Economy

Sentences I Hate: “Americans Are Hungry for Leadership.”

Cross-posted from Friction Tape.

By United States Congress [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Wall Street Journal editorial board today floats House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan as the best possible vice presidential running mate for presumptive GOP presidential nominee and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney:

The case for Mr. Ryan is that he best exemplifies the nature and stakes of this election. More than any other politician, the House Budget Chairman has defined those stakes well as a generational choice about the role of government and whether America will once again become a growth economy or sink into interest-group dominated decline.

Against the advice of every Beltway bedwetter, he has put entitlement reform at the center of the public agenda—before it becomes a crisis that requires savage cuts. And he has done so as part of a larger vision that stresses tax reform for faster growth, spending restraint to prevent a Greek-like budget fate, and a Jack Kemp-like belief in opportunity for all. He represents the GOP’s new generation of reformers that includes such Governors as Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal and New Jersey’s Chris Christie.

As important, Mr. Ryan can make his case in a reasonable and unthreatening way. He doesn’t get mad, or at least he doesn’t show it. Like Reagan, he has a basic cheerfulness and Midwestern equanimity.

Freedom isn’t just economics, it’s a story too

Usually, when we argue for the cause of freedom and liberty, we do so by engaging in arguments using economics. The broken window fallacy, third-party payer problems, supply and demand, etc. They do work, to an extent, and they are good tools. But they aren’t the only tools in the basket.

My good friend Sean Malone, the Director of Video Production* over at the Charles Koch Institute, has put together a new series of videos for the Economic Freedom Project, which tell the stories of small business entrepreneurs who are forced to survive in an environment marred by over regulation, cronyism, corruption, and a far too large business. The first had yours truly as a video assistant, which really meant that I went into the break room to steal the “guest only” Coke Zeros for Sean. But don’t tell anyone.

We have to remember that we’re not fighting for liberty just because it’s more economically efficient, or that it fits some philosophical message. (Well, it does, but…) We’re doing it because there are people out there, people who are legitimately suffering from too much government and not enough freedom. If more Americans see this—hell, if more homo sapiens see this—then maybe they will wisen up and realize that the “1%” or whomever is the target of today’s Two-Minute Hate is not some intangible, inanimate object, but is in fact a real human being, and deserves to be treated as such.

That’s what really matters. And that’s what we need to be telling people.

Timid Mitt: Romney Unable or Unwilling to Fight Back

Mitt Romney

Over the last few weeks, the Obama campaign and their friends in the main stream media have had a field day.  First, going after Romney for having a Swiss bank account and several offshore accounts.  This line of attack, has been followed by a relentless series of attacks over exactly when Mitt Romney left Bain Capital.

Both of these attacks were opportunities for Romney and his campaign team to turn the tables aggressively on Obama and on the media.  At a time when unemployment remains over 8% and with our nation teetering on the verge of fiscal collapse, the Obama/media fascination with the minutiae of Mitt Romney’s background is an example of grotesque political slight of hand.  It is the ultimate distraction from the issues that matter most.

Unfortunately, Mitt the timid and his camaign have - so far - failed miserably at fighting back.

On the issue of the offshore accounts, why didn’t Romney come forward and say “yes, I had accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, but guess what?  There is absolutely nothing illegal about these accounts and, indeed, these accounts are the product of an overly complex and uncompetetive tax code that Obama and Democrats are hell bent on defending!”

On the issue of when he left Bain, why hasn’t Mitt and his campaign said “who cares!?”  What if Romney was still at Bain after 1999?  Does that suddenly change Obama’s failed record as President?  Does that suddenly balance our budgets?  Does it suddenly create jobs?  Of course not.  Why in God’s name is the Romney campaign taking the bait on these distractions?

If Mitt the timid thinks he can just run out the clock and win this election, he is sorely mistaken.  The Obama campaign has shown how ruthlessly it will distort and distract, and Obama has the giant megaphone of the main stream media as his willing accomplice.

Profiles in Liberty: Grover Norquist, Anti-Tax Warrior

As a long-time leader in the conservative movement, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform become famous in recent years for his Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

The Pledge, which was rolled out in 1986 with the endorsement of President Ronald Reagan, requires office holders to oppose increases in the marginal income tax rates (personal & business) and to vote against any net reduction or elimination of deductions unless the changes are matched, dollar for dollar, by further reducing tax rates.

With signers in every state, more than 1,100 state officeholders, from state representative to governor, have signed the Pledge. Liberals and wayward Republicans blame it (and Mr. Norquist personally) for deadlock in Congressional budget debates.

Mr. Norquist is also involved in many center-right organizations, such as the National Rifle Association, the American Conservative Union, ParentalRights.org, and GOProud. He is also a Contributing Editor of The American Spectator.

Recently, Mr. Norquist co-wrote a book with Professor John Lott, Debacle: Obama’s War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future. It is a brilliant take down of President Obama’s radical policies, and you should buy multiple copies today.

With a dry sense of humor, Mr. Norquist tweets @GroverNorquist.

Grover Norquist

Federal Incompetence Stifles Job

“Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

Each day we see proofs of the wisdom of the Founding Fathers in the creation of a federalist form of government which gave superior authority to a central government within a very limited sphere, and left all other functions to the states, or the people. Far from being the limited government which our Founders envisioned, the federal government today is a monstrous leviathan which is equal parts incompetence and avarice. This is what happens when government attains more power. Government is the only entity legally able to use force to achieve its goals. Government is a monopoly, and therefore does not have to be efficient or innovative on order to retain its “customers.” It is essentially immune from the disastrous consequences of its decisions and actions. It can compel continued allegiance and higher payments.

A timely example of the results of government expansionism is in the continued stagnancy of our economy. In the last days of the Bush presidency, and expanded throughout the Obama presidency, the federal government took steps which would supposedly save the economy from a financial collapse (which itself was the result of government interference in the market). With the passage of the “stimulus” bill, unemployment was not supposed to reach 8% according to the Obama administration, yet it did that and more. Unemployment spiked above 10% AFTER the near-trillion dollar stimulus was passed, and stayed at or above 9% for almost three years, before dropping to above 8%, a point we were not supposed to have reached at all.

Paul Krugman is Delusional

It’s official: the New York Times’ resident Nobel Prize Laureate/Loony is delusional. He wrote on his blog Monday about “how right he was”:

We’re coming up on the second anniversary of my piece “Myths of Austerity“, in which I tried to knock down the simply insane conventional wisdom then gelling among Very Serious People. Intellectually it was, I think I can say without false modesty, a huge win; I (and those of like mind) have been right about everything.

But I had no success in deflecting the terrible wrong turn in policy. Moreover, as far as I can tell none of the people responsible for that wrong turn has paid any price, not even in reputation; they’re still regarded as Very Serious, treated with great deference. And the political tendency behind that terrible economic analysis has at least a 50% chance of triumphing in America.

Oh well.

“Oh well” is right.

His first problem is that he says he has “been right about everything.” When one looks at the stimulus programs that have been enacted since this recession began, and the high unemployment that has persisted, the evidence is blatantly clear: Krugman is an idiot.

His second problem is his statement that “I had no success in deflecting the terrible wrong turn in policy.” Um, lest I am living on a different worldline than Krugman, the man’s main policy prescription has been stimulus, and we’ve had a lot of it:

Three Reasons Why I Think Romney Will Win in November

I’m not going to pretend for a minute that I think that Romney is the best thing to happen to America. He has not committed to seriously cut spending, he’s been pandering to his social conservative base so much we can’t expect improvements on that front, and I don’t expect him to end the wars. But, when I look at the data out there, I think that he will win the election in November. Not handily, not by a landslide, but it will be a win.

My reasoning comes down to three points:

  1. It’s the Economy, Stupid
  2. Majority of Americans Opposed to Big Government
  3. Obama’s Support Fading

It’s the Economy, Stupid: This one is fairly simple. The economy is in tatters. Roughly 13 million Americans are out of work. The unemployment numbers are just horrific for recent college graduates, one of the biggest support groups for Obama ‘08, half of whom can’t find work. Obama’s stimulus programs have been abject failures. But there’s one datapoint in particular that has only started getting attention recently.

