Apparently not.If he weren't ruining the country, the President could be forgiven for his blind ideological allegiance to a socialist agenda. But he is ruining the country and should not be forgiven. He should be challenged.
He SHOULD have been challenged by the press during the election campaign but we already know why he wasn't (see paragraph 3 above in case you've already filtered that out). Should they be forgiven for dereliction of duty? Absolutely not.
He SHOULD have been challenged by voters but we know why he wasn't (paragraph 2). Should they be forgiven? Well, no. Unfortunately they require some of the blame for the current fiscal nightmare that is snowballing under the Obama administration. When the country goes bankrupt, who will be there to bail out the USA? NYC had an out, America's only possible bailout could come from China. Is that what people want: "in return for which New York City surrendered control over it's affairs, becoming a closely supervised ward of the state and federal governments." Substitute New York City for the US and 'state and federal ' with Chinese and see how that reads.
What can be done? Can Obama be rehabilitated to fiscal sanity? Doubtful. Can the press be rehabilitated to do their jobs properly? Doubtful. That leaves only the American public to come to their senses before it's too late. 2010 may be meaningful, but that may be too late. Realize the fierce urgency of now to borrow a phrase, and kill any effort towards cap and trade, and towards nationalizing health care before they set the country back decades and put it on an unstable bankruptcy-inducing path.
July 21, 2009
It's part of their playbook. Make outrageous claims to hide your own outrageous behavior. Then if the claims are returned back at you, you accuse the accuser of being reactionary and defensive, of parroting your 'real' claims and your own agenda isn't exposed.
Now according to Stratfor, on July 17th in Iran, a semi-spontaneous outburst at an anti-Ahmedinejad protest, chants of "death to Russia" erupted. Strange. "Death to America" is normal, and recently "death to China" has recently been added. But why Russia?
According to the Stratfor article Russia has openly accused the United States of fermenting and fostering the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine where the country turned from Russia towards a pro-Western world view via a popular uprising. And similarly Ahmedinejad and his allies have accused Britain and the United States of sparking the Green Revolution in Iran. Why? The Ahmedinejad camp clearly are claiming supporters they do not have, and clearly the election was not clean at a minimum and rigged at worst. They know it, and they know that everyone knows it. So by blaming others they are trying to stop the counter claims that they are responsible. They are levelling the playing field by having counter claims to the truth.
It's just another example to be aware could happen. It could happen to you. It could happen to other conservatives. When you hear that radical crackpots dispute the 'truth' about global warming, remember who is accusing them of that - the radical crackpots - with an agenda - themselves.
July 20, 2009
If you don't know for sure, it doesn't benefit you to think that way. While you may be unnecessarily paranoid to protect yourself by having a resume prepared, by being ready to find alternatives, and by keepng yourself employable, you are simply keeping your own best interests in mind by staying prepared and staying necessary. It's the free market for labor at it's most basic level - personal.
And it's a variation of the premise of pray for the best and prepare for the worst. You may indeed be in job where your employer is an angel, and you may be safe. If so, you are lucky. Even still why chance anything less than 100% certainty? Keep learning, keep adding value and stay aware of the economy and of what opportunities exist,even if you never intend to pursue them. A choice of jobs is better than no choice. Alway.
It cannot go unnoticed as ironic that Walter Cronkite, the iconic broadcaster of his day, and verbal chronologer of the historic event, died the weekend before the 40th anniversary of that event (which is today, if you didn't already know). If the irony is lost on you, let me explain.
If America reached the height of its pre-eminence during the Apollo program, it has since lost much of its status during the subsequent decades. Cronkite's death is simply a personification of the end of America's golden age. That is not to say further golden ages are not possible, but rather that this one is quite definitely done.
The intervening years, despite the best efforts of conservatives to counter the decay, have brought forth a plethora of social engineering efforts and an associated amount of mammoth spending. Yet there is still poverty. There is still a declining American manufacturing sector. The problems have not gone away. They have even worsened in some respects. Yet the government asks for more - more power, and more of your money, despite the fact that their solutions have not proved effective.
