American Elephants

You Don’t Help a Spendaholic by Giving Him More Money! by The Elephant's Child

President Barack Obama was in New York on Thursday, addressing Democrat donors. According to CNS News, Obama said:

Deficits are not the only thing that could mortgage America’s future, President Barack Obama told Democratic donors in New York on Thursday. He stressed that if government does not spend money in certain areas, it would be mortgaging the country’s future.

“I’m not going to sacrifice investments in education. I’m not going to make scholarships harder to get and more expensive for young people,” Obama said to a cheering crowd. “I’m not going to sacrifice the safety of our highways or our airports. I’m not going to sacrifice clean air and clean water. I’m not going to sacrifice clean energy at a time when we need to free ourselves from dependence on foreign oil, and folks are getting killed at the pump.”

In other words, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.  Our Presidential spendaholic wants to keep right on spending on all the things that haven’t worked, aren’t working, and will not work.

— Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said that a slowdown in government spending was mostly responsible for the only 1.8 percent growth in gross domestic product between January  and March, down from 3.1 in the fourth quarter of 2010. Goolsbee said in an interview on Bloomberg television:

It was an expected slowdown. The biggest driver was a reduction in government spending at the federal level, a big negative from defense spending.

Nobody likes a growth slowdown.  We’ve got to have faster growth, but 2011 and 2012 are still looking fairly positive.

Financial Times reports that “Doubts have been cast over the strength of the U.S. economic recovery after output grew at an annualized rate of only 1.8 percent in the first quarter. A surge in oil prices held back consumption growth while public spending fell at every tier of the U.S. government.”

At this stage of a recovery, growth often rebounds by between 4 and 5 per cent. Expansion of less than 2 per cent will not create enough jobs to keep up with population growth and cut the US unemployment rate of 8.8 per cent.

The dollar fell further on release of the growth numbers as investors judged that weak growth would cause US interest rates to stay lower for longer.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance climbed to 429,000.  Bad news all around.

The Wall Street Journal was unenthusiastic:

For three long years, the U.S. has been undertaking an experiment in economic policy. Could record levels of government spending, waves of new regulation and political credit allocation, and unprecedented monetary stimulus re-ignite growth? The results have been rolling in, and they represent what increasingly looks like an historic mistake that deserves to be called the Keynesian growth discount.The latest evidence is yesterday’s disappointing report of 1.8% in first quarter GDP. At this stage of recovery after a deep recession, the economy is typically growing by 4% or more as consumer confidence returns and businesses accelerate investment as their profits revive. Yet in this recovery consumers are still cautious and business investment remains weak.

Our spendaholic president has engaged in the greatest spending binge since World War II.  He did everything that the Keynesian rule book said politicians should dump into the economy: $168 billion in one-time tax rebates, then $814 billion in spending over 2009-2010, cash for clunkers, an $8,000 home buyer tax credit, the Detroit auto bailouts, billions for green jobs, a payroll tax cut for 2011, and near-zero interest rates for 28 months and Ben Bernanke’s ‘quantitative easing’. And growth is 1.8%.

Deficits this year are estimated to hit $1.65 trillion.  How many more trillions does the Keynesian rule book call for?

A Washington Post/Pew poll conducted April 21-25 asked respondents whether they think the federal budget deficit is a major problem that must be addressed now, when the economy improves, or not much of a problem.
A major problem that must be addressed now — 81%
When the economy improves —14%
Not much of a problem — 1%

The Quote of the Week! by The Elephant's Child
April 30, 2011, 5:15 pm
Filed under: Conservatism, Humor, Politics | Tags: , ,

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) went to New Hampshire this last week, and called for proof of Donald Trump’s Republican registration.   Really funny in the context of Trump’s calls for Obama to release his birth certificate.  Paul said:

I’ve come to New Hampshire today because I’m very concerned.  I want to see the original long-form certificate of Donald Trump’s Republican registration.

Embarrassingly, there is less evidence that Trump is a long time Republican than there is that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.  Perhaps this will be the end of the silly ‘birther’ theme.  Trump, on the other hand was a registered Democrat as recently as 2009.

Apparently now, Trump is in a desperate search for Obama’s grades.  We have slaughter in Syria, both Trump and Obama are uninterested. Libya is a mess that Obama can’t manage to be concerned about.  Obama has suggested that the unsettled Arab countries should pump more oil to reduce our cost of gas, and Trump is concerned about Obama’s grades many years ago when he was in college?

I guess some people admire Trump because he is “taking on” Obama. I don’t get it. I’d like to see the long form of his Republican registration too.

The Rich, The Poor, And Inequality. A Fresh Look. by The Elephant's Child
April 30, 2011, 4:44 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Freedom | Tags: , ,

This graph, posted by economist Veronique de Rugy,  takes a minute or two to understand, but there’s a lot of information here, and it’s worth your time.  The graph shows inequality within a country— in the context of inequality around the world.

The horizontal line at the bottom shows the population of each country divided into  20 equal-sized income groups, ranked by their household per-capita income.  This is divided into 5 clusters (or ventiles) each of 5 percentiles, similar to the way we  customarily divide people in this country from ‘poor’ to ‘rich.’  So the entire population of a country is divided, by income, into 20 equal parts.

The household income numbers are all converted into international dollars adjusted for equal purchasing power, since the cost of goods varies from country to country.  In other words the chart adjusts for the cost of living in different countries, so we are looking at consistent living standards worldwide.

The vertical axis shows where any given ventile from any country falls when compared to the entire population of the world.

Trace the line for Brazil, a country with extreme income inequality.  The poorest 5 percent of Brazilians are as poor as anyone in the entire world,while at the other end of the Brazil line are some of the world’s richest people.  This one country spans the entire range of world income.

See how the entire line for the United States falls in the top portion of the chart?  The entire country is relatively rich.  Americas poorest people are still richer than most of the world.

Compare with the line for India.  India’s poorest correspond with the 4th poorest percentile worldwide, and India’s richest are in the 68th percentile, about where America’s poorest are, as a group.  The bottom chunk of Americans, some of whom make as much as $6,700, amounts to a good standard of living in India where about a quarter of the population lives on $1 a day.

When it comes to income inequality, in America, there is relatively not all that much  of it.  For most people in the world, where you are born makes all the difference.

What do the poor most need? They need to stop being poor.  And how can that be done on a mass scale excpt by an economy that creates more wealth?  Yet the political left has long had a remarkable lack of interest in how wealth is created.  As far as they are concerned, wealth exists “somehow” and the only interesting question is how to re-distribute it.
(Thomas Sowell)

The very fact that economists sweat over statistics purporting to demonstrate economic inequality in America proves that there is, relatively speaking, not much of it.
(Irving Kristol)

The chart comes from Catherine Rampell of Economix.

NEWSFLASH: Obama Doesn’t Understand the Laws of Supply and Demand. by The Elephant's Child
April 28, 2011, 7:41 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy, Junk Science | Tags: , , ,

If President Barack Obama were to schedule a major speech tomorrow, and tell the assorted networks  that America was returning to oil production— he was lifting the federal bans on drilling—the price of oil would start dropping the next day.

  • In 2008, Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) refused to vote for any new offshore drilling.  In a conversation with minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Salazar objected to allowing any drilling on America’s outer continental shelf—even if gas prices reached $10 a gallon.  Obama named him Secretary of the Interior.
  • In 2008, Steven Chu, head of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratories at U. of California Berkeley, told the Wall Street Journal that “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” he also said “We have lots of fossil fuel; that’s really both good and bad news.  We won’t run out of energy, but there’s enough carbon in the ground to really cook us.” Obama named him Secretary of Energy.
  • During the 2008 campaign, candidate Obama said “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” And “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can.  It’s just that it will bankrupt them.” He was elected president.

I don’t know if Obama ever took a class in economics, but he seems to be totally unfamiliar with the basic laws of supply and demand.  When supply is restricted, the cost goes up. When the cost of gasoline goes up, so does the cost of everything else.

Goods are transported by truck, and when delivery costs more, the price of your groceries cost more. When the government is busily printing money, the value of the dollar goes down. Oddly enough, the price of gas and the cost of food are not included in the government’s statistics on inflation. You have to keep track of that yourself.

