Monthly Archives: September 2012
Jonah Goldberg provides a little history lesson that helps one understand why it is that politicians are now credited with the country’s economic progress or lack thereof:
The idea that presidents “run” the economy is both ludicrous and fairly novel. Before the New Deal (which in my opinion prolonged the Great Depression), the notion that presidents should or could grow the economy was outlandish. But, as the historian H. W. Brands has argued, it was JFK who really cemented the idea that the president is the project manager for a team of technicians who create economic prosperity. “Most of the problems . . . that we now face, are technical problems, are administrative problems,” he explained, and should be kept as far away from partisan politics as possible.
It may have been JFK who “cemented” the idea, but it was FDR who first sold it and the myth that grew up around him that claimed he had saved us from the Great Depression. Subsequent study of the era has yielded pretty solid evidence that, in fact, his policies failed and it was a world war that dragged us out of the Depression.
That said, it really doesn’t matter – the perception and belief has been established that the President does indeed have an effect on the economy – right or wrong. That’s just the reality of the matter. Additionally, politicians haven’t been shy about cultivating that perception. It is another means of padding the resume (if the results during their term have been good) or attacking the incumbent (if the results haven’t been very good).
The truth is politicians do have an effect – usually when they chose to intervene, the economy does worse and when they get out of the way, it does better. For the most part, they have yet to realize that, however.
But that’s not really the point I’m interested in making. All of that said, what this race boils down too is a President, who has had poor results, claiming he should be given another 4 years to do better.
The problem with that? He’s already proven he doesn’t know what he’s talking about:
President Obama, a hybrid reincarnation of Kennedy and Roosevelt according to his fans, came into office with similar misconceptions. Controlling the White House, the House, and the Senate, his team of propeller-heads insisted that if we passed exactly the stimulus they wanted, the unemployment rate would top out at 8 percent and would be well below that by now.
They waved around charts and graphs “proving” they were right, like self-declared messiahs insisting they are to be followed because the prophecies they wrote themselves say so.They got their stimulus. They were wrong.
They were dead wrong.
So the question then, given their “know-it-all” claim and their assertions that their plan would work if we’d only give them the money, why should we trust them to do better the second time around, given the fact that we’re actually worse off now than when we were in the actual recession?
As Goldberg points out, their claim is the downturn was “so much worse than anyone realized” isn’t a good excuse given the assurance with which they made their previous claim.
Why didn’t they realize it? That’s a fair question.
A more important question though is why in the world would you give another chance to someone who didn’t drive the vehicle of the economy out of the ditch as promised, but instead put it into a telephone pole?
It makes absolutely no sense.
And Obama’s plan for his coming 4 years? As best as I can discern, pretty much maintain course and tax the rich. That’s it. We’re banging along the economic bottom, unemployment is trending worse, and Obama wants to raise taxes on a single group that would pay for a total of 11 hours of government spending.
You’re asked to buy into that nonsense as solid economic policy – i.e. giving him more time.
Are you actually going to do that?
If so, and if you give this incompetent president and his clueless advisers another 4 years, you deserve everything that comes with that choice – to include a hearty “I told you so” from me if I’m still around in 2016.
This week, Bruce, Michael, and Dale talk about the Democratic Convention and the economy.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
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.
Chris and I went downtown to take some pictures. This time, instead of lugging around an SLR, I took my new Panasonic Lumix FZ200. It’s a 12.1 megapixel bridge camera, with a 28mm-600mm superzoom lens. I wanted to see how it would do as a walking-around camera. I think the answer is, "very well."
The Star Of India, docked in downtown San Diego.
Downtown mall corridor
San Diego County Jail
A little bird
This odd building looks like an optical illusion
Chairs in a residential courtyard
A homeless man’s dog, downtown San Diego
LED marquee at the Balboa Theater
Trains at Union Station
Architectural detail of Union Station
Architectural detail of a restored Victorian-era building
The Gaslamp District
Lobby, Sempra Energy building
Mosaic Wall, Horton Plaza
Park and skyline
Each window of this building has a screen that can be lowered to cover the glass
Architectural detail, Sempra Energy building
Restored Victorian-era building in the Gaslamp District
The Moon and Venus
And finally, to show you how powerful the zoom and video capabilities of this little camera are, I give you The Dog Walker.
Of course the spin will be that the unemployment rate has dropped to 8.1%.
Unstated is the fact that the reason the unemployment rate dropped is because 368,000 more Americans left the labor force.
In fact, the labor participation rate in the US is at its lowest level since September of 1981. Had we not seen 350,000 dropped from the labor force last month, the unemployment rate would be 8.4%. And if the labor participation rate was the same as the day Obama took office, unemployment would be at 11.2%.
96,000 jobs, while better than nothing, isn’t even close to what is necessary to get this economy going again. And don’t forget, the average monthly gain in 2011 was 153,000 a month. In fact, the U-6, which includes part-time workers looking for full time work, is at 14.7%.
I keep telling you that when you talk about jobs or lack thereof and what that means to individual Americans, it’s personal. While they may care or not care particularly who has the best record in foreign policy or whether or not abortion is something they believe in, being jobless, struggling, and/or knowing someone in the family who is, has much more of a direct effect on a potential voter than the other issues.
14.7% fall into that category with probably twice to three times that many effected by what those 14.7% are struggling with. Believe what you will about the polls right now, but if history is any indicator, Obama isn’t going to get a round 2.
Oh, and just as a reminder of the depth of the failure:
UPDATE: Meanwhile at the Ministry of Truth the “Spin-o-matic” is in overdrive:
While there is more work that remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression.
It does? Wow … who knew? Certainly not the 350,000 who dropped out of the labor force this month. But hey, be happy, don’t worry … and ignore the chart.
The only economic release today is the monthly Employment Situation. In August, 96,000 net new jobs were created, with the unemployment rate falling to 8.1%. Analysts had predicted a steady 8.3% unemployment rate with 125,000 new jobs created. Instead, job creation remains anemic, though the exit of 368,000 workers from the labor force lowered the unemployment rate, which makes the lower unemployment rate bad news. The labor force participation rate declined -0.2% to 63.5%, while the employment-population rate fell -0.1% to 58.3%, near the low since the recession, and, before that, 1983. 119,000 fewer workers identified themselves as employed last month, with the total falling to 142,101,000.
Average weekly hours were unchanged at 33.7. Average hourly earnings declined by one penny to $19.75.
If the labor force participation rate were at the historical average of 66.2%, the real rate of unemployment would be 11.37%, up from 11.16% last month and 11.04% in June.
There’s just nothing positive in this report.
Obama 2012: “I never said it would be quick or easy”
Obama 2009: “If this isn’t done it three years, we’re talking about a one term proposition”
Last night we heard, well, we heard a speech that was not so hot. Oh he said lots of stuff, but we’ve all learned over the past 3 plus years not to really trust what he says, but instead to watch what he does. He knows how to own the rhetoric, he just rarely if ever lives up to it.
He’s the “I want to have it both ways” president.
For instance – last night he said this:
We don’t think the government can solve all of our problems, but we don’t think the government is the source of all of our problems …
And the truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades. It’ll require common effort, shared responsibility, and the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one.
On the one hand he tells us government isn’t the answer and on the other, he claims it more government is the answer. Which should we believe?
Well in this case, the latter, given his actions (see ObamaCare which he never once mentioned last night, just like the number “8.2%.). He spent two years going the FDR route with a Democratic Congress and had he not seen his party go down in flames in 2010 and a check put on him in the House of Representatives, you can be assured he and the Democrats would have attempted to grow government even more.
This is a guy on whose watch we almost doubled the debt. Yet not a mention of that last night. Instead he tried to tell us how much he was going to take off the debt . 4 trillion he claims.
Independent experts say that my plan would cut our deficit by $4 trillion.
But another thing you learn listening to this president is to take his claims with a grain of salt. 4 trillion? Only if you believe in “creative” accounting. Jennifer Rubin, quoting the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler’s fact check of that claim points out why it is a load of rubbish:
By the administration’s math, you have nearly $3.8 trillion in spending cuts, compared to $1.5 trillion in tax increases (letting the Bush tax cuts expire for high-income Americans). Presto, $1 of tax increases for every $2.50 of spending cuts.
But virtually no serious budget analyst agreed with this accounting. The $4 trillion figure, for instance, includes counting some $1 trillion in cuts reached a year ago in budget negotiations with Congress. So no matter who is the president, the savings are already in the bank.
Moreover, the administration is also counting $848 billion in phantom savings from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though the administration had long made clear those wars would end.
In other words, by projecting war spending far in the future, the administration is able to claim credit for saving money it never intended to spend. (Imagine taking credit for saving money on buying a new car every year, even though you intended to keep your car for 10 years.)
Rather than good arithmetic, independent budget analysts called the maneuver “a major budget gimmick.”
The administration also counts $800 billion in savings in debt payments (from lower deficits) as a “spending cut,” which is a dubious claim. We didn’t realize that debt payments were now considered a government program.
There are a number of other games being played, so fake money is being used to pay for real spending projects. In effect, most of Obama’s claimed deficit reduction comes from his proposed tax increases.
And, as we’ve all learned, those tax increases are but a drop in the sea of red ink this president has unleashed. His appeal to authority notwithstanding, his claim is as empty as his rhetoric.
As most have figured out, the problem isn’t about who is or isn’t “paying their fair share”, it’s about out-of-control spending. In the entire speech last night, that was not a subject that was addressed. Instead, as you saw above, we were given a real preview into what he has in store for us when he can be “more flexible”. FDR type experimentation.
What does FDR type experimentation require? More government and more spending.
Finally, if you missed this, you need to be reminded:
And yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet, because climate change is not a hoax.
That says two things. One, he plans to do the same sort of slow walking for fossil fuel he’s done this past four years while doubling down on his disastrous green policy. And part of the doubling down is undoubtedly to somehow impose a carbon tax that will help feed a ravenous spending machine.
The president who said he would return science to preeminence in decision making during his administration, is now planning on using the pseudo-science of AGW as an excuse to raise taxes on everyone. If that’s not clear, you’ve just not been paying attention.
So he’s right, there’s never been a more clear choice. Continued disaster, keeping a country on the wrong track on that track or an attempt to change that.
Will Romney be better?
He’s actually a turn-around specialist with experience and success in the field. How could he be worse?
I say we make Obama stick with the 2009 statement – for the good of the country.
It must be true. None other than Politico has noticed:
A crabby, negative campaign that has been more about misleading and marginal controversies than the major challenges facing the country? Barack Obama and Mitt Romney can both claim parenthood of this ugly child.
But there is a particular category of the 2012 race to the low road in which the two sides are not competing on equal terms: Obama and his top campaign aides have engaged far more frequently in character attacks and personal insults than the Romney campaign.
Nice to see Obama has “changed politics as we know it”.
Another promise abandoned.
The following US economic statistics were announced today:
Initial jobless claims fell sharply last week, down 12,000 to 365,000. The 4-week average rose to 371,250, however. Continuing claims fell 6000to 3.322 million.
ADP private payroll employment rose well above expectations to 201,000 in August, following a revised 173,000 total for July. This bodes well for tomorrow’s Employment Situation report.
The composite index from the ISM non-manufacturing survey for August rose 1.1 points to 53.7.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell rose slightly to -46.5.
The Challenger Job-Cut Report shows a total of 32,239 layoffs for August, the second lowest of the recovery.
The following US economic statistics were announced today:
Nonfarm business productivity for the second quarter was revised upwards to 2.2%. Unit labor costs were revised downwards to a 1.5% increase. These revisions are in line with the earlier revisions to 2nd Quarter GDP.
The MBA reports mortgage applications fell by -2.5% last week, with purchases down -0.8%, and re-finance apps falling by -3.0%.
In weekly retail sales Redbook reports a strong 2.5% year-over-year sales increase, the strongest since June. ICSC-Goldman Store Sales fell -0.4% in the latest week, but is still up 3.7% year-on-year, the strongest increase of the summer.
A video that claims “the government is the only thing we all belong too” is being disowned by the Obama Campaign, saying it was a video produced by the host city committee and not the DNC.
But, of course, it carries a Democratic National Convention banner in the lower left corner (another case of incompetence or refusing to be held accountable).
However I’m not so much concerned with who did it than I am with the implication of the message. It serves as a reminder of the premise under which most of the left works.
I don’t belong to any government. Government is my employee. It works for me. It is supposed to do my bidding in a democratic system, and not the other way around.
Now I’m sure that there are those who will listen to this and claim that the speaker is talking about a unity of effort or the uniting effect of government. I.e. regardless of party or ideology we all work under the same government.
But that’s not what he said. “Belong” has a very specific meaning. While talking about why the meme “you didn’t build that” isn’t going away, Rachel Larimore tells us why:
Many moons ago, I spent a couple of years in a fiction-writing program at a local university. I never finished the novel I aspired to write, but I did learn some valuable lessons. The most important: “It doesn’t matter what you meant. What matters is what you conveyed.” In the context of class, that meant when we were sharing our work and listening to feedback, we couldn’t butt in and say that we’d meant something else. We needed to take ourselves out of our own head and try to understand what our readers had heard.
What was conveyed was a message that, to me, is anti-liberty. Sorry to blunt about it, but it reflects a belonging that I reject. I’m not an American because of my government. I don’t belong to any group because of my government. My government exits at my forbearance. It exists solely to serve mine and other American’s needs.
And while we might disagree on is what those needs are and how much government is necessary, I don’t “belong” to the government in any sense whatsoever?
But what this short segment highlights is the very large philosophical gulf that exists between those who believe in individualism and those who are statists. The statement is a statement that glorifies the state while attempting to lump all of us as collectively “owned” by it. Whether or not that’s what the speaker meant, it is what he said and conveyed by using the word “belong”.
It might not be such a big deal if it wasn’t so obviously the usually unspoken belief of so many on the left. What we’re going to see in Charlotte is a celebration of big government and that sort of “belonging”.
I want no part of it.