Archives for August 2011

Reason.tv interviews Gary Johnson

Even though he has been excluded from debates with other GOP hopefuls, despite being tied with or polling ahead of three other candidates in a recent poll that have been invited to participate, former two-term New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson is still campaign and spreading the message of limited government and free markets.

Reason.tv caught up with Johnson recently at Freedom Fest in Las Vegas to discuss what he’d do as president, including balancing the federal budget by cutting spending by 43% spending (yes, Congress spends that much more than they take in):

Another round of stimulus?

With President Barack Obama preparing to unveil his latest Keynesian gimmick aimed at creating jobs (wasn’t the 2009 stimulus supposed to do that?), James Pethokoukis wonders if Obama made the economy worse with actions and interventionist policies he and his administration have already taken or supported.

Pethokoukis discusses the various arguments we’ve heard from both sides. Really, the whole piece is worth a read, but here is the highlight:

First, that the Obama stimulus does not deserve credit for what little economic growth we’ve seen. Second, that while a more libertarian approach to the crisis might have had a better result, there was no way such an approach would or could have be enacted. Finally, the preferred Republican solution—a temporary payroll tax cut—might have been beneficial in the short term and wildly problematic in the long term.

Did Obama make it worse? It is certainly the case that he only deepened a long-term trend that threatens American prosperity more than any other. The events of 2008–2009 exposed a truth about the U.S. economy from which we had shielded ourselves: economic growth has been slowing in a worrisome way throughout the decade. The nation’s GDP has averaged 3.3 percent annual growth for the past half century. But from 2001 to 2007—before the recession hit—it averaged only 2.6 percent. Going forward, growth might be even slower due to the aftermath of the financial crisis and the aging of the population. The Congressional Budget Office​, for instance, pegs long-term growth at just 2 percent or so.

American guns in Mexico: The 90 percent myth

As violence in Mexico continues to erupt day after day, Mexican President Felipe Calderon increases calls for the United States to do something about American’s demand for narcotics and the easy access to guns that he claims filters south of the border.  His claim about the guns has been picked up by anti-gun politicians with a undermine the Second Amendment.  Unfortunately, it’s based on a steaming pile of bull.

Don’t want to believe me?  Well, global intelligence site Stratfor took a look at the numbers and found something rather interesting:

As we discussed in a previous analysis, the 90 percent number was derived from a June 2009 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to Congress on U.S. efforts to combat arms trafficking to Mexico (see external link).

According to the GAO report, some 30,000 firearms were seized from criminals by Mexican authorities in 2008. Of these 30,000 firearms, information pertaining to 7,200 of them (24 percent) was submitted to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for tracing. Of these 7,200 guns, only about 4,000 could be traced by the ATF, and of these 4,000, some 3,480 (87 percent) were shown to have come from the United States.

VIDEO: Free Trade vs. Protectionism

Welcome, Instapundit readers!

The folks over at Learn Liberty bring a new lesson from George Mason University economist Donald J. Boudreaux (who blogs at Cafe Hayek) on free trade and protectionism as matters of policy, and their impacts on wealth creation:

Protectionism today comes in the form of Buy American restrictions (which were reinforced in the so-called stimulus bill), whose proponents argue that forcing manufacturers to produce goods using inputs created by American firms, or that the government buy/contract goods and services solely from American firms through its procurement process, will help preserve and create jobs at home.

Perry leads in South Carolina

Someone pointed out not too long ago that history shows that whoever won the Iowa caucus and South Carolina primary has traditionally gone on to win the Republican presidential nomination. According to polling in the Hawkeye State, Rick Perry is holding a small lead there over Mitt Romney. But a new poll from Public Policy Policy out of South Carolina shows Perry running away with the state:

  • Rick Perry: 36%
  • Mitt Romney: 13%
  • Sarah Palin: 10%
  • Herman Cain: 9%
  • Michele Bachmann: 7%
  • Newt Gingrich: 7%
  • Ron Paul: 5%
  • Rick Santorum: 4%
  • Jon Huntsman: 2%
  • Other/Not sure: 7%

And without Palin in the race:

  • Rick Perry: 36%
  • Mitt Romney: 16%
  • Michele Bachmann: 13%
  • Herman Cain: 9%
  • Newt Gingrich: 8%
  • Ron Paul: 5%
  • Rick Santorum: 4%
  • Jon Huntsman: 2%
  • Other/Not sure: 7%

While Romney would best Bachmann, 45% to 40%, in a head-to-head match up, Perry would beat him decisively, 59% to 28%. That’s certainly an ominous sign for Romney in a crucial early primary state.

Is Warren Buffett a hypocrite?

Is the Oracle of Omaha a hypocrite?  He is, according to the New York Post.  For those with faulty memories or who simply weren’t paying attention, Warren Buffett wrote an op-ed claiming that he and his fellow “mega-rich” weren’t really paying enough in taxes.  Obviously, this tore through the internet with both sides battling over Buffett’s arguments.  However, the Post claims that despite Buffett’s claims that he’s not taxed enough, his own company hasn’t even paid what it owes.

This one’s truly, uh … rich: Billionaire Warren Buffett says folks like him should have to pay more taxes — but it turns out his firm, Berkshire Hathaway, hasn’t paid what it’s already owed for years.

That’s right: As Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson notes, the company openly admits that it owes back taxes since as long ago as 2002.

“We anticipate that we will resolve all adjustments proposed by the US Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) for the 2002 through 2004 tax years … within the next 12 months,” the firm’s annual report says.

It also cites outstanding tax issues for 2005 through 2009.

Um…oops?

Buffett is free to argue any position he wishes.  However, if he truly feels that he isn’t taxed enough, then why hasn’t Berkshire Hathaway, that he is chairman and CEO of, paid their taxes?  Or maybe it’s as the Post suggests, that he only wants to shill for President Obama.

Rick Perry’s inconsistencies

Over at The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf goes through a series of statements made by Rick Perry in a recent foreign policy-based speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and finds that he made several contradictory statements as he tried to pander to the factions in the Republican Party on the issue of national defense; or international offense, depending on how you view our interventionist foreign policy:

Unilateralism or Multilateralism

GOP Candidate A: “It’s not our interest to go it alone. We respect our allies and we must always seek to engage them in military missions”

GOP Candidate B: “We must be willing to act when it is time to act. We cannot concede the moral authority of our nation to multilateral debating societies, and when our interests are threatened American soldiers should be led by American commanders.”

Interventionism or Restraint

GOP Candidate A: “I do not believe that America should fall subject to a foreign policy of military adventurism. We should only risk shedding American blood and spending American treasure when our vital interests are threatened.”

GOP Candidate B: “As the 10th anniversary of the attacks of 911 approach, we must renew our commitment to taking the fight to the enemy wherever they are before they strike at home. We should always look to build coalitions among the nations to protect the mutual interests of freedom loving people.”

Qualifications to be Commander in Chief

Candidate A: “I think the military men and women respect the commander in chief regardless of who it is.”

And So It Begins: Romney’s new strategy in action

Mitt Romney, who has seen his lead vanish in national polls, has put his new strategy of going after Rick Perry in action. Yesterday, while visiting Texas, Romney knocked “career politicians” for the nation’s current problems:

Though Mr. Romney has assiduously avoided taking on one rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, Mr. Romney took a veiled swipe at Mr. Perry in a speech Tuesday before the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in San Antonio.

“I have spent most of my life outside of politics, dealing with real problems in the real economy,” Mr. Romney said. “Career politicians got us into this mess, and they simply don’t know how to get us out.”

The attack line, which lit up the Twittersphere Tuesday morning when the campaign released some early excerpts, was met with some applause, but it is a point that Mr. Romney makes frequently on the campaign trail. Mr. Romney often argues that he is not a career politician and is one of the few candidates, having spent 25 years in the private sector, with the executive know-how to create jobs.

In his speech before the V.F.W., Mr. Romney tried to walk the line between offering an optimistic vision for the nation’s future — he even name-checked former President Ronald Reagan and mentioned “the shining city on a hill” — and painting a grim picture of the country under President Obama’s leadership.

“I believe in America,” Mr. Romney said, wearing a blue tie and speaking in a measured, even voice. “We believe in freedom and opportunity. We believe in the inherent dignity of every human being. We have deep and abiding faith in the goodness and the greatness of America.”

Obama names new chief economic adviser

President Barack Obama announced yesterday that Alan Krueger, an economics professor at Princeton University, would succeed Austan Goolsbee as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. It’s not a surprise that Krueger will bring nothing new in terms of this administration’s approach to the economy:

Alan Krueger, President Barack Obama’s pick to head the White House Council of Economic Advisers, will likely serve as an administration advocate for more aggressive government intervention to revive job growth.

“Our great ongoing challenge as a nation remains how to get this economy growing faster,” Mr. Obama said Monday at the White House announcement of Mr. Krueger’s nomination.
[…]
He served as assistant Treasury secretary for economic policy in the first two years of the Obama administration, where he helped design the “cash for clunkers” program to boost auto purchases.

“What you’re likely to see is, he does believe the federal government can do more to help in this economy,” Cecilia Rouse, a Princeton University economist and former CEA member, said of Mr. Krueger. “He will be a voice for more investments.”

Gibson raid is about more than guitars

As Jason pointed out yesterday, legendary Gibson Guitars was raided last week by armed federal agents.  What was their crime?  Was Gibson being used as a front for the Mexican cartels?  Was it in league with terrorists who want to destroy our way of life?  Oh no.  They may have been using exotic woods that were harvested in a way not entirely kosher.  At least that’s the speculation since Gibson is already under investigation for that.  The Feds have been rather tight lipped about the reasons for the raid, though it wouldn’t be out of the realm of reality to think that it’s more of the same.

My libertarian streak ends when it comes to endangered species of just about anything.  I just can’t do it a lot of the time.  However, it’s also important that the laws make sense.  The regulation Gibson has allegedly run afoul of seems to be a different matter entirely.  For example:

 


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