President Obama speaks enthusiastically about his clean, green economy of tomorrow; but he doesn’t seem to understand that windmills and solar arrays produce only small amounts of electricity, which has little to do with transportation, and does not replace gasoline.  Our transportation sector is powered by petroleum, and will continue to be powered by petroleum far into the foreseeable future.  There is no alternative.

Why do I say that an Obama speech turning the energy sector free would start to bring down oil prices right away?  Ronald Reagan did it, and George W. Bush did it.  There is evidence. And the evidence that Obama’s clean, green government subsidized energy will prove to be an effective alternative — ever?  Nonexistent.

What You Say, Mr. Obama, Doesn’t Match What You Do. by The Elephant's Child

Sometime in the last year, the media adopted the term “optics” as a replacement for “what it looks like.”  It’san annoying word. Andrew Malcolm, of the Los Angeles Times, wrote yesterday of “the increasingly odd political optics of Barack Obama.

He referred to the appearance of President Obama’s activities.  For example, today Obama and Michelle will fly to Chicago on Air Force One.  They will be there for three hours. The purpose is to tape an Oprah show.  Then they will fly to New York City. The purpose there is a fundraiser, three of them.  It costs the government $181,000 an hour to operate Air Force One.

This is the same president who, a few days back, suggested that a commuter worried about gas prices should buy a new hybrid car instead.

With America in a recession and millions of people out of work, the president entertained with Wagyu beef and hundred dollar bottles of wine. With people on the Gulf of Mexico out of work and the region starved for tourists, the President urged tourists to return to the Gulf Coast, as Michelle and a planeload of her closest friends headed off to the beaches of Spain.

When Obama “leads from behind,” as his foreign policy was described in the current New Yorker, the appearance in not one of judicious consideration of alternate policy options, but of a weak, indecisive president unable to make decisions.

When Obama tries to blame speculators and price gouging for high oil prices and threatens criminal action, Americans remember that Steven Chu, who Obama made his Energy Secretary told the Wall Street Journal in a December 2008 interview the “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” He appointed Socialist activist Carol Browner as his energy czar; and Van Jones, admitted Communist, as his green jobs czar.  Obama keeps subsidizing wind and solar energy, when he talks about a clean green economy, yet wind and solar have nothing to do with the price of gasoline.  They produce only tiny, inefficient amounts of electricity, and ethanol increases the cost of driving.

The rhetoric and the actions never match. Does he just say whatever he thinks will please his audience?  Does he simply not understand how things look? We can read. Obama’s own Energy Information Agency projects that the delays in issuing permits are costing us 240,000 fewer barrels of oil a day.

Stopping drilling in Alaska for the sake of what a computer model projects might be the result of emissions from an icebreaker on the air quality in a village nearly a hundred miles away doesn’t look like a considered, careful decision.  It looks like environmental activist blockage.

You have told us, Mr. President, that you are working too hard, that you are thinking of us every night when you go to sleep and every morning when you awake, but with your feet on the Oval Office desk, and golf games when wars are starting or when Japan is dying under earthquakes and a tsunami — it just doesn’t look like you are working hard or that you are thinking of American citizens and their concerns.

When Americans are worried about inflation and rising gas prices — those little items that are not included in the official inflation statistics — and you are quoted as “urging world oil producers to lift crude output,” it really doesn’t look good.  And when your answer to the price of gas rising over $4.00 a gallon is that “They need to increase supplies. We are in conversations with major oil producers like Saudi Arabia,” what can you possibly be thinking?

If you understand that increased supplies will bring down the cost of oil, why are you not increasing our own supplies?  The Saudis, if you remember, have been busy.

The Royal Wedding by The Elephant's Child

There is much talk on the talk shows about the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Some Americans are offended that other Americans pay attention. Many husbands find it obnoxious that their wives love the romance of a royal wedding.  Their wives find their husbands’ callousness obnoxious.  Lots of people just don’t get the fascination.  The media wallows in fascination.  So there you are.

I find it interesting.  The British like their royalty, except for those who don’t. Many assume that the royals are empty, vapid characterless folk.  It takes courage and fortitude though, to perform kindly at constant appearances, charity functions, to endure elaborate ceremonies, and to pretend to enjoy long state dinners with other heads of state.  It cannot be an easy life, and they have no real choice. It is the role that they were born to. Despite the trappings, I can think of a lot of things I’d rather do.

When you are just a rich celebrity, you can be rude and do pretty much whatever strikes your fancy. If you go too far, you may have to pay the price. Royalty cannot do that.

I like the spectacle. The British have a long tradition of spectacular ceremonies, and they do it all very well.  It’s fun to watch.  I wish the young couple well and hope they can find happiness in the formal lives they must perform. But I’m not caught up in illusions of fairy tale romance, and I won’t stay up half the night to watch.

I like English history, which is partly my history, though many generations removed. I’m a mix of English, Scots, Welsh, German and Dutch with a stray Norwegian and a Frenchman thrown in, way back. And I had a good many ancestors who fought against the British, twice.

For an explanation of the difference between the United Kingdom, the British Isles, Great Britain and England, don’t miss this brief but enlightening tour.  For an earlier British ceremony when King George III rode to address Parliament on the distressing issue of war in America in 1776, see here, with a picture of the royal coach as well.

Enjoy the spectacle or ignore it, but refrain from being rude about the whole thing. That gets a little tiresome.

There’s a Bloodbath in Syria! by The Elephant's Child
April 26, 2011, 8:46 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Islam, Middle East | Tags: , , , , ,

In Syria, the Assad regime made a fateful decision this week.  They used their army —even including tanks —to kill civilians protesting peacefully.  Bashar Assad made the decision that it was better to kill hundreds of unarmed Syrian citizens than to risk the fall of his regime.  This is the man whom Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton thought was a peaceful reformer. As Elliott Abrams says:

In Syria and Lebanon, there is confusion about the American position. Many believe we are Assad well-wishers, and certainly Obama’s policy for 2009 and 2010 lent credence to that view. Now, the administration is coy: It talks of new sanctions but does not impose them yet. It talks of U.N. action but it is the U.K. and France that introduce the resolution, not the United States. It will not recall the U.S. ambassador who was so foolishly dispatched to Damascus late last year.

Two weeks ago, al Jazeera turned against Assad and is doing what it did in Egypt — broadcasting whatever it can get its hands on about the brutality of the regime and the courage of the protesters.  The Amir of Qatar owns the station.

Syria is closely allied with Shia Iran, and with Hamas and Hezbollah, but the Syrian population is 74 percent Sunni. If the Alawite regime were to fall, it would be widely interpreted as a step toward the fall of the ayatollahs, so what happens in Syria is hugely important for American interests in the region.  The president is, um, testing the wind, thinking about sanctions. He could recall our ambassador. He could pressure Turkey very hard to distance itself from the regime.  He did say that Mubarak and Quaddafi must step down, he hasn’t even suggested that Bashar should.

He did issue a travelers’ warning.

High Gas Prices? EPA Bans Drilling in Alaska. by The Elephant's Child

Coming home this afternoon, the Shell station near my house posted regular gas at $4.01.  That 1¢ is interesting, isn’t it.

After five years and four billion dollars, Shell Oil Company thought they were close to bringing in the estimated 27 billion barrels of oil waiting to be tapped in the Arctic Ocean off the coast of Alaska.  One would assume that was a good thing. The Environmental Protection Agency is withholding the necessary air permits because of a one-square-mile Innuit village of 245 people a mere 75 miles from the drilling site.

Fox News’ Dan Springer reported:

The EPA appeals board ruled that Shell had not taken into consideration emissions from an ice-breaking vessel when calculating overall greenhouse gas emissions from the project. Environmental groups were thrilled by the ruling.

“What the modeling showed was in communities like Kaktovik, Shell’s drilling would increase air pollution levels close to air quality standards,” said Eric Grafe, Earthjustice’s lead attorney on the case.

Springer identified the people who made the decision:

The Environmental Appeals Board has four members: Edward Reich, Charles Sheehan, Kathie Stein and Anna Wolgast.  All are registered Democrats and Kathie Stein was an activist attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund.  Members are appointed by the EPA administrator.

In his weekly address on Saturday, President Obama said that “there’s no silver bullet that can bring down oil prices right away. But there are a few things we can do.  This includes safe and responsible production of oil at home, which we are pursing.” Then he attacked the oil companies for the $4 billion in subsidies that they receive from the government. The oil companies are making too much profit, he thinks, and that has to stop.

