"Deficit spending is an unconscionable form of fiscal child abuse." - Stephen Moore, 1996
Contract with America On the first day of their majority in the House, the Republicans promised to pass eight major reforms: "8. guarantee an honest accounting of the Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting." --------------
I assume that Newt kept his promise on that first day, held that vote and passed that item. Then it died in the Senate?? No followup? Focus and staying power were weaknesses of that leadership. We needed that one reform and successfully posed and passed the question with the American people for it to become law and stay law. A Google search of when it was repealed yields nothing! It was swept under the carpet, allowed to quietly die even while we achieved a TEMPORARY balance of the budget.
Here is Stephen Moore in 1996, then of Cato, calling for the exact same reforms, zero baseline budgeting, dynamic scoring of tax reforms etc 2 years AFTER the Contract with America! Imagine that, they thought spending growth was out of control in 1996 at 1.5 trillion, now we approach $4 trillion. They were right!
Cato Policy Report, July/August 1996 Seven Reforms to Balance the Budget
by Stephen Moore
Stephen Moore is director of fiscal policy studies at the Cato Institute and author Government: America's #1 Growth Industry (1995). This article is based on testimony he delivered before the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight on March 27, 1996.
Over the past 50 years Congress has lost all control over federal spending. As Table 1 shows, even after adjusting for inflation, the federal government spends almost four times more today than it did 40 years ago. Entitlement spending has seen the largest growth. My overall conclusion from the data is that government today is America's number-one growth industry.
A top priority for this Congress should be passage of a new budget act. The 1974 Budget Reform and Impoundment Control Act has been a monumental failure. One of the purposes of that act was to eliminate deficit spending, but this is the actual legacy of that legislation: in the 20 years before the act, the federal deficit averaged just 1 percent of gross domestic product, or $30 billion 1994 dollars. In the 20 years since the 1974 act, the average budget deficit has been $170 billion per year, or 3.5 percent of GDP. We have accumulated more than $4 trillion in debt since 1976. By any objective standard, the budget process has not worked better under the 1974 act--it has worked much worse.
Figure 1 (go to the link) shows how the budget deficit has grown since Harry S. Truman was president. Despite recent progress in reducing the deficit, the long-term prognosis remains grim. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that if we stick with the Clinton budget plan, the deficit will begin rising after 1996 and reach a record high of $350 billion within 10 years.
The 1974 Budget Act cannot be fixed. Tinkering won't do the trick. Congress ought to repeal the act before it does more damage to our national economy.
The centerpiece of any budget reform quite clearly should be an amendment to the Constitution outlawing deficit spending. Most members of this committee are keenly aware of the need for a balanced-budget requirement, so I will not dwell on it.
Deficit spending is an unconscionable form of fiscal child abuse. There are hundreds of groups in Washington that pretend to speak for the interests of children. But who in Washington, among the thousands of powerful special-interest lobbyists and self-proclaimed do-gooders, speaks for the children who are going to have to pay off our irresponsible debts? The single most pro-child policy that any of us can pursue in Washington today is to reduce the crushing burden of debt our government is now preparing to place on the next generation's backs.
I sincerely wish that we did not need a constitutional amendment to cure Washington's addiction to red ink. Unfortunately, the destruction of our nation's once firmly held moral rule against deficit spending--what James Buchanan called "the collapse of the constitutional consensus"--requires us to amend our Constitution and command Congress to do what it used to feel honor bound to do--balance the budget.
Tax-and-spend opponents of a balanced-budget amendment argue that a constitutional requirement is just "a gimmick." No one really believes that. If the amendment were a gimmick, Congress would have approved it long ago. Defense contractors, corporate lobbyists, federal workers, teachers' unions, the welfare industry, and other powerful special-interest groups ferociously attack the amendment, not because they think it won't work, but because they shudder at the thought that it will. What frightens the predator economy in Washington is that gift-bearing politicians may have the federal credit card taken away from them.
The U.S. House of Representatives last year wisely approved a balanced-budget amendment, but it was defeated in the Senate. The matter is now out of your hands. The real issue is, What can be done in the meantime to make the budget process work better and to end deficit spending?
Last year the House passed a courageous budget, crafted by Budget Committee chairman John Kasich, that promised a balanced budget by 2002. But one thing is a virtual certainty: no matter how sincere your intentions of balancing the budget, the deficit will not be eliminated by 2002 unless new budget enforcement rules are implemented to ensure that this admirable, though minimal, goal is honored.
I would urge that a new budget act contain the following seven provisions, which are discussed in order of priority.
1.) An Enforceable Legislative Balanced-Budget Requirement
Don't wait for a balanced-budget amendment. Act now. The most urgent reform for this Congress to undertake is passage of a balanced-budget law that enforces the deficit targets established in the House budget resolution.
What I have in mind is a new Gramm-Rudman-Hollings formula that establishes iron-clad enforceable deficit targets. One of the great myths in Washington is that Gramm-Rudman was repealed because it wasn't working. Gramm-Rudman was repealed by the pro-spending constituencies in Congress precisely because it was working too well.
Gramm-Rudman was enacted in 1985, when Congress was under intense public pressure to immediately reform the budget and reduce the $200 billion budget deficit. The controversial law required Congress to balance the budget by 1991 by meeting a series of annual deficit reduction targets. If Congress missed those targets, the law would trigger automatic spending cuts--a process called "sequestration"--to reduce the deficit to the mandated level.
Critics charge that the act was a dismal failure because Congress continually veered off the balanced-budget track. It is true that Congress routinely missed the deficit targets. Actual deficits under Gramm-Rudman were, on average, about $30 billion per year above maximum deficit targets.
Still, Gramm-Rudman had a positive effect on the federal budget. The best way to measure its impact is to compare the actual deficits recorded during the five years the act was in effect with what the deficit was projected to be by the Congressional Budget Office without Gramm-Rudman. The 1989 deficit was about $100 billion lower than had been expected in 1985 without Gramm-Rudman. The deficit fell from 6 to 3 percent of GDP under Gramm-Rudman.
The most dramatic effect of Gramm-Rudman was to curb government expenditures. Government spending in the five years before the act grew at a rate of 8.7 percent, but it slowed to only 3.2 percent in the five years Gramm-Rudman was in effect. Even entitlement spending was curtailed under Gramm-Rudman to a 5 percent growth rate, because Congress realized that if it allowed programs like Medicare and Medicaid to rise uncontrollably, that would eat up the rest of the budget and cause painful automatic cuts in discretionary spending.
Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) and House Majority Leader Dick Armey have introduced legislation to restore many of the features of Gramm-Rudman. The most vital reform is a series of deficit reduction targets that, if missed, would trigger automatic across-the-board spending cuts--a sequester. I would urge that any new sequester process include all federal outlays except interest payments and Social Security benefits. That would impose a much-needed dose of discipline on the budget process.
2.) A Supermajority Requirement to Raise Taxes
Americans have been hit with 12 tax hikes in the past 20 years; each one has succeeded in further expanding the size of government rather than reducing the debt. Requiring a three-fifths or two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate to pass a tax increase would allow Congress to pass tax hikes in cases of national emergency but would make it very difficult for Uncle Sam to continue the annual ritual of peacetime tax hikes. Several states, including Arizona, California, and Oklahoma, have enacted such measures; they have stopped tax increases dead in their tracks. As one Arizona taxpayer advocate of the supermajority requirement recently told me, "Now the legislature doesn't even bother to propose new taxes."
Congress passed the part of the "Contract with America" that promised new rules requiring a 60 percent vote to raise income taxes. That was a good start. But now that hurdle should be made to apply to all revenue-raising bills.
3.) National Referendum on All Tax Increases
Another populist budget reform that is sweeping the states is the requirement that any tax increase be ratified by a popular vote of the people in the next election. That gives the taxpayers veto power over the state legislature's efforts to raise taxes. Congress, too, should be forced to take its case to the people when it wants to take more dollars out of our paychecks. It is a virtual certainty that George Bush and Bill Clinton's wildly unpopular record tax increases would have been blocked if such a rule had been in effect.
Minority Leader Dick Gephardt deserves hearty congratulations for suggesting this reform as part of his 10 percent tax plan. Perhaps a bipartisan consensus could emerge on the issue.
4.) Dynamic Scoring of Tax Law Changes
The 1986 capital gains tax rate increase has raised roughly $100 billion less revenue than the Joint Tax Committee estimated when the law was passed. Capital gains realizations are less than half the level expected, as shown in Figure 2. Why such gigantic forecasting errors? Congress still uses static analysis to score tax rate changes--that is, it assumes little change in behavior in response to tax changes and thus almost no overall economic impact of new tax laws. The assumptions have been shown time and again to be wrong. We know the procedures are wrong, but we still use them.
The capital gains tax cut promised in the "Contract with America" will almost certainly raise revenues for the government--and it might raise substantial new revenues. The rich will actually pay more taxes with the rate cut. But the Joint Tax Committee refuses to score those dynamic effects. Scholars at the Cato Institute have long endorsed a zero capital gains tax. But the static revenue estimators say that will reduce revenues by $150 billion over five years. Dynamic estimates indicate that a zero capital gains tax would so energize our economy that total tax revenues might actually increase. But as long as we are slaves to static scoring, pro-growth tax initiatives will be torpedoed by faulty computer models.
Dynamic scoring will yield more accurate tax revenue estimates and thus encourage better policy.
5.) An End to Baseline Budgeting
A 4.5 percent increase in spending on the School Lunch Program is a budget increase, not a budget "cut." Baseline budgeting is a fraud. Lee Iacocca once stated that if business used baseline budgeting the way Congress does, "they'd throw us in jail."
It's time to end the false and misleading advertising in the budget. Congress should be required to use this year's actual spending total as the baseline for the next year's budget. If Congress spends more next year than it did in the current year, it is increasing the budget; if it spends less, it is cutting it.
6.) A Statute of Limitation on All Spending Programs
It has been said that the closest thing to immortality on this earth is a government program. Congress doesn't know how to end programs--even years and years after their missions have been accomplished. A five-year sunset provision should apply to every spending program in the budget--both entitlements and discretionary programs. That would require the true "reinvention" of programs by forcing the reexamination of every program, including entitlements, every five years.
7.) Debt Buy-Down Provision
This is Rep. Bob Walker's idea that would allow taxpayers to dedicate up to 10 percent of their income tax payments to retirement of the national debt. Politicians earmark spending all the time. Taxpayers should have the same right.
Those budget process reforms are vitally important to the balanced-budget exercise because the rules of the game matter. The rules dictate outcomes. For more than 20 years, forces that favor spending have consistently prevailed over forces that favor fiscal restraint. That pro-spending bias in Washington threatens to cripple our nation's economic future.
Let me conclude by retelling a story about the late great Washington Redskins football coach George Allen. Allen lived by the motto "the future is now." He traded all the Redskins draft picks for over-the-hill veterans. He spent millions of dollars of owner Jack Kent Cooke's money to purchase expensive free agents. After several years of that, Cooke finally fired Allen. When asked why, Cooke responded, "When George Allen came to Washington I gave him an unlimited budget. But George managed to exceed it." That's the way taxpayers now feel about our politicians in Washington.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 1996 edition of Cato Policy Report.
Ending the EPA doesn't seem politically feasible, won't play well beyond the base. Redefining its scope is long overdue. We have pollution control agencies in 50 states. The focus of the Feds, like interstate commerce, should be limited to just those areas and issues between states where emissions in one is contaminating another and the two are unable to work it out between themselves.
One good point of Newt's attack is that Bush was afraid to fire obvious hack-zealots for fear of making himself look political. Newt is addressing it head-on.
Two more positive pieces with references to the 3rd that Crafty just posted. All three make the case he can win by discussing his strengths and mostly skipping over weaknesses.
Steven Hayward regarding the Newt interview Crafty posted: "...Newt at his best, reminding us that then he is on his game there is no one better. (Hayward is author of two volume series 'Age of Reagan'.) He likes very much Newt admitting the mistake of sitting on the park bench with Pelosi (“That was the dumbest single thing I’ve done. . . simply inexplicable), but still... what was that?! I know what it was, Republicans were going to sit down with Democrats in government and figure out how America can learn to produce less and consume less, and they did!
Posted on November 9, 2011 by Steven Hayward in GOP Presidential Race 2012 The Case for Newt
I’ve been meaning for a while now to circle around to Newt Gingrich’s quiet rise from the ranks of the also-also-rans of this campaign. I’ve been pretty hard on Newt here on Power Line over the last few months, most notably back in May after he got tangled in labeling Paul Ryan’s fiscal design “social engineering from the right.”
I noted here last month that with each debate “Newt Gingrich’s ‘it’s-so-crazy-it-just-might-work’ strategy for this race is looking a little less crazy,” but the right analogy might be that Newt’s tortoise and hare strategy is paying off. We know Newt didn’t run in 2008 partly because he thought it would be difficult to compete with Romney’s ability to self-fund a campaign if need be, though Newt might also have perceived, as Nixon did about GOP prospects for 1964, that 2012 would be a more favorable year for both him and the GOP. The same problem—Romney’s money advantage—is here this year, too, so Newt’s live-off-the-land strategy was a long shot, requiring one thing that Newt has often struggled with: discipline and focus. Newt has always had the worst case of political Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity-Disorder since the beginning of clinical politics.
But lately Newt seems to have hit his stride. Did you happen to catch him on the “Center Seat” segment of Fox News’s “Special Report” last night? It was Newt at his best, and reminding us that then he is on his game there is no one better. Maybe the best part was when Steve Hayes played the infamous TV ad Newt cut with Nancy Pelosi three years ago about the “climate crisis” (about the 6:50 mark of the video). Newt didn’t finesse it: he straight out said, “That was the dumbest single thing I’ve done. . . simply inexplicable. . . it was just dumb.” Not often a politician admits a mistake that straightforwardly. And then he went on to give a concise account of the issue of climate and energy that tracks pretty closely with what I said on this site way back in the spring after Romney botched the issue.
So enter as witnesses Byron York in the Washington Examiner a couple days ago[I will post below], and this morning Dorothy Rabinowitz in the Wall Street Journal (“Why Gingrich Could Win”), making the case for Newt even more strongly:
Whoever his competitors are in Iowa and beyond, Mr. Gingrich faces a hard fight for the nomination. His greatest asset lies in his capacity to speak to Americans as he has done, with such potency, during the Republican debates. No candidate in the field comes close to his talent for connection. There’s no underestimating the importance of such a power in the presidential election ahead, or any other one.
His rise in the polls suggests that more and more Republicans are absorbing that fact, along with the possibility that Mr. Gingrich’s qualifications all ’round could well make him the most formidable contender for the contest with Barack Obama.
So as Cain fades from the scene (I like Cain, but I’m sorry, he’s not ready for prime time presidential politics) and Perry continues to perform erratically, there’s a decent chance Newt will emerge as the not-Romney candidate. And then there will be a test to see whether the GOP “establishment,” such as it is, can put Romney over the top, and whether the Tea Party and other conservative grass roots Republicans will put aside their well-founded suspicions of Newt.
But beyond handicapping the primary campaign dynamics, Newt is doing something interesting and maybe profound: he is trying to run for president according to an older model that stresses substance over sound bytes and gimmicky, targeted campaign strategy. (Hence the emphasis on Lincoln-Douglas style debates that de-emphasize the place of the media questioners, among other things.) It is a bid to see whether presidential politics can still be conducted along the line of the old republic that would be more familiar to the Founders, to the style of public argument more akin to what Hamilton had in mind in talking about “refining and enlarging the public view” through “reflection and choice” in Federalist #1.
Footnote: Keep in mind one other thing from one of my previous comments here on Newt:
Whenever I think he is off his rocker, I remind myself that Newt was practically alone in thinking, from the first moment he arrived in Congress in 1979, that Republicans could take a majority in the House if it was sufficiently aggressive. Even as late as the eve of the 1994 election the conventional wisdom among political scientists and most journalists was that Democrats had a permanent majority in the House that the GOP could never break. -------------------- http://campaign2012.washingtonexaminer.com/article/york-gingrichs-wonkish-unconventional-campaign
Gingrich's wonkish, unconventional campaign byByron York Chief Political Correspondent
DES MOINES - Last Friday, at precisely the moment Herman Cain was basking in applause at a conservative activists' gathering in Washington, Newt Gingrich was in a small conference room at the Marriott Hotel here, discussing cognitive illness with three brain scientists.
"What I am trying to do is initiate the idea that solving health problems is the best way to reduce costs," Gingrich begins. Look at polio, he says. What if it had not been cured? What if one took the high cost of treating polio in 1950 and simply projected it through 2011? The numbers would be enormous. Without even considering the human benefits, curing polio was far, far cheaper than treating it over decades.
Now Gingrich wants to approach Alzheimer's and other brain disorders the same way. "The scale of brain-related problems is so large and so unreported," he tells the scientists, "that if you think of the supercommittee right now, for example -- they're trying to find $1.5 trillion [in savings] over ten years -- the projection the Alzheimer's Foundation gave me was that Alzheimer's alone could cost $20 trillion in public and private funds between now and 2050." Spending billions on curing Alzheimer's -- sums Congress would never approve in today's political atmosphere -- could save astonishing amounts of money in the long run.
It's the kind of wide-ranging and wonkish discussion Gingrich is known for. Indeed, the former Speaker, whose mother spent the last years of her life in a long-term care facility, has devoted a lot of time over the years working on Alzheimer's issues. But now he is in the middle of a presidential campaign. He's in Iowa, with 60 days to go before the caucuses that could decide his future. He is hours away from a crucial speech to the Iowa Republican Party's annual Reagan dinner. And he is spending nearly two hours of his day, behind closed doors, with three doctors, a couple of aides, and one reporter, talking about brain research. The topic of the approaching caucuses does not come up.
Gingrich often says he is running an unconventional campaign. Republicans here in Iowa would probably agree, since they don't see him all that much at traditional stump events. But most have no idea just how unconventional the Gingrich campaign really is.
On this day, Gingrich's plan is to integrate his longtime interest in health issues, and in particular brain research, into his appeal to voters. In an interview after the session, Gingrich says he wants to reach "everybody who's worried about Alzheimer's -- and over 55 years of age, it is a more common fear than cancer." Here in Iowa, the organization Iowa Against Alzheimer's estimates there are 69,000 people over the age of 65 with the disease. Take their spouses and children and relatives and friends, and add other people so far unaffected by the disease but worried about it -- take all of them, and you've got a very large group. They vote, and Gingrich wants to reach them.
Gingrich has test-run the idea in a few recent public forums here and in other early-voting states. "In South Carolina, a Tea Party leader walked up and said, 'My dad died three years ago with Alzheimer's, and I understand exactly what you are trying to accomplish,'" Gingrich says. "People can have a checklist in their head that says on these things, Newt Gingrich understands my world and is trying to make it better." Gingrich plans to work the message into his speeches and discussions with voters more often as voting approaches.
Whatever Gingrich is doing these days, it's working. Thanks in part to impressive performances in several GOP debates, he is moving up in the polls, both nationally and in key early states. He's raising money again after a meltdown -- a massive staff defection and damaging stories about big-spending habits at Tiffany -- that nearly killed his campaign a few months ago. And voters appear to appreciate his sticking with it. In discussions across Iowa in the last week, it is striking how many voters volunteer Gingrich's name as someone they're finding more and more appealing. If either of the current frontrunners, Herman Cain or Mitt Romney, were to falter, Gingrich is in a position to benefit greatly.
And he's doing it his own way. What other candidate would take a large part of a critical day to talk science when the campaign trail beckons, with local officials to meet and hands to shake? "We'll see if it works," Gingrich says with a laugh. "It's a great experiment."
Byron York, The Examiner's chief political correspondent
Let's see if I have this right. Cain Accuser no. 4 is not convincing, has already accused and sued everyone, accusers 1, 2 and 3 are anonymous and not coming forward. The opportunistic liberal attorneys brought forward accuser no. 4, who is a registered Republican and nothing is even alleged to have happened on 5 who never got the message or attended the imagined romantic dinner. That figures. Friend of Anonymous 1 corroborates something contemporaneous was said, would come forward but stays anonymous to protect the anonymity of Anonymous Accuser 1. Is that about it? The Caper about the Copper Clappers with Jack Webb and Johnny Carson is easier than this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVkZZsS-66c ------------ Newt has one remaining episode to explain and then he is good to go. When did he start seeing Callista (1993?) and when did he quit starting every sentence with Marianne and I? (1999) The overlap was roughly during the time of the contract with America, the takeover of Congress, the government shutdown and the Clinton impeachment until Newt gave up his Speakership and resigned from his seat in Congress. Newt converted Catholic, but maybe should have gone with the Mormon defense.
Long story at the link. Short answers from the left: the stimulus was too small - and Bernancke was too cautious.
In my attempt to add balance to economic coverage on the forum, I try to link some deep thoughts from the left. This is the young superstar left blogger/columnist for the Washington Post reviewing and critiquing the Ron Suskind Book on Obama and Wall Street, offering both his own views and those of the author. It makes no sense to me, but have a try at it if you want: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/nov/24/obamas-flunking-economy-real-cause/ Excerpts:
Suskind’s story goes something like this: in 2008, Obama was presented with an economic crisis of astonishing severity and complexity. In the beginning, he showed himself to be unexpectedly prepared to deal with it, both intellectually and temperamentally. His self-assurance and personal magnetism attracted a variety of impressive and able advisers, including former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, UBS America chief Robert Wolf, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, and former SEC Chairman William Donaldson.
But as “the severity of the crisis bore down on him,” Obama found himself leaning toward a different sort of adviser—safer, more predictable. He wanted people who knew Washington, and knew how to get things done. The “bold visions of the campaign season had meanwhile resolved into the serious, often risk-averse business of actually governing,” writes Suskind. “In the midst of a battering economic storm, it no longer seemed like the right time to be making waves.”
And no single adviser better encapsulates Suskind’s criticisms, and the contradictions in his argument, than Larry Summers. Even more than Geithner, Summers is the villain of the book. Suskind describes him as “brilliant at cultivating the sense of control, even as events spun far beyond what could be managed with any certainty.” He calls that talent “an illusionist’s trick calling for a certain true genius.”
It’s that trick that gives the book its title. Merriam-Webster defines a “confidence man” as “a swindler who exploits the confidence of his victim.” Suskind’s definition is more subtle. “Confidence is the public face of competence,” Suskind writes. “Separating the two—gaining the trust without earning it—is the age-old work of confidence men.” To Suskind, Summers was the ultimate confidence man, and Obama the ultimate mark. Summers offered what Obama wanted—certainty—and Obama was just terrified enough to take it. But the certainties Summers offered were not, in Suskind’s view, the certainties the moment required. ------ The great counterfactual of Suskind’s book is “What if Obama had chosen a different team of advisers?” But by the end of his book, the counterfactual was coming true. Emanuel was out. Summers, too. Romer had left, and so had Orszag. Even David Axelrod, Obama’s longtime political adviser, was decamping back to Chicago. Only Geithner remains. ------ “Everyone shut the fuck up,” Suskind quotes the profane chief of staff [Rahm] as saying. “Let me be clear—taking down the banking system in a program that could cost $700 billion is a fantasy. With all the money that already went to TARP, no one is getting that kind of money through Congress.”
The same goes for stimulus. When Obama angrily dismisses Romer’s umpteenth argument for more stimulus, it’s not because he disagrees. It’s because he can’t get it passed. “Enough!” Suskind quotes him as shouting. “I said it before, I’ll say it again. It’s not going to happen. We can’t go back to Congress again. We just can’t!”
The truth of the matter is this: every member of the White House’s economic and political team was closer to every other member than any of them were to the swing votes in the Senate. Tim Geithner and Christina Romer have their differences, but they’re mostly talking the same language. Put them in a room with Senators Ben Nelson, Scott Brown, and Susan Collins—all of whom would have rejected a strong new stimulus—and they may as well be Martians. ------ The reality is more troubling. The initial stimulus was too small, but there’s no plausible case that Congress would have been willing to make it much bigger just because the Obama administration had a theory that the financial crisis would lead to a worse recession than most forecasters expected. The trouble was that attacking a financial crisis with a too-small stimulus was a bit like attacking pneumonia with too-few antibiotics: you feel better for awhile, and then it comes back. And this time, it’s harder to kill. ------ the greatest confidence man of the last few years, at least going by Suskind’s definition, was not Larry Summers or Timothy Geithner, but Barack Obama. Being a confidence man is almost in the job description of the insurgent presidential candidate. Having not been president before, you must, by definition, ask the American people for a trust you have not earned.
And Obama was better at this than most. He gave America hope. He made America believe he could deliver change. And, by the standards of Washington, he has probably done more than anyone could rightly have expected. Stimulus, health care reform, the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the payroll tax cut, new tobacco regulation—this is much more than your average first-term president achieves. But by the standards of the speeches and spirit that animated Obama’s campaign, he has not done nearly enough.
"That's because you evil capitalists don't pay enough taxes to provide a driver for this hard working civil servant. Shame!"
All I ask in my equal protection zealotry is that if one American gets a free new Audi from the taxpayer to drive drunk backwards, then we all get one. That is a bad joke here because the public cost of light rail was higher than the cost to lease each car-less rider a new Lexus.
GM: "China is not going to cut it's "greenhouse gas emissions"."
But if they do, they first have spent decades maximizing those levels in order to to set the benchmark plenty high. I think they might be burning all that coal just for the CO2 to make their crops grow faster. --------------------------
Short term cooling on a small slice of the earth means nothing of course except to show us what we don't know: that warming is not everywhere, it is not continuous, it is not accelerating, and we don't know if it will continue.
According to a Monday report in the French website “Arret sur Images,” after facing reporters for a G20 press conference on Thursday, the two presidents retired to a private room, to further discuss the matters of the day.
The conversation apparently began with President Obama criticizing Sarkozy for not having warned him that France would be voting in favor of the Palestinian membership bid in UNESCO despite Washington’s strong objection to the move.
The conversation then drifted to Netanyahu, at which time Sarkozy declared: “I cannot stand him. He is a liar.” According to the report, Obama replied: “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day!” ----
"The president of the New York Public Library was busted for drunken driving after careening in reverse down an East Harlem street Sunday in a bid to maneuver around the marathon -- but ended up slamming his luxury car into a sanitation truck. An inebriated Dr. Anthony Marx, 52, just missed one truck before plowing his 2009 Audi A4 sedan -- which is registered to the New York Public Library http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/read_him_his_rights_OpcKXZyUhfz9dpSyvjXYcM
Who knew the public library owned a drunk driven 2009 Audi. I have a potential explanation. He only gets a new one every 3 years and the new one must be on its way...
