Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: October 13, 2011


The undemocratic left

Recently, there has been a spate of people who fall ideologically on the left wishing out loud that President Obama would essentially ignore the Constitution and do what is necessary to fix this mess.  Democratic Governor Perdue and Peter Orszag among a number of others on the left who’ve talked about extra-constitutional action (Perdue wants elections suspended so lawmakers can’t be held responsible for the actions they may have to take) in this situation.

Now we have another voice added to the chorus.  Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. spouts off with this bit of nonsense:

Illinois Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. told The Daily Caller on Wednesday that congressional opposition to the American Jobs Act is akin to the Confederate “states in rebellion.”

Jackson called for full government employment of the 15 million unemployed and said that Obama should “declare a national emergency” and take “extra-constitutional” action “administratively” — without the approval of Congress — to tackle unemployment.

“I hope the president continues to exercise extraordinary constitutional means, based on the history of Congresses that have been in rebellion in the past,” Jackson said. “He’s looking administratively for ways to advance the causes of the American people, because this Congress is completely dysfunctional.”

I.e, he should just “rule”, you know, like a king, because, well, democracy is messy and slow.

And of course there’s the veiled racial reference with the Confederate states nonsense.  Can anyone guess at whom that is aimed?

Imagine the blowback if a national emergency was declared by a Democratic president when that was the supposed fear of leftists when they talked about George Bush in the waning days of his presidency.  Here you have a Democrat calling for Obama to actually do that.

Of course economic ignorance is again given prominence of place by Rep. Jackson when he says the government just ought to employ those 15 million.

Here’s a clue Mr. Jackson – paying 15 million unemployment compensation has about the same effect as what you’re calling for.   It is the usual underwear gnome solution we’ve become accustomed to hearing from economic scholars like Jackson.  The jobs needed are in the private economy, not the public economy.  And any suggestion that such a boondoggle wouldn’t cost us our other arm and leg (the first arm and leg presently tied up in the $14 trillion debt folks like Jackson have run up on your behalf) is simply smoking dope.  This is tired old New Deal thinking which simply doesn’t work.

But rather than recognize that we overthrew the monarchy a few hundred years ago because we found it to be an unacceptable form of government, Jackson calls for the establishment of the modern equivalent.

Rule by one man based on what he deems to be the best for his kingdom country. No consultation.  No check.  And that pesky Constitution.  Hey, ignore it.  What the heck – it was written by a bunch of dead, slave-owning white men.  We don’t need no stinkin’ Constitution.

Just the rule of a benevolent community organizer king president who knows what’s best for all his children citizens.

While Congress may indeed be ‘dysfunctional’, it is also Constitutional.  And history says that despite the messiness of their deliberations and the political theater they constantly treat the public too, they’ll figure out a way to work out some sort of action.  The problem, of course, is it most likely won’t be the solution the president presented or preferred.

And that’s the point here.   You have a failed president who is about as ineffective as one has ever been and the only way his followers see him having any success is if he cuts out all the Constitutional stuff and just takes over.

I sit here and try to imagine Rep. Jackson ever making the same plea when George Bush was president and the Democrats routinely ignored his proposals and ran around calling him incompetent.

Would you have liked to have seen Mr. Bush take “extra-Constitutional action", Mr. Jackson?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Female rapists target hitchhikers in Zimbabwe

It isn’t bad enough that the African country that used to be the bread basket of Africa is now the basket case of Africa.   It isn’t bad enough that it takes a trillion or so Zimbabwe dollars to buy a loaf of bread.  It isn’t bad enough that the place is run by a delusional octogenarian megalomaniac and no one seems able to pry the guy out of his position of power.

Now we have this strange story out of that benighted place:

DETECTIVES investigating a spate of kidnappings and sex attacks on male hitchhikers by female rapists have made three arrests.

Police seized 31 used condoms with semen after a chance breakthrough when a suspect vehicle was involved in an accident in Lower Gweru.

