What happens when businesses aren’t able to provide the service that customers were promised? That’s right: customers get mad.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has published a report indicating that the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance programs aren’t simply putting an end only to our privacy rights; they are also causing major damage to the economy.
Once revelations surfaced and the public was made aware that the spying programs were collecting phone and Internet data from average Americans, major sectors of the U.S economy started to feel the financial damage caused by the loss of consumer confidence. According to EEF, companies that have been compromised by the revelations regarding the surveillance programs are watching as U.S. trade partners simply distance themselves to avoid any potential problems or even lawsuits in the future.
Vodafone, a major European company, was on its way to becoming a sister company to AT&T, whose desire to purchase the European giant was well documented, until the moment details concerning the NSA’s data-collection programs came to light. According to the Wall Street Journal, AT&T could face major issues trying to purchase Vodafone since the company has been under scrutiny for participating in the NSA’s surveillance programs.
Quinnipiac University has released its latest poll of President Obama’s approval rating and opinions on various political issues of the day, and the results aren’t pretty:
American voters disapprove 54 - 39 percent of the job President Barack Obama is doing, his lowest approval rating in any Quinnipiac University national poll since he became president, as even women disapprove 51 - 40 percent, according to a national poll released today.
Perhaps even worse, for the first time in their polling, Quinnipiac finds a majority of voters (52%) think the President is not “honest and trustworthy”:
“Any Democrat with an 11-point approval deficit among women is in trouble. And any elected official with an 8-point trust deficit is in serious trouble.”
“President Obama’s job approval rating has fallen to the level of former President George W. Bush at the same period of his Presidency,” Malloy said.
President Bush’s party lost control of both the House and the Senate a year later, and with less favorable electoral maps to the opposition party at the time than what we’re seeing for next year’s elections.
As bad as the overall ratings are, the specific issue approval ratings are even worse. Ironically, after Fort Hood, Boston, the drone war, and NSA leaks, the only issue where Obama has a positive approval rating is terrorism. On every other issue, he is at least 15 points underwater:
Radical environmentalists are urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to heavily regulate or ban hydraulic fracturing (also known as “fracking”), the process employed to extract shale oil and natural gas from underground sources, which could undermine a thriving part of the post-recession economy.
The fracking boom has been one of the success stories in an otherwise tepid American economy, which is still trying to recover five years after a deep recession. Just last month Bloomberg Businessweek covered a recent study by IHS CERA that showed the significant economic benefits of fracking.
“In 2012, the energy boom supported 2.1 million jobs, added almost $75 billion in federal and state revenues, contributed $283 billion to the gross domestic product and lifted household income by more than $1,200,” noted Bloomberg Businessweek. “The competitive advantage for U.S. manufacturers from lower fuel prices will raise industrial production by 3.5 percent by the end of the decade, said the report from CERA, which provides business advice for energy companies.”
The Wall Street Journal noted last week that the United States is “overtaking Russia as the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas,” producing the “equivalent of about 22 million barrels a day of oil, natural gas and related fuels in July” compared to the 21.8 million barrels produced by our former Cold War foe.
What used to be a value even to the Democratic Party has now become a forgotten lesson: it’s impossible to control the economy by decree.
According to President Barack Obama, he is perfectly capable to, as a president, fight income inequality and actually stop it. Leaving things alone, President Obama said during ABC’s Sunday “This Week” program, can “accelerate these trends (growing income inequality).” The President was also quick to note that technology, globalization and the GOP’s opposition to his personal agenda are all responsible for the growing income gap between the wealthiest and the poorest Americans.
For Obama, the government must intervene in the economy during the recovery in order to promote income equality and ensure the poorest among us have an easier time climbing the income ladder. The President highlighted his goals, which include increase funding for research, education and infrastructure. He also reported to be interested in reforming the tax code in order to keep companies from leaving the country.
In one of the most iconic and powerful political ads in America history, Americans were reminded that, under the leadership of Ronald Wilson Reagan, it was once again “Morning in America”. Having suffered through the decline of America’s economic, military, and political exceptionalism under the feckless Jimmy Carter, confidence in America’s future was being restored.
Under Reagan, the ad proclaimed, “Today, more men and women will go to work than at any time in our country’s history…nearly 2000 families will today buy new homes, more than at any time in four years…Under the leadership of President Reagan, our country is prouder and stronger and better. Why would we ever want to return to where we were just four short years ago?” It was a powerful message that resonated with the American people, and Reagan was re-elected in a landslide, taking 59% of the popular vote and 49 of the 50 states, losing only Minnesota (Mondale did not even get a majority in that state, winning 49.72% to 49.4%).
I was a boy of just eight years old when Reagan was first elected. Though I was too young to understand the intricacies and minutiae of the political debates, I remember sitting in front of our old Zenith black-and-white TV and being mesmerized by Reagan, whose cheerful demeanor and unquenchable optimism was inspiring after four years of Carter malaise, where we were told that we would have to accept a declining American economy and the spread of communism. Reagan made me proud to be an American, and I believed him when he said that America had a brighter future ahead, and that we did not have to settle for what America had become.
Over at R Street, Andrew Moylan makes a fascinating comment regarding President Obama’s recent speech on climate change and his plan to reduce carbon emissions. To wit: doesn’t matter much what your personal opinion is on carbon emissions and their relationship (or lack of relationship) to the already-defined-as-fact (accurately or not) science of climate change, the issue will be addressed by the federal government:
Moylan concluded by saying, “Regardless of one’s views on climate change, the simple reality is that federal policy is going to address the matter. That can happen through ill-advised regulations, like those proposed by the President today, or it can happen through a vibrant market with clear price signals attached to all fuels. Conservatives should seize the opportunity to once again emphasize the superiority of free markets over central planning.”
On climate change and the President’s plan specifically, it’s hard to accept something that will cost the country hundreds of thousands of lost jobs and $1.47 trillion of lost national income by 2030, according to a report by the Heritage Foundation. And, to Moylan’s point, it’s a situation conservatives, libertarians, and those who lean center-right on economic issues should begin to get in front of by doing the work of presenting their own plans to address something people are convinced needs addressing.
Written by Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
When it comes to reporting on the Small Business Administration, it seems to me that most journalists simply assume that if a government agency exists to “help” small businesses then it must be good. So I was pleased to read a weekend piece from two investigative journalists with the Dayton Daily News that challenges the conventional wisdom on the SBA.
As the reporters explain, the SBA’s main job is to back loans issued by private lenders to small businesses that couldn’t get financing on market terms. The result is that taxpayers end up holding the bag when these naturally riskier loans go bad.
And quite a few go bad as this Cato essay on the Small Business Administration explains.
Lenders have little skin in the game so for them it’s heads they win, tails they win. Thus it was shocking – absolutely shocking – that a representative from the SBA and the head of the Ohio Bankers Association provided the reporters with the most favorable quotes.
The entire piece is worth reading, but the authors did a particularly good job of turning the spotlight on the racket that exists between the SBA, lenders, and national franchisors:
The American Dream—the idea that any American has the ability to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, work hard, make good decisions, and lift themselves from even abject poverty to extreme wealth—is what has always made America different from any other nation on earth. Only in the United States’ free market capitalist economic system has this level of economic mobility been possible, which is why people from around the world have flocked to the United States throughout its history. But is the American Dream still possible?
According to a recent Rasmussen Reports survey, 59 percent of Americans believe that it is impossible for any individual American to work hard and get rich, the highest level ever. Not only that, only 48% believe that it is possible for anyone to work their way out of poverty, while 39% disagree. Rasmussen also shows that pessimism is at an all-time high, with only 25% of Americans believing that the economy will be better a year from now than it is today. Given the sorry state of the American economy, that’s a very sad statement.
The renewed debate over immigration reform has led to some very strong opinions, but one particular issue that has been lost in the mix is the need for more high-skilled workers in the United States.
The visa system for high-skilled workers — known as H-1B visas or STEM visas — is in dire need of modernization. This system allows businesses to temorarily employ foreign workers who have college degrees in various fields, including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The system, however, limits the number of workers who can obtain these visas to 65,000 per year, meaning that many high-skilled workers see employment in other countries instead of waiting to come to the United States.
Along with a number of his colleagues from both sides of the aisle, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) recently introduced legislation — the Immigration Innovation Act (also known as the I-Squared Act) — that would bring a much needed overhaul to the H-1B visa system and more economic benefit to the United States.
The Immigration Innovation Act would increase the annual cap on high-skilled workers who can obtain H-1B visas from 65,000 to 115,000 and also provide a manner of flexibility that would allow the cap to be raised even higher to meet labor demand inside the United States. The legislation would also remove the cap for high-skilled workers with advanced degrees, which is currently limited to 20,000 per year.
A coalition of freedom-minded groups — including the American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute — have endorsed the plan.
“Congress should be cutting spending, reducing the regulatory burdens that are crushing the economy — freedom works, and it is time we put it back to work.” — Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA)
Just a couple of days after President Barack Obama laid out his agenda for the next year in his State of the Union address, I sat down with Rep. Tom McClintock, a Republican who represents California’s Fourth Congressional District, to get his thoughts on the proposals being pushed by the White House, the Senate’s refusal to pass a budget, ObamaCare, and a few other issues.
On the State of the Union, Rep. McClintock, who has been among the staunchest defenders of economic freedom and the Constitution in Congress, was dismissive of President Obama’s agenda. “[W]e heard this song before,” he noted. “I think that his words have to be measured against the last four years of his deeds.”
He rhetorically asked, “What have been his policies? Higher taxes, much higher spending, out of control deficits, crushing business regulations. And what have those policies produced? Family take home pay has declined over these past four years, the unemployment rate is higher than when we started — it would be much higher except for the millions of Americans who have given up even looking for work.”
“What did he propose? More of the same,” Rep. McClintock stated. “Taking bad policy and doubling down on it doesn’t make it good policy.”