Free Markets, Free People
Another reason we’re in the mess we’re in is because of the rise of professional politics and politicians. According to a recent study 46% of the present Congress is comprised of lawyers. That’s 68 times the density of lawyers throughout the population. But law school for many has been or has become the jumping off point for life as a professional politician.
And so, as with our current president, we get a class of people who have never “done anything or run anything.” The results predictable, just look around. For the most part, those who are our supposedly “leaders” haven’t a clue on how to proceed or how to “fix” what is wrong with this country. They have little experience in doing much of anything else but getting elected. Execution, governing, management – all seem foreign to most of our political class. So they rely on “experts”, mostly in academia or among their political connections, to advise them on how to proceed.
Ed Driscoll provides us with a great example of one politician who, after he left political life, realized how little he knew about extraordinarily important information, and how little experience he actually had where it counted. Former presidential candidate and longtime politician, George McGovern, decided to go into business after leaving politics. It was only then, after his business failed, he realized how little he knew about something as critical as what it takes in the business atmosphere he helped build to run a business.
George McGovern laments that after his experience in the bed-and-breakfast business he realizes that laws and regulations pertaining to small business are actually hurting the lower-wage workers whom he had tried to help during his entire political career. With his Stratford Inn in bankruptcy, McGovern now says:
In retrospect, I wish I had known more about the hazards and difficulties of such a business…. I wish that during the years I was in public office I had this firsthand experience about the difficulties business people face every day. That knowledge would have made me a better Senator and a more understanding presidential contender… To create job opportunities, we need entrepreneurs who will risk their capital against an expected payoff. Too often, however, public policy does not consider whether we are choking off those opportunities.
He is just one of many of this of this professional political class who have helped put us in this mess.
We should demand, as voters and citizens, that our politicians have real world experience before we allow them the privilege of representing us. We should end this era of politicians whose only real world experience concerning the effects of policy come from dormitory debates and untried academic theories. And we should reject, out of hand, anyone who has “never done anything or run anything”, unless we find ourselves comfortable with the shape this country is in.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, brain surgeon, or even particularly smart to figure out that this trend means entitlements, as structured, will fail:
Last week, the Commerce Department announced that the gross domestic product shrank by 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. And the Census Bureau reported that the U.S. birthrate in 2011 was 63.2 per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, the lowest ever recorded.
Slow economic growth and low population growth threaten to undermine entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. Despite contrary rhetoric, they are programs in which working-age people pay for pensions and medical care for the elderly.
When Medicare was established in 1965 and when Social Security was vastly expanded in 1972, America was accustomed to the high birthrates of the post-World War II baby boom. It was widely assumed that the baby boom generation would soon produce a baby boom of its own.
Oops. The birthrate fell from the peak of 122.7 in 1957 to 68.8 in 1973 and hovered around that level until 2007. The baby boom, it turns out, was an exception to a general rule that people tend to have fewer babies as their societies become more affluent and urbanized.
So, when will our so-called “leaders” finally figure this out? My guess, in fact it really isn’t a guess, is they know but haven’t intestinal fortitude, politically speaking, to do what is necessary. That is cut them, privatize them or any of a host of other options they won’t even consider.
What they will consider, of course, is raising taxes and borrowing.
The fact of the matter is that both Social Security and Medicare are based in flawed models. The original models saw the base of the those paying into the system remaining constant, despite the “general rule that people tend to have fewer babies as their societies become more affluent and urbanized.”
The numbers don’t lie. Fewer and fewer workers are available to pay into these systems and continue to pay out at the rate at which they’re paying out now. This is no mystery. This is plain old everyday economics. It’s as plain as the nose on your face. Yet our so-called “leaders” seem unwilling and unable to face the facts. The facts are not going to change. We’re not going to suddenly have a baby boom again.
These are the sorts of problems elected leaders are supposed to face head-on. That’s why they’re elected, supposedly. Yet we continue to let our elected officials get away with malfeasance. So while it is easy to point at them and say they’ve failed, in fact we’ve failed. We have failed to gin up the courage to do what is necessary to fix these problems. To force our “leaders” to do the right thing. We continue to claim in poll after poll that entitlements must be fixed. Yet we continue to put in office, time after time, the same people who haven’t yet mustered the courage to do that (nor fund themselves held accountable for not doing it).
Whose fault is that?
UPDATE: Here’s a perfect and timely example of part of the point:
John Kasich, the fiercely conservative governor of Ohio, announced Monday that he’s going to expand Medicaid dramatically using federal money — a 180-degree turn from what conservative groups swore their allies in governors’ mansions would do when the Supreme Court gave them an out last year.
This makes John Kasich a big, fat liar.
Republicans should be the ones circulating recall petitions. He should be drummed out of office, out of politics and never again hold any office higher than dog catcher. But they won’t, because despite this, he’s “one of ours”.
Ok, they’re downbeat according to Gallup:
So what? I mean, this is what I don’t get. The American public just re-elected possibly the worst and most incompetent president in my lifetime (what the hell do you have to do to get fired?), they refuse to make their leaders face up to the realities of the fiscal situation, they give away freedoms like some universities give away condoms and suddenly they’re “downbeat” about America’s future?
They should be downbeat – they as much as anyone have generated the culture that has produced these politicians that they continue to reward with reelection term after term. If you don’t make those who represent you do what they should be doing, if you continue to reward their kicking the can down the road with re-election, why in the hell should they do anything? Especially when those who try “die”, politically speaking.
And, of course, you have the compliant press who has no compunction anymore about pursuing an agenda that supports the premise that there is a free lunch and the rich should pay for it.
I’m fed up.
Can you tell?
I continue to be stunned by the apparent willingness of all involved on the left to whistle past the graveyard when it comes to understanding what our fiscal governmental problem is and how to fix it. Here … let’s try a picture:
Oh, look … it’s spending. Specifically, spending on entitlements and interest on the money we’ve borrowed to do so. And what are we talking about cutting? The military, of course. Because, you know, it is in the blue slice of the pie. Make sense?
Pac Man’s revenge. By 2050, he will have swallowed all of the blue.
But, hey, it’s “absurd” to argue about raising the debt limit. By the way, does anyone remember when Sen. Obama declared that raising the debt limit signaled a failure in leadership?
I hate to say “I told you so”, but it isn’t just the rich who will be paying increased taxes. And what should be clear to anyone with the I Q of a turnip, is that this will cost people their jobs.
The compromise called for taxes to rise to 39.6% from 35% on personal income above $400,000. In a 2011 study, the Treasury Department found that raising taxes on incomes over $500,000 would affect roughly 750,000 small businesses organized as S-Corps, partnerships and other small entities.
Of course, you remember the Democrats claiming that this wouldn’t affect small businesses. Well, that was a flat out lie. But then we live in an era of lies which, if there political apparently, we’re willing to overlook. While most of us are. I just had to be one of those who isn’t. Not that Democrats are the only political liars, but they seem to be the most prolific and the most blatant. Especially when it comes to budget, deficit, and financial matters. They are the quintessential “snake oil” salesman.
And they have sold us are huge bottle of snake oil.
Couple these tax increases with the Obamacare taxes that kicked in on the 1st, and you have two reasons for 750,000 small businesses not to hire. And you can bet none of them will go over 50 employees, and some may even reduce staff to get under that number.
These are your “rich”. They happen to be the “rich” would generate jobs, or what have, if they hadn’t been hit by two new taxes this year.
Your government at work.
If we had just bought what the establishment GOP was selling, they would have thrown in undercoating for free
I don’t visit The Corner at National Review as often as I used to. Their pop-behind ads annoy me too much. But with good stuff from Jonah Goldberg, Mark Steyn, Andrew McCarthy, and a few others of that ilk, I still go by from time to time, despite the ads.
Almost as annoying as the ads are the Gentry GOP types who are constantly providing cover for establishment Republicans. Ramesh Ponnuru leads that crew. Ponnuru had a post yesterday, with a follow-on today, that both serve as a fine illustrations.
Both are about the intricate strategerizing (as another establishment Republican might put it) around the so-called fiscal cliff. I tried to understand what he was getting at. I really did. But it all just came out as complicated blather to promote some kind of go-along-get-along viewpoint. I never did understand his argument. I’m pretty sure that he wants the Republicans who blocked the last deal to get with the program and support the establishment cohort led by Boehner, but even after reading his posts through twice I still don’t get *why*.
He ends the first piece with this paragraph:
That some Republicans are willing to see higher taxes for the sake of anti-tax purity is topsy-turvy enough. Adding to the vertigo: The Republicans (inside and outside the House) who fret about blurring the party’s definition are the ones who are doing most to blur it. They are the ones who are, in most cases, accusing Republican leaders of seeking to raise taxes when they are actually trying to cut taxes as much as they think possible—cut them, that is, from the levels the law already has in place for 2013. They’re the ones who are accusing most House Republicans of “caving” to the Democrats, even as some of them prefer that the Democrats get their way entirely. That’s where the convoluted politics of this moment have led us.
This word salad sounds like an old Dilbert cartoon to me. In it, Dilbert is asked to sign a document stating "Employee election to not rescind the opposite action of declining the reverse inclination to not discontinue employment with the company."
The Gentry GOP’s equivalent seems to be "Voting for the bill to raise taxes in order to not raise taxes while electing to stand firm on not doing anything on spending while ensuring the previous action of claiming to reduce spending." Or something like that. I’m not really sure.
On stuff like this, I am a firm believer in the Asimov principle. In an introduction to one of his books, he said (approximately) "When I read something I don’t understand, I don’t assume I’m stupid." There are plenty of reasons for something to be incomprehensible that don’t have anything to do with me:
- The author might not know what he’s talking about
- The author might be a very bad communicator, and so just can’t explain himself very well
- As in the Dilbert example, the author might be trying to obfuscate the issue
For the entire discussion over the fiscal cliff, from Democrats, the media, or establishment Republicans, I’m going with the last explanation. It’s pretty clear at this point that the whole thing simply does not matter that much in the long term. No proposal being taken seriously will do anything to alter our long term trajectory. So the entire episode is just for political maneuvering.
That’s the part Ponnuru doesn’t seem to get, or at least he doesn’t assign any real weight to it. He doesn’t understand why twenty or so Republicans just won’t go along with the gag.
I get it completely. They have the intuition that they are being gamed.
Analyzing the details doesn’t help, because those details are intentionally confusing, and leave entirely too much room for statists to make things come out the way they want later.
If you’ve ever been subjected to the car salesmen who insists that this wonderful deal he’s offering you won’t be good tomorrow, you know the dynamic here. Those in the GOP who won’t go along with the game sense that the ruling class is using the same technique, with the fiscal cliff deadline as the nominal justification.
In general, I’m sick of any argument by an establishment GOP type that it’s necessary to do X to avoid being blamed for Y. Much of this fiscal cliff discussion seems to be in that vein. I’m sick of it because it pre-supposes that there is a path where the GOP won’t be blamed for the bad things that happen. That’s ridiculous.
If you love ObamaCare, you’re sure to be thrilled with whatever comes out of this attempt to cash in on taxing thin air. Climate change is going to be a “priority” because it would be a new source of revenue, nothing more:
President Obama has identified climate change as one of his top three priorities in his second term after coming under fire from environmentalists for giving the issue short shrift during the campaign.
The president, in an interview for TIME’s Person of the Year award, said the economy, immigration, climate change and energy would be at the top of his agenda for the next four years.
The interview took place before the fatal shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, an incident that had pushed gun control to a top spot on Obama’s agenda.
Obama said his daughters have influenced his thinking about the need to tackle climate change.
“[O]n an issue like climate change, for example, I think for this country and the world to ask some very tough questions about what are we leaving behind, that weighs on you. And not to mention the fact I think that generation is much more environmentally aware than previous generations,” he told TIME.
The comments continued a trend of Obama vowing to focus on climate without laying out details of his agenda.
You have to be stunned by the irony of his statements. The man has been “influenced” by indoctrinated children. Just as stunning is his statement about asking “tough questions about what we are leaving behind”. One has to wonder if he’s looked at the record debt he’s piling on which will have to be paid by future generation in their standard of living, taxes and productivity. Now he wants to add more cost to that future by involving government in regulating CO2.
That despite the fact, no inspite of the fact, that the science he’d base his “priority” upon has simply fallen apart.
The analysis of global combined land and ocean surface temperature in [the IPCC’s draft report] is inadequate for what it admits is seen as the prime statistic of global warming. It is highly selective in the references it quotes and in the use of time periods which obscures important, albeit inconvenient, aspects of the temperature data. It is poorly drafted, often making a strong assertion, and then somewhat later qualifying if not contradicting it by admitting its statistical insignificance.
Real science simply doesn’t agree with the alarmist creed established by Al Gore, the UN IPCC and the other prophets of doom:
We can now estimate, based on observations, how sensitive the temperature is to carbon dioxide. We do not need to rely heavily on unproven models. Comparing the trend in global temperature over the past 100-150 years with the change in “radiative forcing” (heating or cooling power) from carbon dioxide, aerosols and other sources, minus ocean heat uptake, can now give a good estimate of climate sensitivity. The conclusion – taking the best observational estimates of the change in decadal-average global temperature between 1871-80 and 2002-11, and of the corresponding changes in forcing and ocean heat uptake – is this: a doubling of CO2 will lead to a warming of 1.6-1.7C. This is much lower than the IPCC’s current best estimate, 3C.
But a politician has an inherent ability to sniff out potential revenue sources even when they’re just faintly carried by the wind.
The result of such policy and legislation will be even worse of an economic disaster than ObamaCare. The “solution” will cost us much more than the “problem” was ever worth in terms of GDP, jobs and economic progress.
However, Obama will then be able to report to his two daughters who’ve been feed the alarmist creed for years that he “did something”, even if that something was, as usual, with your money and has forced you to reprioritize your own life downward.
It is the nature of the beast – and unfortunately we continue to allow the beast to feed at will and seem to find it natural that the beast is involved in all aspects of our life. All we argue about is which group we’re going to sacrifice to the beast. This time it’s the “rich”.
Oh, and gun control is also a 2nd term “priority” – more on that later.
What’s going to be interesting is to see is if they actually do what they say they’re planning to do. The administration has tried to ignore the court before. Just as interesting will be the substance of the “rewrite”. What will the court accept as an “accommodation” to “religious liberty?”:
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius cannot enforce the Obamacare contraception mandate as it is written, but must follow through on a promise to rewrite the rule to accommodate religious liberty, a federal appeals court ordered.
The Obama administration “represented to the court that it would never enforce [the mandate] in its current form against the appellants or those similarly situated as regards contraceptive services,” the three judges hearing the case wrote in their order. The Obama team made that promise during oral arguments against Wheaton College and The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which sued over the contraception mandate but lost at the lower court level.
“There will, the government said, be a different rule for entities like the appellants . . . We take the government at its word and will hold it to it,” the judges wrote. They ruled that the Obama administration must rewrite the regulation by August 2013 and provide updates to the court every 60 days. If the government fails to do so, the lawsuits may proceed.
The court also noted that the Obama administration had not made such an expansive pledge outside the courtroom.
Yeah, I’m sure they haven’t. Of course they could have cooled all the angst fairly quickly if they had. You have to wonder why they didn’t.
Well, not really.
Finally figuring it out? Or finally admitting it?
Sixteen Democratic senators who voted for the Affordable Care Act are asking that one of its fundraising mechanisms, a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices scheduled to take effect January 1, be delayed. Echoing arguments made by Republicans against Obamacare, the Democratic senators say the levy will cost jobs — in a statement Monday, Sen. Al Franken called it a “job-killing tax” — and also impair American competitiveness in the medical device field.
The senators, who made the request in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, are Franken, Richard Durbin, Charles Schumer, Patty Murray, John Kerry, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Joseph Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Robert Casey, Debbie Stabenow, Barbara Mikulski, Kay Hagan, Herb Kohl, Jeanne Shaheen, and Richard Blumenthal. All voted for Obamacare.
In the letter they say:
“The medical technology industry directly employs over 400,000 people in the United States and is responsible for a total of two million skilled manufacturing jobs,” the senators wrote in a December 4 letter to Reid. “We must do all we can to ensure that our country maintains its global leadership position in the medical technology industry and keeps good jobs here at home.”
For whatever reason, however, these 16 can’t seem to understand how what they’re claiming here applies across the board to all taxes. That is, they’re job killers. ObamaCare’s taxes and mandates are particularly pernicious because they have many companies trying to figure out how to avoid them and that will mean fewer jobs, not more and certainly more costs in general.
But then no one ever said our political leadership was particularly sharp. After all, somehow Maxine Waters is about to become the ranking member (senior Democrat) on the House Financial Services committee and Harry Reid remains the Majority Leader in the Senate.
Of course ObamaCare is full of job killing taxes as we’ve all become aware, and many of them will hit this year. Add those to the “fiscal cliff” tax increases as well as sequestration and you can bet the Dems will see their “pro-choice” agenda fulfilled this next year – any developing economic recovery will be quickly aborted as exactly all the wrong things government can do to kill such a recover are done.
You’d think, by now, governments would have figured out how poor they are at picking winners and losers.
Of course, they haven’t as witnessed by the witless California government continuing to push solar energy.
California’s Riverside County is producing more solar energy than anywhere in the U.S., with close to a dozen solar plants either online or proposed.
“On the face of it, it looks like a good deal. They talk about all these huge jobs and long-term benefits to the county. The truth is, it’s a very short term,” Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit said. “We’re going to be carrying the burden of having these types of facilities for decades to come, and because of the incentives that have been provided by federal and state government, there’s virtually nothing left for the county government or the local people to get benefit back after the small number of construction jobs are gone.”
Unlike Riverside’s 500 megawatt natural gas-fired facility, which pays $6 million a year in property taxes, a solar plant being built a few miles away will pay next to nothing, just $96,000. When Riverside balked at its own upfront infrastructure costs and tried to impose an impact fee, the industry sued.
So Riverside has hundreds of square miles carpeted with solar panels and no jobs to speak of and barely any revenue to show for it.
But surely, as promised, this has led to cheap, reliable and renewable energy, right?
Yeah, not so much:
Solar also promised to be a cheap source of power, fueled by the sun. What the industry didn’t say is the technology only converts a fraction of the sun’s energy, and the intermittent nature of sunshine does not produce the power promised.
And Stanford economist Frank Wolak, a California energy expert, said solar could boost consumer energy bills up to 50 percent, a finding similar to the state Public Utilities Commission. Solar power from two recently approved plants range from $100 to $200 per megawatt hour, at least 8 times higher than the $16 consumers pay for natural gas.
“It’s probably 50 percent more (than coal or natural gas) today,” Benoit said. “Five years ago, it was probably a 100 or 150 percent more costly to generate a kilowatt with solar. The cost of these panels has come down dramatically. But still, getting back to the old equation, do you want to spend a little bit more to be green? And the legislature and the governor in California have said clearly, we’re going to do that.”
But at what cost to consumers and to what benefit to much of anything except government’s chosen crony, er, beneficiary? Instead of allowing markets – i.e. consumers and producers – to decide on the mix, government has unilaterally taken that away from them and made the decision itself.
After all, the autocrat has decided:
Answering critics at a solar ribbon-cutting earlier this year, Gov. Jerry Brown laid down the gauntlet, affirming his commitment to solar energy and saying he would “crush” opponents of solar.
“There are going to be screw-ups. There are going to be bankruptcies. There’ll be indictments and there’ll be deaths. But we’re going to keep going – and nothing’s going to stop me,” Brown said.
I can believe that. Somebody needs to tell Brown the whole effort is a ‘screw-up’.
But since government is involved, the crony gets the treatment other industries don’t:
“There’s been a policy to fast-track and install these utility-scale renewable energy installations that are on the scale of five to 10,000 acres each,” said April Sall of the Wildlands Conservancy. “We’ve seen thousands of acres of the desert bladed and now undergoing utility-style construction to basically convert that from pristine habitat that included those sensitive plants and animals, to becoming potentially a dust bowl.”
Now imagine if these actions and plans were those of “Big Oil”. Yup, you don’t have to imagine long, do you? But in this case?
The two largest green groups in the U.S., the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council, have remained silent on the impact of Big Solar on land use and endangered species, which is not so with gas, oil or coal. Sall and other local environmental groups say the Washington-based organizations see climate change as a bigger threat and therefore won’t get involved.
Shoddy “science” is their excuse and they’re sticking with it.
And that’s your update on the imperial blue state model today. And yes, it’s going down the tubes which is why this cartoon applies to more than small business in the state: