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3951  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Only 14% of enrollees not subsidized on: December 16, 2013, 08:57:03 AM

Yes, why would anyone want a government-written health plan except to see if someone else will pay for it.

Everyone I've encountered seemed negative on Obamacare until last week when a friend said his cost went down from 1800/mo to 900.  He is mid-50s with an early history of serious heart trouble.  I would argue that in his business, selling homes, he is still better off with a healthy economy and paying fair market for his coverage than with the subsidy and the ill economic effects that come with it.  If O'Care is not repealed, I will report back when his subsidized premium goes above what is was unsubsidized.

But that was the trick of implementation.  Even if only a few million middle earners sign up, if you cleanly repeal it you will be taking away their meds, doubling their costs, killing them.
3952  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Unemployment benefits for 'working men and women' on: December 14, 2013, 03:33:07 PM
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee calls for unemployment benefits for 'working men and women'

The Houston Democrat called upon her fellow Congress members to extend jobless benefits for people with jobs.

"Let us vote to provide for unemployment insurance for working men and women so that faces across America will not have the tear of desperation on their faces,"
3953  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / If 1 man 1 woman marriage limit is discriminatory, Polygamy is unconstitutional on: December 14, 2013, 03:28:09 PM

Who made that argument previously?

3954  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: December 14, 2013, 01:44:24 PM
"Doug, The plan is to get to single payer..."

Very true.  Liberals are not startled by the failure of this complex public-private fiasco, even though it is their own.  Tthey will argue for simplicity and point to the way it 'works' for everyone else.

Republicans should have united by now on a solution and alternative to take away the false claim of Dems that R's want to take us back to the way it was, which was the old Dem plan of only 60% government control and runaway costs.

It is frustrating to lack both leadership and a message.
3955  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama's 1983 answer to the Soviet challenge? Unilateral disarmament on: December 14, 2013, 11:36:08 AM
See the NY Times pdf of the original article. He could see the "goodness in humanity" by the turnout and enthusiasm at SAM, Students Against Militarism Thursday night.  SAM had 15 members, none of which controlled the arsenal of the Soviet Union then or Iran today.   I am curious if Bill Ayers wrote this too.

(Now he refuses to stop nuclear proliferation to dictators and terrorists.)

ARA sponsored events---(Arms Race Alternatives)
BREAKINGTHE WAR MENTALITY    Sundial. March 10, 1983
           By Harack Obama                       our hearts. and taking continual, tangi-    on the nuclear threat-reveals a deep
     Most students at Columbia do not       ble ~teps to prevent war, becomes a di-     resevoir ofconcern. "I think students on
have first hand knowledge of war_ Mili-     fficult task.                                          this campus like to think of themselves
tary violence has been a vicarious ex-           Two groups on campus, Anns Race        as sophisticated, and don't appreciate
perience, channeled into our minds          Alternatives (ARA) and Students             small vision, So they tend to come out
through television, film, and print.           Ag-ainst Militarism (SAM), work within      more for the events; they do not want to
     The more sensitive ~lmong us           these mental limits to foster awareness     just fold leaflets."
struggle to extrapolate experiences of      and practical action neces::-ary to coun-         Mark Bigelow, a graduate intern
war from our everyday experience, dis-      ter the growing threat of war. Though       from Union Theological Seminary who
cussing the latest mortality statistics         the emphasis of the two p:roups differ.      works with Don to keep ARA running
from Guatemala, sensitizing ourselves       they share an aversion to current gov-      smoothly, agrees. "It seems that stu-
to our parents' wartime memories, or        ernment policy. These groups, visualiz-     dents here are fairly aware of the nucle-
incorporating into our framework ofreˇ      ing the possibilities of destruction and    ar problem, and it makes for an underly-
ality as depicted by a Mailer or a Cop-     g-rasping the-tendencies of distorted na-   ing frustration. We try to talk to that
pola. But the taste of war-the sounds       tional priorities, are throwing their       frustration." Consequently. the thrust of
and chill, the dead bodies-are remote       weight into shifting America off the         ARA is towards generating dialogue
and far removed. We know that wars          dead-end track.                              which will give people a rational handle
have OlX.'WTed, will occur, are occWTing,        "Most people my age remember           on this controversial subject. this inc-
but bringing such experience down into      well the air-raid drills in school, under   ludes bringing speakers like Daniel

3956  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Welfare State Con Game on: December 14, 2013, 11:12:04 AM
“The welfare state is the oldest con game in the world. First you take people’s money away quietly, and then you give some of it back to them flamboyantly.”  - Thomas Sowell
3957  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: You can keep your _____. on: December 14, 2013, 11:04:46 AM
3958  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics - Minimum Wage, George Will on: December 14, 2013, 10:43:12 AM
i was pleased to see George Will pick up on yeserday's minimum wage discussion.  He tries so eloquently to not say you have to be a complete idiot to think you can raise the cost of something and get more of it.  If we really want to help the downtrodden, why wouldn't we wouldn't we raise the minimum wage to $50?  Why wouldn't we "require anyone who gives money to panhandlers to give a minimum of $10"?  Won't that bring in more money than smaller donations?  Panhandlers don't think so.

"raising the price of low-productivity workers will somewhat reduce demand for them.  If you reject that last sentence, name other goods or services for which you think demand is inelastic when their prices increase."

Raise minimum wage? It’s iffy

By George F. Will, Published: December 13

“It’s not true that life is one damn thing after another — it’s one damn thing over and over.”
— Edna St. Vincent Millay

Liberals’ love of recycling extends to their ideas, one of which illustrates the miniaturization of Barack Obama’s presidency. He fervently favors a minor measure that would have mostly small, mostly injurious effects on a small number of people. Nevertheless, raising the minimum hourly wage for the 23rd time since 1938, from today’s $7.25 to $10.10, is a nifty idea, if:

If government is good at setting prices. Government — subsidizer of Solyndra, operator of the ethanol program, creator of — uses minimum-wage laws to set the price for the labor of workers who are apt to add only small value to the economy.

If you think government should prevent two consenting parties — an employer and a worker — from agreeing to an hourly wage that government disapproves.

If you think today’s 7 percent unemployment rate is too low. (It would be 10.9 percent if the workforce participation rate were as high as it was when Obama was first inaugurated; since then, millions of discouraged workers have stopped searching for jobs.) Because less than 3 percent of the workforce earns the minimum wage, increasing that wage will not greatly increase unemployment. Still, raising the price of low-productivity workers will somewhat reduce demand for them.

If you reject that last sentence. If you do, name other goods or services for which you think demand is inelastic when their prices increase.

If you think teenage (16-19) unemployment (20.8 percent), and especially African American teenage unemployment (35.8 percent), is too low. Approximately 24 percent of minimum-wage workers are teenagers.

If you think government policy should encourage automation of the ordering and preparation of food to replace workers in the restaurant industry, which employs 43.8 percent of minimum-wage workers.

If you think it is irrelevant that most minimum-wage earners are not poor. Most minimum-wage workers are not heads of households. More than half are students or other young people, usually part-time workers in families whose average income is $53,000 a year, which is $2,000 more than the average household income.

If you do not care that there are more poor people whose poverty derives from being unemployed than from low wages. True, some of the working poor earn so little they are eligible for welfare. But an increase in the minimum wage will cause some of these people to become unemployed and rely on welfare.

If you do not mind a minimum-wage increase having a regressive cost-benefit distribution. It would jeopardize marginal workers to benefit organized labor, which supports a higher minimum in the hope that this will raise the general wage floor, thereby strengthening unions’ negotiating positions.

If you think it is irrelevant that nearly two-thirds of minimum-wage workers get a raise in their first year.

If you think a higher minimum wage, rather than a strengthened Earned Income Tax Credit, is the most efficient way to give money to the working poor.

If you think tweaking the minimum wage is a serious promotion of equality by an administration during which 95 percent of real income growth has accrued to the top 1 percent.

If you think forcing employers to spend X dollars more than necessary to employ labor for entry-level jobs will stimulate the economy. If you believe this, you must think the workers receiving the extra dollars will put the money to more stimulative uses than their employers would have. If so, why not a minimum wage of $50.50 rather than the $10.10? Because this might discourage hiring? What makes you sure you know the threshold where job destruction begins?

If you think the high school dropout rate is too low. In 1994, Congress decreed that by 2000 the graduation rate would be “at least” 90 percent. In 2010 it was 78.2 percent. Increasing the minimum wage would increase the incentive to leave school early. One scholarly study concluded that, in states where students may leave school before 18, increases in the minimum wage caused teenage school enrollment to decline.

If the milk of human kindness flows by the quart in your veins, so you should also want to raise the minimum street charity: Take moral grandstanding oblivious of consequences to a new level by requiring anyone who gives money to panhandlers to give a minimum of $10. Beggars may not benefit, but you will admire yourself.
3959  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / PolitFact is co-conspirator of Lie of the Year on: December 13, 2013, 11:16:35 PM
PolitiFact, the Candy Crowley of online fact checking, called its own Lie of the Year "true".

PolitiFact's Forked Tongue
The site once vouched for its "lie of the year."
By James Taranto
December 13, 2013, the Tampa Bay Times's "fact checking" operation, is out with its "Lie of the Year," and it's a doozy of dishonesty: "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.' "

Just to show how fast the news can move, back in September this columnist tweeted: "If 'I didn't set a red line' isn't named 'Lie of the Year,' @PolitiFact is a state propaganda agency." "I didn't set a red line"--the reference was to Syria's use of chemical weapons, in case you've forgotten--didn't even make the top 10. Yet our September tweet proved to be mistaken: We cannot fault PolitiFact for the lie it chose instead.

Which isn't to say PolitiFact doesn't function as a state propaganda agency. For in the past--when it actually mattered, which is to say before ObamaCare became first a law and then a practical reality--PolitiFact vouched for Barack Obama's Big Lie.

In her lie-of-the-year write-up, PolitiFact's Angie Holan includes the following acknowledgment:

    In 2009 and again in 2012, PolitiFact rated Obama's statement Half True, which means the statement is partially correct and partially wrong. We noted that while the law took pains to leave some parts of the insurance market alone, people were not guaranteed to keep insurance through thick and thin. It was likely that some private insurers would continue to force people to switch plans, and that trend might even accelerate.

Her "half true" acknowledgment is itself a half-truth. As the Washington Examiner's Sean Higgins noted last month, in October 2008 PolitiFact rated the same statement, from then-candidate Obama, as flatly "true," on the ground that "Obama is accurately describing his health care plan here."

We're not making this up. PolitiFact actually rated Obama's promise as "true" on the ground that in making the promise, he was making the promise.

To be sure, there are some epistemological complexities here. The cancellation letters from insurance companies provide concrete proof that Obama's claim was false, evidence that was necessarily lacking in 2008, 2009 and 2012. Likewise, the reporting of our colleagues on the news side of The Wall Street Journal established with a previously lacking specificity that Obama told the lie with full knowledge and intent to deceive.

One might have reasonably suspected, in 2008 and certainly in 2009 and 2012, that Obama was lying. But one could not prove it, because it was not yet a factual assertion. In 2008 it was but a promise, which Obama might or might not have intended and might or might not have been able to keep. By 2012, we now know, it was a full-fledged fraud, but exposing it conclusively as such would have required a degree of expertise few journalists have.

In other words, it's not that PolitiFact was wrong to withhold its jejune "pants on fire" designation from the Obama statement in 2008, 2009 and 2012. It was wrong even to make a pretense of "fact checking" a statement that was, at the time, not a factual claim. Its past evaluations of the statement were not "fact checks" at all, merely opinion pieces endorsing ObamaCare.

Lots of people wrote opinion pieces endorsing ObamaCare, and some are still at it. Apart from the substance of the arguments, there's nothing wrong with that. But selling opinion pieces by labeling them "fact checks" is fundamentally dishonest. In this case, it was in the service of the most massive consumer fraud in American history.
3960  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: December 13, 2013, 12:00:34 PM
"military spending is like turning a big ocean going tanker-- it takes a LONG time to turn, start, or stop."  - True.

I'm REALLY not liking what I am reading about what the sequester cuts are doing and am glad to see them being lessened.
   - Point taken.

OTOH, defense spending 2013 was $821B, cut back to 2010 levels but more than years 2003-2009 with two wars going.
If it is being spent unwisely, increasing the total won't necessarily address that.

One might also say:  Domestic spending is like turning a big ocean going tanker-- it takes a LONG time to turn, start, or stop.

The (other) good news in the budget deal (give Paul Ryan credit for this) is that so-called tax loopholes were left untouched, leaving the closing of loopholes, exclusions and tax system gimmicks on the table for real tax reform that could lower the rates across the board and help grow the economy - if we ever become interested in that.
3961  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science, Middle East Snow on: December 13, 2013, 10:45:18 AM
Just 13 years ago, Dr. David Viner, senior scientist at Britain’s University of East Anglia’s climatic research unit, confidently predicted that, within a few years, winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event.”  “Children [in Britain] just aren’t going to know what snow is.”

Nothing was said about Israel and Egypt...,0,1691393.story#axzz2nMzV6vMp
snow blankets Middle East
A bruising winter storm brought severe weather to the Middle East, forcing the closure of roads and schools,0,4657856.photogallery#ixzz2nNFfAFFD
CAIRO -- Snow coated domes and minarets Friday as a record Mideast storm compounded the suffering of Syrian refugees, sent the Israeli army scrambling to dig out stranded motorists and gave Egyptians a rare glimpse of snow in their capital.

Nearly three feet of snow closed roads in and out of Jerusalem, which is set in high hills, and thousands in and around the city were left without power. Israeli soldiers and police rescued  hundreds trapped in their cars by snow and ice. In the West Bank, the branches of olive trees groaned under the weight of snow.

In Cairo, where local news reports said the last recorded snowfall was more than 100 years ago, children in outlying districts capered in white-covered streets, and adults marveled at the sight, tweeting pictures of snow-dusted parks and squares

Photos: Rare snow blankets Middle East,0,4657856.photogallery#ixzz2nNEMXRdq
Associated Press / December 13, 2013

Jerusalem, 12/12/2013

3962  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy: Interest rates WILL go up on: December 13, 2013, 10:17:36 AM
A good read on excess reserves (of $2.5 trillion!) and what the Fed will eventually have to do to control their use:

Friday, December 13, 2013
Why Interest Rates Will Eventually Explode to the Ups you are being warned about the incredible boom in interest rates that is coming because the Fed is going to have to attempt, at some point, to manage these excess reserves once they start leaving the Fed.
3963  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics, Minimum Wage Laws, Neumarkm, Wascher, Murphy on: December 13, 2013, 09:49:24 AM
My perspective on minimum wage is not what wages should be but who should set them.  Wages should be set by consenting the parties of employer and potential employee for both efficiency and moral reasons, not controlled by the state or the federal government.

Paul Krugman, dishonest and unworthy of quoting, says “there just isn’t any evidence that raising the minimum wage near current levels would reduce employment”.

But there is.

Start here, at the MIT press with a Jan 2013 book, Minimum Wages, By David Neumark and William L. Wascher

David Neumark is Professor of Economics at the University of California, Irvine, Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, Senior Fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor.  William L. Wascher is Senior Associate Director in the Division of Research and Statistics at the Federal Reserve Board.

"Neumark and Wascher demonstrate the overwhelming weight of careful U.S. evidence and other evidence showing the detrimental effects of minimum wages on low-skilled workers."

 Synthesizing nearly two decades of their own research and reviewing other research that touches on the same questions...
Neumark and Wascher argue that minimum wages do not achieve the main goals set forth by their supporters. They reduce employment opportunities for less-skilled workers and tend to reduce their earnings; they are not an effective means of reducing poverty; and they appear to have adverse longer-term effects on wages and earnings, in part by reducing the acquisition of human capital.

The evidence still shows that minimum wages pose a tradeoff of higher wages for some against job losses for others, and that policymakers need to bear this tradeoff in mind when making decisions about increasing the minimum wage.

Of the 19 states with higher-than-federal minimum wages, six are among the top-ten for teen unemployment, while only one is among the bottom ten.  The probability this could have happened by chance is under 1%.

3964  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, deficit, and budget process on: December 13, 2013, 09:24:22 AM
That is the thinking, end the stalemate blame game until we have new election and new congress.  And after the next election we will again have divided government - with a higher spending baseline.

It would be nice if we never again had to hear about fictitious cost savings in the out years of ten year budgets that are in place for less than two.

I am for a strong military but less money is required when the Commander in Chief is against weapons, defense systems and interventions. 
3965  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Ryan-Murray deal on: December 12, 2013, 06:59:22 PM
What do we make of the Ryan-Murray budget deal?

What do we think of paying $8 trillion in ransom with no promise or expectation that we will get our country back alive or unharmed, knowing they will come back for more and more, and knowing that they know we fear them and will pay whatever any and all demands?

It's pretty good, I think.  Better than the Iran deal in that he has indicated he is willing to give up his nuclear arsenal.

What ever happened to 'the power of the purse' and having all spending bills originate in the House?  This will 'originate' in the House only after it has been approved by the powers of the Senate and White House.

3966  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Economics, jobless claims up, joining the load pulled by the Plowhorse on: December 12, 2013, 01:53:36 PM
Initial Jobless Claims Rise | 12/12/13

Seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims increased 68,000 to 368,000 for the week ended Dec. 7, 22% higher than a revised figure released a week earlier.

Monday morning Wesbury will explain this.
3967  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / No Grounds for Claim that Obamacare Lowers Healthcare Costs on: December 12, 2013, 01:15:30 PM
A persuasive article on the healthcare cost trends:
No Grounds for Claim that Obamacare Lowers Healthcare Costs

"the public is being told that the ACA is responsible for government actuaries’ improved health spending projections, when an examination of those projections clearly shows that not to be so. "

Charles Blahous is a senior research fellow for the Mercatus Center, a research fellow for the Hoover Institution, and a public trustee for Social Security and Medicare.
3968  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics at State & Municipal level: MN Estate, gift, income taxes on: December 12, 2013, 01:06:49 PM
“Every day we get calls from people about changing residency,”  And they tend to be employers!

This could go under Tax policy.  Also under Calif as the problems, post-Pawlenty here, are nearly the same with Dems controlling the state house, senate and Governor office.

Alarming excerpt buried in a positive, economic piece:

"This is the largest upward move in tax progressivity … since we started our tax-incidence reports in 1990.”

Many liberals and moderates like this trend. But some high-earners predict an exodus of affluent Minnesotans to Florida and other low-tax states. Especially troubling, they say, is the state’s failure to increase the amount excluded from inheritance taxes closer to the higher federal estate tax exclusion. Federal law exempts the first $5.25 million, Minnesota only the first $1 million.

Hunt Greene, a veteran Minneapolis investment banker, said: “I’m a Democrat. I can afford and tolerate paying higher income taxes. This is different. The Minnesota gift-and-estate taxes kick in at $1 million. The federal level is $5.25 million. And Minnesota is one of only a few states that have a gift tax.

“The result is that, as I talk to the big law firms about their business … their estate practices are swamped with people figuring out how to change their residences,’’ Greene said.

He’s not alone. Others predict that more wealthy Minnesotans will leave rather than subject their estates of over $1 million, or gifts made to heirs, to what can be up to a 40 percent tax that doesn’t exist in states such as Florida or Arizona.

“Every day we get calls from people about changing residency,” said Bob Abdo, a political moderate and 40-year Minneapolis business lawyer. “This pains me. I grew up and was educated here. Essentially, what we have got now is a disincentive for longtime Minnesota residents to stay in Minnesota.

“This means mom and dad … who are loyal to Minnesota because they earned a lot of money here, may now be worth more than $1 million. So, dad dies. No estate tax consequence to mom. But mom is worth $1 million, and it doesn’t take much if you add a house, your retirement accounts and a life insurance policy. Mom dies. It’s supposed to go to the kids. Any amount that goes to the kids in excess of $1 million, whether one kid or 12, will be taxed at about 40 percent for the first $250,000. The tax goes down from there.
3969  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The US Congress; Congressional races on: December 12, 2013, 12:57:55 PM
"The Republicans are on target to win by default.  Not win with an agenda as far as I can see."

"The same was said here by some of us with regard to the 2012 presidential election."

That's right.  Thomas Sowell made a point that I took a rare disagreement with, that politics is zero-sum.  When R's screw up, Dems gain. That makes sense.  But when Dems screw up, it only opens an opportunity, and is not an automatic vote for Republicans nor does their failure alone create any new conservatives, libertarians or Republicans.  On this, Crafty has been right on the money in asking, what is our answer, what is our message, what is our policy that would replace theirs and why, how do we explain this better.  Here on the forum, we are constantly agonizing over how to do that.  In Washington it seems they are not.

In 2012, Romney spent the final stretch on defense, I'm not as bad of a guy as you think I am and that they told you that I am, he told us.  Meanwhile, unspoken and un-promoted was the fact that his economic plan would have led us out of this economic misery and that his Supreme Court appointments might have at least attempted to uphold the constitution.

In elections, you need personalities and sound bites, but during these periods in between elections it seems to me that we can take on the longer arguments as to why these philosophies and policies of theirs are misguided - and what kinds of policies will work. 

So far we are divided, confused and playing defense.

3970  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Charles Blow on: December 12, 2013, 12:27:00 PM
"The case made here is not without eloquence:  How do we respond?"

In messaging, the more compassionate voice wins, hence Obama elected twice, a Dem Senate, etc.  in practice, the Charles Blow view loses; it makes things worse for the people they purport to help.  Easily proven in the data, see yesterday's posts.

So Rand Paul is right on policy and wrong on messaging.  Unemployment compensation prolongs unemployment.  It is a provable fact.  Food stamps create dependence.  Minimum wage hurts low end employment.  SSI requires a contract with poverty for people on the edge of the workforce.  Pointing out any of these truths inspires columns by well-publicized, liberal Blow-hards.

No one here, especially not me, has messaging figured out.  But the answer has something to do with focusing our time and message on positively painting the picture of a prosperous, opportunity society, how we can do that, and not arguing against the details of social spending programs with leftists.  When you suggest cutting food stamps, unemployment, disability you are losing votes.  Instead, move prosperity forward and move these programs down in importance.
3971  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Martin Feldstein: Obamacare’s Fatal Flaw on: December 12, 2013, 12:05:10 PM
Obamacare’s Fatal Flaw
by Martin Feldstein,  Professor of Economics at Harvard University and President Emeritus of the National Bureau of Economic Research, chaired President Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers from 1982 to 1984.

The potentially fatal flaw in Obamacare is the very same feature that appeals most to its supporters: the ability of even those with a serious preexisting health condition to buy insurance at the standard premium.

That feature will encourage those who are not ill to become or remain uninsured until they have a potentially costly medical diagnosis. The resulting shift in enrollment away from low-cost healthy patients to those with predictably high costs will raise insurance companies’ cost per insured person, driving up the premiums that they must charge. As premiums rise, even more relatively healthy individuals will be encouraged to forego insurance until illness strikes, causing average costs and premiums to rise further.
The “wait-to-insure” option could cause the number of insured individuals to decline rapidly as premiums rise for those who remain insured.

"...a better plan: eliminate the current enormously expensive tax subsidy for employer-financed insurance and use the revenue savings to subsidize everyone to buy comprehensive private insurance policies with income-related copayments. That restructuring of insurance would simultaneously protect individuals, increase labor mobility, and help to control health-care costs."
3972  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Greenspan's book on: December 12, 2013, 11:54:19 AM
Alan Greenspan, who couldn't speak intelligibly, can't write either.

He was chief economist to Gerald Ford from 1974 to 1977, perhaps our most economically illiterate Republican President.  Reagan chose him to head the Fed for the independent reputation he earned being a skeptic of Reaganomics.  (Most Dems believe Reagan was senile by 1987.)

"It [Greenspan's new book] suffers in trying to appeal to two audiences.  One audience is the professional economists. The book contains dozens of graphs and tables of regression analysis, together with t-statistics calculated with the appropriate Newey-West heteroskedasticity and autocorrelation consistent standard errors. (Don’t ask.)  But Greenspan is also writing for lay readers who want to hear from this famous man about how the economy works. For their sake, most of those graphs and tables are put in an appendix, where they can be safely ignored.  In trying to reach two audiences, the book does not quite reach either. Economists can learn a lot from it, but they will recognize that many of the arguments would have trouble passing scrutiny in peer-reviewed journals. "
3973  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: New York state of mind for some Supreme Court justices on: December 12, 2013, 11:36:15 AM
Peoria, Iowa.   It is one thing to not know where a famous American city of 115,000 is.  But he didn't not know; he knew wrongly.  Makes one wonder what else Justice Breyer falsely believes is true. 
3974  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Senate Seats That Could Flip Parties in 2014, Sean Trende, RCP on: December 12, 2013, 11:06:32 AM
The good news, if this is a real sweep year, R's could pick up 9 or 10 seats.  The bad news, in order to hold onto the Senate in 2016, R's will HAVE to pick up 9 or 10 seats this year.
Read it all, if interested.  I'll post one chart.  R's have some shot at winning up to about  'D+2' and maybe Michigan, D+4.


Robert Gibbs (former Obama spokesman) said "if these numbers hold up, it's going to be very, very tough to get around that and see somehow that Democrats retain the Senate or have a reasonable chance of winning the House"
3975  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: December 12, 2013, 10:43:12 AM
Yes, isn't it odd that Obama's policies actually cause income inequality to get worse - as we stagnant.  It only proves that, as he tries to teach uswhat he knows, he really knows nothing about the subject. 

Tax rate progressivity for the last 34 years - below.  (That the executive ever paid less in taxes than his secretary in any real sense is bullsh*t.)

3976  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Humor, Are they married? on: December 12, 2013, 10:34:32 AM
    How can a stranger tell if two people are married?

    You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.  - Derrick, age 8
3977  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi and related matters on: December 12, 2013, 10:25:50 AM
Yes, absent an American government account, we'll go with the photo.  GM has been right on this, where is the autopsy report - it's been 15 months!  Is it secret, do we need a Warren commission?

Who ordered the stand-down? How? When? Why?

Who came up with the youtube video story?  Who said run with it? Why?

There was no protest.  A blatant lie.  There was no report at the time or in post-attack interviews of a protest.  The lies about the protest and the video were put forward at least dozens different times by the highest officials intending only to obfuscate the truth.  So what is the truth, start to finish?!  We know where George Bush was when he learned of the 9/11/2001 attacks.  They made a full length movie on it.  Where was Pres. Obama?  Where was Sec. Clinton?  We paid for the cameras that filmed the attacks.  Did they watch in real time.  Did they have second thoughts on ordering the stand down.   Two of the dead were defying stand down orders.  Did they consider court-martial when they learned this?  Was the Pres. working on his Vegas speech during the attack?  Did he go to bed while Americans were under attack?  Did he sleep well?
3978  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, counter-balancing Wesbury on: December 10, 2013, 11:41:48 AM
Wesbury:  the same Plow Horse trend of the past few years

G M: "Should crosspost that under the latest Webury drivel."

Excerpt from Political Economics, by request:
Food stamp use nearly doubles in suburbs

The Sharp Rise in Disability Claims
90,609,000: Americans Not in Labor Force Climbs to Another Record - See more at:

Women leaving the U.S. workforce in record numbers
Unemployed women hit an all-time historical high of 53,321,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
U.S. savings rate hits lowest level since 1933

3979  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Amend the 'Affordable Care Act' to allow affordable plans to qualify on: December 10, 2013, 11:33:40 AM
In semi-sound bite fashion, how do we answer the argument that Powell is making here?
Okay, you first! 

My view is that we need a clean and simple political compromise that a number of Senate DEMOCRATS in red and swing states can grab onto to save face.  Amend the Affordable Care Act to allow affordable plans to qualify.  Combine this with other cost savings reforms including an individual tax deduction to match what employers take, selling across state lines, healthcare tort reform and mandatory price disclosures.  Then move on to improving affordability by improving economic growth!

Powell:  "I don't see why we can't do what Europe is doing, what Canada is doing, what Korea is doing, what all these other places are doing."

What these other places are doing to a large extent is paying only the variable cost of what is developed in the US.  Along with rationing via queue.  Average wait between GP referral and receiving orthopedic surgery in Canada is 40 weeks?

Powell, as a four-star general in a military hospital, always had good service.  Ya think?  How are the rest doing at the VA? 

Two countries in the world do not have a private healthcare system operating alongside the public system, Canada and North Korea.  In Canada, the private healthcare system is to travel to the US. - leaving North Korea alone in that distinction.

Americans just saw the failure of a bureaucracy-based transformation of healthcare.  We weren't ready for the full government takeover in 1993 or in 2009.  Post-Obamacare, we really aren't ready now!   If you take away the private system altogether and there are 80 million or so dissatisfied in the US, where do they go for healthcare.  To a private system in Canada??  There is no such thing.

3980  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics, War on Wealth is not the cure for poverty! on: December 10, 2013, 10:11:02 AM
Pope Francis is an expert on poverty; he has lived within and around it all his life.  The President is an expert on demagoguing wealth; he rose to great heights doing that.  The Pope does not know how to solve the condition of poverty and the President does not know how to solve the false problem of income inequality.

As George Gilder and others have pointed out, poverty is not something in itself to study or know.  Poverty is the lack of something - the lack of wealth.  You don't learn about poverty by studying poverty.  You learn about it by studying wealth and wealth creation.  Then go back to poverty to see what elements of wealth creation are missing.

Income inequality isn't the study of any one phenomenon.  It is the study of two unrelated phenomena and meaninglessly comparing them.

How much do people who do not participate or fully participate in our economic system make?  Don't count all the assistance we already give them in trying to alleviate the condition.  How much do other people make who have fully committed, invested and succeeded?  Don't count what we take from them that they don't get to keep or reinvest.  Income Inequality is the stunning revelation that the people who make more money, make more money than the people who make less money.

Removal of income inequality is the removal of a ladder up.  What you earn now is all you will ever aspire to earn.  Education, saving, investing, hard work, commitment, innovation, surrounding yourself with the best people you can find, persistence, perseverance - all would make no difference.

The top 40% already pay106% of the taxes in this country, (how much more should they pay?):

You do not and cannot fight poverty or economic under-performance by taking down wealth.  What you do is lock in that success, find what is working for the top 40% and make it available to the rest.

A war on income inequality is a war on wealth.  A successful war on wealth means that poverty will be even more widespread.  Instead of celebrating and wealth creation and spreading it to others, we punish it, demonize it, and instead reward the opposite - in all its manifestations.
Food stamp use nearly doubles in suburbs

The Sharp Rise in Disability Claims
90,609,000: Americans Not in Labor Force Climbs to Another Record - See more at:

Women leaving the U.S. workforce in record numbers
Unemployed women hit an all-time historical high of 53,321,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
U.S. savings rate hits lowest level since 1933
3981  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Nelson Mandela - Some Inconvenient Facts... on: December 10, 2013, 09:26:04 AM
Besides choosing the wrong side and policies for foreign affairs, how bad are your economic policies when ending apartheid leads to a doubling of unemployment?;jsessionid=78392164F8856F5204DF0F58B82ADFE5.present2.bdfm
Unemployment doubles after apartheid
"since apartheid ended unemployment has more than doubled from 13% to according to the broad definition to 36%"
"South Africa in labour competitiveness ... to ranks seventh lowest out of 139 countries"

I hope that is not what we are celebrating.
3982  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: December 10, 2013, 08:58:20 AM
Curious, is he bowing to 'President' Castro, or just trying to adjust for the height difference?

A little less enthusiasm and eye contact during a Boehner handshake:

Speaking of knowing friend from foe, if anyone has any photos of President Obama at the Maggie Thatcher services, please post.
3983  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential, Thomas Sowell on Wisc. Gov. Scott Walker on: December 10, 2013, 08:50:30 AM
Highly respected conservative historian and economist Thomas Sowell concludes his Christmas book recommendation column today ( with this high praise of Scott Walker:

"With so many people already speculating as to who might be the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president in 2016, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s new book, Unintimidated, may be especially worth reading. It shows a man of real depth, and with an impressive track record that ought to overshadow the rhetoric of others, especially among the Washington Republicans.  Unlike the Washington Republicans, Governor Walker has been tested and has come through with flying colors. His ending the labor unions’ sacred-cow status in Wisconsin — in spite of union thuggery in the capitol and death threats to himself, his wife, and his children — tells us what kind of man he is."
3984  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Way Forward for the American Creed on: December 10, 2013, 08:42:22 AM
Concluding a short rant on income inequality on Powerline is this concise truism:

"The GOP must be the party of opportunity. As long as voters understand that Republicans stand for upward mobility and Democrats are the party of establishment cronyism, the future will be bright."  - John Hinderacker,
3985  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: December 09, 2013, 10:44:35 PM
"...we need to be aggressively presenting our solutions!!!"

The right answer from my point of view is to get the government, especially the federal government, out of healthcare, except for basic and essential regulations.

To clarify the question though, I think what we are seeking is the best political compromise that could realistically get us out of this train wreck known as Obamacare in the least sociailistic, totalitarian, big government way possible.

3986  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: December 09, 2013, 10:30:26 PM
My numerous complaints notwithstanding, President Obama decision to invite George and Laura Bush with the Obamas and Hillary to the Mandela services on Air Force One appears to be a classy move IMHO.
3987  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The war on the rule of law, NY Post: Jobless rate may be rigged on: December 09, 2013, 10:22:40 PM
By John Crudele, NY Post Business Writer

December 7, 2013
Warning: Jobless rate may be rigged

The most curious thing of all about the November jobs report released on Friday was the huge drop in the unemployment rate — and the fact that the Labor Department chose not to disclose that the data going into that figure are under investigation for falsification.

On Nov. 19, I broke the news in my column that the Census Bureau, which collects data that goes into the jobless rate on behalf of Labor, had caught one of its enumerators fabricating interviews in 2010.

The culprit said back then (and to me during an interview) that he was told to do so by Census supervisors who were in the position to instruct others to make similar fabrications.

In fact, a source who I haven’t named but who is familiar with the Census data accumulation process has told me that falsifications have been occurring on a regular basis.

The Census Department surveys that went into the November jobless rate actually took place during the week that included Nov. 5 instead of the normal Nov. 12 week.

The Labor Department did put in a note about the survey week change in its November report.

But it should also have included another line that said: “The data for the unemployment rate may have been compromised. Lots of people are looking into the matter right now. We’ll get back to you on whether you should believe these numbers or not.”

Why didn’t the Labor Department include a note like that? A source who knows the department well says the concept of data being falsified is so unprecedented that the bureaucrats just don’t know how to react.

They had better figure it out soon. That drop in the unemployment rate might be the straw that sends the Fed into tightening mode.
3988  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care, Medicaid continued, NY Post / Cato on: December 08, 2013, 01:58:56 PM
"The poor already had unlimited free healthcare in America.  This (Obamacare) never was about helping the poorest among us."

It seems to me that too many people are unaware that the poorest among us are receiving more than 4400/yr subsidy PER PERSON for free health care.  No one fully understands federal social spending programs, but Medicaid mostly addresses the so-called poor, CHIPS is aimed at up to 200% of the poverty line.  Obamacare gives subsidies up to about 400% of the poverty line.  And then, of course, we don't count money like this when we measure their income.  Please read this in its entirety.

1.46 million of the first 1.6 million to sign up for 'Obamacare' are really enrolling in Medicaid (Is it hard to 'sell' free health care?)

ObamaCare created a Medicaid time bomb

By Michael D. Tanner

December 7, 2013 | 9:15pm
Modal Trigger
ObamaCare created a Medicaid time bomb

The good news, if you want to call it that, is that roughly 1.6 million Americans have enrolled in ObamaCare so far.

The not-so-good news is that 1.46 million of them actually signed up for Medicaid. If that trend continues, it could bankrupt both federal and state governments.

Medicaid is already America’s third-largest government program, trailing only Social Security and Medicare, as a proportion of the federal budget. Almost 8 cents out of every dollar that the federal government spends goes to Medicaid. That’s more than $265 billion per year.

Indeed, already Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid account for 48% of federal spending. Within the next few years, those three programs will eat up more than half of federal expenditures.

And it’s going to get worse. Congress has shown no ability to reform Social Security or Medicare. With ObamaCare adding to Medicare spending, we are picking up speed on the road to insolvency.

The Congressional Budget Office projects that, in part because of ObamaCare, Medicaid spending will more than double over the next 10 years, topping $554 billion by 2023.

And that is just federal spending.

State governments pay another $160 billion for Medicaid today. For most states, Medicaid is the single-largest cost of government, crowding out education, transportation and everything else.

New York spent more than $15 billion on Medicaid last year, roughly 30% of all state expenditures. The Kaiser Foundation projects that over the next 10 years, New York taxpayers will shell out some $433 billion for the program.

But none of these projections foresaw that so many of ObamaCare’s enrollees would be Medicaid eligible.

To be sure, the health-care law’s designers saw the expansion of Medicaid as an important feature of their plan to expand coverage for the uninsured. Still, they expected most of those enrolling in ObamaCare to qualify for private (albeit subsidized) insurance.

It’s beginning to look like that was just another miscalculation, one that could have very serious consequences for the program’s costs.

Moreover, any projection of Medicaid’s future cost to New York taxpayers assumes that the federal government keeps its promise to pay 100% of the cost for Medicaid’s expansion over the next three years and 90% thereafter. But given the growing burden that Medicare will put on a federal budget already facing high debt levels, how likely is it that changes in the federal share of Medicaid will stay off the table?

In fact, as part if last December’s fiscal-cliff negotiations, the Obama administration briefly considered changing to a “blended” reimbursement rate, somewhere between the current and promised rates. The administration quickly backed away from the offer, but it’s likely to come back in the future. If it does, it would cost New York tens of millions of dollars.

Every bit as bad as the cost is the fact that for all this money, recipients are going to get pretty lousy health care.

Of course, one might say that even bad health care is better than no health care. But, unfortunately, for Medicaid, that’s not true.

The Oregon Health Insurance Exchange study, the first randomized controlled study of Medicaid outcomes, recently concluded that, while Medicaid increased medical spending increased from $3,300 to $4,400 per person, “Medicaid coverage generated no significant improvements in measured physical-health outcomes.”

Other studies show that, in some cases, Medicaid patients actually wait longer and receive worse care than the uninsured.

While Medicaid costs taxpayers a lot of money, it pays doctors very little. On average, Medicaid only reimburses doctors 72 cents out of each dollar of costs. ObamaCare does attempt to address this by temporarily increasing Medicaid reimbursements for primary-care doctors, but that increase expires at the end of next year.

Because of the low reimbursement, and the red tape that accompanies any government program, many doctors limit the number of Medicaid patients they serve, or even refuse to take Medicaid patients at all. An analysis published in Health Affairs found that only 69% of physicians accept Medicaid patients. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that individuals posing as mothers of children with serious medical conditions were denied an appointment 66% of the time if they said that their child was on Medicaid (or the related CHIP), compared with 11% for private insurance — a ratio of 6 to 1.

Even when doctors do still treat Medicaid patients, they often have a harder time getting appointments and face longer wait times. One study found that among clinics that accepted both privately insured children and those enrolled in Medicaid, the average wait time for an appointment was 42 days for Medicaid compared to just 20 days for the privately insured. One study found that among clinics that accepted both privately insured children and those enrolled in Medicaid, the average wait time for an appointment was 42 days for Medicaid compared to just 20 days for the privately insured.

That’s one reason why so many Medicaid patients show up at the emergency room for treatment. They can’t find a doctor to treat them otherwise.

This not only increases the strain on already overburdened emergency room doctors, but increases the wait for those who arrive with real emergencies.

As bad as this is now, ObamaCare will make it worse by increasing the number of people on Medicaid without doing anything to increase the number of doctors treating them.

We don’t know yet whether the rush to Medicaid will continue. It may be that the troubles with the ObamaCare website might have skewed the early signups. But if ObamaCare really does lead to a massive expansion of this costly and inefficient program, that’s bad news for taxpayers, providers and patients.

Michael D. Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.
3989  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen. Rand Paul: My wife says 'no' to presidential bid on: December 08, 2013, 01:46:05 PM
My thought is that he can be (already is) a GREAT Senator.   Why screw that up with unsuccessful and divisive Presidential run. 

If R's should somehow take the White House, and the post-filibuster Senate while holding the House, they will need strong voices and consciences like those of Rand Paul to keep them honest and on track.

Rand Paul: My wife says 'no' to presidential bid
3990  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics: Obama shifts to rising income inequality on: December 08, 2013, 01:40:00 PM
"The reason I keep harping on income inequality is because the false analysis of it is used as the foundation for all leftist economic policies, including the ones that are holding us back today."  - yours truly, 11/13/2013
" No clear trend toward greater income inequality since 1989"

Among the famous people reading the forum is President Obama:
Obama shifts to rising income inequality
President Obama gave a major policy address on the economy today, calling for an increased minimum wage and saying the income gap is a threat to the American dream.

Obama turns attention to income inequality,0,826560.story#axzz2mui3myOe

Obama: Income inequality a defining challenge

And from the echo chamber, Enron adviser Paul Krugman:
Don't bother read, bumbling idiosy based on a false premise.

3991  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / war on the rule of law: Sensenbrenner calls for prosecution of Clapper on: December 08, 2013, 12:15:03 PM
Clapper, who is the Director of National Intelligence who famously said the Muslim Brotherhood is a secular group, might take the insanity plea.
Patriot Act author: Obama’s intel czar should be prosecuted

"Lying to Congress is a federal offense, and Clapper ought to be fired and prosecuted for it," the Wisconsin Republican said in an interview with The Hill.

He said the Justice Department should prosecute Clapper for giving false testimony during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in March.

During that hearing, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked Clapper whether the National Security Agency (NSA) collects data on millions of Americans. Clapper insisted that the NSA does not — or at least does "not wittingly" — collect information on Americans in bulk.

After documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA collects records on virtually all U.S. phone calls, Clapper apologized for the misleading comment.

The intelligence director said he tried to give the "least untruthful" answer he could without revealing classified information.

Sensenbrenner said that explanation doesn’t hold water and argued the courts and Congress depend on accurate testimony to do their jobs.

"The only way laws are effective is if they're enforced," Sensenbrenner said. "If it's a criminal offense — and I believe Mr. Clapper has committed a criminal offense — then the Justice Department ought to do its job."
The Eric Holder, ends justify means, Justice Dept will get to this right after it prosecutes Attorney General Eric Holder for Contempt of Congress in Fast and Furious, after the Benghazi video maker is brought to justice, after closing Guantanamo, and after every American who likes their plan, keeps their plan.  These are busy times; they can't prosecutor every Obama administration official lie.
3992  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues - Saudi's have the situation most like ours on: December 08, 2013, 11:57:57 AM

"Saudi Arabia is the world’s second biggest source of [expatriate and illegal expatriate] remittances, only behind the US, with outflows of nearly $28bn last year, according to estimates by the World Bank. “Millions of dollars of Saudi flows will vanish.  Riyadh has defended the expulsions, saying illegal expatriates have had months to legalise their status. The kingdom, which shares 1,800km of porous, mountainous borders with Yemen, had for years complained that the Yemeni government was not doing enough to stop illegal immigrants, drug dealers, armed militants or members of al-Qaeda from crossing to the kingdom."

"Riyadh has said it wants to forcibly expel as many as 2m of the foreign workers, including hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians, Somalis, Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, who make up around a third of the country’s 30m population. "

Good luck doing that here.
3993  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct on: December 08, 2013, 10:55:27 AM
" The New Yorker is correct about this, even though they don't give Reagan any credit for it."

Truth is not the aim in the left wing publications, only an occasional, unintended consequence.
3994  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: December 08, 2013, 10:05:30 AM
To the above in the thread, yes, the man who lied about his mom who it turns out had full coverage in her battle with cancer, lied about not knowing his uncle.  He in fact lived with him, but - "his staff got it wrong".

The fault with Obama's big governmenthealthcare trainwreck is not with his leadership, but the fault of big government:

"we have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly. . . . The White House is just a tiny part of what is a huge, widespread organization with increasingly complex tasks in a complex world."

The President landed a much needed break from the downward spiraling news cycle with the death of his pretend mentor, Nelson Mandela:

But isn't Mandela truly the anti- or opposite of Obama?  On the non-stop coverage I noted the word patience.  28 years in prison suffering for his cause, and most deserving of leadership when his time finally came.  In leadership, he was  known for healing, compromising, forgiving, and coming together with his former captors.

In contrast is the guy from choomgang and Ivy League affirmative action college subsidies, who never suffered but gave a speech, "Harry, I have a gift", won the Nobel prize before appointing his staff, refused to negotiate with political foes, didn't want or need a single vote of the opposition, shut down the government to avoid negotiating on his signature failure.  The ends always justify means; he praised Lincoln, emulated Nixon.  Ideology means everything, his word means nothing.  His legacy, well we will see, but appears to be the discrediting of his own policies and the bringing together, strengthening and the vindicating of his opponents.  It took this president until his second sentence eulogizing Nelson Mandela to start in with the word "I".

I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s life," Obama said. "Like so many around the globe, I cannot imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set."  He added: "So long as I live, I will do whatever I can to learn from him."
3995  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct, Reagan freed Mandela, ended apartheid on: December 08, 2013, 09:29:06 AM
I wonder if the anti-Reagan protestors of the 1980s (or press) now understand that Reagan's determination and success in toppling the Soviet Union led directly to the fall of apartheid.  Conversely, I wonder if or when Mandela understood that his choice in aligning with the worst oppressors was counter-productive in his cause to end oppression.

The New Yorker yesterday:

"Mandela’s release from prison and the collapse of apartheid were direct consequences of the demise of the Soviet Union; the South African regime could no longer rely upon its anticommunism as a counterbalance to its miserable human-rights record."
3996  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics: Britain's' Laffer' effect on: December 06, 2013, 01:10:05 PM
False, static scoring of tax rate cuts (and the ignored damage from tax rate increases) needs to hit the trash bin forever.  "Extra growth and changed business behavior will likely recoup 45%-60% of that revenue [From a significant corporate tax rate cut in Britain].  The report says that even that amount is almost certainly understated, since Treasury didn't attempt to model the effects of the lower rate on increased foreign investment or other spillover benefits."

Dec. 5, 2013  WSJ Editorial        (Subscribe at

While America dawdles over tax reform, new evidence from Britain shows that cutting corporate tax rates is a tax revenue winner.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has cut Britain's corporate tax rate to 22% from 28% since taking office in 2010, with a further cut to 20% due in 2015. On paper, these tax cuts were predicted to "cost" Her Majesty's Treasury some £7.8 billion a year when fully phased in. But Mr. Osborne asked his department to figure out how much additional revenue would be generated by the higher investment, wages and productivity made possible by leaving that money in private hands.

The Treasury's answer in a report this week is that extra growth and changed business behavior will likely recoup 45%-60% of that revenue. The report says that even that amount is almost certainly understated, since Treasury didn't attempt to model the effects of the lower rate on increased foreign investment or other "spillover benefits." This sort of economic modeling is never an exact science, but the results are especially notable because the U.K. Treasury gnomes are typically as bound by static-revenue accounting as are the American tax scorers at Congress's Joint Tax Committee.

While the British rate cut is sizable, the U.S. has even more room to climb down the Laffer Curve because the top corporate rate is 35%, plus what the states add—9.x% in benighted Illinois, for example. This means the revenue feedback effects from a rate cut would be even more substantial. (more at link)
3997  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Robert Bartley, The Seven Fat Years, and how to do it again - Still Relevant! on: December 06, 2013, 01:00:49 PM
My most referenced economics book, I wish I could just post the whole thing.  If you are interested in this sort of thing, growing our great country out of plowhorse stagnation, go read it!

December 3, 2013
Robert Bartley's 'The Seven Fat Years' - One of the Greatest Economics Books Ever Written
By John Tamny

Ten years ago in the fall of 2003, I finally read Robert Bartley's The Seven Fat Years. An economic history of the booming ‘80s, along with the slow-growth ‘70s that preceded the alleged ‘Decade of Greed," Bartley's book was a masterpiece. Most already know this, but Bartley was the editorial page editor of the Wall Street Journal, and he sadly died ten years ago today.

I was never lucky enough to know Bartley, but he was always kind enough to return an occasional e-mail, including one about interest rates referenced in his book not long before he passed. Though The Seven Fat Years was published in 1992, it remains one of the most useful books an economically interested reader could ever buy. It explains very entertainingly how extraordinarily easy is economic growth, and to read it once again as I did for this belated review is to also see how very visionary was this revolutionary economic thinker.

What were the seven fat years? As Bartley writes early on, they took place from 1983-1990 when "the United States recovered its pre-1973 growth path." Why did it? That's pretty basic, though hard in practice thanks to the third rate thinkers who generally populate Congress and the White House, not to mention the deluded sorts who populate what is an increasingly fraudulent economics profession.

Bartley thankfully wasn't an economist, and possessing a mind not so polluted by charts, graphs and more than worthless measures of economic activity, he understood intimately that economic growth is as simple as keeping the price of work and investment light (taxes), trade among economic actors around the world free, regulation minimal, and the money used to measure real economic activity stable in value. The Seven Fat Years describes how we forgot basic economics in the malaise-ridden ‘70s, only for Bartley and others to revive Classical economics in the ‘80s; thus the 7-year boom.

The book begins with Bartley's observation that "In the years just before 1982, democratic capitalism was in retreat. Its economic order seemed unhinged, wracked by bewildering inflation, stagnant productivity, and finally a deep recession." He went on to note that "Economic confusions and a sense of futility sapped the morale of the Western people; leaders talked of "malaise" in America and "Europessimism" across the Atlantic."

What's so amazing about Bartley's words, or maybe not, is that they could have been written yesterday. History surely repeats itself, or rhymes, and just as Paul Krugman on the left and Tyler Cowen on the right talk at length about economic growth as something no longer attainable, the popular view among economists then was that "America had become a ‘debtor nation' and was declining as previous empires had." No, economic growth is once again as simple as getting the policy mix right. Bartley and a group of economic visionaries that included, but was not limited to Robert Mundell, Arthur Laffer, Charles Kadlec, Jude Wanniski, and Rep. Jack Kemp, authored a revolution that led to Ronald Reagan's election, and an eventual revival of economic growth thanks to a return to simple economic ideas that removed barriers to production.

These economic concepts were referred to then, and are now, as "supply-side" economics. Unfortunately a media that couldn't understand the concepts limited its flawed analysis of supply side to the Laffer (more on Laffer's brilliant contributions in a little bit) Curve, but it was really much more than that. Unlike demand-side thinkers who falsely presume growth is a function of stimulating consumption, Bartley and other Classical thinkers knew otherwise. They correctly understood that all demand is a function of supply, so in order to stimulate demand it was necessary for policymakers to stimulate the supply side of the economy; as in remove the tax, regulatory, trade and monetary barriers to production. It worked as the booming ‘80s revealed.

To read The Seven Fat Years is to know with certitude how very much Bartley would understand the problems of today. That is so because today's problems are in many ways a repeat of what happened in the 1970s. If there's disagreement with Bartley, and there's very little of that, it has to do with his assertion early on that "It seems that prosperity may bring discontents, real and imagined, that in turn consume the prosperity." My own view is that prosperity doesn't so much bring discontent as much as one of its negative tradeoffs is that it makes us flabby, and too often uncaring in terms of whom we vote into office.

Conversely, slow growth always and everywhere authored by government focuses the electorate. Reagan's election was the result of the failures of LBJ, Nixon, Ford, and Carter, and he revived economic growth through the implementation of the Bartley policy mix that President Clinton largely maintained such that the Reagan/Clinton era was marked by substantial growth. A booming economy essentially blinded voters to the importance of policy such that they elected second rate thinkers of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama variety; both presidents having revived the failed policy ideas of the 1970s; the unstable, cheap money that each sought the most consequential when it came to policy that's always inimical to economic growth.

Bartley would understand today precisely because he'd seen all of this before. Indeed, while it's popular to this day among the political and economic commentariat to blame OPEC for rising oil prices in the ‘70s, Bartley righted the false history about oil in correctly putting quotes around ‘oil shocks.' As he and the rest of the Michael 1 (the lower Manhattan restaurant where he, Laffer, Mundell and other leading Classical thinkers frequently talked policy) crowd knew well, oil wasn't suddenly expensive as much as the dollar in which it was priced was cheap.

Bartley wrote that "The real shock was that the dollar was depreciating against oil, against gold, against foreign currencies and against nearly everything else." About OPEC's non-role in an energy ‘crisis' created by U.S. monetary policy, Bartley observed that "In the confusion of the 1970s, no one noticed that OPEC told us plainly what was going to happen after the closing of the gold window." Put more simply, when the Nixon administration delinked the dollar from gold, the dollar's value plummeted on the way to the 1970s commodity boom.

Bartley would understand our present situation well simply because George W. Bush, like Nixon and Carter in the ‘70s, sought a weak dollar. The markets complied owing to the historical truth that presidential administrations always get the dollar they want. It staggers this writer to this day that so many otherwise smart people ascribe nominally expensive oil to OPEC and foreign demand much as smart people felt this way in the ‘70s. It's particularly unsettling that so many on the right who generally believe in free markets buy into this falsehood. Implicit there is that an oil market dating back to the 1860s still hasn't figured out how to match supply with demand. More to the point, when the right incorrectly tie expensive oil to scarcity they are explicitly suggesting ‘market failure' on the part of the energy industry. It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

The money illusion that gave us high oil prices in the ‘70s, and that has given us similarly nosebleed oil in the 2000s brings with it economy-sapping investment implications. Not only is oil everywhere such that it's prosaic, it's also easy to tax for it being of the earth, or stationary as it were.

Later in the book Bartley noted that in the ‘70s "Nearly everyone had bet on constantly rising oil prices." When money is cheap, investment flows into the commoditized wealth that already exists over the stock and bond income streams representing wealth that doesn't yet exist. When oil and commodities are booming, the real economy is struggling. Bartley went on to write that "when money turned tight, the oil price couldn't go up and the loans [made to oil companies] couldn't be repaid." When we return to quality money, and eventually we will given the desire of Americans for growth, oil and commodity based economies here and around the world will face a rude awakening. History always repeats itself, and Bartley would not be fooled by today's energy ‘boom' in much the same way that he and the rest of the Michael 1 crew weren't fooled back in the ‘70s. As he put it, "At Michael 1 these events were not seen as an oil problem but a monetary problem."

Moving to the monetary policy that created the ‘70s crack-up that Bartley described, and that tells the story of the present too, the Michael 1 crowd very much decried Nixon's ill-conceived decision to rob the dollar of its gold definition. Better yet, they understood the change in investor preference from future concepts to the hard wealth of the present that similarly weighs on our economy today. Much as housing and commodities soared under Bush, in the ‘70s there was similarly according to Bartley a rush into "real assets such as gold or real estate."

In the ‘70s the prevailing economic view of a political class utterly confused by the slow growth that resulted from a weak dollar was that the economy needed more of the same. A weak dollar would boost exports despite devaluation always and everywhere existing as the economy-wrecking policy lever of the poorest countries.  The Michael 1 attendees correctly understood that "Money is a veil, and will not change the relative value of a jug of wine and a loaf of bread." To Bartley et al, money's sole purpose was as a measure of value that would facilitate the exchange of bread and wine, thus the importance of stability.

Instead, and pouring gasoline on the fire, the Nixon and Carter years were defined by regular devaluation of the unit of account (the dollar) such that investment dried up, and chaos reigned. Bartley described this era of floating money as a time when "price signals in the real economy would be subject to repeated disturbances that would detract from efficiency and growth." Yes, floating money that was in freefall gave us the growth-deficient ‘70s, but with the resumption of largely stable money in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the economy took off. Since 2000 we've re-entered an era of limp growth; the latter made predictable by a dollar that was both weak and unstable.

Notable about the ‘70s is that just like today, a sagging economy brought out of the woodwork a great deal of monetary mysticism. Milton Friedman's monetarism was rising in popularity then, and while its modern adherents of the Scott Sumner variety in no way measure up to Friedman (about the Nobel Laureate, Bartley wrote that "On most issues - Say's Law, price controls, energy, efficient markets, deficits, Keynes or whatever - he would be entirely at home at Michael 1), it's sad and happy at the same time that economic distress elevates incorrect thinking (Monetarism) as much as it does Classical thinking of the kind that Bartley was so instrumental in reviving.

It's on the subject of Monetarism in The Seven Fat Years that readers will be reminded of Arthur Laffer's certain genius. Monetarism then and now naively presumes that nirvana can be achieved if allegedly ‘wise men' control "the money supply." But as Bartley so helpfully wrote about Laffer's discredit of this failed idea, "Laffer would draw a tiny black box in the corner of a sheet of paper; ‘this is M-1,' currency and checking deposits. Still bigger boxes included money-market funds, then various credit lines. Finally, the whole page was filled with a box called ‘unutilized trade credit' - that is, whatever you can charge on the credit cards in your pocket. Do you really think, he asked, this little black box controls all the others." The Michael 1 crowd understood well that it didn't, but Friedman and other Monetarist thinkers believed it then, much as Sumner and others promote his monetary form of Keynesian mysticism today.

Laffer et al once again didn't bite. As Bartley further explained Laffer's explanation of the quantity theory of money, "The money supply, he insisted, was ‘demand determined.' What the big boxes demanded the little one supplied." Monetarists at present decry the Fed paying interest on reserves (IOR), and while the Fed should not be paying for bank reserves it needlessly created with the imposition of its adolescent QE policies, it does precisely because demand for money is so low. More comically for a truly dangerous theory is the more that money is corrupted by the creation of it clamored for by Monetarists, the lower is the demand for it. Money's sole purpose is as a stable measure of value, but so deluded are Monetarist thinkers by monetary aggregates that they can't see how very much their own policies work against the rising monetary aggregates they desire.

Stable money in terms of value is heavily demanded, and as a result soars in terms of supply, but all of this confuses the Monetarist School. Then as now, monetarists got inflation backwards. Bartley noted that "With big inflation [meaning devaluation - always], for example, consumers would not want to hold currency. They would shift to high-interest deposits not counted in narrow aggregates, or to real assets like real estate or gold, not counted at all. This would mean that demand for money would fall, pull down the statistical aggregate. When the aggregate fell, the Fed would inject more bank reserves, fueling the inflation. Yet if the real economy swung into boom, say because taxes were cut, the demand for money would grow, pushing up the aggregates. Watching the aggregates grow because of higher money demand, the Fed would worry about inflation, choke off bank reserves, curtail the availability of credit, push up interest rates and stop the recovery."

The Reagan policy mix truly took hold in 1983; '83 when the Reagan tax cuts were finally fully implemented, and the economy soared. With a rising economy money demand naturally soared given the tautology that producers are demanding money when they offer up goods and services for sale. As the economy took off Friedman, wedded to a monetary theory that is rooted in confusion about inflation, made the rounds of Wall Street to argue that the recovery was inflationary even though the value of the dollar was on the way up. Rest assured that if and when the U.S. economy emerges from the Bush/Obama disaster, money demand and the aggregates that confused Monetarists will soar again. Modern believers in that which doesn't work like Sumner will first claim that they predicted the boom based on rising aggregates, then they'll claim an inflation problem despite a stronger dollar. Lost on the Monetarist crowd is the simple truth that the stable money values they dismiss are the only path to the rising money in circulation that they're asking for.

Not so the Michael 1 thinkers. Well aware that an economy is a collection of billions of individuals making infinite decisions every millisecond, they weren't so arrogant as to presume to know how many dollars an economy would need. Their solution was a return to quality money defined by gold. As Bartley wrote, the monetary "system needs an ‘anchor,' some method of judging how much money the world needs. If all nations use their monetary policy to fix the currency of nation n, the nth nation can use its monetary policy to anchor the whole system, to gold or some other indicator." Bartley knew well of gold's historical stability, so he called for monetary policy that would stabilize the price of the dollar by virtue of adjusting supply to meet demand; the gold price serving as the market signal that would tell the monetary authority whether there we too many or too few dollars in the system.

The above description brings up another minor disagreement with the author of this most essential of books. Paul Volcker gets a mostly free pass in an economic memoir which refers to him as a ‘saint.' In truth, and Bartley obviously knew this welll, Volcker not only regularly leaked against the Reagan tax cuts, but he also foisted Friedman's monetary policies on the economy in such a way that the Reagan Revolution almost never was. Administrations once again get the dollar they want, and as Reagan was for a strong dollar in the way that Nixon and Carter were not, the markets were going to correct the dollar upward no matter the ‘tight money' policies rooted in quantity theory imposed by Volcker. More to the point, stable money in terms of value has little to do with ‘tight money' as Bartley suggested in the book.  More realistically, stable money is heavily demanded as the unit used in trade and investment, so if stable money is the goal, the supply of the credible currency will naturally rise.

Volcker ultimately abandoned Friedman's Monetarism in late '82 such that the Reagan boom would soon begin, but in waiting until then he nearly made Reagan a one-term president. Notably, when he shed Friedman's failed policies that are perhaps unsurprisingly being revived today, Laffer and Kadlec concluded that he was following some sort of dollar price rule; a stable dollar always necessary for economic growth. Volcker surely looms large in any discussion of the ‘80s economic renaissance, but the story should be more about how he almost suffocated it as opposed to being a major factor in the seven fat years that Bartley chronicled.

It's also sadly true that while a dollar price rule loomed large in the recovery, Reagan and the Michael 1 crowd never achieved their goal of returning the dollar to a gold standard. We have the 2000s to thank for this not having happened, and as Bartley noted, resolving monetary policy in a way that rids the economy of unstable money was "the one big unfinished task of the Seven Fat Years." So true, but Rome wasn't built in a day.

About trade and the mythical ‘trade deficits' that still captivate those in the ever fraudulent economics profession, Bartley noted that "In all the pantheon of economic statistics, there is none so meaningless and misleading." He went on to write that we somehow "have trouble remembering that commerce takes place between consenting adults, that the bargain makes both sides richer in one way or the other. Instead, we tend to view trade as some kind of nationalistic competition." This misunderstanding which presumes that trade is war such that one side weakens the other is the driver of all manner of policy stupidity.

But as Bartley so expertly pointed out (thank goodness once again that he wasn't an economist), "In fact, international transactions are always in balance, by definition." Of course they are. We can only trade insofar as we produce something to trade with. We trade products for products, and our ability to demand that which we don't have is a function of our supplying what we do; that or borrowing from the production of others. All trade once again balances.

Back to trade ‘deficits,' Bartley revealed the absurdity of the calculation. As he wrote, "The export of an airliner is called trade. The export of a share of stock is called foreign investment." Why this is important has to do with his later point that "a rapidly growing economy will demand more of the world's supply of real resources and run a trade deficit." We are able to import a great deal in the U.S. precisely because we're able to export not just goods and services, but shares in our leading companies. With the exception of the Great Depression and other periods where bad policy has repelled foreign capital, we've always run a trade ‘deficit' precisely because the U.S. has been correctly seen by investors as the best locale in which to commit capital.

Of course to the economic and political commentariat, the eagerness of global investors to place their money in the U.S. is seen as a negative. Indeed, so debased is economic commentary today (just as it was then) that the investment inflows are decried as a negative signal for making us a ‘debtor nation.' Horrors! All that investment somehow weakens us. What's more horrific is that economics is generally a highly paid profession.

All of which brings us to worries about the budget deficit that reigned supreme then, and that still captivates far too many thinkers today. Bartley wrote that the "deficit is not a meaningless figure, only a grossly overrated one." Unfortunately, it being overrated means that this "great national myth" impacted policy then, just as it does today.

Rising deficits forced a giveback of some of Reagan's tax cuts, and then in modern times any tax cut is viewed in Washington through the prism of its impact on the deficit. Such an accounting abstraction did not cloud the minds of the grand thinkers at Michael 1. Internationalists all who understood per Mundell that "the only closed economy is the global economy," it was apparent to them that "it's not government borrowing that crowds out the private sector, but government spending."

Remember, a dollar is a dollar, and dollar credit is dollar credit. Dollar credit is everywhere (note this, Monetarists) in the world. Whether a government that tautologically lacks resources borrows or taxes the money it spends is economically of little consequence. Either way, limited capital is extracted from the more productive private sector and the investment driving the latter in favor of often wasteful government consumption. In that case, the only statistic that matters is how much government spends on an annual basis because the number is a clear signal of what the private sector is losing. Deficits are just finance, they're a waste of time, and any sentient being should understand that we'd be much better off economically if we had annual deficits of $500 billion per year out of $600 billion in annual spending, over balanced budgets of $3.5 trillion.

The above is important when we consider that much as it does today, Keynesian thinking dominated economic discussion in the ‘70s when Bartley et al led an intellectual revolt. To Keynesians there's no distinction between government and private sector investment. Ever worshipful of demand, they just want the money spent; hence their support of large government budgets.

Bartley obviously saw all of this in a different light. How the money is spent is crucial, and in response to the industrial policy types who felt then and do now that government should direct investment, Bartley wrote "Rank in order the most likely recipient of capital from an industrial planning bureaucracy:

(A) Steve Jobs's garage.
(C) A company in the district of the most powerful congressman."

Hopefully readers get the point. Government, whether overseen by Republicans or Democrats, is by nature ‘conservative' in the non-ideological sense such that it very much resides in the ‘seen.' If government employees had a clue about what the future of commerce might be they certainly wouldn't be allocating capital from Washington. Instead, they would be making real money investing in the private sector. Government allocation of capital, though said to be stimulative, is logically the opposite. Government spending and investment means that the connected get credit over revolutionary thinkers like Jobs who got started in garages. With the above passage Bartley cleverly exploded the lie that is Keynesian government ‘stimulus.'

About the taxes that governments collect with an eye on redistributing the inflow, Bartley helpfully made plain throughout The Seven Fat Years that high rates of taxation make productive work more expensive. Taxes are a price, or better yet a penalty placed on productive work. To get more work, lower the price. It's that simple.

Looked at in terms of investment, he logically noted that the prospect of a capital gain "is the big jackpot that attracts entrepreneurial vigor." Along those lines he pointed out that "there were no high-tech startup companies founded in 1976, while more than 300 had been founded in 1968." No surprise there. Capital gains taxes were increased in the ‘70s until being reduced in 1978, and then as investors are buying future dollar income streams when they provide capital to entrepreneurs, high taxes on investment combined with dollar devaluation dried up investment altogether.

The economics profession almost to a man and woman elevates consumption above everything else, but there again the non-economist in Bartley revealed the absurdity of the thinking that informs this most worthless of professions. As he put it so well, "If you scraped up $100,000 and used it to buy a Rolls-Royce, you don't get taxed per luxury-driving mile. But if you use it to buy stock, providing the company with investment funds, and then you want to sell it to buy another stock, you only have paper to show for your $100,000, yet you still have to pay a tax." The capital gains tax is anti-company formation, and worse for a political class that worships at the altar of job creation, it's anti-job creation. To put it very simply, there are no companies and no jobs without investment first. We should abolish the capital gains tax.

It was said early on that The Seven Fat Years was quite the book in a visionary sense, and this should be stressed. Bartley wrote it in the early ‘90s when the economy was weak, but throughout had a very optimistic tone about the future. He wrote that "By 1990, a whole subculture was hooking itself together every night, posting messages, information, secrets and insults on tiny bulletin boards of silicon." I was in college at the time, but this in no way described my experience; the point being that a major informer of Bartley's optimism was an Internet future that most then didn't regard, and certainly didn't understand.

About banking, he spent a lot of time on the S&L debacle. He understood that the industry was regulated out of existence through caps on interest rates that could be offered, and then when near extinction, was allowed to swing for the fences; all while overseen by regulators totally and logically unequal to regulating that which they couldn't possibly understand. Bank regulators are the people who couldn't get jobs at banks. Naturally politicians played a role here too (remember the Keating Five?) in protecting errant S&Ls from regulators who were once again unequal to that which they were asked to do.

Where his visionary nature came into play with banking was in his assertion that "the essence of financial safety is diversification. And a financial system that outlaws diversification - breaking finance into a succession of narrow splinters - is a series of disasters waiting to happen." Bartley in a strong sense could see that the regulation of banks was their inevitable undoing; the latter taking place more recently. Bartley would have understood the problems within banks in 2008 very well for having seen what government was doing to them back in the ‘90s.

And to show how history always repeats itself, the response to the S&L crack-up was a great deal more regulation in the form of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) that economist Lawrence White referred to as "an Act of anger." FIRREA was the Dodd-Frank of its day that in Bartley's words "set out to ‘solve' the crisis of unprofitable thrifts by shrinking thrift profits, through higher insurance premiums, more indirect taxes, higher capital requirements, other increased regulation and a reduction in diversification authority."

Bartley seemed to sense that when we shackle any business with rules we reduce its profits, and with reduced profits, drive away the very talent that makes businesses more financially sound to begin with. Bartley correctly understood that the reforms of the early ‘90s were setting the stage for something much worse down the line, and he was proven very correct.

About the ratings agencies that were wrongly fingered for a financial ‘crisis' that was wholly a creation of government error, Bartley understood what too many did not in 2008. So many were quite eager to blame the drones toiling in agency cubicles for their flawed analysis of bonds that ‘tricked' the best investors in the world. What a laugh. As Bartley put it so well, "No one at Michael 1 would believe an individual bond rater could outguess the collective decisions of the market; if he could, he'd be rich and not have to work in such a stodgy place." So true, and his analysis is a reminder that we truly lost a great thinker when Bartley passed in 2003.

As a keen follower of the dollar, Bartley's brilliant book suggests that he would have foreseen our present economic problems early on. He would have known that spiking oil prices were a function of a cheap dollar that was going to author an economy-sapping rush into hard assets like housing least vulnerable to the devaluation. As a keen follower of finance, he would have known that the dollar's descent foretold major problems in a banking sector that was going to and did chase the money illusion into all manner of finance related to housing. And then having witnessed the wrongheaded re-regulation of the banks in the ‘90s, he likely would have written very presciently about how this was all going to work out.

Writing about the ‘70s toward the end of his book, Bartley observed that in that failed decade "the United States led the world to the brink of economic crisis without ever knowing it. It simply didn't understand what it was doing." Other than his tax cuts, President Bush in many ways mimicked the devaluationist, high spending, heavy regulating policies of Nixon and Carter, and a president who surely didn't know what he was doing similarly led the world into crisis once the results of his policies came to fruition.

It says here that Robert Bartley wrote one of the best economic books of all time in 1992.  For readers who want to understand why the ‘70s and ‘80s were so different economically, including the seven fat years from 1983-1990, they should read his book. Even better, for those who want to understand what happened in the 2000s on the way to an inevitable crack-up, they should also read Bartley's book. History rhymes, and Bartley told the story of the 2000s in 1992.

John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets and Forbes Opinions
3998  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politically (In)correct, Nelson Mandela, RIP on: December 06, 2013, 12:49:50 PM
I agree we need to look at the whole picture and that the whole picture includes some rather unsavory parts.  That said:

a) The system he fought as a terrorist was nasty and brutal-- I've read that parts of the American Revolution were as well;
b) He was in solitary confinement for 18 years (one visitor a year for 30 minutes, one letter every six months IIRC) and in prison for 27 years;
c) He not only came out of this a sane man, but a better man-- and as that better man, unaided by a the American Creed as MLKing  was, articulated a better path, a forgiving path where a vengeful path would have been so much easier-- and divorced his nasty wife Minnie
d) elected democratically, he stepped down after 5 years, apparently not noticeably richer than when he came into office.

He set his own cause back by favoring failed economic polices and aligning with the wrong side, Soviet Union, Arafat etc.  Still, as well-noted above, he was one hell of an important historic figure.
The bulk of his adult life, Nelson Mandela was a failed Marxist revolutionary and leftist icon, the Che Guevara of Africa. Then in his seventies he had the chance to govern. He chose national reconciliation over reprisal, and he thus made himself an historic and all too rare example of a wise revolutionary leader.
3999  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Truth about pre Obamcare, and Rep alternatives IMPORTANT POST on: December 06, 2013, 12:36:40 PM
Doug wrote:


Not mentioned often anywhere are some of the underlying facts:

1) The poor already had unlimited free healthcare in America.  This never was about helping the poorest among us.
2) The old already had coverage.
3) This was mostly to 'help' who didn't want help.
4) The problems with the old system mostly had to do with government already screwing up the market.  Healthcare wasn't a free market before Obamacare.
5) At the time of its passage, Republicans had the popular part in their own alternative - a plan to cover people with pre-existing conditions.  


This is important and needs to be fleshed out.  

1) Exactly how did the poor already have unlimited coverage?
2) "           "      "   "    old     "        "         "             "     ?
3) I would restate this as "this was to tax those who didn't really need much insurance".
4) Of course!  But we need to have specifics e.g. the fragmentation of the national market into 50 markets, exactly what are the limitations on HSAs-- and the benefits, etc
5) Yes, but we need citations of some sort.

Getting back to you with some citations on the above...

1) The poor already had unlimited free healthcare in America.  This never was about helping the poorest among us.
In 1966 welfare recipients of all ages received medical care through the Medicaid program. Medicaid was created on July 30, 1965 under Title XIX of the Social Security Act of 1965.
Health care in the United States, Government Health Programs
    Federal Employees Health Benefits Program
    Indian Health Service
    Veterans Health Administration
    Military Health System / TRICARE
    Medicaid / State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)
    State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)  ('Children's healthcare isn't just for children anymore!)  The program was designed to cover
        uninsured children in families with incomes that are modest but too high to qualify for Medicaid.
One public hospital here alone spends half a billion a year on unreimbursed medical expenses, 3 million on translators, 100 million on 'foreign born' patients, etc.  
(No one is alleging the poor didn't already receive free health care in America.)

2) The old already had coverage.
The Social Security Act of 1965 authorized Medicare and provided federal funding for many of the medical costs of older Americans.[19] The legislation overcame the bitter resistance, particularly from the American Medical Association, to the idea of publicly funded health care or "socialized medicine" by making its benefits available to everyone over sixty-five, regardless of need, and by linking payments to the existing private insurance system.
[Obamacare was not aimed at the aging; they already have a program.]

3) This was mostly to 'help' those who didn't want help.
"this was to tax those who didn't really need much insurance"
Nothing says personal accountability like a government mandate.
Identify people who don't want to pay their fair share and make illegal to pay only their share.

4) "The problems with the old system mostly had to do with government already screwing up the market.  Healthcare wasn't a free market before Obamacare."
Dec 04 2009:  New CRS Report Shows Government Already Controls 60 percent of Health Care in the U.S.

5) "At the time of its passage, Republicans had the popular part in their own alternative - a plan to cover people with pre-existing conditions."  
The Ryan[plan] ...  would have to "offer guaranteed issue and community rating" and that "insurers would be unable to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions."
Eric Cantor of Virginia, said high-risk pools and reinsurance programs would “guarantee that all Americans, regardless of pre-existing conditions or past illnesses, have access to affordable care.”
Republicans Have Offered Three Alternative Health Care Reform Bills
August 21, 2009
The “Patients Choice Act” has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, which is set to release a Democratic-crafted bill from that committee when Congress returns after Labor Day.  In June, DeMint, chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, introduced the “Health Care Freedom Plan,” which was analyzed by the Heritage Foundation. The conservative policy think tank said DeMint’s bill could reduce the number of uninsured by 22.4 million people in five years.  It also provides grants to help people with pre-existing conditions gain access to affordable insurance, and allows Americans to purchase health savings accounts to pay for insurance.

"The result of Obamacare so far is that we are seeing one new enrollee for every 50 who are losing their plan!"
ObamaCare Cancellation to Enrollee Ratio: 50 to 1
Though the number is estimated to eventually hit as high as 10 to 15 million, right now the number of insurance policies canceled due to ObamaCare is 5 million. Wednesday, the Obama administration claimed that 106,185 Americans enrolled in ObamaCare. Except, according to the White House, those are not actual enrollments. Some have not paid for but have only only "selected a marketplace plan." Orwellian nonsense aside, that is still somewhere around a 50-to-1 ratio of cancellations to enrollees.

"Democrats are now upside down in 13 states with contested Senate races in less than a year. "
2014 is one 6 year senate term (Al Franken, et al) since Barack Obama's Hyde Park speech ("We are the ones we've been waiting for", "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal") and the exciting Dem sweep of 2008.
Of the 14 Republican seats up next year, just one, Susan Collins' seat in Maine, will be held in a state won by President Obama.  The other 13 are in states Mitt Romney won by at least 5 points, and nine of those are in states he won by 15 points or more.
Landrieu's approval rating is now underwater; she tallied only 41 percent of the vote against her GOP opposition. In Arkansas, where advertising on the health care law began early, Sen. Mark Pryor's approval sank to 33 percent, a drop of 18 points since last year. A new Quinnipiac survey showed Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, who looked like a lock for reelection last month, in a dead heat against little-known GOP opponents. Even a Democratic automated poll from Public Policy Polling showed Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina running neck-and-neck against Republican opposition, with her job disapproval spiking over the last two months. These are the types of numbers that wave elections are made of.

Republicans need a pick up of 6.  Democrats are defending seats in 7 states won by Romney,

The median Dem dropoff from 2012 to 2013 elections was roughly 5 points (and it is getting worse).  Democrats must defend 13 Senate seats that Obama carried by 55% or less.

Nothing says repeal and replace like voting the perps out.
4000  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: December 06, 2013, 10:46:20 AM
I know Doug looked outside his Minneapolis window and cursed the big oils for all that snow.  grin
We had a lot of rabbits in the area this year.  The wild turkeys were not seen. 
I cursed the carbon producing scum all season.  It is their fault.
Thank God we are going to get a carbon tax.  I really don't mind paying higher prices to compensate oil companies who will be forced to pay this tax.
Nothing grander than financing the Democrat Party.  One third of my life or more already is devoted to their existence.

Yes, 42" of new snow in Two Harbors (by Duluth) with "highs" forecasted below zero.  No one needs to dream of a white Christmas here.  Most cruel is to keep hearing about global warming during this 17 year pause.  Are they nuts?  OTOH, it is a beautiful sunny day in the land of abrupt season changes!  Seems like only 2 days ago we were raking leaves.  Live cam out my frosty living room window this morning:

Snow totals:
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