That’s the “civilian labor force participation rate.” Essentially, the civilian LFPR is the percentage of Americans who are either working or are unemployed but are looking for work. That means that if you’re not sending out job applications and have given up, well, congratulations—you’re no longer unemployed! (At least in the minds of the analytical mentats of the Bureau for Labor Statistics.)

Conservatives Need To Focus On The Two Scandals That Matter

There have been a lot of silly “scandals” during this election season, which is a usual and normal waste byproduct of the American election process, though this year has been notably intense. Unfortunately, between the “scandals” of Obama having eaten dog while a child in Indonesia, criticism over a flubbed line in Poland, guffaws about him using the word “thingamajig” in a speech, and the resurgent “Birther” nonesense, conservatives and libertarians are losing sight of the real problems with the Obama administration. As I see it, there are two that need to be focused on relentlessly:

  1. The absolutely dismal economic situation, exacerbated by this president’s misguided and foolhardy policies
  2. The utterly atrocious record on civil liberties that President Obama has engendered, a holdover from the Bush administration (so much for “Change”)

Everything else can pretty much be secondary to this or just treated as nonsense. These are the real core problems with the Obama administration, and they are all that conservatives need to hammer him with. Forget the memes, forget the social conservatism, just focus on two things: jobs and civil liberties (which does, in case you’re wondering, tie into foreign policy. A bit.)

The economic problem is fairly straightforward: this is the worst recession since World War II, bar none. From the Calculated Risk blog, this chart shows you how badly:

worst_recession

Paul Krugman: Patron Saint of Idiocy, Death, and Misery

No, seriously, that is what this man has become. He recently blogged a chart on his blog (inappropriately—or maybe entirely appropriately—named “Conscience of a Liberal,”) showing first quarter growth for five countries:

dumb_krugman_chart

He then goes, “Wait, what? Japan as star performer? What’s that about? Actually, no mystery.”

He links to a Bloomberg article, and excerpts:

Japan’s economy expanded faster than estimated in the first quarter, boosted by reconstruction spending that’s poised to fade just as a worsening in Europe’s crisis threatens to curtail export demand.

So he then argues that the tsunami reconstruction has led to great economic growth, while so-called “austerity” (which isn’t actually austerity at all, if Krugman had bothered to pay attention) has doomed Italy.

It makes perfect sense! Absolutely! Let’s hit Japan with another tsunami that will kill over 15,000 people, injure 27,000 citizens, and make 3,155 go missing! If only the 2011 tsunami had destroyed even more than that paltry 130,000 buildings—if only it had actually caused Fukushima to go critical and explode—it would have created so much potential for rebuilding! It would have shot the Japanese GDP right over the moon!

‘London Whale’ upsets J.P. Morgan

As many of you may already know, insvestment banking firm J.P Morgan recently lost nearly $2.3 billion dollars on some very, very, bad bets.

Sources in the MSM accordingly, show a trader only dignified by the sobriquet ‘London Whale’ was able to hedge together larger shares of Morgan company money and place them on malevolent trade returns. They did not pay off.

Some circles call it business as usual. Other circles call this collusion, or extended risk. Yet others would call this, hedging- or: placing large assets on wide-open targets, at just the right time and place. I don’t need to mention the implications of this; we’re back to 2007, when the Recession we are currently in, evolved- by these means.

Now, clearly- you could claim- the company knew what it’s employees were aiming at with their stoked assets. They didn’t. This story is just emerging, but it seems clear that this is a perfect example of those who don’t know what they are doing, laksadaising large amounts of money; and wielding power so great, there could be serious repercussions.

Gladly, at least so far, there have been few.

Nevertheless, what this shows is not only nefariousness on the part of some, but also the evident close ties in finance between Europe and the United States. We may think this country is just pulling from a recession, when in reality we’re right back to 2007, or earlier.

Entire Markets and nations are tanking in Europe: acidic debt scouring away at the health of entire economies. The European Union ready to dissect into multiple breakaway-province nationalities. National furor is high, while economic support has hit all-time lows.

At first sight, the entire investments-gone-wrong scenario would yearn for more oversight- but beware of what you ask for! Oversight by whom? I don’t think market regulation is a particularly good example of solving fiscal ‘problems’ by any stretch of the economic imagination.

 
 


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