Unfortunately, as usual, the words of the president’s mouth are unconnected to his actions. Permits are not being issued. Every kind of roadblock is being thrown in the path of oil companies ability to bring in our own oil.  He claims to be for “safe, responsible production of oil” but the Obama administration  has imposed a months-long moratorium on deepwater offshore drilling that has slowed domestic production and sent some seven drilling rigs off to other more friendly countries.

There may not be the proverbial “silver bullet” but history shows that removing the roadblocks to production helps the price to come down. The futures market is worried about all the turmoil in the oil producing Arab states.

Obama’s lectures on gas prices usually contain several myths.  “We can’t escape the fact that we control only 2% of the world’s oil.” False. We have more than three times as much in the ground as Saudi Arabia. “Industry holds leases on tens of millions of acres both offshore and on land where they aren’t producing a thing.” In first 100 days, Ken Salazar cancelled 77 leases for oil and gas drilling in Utah. A year later he cancelled 61 more leases in Montana. “Last year…our oil production reached its highest level in 7 years.” Obama is trying to take credit for actions of previous administrations and production in the Dakotas where most drilling is occurring on private land.  The EIA projects a decline in production of 220,000 barrels of domestic oil per day in 2011, and in 2012, 150 million fewer barrels in the Gulf of Mexico because of Obama’s policies to discourage or ban domestic drilling.

President Obama emphasized once again, his major theme:”Instead of subsidizing Yesterday’s Energy Sources, We Need to Invest in Tomorrow’s.” Except there’s no tomorrow in his pursuit of wind, solar, ethanol and electric cars.  He’s funding a fantasy. But he has EPA activists to do his bidding.

ADDENDUM: In July, 2008, when world oil prices rose to $145 a barrel, President Bush ended the moratorium on offshore drilling by executive order.  Oil prices began falling the next day. No silver bullet indeed!

Let Me Be Perfectly Clear! Here’s the Way Things Work. by The Elephant's Child
April 25, 2011, 9:21 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, History, Taxes | Tags: , ,

When people start talking about billions and trillions, many people just don’t want to hear.  They don’t understand the numbers, and they don’t want to be scared by something they don’t understand — big numbers.

The Big Budget Battle boils down to something very simple. Republicans blame the deficit and the national debt on spending.  The government has done too much of it.  The Democrats blame the deficit and the national debt on a lack of revenue. They just haven’t taxed enough — and they think the whole thing was caused by the Bush tax cuts anyway. James Capretta explains:

To Democrats, the solution to our budget problem has two components. First, massive and steady tax hikes, not just over the next few years but every year for the next quarter century to match the explosion in entitlement costs. Second, they want stiff government cost controls on the entire health sector, not just on public insurance programs.

For years, the only thing that stood in the way of Democrats’ securing these changes were unenlightened and intransigent Republicans. But when Democrats secured once-in-a-generation majorities in the 111th Congress, Republicans were no longer in a position to stand in their way. So Democrats took the opportunity not only to pass Obamacare — the largest entitlement expansion in two generations — but also to try to reshape the long-term budget picture according to their big-government vision.

The CBO  has said the total tax increase over the next 10 years will exceed $800 billion.  But Democrats were looking for a perpetual cash machine that would go beyond just a near term tax hike. They’ve returned to bracket creep. The tax hikes associated with ObamaCare — .0.9 % on wages and 3.8% on non.wage income — were sold as hitting only those with incomes over $200,000 and $250,000, but without indexing for inflation, more and more people will find themselves paying much higher taxes for Medicare. All you nice middle class folks may find yourselves classified as “rich ” before you know it.

The second part is giving the government a mandate to enforce limits on all spending for health care. Raising taxes and rationing care. But why are Democrats so desperately opposed to cutting spending?

Democrats’ success at the polls has always depended on giving things to people. Welfare, benefits, government health care, housing, tax credits, Pell grants,  extended unemployment, school lunches, school breakfasts, the list goes on and on.Many of the ‘gifts’ don’t work out so well, but their intentions were good.  Democrats believe that a good intention earnestly expressed is a policy.