More than a dozen attacks, thought to be for ritual purposes, have been reported mainly in the Midlands and Masvingo provinces. A few more attacks have been reported in Harare and Mashonaland West.

Oh, man the lines just flow in reaction to that story, don’t they.  It’s just that most are unprintable.

I’m just imagining the sudden volume of police volunteers for undercover (oh, no, that’s just too easy) work on this one.

“Please, commissioner, it is time I did my fair share and took on some of the burden of undercover police work”.

Yup, you can hear it now. 

And hitchhiking?  For guys, it’s the new national sport.

I’ll leave it to you folks to come up with the lines – but remember, this is a “safe for work” blog.   Have fun, but keep it that way, please.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Should Liberal’s support Occupy Wall Street?

That’s the question the editorial staff asks and answers in an editorial written for the publication’s November 3rd edition.

The answer they give is a qualified “no”.  Qualified in that while they sympathize with some of the points raised (which they note ironically are similar to those raised by the Tea Party), they find the movement mostly too radical. 

Why?  Well here’s the reasoning that struck me as interesting:

One of the core differences between liberals and radicals is that liberals are capitalists. They believe in a capitalism that is democratically regulated—that seeks to level an unfair economic playing field so that all citizens have the freedom to make what they want of their lives. But these are not the principles we are hearing from the protesters. Instead, we are hearing calls for the upending of capitalism entirely.

Okay.  Liberals are capitalists.   Let that sink in.  How does one seek to “level an unfair economic playing field” and claim to be a capitalist, where an unleveled playing field is almost a prerequisite to its economic success.  That may sound odd, but it is capitalists who fund capitalism and they’re usually far and away richer than most of those who end up benefitting from the economic system.

The very people OWS is protesting.

Venture capitalists are usually found in the 1% the protesters are decrying.   While I agree that under law, the playing field should be equal, crony capitalism (which isn’t capitalism at all) should be ruthlessly discouraged and government intrusion in markets dialed back to zero.  I see neither of those latter two items on the liberal agenda.  And remember – capitalism doesn’t claim to have a “level playing field”, but what it does promise is to be like a rising tide and lift all boats to a different and higher economic level of prosperity.   Its record backs that claim.

So make what you will of the editorial’s claim about the liberal version of capitalism, however they are seeking to distance themselves from the OWS crowd because it seems to mostly represent those who anti-capitalist.  However flawed the liberal idea of what constitutes capitalism, they at least acknowledge its worth and the fact that it is the basis of our success.

As Daniel Foster says – “let’s hold them to this” and make sure to remind them the next time they go on an anti-capitalist rant or write approvingly of government intrusion in the markets.

Uber liberal Oliver Willis  rejects everything the New Republic says because, he claims, they’ve been wrong about everything in the past.  I assume that passes for “critical thinking” in WillisWorld.  Willis obviously finds the OWS platform, such that it is in all its anti-capitalist glory, to be pleasing enough in some form or fashion that he implies support.

In fact, I believe what the New Republic sees for the most part is a genuine but very small core of people who began this simply out of frustration and now have the usual radical, anti-capitalist, socialist A.N.S.W.E.R. professional protesters along with labor unions like the SEIU joining in and taking over the protest sensing a chance to again push their tired and failed agendas.

Dana Milbank gives an example on who or what has shown up at the Washington DC event in, well, less than impressive numbers:

But while the Occupy movement in the capital has invigorated left-wing groups — Code Pink, Veterans for Peace, Common Dreams, Peace Action, DC Vote, Community Council for the Homeless and a score of other labor and progressive organizations are represented on Freedom Plaza — it has not ignited anything resembling a populist rebellion. To swell their ranks, protesters recruited the homeless to camp with them.

Already, there are factions. While the Freedom Plaza group, calling itself “Stop the Machine,” prepared to storm the Hart building, an AFL-CIO group was planning a conflicting event on the plaza. A few blocks away, in McPherson Square, an outgrowth of Occupy Wall Street had established an encampment of a few dozen sleeping bags.

The Occupy movement is in the midst of being co-opted by the usual suspects.  And that will bring the usual results.  Rhetoric that most Americans will find offensive coupled with childish actions that will have those who tentatively support the movement drop them like a hot rock.  Right now, of the “99%” out in flyover land, only 36% support the protests.

Anyway, Daniel Indiviglio at the Atlantic pretty much agrees with the New Republic and gives a reason that is more closely aligned with the progressive view of “capitalism” as it defines and supports it and as I’ve always understood them to believe:

The sort of anarchist-socialist radicals that can be found at the OWS protests threaten the progressive view that there are times when it is sensible and morally righteous for the government to intervene and prop up the economy, an industry, or even specific companies, if that action is thought to benefit the economy on a whole. The difference here is that the radicals think the occasional need for a bailout proves that capitalism is doomed and should be shuttered, while progressives believe that bailouts can help capitalism to work.

When you realize what is at the root cause of the problems we now are fighting to overcome, you realize the progressive version of “capitalism” is a failure.   As usual, their instrument of change is the blunt force of government where one doesn’t have to convince, persuade or sell.  Just dictate and do.  That’s the antithesis of capitalism and markets.

I don’t think the word means what they think it means.

But don’t tell them … they really, honestly think they’re capitalists. 

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Economic statistics for 13 Oct 11

Today’s economic statistical releases:

The US trade balance was little changed from a deficit of -$44.8 billion in July to -$45.6 billion in August.

Initial claims for unemployment dropped 1,000 to 404,000 from last week’s revised 405,000. Last week was originally reported at 401,000. Anything above 400,000 isn’t very good.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index hovered at a historic low of -50.8 last week, as American consumer pessimism increased.

~
Dale Franks
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Solyndra v 2.0 — It’s called SunPower

Another example of the poor job government does in picking winners and losers is emerging.   Solyndra, a solar panel company, was the first to go under, taking with it half a billion in taxpayer money.

Now we have the specter of another “green jobs company” that received guaranteed government loans doing the same.   But this one seems to have consumed over twice the amount of money that Solyndra did.

SunPower is its name and right now, bankruptcy seems to be its game.

How well did the government, via the Department of Energy, do this time?

The Energy Department says on its website that the $1.2 billion loan to help build the California Valley Solar Ranch in San Luis Obispo County, a project that will help create 15 permanent jobs, which adds up to the equivalent of $80 million in taxpayer money for each job.

Brilliant.

The DoE also claims:

“This project underwent many months of rigorous technical, financial and legal due diligence by career employees in the DOE loan program,” Energy spokesman Damien LaVera said in a statement to FoxNews.com. “It was approved for one reason only: because it meets all the requirements of the program – helping America win the clean energy race and create entire new industries for American workers.”

Did it indeed undergo such “rigorous” analysis?  Well if so, then they should have known all about this:

But SunPower posted $150 million in losses during the first half of this year and its debt is nearly 80 percent higher than the market value of all its outstanding shares. The company is also facing class action lawsuits for misstating its earnings.

It truly makes you wonder how bad a company would have to be not to get a DoE loan (obviously it would have to be a “clean energy” company, because those are the “winners” this administration has chosen to fund).

Oh, and then there’s this:

The company is also politically connected. Rep. George Miller’s son is SunPower’s top lobbyist. The elder Miller, a powerful California Democrat, toured the plant last October with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and reportedly said, "We’ve worked hard to make renewable energy a priority because it represents America’s future economic growth. Today, businesses like SunPower are moving forward, hiring 200 people for good clean energy jobs in the Easy Bay."

It’s not clear what role, if any, either of them played in securing the loan. Miller’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

An Energy Department official denied crony capitalism was a factor in the loan guarantee.

“The notion that political connections played any role in this application is simply false,” the official said. “This application was approved based on the exhaustive due diligence of the career professionals in the loan program, and nothing else.”

Of course.  Because there was such a sound financial basis to approve such a loan, wasn’t there?

And politicians wonder why people are more and more cynical and less trusting of our government all the time?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO