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.
Read these paragraphs and see if you can figure out who wrote them:
The Federal minimum wage has been frozen at $3.35 an hour for six years. In some states, it now compares unfavorably even with welfare benefits available without working. It’s no wonder then that Edward Kennedy, the new chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, is being pressed by organized labor to battle for an increase.
No wonder, but still a mistake. Anyone working in America surely deserves a better living standard than can be managed on $3.35 an hour. But there’s a virtual consensus among economists that the minimum wage is an idea whose time has passed. Raising the minimum wage by a substantial amount would price working poor people out of the job market. A far better way to help them would be to subsidize their wages or - better yet - help them acquire the skills needed to earn more on their own.
An increase in the minimum wage to, say, $4.35 would restore the purchasing power of bottom-tier wages. It would also permit a minimum-wage breadwinner to earn almost enough to keep a family of three above the official poverty line. There are catches, however. It would increase employers’ incentives to evade the law, expanding the underground economy. More important, it would increase unemployment: Raise the legal minimum price of labor above the productivity of the least skilled workers and fewer will be hired.
The idea of using a minimum wage to overcome poverty is old, honorable - and fundamentally flawed. It’s time to put this hoary debate behind us, and find a better way to improve the lives of people who work very hard for very little.
Guess? Guess? Hmm? Give up? All right then, the individual who wrote this was…
Like a broken record, Obama claims to need four more years to fix the economy because he inherited from George W. Bush the worst economy since the Great Depression. He tells us when he took office he found it was worse than he thought, but that rings hollow. After all, if he thought it was the worst since the Great Depression, how much worse could it have been? Regardless, we need to revisit the claim that this is the worst economy since the Great Depression. Is it really? I think Ronald Reagan would argue differently were he with us today.
According to historical data of the Federal Reserve Bank, when Obama took office, the Fed’s prime interest rate was only 3.25%. By contrast, just one month before Reagan took office from President Jimmy Carter, the prime rate hit an all-time high of 21.5%, dropping to “only” 20.5% the day he took office. The inflation rate Obama inherited was zero, whereas Reagan inherited an inflation rate of 13.5%. The economy under Jimmy Carter was so bad that a new term, “Misery Index”, was created (an economic measure derived by adding the inflation rate to the unemployment rate). The price of gold, a bellwether reflecting economic stability, hit an all-time high in the last year of Carter’s presidency, reaching $2328/ounce in 2011-inflation adjusted dollars. We could go on and on, but the point is that Ronald Reagan would have gladly traded the economy he inherited for the one Obama inherited. Granted, the economy Obama inherited was bad, but not the worst, and he asked us for it.
Eleven years ago, America was attacked by bloodthirsty Muslim terrorists who hijacked commercial jetliners and flew them into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and failed in a fourth attack on the Capitol Building or the White House. Three thousand Americans died that day in the most horrific and hateful attack on American soil in history, an attack injuring not only the American economy, but the American psyche. We felt vulnerable and afraid. However, if we are to be honest with ourselves, we will acknowledge the attacks of 9/11 as only the second most destructive event during that span and, in terms of long term damage to the stability of the United States, paling in comparison to the damage inflicted upon us by the Obama administration.
Now, I am well aware this will be considered a hyper-partisan attack on our president, but I believe the facts will justify the claim. The terrorist attacks were brutal to watch, and we could witness the devastation and destruction wrought with our own eyes. The terrorists desired to crush our economy and undermine our faith in our government, to weaken us. You might even say that they wanted to “fundamentally transform” America. Yet within two years America was well on her way to recovering from those events.
It was understandable that the economy was severely damaged that day. As noted in Kiplinger Financial, on the day of the attacks, the unemployment rate was just below 5%, and in the aftermath, with hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in the travel, tourism, and financial industries alone, it would rise to just over 6% in 2003. However, by 2007, the unemployment rate was back down to just over 4%, and America had come roaring back.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) dropped a bomb this morning. Yesterday, there were some positive signals that job growth was increasing compared to recent months. The ADP estimate for August came in at 201,000, which was much higher than the 140,000 estimate.
But the official job report for August was nowhere near expectations. According to the BLS, the economy created 96,000 jobs in August with estimates for June and July being revised downward:
U.S. employers added 96,000 jobs last month, a weak figure that could slow any momentum President Barack Obama hoped to gain from his speech to the Democratic National Convention.
The unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent in July, but only because more people gave up looking for work. The government only counts people as unemployed if they are actively searching.
The Labor Department also says 41,000 fewer jobs were created in July and June than first estimated. The economy has added just 139,000 jobs a month since the beginning of the year, below 2011’s average of 153,000.
That’s not good at all, folks. Remember that the economy needs to create 150,000 jobs each month just to keep up with population growth. So while the spin will be that this is positive, but the economy is still experiencing essentially a net-zero job growth and more people are giving up hope of finding work. Futhermore, James Pethokoukis notes that “[i]f labor force rate had just stayed same as last month, [the]unemployment rate would be 8.4%.”
Over the last couple of years, libertarians have complained about the emphasis conservatives, particularly the Rick Santorums and Mike Huckabees their movement, have placed on social issues. We’ve noted that conservatives should focus their message on issues where they can attract agreement — such as repealing ObamaCare, lessening regulation on businesses, cutting spending, and reducing taxes.
While I support same-sex marriage and have grown increasingly pro-choice within reason, the Republican National Convention was a largely a breath of fresh air from this perspective . That’s not to say that I agree with everything said on the budget, economy or foreign policy, but the discussion of social issues was relatively mild with Republicans choosing instead to place a heavy focus on the economic record of President Barack Obama.
But watching the Democratic National Convention off-and-on for a couple of days, one can’t help but notice the heavy emphasis on social issues. There is certainly a discussion and defense of President Obama’s economic record, but abortion, same-sex marriage, and labor unions been featured heavily.
Of course, this is really isn’t surprising. Democrats have tried to change the narrative at several points since the beginning of the year; usually by complaining that there is some supposed “war” being waged against a segment of the American public.
Written by Mark A. Calabria, Director of Financial Regulation Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Rumor has it that Democrats will include, at their up-coming convention, a proposal to increase the minimum wage. As documented in a recent Cato study, such a policy is likely to increase unemployment, especially as I noted elsewhere among teenagers. One would think that given how a weak economy is undermining Democrats’ chance to keep the White House, they’d actually make proposals to reduce, rather than increase unemployment.
Back in May, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a stark warning to Congress that tax hikes scheduled to happen at the beginning of the year could trigger another recession. Since that time President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats have refused to act on extension of all current tax rates, which is the position of House Republicans. Instead, they’ve only pushed for one-year extension for individuals making $200,000 and families bringing in $250,000.
But yesterday, the CBO once again stressed that the looming tax hikes could hurt the economy if the stalemate doesn’t end:
In a fresh warning about the so-called “fiscal cliff,” the nonpartisan CBO reiterated that the U.S. economy will go into a recession next year if the Bush-era tax cuts expire and automatic spending cuts take effect. Read the CBO report.
In its latest report, the CBO predicts that the U.S. economy will grow at a 2.1% clip in 2012, but fall by 0.5% between the fourth quarter of 2012 and the fourth quarter of 2013 under the fiscal cliff scenario.
Previously, the CBO said growth would be 0.5% in 2013 under the fiscal cliff. In its new report it said the “underlying strength” of the economy is weaker.
The CBO said unemployment would jump to around 9% in the second half of 2013 from its current 8.3% if the tax increases and spending cuts play out.
Recently elected socialist French president François Hollande.
While I’m not sure I always buy whole-hog the amorphous concept of “regulatory uncertainty,” brought on by the administrative state, as a catch-all explanation for everything wrong with the private sector and our nation’s current unemployment crisis, a fascinating Bloomberg Businessweek Global Economics feature from May 2012 looks at French labor policy (emphasis mine):
[France] has 2.4 times as many companies with 49 employees as with 50. What difference does one employee make? Plenty, according to the French labor code. Once a company has at least 50 employees inside France, management must create three worker councils, introduce profit sharing, and submit restructuring plans to the councils if the company decides to fire workers for economic reasons.
French businesspeople often skirt these restraints by creating new companies rather than expanding existing ones.
Note: This is part two of a three-part series that will cover reasons that a voter may choose to support a specific presidential candidate. Part 3 for Gary Johnson will be online tomorrow. Part 1 for Mitt Romney is available here.
I never thought I’d be writing a post of reasons why someone should vote for Barack Obama, but I’ve given it some thought and have found that even though Obama has zero chance of getting my vote in November, there are some reasons voting for him might make sense. He won’t get my vote, but maybe he’s the guy for you. Here are some reasons you might want to vote for him.
You believe a Democrat victory is all that matters.
If you think Democrats are generally “for the people” and that Republicans are generally “against the people,” you’re wrong. (They’re both usually against the people.) But if you think that the Democrats are the good guys, you don’t have much of a decision to make. Vote Obama, and hope for the best.
You want division between the executive and legislative branches of government.
If the latter years of the Bush presidency proved anything, it’s that leaving one party in charge of the House, Senate, and White House is a recipe for runaway government. The GOP is going to keep the House in November and is expected to gain good ground in the Senate. If Obama is pushing for big government, Republicans will oppose it; but if Romney is pushing big government, Republicans will (for the most part) be cheering him all the way. Dividing government is a sure way to stall the erosion of freedom.
You and Obama are the same color.