There is your 1%! Over here in the real world I buy used cars out of after-tax income. This of course must have been for official business. The story doesn't tell what kind of official public library business entails driving drunk backwards, .19 at 3pm. You'd think the taxpayer purchased all wheel drive would have helped him avoid the sanitation truck.
Speaking of California governance, it seems to me that Calif. could not afford the 8 lost years of Arnold, the disappointing Republican Governor who made things worse by leaving things the same, reforming nothing. People had high hopes for this outsider with guts to move people and change the course, and he didn't. Calif. might actually have been better served with 4 or 8 years of the same failure under a liberal regime so that the pendulum could begin swinging back the other way by now.
I have a political theory that the politics of the wife/spouse matters. Under my theory, it is too bad for the state and for the nation that Arnold's philandering wasn't known to his wife 8 years sooner and left him sooner so that he could have been free to be the political bad boy on spending and regulatory reforms without having to appease a liberal Democratic wife everyday in addition to the legislature and the bizarre electorate. Just a thought.
I was surprised to see the NY Times jump all over this issue - a couple of years too late... Of course theitr very first point is to blame it on Bush and to set it up as an independent department run amok as if they did not report directly to the Attorney General and the President. Then they close with the need for congress to pass a new law banning dangerous weapons.
Editorial Gun Walking the Mexican Border Published: November 6, 2011
It turns out that Fast and Furious, the foolhardy government operation that allowed high-powered weapons to cross the border to Mexican drug cartels, was not a one-off. The Bush administration used the same improper tactic in Operation Wide Receiver in 2006-7.
The history of these risky “gun walking” operations — devised by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to try to track illicit gun-shop purchases in Arizona to the cartel bosses — was spelled out to Congress by Lanny Breuer, head of the Justice Department’s criminal division. Fast and Furious, in place from 2009 to early 2011, sent more than 2,000 assault weapons onto streets on both sides of the border. Some showed up at crime scenes, including a shootout where a Border Patrol agent was killed last December.
In denouncing the tactic as “unacceptable and misguided,” Mr. Breuer apologized for his own failure to respond aggressively when he learned about Operation Wide Receiver even as Fast and Furious was under way. He said that he did not alert Justice Department leaders when he found out about it in April 2010.
Congressional Republicans have rebuked the Obama administration for the Fast and Furious fiasco. That this tactic — which ranges so far from proper law enforcement — was used in the Bush years is equally disturbing. Congress should bring responsible officials to account, but it cannot duck the need for far stronger laws to control gun trafficking.
Mr. Breuer said in the past five years, 94,000 weapons have been recovered in Mexico and 64,000 were traced to American sources. “We need more tools,” he said. To which Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, predictably responded, “The answer isn’t to clamp down on law abiding-citizens or gun dealers.” There is no problem with law-abiding citizens. It’s Congress’s failure to ban sales of assault weapons that is feeding the drug wars.
http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/07/opinion/bennett-cain-sex-harassment-allegations/ Bill Bennett writing on CNN: When I became one of Bill Clinton's earliest and chief accusers for the sexual harassment charges against him, two things were eminently true about my motives: (a) I did not become an accuser because Bill Clinton was a Democrat and I was a Republican, I didn't care one whit what the partisan fallout would be; and (b) I spoke out because the charges were plentiful enough and serious enough (I repeat, charges, not facts) to degrade not only all of our politics but all of our country, and because there are certain codes of honor, written and unwritten, for all men, Democrat and Republican. Indeed I wrote a book on this, laying it out, even before we knew the full extent of Bill Clinton's lies.
It is hypocritical in the extreme for those members of the media who didn't take the charges and allegations against Bill Clinton seriously to be taking the allegations against Herman Cain that we now have as seriously as they are. Hypocritical is probably too soft a word, frankly.
That said, Herman Cain and his campaign chief of staff, Mark Block, cannot go on as they have. There has been a pattern now that is both unhealthy for our politics and unhealthy for our polity.
Four women are not an insignificant number. One or two anonymous charges, perhaps. Three anonymous charges (where, as I understand the story, Cain knows of at least two of the women) plus one woman who went very public and opened herself up to all manner of investigation are a lot. It is no longer insignificant. Neither is it insignificant that the Cain campaign discounted the charges in the initial stories, saying they were based on anonymous sources, only to make a mockery by blaming other campaigns with less substantiation than the original stories.
If Herman Cain wants to be taken seriously as a public advocate for anything, never mind running for the chief executive and commander in chief of the most powerful and important and blessed country in the world, he needs to give a full press conference dedicated exclusively to this issue and these allegations.
I have watched long enough and held my tongue long enough to give him the benefit of the doubt, but can no longer say this is a witch hunt, "a lynching" to use his word, or any other euphemism. There are allegations out there that matter and they have stacked up. For we who led the charge against Bill Clinton on a number of related issues to continue to blame the media or other campaigns or say it simply doesn't matter makes us the hypocrites as well.
As I say, all of this is bad for our politics and polity. If Herman Cain cannot stand up to these charges, if he refuses to, then he should step out of the race. A man big enough to run for president should be big enough to have a full and candid press conference on all of this -- he wants us to elect him president after all, he's asking us to trust our lives and the country's life to him. This could be one of his finest moments and it could be one of his worst. But either way, he must confront the moment candidly and manfully.
"Re Cain and China's nukes: I think if you look at the whole transcript it will be clear that he was talking about development of a certain aspect of nuke technology. The Pravdas simply are trying to plant a false meme."
I watched it. She sounds believable to a point. Suddenly in a place where no one but the two of them will know, he put his hand on her thigh... This is either true or not true, only the two of them will know. Otherwise there was a great deal of specificity in her story including a real name for once, a real face, a real reason for being there, she told real people contemporaneously, has put herself up for scrutiny and didn't profit from it, at least then.
Seems to me that something will break down in her story if he is innocent and something will break down in his story if all accusations are true. I will guess they are either all true or all false. If true, it is too late to just accept him as a Bill Clinton / Sam Malone babe-hound; he has staked his reputation and his campaign on his denials, and did I mention the double standard. If it is all false, there will be some crack in the accusers' stories.
On first listen I didn't find the steamy details very believable, and she has a celebrity level attorney. But... it is number 4 and the first two made serious, contemporaneous complaints. This is not a Clarence Thomas, one accuser, no report story. It is also not what Bill Clinton faced in January 1992. Gennifer Flowers was a consensual relationship, Clinton denied it and he had a Democrat constituency and media to persuade. Paula Jones did not come forward for another 2 years. Clinton, who didn't inhale, won with 43% of the vote in the general election.
"Certainly at this moment much of the MSM has become a bunch of little Pravdas, but OTOH there are many outstanding places for citizens to inform themselves; I would unhumbly note we here on this forum do what we can."
Yes, but... As much as I like it here and as fun as it is to criticize main media outlets, I strongly regret having to search so far and wide to find different opinions that many highly intelligent people reading the main newspapers and watching the main television stations may never come across. Not only exposure to different opinions but to learn crucial facts that might support an opposing opinion, one often must go through quite a few alternative sources. It isn't that I can't search and find an opposing opinion expressed, it is that others reading and watching only different outlets of the same take can miss so much IMO.
One simple example, Christiane Amanpour of This Week said to Speaker Boehner yesterday that 75% of people think the rich should have their tax rates raised (of course far more than 75% don't know what that rate is). If those people were told the top 1% now pay 38 times their dollar share of the public burden and 50% are paying nothing, and then asked who should pay more, the answer might be closer to the usual 50/50 political split. Show me, anyone, where that fact has ever been reported or highlighted in anything that resembles MSM, except in the utterances of a guest like this being treated as a hostile witness. ----
On 'Constitutional Issues' Bigdog mentions a (right wing) scorn for Justice Stevens. An unfortunate part of having to hunt and sort through right wing and left wing sites to learn the different sides of controversial issues is that I am unlikely to come across a balanced look at the total work product of someone like that. Except of course on this forum.
CCP: "CW I am not sure if you are a liberal Democrat or possibly a Paul fan, or gay or single mother or what but it is great to have your divergent opinion on the board."
My feeling exactly. I was thinking shoot back with point by point arguments but my views are already all over these pages. I asked who he liked and why, and he gave a straight answer. That is a great post!
Likewise, Bigdog, thank you, that is helpful. That is all I am saying too is recognize the contention of these rights:
"where does speech end and the right to stroll unabated through a park (as an example) begin and end? I don't know."
There is no perfect answer, just recognize the contention and try to work with it. We all (maybe 99% of us) would like to have some balance of both which means some reasonable limits and that would necessarily mean some enforcement which definitely cannot be based on content.
I so far find the content of this particular movement vacuous, but the best way to clear them out is probably to let them have their say for as long as they want. Enforce only the other things that all of us would expect a ticket for, public urination etc.
They are abusing IMO a right that we extend to all. Have your rally, have your say and go home; we shouldn't need a time limit law for people to know they only have a right to share the park or the square, not occupy it.
Regarding abortion, I agree that case law protects the right to kill your young up to an arbitrary point based on privacy while our right to privacy in so many other ways is non-existent. Both sides are missing the clause in the constitution IMO that settles the matter in their favor. Your analogy with abortion protesters at the abortion clinic is excellent. That political protest should be against the people who decided a barbaric practice to be protected rather than against those who are following current law. In fact, more people are offended by value based pay than by the slaughtering of our young, so these are the protests of the moment.
Quote from: DougMacG on November 06, 2011, 03:50:50 PM I understand the free speech aspect. I don't understand why those rights trump others. When you are done speaking, shouldn't you go home, let others speak? In terms of free speech, it seems like they are the 1% trying to occupy disproportionately the conversation while the other 99% aren't being heard. JMHO.
Woof Doug, I am not exactly sure what you mean here. You think that other voices aren't being heard? That others aren't speaking out? Occupying a park doesn't appear to me to be all that limiting to others' speech rights. ------------------------------- Yes, occupying a park or square is aimed at keeping out other people and other voices as I see it (and as they see it), but beyond speech there is also a right of others to enjoy the park, to take a turn standing on the step and sitting on the bench, to walk through unhassled. The right of the restaurant owner in Oakland to not have his business driven away.
What is the meaning to the protesters of the verb 'occupy'? It is a military term, is it not? You occupy a country, you occupy a territory, you occupy the space in front of a private business like Wall Street, for the purpose of putting a restraint on what otherwise would be happening there. The intention is to dominate, to drown out the other voices and disrupt other activities. Dominate with numbers if you have to hire them like soldiers, dominate with time, dominate with space taken up. Literally filibuster by staying without ending even when you are not speaking so others cannot have the space for the next rally and express a different viewpoint.
What you don't see with an amazing background in constitutional and case law, my daughter saw in Madison without special training. You can't walk State Street to the Capitol while visiting a major public university and enjoy the lights on a beautiful autumn evening without being forced to encounter the scene described in plenty of other posts, not speech at all but people living in the public square with all their ugliness. My daughter understood the point of occupy, dominate and intimidate out other views: As we walked through once in each direction, knowing my political proclivities, she said, "don't say anything, don't say anything. don't say anything". She felt the intimidation they were intending to exude. 'Uncomfortable' I think was the word that landed Cain's accusers about 40k; we got nothing.
I love the zealotry over a constitutional principle like freedom of speech and I'm intrigued by the attempts to expand 'speech' to include almost anything, like resting up for speech and enjoying a little sexual release, consensual or otherwise. But the Bill of Rights is larger and longer than that. What I don't understand is the willingness of same people in so many cases to tromp all over other constitutional principles, for example, equal protection. While the definition of speech gets expanded, the definition of equal protection gets narrowed. I already gave several examples like the estate tax, we tax estates only over 5 million, in case law we determine that it applies to everyone evenly right while we are saying to the public and on the floor of the legislative bodies that we are targeting one specific group - the people with these large estates. Same with progressive taxation. Higher rates don't just happen to fall on certain people, they are targeted, just as much as a law against dominating the public square for any cause does, IMO.
We have laws up and down this country about how people should live for health and for safety, especially in the cities of the protests. These laws limit freedom but pass constitutional muster I presume. In residential housing law, if I have one burner on a gas stove that won't self light, one window blind torn or one latch on an interior door that won't latch just right, I am in violation of city law - meanwhile these people live in the city square without a bathroom, without a dressing room, with known public urination, defecation, masturbation, and publicly spreading lice (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5ypeLuKnLg&feature=related)... and they are extended a higher level of protection. Good grief.
Politically and practically, my feeling is to let them be and keep the cameras and coverage on. This is the 1% (far fewer) and they illustrate and bring to life various aspects of leftism better than any conservative can put to words. The more we pay attention or object to their presence, the longer they will stay and be bothersome. But in terms of rights, I fail to see how others can fail to see that occupy means hold ground that was formerly public, against the rights of others.
This quote is pulled out of Bigdog's post on Constitutional Matters where military and veterans were joining with occupy protesters:
"The 99 percent have to take a stand," Bordeleau said, to rectify the biggest income gap between rich and poor since the Great Depression, fueled by what protesters say is Wall Street's overblown clout in Washington politics. - - - - - - - What is the measure they are using for measuring a widening gap; looks to me like it narrowed during the worst part of the recession, and the recession is what is hurting people. What is the evidence of government causation? Which government programs caused it? If the rich have all the clout, how did they get a marginal tax rate higher than everyone else, why are they penalized with estate taxes that apply to no one else, why is there a limit on deductible home mortgage interest that applies only to rich people, why is the exemption for the entire profit from selling your home available to everyone except rich people, why are the rich taxed on social security income while others are not, why are rich people completely locked out of almost all social spending programs like food stamps, WIC, free school lunch, section 8 housing, cold weather assistance, free health care, free public defender, etc etc. Where is the clout? It makes no sense to me. What percent of rich people work on wall street? What if we put poor people in charge of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Goldman Sachs. What would that solve?
I understand the free speech aspect. I don't understand why those rights trump others. When you are done speaking, shouldn't you go home, let others speak? In terms of free speech, it seems like they are the 1% trying to occupy disproportionately the conversation while the other 99% aren't being heard. JMHO.
Cranewings: "do you guys still think Herman Cain is serious?"
1) He was this year's keynote speaker at CPAC earlier this year, sort of a dream candidate for people on the conservative side of the spectrum. What changed?
2) Not much overlap IMO between video game players and Republican primary voters, but I am thankful to have someone else follow the Huff Post and post their best content so that I don't have to.
3) Nothing in the settlement story says that Cain was part of the settlement nor that the date was inspiration for a tax plan, lol. The well compensated women who once felt uncomfortable story has now been beaten to death without us knowing either what he is accused of or what actually happened. More likely it has served like a small virus to have caused the buildup of strong antibodies around the candidate to fight off the next wave of attacks from the chorus of haters who started singing long before this non-story broke.
4) The smear against the Koch brothers lands excitement only on the anti-business, anti-capitalism side of electorate that is not going to be pro-Cain or pro-Republican in the first place.
Years ago an old friend as a young attorney used to represent strip joints in town and also the strippers. He made the argument that the exposed dancing was their speech and thus protected. I don't remember how far he got with that.
Obviously the actual protests constitute political speech. Holding signs, conducting rallies, inviting speakers and listeners is protected political speech at its best. But what about sleepovers and just hanging out? Does protected mean they don't have to pay the permit fee that the tea partiers had to pay in one case, or that they can live there for nothing if there is no permit law? Are laws like a public curfew or park hours unconstitutional? Is there a right for the others in the neighborhood or from other political groups to have a turn at some unobstructed access to these public areas too?
CCP post: "In 2011, 29-percent of African-Americans expressed strongly anti-Semitic views, according to the survey"
To know the significance we will need a control group. Perhaps 29% are anti- all whites and perhaps 29% are also anti- their fellow African-Americans.
Seriously, isn't it strange that they find a happy home in the same political party. Around here that the Jewish community and one of America's most gay cities and a dysfunctional black community all find comfort in representation in Washington from the same Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison. The Obamites don't support Israel or even capitalism and don't they openly support a gay agenda, and they double the black unemployment, yet these unconnected constituent groups just keep hanging in there delivering the votes.
I would think that John Bolton will be available to the contenders and to the nominee as natl security adviser, or sec of state or as VP.
It seems that most of the wisdom in foreign policy today needs to be applied behind the scenes, for example if we are aggressively strengthening our relationship with India while keeping a few billion and a pretend relationship with Pakistan, why should they know more then they need to about that. If we are working quietly with factions inside Egypt, below the radar would probably be more effective than publicly made demands. Somehow I doubt though that we are doing much along those lines but a lot comes down to electing the right people here and trusting them to act in our best interests.
The worst parts of Obama's foreign policy came at the beginning when he projected weakness. America doesn't belong over here and America will soon retreat. The drone strikes and OBL operation projected strength. The Libya from behind and from above maneuver probably projects wisdom to some, but we will see. The withdrawal deadlines from Iraq and Afghanistan project that this administration is shifting into campaign mode over security interests. Are we saying there is no longer an American security interest in these locations? If so, why did we stay 3+ years into the new administration and what changed? Are we saying mission accomplished? That implication seems to bring with it strings of bad luck.
People were quite war weary at the last election, also by the time the Libya operation began. Talking tough now like we are going to open a plethora of new war theaters is not going to play well past the hawk segment of the base. People will I think will prefer a calmness of strength, a restraint in policy that is not coming from weakness, ignorance or fear.
It is hard to believe that with a trillion or so invested and thousands of American lives lost that we aren't able or interested in negotiating permanent bases to allow some future security benefit to come from our effort.
Was China selling or offering weapons to Kadhafy DURING our war? If so, what are the consequences to them for that? (nothing) That was one problem with Huntsman not getting traction with his foreign policy experience, I have yet to meet or read someone who knows if we have a foreign policy toward the world's second largest power or what it is.
Pakistan along with the entire middle east is a dangerous place. I knew that years ago, but more dangerous now, especially the more that you know. People don't know what to do about it so it is hard to judge the candidates if they did offer plans and ideas.
If Iraq goes to hell on our exit, the lesson is what? Either that we should have kept a strong presence longer or that we should have left anarchy after deposing Saddam, as with Libya and Egypt now, let them sort it out and take actions again and again in the future. And same for Afghanistan?
Crafty you have good ideas of how to split Pakistan differently and I have a proposal for Kashmir, but that doesn't mean anyone there would accept our ideas.
"Serious wars are made of such things." - Yes. The main answer to all this danger we cannot control is to prepare for war, hopefully to avoid war. Step one is end American weakness at home; most of these Republicans believe at least vaguely in a strong defense. I would add that any of these nominees will need if elected an American military that does not rely on funding from a returned Pelosi-Reid congress.
"I'm sure polling has the public focused on the economy and foreign policy way down the list of priorities."
When we think it is all domestic policy, it turns out to be foreign policy or war, and vice versa. It is very possible that we don't yet know what the most important event or crisis of Obama years will be.
Foreign policy may weigh heavily in the general election debates. Was the 3am call the one where they decided not to take the Libyan war to congress? The Republican candidates mostly look readier than Obama did in 2007, but not ready. We will get more serious after we find out if comparing an anonymous person's height to that of your wife is a deal breaker for Commander in Chief.
"(Newt Gingrich excepted)" Very strong in the video! That doesn't make his other problems go away, just Murphy's law that he would be strongest on depth and delivery, Perry's economic plan best (JMO) and then the nominee will be one of the others.
Wolfowitz says the others are half right. Looks to me like he is about half right. The amazing part is that Europe showed some resolve and leadership. A rare positive feature in the world coming out of America in decline. If one accepts as Wolfowitz does that the action was a positive thing, then Obama deserves some credit as a flip flopper - in his view in the right direction. Remember he was chosen as the most consistently anti-war of all the Dem candidates. In giving out credit he neglects to mention the controversy over not taking the question to congress. Had that whole episode belonged to a Republican President, can you imagine... What would Senator Obama's position and words have been?
Our offer to help is likely to be of no consequence if they now pledge their allegiance to al Qaida.
Hard to say we will miss Kadafy. It will be more a question about what to do next about Libya in the future or the Caliphate when they start exporting terror and trouble. The dragging of Kadafy's murdered body through the street was celebrated (mission accomplished?) by the same administration that believed it to be over the line to perform water tricks on the man who beheaded Daniel Pearl, to gain information to prevent mass murder. Hard to see coherence in our foreign policy and hard to be optimistic about what will come next. I might have supported the action as a choice between lousy choices, but I don't think I would be gloating as if all is well now.
Interesting that if we produced our own energy we wouldn't have our hands tied trying to put sanctions on one of the world's worst terror supporting nations. At least up to the final nuclear fallout we can say that our air and water was the cleanest.
Crafty, Thank you. I was not criticizing but trying to draw your view out further. Except for walking through the scene of the alleged public masturbation problem with daughter on a college visit in Madison - we just saw bums and signs - I really haven't known anything firsthand at all about this, just stuck with my suspicions of who comes to these.
"I think it important that we continue to make clear that they share OUR sentiment and to offer them OUR solutions."
Agree and the challenge of articulating 'our view' more clearly is daunting. These candidates, even Huntsman and Pawlenty, have had revolutionary economic plans that are being received by everyone beyond the hard core base with a collective yawn. Perry, whose plan I have made clear that I like, was told by a mainstream interviewer that the rich with pay less in taxes (in static analysis) if the rate is lower and he said 'I don't care about that'... and went on to try to attempt a larger point that I'm sure didn't come through. I know what he meant or should have said but it is very hard to explain with clarity in quick bites and quick answers. The very few with the magic of being able to do that aren't running.
Rush L. has a way with words but admitted he can't let himself be judged by the minds he changes, if any. You work to present, express, explain to the best of your ability but you don't control the receiving end of the message. People have to allow themselves to be persuaded.
It is quite hard if not impossible to go up to a viewpoint that hates wealth and capitalism and have the simplest point of incentive-based economics make a landing.
Your point that the rest of the electorate is watching with interest is excellent. Ronald Reagan wasn't given much credit for being right until well into his Presidency and many still don't get it, yet he was espousing his views with clarity at least back to 1964 to those who would listen. Enjoy THIS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yt1fYSAChxs
The list from GM's link. It would seem to me that this is the other team. Some groups I'm not seeing represented: tea party, Club for Growth, Center for the American Experiment, Cato, Heritage, Reagan Library...
Communist Party USA Sources: Communist Party USA, OWS speech, The Daily Caller
American Nazi Party Sources: Media Matters, American Nazi Party, White Honor, Sunshine State News
Ayatollah Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran Sources: The Guardian, Tehran Times, CBS News
Barack Obama Sources: ABC News, CBS News, ForexTV, NBC New York
The government of North Korea Sources: Korean Central News Agency (North Korean state-controlled news outlet), The Marxist-Leninist, Wall Street Journal, Times of India
Louis Farrakhan, Nation of Islam Sources: video statement (starting at 8:28), Black in America, Weasel Zippers, Philadelphia Weekly
Revolutionary Communist Party Sources: Revolutionary Communist Party, Revolution newspaper, in-person appearance
David Duke Sources: Talking Points Memo, video statement, davidduke.com
Joe Biden Sources: Talking Points Memo, video statement, Mother Jones
Hugo Chavez Sources: Mother Jones, Reuters, Examiner.com
Revolutionary Guards of Iran Sources: Associated Press, FARS News Agency, UPI
Black Panthers (original) Sources: in-person appearance, Occupy Oakland, Oakland Tribune
Socialist Party USA Sources: Socialist Party USA, IndyMedia, The Daily Caller
GM, I have seen that 2% of OWSers consider themselves Republican. Crafty and others consider this movement to be an opportunity for better messaging from our side. I hope to learn how. It seems to me that Republican candidates are shouting from the roof tops to end ALL tax code preferences to all special interests and want to make similar strides on the spending side. I will not however share any part of the views I hear expressed that oppose expanding economic liberty and oppose the creation and accumulation of wealth.
Big tent conservative strategy: You describe your positions and policies that favor a better opportunity society for ALL Americans featuring equal protection under the law, lower tax rates, streamlined and focused regulations, and limited federal government based on constitutional principles - then ask all Americans to come join us. Cain and Perry and others are doing that, while the other side features piecemeal politics carefully constructed with special programs and policies designed to hold in each of their targeted constituent groups.
I'm going Energy Politics here but equally interesting is the Media Issues aspect. You wouldn't know from the piece that it is his own paper, the NY Times, leading the charge against Fracking, claiming without evidence that it is jeopardizing our clean water supply. I have twice posted statements from the state regulatory agencies in all major energy producing states denying any known incidences of any drinking water contamination from fracking in their state. There have been no firings or impeachments of officials who put out those statements. Low cost, clean, safe, abundantly available, domestic natural gas could contribute to the solutions to whole lot of problems we face today, such as heating our homes, powering transportation, lowering the cost of doing business, reducing the trade deficit, lowering the budget deficit, raising our standard of living, even lowering the demand and cost of oil and other energy sources. But why bother...
Op-Ed Columnist Shale Gas Revolution By DAVID BROOKS Published: November 3, 2011
The United States is a country that has received many blessings, and once upon a time you could assume that Americans would come together to take advantage of them. But you can no longer make that assumption. The country is more divided and more clogged by special interests. Now we groan to absorb even the most wondrous gifts.
A few years ago, a business genius named George P. Mitchell helped offer such a gift. As Daniel Yergin writes in “The Quest,” his gripping history of energy innovation, Mitchell fought through waves of skepticism and opposition to extract natural gas from shale. The method he and his team used to release the trapped gas, called fracking, has paid off in the most immense way. In 2000, shale gas represented just 1 percent of American natural gas supplies. Today, it is 30 percent and rising.
John Rowe, the chief executive of the utility Exelon, which derives almost all its power from nuclear plants, says that shale gas is one of the most important energy revolutions of his lifetime. It’s a cliché word, Yergin told me, but the fracking innovation is game-changing. It transforms the energy marketplace.
The U.S. now seems to possess a 100-year supply of natural gas, which is the cleanest of the fossil fuels. This cleaner, cheaper energy source is already replacing dirtier coal-fired plants. It could serve as the ideal bridge, Amy Jaffe of Rice University says, until renewable sources like wind and solar mature.
