January 20, 2006

My Pet Jawa Helps Nab an “Alleged” Domestic Terrorist

Filed under: News from Other Sites — Tom @ 6:25 pm

Awesome.

Go there.

UPDATE: More here about the case.

WSJ Op-Ed: The UK Joins the “Club of Losers”

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:01 pm

All of his marvelous support of and commitment to the War on Terror has served to conceal the another unfortunately “excellent” job British Prime Minister Tony Blair has done — undoing the Margaret Thatcher’s legacy of low taxes and economic growth, and taking his country’s economy into the Land of Mediocrity.

Alex Story, a London-based reporter for Dow Jones Newswires, sadly reports in today’s Wall Street Journal (subscription required) that Great Britain has now joined “The Club of (Economic) Losers”:

Britain’s road to economic ruin under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown is nearly complete. Next year the U.K. government will spend more as a percentage of GDP than its German counterpart for the first time in a generation — 45.7%, according to OECD estimates. That’s up from 37.5% in 2000 and surpasses Germany’s figure of 45%, which has been falling. Next in Labour’s sights is France. Paris spends around 53% of GDP but — contrary to London — is talking about cutting back in the coming years.

It is no coincidence that growth numbers for the British economy are starting to feel very Continental. While final GDP growth figures for 2005 have not been published yet, the OECD’s latest projection for Britain was 1.7% — slightly ahead of Germany’s rate of 1.5% and a fraction behind France’s 1.9%.

If these predictions prove correct, Britain has joined the club of the losers. By 2007, the U.K. should nearly be at the top of the Old Europe dung hill, just behind stagnant Italy in terms of growth.

….. What’s more ….. the tax burden per household has increased from around £13,000 a year in 1996-97 to nearly £18,000 by 2005-06. This is largely due to “fiscal drag,” in which workers are pulled into higher brackets because the thresholds aren’t increased in line with earnings. Local taxes have risen on average by 70% since 1997, and national insurance and stamp duty rose, too.

Both the current leader and the last prime minister of what was Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative party don’t get it either, as Mr. Story elaborates:

However, with both main political parties seemingly agreeing on the flawed concepts of social justice and redistribution, and committed to ever more state interference, Britons can expect their country to decline slowly but inevitably, yet again, into an international has-been.

Why this should be so, however, has at its root two closely interlinked points. First is the political hubris and complacency of those economic liberals who mistakenly believed that the argument against socialism was won for good when the Berlin wall fell. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a clear-cut intellectual victory. These types of battles can only be won if they are constantly fought.

This leads to the second point, which is the disappearance in Britain of a home for those people who thought themselves vindicated by the demise of corporatism, state planning and governmental encroachment in business or private lives. The current political atrophy and the acceptance of a center-left consensus by Britain’s Conservative Party heralds a definitive rejection of the country’s more economically liberal and successful past — and a resumption of the country’s postwar decline.

Mr. Blair has been very successful in promoting the idea of a “third way” between liberalism and socialism. Many in the media are still mesmerized by it. So much so, in fact, that intellectuals and “experts” still speak of the Labour Party’s theft of the Tories’ free-market clothes as if it were a serious proposition, despite the massive expansion of the state. Government spending jumped from £320 billion per annum in 1997 to £580 billion by 2005, despite benign inflation throughout this period.

In other words, “Third way, schmird way.”

How sad. I for one will get no pleasure out of watching the economy of a key foreign-policy ally stagnate, as it surely will without a policy course change.

Peggy Noonan on the Media Sea Change and Its Implications in Washington

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:40 am

Peggy Noonan brought her A-game to her column on changes in who controls the information flow and what it means as the majority party reexamines itself:

Eleven years ago the Democrats lost control of Congress. Then they lost the presidency. But just as important, maybe more enduringly important, they lost their monopoly on the means of information in America. They lost control of the pipeline. Or rather there are now many pipelines, and many ways to use the information they carry. The other day, Dana Milbank, an important reporter for the Washington Post, the most important newspaper in the capital, wrote a piece deriding Judge Alito. Once such a piece would have been important. Men in the White House would have fretted over its implications. But within hours of filing, Mr. Milbank found his thinking analyzed and dismissed on the Internet; National Review Online called him a “policy bimbo.”

Could Democratic senators today torture Clarence Thomas with tales of Coke cans and porn films? Not likely. Could Ted Kennedy have gotten away with his “Robert Bork’s America” speech unanswered? No.

Shameless self-promotional aside: I made a similar comment about the attempted racial prejudice smear when Drudge first broke it; see the end of this post for most of the original.

Back to Noonan:

….. You know who else experienced, up close and personal, the end of the information monopoly this week? Walter Cronkite. Once, he said America should leave Vietnam and the president of the United States said if we’ve lost him we’ve lost middle America. Now, Walter calls for withdrawal from Iraq and it occasions only one thing: stories about how once such a thing mattered.

….. We are in a time when the very diminution of the importance of network news leaves some old news hands to drop their guard and announce what they are: liberal Democrats. Nothing wrong with that, but they might have told us when they were in power. The very existence of conservative media–of Rush Limbaugh, of Fox, of the Internet sites–has become an excuse by previously “I call ‘em as I see ‘em/I try to be impartial” journalists to advance their biases. Actually, it’s more Fox than anything. The existence of a respected cable network that is nonliberal and non-Democratic (or that is conservative, or Republican, or neoconservative–people on the right have polite disagreements about this) is more and more freeing news outlets, encouraging them actually, as a potential business model, to be more and more what they are. Is this good? Well, it’s clearer. Then again Time magazine this week illustrated a story about Republicans in Congress with a drawing of a merry circus elephant surrounded by the Republican leadership. They were covered, I’m not kidding, in the elephant’s fecal matter. (It’s on page 23. Time will no doubt call it chocolate.)

It seems that Time, with the exception of its Person of the Year selections, has become so irrelevant that almost no one noticed the drawing — sort of like Workers’ World Weekly.

So what does it mean today? Let Ms. Noonan explain:

I think it leaves us knowing that, more than ever, the Republican Party–the party ultimately helped by the end of the old monopoly and the reformation of news media–must be a good party, a decent one, and help our country.

That it regain a sense of its historic mission. That it stop seeming the friend of the wired and return to being the great friend of Main Street, for Main Street still, in its own way, exists. That it return to basic principles on spending, regulation and state authority. That it question a foreign policy that often seems at once dreamy and aggressive, and question, too, an overreaching on immigration policy that seems composed in equal parts of naiveté and cynicism. That its representatives admit that lunching with lobbyists is not the problem; failing to oppose the growth of government–so huge that no one, really no one, knows what is in its budget–is. That they reduce the size and power of government. That they help our country.

Be not afraid. If there is a good, sincere, populist message, it will get out. If it’s pap and pablum, it will be history in hours. Welcome to the New Media World.
______________________________

BIZZYBLOG FLASHBACK:

Posted on Jan. 6, 8:44 PM

The Drudge Scoop on Democrats’ Planned Alito Takedown

Read it for yourself (it’s an exclusive, so he deserves the traffic), and then come back (I can wait).

Okay. This might have worked in the 1970s. Similar slime that at least supposedly related to the nominee’s conduct almost worked in 1991 (Thomas), but it didn’t (because it was a pack of lies, and because New Media, i.e., mostly Rush Limbaugh at the time, was becoming a force to be reckoned with–plus the nominee’s courage).

No way this smear works in 2006.

But, Alito opponents, have fun trying. The fact that it’s out there already means that it may be but a few days before it gets put away, right next to the “Roberts Supports Abortion Clinic Violence” box.

A Silver Anniversary to Remember: Reagan’s First Inauguration and His Supply-Side Legacy

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:58 am

Are we better off than we were 25 years ago?

Do we even need to ask? Well, yes.

Last week, a commenter challenged supply-side economics. My detailed response (“Voodoo Schmoodoo“) should, like many others done by people who know a lot more than I, end the debate. 25 years of experience with the results of supply-side economics (really 40, to be fair to JFK’s tax cut, though the current members of his party refuse to acknowledge what it really in effect was) shows that it works as promised: lower taxes, greater economic growth, greater tax revenues.

OpinionJournal.com’s lead editorial today celebrates this, the second most-enduring legacy of the Reagan Administration (the first being victory in The Cold War), but, more importantly, swats down the ludicrous claim that the 1993 Clinton tax hikes caused the 1990s prosperity (which, to remind everyone, was not as prosperous as any of the three supply-side prosperities — Kennedy, Reagan, and George W. Bush so far):

The Gipper’s critics have written an economic history of the 1990s that they portray as a repudiation of Reaganomics. In this telling–known as Rubinomics–the Clinton tax hikes of 1993 ended the budget deficit, which caused interest rates to fall, which produced the boom of the mid- to late-1990s. In fact, the budget deficit hardly fell at all in the immediate aftermath of the tax hike, and while long-term interest rates fell in 1993, they shot back up again in 1994 almost precisely through Election Day (rising by some 230 basis points from October 1993 to November 1994).

On that day, voters repudiated the Clinton tax hikes and the specter of HillaryCare and gave Republicans control of Capitol Hill to govern on the Reaganite agenda of lowering taxes and shrinking runaway government. Both the stock and bond markets turned upward precisely on Election Day in 1994, beginning a whirlwind six-year rally. By 1998, growth and fiscal restraint delivered a budget surplus for the first time in nearly 30 years. In 1997 President Clinton signed a further reduction in the capital gains tax, which propelled investment and the stock market to even greater heights.

I had forgotten that Mr. Clinton kept the 1990s prosperity going with that capital-gains supply-side boomlet, but it didn’t keep the economy from running out of steam in the fall of 2000 (as across-the-board income tax cuts would have).

Anyway, a toast to The Gipper for charting the course to the remarkable accomplishment in the next excerpt (from earlier in the editorial; bold is mine), and, in the last sentence, a rededication to continuing his legacy of prosperity:

Perhaps the greatest tribute to the success of Reaganomics is that, over the course of the past 276 months, the U.S. economy has been in recession for only 15. That is to say, 94% of the time the U.S. economy has been creating jobs (43 million in all) and wealth ($30 trillion). More wealth has been created in the U.S. in the last quarter-century than in the previous 200 years. The policy lessons of this supply-side prosperity need to be constantly relearned, lest we return to the errors that produced the 1970s.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ Links (012006)

Free links:

  • Mortgage rates dropped a tiny bit for the sixth week in a row. They’re only about half a percent above where they were a year ago.
  • Google and Yahoo! were asked for data on search requests by the Department of Justice, which considers the info “as vital in its effort to restore online child protection laws that have been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.” I oppose DOJ’s effort, but given Google’s and Yahoo!’s passivity and active involvement, respectively, with Chinese police-state efforts, it’s hard to work up a lot of sympathy for the companies. Update: BoingBoing notes that MSN and AOL also complied with DOJ’s request. Update 2: S.O.B. Alliance member Weapons of Mass Discussion points out that the law DOJ is attempting to enforce dates back to the Clinton Administration, and theorizes that this may explain the low media attention to the story.
  • Wisconsin Out of Whack — Governor Doyle and the state courts are letting trial lawyers run wild.
  • Chicago Sun-Times to cut 10% of staff (300 people) — maybe some of the departed wish that Rupert Murdoch hadn’t sold the paper in 1994.
  • Weekly Jobs Claims Fall “Unexpectedly” — There’s that word again; 271,000 new claims is the lowest total since April 2000.
  • Disney wants to buy Pixar — The most interesting aspect of this is that Apple’s Steve Jobs would become Disney’s largest shareholder. Imagine Jobs wearing the Mouse ears.
  • Skip to last paragraph at this link“EPS (earnings per share) at S&P companies are projected to have risen in the fourth quarter by 13.5 percent, according to Reuters Estimates. The biggest gains are expected in the energy sector, where earnings forecasts are up 58 percent from a year ago.” Those are nice year-over-year jumps.
  • Don’t miss this — Daniel Henninger’s take on Oprah and Frey’s Lies

Require subscription:

  • According to The Wall Street Journal, Enron defendants Skilling and Lay will claim everything they did was legal — If this works, forget about ever doing anything meaningful about Sarbanes Oxley.
  • The WSJ also has a piece on how TV news “stars” like Ted Koppel and a number of network beat reporters have gone over to NPR — I consider it a tacit admission that “we’ve been libs all along and we’re just now telling you.”

Positivity: Two Young Boys Save a Retiree From a Burning House (UK)

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:04 am

An elderly woman was saved because of what these two boys learned, and used, from a class in school (Jan. 11):

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