Is This The Climax Yet?

I particularly enjoyed this non sequitur today in my inbox, from one of my favorite news providers,

“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.

Why a Republican Resurgence is Good for Everybody

At the White House website, the biography of Bill Clinton illustrates the successes of his administration, most notably:

During the administration of William Jefferson Clinton, the U.S. enjoyed more peace and economic well being than at any time in its history.

It’s true. The Clinton years were some of the most prosperous years that the United States has ever seen. Was that the result of massive government spending and initiatives? Of course not. Clinton’s first major initiative - health care reform - failed, resulting in a Republican takeover of Congress and Clinton shifting to rhetoric such as ”the era of big government is over.”

The actual successes of the Clinton years were very right wing ones - welfare reform, free trade agreements and a robust innovative economy fueled by the ingenuity of software entrepreneurs. Spending was down, and Bill Clinton left office with a huge surplus. This was certainly the result of a lack of spending from the federal government, a foreseeable result of having two diametrically opposed political parties in power at once. The fact that the low-spending Clinton years (years in which the government actually shut down for nearly two months) resulted in economic prosperity, while high deficit eras like the pre-war terms of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Bush-Obama years resulted in depression and recession, makes one of the strongest cases for libertarianism.

Economic Depressions Don’t Exist Under Totalitarian Systems

So contends Lev Nazrozov. He writes:

Out-of-control predatory capitalists have perpetrated a worldwide economic depression. Capitalism’s degenerate character is now extraordinarily visible during this time of multiple crises.

On each side of the page there is a picture of a miserable emaciated proletarian who carries on his back a huge pack of money, with a bourgeois seated atop of the pack and smoking a cigar.

By simply allowing the government to dominate every sector of the polity, by embracing totalitarianism, we might be able to avoid the woes of economic recession? Historical study makes such a conclusion seem ridiculous. While totalitarian economies did not suffer from “depressions”, per se, one could argue that consumers and citizens lived under a system which continuously mimicked the effects of depression.

How to Get Out of Debt

See Video

Classic parody of an infomercial offering common sense we could all benefit from.

Is It Time to Close the Government Money Hole?

See Video

This video would be much funnier if it wasn’t fairly accurate. But this satirical argument addresses a very real issue in DC. There’s no discussion on whether money should be taxed, borrowed and spent, just how it will be wasted by our irresponsible, ineffecient government.

Barack Obama’s horrible economic policies are the reason why the U.S. economy has taken so long to recover from the recession

President Barack Obama wants you to know that he saved the United States economy from the throes of the Great Recession. He says his “pretty smart policies” have left the country “better off.” Or something:

President Obama bragged the nation was “better off now than we were five years ago” while touting the economic recovery in a campaign-style speech on Wednesday in Denver, arguing administration officials have made some “pretty smart policies.”

“The decisions we made early on not only stopped the slide, but they built a new foundation for our economy, and they’re paying off,” Obama proudly declared during an economic speech intended to rally a reticent Democratic base.
“Despite what you may hear, there is no doubt we are making progress,” Obama said. “By almost every measure, we are better off than when I took office.”

Yeah, it only took six years to recover the 9 million jobs lost during the recession. That doesn’t account for the “shortfall of nearly 7 million jobs” needed just to keep up with population growth over the same time period, according to James Pethokoukis. What’s more, the labor participation rate  — the percentage of Americans working or looking for work — has remained at 62.8 percent over the last few months, matching a 35-year low.

Barack Obama hates America — that’s the only conclusion you can draw after nearly six years of terrible economic policies

This is pretty douchetastic. In an Independence Day eve speech at the DC-based tech firm 1776, President Barack Obama — the worst president since World War II — suggested that Republicans don’t have enough “economic patriotism” to work with him to get the economy moving again:

“[W]e can make even more progress if Congress is willing to work with my administration and to set politics aside, at least occasionally, which I know is what the American people are urgently looking for,” Obama said Thursday at 1776. “It’s a sort of economic patriotism where you say to yourself, how is it that we can start rebuilding this country to make sure that all of the young people who are here but their kids and their grandkids are going to be able to enjoy the same incredible opportunities that this country offers as we have. That’s our job. That’s what we should be focused on. And it’s worth remembering as we go into Independence Day.”