Already shale gas has produced more than half a million new jobs, not only in traditional areas like Texas but also in economically wounded places like western Pennsylvania and, soon, Ohio. If current trends continue, there are hundreds of thousands of new jobs to come.
Chemical companies rely heavily on natural gas, and the abundance of this new source has induced companies like Dow Chemical to invest in the U.S. rather than abroad. The French company Vallourec is building a $650 million plant in Youngstown, Ohio, to make steel tubes for the wells. States like Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York will reap billions in additional revenue. Consumers also benefit. Today, natural gas prices are less than half of what they were three years ago, lowering electricity prices. Meanwhile, America is less reliant on foreign suppliers.
All of this is tremendously good news, but, of course, nothing is that simple. The U.S. is polarized between “drill, baby, drill” conservatives, who seem suspicious of most regulation, and some environmentalists, who seem to regard fossil fuels as morally corrupt and imagine we can switch to wind and solar overnight.
The shale gas revolution challenges the coal industry, renders new nuclear plants uneconomic and changes the economics for the renewable energy companies, which are now much further from viability. So forces have gathered against shale gas, with predictable results.
The clashes between the industry and the environmentalists are now becoming brutal and totalistic, dehumanizing each side. Not-in-my-backyard activists are organizing to prevent exploration. Environmentalists and their publicists wax apocalyptic.
Like every energy source, fracking has its dangers. The process involves injecting large amounts of water and chemicals deep underground. If done right, this should not contaminate freshwater supplies, but rogue companies have screwed up and there have been instances of contamination.
The wells, which are sometimes beneath residential areas, are serviced by big trucks that damage the roads and alter the atmosphere in neighborhoods. A few sloppy companies could discredit the whole sector.
These problems are real, but not insurmountable. An exhaustive study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology concluded, “With 20,000 shale wells drilled in the last 10 years, the environmental record of shale-gas development is for the most part a good one.” In other words, the inherent risks can be managed if there is a reasonable regulatory regime, and if the general public has a balanced and realistic sense of the costs and benefits.
This kind of balance is exactly what our political system doesn’t deliver. So far, the Obama administration has done a good job of trying to promote fracking while investigating the downsides. But the general public seems to be largely uninterested in the breakthrough (even though it could have a major impact on the 21st-century economy). The discussion is dominated by vested interests and the extremes. It’s becoming another weapon in the political wars, with Republicans swinging behind fracking and Democrats being pressured to come out against. Especially in the Northeast, the gas companies are demonized as Satan in corporate form.
A few weeks ago, I sat around with John Rowe, one of the most trusted people in the energy business, and listened to him talk enthusiastically about this windfall. He has no vested interest in this; indeed, his company might be hurt. But he knows how much shale gas could mean to America. It would be a crime if we squandered this blessing.
Separate from the debating skills problem and attacking fellow Republicans over the wrong issues, I agree strongly with these points of the Perry agenda.
PERRY: When I am president …
By Gov. Rick Perry
The Washington Times
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Washington is broken and must be completely overhauled to get America working again.
The tinkering technocrats think Washington can be fixed with a pair of tweezers. I, on the other hand, think it will require a president with the courage to take a sledgehammer to the three pillars of big government: overspending, overtaxation and overregulation.
Upon taking the oath of office, I will take immediate executive action to begin dismantling the Washington establishment so we can rebuild the American economy from the foundation up.
First, I will issue an executive order prohibiting the Department of Health and Human Services from any further implementation of Obamacare until we can fully repeal this unconstitutional government mandate, which, if it stands, will diminish our health care and kill jobs.
Second, I will order federal agencies to begin opening American energy fields for exploration and development, which will kick-start economic growth, reduce our dependence on energy from hostile foreign sources and eventually create 1.2 million jobs across every sector of the economy. I also will work with Congress to ensure that new revenue generated from energy production on federal lands is used to pay down the national debt.
Third, I will impose an immediate moratorium on all pending federal regulations, during which government agencies must audit every measure passed since 2008 to determine its necessity and impact on job creation. Those measures that kill jobs will be repealed.
And fourth, I will deploy thousands of National Guard personnel to secure our southern border until we can provide the permanent increase in manpower, technology and fencing needed to protect the American homeland in the long run. If I am elected, Washington will no longer abdicate its constitutional responsibility to secure the border or force states to fend for themselves.
In addition to exercising executive authority during the first 100 days of my presidency, I also will lay out a sweeping legislative agenda that will fundamentally change the way Washington works.
My Cut, Balance and Grow plan will jolt our economy back to life by cutting taxes and spending, balancing the budget by 2020 and growing private-sector jobs.
With a 20 percent flat tax that will enable Americans to file their tax returns on a postcard, we will end the Internal Revenue Service as we know it.
My-flat tax proposal will derail the gravy train of lobbyists and lawyers feeding at the government trough by eliminating the loopholes and carve-outs that the biggest companies with the most lobbyists exploit to avoid paying any taxes whatsoever. My plan not only will level the playing field for small businesses, it will cut the corporate tax to make American employers of all sizes more competitive in the global marketplace and encourage job growth at home.
My plan also will force government to live within its means by cutting billions of dollars from discretionary spending, capping spending at 18 percent of gross domestic product and putting Congress on track to balance the budget by 2020.
Despite all the promises of reform, earmarks remain a congressional addiction. My plan will make Congress kick the habit cold turkey. Throughout my presidency, I will veto any budget that contains earmarks. The same goes for bailouts.
I am confident we can make progress on all of these reforms in the first 100 days. But ultimately, the status quo will never change until voters take back Washington.
As the federal government grows and grows, the ruling elites in Washington are insulated from the economic mess they created. Consider just two examples: While home prices have continued to slump in virtually every other region of the country over the past year, Washington bureaucrats have seen their homes increase in value, thanks in part to a surge in government spending.
And according to a Bloomberg analysis, Washington is now America’s richest metropolitan area on a per capita basis, surpassing even Silicon Valley. While millions of Americans have lost jobs since 2009, the average federal worker in our nation’s capital has seen his pay increase to more than $126,000 per year, including benefits.
This is simply obscene. As president, I will fight for an across-the-board pay freeze for Congress and all federal employees, excluding the military and public-safety workers, until the budget gets balanced.
There is a massive reality gap between the American people and the ruling elites in Washington. Our next president must have the courage to close it.
America cannot afford four more years of a president who continues on the course to economic ruin or a Republican alternative who simply tinkers with the status quo while the Washington establishment brazenly continues its spendthrift ways.
If I am elected, I will take a wrecking ball to the Washington establishment so we can get America working again.
Gov. Rick Perry is a Texas Republican and candidate for president.
Welcome back. I wonder if McDonalds will be similarly prosecuted for coercing sales people into pushing soft drinks and french fries where the profit margins are 2000% higher for an empty product 2000% worse than the dollar menu double cheeseburger, and I wonder if pitchman Ronald McDonald will be similarly persecuted.
(hot topic - 'while you were typing 10 new replies were posted')
A close, trusted, mostly non-political friend told me last evening that he paid 20,000 to settle a harassment case against an employee similar to what is known about Cain's case, except that genders were reversed, and that he had no belief whatsoever that the claim was true. Total BS in his opinion, yet paid. I share that only as one anecdotal piece of evidence that money paid does not mean the one paying believes something happened. The business owner is confronted with a menu of costs to choose from: the cost to settle, the cost to go to trial even if you win, or the cost of losing whether your employee is really innocent or guilty. You make a business decision and choose one of these payments. It is a very ugly part of doing business in our litigious society. (This also belongs in one of threads to explain one big reason why no one wants to hire anyone anymore.)
My first reaction to this is something like what BD said We want candidates vetted now so we aren't blindsided during the general election or during the Presidency. If this guy has or had a problem, more will come out. But if we pay a $40,000 per person (26 mil in GM's example) to say you felt uncomfortable, what have we learned, about whom? At this point we didn't find a third victim, we found a third accuser right while the accusing was getting good.
From the side of the accuser with the settlement, she was faced with the CHOICE of taking a large sum or pursuing a public court record to try to make sure this uncomfortable experience with this executive never happens to anyone else ever again. She chose the money. Now it seems she wants a do-over as it looks like there is far more money on the table now.
How much did Anita Hill make on her book and her speaking fees? Was she telling the truth? Was the money commensurate with her wounds? She followed him to the next job!
Regarding the third anonymous accuser, whatever happened to statute of limitations and a right to a speedy trial.
If the the accusers' stories were true about Bill Clinton in 3 cases, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broderick, the behavior I believe involved criminal sexual conduct, not harassment. At least 2 of those were Democrats NOT trying to derail his candidacy; the other was 'trailer trash'. Later he lied under oath and was dis-barred. Still he is the rock star of the party and the most loved politician of all Democrats, and still loved by feminists and the media. There IS a double standard, but that is only useful information to a Republican candidate if you are guilty. Herman Cain for sure has a sense of humor. If (hypothetically) as a 100% faithful and loving husband, his joking or humor had in fact included flirtation and innuendo on more then one occasion, is he still Presidential material?
What I hate most is the diversion at this critical moment away from issues. No one seems to know what to do with this incomplete information but it has completely absorbed the news cycle.
Is Sen. Feinstein admitting this operation had something to do with tightening up gun laws in this country? If so, unblievable. If not, what is she saying was the aim of the program? It happened under her watch as a senior senator of our largest state serving in the majority in the United States Senate with plenty of oversight clout from within congress and plenty of clout inside the administration. What does she think was the legitimate intention of the program? Either I haven't heard anyone other than firebrand right wing pundits explain it or I am too dense to understand that they have.
In Fast and Furious - the dead Mexicans and dead border agent scandal, they all seem to admit something went wrong. Sen. Feinstein: "perhaps mistakes were made" PERHAPS MISTAKES WERE MADE, ARE YOU F*KCING KIDDING?? But what was supposed to have gone right if perhaps mistakes were not made? If all had happened according to plan, what was the plan? Big guns and ammunition would travel illegally across sovereign lines without knowledge on either side, into a volatile, civil war torn country with a cross border war like situation, never be used, and then would return, be found unused and tracked back to their own agency arranged sales for enforcement?? I still don't get it!
Crafty: "Quite right." [Prof. John Taylor's piece] "Separately I would offer that GM's post of McCardle on 10/7 is worth rereading."
Very telling in the McCardle piece is the dramatic graph. I would ask (or just point out again): where exactly on the time line were we when the two lines, the number of unemployed and the number of job openings, both turned away from each other? What was happening in this country in this country in January 2007? What were the headlines? When were employers and investors seeing when they began their retreat?
The answer is that the anti-growth politicians took over Washington. The face of it was San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi becoming the first female Speaker (and Minneapolis liberal Rep. Keith Ellison putting his hand on the Qur'an to take the oath), but others elevated to majority power included Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Joe Biden, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Rep. Barney Frank, Sen, Chris Dodd, Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel, etc. etc. (Pres. George was demoted to lame duck status on all domestic issues and invested all remaining political capital into the surge in Iraq.)
January 3, 2007 was the day that Democrats took control of both houses of Congress. Let’s take a factual look at what they inherited. The DOW Jones closed at 12,621.77 The unemployment rate was 4.6% The GDP growth rate for the previous quarter was 3.5% The economy had just set a record of 52 straight months of job creation 26 million Americans were on food stamps 47 banks were on the FDIC problem list The Social Security program took in the neighborhood of 100 billion more than it paid out The national debt was approaching 9 trillion dollars Barney Frank took over the House Financial Services Committee and Chris Dodd took over the Senate Banking Committee Obama became a Senator from Illinois Bush was on record requesting restraint on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae 17 times
Folks bringing the story forward already succeeded. You cannot google search his experience at the restaurant association and find anything other than this story. A couple of days ago you might have found the youtube of him eating Pres. Clinton's lunch over healthcare mandates killing private business.
Whether it is truth against Cain or falsehoods escalated, I will guess there will be more developments, even if it is just the same accusers going public and specific. In the meanwhile we continue the campaign of get to know the candidates. Here is a local story here of my former neighbor Cain from his days as VP of Mpls based Pillsbury as reported by Mpls StarTribune and Mpls-based Powerline. It occurred to me earlier in this process that perhaps Cain was chosen as VP of Coca Cola, VP of Pillsbury, CEO of Godfathers, head of the National Restaurants Association and Chairman of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank because they all liked the look of having a black man in the picture on their color glossy corporate annual reports. In fact, he was quite accomplished before his business experience with a very impressive and technical education and quite hands-on and high achieving on the job in these very high level management positions. I would add that these aren't the types of businesses that tolerate much in terms of loose moral behavior on company paid travel.
Business success has never guaranteed political success. But Cain demonstrated during a tour with Pillsbury Co. in the 1980s that he is a successful, charismatic leader. With flair and hard work, he turned around Pillsbury’s struggling Philadelphia Burger King region and revived a near-dead Godfather’s Pizza.
“My career spans 38 years and I’ve worked for 26 different managers,” said Frank Taylor, a recently retired Burger King financial executive whom Cain hired as his regional controller in 1983. “Herman was far and away the best I’ve worked for in terms of getting a team together, sharing a vision and accomplishing the goals. And nothing diverted him.”
Cain also shared the wealth. When Burger King distributed $50,000 apiece to the regional vice presidents as reward for good performance in 1985, most of the regional bosses spent it on a trip to a posh resort for themselves and other managers and spouses. The enlisted troops got a dinner. Cain took everybody in his office, including administrative staff, on the same three-day reward cruise, Taylor recalled. …
The Philadelphia region of Burger King ranked near the bottom among Burger King’s 12 groups. Cain brought analytical strengths and energy. He fired and hired. He praised and exhorted the survivors. He turned the region into a top performer within two years.
“I worked with him fairly closely at Burger King,” recalled George Mileusnic, a former Pillsbury executive, now a Twin Cities consultant. “He was good strategically and good with people, including working long hours in Burger King stores to get that bottom-up experience. He had about 500 stores in that Philadelphia region and he did a great job.”
Impressed, Jeff Campbell, the head of Pillsbury’s restaurant operations, put Cain in charge of Godfather’s Pizza, a then-struggling chain that Pillsbury acquired when it bought an Omaha restaurant consolidator that also was a big franchisee of Burger Kings.
Godfather’s was started by an entrepreneur in the 1970s but slid after it was acquired by a big Burger King corporate franchisee and waylaid by a tired menu, demoralized employees and lousy results. Campbell gave the 40-year-old Cain a year to right Godfather’s, make a buck, or shut it down.
At the time, Campbell told Cain that there was a very slim chance Godfather’s could be “a home run for you and the company.”
“I said, ‘Sounds like my kind of odds,’” Cain recalled in an 1987 interview with the Star Tribune. “That’s how I got to Philadelphia.” …
Along with his analytical skills, Cain brought an entrepreneurial fervor to the hurried turnaround at Godfather’s in 1986-87. He listened, asked questions and acted, including closing stores, shifting people and even cooking and testing new products in the company’s kitchen.
“I’m Herman Cain and this ain’t no April Fool’s joke,” he told Godfather’s employees when he arrived on April 1, 1986. “We are not dead. Our objective is to prove to Pillsbury and everybody else that we will survive.”
An accomplished singer and pianist, Cain occasionally led the headquarters crew in after-hours song, and performed charitable gigs in Omaha, backed by a chorus of managers. He also demanded that senior managers know every employee working for them on a first-name basis and occasionally quizzed executives on that and other personnel issues.
“That was pretty unique,” Mileusnic said. “Those stories got around Pillsbury. Herman was very quantitative and analytical, but he demanded that everybody be engaged and every employee must be appreciated and respected.”
By 1987, Cain and longtime executive Ronald Gartlan, now the CEO of Godfather’s, stabilized the company and produced an operating profit.
"...you can become the greediest person on earth and that will not increase your pay in the slightest. It is what other people pay you that increases your income."
I could save myself a lot of time at the keyboard if I would just let Thomas Sowell express my view for me.
November 1, 2011 Democracy Versus Mob Rule By Thomas Sowell
In various cities across the country, mobs of mostly young, mostly incoherent, often noisy and sometimes violent demonstrators are making themselves a major nuisance.
Meanwhile, many in the media are practically gushing over these "protesters," and giving them the free publicity they crave for themselves and their cause -- whatever that is, beyond venting their emotions on television.
Members of the mobs apparently believe that other people, who are working while they are out trashing the streets, should be forced to subsidize their college education -- and apparently the President of the United States thinks so too.
But if these loud mouths' inability to put together a coherent line of thought is any indication of their education, the taxpayers should demand their money back for having that money wasted on them for years in the public schools.
Sloppy words and sloppy thinking often go together, both in the mobs and in the media that are covering them. It is common, for example, to hear in the media how some "protesters" were arrested. But anyone who reads this column regularly knows that I protest against all sorts of things -- and don't get arrested.
The difference is that I don't block traffic, join mobs sleeping overnight in parks or urinate in the street. If the media cannot distinguish between protesting and disturbing the peace, then their education may also have wasted a lot of taxpayers' money.
Among the favorite sloppy words used by the shrill mobs in the streets is "Wall Street greed." But even if you think people in Wall Street, or anywhere else, are making more money than they deserve, "greed" is no explanation whatever.
"Greed" says how much you want. But you can become the greediest person on earth and that will not increase your pay in the slightest. It is what other people pay you that increases your income.
If the government has been sending too much of the taxpayers' money to people in Wall Street -- or anywhere else -- then the irresponsibility or corruption of politicians is the problem. "Occupy Wall Street" hooligans should be occupying Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.
Maybe some of the bankers or financiers should have turned down the millions and billions that politicians were offering them. But sainthood is no more common in Wall Street than on Pennsylvania Avenue -- or in the media or academia, for that matter.
Actually, some banks did try to refuse the government bailout money, to avoid the interference with their business that they knew would come with it. But the feds insisted -- and federal regulators' power to create big financial problems for banks made it hard to say no. The feds made them an offer they couldn't refuse.
People who cannot distinguish between democracy and mob rule may fall for the idea that the hooligans in the street represent the 99 percent who are protesting about the "greed" of the one percent. But these hooligans are less than one percent and they are grossly violating the rights of vastly larger numbers of people who have to put up with their trashing of the streets by day and their noise that keeps working people awake at night.
As for the "top one percent" in income that attract so much attention, angst and denunciation, there is always going to be a top one percent, unless everybody has the same income. That top one percent has no more monopoly on sainthood or villainy than people in any other bracket.
Moreover, that top one percent does not consist of the "millionaires and billionaires" that Barack Obama talks about. You don't even have to make half a million dollars to be in the top one percent.
Moreover, this is not an enduring class of people. Nor are people in other income brackets. Most of the people in the top one percent at any given time are there for only one year. Anyone who sells an average home in San Francisco can get into the top one percent in income -- for that year. Other one-time spikes in income account for most of the people in that top one percent.
But such plain facts carry little weight amid the heady rhetoric and mindless emotions of the mob and the media.
Interesting story. This line reminds me of issues here: "One banker told me the Greek super-rich have mostly left." One critical component of the 99% rule, Rob Peter to Pay Paul, is that you don't need Peter's consent, but you will need to lock the exits.
A Slow-Growth America Can't Lead the World After World War II, the U.S. promoted international economic growth through reliance on the market and the incentives it provides. Times have changed.
By JOHN B. TAYLOR
When President Obama meets with his counterparts from other G-20 countries in Cannes later this week, American economic leadership will, unfortunately, largely be absent.
At the most recent meeting a year ago in Seoul, the G-20 rejected the president's pleas for a deficit-increasing Keynesian stimulus and instead urged credible budget-deficit reduction and a return to sound fiscal policy. And on that trip he had to defend the activist monetary policy of the Federal Reserve against widespread criticism that its easy money was damaging to emerging-market countries, causing volatile capital flows and inflationary pressures.
With a weak recovery—retarded by new health-care legislation and financial regulations, an exploding debt, and threats of higher taxes—the U.S. is in no position to lead as it has in the past.
By contrast, in the years after World War II, the U.S. led the world in promoting economic growth through reliance on the market and the incentives it provides, the rule of law, limited government, and more predictable fiscal and monetary policy. It created a rules-based, open trading system by helping to found the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which slashed tariffs multilaterally. The miraculous postwar European and Japanese recoveries came from greater adherence to these principles of economic freedom and direct support from the U.S.
After getting off track with interventionist policies in the 1970s, the U.S. put its economic house in order in the 1980s, adopting pro-growth policies and creating a long boom that lasted through the 1990s. Again its economic ideas were contagious, not just in Britain under Margaret Thatcher but in the developing world. Seeing the advantages of American-style economic liberty over state intervention and control, Deng Xiaoping expanded his initial and tentative market-based reforms in China and created an economic renaissance. The U.S. helped the countries in Central and Eastern Europe implement market-based reforms, and it encouraged other countries and the international financial institutions to do the same in Africa and Latin America.
As the U.S. has moved away from the principles of economic freedom—instead promoting short-term fiscal and monetary interventionism with more federal government regulations—its leadership has declined. Some, even in the U.S., may cheer the decline, but it is not good for the world or for the U.S.
Economic policies in America affect the world in ways that are often subtle. In the case of monetary policy, for example, decisions on interest rates by foreign central banks are influenced by interest-rate decisions at the Federal Reserve because of the large size of the U.S. economy. If the Fed holds its interest rate too low for too long, then central banks in other countries will have to hold rates low too, creating inflation risks. If they resist, capital flows into their countries seeking higher yields, thereby suddenly jacking up the value of their currencies and the prices of their exports.
Due to the Fed's low rates, the European Central Bank held short-term interest rates low in the euro zone in 2003-05. Economists at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that these low rates in Europe were the cause of the housing booms in Greece, Ireland and Spain. As with all unsustainable booms, these were associated with undue risk taking, bad bank loans, busts, and huge government borrowing to bail out banks or to finance spending when revenues fell during the ensuing recession. Excessive government borrowing and problem banks are the source of the current crisis in Europe, which has in turn increased economic and financial risks for the U.S.
Some countries, including Mexico and Brazil, are complaining that the Fed is exporting inflation with its near-zero interest rate and massive purchases of long-term government debt, which is rapidly growing due to U.S. fiscal deficits. And when global inflation picks up, as it has started to do in many emerging markets, it feeds back into more inflation in the U.S. through higher prices of globally traded commodities. With unemployment already high, the result would be stagflation—slow growth, high inflation, steady unemployment—as we saw in the 1970s. For the good of the world and for its own good, America needs to show some leadership and better adhere to sound monetary and fiscal policy.
American economic leadership is also essential for defining the appropriate role of government in a global economy in which China plays an increasingly important role. Despite the enormous success of Deng Xiaoping's reforms, the Chinese economic system still fails to meet some key principles of economic freedom. While relying on markets and incentives, it has a weak rule of law and still imposes many barriers to free trade. The Chinese government favors some firms over others, crony-capitalism style, in its procurement procedures, and it requires that foreign technology firms partner with government-owned Chinese firms, thereby transferring technology to potential competitors.
The U.S. government should work to prevent interventionist trade and other policies abroad. But this is hard to do if America is moving in an interventionist direction internally. And it will have less and less influence if it continues to depart from sound fiscal policy, becoming more indebted to the negotiators on the other side of the table.
The next meeting of the G-20 leaders will be in Mexico in 2012, though the exact date is undecided. In the meantime, the 2012 election in America promises to be a referendum on the role of government in the economy. If, as a result, the U.S. starts to return to the principles of economic freedom—the best route to improving its own economy—then perhaps it will be able to reassert its economic leadership, benefit the world economy, and in turn create an even more prosperous American economy in a grand virtuous circle.
Mr. Taylor, a professor of economics at Stanford and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, is the author of "Getting Off Track: How Government Actions and Interventions Caused, Prolonged and Worsened the Financial Crisis" (Hoover Press, 2009).
The story so far: ten days ago a self-proclaimed "sceptical" climate scientist named Professor Richard Muller of Berkeley University, California, managed to grab himself some space in the Wall Street Journal (of all places) claiming that the case for global warming scepticism was over. Thanks to research from his Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures (BEST) project, Professor Muller stated confidently, we now know that the planet has warmed by almost one degree centigrade since 1950. What's more, he told the BBC's Today programme, there is no sign that this global warming has slowed down.
Cue mass jubilation from a number of media outlets which, perhaps, ought to have known better – among them, the Independent, the Guardian, The Economist and Forbes magazine. To give you an idea of their self-righteous indignation at the supposed ignorance of climate change deniers, here is the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson in full spate:
We know that the rise in temperatures over the past five decades is abrupt and very large. We know it is consistent with models developed by other climate researchers that posit greenhouse gas emissions — the burning of fossil fuels by humans — as the cause. And now we know, thanks to Muller, that those other scientists have been both careful and honorable in their work.
Nobody’s fudging the numbers. Nobody’s manipulating data to win research grants, as Perry claims, or making an undue fuss over a “naturally occurring” warm-up, as Bachmann alleges. Contrary to what Cain says, the science is real.
Problem is, Eugene, almost every word of those two paragraphs is plain wrong, and your smugness embarrassingly misplaced.
As you know, I had my doubts about Muller's findings from the start. I thought it was at best disingenuous of him to pose as a "sceptic" when there is little evidence of him ever having been one. As for his argument that the BEST project confounds sceptics by proving global warming exists – this was never more than a straw man.
Now, though, it seems that BEST is even worse than I thought. Here is what Muller claimed on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme:
In our data, which is only on the land we see no evidence of [global warming] having slowed down.
But this simply isn't true. Heaven forfend that a distinguished professor from Berkeley University should actually have been caught out telling a lie direct. No, clearly what has happened here is that Professor Muller has made the kind of mistake any self-respecting climate scientist could make: gone to press with some extravagant claims without having a smidgen of evidence to support them.
Here, to help the good professor out, is a chart produced by the Global Warming Policy Foundation's David Whitehouse. It was plotted from BEST's own figures.
Note how the 10 year trend from 2001 to 2010 – in flat contradiction of Muller's claims – shows no warming whatsoever.
What's odd that BEST appears to have gone to great trouble – shades of "hide the decline", anyone? – to disguise this inconvenient truth. Here is a graph released by BEST:
The GWPF's David Whitehouse is not impressed:
Indeed Best seems to have worked hard to obscure it. They present data covering more almost 200 years is presented with a short x-axis and a stretched y-axis to accentuate the increase. The data is then smoothed using a ten year average which is ideally suited to removing the past five years of the past decade and mix the earlier standstill years with years when there was an increase. This is an ideal formula for suppressing the past decade’s data.
