Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: June 4, 2012


Robert Reich still pushing the populist “equality” argument

And it continues to get sillier and sillier:

The richest 1 percent of Americans save about half their incomes, while most of the rest of us save between 6 and 10 percent. Being rich means you already have most of what you want and need. Each additional acquisition yields a sharply declining level of satisfaction: That second yacht isn’t nearly as exciting as the first.

So when the top 1 percent rakes in more than 20 percent of total income – twice the share it had 30 years ago – there’s insufficient demand for all the goods and services the economy is capable of producing at or near full employment. Without enough demand, the economy can’t grow or generate nearly enough jobs.

So what can we take from that?

Here’s my interpretation -  the top 1% is taking in 20% of the income and burying half in coffee cans in the back yard.  Or said another way, none of it is invested and pushed back out in the economy to entrepreneurs, businesses or other pro-economic growth activities.  They just keep it, stuff mattresses with it or burn it to light their big fat cigars, or something.   Well, at least in Reich’s version of the economy.450px-Share_top_1_percent

And they have this declining level of satisfaction because they have everything they want.   Other than an excuse to take their money, what is relevant about that (even if true)?  Not much.  But back to that excuse business.  We can save them from the disappointment they’re bound to have when they buy that second yacht (which, btw, will provide good jobs and pay for those who build it) and screw the yacht workers.

Finally, when the rich take that 20%, there’s less for everyone else to spend, so there’s insufficient demand.   Really?  That’s why?  Or could it have to do with the awful economy, over regulating state, massive unemployment and business uncertainty driven by those three things?  Could that possibly be responsible for “insufficient demand”?

Anyway, the apparent Reich argument is that if we just made them (the 1%) give up most of that 20% (I assume, given his usual preferences, he’d like to see that via taxes so the government can do the great job it has done up till now spending it – couldn’t trust the proles to spend it properly you know), why there’d be more money to go around and thus somehow magically more demand and everyone would live happily ever after.  And we’d be able to put those yacht workers on extended unemployment and food stamps.  Yahoo!

300px-IncomeInequality7.svgThe end.

The end of sanity perhaps. 

The richest 1% are taking 20% of what size income pool?  Oh, context!  Reich never says.  Nor does he mention the standard of living and comparable income levels of 30 years ago.  Or the fact that much of what cost a lot of money 30 years ago is relatively cheap now in comparison.  Because, you know, that doesn’t help his argument.

And why 30 years ago?  Check out the chart 80, 90 or 100 years ago.

Additionally, the Reich economy is also apparently a zero sum game.  If the rich take it the “poor” don’t get it since there is presumably a defined pot of money available.  Oh, there’s not.  So that again brings us to the question, “20% of what”?

This is just another attempt by a committed collectivist to reignite the class warfare meme.  It’s desperation time in the old political sphere and Reich is counting on economic ignorance and envy to do it’s thing.  Screw the truth (and history) – it’s never been this bad and it is the root of all our ills.

What guys like Reich, Obama, Axlerod and the Occupy crowd don’t seem to understand is this basic truth:

Successful populists such as Republican Teddy Roosevelt and Democrat Franklin Roosevelt did not allow their championing of “the little guy” to devolve into class warfare.

They realized that Americans tend to view the United States as a land of opportunity and do not begrudge anyone for becoming wealthy.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr said it best:

I have no respect for the passion for equality, which seems to me merely idealizing envy.

And that’s exactly what that bunch is trying to do.  Idealize envy.

I don’t think, unless the America character has changed dramatically over the past 3 years, it’s going to succeed.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Economic Statistics for 4 Jun 12

Today’s ecobomic news consists solely of Factory Orders for April, which fell -0.6% on top of March’s downward revised 2.1% decline. This is another disappointing number to follow Friday’s Employment Situation, and demand for factory orders fell in almost every sector. Needless to say, this weakness in factory orders was…wait for it…unexpected.

~
Dale Franks
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Preference cascade: How solid are Obama’s favorability numbers?

I wonder about the validity of these sorts of numbers:

While rising 14 points since February, Romney still trails the president, who currently has a 56% favorable rating, with 42% saying they hold an unfavorable opinion of Obama. The president’s favorable and unfavorable ratings are unchanged from CNN polls in March and April.

“The biggest gap between Obama and Romney’s favorable ratings is among younger Americans. More than two-thirds of those under 30 have a favorable view of Obama, compared to only four-in-ten who feel that way about Romney. Romney is much stronger among senior citizens, but the gap is not nearly as big," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Romney may have a small advantage among independent voters, but that is offset by his lower favorable rating among Republicans than Obama has among Democrats."

A couple of things – how strong, really, is Obama’s favorable ratings among a demographic scared to death of being called a racist if they happen to have an unfavorable view of our first black president?  That’s a legitimate question.

