Sunday, November 15, 2009

America Is Coming to a Crossroads

Several converging essays for your consideration. The first concerns the bills for the amazing spending spree this administration has crammed down our throats, even as we gagged in protest:

President Barack Obama plans to announce in next year’s State of the Union address that he wants to focus extensively on cutting the federal deficit in 2010 - and will downplay other new domestic spending beyond jobs programs, according to top aides involved in the planning.

The president’s plan, which the officials said was under discussion before this month’s Democratic election setbacks, represents both a practical and a political calculation by this White House.

What was that word the politician flung at Obama when he came to Capitol Hill to discuss legislation? "Fibber"? "Prevaricator?" Oh, right: LIAR! As the children’s taunt goes, "liar, liar pants on fire". Obama must be wearing asbestos Jockeys by now.

He wants us to believe that this new tack of his into a more conservative sea had nothing to do with the recent elections of Republicans. They won despite his efforts to bring the voters back into the Democrat camp. Obama failed because of his own track record.

Yes, we’ll believe this remorse over spending just "happened" the same way we believe that his "energy" legislation won’t turn us into a third world economy, or that his infamous "jobs" program won’t send the unemployment rates even higher than they already are.

Maybe he’s been looking at the polls of the last few months? Perhaps his own negative polling is a clue that socialism doesn’t play in Peoria or Podunk, or in those "small, bitter towns" in Pennsylvania that he held in such contempt during his campaign?

Has he seen that more Americans are calling themselves conservatives than ever before? He ought to take credit for that accomplishment since his illogical, irresponsible (i.e., Socialist) programs were the main factor in that huge right turn by the voters.

Yep, you won, Barry, and look what you did with your prize. Remember the dog that chased a car until he finally caught it? That mutt was so excited he bit big holes in all four tires and the car came to a halt. End of game for the dog. Same thing here: you chased the presidency real hard and you won it, at which point you proceeded to bite big holes in our prosperity. Now what?

Continuing, Politico notes:

On the practical side, Obama has spent more money on new programs in nine months than Bill Clinton did in eight years, pushing the annual deficit to $1.4 trillion. This leaves little room for big spending initiatives.

Well there’s an understatement for you. There is no room for "big spending initiatives" unless he cancels some of the previous nightmares he foisted off on us in those first horrid nine months.
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On the political side, Obama can help moderate Democrats avoid some tough votes in an election year and, perhaps more importantly, calm the nerves of independent voters who are voicing big concerns with the big spending and deficits. Even if Obama succeeds - and that’s a big if - it will be tough for many Democrats to sell themselves as deeply concerned about spending after voting for the stimulus, the bailouts, the health care legislation and a plan to address global warming, four enormous government programs.

This writer is dreaming. The best help Obama can give "moderate Democrats" in their election campaigns next year is to leave them alone. Ask Creigh Deeds in Virginia. Obama’s "help" sank his campaign, though he would’ve lost anyway because he spends.

Democrats are going to have a hard enough time explaining why they ever went along with this series of drunken sprees to begin with. Face it, guys: no one believes you anymore. You’ve created too much bad debt, told too many fat ones, and made too many promises you can’t deliver. The voters can crunch the numbers even if you hide your eyes and cover your ears so you won’t have to see or hear the results of the Biggest Folly of the 21st Century as it grinds on down the track.

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In connection with all these issues, Robert Bidinotto sent an email recently linking to a Facebook essay about Obama’s peachy keen new idea: in December he’ll hold a "jobs summit" to solve the continuing unemployment problems (at least I think that’s where the link leads). Mr Bidinotto said, most entertainingly:

On a website I visit, somebody was complaining about news that Barack Obama was planning to hold a "jobs summit" in December to solve, once and for all, the dire problem of soaring unemployment. How could another meeting at the White House possibly end our recession? this Doubting Thomas demanded to know.

His angry outburst struck me as the woefully short-sighted rant of a Tea Party Nazi. It certainly demonstrated a fundamentally feeble grasp of the nuances and subtleties of modern economic theory, which are clearly understood by our president.

Of course Mr. Obama’s "Jobs Summit" will create jobs! Let me count the ways:

First, think of all the boosted employment we will witness in the "Useless Summit" industry: conference organizers, badge-makers, PowerPoint experts, flower-arrangers, coffee-pourers, table-cloth folders-I mean, the list just goes on and on.

But that’s merely at the conference. What about all the preparations for travel to and from the conference?

Think of how many attendee business suits will go to dry cleaners. Think of the airline tickets purchased. The airports. The cab rides. Ponder the army of accountants who will have to go over all the expense reports from this crucial event.

Consider all the wear and tear on the transportation vehicles involved-jets, cabs, limos-putting them just that much closer to being replaced by new purchases, which, in turn, will stimulate the auto and airline industries. Consider the White House electric bill alone, and how much it will mean for the local power company. Think, too, of all the fuel that will be used up coming and going to the Summit, stimulating the oil and gasoline industries.

And regarding that fuel: Reflect for a moment, if you will, on all the CO2 that attendee jets and limos will emit en route to the Summit. This ginormous release of carbon into our atmosphere would not have occurred, except for the Summit. Yes, Barack Obama would be the first to acknowledge that it will contribute to a environmental crisis; but, as Rahm Emmanuel would say, there is always opportunity to be found in a good crisis.

For example, the CO2 emissions no doubt will be carefully monitored by atmospheric scientists and climate-modelers, leading to scores of "jobs created or saved" in this vital field. Consider also the longer-term ramifications. Emergency remediation efforts for the increased CO2 emitted by the conferees will stimulate entire cottage industries of new jobs. A "Keynesian multiplier effect" will occur: Each dollar spent by atmospheric scientists and conference attendees on issuing dire reports and forecasts will, in turn, generate $3.26 spending in the printer-paper industry, $1.82 in the lumber industry, $4.37 for Kinko’s, $1.85 for the ink industry, $5.50 for overnight deliveries by Federal Express, $7,223.44 in overtime for postal workers-plus 378,498 downstream jobs created or saved in federal and international regulatory bureaucracies.

These calculations, of course, do not even begin to include the boost to peripheral service industries, such as Washington-area restaurants, hotels, bars, tourist traps, and hookers.

In short, this single event alone could generate enough economic activity to pull us out of the recession! Why, it would be treasonously irresponsible if Barack Obama did NOT hold this summit.

So, enough of the criticism, already. We should be gladdened and relieved that, at last, we have a firm and steady hand on the tiller of our economy. And I, for one, just can’t wait for the next stimulative product of his ever-fertile brain.

The next stimulative effect? It will probably be a recommendation to invest in prunes.

However, I think Bob’s on to something here: we need conferences, lots of them. Conferences every day in every city, town, and hamlet. We need talking heads and flow charts and slide presentations. We need caterers and housekeeping and pencil and paper manufacturers.

The possibilities are endless for the future manufacture of conferences. And be sure to call them "summits". Employment for all! We’re the new summiteers and we all need laptops. Don’t worry about any carpal tunnel syndrome, either. With our grand new wonderful health care there will be doctors and nurses at each conference, ready to soothe each boo-boo.

Gosh, this economic stuff is easy once you get the hang of it. And that Facebook entry looks so interesting that I’m going to have to break down and join.

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Oops. Here comes the spoiler -- from the historians, of course.

Judith Apter Klinghoffer claims our unemployment woes are self-inflicted, America. Bummer. Why does reality always have to show up?

Ms. Klinghoffer says:

Stop telling me that unemployment is a lagging indicator. It may be so but it is higher and is lagging more in the US than in the rest of the developed world. Not only German but even British unemployment is declining! Oh, yes, it picked at 7.9% and declined to 7.8% to the "surprise" of economists. The are probably the same economists who no longer dare attach the word surprise to the ongoing decline in German unemployment to 7.7%. After all, Brown, unlike Merkel, used generous economic stimulus to try to deal with the recession. So clearly the stimulus alone is not responsible for the lack of decline in the American unemployment rate.

What is? More than ever, I suspect the fault lies in the Obama/Democratic congress legislative agenda which creates too much uncertainty in the business community for them to invest in the US.

"Uncertainty"? The legislative psychosis which has seized the collective brain of Congress has us all scared to death. What will they dream up next? What new tax, what new criminalization of behavior will we threatened with? What small business would hire anyone when not buying them enough health insurance could end in jail time?

So with all the crazies running the asylum, where does the American corporate money go? Where it’s safer and saner, of course:

Consequently, American companies, even those run by the American government such as GM, prefer to direct their investment not only to fast growing Asia but also to slow growing Europe. Case in point, GM managers’ enlightened decision not to sell its European subsidiary Opel as it had previously announced.

It was a decision that benefits Britain and Germany, not to mention that it will probably force GM to repay the German government that 2.2 billion dollar advance it was given by the Germans.

GM’s decision stunned Europe. It should not have. Faced With potential costs inherent in thousands of pages of new complicated health care and cap and trade legislation, GM managers sensibly concluded that investing money in Europe is more sensible because the environment is more predictable. [my emphasis]

Imagine that. The Old World still has a few tricks left to teach the New One. Can you say hubris, Congress, Wall Street?

Indeed, the notion that the high American unemployment may be a self inflicted wound may be penetrating even the thick skull of some economists and Democratic politicians. Moreover, they are beginning to understand that the US simply cannot afford Obama’s ambitious legislative agenda. Consider the following exchange between to economists on BBC’s "Head to Head" and remember they have not even mentioned cap and trade.

John Silvia: I agree on the forward momentum. My issue is that the pace will be disappointing to a society and political class that has made significant promises in health care and education that will not be deliverable with just moderate growth.

Middle-income and low-income families will see their standard of living [drop] below their expectations. . . .


Mark Perry: Passing health care legislation, at least the public option part, is looking less and less likely to me, so that issue could be dead by the end of the year.

In other words, as could have been predicted and has been predicted, Socialists such as Obama who purport to put equality before productivity end up making the poor poorer. This is the essential truth Ayn Rand explained so well and that the Left succeeds in covering up so well.

Is there a light at the end of this tunnel? Yes.

The truth is beginning to penetrate and may hopefully restrain Obama and Congressional Democrats...More importantly, ingenious Americans are beginning to tinker again. If only the increasingly coercive Democratic administration does not force them to leave their homeland in search for freedom as those coming to America did in the last four centuries.

She’s not exaggerating. If someone doesn’t rein in Obama & Co., then all the bright, ambitious young "tinkerers" will head for places where their talents are appreciated, not criminalized.

15 comments:

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

South America mayhap? If they can live without fresh milk and tolerate dulce de leche on everything they could do worse than Paraguay or Argentina. There's silver in them there hills!

Assuming the locals want to let them in. They might not.

xoggoth said...

At least paying attention to polls and actually acting is an aspect of democracy.

Wish our government in the UK would pay any attention to us at all, apart from at election time when they pretend to.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Wow. That was long...

Related, Peter Schiff runs for Congress, competing with Chris Dodd.

Schiff has a simple guiding principle: "We cannot afford what we cannot afford". A signficant contrast to the current Administration as well as past ones.

Anonymous said...

An American but Austrian by birth, as well as Dutch, I live in The Netherlands and Italy, voted for Gert Wilder ,and I have very strong views against Islam. Nevertheless, even though I support the general cause on your site, I cannot agree with all of the comments made here, which is natural since nothing is cut and dried or black and white on any subject. I will only comment on one point.

“Perhaps his (Obama) own negative polling is a clue that socialism doesn’t play in Peoria or Podunk, or in those "small, bitter towns" in Pennsylvania that he held in such contempt during his campaign?”

America, so deep into corporate capitalism, is far, far cry from becoming a socialist state that this fear mongering over it is nonsense. The word socialism is often being misused by the tea baggers and the politicians who encourage them that it’s almost becoming meaningless. It is obvious that those who protest against it in America have no idea what socialism is seeing as how those same people, Republican conservatives, accept the services of Medicare, Social Security, and a host of other government-run financial helping hands who most of these people would be in dire straits without. Politicians who continue to encourage protesters against this “threat” of socialism are themselves taking advantage of a government run health care system that could be roughly described as socialism.

“America Is Coming to a Crossroads”. Yes, but how odd no mention is made why this has so quickly come about. The concern about reining “ in Obama & Co.” is redundant. How quickly recent history is forgotten; GW Bush took us to hell and we are still living in the smoke and ashes, suffering the consequences and then having the gall to blame others. GW took Clinton’s surplus and turned it into a huge deficit, shred our civil rights, etc. list is endless. Who reigned that administration in? Yet, it has also become obvious that Obama is no better than Bush, another puppet.

Anonymous said...

I note your reference to how much The Chosen One (TCO) has spent immediately on reaching office. As others have noted there was great urgency, indeed panic, to get through the momentous changes that TCO wanted. To get them through before they had been properly considered or debated.

It struck me just like NuLabour when they won in 1997. Sean Gabb has a very interesting article on how they were attempting to make their leftward changes irreversible.

Please be ready, as it seems that TCO is reading from the same script. Be ready to put a top to it.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

Carax, you lost me a "teabaggers". Sorry.

Arius said...

Life is small cycles of change within larger cycles of change. Step way back and look at the larger personal, social, and political trends (cycle) in America. There is an obvious larger term downward cycle from Clinton through Bush to Obama to a National Socialist and dhimmitude endgame.

Henrik R Clausen said...

America, so deep into corporate capitalism, is far, far cry from becoming a socialist state.

Unfortunately, not so. A socialist state means that the (socialist) government is in control of the means of production. This is taking place right now, when industries are being bailed out, bailouts that come with strings attached. 'Obama Motors' is an apt description of this, when the President - nominally only heading the executive branch of government - started making decisions about what kind of cars GM should build.

The banking system, funded by the printing press in the Federal Reserve, is turning the US in a socialist direction. And yes, it is ugly...

Paul said...
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Paul said...

Leaving the USA is becoming an attractive alternative since it is becoming apparent the government will unmercifully punish acheivers and producers by stealing the fruit of their labor, and give it to the lazy, the unproductive and the illegals. Why work only to have the government steal the rewards of my labor?

Question:

As a person of dual nationality by birth, why not go back to my other home, take what is mine with me, and live and work their?

Dymphna said...

@Paul:

As a person of dual nationality by birth, why not go back to my other home, take what is mine with me, and live and work there?

A good idea, IF your other country will support and reward your work efforts rather than punish, regulate, or otherwise inhibit your initiative.

Two places that come to mind are Australia and New Zealand. Canada, too, under this more conservative government, is going to prosper.

The soft socialism of Europe isn't going to help you, though.

Israel would be a good choice if you're Jewish. It's a theocratic state, so non-Jews aren't on a level playing field.

This is a good question, and one worthy of further research. I'll get back to you.

Meanwhile, within the US, there are pockets of less socialistic environments. Texas comes to mind. For example, they enacted some kind of tort reform or other legislation to protect doctors from the predatory lawyers. As a result their stats have changed from a net loss to a large gain in medical specialty docs. Very smart move.

Virginia may be going that way, too. We'll have to wait to see what this new governor does. I liked his conservative views anyway, but when he said that if elected he was going to sell off or privatize the currently state-owned and operated liquor stores, he nailed my vote. Our ABC (Alcohol Beverage Commission) stores are a disgrace. They're Overpriced, have limited varieties and are exceedingly DULL. Imagine a liquor store run by the Soviets, minus the waiting lines. That's an ABC store in Virginia.

Not only will the commonwealth make money on the outright divestment of this badly run business, but the tax revenues that the increased sales will generate are exactly the right kind of taxes: consumer-based.

Since states whose liquor stores are privately owned don't have a larger number of alcoholics than Virginia does, I don't think we have anything to worry about on that score. But I'm sure we'll hear such warnings from whichever members of our General Assembly have something to lose in this move.

I've wandered off from your direct question. However, these are the kinds of issues you should consider in making your decision.

Anonymous said...

Paul, the major question is where to go to? For just about everywhere is going in the same direction! Here in the UK we just seem to have got a bit further and done it earlier than some. Contrary to Dymphna's view, I think New Zealand is definitely on the way down; they have an allegedly non-socialist government just continuing in the same socialist direction. The new socialist government in Australia is determined to learn all the bad lessons, and betray its people.

Might be nice to go have a look at the hills of Meggido while they are still green. They might need a hand when they must take on the Rest-of-the-World team.

Dymphna said...

Archonix--

The main problem with South America is the lack of a strong history or interest in living by the rule of law. The other issue would be the general lack of a solid, stable middle class.

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@ xoggoth

Wish our government in the UK would pay any attention to us at all, apart from at election time when they pretend to.

Amen. This indifference to the electorate will be the ruin of Britain. It is hard to say how violent that ruin will be, though. And it's hard to know how individual citizens could make a difference, though you sure can see people trying. My overwhelming sense is "how in the world did this happen in the cradle of modern democracy?". It's a nightmare.

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@ Henrik R Clausen

Yeah, it sure was long! About 2300 words. I considered not posting it because of that.

RE: Peter Schiff. It would be great to have a free enterprise economist to replace the corrupt Chris Dodd.

He has a good essay on unemployment:

Job Losses Demystified

Schiff can't win (at 5% in the polls) but he'd make a great advisor for whomever it is that cleans Dodd's clock next year.

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yokel--

People are putting time and energy into stopping this atrocity. When the election campaign really heats up next year, you'll see a lot of energy focused on stopping the train wreck...in fact, that's why Obama is backing off his grandiose plans and attempting to compose a State of the Union address for January that makes him look less like Mao.

Mao with a bow, trying to look humble. Heh.

He also knows if he doesn't clean up his act real quick, in 2011 he will be facing a majority Republican Congress that is angry, reactive, and looking to bring him down. People want revenge for all the damage he has done to our country in nine months and the deep disrespect he has shown for the legislative branch of government. O does not play well with others; probably never did.

Hmm...in this last 9 months, a period of gestation, he has labored (pun intended) only to bring forth several ugly monsters. Given his very liberal partial birth abortion philosophy we are permitted to kill these atrocious horrors right there on the delivery table.

One thing FDR taught us: some socialist programs can't be undone once they're in place long enough. The cancer of Social Security has worked its way into every vital organ of our commonweal. Now we have to wait for this Ponzi scheme to die of its own weight. Maybe 2025, 2030? By then we'll have enough triage in place to keep us alive.

Meanwhile, Obie's post-partum depression, should we be able to kill his offspring before they leave the delivery room, will be deep and abiding.

Let’s send him a sympathy card.

Dymphna said...

oops..Arius--

I meant to tell you that the larger cycles you speak of go all the way back to our founding.

In the Garden of Forking Paths, America's choices at the crossroads have often led us into thickets from which we have yet to emerge.

Beyond some mis-steps of the first few presidencies (which would take too long to explain), there are several nodal points that have brought us great misfortune. To quickly name them:

**Lincoln's various attacks against the Constitution in his attempt to save the Union. The arguments still go on as to whether he should have done those things but there is no argument against the fact that he enlarged enormously the Federal government. A good man. A bad plan.

***the imposition of a Federal income tax in 1913.

******the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank in that same accursed year. This is not owned by the government, but is privately held and has dictatorial powers. Its complicity in the use of fractional banking has brought the world to its knees.

****FDR's varied and atrocious programs during the Great Depression. Only because WWII intervened were people fooled into thinking that his Keynesian ideas worked. Not only did they not work, they made the situation worse.

***Lyndon Johnson's Act II with his War on Poverty -- a disguise for moving black folks into the Deomocrat Party. Before then, no self-respecting black man would have joined the Dems. As for the "War", Poverty beat the bejeezus out of our country. The Democrat Senator from NY, James Patrick Moynihan, predicted it would, and he said it would destroy the black family. He was sadly right.

What slavery and segregation and oppressive inequality couldn't do, Johnson and the Dems accomplished in a very short time. They created a huge underclass, a tsunami of poor people whose degraded culture is slowly rising into the rest of our commonweal.

(Johnson's destructive programs only rate three stars because he could never even have conceived of them had not FDR softened us up for the blow first)

But the worst of these remains the Federal Reserve Bank. The idea that it needs to go (which is being discussed in terms of "reform" in the halls of Congress for the present, since those who frequent the halls of Congress are frightfully ignorant about finance and economic theory). The erosion of the FED will take time, but it will happen eventually.

The first generation to live free of Social Security, the Federal Reserve Bank, and the Federal Income confiscation will be a blessed and fortunate people indeed. There will exist at that point, real Americans. Due to the depredations of the ambitiously corrupt and the ignorance of those "leaders" nominally in charge who listened to these Sirens, there aren't any "real" Americans left.

That doesn't mean we can't get them back...we are planting seeds for trees we will never see fully grown. But that's what we ought to do and must do, so that future generations will enjoy their fruits.

Paul said...
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