Muller's colleague Professor Judith Curry – who besides being a BEST co-author chairs the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at America’s prestigious Georgia Institute of Technology – is even less impressed.
There is no scientific basis for saying that warming hasn’t stopped,’ she said. ‘To say that there is detracts from the credibility of the data, which is very unfortunate.’
CCP, Likewise, I respect your views very much. I read your posts very carefully for your insights especially because we don't come at these things from the exact same point of view. I know I am hardened in some of my views but I am always open to the political side of how to draw more people into what I call a conservative course of action, smaller government, freer enterprises and restored personal liberties.
I did acknowledge one valid point in the piece - the two systems of justice, but I don't see where the author in Rolling Stone showed that crimes were committed. He did give one example but it was after he had lost all credibility with me, so I would have to study it further to know. It was your idea CCP that I like very much that law enforcement personnel too old (like me) to walk the beat should be trained in white collar areas instead of just given pay and pensions for youthful retirements if that is what is happening now. If you can learn homicide and arson detective work, I can train you on bank accounting. No doubt that isn't workable because of public union contracts, but the idea is correct, and (credit to Crafty) resources committed to finding and prosecuting of fraud and therefore deterring it is a worthwhile public purpose.
On the question of banking, it is certainly the most egregious of the so-called public-private relationships that we tend to hate in in every other industry, auto manufacturing, health care etc. But we wanted it that way, didn't we? What I don't get is that if the bankers are doing exactly what they are allowed to do by government, why is the anger aimed at this pretend private sector instead of at the controlling government? If this is a Republican problem, why was it not fixed during the 2 years that leftists had all the votes? If this is anger that goes back to the panic bailouts of fall 2008, why did it start in fall 2011?
The special treatment of the rich who make far more than their 1% of political contributions is the fault of the politicians who give special treatment and the voters who tolerate it. Among the very worst offenders were Dodd and Frank, so we made them the authors of the latest reform. Where was OWS while reform was being written and why the delay to come out after? How many of these street occupiers wrote their own congressman before finding out so many shared their view. Mark me down as skeptical. The only group I know that recently stood up and took out their own incumbent representatives for abandoning principles is the tea party. They did it with some success and they did it willing to lose general elections over it.
I will listen to any serious idea to privatize banks and I will listen to any serious idea to nationalize banks - they are already under complete federal control except for the choices of coffee in the lobby.
What I don't like economically and politically is the ad hominem attacks on the successful. I say that from the lowest quintile of income; I pay roughly 100% of take home income in property taxes state and local before the federal government can take a swipe at it. The 99% argument is not aimed only at rigged industries or all of them would be conservative tea party members IMO.
I know that it is only the people with money who can invest and that employment will never come back without investment, and we need more people with money in this country to invest and grow jobs. We need more serious startups and we need existing companies that want to be here to be economically welcome to stay here. I know that businesses and manufacturing left this country not because of high wages, but because of high costs and there is a difference. I know a few ways we could out from under this but I don't know how to persuade other people to get on board. I am all ears. ----- The CNN story says OWS is about 'corporate greed'. While gas prices were spiking under Bush and Katrina, a good friend said to me that the prices jumped up because of greed and something to the effect that it is because the oil companies have their buddies in the White House. Trying so hard not to use the words 'economic illiteracy' I said back to him that the only thing that remained constant during the whole price volatility thing was corporate greed. These companies have been maximizing profits since they first struck oil. What changes is supply and demand. Supply was affected then by a hurricane and supply is always affected by regulations. Some regulations are worthy (see Crafty's post) but all of them drive up prices.
The collapse of 2008 spilling over into 2011 was not a surge in banker or corporate greed. That is ridiculous. Bankers have been maximizing their profits since before the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.
What happened in the current crash is that we created an extreme bubble in a market that affects all of us with runaway government policies and it was finally burst when the policy arrow shifted sharply to the anti-growth direction and investors saw with certainty that asset price collapses were coming. At this time now when we so desperately need economic growth to get jobs, income and our revenues up, our policies on every level are still anti-growth.
CCP, If the author's conclusion were correct, they would be jumping to our side. Not so IMO.
I found the beginning to be unpersuasive, contains falsehoods, and a view different than mine. He makes a good point later about two justice systems. For sure, white collar crime is harder to track and no one seems to be trying.
My own experience in the housing debacle: a couple of houses next door to rental houses of mine sold for far more than everyone knew they were worth at the peak and later I bought both of those houses for 1/8th of those prices (pre-tornado). One in particular was an obvious fraud. They never fixed up the house before or after an over-priced sale and no one moved in after closing. Total fraud in my estimation. Nobody wanted that house that badly, it was play money to somebody. Seemed obvious to me was that if you tracked the appraiser, the originator, the closer, the realtor and the pigeon or whatever you call they guy that takes title just to default, you would find a prosecutable pattern. Instead no one cared and no one investigated. This happened IMO because of government pressure on lenders to lend in the wrong areas for the wrong reasons. To crash from there isn't that surprising. Every home but mine on that block went into foreclosure.
On Wall Street though, people that I know at that level play VERY carefully by the rules. The gripe is or should be with the rules, and that comes out of Washington, not Wall Street.
Back to the Rolling Stone story, quoting: "Dude," I said. "These people aren't protesting money. They're not protesting banking. They're protesting corruption on Wall Street."
I don't think the majority of 'protesters' are that precise, especially in Occupy Madison, Occupy Richmond and Occupy Denver, etc.
[Cain said he believed that the protesters are driven by envy of the rich.] "Cain seems like a nice enough guy, but I nearly blew my stack when I heard this. When you take into consideration all the theft and fraud and market manipulation and other evil shit Wall Street bankers have been guilty of in the last ten-fifteen years, you have to have balls like church bells to trot out a propaganda line that says the protesters are just jealous of their hard-earned money."
From what I have heard, Cain has it right - they are largely driven by envy of the rich. Saying guilty of evil shit is cool but does not establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt. It is sold as evil in our politics just to have success. Unless you are a supply sider, you mostly believe they took a share of your slice.
"there have always been rich and poor people in America, so if this is about jealousy, why the protests now?" ... "Where was all that class hatred in the Reagan years, when openly dumping on the poor became fashionable?"
What an unserious observation. The anger was there in the 1980's, and how did we dump on the poor? Pure BS. Domestic spending roughly doubled and Dems held the House the entire decade.
"At last count, there were 245 millionaires in congress, including 66 in the Senate."
He should have counted Billionaires. A million in assets or net worth is not filthy rich - your kids still might qualify for free school lunch in America.
"That's why it's so obnoxious when people say the protesters are just sore losers who are jealous of these smart guys in suits who beat them at the game of life."
The non-achievers in America aren't losing they are NOT PARTICIPATING in our economic system. They aren't the CEO of your second place competitor or running a small family owned investment banking house. Half the people are not contributing. But let's say you are a skilled tradesman instead of a banker and you married to a teacher, secretary or nurse. If you aren't rich and comfortable on that combined income, it is because of the combined tax burden, not because you were cheated by Wall Street bankers. Do the math. It is a ridiculous premise.
"They just want a level playing field, and they want Wall Street to give up its cheat codes"
No. Our side wants the level playing field. Take away the excess regulation that keeps competition away from entrenched players. Take the preferences out of the tax code, and gut the spending down to real safety net and legitimate government functions. Did you see Cain 9-9-9 sign or Perry 20-20 at the OWS rallies? I haven't.
He says: [Bankers have] "things like: FREE MONEY."
Yes banks pay close to zero. So do borrowers. I pay 2.75%. Meanwhile banks make zero off of savings which used to be the main source of funds for lending because, as he points out, they can get money cheaper at the Fed. Is that the bank's fault or Fed policy which we know comes out of congress - the people's representatives. If banks are making such outrageous money right now, why are they broke? The policy of micro-managing commercial banks comes out of federal deposit insurance. Does he favor that or oppose it? He doesn't say.
"Your average chimpanzee couldn't fuck up that business plan, which makes it all the more incredible that most of the too-big-to-fail banks are nonetheless still functionally insolvent, and dependent upon bailouts and phony accounting to stay above water."
Inflammatory BS statement. The bank business plan is f*cked up, as I said because they are micro managed by government, insured by government and considered too big to fail.
"Stupidity Insurance" ... "When was the last time the government stepped into help you "avoid losses you might otherwise suffer?"
Again he fails to acknowledge that they get propped up because if they fail further we are on the hook for the losses. That is the law of the land out of Washington, not from the management of the bank. We stepped in as taxpayers and Bush, McCain, Paulsen, Obama, Volcker, Bernancke and ever other reputable person favored it because they believed the cost to the taxpayer and to the economy would be greater if they didn't. The alternative system is a free market, and neither side is calling for that, nor does he. Just bitching and moaning.
"UNGRADUATED TAXES. I've already gone off on this more than once, but it bears repeating. Bankers on Wall Street pay lower tax rates than most car mechanics."
Again, BS, right out of Buffet and Obama. If that really were true, why all the uproar of the so-called populists against a flat tax and all the studies that that would even tax rates help the rich not the poor. Which is it?? Capital gains that come to bank execs already were taxed (forget to mention that?) and social security insurance isn't a supposed to be tax, it is insurance against growing old beyond your money and the required contribution is capped so the benefits are capped. I would be the first to end that system. Use your own money; choose your own policy.
"Bank of America last year paid not a single dollar in taxes"
Oh really? Not a single dime, such a bone headed statement! For one thing I will estimate that they pay a billion in property tax which happens to be a federal tax deduction. By my rough estimate, they pay another $100 million just in the employer contribution of their 300,000 employees social security. They pay the rest of the employees' employment tax that never gets to the worker. Who does he think pays those taxes. They pay sales tax on nearly every product they buy in 50 states unless they are reselling those products in some retail business. So he must mean federal corporate income tax. Okay, then say it and call for reform. All the Republicans are calling to fix it and all the Occupiers are ignoring it, as far as I can see. One problem with the income tax is that these banks are using up all their revenues on ... expenses, including regulation compliance and things mentioned above like employment taxes and property taxes.
In conclusion he writes: "These inequities are what drive the OWS protests. People don't want handouts. It's not a class uprising and they don't want civil war -- they want just the opposite. They want everyone to live in the same country, and live by the same rules. It's amazing that some people think that that's asking a lot."
No, if that's what they want, we already have a movement - that is what the tea party is calling for. Public urination, public masturbation, public drug use and attracting the homeless for hire doesn't get you there IMO.
I'm not an expert on OWS. I assumed from the beginning it was a continuation of the anarchists from Seattle along with the ACORN type liberals from our city that tried to get me to vote again and the groups in Milwaukee who gave free cigarettes to people to get on the vote bus. My view was summed up yesterday in the Unified Theory post. Find something wrong and then call for another big government program to solve it. I would love to find out I am wrong.
"So, what do you make of the Rolling Stone piece I posted?"
CCP says it disappeared so I'll try to post the text and come back and try to answer.
Wall Street Isn't Winning – It's Cheating
POSTED: October 25, 9:26 AM ET Comment 381 occupy wall street london sign A protestor's sign expresses the sentiment of the Occupy Wall Street movement at a Occupy Wall Street protest in London. BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
I was at an event on the Upper East Side last Friday night when I got to talking with a salesman in the media business. The subject turned to Zucotti Park and Occupy Wall Street, and he was chuckling about something he'd heard on the news.
"I hear [Occupy Wall Street] has a CFO," he said. "I think that's funny."
"Okay, I'll bite," I said. "Why is that funny?"
"Well, I heard they're trying to decide what bank to put their money in," he said, munching on hors d'oeuvres. "It's just kind of ironic."
Oh, Christ, I thought. He’s saying the protesters are hypocrites because they’re using banks. I sighed.
"Listen," I said, "where else are you going to put three hundred thousand dollars? A shopping bag?"
"Well," he said, "it's just, their protests are all about... You know..."
"Dude," I said. "These people aren't protesting money. They're not protesting banking. They're protesting corruption on Wall Street."
"Whatever," he said, shrugging.
These nutty criticisms of the protests are spreading like cancer. Earlier that same day, I'd taped a TV segment on CNN with Will Cain from the National Review, and we got into an argument on the air. Cain and I agreed about a lot of the problems on Wall Street, but when it came to the protesters, we disagreed on one big thing.
Cain said he believed that the protesters are driven by envy of the rich.
"I find the one thing [the protesters] have in common revolves around the human emotions of envy and entitlement," he said. "What you have is more than what I have, and I'm not happy with my situation."
Cain seems like a nice enough guy, but I nearly blew my stack when I heard this. When you take into consideration all the theft and fraud and market manipulation and other evil shit Wall Street bankers have been guilty of in the last ten-fifteen years, you have to have balls like church bells to trot out a propaganda line that says the protesters are just jealous of their hard-earned money.
Think about it: there have always been rich and poor people in America, so if this is about jealousy, why the protests now? The idea that masses of people suddenly discovered a deep-seated animus/envy toward the rich – after keeping it strategically hidden for decades – is crazy.
Where was all that class hatred in the Reagan years, when openly dumping on the poor became fashionable? Where was it in the last two decades, when unions disappeared and CEO pay relative to median incomes started to triple and quadruple?
The answer is, it was never there. If anything, just the opposite has been true. Americans for the most part love the rich, even the obnoxious rich. And in recent years, the harder things got, the more we've obsessed over the wealth dream. As unemployment skyrocketed, people tuned in in droves to gawk at Evrémonde-heiresses like Paris Hilton, or watch bullies like Donald Trump fire people on TV.
Moreover, the worse the economy got, the more being a millionaire or a billionaire somehow became a qualification for high office, as people flocked to voting booths to support politicians with names like Bloomberg and Rockefeller and Corzine, names that to voters symbolized success and expertise at a time when few people seemed to have answers. At last count, there were 245 millionaires in congress, including 66 in the Senate.
And we hate the rich? Come on. Success is the national religion, and almost everyone is a believer. Americans love winners. But that's just the problem. These guys on Wall Street are not winning – they're cheating. And as much as we love the self-made success story, we hate the cheater that much more.
In this country, we cheer for people who hit their own home runs – not shortcut-chasing juicers like Bonds and McGwire, Blankfein and Dimon.
That's why it's so obnoxious when people say the protesters are just sore losers who are jealous of these smart guys in suits who beat them at the game of life. This isn't disappointment at having lost. It's anger because those other guys didn't really win. And people now want the score overturned.
All weekend I was thinking about this “jealousy” question, and I just kept coming back to all the different ways the game is rigged. People aren't jealous and they don’t want privileges. They just want a level playing field, and they want Wall Street to give up its cheat codes, things like:
FREE MONEY. Ordinary people have to borrow their money at market rates. Lloyd Blankfein and Jamie Dimon get billions of dollars for free, from the Federal Reserve. They borrow at zero and lend the same money back to the government at two or three percent, a valuable public service otherwise known as "standing in the middle and taking a gigantic cut when the government decides to lend money to itself."
Or the banks borrow billions at zero and lend mortgages to us at four percent, or credit cards at twenty or twenty-five percent. This is essentially an official government license to be rich, handed out at the expense of prudent ordinary citizens, who now no longer receive much interest on their CDs or other saved income. It is virtually impossible to not make money in banking when you have unlimited access to free money, especially when the government keeps buying its own cash back from you at market rates.
Your average chimpanzee couldn't fuck up that business plan, which makes it all the more incredible that most of the too-big-to-fail banks are nonetheless still functionally insolvent, and dependent upon bailouts and phony accounting to stay above water. Where do the protesters go to sign up for their interest-free billion-dollar loans?
CREDIT AMNESTY. If you or I miss a $7 payment on a Gap card or, heaven forbid, a mortgage payment, you can forget about the great computer in the sky ever overlooking your mistake. But serial financial fuckups like Citigroup and Bank of America overextended themselves by the hundreds of billions and pumped trillions of dollars of deadly leverage into the system -- and got rewarded with things like the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program, an FDIC plan that allowed irresponsible banks to borrow against the government's credit rating.
This is equivalent to a trust fund teenager who trashes six consecutive off-campus apartments and gets rewarded by having Daddy co-sign his next lease. The banks needed programs like TLGP because without them, the market rightly would have started charging more to lend to these idiots. Apparently, though, we can’t trust the free market when it comes to Bank of America, Goldman, Sachs, Citigroup, etc.
In a larger sense, the TBTF banks all have the implicit guarantee of the federal government, so investors know it's relatively safe to lend to them -- which means it's now cheaper for them to borrow money than it is for, say, a responsible regional bank that didn't jack its debt-to-equity levels above 35-1 before the crash and didn't dabble in toxic mortgages. In other words, the TBTF banks got better credit for being less responsible. Click on freecreditscore.com to see if you got the same deal.
STUPIDITY INSURANCE. Defenders of the banks like to talk a lot about how we shouldn't feel sorry for people who've been foreclosed upon, because it's their own fault for borrowing more than they can pay back, buying more house than they can afford, etc. And critics of OWS have assailed protesters for complaining about things like foreclosure by claiming these folks want “something for nothing.”
This is ironic because, as one of the Rolling Stone editors put it last week, “something for nothing is Wall Street’s official policy." In fact, getting bailed out for bad investment decisions has been de rigeur on Wall Street not just since 2008, but for decades.
Time after time, when big banks screw up and make irresponsible bets that blow up in their faces, they've scored bailouts. It doesn't matter whether it was the Mexican currency bailout of 1994 (when the state bailed out speculators who gambled on the peso) or the IMF/World Bank bailout of Russia in 1998 (a bailout of speculators in the "emerging markets") or the Long-Term Capital Management Bailout of the same year (in which the rescue of investors in a harebrained hedge-fund trading scheme was deemed a matter of international urgency by the Federal Reserve), Wall Street has long grown accustomed to getting bailed out for its mistakes.
The 2008 crash, of course, birthed a whole generation of new bailout schemes. Banks placed billions in bets with AIG and should have lost their shirts when the firm went under -- AIG went under, after all, in large part because of all the huge mortgage bets the banks laid with the firm -- but instead got the state to pony up $180 billion or so to rescue the banks from their own bad decisions.
This sort of thing seems to happen every time the banks do something dumb with their money. Just recently, the French and Belgian authorities cooked up a massive bailout of the French bank Dexia, whose biggest trading partners included, surprise, surprise, Goldman, Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Here's how the New York Times explained the bailout:
To limit damage from Dexia’s collapse, the bailout fashioned by the French and Belgian governments may make these banks and other creditors whole — that is, paid in full for potentially tens of billions of euros they are owed. This would enable Dexia’s creditors and trading partners to avoid losses they might otherwise suffer...
When was the last time the government stepped into help you "avoid losses you might otherwise suffer?" But that's the reality we live in. When Joe Homeowner bought too much house, essentially betting that home prices would go up, and losing his bet when they dropped, he was an irresponsible putz who shouldn’t whine about being put on the street.
But when banks bet billions on a firm like AIG that was heavily invested in mortgages, they were making the same bet that Joe Homeowner made, leaving themselves hugely exposed to a sudden drop in home prices. But instead of being asked to "suck it in and cope" when that bet failed, the banks instead went straight to Washington for a bailout -- and got it.
UNGRADUATED TAXES. I've already gone off on this more than once, but it bears repeating. Bankers on Wall Street pay lower tax rates than most car mechanics. When Warren Buffet released his tax information, we learned that with taxable income of $39 million, he paid $6.9 million in taxes last year, a tax rate of about 17.4%.
Most of Buffet’s income, it seems, was taxed as either "carried interest" (i.e. hedge-fund income) or long-term capital gains, both of which carry 15% tax rates, half of what many of the Zucotti park protesters will pay.
As for the banks, as companies, we've all heard the stories. Goldman, Sachs in 2008 – this was the same year the bank reported $2.9 billion in profits, and paid out over $10 billion in compensation -- paid just $14 million in taxes, a 1% tax rate.
Bank of America last year paid not a single dollar in taxes -- in fact, it received a "tax credit" of $1 billion. There are a slew of troubled companies that will not be paying taxes for years, including Citigroup and CIT.
When GM bought the finance company AmeriCredit, it was able to marry its long-term losses to AmeriCredit's revenue stream, creating a tax windfall worth as much as $5 billion. So even though AmeriCredit is expected to post earnings of $8-$12 billion in the next decade or so, it likely won't pay any taxes during that time, because its revenue will be offset by GM's losses.
Thank God our government decided to pledge $50 billion of your tax dollars to a rescue of General Motors! You just paid for one of the world's biggest tax breaks.
And last but not least, there is:
GET OUT OF JAIL FREE. One thing we can still be proud of is that America hasn't yet managed to achieve the highest incarceration rate in history -- that honor still goes to the Soviets in the Stalin/Gulag era. But we do still have about 2.3 million people in jail in America.
Virtually all 2.3 million of those prisoners come from "the 99%." Here is the number of bankers who have gone to jail for crimes related to the financial crisis: 0.
Millions of people have been foreclosed upon in the last three years. In most all of those foreclosures, a regional law enforcement office -- typically a sheriff's office -- was awarded fees by the court as part of the foreclosure settlement, settlements which of course were often rubber-stamped by a judge despite mountains of perjurious robosigned evidence.
That means that every single time a bank kicked someone out of his home, a local police department got a cut. Local sheriff's offices also get cuts of almost all credit card judgments, and other bank settlements. If you're wondering how it is that so many regional police departments have the money for fancy new vehicles and SWAT teams and other accoutrements, this is one of your answers.
What this amounts to is the banks having, as allies, a massive armed police force who are always on call, ready to help them evict homeowners and safeguard the repossession of property. But just see what happens when you try to call the police to prevent an improper foreclosure. Then, suddenly, the police will not get involved. It will be a "civil matter" and they won't intervene.
The point being: if you miss a few home payments, you have a very high likelihood of colliding with a police officer in the near future. But if you defraud a pair of European banks out of a billion dollars -- that's a billion, with a b -- you will never be arrested, never see a policeman, never see the inside of a jail cell.
Your settlement will be worked out not with armed police, but with regulators in suits who used to work for your company or one like it. And you'll have, defending you, a former head of that regulator's agency. In the end, a fine will be paid to the government, but it won't come out of your pocket personally; it will be paid by your company's shareholders. And there will be no admission of criminal wrongdoing.
The Abacus case, in which Goldman helped a hedge fund guy named John Paulson beat a pair of European banks for a billion dollars, tells you everything you need to know about the difference between our two criminal justice systems. The settlement was $550 million -- just over half of the damage.
Can anyone imagine a common thief being caught by police and sentenced to pay back half of what he took? Just one low-ranking individual in that case was charged (case pending), and no individual had to reach into his pocket to help cover the fine. The settlement Goldman paid to to the government was about 1/24th of what Goldman received from the government just in the AIG bailout. And that was the toughest "punishment" the government dished out to a bank in the wake of 2008.
The point being: we have a massive police force in America that outside of lower Manhattan prosecutes crime and imprisons citizens with record-setting, factory-level efficiency, eclipsing the incarceration rates of most of history's more notorious police states and communist countries.
But the bankers on Wall Street don't live in that heavily-policed country. There are maybe 1000 SEC agents policing that sector of the economy, plus a handful of FBI agents. There are nearly that many police officers stationed around the polite crowd at Zucotti park.
These inequities are what drive the OWS protests. People don't want handouts. It's not a class uprising and they don't want civil war -- they want just the opposite. They want everyone to live in the same country, and live by the same rules. It's amazing that some people think that that's asking a lot.
Crafty: "Again, I repeat my point that we of the American Creed are missing opportunities here to woo and win a goodly percentage of these people."
I have mixed feelings about it. Yes, get rid of favoritism and present these benefits of conservatism with greater emphasis and fewer diversions into trivial matters while the future of the Republic really is at stake. I have long believed that the far left and far right should be able to find many areas of agreement, especially with the so-called corporate welfare. On local issues it is stadium subsidies that having the poorest people in the community help out multi-millionaires and multi-billionaires that just can't make a go of it on their own - because they don't have to. And it happens in so many industries and so many levels of government. Perry was just saying no federal money preferences to energy. OWS'ers, that is a big step, lock it in! I'm sure Ron Paul has said that with every preference. It was mostly people from the right that opposed TARP and the bailouts and phony stimuli. Yes we could be out trumpeting areas of agreement, but in many ways we are, and they aren't listening. Tea party activists in GOP primaries were the ones knocking out their own in Washington that were operating without core principles. Both the Perry and Cain plans literally remove favoritism from the tax code which is a huge first step in ending the favors for sale industry. I have argued this before, but it is the extreme regulations that make it so that only a few elite firms can handle the compliance issues of large business transactions. It was mostly liberal justices in Kelo v. New London that supported taking people's family homes against their will and giving them to big business.
OTOH, this is a non-specific, incoherent cause with a bunch of poorly behaved people, leftists gone mad, much like what they hoped the tea party would turn out to be on the right. Their view of community and anti-capitalism is not what centrists are seeking nor the answer to our economic woes. The main belief is that wealth is rigged and their main hatred IMO is aimed at the fact of achievement and success rather than at the special treatment. Lending credibility to class warfare is not the way forward IMO. We have too few people that are driven to achieve or that even understand our economic system.
The other strategy is to sit quietly and let these people be themselves, illustrating what it means to be anti-market and leftist. These are almost all Democrat-run cities that are slow to decide how to deal with this human mess without inciting greater disturbances.
We may think him Marxist, but Obama is a corporatist worse than Ralph Nader predicted and worse than any Republican. Just look at where he goes for fund raisers and who he chooses to invite for special events. Wall street's and Hollywood's biggest contributions went to Obama and not without expecting rewards.
Meanwhile the President is rich from ghost written books that play on his public celebrity and Mrs. O. gets 8 weeks a year of exotic vacations, including beaches overseas even without the husband and flying separate government jets out of Martha's Vineyard for a 4 hour difference in schedules. She wore $600 shoes to serve at a soup line photo opp. The kids are in the best private schools as was young Barack growing up, while the policy position remains anti-school-voucher. Flying Air Force One to NYC for date night. Now they want to appeal to the 99%? This group is total elitist 1%'ers and never had to invent or build a product or risk their own capital on any of it.