In a modern example of Frederic Bastiat’s “The Seen and the Unseen,” in Seattle, school adiminstrators are finding out that their ban on junk food has actually hurt student activities:
The Seattle School Board is considering relaxing its ban on unhealthful food in high schools amid complaints from student governments that the policy has cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars in vending-machine profits over the past seven years.
The policy, approved in 2004 — before any state or federal regulations on school nutrition had been established — put Seattle on the cutting edge of the fight against childhood obesity.
But board members now acknowledge they probably went too far. The restrictions, which are more strict than the now-crafted state and federal nutrition guidelines, allow only products such as milk, natural fruit juice, baked chips and oat-based granola bars.
Perhaps not surprisingly, many students are not particularly interested in those items.
(I just want to insert a “Duh!” in here. Like, seriously?)
In 2001, before the junk-food ban was passed, high-school associated student body (ASB) governments across the city made $214,000 in profits from vending machines, according to district data. This year, they’ve made $17,000.
The district promised in 2006 to repay ASBs for the revenue they lost because of the policy. But it never did. So the ASB organizations — which subsidize athletic uniform and transportation costs, support student clubs, hold school dances and fund the yearbook and newspaper, among other expenses — have had to cancel programs and ask students to pay significantly more to participate on athletic teams and in school clubs.
Looks like Obama is going to have a tougher time getting back in the White House next year, according to WMAL:
A report released Wednesday by the centrist think-tank Third Way showed that more than 825,000 voters in eight key battleground states have fled the Democratic Party since Obama won election in 2008.
“The numbers show that Democrats’ path to victory just got harder,” said Lanae Erickson, the report’s co-author. “We are seeing both an increase in independents and a decrease in Democrats and that means the coalition they have to assemble is going to rely even more on independents in 2012 than it did in 2008.”
Amid frustrating partisan gridlock and unprecedentedly low party-approval ratings, the number of voters registering under a major party is falling fast, but it is also falling disproportionately.
In eight states that will be must-wins in 2012 — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina and Pennsylvania — Democrats lost 5.4 percent of their registered voters while Republicans lost 3.1 percent. The number of independent voters in those states jumped 3.4 percent.
This is not really news; voters have been fleeing both major parties over the past decade due to overactive hyperpartisanship, a greatly expanded bounty of information from blogs and social media that have destroyed “big media“‘s credibility, and that neither party is actually focusing on delivering a consistent message and consistent policy, but has been playing too much politics. What is interesting is that more are fleeing Democrats than Republicans—at least in these states, and I think that has to do with a couple of things:
Steven L. Taylor over at Outside the Beltway has a post up arguing that the Community Reinvestment Act, the law that ordered banks to make loans out to those who really couldn’t afford them, was not the reason for the housing bust, but rather greedy megabanks that were preying on naive homeowners. Mostly, he gets this from Barry Ritholtz. Here’s a summary of the arguments:
- The boom and bust was a global phenomenon, so the CRA couldn’t possibly have done all of this.
- What was done in the US mostly happened outside of CRA target zones, in the suburbs.
- “Nonbank mortgage underwriting exploded from 2001 to 2007, along with the private label securitization market, which eclipsed Fannie and Freddie during the boom.”
- Most of the lenders were private firms not subject to CRA regulations.
At any rate, the notion that the crisis in mortgage financing was caused by, as NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg put it, “It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis. It was, plain and simple, Congress who forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp,” is patently absurd.
Clark Ruper, who is the VP of Students for Liberty, has a very good point to make vis-a-vis the Occupy Wall Street movement (for once, the bolding is not mine!):
A lot of the discussion lately has focused on whether Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is good or bad for liberty, whether they favor more or less government, and similar questions. While these are valid questions to ask, it is important to consider how we insert ourselves into the conversation. The protesters have already framed the debate; it is them versus the corporate/political elite (99% vs 1%). We have to move within that framework and in doing so find the most useful way to get a libertarian message across.
When the topic is government and corporations abusing power, neither of the two institutions are righteous. Rather, all parties are wrong for various reasons. Don’t pick sides! Too often we libertarians find ourselves defending corporations in our attempts to defend free market capitalism. These are the vary same corporations that often fight for and benefit from eminent domain abuse, bailouts, special tax code loopholes, protective tariff and import quotas, licensing laws to keep out market competition, and a whole host of corporate welfare programs. The analysis of corporations being moral is overly simplistic. While there are many corporations that play fair, there are clearly many that abuse their power.
That last line is officially the understatement of the week.
If you ever wanted more fuel for the argument against Occupy Wall Street being the 99%, then look no further than Gallup.
In their polls, they’ve found that, while OWS has a slightly higher approval-disapproval mix than the Tea Party (26% support and 19% oppose for OWS, compared to 22% support and 27% oppose for the Tea Party), they also found that:
Half or more of Americans are neither supporters nor opponents of these movements. That underscores the point made by my colleague Jeff Jones in his analysis — namely that the majority of Americans are not highly caught up in these movements that occupy so much of the news media’s time.
In other words, neither the Tea Party nor the Occupy movement are representative of the American public. I think that’s a shame, for both groups, because there are so many points they both have right and need to be spread. The most crucial of these points is that “corporatism is not capitalism,” and that people need to earn their way to the top—not cheat by lobbying politicians and extracting favorable rules from regulatory agencies that put their competitors out of business.
As for why more people are against the Tea Party, while more support the Occupiers, I think it’s pretty simple. One of my friends questioned a free market supporter after a debate, as to why he “lost,” and the debater said simply: “The challenge of defending free markets and limited government is that you’re telling people there’s no Santa Claus.” On the contrary, what the Occupiers are mostly saying is “Give us more free stuff!” It’s really nothing to do with which group is right, but everything to do with human psychology.
Leave it to Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute to use a fantastic quote to describe the true state of American “capitalism” (i.e., corporatism) so well:
I wish both the Occupy Wall Street and 53 Percenters would take a look at this and realize that, if they’re both true to their values and not partisan hacks, they really have a lot in common. Two sides of the same coin and all that. Maybe they can meet in the middle and join up with the rest of us.
Also, make sure to read his op-ed back from 2008, where he lays out all the reasons the bailouts were bad, and uses that fantastic line again.
Could Occupy Wall Street be helping Republicans? Neal Boortz seems to think so:
We’ve seen demonstrations like this before. As George Will writes:
“From 1965 through 1968 the left found its voice and style in consciousness-raising demonstrations and disruptions. In November 1968, the nation, its consciousness raised, elected Richard Nixon President and gave 56.9 percent of the popular vote to Nixon or George Wallace. Republicans won four of the next five presidential elections.”
That’s why I want these protests to continue. Step ‘em up if you Occupiers can manage that as well. I need more occupiers calling my show to tell me that the top 1% of income earners in this country earn “about 75% of all income” and that the corporate tax rate is “15%”. We need more video of occupiers telling America that for every dollar individuals pay in income tax “corporations only pay 25 cents. I know because I read that on-line.” I need to hear from more experienced “activists” who have glommed on to the occupiers push such things like opposition to the death penalty.
These occupiers are the best campaigners the Republicans have right now. Keep it up and keep the spotlight on them. I’m loving it.
I don’t usually give into notions like “Our democracy is being destroyed!” and “This administration is going to lead us straight into fascism!” (Or that they already have.) But lately, two events have stood out that really make me question where America is going.
The first is a really asinine comment made by the governor of North Carolina, Beverly Perdue:
As a way to solve the national debt crisis, North Carolina Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue recommends suspending congressional elections for the next couple of years.
“I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover,” Perdue said at a rotary club event in Cary, N.C., according to the Raleigh News & Observer. “I really hope that someone can agree with me on that.”
Perdue said she thinks that temporarily halting elections would allow members of Congress to focus on the economy. “You have to have more ability from Congress, I think, to work together and to get over the partisan bickering and focus on fixing things,” Perdue said.
And I thought I was insane.
Russia is an stark lesson in what not to do when transitioning from a command economy to a (supposedly) market economy, what not to do when (supposedly) liberating people from the boot of the state.
From that bastion of classical liberalism, the New York Times:
Gennady Veretelny was shot and wounded when he stepped forward unarmed 20 years ago to help stop a column of armored vehicles in central Moscow, one of the few casualties of the last, failed attempt to preserve the Soviet Union.
It was a moment when Russians, largely cowed and passive subjects of Soviet rule for 74 years, massed in the streets to support the future president, Boris N. Yeltsin, demanding democratic change.
“It is what it is,” said Mr. Veretelny, who has slipped from hope into passivity. “We just have to figure that this is what we ended up with.”
The writer Vasily Aksyonov captured the enthusiasm of many at the time when he called the 60-hour standoff “probably the most glorious nights in the history of Russian civilization.”
But almost 15 years after the standoff, the man who now rules Russia, Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, called the fall of the Soviet Union the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.”
Recent opinion polls as the anniversary of the standoff approaches this Saturday come closer to the view of Mr. Putin than of Mr. Aksyonov. Few people said they viewed the events of 1991 as a victory for democracy.
Mrs. Komar, who works as a helper at a health club, still builds her life around the memory of her son. She echoes the view of Mr. Veretelny, saying, “If my son could have seen where the country was going, he wouldn’t have been at the barricades.”
I had the displeasure of reading a Paul Krugman column a short while ago after reading a link to it in a Reason comment thread. (That, of course, was quite pleasant.) Naturally, Krugman spouts off utter stupidity:
Watching the evolution of economic discussion in Washington over the past couple of years has been a disheartening experience. Month by month, the discourse has gotten more primitive; with stunning speed, the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis have been forgotten, and the very ideas that got us into the crisis — regulation is always bad, what’s good for the bankers is good for America, tax cuts are the universal elixir — have regained their hold.
On the face of it, this seems bizarre. Over the last two years profits have soared while unemployment has remained disastrously high. Why should anyone believe that handing even more money to corporations, no strings attached, would lead to faster job creation?
And now trickle-down economics — specifically, the idea that anything that increases corporate profits is good for the economy — is making a comeback.