And so, dear students, welcome back! Your generation is going to have dig its own way out of the hole my generation has dug for you (thanks for the Medicare, kids, and sorry about the deficit!), but here are a few tips that may help you get the best out of your college years. -- Walter Russell Mead
That's where the former congressman is headed according to Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli.
"Tancredo has lost the support of the Republican Party," local pollster extraordinaire Floyd Ciruli told me. "The only question is when he becomes a pariah."
This from a Vincent Carroll column that tries to shine some light into one of Tancredo's ear holes, such that perhaps he can see for himself what is going on.
In the Republican-heavy Ipsos Public Affairs polling sample, only 10 percent of respondents identified immigration as one of the "biggest problems" facing Colorado — not even the biggest problem, mind you — and yet Tancredo is running on little else.
"I couldn't stand by and watch the Republican establishment just hand over the state to Obama's hand-picked Democrat candidate," Tancredo tells his supporters.
So, rather than stand by, Tancredo has resolved to guarantee the outcome he supposedly dreads.
ThreeSourcers will dig Veronique DeRugy's optimistic take on "the Austrian school revival being led by George Mason University's Peter Boettke." It seems that ideas matter and that Austrian Economics might again be ascendant (the course is filled).
Ideas are what we are fighting for, no matter what's happening in Washington, no matter what the America people think at any given moment. It is because of our long conversations during the financial crisis, when I was depressed about my total inability to change things, especially in light of the resurgence of Keynesian economics, that I am still out here today fighting for free markets, for the power of the price system, and against centralization .
And that's why the Journal article made me so happy. We all remember how Glenn Beck, a few months ago, managed to put Friedrich Hayek's Road to Serfdom on the Amazon bestseller list. That was great. However, no matter how powerful Glenn Beck is and how capable he is at popularizing some of Hayek's ideas, this moment can't be sustained without recognizing where the ideas come from. This movement is based on real ideas that are studied in academia by serious economists -- even when no one believes in them.
Awesome (and not much longer than the excerpt). Hat-tip: Instapundit
I found it difficult to differentiate the too subtle differences between Weld County AG Ken Buck and former Lt. Gov Jane Norton in the CO GOP Senatorial primary.
But now that Buck has won, I find the DNSC and Bennet attack ads completely convincing.
Buck said in some speech in 2009 that we should consider repealing the 17th Amendment (pretty popular idea on these pages). The DNSC says "BUCK WANTS TO REWRITE THE CONSTITUTION! TAKE AWAY YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE!" And the tag: "Too Extreme for Colorado."
Bennet's ad says that Buck wants to eliminate the Department of Education! Privatize Social Security! Calls Social Security "Unconstitutional."
Huh? Why didn't you say so, Ken? Jeebers, my checkbook is your checkbook now.
Shoulda had that Bennet guy run your primary campaign though...
(My Google Fu Skills are way off today, if somebody has links to video, send 'em along.)
Taranto links to have a bit of sport with the headline:
News of the Tautological
"Used Vehicle Demand Up, Supply Down; Prices Soar"--headline, Detroit News, Aug. 30
But the linked article is worth a forward to your favorite leftist:
Used car prices are climbing and the pool of available models is drying up one year after the federal "cash for clunkers" program spurred consumers to scrap old cars for new ones.
Used cars are selling for the highest average price in at least seven years, according to Edmunds.com, an online auto consumer guide. Last month, the average price of a three-year-old vehicle spiked 10.3 percent, to $19,248, compared to July 2009.
Contra Taranto, the article spells out the simple supply-demand manifestations of "Cash for Clunkers." The only question is: "Why does President Obama hate poor people so?"
Stage IV metastatic variety of melanoma has a 5 year survival rate below 20% and even lower in some cases. Malignant melanoma diagnosis amounts to a check-out notice from the Life Hotel. Such check-out notices ought to entitle you to a "Get out of the FDA jail card" where you get to try experimental treatments. -- Randall Parker
Parker seems to think we are citizens and not subjects...
This is the title from a piece written by Walter Russell Mead for The American Interest Online that could not be improved upon. Mead dismantles the "green" movement not so much from a scientific standpoint but to illustrate that it has become the enemy that it abhors: The Establishment.
The case environmentalists used to make was that modern science was too crude and too incomplete to take into account the myriad features that could turn a giant hydroelectric dam from a blessing into a curse. Yes, the dam would generate power — for a while. But green critics would note that the dam had side effects: silt would back up in the reservoir, soil downstream would be impoverished, parasites and malaria bearing mosquitoes would flourish in the still waters and so on and so forth. Meanwhile the destruction of wetlands and river bottoms imposed enormous costs to wildlife diversity and the productivity of river systems. Salmon runs would disappear. Often, the development associated with hydroelectric dams led to deforestation, offsetting gains in flood control.
Mead goes on to point out that greenies have morphed to espousing a simple solution (cap and trade) for a very complex problem (the environment). They now hide behind the "expert" label to hush critics. That's interesting but perhaps not all that groundbreaking.
What is more interesting is how Mead parallels liberal enviro regulation to their handling of the economy. We're told that financial reform will smooth all of the economic cycles and eliminate future "bubbles." Of course, that's nonsense because the economy, like the environment, is too complex for central planning.
Essentially, the core environmentalist argument against big projects and big development is the same argument that libertarians use against economic regulations and state planning. The ‘economic ecology’ of a healthy free market system is so complex, libertarians argue, that bureaucratic interventions, however well intentioned and however thoroughly supported by peer reviewed science of various kinds, will produce unintended consequences — and in any case the interventions and regulations are too crude and too simple to provide an adequate substitute for the marvelously complex economic order that develops from free competition.
This piece seems to meander between subjects, but the common thread is "experts" trying to solve problems that cannot be solved with grandiose solutions. The result is stifling regulation that creates as many new problems as it solves.
I recently endorsed, tongue in cheek, Mayor Hickenlooper for Governor because of his stealthy promise to "create jobs and cut government spending." And why do we want to cut government spending? There are many reasons but a big one is to reduce the tax burden on private (job-creating) industry. The problem being that when said tax burden reaches a certain weight most businesses can no longer support it. They go out of business, hunker down in survival mode, or potential new businesses are never started. The idea of the TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party movement is that America has already reached, and is surpassing, that threshold:
But many, maybe most, Democrats, including gubernatorial candidate Mayor John Hickenlooper, have an alternate view: Taxes couldn't possibly be made any lower than they are now:
Around the time the Tea Party was first upsetting all right-minded people, Colorado's Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet told a friendly audience that these hooligans were peddling ideas that were "ludicrous," "appalling" and even "nihilistic."
"Nihilism" is a chilling word. It has many definitions, but generally it is agreed that it means a failure to believe in change and/or hope.
But polls look a lot different today. And, consequently, Bennet is probably about two speeches away from asking Washington to stop treading on him and putting on an American flag T-shirt.
The "nihilism" line is QOTD-worthy, as is "(After some insufficient research, I can say with journalistic certainty that no other unelected government official in the history of the nation has spent as much taxpayer money.)"
Welcome home, Dave! Give Mister Maes a closer look sometime.
Now that we've been doing this whole democracy/republic thing for a few hundred years, it's time to assess where things didn't work out as planned. I mean, having all these useless, arrogant people spending like a third of all our incomes is obviously not what the Founding Fathers intended. If they found out about it, they'd probably just start firing their muskets everywhere in a total rage. And if they got their hands on some modern weaponry, who knows what damage they could do; just think of the lobby scene from The Matrix, but instead of Keanu Reeves, it's a royally pissed Ben Franklin. So it's probably good that the Founding Fathers are all dead, because we need cool heads to figure out how to fix things. -- Frank J. Fleming
He follows with an unusual method of Congressional reform.
Anti-Buck groups are running a funny (to me) scare spot: Ken Buck wants to REWRITE THE CONSTITUTION! He want to have LEGISLATORS PICK SENATORS! I guess they only have thirty seconds, but they don't really mention that that was how it was designed and used for 120 years. That wacky Ken Buck -- what won't he think of next?
@Historyday The 36th president of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, was born on this day in 1908 in Stonewall, Texas.
Although I disagree with many of them, my Magical Biography Tour through the Presidents has found my becoming quite fond of all of them, appreciating their patriotism, service and integrity if not their ideas.
...and then I came to #36. I have a couple more books on him to complete, but what seems like a pretty sympathetic biographer describes an absolute megalomaniacal son of a bitch. And he gave us Medicare. He even mistreated dogs.
I get the WaPo Afternoon political fix email every day (all the cool kids do!) I have seen the "Palin Tracker" on there for some time. Well, it seemed that Her Grizzliness had a pretty good week, so I clicked -- for the first time.
What an odd thing it is. There's nothing offensive, or negative.
Sarah Palin has thrown her support behind more than two dozen candidates, a mixture of Tea Party favorites and more established Republican types. Use this graphic to explore her endorsements, and see how they fare.
(Updated Aug. 25)
But how odd is it that it exists? If Jon Stewart did it, I could see it. But it seems beneath the Washington Post. (I know, I date myself.)
You have two choices. You can watch Penn & Teller's B******t on recycling and be treated to topless women, cruel torment of innocent and sincere Angelinos. It's a great show and I recommend it highly.
Or, if you prefer less profanity (none as I recall), you can read PERC's awesome paper on the myths of recycling. It's 30 pages, but they are double-spaced, full of pictures, and very readable. PERC even goes a little deeper into the cost structure then my favorite libertarian magicians.
Both share a concern that the public mission of the trash barge Mobro in 1987 convinced all of America of a shortage of landfill capacity that was not real. This "crisis" was played by the enviro movement to create a decades-long boondoggle of subsidized recycling. The other thing they have in common is their conclusion: "Recycling is B******t!".
ELMHURST, Ill.--Victoria Vasconcellos, the petite founder of an Internet retailer in this Chicago suburb, is in the thick of a regulatory battle that could affect millions of American cigarette smokers.
Ms. Vasconcellos imports electronic cigarettes from a Chinese manufacturer and sells them on her website, Cignot.com, to 14,000 customers. The 48-year-old is part of a growing legion of e-cigarette purveyors who are defying the Food and Drug Administration, which contends the nascent nicotine products are drug devices that require pre-market approval and may pose their own health risks. The FDA began intercepting shipments of the products from China two years ago.
Three Rabbis and an Eskimo walk into a gay bar. The ostrich says "If you like your current health care plan -- you can keep it!" Ha! That one gets me everytime. AP:
WASHINGTON -- A plan by Medicare to try to make it simpler for consumers to pick drug coverage could force 3 million seniors to switch plans next year whether they like it or not, says an independent analysis.
That risks undercutting President Barack Obama's promise that people can keep their health plans if they like them.
And it could be an unwelcome surprise for many seniors who hadn't intended to make a change during Medicare's open enrollment season this fall.
To be fair, they are trying to make it easier to pick coverage. If there's only one plan...
James Taranto rarely misses the point. But I suggest that he has on the groundzeromosqueraversy.
He has devoted many column inches to this topic. Today, he opens with
So what are we to make of Faisal Abdul Rauf, the imam whose plans to build a fancy mosque near Ground Zero have caused such a frenzy? Even backers of his plan disagree sharply.
Not to say evaluations of Imam Raul are not germane and all, but I think his level of moderation or actual intent is quite beside the point. Clearly, he is a right bastard.
A real moderate or a caring clergyman would not pursue this. You'd have to be a bastard to do it, since he continues, I think syllogism proves my point.
And yet in America we let bastards be bastards rather than empower government to determine who can be and where. A decent man would not dishonor New Yorkers and Americans. But I'd rather Imam Son'f'bitch proceed than empower the government to protect us from offense.
Perhaps you've heard about the "green" power initiative called "smart grid." According to Wikipedia,"A smart grid, is, in essence, an attempt to require consumers to change their behavior around variable electric rates or to pay vastly increased rates for the privilege of reliable electrical service during high-demand conditions." Well, who in their right mind wouldn't want THAT in their home?!
As it is often eager to do, the city of Boulder, Colorado wanted to be a pioneer in transforming the smart grid into reality so they colluded with utility company Xcel Energy to wire up 23,000 homes at a projected cost in the neighborhood of $20 million. Now that the experiment is over and the final price was $45 million Xcel says, "We would not do that again over the whole service area," But in bailing out on the added cost Boulder says, "There is not a clear consensus among the members of the Boulder City Council with regard to the value of SmartGridCity in its present state or the prudence of this investment."
What? Boulder City Council considering the "prudence" of "investing" residents' money based upon "value?" Pinch me!
Yes, Mister Mencken, we are getting consumer protection "good and hard."
If I may link Ms. McArdle twice, she brings a bit of obvious news that everybody else seems to be ignoring. In the fanfare and victory lap over the last bit of regulations being enacted -- all our credit card rates went up! And -- mirabile freakin' dictu -- the responsible will be shouldering the bill for the less responsible:
As Carolyn Maloney says in the article, "Better that consumers should know up-front what the interest rate is, even if it's higher, than to be soaked on the back-end by tricks and hidden fees."
Of course, lots of people weren't being soaked on the back end by tricks and hidden fees; the people who pay their bills on time or even early. Those people are paying more, while folks who have temporary cash flow problems (or permanent forgetfulness) will pay somewhat less. Whether or not you think this is fair depends on a set of moral judgments about indebtedness; do the timely bill payers deserve a bonus for living within their means, or do the bill-missers deserve some help because they're more likely to be hard up?
How much more consumer protection can credit-card customers stand? If President Obama selects activist law professor Elizabeth Warren to head the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, we will soon have an answer. Meantime, thanks to a recent flurry of federal rule-making and legislating, consumers are already learning that "consumer protection" means higher interest rates and fewer card options.
Economists and forecasters were predicting an awful 13% decline in existing home sales for July, to 4.65 million units. This, we were told solemnly, would be the worst since 2009.
In hindsight, those making the predictions seem to have been the sort of wild-eyed optimists whose sunny belief in the strength of the housing market got us into this mess in the first place. The actual figure for home sales, according to the National Association of Realtors, was 3.83 million--a 27% decline. The last time single-family home sales were this low, Bill Clinton was president, "This is How We Do It" was topping the Billboard charts, and our nation was grieving over a recent terrorist attack--in Oklahoma City. -- Megan McArdle
I may have to get this book. Doug French at the Ludwig von Mises Institute reviews Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead.
I like the Dead okay, they have a bunch of good songs and their music is real and honest. But living in Boulder County I frequently had to tell friends "there are actually other bands. Like the Dead, they get together and play songs. But they are different people...and they play different songs!"
But it is time to respect one genius aspect: their business acumen. I remember reading In Rolling Stone in the late seventies that they came back from the Egypt tour completely broke. Jerry Garcia didn't have $20 to his name, he told the editors. After that they did okay.
Without going into the five P's of Marketing, they figured out what they were selling. That protected them financially from technological shifts and capricious buying patterns.
So if there were all these bootleg tapes floating around, has anyone been buying Dead albums? I guess so: the band has had 19 gold albums, 6 platinum albums, and 4 albums that have gone multiplatinum.
In their punchy little book, Scott and Halligan point out that the Grateful Dead turned the "the-band-tours-to-support-the-album" concept completely on it's head. For the Dead, the concerts are the experience they are selling. The scarce good is that particular night's performance, and the band makes each performance radically different. The band in its various forms has done over 2,300 shows, and no 2 are alike. Not only have the song lists been different each night, but the band plays different versions of all the songs. Instead of only touring periodically in support of a new album, the Dead has toured constantly.
Committed Deadheads have followed the band around to see hundreds of shows. In some cases these fans support their Dead habit by selling merchandise or food items in the parking lot, and this activity is endorsed by the band. Like Amazon with its affiliate program, the Dead supports anyone who sells band merchandise.
Because the concert experience is the product the band is selling, "technology has continued to be an essential element of live shows," write Halligan and Scott. "In the 1970s it was live concert technology and in 2009 it was a real-time iPhone application."
Create and sell a scarce good; promote it by giving away the non-scarce. Not bad for a bunch of hippies.
Sadly, the Commander-in-chief won't say it and our sad Vice President won't think it. But I will shout it from the ThreeSources Rafters: "Well done, lads and ladies!"
"We've met our goal," Gen. Ray Odierno, the commanding general in Iraq, told reporters Tuesday. "But the story is not about 50,000. The story is that we are continuing to be committed to Iraq. But our commitment is going to change."
Odierno said that going forward, the focus will be on economic, political, cultural, and technological developments as opposed to just the military relationship.
There are currently 49,700 troops in Iraq and that number will remain level through next summer, Odierno said.
That was some partisan excerpting. The AP story leads with props to President Obama for meeting a campaign promise and bringing the troop level below 50,000.
We turned a fear society into a free society and deposed a tyrant who was a threat to the free world. Did we create paradise? I suspect not -- but a free people can.
Thanks to all who serve!
UPDATE: Mark Tapscitt reminds it cost less that the failed stimulus.
I hope you caught at least a few of Drew Carey's awesome awesome awesome Reason.tv videos examining his home town's descent into craptitude. From being America's fifth largest city, the Cuyahoga Riviera has faded into irrelevance and privation, while municipal leaders call for more regulation and control. This'll bring 'em home! Insty calls them Big Brother Trash Carts:
Starting next year Cleveland residents face paying a $100 fine if they don't recycle, and the city's new high-tech trash cans will keep track if they don't. The new cans are embedded with radio frequency identification chips and bar codes which keep track of how often residents take them to the curb. If the chip shows you haven't brought your recycle can out in a while, a lucky trash supervisor will go through your can looking for recyclables. From the article: "Trash carts containing more than 10 percent recyclable material could lead to a $100 fine, according to Waste Collection Commissioner Ronnie Owens. Recyclables include glass, metal cans, plastic bottles, paper and cardboard."
Mark J. Perry links and likes Kimberly Dennis's excellent exegesis on the "Giving Pledge," adding that "A 2004 paper by Yale Economics Professor William D. Nordhaus concluded that 'only a minuscule fraction of the social returns from technological advances over the 1948-2001 period was captured by producers.'"
In that case, the total value created for society from Bill Gates's innovative activities, including starting Microsoft, far exceeds his own personal gain. In the process of creating benefits for billions of consumers around the globe, Gates has certainly amassed great wealth, but the vast majority of the benefits from Gates's innovative genius have already gone to consumers, as lives around the world have been changed for the better because of Microsoft products. By introducing technological changes that have profoundly and permanently affected the world in immeasurably positive ways, Gates has already generated billions of dollars worth of value for consumers in hundreds of countries, and should feel no obligation to "give back" any more.
Simply put, Gates has already "given at the office," and the contribution to society from his capitalist activities will likely dwarf the contribution to society from his charitable giving, as Kim Dennis suggests.
UPDATE: And the WSJ News Pages even come on board: The Case Against Social Responsibility,
Very simply, in cases where private profits and public interests are aligned, the idea of corporate social responsibility is irrelevant: Companies that simply do everything they can to boost profits will end up increasing social welfare. In circumstances in which profits and social welfare are in direct opposition, an appeal to corporate social responsibility will almost always be ineffective, because executives are unlikely to act voluntarily in the public interest and against shareholder interests.
Irrelevant or ineffective, take your pick. But it's worse than that. The danger is that a focus on social responsibility will delay or discourage more-effective measures to enhance social welfare in those cases where profits and the public good are at odds. As society looks to companies to address these problems, the real solutions may be ignored.
Surprising Jump in Tax Revenues Is Curbing Deficit
According to the NYTimes, the President's policies seem to be working better than expected:
WASHINGTON — An unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is driving down the projected budget deficit this year, even though spending has climbed sharply because of the war and the cost of [Gulf States] relief.
On Tuesday, White House officials are expected to announce that the tax receipts will be about $250 billion above last year's levels and that the deficit will be about $100 billion less than what they projected six months ago.
You smart kids are way in front of me, aren't you: the date is July 9, 2006. Mister Laffer, Mister Art Laffer, Please call your office!
HT: Insty, showing a startling graph which attributes spending to the Iraq War (Dr. Deepak Lal, please call your office) although Afghanistan seems to be conveniently omitted.
Something I've believed since NOW folded on President Clinton, but Dana Loesch has a great column about "the rebirth of feminism" with conservative women and tea partiers.
This past month, liberal feminists made more hay made over Palin's "mama grizzlies" talk than the matter of the Food and Drug Administration jerking Avastin off the market. Avastin is a drug used to treat late-stage breast cancer and has been shown to extend the life of some breast cancer patients by five months, but was deemed "cost-prohibitive" by the government.
Emily's List cared enough about women to make a video criticizing Palin, but apparently not enough about breast cancer patients to make a video criticizing the FDA's move.
In a web version of Democrat candidate John Hickenlooper's first campaign ad for Colorado governor he apparently said, "Colorado needs a governor who brings people together to create jobs and cut government spending." Go Hick! You're the man!
I have to admit I missed the "cut spending" message on my first viewing, but those lefties over at Open Left sure didn't.
Because Republicans are likely to split the vote in this three-way race featuring GOP nominee Dan Maes and third-party candidate Tom Tancredo, this gubernatorial race is all but a coronation for Hickenlooper, which means he could be using the free pass to do what Colorado Democrats in the recent past have been doing to great electoral and public policy success - namely, countering the right's insidious "cut government spending" mantra with a more constructive vision. But instead, Hickenlooper's ad, while certainly cute in its construction, is actually using the free pass to reiterate the Republicans' central (and most legitimately dangerous) argument about what Colorado's fundamental challenge really is.
So why is Hick touting spending cuts? Could he actually believe that Republicans are right? Get outta town! [And here's where I admit my endorsement of him is sarcastic.] Is it because of the reverberating popular theme of public thrift kept alive by the 25% of us who are TEA Partiers? Maybe, if he thinks it will be a close contest with the Republican. But Open Left says "this gubernatorial race is all but a coronation for Hickenlooper." Apparently Hickenlooper isn't so sanguine.
So Harsanyi thinks conservatives should be more frightened of a Maes win than Hickenlooper's? I ask you David, which self-proclaimed spending cutter would you rather have? I'll take the guy who knows what it's like to scramble to pay his mortgage. I'll take Maes.
Dr. Chris Centeno, a pioneer in stem-cell research and co-founder of Regenerative Science's Centeno-Schultz clinic and its Regenexx procedure, said in a statement that the injunction was "litigation posturing."
While Centeno has agreed to the FDA's demand to stop culturing the cell products, his clinic's statement said his team welcomes a chance "to question the FDA's policy that adult stem cells can be classified as drugs when used as part of a medical practice."
Centeno's clinic -- one of the first to move from stem-cell research into practice -- draws stem cells from a patient's bone marrow, grows more in an outside lab and reinjects the tissue-repairing cells back into ailing joints. The company's website says it has treated 416 patients since 2006.
The FDA in 2008 sent Centeno a letter warning that he needed federal approval and licensing for the process. The FDA said it considers the cells drugs that fall under federal regulation.
Centeno argues the stem cells he uses are body parts, akin to fertilized eggs.
"The only difference is that we're using stem cells and fertility clinics use fertilized eggs," said Dr. John Schultz, a co-founder of the Centeno-Schultz clinic, in the company statement.
Kimberly Dennis, president and CEO of the Searle Freedom Trust, makes all my points today. Forcefully. Eloquently. And without sentence fragments and opening conjunctions.
Will Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, and that Buffett fellow succeed in their philanthropy? And are they right to ask others to join and do more?
Successful entrepreneurs-turned-philanthropists typically say they feel a responsibility to "give back" to society. But "giving back" implies they have taken something. What, exactly, have they taken? Yes, they have amassed great sums of wealth. But that wealth is the reward they have earned for investing their time and talent in creating products and services that others value. They haven't taken from society, but rather enriched us in ways that were previously unimaginable.
Even if Mr. Gates makes progress in achieving his ambitious philanthropic objectives--eradicating disease, reducing global poverty, and improving educational quality--these accomplishments are unlikely to match what he achieved by giving us the amazing capability we literally have at our fingertips to access and spread information. The very doctors and scientists who may develop cures for diseases like malaria will rely on the tools Microsoft supplies to conduct their research. Had Mr. Gates decided to step down from his company and turn to philanthropy sooner than he did, they might have fewer such tools.
Awesome on stilts with a big hat. Holler if you'd like me to mail you the whole piece (we'll consider it Rupert's donation...)
The last libertarian in conventional media executes a brutal, prison yard shanking of Tea Party and ThreeSources's darling Dan Maes.
There's no crime in the average guy, the political neophyte, the Common Man, running for political office. I wish more people would. But too many Colorado conservatives and activists have tied their political future to the silly belief that any everyman candidate is superior to any establishment one.
No, it's not because Maes hit up an 80-something woman for 300 bucks (cash!) to help pay his mortgage. You know, I get that. No one forced her, right? Nor is it because he finagled tens of thousands in gas money through his campaign contributions. I'm actually kind of impressed.
And it's not that bicycle enthusiasts aren't sort of creepy. They are. And it's not that the United Nations isn't a hive of petty tyrants. It is. And, in our hearts, we all know that John Hickenlooper, if he could get away with it, would make Denver a signatory on a One World Commie Bike Plot.
It's just that responsible people generally understand those kinds of thoughts should be reserved for internal dialogue.
Politico has the slide show developed to help the Democrats "sell" ObamaCare® I thought hopes for GOP Midterm Tsunamis were overblown. Until I saw this presentation.
It is critical to reassure seniors that Medicare will not be cut [Don't mention the $500 Billion cut in Medicare]
Tell non college educated women that the health care law passed, Explain what is in the law and how it will affect them. Let them know they can keep the coverage they have now. [If they didn't want to be lied to, they should have gone to college.]
Tell latinos that the health care law passed, explain what is in the law by using a personal story... [Say Jennifer Lopez is injured on the way to pick up some tortillas...that's a good one]
For Voters Under 40...Do not make grand claims about the law. Use 'improve it' language.
Slide 24 (penultimate):
-- list benefits outside of personal context;
-- say the law will reduce costs and deficit. [Ooops.]
Hat-tip: @JimPethokoukis, who summarizes "Dem strategy to change healthcare opinion by public: anecdotes, lots of anecdotes "
Colorado's primary season may have seemed like a circus, but compared to Florida, it is pretty tame. Apparently, the allegations concerning Democrat Jeff Greene's bid for the Senate nomination has the press in a tizzy:
Florida media has been in an NC-17 feeding frenzy over Greene's personal life. Newspapers, airwaves and blogs are carrying purported first-hand accounts of sex and drug parties on Greene's yacht before his marriage in 2007.
"Look, did I have parties on the yacht? We had parties," he said. "Did we have parties like they are describing? Absolutely not. And there is no pictures. That is what I'm saying. There were never any pictures of anything."
"I didn't do it, nobody saw me, and you can't prove anything."
-- And a corporeal gig coming up! A week from Saturday,August 28, I'll be playing with my friend Kirk at his new wine store: City Wine, 347 S, Colorado Blvd. Come down in the afternoon for tasting and a couple sets.
For 10 years, libertarian activist and scholar Peter Jaworski has thrown an annual summer seminar and party on the Clarington, Ontario property owned by his parents, Marta and Lech. The Liberty Summer Seminar typically features speeches from libertarian activists and scholars followed by live music and food. This year Peter's parents, who fled to Canada from communist Poland in the 1980s, face a $50,000 fine for violating local zoning laws.
Marta Jaworski, 57, said she and her husband, also 57, are “devastated” by the charge, which she called a “taste” of the oppression they felt in Poland before fleeing in 1984 to Germany and later Canada.
“It is a feeling to be hunted. They come in uniforms . . . ,” she said, starting to cry.
First they came for the "commercial conference centres..." Jeeburs!
Colorado's HB 1365, which I railed against last March, directed electric utility company Xcel Energy to "study" the economic benefits of converting existing coal-fired plants to use natural gas. But don't confuse them with any facts.
Xcel now says building brand new gas fired plants and tearing down the coal units would be cheaper still. How? Well, there are some tax benefits, but there's also a new 10-year contract with natural gas provider Andarko Petroleum.
It almost sounds as though it were a fixed-price contract, but one that long would be most unusual. Historically gas contracts run only a year, said Stutz.
Wouldn’t it be easier to make his case if the gas contract were made public? Perhaps, but he said the gas contract is proprietary information.
Hmmm. Proprietary information? Public utility?
But don't expect the Public Utilities Commission to look out for the public. Ron Binz, the chairman of the Colorado PUC, is an environmental activist.
Historically commissioners have not been involved in negotiating controversial legislation that they may end up implementing. A hands-off approach makes sense if you’re supposed to be a neutral arbiter. You rarely hear of judges at any level participating in legislation.
But Binz was quite active in the negotiations involving HB 1365 before it was introduced, as e-mails uncovered in a court proceeding revealed.
He’s also an advocate for climate-change legislation at the national level, and heads the climate task force of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.
To quote Mythbusters' Jamie Hyneman, "Well THERE'S your PROBLEM!"
And I don't think ThreeSourcers will hate this one.
Same concern, but no taxpayer put this time.
When you buy a home, you are allowed to borrow some portion of your IRA or 401k funds. Since it is a loan to yourself, there are no tax implications. The smart guys in front are ahead of me by now. Why not let me borrow IRA funds to pay the underwater portion of my primary home mortgage?
This would be a better use of my money, would make my creditors sleep better at night, and would allow me to qualify for that refi I was drooling over.
My money. You're just "allowing" me to put it to a better use. It's gorgeous. It's perfect. Where am I wrong?
UPDATE: How about some examples, scarecrow? Say a hypothetical guy bought a hypothetical condominium in 2008. It has a lovely view and fits his hypothetical needs well. But an appraiser claims it has lost 30% and is now 50,000 underwater.
He lends himself 50K from retirement funds at the 10 yr T-bill rate (276 bps today):
His personal balance sheet is now rectified, his payment is lowered, and 20% of his mortgage is paid to himself. Plus, he now qualifies for refinancing:
My ThreeSources Brothers and Sisters were there for my weakness. Gently, but firmly, they suspended my descent into dirigisme.
My suggestion of FHA jiggered refis of FHA loans was wrong. LisaM was correct in pointing out that I was stealing value from the holders of performing loans. As such it violates the 5th Amendment.
It seemed pretty give and take to me, but I see a second at least equally serious flaw. Government meddling will -- as usual -- crowd out free market solutions. The WSJ News Pages introduce us to homeowners' being "Saved by Vultures" (another cool blog name...)
Anna and Charlie Reynolds of St. George, Utah, were worried about losing their home to foreclosure last year. Then they got a lucky break--from an unlikely savior.
Selene Residential Mortgage Opportunity Fund, an investment fund managed by veteran mortgage-bond trader Lewis Ranieri, acquired the loan at a deep discount and renegotiated the terms with the Reynolds. The balance due was cut to $243,182 from $421,731, and the interest rate was lowered. That reduced the monthly payment to $1,573 from $3,464, allowing the family to stay in their home despite a drop in Mr. Reynolds' income as a real-estate agent. "It was a miracle," says Ms. Reynolds.
Buy the bad paper at a big discount, renegotiate at a smaller discount. What a concept!
I will say 20 Saint Fredrichs and endeavor to sin no more.
Don't worry, the President has fixed that economy thing. It just takes a long time.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- President Barack Obama used the homey backdrop of a middle-class Ohio family's backyard Wednesday to try to show voters he shares their concerns about the economy, health care and Social Security.
Jacket off and sleeves rolled up, Obama took questions from the Weithman family and a small group of their neighbors arrayed around picnic tables and lawn chairs. His message was familiar: The economy needs more work, but it's getting better.
"A lot of it is like recovering from an illness," the president said. "You get a little bit stronger each day."
At the risk of setting off a ThreeSources analogy arms race, it is like recovering from a heart attack and going on the Spurlock, "Supersize Me" diet, Mr. President.
Starting to wonder whether putting the government in charge of health care was a good idea...
The WSJ Ed Page suggests that the FDA is a good model for the politicization of medicine that will spread, pari passu, with Federal influence. Is that what we want?
The Avastin mugging is really an attempt to undermine regulatory modernization like accelerated approval that offends the FDA's institutional culture of control and delay. It is also meant to discourage innovations like Avastin that the political and medical left has decided are too costly, with damaging implications for the next generation of cancer drugs.
The FDA started with a mission of safety. Then it decided it was in charge of efficacy (cf. Erbitux, Sam Waksal, Martha Stewart &c.). Now it has appointed itself the arbiter of cost containment. Sure Avastin suppresses tumor growth in Breast Cancer patients -- but it's awfully expensive.
TaxProf shares the interesting info that the IRS "Did Not Comply With Stimulus Act's Procurement Requirements." Good stuff
The IRS received an appropriation of $203 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) funds. TIGTA determined that the IRS did not always comply with Recovery Act procurement requirements and used annual appropriated funds instead of Recovery Act funds for some procurements. As a result, approximately $385,000 was not available for other IRS mission-critical needs, such as improving taxpayer service or addressing the tax gap.
But I especially enjoyed the first comment:
How did giving the IRS $200 million count as "stimulus" in the first place? -- American Delight
Rep. Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe (president and CEO of Freedomworks) hawk their book in a guest editorial today. It is as good a description of "The Tea Party" as I have seen: The authors (or a clever editor) say "The movement is not seeking a junior partnership with the Republican Party. It is aiming for a hostile takeover."
The criteria for membership are straightforward: Stay true to principle even when it proves inconvenient, be assertive but respectful, add value and don't taking credit for other people's work. Our community is built on the Trader Principle: We associate by mutual consent, to further shared goals of restoring fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government. These were the principles that enabled the Sept. 12, 2009 taxpayer march on Washington to be one of the largest political protests in the history of our nation's capital.
OK, given the serious and positive nature of this development, The Refugee will admit that the headline is overly snarky.
Foxnew.com is reporting that eight American Muslims recently visited the Dachau and Auschwitz concentration camps. The trip was arranged by Marshall Breger, an Orthodox Jew who served both Presidents Reagan and GHW Bush. Apparently, the trip had some positive results:
Former Holocaust denier Yasir Qadhi, the dean of academics at Al Maghrib Institute in New Haven, Conn., said the trip was eye-opening.
"Anybody who is a Holocaust denier should deserve a free ticket to see Auschwitz and Birkenau," he told the Jewish Daily Forward, "because seeing is just not the same as reading about it."
If the majority of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims are to emerge from the 12th century, more scholarship like this and less stoning would be in order. The Refugee does not make light of this as a positive step in the right direction.
It's just un-American. I can't believe that somebody would say this about this American product. He hasn't even driven it. He hasn't sat in it. You know, why wouldn't you be supportive of American manufacturers building American vehicles with American workers, who now have jobs as a result of this. Why wouldn't you be supportive of that? It is mind-blowing to me. And of course, the public is getting paid back. You know, GM has paid back the loan – the bottom line is, is this is a good news story, and somebody who would twist it to be something negative obviously has another agenda. Which we all know he does. -- Governor Jennifer Granholm (D - GM)
You Vill Like Ze Government's Cars! You Vill appreciate Ze Craftsmanship!
Shhh! Don't call them death panels, people will think you're stupid. No, it's just an occasion where a government bureaucrat not approved by the Senate decides whether the government will pay for FDA approved treatments to extend lives. Or not. Washington Examiner:
The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance explains the problem: "Medicare must cover therapies that are 'reasonable and necessary,' while the FDA is instructed to approve drugs that are 'safe and effective.' Because of the conflicting federal coverage and approval requirements, there are some non-FDA approved drugs (called off-label drugs) that are paid for by CMS. However, with respect to Provenge, it appears that CMS is arguing that while the treatment is safe and effective, it may not be reasonable and necessary. For the first time, an FDA approved anti-cancer therapy may not be covered by Medicare."
The same problem has developed on Avastin, according to the Susan G. Komen Fund, which has joined with OCNA advocating for Medicare coverage of both drugs. With respect to Avastin, Komen's founder and, CEO, Ambassador Nancy Brinker, said "We recognize the benefits of Avastin overall are modest for women with metastatic breast cancer. However, we do know that for some women, Avastin offers a greater than modest benefit. We hope that this decision will not restrict access to Avastin to all patients."
It sounds like the setup for an awesome joke. And maybe someone will write it.
I come to codify and record my thoughts on the proposed Mosque in true Internet Blogging Fashion: I agree with Tunku Varadarajan. And thanks to years of WSJ blogging, I can actually spell his name.
Varadarajan found himself agreeing with Friday Night Obama:
Many of us who are libertarian—in other words, people opposed as much to the subversion of private rights by a majoritarian maumau-ing as we are to curbs on private affairs by government intervention—found ourselves in pleasantly astonished agreement with the most statist president since FDR. No one hearing his remarks, or reading of them, could have been in any doubt that he was fully, unequivocally, behind the construction of the mosque.
Of course, Saturday-afternoon Obama disappointed. And then Sunday-morning Obama disappointed the disappointed. The President had every right to stay out of it (his first inclination) as a local matter. He also had a right to make a brave stance on either side, sharing his opinion on a truly difficult question.
But the double-backtracking is the saddest thing I have seen in some time. Well, no, not sad for me because as an opponent of the President's policies I enjoy watching him step in it and try to scrape it off in public. But it really was pathetic.
For the record, President Kranz would have been proud to say something similar to President Obama's Friday night remarks. But I would have followed it up with a public donation to Greg Gutfield of FOXNews's project to build an Islamic-themed gay bar next door.
Add Colorado to the list of states that are saying to ObamaCare: not here, thank you.
Last week the state's Secretary of State certified that the Colorado Health Care Freedom Act had qualified for the November ballot. More than 130,000 Coloradoans signed petitions seeking to exempt themselves from major portions of federal health reform signed by President Obama in March.
Jon Caldara, the initiative's sponsor and president of the conservative Independence Institute, said the measure would make Colorado "a health care sanctuary state." If approved in November, citizens would be exempt from the mandate requiring them to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. They'll also be immune from government forcing them into a public or private health care plan against their will.
Chuck DeVore @ BigGovernment puts the Red-Blue 2008 electoral college map beside a map shaded to show each state's per-capita debt. I can't say the visuals captured me at first: "eah, New York, California..."
But when you get into the text the correlation is striking:
According to Moody’s, the average state per capita debt of the 28 Obama states is $1,728 while the average debt in the 22 McCain states is less than half, at $749. This information alone says a lot about voters and their attitude towards government and debt. Voters with a propensity to elect politicians who burden future generations who can’t yet vote with huge debts voted for Obama while fiscally responsible voters generally voted for McCain.
This trend gets starker when you look at the debt in the states that voted overwhelmingly for one candidate. The six states where Obama received the highest percentage of the vote were: Hawaii, Vermont, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maryland. McCain received his highest percentage of votes in Oklahoma, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Alabama and Alaska. The strongest Obama states had a per capita debt high of $4,606 for Massachusetts and a low of $709 for Vermont—remember, the average per capita debt in the McCain states was only $749, barely above the debt level in Vermont, with its “less is more” ethic. Per capita debt in the strong McCain states ranged from a high of $1,345 in oil-rich Alaska to a low of $77 in coal-rich Wyoming.
And, of course, what states will be bailed out -- Wyoming?
James Rummel of ChicagoBoyz finds a 1979 flyer from a local grocery store. Not requiring the Internet to make a segue, Rummel checks his front step and finds today's insert from the same outfit.
These prices are not adjusted for inflation, else the tube steaks would be $3.77.
Arguing about monetary policy, I've complained that the CPI overstates inflation by ignoring disinflationary effects from trade and technology. That may be academic, but the entitlement spending indexed to CPI is bankrupting us.
Let's index Social Security payments to all meat franks. Old folks love 'em and we would solve our funding crisis overnight.
Sir Paul quipped to President Obama at the Library of Congress show that "after eight years, we are Happy to have a President who knows what a library is."
This cheesed me off for several reasons. Umm, he married a librarian. But more importantly, he really was an avid reader. Michael Powell shares a quote from Perfesser Obama with the Columbia Journalism Review:
'Yeah, you have very little chance to really read. I basically floss my teeth and watch Sports Center.'"
We love our phones like we love our cars. The Washington Examiner's Mark Tapscott connects the dots.
I can pick up a prescription at the CVS drive-through, visit a sick friend in the hospital, attend church, escort our family's two Labs, Abby and Okie, on a walk around the lake, take in a local strawberry festival, drive over to Summit Point Motorsports Park for a regional road race, and so on and so on.
See the connection? We love our mobile phones and our cars because they enable us to do so much more. That's why we can't get enough of them, making and improving them creates jobs for thousands of people and economic opportunities for millions, the world is made smaller through them, and our lives are richer and more rewarding because of them.
But some folks want to limit or even take away our mobility and convenience. Advocates of "net neutrality" and mass transit, for instance, share an obsession with using government power to force the rest of us to accept less mobility and convenience
Besides budgets and ridership stats, the car is symbolic of American individuality. Call me a Nascar Retard but Europeans just seem to belong on trains. Tolstoy has trains; Kerouac and Pirsig have motorcycles.
Quick Review Corner: Dig up John Stossel's show on transportation on Hulu if you don't get FOXBiz. Great from coast to coast, but the coolest is a Hayekian riff on traffic signals: a small town in the UJ spends £850,000 on a computerized control system. Then they notice traffic moves better during power outages. They turn the damn thing off and traffic improves. People just figure out when to go.
Hat-tip: Insty (Though I think he just posts because she's attractive. I am deeply committed to reduced government spending.)
Flashback: Ms. Muccio on these pages in Feb 2009. Sigh. I may have mentioned her appearence back then as well.
UPDATE: Watch the old one and think about what could have been. For the same money as the Stimulus, we could have given a whole year payroll tax holiday. I don't think we'd have been looking at ~10% unemployment had we listened to an econ student instead of Washington.
AND: I wanted to assure our female viewership (both of them) that we will give equal time to the next super-hunky male economist that comes along. We might even institute a centerfold!
As a constituent of the Honorable Senator Michael F. Bennet, The Refugee just received an e-mail from The Good Senator about his accomplishments in that august body. However, The Refugee, using some little-known HTML commands was able to reveal hidden text in the message. It turns out that this hidden text helps to understand what the senator really meant. Read for yourself; hidden text in italics.
I’ve only been in the Senate a short while, but I’ve made it a priority to change the way Washington does business. [That's why I voted down-the-line for the Obama agenda.]
All too often, partisan wrangling leads to gridlock and inaction [It's those damn Republicans! Dissent is the greatest form of patriotism only when George Bush is in the White House]. Instead of actually doing their jobs, members of Congress have become ensnared in bickering and gamesmanship [Debate is such an outdated concept, don't you think?]. That’s why I offered my Plan for Washington Reform in March, which included my resolution to reform the filibuster and end secret holds [Never mind what the Founders intended. I'm smarter than Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and James Madison combined].
To end the revolving door between Congress and special interests, I introduced a lobbying reform proposal that would ban Members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists once they leave office [With the unbelievable retirement package for Members of Congress, who needs jobs? We can suck off the taxpayer tit until we die]. I also put forward a bill that would reform the earmark process by banning earmarks for private companies and improving transparency through the creation of earmarks.gov, an online database that would be searchable by each Member of Congress [Notice I said private companies only, not labor unions. Brilliant! We can still launder money through our supporters and cut off anyone who supports those bastard Republicans!].
I also led efforts to put a freeze on Congressional pay for fiscal year 2011. Blocking next year's automatic pay raise is just one small step; my plan would prevent Congress from considering increasing its pay or office budgets until our economy gets fully back on track [Big deal! Most of us are multimillionaires so a few thousand one way or the other doesn't matter. Besides, didn't you hear? This is the "Summer of Recovery". We'll just declare everything fixed and give ourselves that raise - with interest and back pay!].
With the likely damaging effects of the recent Citizens United Supreme Court decision on campaign financing, I cosponsored the DISCLOSE Act . The bill would require more transparency in political ads, and force CEOs to stand behind their corporate spending on campaigns [Notice here again that I exclude unions. Damn, we gotta take care of the SEUI or we're sunk!]. Although it fell victim in the Senate to a partisan filibuster [Damn Republicans saw through the ruse to cut off their funding], I remain committed to fighting for campaign finance reform and cleaner elections [My definition of a "clean election" is one where I can outspend my opponent 5:1. Go ahead - cut off our funding! I'm rich enough to self-finance! The real name of this is the "Assure Re-election of Rich White Guys Act of 2010"].
Working to ensure that Congress works for the American people has never been easy, but we have begun to see some momentum. I recently testified before Congress on my proposal to reform the filibuster [It's kinda like having the fox testify about security in the hen house]. With so much work to be done on behalf of Colorado’s families, if a small minority of Senators wants to hold up legislation, they should be required to stand on principle and filibuster in person [Unless the Democrats lose control of the Senate, in which case the filibuster becomes //begin sanctimonious voice/ "The only effective means to halt the tyranny of the majority as clearly intended by our Founding Fathers" //end sanctimonious voice/]. And any filibuster must have bipartisan support if it goes on for more than a few days [Don't ask me how the hell that would work. It sounds great in a stump speech and it has as much chance of flying as a dead cat. I'll never have to back up the words with action].
You can read more in The Denver Post, which profiled our fight to change the broken system in Washington [...and are totally in the tank for us. Thank Ned the Fairness Doctrine was repealed!].
The road ahead will be tough [That damn Republican Buck has some pretty good ideas - I've got to get The Denver Post to demonize him as a tea bagger or I'm in deep weeds. We can't allow citizens to hear his message]. It’s never easy to combat inertia and entrenched interests [Kinda ironic, huh, since we Democrats are the ones with the inertia and entrenched interests?]. But Colorado’s families and small businesses deserve accountability from their elected officials, and a Senate that works for them. That’s why I’ll continue to fight for reform until Washington begins to do the hard work that Coloradans expect [...and I will continue to vote down-the-line with Obama and Harry Reid. I know which side my bread is buttered on!].
Michael F. Bennet
See, doesn't transparency in government work?
UPDATE: Yahoo News reports that liberal groups are organizing a boycott of Target for their support of a conservative Republican for Minnesota governor. (Target is based in MN.)
"Target is receiving criticism and frustration from their customers because they are doing something wrong, and that should serve absolutely as an example for other companies," said Ilyse Hogue, director of political advocacy for the liberal group MoveOn.org, which is pressing Target to formally renounce involvement in election campaigns.
This is the chilling effect that Bennet's "reform" is intended to have: intimidate corporations from donating to campaigns. Note, unions are never subject to public pressure because there's no real way to get to them financially.
Bennet's proposal has nothing to do with fairness - it's all about intimidating right-leaning contributions and cutting off funding to Republicans.
Early on, some stimulus folk pointed out that if government has to spend, why don't they spend on the military? That idea didn't go anywhere. Michael Austin makes a stark and sad comparison:
The House voted for another $24 billion bailout to the states this week, with $10 billion marked for preventing teacher layoffs. The White House estimated that might save approximately 160,000 teachers' jobs, although a number of states, including Alaska, Tennessee, and Arkansas, apparently don’t need federal support to retain teachers, but will get the funds anyway. Putting aside the clear political payback to the teachers' unions for their support, the new $10 billion handout comes out to $62,500 per potential teacher job "saved."
Yet clearly some jobs count more than others. Almost exactly a year ago, the Senate caved in to White House pressure and killed the F-22 program, canceling the last seven planes to be built. How much was saved? $1.75 billion (in today's budget world, that seems like a rounding error). How many jobs will be lost? 95,000 highly skilled jobs. In other words, that $1.75 billion would have divided into just $18,421 per job saved, plus seven more of the world's most advanced fighter jets.
James Pethokoukis declares "Recovery Summer" officially over. Three firms expect serious downward revisions of the Q2 GDP numbers. Action Economics:
The market’s might face their biggest downside economic surprise of this recent growth slowdown yet in the form of a downward Q2 GDP revision, which today’s U.S. trade deficit figures suggest will be a whopper. We now expect the 2.4% advance Q2 GDP gain to face a huge downward adjustment to the 1% area, with a hit from trade of as much as $18 bln that we conservatively peg at $12 bln, as the BEA’s seemingly pessimistic $45 bln deficit assumption for June turned out to be excessively optimistic instead. A change in China’s VAT rebate policy in June may explain a part of the surprise, though the GDP gain in Q2 is likely poised for an alarming 1-handle regardless of this distortion.
Jimmy P. concludes:
More and more, Wall Street seems to be converging on the Goldman Sachs forecast of a second-half growth slowdown. Hard to see how that helps unemployment or Democrat chances of holding both the House and Senate. Remember, if the labor force had not shrunk by one million workers since April, the unemployment rate would be 10.4 percent. Voters may not know those numbers, but they know the economy is far from healthy.
NOTE: I cannot get a good link to the post. Scroll to "Black Wednesday and the 2010 midterms"
The title refers to two magazines, yet seems to work without that explanation.
I don't watch Bloggingheads TV a lot. It is interesting, but I blog and work. I usually have 5 or 10 minutes while a program compiles or a server boots. Listening to even interesting folks for 40-60 minutes is not in the plan.
But I am a big fan of Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason and I did give 40 minutes general attention to her BhTV debut today. She's perhaps a little too polite to The Nation's Dana Goldstein, but it is fun to watch her keep her cool when Goldstein suggests that Michelle Obama's obesity plans don't go far enough. "Wouldn't it be swell if kids got breakfast, lunch and dinner at school everyday?" KM-W listens respectfully and just as respectfully retorts "But don't schools suck?"
There's no yelling, both participants are attractive (if neither looks old enough to drink), and one experiences two unique viewpoints in 39:06.
Two great columns in the WSJ Ed Page! In one day! Two great closing paragraphs! What are the odds?
So in the name of still another "stimulus," Democrats are rewarding their own political funders, putting the most fiscally responsible states into even greater distress, and postponing the day of reckoning for spendthrift states. Oh, and Mr. Obama rushed to sign the bill Tuesday, violating his campaign pledge to give the public five days to read legislation online. As we say, the only way for voters to stop such fiscal abuse is to run this crowd out of town.
I hate to give away the magisterial ending to Fouad Ajami's superb editorial, but it is QOTD-worthy:
It is in the nature of charisma that it rises out of thin air, out of need and distress, and then dissipates when the magic fails. The country has had its fill with a scapegoating that knows no end from a president who had vowed to break with recriminations and partisanship. The magic of 2008 can't be recreated, and good riddance to it. Slowly, the nation has recovered its poise. There is a widespread sense of unstated embarrassment that a political majority, if only for a moment, fell for the promise of an untested redeemer—a belief alien to the temperament of this so practical and sober a nation.
Five months into an investigation of safety issues involving Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles, U.S. safety officials have yet to identify any new defects beyond those reported by the car maker itself.
And in more than half of the crashes blamed on sudden acceleration analyzed by the government, data from the vehicles' "black boxes" show the driver was not stepping on the brake at the time of the accident--indicating that driver error may have been at fault.
Those were the findings that U.S. Transportation Department officials disclosed Tuesday to members of Congress, offering the first significant details of the government's ongoing investigation into Toyota's recall of more than 8.5 million vehicles globally since last fall.
Huh. Who saw that coming? (Links would be unseemly...)
The Wall Street Journal is too august an institution to title an editorial "Duh!" So they call it Of CEOs and Congressmen
As a mere corporate chieftain, Mr. Hurd was summarily ousted by the H-P board on Friday for allegedly fibbing about $20,000 or less in expenses to cover up a nonsexual relationship with someone who was merely a contractor. The contractor, Jodie Fisher, accused Mr. Hurd of sexual harassment, which an investigation by outside counsel found had not taken place. It's the perfect modern sex scandal: Both sides acknowledge it involved no sex, only money, and not much of that.
Company directors nonetheless concluded that Mr. Hurd hadn't followed the ethics code that H-P had imposed after a 2006 scandal involving spying on journalists and board members had forced the resignation of an H-P chairman. The H-P standard of business conduct tells employees that, "Before I make a decision, I consider how it would look in a news story."
So the directors gave the heave-ho to a successful CEO who over five years had more than doubled his company's market capitalization. If CEOs were ever given the benefit of the doubt, the Hurd case shows those days are over. A single misjudgment, personal or strategic, can cost a corporate boss his job.
Contrast that accountability with the U.S. House of Representatives, where Maxine Waters and Charlie Rangel stand accused of ethics violations. [...]
"Government is what we call things we do together," Rep. Barney Frank likes to say. The broken incentive structure, however, always needs to be considered.
Anybody who's read this blog twice will believe me.
The Democratic Party made a wildly effective campaign of opposition to President Bush's compromise on embryonic stem-cell research. My lowest moment was seeing Michael J. Fox come down from the great north to campaign for Claire McCaskill in Missouri.
Ah yes, a Senator McCaskill will vote for research and the lame will walk.
Instead, of course, the real Senator McCaskill votes for ObamaCare® which will cripple medical innovation both by shrinking its markets and directly taxing its successful producers. Now, Instapundit links to a site that says stem cell research is being shut down by a Democrat-led FDA and an overwhelmingly Democratic 111th Congress.
Today in 2010 two years after Barack Obama promised to open up Stem Cell research, therapy and treatments within the US borders the FDA is overstepping its authority in regulating medicine and attempting to shut down live saving stem cell treatments. The FDA is banning stem cells to be used in the United States while many Americans are having to travel to foreign countries to receive treatment.
UPDATE: I am a little skeptical about the stem cell link. It is built around a press release of the offended company and does itself no favors by putting "Barack Obama" in a larger type face. Either way, pointy-holdy. Research is a complex topic, and this gimpy boy feels a lot more comfortable trusting those that do not seek to bankrupt the Pharma Companies.
With Colorado's primary election day tomorrow the left-leaning pollster Public Policy Polling today released a new poll on the senate and governor's races. Bennet's 6-point lead over Romanoff is slightly more than the 4.6% margin of error for the Democratic poll, but the GOP races are both closer than the 3.5% theoretical uncertainty.
Among 767 "likely Republican primary voters" Norton leads Buck 45-43 (12 percent undecided) ((still?)) and McInnis leads Maes 41-40. The only poll that's going to settle these races is the one that starts to be tallied tomorrow at 7pm.
But here's something else I found interesting in the questions asked only of Republicans.
"Do you support or oppose the goals of the 'Tea Party' movement?"
Support - 78%
Oppose - 9%
"Do you personally identify as a member of the 'Tea Party' movement?"
Yes - 35%
No - 47%
So while one-third of us are active anti-tax and spenders, three-quarters of Republicans support our cause. Bully!
(Also curious why they didn't poll those questions of the Dems.)
Ah, for the days when my left-leaning friends were going to "move to Canada if George Bush is elected!"
Jason Clemens shows, in a guest editorial, that both Liberal and conservative governments have been cutting the size of government up North -- ever since Nafta.
In 1995, the federal government, led by the Liberal Party, passed the most important budget in three generations. Federal spending was reduced almost 10% over two years and federal employment was slashed 14%. By 1998, the federal government was in surplus and reducing the nearly $650 billion national debt. Provincial governments similarly focused on eliminating deficits by paring spending and reducing debt, and then they started to offer tax relief.
All government spending peaked at 53% of Canadian GDP in 1992 and fell steadily to just under 40% by 2008. (Government spending in the U.S. was 38.8% of GDP that year.) The recession has caused government spending to increase in both countries. But if present trends continue, within two or three years Canada will have a smaller government as a share of its economy than the U.S.
Canadian taxes have also come down at the federal and provincial level. They were reduced with the stated goal of improving incentives for work effort, savings, investment and entrepreneurship.
He concedes that government health care is a problem but points out that several provinces are running pilot programs to expand access to private care. And -- at the risk of giving away the ending:
Most strikingly, Canada is emerging more quickly from the recession than almost any industrialized country. It's unemployment rate, which peaked at 9% in August 2009, has already fallen to 7.9%. Americans can learn much by looking north.
Couldn't have anything to do with an 18% corporate tax rate, could it?
That's the "hover text" as you mouse over this picture on the Reason website:
Matt Welch calls it The View of Obama from Conde Nast Tower. He quotes some Obama aides, including the always colorful locutions of Rahm Emmanuel about how Washington is broken because it won't allow the President's agenda to sail through.
You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I wonder if this Administration's overreach will dampen some folks' 100+ years lust for Executive Power. Imagine separation of powers. It isn't hard to do...
Elvis Costello released a great album where he composed songs around letters to Juliet. Lovelorn types mail passionate missives to the city of Verona. Costello acquired some and made a very good record.
I wondered about the potential deracination of a human being mailing a letter to a character in a 500 year old play. I'm romantic enough to write one but putting postage on it? Mailing it to Verona?
Then again, I email Instapundit probably once a month. Today's was inspired by his link, and lengthy excerpt, to a Nick Gillespie rant on debt and subsidies:
I am a long time Reason subscriber and a huge fan of His Jacketedness, Nick Gillespie.
But everytime you link to one of Reason's "OMG Obama is not a free marketer" posts, I wonder how you can avoid a little bit of "who the rubes are."
Reason went all in against Senator McCain (which is fair and appropriate) but they went very very easy on then Senator Obama. Folks who were paying attention -- and I put you in the camp -- saw about everything we bought last November. Last August.
Reason's great but I don't think they deserve to be let of the hook so easily.
Thanks fer listenin' and keep up the awesome work.
My blog brothers and sisters were certain I had lost my mind when I floated my refi plan a couple months back.
I mentioned in the ensuing discussion that I was sure it was a bad idea, I just had not yet figured out why. I think we might, as James Pethokoukis claims it was presented to the Senate by a Morgan Stanley economist.
Is it time for another "free" lunch? One Wall Street idea to boost U.S. growth is for the government to loosen rules so millions more Americans can refinance mortgages, thereby freeing up cash for spending. A desperate Washington might be tempted, but should think twice. It's too reminiscent of how the economy first fell into trouble.
A top Morgan Stanley economist ran the “slam dunk stimulus” plan past the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday. With the political mood making it almost impossible to contemplate spending more taxpayer money to juice demand, the bank's economists are suggesting a different route to a stimulus -- namely having government-run mortgage lenders loosen the refinancing rules on 37 million mortgages they currently guarantee. That would open the door to many homeowners who haven't been able to take advantage of the current low interest rates because they owe more than their homes are worth, are unemployed or have low credit scores.
The logic is that with the government already on the hook for these loans, there’s nothing to lose from dispensing with any creditworthiness criteria for refinancing. The median interest rate on the mortgages concerned is 5.75 percent. These loans, the thinking goes, could be refinanced to around 4.50 percent. The 125 basis-point reduction would leave a borrower with a typical $200,000 mortgage better off to the tune of $2,500 a year. If, as Morgan Stanley guesstimates, half the affected homeowners took advantage of this, they would collectively have an extra $46 billion a year burning a hole in their pockets.
One of my personality flaws is that I hold onto my ideas too long. Jimmy P. makes some arguments against, but I still have not seen the deal breaker. I'd love gub'mint to leave the housing market alone. But they're gonna do something and this is one of the least intrusive and potentially most stimulative plans I can envision. I know y'all and Mister Pethokoukis hate it. But trust me on this: we're likely to get something much worse!
First, a quick Review Corner. Haavaad Professor Jeffrey Miron's Libertarianism from A to Z would be enjoyed by any ThreeSourcer. As the title suggest, it is a dictionary of libertarian thought on various topics. Available for Kindle, I read a few every time I'm in the doc's office or finish another book. Five star stuff.
He introduces a pair of terms that make me think of my blog brethren: consequentialist vs. philosophical libertarianism. Miron espouses consequentialist thought because he suggests it is more suitable to explanation and evangelism. At the risk of reopening the biggest 3src war of all time, I've always been fond of pointing out freedom's successes. A'la Friedman: look at Hong Kong and Maoist China. Same people, climate, and geography -- but the free state is wealthy, while her resource-rich neighbor across the bay is poor.
The consequentialist does not have to disagree with the rights-based approach but chooses concrete practical examples. I don't expect everyone will change their beliefs (although he does teach at Harvard!) but it is a clear and respectful differentiation and I think the terms might do us well 'round here.
Blog friend Terri refuses to interrupt her vacation to bring us Friday Calf blogging. I felt I had to step into the breach.
A friend of a relative participates in a community farm, and mama goat (pardon me if get too technical) could not care for these kids, so he brought them home. I understand they walk on leashes through his suburban neighborhood and cause quite a stir. I can only imagine.
The ordinary function of government is to destroy talented people, but Romer's epic failure has an additional element of tragedy. As an economist, Romer did an excellent job [pdf] of establishing that New Deal stimulus failed to end or seriously mitigate the Great Depression. As an Obama team player (and poignantly, a sunny supporter of the then-senator's campaign), she made a 180-degree turn toward pro-stimulus hocus pocus. Romer will be remembered as the main advocate of the mythical "multiplier" phenomenon, in which every federal dollar spent producers more than 100 pennies worth of economic activity. This is the kind of economics you'd expect to hear from a fine arts major. -- Tim Cavanaugh
Reading through the Presidents, I have come to like almost all of them better after learning more about them. Even those I disagree with -- say TR -- I have come to respect for their patriotism and sincerity. The first words I ever heard Glenn Beck say were "I HATE Woodrow Wilson!" That was a bad first impression. I disagree with President Wilson's philosophies and policies. I abhor many things he and his administration did. But I do not hate him.
One guy that went down was President Truman. McCullough's superb biography was quite complimentary but I was surprised at his commitment to Progressivism (always thought he was the "reasonable" successor to FDR, but he crusaded for government health care) and almost disgusted by the TJ Prendergast, Kansas City machine that spawned him. McCullough is probably right that he was honest -- but he came out of a putrid, corrupt system.
One thing I will not countenance is the idea that he is a "War Criminal" for the atomic bomb decisions. A Japanese friend at college loved to rail about "Truman the War Criminal."
Today brings news that the Obama Administration is offering a soft apology -- sending a low level diplomat to a service the US has typically eschewed. Warren Kozak worries that any hint of an apology shows moral equivalence.
Young people today may have a hard time understanding that point because of the moral equivalence and political correctness that have taken over our society, our media and especially our universities. It teaches our children that all countries have good and bad elements within them -- something so obvious that it's trite. But this lesson has become so powerful that it is not out of the norm for young people today to believe that, while World War II was certainly horrible, all sides share some blame.
Concerning today's event in Hiroshima, the State Department said "at this particular time, we thought it was the right thing to do." It may indeed be the right time for our two countries to share this event. But by tacitly placing all of World War II's participants in the same category, we undermine the ability of future generations to identify real evil, putting them at great risk.
I'm colored by historical absolutes about the brutality of Hirohito's Japan, but also of personal anecdotes. My Mother-in-Law (no jokes from me, this woman is my second Mother) grew up in occupied Philippines and saw incredible acts of depravity.
Of course, that does not earn an A-bomb, but it went all the way up. Truman made the right call and proceeded courageously. I'm glad we are allied with modern Japan, but I am not in an apologizin' mood.
A Hiroshima Apology?
Japan's continued focus on remembering the bomb has been an understandable sore point for its Asian neighbors, who suffered greatly at its hands. .ArticleComments (221)more in
By WARREN KOZAK
For the first time since the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Japan 65 years ago, today the U.S. ambassador to Japan will attend the official commemoration ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. The U.S. ambassador has always declined the annual invitation, but this year is different. President Barack Obama decided to acknowledge the event with the presence of a high-level dignitary. As State Department spokesman Philip Crowley explained, Ambassador John Roos will be there "to express respect for all the victims of World War II."
Gene Tibbets—the son of Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets Jr., the pilot who dropped the bomb on Hiroshima—called the Obama administration's decision "an unsaid apology." Whether or not that's the case, by saying "all the victims" Mr. Crowley raises the specter of moral equivalence, a problem that's grown worse over the years when it comes to judging right and wrong during World War II and throughout history.
The U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. When the Japanese still didn't give up, the U.S. dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki three days later. On Aug. 15, the Japanese surrendered unconditionally, ending the most brutal war in the history of the world.
Japan remains the only country ever to have been targeted by atomic bombs. More than 120,000 Japanese died instantly from the bombings and perhaps as many succumbed to radiation poisoning afterwards (the exact number will never be known). It should be noted that when President Harry Truman was considering whether to invade Japan instead of dropping the bombs, his advisers estimated that an invasion would result in one million American casualties and at least two million Japanese deaths. In the strange calculus of war, the bombs actually saved Japanese lives.
If the Obama administration wants to ease the friction over this event or even to apologize, then perhaps it is also a good time for the Japanese government to begin to discuss World War II truthfully with its own people.
Since 1945, Japan's narrative has centered almost exclusively on the atomic blasts and its role as victim—with short shrift given to the Japanese invasions of China, Manchuria, Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indochina, Burma, New Guinea and, of course, the attack on Pearl Harbor. Japanese children have learned little about the Rape of Nanking or the fact that as many as 17 million Asians died at the hands of the Japanese in World War II—many in the most brutal ways imaginable.
There is also the inconvenient truth that Japan started the war in the first place. There would have been no war in the Pacific between 1937 and 1945 had Japan stayed home.
Focusing on the atomic bombs paints the Japanese as victims, like other participants in World War II. They were not. The Japanese, like their German allies, were bent on global conquest and the destruction of other people who did not fit their bizarre racial theories. Japan's continued focus on Hiroshima and Nagasaki has been an understandable sore point for its Asian neighbors, who suffered greatly at its hands.
There are times when ordinary citizens understand history better than their leaders. In approaching Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Mr. Obama should consider a related event that took place 25 years ago. On May 5, 1985, President Ronald Reagan made a rare public relations gaffe when he visited the Kolmeshohe Cemetery near Bitburg to lay a wreath at the graves of German soldiers.
His reasoning came from a decent place—he wanted to help bolster his ally, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and he thought that enough time had passed to allow both countries to move on together. But a firestorm erupted when it was learned that the graves were not just those of ordinary Wehrmacht soldiers but of SS troops as well. President Reagan dug in his heels despite strong protests and laid a wreath at the brick tower that loomed over those graves.
The protests came not because people refused to move on or because the postwar bonds between Germany and the U.S. were not strong and real. They were then and they remain so today. Rather, the anger came because the president's act created a tacit understanding that U.S. soldiers were no different than SS Storm Troopers, whose bloody tracks still leave a horror throughout Europe that can barely be equaled in that continent's long, lamentable history. The G.I.s were liberators. The SS were demented murderers. Period.
Young people today may have a hard time understanding that point because of the moral equivalence and political correctness that have taken over our society, our media and especially our universities. It teaches our children that all countries have good and bad elements within them—something so obvious that it's trite. But this lesson has become so powerful that it is not out of the norm for young people today to believe that, while World War II was certainly horrible, all sides share some blame.
Concerning today's event in Hiroshima, the State Department said "at this particular time, we thought it was the right thing to do." It may indeed be the right time for our two countries to share this event. But by tacitly placing all of World War II's participants in the same category, we undermine the ability of future generations to identify real evil, putting them at great risk.
Mr. Kozak is the author of "LeMay: The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay" (Regnery, 2009).
Copyright 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved
This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. Distribution and use of this material [LIKE POSTING IT ON YOUR GODDAM BLOG!] are governed by our Subscriber Agreement and by copyright law. For non-personal use or to order multiple copies, please contact Dow Jones Reprints at 1-800-843-0008
Really. For a partisan hack I deserve a prize. I have really opened up to engage the President only on policy issues and to leave the First Lady and the Portuguese Water Pooch alone.
But this requires a little mudslinging. Yes it is a partisan article. Yes it is from a partisan source. But don't these folks care about appearances even if they don't care about, you know, our money?
Material girl Michelle Obama is a modern-day Marie Antoinette on a glitzy Spanish vacation
Now, obviously, that's a low blow. FLOTUS is entitled to a little trip. And it would be churlish to do a cost accounting, and --
[T]he First Lady is spending the next few days in a five-star hotel on the chic Costa del Sol in southern Spain with 40 of her "closest friends." According to CNN, the group is expected to occupy 60 to 70 rooms, more than a third of the lodgings at the 160-room resort. Not exactly what one would call cutting back in troubled times.
Reports are calling the lodgings of Obama's Spanish fiesta, the Hotel Villa Padierna in Marbella, "luxurious," "posh" and "a millionaires' playground." Estimated room rate per night? Up to a staggering $2,500. Method of transportation? Air Force Two.
Those little girls though -- cute as cute can be! I love Sasha and Malia.
Okay, he's my Gubernatorialguy! I pimped for him on these pages! I gave money! I mailed in my ballot yesterday with his oval completely filled!
This does not really strike me as good politics in Colorado:
Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes is warning voters that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's policies, particularly his efforts to boost bike riding, are "converting Denver into a United Nations community."
"This is all very well-disguised, but it will be exposed," Maes told about 50 supporters who showed up at a campaign rally last week in Centennial.
Maes said in a later interview that he once thought the mayor's efforts to promote cycling and other environmental initiatives were harmless and well-meaning. Now he realizes "that's exactly the attitude they want you to have."
"This is bigger than it looks like on the surface, and it could threaten our personal freedoms," Maes said.
See the bikes all come in black helicopters... I guess he wasn't planning on carrying Boulder County anyway, but this comes against the backdrop of Lance Armstrong and Governor Ritter announcing a new Colorado Stage race -- and all heading out afterward on a bike ride.
I'm thinking this round may have gone to the Democrats...
There's an old blues song that has always baffled me:
If I don't love you baby, then,
Grits ain't groceries,
Eggs ain't poultry,
And Mona Lisa was a man.
