Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: July 2011


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 10 Jul 11

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the L.A. Counties harrassment of desert dwellers, and the ongoing budget negotiations.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

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NY Times still clueless about economic woes

Cluelessness seems to be a fairly rampant disease among those who seem unable to peer objectively at reality and analyze it.  They prefer to pretend they know what they’re talking about and unhelpfully prescribe exactly the wrong antidote every single time (in this case, more of what we’ve watched fail for two plus years).  And, as it turns out, the New York Times editorial board is peerless among that group:

It was not surprising to hear the Republican presidential candidates repeat their tiresome claim that excessive government spending and borrowing were behind Friday’s terrible unemployment report. It was depressing to hear President Obama sound as if he agreed with them.

And the NYT’s claim as to why that’s not the case?

There has never been any evidence that the federal debt is primarily responsible for the persistent joblessness that began with the 2008 recession. The numbers have remained high because of weak consumer demand and stagnant wage growth, along with an imbalance between jobs and job skills.

Who has ever argued that “federal debt is primarily responsible for the persistent joblessness?”  Certainly there are other factors.  However, there’s no question that excessive government spending – i.e. borrowing to spend – has had a hand in the stagnation we’re now undergoing.  In fact, increased and excessive government spending has had no effect and, given the promises made, could be argued to have had a negative effect. 

The debt is the indicator of the problem – excessive and unaffordable spending.  As we’ve been pointing out for months, revenue isn’t the problem – spending is.   So pointing to this strawman, as the NY Times does, is just more politics from the side who thinks it prudent to penalize those who produce in order to bail out those who spend what they produce (and the reason the Democrats insist on calling the present income tax levels “Bush tax cuts”).  What doesn’t seem to penetrate the thinking of those who continue to push this line is one of the reasons we’ve had weak consumer demand and stagnant wage growth is the unsettled business and regulatory atmosphere this administration has created in its 2 plus years.  That, of course is pushed aside by the NYT in favor of this argument:

The president may have a nebulous approach to unemployment, but he is hardly indifferent to it. His re-election hinges on reducing it. It is hard to understand, though, why Mr. Obama has adopted the language of his opponents in connecting the economy to the debt. To his credit, he talked about the one step that would work — investing money in rebuilding the country. But the debt-ceiling ideas he is now considering would make that investment much less likely by pulling hundreds of billions of dollars out of the economy at precisely the moment when the spending is needed most.

Yeah, there’s absolutely no connection between the “economy” and the “debt” is there?   Of course there is?   And pretending that borrowing money we don’t have to push it out in the economy and calling it an ‘investment’ doesn’t fool most rational folks.  The NYT even points out that the last time the money was thrown out there is it mostly went to service state debt which only delayed the inevitable.  Now, apparently, that will somehow be different in the face of “weak consumer demand”.   Really?   And, of course, the jobs the NYT laments about aren’t private sector jobs but government jobs (state and local) which we all know are the engine of our economy (/sarc).

The types of increases in revenue that government should be encouraging are those that come from private sector jobs.   They provide tax revenue from created wealth.   They don’t require the government to borrow money to “invest” (i.e. borrow money, create jobs and then tax the jobs created with the borrowed money and claim “increased revenue”.  Make sense to you?).

So while I don’t disagree with the Times when it says “his re-election hinges on reducing” unemployment, it appears the Times would opt for the easy and wrong way to do it – borrow more money, pump it into creating make-work jobs just long enough to get Obama past the 2012 election.   Then, who care?   Debt ceiling, increased drag on the economy’s GDP and all that stuff, forgetaboutit.  Well, at least till they get this guy re-elected.  Then, of course, I expect a clarion call by the Times wondering how this could have all be so mismanaged and spinning and twisting it, as they have in this editorial, so it all ends up being the fault of the Republicans.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Worst President ever?