Old folks, for the most part, don’t give a damn about that and may more closely mirror the real feelings out in fly over land.

The reason I say that is Obama’s “favorable ratings” have continued to stay high while his job performance numbers have continued to fall.  That seems somewhat unlikely.  Usually the two show some movement in the same direction even if one is higher than the other.

Romney is going to grow on Republicans if he continues to attack (i.e. not be the designated place holder for the GOP and refuse to do what is necessary to win as did John McCain), keep the campaign focused on the real issues of the campaign (and Obama’s record) and not fall for the distractions that are sure to be tossed out to the media every week by the Obama campaign.  Republicans are eager for someone, anyone, who will carry the political battle to the Democrats.

John Hayward talks about the Glenn Reynolds “preference cascade”, a phenomenon Reynolds notes while talking about the collapse of totalitarian regimes.   Hayward describes it here:

A large population can be dominated by a small group only by persuading all dissenters that they stand alone.  Most of their fellow citizens are portrayed as loyal to the regime, and everyone around the dissident is a potential informer.  A huge dissident population can therefore be suppressed, by making them believe they’re all lonely voices in the wilderness… until the day they begin realizing they are not alone, and most people don’t support the regime.  The process by which dissent becomes seen as commonplace, and eventually overwhelming, is the preference cascade.

This analysis doesn’t have to be confined to the study of repressive, dictatorial regimes, or even politics.  Consider the phenomenon of celebrity without merit – that is, people who are famous for being famous.  Their popularity tends to evaporate in a preference cascade eventually, as people in the audience begin wondering if anyone else is tired of hearing about the ersatz “celebrity,” and soon discover that everyone is.

He then applies it to the politics of this race:

That’s what began happening over the past couple of weeks: a large number of people discovered it’s okay to strongly disapprove of Barack Obama.  His popularity has always been buttressed by the conviction – very aggressively pushed by his supporters – disapproval of his personal or official conduct is immoral. You’re presumptively “racist” if you disagree with him

That’s what began happening over the past couple of weeks: a large number of people discovered it’s okay to strongly disapprove of Barack Obama.  His popularity has always been buttressed by the conviction – very aggressively pushed by his supporters – that disapproval of his personal or official conduct is immoral.  You’re presumptively “racist” if you disagree with him, or at least a greedy tool of the Evil Rich, or a “Tea Party extremist.”

A negative mirror image of this narrative was installed around Mitt Romney, who is supposedly a fat-cat extremist (and, thanks to the insidious War On Mormons, a religious nut) who nobody likes… even though large numbers of people in many different states voted for him in the primaries.  Of course he has his critics, and I’m not seeking to dismiss the intensity or sincerity of that criticism… but the idea was to make Romney supporters feel isolated going into the general election, particularly the people who don’t really get involved in primary elections.

Both of those convergent narratives began crumbling this week: Obama is deeply vulnerable, and his campaign has no real answer to criticism of his record – they’ve even tried floating an outright fraud, the now-infamous Rex Nutting charts that presented Obama as some kind of fiscal hawk.  (Stop laughing – major media figures took this garbage seriously for a couple of days, and Team Obama did push it.)  Major Democrats, beginning with Newark mayor Cory Booker, expressed criticism of the Obama campaign… and the Left reacted with shrieking hysteria and vows of personal destruction for the “traitors.”

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney effectively presented both substantive criticism of Obama, and a positive agenda.  Attacks on his business record that were supposed to destroy him through class-warfare tactics failed to draw blood.  The idea that he can win became widely accepted.  That doesn’t mean he won the 2012 argument… but unlike Barack Obama, he is offering one.

What is beginning to lose its effectiveness, it’s cache, is, as Hayward notes, " … disapproval of his personal or official conduct is immoral. You’re presumptively “racist” if you disagree with him …”.

But when polled, especially among younger voters, that presumption is still powerful enough I would guess, to see those voters lie to pollsters.  It is a sort of social conditioning that has taught them to avoid such a label even at the cost of a lie (and even when speaking to a pollster).

So, and it is merely a guess, but based on a life long study of human nature, there is a distinct possibility that  the “Tom Bradley” effect may be pumping up Obama’s popularity numbers.

And, as Hayward points out, as it becomes less and less effective or acceptable to accuse those who do not like Obama of being racists, the possibility of a preference cascade negative to Obama’s favorability is a distinct possibility.

No one who has watched the beginnings of this race can, with any credibility, claim the Obama campaign isn’t struggling.  Donors are deserting him, his record is an albatross around his neck, there is strife between his administration and campaign and many of his political supporters seem luke warm at best with any number of Democrats running for reelection in Congress content not to be seen with the man.  Too many indicators that point to the probability that the numbers CNN are pushing aren’t quite as solid as they may seem.

Hayward concludes with an important update:

I should add that the most powerful cascades occur when an artificially imposed sense of isolation crumbles.  That’s very definitely what is happening here.  Widespread popular discontent with the Obama presidency has been suppressed by making the unhappy campers feel marginalized.  The failure of that strategy is akin to watching a dam burst under high pressure.

The race, once it gets into high gear, is what will cause the “dam burst” as more and more Americans discover they’re not alone in their feelings about the President and that they are not at all on the margins, but very mainstream. 

Once that happens (and it will), when everyone finally realizes they’re not the only one who has noticed the emperor has no clothes, the chances of a one-term Obama presidency increase exponentially.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Wisconsin recall election: How dirty is it?

All you have to do is look at the latest smear against Gov. Scott Walker and its clear that there is no limit to what the opposition will throw out there:

Bernadette Gillick was a college freshman in 1988 when she first met Scott Walker. It was spring semester, and she had just transferred to Marquette University. She was assigned a room in O’Donnell Hall (then a women’s dormitory), which she shared with her new roommate, Ruth (not her real name). Ruth was dating Scott Walker, who was 20 at the time, and, according to Bernadette, Ruth was deeply in love with him.

Midway through that spring semester, Bernadette alleges, Ruth found out she was pregnant. She informed her boyfriend, Scott, and initially he was supportive. That support changed to callous indifference for his girlfriend’s predicament after Scott informed his parents of the pregnancy.

Bernadette reports that at this point Scott began denying that he was the father of the baby, and when Ruth said she was considering an abortion, he claimed he didn’t care, as he wasn’t the father anyway.

Bernadette remembers being present when Ruth was dealing with the wrath of Scott’s mother, who allegedly admonished Ruth for trying to “ruin [her son's] reputation.”

“I supported her [Ruth] as he [Scott] went from encouraging her to get an abortion, to telling me it was in my best interest to keep my mouth shut, to denying that he was the father and having his own mother call her and tell her to stop erroneously accusing her son of paternity,” Bernadette recounts.

It was a “horrible time” for her friend. “Imagine her being 18 years old and pregnant, walking around Marquette’s Jesuit Catholic campus with her boyfriend denying he was the father,” says Bernadette.

All this was taking place while Walker was running for student body president. As one of his classmates, Dr. Glenn Barry recalled in a remembrance published last week, Walker’s campaign was, “one of the dirtiest in school history.” The student newspaper Marquette Tribune called him “unfit for office” after his campaign was discovered collecting and throwing out copies of their paper that endorsed his opponent. Commenting on the election and Walker’s political career and style at Marquette, he noted, “Walker lost on all counts, but not before destroying a few people’s reputations, and amassing personal power.”

If Bernadette’s story is true, Ruth – and eventually their child – were just a few of the people who got in the way of Walker’s quest for power.

Note the last sentence – “If Bernadette’s story is true …”.

Well, according to “Ruth”, it isn’t.  Too bad the “Wisconsin Citizen Media Co-op” didn’t bother to do the basic verification a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online reporter (btw, as much crap as we give the MSM, its nice to see one of it’s members do some basic work) did rather quickly and easily:

Daniel Bice June 3, 2012 at 3:15 am Reply

I am getting a lot of emails because of this post. Two things: (1) I tracked down and talked to Dr. Gillick’s freshman-year roommate at MU yesterday, and she adamantly denies that Walker is the father of her child. Yes, she got pregnant as a first-year student, but she believes Dr. Gillick is mixing up stories …

Or, the child wasn’t Scott Walker’s.

The “Wisconsin Citizen Media Co-op” then writes a follow up ironically entitled – “Editorial: On Integrity” where it attempts, poorly in my estimation, to justify running an unverified rumor that was quickly debunked. 

Further irony?  The Wisconsin Citizen Media Co-op recalls Walker’s campaign at Marquette as “one of the dirtiest in school history”.

Heh … my bet it can’t hold a candle to the dirt the Wisconsin Citizen Media Co-op just tried to dish on Walker.

But the irony impaired won’t get that either.

June 5th ought to be a very interesting day.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Photo ID required for Mass state Democratic convention

For the irony impaired left, a look at your own requirements:

In recent years, Democrats have argued that requiring voters to show photo IDs prior to voting is an egregious act of voter suppression. Ben Jealous, of the NAACP, has gone so far as to argue that such requirements are tantamount to modern-day Jim Crow laws. In the world they inhabit, lots of voters don’t have access to photo IDs, so requiring voters to provide this will "disenfranchise" them and leave them out of the democratic process. Funny they don’t feel that way for their own party conventions.

On Saturday, Massachusetts delegates will meet in their state’s Democrat party convention. The votes of these delegates will determine whether there are primary elections for their party nominations. With so much at state, Democrats have decided to implement Voter ID requirements:

A PHOTO ID WILL BE REQUIRED TO ENTER THE MASSMUTUAL CENTER

Yeah, they still won’t get it.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO