Category Archives: Business

A History Lesson

for Senator Shelby:

I understand the Senator’s need and desire to to protect the jobs of his constituents at NASA’s Marshall Spaceflight Center, but attempting to force an either/or choice between Federal and commercial space transportation is not the answer. That’s as false a choice as Moon vs. Mars and manned vs. robotic space exploration. Both NASA and NewSpace have valid and valuable roles to play, so let’s please not waste time and energy creating a schism where one need not exist.

Well, actually, while that’s true for wealth-producing activities, which is a non-zero-sum game, when the only real goal is job (and not wealth) creation, it is a zero-sum game with a fixed federal budget. So it’s not surprising that Shelby, a man of few political principles other than getting reelected, will make the choice that he thinks best achieves that goal, history and reality be damned. I guess Elon should have invested in a production facility in Huntsville.

“Saved Or Created”

Fictional job numbers from the administration? I’m shocked. Of course, if we had a press corps that was a watchdog, instead of a lapdog, they wouldn’t continue to get away with this sophistry.

[Update a few minutes later]

Drop dead, American business:”

So the question is, why does Obama advocate a policy that so flies in the face of everything that economists have learned? How could Obama possibly say, as he did last month, that he wants “to see our companies remain the most competitive in the world. But the way to make sure that happens is not to reward our companies for moving jobs off our shores or transferring profits to overseas tax havens?” Further, how could Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner call a practice that top scholarship has shown increases wages and employment in the U.S. “indefensible?”

I have to admit I am at a loss. Maybe it is good politics to bash American corporations, and Obama isn’t really serious about making this change happen. But if the change is enacted, and domestic corporate taxes aren’t reduced to offset the big tax hike, the result will be a flight from the U.S. that rivals in scale the greatest avian arctic migrations.

As I said yesterday, it’s Munchausen By Proxy. By keeping the economy permanently sick, they hope to entrench their power, as FDR did.

[Update early afternoon]

Cue the laughter. It’s pretty sad when Chinese students are a lot more business savvy, and understand basic economics better than our own home-grown press. Or the US Secretary of the Treasury…

So How’s That “Stimulus” Working Out?

Like this:

…thanks to Barack Obama and democrats, the US Unemployment rate is worse today than if they never would have passed their stimulus package. The Obama Administration predicted the unemployment rate with and without President Obama’s stimulus package, the one that is supposed to “create or save” 3 million jobs.

Unfortunately, the red line shows the actual trend since the Stimulus was passed.

It wasn’t stimulus, it was scamulus. And it’s scandalous. Or it would be if we had a press that was a watchdog, rather than a lapdog, when Democrats are in power.

[Afternoon update]

Andy McCarthy noted Austan Goolsby’s dancing around this issue this morning, with two left feet:

I caught a panel on which Obama economic advisor Austin Goolsbee conceded that the administration had previously predicted unemployment would top out at around 8%, that it was now up to 9.4%, and that double-digit unemployment was a distinct possibility in the near future. Goolsbee didn’t resort to the administrations’s blather about “saving or creating jobs,” but he did repeat its fustian about how last month’s loss of 345,000 jobs (resulting in a half percentage point jump in the jobless rate) is somehow good news because it beat predictions (I don’t recall him saying whose) of even more dire loss numbers. It made me wonder why, if those predictions either existed or were serious, the Obama administration would have previously predicted that unemployment would top out at 8%?

Because they’re economically clueless, and willing to drive the economy deeply into a ditch if it will expand and entrench their political power?

[Monday morning update]

More thoughts from Stephen Green:

Let’s pretend for a moment that, god forbid, you break your arm. And somehow you end up with a team of doctors all trained at Obama University. As you lie there on the table in the ER, one doctor treats your arm by banging on the unbroken one with a ball-peen hammer. The second doctor takes the unusual course of setting your hair on fire. And the third one uses leaches.

Undeterred by your arm’s stubborn refusal to set, soon the doctors start blaming one another. And even though all of them are doing nothing but compounding your injury, none will take any blame. In fact, the louder you scream, the harder they go to work on you.