Ask FireDogLake’s (FDL) Eli:

No, I’m not ready to crown Barack Obama the Worst President Ever just yet, but consider this:

Yes, George W. Bush wrecked our economy, destroyed New Orleans, turned a budget surplus into massive deficits, ignored warnings of a major terrorist attack and used that mistake to lead us into two disastrous military quagmires…

But he also pushed relentlessly for conservative policies and delivered for his base with war, deregulation, tax cuts, environmental rollbacks, and an army of right-wing ideologues embedded in the federal government and judiciary.  He failed to privatize Social Security, but not for lack of trying.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, inherited a mess rather than creating one.  But not only has he failed to create jobs or restart the economy, he has paid only lip service to progressive policies and betrayed his base at almost every turn.

Hmmm … so what should he have done, Eli?  I mean I’m with you on the “failed to create jobs or restart the economy”.  No rocket scientist needed to figure that out. But obviously, unlike W, who took every supposed opportunity to give his base those things they love – like wars (how’s it going in Libya these days, sport?) – your Prez isn’t giving you guys what you want?

Appreciate the fact you actually seem to believe the right loves wrecked economies (because you know, that’s super pro-business) and terrorist attacks (because he ignored intel? Guess Obama is the only one who inherits messes, huh?), but what should your man be doing?

Instead of using the financial crisis or the current debt hysteria to push through a progressive agenda like Bush used 9/11 to push through a conservative one, he’s using them as an excuse to capitulate to Republican budget chickenhawks, and even to cut Social Security and Medicare.

Ah, he’s violating the “never let a good crisis go to waste” maxim, eh?  Good lord, yes, we should have spent gobs more money on, well, only Sheriff Joe knows, and he should have insisted on the public option,  no wait, single payer, and on “teh  ghey” issue, well he’s just been horrible.  Right?

And he had that pure liberal Democratic Congress for how long?  Yeah, 2 years, and what came out of there?  *Sigh*.   What’s a liberal to do.

So which is worse?  The president who serves his base and sets the country on fire, or the president who stiffs his base and fights fire with gasoline?

Mmmm … I’ll have to think about that a second.  Nope, don’t need too – the last guy.  It explains why “Miss me yet?” t-shirt sales are booming.

John Cole, however, is having a cow stating sarcastically:

Any good liberal in the year 2011 would be confused when choosing between Obama and Bush for the title of “Worst President Ever.”

He seems to think FDL is effin’ “clinical”.

It’s tough when the blinders finally come off, isn’t it?  Unsurprisingly, they’re still firmly in place at Balloon Juice.

BTW, read the comments at FDL – they’re equally as entertaining as the article.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


About the "Twitter" revolution in Egypt

Things have certainly gotten better there – especially for US interests in the area – haven’t they?

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently announced the U.S. administration’s intention to officially renew dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. She said the move came as part of the administration’s readiness to talk with any peaceful group wishing to participate in the Egyptian elections, and that this dialogue would be a continuation of limited and intermittent contact that had existed between the U.S. and the Muslim Brotherhood over the past six years.

Responding to Clinton’s statements in an article published on the official website of the Muslim Brotherhood, its secretary general in Cairo, Dr. Muhammad Al-Biltagi, wrote that the movement had no personal interest in engaging in dialogue with the U.S., except as part of dialogue between the U.S. and Egypt as a whole. He added that the U.S.’s supportive stance toward Israel, its aggressive policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its support of Mubarak’s anti-Muslim Brotherhood policies could not be ignored.

Or, “once we take over we have no intention of having the close relationship with the US that it had under Mubarak.  Oh, and as long as you support Israel and are in other Muslim countries, we’re not particularly interested in “dialogue” either.”

Sounds pretty much what we all warned those enthralled with the “Twitter” revolution, as well as the “benign” Brotherhood about.

Tiger.  Stripes.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


“Unexpectedly”, we’re back at 9.2% unemployment

urea am glad we wasted all the money on Stimulus so we could stay below the promised 8% aren’t you?

U.S. employment growth ground to a halt in June, with employers hiring the fewest number of workers in nine months, dousing hopes the economy would regain momentum in the second half of the year.

Nonfarm payrolls rose only 18,000, the weakest reading since September, the Labor Department said on Friday, well below economists’ expectations for a 90,000 rise.

The unemployment rate climbed to a six-month high of 9.2 percent, even as jobseekers left the labor force in droves, from 9.1 percent in May.

So here we are in Recovery Summer II, huh?   You know, I’d go through all the reasons for this but I think you know them pretty well by now.

The results, however, should be reviewed, because we’re suffering them because of this administration’s cluelessness, the Fed’s cluelessness, and the government’s over-regulation and war on business – not to mention the mounting debt.  Oh, wait, I just went through all the reasons again, didn’t I?

"The message on the economy is ongoing stagnation," said Pierre Ellis, senior economist at Decision economics in New York. "Income growth is marginal so there’s no indication of momentum.

Gee, wish we’d been saying that for the last few months/years.  As Dale has said for quite some time on our podcast, we’re looking stagflation directly in the eye and in the process of recreating the Japanese “lost decade” – except it is possible this may linger for more than a decade given our debt.

The report shattered expectations the economy was starting to accelerate after a soft patch in the first half of the year. It could prompt calls for the Federal Reserve to consider further action to help the economy, but Fed officials have set a high bar.

The U.S. central bank wrapped up a $600 billion bond-buying program last week designed to spur lending and stimulate growth.

"This confirms our view that the Fed will continue to keep rates on hold into 2012 and if weak employment continues it will be pushed out even further," said Tom Purcell, chief economist, RBC Capital Markets in New York.

Classic, obviously predictable (I mean, we did it) and inevitable given the way the problem was tackled.

Oh, btw, 10% is not at all impossible, given the continued policies of this administration.

Just saying’, so it won’t be considered “unexpected” if it happens.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


What is the political bursting radius of “Operation Fast and Furious”?

Right now it seems that the Mexican/ATF gun running scheme has blown up in the face of the administration and, unless the media tries to ignore it, has the potential of being a very damaging scandal.  The NY Post gives a good summary:

The ATF’s acting director, Kenneth Melson, has been singing like a canary to congressional investigators as he pushes back against administration pressure for him to resign and take the fall for something that, at the very least, had to include the US Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and possibly the Homeland Security Department.

In a letter to Holder released yesterday, Rep. Daryl Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley accused the Justice Department of blocking their investigation into the burgeoning scandal (which has resulted in the deaths of at least two American agents and countless Mexican civilians), muzzling the ATF and involving other federal agencies, including the FBI and the DEA, in funding the crackpot scheme.

"The evidence we have gathered raises the disturbing possibility that the Justice Department not only allowed criminals to smuggle weapons, but that taxpayer dollars from other agencies may have financed those engaging in such activities," they wrote.

"It is one thing to argue that the ends justify the means in an attempt to defend a policy that puts building a big case ahead of stopping known criminals from getting guns. Yet it is a much more serious matter to conceal from Congress the possible involvement of other agencies in identifying and maybe even working with the same criminals that Operation Fast and Furious was trying to identify."

That’s the key to this mess — and the reason that Operation Fast and Furious might turn out to be the biggest Washington scandal since Iran-Contra.

If all of this is true, then yes, it should be.  Melson had been prohibited by AG Eric Holder from appearing before Congress in his official capacity.  But Holder can’t prohibit private citizen Melson from appearing and that’s how Melson is appearing.  He obviously knows a bad op when he sees one and is refusing to be the fall guy.

The ostensible purpose of “Fast and Furious” was to identify the “higher ups” in the Mexican gun trafficking circles.  But here’s the problem:

As Issa and Grassley note in their letter, had the other agencies shared information — theoretically the goal of the post-9/11 revamp of the intelligence and law-enforcement agencies — "then ATF might have known that gun trafficking ‘higher-ups’ had already been identified."

In fact, inter-agency coordination – something the 9/11 reorganization was supposed to fix – should have revealed those names the ATF sought.  So if that isn’t really the reason for the operation, what is?

Well that’s where the speculation occurs, and the administration doesn’t help itself by stonewalling Congress. 

Melson testified behind closed doors on July 4, but the country needs to hear him speak — loudly and publicly. "Let me be clear," Issa wrote to Melson in April, "we are not conducting a concurrent investigation with the Department of Justice, but rather an independent investigation of the Department of Justice."

So what’s the purpose of the operation then?  If the higher-ups were already known, what is the possible reason for doing this?  Then NY Post throws out a possibility:

Law-abiding gun owners and dealers think they already know. With the Obama administration wedded to the fiction that 90 percent of the guns Mexican cartels use originate here — they don’t — many suspect that "Fast and Furious" was a backdoor attempt to smear domestic gun aficionados as part of its stealth efforts on gun control by executive fiat.

"I just want you to know that we’re working on it," Obama was quoted as saying to gun-control advocate Sarah Brady in March. "We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar."

Unfortunately for the administration, this one’s out in the open now.

Now you may be saying, come on, isn’t that a little far fetched?  Not really.  This is an administration that talks out of both sides of their mouth so anything they’ve said in the past supporting gun rights has to be taken with a grain of salt.  And, you have to remember this is an administration that comes from the Chicago tradition of politics.   So combined with the DoJ stonewalling and refusal to turn over documents to Congress (you know, the “transparent administration), one has to suspect there may be some fire causing the smoke.

As Greyhawk says:

Maybe there’s a better answer – but I haven’t heard it yet. I can understand something like passing traceable funds/"marked bills" to suspects to help expose networks, and even temporarily allowing those suspects freedom of movement to facilitate that. But this – the transfer of weapons – is another matter entirely. Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence is an axiom especially true of government work, but in this case it’s hard to imagine someone that incompetent. That’s obviously a factor, along with stupidity, ignorance, hubris and a host of other character flaws Americans can only tolerate to a certain extent in government officials (a vague line well crossed here) – but even all of those flaws combined fail to describe motive.

It think his point is well taken.  At the moment, it is the most plausible explanation given the facts we have.   With the fact that the names were known within the law enforcement community, it is up to the administration to explain why doing such a stupid thing.  And as Greyhawk mentions, it is hard just to write this off to incompetence, unless you believe in total incompetence and, in fact, stupidity, all up and down the line of those who would have to approve an operation like that.

So it’s up to the administration to explain this fiasco.  The “plausible” explanation is out there.  And right now it is as good an explanation as any.  If that’s the case, as Confederate Yankee explains, the consequences could be dire:

If it is confirmed that the worst suspicions are true—that the Obama Administration supplied weapons to narco-terrorists, in order to undermine U.S gun laws—there will not be a stonewall big enough for them to hide behind, and both impeachment and jail time must not be just possible, but probable for those involved. They are, after all, accessories before the fact who aided and abetted the murders of two U.S. federal agents, and an estimated 150 law enforcement officers and soldiers, and an unknown number of civilians, in Mexico.

We’ll see what the administration can come forward with a better one, but I think this scandal has the potential to really shake up this bunch and expose the DoJ for the travesty it has become.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Obama embraces his inner Bush

So how does the left feel about the 3rd term of George Bush – when it comes to prosecuting wars?

The Obama administration, which refuses to send terrorism suspects to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, on Wednesday defended its decision to interrogate a detainee for two months aboard a U.S. Navy ship, outside the reach of American law.

“He was detained lawfully, under the law of war, aboard a Navy ship until his transfer to the U.S. for prosecution,” presidential spokesman Jay Carney said.

Uh, wasn’t that the argument of the Bush administration?  Didn’t they say  that detaining unlawful combatants at Guantanamo was a lawful detention under the “law of war” (or similar words to that effect)?

After all, the only difference here is location.  One place is located on an island outside the US and the other is a ship located outside the US.  However, the very same thing happened in both locations – something Obama argued against most strenuously when but a mere candidate for office.

My, my … you mean George Bush might have been right about all this?  That it is indeed both legal and necessary?  How come we’re not being treated to the usual “Bush did it” this time?

Oh, and so much for Miranda rights, huh?

“Wherever possible, our first priority is and always has been to apprehend terrorism suspects and to preserve the opportunity to elicit the valuable intelligence that can help us protect the American people,”Mr. Carney said. He added that the International Committee of the Red Cross was allowed to visit the Navy vessel “and had an opportunity to interview the detainee aboard the ship.”

I’m sure the Red Cross was able to visit – after our boy had coughed up what he needed to cough up.  I love the expression of the “first priority” too.  To “preserve the opportunity to elicit the valuable intelligence that can help us protect the American people.”  But evil Bush – not so much huh?

Funny how the rules change when you get stuck with the responsibility of prosecuting a war and protecting the nation and everything is fine that you condemned previously.  Ignorance and hypocrisy are the operative terms here.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


The UN’s plan to dominate the world of energy and to redistribute wealth? “Climate change”

If you’ve ever wondered what the purpose was of the UN’s climate change agenda or where it is going, a new report makes it pretty obvious:

Two years ago, U.N. researchers were claiming that it would cost “as much as $600 billion a year over the next decade” to go green. Now, a new U.N. report has more than tripled that number to $1.9 trillion per year for 40 years.

So let’s do the math: That works out to a grand total of $76 trillion, over 40 years — or more than five times the entire Gross Domestic Product of the United States ($14.66 trillion a year). It’s all part of a “technological overhaul” “on the scale of the first industrial revolution” called for in the annual report. Except that the U.N. will apparently control this next industrial revolution.

The new 251-page report with the benign sounding name of the “World Economic and Social Survey 2011” is rife with goodies calling for “a radically new economic strategy” and “global governance.”

Throw in possible national energy use caps and a massive redistribution of wealth and the survey is trying to remake the entire globe. The report has the imprimatur of the U.N., with the preface signed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon – all part of the “goal of full decarbonization of the global energy system by 2050.”

Make no mistake, much of this has nothing to do with climate.

I couldn’t agree more with the last sentence.  This has never been about climate.  World governance, however,  is and always has been the end game of the “Third World Debating Club”, also known as the UN. 

Dan Gainor, who wrote the piece being quoted, then cites the press release from the UN concerning the report:

The press release for the report discusses the need “to achieve a decent living standard for people in developing countries, especially the 1.4 billion still living in extreme poverty, and the additional 2 billion people expected worldwide by 2050.” That sounds more like global redistribution of wealth than worrying about the earth’s thermostat.

Well if you really understand how this is being approached, Gainor is exactly right.   Let me explain.   Those living in “extreme poverty” – the 1.4 billion cited – live mostly without running water and electricity.  Anyone – what is the fastest way to remedy that situation?  Well on the power side, fossil fueled (i.e coal fired) power plants.  You can build them relatively cheaply and quickly and they can begin to provide the requisite power necessary to begin to lift these people out of poverty.

But of course, the UN couldn’t control that, could they?  Instead, it has decided the way to do this is through going green with complete “decarbonization” by 2050.  That is can control, because it has been the initiator of most of this nonsense about global warming and the absurd treaties that have gone with it.   If it can find a way to convince governments that the threat is real and to have them self-impose carbon restrictions on themselves based on the UN agenda, it will be the UN calling the shots.

So essentially the UN is holding these 1.4 billion hostage to their agenda by refusing to budge on their push for global “decarbonization” by 2050.  In essence they’re telling the extremely poor that they’re stuck with that condition because the simple and immediately available solution is unacceptable to them since it poses a threat to the environment.  They’ll just have to wait while the UN engineers this agenda to the detriment of economies everywhere and we all end up in poverty of some sort.

An example of where this could head can be found in the UK right now as Christopher Booker explains:

Three years ago, when the hysteria over global warming was still at its height, our own British politicians voted almost unanimously for the Climate Change Act committing us, uniquely in the world, to cut our CO2 emissions by 80 per cent within 40 years. Even on the Government’s own figures, show that this will cost us up to £18 billion every year until 2050 – it is by far the most expensive law ever passed by Parliament. As our politicians continually impose on us ever higher taxes and other costs supposedly in the cause of ‘fighting climate change’ they have been carried away by a collective fantasy that has no parallel in history.

The result has been quite predictable:

As energy prices go through the roof, shocking figures reveal one in four families has been plunged into fuel poverty. Consumer Focus warns as many as 6 million could be forced to choose between a hot meal or heating their homes this winter.

Here are the numbers:

As energy prices go through the roof, shocking figures reveal one in four families has been plunged into fuel poverty.

[…]

The figures are higher than the one in five first estimated and show for the first time wealthier families have also been hammered by spiralling fuel costs with 15% of middle classes now fuel poor.

Research from price comparison website uSwitch found the number would leap to one in three if housing costs were added in.

It means at least 18 million people are spending 10% or more of their take home pay on energy bills. Based on the new way of calculating fuel poverty, 47% of working class families and 22% of the middle classes fall into this bracket.

A quarter of families with a stay-at-home parent are fuel poor but uSwitch argues this figure would soar to 44% if mortgages or rents were included. The number of fuel poor single parent families would jump from 39% to 52% while pensioner numbers would rise from 33% to 36%.

According to the website, fuel bills have rocketed by 71% in the past five years rising from £660 a year in 2006 to £1,131 today.

In other words, the UK’s self-imposed carbon caps and attempts to use not-ready-for-primetime alternative and renewable energy sources has driven up energy costs to such a level that it has put 1 in 4 in the UK into what is known as “fuel poverty”.

Bottom line?

William Baker, Head of Fuel Poverty Policy added: “Rising energy prices will lead to a bigger bills and a huge upswing in fuel poverty. This will mean an increasing percentage of our population, especially those on low incomes, are more likely to live in colder or damp houses or face higher debt.”

Most who have taken the time to do some study of the subject of climate change have come to the conclusion the science supporting it is suspect and that the UN’s IPCC is a political organization, not a scientific one.   This new UN report just puts an exclamation  on
that point.  The UN has, for years, concocted various plans and schemes to give it a larger role in world governance.  Not satisfied with being a deliberative body with the aim of keeping the peace, it now is attempting to find ways to direct revenue via this, their most ambitious scheme to date, to who they choose should receive it.  It is indeed a revenue redistribution scheme.

The end result of enacting this plan would be disastrous to the world’s economies, would keep those 1.4 billion in extreme poverty in the same state and, as is being demonstrated in the UK, put even more of the world’s population in “fuel poverty”.

Time to kill this monster now, before it gets any further out of its cage.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Obama not serious about debt ceiling or deficit

There’s a story out in the Washington Post about Obama’s supposed willingness to make cuts to entitlements, specifically Social Security.   Also out today is a story in The Hill concerning proposals to make much deeper cuts to defense spending than previously proposed.  All of this has to do with the debt ceiling debate.

The question I ask is what is really behind the Obama willingness to cut (or claim to be open to cutting) Social Security.  Is it real or is it just politics?

Combine that with increased cuts in defense and one has to question what the administration is or isn’t really willing to do?  My conclusion?  The Social Security cut proposal is smoke and mirrors.  The defense cuts are real, i.e. that’s where Obama and the Democrats are willing to go and go deep.  Why have I concluded that?  Well, two paragraphs, one in each story, give the game away.

First Social Security:

Privately, some congressional Democrats were alarmed by the president’s proposal, which could include adjusting the measure of inflation used to determine Social Security payouts. But others described it as primarily a bargaining strategy intended to demonstrate Obama’s willingness to compromise and highlight the Republican refusal to raise taxes.

A president running for re-election is not going to condone cuts in Social Security in an election year.   Politics 101.  Not. Going. To. Happen. 

But … he comes from a base constituency which would be fine with deep cuts to defense (disclaimer: there are cuts to defense that can be made – that’s understood – but not at the level they’re proposing).  Here’s the paragraph from The Hill story that tells you how serious Obama is about cutting spending – he gave it away at his “Twitter Townhall” yesterday:

During his first-ever Twitter town hall meeting Wednesday, Obama said the Defense budget is so large that even modest cuts to it would free up dollars for other federal programs.

Of course the budget is “large”, thanks to him we’re involved in our third war.  But that’s not the key takeaway from this paragraph.  Notice what he’s talking about for the dollars freed up by cuts.  Debt reduction?   Nope – further spending.

But it is more than clear that Obama is willing to gut defense and attempt to claim radical spending reductions on the back of the national security apparatus as a means of satisfying voters concerned about debt.  The $400 billion in DoD cuts has already been declared dangerous.  $700 billion would most likely be crippling.  With the first, you would trim mostly fat, but have a good chance of cutting critical muscle (i.e. critical programs such as the F-35).  With $700 billion in cuts, to continue the analogy, you’re cutting through muscle straight to the bone.

Defense spending is not sacrosanct and as I mention above, there are certainly cuts to be made.  But the problem with spending isn’t to be found there.  It is and always has been in entitlements.  President Obama has no intention of cutting Social Security – bet on it.   Unless such cuts for both Medicare and Social Security are made and restructuring of both programs seriously undertaken, what is happening (other than defense cuts) can’t be taken seriously and represents the politics at its worst.

Not that anyone should be surprised, considering the political class we’ve elected to represent us.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


So much for the myth that only the uninformed and ignorant are skeptical of AGW

Powerline’s Steven Hayward brings us the results of a revealing  paper by Cultural Cognition Project at Yale University.  It attacks one of the popular myths that only dummies reject the “consensus” because they are ignorant of the science.  Not so says the CCP:

The conventional explanation for controversy over climate change emphasizes impediments to public understanding: limited popular knowledge of science, the inability of ordinary citizens to assess technical information, and the resulting widespread use of unreliable cognitive heuristics to assess risk. A large survey of U.S. adults (N = 1540) found little support for this account. On the whole, the most scientifically literate and numerate subjects were slightly less likely, not more, to see climate change as a serious threat than the least scientifically literate and numerate ones.

Hayward points out that these results validate an earlier finding from the journal Risk Analysis (2008):

By examining the results of a survey on an original and representative sample of Americans, we find that these three forces—informedness, confidence in scientists, and personal efficacy—are related in interesting and unexpected ways, and exert significant influence on risk assessments of global warming and climate change. In particular, more informed respondents both feel less personally responsible for global warming, and also show less concern for global warming. We also find that confidence in scientists has unexpected effects: respondents with high confidence in scientists feel less responsible for global warming, and also show less concern for global warming.

Now one could conclude that it is actually the least informed who buy into the AGW because they’re less likely to seek out explanations to the underlying “science” that supports the theory.  Instead they accept it whole cloth and defend it instead of taking a skeptical point of view – a view which science demands.  Questioning the theory would also indicate intellectual curiosity instead of the rote acceptance of what is presented.

There’s a bit of irony to had here.  Hayward:

Whoa there: The more science you know about climate change, the less likely you are to think it is a crisis?  This suggest that all the money environmentalists have spent (I think the Environmental Defense Fund has spent $300 million alone on climate change) has had a negative effect on public opinion, and it offers the ironic possibility that the best thing Al Gore could do to advance his cause is shut up and grow his beard back in a Tibetan monastery.

It makes the case that a) the public isn’t stupid, b) propaganda is still mostly recognized as propaganda and c) the intellectually curious are more likely to be “skeptical” than the less intellectually curious.

Not a particularly flattering portrait of the AGW crowd, is it?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO