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5151  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Fed, Monetary Policy, QE2 to end on: June 23, 2011, 12:58:17 AM
The end of QE2 means interest rates go up.(?)  The piece implies they won't, because the Fed will keep the overnight rate they charge banks at near zero.  But that is not the rate that you and I and businesses or government will pay.

Rough numbers, let's say the Fed now needs to sell a trillion (a year) more of government debt to willing buyers than it was selling before.  The US savings rate is zero and China doesn't want any more.  We sell the notes by raising the (interest rate) yield until they sell.  QE was the mechanism for tampering with that. When they end the intervention, rates go to market rate, which could be very high.

"The Fed’s policy board, the Federal Open Market Committee, voted unanimously to maintain its two-year-old commitment to hold a benchmark interest rate near zero for an extended period.”

Maybe so.  Others would say that the Fed does not set interest rates, markets do.  Only by massive monetary infusion was the Fed able to hold rates down - temporarily.

They can change their mind about no more quantitative expansion, or they will see rates go up.  Is there some other outcome I am missing?

If interest rates go up... some get hurt, some are helped. Maybe savings in this country can begin again.  But our current ruling crowd wants an economy built on consumption, not savings and investment.

Higher interest cost is one more burden on business investment.  They already have high energy costs, high regulatory compliance costs, high healthcare costs, high litigation costs, high property taxes, now they get a higher cost of carrying debt.

I favor right-sizing everything, including interest rates.  Higher interest rates could strengthen the dollar.  We've had that conversation - a stronger dollar is good and bad.  Problem is that fixing a flat tire when the engine is blown still leaves us unable to drive the car, (as our President might say).

Recall the mistakes made implementing the Reagan plan.  Tight money preceded the delayed and phased in tax rate cuts.  The result was very harmful on production and employment - a truly painful (and avoidable) recession.  When those tax rate cuts finally kicked in, we grew like gangbusters.

The difference here is that we don't even have a plan for balancing out a stable money policy with pro-growth policies. We don't have delayed or phased in growth policies, even on the horizon.  Maybe the Ryan plan, but its buried in the House with no chance in the Senate or executive branch.  Maybe  the Pawlenty plan with support of one economist and 4% of Republicans.  We are still years away from any real turn to pro-growth policies.  We aren't even committed to having that option on the ballot. If it was and if it won, we are still talking Jan 2013 to start debating the details and then muddyling it down to get 60 votes in the Senate.  Probably need to build a hospital in Connecticut and give a break to Nebraska.

The law of the land right now is actually the opposite - higher taxes in 2 years and choking off even more investment and recovery.  Absent any simultaneous shift to pro-growth policies, a shift to tighter money alone is just applying another set of the brakes to an already decelerating economy.
5152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 22, 2011, 11:35:38 AM
Medvedev, Putin, Chavez, these are endorsements he might prefer in private.
(JDN) "Did you read ALL of the Platform?  Line by line?  Amazing stuff...."
[1960 Dem Platform]

Yes. National security! Pro-growth economics! Trade: " we shall expand world trade in every responsible way"!  I enjoyed the constant referrals to what bad condition the Eisenhower administration left us in, lol.

Looking at the age of Obama 2006-2012, this is not your father's Democratic party!

Also note that they use the word holocaust at the beginning to describe a large potential human disaster unrelated to Hitler's treatment of Jewish people.
5153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Selective Abortion: 163,000,000 more young girls than boys killed in Asia on: June 22, 2011, 11:13:54 AM
In America, abortion hits black babies at a rate of more than 3 to 1 greater than whites.

In Asia, Mara Hvistendahl contends that selective abortion has resulted in 163 million fewer girls due to selective abortion in Unnatural Selection  (estimate/allegation)

Help needed, please complete the following sentence in light of points made below.

This is not analogous to other genocides because.........

Let's see,
a) Two dozen times more deaths than the holocaust ?
b) All killings intentional and avoidable
c) Victims selected based on membership in a group
d) Targeted group considered to be of lower value/inferior to those not targeted
e) The rest of us are better off without them, scarce resources etc.
f) Millions turn the other way, pretend this isn't a major issue or it isn't really happening.
g) 100% of those who turn the other way now or find the issue minor, did not face this threat at that point in their life
h) How can one identify gender with certainty, while maintaining with a straight face it is not a living creature, identified as human, 100% genetically distinct from the mother and father?
i) Being silently offended does nothing to stop what is happening.
Fetus, Latin for 'little one' - gender neutral, is not the correct word after gender is determined. People don't say they had a baby, they had a little baby boy or a little baby girl.  At some point in the past, gender became knowable only at birth.  Not true now.  Some tests identify gender at 5-6 weeks, ultrasounds show gender starting at 16-20 weeks.

What inanimate object that one freely disposes has gender?

If people are allowing the 'little one' to grow into a 'little boy' or a 'little girl' before killing it selectively, what is the difference - morally - between doing that and killing it after birth? It looks like a similar act to me.

6th Commandment?  Thou shalt not .... do what ??

Comments?  Someone on the board who cares about women's rights and supports abortion rights should come out and explain how killing 163 million girls for gender reasons only is consistent with that. (Should be interesting!)  Anyone who is pro-life but considers it to be a minor or single issue not tied to dignity, principles or respect for life otherwise should explain exactly how that is so.  Which of the other commandments did God intend to be negotiable?
5154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 21, 2011, 10:14:20 PM
"We...believe that our economy can and must grow at an average rate of 5% annually...We pledge ourselves to policies that will achieve this goal without inflation."
  - The 1960 Democratic platform stated /JFK
5155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs & regulations, spending, budget process on: June 20, 2011, 11:33:16 AM
Boskin is right, hitting hard on the big picture of spending and on a great point Crafty has made often - the wrongheadedness of baseline budgeting.
This (below) easily could go under glibness, dissonance or Pres 2012, but the main theme is regulations destroying manufacturing.  The administration has a stated goal of quadrupling exports.  Hard to do that while you prohibit or cripple the manufacturing of everything.

Bill Daley is the new Obama Chief of Staff.  Going before the National Assn of Mfrs probably wasn't a good idea given the administrations track record and (unintended?) direction of stomping out production and new hiring.

White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley took heat from business executives Thursday for the Obama administration’s regulatory expansions. Daley also said he didn’t have any good answers for some of what President Obama is doing and expressed frustration about the “bureaucratic stuff that’s hard to defend.”

“Sometimes you can’t defend the indefensible,” Daley said at a National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) meeting.

Daley couldn’t answer basic questions and continually faced criticism from the executives in the room. The business leaders even applauded each other’s criticism of the administration. “At one point, the room erupted in applause when Massachusetts utility executive Doug Starrett, his voice shaking with emotion, accused the administration of blocking construction on one of his facilities to protect fish, saying government ‘throws sand into the gears of progress,’” wrote Peter Wallsten and Jia Lynn Yang in the Washington Post.

Americans for Limited Government Communications Director and former Labor Department Public Affairs Chief of Staff Rick Manning told The Daily Caller that Daley’s inability to defend Obama’s regulations is an indication that the administration’s plans aren’t working. Manning also points out that Daley’s meeting may have large political implications.

“Business community to William Daley, your Jedi tricks don’t work on us,” Manning said in an email. “The chickens are coming home to roost from the wholesale assault by Obama on the free enterprise system and the private job creators who make it run. The meeting itself is incredible in that it demonstrates just how vulnerable Obama feels in 2012.”

The Workforce Fairness Institute’s Fred Wszolek told The Daily Caller that Daley’s lackluster performance is even more questionable when comes to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and its campaign against the Boeing Company. The NLRB has gone after the Boeing Company for opening a new plant in South Carolina. Boeing’s new plant is an addition to its already-existing production lines in Washington state. The NLRB’s case hinges on whether Boeing made the decision to open the new plant as “retaliation” against machinist unions in Washington, even though no jobs were lost there. In fact, Boeing has added thousands of new jobs in Washington.

As a former Boeing board member before taking on his White House job, Daley voted in favor of opening the new South Carolina plant. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has challenged Daley to come out and defend his vote in the face of the NLRB’s case, but he hasn’t yet done so.

“Bill Daley is White House chief of staff in an administration that is accusing a company where he served on the board of violating Federal labor law,” Wszolek said in an email. “The individual who launched the complaint against the Boeing Company was appointed to the post by President Obama and is currently a nominee. Now, to top it all off, Daley states he cannot defend the ‘indefensible’ conduct of his own administration, which presumably speaks to the Boeing matter.”

Wszolek questions Daley’s ability to continue “ethically” serving the president.

“All of this leads to one question: how can Daley serve in an administration that he cannot defend and believes his actions were unethical?,” Wszolek said.
5156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Comparing Fascism with Marxism, are there no other alternatives? on: June 19, 2011, 11:23:09 PM
The silent ending to every sentence in economics is 'all other things equal'.  A doctor might be expected to respond to a monetary incentive, 'all other things held equal'.  That you think he/she will perform a test or procedure unnecessarily only to make an extra buck only tells us something about principles or the absence of them.  I don't know any doctors who knowingly or intentionally waste resources.

What JDN is finding fault with is crony capitalism, known on the board as fascism.  Third party compensators write the procedure rate book before anyone diagnoses the patient.  Not exactly a free market or a healthcare systm.  Then we compare that with nationalizing the whole system, aka Marxism, as if we didn't know a better way.  The reason money/capital doesn't allocate resources best in this scenario is the distortion called third party pay.  We discuss what a supplier would do for compensation and what some regulatory board will pay per procedure, need it or not, but if this were some form of market or capitalism, the supply question would have to be mapped against demand - what ordinary people are able and willing to pay.  We remove that half of the equation, wonder why costs run up, then compare it only with complete statism.  Something is missing.
5157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Issues in Constitutional Law: NY Times v. J. Thomas on: June 19, 2011, 06:00:13 PM
Picking through the 'news' about Justice Thomas with my own bias I found: "ethically sensitive", "financing of the museum", "justices [are] exempt from the code of conduct for federal judges", 'judges “should not personally participate” in raising money for charitable endeavors', "Legal ethicists differ", "in the case of Justice Thomas...the ethical complications appear more complex.", “I’ve been in the company of the two of them together...and they certainly really are friends.”, "One item not required to be reported in Justice Thomas’s financial disclosures is the millions of dollars Mr. Crow is spending on the museum." (  - I suppose not!)

The whole thing reminds me of false hit pieces the NYT has run on the Koch brothers, and then halfway through, sure enough, they tied Thomas to the (evil) Koch brothers - as if that is al qaeda of the mafia.
I posted a link previously in Media Issues of a long worthwhile read (actually a series) regarding the Koch brothers and their ties to their congressman in Wichita in Powerline called 'The Anatomy of a Smear':
NY Times retraction:

No response to my post then but we could take that side of it up on media issues if anyone is interested.  People should read that story all the way through; there is no way to summarize how that process actually works. 

