August 31, 2011

AP: Carson Only Used a ‘Lynching Metaphor’ in Black Caucus Speech

Using a time-honored establishment press technique, an unbylined Associated Press report out of Indianapolis this evening (“Ind. lawmaker’s lynching reference riles tea party;” saved here at my web host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) twisted the real news about Congressman Andre Carson’s inexcusable, hateful comments at a Congressional Black Caucus-sponsored event in Miami on August 22 by making the story largely about the reaction to what he said. By doing so, the AP largely diverted attention from Carson’s clear primary targets: Tea Party-sympathetic congressional colleagues.

The AP report also opens by contending that what Carson said was only a “metaphor.” Really.

The heck it was. Here’s the full quote, as noted by Matthew Balan (here and here) at NewsBusters. The very first bolded sentence directly refutes the AP’s “metaphor” claim:

CARSON: And this is beyond symbolic change. This is the effort that we’re seeing of Jim Crow. Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second-class citizens. (audience members reply, “Yes!”) Some of them in Congress right now of this Tea Party would love to see you and me- I’m sorry, Tamron (Hall) – hanging on a tree. (audience members reply, “Yes!”) Some of them right now in Congress are comfortable with where we were 50 and 60 years ago.

Carson was obviously accusing some of his congressional colleagues, whom he gutlessly would not name, of actually wanting (not metaphorically wishing) to see himself and his black colleagues lynched. The meaning of the words Carson used is not arguable.

But that’s not at all how the AP framed it:

A black Indiana congressman used a lynching metaphor to describe tea party policies he says would turn minorities into “second class citizens,” and the lone Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus threatened Wednesday to quit the group in protest.

Democrat Andre Carson made the remarks to a crowd at a black caucus-sponsored event in Miami, arguing that some tea politicians are trying to block the economic advancement of blacks and other minorities.

“Some of them in Congress right now with this tea party movement would love to see you and me – hanging on a tree,” the Indiana congressman said.

The comments from Carson’s speech last week were first posted online Tuesday by the Glenn Beck-founded website The Blaze.

Allen West of Florida, the only Republican member of the black caucus, said on the program “Fox & Friends” that he might quit the panel over what he said were “reprehensible” comments.

Carson told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he and West have a “cordial” relationship but that nobody on the black caucus would “lose sleep” if West left the panel because of the comments. He said the Democrats who make up the rest of the caucus have supported him.

Carson said that while he wishes he would have chosen different analogies in his speech, he would not have changed its substance. He said the language he used has become a “distraction” to the message he was trying to get across about some tea party members.

“I’m deeply concerned about some of the extremist elements who I feel have been a distraction to many of the well-meaning Americans who affiliate themselves with the tea party,” Carson said.

Carson can claim he used “analogies” all he wants, but that will never change the actual meaning of what he said — nor will the AP’s pathetic attempt to cover for him.

Carson owes Majority Leader John Boehner, every Tea Party-sympathetic congressman (really all of his colleagues for his total abandonment of decorum), and the American people a major apology. Absent that, I agree with blogger Doug Ross’s call for a congressional censure.

When a Republican says something controversial, reporters almost invariably work like mad to get a negative reaction from a fellow party member until they find someone who will criticize him or her. Why isn’t there any evidence of any such attempt by the AP to get quotes from Charlie Rangel, John Conyers, Jesse Jackson Jr., or any other Black Caucus members about what Carson said, whether agreeing or disagreeing? Or, if they won’t talk, where’s the time-honored employment of “Congressman X wouldn’t comment on Congressman Y’s controversial remark”?

Meanwhile, back in Indiana, the AP upped the distraction by getting reaction from Tea Party-sympathetic citizens instead of Congresspersons, and found “Indiana State Rep. Vanessa Summers, an Indianapolis Democrat who is chairwoman of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, (who) said Carson shouldn’t apologize for expressing what many people feel.”

By the way, speaking of “economic advancement,” has anyone else noticed that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for whites from January 2009 to January 2011 increased from 7.1% to 8.0%, while the black unemployment rate rose from from 12.1% to 15.7%? The black unemployment rate went up four times as much as the white rate (3.6 points divided by 0.9 points). This occurred during the first two years of the Obama administration while Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid ran Congress and before any of the eeeeeevil Tea Party-sympathetic freshmen arrived. Since then, both rates have stayed about the same (July’s rates were 8.1% and 15.9%, respectively). Who has had the more harmful effect on black economic advancement — or I should say, who has inflicted real harm on the black community?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Solar Singed: Two Weeks After Two Other Bankruptcies, Solyndra Goes Belly-up

Two weeks ago (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), yours truly pointed out how establishment press coverage of the bankruptcy of Massachusetts-based Evergreen Solar had emphasized its Bay State assistance, and only rarely brought up how it benefitted by being able to sell solar panels it otherwise would probably not have bothered to produce to projects benefitting from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (“stimulus”) dollars.

On August 17, Larry Dignan of ZDNet, in an item published at CBSnews.com, tried to convince readers that Evergreen’s failure was not indicative of an industry meltdown (bolds are mine):

The bankruptcy of Evergreen Solar is causing some media consternation about the solar industry, but it’s a stretch to imply that the company’s demise is the sign of an industry meltdown.

… Evergreen Solar, like many businesses in an emerging industry, benefited from an initial surge, failed to adjust to market conditions and failed. Evergreen Solar may hang around after restructuring, but the company is akin to those early hard drive and PC companies. The industry consolidates and some players die. Other bankruptcies in the industry will occur. CNET noted that Solon is also closing facilities amid global competition.

You can’t have more than 300 companies—a stat via Solarbuzz—playing in the solar panel market and not expect a few to flop. In its most recent annual report, Evergreen Solar cited BP Solar, First Solar, Kyocera, Mitsubishi, Sanyo, Sharp, SunPower, Trina Solar and Yingli. While some of those competitors are Chinese, most of them aren’t. Evergreen Solar wasn’t run over just by China outfits, but companies from around the world too.

Other reasons Evergreen Solar had to file for bankruptcy:

  • It focused on off-size solar panels. Evergreen said in its annual report that “historically, we have produced non-standard size rectangular wafers that were then processed into Evergreen Solar branded solar panels.” Those panels were assembled in its Massachusetts facility.
  • The company made a move to focus on industry standard size wafers, but ran out of time and funding. Was it China that derailed Evergreen Solar or the fact it was Betamaxed?
  • Evergreen Solar failed to raise enough cash when times were good. In the stock’s glory days, Evergreen Solar could have raised cash via stock sales. It could have used that currency to build a war chest. Perhaps Evergreen could have used its inflated stock to acquire more companies and assets. It didn’t buy its way into a company that could weather a storm.
  • There was simply too much debt on the books. Evergreen Solar needed more capital, but you raise debt when you DON’T need it. Not when you’re desperate.
  • The company doesn’t make money. Evergreen Solar’s net loss for 2010 was $465.4 million. In 2009, the company lost $266.2 million. In 2008, Evergreen’s net loss was $228.6 million.

All of this would be fine (with everyone but the investors, of course) if Evergreen’s failure had been 100% investor-funded. But it wasn’t. The State of Massachusetts is out tens of millions of dollars, and the stimulus-funded projects containing Evergreen-produced panels may not be serviceable if something goes technically wrong.

After today’s news — as well as the August 19 news that Spectrawatt, which received some funding from the state of New York, was also giving up the ghost — someone should be asking Larry Dignan: “Are we at meltdown yet?”

In case you missed it, direct stimulus showcase beneficiary Solyndra filed for bankruptcy this morning, idling 1,100 workers. The reasons identified in Darren Goode’s Politico item somewhat echo those relating to Evergreen (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

“Regulatory and policy uncertainties in recent months created significant near-term excess supply and price erosion,” [1] Solyndra President and CEO Brian Harrison said in a statement. “Raising incremental capital in this environment was not possible. This was an unexpected outcome and is most unfortunate.”

Solyndra’s problems included “uncertainty in governmental incentive programs in Europe and the decline in credit markets that finance solar systems,” according to a company news release.

The price of solar has dropped more than 40 percent this year, influenced heavily by highly subsidized Chinese firms.

Clean energy advocates called Solyndra a casualty of a maturing solar industry.

“That’s the reality of capitalism,” [2] said Josh Freed, vice president for clean energy at Third Way. “The solar industry is shaking out — prices are dropping and consolidation is happening. [3] We’re in a survival of the fittest or fleetest mode where companies are positioning themselves for a more competitive market.”

… Obama visited the Fremont facility in May 2010 and touted it as an example of why the administration had funneled tens of billions of dollars in loan guarantees and overall stimulus help to clean-energy facilities.

“The true engine of economic growth will always be companies like Solyndra, will always be America’s businesses, ” Obama said at the time. “Less than a year ago, we were standing on what was an empty lot. But through the Recovery Act, this company received a loan to expand its operations. This new factory is the result of those loans.”

The Energy Department — in a blog post just before the company’s noon announcement — touted its loan guarantee programs while acknowledging that it does not always pick winners. [4]

Notes:

  • [1] — I believe this translates to: “We were making stuff even when we had no idea of whether we could sell it.”
  • [2] — That’s a pretty brazen statement by Mr. Freed with little if any attachment to reality. Any resemblance between the solar “industry” and capitalism is purely accidental. Rush Limbaugh was much closer to the truth when he said on the air during the 2 p.m. hour that “There never was a business there.” And here’s a shocker (not, not really) Darren Goode “somehow” overlooked: Joshua Freed recently “was a Vice President at GMMB, where he was part of the media team for Obama for America and advised the senior leadership of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Mr. Freed also was the communications director for the Obama Colorado caucus campaign and advised the Obama for Colorado campaign in the general election.”
  • [3] — In another non-surprise, Mr. Freed, in his position at Third Way, “focuses on the policies and strategies needed to bring about clean energy reform and to address climate change.” There is no evidence in Mr. Freed’s stated background of anything resembling first-hand experience with capitalism.
  • [4] — This statement echoes Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s statement that he “would do it all over again” after Evergreen’s bankruptcy filing. They just don’t get it. It’s not the government’s job to “invest” in “private” industry in the hope that they can “pick winners.” Private investors, who of course often fail to pick winners, do a consistently better job of that, especially in the areas of due diligence (taking equity if necessary (more often than not it is, and in the form of a majority stake) and in structuring financing arrangements which put the founders’ and managers’ feet to the fire to produce results — or get out of the way so investors can find people who can.

Solyndra’s still-extant history page indicates that it reached $140 million in revenues last year after $100 million the previous year. Since it’s privately held, unless Congress received financial statements at some point (which seems doubtful, based on the history of efforts to pry information from the executive branch and the company; per Politico’s Goode, “a July [congressional]subpoena deadline came and went without a response”), we don’t know if it was ever profitable. Another interesting point: Goode also notes a company claim that its sales “has increased its sales revenue by 2,000 percent in three years.” That statement makes would appear quite likely that the company’s annual sales at the time the it received its hundreds of millions in federal loan guarantees were far less than $100 million.

A non-accounting person intuitively knows that even a somewhat profitable company with the high-end revenue stream noted is courting danger by borrowing money to the tune of almost four times its sales ($535 million divided by $140 million). But it looks like the Department of Energy couldn’t figure that out.

Early indications are that President Obama in his jobs initiative announcement next week will want to dump more money the government doesn’t have into even more “clean energy” and “green jobs” projects which, based on the track record, are destined not to pan out. One would hope that Obama and his party will give this madness a second thought in the wake of the Evergreen and Solyndra fiascos; but it probably won’t happen.

Update, Sept. 1: It will be interesting to see how the broadcast networks handle any “green jobs” proposals Obama might raise in his September 8 speech. Last week, the Media Research Center’s Julia Seymour, in an analysis of network news stories on the topic (“Networks Barely Criticize Obama’s Disastrous ‘Green Jobs’ Policies”), that “only 4 stories out of 52 (roughly 8 percent) between Jan. 17, 2009 and Aug. 17, 2011 included any criticism. That means 92 percent had no criticism.” The smart money would be on yet another free pass.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Econ Reports: ADP Employment Unimpressive; Announced Layoffs a Mixed Bag; Consumer Confidence in the Toilet

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:50 am

First, ADP’s private-sector employment release:

According to today’s ADP National Employment Report, employment in the nonfarm private business sector rose 91,000 from July to August on a seasonally adjusted basis. Employment in the private, service-providing sector rose 80,000 in August, down from increases that averaged 115,000 per month over the prior two months. Employment in the private goods-producing sector rose 11,000 in August, while manufacturing employment slipped by 4,000.

The company’s initial figure of 114,000 jobs created last month was also revised down to 109,000.

According to Reuters, expectations were for 100,000 job additions. Business Insider’s daily email predicted 110,000.

_____________________________________________

Announced Layoffs — Meanwhile, Challenger, Gray & Christmas issued its monthly announced layoffs report, with the following good-news, bad-news intro:

United States-based employers announced plans to trim 51,114 workers from the payrolls in August, a 23- percent decline from July, when the number of job cuts hit a 16-month high of 66,414, according to the report released Wednesday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The August decline follows three consecutive increases in the monthly job-cut total that saw job cuts rise from 36,490 in April to the July peak. The August total, however, was up 47 percent from a year ago, when employers announced just 34,768 job cuts during the month.

I would guess that August would typically be a month with relatively few layoff announcements. If so, the year-over-year comparison is the more relevant of the two items bolded above.

_____________________________________________

Yesterday, in a report under consideration for the “unexpectedly bad” Hall of Fame, the Conference Board told us the following about consumer confidence, more properly described as “consumer despair”:

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had improved slightly in July, plummeted in August. The Index now stands at 44.5 (1985=100), down from 59.2 in July. The Present Situation Index decreased to 33.3 from 35.7. The Expectations Index decreased to 51.9 from 74.9 last month.

… Says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center: “Consumer confidence deteriorated sharply in August, as consumers grew significantly more pessimistic about the short-term outlook. The index is now at its lowest level in more than two years (April 2009, 40.8). A contributing factor may have been the debt ceiling discussions since the decline in confidence was well underway before the S&P downgrade. Consumers’ assessment of current conditions, on the other hand, posted only a modest decline as employment conditions continue to suppress confidence.”

Business Insider’s email expected a drop to 52.5. The Associated Press carried a prediction of 53.3. Reuters must have been really embarrassed about the variance from expectations, only noting that “Economists had expected a much-less-pronounced decline.”

I would suggest that the saturation coverage of the debt-ceiling discussions and the mediocre results achieved broke through the media fog and got the attention of many of the usually disengaged, educating them as to how bad things really are and will continue to be for at least 17 more months because of you-know-who. If that’s true, it’s a good thing, despite its negative effect on the survey result.

Quotes of the Day: On Home Intruders and Self-Defense

Filed under: 2nd Amendment,Quotes, Etc. of the Day — Tom @ 9:13 am

At Ann Althouse’s place, her reaction to a story about a “fatal home intrusion” incident and a “castle doctrine” self-defense bill pending in Wisconsin:

I favor the bill myself, because people who are considering breaking into a house shouldn’t have a complicated set of risk/benefit factors to weigh. It should be really clear.

Indeed. If you break in, armed or unarmed, you deserve whatever negative consequences follow.

Also, this important reaction from a commenter:

I whole heartedly support the new law. Don’t know if I’m going to purchase a gun or not, but just the fact that others do makes me safer.

It would be nice if the gun-averse among us who wish to take everyone’s guns away, or force us to keep them unloaded, or to have their triggers locked to the point where their self-defense value is virtually nil, would comprehend this.

Positivity: Doctor, Facing Death, Races to Finish His Last Research Paper Using Tablet, High-Tech Assistance

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:16 am

You might consider locating a hankie before reading this one.

From San Francisco (HT Daily Good; post title is mine; bolds are mine):

Dr. Richard Olney in last stages, study of disease
Monday, April 25, 2011

Dr. Richard Olney is racing to finish what is almost certain to be his last research paper.

The 63-year-old UCSF neurologist is considered one of the country’s top clinical specialists for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is also the reason Olney is in a hurry to finish his paper: He was diagnosed with ALS in 2004, and after a long period of relative stability, the disease appears to be rapidly winning out over the doctor.

Olney has almost no muscle function left.

“He’s at the end stages now, certainly,” said Dr. Catherine Lomen-Hoerth, once Olney’s medical trainee, now his doctor. “I’m hopeful he may have at least a few months.”

Olney hopes the disease he is studying will spare him at least long enough to finish his research on it. His son, Nicholas, 33, is assisting with the final write-up.

Their goal is to show how certain clinical readings of the muscles and nerves, recorded over a three-month span in the early stages of ALS, might help identify which patients will lose all muscle control quickly and which might have years before they succumb. That kind of information would be invaluable for patients and their families. It also could point researchers toward new genetic clues and treatment strategies for at least some of the many ALS subtypes.

Results are based on only 26 cases. The value of the findings will take time to determine. The study author will have to leave the follow-up to others.

Breathing problems sent Olney to the UCSF emergency room in March, followed by a few days in the intensive care unit. He has lost virtually all muscle control. He communicates by moving his pupils. Sweeping his gaze over a computer tablet, he selects letters and key words one by one, blinking to record each choice.

The computer reads out his sentences in his own voice, which he recorded for this purpose, back when he was still able to speak. As one of the country’s top ALS specialists, Olney knew, right from the start, what he was in for.

He founded the ALS Treatment and Research Center at UCSF in 1993 and served as its director until he became a patient of his own center, now headed by Lomen-Hoerth.

Trial subject for drug

Lomen-Hoerth also wound up leading a placebo-controlled clinical test of two ALS drug candidates that Olney had designed and planned to run. He served as a trial subject instead. The drugs proved to be ineffective. One of the compounds in the study – which happened to be the one Olney was assigned to take – even showed toxic effects in the ALS patients.

That may have contributed to Olney’s rapid deterioration during the early months of his disease, Lomen-Hoerth said, but she insisted such bitter outcomes are unavoidable if the research is ever to move forward.

Considering the notoriety of a disease nicknamed for one of the legends of baseball, treatment of ALS is still largely a guessing game. It arises in nearly all cases without any known genetic risk or link to pathogens. Researchers suspect ALS actually should be considered a catchall category of many different conditions. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

As best I can tell, Dr. Olney is still alive. May his final days be blessed and productive ones.

August 30, 2011

AP’s Kuhnhenn: Obama ‘Hamstrung’ by ‘Limited Tools’ to Improve Economy and Increase Employment

Poor President Obama. There’s only so much he can do to lift the economy. He’s tried so much already, yet somehow it just hasn’t worked. Now his options are limited by those darned Republican demands for “fiscal austerity” and a “tight debt ceiling” (of “only” $2.4 trillion) which was only raised by enough to get him through his reelection effort (in 14-1/2 months).

This is the utter garbage in a Tuesday morning report (“Obama faces tight restraints in crafting jobs plan”) the Associated Press’s Jim Kuhnhenn expects his wire service’s readers, listeners, and viewers to swallow, and its subscribing media outlets to non-skeptically publish and broadcast.

If I were to use my annotated style of taking apart a story, I’d have at least 30 items. Other than his very late segment addressing the worthy recommendations of economist Kevin Hassett, virtually every sentence is a teeth-grinder, and almost every statement by anyone other than Hassett is a forehead-slapper.

Here are my nominees for the top three ridiculous passages in Kuhnhenn’s calamity:

(opening sentence)

Hamstrung by budget cuts and a tight debt ceiling, President Barack Obama is preparing a September jobs package with limited tools at his disposal to prime the economy and crank up employment.

Jim, there are no cuts. Spending continues to increase. Any items advertised as “cuts” are only reductions in projected spending per the Congressional Budget Office assuming Congress just sits there and doesn’t try to do its job. If you can point to a major budget where actual spending in fiscal 2012 is projected to be less than fiscal 2011 spending — let alone fiscal 2007, before Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid followed by President Obama tore the roof off of anything resembling spending control — I’d like to know what it is. The federal government is on track to spend well over 35% more in fiscal 2011 (about $3.7 trillion) than it did in 2007 (about $2.7 trillion). “Budget cuts”?

(Paragraph 9)

He also has lent support to a proposal to create an “infrastructure bank,” a fund that would be seeded by the government but fed by private investment to pay for major road, bridge and other public construction. Even advocates of the plan, however, say that proposal probably would not be in place to generate jobs for about two years.

Then why is he bothering?

(Final paragraph)

“The debt deal doesn’t allow any sizable amount of deficit spending or increased spending,” he (Lawrence Mishel, president of the liberal Economic Policy Institute) said. “If you ‘re going to pay for it later, how do you do that when you have a tight amount of debt that you can take on over the next year and a half?”

This is downright pathological. “The debt deal” allowed the national debt to increase by $2.4 trillion over roughly 18 months. That’s a $133 billion per month average. That’s a “tight amount”? Someone should ask Mishel what he thinks would be “loose.”

As for “any sizable amount of deficit spending or increased spending” — Lord, we’ve run almost $4 trillion in official deficits during the last three fiscal years (fiscal 2009 and 2010 actuals per the Treasury Department, $1.42 trillion and $1.29 trillion; projected fiscal 2011, $1.28 trillion; projected three-year total, $3.99 trillion), while the national debt ballooned by $4.6 trillion from September 30, 2008 through yesterday ($14.625 trillion minus $10.025 trillion. How high would these numbers have to get before they become “sizable”?

Rush’s reaction to Kuhnhenn’s report during the opening segment of his show today was similar to your truly’s, and his ending echoes the point I made in the second paragraph of this post’s introduction (bolds are mine):

AP is very concerned here, folks. They’re making excuses for Obama, even before he delivers the big jobs speech that’s coming up sometime next week. And remember how they used to do that for Bush? Make excuses? Yeah, guess not. In any case, what this AP story boils down to is that the first round of stimulus is drying up, and according to AP, that’s why the GDP, economic growth, is down to 1%. Isn’t that cool? Economic growth is down, not because of unemployment, not because Obama has targeted the private sector, not because he has shrunk the private sector while growing the government. No, no, no, no. Our economic slowdown is due to the fact that the first stimulus is now drying up.

So consequently Obama is now desperate for another round of stimulus in order to keep the GDP in positive territory and out of an official recession in an election year. The trouble is that Obama can’t spend much without raising the debt ceiling yet again, as AP points out. Hey, it’s real problem. We just went through a debt ceiling fight, raising it another two point whatever trillion dollars and we can’t go back to it too soon. People didn’t want the debt ceiling raised this time. So the AP is wringing its hands and they’re all concerned over the restraints poor Obama faces in announcing his jobs program.

In the middle of three years of failure, you have a major news organization that’s making the case for Obama in advance for more of the same, which is going to get us more of the same: smaller private sector, fewer jobs, no salary or wage increases. Utter failure. And yet they are promoting it. They are making the case for it. Well, both. Making the case for it and for him.

But the point is they’re saying Obama must up spending to get reelected. How many more votes can he buy? How many more votes can he buy? If this was the way to reelection, he ought to be at 70, 80% in the polls. So I look at this and I chuckle, I laugh, and then I sorta scratch my head because this is a major problem. This story is gonna run in newspapers and on websites all across the country, and a bunch of people (are) gonna read it and think that it’s the way it is. I mean it’s the height of ignorance, of being uninformed, and journalistic malpractice at the same time.

It isn’t journalistic malpractice only if you’re in Jim Kuhnhenn’s Cave on Planet AP.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Update: Wausau, Wis. Mayor Tells Labor Day Union Sponsors to Invite GOP Pols or Pay All Costs

The plot thickens.

On Sunday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that “GOP politicians aren’t welcome in this year’s Labor Day parade” in Wausau, Wisconsin, because, according to the Marathon County Central Labor Council, which until today apparently thought it was the only sponsor of said parade, “organizers choose not to invite elected officials who have openly attacked worker’s rights.”

The Labor Council found out today from Wausau Mayor Jim Tipple that they are not the parade’s only sponsor, as a video replay of a local station’s news segment at Breitbart (HT to NB commenter “DaChew“) informs us (transcript follows the jump; bolds are mine throughout):

(more…)

Quick Hits (083011, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 10:21 am

Warren Buffett, who believes taxes aren’t high enough on people in his pay and earnings grade, is quite astute at tax avoidance. A Wall Street Journal editorial points out that his firm’s effective tax rate on the $300 million a year in preferred stock dividends it receives from its recent $5 billion investment in Bank of America will be 10.5%. Update, August 31: According to a Berkshire Hathaway response carried at TaxProf, the rate will be 14.175%. The dollar amount in the following paragraph has been changed to reflect that rate.

Given that he’s so gung-ho about how the rich need to be “coddled” less and taxed more, one wonders why Buffett won’t voluntarily pay about $48 million extra each year in taxes on those dividends to get the rate up to about 30%, which in his mind would be his fair share.

Update (via commenter Greg): “Warren Buffett, hypocrite” –

………Berkshire Hathaway owes back taxes since as long ago as 2002. If Buffett really thinks he and his “mega-rich friends” should pay higher taxes, why doesn’t his firm fork over what it already owes under current rates?

Really, the amounts in dispute are probably far less than what he thinks he and other rich guys should be paying. Why waste the lawyers’ and accountants’ fees and the government’s time?

__________________________________________________

“Obamacare,” a term now accepted by the President, is still a loser in the polls, with one of the latest being Rasmussen, where likely voters polled want it repealed by 57-37 (HT Life News).

__________________________________________________

For the fourth time in two weeks, a poll supports the notion that Rick Perry is the front-runner for the GOP nomination by double digits, and that Objectively Unfit Mitt Romney is in the midst of a long goodbye.

The real debate within the GOP should be over whether Rick Perry is the best person to promote the sensible conservatism (a redundant term) inherent in the values and positions of Tea Party sympathizers. Mitt Romney isn’t in that conversation, and isn’t even trying to be in that conversation.

Update, 9:30 p.m.: My oh my. Even though it’s Zogby (HT Hot Air), the numbers are worth noting. Perry 41, the next four 40 (Romney 12, Paul 11, Bachmann 9, Cain 8). But in a one-on-one vs. Obama, the best performer among the top five declared candidates, at 46-41, is Michele Bachmann. ORPINO (the Ohio Republican Party In Name Only) and other GOP establishment types will be displeased to know that Mitt Romney (at 40-45) is the worst.

__________________________________________________

Okay, we’re overdoing it on the polls, but the obvious snarky response to this is too irresistible: “One in four Democrats wants to dump Obama.”

That should read: “One in four Democrats admits to wanting to dump Obama; many more won’t admit it for fear of being labeled a raaaaaaaacist.”

__________________________________________________

From the “Words Fail” Dept.: “President Obama’s uncle had Social Security ID” — and a driver’s license. Since 1992. Oh, and he’s “the subject of a previous deportation order.”

Next thing you know, someone’s going figure out that he’s been voting.

__________________________________________________

Of course it is (“A Social Security system Bernie Madoff would love”):

A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment plan that pays returns to investors with their own money, rather than with actual profits. It lures investors with higher-than-usual payouts — money coming, of course, from new investors.

Since Ponzi schemes depend on perpetual growth and pay out more than they takes in, they’re ultimately doomed to failure. The only question is how much money a scammer can pilfer before the pyramid crashes down or the law sniffs the scheme out.

… Whether or not a Ponzi scheme and Social Security share much in common rests on whether one accepts the fundamental premise that Social Security’s benefits are guaranteed.

The author makes some good points, but didn’t get to the heart of things:

  • There’s no debate over whether today’s taxes from workers are used to pay today’s retirees. They are.
  • There’s no debate over whether taxes being collected from workers are enough to pay today’s retirees. They aren’t. Taxpayers in general are making up the currently $50 billion a year difference — the equivalent of one Bernie Madoff scandal annually; thanks to the recession and subsequent “Rebound? What Rebound?” recovery, that situation isn’t projected to turn around. In other words, the Ponzi scheme has already failed, and the country as a whole is covering its losses.
  • Finally, there’s no debate over whether Social Security benefits are guaranteed. They aren’t. The courts have said so, as noted at the link: “[W]orkers have no contractual or property rights to any benefits whatsoever.”

Additionally, the fact that Social Security’s annual shortfalls are being “covered” with deficit spending means that today’s taxpayers and generations yet unborn are paying current retirees’ retirement benefits.

Positivity: Rhode Island 9/11 Mass to honor the fallen

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 8:40 am

From Providence:

Aug 28, 2011 / 01:06 pm

While the nation was forever changed by the events of Sept.11, 2001, comparably few know personally the feeling of having lost someone they had known in the terrorist attacks of that day.

In 1996, Linda George had graduated from Providence College. After college, she landed a good job with T.J. Maxx, her friend and fellow P.C. alum Mike Manning remembers. On Sept. 11, George was headed from Boston to the West Coast on a business trip, a trip cut short when terrorists targeted New York’s World Trade Center with the aircraft she was flying on, killing everyone on board. In all, nearly 3,000 people would die that day in New York City, at the Pentagon, as well as in a desolate field in Shanksville, Pa.

“She was a great friend of mine,” said Manning, who graduated from P.C. in 1997 and then joined the army.

Maj. Manning, who serves as the legislative liaison for the Rhode land National Guard, has joined several of his colleagues from the armed forces in working with the Diocese of Providence to plan a Mass to mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

“This is a day for us to take pause, to take a knee and remember those who were lost,” Manning said.

“We’ve been at war for 10 years now. It’s important to mark this significant event.”

The Mass of Remembrance and Blessing will be held on Sunday, Sept. 11 at 1 p.m. at the Cathedral of SS. Peter & Paul in Providence. All are invited to attend.

Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin will preside over the Mass, while Chaplain Col. Father Robert L. Marciano, state command chaplain of the Rhode Island National Guard, will serve as the homilist.

Father Marciano was one of several chaplains who suited up and waded through the wreckage from the Pentagon attack to offer prayers for the dead as the remains of the 184 victims there were recovered.

“At the end of the Mass, there will be a roll call of heroes read,” said Fr. Marciano, noting one of the most poignant moments planned around the service.

The Mass is being said for all citizens and members of the police, fire and military and their families. Personnel from these groups are requested to wear their uniforms for the Mass. Representatives of different branches of the military will present the colors at the beginning of Mass.

“The Mass promises to be a very beautiful and prayerful event for our whole church community,” said Bishop Tobin. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

August 29, 2011

LiveAction.org Calls Out NYT’s Charles Blow For Now-Corrected Obvious Abortion Stat Error

In his Friday column (“Failing Forward“), published in Saturday’s print edition, the New York Time’s Charles Blow really blew it in attempting to relay an abortion-related statistic from the abortion-supportive Alan Guttmacher Institute. Blow wrote (shown here) that “the unintended pregnancy rate has jumped 50 percent since 1994.”

The Times has since corrected the column to reflect what the Guttmacher Institute reported, which is that (italics are mine) “the unintended pregnancy rate among poor women has jumped 50 percent since 1994.” LiveAction.org’s Lisa Graas and Jennie Stone both noted Blow’s blunder earlier today. Each also strongly and eloquently criticized Blow for his profoundly antilife attitudes. Additionally, the Times columnist used a “from 2000 to 2009″ statistic about child poverty to mask the fact that most of the rise in that statistic occurred during the final year of that time period, i.e., the first year of the presidency of you-know-who.