Except under a tyranny of oppression, ordinary people do not live and die by government edict. Attempts to engineer behavior beyond moral absolutes (e.g. murder is criminal, the penalty is imprisonment or death), are doomed to failure. Even the basic precepts of criminal justice do not deter absolutely everyone. So it is foolhardy to expect that efforts to change beliefs via Congressional legislation would fare anything beyond poorly. Yet the misguided efforts persist. They may persist with the best of intentions, but the road to national hell is paved with good intentions.
The government now owns the lion's share of the American auto industry - directly or through Presidential intimidation or edict. They are planning the same for health care. It does not matter that they cannot change personal opinion by creating new laws - if they control more and more of the economy it does not matter what you believe or do not believe. As long as they control the purse strings, you have no choice but to obey - willingly or not.
What is needed right now is a healthy dose of libertarianism. I'm much more a conservative than a libertarian (generally, not absolutely) but right now the country, i.e. the patient, needs that injection. That's the medicine that will work for the patient. There has been such a creeping power consolidation over the last 40 years (and further back for that matter) that the country needs a jolt back towards economic and social liberty in order to avoid becoming terminal. If creeping government control is the disease, it has now accelerated and become like an aggressive, malignant cancer. If it’s not treated immediately the country may not survive.
Enough doom and gloom. I have every confidence that the American people will deal with this soon by 2010 at the latest but by continued protest in the interim). They will do so with or without the understanding that this creeping tyranny is the very thing the founding fathers of the nation were most concerned with, and rightly so.
The real lesson from the lunar landing is the fact that American ingenuity is not dead. The amazing talents that led to that Herculean effort still exist aplenty in America. Arguably there is more of that intellectual capital at the disposal of the nation (not the government). That talent however, has been dammed, channeled and redirected into less productive efforts. The country is capable of an infinite number of golden ages. Just like the economic boom cycles, innovation need not be a peak once and ebb thereafter story. In fact, while it may not be a continuous boom, there really is now ebb needed - just the hiccups of rapid and slow innovation. That is, if people understand that such a miraculous cycle requires no magical orchestration from some omnipotent Presidential or Congressional adjudicator. It simply needs the liberty that unleashes personal creativity.
FOOTNOTE: big government advocates will argue that NASA was an arm of the government that accomplished this feat. NASA was set up in 1958 as an independent agency to achieve a goal as defined by the government, but it did so with relative independence. Unlike the interference the government does as far as the disciple of economics, apparently it generally knew better than to interfere with the scientists and physicists involved in solving the complexities of a mission to the moon. As a result, the effort was successful. Further, the government placed no restrictions on the freedom of its citizenry to becoming physicists. Nor did it place quotas on minority physicists comprising a specified percentage of the NASA employed physicists. The result - NASA went after the best it could get, including for example preeminent rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, who worked for Nazi Germany during WWII. The probability of success of the lunar mission might have been very different if NASA were to be guided by the principles espoused by modern liberals with respect to quotas, affirmative action and the federal government deciding more than they are equipped to make informed decisions on.
July 19, 2009
So why are liberals this deeply involved in identity politics? Is it because they truly think that they are helping the downtrodden or is it a matter of political calculation? That's a chicken and egg discussion, but there's no denying that it's something liberal-leaning politicians attempt to use to their advantage - either by suggesting that those who disagree are socially wrong (a la Boxer) or just calculating the number of special interest groups that they need to cobble together for political victory.
The sad reality is that after 50 years of a welfare experiment, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, there are still millions at or below the poverty line. What does that say to liberals? We need more - we haven't done enough. What it says to rational people is that maybe the method being applied isn't working. Maybe it doesn't work. Maybe there's a different approach we should consider?
