Category Archives: History

The Wrong Lessons From History

Exploding the myths of Clintonomics:

The bull market took off precisely when then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan took his foot off the brakes and hit the gas in 1995. It was also then that Republicans took control of Congress — further blunting the effects of the Clinton tax torpedo that had taken effect the previous year.

Clinton also benefitted from innovations long in the making, including the Pentium chip released in March 1993 and Microsoft’s Windows program released in August 1995. These together made the Internet boom possible.

As for the budget surpluses, they came as a complete surprise to Clinton economic forecasters, whose static models only predicted their tax hikes on the rich would narrow the budget gap, not get it into the black.

Their “deficit-reduction plan” didn’t create the surpluses at all. They were a direct result of a tidal wave of capital-gains revenues generated by the GOP-led stock boom.

Relieved that Washington would no longer threaten to take over 14% of the economy by socializing medicine or raise taxes even higher, the market took off like a shot at that point. And capital gains tax receipts exploded, flooding federal coffers.

Clinton’s own long-term budgets predicted no surpluses of any kind during his administration and beyond.

Bill Clinton never had a plan to end deficits. The Republicans and economic circumstances did it for him. But I’m sure that this myth that Bill Clinton balanced the budget will prevail in the minds of the media and Democrats, just as the false myth that Roosevelt, and not the war, got us out of the Depression continues to prevail many decades later. They have to rewrite history to justify their continued plunder. And of course, the near-term danger is that President-Elect Obama and the Congressional majority will use this mistaken history as a justification for tax hikes in a recession, which could be economically ruinous.

Hoover, Or Reagan?

Which president will Barack Obama want to emulate? He has said that he admires Reagan, but only for his transformational qualities, not for his political beliefs. But if he persists in his apparent desire to implement some combination of Hoover and FDR policies (raising taxes on the productive, protectionism, enforcing high wages), he’ll end up making a bad situation much worse, and end up being a one-termer for sure.

An Extinct Species?

Would that it had been so. In honor of Veterans’ Day, here’s an interesting story of a recording captured to preserve the memory of the war that was to end all wars. Unfortunately, that part didn’t work out.

[Update mid morning]

On the ninetieth anniversary of the Armistice, three British veterans are still alive. The oldest is 112, the oldest man in the country. Did he ever imagine, in the midst of the war, that he would survive another nine tenths of a century beyond its end?

Back To The Classics

The stick has been inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame. It’s got to be one of the world’s oldest toys. There are very few things that encourage and nourish the imagination to the same degree.

I don’t know if I’ve told this story before (now that this blog is seven years old last month, I’m bound to start repeating), but when I was a kid, my grandfather had a couple toys that he made. They consisted of a length of quarter-inch steel barstock, with one end bent into a handle, and the other bent sideways into a short axle, on which he put a kid’s wagon wheel. We had a blast pushing them around, and me and my cousins used to fight over who got to play with them.

[Evening update]

I should note that, while sticks make great toys, we shouldn’t allow NASA to play with them, if it’s going to cost billions of dollars and set the program back for years.

More SpaceX Perspective

Clark has a round up of links.

It was a little strange, and sad, descending into the LA basin yesterday. I had a left window seat, and I looked down at the old Rockwell/North American (and back during the war, Vultee) plant in Downey, which had been abandoned back in the nineties, and saw that Building 6 appeared to be no longer there. A lot of history in manned spaceflight took place there, but now there’s almost no manned space activities left in southern California at all. Not in Downey, not in Huntington Beach, not in Seal Beach. It’s all been moved to Houston, and Huntsville.

Except, except. A minute or two later, on final descent into LAX, I saw Hawthorne Airport just off the left wing, and quite prominent was the new SpaceX facility, which had previously been used to build jumbo jet wings.

So perhaps, despite the indifference of local and state politicians, the era of manned spaceflight in LA isn’t quite yet over. And of course, Mojave remains ascendant.