December 16, 2009

Quote of the Day, on the Death of Paul Samuelson

Filed under: Economy,Education,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:34 pm

May he rest in peace.

May his legacy be properly stated. He wrote a great Econ 101 textbook, but his record in influencing public policy for the good is decidedly mixed.

At Investors Business Daily, Brian Domitrovic gets it right about JFK’s reaction to Samuelson’s early 1960s suggestions to increase taxes and expand the money supply in his column’s title — “JFK Defied Samuelson, Setting Off Boom.”

Domitrovic’s wrap on Samuelson is, uh, dead-on:

The world lost its greatest Keynesian in Paul Samuelson last Sunday. But the historic runs of growth that the United States posted during his career did not derive from his economics.

I’ll have more on this tomorrow.

Follow-up: Oh well it took four tomorrows, but here it is: “NYT Heaps Praise on Late Economist Samuelson, Distorts His Kennedy Tax Cut Legacy.”

Lucid Links (121609, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 10:00 am

From an IBD editorial (“Dither, Then Duck”) on Iran:

Our policy against a regime of would-be nuclear terrorists has degenerated into “duck and cover” atomic attack scenarios, as the secretary of state admits diplomatic failure. Welcome to Appeasement, U.S.A.

As usual with IBD, read the whole thing.

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It pains me to criticize a guy who almost singlehandedly took down Canada’s corrupt Liberal Party government a few years ago, but Ed Morrissey at Hot Air missed the mark in this post titled “Gallup: Christmas spending still 20% down from 2008.”

Unfortunately:

  • It’s acknowledged as self-reported. Given the cultural shift towards frugality and the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) Economy-driven conditions that surround us, it would be remarkable if anyone admitted to a pollster that they were increasing their spending on Christmas.
  • There’s this statement from Gallup — “For the third week in a row, consumer spending has trailed last year’s anemic spending levels by more than 20%. While it remains unclear how consumers’ spending is being divided between Christmas gifts and other discretionary spending for such things as travel, entertainment, and eating out, consumers are reporting a significant decline in their perceived spending during recent weeks.” Though the picture is not pretty in any sense, it takes a quantum and quite inaccurate leap to get from that quote to Ed’s headline.
  • The Christmas shopping season will probably come in with retail sales below those of last year, but only by 1% according to a trade group’s estimate (which Ed saved for a later excerpt), not 20%.

Additionally, A December 15 item at Mediapost’s Marketing Daily notes that, while results may ultimately turn out differently, things aren’t quite as bad as thought a short while ago:

Although forecasts have been predicting a downbeat performance for consumer electronics this holiday season, shoppers may be proving them wrong: Best Buy reported stronger results, and revised its earnings projections. And a new survey shows an unexpected jump in consumer electronic sales in all stores.

The new survey, from America’s Research Group and UBS, reports that a sudden stampede toward flat-panel TV sets may buoy overall holiday results. As a result, ARG is now projecting that holiday sales will fall just 1.2% this holiday season, versus the earlier prediction of 2.9%.

The article’s title (“With Electronics A Bright Spot, Best Buy Shines”) even indicates that one of the brighter spots is at a company headquartered in Ed’s home metro area of Minneapolis-St. Paul.

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Direct Intergenerational Theft Update — The Associated Press’s initial item on the City of Pittsburgh’s impending tuition tax, captured at this post yesterday, was a bit vague as to what the money would be used for, calling it a way “to remedy the city’s pension woes.”

Today’s updated item as of 9:09 a.m. is a bit more specific:

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl says the measure could generate $16.2 million in annual revenue to help pay for pensions of retired city employees.

It sure looks like the city is on the verge of taxing mostly-young students to pay the pensions of older city employees who are already retired (the Steel City’s pension system must be one royal mess).

There is no conceivable provable benefit to the students in this arrangement. Thus, it’s direct, undisguised intergenerational theft.

One thing you can say is that Pittsburgh’s proposed tax, which AP reports that the City’s Council will consider today, is that it is at least more honest than the nation’s Social Security system. Social Security uses the pretense of a “Trust Fund” — whose assets consist almost entirely of trillions in IOUs from a government that is $12 trillion of dollars in debt and counting — to obscure the fact that today’s workers and taxpayers are directly paying the Social Security benefits of today’s retirees.

Four Rescued After Being Trapped For Hours In Flooded Creek (With Photos at Link)

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:19 am

atmorerecue15This is a very nicely done report with outstanding on-the-scene photos (one is on the right) about a rescue in Escambia County, Florida (scroll down if the story doesn’t appear at the top of the page):

December 15, 2009

Four people were rescued in dramatic fashion Monday night after their vehicles were swept off Deere Creek Road by raging flood waters from a swollen creek.

They were rescued by a man that many are calling a hero — Mike Allen of Atmore. Allen, a private citizen, used a jet ski to rescue the four from a flooded Brushy Creek, hours after their vehicles were submerged in the rising flood waters.

The first reports of the submerged vehicles were received about 9 p.m. Initial reports indicated that as many as eight people might have trapped in the raging waters of Brushy Creek. When emergency workers arrived at the scene, the were unable to reach the victims due to the high water. Firefighters believed that they had persons trapped on a vehicle in the water, and they knew they had a man who had climbed into a tree to escape drowning. The creek was swollen so wide that the powerful spotlights of several emergency vehicle were unable to provide enough light for firefighters to determine exactly what situation they were facing.

“Help me! Help me!” A faint voice could be heard calling for help from creek. “You’ve got to come get us.”

Firemen first used a human chain — walking out into the flood water in an attempt to reach the victims. That effort failed, and the emergency workers retreated. About 10:30 p.m., they attempted to use a boat to reach the victims. Shortly after entering the raging water, the boat capsized, putting two firemen into the water. They were able to reach the shore unharmed.

“I can’t hold on any more,” one of the victims, presumably the man in the tree, yelled.

The next plan at that point, according to Atmore Fire Chief Gerry McGhee, was to wait for U.S. Coast Guard helicopter dispatched to the scene. He said the helicopter would be able to provide enough light over the scene for firefighters to determine how to make the rescue. McGhee said that the helicopter would be unable to rescue the victims from the air, because they were located directly beneath high voltage power lines. The Escambia County (Ala.) Sheriff’s Department was also working at that time to get jet skis to the scene to be used in the rescue.

The man who had been up in a tree disappeared from the view of rescuers. He then reappeared, attempted to reach dry land by walking in neck deep water while holding onto bushes. Rescue workers screamed frantically at him to stop before he reached the open waters of Brushy Creek, fearing that he would be swept downstream.

At about 11:00 p.m., Allen arrived on the opposite side of the creek from rescue workers. He deployed his jet ski and quickly rescued the first victim, who was reportedly his niece. He transported her on the jet ski to rescue workers where she was rushed to a waiting ambulance.

“He looks like a cowboy, smoking that cigarette,” one rescue worker said of Allen as he went about rescuing the victims one by one on his jet ski. He could be seen puffing away on a cigarette the entire time as he fought to keep control of the jet ski in the raging water. The last victim was rescued about 11:10 p.m., over two hours after the flood waters of Brushy Creek pushed their vehicles off the road.

In all, Allen rescued four victims – two adult males and two adult females. The four were transported by ambulance to Atmore Community Hospital for evaluation. ….

Go here for the rest of the story.

Additional photos from the rescue are here.