One theme throughout this piece(this is my take) is that ties to conservatism or ties to money are bad.  My own biased reading of it is that they kept pointing out ties to great Amercans doing great work, including his wife.

The idea that justices with life appointments should stay in robes behind curtains and not come out and advance good causes is never made in the piece, by the NYT or by Thomas' critics.  That Thomas voted alone on one case I doubt is unusual.  IIRC I have often read dissents from him that no one joined.  He certainly did not use his inferred wrongful influence to persuade other justices.
5158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: June 19, 2011, 04:57:45 PM
"If you think your surgery is being done by your Dr. because of a profit margin rather than medical need, I suggest finding another doc. "

Looks to me like GM has the points covered I would try to make back to JDN.  Allowing for-profit activities in healthcare does not mean all decisions are 100% economic.  I don't get a dollar more in rent every time I try to do something extra for a tenant.  I mostly just try to keep them as a customer.

Pretending to make healthcare non-profit is silly, and ignorant of what profits are and what they do... the most efficient and effective way known to allocate scarce resources.

State law here requires all hospitals to be non-profit, what a joke.  A friend is CFO of one of the largest groups.  They own for-profit businesses within the non-profit building like the pharmacy in the front entry (as you point out) that can make up for all of anti-capitalistic legislation people can think of.  An argument I make to a different friend (of the stalinist-socialist persuasion) is that it meaningless to call a building non-profit if all of the people walking in and out of it are pulling down 300k or more.
"Look at longevity rates; America is tied at 36th.  That is terrible.  I think the whole of Europe is ahead of us, not to mention Japan which also has a national health care plan."

Does anybody ever compare Europe with European Americans, African Americans with Africans and Hispanic Americans with outcomes for people south of the border or do we just throw around bullshit and to see if a false point can be proven?

A look at differences in educational outcomes based on varying diversity is helpful, please read Iowahawk: Longhorns 17, Badgers 1.  White students in Texas (wild west) do better than white students in (unionized) Wisconsin.  Hispanics in Texas do better in Texas than Hispanics in Wisconsin.  Blacks in Texas do better than blacks in Wisconsin.  But every reporting out there is about the highest test scores coming out of Iowa, MN or Wisc.

The graduation rate at my daughter's very large public high school is 99% with the strictest standards of any state and the on-to-college rate is 91%.  See how that or any healthcare outcome measures up with say immigrant-based Malmo Sweden with national healthcare.  Let's compare Scandinavian Americans here with Sweden's Islamic and see what part is genetic or cultural differences and what part is systemic.

Where, JDN, is the highest survival rates for the ailments you and/or your wife (update: no one can stay ahead of GM on this) are most likely to get (hypothetically, not personally)?  My guess is the good old US of A.
5159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 19, 2011, 04:06:04 PM
Its all jobs now, like a laser focus, just look at Obama (sarcasm).  We have been wrong several times lately about what the most important issue will be in the next Presidency.  We had no idea we were headed into 9/11 or Iraq when W. Bush was elected.  Regime change in Iraq was national policy, agreed to by both candidates in the 2000 debates, with Gore saying he would go further than Bush with it - and nobody knew. The issues in 2004 were all about war as a 50 consecutive month job growth was breaking out.  By 2006 people took the whole prosperity thing for granted, voted for the politics of economic decline and worldwide surrender.  Got the decline, escalated (surged) the war.  Obama set himself apart by being the most consistent of all in his anti-Iraq war stance, then presided over that war well 2 1/2 years and counting.  Guantanamo, ditto.  But by the time the general election was held the issues were all about economic crisis management.  Who knew.

Crafty is right.  Not ahead of economic growth, but foreign policy as a big part of the job, show us your knowledge, wisdom and competency especially in the sense that most of them are new to it.  If you seriously want to be elected and govern effectively, now is the time to begin laying out how you will do that.  Foreign policy, also judicial appointments are another key area of difference between the incumbent and the challenger. If you are running against a senior lecturer of constitutional law, you had better have your act together.

When the next crisis comes or events turn - in any of these areas, people need to know who to turn to.

McCain set himself apart to win the nomination by promising to lead us in what direction?  Nobody knows.  He is a maverick, whatever that is.  He was supposed to be the wise and steady hand to complete the wars, admitted that he knew little about economics.  Then the collapse hit and he had no more economic wisdom, trust or ideas than Bush, Bernanke or Obama.
5160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 19, 2011, 10:22:12 AM
Catching up on a few points.  James Taranto, who I like very much, was very harsh on Pawlenty for not attacking Romney harder, as was the moderator and most observers. I respect Pawlenty's right to set his own tone and strategy... but then he looked weak and confused by attacking the day before and the day after in safety but restraining himself face to face.  He missed an opportunity to do that with tact, insight or humor. That was a moment in a crowded field where people actually wanted to hear what he had to say.  I don't know if that means he is done with one weak outing (and low polling numbers).  Up until recently I thought he was running a very well designed campaign.  Elements of his economic plan went too far, also a partially missed opportunity since he is the only one including Obama to have a plan. 

Dick Morris on Hannity during the week calls this round the quarterfinals, like a tennis tournament.  He says Pawlenty has Romney on his side of the draw and needs to win there to get to the semifinals - the last two Republicans standing.  Bachmann, OTOH, has Herman Cain, Ron Paul? and any other tea party types on her side of the draw.  I don't agree it's that simple but he does make some sense. 

Bigdog brought up the succession point on Rick Perry, so I finally googled, read and viewed what I could on that this morning.  Remember Todd Palin also had ties to people who suggested successionism, and was to be the poison to end it all.  First, I would say my view is different.  Nobody who is serious and patriotic right now wants to break up the union, but at some point in places like Alaska and Texas, if you are ruled for long enough, with a ruling ideology you despise, from a places as far away as Washington DC eastern seaboard and left coast, and they show no interest in even seeking your consent for that governance because they can get the votes they need elsewhere, talk of succession is no less patriotic than what the colonists went through.

Case in point, I think it is the Virginia challenge on Healthcare that has 26 states suing the feds.  That is quite an indicator that the feds have gone beyond consent of the governed, yet the administration ignores that court ruling, a change in congress repealing authorization and proceeds to appeal after a appeal as slow as possible to force a system on the people that most states oppose.  At some point,. enough is enough.  Luckily we have other, easier ways to enact change.

Rick Perry of course did not ever say he favored succession:

The video (above) pointed to first through google/youtube search of what he said is notable for the commentary before and after Perry's comments - he is surrounded by 'teabaggers', a particularly vile homosexual derogatory depiction of people who come forward and peacefully argue for a smaller and more constitutionally based government.
Crafty posed: "Why aren't the Rep candidates talking about foreign policy very much?"... the question IS a very good one and I'd like to put it up for a bit of discussion here.

Using Pawlenty as the example, he has tried to be the lead force opposing action in Libya.  Americans are war weary but I don't think that is the central focus in worldview differences between what I might call our side and Obama's.  It would make way more sense (Crafty's point I think) to start laying the large view of what is your view as the next President of America's role in the world today and where we do go from here.  As 4 wars(?) wind down - perhaps, what kind of strength and readiness are we going to maintain, and who is going to invest and hire the people from these forces who do not stay in the military.  That is another question not even addressed by the incumbent.
5161  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Austin TX immigrants rights coalition, why aren't you speaking English on: June 18, 2011, 03:12:52 PM
State Senator:  You've been here 23 years, why aren't you speaking English?

He is not very good at math either.
5162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance: The nation awaits... on: June 18, 2011, 03:04:59 PM
1631 news stories publicly promoting the fact that they are going to play golf.  6 hours later it reminds me of his economic plan... still no results.
5163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re. The Way Forward for the American Creed - Ted Cruz on: June 18, 2011, 12:52:00 PM
Maybe he can skip the senate.  We have an opening higher up.  smiley
5164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: June 18, 2011, 12:47:20 PM
CCP,  I agree and it goes both ways.  Obama shouldn't be drawing attention to his hacker addiction.  Golf is a wonderful game, a skill game and a strategy game - something to be played when you are done with your work.  Lousy golf is meaningless, a walk in the park with guys who are not your friends or your peers and with the secret service, instead of time spent with the two young daughters (they grow up so fast) and loving wife back home, if not on budget matters or the laser focus on jobs.  Obama already has amazing amounts of time logged on the golf course, a potential flag if/when the media or the public ever catches up with him.  Boehner should not have walked into Obama's trap.  This weekend meeting should have been in the budget room.  Worst case is that they should be playing openly for who gets to speak first and for how long at the Sunday budget meeting.

Approval of congress is at 21% RCP/ 17% Gallup for a whole lot of reasons.  This is not part of the solution.
5165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Reynolds: Pundits cling to the myth that lower tax rates mean lower revenues on: June 18, 2011, 12:28:32 PM
Kudos to Crafty for posting the Alan Reynolds piece.  I was too busy during the week to go through it carefully. This is a very significant piece IMO. I would like to draw attention to the points made.  Economic writing backed up with convincing numeric and mathematical evidence doesn't easily write or read well.  I would ask people to go slowly and more than once through the key points, because you are being told or implied the opposite by most of the people who govern us.

Seems that Reynolds does more research and posts less often than most.  The details of his work I find to be very original and always worthwhile.   

In this case, he is understating his case.  He is saying besides the growth in GDP, the lowering of rates over the 60 year period studied did not cost the Treasury revenue.

Think about it this way, if tax rates were 90% and people effectively were paying 7.7%, no one hardly was paying 90%.  If rates were dropped to about 10% across the board no exceptions, maybe people would willingly pay 10% - and run with it.


"Since the era of 70% tax rates, the U.S. income tax system has become far more "progressive." Congressional Budget Office estimates show that:

 - From 1979 to 2007 average income tax rates fell by 110% to minus 0.4% from 4.1% for the second-poorest quintile of taxpayers.

 - Average tax rates fell by 56% for the middle quintile and 39% for the fourth,

 - Only fell 8% at the top.

(This does not match what class warfare and disparity alarmists are telling you!)

Despite these massive tax cuts for the bottom 80%, overall federal revenues were the same 18.5% share of GDP in 2007 as they were in 1979 and individual tax revenues were nearly the same—8.7% of GDP in 1979 versus 8.4% in 2007. "

'Read it all'
5166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Issues Constitutional Law: 10th Amendment, Bond v. US on: June 18, 2011, 10:57:48 AM
10th amendment case of significance: "... the [federal law] interferes with the powers reserved to States."

When petitioner Bond discovered that her close friend was pregnant byBond’s husband...Bond put caustic substances on objects the woman was likely to touch.

Bond was indicted for violating 18 U. S. C. §229, which forbids knowing possession or use, for nonpeaceful purposes, of a chemical that “can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans,” §§229(a); 229F(1); (7); (Cool, and which is part of a federal Act implementing a chemical weapons treaty ratified by the United States. The District Court denied Bond’s motion to dismiss the §229 charges on the ground that the statute exceeded Congress’ constitutional authority to enact. She en-tered a conditional guilty plea, reserving the right to appeal the rul-ing on the statute’s validity. She did just that, renewing her Tenth Amendment claim. The Third Circuit, however, accepted the Gov-ernment’s position that she lacked standing. The Government has since changed its view on Bond’s standing.

Held: Bond has standing to challenge the federal statute on grounds that the measure interferes with the powers reserved to States.
5167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance Glibness: Obama pressured HAITI not to raise minimum wage on: June 18, 2011, 10:48:28 AM
The Nation (fair and balanced) pulled its Wikileaks story.  Hard not to go 'Media Issues' with this, but the cognitive dissonance of this administration is breathtaking.  Big corporations over workers?  Markets set prices over government?
Columbia Journalism Review

A Pulled Scoop Shows U.S. Fought to Keep Haitian Wages Down

By Ryan Chittum

The Nation has a scoop—or had, actually—from Wikileaks cables showing that the Obama administration pressured Haiti not to raise its minimum wage to 61 cents an hour, or five bucks a day.

The magazine posted the story the other day and has now pulled it, saying it will repost it next Wednesday “To accord with the publishing schedule of Haiti Liberté,” its partner on the piece.

But you can’t stuff the news genie back in the bottle. They already put it in my browser and many others, so I’ll summarize what it said (and I’ll link to it once The Nation republishes it).

Two years ago, Haiti unanimously passed a law sharply raising its minimum wage to 61 cents an hour. That doesn’t sound like much (and it isn’t), but it was two and a half times the then-minimum of 24 cents an hour.

This infuriated contractors for American corporations like Hanes and Levi Strauss that pay Haitians slave wages to sew their clothes. They said they would only fork over a seven-cent-an-hour increase, and they got the State Department involved. The U.S. ambassador put pressure on Haiti’s president, who duly carved out a $3 a day minimum wage for textile companies (the U.S. minimum wage, which itself is very low, works out to $58 a day).

The Nation:

    Still the US Embassy wasn’t pleased. A deputy chief of mission, David E. Lindwall, said the $5 per day minimum “did not take economic reality into account” but was a populist measure aimed at appealing to “the unemployed and underpaid masses.”

Well, hey. Imagine Haitians doing things for their “unemployed and underpaid masses” rather than rich Yankee corporations. The outrage! No wonder we have 9.1 percent unemployment and 16 percent underemployment here while the folks who sent the economy in the tank are back making millions.

Let’s do a little math. Haiti has about 25,000 garment workers. If you paid each of them $2 a day more, it would cost their employers $50,000 per working day, or about $12.5 million a year.

Zooming in on specific companies helps clarify this even more. As of last year Hanes had 3,200 Haitians making t-shirts for it. Paying each of them two bucks a day more would cost it about $1.6 million a year. Hanesbrands Incorporated made $211 million on $4.3 billion in sales last year, and presumably it would pass on at least some of its higher labor costs to consumers.

Or better yet, Hanesbrands CEO Richard Noll could forego some of his rich compensation package. He could $10 million package last year He could pay for the raises for those 3,200 t-shirt makers with just one-sixth of the $10 million in salary and bonus he raked in last year.

And that five dollars a day? The Nation reports that a Haitian family of three (two kids) needed $12.50 a day in 2008 to make ends meet.
5168  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: June 18, 2011, 12:16:00 AM
Our conversation here is moot; they don't admit we are part of any hostilities.

The denial and deceit reminds me of the long line of two faced Dems who voted for the Iraq war, caved and blamed when the going got tough, then continued the war 2 1/2 years and counting after they took power.  The Obama camp thinks they own our language.  They put out terms like kinetic action with straight face, ignore this law, but hold open the opportunity to criticize the next President should they someday attempt the same thing.

Bush jumped through all the hoops, House, Senate and UN.  Then gets ripped by the same people who first supported it for conducting an illegal war.  If the Obamites admitted that war powers law is unconstitutional, challenged it and won, they would be robbed of using the issue back against the next President.  Who can still take these people seriously?
5169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: June 17, 2011, 11:56:37 PM
"My first reaction is that IMHO the ratings agencies acted with spectacular recklessness and that I have no problem with this." [SEC pursuing fraud charges against rating agencies.]

That was my first thought too.  Too few people were investigated and prosecuted over the last round of widespread sleaze.

My next thought, based on distrust of Obama DOJ, we are probably pursuing the wrong people for the wrong reasons.

I have no idea on the underlying facts at this point, but agree in principle that if the truly guilty can be identified, they will deserve the full force of both civil and criminal proceedings.
5170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Palin phenomenon on: June 16, 2011, 02:06:11 PM
Right between the level of "I have a dream" and the "Gettysburg Address".

"exceeds that of most chief executives."

“She’s very concise. She gives clear orders. Her sentences and punctuations are logical,” said Paul Payack, president of Global Language Monitor. “She has much more of a disciplined mind than she’s given credit for.”

I've not known many 8th graders to write timely and insightful comment on monetary policy.  Writing in clear, direct sentences makes sense to me.  We all should do more of it.

Leaving unnecessarily during her first term is another thing.  Puts her on a par with 2007-2008 Obama, inexperienced and largely unqualified.  If nominated and running against 4 more years of leftism, I expect to be voting for her.

The media and public should be appalled at the lack of privacy even in official, behind the scenes, government work.  Will we be seeing Rahm Emmanuel's work on the govt payroll in its entirety as well?  How 'bout little Weiner?  Equal protection is an idea that came and went some time ago.
5171  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How China could Fail - Financial Times on: June 16, 2011, 11:52:50 AM
Wrong so far, but I always have doubts that China can continue forward as it is.  I wish for them a stumble only big enough to shake off their rule by the communist-oppressioninsts, and then nothing but continued economic growth and success.
How China Could Yet Fail Like Japan
14 Jun 2011
By: Martin Wolf

Until 1990, Japan was the most successful large economy in the world. Almost nobody predicted what would happen to it in the succeeding decades. Today, people are yet more in awe of the achievements of China. Is it conceivable that this colossus could learn that spectacular success is a precursor of surprising failure? The answer is: yes.

Eightfish | Getty Images
Japan’s gross domestic product per head (at purchasing power parity) jumped from a fifth of U.S. levels in 1950 to 90 percent in 1990. But this spectacular convergence went into reverse: by 2010, Japan’s GDP per head had fallen to 76 per cent of U.S. levels. China’s GDP per head jumped from 3 percent of U.S. levels in 1978, when Deng Xiaoping’s “reform and opening up” began, to a fifth of U.S. levels today. Is this going to continue as spectacularly over the next few decades or could China, too, surprise on the downside?

It is easy to make the optimistic case. First, China has a proven record of success, with an average rate of economic growth of 10 percent between 1979 and 2010. Second, China is a long way from the living standards of the high-income countries. Relative to the U.S., its GDP per head is where Japan’s was in 1950, before a quarter century of further rapid growth. If China matched Japan’s performance, its GDP per head would be 70 percent of U.S. levels by 2035 and its economy would be bigger than those of the U.S. and European Union, combined.

Yet counter-arguments do exist. One is that China’s size is a disadvantage: in particular, it makes its rise far more dramatic for the demand for resources than anything that has gone before. Another is that the political effects of such a transformation might be disruptive for a country run by a Communist party. It is also possible, however, to advance purely economic arguments for the idea that growth might slow more abruptly than most assume.

Such arguments rest on two features of China’s situation. The first is that it is a middle-income country. Economists increasingly recognize a “middle-income trap”. Thus, sustaining rapid increases in productivity and managing huge structural shifts as the economy becomes more sophisticated is hard. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore are almost the only economies to have managed this feat over the past 60 years.


Current DateTime: 11:21:13 15 Jun 2011
LinksList Documentid: 43403188

    * 'Meaningful Probability' of Hard Landing for China: Roubini
    * China Raises Reserve Ratios as Inflation Jumps
    * China's Lending Data Put Policymakers in a Dilemma

Happily, China has close cultural and economic similarities with these east Asian successes. Unhappily, China shares with these economies a model of investment-led growth that is both a strength and a weakness. Moreover, China’s version of this model is extreme. For this reason, it is arguable that the model will cause difficulties even before it did in the arguably less distorted case of Japan.

Premier Wen Jiabao has himself described the economy as “unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated and ultimately unsustainable”. The nature of the challenge was made evident to me during discussions of the 12th five year plan at the China Development Forum 2011 in Beijing in March. This new plan calls for a sharp change in the pace and structure of economic growth. In particular, growth is forecast to decline to just 7 percent a year. More important, the economy is expected to rebalance from investment, towards consumption and, partly as a result, from manufacturing towards services.

The question is whether these shifts can be managed smoothly. Michael Pettis of Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management has argued that they cannot be. His argument rests on the view that in the investment-led growth model, repression of household incomes plays a central role by subsidizing that investment. Removing that repression – a necessary condition for faster growth of consumption – risks causing a sharp slowdown in output and a still bigger slowdown in investment. Growth is driven as much by subsidized expansion of capacity as by the profitable matching of supply to final demand. This will end with a bump.

Investment has indeed grown far faster than GDP. From 2000 to 2010, growth of gross fixed investment averaged 13.3 percent, while growth of private consumption averaged 7.8 percent. Over the same period the share of private consumption in GDP collapsed from 46 per cent to a mere 34 percent, while the share of fixed investment rose from 34 percent to 46 percent. (See charts.)

Professor Pettis argues that suppression of wages, huge expansions of cheap credit and a repressed exchange rate were all ways of transferring incomes from households to business and so from consumption to investment. Dwight Perkins of Harvard argued at the China Development Forum that the “incremental capital output ratio” – the amount of capital needed for an extra unit of GDP – rose from 3.7 to one in the 1990s to 4.25 to one in the 2000s. This also suggests that returns have been falling at the margin.

If this pattern of growth is to reverse, as the government wishes, the growth of investment must fall well below that of GDP. This is what happened in Japan in the 1990s, with dire results. The thesis advanced by Prof Pettis is that a forced investment strategy will normally end with such a bump. The question is when. In China, it might be earlier in the growth process than in Japan because investment is so high. Much of the investment now undertaken would be unprofitable without the artificial support provided, he argues. One indicator, he suggests, is rapid growth of credit. George Magnus of UBS also noted in the FT of May 3 2011 that the credit-intensity of Chinese growth has increased sharply. This, too, is reminiscent of Japan as late as the 1980s, when the attempt to sustain growth in investment-led domestic demand led to a ruinous credit expansion.

As growth slows, the demand for investment is sure to shrink. At growth of 7 percent, the needed rate of investment could fall by up to 15 percent of GDP. But the attempt to shift income to households could force a yet bigger decline. From being a growth engine, investment could become a source of stagnation.

