May 1, 2011

AP Report on Cuba’s May Day Reads Mostly Like Castro Propaganda Piece

The guess here is Associated Press writers Peter Orsi and Andrea Rodriguez believe their May Day dispatch from Cuba represents an example of objectivity and insightful analysis. Anyone with knowledge of how a country under the iron grip of a five-decade Communist dictatorship really operates would beg to differ.

The AP pair leaves readers with the impression that although Cubans are impatient to learn the details of the economic changes the government has passed but not revealed, they are generally supportive of whatever improvements might occur — as if anyone in the island nation is really free to speak their mind.

(more…)

Econ-Related Quotes of the Day (050111, Morning)

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:51 am

Men like O’Neill and Geithner think they’re quantitatively easing American decline.
They’re not. They’re quantitatively accelerating American collapse.

Mark Steyn at National Review (“Discredited — The Fed’s policy
is quantitatively accelerating American collapse”)

More from Steyn’s read-the-whole-thing column:

(Former George W. Bush Treasury Secretary Paul) O’Neill popped up the other day on Bloomberg Television to compare debt-ceiling holdouts to jihadists. “The people who are threatening not to pass the debt ceiling,” he said, “are our version of al-Qaeda terrorists. Really.”

Really?

Absolutely.

“They’re really putting our whole society at risk by threatening to round up 50 percent of the members of the Congress, who are loony, who would put our credit at risk.”

But hang on, generally speaking, when you hit your “debt ceiling,” your credit is at risk.

… At this stage, nothing does more damage to our “full faith and credit” than business as usual. If you’re going to bandy glib, witless al-Qaeda analogies, the conventional wisdom Paul O’Neill represents is the real suicide bomb here.

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The nation deserves an explanation as to why the president’s appointees
are doing the machinist union’s dirty work on the backs
of the businesses and workers of South Carolina.

– South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, on the National Labor Board’s decision to sue
Boeing to prevent the company from building its latest jet at its non-union
South Carolina plant instead of in one of its unionized Washington State
facilities, in Friday’s Wall Street Journal

Other observations by Governor Haley:

In choosing to manufacture in my state, Boeing was exercising its right as a free enterprise in a free nation to conduct business wherever it believed would best serve both the bottom line and the employees of its company. This is not a novel or complicated idea. It’s called capitalism.

… The actions by the NLRB are nothing less than a direct assault on the 22 right-to-work states across America. They are also an unprecedented attack on an iconic American company that is being told by the federal government—which seems to regard its authority as endless—where and how to build airplanes.

If there is a legal basis for what the NLRB is doing, the WSJ’s editorialists couldn’t find it. An administration that is serious about improving the economy wouldn’t be doing this.

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Wal-Mart has noticed a pattern during the recession where its core customers will
typically shop in bulk at the beginning of the month when their paychecks come in.

– Aaron Levitt, at SFGate.com

Levitt is dissembling. Most workers, certainly the vast majority, are not paid once a month. They are paid once a week, once every two weeks, or twice a month.

The things that “come in” at the beginning in the early days of a month are Food Stamps and welfare checks/direct deposits (thanks to commenter Lily S for the detail; food stamps are debited to the related plastic just after midnight when the monthly calendar turns). Update, 5:30 p.m. — As she noted, Social Security checks and direct deposits are spread over three different days during the month.

The retail cycle of Wal-Mart and other retailers is being affected by the growing cycle of dependency on government handouts and entitlements. One would expect in turn that retailers are hiring more part-time and temporary help to handle the early-month rushes, while staying lean on full-time help because of the slower month-end time frame.

Positivity: Peggy Noonan — ‘Make John Paul II a Saint’

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 7:00 am

From Peggy Noonan’s Friday Wall Street Journal op-ed (bolds are mine):

Make John Paul II a Saint
How the Polish pope worked a political miracle.

One of the greatest moments in the history of faith was also one of the greatest moments in modern political history. It happened in June 1979.

Just eight months before, after dusk on Oct. 16, 1978, a cardinal had stepped out onto the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica to say those towering, august words, “Habemus papem”—”We have a pope.” The cardinal pronounced the new pontiff’s name in Latin. Not everyone understood or could hear him, and the name sounded odd. For 456 years the church had been electing Italian popes. This didn’t sound Italian. The crowd was perplexed.

Then the new pope came out—burly, light-haired, broad cheekbones. He looked Slavic. He looked like a Pole! It was Karol Wojtylwa, the cardinal from Krakow. It was a breakthrough choice—so unexpected and unprecedented—and you knew as you watched that a whole new world was beginning. This was a former manual laborer who wore brown scruffy shoes, who was young (58) and vibrant (a hiker and kayaker). He was a writer, an intellectual who’d come up during the heroic era of the European priesthood, when to be a priest in a communist-controlled nation was to put not only your freedom at risk but your life.

Poland went wild with joy; Krakow took to the streets. The reaction was world-wide. They had vigils in the Polish neighborhoods of Chicago, and block parties in Boston.

***

And here is the great moment of faith that became a great moment of history. John Paul II, naturally, wanted to return as pope to visit his homeland. This put the communist government in Warsaw in a bind. If they didn’t invite him, they’d look defensive and weak. If they did, he might spark an uprising that would trigger a Soviet invasion.

They invited John Paul to come on a “religious pilgrimage.” On June 2, 1979, he arrived at an airport outside Warsaw, walked down the steps of the plane, and kissed the tarmac. The government feared tens of thousands would line the streets for the motorcade into town.

More than a million came.

In a Mass in the Old City, John Paul gave a great sermon. Why, he asked, had God lifted a Pole to the papacy? Why had Poland suffered for centuries under political oppression? Perhaps because Poland is “the land of a particularly responsible witness.” The Poles had been chosen to give witness, with humility, to the cross and the Resurrection. He asked the crowd if they accepted such an obligation.

“We want God,” they roared. “We want God!” This from a nation occupied by an atheist state.

John Paul said the great work of God is man, and the great redeemer of man is Christ. Therefore, “Christ cannot be kept out of the history of man in any part of the globe, at any longitude or latitude. . . . The exclusion of Christ from the history of man is an act against man!”

It was brilliant. He wasn’t asking for a revolution or an uprising, he wasn’t directly challenging the government. He just pointed out that God himself sees one unity in Europe, not an East and a West divided but one continent. And so must we all.

But it was what happened a week later, at the Blonie field outside Krakow, that led directly to 1989, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. That was the event that made political history.

It was June 10, near the end of the trip. Everyone was tired. There was to be a last outdoor Mass. The government had not allowed it to be publicized. But word spread, and two million people came, maybe three million. It was the biggest gathering in Polish history. Here John Paul took on communism more directly. He exhorted the crowd to receive the Holy Spirit. “I speak . . . for St. Paul: Do not quench the Spirit. . . . I speak again for St. Paul: Do not grieve the Spirit of God!”

“You must be strong, my brothers and sisters. You must be strong with the strength that faith gives. . . . You need this strength today more than any other period in our history. . . . You must be strong with love, which is stronger than death. . . . Never lose your spiritual freedom.”

The Mass was stirring, with crowds saying, again, “We want God!” But here is the thing. Everyone at that Mass went home and put on state-controlled television to see the coverage of the great event. They knew millions had been there, they knew what was said, they knew everyone there was part of a spiritual uprising. But state-run TV had nothing. State-run TV had a few people in the mud and a picture of the pope.

Everyone looked at the propaganda of the state, at its lack of truthfulness and its disrespect for reality, and they thought: It’s all lies. Everything the government says is a lie. The government itself is a lie.

The Solidarity movement took on new power. The Communist Party lost authority; the Polish government in time tottered, and by 1989 the Soviet Union itself was tottering.

Twenty-three years later, in an interview, the Solidarity leader Lech Walessa told me of how John Paul galvanized the movement for freedom: “We knew . . . communism could not be reformed. But we knew the minute he touched the foundations of communism, it would collapse.” …

Read the whole thing (you may need to put the article title in a Google search to be able to see the whole thing).