VITAM IMPENDERE VERO, IVVENALIS

Economy/Economics

Milton Friedman on Socialized Medicine

Here’s a 9min clip of Dr. Milton Friedman talking about Big-Government-run medical care. The speech was given in the late 1970s, but it is still pertinent today.


‘King of Pork’ and ‘Top Narcissist’ Awards

Citizens Against Government Waste has tracked and analyzed the earmarks and pork-barrel projects on the agenda for Big Government bureaucrats in 2009. The result of this analysis is The Congressional Pig Book:

The Congressional Pig Book is CAGW’s annual compilation of the pork-barrel projects in the federal budget.  The 2010 Pig Book identified 9,129 projects at a cost of $16.5 billion in the 12 Appropriations Acts for fiscal 2009.

CNSNews.com reports that three law-makers stood out and ‘won’ special recognition:

(CNSNews.com) - Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), and Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and were the top award “winners” in the 2010 Congressional Pig Book Awards issued Wednesday by the taxpayer group Citizens Against Government Waste.

Harkin and Byrd jointly won the “Narcissist Award” for 2010 – a little-coveted award given to those members of Congress who request taxpayer money to fund projects named after themselves.

Harkin asked for $7,287,000 to continue what he calls the “Harkin Grant” program for renovating Iowa public schools.

Byrd similarly asked that $7 million in taxpayer funds be directed to the Robert C. Byrd Institute of Advanced Flexible Manufacturing Systems, which provides workforce training in technical manufacturing skills.

Meanwhile, Cochran, a Republican, beat out Democrat Byrd for the title of “King of Pork”

This Big Government spending is disgraceful and needs to stop.


Some Obamacare Videos


“Pay Czar” Makes BofA’s CEO An Offer He Can’t Refuse

Back in March I saw the potential of A Wonderful Precedent set by the Obama administration and Democrats. Basically, if Obama doesn’t like the way a company is being run, and that company received stimulus money,

Obama’s crew…  might abuse their authority to “punish” executives who don’t “voluntarily” return money that they are under no obligation to return.

Well, that precedent has been set:

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Obama Denies That Fees For Uninsured Are Taxes

H/T – HotAir

Obama seems not to have a problem misleading the public, even when it comes to the common meaning of words. I hope that Dems and folks on the Left realize that this guy is will smile, look them dead in the eyes and tell them whatever he thinks they want to hear.

Mr. Obama…

YOU LIE!


Will They Be Heard?

As hundreds of thousands of Americans march in Washington today to protest Obama’s schemes, for example Obamacare, conservative bloggers feel confident that “They Will Be Heard.”

I’m not so sure.

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What Do Americans Think About Healthcare?

Pennsylvania: Only two in five (42%) registered adults are confident in the president’s ability to reform the country’s healthcare system.

New Jersey: One-third of voters think the reforms would benefit them, while nearly half believe the policies would hurt them.

And here are some data from a CNN national poll:

27.  From everything you have heard or read so far, do you favor or oppose Barack Obama’s plan to
reform health care?
28.   (IF FAVOR) Do you favor that plan strongly or only moderately?
29.   (IF OPPOSE) Do you oppose that plan strongly or only moderately?

QUESTIONS 27, 28 AND 29 COMBINED

Aug. 28-31 2009

Favor strongly    25%
Favor only moderately    23%
Oppose only moderately    10%
Oppose strongly    41%
No opinion    2%

Which would make you feel more secure — the current health care system in this country, or the
health care system proposed by President Obama?

Aug. 28-31 2009

Current health care system  52%
Obama’s proposed system  44%
No opinion    4%

From what you know of those health care reforms, do you think you and your family would, in
general, be better off, worse off or about the same?

Aug. 28-31 2009

Better off  21%
Worse off  38%
About the same  40%
No opinion  *

This should give a general idea how Americans feel about the current health care/insurance plans. If you watch some town hall meetings on C-Span I’m sure you’ll realize that these numbers are more than generous to those who support the plans. These polls are all recent as of September 2, 2009.


Treason?

There are strongly opposing views and opinions on the “cap and trade” bill. Supporters claim that dissenters are committing “treason,” while dissenters are calling supporters “traitors.”

Cafe Hayek links to two responses to liberal author Paul Krugman’s charge that dissenting opinions regarding the bill are tantamount to “treason against the planet.”

LGF conveniently ignores the wild statements of Krugman and, instead, Charles Johnson cites a blog entry that criticizes other anonymous bloggers who call supporters of the bill “cap and traitors.” Johnson and the author of the post to which he links must think that a few dissenters are more troublesome and warrant more attention than Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman.

Meanwhile, in the real world, influential writers, e.g. Nobel Laureate Krugman, are calling dissenters traitors and big blogs, e.g. LFG, are ignoring this abuse of influence.


Controlled Substances

Thinking about selling your worn-out copy of Guitar Hero:  World Tour on eBay?

Think again.

In America, and most other so-called “Capitalist” societies, guitar_hero_world_tour_logoprivate individuals are free to buy and sell products and services in an open market with a short list of general and democratically determined exceptions, some examples include:

  1. Certain drugs are illegal for individuals under a certain age, others are illegal for everyone
  2. Certain chemicals are regulated because they may be harmful to the environment
  3. Architectural structures must meet certain specifications in order to be deemed safe for occupancy
  4. And of course, transactions involving fraud are illegal.

So why on Earth do people think the U.S. court system should step in and tell companies what they can and can not do?

This is exactly what folks think about Chrysler:

Three Indiana state pension and construction funds want the Supreme Court to block Chrysler’s sale to Fiat so they can pursue an appeal in hopes of getting a better deal.

Also filing emergency papers at the high court Sunday were lawyers representing consumer groups and individuals with product-related lawsuits.

An appeals court in New York approved the sale Friday, but gave objectors until Monday afternoon to try to get the Supreme Court to intervene. Chrysler LLC wants to sell the bulk of its assets to a group led by Italy’s Fiat Group SpA as part of its plan to emerge from bankruptcy protection.

The Indiana State Police Pension Fund, the Indiana Teacher’s Retirement Fund and the state’s Major Moves Construction Fund claim the deal unfairly favors the interests of Chrysler’s unsecured stakeholders ahead of those of secured debtholders such as the funds.

The funds also challenged the constitutionality of the Treasury Department’s use of money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to supply Chrysler’s bankruptcy protection financing. They say the government did so without congressional authority.

Chrysler had hoped to close the sale by the end of this past week.

Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Chrysler has maintained that the sale must be completed quickly to save the automaker from complete collapse. If the deal doesn’t close by June 15, Fiat has the option of pulling out. Production at Chrysler’s manufacturing plants remains halted pending the closing of the sale.

So, let me get this straight. Obama and the Dems keep a dying company, Chrysler, alive with tax dollars or borrowed money that will have to be paid back with tax dollars. Obama and the Dems stipulate that the life-support will stay on as long as Chrysler finds a foreign (who knows why?) company to be BFFs with. Chrysler finds FIAT and a deal is in the works, but, Obama and the Dems say that if the deal isn’t done by the ides of June, then they pull the plug and all the tortuous hours that execs at Chrysler put in trying to please Obama and the Dems will have all been in vain. However, since the precedent of Big Government intervention has already been set regarding the operation of Chrysler, people are crawling out of the woodwork trying to get U.S. courts to decide how the company should be run. Basically, Obama has been keeping a company in its death throws alive with tax-payer money when anyone with half of a brain could have predicted the consequences and the inevitable failure of Big Government-run company (Cf. Fannie and Freddie).

Is Obama a Sadist?

But more importantly, since this whole ordeal is basically arbitrarily directed against the way one company (Chrysler) does business, who’s to say that similar meddling won’t soon be in store for other private individuals or companies providing, selling, using, and buying services and products in America? What will prevent these mobs from using the U.S. courts to stop the sale of Guitar Hero to the highest bidder because they hope to negotiate a better deal with the seller?


An Offer He Could Not Refuse

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford did not want to take the money. After all, it is not at all clear that the “stimulus” is actually working as Big Government has planned. However, Sanford has been issued “a writ of mandamus, which orders the governor to apply for the money” by the South Carolina Supreme Court.

How dare Gov. Sanford defy The One?

Related: Democrats Write Letters of Intimidation to Critics


Link of the Evening

@ Cafe Hayek:

Obama and Michelle, stimulating the economy.


Don’t Be So Hasty, Charles

LGF has been giving balanced coverage of President Obama’s actions. At times Charles criticizes, at other times he defends Obama and the Democrats. Over at HotAir bloggers are outraged over what seems to be a statement by Obama in which he asserts his intention to silence criticism: White House: We’ll cut off criticism of Porkulus. But LGF is claims that this is nonsense:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. It’s a responsible move, to prevent abuse of stimulus funds.

Not so fast, Charles.

Cafe Hayek has already posted on the intimidation and thuggish tactics that the Democrats are using to keep criticism levels down. Here’s the text of a letter that the Democrats have sent to a private citizen who just so happens to oppose the way things are being handled in D.C.

