February 12, 2011

IBD Op-Ed: ‘Why Business Isn’t Getting ‘In The Game”; It’s the Uncertainty, Stupid

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:51 am

At Investors Business Daily on Friday evening, Hoover Institution Senior Fellows Stephen H. Haber and F. Scott Kieff pointed to the Obama administration-induced atmosphere of regulatory and general governmental uncertainty as the explanation for why businesses are largely sitting on the sidelines:

President Obama stood in front of the Chamber of Commerce last week and told American businesses to “get in the game” by investing their massive cash reserves to stimulate jobs, demand and overall economic growth.

Whether the president’s call for the private sector to invest more aggressively is successful depends on the theory one has about why businesses have stayed on the sidelines to this point, not investing their mountains of cash.

The theory implicit in the president’s speech is that the business community has simply not been paying close enough attention, that it has overlooked promising investment opportunities. [1]

But another theory is that the business community has been paying very close attention — most particularly to the president himself — and what it sees is cause for concern.

Under this theory, businesses may not see the president as having made a gentle suggestion that they reconsider investment opportunities that are attractive on their own terms. Instead, they may fear he’s made a demand that they deploy their capital or face consequences. [2]

The president is right to compare big markets with big games. But the game to envision is not football but poker. Successful firms are sophisticated players. They don’t show up to the table without a large stake. The mountains of cash companies are hoarding provide plenty of bank for that purpose.

But they also don’t ante up if they think that any moment in the middle of the hand the dealer is likely to announce that the wild cards are deuces, kings and one-eye jacks, until he decides they are not. [3]

[1] – Here we see a guy with absolutely no experience running a business telling them that he is in essence smarter than they are, and that they are the dummies for not getting in the game. Two words: insufferable arrogance.
[2] – That’s how I interpret it. This is how tyrants think. Based on his track record, this is how he thinks.
[3] – This is not hyperbole. This administration has shown that the rules of the game are “whatever we want them to be.”

Further supporting Item [3] is the litany of lawlessness recited in an IBD house editorial two days earlier (HT Doug Ross):

Lawless Democrats

Leftists’ regard for the law has been low and loose since the 1960s, but Democrats are now taking it into uncharted territory as they defy judicial rulings at state and federal levels.

The Obama administration’s open defiance of judges is a disturbing new development because it’s so brazenly illegal and the whole system seems to have been caught off guard.

It signals a corruption at the top that didn’t start with defying judges, but with a long mudslide of questionable legal actions that amounted to abuses of power.

The contempt for law was seen early in the stiffing of bondholders in the General Motors bankruptcy reorganization so that favored political groups like labor unions could be paid first and be given ownership in GM stock, negating 200 years of bankruptcy precedent.

It’s also visible in Environmental Protection Agency attempts to enact the failed cap-and-trade law through regulation after Congress refused to pass it.

And it’s being repeated by the National Labor Relations Board, which is trying to foist “card check” unionization on unwilling workers through regulatory means because Congress wouldn’t pass that law either.

Make no mistake — it’s an assault on democracy to accept neither the law nor the checks and balances in our constitution. It points to an executive branch of concentrated power and diminished accountability, one that fails to recognize the foundations of democracy in the rule of law.

The administration has no one to blame but itself for the pervasive atmosphere of uncertainty that is keeping business and venture investors on the sidelines. The millions of unemployed who are still that way because what this administration has done to the business environment need to recognize that it’s Barack Obama and his administration who are largely responsible for their horrible, needlessly difficult circumstances. It’s going to take a lot more than a Chamber of Commerce speech properly seen as yet another thinly veiled threat issued against society’s producers to change all of this.


Previous Related Items:
- July 27, 2010 — It’s the Uncertainty, Stupid
- Sept. 16, 2010 — “It’s the Uncertainty, Stupid” Redux

Positivity: Together in Grief and in Victory

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:56 am

Scott LangThe title of this post is what appeared in Wednesday’s USA Today print edition. What follows is a portion of the story’s online version.

From Pittsburgh:

The La Roche College Redhawks chant as one as they break every huddle.


It comes from the saying their coach, Scott Lang, painted on their locker room wall before the season. That motto in cinder block —suffer together— has taken on deeper meaning since Lang died on the court now named in his memory.

His Division III men’s basketball teams lost more than they won over the years. This season, though, was going to be different. Lang just knew it. Sure enough, La Roche was off to a 7-1 start when Lang, 41, suffered a heart attack at practice Dec. 10.

His death certificate says he died at the hospital; his players know better.

“Coach took his last breath at center court,” senior guard Nate Wojciechowski says, “right there on the Redhawks logo.”

What’s happened since is pure Hollywood. The Redhawks are 20-2, 14-1 in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference. Their league loss came at Penn State Behrend 64-41, ending a 16-game winning streak. La Roche won the rematch 67-61 Monday night to gain sole possession of first place. The Redhawks had 17 assists on their 22 baskets. Together.

Nothing was said beforehand about how this game, originally scheduled for Dec. 11, was the one the Redhawks were preparing for when Lang was stricken.

“It didn’t have to be,” interim coach Harry Jenkins says. “Everyone knew.”

This is heady stuff for a small (enrollment: 1,400) Catholic college ranked regionally for the first time. Three league games remain. If the Redhawks hold on to first, they’ll host the conference tournament with an NCAA tournament bid on the line. (La Roche won the conference tourney in 2004, before the AMCC had an automatic NCAA bid.)

All this sounds like a familiar tale of win one for the Gipper, but Lang’s players are careful to say they play with him, not for him — a distinction they see as crucial.

“If we say we’re playing for him, that’s too much pressure,” Wojciechowski says. “You can burn out.”

“With him means we play like he taught us,” senior guard Laron Mann says. “It’s like he’s still here.”
University of North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll is the one who counseled the Redhawks to play that way in the days after Lang’s death. Driscoll also is the one who hired Lang out of college in 1993 to be his assistant at La Roche.

Their first of four teams went 1-24. Their last won 15 games — most in school history until now. When Driscoll took an assistant coaching job at Wyoming, Lang succeeded him at 27. His teams went 165-194 in 13 seasons, winning no regular-season titles and that one conference tournament.

Lang had chances to move up as an assistant at Division I programs. Driscoll went from Wyoming to Clemson to Baylor before landing at North Florida. Driscoll wanted Lang, best man at his wedding, to join him there.

“I flat-out told him to go,” says Lang’s brother, Mike. ” ‘Do something for yourself, for once.’ But he believed he was a servant to others. He said he could do more good at a small school.”

La Roche athletics director Jim Tinkey says he also urged Lang to leave on several occasions. But, always, he decided to stay. Lang loved his job and his gym, his school and his players. Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon understands.

“He really found his home,” Dixon says. Small-college coaches “do it because they love the game, they love the kids. … That’s more important than being on TV or playing in 20,000-seat arenas.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

UPDATE: La Roche’s record early Saturday morning was ranked Number 1 in the Middle Atlantic region.