Free Markets, Free People
Microsoft’s //build/ conference is on, where they are rolling out plans for a pretty dramatic shift in Windows for the next generation.
I’m in sunny Anaheim at the conference, with no time to pen a long post. If you’ve got ten minutes to waste listening to me ramble, and you care about the Microsoft side of the tech industry, you can watch this video which was posted a couple of hours ago. Actually, it might be better to watch some other videos in the series that feature Microsoft executives with a lot more interesting and detailed things to say, but, hey, if you make fun of them in the comments here, they’ll never see it. Whereas you can point out that the camera angle makes me look like I have some kind of weird arthritis, and I just have to take it.
If you don’t care about software development, or do care but are apathetic or hostile to Microsoft, my apologies. Please return to our usual program of economic and political doom.
There is an implicit, if unspoken consensus among many—if not most—in the economic community of the west that the worst portion of our current economic difficulty is behind us. That the economy, weak and shaky as it may be, has avoided the danger of complete collapse. The opinion holds that we can look forward resignedly, if not confidently, to a period, however long, of subpar economic growth, but growth nonetheless.
I fear that confidence is misplaced. The fiscal and monetary policy mix we seem determined to pursue, is not only unwise, but presents grave economic risks that should not be overlooked. I am not the only one to feel this way. On Monday, Professor Kevin Dowd gave the address shown below at the Adam Smith Institute, the UK’s leading Libertarian think tank. It’s entitled The Decapitalization of the West, and it’s primary theme, as a survey of the economies of the West, and their policy results, can best be encapsulated with the lyrics of a Noel Coward song: " There are bad times just around the corner, There are dark clouds hurtling through the sky".
It takes an hour of your time to watch this. You owe yourself that hour, if for no other reason than to learn how you might prepare for the economic troubles for which 2009 was just a prelude.
"Keynesianism has been tested to destruction," and we’re about to pay the price for that testing.
Some interesting stuff here in the "lets look under the rock and see what’s there” sort of interesting. Here’s Al Gore’s pitch:
I have great interest in this simply because of the approach. It’s all about "fake scientists" and who paid for that "fake science". Note Gore’s premise. It’s reality, you can’t deny it. That’s simply another version of "scientific consensus makes this indisputable". This seems to be an attempt to try to demonize and discredit those who disagree and actually have produced scientific work to back their positions. He won’t answer the objections, he’s going to tell you who he claims they work for and (like the cigarette reference) why they should be ignored.
If the vid doesn’t show up for you, the links are below them. I’ve copied their embed codes, but it may or may not show up depending on your browser. Take a look and tell us what you think.
Today’s statistical releases:
Producer prices were restrained last month, with the overall PPI remaining unchanged, and the core rate rising only 0.1%.
Retail sales were weaker than expected, with the month-over-month sales rate increase in August unchanged from July. Less autos, the change was only a 0.1% increase.
Business inventories rose only 0.4% in July against a 0.7% rise for business sales.
MBA Purchase Applications for the September 9 week rose by 6.3%, the first overall increase in several weeks.
We really saw this trend start with Scott Browns Senate win in MA when he took the seat of Ted Kennedy after Kennedy passed away. Many saw that election as the first repudiation of Obama and his agenda. And, of course, it took place in a very blue state. The trend continued with the 2010 election when the GOP took a number of seats in blue districts. Yesterday the trend continued with upstart Republican Bob Turner took NY-9 in a special election to replace the disgraced Anthony Wiener.
But as usual, the White House is sure it’s a special case that has little to do with the President or the President’s popularity (or lack there of).
Obama won the district, which spans southern Brooklyn and Queens, by 11 percentage points in 2008. His approval rating there is now 33 percent.
The president’s top political aides concede that if his numbers had been “sturdier,” it might have had a slightly positive effect for Weprin. That means no Obama-voiced robocalls to most Democrats in the district—just text messages targeted at younger voters. More-popular Democrats, like Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Bill Clinton, are lending their voices to the get-out-the-vote effort.
Democratic strategists studying the district say Turner’s strength comes from independents and traditionally Democratic voters in Orthodox Jewish communities, a demographic displaying an enormous amount of interest in voting.
So, what about those cross-over “traditionally Democratic voters”? This is a seat that has been held by Democrats for 88 years.
88 years, folks. How is it that any GOP candidate has a chance in a district that handed Obama an 11 % win? And what does it say about the state of the Democrats if Bill Clinton can’t even rally the troops? And that’s the real problem:
In contrast, secular Democrats in the district, including secular Jews, display the sort of apathy associated with a demoralized political party. Weprin has been hemorrhaging support from all traditional Democratic constituencies.
So is that because of Weprin, Obama or both?
The Republican Jewish Committee and independent Democratic allies like former New York Mayor Ed Koch have called the race a referendum on President Obama’s policies in general, and specifically his orientation toward Israel. They say a Turner victory would send a message that they don’t want to be the president’s rubber stamp. But Congress, controlled by Republicans, is no more popular in the district than Obama. And when polled, conservative Jews don’t list Israel among their top concerns. But of all voters who do say Israel is at the forefront of their minds, a mega-majority supports Turner.
Still, Obama always has had trouble with Orthodox Jews, and two Obama advisers said they understand that at least some of the frustration may be exercised in the form of a vote against the Democratic candidate. They concede that the election might bring to the fore how difficult it will be for Obama to win back the trust of independents—no matter what their faith. This New York contest would seem to have implications beyond Brooklyn and Queens.
Last two sentences are key. Obama lost independents with his health care debacle, er, law. With a supermajority against the bill, he and Congress rammed it through anyway. And then Scott Brown won his election as the first indication of independent ire. And so on. NY-9 is an indicator of a serious problem for Democrats and the president. Weprin may not have been the strongest candidate, but then for 88 years that’s really not mattered in NY-9. It has, until now, reliably “rubber stamped” the Democrat in every election.
Why is now different?
Mostly because of Obama – no matter how the White House tries to spin it.