That, apparently, is what’s going on in the West Wing these days. Our economy is being managed by Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, and Dr. Howard.

It’s Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.


Show Us How It Works

Virginia Postrel says do Medicare first:

Think about this for a moment. Medicare is a huge, single-payer, government-run program. It ought to provide the perfect environment for experimentation. If more-efficient government management can slash health-care costs by addressing all these problems, why not start with Medicare? Let’s see what “better management” looks like applied to Medicare before we roll it out to the rest of the country.

This is not a completely cynical suggestion. Medicare is, for instance, a logical place to start to design better electronic records systems and the incentives to use them. But you do have to wonder why a report that claims that Medicare is wasting 30 percent of its spending thinks it’s making a case for making the rest of the health care system more like Medicare.

Because they think we’re rubes. And judging by the voting results last fall, many of us are.

This reminds me of the old Soviet joke (that I’m sure I’ve related at this blog, perhaps more than once, but it remains appropriate). A teacher is lecturing schoolchildren on the brilliance of Karl Marx. A kid raises his hand, and says, “Teacher, was Marx truly a great scientist?” She beams and nods, and declares him the greatest scientist in the history of mankind. “Well,” he went on, “then why didn’t he try this crap on rats first?”

[Saturday afternoon update]

Peter Orszag has responded to Virginia’s question. Hail the blogosphere.

I find this quite telling:

Medicare First–changing Medicare and waiting to see how it works before messing around with the rest of the health care system–won’t work politically.

You don’t say…

Some people might think that cause to rethink. But not these people.


The First “Progressive” President

A warning to modern “progressives” to be careful what they wish for:

I’m thinking of an American president who demonized ethnic groups as enemies of the state, censored the press, imprisoned dissidents, bullied political opponents, spewed propaganda, often expressed contempt for the Constitution, approved warrantless searches and eavesdropping, and pursued his policies with a blind, religious certainty.

Oh, and I’m not thinking of George W. Bush, but another “W” – actually “WW”: Woodrow Wilson, the Democrat who served from 1913 to 1921.

President Wilson is mostly remembered today as the first modern liberal president, the first (and only) POTUS with a PhD, and the only political scientist to occupy the Oval Office. He was the champion of “self determination” and the author of the idealistic but doomed “Fourteen Points” – his vision of peace for Europe and his hope for a League of Nations. But the nature of his presidency has largely been forgotten.

That’s a shame, because Wilson’s two terms in office provide the clearest historical window into the soul of progressivism. Wilson’s racism, his ideological rigidity, and his antipathy toward the Constitution were all products of the progressive worldview. And since “progressivism” is suddenly in vogue – today’s leading Democrats proudly wear the label – it’s worth actually reviewing what progressivism was and what actually happened under the last full-throated progressive president.

The record should give sober pause to anyone who’s mesmerized by the progressive promise.

But they don’t even understand their own intellectual history.

Thoughts On The Economy

Half full, or half empty?

I was surprised that no administration officials were on the business news channels this morning. That is highly unusual for Jobs Day. Maybe they are afraid of the following sequence of questions:

1. Is the economy recovering? (They would like to answer this one, “Tentatively yes. We’re seeing positive signs, but there’s a long way to go.”)
2. If so, is the economy recovering because of the stimulus? How can you claim that it is if only $40-ish billion has gone out the door so far?
3. Or are the green shoots growing just because it’s springtime? Is the less worse economic news primarily a result of financial institutions raising capital and the passage of time?

In addition to being inefficient and wasteful, the stimulus was poorly timed. By deferring to congressional desires to shovel taxpayer funds to slow-spending infrastructure projects, the administration got a stimulus law that isn’t helping GDP growth now, and won’t have a quantitatively significant effect until 2010. The administration is in a tough spot — if the economy is not healing, then at some point the president will take the blame. If instead the economy is healing before the stimulus takes effect, then maybe the stimulus was unnecessary or even counterproductive.

Gee, it’s not like nobody predicted this months ago when the fool bill was passed without anyone having a chance to read it.