Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fools Rush in Where Europe Rushes Out

Jonah Goldberg

As of this writing, France is paralyzed. By the time you read this, it might be in flames. In Britain, where politics is more polite but the problems are perhaps just as dire, the government is proposing budget cuts on a scale not seen for nearly a century. In Greece, well, the less said about Greece the better.

All of these countries -- and many more -- are going through painful retrenchments because they spent too much money, made too many promises and expected too little from their own citizens. The era of European austerity is upon us, because the Europeans -- or at least those in charge -- understand the mess they've made of their economies.

This should present a real problem for Barack Obama and the vast (though shrinking) chorus of experts, editorialists and activists who support his agenda. In broad terms, all of the policies Obama and the Democrats have pushed are the sorts of policies the British, the French and other Europeans had for years, even decades.

As far as I am aware, no one has asked President Obama a simple question: If your philosophy is so great, how come the countries that have embraced it for generations are so much poorer than us?

Nor have they asked: If guaranteed health care for everyone will make us so much more "competitive," how come we've been doing so much better than our "competitors" who already have socialized medicine, high tax rates and lavish pensions?

Nor has the president been queried about the incongruity of saying his policies have laid a "new foundation" for economic growth and job creation when the countries he's trying to emulate are trying to dismantle the very same foundations in order to survive.

If you want evidence for all this, you don't need to look to Europe. You need only look to America. We've had the weakest recovery from a recession in memory. In Gerald Ford's first year as president, the country rebounded at a rate of 6.2 percent. Under Reagan it was 7.7 percent. Even Clinton's recovery rate was over 4 percent from 1993 to 1994 (and grew from there). Obama's recovery has not only been anemic and sputtering at around 3 percent, it hasn't made a dent in the unemployment rate because employers have no confidence that we'll have reliable growth or that Obama isn't waiting to bring the hammer down with more Euro-style policies and taxes.

Obama supporters will respond that he has, in fact, "created" jobs, but just not enough to climb out of the massive hole created by the financial crisis and former President Bush's evil policies. The White House insists that it's not remotely responsible for the 3.2 millions jobs (2.9 million in the private sector) that have disappeared on Obama's watch, but is completely responsible for every single new job that has been created or "saved" since then.

But consider this about the relatively few new net jobs the economy has created under Obama. As my National Review colleague Rich Lowry recently noted, half of all the new net jobs created in the United States (from August 2009 to August 2010) were created in Texas. According to White House logic, Obama must simply love Texas, since he's the one creating all of those jobs. You have to wonder what he has against New York or California -- you know, the states that actually share Obama's economic vision and are descending into an economic abyss as we speak. Why reward low-tax, pro-growth Texas with all of these jobs?



Democrats call Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell and others stupid

As usual, it shows that abuse and arrogance is all that they've got

The 2010 election has devolved in its closing days into a battle – familiar in American history and high school alike – over who’s stupid, and who’s a snob.

Palin “has made ignorance fashionable,” the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd wrote Wednesday, comparing the Alaska Governor’s intellect – unfavorably – to Marilyn Monroe’s.

Rachel Maddow occupied her MSNBC show Tuesday night mocking a series of Republican figures, laughing through a clip of O’Donnell’s attempt to explain that the phrase “separation of church and state” doesn’t appear in the Constitution, a point that drew nothing but ridicule on the left and in the British press. “The crowd is laughing at you,” she said as O’Donnell appeared on-screen.

Republicans say this strategy will work about as well this year as it did when used against Ronald Reagan.

But the Democrats are just getting started. Their laughter will be noisiest in a rally on the Mall on the eve of the midterm election, led by two comedians who have reveled in mocking the resurgent conservative grassroots. Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart have tapped into the Democratic Party’s ironic, scornful mood.

In doing so, they’ve also brought to light some of the party’s most self-destructive tendencies, the elitism and condescension that Bill Clinton sought to purge in the 1990s, when he matched a progressive agenda with the persona of a likeable “Bubba” to win two terms. Not many Democrats could pull it off. Charges of elitism dogged John Kerry in 2004 and resurfaced against Barack Obama at his lowest points in Pennsylvania in the spring of 2008, when he was recorded saying that small town people “cling” to their faith and their guns.

And President Obama himself has given his blessing to the election-eve irony-fest on the Mall, planning to appear on Stewart’s show in advance of the rally and plugging it in a recent appearance in Ohio, suggesting that Stewart’s point was to rally a silent, “sane” majority.

“There is a tendency now in the Democratic Party not only to disagree with, but to belittle political opponents,” said former Clinton pollster Doug Schoen, who accused Obama of “blaming the voters.” He called the posture “counterproductive,” and indeed, the Democrats have provoked the almost automatic backlash.

“These are some of the most arrogant words ever uttered by an American president,” former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson wrote of a recent Obama comment about how voters were responding to Republicans out of fear. Gerson interpreted it as saying that Republicans had lapsed into reliance on their “lizard brains” while Democrats used their higher faculties.



The New Republican Right

By Dick Morris

A fundamental change is gripping the Republican grass roots as they animate the GOP surge to a major victory in the 2010 elections. No longer do evangelical or social issues dominate the Republican ground troops. Now economic and fiscal issues prevail. The Tea Party has made the Republican Party safe for libertarians.

There is still a litmus test for admission to the Republican Party. But no longer is it dominated by abortion, guns and gays. Now, keeping the economy free of government regulation, reducing taxation and curbing spending are the chemicals that turn the paper pink.

It is one of the fundamental planks in the Tea Party platform that the movement does not concern itself with social issues. At the Tea Parties, evangelical pro-lifers rub shoulders happily with gay libertarians. They are united by their anger at Obama's economic policies, fear of his deficits and horror at his looming tax increases. Obama's agenda has effectively removed the blocks that stopped tens of millions of social moderates from joining the GOP.

As a byproduct of this sea change in the Republican Party, GOP grassroots activists are no longer just concentrated in the South. They are spread all throughout the nation, as prominent in Ohio as in Alabama, in New York as in Georgia, in California as in Nevada.

The Tea Party's focus on fiscal and economic issues finds deep resonance among voters of all stripes, united as they are in economic hardship and disappointed as they all are by Obama's economic program. This antipathy to federal policies is paving the way for vast Republican inroads in normally solid Democratic turf like New York state, Massachusetts, California and Washington state.

This preference for economic and fiscal questions over social issues is not a top-down decision of the Tea Party leadership. There really is no Tea Party leadership. Those who conduct its affairs are mere coordinators of local groups where the real power lies. The entire affair is a grass roots-dominated movement.

The determination to focus on fiscal and economic issues, to the exclusion of social questions, wells up from below as individual members vent their concerns over ObamaCare, stimulus spending and cap-and-trade legislation. It is around opposition to Obama's agenda, not Roe v. Wade, that the movement is organized. It is a new day on the Republican right.



Congress has destroyed free check accounts

“Free checking as we know it is ending,” says the lead paragraph of a widely-read and tweeted story this week from the Associated Press. Noting Bank of America’s announced monthly charge of $8.50 for most checking accounts, the article reports that “almost all of the largest U.S. banks are either already making free checking much more difficult to get or expected to do so soon, with fees on even basic banking services.”

And other reports have noted the possible demise of free checking at many regional banks as well. Daniel Indiviglio blogs for The Atlantic that “free checking will soon be something only economic historians talk about.”

But the tide of economic history doesn’t necessarily have to turn this way. As noted in both The Atlantic and AP, the primary reason for free checking going by the wayside is not market forces, but new regulations from Washington.

The main culprits in free checking’s demise are the Federal Reserve’s rules that severely restrict banks from charging overdraft fees when customers make debit card purchases that exceed the balance of their checking accounts and the amendment from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) putting price controls on the interchange fees merchants pay to banks and credit unions to process debit cards. On Tuesday, as noted in the AP story, Bank of America took a $10.4 billion charge against earnings from projected loss of revenue due to the Durbin amendment.

The rules were sold as “protecting” the majority of consumers, but in reality they shifted costs to responsible middle-class consumers from irresponsible consumers who didn’t keep track of their checking accounts. Some of the nation’s biggest retailers also used bank-bashing rhetoric to get their share of corporate welfare at consumers’ expense. As The Atlantic’s Indiviglio writes, “At this point, banks are forbidden from squeezing as many fees out of bad customers and have less freedom to charge merchants. So their only alternative is to demand more money from their good customers.”

I propose that, as one of its first orders of business when it convenes next January, Congress enact “The Free Checking Restoration Act of 2011″ that would remove these cumbersome rules and will almost certainly result in competitive banks and credit unions offering traditional free checking to once again attract customers. The bill would get rid of the Fed’s overdraft rule and the Durbin amendment that puts price controls on merchant interchange fees....

At CEI, our mission is to make good policy good politics, and under current circumstances, promising voters the return of free checking accounts suddenly fits this bill. Since the promise some 80 years ago of ”a chicken in every pot,” political “freebies” have been a mainstay of modern campaigns.

Fiscal conservatives and libertarians usually look askance at these promises since most of the time they involve either spending a sum of money to bring the ”free” good to certain member of the population or mandating that businesses spend to provide this good, and the cost will have to be made up somewhere. But in this instance, Congress would not have to spend or mandate to provide this free good.

Rather, all it would have to do is remove misguided rules that were pushed through thoughtlessly in the Obama administration’s rush to regulate.




The US economy needs to rob people of their savings? (That's what inflation is): "John Maynard Keynes claimed that people will develop an irrational ‘liquidity preference,’ hoarding money while waiting for interest rates to rise. The modern apostle of the liquidity trap is Paul Krugman, who says the only way out is for the government to spend and inflate, which then will dislodge the hoarded cash, as people spend in anticipation of rising prices. One would hope that the supposed ‘great minds’ at the Fed and in academic economics would better understand inflation and its destructiveness, but that is not to be.”

Fannie, Freddie could hook US taxpayers with $363 billion tab: "U.S. taxpayers could be stuck with a tab more than double its current size for subsidized mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a government regulator said Thursday. If housing prices drop through 2013, the bailed-out lenders will need another $215 billion to stay afloat, for a total bill of $363 billion. Some $148 billion has been spent so far to keep them in the black during the worst recession since the Great Depression.”

France: Riot police sent in to break oil blockade: "Teams of riot police carried out dawn raids to free France’s oil depots Wednesday as industry said the strikes against pension reforms were costing businesses up to $160 million per day. Under orders from President Nicolas Sarkozy, riot police in black body armour broke blockades around three depots in western France overnight, as fuel shortages left a third of France’s filling stations without gasoline. … All 12 of France’s oil refineries are still blocked but police have cleared access to 21 oil depots since Friday, and the government has insisted that fuel shortages will end within five days.”

Two US air marshals flee Brazil after being charged with assault: "Two U.S. air marshals who arrested the wife of a Brazilian judge on a flight to Rio de Janeiro — and were themselves arrested and had their passports confiscated by Brazilian authorities — fled the country using alternate travel documents rather than face what they believed to be trumped-up charges, sources said. The incident has impacted air marshal operations on flights to Brazil, officials said, and air marshals contacted by CNN said the case raises questions about Brazil’s willingness to support future law enforcement actions by U.S. officials on international flights.”


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)


1 comment:

Lucas said...

Great stuff, Ray.

Good job.

God bless.