Wednesday, August 03, 2011

An amusing email from a reader

But I understand how he feels:
I read your blog daily. Lately I have found it leaving me feeling depressed and powerless in an asylum run by the inmates.

But now I have found the cure. After reading Greenie Watch, Education Watch, Immigration Watch et al, I finish of with Gun Watch - really the best antidote and sets me up for the rest of the day!!!

Back in the 70's when the world was young, I was a subscriber to "Human Events". I eventually found it so depressing, however, that I cancelled my subscription!

So I hope this blog is not falling into the same hole. I therefore begin today's postings with what I think are two more cheerful articles:


The real story of the US debt deal is not the triumph of the Tea Party but the death of the Socialist Left

Comment from Britain

For British conservatives, the US debt deal is a thing of beauty. Under the terms of the deal, the federal government will cut spending by $2.4 trillion over the next 10 years and there won’t be any corresponding increase in taxation. That is to say, the American Government has agreed to tackle its deficit by spending cuts alone. The British Government, by contrast, is planning to cut its deficit through a combination of spending cuts and tax rises – and it’s cutting it by a smaller amount.

Even if the Tory Party had won an overall majority at the last election, it’s hard to imagine it adopting such a bold fiscal policy. Yet the American Government is on the verge of adopting this plan in spite of the fact that the Democrats control the Senate and the White House. A year ago, American conservatives were showering David Cameron with praise for adopting such a radical approach to reducing Britain’s deficit and contrasting him unfavourably with their own spendthrift President. Now, our Prime Minister looks like a weak-kneed liberal in contrast to the hard-headed Obama. Whatever happened to the stimulus?

Most pundits are crediting this U-turn to the political muscle of the Tea Party and it’s true that President Obama would never have agreed to this deal if the Tea Party Republicans in the House of Representatives hadn’t engaged in the brinkmanship of the past few weeks. But to focus on the Tea Party is to ignore the tectonic political shift that’s taken place, not just in America but across Europe. The majority of citizens in nearly all the world’s most developed countries simply aren’t prepared to tolerate the degree of borrowing required to sustain generous welfare programmes any longer.

As I pointed out in a blog post last May, tax-and-spend Left-wing parties have fared poorly in election after election over the past two years: "Labour was punished by the British electorate last year, polling its lowest share of the vote since 1983, but not as severely as the Social Democrats were by the Swedes, polling their lowest share of the vote since universal suffrage was introduced in 1921…"

The same picture emerges wherever you look. In the European election in June, 2009, the Left took a hammering. In Germany, the Social Democrats polled just 20 per cent of the vote, their worst result since the Second World War. In France, the Socialist Party only mustered 16.5 per cent, its lowest share of the vote in a European election since 1994. In Italy, the Democrats polled 26.1 per cent, seven percentage points less than they received at the last Italian election. As David Miliband pointed out in a recent lecture: “Left parties are losing elections more comprehensively than ever before. They are fragmenting at just the time the Right is uniting. I don’t believe this is some kind of accident.”

For believers in redistributive taxation and egalitarian social programmes like David Miliband, Obama was the last great hope. Here was a centre left politician capable of building the kind of electoral coalition that underpinned the massive expansions of state power in Britain and America, from Attlee’s post-war Labour Government to Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. That is, a coalition of the white working class, minorities and middle class liberals. Yet in spite of sweeping to power in 2008 and ensuring the Democrats won in both the House and the Senate, Obama has proved unable to sustain that coalition. Last night’s debt deal represents the moment when he acknowledged that trying to maintain the levels of public spending required to fund ambitious welfare programmes is political suicide. Which is why the deal has been greated with cries of impotent rage by the British Left.

In both Britain and America, the Left has been reduced to hoping that cutting public spending on this scale will snuff out economic growth and plunge our respective economies back into recession. Not only will the Coalition be turfed out as a consequence, but if Obama can somehow blame the Tea Party for the “double dip” he might be able to persuade the people to grant him four more years. What the Left hasn’t grasped – and what Obama has – is that for the foreseeable future no political candidate or party will be able to increase public spending and win re-election. Socialist welfare programmes have become politically toxic. A sea change has taken place within the West’s most developed countries and last night’s debt deal is a reflection of that.



The complex and frustrating U.S. system of government is its greatest strength

Comment from Australia

THE world is badly misinterpreting the US debt crisis - it is not a sign of the weakness of US politics, but its strength. This crisis, more than anything, demonstrates why America is not Europe.

European governments have found nothing easier than raising their national debt limits, until their debt gets more, or less, beyond their ability to service it.

If the US was Europe, raising the debt ceiling, rather than threatening government spending, especially entitlement programs, would be as easy as apple pie. It is true that the US is still in a deep fiscal hole. It is also true that this deal has its good and bad points, and is only one episode in a huge, panoramic drama.

And taking the game right down to the last day or two certainly showed a willingness by all sides to flirt with disaster.

But here's one crucial lesson about government debt. It's far better to have a political crisis about getting into it before you have an economic crisis about how you pay it.

This negotiation has been an astonishing victory for congressional Republicans.

They have won the intellectual and political argument. President Barack Obama, the biggest-spending president in a generation of US politics, has abandoned plans for new taxes, effectively abandoned plans for any significant new government programs and accepted - in principle and in practice - that there must be deep, structural cuts to US government spending.

Of course, it will be difficult for Republicans to enforce this and to keep their pledges to avoid new spending or merely leaving existing programs on a business-as-usual basis of endless expansion.

But Republicans have moved debt and the need to reduce spending to the centre of American life, made it a bipartisan consensus and conscripted the President to their cause.

There is plenty to criticise in the Tea Party and it certainly attracts its share of nuts and cranks. But only in the US could a recession produce a popular movement demanding government cut spending. Thus, the Tea Party has played its part in this debate and that has been a constructive part.

Of course, they are always in danger of overplaying their hand.

Most fanaticism begins with a good idea. The problem with the fanatic is the tendency to take the good idea to illogical conclusions, and to see it as the only good idea, and thereby lose the sense of balance which all good social politics requires. But the US political system is not just the Tea Party.

There is a foolish tendency among non-US commentators, and too many Americans as well, to regard the US system, because of its many checks and balances, as incoherent and dysfunctional.

But this episode is one where the US demonstrates the at least occasional superiority of its governing model to that of a parliamentary system.

A Westminster government that enjoyed majority support for the executive in parliament would have just raised its debt level, and kept doing so until it reached the logical end point of Greece: insolvency. That, unfortunately, seems to be the policy instinct of the Obama administration.

But the US system, with its two-yearly congressional cycle, forced debt reduction and the danger of the ballooning deficit to the centre of the debate.

It is perfectly reasonable to blame George W. Bush for a great deal of the public debt, though Obama is an epic government spender.

I would disagree with the Tea Partiers in advocating some action on the revenue side (that is, the abolition of some tax breaks) and some cuts in defence expenditure. Hopefully, eventually, US growth will ease the situation. And there are 1000 other factors. But when all is said and done, the key to the government debt problem is government expenditure.

That US politics is focused on that issue as the centre of the crisis is a sign of political health.



The budget deal doesn’t cut federal spending at all

Republicans and Democrats have come together on a “historic” budget deal that cuts federal spending by more than $2 trillion over 10 years. The Washington Post’s lead story calls the cuts “sharp” and “severe.” However, the budget deal doesn’t cut federal spending at all.

House Speaker John Boehner’s bullet points on the deal say that it cuts discretionary spending by $917 billion over 10 years, as “certified by CBO.” These discretionary “cuts” appear to be the same as those in Boehner’s plan from last week. The chart shows CBO’s scoring of those spending cuts (see here and here).

Wait a minute, those bars are rising! Spending isn’t being cut at all. The “cuts” in the deal are only cuts from the CBO “baseline,” which is a Washington construct of ever-rising spending. And even these “cuts” from the baseline include $156 billion of interest savings, which are imaginary because the underlying cuts are imaginary.

No program or agency terminations are identified in the deal. None of the vast armada of federal subsidies are targeted for elimination. Old folks will continue to gorge themselves on inflated benefits paid for by young families and future generations. None of Senator Tom Coburn’s or Senator Rand Paul’s specific cuts were included.

The federal government will still run a deficit of $1 trillion next year. This deal will “cut” the 2012 budget of $3.6 trillion by just $22 billion, or less than 1 percent.

The legislation does create a “Joint Committee” to design a second round of at least $1.2 trillion in spending cuts by November. Presumably, interest savings will be included in those “cuts” as well, reducing the amount of actual program cuts needed to about $1 trillion.

Will these Joint Committee cuts be real? This deal’s immediate cuts aren’t real, nor were many of the cuts in the 2011 budget deal earlier this year. It won’t be hard by the Joint Committee to manufacture $1 trillion in pretend savings in coming months.



Obama Is Fresh Out of Ideas

One of the most striking facts about the course of the Obama presidency so far is that Obama has no constructive solutions for anything, which is one reason he campaigned on vague promises. It's why he established bogus metrics, such as "saved or created jobs."

It's also why he's always pointing the finger of blame on others for his policy failures. Everyone knows by now that Obama's reckless and corrupt stimulus package failed to restrain unemployment as he had promised and that instead of accepting responsibility for it, he blamed Bush.

He also played another familiar liberal card: He insisted his stimulus bill would have worked if he had been allowed to spend more money. So he started pushing for a second stimulus, all while increasing the government's regulatory stranglehold on business and cramming Obamacare down our throats.

All of which is to say -- with added emphasis -- that Obama is fresh out of ideas. Worse, he's the immovable force standing in the way of those who do have constructive proposals.

He didn't even submit a plan during the debt ceiling negotiations, and his party's Senate majority hasn't presented a budget for more than 800 days. We have a spending and entitlement problem, but Obama's ideology precludes him from addressing either. It drives him, instead, to insist on increasing taxes on the rich. But raising rates would further smother the economy and not significantly increase revenues.

The GOP is far from perfect, but it has presented serious proposals to address the debt crisis, which include capping discretionary spending, restructuring entitlements, passing a balanced budget amendment and reforming the tax code. These plans could work, but the Democrats have steadfastly and shamelessly opposed them and ridiculed their proponents, such as Rep. Paul Ryan.



Obama admits to Fascist thinking

And his supporters like the idea

Last week, when President Barack Obama spoke to the National Council of La Raza, he said something that should alarm every American. He confessed that he'd like to "bypass Congress and change the laws" on his own. He added, "Believe me; the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. I promise you."
He doesn't need to promise us. We believe him, because we've been watching his rogue behavior since the moment he entered office.

Way back in February 2010, even The New York Times unveiled his modus operandi, in its report "Obama Making Plans to Use Executive Power." It summarized, "With much of his legislative agenda stalled in Congress, President Obama and his team are preparing an array of actions using his executive power to advance energy, environmental, fiscal and other domestic policy priorities."

As The New York Times reported at the beginning of last year, Obama's exploits to bypass Congress are intended to "advance energy, environmental, fiscal and other domestic policy priorities." We now can add America's border problems to those, as Obama also elaborated last week that the temptation to bypass Congress includes "not just immigration reform." No wonder the crowd began to chant "Yes, we can!" (Tragically, it seems that too many citizens want a Fuehrer more than they do a president.)



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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)


No comments: