November 8, 2010

Collective Lunacy

What other description fits when they insist on doing more of what hasn’t worked?

__________________________________________________

Note: This column went up at Pajamas Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Saturday.

__________________________________________________

If there has been a side benefit of having to endure and court the serious dangers of what has surely been the most radical first two years of an American presidency since Franklin Delano Roosevelt (possibly moreso by the time the historical dust settles), it’s that so many leftist pundits and others who have made careers of attempting to pose as supposedly reasonable people have revealed that they are on the wrong side of the lunatic line.

One such person is Peter Beinart. He often tries to come across as level-headed, as in this snippet from a Daily Beast critique of Jon Stewart’s late-October Washington rally:

The Tea Partiers, in other words, are making a serious argument, which the left too often tries to dismiss by calling them nuts.

Even in that column, though, Beinart gives off a heavy clue that he’s not too impressed with the origins of the country in which he lives:

They’re tapping into a deeply-rooted American fear of government power … And in the process, they’re conjuring, once again, the myth that America was born free, and surrenders a smidgen of liberty every time Washington imposes another tax or establishes another government agency.

That’s no myth, as anyone who has dealt with employment law or existing health care regulations — let alone what’s impending if ObamaCare is allowed to kick in — would tell you.

Beinart went code red in the wake of Tuesday’s election results, which as of this writing had Republicans picking up at least five U.S. Senate seats, gaining 60-plus House seats and a congressional majority, and achieving historic domination in state capitals:

… rather than looking at what those other countries are doing right, the Republicans have taken refuge in an anti-government ideology premised on the lunatic notion that America is the only truly free and successful country in the world. That ideology won last night, and Keynesianism lost.

As tempting as it would be to do a riff on Beinart’s miscasting of the sensible conservative take on freedom and success, I’ll mostly resist, simply because nobody I know of or have read is claiming that the U.S. is the “only free and successful country.” They do correctly assert that it has historically been the most free and successful — well, at least until what I have been calling the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) economy took root in mid-2008.

Beinart has somehow missed the news that Keynesianism has suffered at least three big losses in the past 80 years. The first occurred in the 1930s, beginning under Herbert Hoover and then proceeding on steroids during FDR’s New Deal. This is an era appropriately characterized in retrospect as the “Stuck on Stupid” decade. UCLA professor Lee Ohanian notes: “[P]rivate-sector job growth did not come back under Roosevelt.” The unemployment rate was 17% at the end of the decade. Meanwhile, the jobless rate throughout Europe during the 1930s was consistently lower.

The second big loss for Keynesianism occurred in Japan during the 1990s. Government debt as a percentage of annual economic output soared with repeated attempts at stimulus, while economic growth was and has continued to be anemic. All that has resulted from this massive overindulgence was what many have referred to as a “zombie economy” and a populace that even the spend-happy New York Times described in-mid-October as having gone “from dynamic to disheartened.”

If what happened in Japan is starting to seem familiar, it’s because we’re living in the midst of Barack Obama’s and Ben Bernanke’s multitrillion-dollar stimulus. There is no doubt that it represents Keynesianism’s third big loss:

  • In the first five quarters after the 2008-2009 recession officially ended, the economy has grown only 3.5%; during the first five quarters of the tax cut-driven recovery under Ronald Reagan, whom Beinart would probably also throw into the “lunatic” category, the economy grew by a “crazy” 7.8%.
  • Under Obama/Bernanke, the economy has in five quarters only recovered about 80% of what was lost during the four quarters of the recession as normal people define it. Under Reagan, the economy recouped previous losses by the end of the recovery’s third quarter, and kept going strong.
  • Under Obama/Bernanke, the official seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has been stuck at 9.4% or higher since the recession ended. Under Reagan, whose policies didn’t take meaningful effect until late 1982, the rate dropped from 10.8% at the end of that year to 7.3% at the end of 1984.

Keep in mind that the Obama/Bernanke stimulus has taken three forms: the stimulus plan passed by Congress in February 2009, massive increases in government spending beyond the stimulus, and Ben Bernanke’s quantitative easing. Together, they have amounted to at least $3.5 trillion since Obama took office. Also note that if nothing is done, we are already on a crash Keynesian course. Under the current policy structure, even using overoptimistic assumptions, annual deficits in future years are on track to exceed $500 billion as far as the eye can see.

So what do Beinart, James Fallows (who brazenly asserted on NPR that “there is essentially no disagreement whatsoever” among economists on this matter), Paul Krugman, and all the self-appointed smarties want to do? You guessed it: even more stimulus. Sadly, they’re already getting their way before Congress reconvenes, as Ben Bernanke has announced $600 billion more of “money from nothing” quantitative easing. But even that’s not enough for these guys.

It hasn’t worked to this point. It historically hasn’t worked. As noted, it’s still being done, and it’s still not working. Countries like Germany, which resisted Obama’s clarion call to keep stimulating, are growing nicely. Yet our leaders and their apparatchiks want more.

Geez Peter, Paul, et al, to find people holding lunatic notions, all you need to do is either look in the mirror, or over at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Lucid Links (110810, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:54 am

Where is the “mainstream”? Pollster Frank Luntz identifies it:

(The American people) show clear support for the following five ideas:

(1) Balance the budget as quickly as possible through meaningful spending reductions, a hard spending cap and a constitutional amendment so that it never gets unbalanced again.

(2) Eliminate all earmarks until the budget is balanced, then require a two-thirds vote by Congress for future earmark legislation.

(3) Keep taxes down by requiring supermajorities for increases, and eventually enact tax reform with a simple, low, fair rate that drastically reduces the length of the IRS code.

(4) Create a blue-ribbon task force that engages in a complete, line-by-line forensic audit of federal agencies and programs to end waste and reduce red tape and bureaucracy.

(5) And require Congress to provide specific constitutional authorization for every bill it passes so that the government stays within the boundaries imagined by the founders.

I’ve found that each of these policies has at least 60 percent public support, so if you agree with most of them, it means you’re in the American mainstream. It also means that – wait for it – you agree with the tea party.

These points come directly from the tea-party-backed “Contract From America,” a document compiled from and voted on by the various tea party organizations and promoted by FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy group. This governing agenda is supported not only by conservatives, but also by largely nonideological, anti-political voters in the middle.

The tea party is not some fringe coalition hopelessly removed from the mainstream.

The Tea Party is the mainstream. Millions of Americans hold “Tea Party Values” and don’t even know it. The establishment press sees an important part of its job as making sure that as many of them as possible never figure that out.

___________________________________________________

It’s a good thing I didn’t waste a lot of energy on this. What a joke (both Keith Olbermann and MSNBC).

Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters detects the distinct aroma of a planted controversy:

Something that has bothered me about this story from the beginning was that I couldn’t find anything at the FEC website about Olbermann’s contributions. Go here, type in “Olbermann, Keith,” and nothing shows.

Noel wonders how the Politico learned of Olbermann’s contributions. Given the almost non-existent length of Olbmermann’s suspension, so do I. I think the Politico owes readers a specific identification of the “filing” they saw, and how they got it, since the rest of us somehow can’t.

___________________________________________________

Instpundit, on the President’s Indian adventure: “If he were a Republican, we’d be hearing about the “Imperial Presidency” in the American press. Instead, such criticism is left to the British.”

___________________________________________________

Friday was the anniversary of the Ft. Hood massacre. 12 soldiers, one civilian, and one unborn child were murdered.

Last time I checked, the President of the United States was commander-in-chief of our armed forces.

Yet a search of the White House web site for “Ft. Hood” and “Fort Hood” (each without quotes and sorted by date) returns no record of any recognition of the massacre’s anniversary.

Using a word the President inexplicably used last year at a service for those who died, I find the lack of remembrance “incomprehensible.”

___________________________________________________

It’s so bad, Democrats have to pay to get “volunteers,” and then they mess up the process of paying them (HT 3BP):

A rough week for Ohio Democrats continued on Wednesday after organizers were accused of failing to pay campaign workers on time.

At one point, police officers were called to the party’s downtown headquarters to keep tempers in check, 10TV’s AJ Smith said.

hundreds of other people (were) waiting in line (to get paid).

After waiting in line for six hours — a wait that included a parking ticket — … (one worker) made his way inside the building, only to find out that the Democratic Party had again run out of checks.

Aha!

We finally have figured out an ingenious way to keep Democrats from spending: Stop printing checks. As long as they have ‘em, they think they have money.

Positivity: Chilean miner crosses finish line at NYC Marathon

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From New York City:

Nov 7, 6:01 PM EST

A Chilean miner ran, walked and hobbled his way to the finish line of the New York City Marathon on Sunday, showing the passionate grit that helped him survive more than two months trapped underground.

Edison Pena crossed the Central Park finish line at 3:24 p.m., with a time of 5 hours, 40 minutes, 51 seconds. He was draped in a Chilean flag as Elvis music played over the speakers.

The 34-year-old survivor had beat his own goal – to complete the course through the city’s five boroughs in six hours.

Bags of ice covered his swollen knees as a grim-faced Pena walked the second half of the marathon, but he summoned enough energy to run the last stretch along Central Park West.

“In this marathon I struggled,” he said. “I struggled with myself, I struggled with my own pain, but I made it to the finish line. I want to motivate other people to also find the courage and strength to transcend their own pain.”

Pena’s personal victory came just weeks after he was still training in near-darkness, jogging each day 2,300 feet underground in stifling heat and humidity. He and 32 other men survived 69 days in the caved-in mine.

He said running was his salvation – his way of proving how much he wanted to live.

On this sunny day in Manhattan, the strong will that kept him focused came shining through.

It didn’t seem to matter to the world whether No. 7127 actually finished the race running into Central Park – or ended his first marathon barely making it.

To the wildly cheering crowds, he was already a winner among the 45,000 runners, including some of the world’s best marathoners.

At a post-marathon news conference, Pena was asked to compare his hours in the New York race with the days in the mines?

“In the mine, I ran alone,” he said.

He called the marathon “an incredible dream” – because of “how warm and welcoming and supportive the Americans are here,” with signs along the route reading “Go, Edison!” and “Go for it!” …

Go here for the rest of the story.