Monday, July 06, 2009

There Are No Permanent Majorities In America

Permanent Majorities are Almost Non-existent in American History. If a party attains “permanent majority” status, we would expect that party to dominate both Houses of Congress and the Presidency for an extended period of time, perhaps twenty to thirty years.

But such periods of dominance are rare. Consider the following chart. It measures Republican strength in the White House and House of Representatives by averaging the party’s percentage of the popular vote in the most recent Presidential election with the party’s percentage of seats won in the most recent House of Representatives election. It begins with the formation of the modern Republican party and continues to the present day. Senate seats are ignored for two reasons: (1) Senators were not elected by popular vote until the early 1900s (the exact date varies by state); and (2) only 1/3 of the Senate (give or take a seat) is up at any given time, so including Senate membership would necessarily serve as an artificial dampener on the partisan swings in the country (both toward Republicans and Democrats).

Notice how noisy the chart is. If there were stable, permanent majorities being formed at any time, we would expect to see long periods of time where Republicans are consistently well above the 50% threshold or consistently well below the 50% threshold. But the longest unbroken period of time we ever see for partisan control of Washington is the time of Republican dominance from just before the Civil War to just before Reconstruction ends. Of course, when most of your political opponents consider themselves a part of a different country and/or are not allowed to vote, it is easy to build a massive majority.

Even if we dampen the effect of outliers somewhat by charting a 3-year rolling average, we still see quite a bit of movement, which is inconsistent with permanent majorities:

Instead of a permanent Democratic majority from 1932-1968, and a Republican majority from 1968-2008, what we see is this: Republicans get whacked after the depression, but the American public quickly pulls them back to parity. Then the recession of 1958 hits, and Republicans get knocked down again. The American people pull them back to parity, then the Watergate scandal hits. The American people pull the Republicans back to parity, then the recession of 1990 hits. All of this is consistent with minority status driven by events and Republicans either holding the Presidency at inopportune moments or being incompetent, depending on your viewpoint.

Much more HERE


Spendthrift Sunbelt States

Arizona, Florida, and Nevada have run through the riches of their boom and are starting to look more like cash-strapped New York.

If states were airlines, New York and California would be Delta and United. Even when competently managed, they must shoulder the institutional inheritance of decades of other people’s decisions, good and bad. They must bear the heavy cost of legions of retired government workers. And they carry billions of dollars of debt that backs expensive, complex infrastructure.

Over the last few decades, when New Yorkers and Californians tired of paying high taxes to fund big government, they tended to migrate to what we might call the JetBlue states: Arizona, Florida, and Nevada. In those three low-tax refuges, the construction industry swelled to build houses for the new residents. And the construction workers themselves needed houses, providing jobs for still more construction workers. All the new people needed new places to shop, as well as new doctors, dentists, and restaurants. The local financial industry also grew and grew, filling office parks with the folks who did the back-office work for all the mortgages that New York bankers were eagerly approving. The result: double-digit population growth.

But during the boom times, elected officials in Arizona, Florida, and Nevada took a page out of the old states’ playbook, driving up spending at an unsustainable pace. Now that the growth of the low-tax states has hit a wall, shattering revenues, they face a tough choice: they can raise taxes to fund permanently higher costs, or they can aggressively cut spending. So far, it’s proving surprisingly easy for them to choose Option One, taking a small step toward transforming themselves into the high-tax states that so many of their own residents have fled.



Can California Be Sold On Ebay's Former Leader?

California's campaigns introduce candidates not only to the state's voters but to its immensity. In Bakersfield, Meg Whitman, 52, the former CEO of eBay who is campaigning for the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nomination, learned about carrots.

In 1968, the Grimm brothers were selling vegetables at a roadside stand in Anaheim. They moved to Bakersfield and today Grimmway Farms and one rival provide 80 percent of the nation's carrots, partly because the brothers figured out how to make the vegetables pleasingly uniform in shape.

Who knew? Whitman didn't, and the story, which she tells enthusiastically and at length, delights her because it confirms her conviction that California "was built by intellectual capital," and not just the Hollywood and Silicon Valley sort.

California's cascading crises prefigure America's future unless Washington reverses the growth of government subservient to organized labor. The state cannot pay its bills, poorly educates its young, and its taxation punishes whatever success that its suffocating regulatory regime does not prevent.

Whitman, a Roman candle of facts and ideas, insists, "We do not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem of epic proportions." Twenty-five percent of California's revenues come from income taxes paid by the 144,000 richest taxpayers, so "if one of them leaves, it's a really bad thing." Lots have left. Some never really arrive. Pierre Omidyar, after founding eBay in San Jose, resided in Nevada, which has no income tax.

Whitman says 50 percent of California's spending on education, grades K through 12, goes into overhead, not classrooms, compared to 20 percent in, for example, Connecticut. The public education lobby likes it that way, but because California elementary school students rank 46th among the states in math, 48th in reading, 49th in science, it is, Whitman says tersely, hard for defenders of the status quo to "hide behind the results."




Zero money down, not subprime loans, led to the mortgage meltdown: "What is really behind the mushrooming rate of mortgage foreclosures since 2007? The evidence from a huge national database containing millions of individual loans strongly suggests that the single most important factor is whether the homeowner has negative equity in a house -- that is, the balance of the mortgage is greater than the value of the house. This means that most government policies being discussed to remedy woes in the housing market are misdirected. Many policy makers and ordinary people blame the rise of foreclosures squarely on subprime mortgage lenders who presumably misled borrowers into taking out complex loans at low initial interest rates. Those hapless individuals were then supposedly unable to make the higher monthly payments when their mortgage rates reset upwards. But the focus on subprimes ignores the widely available industry facts (reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association) that 51% of all foreclosed homes had prime loans, not subprime, and that the foreclosure rate for prime loans grew by 488% compared to a growth rate of 200% for subprime foreclosures."

Feds OK seizure of extremist assets: “The Obama administration on Thursday authorized the seizure of assets belonging to an extremist organization in Iraq and an Iranian backer of insurgents, saying both are responsible for deadly attacks in Iraq. The Treasury Department is targeting Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and the Iraq-based group Kata’ib Hizballah for committing, directing or supporting acts of violence in Iraq against U.S. and Iraqi forces.”

FL: Supreme Court says Crist can’t reject judge nominees: “The Florida Supreme Court says Gov. Charlie Crist can’t reject an all-white list of appeals court nominees, even though he wants to appoint someone who will make the judiciary more diverse. The justices unanimously ruled Thursday that the Florida Constitution leaves Crist no choice but to pick one of the six white candidates submitted by a judicial nominating commission.”

How to encourage software piracy: "Adobe Systems is facing massive customer service delays worldwide, with some phone calls taking 40 minutes to answer. The company apologised for the inconvenience but said it would take at least a month to fully rectify the situation. One local customer told The Australian he faced registration difficulties last week after purchasing the Adobe Student package at $529. Like all vendors, Adobe requires student status to be validated. The company takes three days to process student software registrations as it is a manual exercise. After the wait time, the customer still hadn't received a registration key. He was finally told that other people had been waiting for over a week for theirs. When contacted, Adobe admitted its customer care division for consumer clients had been hurt by a change in vendors. Unfortunately there's been an extended wait time for student registrations and phone calls," Mr Frazer said. Adobe exceeded the three-day target for student registrations but customers trying to contact the company via telephone fared far worse. Mr Frazer said some calls took more than half an hour to answer while other callers hit a brick wall. "We had some customers waiting for about 40 minutes and some calls couldn't get through," the Singapore-based executive said." [People who have honestly paid a lot of money for something they could have got from a pirate source should not be subjected to this]

Another charming Muslim: "Music star Cheb Mami has been sentenced to five years in jail for trying to make a former lover undergo a forced abortion, despite pleading for forgiveness at his trial near Paris. Wearing a white shirt, the star, whose real name is Mohamed Khelifati, showed no emotion as the verdict was read out, before being escorted from the courtroom in Bobigny, outside Paris, and remanded in custody. The victim, a 43-year-old photographer whose name was withheld, was sequestered and drugged in Mami's villa in Algiers in the summer of 2005 after revealing she was pregnant with his child. Two women and a man then tried to carry out an abortion on her. Returning to France, the woman learned her pregnancy had not been terminated and went on to have the child - a girl - now three years old. "They insulted me. They threw me on the mattress and tore off my pants....I was given three shots with needles, one woman pressed against my stomach and the other put her hand in my vagina and started scraping," she told the court. The victim was not present to hear the verdict but her lawyer, Marie Dose, said her client was "relieved to see that the court understood the violence she was subjected to," and hoped her young daughter "can forgive her father". During his testimony, Mami broke down in tears and pleaded for the woman's forgiveness, admitting he made a "serious mistake" but saying he did not love her and felt "trapped" when she told him she was pregnant. "I was ashamed to have an illegitimate child. A child should be born from a union. I didn't want this child," said the singer."

Consumers likely to find increased bank costs: "An array of government-created insurance agencies — which have long charged bargain-rate premiums to banks, credit unions, and brokerages — are seeking to make up for massive shortfalls in their insurance funds by raising fees and premiums, many of which are likely to be passed on to consumers. The billions of dollars in new fees are the result of decisions by Congress and the agencies to allow the insurance funds and premiums to be capped at levels that proved far too low, according to Jeffrey R. Brown, a finance professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who has studied the issue. ‘This is what happens when you put the government in charge of an insurance program,’ Brown said. ‘Politically, they don’t run them the way the need to be run.’”

Life, liberty, and property are inseparable: “Life, liberty, and property were the central, inalienable rights that formed the foundation of the great experiment in self government called the United States of America. The founders of our country never broke apart this sacred triumvirate, because each one of these rights is inextricably bound to the other. No one of these three can exist without the other. Moreover, when all three are secured, it is almost impossible for injustice to exist. Wherever one does find injustice, one invariably finds a violation of one of these three basic rights at its root.”

Wal-Mart tired of abuse so joins the corrupt system: “The Wall Street Journal explains Wal-Mart’s motivation in benign-sounding terms: ‘Wal-Mart — which provides insurance to employees’ — ‘wants to level the playing field with companies that don’t.’ This is a sugary way of saying that Wal-Mart wishes to use the aggressive controls of the state to force firms smaller than it to provide what they may or may not have the resources to provide. Those firms that are unable to continue operating under the state’s new regulations will, of course, be forced to go out of business (unless they’re able to procure bailouts — this is also problematic), thus leaving less firms with whom Wal-Mart will need to compete. This is bad not only for workers but also for consumers. We shouldn’t really be surprised by Wal-Mart’s recent move. As Mr. Lew Rockwell reported in 2005, Wal-Mart called for an increase to the minimum wage so as to impose a higher cost on smaller competitors.”

Why I’m lucky to be an American: "“It is true that genuine scarcity can exist in some regions afflicted by drought or other natural disaster. Scarcity can affect individuals through random crime, disease, or accident. For the most part, however, scarcity is created by governments. That is true of the United States government. Government policy created and prolonged the Great Depression. It caused stagflation in the 1970’s. It is behind the current depression. Nevertheless, I feel fortunate to be an American. For it is the American experience which proves that scarcity need not exist.”


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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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