December 19, 2005

Column of the Day: Michael Barone on the Lessons of the Past 25 Years

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:55 pm

Barone looks at the conventional wisdom in December 1980, as Jimmy Carter was near handing over the presidential reins to Ronald Reagan, and how it was turned on its head by the events of the next 25 years.

Then he identifies the lessons, and who has and hasn’t learned them:

First, American military power can advance freedom and democracy to all corners of the world. Under Reagan and his three successors, America has played a lead role in extending freedom and democracy to most of Latin America, to the Philippines, Indonesia and almost all of East Asia, and, most recently, to Afghanistan and Iraq, with reverberations spreading through the Middle East. Area experts said, often plausibly, those countries’ cultures were incompatible with democracy. Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and brave men and women in those nations proved them wrong.

Second, markets work, and lower taxes and less onerous government produce more economic growth than the alternative. About 43 million jobs have been created in the United States since December 1980, while the number in the more statist nations of Western Europe is on the order of 4 million. Markets are creating millions of jobs in nominally Communist China and once-socialist India.

Third, politics and effective government can, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, change the culture. The crime-control methods pioneered by New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the welfare reforms pioneered by Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, imitated around the country and followed up by federal legislation, resulted in huge decreases in crime and welfare dependency.

These lessons have been widely learned and widely applied, by George W. Bush but also to a large extent by Bill Clinton. But not, curiously enough, by those who see themselves as the best and the brightest, our university and media elites. They would still like to see America’s power reined in, as it was in the 1970s.

They are insouciant about the costs that larger and more intrusive government and higher taxes impose on the economy. They think that leniency and subsidy are the appropriate responses to deviant and self-destructive behavior. They think our most important right is a right to kill our unborn children. You have to be awfully smart, someone once said, to believe something so stupid. And to be so blind to the clear lessons of the past quarter century of history.

A Rough Few Days for Civil Rights and Race Relations, with a Whiff of Sanity

Filed under: Economy,General,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:45 pm

If You Can’t Get Your Way, Intimidate

From Thursday’s Political Diary (not available on web; bold are mine):

Mob Rule in Michigan

The Rule of Law took a beating yesterday in Michigan, where an appellate court order to place an initiative banning racial preferences on the 2006 ballot was ignored by a state elections panel.

The state’s Board of Canvassers blinked in the face of 250 howling high school students and failed to do its sworn duty by clearing the measure for a vote. “Partisan politics and mob rule were the order of the day,” was the lead sentence in this morning’s Detroit Free Press description (link added by BizzyBlog) of the circus.

The board’s four commissioners were preparing to vote when protestors from the pro-preferences group, By Any Means Necessary, began yelling: “They say Jim Crow. We say, hell no.” About 50 students began marching on the board, knocking over a table before local Lansing police could stop them. Other protesters began stomping their feet, with one yelling at Paul Mitchell, an African-American commissioner, “Be a black man about this, please!” The board adjourned for two hours only to be faced with more catcalls when they reconvened.

When the vote was finally taken, the two Republican appointees voted to place the measure, known as the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, on the ballot. They noted that backers of the proposal, which would ban the use of racial and gender preferences in university admissions and state hiring, had gathered far more than the 317,757 signatures needed. But Mr. Mitchell voted no, and Doyle O’Connor, the other Democratic appointee, refused to vote. He gave credence to the arguments of the critics in the room by saying that the “Michigan Civil Rights Initiative petition was crafted in a racist fashion with the intent to deceive people.” Three votes were needed for the measure to secure ballot access, so a court may have to hold the board in contempt or order the initiative on the ballot itself.

“This has been a victory of mob rule,” said Chris Thomas, director of elections for the Michigan secretary of state. “Never before have I seen such absolutely incredible and unprofessional behavior from lawyers urging this disruption. They used these children as pawns.”

….. We’ve come a long way since 1964, when the late Hubert Humphrey stood on the Senate floor and told his colleagues that if the civil rights bill contained “any language which provides that an employer will have to hire on the basis of percentage or quota related to color, race, religion, or national origin, I will start eating the pages one after another, because it is not in there.”

Four decades later, supporters of racial preferences imposed by government agencies have lost battles to retain such quotas in liberal states like California and Washington. Now some of them are intimidating Michigan public officials with demands that they tear up the law and block legal efforts to establish the color-blind society that Martin Luther King envisioned…..

It’s time to look at the videotape and make arrests for, at a minimum, disorderly conduct. And it’s a good thing Mr. Humphrey is not alive, because in today’s climate he would eating a lot of pages.

Eagles Quarterback Ripped by NAACP Chapter President

Here’s evidence that the real struggle for black equality is over. J. Whyatt Mondesire, head of the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP has nothing better to do than criticize Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback Donavan McNabb:

Normally this column talks very little about sports because the games that grown men play pale in comparison to the great issues of racism, politics, social calamities, health crisis’s, war and peace, etc. which gives us plenty of fertile territory to explore and pontificate about.
However, this week I felt compelled to offer some personal thoughts about your horrific on-field performances this season because at their core there is a lie you have tried to use to hide the fact that in reality you actually are not that good. In essence Donny, you are mediocre at best. And trying to disguise that fact behind some concocted reasoning that African American quarterbacks who can scramble and who can run the ball are somehow lesser field generals than one who can summon up dead-on passes at a whim is more insulting off the field than on.

Fortunately, sane leadership in the NAACP stepped in:

The chief executive officer of the NAACP criticized the president of its Philadelphia branch Thursday for racially charged comments made about Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.

Bruce Gordon, who heads the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, issued a statement calling McNabb “a great quarterback, an excellent role model and a class act” and said he intended to apologize for denigrating remarks made by Philadelphia chapter president J. Whyatt Mondesire.

Don’t think that other black athletes didn’t get a message here: Be careful what you say. Shut up and play.

Tavern Owner Caught in the Crosshairs of the PC Police

The sign says “For Service, Speak English.” If you missed the excitement a few days ago, go here (“Thought Police 1, Bar Owner 0″) to see the trouble this has caused him. Also, check out this recent update: (“Thought Police 1, Bar Owner 0; Bar Owners Showing Solidarity–1“)

A Whiff of Sanity

Actor Morgan Freeman suggests that Black History Month is a waste (“I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history”), and that we should simply stop describing ourselves as white, black, etc.

I second that emotion.

Positivity Bonus: “I Am”

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:39 pm

Reporter: “General, everybody wants to know, are you a Democrat or Republican?”
Answer: “I am an American.”

– Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, on his return from WWII *

“Another voter was asked, ‘Are you Sunni or Shia?’
He responded, ‘I am Iraqi.’”

– President Bush, in his December 18 address to the nation **

* – This quote comes from the “Ike” TV miniseries in the late 1970s. When I saw the scene, I asked my late father if Eisenhower really said that. He said “yes.” That’s good enough for me, but if anyone has a link or a quote from a book, e-mail me.
** – These sentiments were expressed as early as the January election in Iraq, as shown here (about 75% through article).

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 12:36 pm


Sorry, Hugh, you had a pretty good year, but this, and the attempted explain-away, were disqualifiers. Maybe next year.

(original at Blogs4God)

Previous posts:
- Time’s 2005 “Persons of the Year
- Time’s 2005 “People Who Mattered” Are Framed with Bias-Tinged Pictures and Captions

Update: Thought Police 1, Bar Owner 0; Bar Owners Showing Solidarity–1

Filed under: Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:52 am

The plot thickens (HT NixGuy):

Why this new sign? I’m for free speech
Snookers Billiards co-owners Bill Nolan (left) and Don Buechner are in solidarity with bar owner Tom Ullum.

SPRINGDALE – The hand-lettered sign says “For Service Speak English,” but bar owner Don Buechner said those words aren’t intended for his patrons.

Buechner, co-owner of Snookers on Princeton Pike, said he is sending a message to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, which this week ruled that a Mason bar with a similar sign in its window is practicing discrimination.

“They have overstepped their bounds,” Buechner said Friday, hours after putting up the sign in solidarity with Pleasure Inn owner Tom Ullum. “I just don’t know what’s happened to this country when you don’t have the right to express yourself.”

Ullum faces fines for refusing to take down his sign.

A judge will now get the case.

None of that matters to Buechner.

In fact, on Friday he called the commission in Columbus and informed them about the sign in his window.

The way Buechner sees it, “It’s really not much of a protest if nobody knows about it.”

Well, at least this will give the aptly described (R-Rated content) “$11,456,071-per-year Political Correctness Commission, whose 135+ bureaucRATS seem to have nothing better to do than travel around the state so they can persecute people like bar owners in Mason for having a helpful sign in their window” something else to look stupid about.

UPDATE, 8:45 p.m.: Meant to link this sooner, but Christmas-season commitments got in the way–At Porkopolis, S.O.B. Alliance members Porkopolis, NixGuy and yours truly engage in spirited commentary.

Previous posts:
- Dec. 16 — Thought Police 1, Bar Owner 0
- Oct. 9 — Questions for the Thought Police at the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and The Cincinnati Enquirer

A Week of Wall Streets (121905)

A possibly weekly feature that will note items reported in The Wall Street Journal during the previous week that weren’t significant enough to merit full posts, but still deserved notice elsewhere, and received little (All WSJ Links require subscription unless otherwise indicated):

Dec. 12 — EU-PU: NGOs Should Be No-Gos
Instead, non-governmental organizations get 1 billion euros a year, apparently to undermine the EU and engage in fraud:

Every year, the Commission hands out more than €1 billion to Nongovernmental Organizations — supposedly so that they can apply that “criticism” and “pressure.”
….. ‘Some of the NGOs receiving funds from the Commission describe…one of their main tasks as lobbying the Commission. The Commission is paying lobbies to be lobbied,” anti-fraud Commissioner Siim Kallas marveled earlier this year. Even more disconcerting is that the lobbying goes in one direction only. Instead of funding groups that represent a broad spectrum of political interests, as one might expect, most of the money goes to radical left-wing NGOs that are opposed to free markets and competition — the European Union’s very founding principles. The EU is basically financing the agitprop against its own reform policies.
….. the EU’s own anti-fraud unit, OLAF, is currently investigating more than 50 cases of possible fraud involving EU aid funds. More than half of those cases — 32 to be precise — concern NGOs.”

Dec. 14 — November Retail Sales Impressive
I’ll say“Excluding motor vehicles and gasoline, last month’s retail sales were up 0.5% from October and 7.6% from a year earlier. Economists sometimes strip out autos and gasoline sales because they are highly volatile; auto sales can rise or fall depending on the sales incentives offered by car makers, and gasoline sales are sensitive to crude-oil prices.” One reason I would consider holding the champagne: Last year’s November had 5 official Christmas shopping days in it, while this year’s had 6.

Dec. 14 — Hybrids Don’t Fly, Nor Do Their Economics
Don’t take my word for it, take his: “Kazuo Okamoto, Toyota’s research chief, recently told the Financial Times that, in terms of fuel efficiency, ‘the purchase of a hybrid car is not justified.’”

Dec. 15 — Unions Working to Expand Membership by Appealing to a Unique Group
Union carpenters in Denver, and unions in other cities, are seeking illegal immigrants as members–oh, I’m sorry, “undocumented workers.” Absolute madness.

Dec. 15 — General Motors’ Money for Nothing
GM’s job bank arrangement with the UAW involves an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 “workers” (using the term very loosely), and costs the company about $800 million per year.

Dec. 17 — Backlash by Donors to Already-Rich Colleges?
If so, it’s long overdue:

The wealthiest colleges and universities are so flush with cash that, increasingly, alumni and philanthropy experts are starting to wonder whether these schools really need more money — and why they spend so little of it. Ordinary Americans and the U.S. government are often attacked for spending beyond their means. Critics level the opposite accusation at higher education. They say some of the richest universities are hoarding money that could be spent on enrolling more students or providing more financial aid, in keeping with the public purpose — education — that qualifies them as tax-exempt charities. The criticism comes as tuitions continue to increase at twice the rate of inflation.

And they’re being awfully miserly with their billions:

But despite what are often double-digit investment returns, many wealthy colleges are withdrawing less than 5% — some about 4% — from their endowments, according to data collected by The Wall Street Journal. The U.S. government, worried about hoarding, has for years required foundations to pay out at least 5% of holdings annually. But colleges aren’t included.

The article goes on to note that some of these endowments are huge–Harvard’s was about $26 billion this past summer. I also think the 5% spending guideline is unacceptably low as, unless I’m missing something, it appears to ignore new contributions. These funds would do fine and continue to grow over the long haul even at withdrawal rates of 7% or 8% of the fund balances if new contributions of at least 3%-4% of the fund balances continue to come in annually. The funds would have to earn a readily achievable 7% or so return to retain their purchasing power; anything beyond that and the fund would still continue to grow.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ Links (121905)

Do Not Call Means DO NOT CALL!

After over $10 million in state and federal fines, DirecTV hopefully understands that now:

It’s turning into a bad week for DirecTV. Yesterday the satellite broadcaster agreed to pay $5 million to settle a 22-state investigation of its marketing practices and today, the Federal Trade Commission fined the company $5.35 million for violating the national do-not-call registry.

It’s the agency’s biggest fine to date over telemarketing.

But don’t celebrate too much: Nonprofit groups, politicians, their organizations, and pollsters are all allowed to make calls.

Media Layoffs: The Hits Just Keep on Coming

Advertising Age (requires free registration) notes that MTV, Business Week (known as Biz Weak around here), and Time (also noted at the end of this post) have announced major layoffs. I suspect they are nowhere near done.

Consumer Price Index in Major Drop

In case you missed it, the CPI dropped by the largest percentage in 56 years, as gas prices came back down to earth:

The sharp drop in the overall Consumer Price Index was a result of the largest one-month drop in gasoline prices on record, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. They fell to an average of $2.38 a gallon in November from $2.83 in October, and now appear to have leveled off.

….. The decline of six-tenths of a percent in the overall index last month was the largest since July 1949, when Harry S. Truman was president.

“Environmentalist” Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Tilts at Wind Power

He also fails to disclose a teeny tiny conflict of interest. The Captain has the details.

Positivity: Ornamental Success

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:10 am

This is a Christmas story, a business story, and a success story, that started out after an accident: