I have to disagree with Dave Weigel here. He wrote on Friday in Slate that the stimulus bill really didn’t fail, although everyone is saying it is:
Veterans of the stimulus wars talk about it that way—as a war. They lost. The implication of the loss is that Keynesian economics are, arguably, as discredited with voters as neoconservative theories were discredited when the invasion of Iraq failed to turn its neighbors into vibrant democracies, highways clogged with female drivers.
This week, we got a concrete example of what it meant to lose. The Weekly Standard published a back-of-the-cocktail-napkin analysis of the seventh quarterly report on the stimulus, stipulating that every job created by its spending has cost $278,000. Republicans, who’d previously said the stimulus created no jobs, immediately started repeating the $278,000 figure. They kept doing it even after the magazine followed up, suggesting that the cost-per-job could have been as low as $185,000. $278,000, $185,000. $0.00? It didn’t really matter, because the White House and liberal response was perfunctory. As the stimulus winds down, with most of the money spent, everyone knows that it failed.
Congressman Tom McClintock stated many times recently that America is headed towards a “sovereign debt crisis” that our only hope is to make serious budget cuts or the “Titanic will hit the iceberg”. Congressman Ron Paul says that the collapse of the dollar is “imminent” if Washington doesn’t drastically change. A group called No American Debt was officially launched last night by their Chairman George Pataki. They say that they will address these serious issues and brings them to the foreground of discussion.
According to their website, No American Debt is a group dedicated to holding elected officials accountable for our debt crisis. Their purpose is to educate the public about the debt and they will focus their efforts to persuade President Obama and Republican candidates for President to propose real solutions to the number one issue facing our country today.
Former Governor of New York George Pataki is the Chairman of No American Debt. Speculation has arisen that Pataki would be running for President, although he has recently stated that he will not be running for President in 2012. He did say, however, “but I’ve been around politics long enough to know you never say never”.
George Pataki announced No American Debt on April 20th on the Sean Hannity Show (See Below). Since then the Wall Street Journal has also featured them in an Article.
I particularly enjoyed this non sequitur today in my inbox, from one of my favorite news providers, BusinessInsider.com:
“The G20 has agreed to pursue programs of austerity while also preserving and enhancing the recovery.”
When I clicked on the link, I got the real headline:
“G20 Officially Reveals Its Total Pointlessness.”
Yes, the politicians are stymied. The only good thing going for them is that they are finding lots of occasions to practice their talent for talking out of both sides of their mouth. But the straight-talking intellectual academics aren’t faring much better.
A few blogs ago, I described this slow-motion movie we’re all watching as this recession unfolds. The movie’s climax will approach when the Federal Reserve finds itself in front of a dilemma: They must withdraw central bank assistance to maintain credibility in the U.S. bond and dollar, but when is the right time to begin?
Their problem is that no one seems to know. Bernanke and his colleagues are reportedly hunkered down as I write, trying to figure out how to handle what is looking increasingly like another slowdown, or to be precise the second V in the W. But this is not what they expected to happen. This is not AT ALL what they expected to happen.
Chris Dodd, everybody’s favorite hairdo, has introduced a “tough” financial “reform” bill that he claims will “limit the risk [financial institutions] can assume.” Of course, most people with a pulse realize that a 1565 page bill introduced by one of the top recipients of financial industry lobbyist money in Congress probably will do little to ‘reform’ the financial industry in the best interests of the American people. That, however, doesn’t fully capture the perniciousness of this bill.
When we look at it closely, we can see it is one of the most dangerous bills introduced in Congress in years.
They say that money doesn’t grow on trees. That’s true. It grows in banks.
I’m not talking about compounding interest either. I’m talking about creation of money right out of thin air. It is well known and understood that the Federal Reserve (and other central banks) print money at will. What’s not so well understood is that regular commercial banks essentially do the same thing. To understand this, we have to explore the nature of money, credit, and the modern banking system.
Money can be described in several ways and has a variety of characteristics.We should begin with the Merriam Webster definition: “something generally accepted as a medium of exchange, a measure of value, or a means of payment.” In early simple economies, barter was the principle means of exchange. This ultimately evolved to commodity money. Items which had a useful value on their own, are easily transportable, do not lose value or deteriorate, and are reasonably commonplace would serve as commodity money. Over the centuries, metal coins evolved out of being simple commodity money into serving as government issued currency. Generally, the metal coins face value as issued would be equivalent to the metal’s value independently. Of course, governments were notorious for devaluing the coins in a variety of ways.
Recently I was prompted by an anthropology student at the University of Washington to answer several questions about libertarianism. The exchange was great, and provided a means to clarify several things that have been otherwise muddled.
1. How do you define a libertarian?
To me a libertarian is someone who believes in a limited government, which provides basic needs that most people believe to be necessary but does not try to stuff ideology down the citizens’ throats, the freedom of the individual to become whatever it is they want to be and a free market that allows great deals of mobility and ingenuity.
2. What influenced you to become and/or remain libertarian?
I love this country (for the ideals it was founded on, not because of nationalism, regionalism or nativism), and when I entered college, it became very clear that other students and professors didn’t. A bit of a blanket statement, I know, but it’s relatively true. I found myself defending slanderous left-wing statements about this country’s history, and in that process I realized I was libertarian. Liberty is the foundation of American society and government, and even if they don’t call themselves such, I think most Americans who love their country and find it exceptional are libertarians to a certain extent.
It’s the last day of 2009. We made it through a crazy year that saw liberty put at risk on an all to regular basis. We decided the best way to recap the year was to take ten of 2009’s biggest stories and write a blurb about each one of them (we tried to keep it short and to the point).
Before you continue on, each of us here at UL want to thank you for a great 2009. We appreciate you reading. We’re planning for world domination in 2010 and hope that you’ll join in the fun.
So, here they are in no particular order, United Liberty’s Top 10 Stories from 2009.
Tea Party Movement (Brett Bittner): The wave of “hope” and “change” that swept Barack Obama into the Presidency of the United States closed out 2008 and opened the door to a new movement in American politics, the Tea Party movement. I believe that his election was merely a catalyst for many groups of a conservative nature and strong views on limited government to unite to form one voice to stand up to the political status quo, calling out Democrats and Republicans alike for their affinity to grow the size of government to a breaking point.
As various tax-related mail begins to appear in the mailboxes of hardworking Americans across the country, it’s instructive for all of us to reflect on why we carry the burden of our government every April.
Take this morning, for instance. We can credit the “ingenuity of the markets”, and specifically the ingenuity of John Thain, for moving annual executive bonus payments by Merrill Lynch up by a month last November, thus disbursing $15 billion in executive bonuses just before closing Merrill’s acquisition by Bank of America. Fast forward a few months, and the United States taxpayer just gave Bank of America another $20 billion in newly-borrowed funds to put a band-aid on mortar wounds in Merrill Lynch’s balance sheet.
Throughout the country, every large town over 100,000 people seems to have a common element: a local branch of National Public Radio. In all, the partially publicly funded organization has 797 public radio stations that it syndicates to.
Public broadcasting has a place in Western society. Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia all boast creative and new publicly backed media enterprises. In the United Kingdom, the BBC provides all sorts of great programming, from adaptations of Jane Austen novels to modern day radio drama. Unlike its counterparts, however, it’s questionable whether NPR is providing much groundbreaking or innovative.
President Obama’s plan to fix the deficit and national debt? Call for more tax revenue:
President Obama insisted Sunday that additional tax revenue will need to be part of future deficit deals, but said hikes in tax rates may not be necessary.
In a pre-Super Bowl interview with CBS, the president outlined his vision for further deficit reduction, which he said was essential, but in a way that preserves the government’s ability to continue spending on key programs.
He also emphasized that the seemingly continuous stream of Washington standoffs was wreaking havoc on confidence in the U.S. economy.
Republicans have insisted that the revenue side of the deficit equation was dealt with during “fiscal cliff” talks, which resulted in a compromise that saw rates climb on the nation’s top earners. But Obama flatly rejected the notion that future talks would explicitly focus on spending.
“There is no doubt we need additional revenue, coupled with smart spending reductions, in order to bring down our deficit,” he said.
Uh, no, Mr. President. What we need is not additional revenue; what we need is to reduce spending across the board. We need to cut defense spending, which is the highest in the world. We need to cut and reform entitlements. We need to drastically scale back federal education spending, which has done absolutely nothing to educate our children. We need to acknowledge that the federal War on Poverty has been useless and reform our welfare system. We need to end foreign aid. We need to cut back on environmental spending, since that has done nothing useful. What we do not need is “additional revenue.”