Republicans success at the polls depends on principles. They ask you to believe in things like liberty, the free market, individual rights, competition, private property, low taxes,  the Constitution, responsibility and American exceptionalism. They don’t promise to give you much of anything except opportunity and freedom to follow your dreams.

Democrats ask Americans to become ever more dependent.  Republicans ask Americans to stand up to be counted.

Political Rationing of Care for the Elderly—A Good Idea? by The Elephant's Child

Paul Ryan’s “Pathway to Prosperity” shows a way to bring our nation’s deficit and debt under control in a reasonable time frame. Democrats object strenuously.  They are not prepared to cut back much on spending, and they would prefer to raise taxes sharply on “the rich” and cut spending on the military.  To no one’s surprise, they have declared class warfare, and are busily demonizing “the rich” and pretending that raising taxes on the rich will solve everything. Unfortunately the rich don’t have enough money—even if you strip them of everything they have— it’s not enough.

Obama also demonized the Ryan plan’s approach to Medicare.  Obama extolled his own plan for reducing the costs of Medicare.  He briefly pointed to the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) as a way to control costs.  Remember that acronym —IPAB.

This is a panel of ‘experts’ to be appointed by the president who will control prices, decide what services can be offered and who can have them.  ObamaCare has, from the first, been focused on the fact that the greatest medical expense comes from seniors in their final years, and controlling costs has to deal with that fact.

That doesn’t sound too bad, until you realize that it means rationing, denying service, and cutting back on payments to doctors, hospitals and medical services. The experts cannot by law decide what treatment you can have, but they can decide what they will pay for it. They are charged with bringing costs below the costs of Medicaid. Socialist medicine is uninterested in the individual and excuses that lack of concern by referring to the greater good for the greater numbers.  Does this all sound a little familiar? Of course, it’s the death panels!  Fifteen bureaucrats get to decide who lives and who dies.  You don’t get to question or argue. Their decisions are final, and you can’t get them fired.

Under ObamaCare, IPAB is to hit a target for Medicare’s growth that significantly squeezes the costs of the program beginning in 2014.  (In his budget speech, Obama said he wants to ratchet down the cap even further)  Congress has very limited options.  It can pass the IPAB recommendations, substitute its own version of them, or by a three-fifth’s majority in the Senate vote to waive the requirements.  If Congress does none of these things, the Secretary of HHS automatically implements the IPAB plan.

Congress is difficult.  Members argue, they disagree.  Everything would work so much more smoothly if their key functions were handed off to a panel of experts.  If you are deeply impressed with the Obama cabinet and Obama’s appointments, then you might be impressed with his ‘experts.’ I’d rather take a chance on me and my doctor.  I don’t believe in ‘experts.”

No one can predict the future, but the Obama administration is so interested in cutting back on payments to doctors and hospitals — and the bills for major life events can be huge — yet they seem not to have considered the consequences on the medical profession. Current Medicaid patients often cannot find doctors who will see them. The IPAB is supposed to reduce Medicare cost below Medicaid cost.

We have a current shortage of primary care physicians.  If they cannot receive a fair recompense for their effort, if the government keeps ratcheting up the number of patients they must see in an hour, will there be a flood of new students wanting to become doctors? How long would it be before ObamaCare nationalized the doctors?

All of the bright ideas that Obama and the Democrats have had about government controlled health care— and they have admitted that their goal is single-payer health care—has been tried and failed in England, Europe, Canada.  Theodore Dalrymple (the pen name of Anthony Daniels, a British physician) wrote a couple of weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal that Obama’s claims for vast new efficiencies in health care would not produce the savings claimed —the British had been there and done that, and it doesn’t work. The incentives are all wrong. The world is more complex than health-care economists assume.

Remember the acronym—IPAB, Independent Pay Advisory Board.  You really don’t want the president’s, any president’s, bureaucratic appointees deciding, by looking at the cost,  what medicine you can have, what help you can have when you are ill or if you can have any at all and are just too old or too much of a drag on the system, and have to be unplugged from life support, however many productive years you might have left.

A fairly important reason to repeal ObamaCare — it just might be the death of you.

Obama Really Doesn’t Want to Cut Spending! by The Elephant's Child
April 24, 2011, 8:04 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Statism | Tags: , ,

The average price of gas according to AAA is $3.86, nearly $1 more than it  was a year ago.  The president, in don’t-blame-me mode, laid out his own plan on Saturday.  He said “You see people trying to grab headlines or score a few points. The truth is, there’s no silver bullet that can bring down gas prices right away.”

The president laid out his own plan for controlling prices:  ending price gouging, and calling for an end to the $4 billion in federal subsidies for oil and gas firms.  How ending subsidies would bring down prices is a complete mystery, but in line with the Obama genius for advocating the wrong remedy.  I’m not sure who he thinks is “price gouging” but “speculators” — also unidentified— are the latest straw man.

“This is what politicians do when they want to do nothing, yet look like they are doing something, they appoint a blue ribbon committee , or go to the U.N., or assign some cabinet member to look into the problem and report back to the President —hoping that the issue will be forgotten by the time he reports back,” observed Tom Sowell.

Obama suggested last Thursday that his lagging poll numbers are due to the high gas prices nationwide. Budget? What budget?

He did imply in his budget speech that he would cut spending by $750 billion over the next twelve years.  That’s sounds like more than it is— a little less that $63 billion a year. or about what the federal government borrows every eight days. The president does not want to cut spending. He wants more. More spending, a bigger government, and higher taxes.

In a speech to the Chamber of Commerce in February, President Obama said that “the role of government is to support the economic foundation by spending public money to improve transportation, education and communication systems.”

The public (53%) believe that the primary purpose of government is to protect individual liberties and freedom.  Only 10% believe that managing the economy is the government’s primary role, and only 24% see the government’s role as insuring social justice. That’s a pretty big gap in understanding the nature and business of government.

Americans consistently believe in lower taxes and lower government spending. Yet Democrats are really pushing for more taxes for the rich. All the Democrat yammering about “tax cuts for the rich” during the Bush years seems to have convinced, at least the Democrats, that the Bush tax cuts involved an unfair tax cut for the wealthy. Everybody got a tax cut, and “the rich” got the smallest percentage cut of all.

If Congress imposed a 100% tax, taking all of the earnings above $250,000 a year,  every last cent, it would yield the massive sum of $1.4 trillion.  Sounds like a lot, but tit would keep the government running for 141 days.  And who pays for the remaining 224 days? Corporate profits?  Another 40 days.  Well, lets just take all the net worth of America’s 400 billionaires —  that gets us to the middle of August.  And now that the billionaires are on the dole — you just took everything they had, you’ll have to chip in to provide for them.

The government has no money of its own.  Revenue comes from taxation.  And guess where the big pot of money is.  The Middle Class!  You didn’t believe Obama when he promised not to raise taxes on the middle class, did you? Maybe you should think hard about the desirability of cutting back on spending after all.

More Humor From the Washington State Legislature by The Elephant's Child
April 24, 2011, 4:25 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, Taxes | Tags: , ,

I’ll admit it.  I can’t resist collecting examples of the liberal mind in action.  Here in the northwest corner of the Left Coast, our legislature is always interesting.  The left is remarkably dim about the laws of unintended consequences.

The state of Washington has pushed its citizens to buy electric vehicles through tax breaks and public-relations efforts as well as a hefty tax on gasoline (The state excise tax is the highest in the country, though in overall gas taxes, we are only 7th highest).  Now the legislature has noticed that drivers of electric cars are not filling up at the gas station.  They’re not paying their fair share of maintaining the roads.

After years of urging residents to buy fuel-efficient cars and giving them tax breaks to do so, now the Washington state lawmakers are considering a measure to charge them a $100 annual fee — the nation’s first electric car tax.

They haven’t passed it yet, but in the interest of fairness, should they then tax the hybrid owners $50 bucks a year? But what percentage of hybrid  driving is electric and what gasoline?

We get a good percentage of our energy from hydro, and there is no likelihood of any new or higher dams. Our governor wants to get rid of our coal-fired plant.  Liberals do not understand incentives or consequences.  If they made the tax exactly equal to incentives and tax breaks, then we would be back to where we were before they started messing around with deciding just what we should drive.

Do you suppose that they will learn anything from such a conundrum?

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