(more…)

AP’s Pace, Covering Krueger Nomination: Obama Struggles With ‘Perceptions the Economy Is Stuck in Low Gear’

Maybe AP stands for “Alternative Planet.”

In an early version of Julie Pace’s coverage of President Obama’s selection of Alan Krueger to be the next head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, the following paragraph appeared (bolds are mine):

The decision completes a wholesale shake-up of the team that Obama brought with him to the White House over three years ago. Advisers Larry Summers, Christina Romer and Goolsbee have now all departed, and Obama continues to struggle with perceptions the economy is stuck in low gear on his watch.

Two obvious points:

  1. Obama has been President for just over 31 months, which is over five months short of “over three years ago.” It has been about a week short of 34 months since he won the presidential election and started acting like he was already president during the Bush-Obama transition. It only feels like it’s been over three years, Julie — wayyyyy over three years, while the Obama administration’s policies have set industries like housing back by decades.
  2. In Pace’s Place on Planet AP, Obama’s problem isn’t that the economy is sputtering; it’s just the perception that it is. The economy’s average annualized growth this year of less than 1% is some kind of mirage.

Actually, there’s a name for the planet on which Pace and a large and influential portion of the wire service which employs her reside: Planet DC. In that never-never land, Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index is at +11. Meanwhile, each of the 50 states has a confidence index of -13 or lower. Additionally, as noted by Catherine Rampell at the New York Times:

In every state, a majority of residents think the economy is getting worse. In the nation’s capital, however, a full 60 percent of people think the economy is getting better.

This may be good evidence for those arguing that Washington exists in its own disconnected bubble.

Or, in other words, on Planet DC, a land made rich largely on the backs of the 50 states from which it receives its sustenance.

Planet DC has two aspects. Its current condition is one where things are great no matter what the silly economic data says. On the other hand, when a Republican or conservative is in the White House, as was the case during the eight years before President Obama took office, I don’t recall the press ever claiming that George W. Bush’s economy was facing “perception” problems. In fact, Planet DC’s media residents worked tirelessly to create negative and largely false economic perceptions during those years.

Pace’s early errors are in the process of being washed clean and flushed down the media memory hole in the AP’s updates. A Google web search on the second bolded segment above (in quotes) returned 68 items without duplicates at about 1:30 p.m. But clicking on many and perhaps most of the results returned (examples here and here) brings one to an updated version of Pace’s story without the timing error and “perception” howler. A Google News search on the same string returns only one item at NPR.com which as of 1:40 p.m. hadn’t been revised.

You see, in addition to having no accountability for differentially reporting on the economic performance of presidents regardless of the underlying economic reality (Republicans/conservatives – “weak,” “trying to avoid a recession”; Democrats – “booming,” — or if not, “struggling with perceptions”), being on Planet AP means almost never having to say you’re sorry.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Stephen Moore on Obamanomics vs. Reaganomics: ‘One program for recovery worked, and the other hasn’t’

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:52 am

Wall Street Journal editorial board member laid it out starkly on Friday, before the downward revision of GDP growth was announced (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

The two presidents have a lot in common. Both inherited an American economy in collapse. And both applied daring, expensive remedies. Mr. Reagan passed the biggest tax cut ever, combined with an agenda of deregulation, monetary restraint and spending controls. Mr. Obama, of course, has given us a $1 trillion spending stimulus.

By the end of the summer of Reagan’s third year in office, the economy was soaring. The GDP growth rate was 5% and racing toward 7%, even 8% growth. In 1983 and ’84 output was growing so fast the biggest worry was that the economy would “overheat.” In the summer of 2011 we have an economy limping along at barely 1% growth and by some indications headed toward a “double-dip” recession. By the end of Reagan’s first term, it was Morning in America. Today there is gloomy talk of America in its twilight.

… One program for recovery worked, and the other hasn’t.

The Reagan philosophy was to incentivize production—i.e., the “supply side” of the economy—by lowering restraints on business expansion and investment. This was done by slashing marginal income tax rates, eliminating regulatory high hurdles, and reining in inflation with a tighter monetary policy.

The Keynesians in the early 1980s assured us that the Reagan expansion would not and could not happen. …

The Godfather of the neo-Keynesians, Paul Samuelson, was the lead critic of the supposed follies of Reaganomics. He wrote in a 1980 Newsweek column that to slay the inflation monster would take “five to ten years of austerity,” with unemployment of 8% or 9% and real output of “barely 1 or 2 percent.” Reaganomics was routinely ridiculed in the media, especially in the 1982 recession. That was the year MIT economist Lester Thurow famously said, “The engines of economic growth have shut down here and across the globe, and they are likely to stay that way for years to come.”

The economy would soon take flight for more than 80 consecutive months. …

… Fast-forward to today. Mr. Obama is running deficits of $1.3 trillion, or 8%-9% of GDP. If the Reagan deficits powered the ’80s expansion (as Keynesians claimed after the fact — Ed.), the Obama deficits—twice as large—should have the U.S. sprinting at Olympic speed.

what Reagan inherited was arguably a more severe financial crisis than what was dropped in Mr. Obama’s lap. You don’t believe it? From 1967 to 1982 stocks lost two-thirds of their value relative to inflation, according to a new report from Laffer Associates. That mass liquidation of wealth was a first-rate financial calamity. And tell me that 20% mortgage interest rates, as we saw in the 1970s, aren’t indicative of a monetary-policy meltdown.

… (Reagan’s often-criticized) borrowing financed a remarkable and prolonged economic expansion and a victory against the Evil Empire in the Cold War. What exactly have Mr. Obama’s deficits gotten us?

Two other points:

  1. I disagree with Moore on the pre-Obama “collapse.” Conditions were in place for a recovery to begin on its own in the month or so before Obama’s inauguration. As the plans for massive “stimulus” became known, and especially after it was rapidly and rabidly passed, any chances of that happening were squashed like a bug. Before it make the “Endless Recovery” a now over-two-year miserable experience, the stimulus lengthened the recession. 2Q09′s GDP contraction shouldn’t have happened.
  2. One important overlooked item is that Reagan’s tax cuts of 5%, 10%, and 10% didn’t kick in until October 1981, July 1982, and July 1983, respectively. At the time, the Journal properly pointed out that the 1981 cut, effectively a 1.25% cut, was meaningless and that the 1982 cut spread over the calendar year was only another 5% (i.e., only a cumulative 10%). It was only in early 1983 when the size of the Reagan cuts (now up to 20%) began to aggressively improve the economy with full force. The Democrat-controlled Congress of Tip O’Neill couldn’t stop the cuts because of their popularity, but established the kick-in dates just noted in hopes of stalling the positive effects of Reagan’s cuts (which they knew in their hearts would work) far enough into the future to undercut the president’s popularity and end his presidency. It didn’t work, but it needlessly lengthened the recession and delayed the recovery.

So much for the party of compassion, which in both cases cited lengthened recessions and increased the associated pain on the unemployed.

Positivity: Record number of Dallas seminarians is answer to prayers

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Dallas:

Aug 26, 2011 / 06:14 am

The Diocese of Dallas has a record number of 19 new seminarians, Bishop Kevin Farrell announced recently.

“Indeed the Holy Spirit has been working through parents, priests and our vocations staff to bring about this blessing for our diocese. The prayers of many have been answered,” the Bishop of Dallas said on his blog Aug. 19.

The number is an increase from last year, when 11 men entered seminary. Fifteen of the new seminarians come from the Diocese of Dallas.

“It is great to have some good news to report these days and a record number of 19 new seminarians is certainly good news,” Bishop Farrell said.

There are now 70 seminarians studying for the diocese, an increase from 56 in 2010.

Twelve of the new aspirants to the priesthood will attend Holy Trinity Seminary, two will go to St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston and two will attend Assumption Seminary in San Antonio. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

August 28, 2011

Wausau, Wis. Labor Day Parade Sponsor to Republican Pols: You’re Not Welcome

The childishness on the left in Wisconsin continues.

In Wausau, GOP politicians aren’t welcome in this year’s Labor Day parade, as noted in a news brief at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (bolds are mine):

Wausau bars GOP from Labor Day parade

Community parades often feature local politicians waving to the crowds, but this year’s annual Labor Day parade in Wausau may be short a few elected officials.

That’s because the head of the group that sponsors the Wausau Labor Day Parade, the Marathon County Central Labor Council, is telling Republican lawmakers from the area that they’re not welcome Sept. 5.

“Usually they’ve been in the parade, but it seems like they only want to stand with us one day a year, and the other 364 days they don’t really care,” said Randy Radtke, president of the council.

The council is made up of about 30 local unions from the Marathon County area.

In a statement, Radtke added that the parade is intended to celebrate working men and women and what the labor movement has given them: weekends, a 40-hour workweek, child labor protection and a safe working environment.

“It should come as no surprise that organizers choose not to invite elected officials who have openly attacked worker’s rights or stood idly by while their political party fought to strip public workers of their right to collectively bargain,” Radtke said.

What seems foolish about this is that the sponsors could have achieved their goal by doing nothing. Because of safety concerns, it seems likely that many GOP pols would have backed out anyway.

After all, memories of death threats (ignored by the broadcast media, of course), other threats, shoving, being chased down and trapped by hecklers, and other items detailed by Brent Bozell six months ago during the ultimately successful attempt to pass Governor Scott Walker’s budget repair and collective bargaining reform bill are surely fresh in every state GOP legislator’s mind. Even if you were personally up for the risk, why would you expose your spouse, children, or extended family to the potential ugliness?

A related unbylined Associated Press item, which is currently (and appropriately, in my view, as there’s only one such situation) being carried as a local story, is here.

It will be interesting in the coming week before the holiday to see if this becomes a Badger State trend, and how much media attention outside of Wisconsin it gets if it does.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Keynesianism’s Collapse

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:00 am

If it ever worked (highly doubtful), it is now invariably abused.

______________________________

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

______________________________

A New York Times item earlier this month about steps President Barack Obama might be considering to turn around America’s moribund economy caught my attention more for what it didn’t say than what it did, specifically in the following sentence:

A wide range of economists say the administration should call for a new round of stimulus spending, as prescribed by mainstream economic theory, to create jobs and promote growth. It is clear that the House would never pass such a plan.

Times reporters Binyamin Applebaum and Helene Cooper oddly never revealed that this “mainstream economic theory” subscribed to by “a wide range of economists” goes by a specific name: Keynesianism.

What a remarkable change from just a couple of years ago, when the Times routinely invoked the late English economist and his principles. A ridiculously biased and badly in need of updating Wikipedia entry on Keynes describes 2008-2009 as the “Keynesian resurgence.” Serendipitously, on the last day of that two-year period, I was asking, “Economic Rebound? What Economic Rebound?” I’m still asking.

Far less than two years after the “resurgence,” odious Times columnist Paul Krugman demonstrated the utter bankruptcy of current Keynesian thought. In a televised CNN discussion on August 12, he suggested an out of this world idea:

If we discovered that space aliens were planning to attack and we needed a massive buildup to counter the space alien threat and really inflation and budget deficits took secondary place to that, this slump would be over in 18 months.

This really should not have been so surprising. Days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Krugman wrote:

Ghastly as it may seem to say this, the terror attack — like the original day of infamy, which brought an end to the Great Depression — could even do some economic good.

You read that right. Keynes’s leading U.S. apologist admitted that nearly a decade of Keynesianism applied to the U.S. economy failed to end the Great Depression. In fact, unemployment during the 1930s until the onset of World War II was never less than 12%. In Krugman’s view, Keynesianism has never really been tried, because no one has ever spent enough to give the theory a fair test.

But surely there is a basis for believing that Keynesian approaches should and sometimes actually do work, right? After all, it was “the dominant view in the economics profession for at least the next forty years” after the Depression.

The fundamental problem with Keynesianism is, with rare exceptions, essentially the same as as the one with most generals’ battle plans, as expressed by Colin Powell: “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” Similarly, with perhaps the rarest of exceptions long, long ago, no Keynesian economic plan has ever survived contact with the government attempting to execute it. Governments have seriously abused Keynes’s original assertions, and have become so big and corrupt themselves that they are functionally incapable of successfully carrying out any attempted “Keynesian” stimulus which might theoretically work.

To fully vet my contention, let’s look at Keynes’s fundamental tenets as stated in a succinct adaptation from “Commanding Heights,” a highly complimentary 1998 book by Daniel A. Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

… (Keynes) concluded that classical economics rested on a fundamental error. It assumed, mistakenly, that the balance between supply and demand would ensure full employment. On the contrary, in Keynes’s view, the economy was chronically unstable and subject to fluctuations, and supply and demand could well balance out at an equilibrium that did not deliver full employment. [1] The reasons were inadequate investment and over-saving, both rooted in the psychology of uncertainty.

… The solution to this conundrum was seemingly simple: Replace the missing private investment with public investment, financed by deliberate deficits. The government would borrow money to spend on such things as public works; and that deficit spending, in turn, would create jobs and increase purchasing power. [2] Striving to balance the government’s budget during a slump would make things worse, not better. … As a corollary, the government would cut back its spending during times of recovery and expansion. [3]

… Keynes intended government to play a much larger role in the economy. His vision was one of reformed capitalism, managed capitalism—capitalism saved both from socialism and from itself. He talked about a “somewhat comprehensive socialization of investment” and the state’s taking “an ever greater responsibility for directly organizing investment.” Fiscal policy would enable wise managers to stabilize the economy without resorting to actual controls. The bulk of decision making would remain with the decentralized market rather than with the central planner. [4]

… Keynes provided both a specific rationale for government’s taking a bigger role in the economy and a more general confidence in the ability of government to intervene and manage effectively. Despite Keynes’s fascination with uncertainty and his speculative talents in the marketplace, Keynesians deemed “government knowledge” to be superior to that of the marketplace. [5]

… How far reaching its impact, or at least the perception of its impact, was demonstrated by a history of economic thought published in the mid-1960s: “In most Western economies Keynesian theory has laid the intellectual foundations for a managed and welfare-oriented form of capitalism. Indeed, the widespread absorption of the Keynesian message has in large measure been responsible for the generally high levels of employment achieved by most Western industrial countries since the second world war and for a significant reorientation in attitudes toward the role of the state in economic life.” [6]

It was not until the 1970s [7] that evidence began to accumulate in many countries that Keynes’s theories, at least as implemented by Keynes’s advocates after his death, might not perpetually yield the favorable outcomes Keynes himself had predicted.

Notes:

  • [1] — One wonders how humanity ever progressed to the point it did by the 1930s if Keynes was really right. Logically, throughout the course of history we should have seen market-oriented cultures around the world chronically underutilizing their resources and capabilities for extended periods of time, incapable of turning things around on their own. We didn’t. In fact, only a decade earlier, the U.S. recovered remarkably well from the very serious depression of 1920-21 despite the fact that the government of President Warren Harding did very little to intervene. The economy corrected itself, and fairly quickly, leading to the Roaring 20s.
  • [2] — There are two problems here. First, as President Obama himself admitted to the New York Times in 2010, “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects.” Although that was perhaps less true in the 1930s — ironically, because of today’s environmental red tape — it remains a fact that the government could not then as it cannot now hit the ground running with infrastructure spending. This leads to the second problem, which is that impatient, desperate politicians who want to pump money into the economy right now falsely invoke Keynes to justify throwing money at entitlement and other spending programs, demanding nothing of value in return. In the 1960s and 1970s, this outlook was expressed thusly: “It doesn’t matter what you spend it on, just spend it!” More recently, it has led to outrageous assertions by out-of-ideas politicians like former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown that money spent on unemployment benefits is one of the best forms of stimulus available.
  • [3] — Perhaps the biggest weakness of Keynesian thought is the naive belief that any government which gets used to spending more money will voluntarily acquiesce to spending less. It doesn’t happen, not even, as seen in recent years, when economic calamity clearly looms.
  • [4] — During the 1930s, which many history textbooks still regard as when “FDR saved us from the depression,” President Franklin Roosevelt “somehow” forgot about Keynes’s admonishment to avoid controls. In perhaps the most comprehensive program of status quo-protecting crony capitalism in history, FDR’s National Recovery Act required every major industry “to draw up a code setting production quotas, limiting hours of operation, or restricting construction of new factories.” In general, governments find it almost impossible to avoid exerting undue and almost invariably harmful influence over an economy as they abscond with an ever larger percentage of its fruits. Recent examples include actions too numerous to mention taken by the Obama administration’s ever-encroaching regulatory apparatus.
  • [5] — This is yet another fatal Keynesian conceit. As many non-Keynesian economists and commentators have stated over the years, the idea that central planners can do a better job of managing an economy’s trillions of individual transactions and interactions better than the market’s everyday participants reflects the unbounded hubris of those who adhere to it, and has no support in the actual results of human history.
  • [6] — This is an especially odd belief in light of what really happened after World War II. For some reason, the 1950s is still idealized as a period of exceptional countrywide Keynesian prosperity. In reality, average annual real GDP growth from 1951-1960, an era also characterized by Big Labor and Big Business dominance of the private sector and extraordinarily high marginal income tax rates, was just above 3.5%. Given that America was still the only major power left standing, it should have greatly exceeded that. But during the five years following the John F. Kennedy-inspired income tax cuts of 1964 — a decidedly non-Keynesian action — the economy grew by an annual average of over 5%. The decade of the 1970s and its reversion to Keynesianism, during which Richard Nixon actually said, “I am now a Keynesian in economics,” was extraordinarily unimpressive, and marked in its later years by ruinous double-digit inflation and interest rates. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan’s anti-Keynesian tax cuts, driven by a classical economist’s faith in the people, gave us The Seven Fat Years. More recently, capital gains tax cuts in 1997 led to that decade’s final-years boom, and George W. Bush’s relatively modest but supply side-oriented cuts in 2003 led to 34 consecutive months where the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5% or lower (July 2005 through April 2008).
  • [7] — The evidence of suboptimal results was really there in the 1930s, but the elites who controlled the political establishment and had a virtual stranglehold on the media consciously chose to ignore it.

Though it may not be fair to assign all of its results to Keynes and his theories, the ascension of Keynesianism as applied in the real world, its brief 2008-2009 return, and its still-present dominance of hidebound thought in academia and government were and still are products of an elitist class which feels that it alone possesses the intelligence and ideas which will make the world genuinely better. It has always been accompanied by a profound disregard for the wishes, dreams, and plans of others who will not conform to their supposedly enlightened vision. In the past three years, its application and misapplication have led the greatest economy ever seen on earth swiftly and dangerously down the path towards bankruptcy.