Dear Mr. Frey:

We were outraged to read in today’s New York Times that you are actively opposing our efforts to achieve a diminution in foreclosures by voluntary efforts. Your decision is a serious threat to our efforts to respond to the current economic crisis, and we strongly urge you to reverse it. Given the importance of this to the economy and to what it means for future regulatory efforts, we have set a hearing for November 12, and we invite you now to testify. We believe it is essential for our policymaking function for you to appear at such a hearing, and if this cannot be arranged on a voluntary basis, then we will pursue further steps.

For the hedge fund industry, which has flourished for much of the past decade, to take steps so actively in opposition to what is currently in the national economic interest is deeply troubling and will clearly have serious implications for the rules by which we operate in the future if this posture of obstruction of our efforts is maintained. We very much hope you will be able to tell us very soon that you have reversed your position of trying to obstruct the operation of the bill that was overwhelmingly passed by Congress and signed by the President this summer, and we hope that you will also affirm your presence at the hearing on November 12.

This letter is signed by Barney Frank, Maxine Waters, Luis V. Gutierrez, Paul E. Kanjorski, Caroline Maloney, and Melvin L. Watt.

Here’s the pdf:

Letter of Intimidation

Obama seems to be taking a page from Barney Frank’s book of crime under the guise of politics. The President of the United States wants to control the expressed opinions of “anyone else exerting influence on the [stimulus spending] process.”

Charles at LGF misreads the restriction:

This restriction only applies to people who are competing for stimulus money. They’re not allowed to communicate with government representatives responsible for a particular claim unless they put it in writing, after the claim is filed but before the money is awarded. This is obviously intended to prevent corruption, and make sure that any claims for stimulus money are completely above board.

Well, no. The restriction applies to “anyone else exerting influence on the process,” as is stated in the White House blog post. An editorial in a newspaper would certainly count as an exertion of influence, would it not?

I would honestly like to believe that this is being done in the interest of full disclosure and transparency, so that the American people can read what would have gone on behind closed doors, but, given the the fact that Democrats like Barney Frank have already written letters of intimidation to private citizens in order to “urge” folks “to reverse their opinions,” it’s doubtful if the Obama Adm. is acting in good-faith here.


Erratum

Alec Baldwin made “an apology” to those who took offense at his making light of sex trafficking. Since the issue of sex trafficking, apparently, does not merit its own post on HuffPo, Baldwin tacks on a bit about “U.S. autoworkers.” It seems that Alec does not want them to lose their jobs. However, he does make the following statement:

But giving more money to Detroit means giving more money to GM, Chrysler and Ford, and that is a horrible idea.

Wrong.

Ford has consistently told Obama that they do not need bailout money. I’m sure Obama is disappointed. After all, his justification for the bailouts has been “we can not let the American auto-industry die.” Since Ford is an American auto company that doesn’t need a bailout, I wonder what Obama’s really up too. He’s already (ab)used his position to force the resignation of GM’s CEO, Rick Wagoner. I guess he thinks he can run the company better.


Obama’s First 100 Days

I was reading a comments thread regarding Obama’s first 100 days in office, and I decided to respond to a comment that really “pulled my heartstrings” in the wrong way. Here it is, with my response below.
Thus far Obama seems to have found the heartstrings of public consciousness. If he can continue to successfully steer the unwieldy public opinion barge through rough waters (like his doppelganger Lincoln had), he should be in a good position to advance the administration’s agenda. On that point alone: give him an A.

And here is my response:

“On that point alone: give him an A.”

I will give him a B- on the point to which you refer: he does seem to have “found the heartstrings of public consciousness” (whatever that means), However, this is not true of “the public” at large. Many on the left and many many more on the right feel that he is making poor decisions and going back on some of the promises he made during the election. It seems that there is no possible way for him to not to raise taxes for the majority of the middle class. That’s something we will all feel no matter who has his eye on our “heartstrings.” But, it is true that, for the most, of the folks who voted for Obama, he is still viewed as something of a hero.

As for his answer to economic problems, that is, to throw money at it, this will solve nothing in the long run. In fact, we will be worse off than we are now, when he’s lost our money in companies that we all know are about to fail. It’s mind-boggling, really. He gets a D- for his economic policy.

Moving on to foreign policy and international relations, I give him a solid C. He’s certainly more likable than was Bush. However, let’s face it, Cuba and Venezuela are totalitarian nations. He should not have accepted anything from Chavez, nor should he have yielded to Cuba. But at least the world doesn’t hate us, so, a solid C.

Over all I’ll give him a C- thus far, but I agree with the commentator above, this “first 100 days” thing is arbitrary.


Too Big To Fail: TARP Illustrated

Here’s a funny, but sad, take on the whole “too big to fail” argument.

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Two Timely Economics Posts

I’ve read two great economics posts in the last, oh… 12 hours or so. The first is called Economics in one unlearnt lesson and can be found at the blog Applying Philosophy to Life. The author has finally read the classic book by Henry Hazlitt Economics in One Lesson (PDF). Blogger K.M. reflects upon Hazlitt’s message:

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No Kiddin’

Well, duh…

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) looks like he may be facing a fresh political firestorm.

Dodd just admitted on CNN that he inserted a loophole in the stimulus legislation that allowed million-dollar bonuses to insurance giant AIG to go forward – after previously denying any involvement in writing the controversial provision. .

“We wrote the language in the bill, the deal with bonuses, golden parachutes, excessive executive compensation that was adopted unanimously by the United States Senate in the stimulus bill,” Dodd told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer this afternoon.

“But for that language, there would have been no language to deal with this at all.”

Dodd facing fresh political firestorm.

Gee. Maybe shenanigans like this are the reason so many people are against government intervention in the first place.


A Wonderful Precedent

Reading today’s Wednesday, March 18, 2009 The Washington Post (Home Edition), I see on the front page the following:

Senior White House officials said last night that President Obama did not learn that bonuses worth $165 million were to paid to executives of American International Group until Thursday, one day before the4y were issued and two days after his Treasury secretary was informed that the payments were going forward.

In a letter to congressional leaders last night, Geithner said that in addition to pressing the company on compensation issues, the Treasury Department will deduct an amount equal to the total bonuses paid from a pledged $39 billion commitment to the troubled insurance company… In what they acknowledged would be an extraordinary move, leading Democrats proposed using the tax code to punish executives at the firm, in which the federal government controls an 80 percent stake, unless those payouts are surrendered voluntarily.

Yet another example of hypocrisy among Obama’s crew, the Democrats might abuse their authority to “punish” executives who don’t “voluntarily” return money that they are under no obligation to return. When the government shows itself unable to honor a simple contract, the people will lose even more faith in government and business. If the Democrats do use the tax code to go after individuals (as opposed to making codes general enough to apply to all Americans equally), a dangerous precedent will be set.


Making Jindal into a Strawman

I’ve been hearing the term “volcano monitoring” too often lately, so today I decided to see what this was all about:

After President Obama’s speech on the economy last night, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal criticized government spending in the stimulus bill, citing examples including “$140 million for something called ‘volcano monitoring.'”

Most of the money from the stimulus bill earmarked for monitoring (only about a tenth of the total going to the USGS) will go to modernizing existing monitoring equipment, including switching from analog to digital and installing GPS networks that can measure ground movements, said John Eichelberger, program coordinator for the USGS’s Volcano Hazards Program. Much of the expense of this technology comes from the manpower required to make and install it, he added.
Story continues below ↓advertisement | your ad here

“Ultimately most of this creates jobs or saves jobs that would have been lost” to recent budget shortfalls Eichelberger told LiveScience.

When he heard Jindal’s remarks, Eichelberger said he “was frankly astonished” that the governor would use this particular example, given his own state’s recent brush with a catastrophic natural disaster.

Source

Oh yes.

All of us would-have-been-laid-off geologists and volcanologists need this stimulus more than you or anyone else. We’re the bedrock of the nation.

But seriously, this criticism of Jindal is a strawman. If this is supposed to be a stimulus bill, make it a stimulus bill. If we need more funding for geology, write up another bill. The “stimulus” bill is too complicated and, methinks, deliberately obtuse, as it is.


Cartoon of The Day

KALs cartoon @ The Economist.com

KAL's cartoon @ The Economist.com

H/T Cafe Hayek


Milton Friedman on Greed

more about “Milton Friedman on Greed“, posted with vodpod


“With all due respect…”

President Obama claimed on January 9th that:

“There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jumpstart the economy.”

The Cato Institute, economics professors and Nobel laureates across the country beg to differ.

Click image to open the PDF

all-due-respect


Obama at GMU

Yesterday President-elect Barack Obama paid a visit to the Fairfax campus of George Mason University. There he gave a speech to an invited crowd of politicians and academics. Here’s a round-up of some of the responses:

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A Feminist Plea to Obama

Good God.

In their letter to Obama, the “Feminist Historians for a New New Deal” start with a good and valid point:

“avoid the discriminatory components of Franklin Roosevelt’s programs in designing a stimulus package to address the current economic crisis”

While Roosevelt’s programs were discriminatory and arbitrary (and it is a good sign that these feminists recognized the same tendencies in Obama), the Fem-historians’ letter takes a turn for the worse:

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