The optimistic view is that China’s growth potential is so great that it can manage the planned transition with ease. The pessimistic view is that it is hard for a country investing half of GDP to decelerate smoothly. I expect the transition to slower economic growth and greater reliance on consumption to be quite bumpy. The Chinese government is skilled. But it cannot walk on water. The water it is going to have to walk on over the next decade is going to be choppy. Watch out for the waves.
5172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care, McKinsey Report on: June 16, 2011, 11:16:09 AM
"devastating McKinsey & Company study that concluded up to 78 million Americans would lose their current health coverage as employers stopped offering insurance because of President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  The report contradicted Mr. Obama's frequent pledge that under his reform, "if you like your health-care plan, you can keep your health-care plan." "

They lie with such ease, it used to be said of the Clintons.  My health plan is gone and the reasons people like Lawrence Tribe have ascribed to my lack of coverage are false.  Massive over-regulation doesn't lower costs and massive new regulations don't leave existing plans unchanged.  It's not rocket science.

Why was it all or none? Why did they not implement immediately the important reforms Republicans would agree to while we wait for the monstrosity - if the good of the country was the goal.

Why was it delayed implementation? A taste of delayed care?  Why was it 10 years to pay for 6, and then find out it doesn't.

"The deficit-reduction claim also came before House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan drew attention to the law's Ponzi scheme. It's funded by borrowing $521 billion from the Social Security Trust Fund, Medicare, and new long-term care insurance premiums, and by ignoring the $300 billion cost over 10 years of the annual inflation increases in reimbursements to hospitals and doctors. These gimmicks hide the fact that ObamaCare is really $701 billion in the red in its first decade."

Are Ponzi schemes legal in all 50 states?  Would someone please release Bernie Madoff.

I don't get the whole waiver thing.  What basis does the selective waiver process have in equal protection under the law?  What other laws allow for politically-based waivers?  My tax return mandate?  Please grant me a waiver.

The damage done to our economy before its implementation is immeasurable and largely unreported.  See Ryan piece on regulatory uncertainty. 

One reason people buy gold and other non-productive assets is that it is one last places you can put investment money that does not insert yourself into the vicious, highly regulated, ever-changing battle lines of state and federal legislatures and regulators for the crime of ... hiring people.

Some people want to build a better mousetrap.  Other people want to read and study compliance opinions nearly everyday regarding all the changes and administrative ruling updates of highly restraining employment law, payroll law, layoff law, unemployment compensation law, workman comp law, healthcare law...  If you don't want to do all of it, you won't be building a better mousetrap - not in this country.
The smartest guy by far in my school district growing up went on to become a lawyer by way of a top Ivy league law school and made his career in the employee benefits section of a major local utility.  That, unfortunately, not inventing amazing new energy sources or curing deadly diseases, is where the action is.
5173  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Bachmann on: June 15, 2011, 09:45:49 AM
"Known for piercing and sometimes inaccurate commentary..."
"She’s described as meticulous and worried about the finer details..."

The second point, finer details, was followed by: "such as soundtracks played to pump up rally crowds", meaning attention to the wrong details.  Either a worthy rip on her or unfriendly journalism.

As one who has followed her since before she held elective office, it is still hard to say if she is excessively gaffe prone or just a victim of the double standard journalism.  Examples, Obama got away with the 57 state comment, presumably he visited some state more than once, but in particular Biden was loaded with falsehoods in the VP debate and then Palin gets ripped for lack of knowledge/experience.

But that double standard is a fact and conservatives need to have well thought out answers if they want to ban gay marriage in states that already have it, ban abortion when over 0.0% of them come from rape, life of the mother etc.

Michele Bachmann won't be the next President, but she may be settling in for a hell of a brush with fame.
5174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 14, 2011, 10:43:43 PM
"@Doug  I havent forgotten about your idea of the Saddam surrender statement, mate. The actual document would be next to impossible to find I think, since if indeed it does exist it should be located in the Iraqi national archives in Baghdad.If they still stand. Or maybe in America somewhere. Ill ask around a bit."
Thanks. I just mean a copy - an English translation. I had it in my hand at the time from one of the online services of 1991 and saved it - who knows where.  Nothing earthshaking in it, just a glimpse into his mind and his propaganda.  The detachment from reality was startling to me.  Four pages of flowery BS as I recall, congratulating Iraqis all the way through for their victory over the Zionists and the Imperialists, victory because they stayed proud, victory because they proved this and proved that.  At the very end he accepts UN resolutions xxx... Nothing close to the word surrender is hinted. 
5175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 14, 2011, 10:01:58 PM
Bigdog, Thanks! I agree with a lot of that.

"Am I missing anyone?"

Besides Huntsman, the last major one in might be Rick Perry who I know very little about.

"I am not all that big on President Obama.  I've never voted for him and have had the opportunity thrice."

I remember seeing an early debate last time around, Dems in Nov 2007. Details there turned out to be wrong, such as that Obama opposing Hillary's individual mandate and Edwards being a great family man.  Takes the fun out of trying to follow it closely.

Any other Dems that would pique your interest, hypothetically, if the incumbent would suddenly drop out or face a challenge?  Anyone from the mix of Hillary, Biden or the former or outgoing Senators like Evan Bayh, Conrad, Dorgan, Webb, Feingold, others?  Any potential independents or third partiers like a Bloomberg?
5176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 14, 2011, 04:39:50 PM
Very true regarding charisma BD.  It is the growing and lasting type that is needed, drawing people to you and to your ideas and keeping the people with you over a period of years.  Bland is fine with me, but nothing gets accomplished if he/she cannot win or cannot govern.

Romney presents well and no one lately has charmed people like Obama did up through his election and his first shot at setting policy.  That mostly wore off with results.  He no longer can fill a script with platitudes or contradictions.  The rest perhaps are at similar levels of personal appeal. 

My point in following Pawlenty is that he is easily underestimated.  Ordinary guy, but he rose very quickly to minority leader in the MN house, to majority leader (which means you did something right when the bluest state switches parties) to the R. nomination against a strong conservative challenger, to youngest Governer in 30 years, to reelection, to leadership in the Gov's assn, to probably first pick of McCain's staff for VP, to getting well noticed now for the highest office and drawing a mostly favorable/acceptable impression from primary voters.  At 6% Gallup, your point is well taken (but the election will not be held today). 

If a Ronald Reagan or a Churchill steps into the fold, then Pawlenty is the local news guy in comparison (Noonan's analogy). Romney is the one who projects stature but the strength of his convictions are still in question - and he could stumble. 
BD, other than if you and I run, who do you lean toward at this point?

"Pawlenty did not take the dare to follow up on his Obamney Care quote and I thought Romney came in well-prepared and articulate on it."

Pawlenty is taking big heat elsewhere today for not taking the fight to Romney on Obamneycare, but (IMO) why should he?  The astute primary observer doesn't need Pawlenty to repeat or build on that point. He said he would not do that, and if this turns into a food fight this early that hurts all of them. Pawlenty has made his point about Romneycare, he got it repeated/entered into the debate through the question, chose the high road, and moved on.  The failed results of Romneycare are still coming in  from now until the election.  It's the law of the commonwealth.  That question is not going to go away and it doesn't have to be Pawlenty pushing it or bringing down the comradery this early.

Others have said Pawlenty looked too pre-programmed in this debate.  Dick Morris is saying he blew his chance (at the whole election).  In the first debate, other people of significance said he looked Presidential.  After coming out with a pretty controversial economic plan, maybe he is the one who escaped the debate without taking harsh criticism.  The charismatic frontrunner basically embraced Pawlenty's economic approach.

'The adventure continues'.
5177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: June 14, 2011, 12:58:01 PM
This is a good point by Crafty: "When there are no Jews to hate, then the next handy non-Muslim target will do just fine, see e.g. what is happening to the Coptic Christians right now in Egypt."  And if there was no Israel, the target becomes Europe and the USA.  You don't have to be Jewish or Israeli when you know the term infidel simply means not one of them.  The context of the wall is also an important point, as is the point that the hiding of military inside of civilian locations for photo drama is a particularly cruel strategy.

Saddam used to call his enemy "the Zionists and the Imperialists", **  but he wasn't attacked and pushed back from Kuwait by Israel, and the Americans weren't there to take land, they were there to help other Arab-Muslims take back their land and to contain his own imperialism.  When the anti-Iraq war crowd claimed that Saddam had no ties to terrorism, they didn't count direct financial support for suicide bombing of Jews in Israel as terrorism, because... attacks against Jews in Israel don't constitute terrorism??

(** I asked previously if someone could come up with the actual Saddam surrender statement of 1991. The 'Zionists' are mentioned often in it.  GM came back with something else, but I thought maybe Andrew as a historian might be able to help to re-locate that document.)

I have a friend of years past with views similar to what I read in Andrew's view.  I didn't view the videos, but this friend maintained that the Israeli Defense forces are the meanest SOBs on the planet.  In the context that the entire region supports their destruction and Israel is still standing, that accusation doesn't seem misplaced.  Then he would point out examples of Israel responding disproportionately to the attacks against them.  I don't find that to be out of place either.  The point is to stop the attacks.  I don't know of any additional lands or anything else Israel's neighbors have that Israel wants, just that the attacks against them would cease.

The only terms of a possible peace settlement come down to what Netanyahu spelled out.  Besides life, all Israel wants is defensible borders.
5178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential - Thomas Sowell reviews candidates, praises Pawlenty on: June 14, 2011, 12:12:36 PM
"Some fear that Governor Pawlenty doesn't have the charisma and fireworks rhetoric that they would like to see in a candidate. Charisma and rhetoric are what gave us the current disastrous administration in Washington."
Is Pawlenty Plenty?
By Thomas Sowell

The Republicans' confused assortment of announced presidential candidates-- as well as unannounced candidates and distant possibilities of candidates-- seems to be clarifying somewhat. The withdrawal of Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee, as well as the withdrawal of much of Newt Gingrich's staff, seems like a much-needed weeding-out process.

Although Mitt Romney has been leading in the polls, his lead over other potential rivals has been slim. Being a "front-runner" this far ahead of next year's nominating convention would not mean much, even if Governor Romney's lead and his support were much bigger than they are.

The albatross around Romney's neck is the RomneyCare medical plan that he signed into law in Massachusetts. His refusal to repudiate RomneyCare means that, as a presidential candidate, he would forfeit one of the strongest argument against Barack Obama, who has ObamaCare as his albatross.

Nor is an about-face on RomneyCare a viable option for Mitt Romney. He has already done too many other about-faces for the voters to be likely to trust him after another. He has painted himself into a corner.

Articulate Newt Gingrich might be the best Republican to go toe-to-toe with Obama in presidential debates-- and a lack of effective articulation has been the Republicans' big weakness for years. Try to name a Republican renowned for his articulation, besides Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

While Newt Gingrich is not at that level, he is definitely a cut above most Republican candidates in talking. He also represents a cherished moment in Republican history, when they took the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years, as a result of Gingrich's "contract with America" election strategy.

But that was back in the 1990s, and many younger voters today may have no idea what that was all about. Worse yet, former Speaker Gingrich has shown too many signs of opportunism -- including his wholly unnecessary swipe at Republican Congressman Paul Ryan's attempt to bring some fiscal sanity to Washington-- to be trusted.

His own staff should know him better than the rest of us. Their recent resignations should mark the end of a very promising career that did not live up to all its promises. Even so, Gingrich performed a real service to the country as Speaker of the House of Representatives, which brought federal spending under control and produced what the media chose to call "the Clinton surplus."

Among the other announced Republican presidential candidates, former governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota talks the most sense and shows the most courage. When you tell people in a corn-producing state like Iowa that you want to cut back on Ethanol subsidies, that takes guts, because Iowa will also produce the first results in next year's primary campaign season. And first results, like other first impressions, carry a lot of weight.

But somebody has got to talk sense about our dire economic problems-- and it is painfully clear that Barack Obama will not be that somebody. The fact that Pawlenty has put his neck on the line to do so is a big plus.

Tim Pawlenty cites his track record to back up his statements. That includes reducing Ethanol subsidies when he was governor of Minnesota and cutting the growth of state government spending from just over 20 percent a year to under 2 percent a year.

Governor Pawlenty fought Minnesota's transit unions over runaway pensions and hung tough during a long strike. "Today," he says, "we have a transit system that gives commuters a ride, without taking the taxpayers for a ride."

Some fear that Governor Pawlenty doesn't have the charisma and fireworks rhetoric that they would like to see in a candidate. Charisma and rhetoric are what gave us the current disastrous administration in Washington. Charisma and rhetoric gave people in other countries even bigger disasters, up to and including Hitler.

Politicians and the media may want a candidate with verbal fireworks but the people want jobs. As Tim Pawlenty put it: "Fluffy promises of hope and change don't buy our groceries, make our mortgage payments, put gas in our cars, or pay for our children's clothes."
5179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Paul Ryan - the government-knows-best crowd got it wrong on: June 14, 2011, 12:04:01 PM
There are three main reasons why the president’s policies have made this recovery weaker than usual:  Regulatory uncertainty, tax uncertainty, debt uncertainty - Ryan nails it.  I like that he puts excessive regulations front and center and that uncertainty coming from the public sector is a major cause of the inaction from investors in the private sector.  Also, more people need to equate spending with debt.  Everything we spend at the margin - beyond the first two and a half trillion and beyond essential government functions like funding the court system and national security - is permanent debt, a burden that grows literally with the magic of compound interest.

Obama's Economic Experiment Has Failed -- Time to Get Back to What Works

By Rep. Paul Ryan
Published June 13, 2011

A flurry of recent economic news – especially the May jobs report – confirms what many have feared for some time: This president’s leadership deficit has caused a disastrous jobs deficit, and where he has led, his policies have made things worse.

The president clearly inherited a difficult fiscal and economic situation when he took office. But his response to the crisis has been woefully inadequate. The president and his party’s leaders have made it their mission to test the hypothesis that more government spending and greater government control over the economy can jump-start a recovery better than the private sector can.

That experiment has failed. The stimulus spending spree failed to create jobs. Massive overhauls of the financial sector and health-care sector are fueling uncertainty and hindering our recovery.

House Republicans are charting a new course with a better plan – starting with a budget that frees the private sector from regulatory uncertainty, punishing tax increases, and the crushing burden of debt that is weighing on this recovery. But making progress on this plan will require leaders in Washington to relinquish the idea that government knows best, and many just don’t seem ready to face that reality.

The May jobs report was yet another reminder that the government-knows-best crowd got it wrong. When he came into office, the president’s economic team predicted that a stimulus bill of unprecedented size and scope would hold unemployment below 8 percent and steadily lower it to 7 percent by the first quarter of this fiscal year.

These estimates weren’t just off by a little bit – they completely missed the mark. The jobless rate went all the way up to 10.1 percent, never fell below 8.8 percent, and has now ticked back up to 9.1 percent. Private-sector hiring continues to stagnate. The cost of gas and groceries continues to rise. And the national debt continues to climb, casting a long shadow over economic activity and job creation.

This recovery pales in comparison to past, private-sector-led recoveries. Unemployment today has fallen by just 1 percentage point from its recessionary peak. By contrast, unemployment at the same point in the past ten recoveries dropped by an average of 5 percentage points in past recoveries. The dismal jobs record underscores the fact that the Great Recession is far from over for millions of American families.

There are three main reasons why the president’s policies have made this recovery weaker than usual:

1. Regulatory uncertainty: After the stimulus passed, the president turned his attention immediately to costly overhauls of the nation’s financial and health-care sectors. These overhauls needlessly transferred more control over America’s economy to government bureaucrats in Washington, without fixing the problems they were intended to address. The transfer of so much power to the arbitrary dictates of federal regulators has made it hard for businesses to plan for the future with confidence, and things will remain this way until these laws are replaced with real reforms.

2. Tax uncertainty: The president’s ad hoc tax policies, with a mix of tax hikes on job creators and temporary rebates for others being the hallmarks of his approach, have left businesses in the lurch. Moreover, the president’s new health care law imposes a crushing $800 billion tax hike, and he continues to threaten businesses and families with higher rates in the future, even as he dithers on his vague promise to address America’s uncompetitive corporate tax rate, which is the highest in the developed world.

3. Debt uncertainty: The president has not put forward a plan that saves Medicare from bankruptcy, even though nonpartisan experts tell us that this could happen in 9-13 short years unless we act. Each year that we fail to put our critical government health and retirement programs on a path to long-term solvency, we are making trillions of dollars of unfunded promises to future retirees. We are already borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend, and Washington’s inability to solve its spending problems is leading rating agencies such as Standard & Poors to downgrade our credit outlook. Government under this administration is failing at its number-one economic job, which is to create a stable, predictable environment for job creators.

By contrast, the Republicans have put forward a plan to tackle each of these problems head-on. Our budget, which we call The Path to Prosperity, reduces regulatory uncertainty for businesses by repealing the new health care law. It reduces tax uncertainty by promoting low, stable rates and clearing out loopholes and deductions that go primarily to the well-off. And it reduces debt uncertainty by dealing with our long-term unfunded liabilities, saving Medicare from bankruptcy, and putting us on a path to pay off the debt.

This debate comes down to one big philosophical difference: Who should we put in the drivers’ seat when it comes to jobs and the economy: government bureaucrats in Washington, or a vibrant private sector freed from uncertainty?

The president’s economic experiment has failed. It is time to get back to what we know works: empowering free citizens with the tools they need to prosper. To close the alarming budget deficit and the painful jobs deficit, we must first erase Washington’s leadership deficit by providing real solutions for a real recovery.

Rep. Paul Ryan is chairman of the House Budget Committee and represents Wisconsin's 1st district.
5180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: NH Debate June 2011 on: June 13, 2011, 10:55:54 PM
GOP Debate Recap
June 13, 2011 Posted by John Hinderacker,

"The New Hampshire debate is winding down, and my general impression is that all of the candidates did pretty well. Mitt Romney was a winner, as he came across like a senior statesman and none of the other candidates attacked him. All apparently were obeying Reagan's 11th commandment. Michele Bachmann shone early, not so much during the second half, but on the whole undoubtedly generated some excitement. Newt Gingrich reminded us how good he can be in this debate format. Rick Santorum and Herman Cain did fine. Ron Paul, whom in general I don't like, was collegial and made several positive contributions. Tim Pawlenty--my favorite, as our readers know--did fine, but in my judgment didn't break out.

The overall impression, I think, was of a united front, determined to make Barack Obama a one-term president. That is a good thing. There was a basic conflict of interest between the candidates and CNN, which hosted the debate. The candidates wanted to talk about the economy. CNN led with 20 minutes or so on the economy, then shifted to the social issues, immigration, foreign policy, etc. One could sense television sets switching off across America as the evening wore on. So I don't think the debate represented a breakthrough for any of the candidates individually, with the possible exception of Michele Bachmann--time will tell--but it was a pretty good night for the cause of conservatism and constitutional government."
5181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential on: June 13, 2011, 10:59:21 AM
Responding here to the Herman Cain points from tax policy.  Agreed that he is a great American with a calm center and amazing courage.  I would be very proud to have him as President.  Huckabee I think took the Fair Tax banner out of opportunism and Cain is taking it out of conviction. 

Frankly though, the fair tax works if what we needed was about a 10% tax, not 30% sales tax plus the state tax.  I think he is also implying we get there by moving forward with spending cuts and income tax rate cuts first, and then gradually change hearts and minds.  He is not however charismatic enough to ever get 80% support for repealing all income taxation on the rich. I know hateful, liberal thought way too well for that. We already repealed income taxation on the bottom 50%, so what do they have to gain?

In the context of unattainable, I find the push now in a time of national crisis for what is foreseeably unattainable to be counter-productive.  I would actually like to see these candidates move toward consensus rather than differences on key issues if we hope to unite, win the election, win a mandate and accomplish anything meaningful. MHO  smiley
5182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Islam in America: A Peaceful Patriotic Muslim on: June 13, 2011, 10:24:23 AM
By way of Powerline, this is a very refreshing look at what immigrants can become and appreciate:

2 minutes and 40 seconds well spent.  First Muslim, first immigrant Miss USA honors Ronald Reagan.
5183  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tax Policy: Cain on Fair Tax on: June 13, 2011, 09:50:22 AM
"The man owns the topic on a level I have not before seen."

Did he make a convincing case, in a climate of 48% Obama support and 53 Dem Senators that we are on the verge of getting 80% for REPEALING the income tax altogether by constitutional amendment - in time to save the republic? 

Currently we are arguing to the point of almost civil war over when the rich should be raised from 35% to 39% and you believe we can get 80% support for zero direct tax on all income earned by the rich? 

Another candidate just suggested ending a couple examples of double taxation on certain incomes and the world of centric politics and punditry has gone berserk.
 Gigot: Welcome to "The Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.

First up this week, the FAIR Tax. It's the proposal to replace all federal taxes, including income and payroll taxes, with a 23% national sales tax. Presidential candidates have run on it and lost in the past, most notably Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2008. And this time around, it's businessman Herman Cain who has picked up the FAIR Tax issue.

I spoke to Cain earlier this week and asked the GOP hopeful if he really thinks he can win the nomination by proposing a 23% tax on everything that Americans buy.

Cain: The answer is yes, for the following reasons. First of all, it replaces the federal income tax. It replaces the FICA tax that's currently being taken out. And we'll still raise the same amount of money. Secondly, the FAIR Tax moves taxation from a decision by the government on your income to a decision made by the consumer based upon that purchase behavior. And so that's one of the big advantages. Now, the other big advantage is that we'll raise the same amount of revenue with that 23%, because the consumption base is bigger than the income base.

Gigot: But the Bush tax commission, when they looked at it--

Cain: Yes.

Gigot: --in the last decade, said actually, the tax rate you'd have to have to raise the same amount of revenue is probably about 34%.

Cain: That's because they changed the assumptions in the bill. Here's what they did: They went back and tried to create a hybrid of trying to save the mortgage interest deduction because they think that that's like, you know, a pacifier for consumers. No.

Gigot: And you'd get rid of that? Get rid of all of it?

Cain: All of that would be gone. So you--and they changed the assumptions,. That's why they came up with that number. That's why they--because they tried to create a hybrid. If you look at HR 25 and go by the assumptions--

Gigot: That's the proposal in the House.

Cain: That's the proposal in the House. It's been introduced there since 1999, and it's still there. Look at what's in the actual legislation, and don't change the rules. The 23% would raise the same amount of money.

Gigot: But here's the problem a lot of conservatives have, which is a political problem. You've got the 16th Amendment, which said you could have the income tax.

Cain: Yes.

Gigot: In order to get rid of the income tax, you probably have to repeal the 16th Amendment.

Cain: Correct.

Gigot: So if you offer a national sales tax without repealing the 16th Amendment, aren't you going to get both?

Cain: No. In the legislation there is a clause that says that the FAIR Tax cannot go into effect until the 16th Amendment is repealed. So that puts pressure on the states and on Congress to repeal the 16th Amendment before the FAIR Tax, the national consumption tax, can go into affect.

Gigot: What makes you think that the American public is ready to hear a candidate, support a candidate, who supports what, let's face it, is a very radical change? Because you throw it the entire tax system. When other Republican candidates at the federal level, like Jim DeMint in South Carolina--

Cain: Right.

Gigot: --or certain Congress--congressional candidates have supported it, the Democrats have gone after it and said, "They want to raise the price of everything you buy--your home, your car--by 23%," and it's hurt them. How would you counter that argument?

Cain: The difference is, I can defend all of the lies, all of the misperceptions and all of the distortions about the FAIR Tax, and I'm willing to take that battle on. That's the reason why. Because what has happened--it does get demagogued. But then when you explain to the American people that it not only eliminates the withholding tax for both FICA as well as the payroll tax, but that it also eliminates the IRS and the costs that we have there, it--we will only need to spend 10% of what we spend on the IRS--you know, those people that abuse us and harass us?

Gigot: Right.

Cain: Well, they go away. They have to find new jobs. And trust me, they're smart enough to find new jobs.

Gigot: I guess the other concern that people have is, if you impose a tax that size on everything you buy, a lot of people are going to say, "You know what, I don't want to pay another 23%, 25% on my car."

Cain: It's--

Gigot: "Let's do it on the black market." And you drive a lot of those sales underground, and you'll still need somebody like the IRS for enforcement, won't you?

Cain: No. Here's why. First of all, the 23% is on new goods. So it's not on used cars and used homes or used goods. Yes, but you're going to pay it on everything else. Now, it could cause some people to try and buy it on the black market to get around it.

Gigot: Sure.

Cain: What's happening today? We have probably more underground activity going on today because illegals, who do everything on a cash basis, they are not paying taxes. People who come here to visit and do Christmas shopping from overseas, they are not paying any taxes. You've got the illegal activity that goes on in this country, that's money being left on the table.

And here's one of the big ones right here. What we spend collectively just to comply and file with the current tax code: $430 billion a year. That works out to the cost--to pay a dollar in taxes, that works out, according to analysis by Art Laffer, 30 cents to pay that dollar. The American people could keep that 30 cents.

Gigot: But Art Laffer long believed in a flatter system, a flat tax.

Cain: Yes, yes.

Gigot: A lot of Republicans have proposed that in the past, and some are now. Why--and, you know, go for, say, a top rate of 25% and then a lower rate, say, of 10%. You could fiddle with the rates, but something like that. Why not play it more politically safe and go for that, because you don't have to make the case that you have to repeal the 16th Amendment, which you know is very, very difficult to do?

Cain: The reason is, if you go with something that's still going to be taxed on income and you keep the 16th Amendment, the bureaucrats and politicians can't help themselves, it's going to grow back again. Remember, Reagan reduced down the number of brackets and all of that. Look what it did. It grew right back. Why?

Gigot: But couldn't you also raise--the politicians will raise the size of the sales tax.

Cain: Yes. That's a possibility, but here is the safeguard. In the legislation, HR 25, it requires a supermajority vote of the United States Senate in order to raise it. And I think if they tried to do that and sneak it past the American people, they won't be able to sneak it past, so that's another safeguard. The American people would know. Right now, Paul, lobbyists are able to get tax favors in the bills, and the American people never know about it. The current tax code allows politicians to select winners and losers. We need to get rid of that. And once we get rid of the tax code, we're going to eliminate 50% of the lobbyists who are trying to get those favors in the tax code.

Gigot: And you think you can sell this to the Republican primary electorate when Mike Huckabee couldn't do it successfully in 2008. He ran on the FAIR Tax.

Cain: Yes, he did.

Gigot: And he didn't win the nomination.

Cain: Here's the difference.

Gigot: Why is it going to be different?

Cain: Here's the difference. First of all, this is Herman Cain. All right, let's start there. I'm proposing a two-phase boost to our economy. Phase 1 is what we need to do to get things going while I educate and inform the public about the nuances and the advantages of the FAIR Tax. I'm not going to try to do that right away. Phase 1--

Gigot: Will be a tax cut.

Cain: --will be tax cuts. It'll be suspending the tax on foreign profits. It'll be a real payroll tax holiday. And then make those--make those--other than the tax holiday, make them permanent so we can remove this uncertainty. So we'll do that in order to boost the economy and then educate the public.
5184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 13, 2011, 09:48:56 AM
Noonan is right on a couple of those counts.  Romney presents as Presidential. He is more network news anchor than the people who actually have those jobs.  People like Pawlenty as an example are more local in presentation, hence the 6% early support levels.

The Mormon story is old.  What are the deeply held religious beliefs of the current resident at the White House?  Nobody knows and only opponents care.  Romney's challenge is to go from a 23% frontrunner to becoming a candidate who will put the country on the right path and a candidate acceptable to all of the conservative movement. 

Early frontrunners sometimes end up as cabinet members in the new administration.
5185  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Restrain the public sector, Unleash the private sector on: June 13, 2011, 12:51:59 AM
A question posed recently: "You are the new president to be sworn in 1/2013. What policies would you want to dig us out of our economic crisis."
(I would like to see everyone in on this with their own plan.)

My plan:
Table of contents
a) Energize: Open up our own production and supplies of essential domestic energy sources
b) Healthcare: Repeal and Replace
c) Government Spending - Roll back and restrain the growth of spending
d) Regulations -  eased, re-evaluated and reauthorized
e) New tax Code, on one sheet of paper
f) Value the Dollar
g) Reform Entitlements, really!
h) Employment Mentoring:  Welfare reform revisited
i) Unleash Innovation - the result of the above policies

a) These all need to be virtually simultaneous, but energy reform is first because of the long lead times.  Must send a strong signal now. The energy plan is move forward on all fronts.  Get the best and the cleanest with the safest possible techniques.  ANWR, yes.  Fill the Alaskan pipeline before that trickle peters out altogether.  Offshore, yes, but learn from everything that happened in Deepwater. Natural gas, yes, but with the smartest real protections an minimal releases.  Nuclear, yes, but learn everything we can learn from Daichi Fukushima.  Coal, yes.  Find its cleanest and most cost effective use and let's permit and start building.  If any part of CO2 emissions can be sequestered cost efficiently, sequester them.  Natural gas hybrids, yes, but in a free private sector.  Conservation, yes, but not at the expense of individual liberty or choking our economy. 

b) Healthcare: Repeal Obamacare, get those new taxes, expenses and new regulations off the table now.  Implement the best of the Republican proposals updated from last year that both parties can agree to.  Do it all in one vote.  Pre-existing condition reform, universal availability of coverage, malpractice and liability reform, and the advance of making competitive plans available across state lines are things we likely can all agree on once the government centric system is taken off the table.

c) Government Spending - rolled back and restrained.  The Ryan Plan referred to a roll back to 2008 levels.  Spending is 3.8 trillion, revenues are 2.5.  We can't close the gap only with cuts, and we can't close it without meaningful cuts.  Set targets, set priorities and make meaningful cuts, then really truly curtail the overall growth of spending - to a rate no more than half the rate of growth of production and revenues - until the gap is closed.  Put spending on a downward path to 3 trillion until the trillion and half dollar Obama deficits are down to 0.5 trillion.  Then close the rest with economic growth to full private employment accompanied with sustained spending restraint.

d) Regulatory easing.  Put moratoriums, delays on ALL non-health/safety/essential regulations.  Delay and re-authorize where necessary.  The limited discussion of tax and spend to balance the budget at full employment is fatally flawed.  Federal taxes are only a part of the government caused burdens on employment and production.  Shine the light on ALL of it.  One simple reform to help create new jobs would be to allow startup employers to issue 1099's to all new hires in their first calendar year.  The market is tough enough out there without having to instantly learn every rule about payroll deductions, withholdings, forms, compliance and the like.  The new entity has enough to do jumping out of the gate.  Do we want startups or DON'T WE?

e) Tax reform.  My plan would eliminate deductions with the exceptions ofother taxes paid, half of home mortgage interest paid and half of charitable contributions made. I would set a minimum and a maximum tax rate, let's say 6.25% minimum and 25% maximum.  Everybody is in.  Set the limit point and make rates continuously variable in between.  Every dollar gets taxed and no dollar of income shall receive cruel or unusual punishment. Make up for lower rates with higher velocity.  Lower the corporate rate from 35 (highest in the world) to 22.5%, just below the OECD average.  Lower inheritance tax double taxation from 55% to 7.5%, but make it apply to all people and all dollars. Lower the capital gains rate from 15% to 12.5%, or introduce indexation of all gains to inflation.  (States need to index capital gains too.)

f) Value the Dollar.  Accompany our repair of competitiveness across the globe with the tying of our supply of total dollars to the total supply of goods and services in the economy, imagine that!  Prohibit Federal Reserve inflation targets of more than 0.5% per year and end the flawed 'dual mission' of the Fed.  The Fed's mission is to protect and preserve the value of our currency.  That's it.

g) Reform entitlements - really!  We already know how, so do it.  Pawlenty spelled it out.  Raise the age, but not for the people already in or close.  Cap the escalators, but not for the people without other means.  Get the reforms done and let the markets know we are serious.  It is unacceptable that every man, woman, transexual, child and fetus owes $560,000 per person right now in unfunded liabilities.

h) Employment mentoring.  Welfare reform revisited.  Set a national goal that no one goes on assistance or stays on any of it without a plan for getting off of it and that plan with all its action items gets reviewed every month.  I would offer to the outgoing President and First Lady immediately the unpaid positions of national employment mentoring leaders, in charge of getting the best and brightest from all professions to agree to mentor at least one person until all citizen recipients of assistance are matched up and on a plan to develop themselves, produce and contribute to the best of their capabilities. 

i) Unleash innovation!  This is the result of the above.  Whatever is stopping us from innovating better than ever and better than anywhere else in the world, fix it.  Decline is a choice.  Stop choosing it.  Set goals, make the hard choices and move this economy forward - like we've never seen before.
5186  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics - John Taylor of Stanford writes about the Pawlenty Plan on: June 12, 2011, 10:23:52 PM
"You can see how the types of pro-growth policies in the [Pawlenty] plan would work toward the goal by reducing spending growth enough to balance the budget without tax increases and thereby remove threats of a debt crisis; by lowering marginal tax rates to spur hiring and job growth; by scaling back unnecessary new regulations which impede private investment and higher productivity, and by restoring sound monetary policy to remove uncertainty about inflation or another financial crisis."
Note: I looked him up because Gov. Pawlenty referred to him this morning on Fox News Sunday

Prof. John B. Taylor
Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics at Stanford University
George P. Shultz Senior Fellow in Economics at the Hoover Institution
Home page:

Saturday, June 11, 2011
Why Not Go For 5% Growth?
Some skeptics have complained about the 5% national economic growth target put forth by former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty in his speech this week about his economic plan. They say it can’t be done. But I think the goal makes a great deal of sense. It would focus policymakers like a laser beam on the great benefits that come from higher growth and on the pro-growth policies needed to achieve it. As with any goal, if you take it seriously, you’ll choose policies that work toward that goal and reject those that don’t.

