Saturday, April 19, 2008

No Great Depression

`Depressing" is the adjective we're hearing a lot when it comes to the U.S. economy. There are reports of how the University of Michigan's consumer-sentiment poll is lower than at any time in the past quarter century. Senator Obama speaks of how, in some places, "the jobs have been gone 25 years and nothing's replaced them." A recent Pew survey suggests that fewer Americans see their lives improving than at any point in almost half a century. The gloom is so thick that it feels positively German. And that's just our domestic press. The Brits have long since decided that doom is around the American corner. Covering Bear Stearns Cos., a reporter from the Independent wrote, "Wall Street traders said they had never experienced such fear."

The suggestion behind such talk is that the current situation isn't merely depressing. It is that the slowdown is like the Great Depression of the 1930s. You almost expect Senators Obama and Clinton to repeat the lines from President Roosevelt's inaugural address of 75 years ago: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

The analogy is absurd. This economy is to the Great Depression what an April drizzle is to Hurricane Katrina. So far, the Dow has declined about 12% from its record high of last fall. In the Depression, it dropped more than 80%. Unemployment is about 5%. In the Depression it was 25%. Maybe 2% of mortgages are in trouble, and abandoned homes line some parts of Cleveland Heights. During the Depression, more than half of Cleveland was underwater. Today, one big bank has collapsed. In 1931, 1,400 banks collapsed. Even a comparison with more recent periods is a stretch.

Today, everyone is concerned about the consequences of the Bear Stearns rescue. On the right, critics argue that the Federal Reserve's decision to make funds available to Bear created moral hazard on a scale that can bring down our markets. These critics forget that in 1984 Washington actually nationalized a big bank. That bank was the nation's seventh largest, Continental Illinois. Yet the Reagan Revolution didn't stall. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Dow languished in the 800s for a period longer than it takes to collect a college degree. Unemployment in 1982 was close to 10%. Yet you didn't hear too much talk about the New Deal or FDR's speeches.

More here



Dumb talking head: "At 7:16 this morning on Good Morning America, Dan Harris reported on the upcoming Papal Mass from Nationals Park in Washington. "This is a brand new ballpark opened just two and a half weeks ago and this morning it's been transformed into a giant outdoor church. Behind me, in the outfield, there is a 75-foot-high altar." A 75-foot-high altar? Does that mean the Pope would have to say Mass on 75-foot-high stilts? Clearly, there was a 75-foot-high stage, but the altar was its usual human-friendly height. (Photo by MRC's Michelle Humphrey.) It's frightening that ABC is putting Dan Harris on the religion beat, and he doesn't know what an "altar" is. Webster's defines it: "In the Christian church, a construction of stone, wood, or other material for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist; the communion table." This is a massive blooper to anyone who attends a church with an altar."

Kossacks Plot Laughable Boycott of ABC and Disney: "Recycle videos, buy used cars, eat non-Nabisco cookies, and drink microbrewery beer. These are among the highly laughable suggestions promoted at the Daily Kos as part of their proposed boycott of ABC and Disney because Barack Obama was finally asked some tough questions at Wednesday's Democrat debate in Philadelphia. It was only 23 minutes into the debate before the boycott thread was posted at the Daily Kos with the outraged title of Tomorrow We Take On ABC, and Disney. It is hard to figure out which is funnier, the boiling outrage over the fact that their blessed messiah was asked challenging questions or the incredibly lame ideas for the proposed boycott"

The Left turns on itself: "This has been a hilarious day, especially if you're on the right looking at the rabid left bloviate about how ABC had the "audacity" to dare to question their candidates on issues specific to their, hrrrmp! "Character". I don't know why the left is in such a flounder about the questions because it's their and Clinton and Obama's fault. After all throughout the campaign season they have touted themselves as some type of "higher beings" beyond the corruption and above the dubious connections which they have been all too ready to connect the dots when it referred to Republicans. So why wouldn't America care about Hillary's lies about her "sniper experiences" and Obama's connections - however old or slim - with domestic terrorists? If ABC had questioned Republican candidates in such a manner they would have applauded"

Tyranny's Enabler: "Jimmy Carter's pathetic need for political rehabilitation following a presidency widely regarded as one of the worst in American history is once again making news. He reportedly will meet this week with Khaled Mashaal, the Syrian-based leader of the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestinian arm, Hamas - an internationally recognized terrorist organization. In point of fact, it seems there is scarcely a serious bad actor on the planet with whom Jimmy Carter has not met. He is a serial tyrant-enabler, the very personification of Rodney King's risible appeal, "Can't we all get along?" Mr. Carter has come to epitomize the notion that "dialogue" is always in order, no matter how odious or dangerous the interlocutor - or the extent to which they or their agendas will benefit from such interactions. As Barak Obama (whom Carter has all but endorsed) is as wedded as the former President to the idea of condition-free dialogue with tyrants, it is worth reflecting on just a few of the many example's of how this Carteresque practice has produced disastrous results"

Bush Depicted as Foul-Mouthed Frat Boy: "Oliver Stone's new film,W, portrays George Bush as a foul- mouthed, dried-out drunk with a baseball obsession and a difficult relationship with his father. Filming is expected to begin any day in Louisiana. The movie should be in cinemas before Mr Bush leaves office next January. Stone says the film won't be an anti-Bush polemic. Rather, as he told Daily Variety, it will be "a fair, true portrait of the man that asks the question: how did Bush go from being an alcoholic bum to the most powerful figure in the world?"

All aboard the God-talk express: "Beware when politicians talk about "compassion," especially when they hold a "Compassion Forum" to do it, which is what they did at the appropriately named Messiah College near Harrisburg, Pa. Politicians identify with the messianic because they think they are God's gift to America. The forum attracted Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, but not Republican John McCain, who apparently saw it for what it was: an attempt by the Democrats to get back in the religion game. You've got to hand it to Clinton and Obama. They did their Sunday school homework. They quoted Bible verses and told religious stories like it was testimony time at an old-fashioned revival meeting. "Yes indeed, brothers and sisters. We Democrats have seen the light. We once were blind secular humanists, but now we see into the electoral Promised Land! Vote for us and we will deliver you from the sin of ever having voted for a Republican!"


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A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is a recent example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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