Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: May 2012


Why should you need government’s permission to do a job?

I’m talking about licensing.  The arguments are usually centered around licensing (i.e. government okaying you to do a job because you’ve met certain arbitrary requirements and paid some arbitrary fees) being required to ensure the safety of the consumer.  But as you’ll see in this video, that’s simply not the case in the vast majority of the occupations now licensed in various states.

In fact, licensing seems to be more about fees for government and barriers to competition imposed by government (good old crony capitalism).

You have to ask yourself, as pointed out in the video, if forty something other states are seeing people safely shampooed in their states, why is such a license and cost necessary in the states licensing that?

Of course, that’s common sense, and we’ll have none of that when we discuss government.

Understand?

Forward.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Indiana voters spit out a Lugar

I’m sure McQ will have plenty to say tomorrow about Lugar’s 40-60 thrashing in the Indiana senatorial primary. In the meantime, though, a few points of my own:

 

1. The left’s insistence that the Tea Party is just a bunch of fringe extremists with no real influence should have been shown for the wishful thinking it is by the Congressional elections in 2010. Of course, it wasn’t. Lugar’s defeat should demonstrate again that it was silly wishful thinking.

Not that the left will ever get it, because they can’t really face the reality of this situation. A mass movement around limited government is their worst enemy. The left exists as a parasite on the rest of society, with government as the way to extract sustenance from the host. Even the Tea Party, which advocates what I consider a mild form of limited government, could dry up some of the left’s nourishment, and they might well have to go into a Kilkenny cats resolution to that problem. Which, I admit, would be fun to watch.

2. Lugar was 80 years old. He would be 86 at the end of the next term. Like Byrd, he clearly wanted to be taken out of DC in a hearse. I’m sorry, but that’s sick. It’s an addiction to power and self-importance. That alone is a pretty good reason to get rid of him.

3. Lugar prattled that “Over 60% of my life has been serving others.” That kind of sanctimonious drool really gets on my nerves. So you’re serving us, Senator Lugar, but you’re the one being treated like royalty everywhere you go? The one being chauffeured around? The one being schmoozed by every lobbyist on K Street? Wow, what an incredible burden that must have been while you were serving us. Schmuck.

 


A Federal program that provides free cell phones is being abused? Go figure …

I know, I know … it’s just so unusual, right?

What if you could get a free phone with a calling plan whose cost was paid by the federal government? What if you could have eight free cell phones? You can, and people do, Rep. Tim Griffin told The Daily Caller. The annual bill runs over $1 billion, and he’s trying to stop it.

The federal government started the Lifeline program to provide phones to low-income Americans. It originally provided only landlines, but cell phones were added several years ago.

“That’s when the program absolutely exploded and has become a nightmare,” Griffin said in a phone interview with TheDC. Calling it “Uncle Sam’s unlimited plan,” the Arkansas Republican has proposed a bill that would scale back the program to its original form: landlines only.

“People are not only getting [one free cell phone], they’re getting multiples. There are reports of people getting 10, 20, 30 — just routinely getting more than one, selling them, storing them up, whatever,” Griffin said.

The phones come with 100 minutes or more of free air time.  And they’re not just basic models either, they’re smart phones, like that one you paid a couple of hundred dollars for along with the contract you are obligated to pay each month.

Silly you.  Playing by the rules and trying to make it on your own.  Ever wonder what that line on your bill that says “universal service fund” was all about?  Well, this is what its about.  Your government giving away cell phones with no apparent accountability and you paying for them.

And the companies filling the requests for these phones?  Much like what happened in the housing market, they’ve been given incentives by government to fill as many requests as they can.

This is an outgrowth of a program that was initiated to ensure that low-income people had a land line and access to emergency services.  Then came cell phones and somehow the yahoos in DC thought it was only “fair” (one supposes) to give those who qualify as low-income individuals access to them too (why, I’m not sure, if the intent was to have a point of access to emergency services, a land line serves that purpose).

The inevitable result is good old waste, fraud and abuse to the tune of a billion dollars a year – something for which government is justly famous.

Oh, and here’s my favorite part:

The Federal Communications Commission, the government agency that is in charge of Lifeline, has also called for an overhaul of the program to deal with fraud and abuse. The FCC’s proposed changes call for a database to keep track of who already has phones, to prevent any one person from gaming the system. The proposed overhaul would also institute “a one-per-household rule applicable to all providers in the program.”

Seriously?  Now they think they need a “database” of users?  Now?

Have they any idea of who has the phones now? 

And, most importantly, why wasn’t this done in the beginning?  You know, we do live in the computer/information age.  How hard would that have been?

Just another in a long line of well thought out, well run and efficient government programs.

Yeah, let’s campaign for even more, shall we?

Forward.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Economic Statistics for 8 May 12

The following statistics were released today on the state of the US economy:

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index jumped two points in April to 94.5, the best reading in a year.

In retail sales, ICSC-Goldman Store Sales fell -0.8% last week, and the year on year sales rate fell to 3.3%. Meanwhile, Redbook is also very soft, with the year on year sales rate falling to 2.6%.

~
Dale Franks
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Fiscal austerity? Certainly not in Europe

The narrative the left likes to push is that “austerity” is the wrong thing to do, that increased government spending will see us out of these tough times.  And they like to point to Europe’s continuing downward spiral because of “austerity” as proof.

Meh.  They should consult the numbers first before pumping out yet another false meme:

fiscal-austerity-newnew580_1-1

Hardly a picture of “drastic” spending cuts.  Hardly a picture of “austerity.”

As Joel Pollak at Breitbart points out:

Government spending has continued to rise across much of Europe, and even those countries that have made small cuts have not reduced government spending to pre-recession levels. Some Keynesians might believe that these policies are draconian relative to the massive spending that should have happened during a recession, but that shifting the austerity goalposts.

Veronique de Rugy at National Review Online points to the graph above, and also points out that "whenever cuts took place, they were always overwhelmed by large counterproductive tax increases." Higher taxes on the "rich" have led to uniform misery in Europe–and to political extremism among disenchanted voters.That is the real failure of European policy, and the lesson most relevant to Americans as we head to the polls to choose between an incumbent who wants to raise taxes and one who wants to reform them.

Or to distill this even further, the “blue social/political model” is dying and there isn’t much the left (or anyone) can do to save it.  Reality has again defined “unsustainable” for the left in terms they are finding difficult to deal with.

What’s the first stage of coping with grief?

Oh, yeah … denial.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


“Forward” is fun

We’ve talked before about how it seems that whatever the Obama campaign puts forward, oops, I mean “out there”, it seems to backfire on them in a way they don’t anticipate.  As Dale Franks opines, the left takes their politics too seriously and so really don’t seem to understand that many times, when they start their hashtag slogans on Twitter or come up with campaign slogans that they’re teeing something up that the right will hit with glee and, for the most part, very snarky humor.

Well the new campaign slogan “Forward” is getting the treatment.  ScottonCapeCod starts us with this one:

590x354xFORWARD1-590x354.jpg.pagespeed.ic.YK1rmjsAtN

 

I like this one as well:

Obama train

And a couple by Herder Breeder:

forewarned

 

I especially like this one of circling the drain:

circle the drain

Get them out there.  One effect weapon that can be wielded against the left is mockery.  And after these last 3 plus years, they deserve every bit of it.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


A new day dawns in France … well, not really

If this is any indication of how France’s new president elect, Francois Hollande, plans to govern, I pity the French as well as the rest of Europe:

The 57-year-old Socialist has openly admitted that he “does not like the rich” and declared that “my real enemy is the world of finance”. This means taxing the wealthy by up to 75 per cent, curtailing the activities of Paris as a centre for financial dealing, and ploughing millions into creating more civil service jobs.

Add an explicit threat to renegotiate the euro pact to replace austerity with “growth-creating” spending, and you have one of the most vehemently left-wing programmes in recent history.

Of course reading through that helps one understand why, after learning of his victory, President Obama immediately invited him to the White House.  Let’s see, tax the rich, go after the financial sector, grow government jobs and borrow, borrow, borrow to spend, spend, spend.

Huh … sounds familiar.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Markets at work: College and jobs (and what that may mean to Obama)

The Wall Street Journal provides an interesting infographic which fairly well outlines what the market for college graduates is looking for.  Or said another way, employers determine what majors they’ll hire, not college students.

 

collegeinfographic

 

So we have college recruiting picking up – a good sign – and we have a buyers market.  Bottom left tells us all what they’re interested in and, more importantly, what they’re not interested in.   Of course that’s of the 160 employers surveyed.  That obviously doesn’t mean that the bottom five can’t and won’t find employment.  It’s just likely they won’t find it with those 160 surveyed.  They indicated, however, a trend we’ve talked about quite often.  Hard skills or business related skills. 

Bottom right shows us how the market for college graduates has changed in the last few years.  Only 25% are hired while still in college, most, one would suppose, in those top 5 categories.  The huge difference, however, comes in the last number for 2009-2011 graduates.  45% still have no “first full-time job”.  That means some are going on 3 years.  That adds more credence to the last chart on this post

As for this year’s college grads, they face even tougher prospects when it comes to finding a job.  They not only have to compete against their peers, but against the graduates from from previous years still seeking their “first full-time job”.

Which brings us to the politics of this situation.  In 2008, Obama charmed the college age crowd who treated him like a combination of a rock-star and the second coming.

With the sort of situation the chart depicts now being the reality and with the youngest demographic (which includes these college age job seekers) the worst hit by the still staggering economy, one has to wonder whether or not he can pull them back into his orbit again in any significant numbers with the promise of saving them $7 a month on college loans. 

I’m guessing the answer is “no”.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Robert Reich’s attempt to redefine Capitalism

I’ve often said that what the left attempts to do is redefine words to blunt the impact (and fool the people) of what they’re trying to accomplish.

On the occasion of a Socialist winning France’s Presidential election, Robert Reich, of all people, is out to reassure the masses in America that Socialism is not the answer, Capitalism is.

However, upon closer reading, well it’s not the Capitalism we’d recognize.  Here are his opening paragraphs:

Francois Hollande’s victory doesn’t and shouldn’t mean a movement toward socialism in Europe or elsewhere. Socialism isn’t the answer to the basic problem haunting all rich nations.

The answer is to reform capitalism. The world’s productivity revolution is outpacing the political will of rich societies to fairly distribute its benefits. The result is widening inequality coupled with slow growth and stubbornly high unemployment.

Note the focus – ‘“fair” distribution of its benefits’.  Anyone – what about Capitalism calls for the “fair distribution of benefits.”

And if you change laws and require such a thing, can what you end up with be fairly called “Capitalism”?

Back to Reich.  He claims that workers are being replaced by “computers, software and the Internet (damn that Al Gore).  Consequently, jobs are at a premium and, well, that’s just not fair.  Besides (prepare for tired old song):

In the United States, almost all the gains from productivity growth have been going to the top 1 percent, and the percent of the working-age population with jobs is now lower than it’s been in more than thirty years (before the vast majority of women moved into paid work).

Inequality is also growing in Europe, along with chronic joblessness. Europe is finding it can no longer afford generous safety nets to catch everyone who has fallen out of the working economy.

And, apparently, the top 1% a) bury the money in cans in the back yard and b) don’t pay 37% of all income taxes collected (the top 5% pay 59%).  That’s just not sufficient anymore to keep the bottom 50%, who essentially pay no income taxes, in the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed.  And Reich thinks that’s wrong. However, and this is the whole point of his pitch, that’s not Socialism.Obama_Socialists_01_250px

Really?  A “fair distribution of benefits” so neatly defines Socialism, I’m not sure what’s left to say.  Except Reich wants us to somehow swallow the premise that it is also a principle part of Capitalism (it’s not) and we must reform Capitalism to conform to this newly discovered, er, inserted principle.

So what does Capitalism do?  Well, you’ve heard it said many times that the tide of Capitalism “lifts all boats”.  I.e. the “benefits” are distributed by a system that makes life better for all.  It does that by rewarding innovators, risk takers and entrepreneurs.  And those rewards can be very rich.  But:

Consumers in rich nations are reaping some of the benefits of the productivity revolution in the form of lower prices or more value for the money — consider the cost of color TVs, international phone calls, or cross-country flights compared to what they were before.

Indeed, we live better now than we did 30 years ago because of what?  The “benefits” of Capitalism as they’re traditionally defined.  Even Reich has to admit that.

However, that’s not good enough for the left.   Those not in the 1% are apparently “victims” and due much more simply because they exist.  And those who do take risks and succeed are those that owe the victims this “fairness” by giving up what they’ve earned.

You see the left’s forte is class warfare and that, frankly, is the cornerstone of Socialism.  Their traditional enemy is,  you guessed it, Capitalism and Capitalists. 

What Reich is offering is a new sort of a smoke and mirrors approach.  It’s hard to fight their traditional enemy on the basis of performance – we are a very rich nation and even our poor live better than most nation’s middle class.  So that won’t work.

Instead, it’s the politics of envy that has been employed and the siren song of “fairness” or “equality” as the required (not desired) outcome.  Oh, and that there is only one entity that can enforce either or both – government (mostly through punitive taxation).

That’s Reich’s pitch.  That’s the snake oil he’s trying to peddle.  Reassure everyone that he’s a big Capitalist (he’s not).  Pretend the problem with our system right now is it is unfair because Capitalism has gone wrong (it hasn’t).  But, with a few tweaks and reforms via government we can fix that (and end up just like Europe).

Of course we can certainly do all of that, can’t we?  And when we do, it will be called “Socialism”, won’t it?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 06 May 12

This week, Bruce and Dale talk about what the Trayvon martin case says about the media.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.