In the coming weeks I'm going to be taking a look at the Law of Unintended Consequences - this is one area that liberal socialists need to take a long hard look in the mirror and start to face the reality of their actions. Otherwise we might be forced to come to the conclusion that they already know that their policies don't work. They might already know that their policies in some cases, in fact work in quite the opposite direction of their stated goals. And if they know that already, then maybe the liberal democrats, backed by an oddly high percentage of the wealthy, are the ones who are really against equality, opportunity and freedom and are actually interested in preserving the status quo.
Something to think about.
July 18, 2009
Government planning and detailed control of economic activity lessens productive innovation, and consumer choice. Good, better, best, are replaced by "approved" or "authorized." Friedman shows how "established" industries or methods, seek government protection or subsidization in their attempts to stop or limit product improvements which they don't control. Friedman visits India, Japan and U.S.
July 17, 2009
“And folks look, AARP knows and the people with me here today know, the president knows, and I know, that the status quo is simply not acceptable,” Biden said at the event on Thursday in Alexandria, Va. “It’s totally unacceptable. And it’s completely unsustainable. Even if we wanted to keep it the way we have it now. It can’t do it financially.”
“We’re going to go bankrupt as a nation,” Biden said.
“Now, people when I say that look at me and say, ‘What are you talking about, Joe? You’re telling me we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt?’” Biden said. “The answer is yes, that's what I’m telling you.”
C'mon America! Are you serious???!!!
Apparently, NASA, a government agency, ERASED the original footage of the first moon landing. One of the biggest events in the history of humanity to date, and they didn't think to keep copies?!?
Luckily they were able to find copies to do a restoration from. But shouldn't the originals have gone to the Smithsonian right away?
The added irony is that the tapes were degaussed for re-use in order to save money. Hey, here's an idea; shut down the Department of Housing and Urban Development instead, save the tapes.
If we nationalize health care in the US, maybe the government can re-use the parchment the Constitution is written on to save money and save trees at the same time.
It can't be real. The first thing I do is a sanity check - there aren't brick walls in the middle of roads. To be sure I'm not losing my mind or I'm just over-tired, I turn on my GPS and sure enough, it's telling me there's a brick wall in a mile.
My first thought is to get off at the exit just ahead and find another route to get to my destination. But my GPS suddenly speaks up; "Accelerate to 90 mph. And continue straight for 11 miles."
There's no arguing with a GPS. It's a dumb terminal receiving coordinates from a satellite and working from a pre-programmed map. It won't listen. It's locked into a plan.
Of course that plan has me ending in a hellacious ball of fire very soon. So I wake up my passengers who having taken their turns driving are catching some sleep. I tell them we have to get off the exit now or we will crash. Except they don't seem to notice the encroaching brick wall or the even more imminent last exit before our doom. They want me to listen to the GPS. I guess they figure I've let us get behind schedule. And I guess they figure there's NO WAY a GPS system can be wrong.
"Accelerate to 90 mph immediately and continue straight for 10.7 miles." Dispassionate.
Right about now is the time in a dream that people normally wake up, except that's not happening this time. And while I'm thinking that, I foolishly pass the last exit. I can still just slam on the breaks, right? Nope - they are broken. And there appears to be no way to navigate around the wall any more because it extends off into the forest on either side of the highway.
Worse still, all the cars behind me are accelerating - on both sides of the road. There really is no way out. I curse myself for not acting when I had the chance.
And as I prepare myself for our impending doom, I'm forced to be comforted by the fact that everyone about to crash is at least covered by government health care. Too bad the ambulances are rushing headlong into the wall too.
July 16, 2009
July 15, 2009
Worth a read.
July 14, 2009
PRINCETON, NJ -- U.S. President Barack Obama averaged a 58% job approval rating for the first eight days of July, down from an average of 61% for June. His approval rating is down most significantly among independents, to 53% so far in July from an average of 59% in June; it has dropped two points among Republicans (from 25% in June to 23% so far in July) and has gone up a point among Democrats, to 90%.
The nominal peak of tax freedom day occurred under Bill Clinton, in 1999 at about May 3rd. The tax freedom date had fluctuated under President Bush but generally declined in a non-linear path. For the last two years the date has dropped dramatically to about April 13th - the lowest level since 1967.
So how, do you ask, can Americans think that they are over-taxed and that in the midst of a federal budget deficit crisis, conservatives be asking for tax breaks? Good question.
The answer is one word: nominal
All of the above numbers represent tax dollars that are actually paid. It does not account for the real tax freedom day, which is severely altered by government deficits. The money the average American pays to the government is larger than what is really seen on your W-2 form.
Take a look at this graph provided by Tax Foundation.
What is striking from the graph is the effect that recessions have - nominal tax freedom day tends to decline, while real tax freedom day typically rises. Of course if the government is going to run deficits to create it's stimulus then the real rates would indeed spike - you just wouldn't see them because either you will pay for them at some time in the future when you are socked with higher taxes, or else your children and grandchildren will get stuck with it.
There is no free stimulus lunch, EVER. So the next question is, why not raise taxes to cover the deficit so the nominal tax freedom day reflects the real day as closely as possible?
The answer is again one word: politics.
It would be political suicide on a massive scale if the American public were to immediately see the impact of the gargantuan spending bill the Democrats are running up. They are banking on the effects not being visible prior to the next set of elections in 2010 and 2012. Look at 2009 on the graph. If that tax bill came to you today, the difference on your W-2 would be astonishing. You'd be at Tea Parties every weekend.
The other side of the equation is the lingering effects of not the deficit but the national debt. Factoring decades of snowballing national debt into the equation, Tax Freedom Day based on the formulas used by Tax Foundation is likely somewhere near the end of the year. In other words, we are get closer to the point of no tax freedom day, ever.
President Obama is trying to sell the American public on the idea of a free lunch. There is no such thing!
July 13, 2009
July 12, 2009
July 11, 2009
For more economics and history, search Nonsensible Shoes for "Saturday Learning Series".
This is a wonderful explanation of simple economics. Learn it.
July 10, 2009
July 9, 2009
Three stories in the news today add to the massive stockpile of evidence that sanctimonious liberals want you to 'do as I say, not as I do'. It should no longer come as any surprise to anyone that liberals who supposedly want to make the world a better place by helping the poor, helping the environment or helping the children or elderly, want their efforts to affect a change in how people behave but they themselves, expect to be exempt from that set of rules they want to see imposed.
The obvious example is Al Gore jetting around the world to spew global warming propaganda - and jet exhaust. And what is with his home that uses something like a trillion kilowatts of power every second and burns more natural gas than a fleet of natural-gas-powered buses (yes, that's an exaggeration)? Shouldn't he be living in a tiki hut somewhere?
And now comes word (courtesy of Hot Air, in turn courtesy of the American Spectator) that radical community activist group ACORN is involved in a project, under the pretense of helping the poor, of displacing the poor for a mega-project involving the New Jersey Nets.
«In the world of corporate shakedowns it is commonplace for liberal activist groups to use the money they extract from a supposed "donor" to fund operations, but it is very unusual for a group to take money in exchange for betraying those it is supposed to represent.
But the far-left activist group ACORN, which claims to defend the poor from what ACORN ally Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) last year called America's "capitalist predators," is doing precisely that. "»
For anyone who missed the hypocrisy, let me spell it out for you. The organization that tries to enforce community standards on organizations it deems as too capitalistic, feels it's okay to violate those standards itself because, after all, ACORN knows what's best for America, so the ends justify the means.
And that's the problem with liberal activists in a nutshell. They have a deeply held opinion that they know what is best for America and for the world. No one else understands. And since they are the guardians of what is right and pure its okay for them to violate their own moral compass. Just not you.
Which brings us to our second story from Deceiver.com. Again a Hat Tip to Hot Air.
That's right, Greenpeace decided the best way to stop global warming was to litter. And to illegally scale Mt. Rushmore. It's a double whammy of hypocrisy; don't wreck the earth, but it's okay if we do AND let's get President Obama to change the laws for tougher global warming rules and penalties by breaking the law.
The chain of double standards gets clearer the more you pay attention.
Next story. Again, a hat tip to Hot Air - the only site among those I regularly frequent that I have had a chance to visit this morning, which should by now be obvious to readers of this post.
This one is yet to be confirmed but sure appears to be the case. The New York Times, bastion of truth (as liberals see it) has run a photo caption contest in a clear effort to remain viable in an online world. No problem there, other than the reason they are in financial trouble is not because they don't have a valid online business model - its because they are blatantly biased and not always factual. That's a problem with a newspaper. They are supposed to report news - they are not called an editorial paper, news should be primary.
But the bigger problem is this, after a recent history of made up stories, you'd think they would bend over backwards to be truthful. But the photo caption contest photos were doctored. Either the Times has a shortage of editors and fact checkers or else they don't care to check facts if it interrupts their narrative.
Given their blatant bias in ideology its hard to believe it isn't deliberate. And if that is the case the NYT has abandoned journalism for advocacy. An organization that demands full disclosure and wants to be regarded as a source of truth is being dishonest. They would howl if they caught Fox News lying or making a factual mistake. So, do as they say, not as they do.
But I'm willing to give the NYT the benefit of the doubt. They did pull the photos, even if it was because they were caught in a lie/mistake. Mistakes happen. The problem is that their political bent lends itself to continued errors. And they seem to want to be bailed out with TARP money. But they don't want to change their business model. They don't want to be about accuracy and facts. And still, cutting the Times some slack, there's hypocrisy on their part.
And there are other examples. Think of the Supreme court overturning the Sotomayor 'reverse discrimination'. Discrimination is bad if you are doing it against a non-caucasian but don't do it the other way around!
Liberals love to tell people what to do. And in many cases they feel exempt from the rules they establish. And for those liberals, the ones in power, they are using their belief system to impose. The hypocrisy proves that its about power over others. It proves there is an unspoken two tier system "us and them". That is elitism. That is autocratic. And that, is what was the crucible for the birth of America, which was a rebellion against injustice.
Do as we say, not as we do is inherently unjust. So how can anyone who wants fairness and justice seriously consider voting Democrats?
July 8, 2009
Remember this video?
Now comes the proof. The government did it. Carpe Diem has the story.
The real tragedy of the government’s affordable housing policy is the impact on average Americans, particularly those of modest means. Millions of these borrowers, who were supposed to have been helped by federal affordable housing policy, have now been forced into delinquency and foreclosure, destroying their asset base, their credit, and in some cases their families. For example, Latino homeowners, who once appeared to be among the most frequent beneficiaries of affordable housing policies, are now the victims of the policies that their political representatives in Washington once championed.And yet Latinos predominantly vote Democrat. Democrats count on your inattention to keep power. They could not possibly be so wrong and get away with so much otherwise.
Overall approval according to Rasmussen is at 52% versus 47% disapproval - his worst showing yet.
Meanwhile Gallup has his approval at a relatively sky high 58% and his disapproval at a measly 35%. That's still his worst disapproval showing and close to his worst approval rating yet by Gallup's standards.
Interestingly if you look into the Gallup numbers his eroding support is among conservatives down from 40% to 25% in June. The high initial approval rating from conservatives could have be attributed to respecting the office rather than the policies or the candidate. Still, I find it hard to believe that Obama's support among conservatives would ever be 40%, and that given his track record it would be as high as 25% today.
Gallup also shows Democrat support is at 89%, down from 91% - in other words, flat. And Independent support has barely eroded from 62% at inauguration to 59% in June. Not all Democrats are as left leaning as President Obama, and Independents certainly aren't. So the Gallup numbers are suspect as far as I'm concerned.
Both polls show are showing natural downward trend, Gallup's is agonizingly slow while Rasmussen's has been a steady change. The decline is inevitable, it's just the rate and/or depth of the decline that is in question.