As stated in the speech, “5% growth is not some pie-in-the-sky number.” One way to see why is by dissecting the number into its two parts using basic economics. As we teach in Economics 1, economic growth equals employment growth plus productivity growth. Productivity is the amount of goods and services that workers produce on average in a given period of time. Thus, higher economic growth can come from higher employment growth or from higher productivity growth. Now consider some examples of average growth rates over the next ten years.

First, look at employment growth. Given the dismal jobs situation, that’s the highest priority. Currently the percentage of the working-age population (age 16 and over) that is actually working is very low at 58.4 percent. In the year 2000 it reached 64.7 percent, so that is at least a feasible number. Raising the employment-to-population ratio to 64.7 means an employment increase of 10.8 percent (64.7-58.4/58.4 = .108) or about 1 percent per year over 10 years, even without any growth of the population. Adding in about 1 percent for population growth (from Census projections), gives employment growth of 2 percent per year.

Now consider productivity growth. Since the productivity resurgence began around 1996, productivity growth in the United States has averaged 2.7 percent according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So numbers in that range are not pie in the sky. As Harvard economist Dale Jorgenson and his colleagues have shown, the IT revolution is part of the explanation for the productivity growth, and, if not stifled, is likely to continue, as is pretty clear to me as I sit a few hundred yards from Facebook and other high-tech firms.

Now if we add the 2.7 percent productivity growth to the 2 percent employment growth, we get 4.7 percent economic growth, which is within reaching distance of—or simply rounds up to—the 5 percent target set by Governor Pawlenty. Thus, five percent growth is a good goal to aspire to, whereas 3 or 4 percent would be too little and 6 or 7 percent too much. Of course, one can fine-tune these calculations--for example, by estimating changes in hours per worker or the difference between nonfarm business (which BLS productivity numbers refer to) and total GDP--or raise questions about demographic effects on the employment-to-population ratio. And one could use different examples, perhaps lower employment growth and higher productivity growth, but the basic point about the goal would be the same.

You can see how the types of pro-growth policies in the Pawlenty plan would work toward the goal by reducing spending growth enough to balance the budget without tax increases and thereby remove threats of a debt crisis; by lowering marginal tax rates to spur hiring and job growth; by scaling back unnecessary new regulations which impede private investment and higher productivity, and by restoring sound monetary policy to remove uncertainty about inflation or another financial crisis.
Posted by John B. Taylor at 1:34 PM
5187  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Pawlenty Tax Plan - WSJ on: June 12, 2011, 02:56:59 PM
Here is more of what Crafty posted.  I would like to come back to this to discuss.  I watched Chris Wallace grill him today.  He might as well have gone on Bill Maher's show to explain it.

I would ask his opponents like Obama how they will balance the budget without growing the economy, or how they will grow the economy without improving the investment/employment climate.  We can argue over the details, but something like this or at least part way in this direction will be required to snap out our current morass.  Pundits can't seem to say the word, but he is mostly trying to cut double and quadruple taxation.

Tim Pawlenty's call for an economic-growth plan built on tax cuts has raised concerns among Republicans in Congress who worry the presidential candidate's message could muddy their immediate quest to slash spending and curb the deficit.

The proposal from the former Minnesota governor, put forth Tuesday in Chicago, comes as Republicans and Democrats in Congress battle over ways to slash the federal deficit as part of a deal to raise the national debt limit. The Treasury says it will run out of ways to stave off a default Aug. 2.

That standoff has focused attention on cutting government spending, with some Democrats saying higher taxes are needed. Less immediately germane, Republicans say, are immediate calls for steep tax cuts.

Tim Pawlenty's call for steep tax cuts is causing unease among Republican Party lawmakers in Congress whose most immediate interest is focusing on deficit-cutting negotiations with the White House. Neil King explains.

Mr. Pawlenty's proposal "is different from where most of us are focusing our attention now," said freshman Utah Sen. Mike Lee. "We see this as a spending problem, not a revenue problem."

Mr. Lee, who said he applauded the spirit of the Pawlenty plan, cautioned against pushing deep tax cuts "in the midst of a significant economic downturn."

The lukewarm response to Mr. Pawlenty's plan stems as much from differing immediate priorities as significant policy splits, with 2012 candidates seeking to lay out a long-range philosophy while lawmakers tackle budget talks with the White House.

Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant said the governor has proposed a long-term plan, not one designed to address the immediate fight over the debt ceiling.

Democrats, including aides to President Barack Obama, blasted the plan as unrealistic and called it a reprise of the Bush-era tax cuts that swelled the deficit but did little to create jobs or boost growth.

Mr. Pawlenty won praise from some conservatives with his plan to cut corporate and individual taxes and permanently end capital-gains taxes and taxes on savings and inheritances. The plan envisions average annual economic growth of 5% over 10 years, compared with 1.7% during the past decade and 3.42% during the 1990s.

Under current projections, Pawlenty aides say, tax cuts would reduce federal revenue by $2 trillion over 10 years. But Mr. Pawlenty envisions largely unspecified spending cuts of at least double that sum, and a balanced budget within a decade.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), the House Budget Committee chairman, has led a House GOP push for 25% top tax rates. He said he was "excited" that Republican presidential candidates were taking up the cause. Even the bipartisan fiscal commission appointed by President Obama last year recommended top rates as low as the mid-20s, Mr. Ryan said.

"What is happening is a center-right coalition is developing here, joined by moderate Democrats, and it's calling for lower rates…and a broader base," Mr. Ryan said. "I'm a party to that, I agree with that."

If Republicans can succeed in taking back the Senate and the White House, "I think we'll get that," he added.

Other Republicans gave the plan qualified praise, while also expressing worries about diverging from a sharp anti-spending, anti-deficit platform going into the 2012 election. The GOP regained control of the House last year on promises to curb government spending and amid dire warnings over the swelling national debt.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he supported "entrepreneurial tax plans" like the Pawlenty proposal, but added: "If you don't have some spending [control] mechanism, it's not going to work."

Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, called the plan "feasible," but said "we'd have to do a lot of other things as well." Mr. Pawlenty wants all corporate taxes slashed to 15%, from 35% now. Sen. Hatch said 25% is "probably more achievable."

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and former adviser to John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, said his biggest concern with the Pawlenty plan was its suggestion that 5% growth is possible for a decade.

"Five percent for 10 years is just outside the realm of historical experience," he said. "Ambitious is the least of the words…to describe it."

The 5% growth figure is aspirational but not out of reach, said Mr. Conant, the Pawlenty spokesman.
5188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / America's Inner City: Living in 'poverty' on: June 12, 2011, 02:26:14 PM
I took this line from a great ya post on Pakistan:

"The government [of Pakistan] uses the World Bank’s definition of poverty, which is any person earning less than $1.25 per day."

I wonder if the US Census Bureau is aware of this definition.  Our definition includes people enjoying cable tv, unlimited free healthcare, free food, shelter and clothing, 2 cars, a full surround sound theatre, a CD/DVD collection, a high end stereo and free air conditioning.  All that and you can still be called homeless and living below the poverty line.

The following are facts about persons defined as "poor" by the Census Bureau, taken from various government reports:

    * Fortysix percent of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a threebedroom house with oneandahalf baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
    * Seventysix percent of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
    * Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than twothirds have more than two rooms per person.
    * The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
    * Nearly threequarters of poor households own a car; 30 percent own two or more cars.
    * Ninetyseven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
    * Seventyeight percent have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
    * Seventythree percent own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher.
5189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Michele Bachmann on: June 11, 2011, 11:29:47 PM
"If I'm in, I'll be all in"

Respectfully, I don't think that is fully true.  I don't think she will give up her house seat for a long shot which means she would have to either win or be out early.  MN caucuses are usually the same day as so-called super-Tuesday.  Call me pessimistic, but I don't think she will allow herself to lose in her home state and then need to build back the momentum to hold her own seat which is hugely expensive because a) she is a target and lightning rod for all national, liberal money, and b) one has to blanket all of the Twin Cities television market covering at least 3 other districts just to reach the part of her district that touches the edges of the metro area.
5190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security: Cell phones on airplanes on: June 11, 2011, 11:07:40 PM
Great joke!  Just wanted to add an opinion to the safety of the cell phone on the airplane question.

I asked a family member with degrees in avionics about it a few years back.  He basically said no.  If navigation equipment could be confused by a cell signal you are already in big trouble.

From my technology past I would point out that all the sensitive wiring within the plane can be done in fiber optics with zero susceptibility to all electrical interference.  To the extent they aren't doing that yet, it is because they don't believe they need to, not because it isn't available:

It is pretty hard to imagine a wireless code division multiplexed cell signal with a passenger telling her husband the arrival time received by the navigation system as a command to switch the plane in or out of auto-pilot.  If true, it is time to stop flying.

If the issue is terrorists sending a disrupting signal, asking passengers to end their calls doesn't fix that.
5191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 10, 2011, 10:42:25 AM
And she is running for... nothing.

Wouldn't it make sense to simultaneously release the emails of all politicians and elected officials over the last 10 years, instead of just one.

Equal protection under the law is a concept so lost I have to search my own posts to find it mentioned.  Did Rahm, Axelrod and Obama use government email, send to government emails, while on government payroll?  Where are those posted and searchable?  How about the JFK files of the House Select Committee on Assassinations locked away until the year 2029.  We can't handle the truth?  It's too early? No one asked??

The targeting of Palin is based on one thing - hatred.  So let's encourage it?
5192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 09, 2011, 11:30:04 PM
'I heard Huntsman on Hugh Hewitt yesterday for few minutes. FWIW, I liked what I heard in that limited amount of time."

He is saying the right things.  He knows he is running for the nomination first, not the Presidency.  All the Governors have moments in the past of favoring the liberal or moderate side of issues like healthcare, climate change etc. but I think the nominee will be one of the Governors: Romney, Pawlenty, Huntsman, Perry? Palin? so people will have to sort it all out.  Add Giuliani to that mix - I'm sure NYC is larger than many states.

Put me in the camp of Mrs. GM.  Whichever one of these folks wins the R nomination will win my vote  over Obama.  Let's not lose sight here of the co-equal legislative branch.  If Obama can win, Dems could also retake the House.  If it is an R. year, they might win the House plus 51 or more senate seats, but not 60.  Then the big fights over legislation will all be held in a divided senate no matter what RINO, Dem or conservative wins the White House.

That is why it matters to win a mandate, not just an office.  2008 was an election about vagueness, hope and change.  This needs to be an election about clarity.  This is shaping up to be a contest of ideas and diametrically opposed directions more so than ever before in our history - just like they say almost every 4 years.
5193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: June 09, 2011, 04:14:25 PM
The Reuters Ipsos poll is bizarre.  They list how most (84%) of their respondents are registered voters, totally unverified I'm sure, but never use the term 'likely voter'.  They are only claiming that they were reachable by telephone.  Polls use the term margin of error to mean statistically sampling number error, but they make other errors as well IMO.  They say unchanged in a month but everyone alive knows that during that month Obama earned and lost a huge bin Laden kill bump.  I notice from the Ipsos website their main strength is 'global citizen' polling.  Whatever that is,I can't think of anything less accurate.

I watch the RCP (Real Clear Politics) average of polls, also flawed.  It still has net positive for Obama since the bin Laden operation but has been falling by about a point a day lately.  The general rule is that an incumbent below 50% is vulnerable and as that falls significantly below 50% he becomes poison to the candidates in his party running in swing districts.  At about 48-49% he is right on the edge - and falling.  If the economy is still in the doldrums throughout the summer with no economic growth in sight, I would expect his real approval numbers to drop to low 40s/ high 30s, approaching where Bush was when he gave up leading.

My prediction that Obama won't be the Dem nominee still looks wrong today, but... that assumes that Obama still has 2 or 3 tricks up his sleeve of reasonably good governance in order to appear competitive through to the convention in Charlotte starting Labor Day 2012, nearly 15 months away.  We shall see.
5194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed (Constitutional Law and related matters) on: June 09, 2011, 01:01:16 PM
"Obama killed the War Powers Resolution
« Reply #967 on: June 07, 2011, 10:02:16 AM »"
(From Bigdog - Political Economics)

How could anyone confuse our presence in Libya with war.  Obviously it is only a kinetic stationing of military equipment and personnel...

Let's say a President believes the War Powers resolution to be unconstitutional, what is the proper way to challenge it?  Defy it and let congress take you to court?
5195  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: Man made tornadoes on: June 08, 2011, 11:46:25 AM
I came to this alarmist storyby way of this title at Real Clear Politics:
Bad Weather Is Due to CO2 Emissions - Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker

At the liberal link I found no new science or logic linking manmade CO2 to Joplin than I do linking CO2 to high of 78 and sunny here today, photo update below confirming what I posted in April that the ice and snow would be gone and the pianese in full bloom by the second week in June, like clockwork - with or without increases levels of trace element components of greenhouse gas.  Tornado hitting my property aside, storms here are no worse so far than 24 years ago according to my own lying eyes.

5196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential - Pawlenty economic plan on: June 08, 2011, 11:18:13 AM
Further coverage of what Crafty posted yesterday, Tim Pawlenty answers the challenge posed on the board - what would you do Jan 2013 to turn this around.  I disagree on a few points of detail but this is the first that actually embraces the concept that economic growth is the answer.
Among GOP Presidential contenders, Tim Pawlenty is offering the most ambitious reform agenda so far, and his economic address yesterday continued the trend. While details remain to be filled in, the former Minnesota Governor is rightly focusing on a growth revival that ought to define the 2012 campaign.

Most notable in symbolic political terms, Mr. Pawlenty proposed what he called the "big, positive goal" of growing the U.S. economy by 5% a year over the next decade. His policy mix is centered on building a durable expansion and boosting middle-class incomes, and his speech was notable for its optimism, avoiding the austerity temptation that traps many Republicans.

A Pawlenty spokesman told us the 5% target is realistic and achievable, and it's true that the economy grew 4.9% on average between 1983 and 1987, and nearly 4.7% between 1996 and 1999. Yet such long booms are rare in developed economies and we can't recall one that lasted 10 years.

The goal is still worthy as an aspiration, especially amid the current recovery that should be far stronger after a long and deep recession. The recovery has reached 5% only in the last quarter in 2009, and that was mostly the result of businesses rebuilding inventories that had been cut to the bone. Growth has since slowed to 2% or below, failing to reach cruising speed despite (or in our view because of) the entire liberal playbook of government spending, temporary and targeted tax incentives, new entitlements and regulation, and monetary reflation.

Mr. Pawlenty would extricate the economy from this government cul de sac by enhancing the incentives to work, invest and create jobs. He sketched out yesterday a Reagan-like tax reform of lower rates for individuals and businesses. The first $50,000 in individual income ($100,000 for couples) would be taxed at 10% and after that a top marginal rate of 25%. This would give a big lift to the small and medium-sized businesses that file under the individual tax code and create most new jobs. He'd also zero out taxes on capital gains, dividends and estates.

Mr. Pawlenty says that families earning under $50,000 would pay an effective income tax rate of 0%, because he would maintain tax benefits like those for mortgage interest or the child credit that use the tax code as social policy. Mr. Pawlenty is right not to buy into the liberal objection that tax reform must be revenue neutral according to scoring rules that assume no growth dividend, but minimizing tax credit carve-outs would raise revenue by making the tax code more efficient.

The Minnesotan is on firmer ground with his corporate tax overhaul, which would reduce the rate to 15% from the current 35% in return for cleaning out the warren of loopholes and special favors. Businesses will expand, enlarge their payrolls and repatriate overseas earnings. The added benefit is that most corporate welfare is dispensed through the tax code—so a flatter, simpler system will reduce political mediation of the economy and the resulting misallocation of capital. It is both a pro-growth tax policy and government reform.

Mr. Pawlenty would also limit Washington's damage by paring the regulatory overreach that has defined the last three years and by curbing spending over time to 18% of GDP (from 24% today), which is the historical revenue average and is also crucial for economic revival. One test for all of the candidates will be how they propose to reform Medicare and other entitlements that account for about three-fifths of federal expenditures. The economy won't improve until the political class restrains its appetites.

More problematic is Mr. Pawlenty's endorsement of a balanced budget amendment. Leave aside that changing the Constitution is (rightly) a very heavy political lift, and that short-term deficits can be useful, as in the 1980s to finance the defense buildup that helped to end the Cold War. The more fundamental problem is that a balanced budget rule can easily become an excuse to raise taxes, as it often has at the state level. Mr. Obama would gladly balance the budget at 24% of GDP, or more.

Mr. Pawlenty also touched on monetary policy, stressing "a strong dollar" as a proxy for stable prices. Inflation is the great thief of the middle class—even if it has so far showed up largely in food and energy—and Mr. Pawlenty wants to end the Federal Reserve's impossible dual political mandate for stable prices and maximum employment. The long-term effect of such engineering is often inflation and bubbles, and Mr. Pawlenty would be wise to educate voters about the Fed's role in fomenting the housing mania of the last decade.

The larger task for Mr. Pawlenty going forward is to put these policy choices into a larger economic narrative, explaining to voters why the prosperity of the 1980s and 1990s ended, how Mr. Obama's policies have damaged the recovery, and how his own policies will revive middle-class incomes. Now that Mr. Pawlenty has laid down his marker, what do his competitors have to offer?
5197  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Wolves, Dogs and other canines on: June 08, 2011, 11:05:18 AM
BD,  Great story.  Amazing dog trainers, not just dogs.  I've never been able to get the canine to wear the goggles much less jump from the plane.  smiley

5198  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: States Rights on: June 07, 2011, 11:17:52 PM
Seems to me that usage of the term 'states rights' really just means not a power of the federal government, and by state we are referring to the people in the state deciding an issue rather than the government.
5199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: June 07, 2011, 09:08:12 AM
Cheers to Bigdog for coming through.  I would suggest everybody post their own plan before criticizing.  I will try to write and post by the end of the week.  That said, I offer these quick comments and one question.

cut 10% of the military budget, but would focus on military pork projects.  - agree

increase the Social Security tax by 5%.  - Clarifying, not 5 points higher, just 5% increase.  Rough numbers from memory.  If we are talking about the full FICA they used to call it, it is split into employee and employer halves.  For the self employed I think the self employment tax was .93 * 15.3% which is 14.3%.  Add 5%, new tax is 15%.  I don't personally agree, but acknowledge it is a very reasonable compromise between funding and cutting.

increase the age of retirement to 70, or perhaps even 72 - agree

welfare to work program.  Not only would it get people off of the govt. dole, it would increase the tax revenue.  - agree

cut non-military executive branch officials by 25%.  Smaller WH staff, EOP staff, and the like by either cutting the programs or eliminating them outright.  - agree

encourgage MOCs (members of congress) to limit their staffs, by matching the cuts I make in my staff.  - agree

Relatedly, govt. bureaucrats actually earn more than the private sector equivalents, on average.  I would cut retirement benefits, and institute a pay freeze for all federal employees for the first three years of their employment.  - agree

I would cut subsidies to farmers who don't grow food.  - agree

Let the chorus of boos and the spittle begin to fly.  - I hope not.
Question: The complaint from the left (ex: Krugman, Reich)  is that austerity is not stimulative.  Your answer to them?

5200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Energy Politics & Science: $158 per month increase! on: June 06, 2011, 07:33:44 PM
Moving along to a story about energy prices hitting the pocketbook.  I believe this to be more a part of energy policy than monetary inflation, which may also be true.

Update: I must add that our energy policies are also driving up food costs and shortages.  Who could have seen this coming??

Gas tanks are draining family budgets

By JONATHAN FAHEY, AP Energy Writer May 27, 6:01 pm ET

NEW YORK – There's less money this summer for hotel rooms, surfboards and bathing suits. It's all going into the gas tank.

High prices at the pump are putting a squeeze on the family budget as the traditional summer driving season begins. For every $10 the typical household earns before taxes, almost a full dollar now goes toward gas, a 40 percent bigger bite than normal.

Households spent an average of $369 on gas last month. In April 2009, they spent just $201. Families now spend more filling up than they spend on cars, clothes or recreation. Last year, they spent less on gasoline than each of those things.

"We used to do it a lot more, but not as much now," ... "You have to cut back when you have a $480 gas bill a month."

As Memorial Day weekend opens, the nationwide average for a gallon of unleaded is $3.81. Though prices have drifted lower in recent days, analysts expect average price for 2011 to come in higher than the previous record, $3.25 in 2008. A year ago, gas cost $2.76.

The squeeze is happening at a time when most people aren't getting raises, even as the economy recovers.
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