January 13, 2008

Krugman Komedy: Europe as ‘the Comeback Continent’

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:58 pm

Paul Krugman clearly isn’t lacking in chutzpah.

His January 11, 2008 New York Times column (“The Comeback Continent“; HT Tom Maguire via Instapundit) is yet another in a seemingly endless series of attempts by economic statists to convince people in the US that we need to be more like Europe — specifically Western Europe — and less like the growth-driven, market-based capitalists that we still largely are.

Here is part of what Krugman wrote in a remarkably fact-free column:

…. tales of a moribund Europe are greatly exaggerated.

….. I don’t want to exaggerate the good news. Europe continues to have many economic problems. But who doesn’t? The fact is that Europe’s economy looks a lot better now — both in absolute terms and compared with our economy — than it did a decade ago.

….. What European countries definitely haven’t done is dismantle their strong social safety nets. Universal health care is a given. So are a variety of programs that support families in trouble, helping protect Europeans from the extreme poverty all too common in this country. All of this costs money — even though European countries spend far less on health care than we do — and European taxes are very high by U.S. standards.

Well, Krugman is partially right. Parts of Europe are doing better. The only trouble is that the parts doing better are the ones not embracing the high-tax, high-spending model Krugman so adores.

Here, from this Wikipedia entry, are the real growth rates in Gross Domestic Product in 2006 for the US and various EU countries:

Latvia – 11.9%
Estonia – 11.4%
Slovakia – 8.3%
Lithuania – 7.2%
Czech Republic – 6.2%
Poland – 6.1%
Luxembourg – 5.7%
Bulgaria – 5.5%
Ireland – 5.2%
Finland – 4.9%
Hungary – 3.8%
Greece – 3.6%
Spain – 3.6%
USA – 3.3%
Austria – 3.2%
Norway – 3.0%
Denmark – 3.0%
Netherlands – 2.9%
Switzerland – 2.9%
EU as a whole – 2.9%
UK – 2.7%
Belgium – 2.5%
France – 2.3%
Germany – 2.2%
Italy – 1.6%
Portugal – 1.2%

It doesn’t take a lot of examination to note that:

  • Overall EU growth still trails the US, and most likely will do so again this year. The first three quarters of US annualized GDP growth came in at 0.6%, 3.8%, and 4.9%.
  • The countries Krugman would prefer that we imitate — France, Germany, the UK, and Italy — still trailed the US in GDP growth in 2006. Germany’s performance, while still mediocre, has improved since a less-leftist government headed by Angela Merkel took power in November 2005. One would hope that the center-right government of Nicholas Sarkozy in France that won election in May 2006 can improve that country’s situation.
  • Newer EU members countries, including many that are adhering more closely to a low tax, flat tax, and/or less regulatory model are the ones bringing up the EU’s overall GDP growth to near 3%. These would include countries that Krugman would prefer to ignore, particulary Ireland and the Baltic states, which have used frequent supply-side tax cuts to boost their economies.

So let’s see — The US is still outperforming the EU; the two big underperformers of Western Europe are moving, if in halting steps, away from the cradle-to-grave nanny state of their predecessors; and the EU’s growth stars are for the most part the countries that have embraced free-market economics.

Other than that, Krugman has a point. (/sarcasm)

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

AP Writer Omits Fake Documents, Panel Finding from Rather Lawsuit Story

Dan Rather’s lawsuit against CBS may go forward.

By omitting key facts of the original “Rathergate” story from his report Thursday, Associated Press Writer Samuel Maull managed to give the former CBS news anchor’s contentions an appearance of credibility.

Here is how Maull’s report began (HT Little Green Footballs; more permanent link to same story used here):

A judge said Wednesday that he was leaning toward allowing Dan Rather’s $70 million lawsuit over his being fired by CBS to proceed.

“I concluded there was enough in the complaint (by Rather) to continue with discovery (pretrial research),” state Judicial Hearing Officer Ira Gammerman said at a hearing on CBS’ motion to dismiss the case.

The judge did not issue a final ruling on CBS’ motion, but he suggested the parties try to agree on the scope of pretrial discovery — just in case — and told them to return to court Jan. 23 for a conference.

Rather, whose last months at CBS were clouded by a disputed story on President Bush’s Vietnam-era military service, says his employers made him a “scapegoat” to placate the White House after questions arose about the story.

The lawsuit names CBS Corp., former CBS parent Viacom Inc., CBS President Leslie Moonves, Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone and former CBS News President Andrew Heyward. It seeks $20 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages.

Rather, 75, said after attending the hearing in Manhattan’s state Supreme Court that he was pleased by the judge’s statements.

“Allowing the case to go forward with discovery will put us on the road to finding out what really happened involving big corporations and powerful interests in Washington and their intrusions into newsrooms, which is the reason I’m here,” Rather said. “That is the red, beating heart of this case.”

In his final paragraph, Maull rendered this synopsis of the events that led to Rather’s suit:

Rather was removed from his “CBS Evening News” post in March 2005, six months after he narrated a report that said Bush disobeyed orders and shirked some of his duties during his National Guard service. The report also said a commander felt pressured to sugarcoat Bush’s record.

Maull makes no mention of the smoking gun that ripped the credibility of Rather’s report to shreds. That smoking gun was the clearly non-contemperaneous nature of the documents used as the basis for the Bush-Texas Air National Guard story.

Specifically, very shortly after the airing of Rather’s report, FreeRepublic poster Buckhead contended that “these documents are forgeries.” Within 24 hours of Buckhead’s post, Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs showed that those documents, allegedly created in the early 1970s, could not possibly have been (bold, italics, and external link are in original):

Bush Guard Documents: Forged
Thu, Sep 9, 2004 at 10:24:36 am PST

I opened Microsoft Word, set the font to Microsoft’s Times New Roman, tabbed over to the default tab stop to enter the date “18 August 1973,” then typed the rest of the document purportedly from the personal records of the late Lieutenant Colonel Jerry B. Killian.

And my Microsoft Word version, typed in 2004, is an exact match for the documents trumpeted by CBS News as “authentic.”

….. The spacing is not just similar—it is identical in every respect. Notice that the date lines up perfectly, all the line breaks are in the same places, all letters line up with the same letters above and below, and the kerning is exactly the same. And I did not change a single thing from Word’s defaults; margins, type size, tab stops, etc. are all using the default settings. The one difference (the “th” in “187th” is slightly lower) is probably due to a slight difference between the Mac and PC versions of the Times New Roman font, or it could be an artifact of whatever process was used to artificially “age” the document. (Update: I printed the document and the “th” matches perfectly in the printed version. It’s a difference between screen and printer fonts.)

There is absolutely no way that this document was typed on any machine that was available in 1973.

Curiously, the CBS story Johnson linked to is now dated September 20, 2004, though the story’s URL indicates that it was created on September 8. There is no identification of what changes, if any, CBS made to the report in the intervening 12 days.

However, there is now, at the very beginning of the CBS story, this Editor’s Note:

(CBS) EDITOR’S NOTE: A report issued by an independent panel on Jan. 10, 2005 concluded that CBS News failed to follow basic journalistic principles in the preparation and reporting of this Sept. 8, 2004 broadcast.

Maull owed it to readers unfamiliar with the details to inform them of the forged documents issue and the independent panel report’s “fail(ure) to follow basic journalistic principles” finding. By failing to do so, he gave Rather’s lawsuit plausibility beyond what it deserves.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Medical miracle: Two-year coma survivor defies odds

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:01 am

From Laguna Niguel, California:

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Randy and Alan Hall were opposites until Randy’s condition saved both their lives.

Simply put, Randy Hall was a sinner and his older brother Alan was a saint.

Their mother, in fact, used to joke that if Randy were a little more like Alan, and Alan were a little more like Randy, they’d both be better.

But no such luck. As a teenager, Randy robbed neighbors’ homes, grew pot in the attic and dropped out of high school. Later he schmoozed his way into business where he became rich and arrogant, snorting coke and treating women like so many playthings.

Alan, on the other hand, believed in service to others. By age 8, he was cooking the family dinner each night. He became an honor student who counseled his parents through tough times, married and became a search-and-rescue volunteer.

The brothers loathed each other.

And then one night their lives changed forever. Something would cause their mother’s wish to come true – making Randy more like Alan and Alan more like Randy.

But oh, it started horribly. And bloody. In a fit of blind rage.

THE COMA

It remains a mystery who bashed in Randy Hall’s skull the night of April 19, 2000 – possibly the jealous husband of his latest conquest or a jilted lover. No one was arrested and the Orange County Sheriff’s Dept. has closed the case. What’s not a mystery is who saved Randy’s life as he lay in a coma for two years.

It was Alan – smart, articulate, stubborn Alan. With a background as a fraud investigator and an HMO director, he knew how to battle the system.

Alan researched comas thoroughly. He doted over Randy endlessly. And he bullied doctors, nurses and anyone who got in his way.

“I’m a fighter,” he says. “I fight for what’s right.”

Alan saved Randy’s life four times in the first few months, shouting down a brain surgeon who insisted on moving him to another – cheaper – facility. As Alan delayed and fought the move, Randy suffered four seizures, each of which would’ve killed him elsewhere.

After six months, Randy stabilized and Alan agreed to move him. He found a respected coma facility, with sweeping ocean views and dozens of patients. One had survived 13 years. Finally, Alan thought, his brother would recover. Or would he?

Didn’t your last doctor tell you?the new doctor asked.

“Tell us what?”

He only has 30 percent of his brain function left. He’s never going to come out of the coma.

(more…)