What. The. Actual. Fuck.

Sorry, but this is ridiculous. President Barack Obama’s idea of working with Republicans is for them to do what he wants without asking questions. He doesn’t view Congress as a coequal branch of government, but rather a minor inconvenience that he can go around pretty much whenever he wants.

What’s more, if President Obama wants to start throwing around the term “economic patriotism” so loosely, then his own record should be open for discussion. The most recent recession, for example, officially ended six years ago, in June 2008.

First Quarter 2014: The Obama Economy’s “worst quarter” in five years thanks, in part, to Obamacare

Obama Economy

Quelle surprise! More bad news for President Obama.

The New York Times lede on this story is unforgiving:

The beginning of the year was not just bad for the United States economy: It was, on paper at least, the worst quarter since the last recession ended five years ago.

Revised 2014 first-quarter estimates of the gross domestic product by the Department of Commerce reveal the economy actually contracted at a 2.9 percent annual rate, down from a previous estimate of negative 1 percent growth and the initial estimate of 0.1 percent growth. This is the worst contraction since the economy shrank at a rate of 5.9 percent during the first quarter of 2009.

This contraction puzzled New York Times’s Neil Irwin, who wrote:

What makes the sharply negative number all the more stunning is that it didn’t feel like an economic contraction at all in the first quarter. Employers kept adding jobs. Many measures of business activity and consumer confidence were stable. And forecasters are expecting a healthy pop of growth in the second quarter, which ends next week.

An earlier estimate showed that health care spending (think Obamacare) contributed 1 percentage point to economic growth, but that wasn’t the case. Health care spending actually knocked 0.16 of a percentage point off the growth rate. Shocking no one, Irwin surmises:

Today in Liberty: Snow shuts down federal government, intel committees faulted for lax NSA oversight

“Excess of liberty, whether it lies in state or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery.” — Plato

— Snow day in Washington: The federal government is closed today due to a winter storm that’s expected to bring up to 10” of snow to the Washington, D.C. area. We know. You’re heartbroken, and you’re wondering how you can survive the day without a functioning federal government.

— House pushes back votes targeting EPA regs, individual mandate delay: The snow day has caused the House of Representatives to delay votes on measures to block pending EPA regulations targeting coal plants and Obamacare’s individual mandate. The House will be back in session tomorrow and vote on these two measures on Wednesday.

— NSA blame turns to Congress: Politico notes that the lack of any real congressional oversight of the NSA’s domestic surveillance programs has now become a topic of conversation in the ongoing controversy. Even Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) realizes that congressional intelligence committees have failed to do their jobs. “Clearly, they’ve been co-opted,” McCain told Politico. “There’s no doubt about that.” The chairs of the two congressional intel committees, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), have functioned as apologists for the NSA programs rather than providing attentive oversight or showing the least bit of concern for civil liberties.

Poll: Americans pessimistic about the economy

More than five years after the recession officially ended, there are some signs of life in the economy. There have been a couple months solid job growth and the stock market is surging. But the vast majority of Americans are still pessimistic about the economy as they head into 2014, according to a new CNN poll:

A new CNN/ORC poll released Friday showed people were pessimistic that the economy was improving. Nearly 70% said the economy is generally in poor shape, and only 32% rated it good.

Two-thirds of respondents said most of the economic news they’ve heard recently was bad news. More rural than urban dwellers said the economy was in poor shape.

And just over half expected the economy to remain in poor shape a year from now.
Those people aren’t buying big-ticket items like furniture or appliances, and some were cutting back on essentials. Thirty-six percent said they were cutting back spending on food or medicine, up from 31% in late 2008, the year the housing market collapsed.

It hard to blame people for feeling this way about the economy and for doubting that there will be any improvement in the next year. They’ve been told time after time by President Obama that the economy was improving. How many times were we told that the 2009 stimulus saved the economy or hear the phrase “summer of recovery”?

The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.