I grew up on brain teasers and tried to deconstruct these lyrics a little more than Little Milton probably intended. Though not demonstrably false, none of the negatives struck me as "2 + 2 = 4" true. Was I dissembling, or was Diminutive Milt a little less committed than he wanted to let on?
Perhaps the Obama Administration will set up an agency to tackle the grits-groceries conundrum. But by law, they will have to decide "What is Health Care?"
There will be more such what-have-they-done ObamaCare moments. Wait until the public discovers the government is now literally determining what qualifies as "health care" in America.
That isn't a typo. ObamaCare mandates that insurers spend a certain percentage of premium dollars on benefits, but Democrats never got around to writing the fine print of what counts as a benefit. So a handful of regulators are now choosing among the tens of thousands of services that doctors, hospitals and insurers offer. Few other government decisions will do more to shape tomorrow's health market, or what's left of it.
This command-and-control mechanism is the bill's mandate for insurance "medical loss ratios" (MLR) of 85% for large employers and 80% for small businesses and individuals. The MLR is an accounting statistic that measures the share of premiums paid out in patient claims ("losses"). In the individual market, MLRs typically run between 65% and 75%, and Democrats like Jay Rockefeller and Al Franken think this is evidence of excessive profits, executive pay, marketing and other supposedly wasteful overhead.
The same mentality prevails in the Administration, so it may well adopt a narrow definition of medical expenses when it issues final regulations by early fall. The insurance industry is lobbying for a less rigid standard: It will be easier to run a business and turn a profit if more of the costs are considered truly medical in nature.
Looking at other bureaucracies, I think I'd be more willing to trust Little Milton.
UPDATE: From the same editorial: "Even North Dakota's Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy, who voted for the bill, argues that tight MLR regulation 'could have a chilling effect on future innovative programs.' " Not that he ever considered -- for one second -- not voting for the innovation-chilling legislation. Thanks, Earl!
I know blog brother HB will be considering an intervention on me, but I can't stop now.
The post below suggests the delightful "Stuff White People Like" as a good start to the mockery required to put out effete elite where they belong. And by sheer coincidence, today's "Stuff White People Like" is -- you guessed it:
Every four years the planet comes together to celebrate the World Cup and since white people make up a portion the world, they are not immune to the excitement.
However, before you start planning out long watching sessions with white people you should be aware of exactly why white people get so excited about the World Cup. Though you may be waiting on bated breath for your favorite sport on a global scale, white people like the World Cup because it allows them to pretend they are European for a few weeks, and more importantly, it allows them to get drunk at odd hours.
But I go back to my initial question. Why does an elite that is actually not admirable in what it does, and not effective or productive, that has added little or nothing of value to the civilizational stock, that cannot possibly do the things it claims it can do, that services rent-seekers and the well-connected, that believes in an incoherent mishmash of politically correct platitudes, that is parasitic, have such an elevated view of itself?
The old British aristocracy could at least truthfully say that they had physical courage and patriotism and cared for their shires and neighborhoods and served for free as justices of the peace. The old French aristocracy could at least truthfully say that had refinement and manners and a love for art and literature and sophistication and beautiful things. The old Yankee elite could truthfully say that it was enterprising and public spirited and willing to rough it and do hard work when necessary. This lot have little or nothing to be proud of, but they are arrogant as Hell.
Why aren’t these people laughed out of the room?
I rarely start a post with the excerpt, but you have to admit that was good. That is Lexington Green (an elitist name if I've ever heard one) discussing what he considers the most important of the three planes of war: "John Boyd said that war is waged on the material, intellectual and moral plane[...]" It is a great and short post that will appeal to ThreeSourcers across the board.
Shortly, sweetly, Andrew Biggs at American.com shatters one of my least favorite myths. Social Security (or insert your favorite Progressive legislation) ended poverty among seniors.
But the real reason that half of the elderly lived in poverty before Social Security was that about half of everyone lived in poverty then, for the simple reason that the country was a heck of a lot poorer. Today, the average annual wage is around $43,000. In 1935, the average annual wage in inflation-adjusted terms was around $15,000. Remembering that most households of the 1930s were single-earner and most had kids, the poverty threshold for a family of four in today's dollars is around $20,000. Tripling real average earnings can do a lot to reduce poverty.
Lefties -- and even some real smart ones like our friend Silence -- love to claim that government took us from the almost Dickensian conditions of the Nineteenth Century to now: that children don't work 15 hour days at the mill because TR passed a law. In reality, our increased wealth and productivity (Briggs says earnings) brought us here. The question is how much social programs may have impeded how far we came or how quickly we got here.
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett announced today that 40 signers, including at least 30 billionaires and other wealthy families, had officially made the Giving Pledge–a promise to give away more than half their fortunes.
Many of the names already were known, from Eli and Edythe Broad and Michael Bloomberg to Pierre and Pam Omidyar and Paul Allen. But the list also includes some notable new ones, especially from the world of finance: New York financier Ronald O. Perelman; Citigroup founder Sandy Weill and wife Joan; hedge-funders Julian Robertson Jr. and Jim Simons; and private-equity honcho David Rubenstein.
Hank Reardon could not be reached for comment.
Were I in the club, I would commit to spending my half-fortune spreading the word about property rights.
During my study of free-market economics over the years, it occurred to me that this fascinating, economically sound reasoning for how the world really works and what would genuinely help our lives was widely discussed in the procapitalism, academic-type world, but that the general public was wholly unaware of these astounding insights.
I wanted to explain free markets in plain English to average citizens, so that they could understand which government policies help or harm them, and, as a consequence, so that they could vote in such a way as to improve their lives.
My main message is that most of our economic problems derive from previous government intervention in the economy. In its attempts to "help" us, the government has managed and regulated the economy, and passed laws that sounded constructive but that in fact hurt the economy and us.
I am always wary of people who say "I speak my mind," as though that was a good thing to begin with. It's a better strategy, surely, to think your mind, pick out some edited highlights, and speak those. Otherwise, what's the point of having a mind at all? You might as well just have your mouth wired up directly to somewhere else entirely. -- Hugo Rifkin, speaking to PM David Cameron
Sharansky lives. Even though he pulled the rug out from President Bush, I could not get a second to change the blog name to "Nascar Retards." Good for you guys.
The WSJ Ed Page takes a somber, serious look at our future in Iraq. I thought of Sharansky, and President Bush, and our nation's achievements when I read this line:
Iraqis admit the shortcomings of their new order—from electricity brownouts to unemployment, corruption and sectarian violence. But one would be hard pressed to find any Iraqis—Sunni, Shia or Kurd—who don't cherish their ability to criticize without fear inside the Arab world's freest democracy.
We can argue for 100 years whether it was proper, or worth the blood and treasure (Mexican War anybody? Spanish-American?) But we transformed a "Fear Society" into a "Free Society."
They end with some unexpected props:
Mr. Obama earned this victory lap by taking political heat from the Democratic left and staying the Bush course in Iraq. "The hard truth," he said yesterday, "is we have not seen the end of American sacrifice in Iraq." It is also true that because of that sacrifice, a major terror threat is gone and Iraq's people have a path forward.
I'd love to hear some ThreeSources speculation on a short conversion with one of my beloved but non-moonbat relatives.
Their friend has had a well known automotive repair shop in a working class neighborhood for 30 years or so. Business is way down, and his parts supplier assures him that this is the case all over.
Huh? What? Granted this is an nth level anecdote, but I would speculate that car repair would profit in an economic downturn. Owners would be less likely to purchase a new car and repairing the old one would seem more attractive.
Perhaps more owners would do more repairs DIY-style, perhaps lower cost alternatives like Grease Monkey or Meineke look better that the local garage. Desperate folks might forego repairs altogether. None of these seem compelling.
Am I missing one? Does somebody want to call "shenanigans" on the whole story? I don't know but I cannot put it together.
I must admit it is fun to have two serious primary battles underway. We have read a Junk's worth of Tea Leaves in the Buck - Norton contretemps, but The Bennet-Romanov race for the Democratic nomination is worth a gaze as well.
I have seen one commercial many many times. President Obama talks up Michael Bennet, who appears just to say he approves the message. It is all Obama after that. I figured it might help in the primary, but that I'd give $500 to run it a week before the General. Well, John Fund suggests that it's not even helping in the primary:
But Mr. Romanoff has now surged to a 48% to 45% lead over Mr. Bennet in a new Denver Post poll, with his strongest gains being made among liberal and younger voters. That's the profile of many Obama supporters -- and a key part of Mr. Bennet's strategy has been to emphasize his White House ties.
"The fact that Bennet has Barack Obama ads on everyone's television screens multiple times a day right now shows that he's scrambling to win this primary," Eric Sondermann, a Denver political consultant, told the Post. "That is not an ad you'd run in the general election."
If Mr. Obama's endorsement winds up failing to pull Senator Bennet to victory, many Democrats will begin to wonder just when, where and against what kind of opponent the president can still be a political asset.
Pretty stunning decline of political capital. The President should do well with Centennial State Democrats -- or at least as well as you'd expect with any demographic.
Oh Peggy, Peggy. What is to be done with her? She writes in the WSJ to distance herself from the Tea Party, those enthusiastic women with large breasts in tight T-shirts and more alarmingly those men with large breasts in tight T-shirts, waving signs that say "Taxed Enuf!" or "We The People!" America is such a hard place to be an aspiring to be upper class Republican. If you were really upper class, you would be living off your great grandfather's buttonhook fortune and working on remodeling your barn for your darling Arabians. But poor Peggy like so many of us was not to the manor born and so has to convince her true audience that she is absolutely nothing like those white people waving signs. This is not all bad. The ferocious desire of the upper middle class to be truly upper class is one of the engines of American greatness. It's just too bad we don't have a Queen who could make her Lady Patricia of Potomac so she could just go away and be quiet and stop troubling us with her confusions. Peggy, my advice is, just give yourself permission to be a Democrat. It's OK. We understand. You think we're grubby, noisy, ill educated and don't know our place, and we think you're a pompous, posing RINO who wishes she were Patricia Harriman and isn't. So let's just agree to disagree. -- Tom Smith