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9/21/10

It's Not the Economy, Stupid!

Calvin Coolidge
If I'm wrong about that and it is the economy that's driving the people away from Obamism and Democratic candidates, the battle might be won but the war is surely lost.

A Democratic operative back during the 1992 Presidential campaign of Arkansas Governor Lewinski chided then President G H W Bush with the slogan, "It's the economy, stupid!" Of course it was the author of that line who turned out to be stupid, but not because his candidate wasn't successful. The tactic worked (or some other tactic did) and the criminal conspiracy commonly called the Clinton administration was off and running into a successful Lincoln bedroom leasing program.

That's the history, but as is often the case, history repeats. Although not exactly. This time the same operatives are trying to use it to spin away what they are afraid will become a rout in the November elections. They would like you to believe that any losses in their power will have been caused by the continuing slumping economy (caused of course, by others) and not for the actual reasons.

I'm not here to tell you that the bad economic conditions are not a factor, they certainly are. But the "Tea Party" movement and the disillusioned former supporters of the Hopester in Chief didn't gather at the clown hall meetings and huge political rallies because they agreed with everything except the rate of the employment. They have bigger issues, much bigger issues.

When the congress and the President conspire to ignore the American electorate as they did when they jammed a two thousand page re-make of US society down their throats against the wills of over sixty percent of the people, they broke the number one rule that almost everyone in this country (even liberals) holds sacred. That rule is that they are supposed to represent us, not dictate to us. That includes the dim witted supporters of government controlled health care. They instinctively know that government didn't operate as it normally does. In the privacy of their hearts, they are scared of this kind of unchecked power.

When millions of people, including Democrats, saw that even though they worked hard and saved and didn't spend over their heads, it was their hard earned money that was being used to bail out those who paid for huge houses and sexy cars and electronic gadgets and HDTVs with credit they never should have been given, they joined tea party gatherings and carried home made signs. They told the pollsters that they were not voting for those who promised fairness but delivered unfair demands on them.

They know it's one thing to feel compassion for the less fortunate, but quite another to pony up for irresponsible spendthrifts and incompetent big business owners. Bailing out gutless auto makers who pay greedy organized workers way more than any but a few of them could ever dream of making, to make cars no one could afford unless they used five year financing or started leasing the cars instead of owning them, was not in their vision of hopeful change. Bailing out crazy investors and big banks who all owned the same "insured" mortgage backed "securities" without considering what would happen if they all had to head for the exits at the same time, was not what they signed up for when they decided it was time to show "compassionate conservatives" the door.

There are other things, like the division of America into mutually resentful groups of people who have been divided even further than before by an administration who demonizes its opponents despite promising to unite them. It's the political payoffs and back room deals that they promised to end and instead turned into an art form. It's these and more, important things, even if they resonate at different levels for different people, that have people gathering their metaphorical pitchforks for the mobbing of the polling places in November.

The most underrated President in the short history of this republic, indeed one of the most ridiculed, was Calvin Coolidge. It was American humorist Will Rogers (1879-1935) who observed, "Coolidge is the first president to discover that what the American people want is to be left alone." I share that opinion with Coolidge. And I think that's what is driving people to re-assess their view of the legitimate role of government since this whole thing went south.

 So, it's not just "the economy, stupid." Because if it is, then there has been no fundamental change in American values and no great awakening of a slumbering populace. After all, Obama, Pelosi, Reid and the rest of the anointed elite promised us a fundamentally different country if they took office. The question is; will the people buy into the notion that all is on the right track except the economy, or will this election be the first big battle of the second American Revolution? We won't have to wait much longer to find out.

9/16/10

With All Due Respect Mr.President, We’re Still Waiting

The pictured ad appeared today in many major US newspapers. Many of you do not have access to them and therefore I have taken the liberty of re-posting it here in it's entirety.

It's really part of a series of such ads which the Cato Institute has run in the last few years, and which have been featured on this website. Others can be found here and here if you missed them or just want to refresh your memory about the points they made.

You may agree or disagree with the proposals Cato makes, but the main message is undeniable in my view.  And if political promises were a prize winning category of fictional literature, Obama would have won a well deserved Nobel Prize instead of the nonsensical one he actually was awarded. The ad appears below, or in a PDF format if you prefer. 

"We will go through our federal budget–page by page, line by line–eliminating those programs we don’t need"
                            President-elect Barack Obama, November 2008

With all due respect Mr.President,we’re still waiting.

It’s been nearly two years since you made that pledge, Mr. President. Since then, you’ve signed into law an $800 billion “stimulus” package and a massive new health care entitlement—adding trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities to our grandchildren’s tab.

 Our looming debt crisis threatens to destroy the American dream for future generations. Yet your administration continues piling up deficits of over a trillion dollars a year. By 2012 our national debt will be larger than the entire U.S. economy. Isn’t it past time you identified the programs you’d cut?

In all fairness, both parties got us into this mess. “Deficits don’t matter,” Vice President Dick Cheney scoffed as the Bush administration and a Republican Congress led one of the biggest spending sprees in American history, nearly doubling federal outlays over eight years. Our bipartisan flight from responsibility is a national disgrace—and it’s fast becoming a national disaster. Vague promises to eliminate “waste, fraud, and abuse” won’t cut it any more. Both parties need to step up with specific and substantial cuts.

As a start, they can consult downsizing government.org,where the Cato Institute has begun posting the results of our page by page, line by line review of the federal budget. With the Constitution as our guide, we’ve identified scores of agencies to eliminate and programs to zero out, putting America on the path toward fiscal sanity:

Education Subsidies

Education is a state, local, and private matter—and that's where the Constitution left it. Federal K-12 education programs have cost American taxpayers $1.85 trillion since 1965 without noticeably improving outcomes. Eliminating them will save $40 billion annually.

Farm Subsidies

Far from “saving the family farm,” federal agricultural subsidies are environmentally destructive corporate welfare, with more than 70 percent of aid going to the largest 10 percent of agribusinesses. Zeroing out farm welfare will save $25 billion annually.

Military Overreach

The Constitution envisions a U.S. military that “provide[s] for the common defence” of the United States, not one that serves as the world's policeman and nation-builder. By withdrawing our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, we could save at least $125 billion next year. Eliminating other unnecessary overseas missions would allow for a leaner force structure and defense budget, saving at least $100 billion a year without undermining U.S. security.

Transportation Programs

The federal government has no business funding the state and local projects that make up the bulk of federal transportation spending. Federal involvement results in pork-barrel spending, excess bureaucracy, and costly
one-size-fits-all regulations. Moving funding for activities such as highways to the states and air traffic control to the private sector would spur greater innovation while also saving $85 billion a year.

Housing Subsidies

Federal interference in housing markets has done enormous damage to our cities and the economy at large. HUD subsidies have concentrated poverty and fed urban blight, while Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stoked the financial crisis by putting millions of people into homes they couldn’t afford. Getting the government out of the housing business will save $45 billion annually.

Federal Worker Pay

Federal workers enjoy far greater job security than their private sector counterparts—and far better total compensation: an average of $120,000 a year in wages and benefits. Cut federal compensation by 10 percent to save $20 billion annually.

Energy Subsidies

The 30-year legacy of federal energy subsidies is replete with corporate cronyism and failed “investments.” Entrepreneurs with their own capital have incentives to develop viable alternative energy sources. Ending federal energy subsidies would save $20 billion a year.

Government-run Health Care

Medicare and Medicaid are driving the explosion in federal debt. The 2010 health care law should be repealed, but the same level of Medicare cost savings can be realized by moving to a consumer-driven health plan through vouchers, which would protect the elderly from government rationing. Medicaid should be converted to a fixed block grant to save money and encourage state innovation. Total savings would be more than $1 trillion over the next decade.

Drug War

Since the start of the federal War on Drugs in 1970, we’ve spent hundreds of billions on a futile crusade that’s done little to curb drug use and much to impair our civil liberties. In fact, a Cato study showed that Portugal’s decriminalization of drugs actually lowered drug-related problems. Returning drug policy to the states—where it belongs—would save at least $15 billion annually.

Social Security

As the Baby Boom generation retires, our largest entitlement program lurches toward crisis. Social Security should be phased out as a mandatory program and an alternative voluntary system of private accounts, providing for ownership and inheritability, should be offered. Current obligations can be reduced by tying annual benefit growth to price inflation rather than wage growth, saving $50 billion annually by 2020.

Reprinted with permission of the Cato Institute

9/9/10

A Government Jobs Program That Works

While writing a piece recently about the futility of trying to reason with street thugs, I touched on the concept of the law of unintended consequences, this time applied to well meaning government meddling in the lifestyle of those citizens too dumb to be legislators.

The meddling in question is that body of laws enacted at all levels of government, from the local to the federal, without regard to party affiliation, that have resulted in the second American Prohibition. The outcome of that cooperative effort should be a lesson to anyone who is "illusioned" enough to believe that bi-partisanship is a panacea for what ails the republic.

Indeed, every politician with a wet finger and a political breeze to hoist it into hopped aboard the War On Drugs bandwagon at some point since the seventies. From 1971 when Nixon first declared it, to Clinton who used drugs but didn't and Obama who used them and admitted it, both political parties have waged it even though not a single battle has been won, much less the war. Both Conservatives and Liberals see value in this kind of "war." Even those politicians who used the stuff figured out a way to support the laws against it. (Al Gore still looks stoned to me and his war on CO2 seems to bear that out.) I suspect that even today, most people who use them still think they should remain illegal. I remain opposed to both the use of them and the draconian laws prohibiting their use.

The truth is, anyone who wants to obtain forbidden substances can do so with little effort. It seems certain that it was more inconvenient to do so before the "war" began. And it doesn't even matter where you are. Wherever you are, you can bet with confidence that illicit drugs are within walking distance, if not sneezing distance. All efforts to keep them out of maximum security prisons have met with failure, and if they can't keep it out of there, where?

The whole concept of wars on objects is preposterous. In reality, It's a war on the people who "choose to use." It's a war on those who apparently do not have a right to the pursuit of happiness. Leaving aside that it doesn't end in happiness for the dimwit users, they must think it will. But at least it makes some folks happy. The vendors and those who earn money by trying to stop them from vending can be added to the politicians on that list for certain.

Which is why my observation concerning government jobs programs appears at the top of this page.

The so called "War on Drugs" is the most successful jobs creation program ever enacted by the federal government.

After all the failures of government programs to do what they intend, particularly concerning job creation, it's about time we recognised one that succeeded in creating jobs, even if that was not the intent. It's been a success story that has been missed by the media and I don't mind telling you it's just one more strike against them in my opinion.

Think of all the ten year old sentries and couriers who have gainful employment because of these laws! All those jobs in sales, chemical engineering, delivery men, guards, gun manufacturing, gangster pants designers, sideways ball cap makers and crack pipe makers have been created in enormous quantities because of the wisdom of government.

To say nothing of the DEA employees, dog trainers, chemical testing labs, prosecutors, police, defense attorneys, prison employees and undertakers who would be on welfare if they didn't have swell jobs like those.

But all this good news must be tempered with one more failure of the wise "legislators" in Congress. Nowhere in the two thousand plus page Obama-care law that none of them read is a provision for one more great idea which would help government stimulate the economy just when we need it.

That provision should be for a few trillion more fiat dollars to be printed so we can place orders with the new entrepreneurs for enough pot to buy every voter enough doobies to make them giggle at what has been happening to them instead of puking.

See?  It's just as the medical marijuana advocates have told us, Pot can cure nausea.

9/7/10

Reasoning with Scarface

Last week while having the usual great lunch and conversation with the fellow concerned citizens at one of my favorite haunts, (Cavanaugh's in the south loop section of downtown Chicago) a news story flashed across the TV screen about a "summit meeting" between the top brass of the police department and some "leaders" of various local street gangs. It seems that people are losing their patience with the murder rate of innocent bystanders as fatherless young males shoot at each other with increasing indifference to the possibility of police interference. Much has been written about this event since then, but none of it from my perspective.

The immediate reaction of the people where I was sitting seemed to be, "anything is worth a try" in this situation. My immediate reaction was to see the futility of the approach. I would have found it almost comical if the stakes weren't so high.

The first thing that popped into my imagination was a vision of Elliot Ness having a heart to heart conversation with Al Capone about the negative impact that his gang wars were having on the citizens of Cook County back in 1926. Had such a meeting taken place, I'm sure Scarface would have been convinced of the error of his ways and given up his life of violence in favor of an hourly wage at the phone company.

It would have been the roaring twenties version of  "Can't we all just get along?"  as uttered by that great American icon named King. (Rodney, not Martin Luther)

In historical fact, Capone pretended to call a truce after his entourage was shot up in the restaurant of the Hawthorne Hotel, but these modern day thugs haven't even made that pretense. And after all folks, that's all these people are, then and now. Idiotic thugs who have benefited from the only truly successful government created jobs program ever enacted.

That program was "the second great prohibition", commonly referred to as the "War on Drugs" and it succeeded in turning poor ignorant people into rich entrepreneurs just as the first prohibition did. So the law of unintended consequences remains un-repealed.

These gangs of thugs are engaged in a war for the right to peddle mind dulling substances to already dull minded people. And the money to buy these substances comes largely from (you guessed it), the government, in the form of various checks from various programs. Which just shows if you want to stimulate the economy you just keep the money going in circles. See? Government stimulus works!

But where do these armies of pharmaceutical salesmen get their soldiers? They draft them of course. From a never ending supply of young men with no fathers and no education. All subsidized by a system that encourages many young girls to have babies out of wedlock and many young men to shirk the responsibilities they don't even know they have after so many lost generations.

These gangs of thugs are not just from one group. White and Latino people are plagued by them, as are black people, but it is the black community which has been hardest hit by these policies. And anyone who points out the actual causes of the misery is branded as a racist if they are white, or simply denigrated if they are black. Just ask Bill Cosby what happens to your star status when you speak out.

As for me, I am used to being called a racist (almost daily) lately, and I won't pretend it doesn't bother me, but I do my best to get past it. As a member of the Tea Party, an undefined and unorganized group that didn't even exist when I joined it, I was identified as such again this morning on the front page of the Chicago Tribune by a person named Sterling Thompson, who just got his fifteen minutes of fame by proclaiming proudly that "I don't support them (Tea Partiers) or believe they are anything but racist against Obama."

Talking sense to Mr. Thompson would probably lead to the same outcome as the police chief talking sense to the leading gang thugs. Namely, nothing will change. But the rest of us would do well to consider the following statistics compiled by Nathan Glazer (a sociologist who taught for decades at USC Berkley and Harvard) when we contemplate the problems of the gang ruled inner city black neighborhoods.

These stats were cited by George Will in a recent column when he referred to "America's tragic number."

That tragic number is 70% and it is the portion of African-American children born to unmarried mothers.
Another number cited; by the early 2000s greater than 33.3% of all young black non-college men were incarcerated, even in robust economy years. Yet another; 60% is the number of black high school dropouts born since 1960 who go to prison.

There are many more tear inducing stats cited in the article. I urge you to read it. And they all lead me to the same conclusion even if folks like Mr. Thompson think I'm a racist for citing them.

Trying to reason with organised criminals today will yield the same non-results as it might have if it was tried with Al Capone. You may remember that, in his syphilis induced dementia, Al used to go fishing in his backyard swimming pool. Until we can solve the problems of fatherless families and government created black markets in forbidden substances, we might as well be fishing with Scarface as chatting with Gangster Disciples.

9/1/10

A Liberal Translation

A few days ago I wrote a piece called "Maybe Gary Johnson for a Change." Interestingly, it went "mini-viral" as measured by the humble number of readers who usually read this blog. About 725%  more "unique visitors" came to this page to read it than the average number. Quite a jump.

Most of them came because the piece was "linked to" on Gary Johnson's facebook page. And although about eighty five people left some kind of comment there, very few were left here. That is not unusual among my readers (I get a lot of private email about my posts) and it's fine with me. In this case it's just as well in some ways, because many of the comments left on his page had nothing whatsoever to do with the main theme of the piece I wrote.

But a few comments were left here, and I always appreciate the feedback. One of them, left by an anonymous poster, got me to thinking about what people say vs what they really mean.  So it seemed like it might be fun to dissect it a tad and see what it looked like. Particularly since the anonymous commentator seemed fairly riled up about what he/she perceived to be my points.

So I'll take a quick stab at translating the comment by Mr/Ms Anonymous poster from a language I think may be "Liberalese" into plain English. (or at least my version of it)

First the comment in it's entirety, then my translation, then some observations for the poster.

Anonymous said...

What utter nonsense. The only "contrast" that most Republicans want to control is Obama's skin color, and any of you who draw a Social Security check or endulge in Medicare can kiss my a** about socialism. Nixon was the biggest "socialist" president in our history by bill signed into law, so get over yourselves, and the difference between Romneycare and Obamacare was that a white guy from the Republican party did not put his stamp of approval on the national plan (Love ya Mitt for yet another 180 on your policies). Gary is a neat guy, and progressive for a Republican. He'd get shot to he** in two seconds by the know-nothings for his views in a party which, outside of New Mexico, forces moderation out of any discussion, and makes even the "mavericks" kiss their reactionary rear-ends...

Translation:
"What utter nonsense" = I disagree.

"The only "contrast" that most Republicans want to control is Obama's skin color" = most Republicans are racists.

"and any of you who draw a Social Security check or endulge in Medicare can kiss my a** about socialism." = anyone who has had their money taken away (at gunpoint if necessary) to be put into ponzi scheme retirement and medical insurance programs without an "opt out" provision cannot ever oppose socialism if they ever get some of their money back out of those schemes, without having to smooch the anonymous person's booty.
 
"Nixon was the biggest "socialist" president in our history by bill signed into law, so get over yourselves," =  I didn't like Nixon and somehow that has something to do with you.
 
"the difference between Romneycare and Obamacare was that a white guy from the Republican party did not put his stamp of approval on the national plan" = white guys are bad and Republicans would support nationalized health insurance if they had thought of it first.
 
"(Love ya Mitt for yet another 180 on your policies). " = I don't like Mitt Romney.
 
"Gary is a neat guy, and progressive for a Republican." = I like Gary because he wants to decriminalize Pot.
 
"He'd get shot to he** in two seconds by the know-nothings for his views in a party which, outside of New Mexico, forces moderation out of any discussion, and makes even the "mavericks" kiss their reactionary rear-ends.."  = Republicans in all places except New Mexico are reactionary and like their booty kissed too.
 
So here are my comments to the "anonymous" poster now that his/her comments have been translated.
 
Dear Poster,  
I am not a Republican and I don't spend time defending them against charges against them, fair or unfair.
But if you know any Republicans, maybe friends or relatives, I suggest you take a hard look at them and decide if they are racists. If they are, tell them you think they are and "un-friend" them. Of course it will be harder to do anonymously.
 
You may want to give some thought to all Obama's policies to see if there are any YOU disagree with, and then decide if you oppose them because of the color of his skin. It's worth contemplating.
 
Nixon was a big government liberal. Which party owns his legacy is of no importance to me. Other big government liberals include all recent Presidents of both parties.
 
 Government interference in our lives, (most notably in your post, government run health insurance)  is more than a bad idea no matter which party proposes or administrates it.
 
Nannystate-ism is different than socialism. The government owning automobile companies and banks and mortgage companies is socialism, and the current government oligarchy are socialists. Both of those "isms" are destructive to freedom, and freedom is the issue of this blog.
 
My essay was about the country finally beginning to have the great debate on the proper role of government in a free society. It really wasn't about Gary Johnson the person, but the type of person the country might need for a REAL change. Not just a shift change of the clowns in the circus.
 
If you would ever like to exchange some ideas on that topic, please return and participate again, even if anonymously.
 
Thanks for reading,
Grant Davies