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Archive for the ‘capitalism’ Category

Greeks In the Streets

Posted by Ryne McClaren on May 2, 2010

America, welcome to a snapshot of your future!  Greeks take to streets in protest of deep spending cuts.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets across Greece on Saturday, including hundreds of black-clad youths who clashed with the police here, as Greeks vented their rage at tough new austerity measures aimed at securing aid and avoiding a debt default.


The protests, and a planned strike on Wednesday, are a sign of the challenges ahead for Greece. On Sunday, Prime Minister George Papandreou is expected to announce cost-cutting measures totaling 24 billion euros (about $32 billion) that will include freezing public-sector salaries, raising taxes and slashing pensions. In return, Greece is expected to receive up to 120 billion euros in aid over three years.

Greece is, thanks to having their arms twisted, slashing their runaway “social democratic” spending ways, all in hopes of receiving an influx of necessary euros to keep their country from collapsing.  I mean, long story short.

But surely the can-do attitude can keep the country of Greece running, right?

Wrong.  Many in Greece are responding with nothing short of rage.  Sweet, sweet rage at the government that they require and expect to sustain them from the cradle to the grave.

The government’s proposals for deep spending cuts pushed by the International Monetary Fund have met angry resistance in a country where one out of three people is employed in the civil service, which until now has guaranteed jobs for life. The shake-up of Greece’s bloated public sector represents one of the biggest overhauls of the country’s welfare state in a generation. Fears are growing that once Greek society begins to feel the effects of the austerity measures, social unrest could unhinge a potential recovery or force the government to dilute some changes.

“This crisis is not my fault, I won’t accept these austerity measures and I want to know where all the money has gone,” Emily Thomaidis, 29, the owner of a coffee shop, said as she marched through central Athens past vendors selling newspapers with the headlines “Fear. Rage. Hope.” She added, “Why should my generation have to pay the price for problems created by our parents’ generation?”

I can’t remember the last time I read such a delicious, delicious quote in a newspaper.  “Why should my generation have to pay the price for problems created by our parents’ generation?”

Oh my… the glorious irony… the lip-smacking schadenfreude.

Because this is how it works, Emily.  This is government in action.  This is the essence of government, being acted out on the global stage: Patching and solving problems by passing the buck to its future generations.

Given the tragedy and farce of such beautiful American endeavors such as the “stimulus,” and Obamacare, I hope that the New York Times archives this piece of work for future reference, because they’re going to need to run it again and again in the coming decades.  Except the scene won’t be Athens.  (Well, Athens, Georgia, perhaps.)

But there is hope yet.  Surveyed Greeks claim to support these fat-trimming measures (84% claim that the economic difficulties present the chance to introduce needed reform).

One can only hope that they’re not three to five generations (at least) too late.


Posted in capitalism, debt, Economics, socialism | 1 Comment »

The Road to Welfaredom

Posted by Ryne McClaren on April 29, 2010

In what could arguably go down as one of the most laughable quotes ever to come out of the office of an American President, Real Clear Politics lands this Moby Dick of bullsh*t from President Obama, during remarks that were apparently uttered yesterday:

“Now, what we’re doing, I want to be clear, we’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”

The link will take you to actual footage of these words, from a man who’s shaping up to be the ultimate barker in the carnival of anti-capitalist, anti-free market insanity.

I spent a part of my day (ok, the last 15 minutes or so) parsing the sentence quoted above.  There’s a lot of voodoo in this sentence, and I would urge most readers to not dismiss it as Obama simply pimping to a room of “ordinary Americans.”  Not at all.  In fact, these words are quite lethal.

“I want to be clear…”

I only add that because it’s a staple of any Obama speech, and I find it funny.

“[W]e’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success…”

Oh, heavens no.  By no means does the President or his cadre of tax cheats and bank failure friends begrudge success.  They’re hugely, massively, hilariously wealthy.  The President himself is wealthy by nearly any standard you want to measure him against.  And they’re getting more wealthy every day.  And you, Ordinary Citizen, are not to begrudge them this success.

“[success] that’s fairly earned…”

We do not need a financial reform, headed by hand-picked success auditors, to begrudge success that’s fairly earned.  What we need to do is create measuring devices to determine what is fairly earned, and what is not fairly earned.  What is fairly earned will be ours.  What is not fairly earned will be theirs.

This right here is us.  That over there is them.  And all around is a system of class warfare.

I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.

A personal aside: I am a producer, not a moocher.  I’m also a capitalist, and notoriously greedy.  I’m greedy for myself and I’m greedy for my neighbors.  And yet even I (yes, me!) think that there’s a certain point that you’ve made enough money.

And that point is… when there’s no more money left for you to possibly make.  Either the day isn’t long enough, the market has been tapped, saturated, milked dry, or else when the spirit is willing but the body is unable, even I know that there’s a certain point when someone has made enough money.

But I’m not the person who gets to decide that.  Our markets get to define that.  Our demand gets to define it.  Our supply gets to quantify it.

But not the President of the United States.  And not Congress.  And not even “community organizers” shouting vaguely bubble-gummy flavored slogans.

There’s any number of directions that the speechwriter (or the President himself) could have taken the end of that statement.

It could have been said, for example, “I do think that at a certain point Wall Street has made enough money.”

Wall Street is made up of big boys and girls who are used to being rolled around.  Insulting Wall Street is like insulting used car salesmen and lawyers: it really can’t even be done.  Giving the imaginary Monopoly Guy who rules Wall Street a delicious cod punch is always a crowd pleaser, and plays well to the “ordinary Americans.”  Talk about fired up and ready to go!  Nearly every flunky working in an Organizing for America office would have stood and cheered at that one.

The President may also have said, “I do think that at a certain point people who wish to commit fraud have made enough money.”

If he had said that, then I think we could reach a milquetoast agreement that he said something true.  That breaking the law to make money is unethical and immoral.  That gains must not be ill-gotten.  We all could have been happy.

Is this a case of the President committing a Freudian slip?  Or one of a work weary blogger totally over analyzing and blowing out of proportion a throwaway line in yet another of our President’s ridiculously dumb speeches?

I hope it’s the latter.  I hope years from now we can sit back and laugh, like we do when we think of, well, basically anything that came out of the mouth of James Earl Carter.

But I don’t think this is going to be.  I’m deeply suspicious that, years from now, we’re going to sit back and wish we’d paid closer attention to the things this man said.  To the way he said them.  To the way he liked to utter “us” and “them,” all the while meaning himself, his friends, his cronies, his confidants.

And all the while not realizing that when he said “you” at the end of that line, he really did mean you and me.

Posted in capitalism, Obama | 1 Comment »

The Federal Pay Premium

Posted by Ryne McClaren on March 8, 2010

If you’re working for the federal government, then congratulations.  The chances that you earn more than your average counterpart in the private sector is above average.  In fact, it’s nearly a certainty that you’re better paid than someone with similar (or identical skills) performing the same job on our side of the fence.

From USA Today comes this story, culled from an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data: Federal pay ahead of private industry.

Federal employees earn higher average salaries than private-sector workers in more than eight out of 10 occupations, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data finds.

Accountants, nurses, chemists, surveyors, cooks, clerks and janitors are among the wide range of jobs that get paid more on average in the federal government than in the private sector.

What does this “more pay on average” add up to?  Quite a bit actually.

Federal. The federal pay premium cut across all job categories — white-collar, blue-collar, management, professional, technical and low-skill. In all, 180 jobs paid better average salaries in the federal government; 36 paid better in the private sector.

Granted, the federal pay scale is “limited,” or capped in many circumstances.  But 180 of the 216 jobs that were analyzed were more profitable on average when Uncle Sam is your employer.  So if that’s the average, I could probably stand some of that federal pay cap myself.

This isn’t to begrudge everyone on the federal payroll, or even to argue about the disparity.  There are plenty of federal workers whose pay is commensurate with their skills and training.  But in many cases those private sector workers don’t just make less, but significantly less.

If you click through to the link you’ll see a “job comparison” chart explaining the average federal pay versus the average private sector pay for a given job.  The article makes some mention that certain federal jobs, like accounting, for example, “has more complexity and requires more skill.”

A cook working for the government makes $38,400 on average. The average for the guy working in the diner kitchen makes $23,279.

How about the position of “clergy?”  They make a whopping $70,460 per year when they’re employed by Uncle Sam, which is a certifiable chasm of $31,213 more than their non-fed counterparts ($39,247).  While I can think of a multitude of reasons that our federal government does in fact need highly trained and skillful clergy, I was left scratching my head at the “complexity” and higher level of “skills” in this one.

It all makes for interesting reading on a Monday night.

Posted in capitalism, Economics | 1 Comment »

Jim Bunning: Hero or Villain

Posted by Ryne McClaren on March 2, 2010

Well, depends on who you ask.

Jim Bunning

To a few on the right — and your humble blogger — Bunning did something in the last week that few have actually dared to do: temporarily slow the inevitable march of the Federal spending machine.  That dapper young righty (no pun intended, but still) in the picture had the Senate logjammin’ with a filibuster over a $10 billion dollar spending bill.

The angry man of the Senate was at it again.Republican Sen. Jim Bunning, a 78-year-old Hall of Fame pitcher, played hardball on Capitol Hill, single-handedly holding up a $10 billion spending bill because it would add to the deficit.

Oh, the horror.  Damn you, “angry man,” for daring to stop the most excellent bread and circuses that have come to town.  Don’t you know that the Democrats are actively engaged in spending our way out of debt?

It takes a bit of slogging to get the general gist of what Bunning was so worked up about, because by my count there are around 20 paragraphs explaining just exactly how big of an a##hole Jim Bunning is.  Words such as ornery, cantankerous, possessing an “ungovernable mouth,” his “cursing” at reporters, and giving an ABC producer the finger.  Bunning is also described as “toxic,” and in the throes of “his last hurrah.” Mention is also made that Bunning has been referred to as “mentally unstable.”  Robert Gibbs, the spit-flecked penny whistle of the Obama administration, even made mention that you can’t “negotiate with the irrational.”

Do you think the AP might be trying to lead you, the reader, just a little bit?

All of these descriptive sentences go on and on until we reach something of an explanation as to what’s happening:

He had been holding up the spending bill since Thursday, saying he objected because it requires borrowing money. Bunning proposed to pay for the extension with unspent money from last year’s big economic recovery package, but Democrats objected.

By the Senate’s rules, that single objection was enough to block the bill, at least temporarily.

The move had forced some 2,000 federal employees into unpaid furloughs, put jobless benefits in jeopardy for millions and halted more than 40 highway projects.

The absolute horror of it all.  For one week he has held all of this stuff up, and temporarily.  It’s amazing that the Republic could withstand the onslaught of a 78-year old former Major Leaguer.

It may be convenient for me, a rather milquetoast libertarian, to point out that Republicans are… y’know, supposed to be in favor of fiscal restraint and all.  But in the Roaring 2010, it might also benefit the constituents of other Republicans (I’m looking at a few in particular here) to take note of that whole fiscal restraint thing as well.

“He’s hurting the American people,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said when asked Tuesday if Bunning was hurting the Republican Party.

Anyone here from Maine?  Please vote against this woman at your earliest opportunity, please.

I don’t think that Jim Bunning probably cares what anyone much says about him at this point, as surely he will not seek re-election.  The number of Senators who have blown billions or even trillions of dollars of taxpayer money on frivolity and pork are legion.  Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd were and have been retained well past their natural shelf lives, thanks to their ability to catch money with dump trucks rather than buckets, but have generally been lionized in their golden years.  Lucky for those two old-timers that they never tried to get in the way of setting up the circus tents.

Byrd was a notorious ass in his salad days, not to mention a generally despicable racist.  Ted Kennedy goes without saying.  But Jim Bunning?  He took too long in line at the ATM.

We’ll all live to spend another day, folks.  Bunning has ended his filibuster.  The spending of new money over some other money can resume apace.


My inbox today featured this gem from my dad:

For those that did know and forgot and those that have never known and never cared:  Bunning was 10-15 against the Yankees and 24-15 against the Senators. (Circa 1955-1963) And 1-0 vs Senators 2010.

Posted in capitalism, crazy leftists, fake news, MSM bias, Obama, taxes | 1 Comment »

Who Should We Trust on Economics?

Posted by Dan Draney on October 26, 2008

If John McCain loses this election, chances are the chief reason will be the concerns we all have about the economy and the current financial crisis. Arguably, McCain’s instincts to return to Washington to work on the “emergency” bailout bill were noble. They’re certainly in tune with his overall perspective on every issue: Country First. However, Obama’s decision to stay as far as possible from the negotiations paid off. The press and the rest of the Democrats falsely, but successfully, laid the blame for the crisis on Pres. Bush and the markets. Obama and McCain were neck-and-neck when the crisis broke, but Obama opened and held a lead as events developed.

As much as everyone is fed up with the Bush Administration, let’s consider which party and which presidential candidate is better equipped to deal with the ongoing economic problems we face. There are essentially two ways of looking at society and the economy: from an individualistic standpoint or a collectivist one. Remarking on the Joe the Plumber phenomenon, Jonah Goldberg writes on National Review Online:

“Who knows what it will do for McCain in the end, but the Joe the Plumber phenomenon is real. At the rally, supporters carried handmade signs reading “Phil the Bricklayer” and “Rose the Teacher.” Wurzelbacher symbolizes an optimistic, individualistic vision of America sorely lacking — until recently — in McCain’s rhetoric.

Barack Obama, in contrast, has offered the most rhetorically eloquent defense of collectivism since Franklin D. Roosevelt. In his biographical video at the Democratic convention, he proclaimed that in America, “one person’s struggle is all of our struggles.” In his acceptance speech, he artfully replaced the idea of the American dream with the century-old progressive nostrum of “America’s promise.”

But the two visions are in opposition: the former individualistic, the latter collectivist. We each have our own idea of the American dream. Joe the Plumber’s is to own a small plumbing company; yours might be something else entirely. In America, that’s fine, because the pursuit of happiness is an individual, not a collective, right.”

The two parties embody these competing visions of economic policies, although imperfectly. The Republican ideals are those of individual effort, risk taking, and the freedom to win rewards or suffer failure. This is the view of the individual in control of his/her own destiny and responsible for what he/she makes of opportunities. The Democrat view is that most people are not able to fend for themselves, and it is the responsibility of society to take care of them through government actions. The individualist view leads to a desire to keep taxes down and the sphere of government actions limited. The collectivist view leads to a desire to add new government programs, expand existing ones, and seek an ever higher share of the “national wealth” to promote “fairness.”

There certainly are exceptions to the party breakdown on this point. John McCain has hardly been a staunch supporter of limited government and the individual in economic policies. It’s impossible to argue that George W. Bush has been keeping the size and role of government in check. There probably are some Democrats who support minimizing the government’s interference in markets and letting people keep what they earn, but I am unable to come up with any examples of prominent figures in the Democrat party today.

The collectivist view calls for government to “create jobs.” The individualist view sees that real jobs only come from private enterprise. The visible jobs “created” by government spending are more than matched by the less visible jobs lost or not created in the private sector.

The ultimate outcomes of these two competing visions are easy to see, if we look. Low taxes and economic freedom are always associated with growth, jobs, flexible adaptation to changes, and rising standards of living. High taxes and extensive government regulation of economic activities are always associated with slow/no growth, misallocations of resources, high unemployment, and stagnation. Taken to its limits (i.e. Marxism), the collectivist view destroys the private sector and even leads to complete breakdown of society and famine. These results are consistent, wherever they are tried: the stagnation of European socialism; the growth of tax-cutting European states; the perpetual economic failures of communist governments; and the improvements even there when markets are allowed to work.

The American economy is still the envy of the world, but that is not our birthright. It is the result of our sustained commitment to economic freedom and individualism. That system is threatened today. As a result of the bailout much of the banking system is effectively nationalized at this point. It is imperative that these companies be returned to private hands as soon as practical. Otherwise the banking system will become just another political honey pot, used to reward favored groups. Meanwhile, the main causes of the crisis, the quasi-government/quasi-private Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not dead, and the political forces that created them are still in place. We need to drive stakes through the hearts of these companies now to make sure they are never allowed to re-awaken and repeat the activities that brought us to the brink of financial ruin.

Frankly, I don’t know if we can trust John McCain to make the right economic decisions going forward. However, it is completely clear that Barack Obama and potentially large Democrat majorities in the House and Senate are sure to make the wrong decisions for our economic future. We can at least hope that McCain will counter some bad policies.

Obama’s history shows a consistent desire to ally and align himself with far left people and groups. His proposed “tax cuts” are nothing but income transfer plans, welfare checks to those who don’t work paid for with confiscatory taxes on those who do. He, like many Democrats, speak as though all private income rightfully belongs to the government. His appetite for massive, new government programs to solve all society’s ills is insatiable: national healthcare; new alternative energy schemes; new payments to the UN; a new Dept. of Peace and Non-Violence; and more. He has shown hostility toward free trade in talking of “renegotiating” NAFTA and opposing the free trade agreement with Columbia. It’s widely agreed that the Great Depression was precipitated in part by the protectionism of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act.

Free market capitalism is not just the most efficient mechanism for organizing a society and generating wealth. It is also the most moral, because if you want something from someone else you must offer something of value in return. Obama’s rhetoric is full of class warfare clichés and denunciations of “trickledown economics.” He is set to sweep into office promising only “change” with a crisis to justify whatever he defines that change to be, and a huge partisan majority to enact his visions. Based on what he tells us of his plans and what we can guess he is not telling us, this would be extremely bad.

Posted in capitalism, regulation, socialism | Leave a Comment »

We Are All Joe the Plumber

Posted by Dan Draney on October 21, 2008

It’s official. In less than a week the Dinosaur Media have already spent more time and effort investigating Joe Wurzelbacher, a regular guy who had the temerity to ask Obama a question, than they have spent in the past year investigating the candidate. It wasn’t even a “gotcha” question, but Obama, unable to see his teleprompter from Joe’s front lawn, accidentally blurted out something that betrayed his actual, i.e. socialist, views.

“It’s not that I want to punish your success. I want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got a chance for success, too. My attitude is that if the economy’s good for folks from the bottom up, it’s gonna be good for everybody. I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

Before you could say, “Politics of Personal Destruction” the race was on to find some dirt, any dirt, on the man who asked the question that Obama whiffed on. John at Power Line writes of the crusade to discredit Joe in Bring me the head of Joe the Plumber:

“As Barack Obama made the rounds in his neighborhood, Joe the Plumber elicited Obama’s frankly redistributionist statement that he seeks to ‘spread the wealth around’ in his tax plan. Clearly this cannot stand.

The question itself revealed a kind of offense against royalty that in French goes under the rubric of lèse majesté. Moreover, Obama’s comment betrays a frame of mind that is unpopular among independent middle-class voters whose vote may still be up for grabs. Joe the Plumber embarrassed The Man Who Would Be King.”

We haven’t seen anything like this since Sarah Palin was tapped by McCain as his running mate. Sayeth The One: “Let he who is without sin ask the first question. The rest of you, shut the f*** up.”

Surprise! Joe did have some things in his past he’d prefer not to have everyone know about. Who doesn’t have something, be it a crazy uncle, some other nuts, a few old terrorist pals. or our own role in creating the financial crisis? Some members of the media section of the Obama campaign suggested McCain should have “vetted” Joe before talking about The Incident. However, Joe, along with the rest of us, was “vetted” back during the founding of this great country. We have the right, at least for now, to ask questions of our leaders, even questions that embarrass them.

The real issue isn’t Joe or what he said, but who Obama is, what he says and what that means. The fact is that Obama’s tax plan would raise tax rates dramatically on people founding and running successful small businesses. Joe doesn’t own one yet, but, God bless him, he wants to and he’s working hard to make it happen. That’s what creates the wealth that Obama wants to redistribute to people who are, for the most part, not working as hard as Joe. And Obama calls his stealth socialism “good for everybody.”

Talk about a close call. Obama caught himself just in time. His initial thought was to say, “From each according to his abilities. To each according to his needs.”

Obama said to Joe that he doesn’t want to punish his success, and that’s true. If he wanted to punish him, he’d give Joe a baby.

See also Mark Steyn’s “Joe the Plumber vs. Joe the Hair-Plugger.”

Posted in capitalism, Joe the Plumber, MSM bias, Obama jokes, tax rates | Leave a Comment »

Root Cause of the Financial Crisis

Posted by Dan Draney on September 29, 2008

This relatively short video is right on the money in describing what has caused the destabilization of the financial system. The problems didn’t develop overnight, and, as usual, government policies based on Good Intentions led to unintended consequences. The information content of the video is quite “dense,” so frequent use of the pause button is suggested.

Posted in capitalism, regulation | Leave a Comment »

The Problem with Liberals

Posted by Dan Draney on September 20, 2008

Fred Thompson’s speech at the Republican National Convention was somewhat overshadowed by the blockbusters Sarah Palin and Rudy Guliani delivered, but it was excellent in its own right. Our favorite part was this one:

“We need a president who understands that you don’t make citizens prosperous by making Washington richer, and you don’t lift an economic downturn by imposing one of the largest tax increases in American history.

Now our opponents tell you not to worry about their tax increases.

They tell you they are not going to tax your family.

No, they’re just going to tax ‘businesses’! So unless you buy something from a ‘business’, like groceries or clothes or gasoline … or unless you get a paycheck from a big or a small ‘business’, don’t worry … it’s not going to affect you.

They say they are not going to take any water out of your side of the bucket, just the ‘other’ side of the bucket! That’s their idea of tax reform.”

Liberals, socialists and communists (but I repeat myself) just don’t get this fundamental aspect of reality. The private economy, that is businesses large and small, is the goose that is laying these golden eggs they are so keen to redistribute. Government itself does not create any jobs, at least no real ones that aren’t canceled out by job losses from the effects of taxation or borrowing.

The US now has one of the highest tax burdens on business of all the industrialized countries. The results are obvious, if one is willing to look and think: fewer US jobs and higher prices. Businesses don’t pay taxes, only people do. Businesses only pass along their costs from the taxes through higher prices, by employing fewer workers, and/or they go out of business.

Socialists/liberals like to make a big deal about their “compassion” and concern for The Little Guy, but their true agenda is all about punishing success. Envy of The Rich is what really motivates them. The Poor are really just a stick for liberals to use against The Rich.

Joe Biden’s miniscule charitable contributions are a recent case in point. Sen. Biden, the self-proclaimed “Joe Lunchbucket” of the Senate, averaged $369 per year in contributions in the 10 yrs of tax returns he recently released (average income: $245,000). It’s a safe bet that many conservative Nebraskans of much more modest means than Biden exceed his 10 yr contribution total every year. Apparently raising taxes is not only patriotic; it’s also an act of charity.

Posted in capitalism, regulation, tax rates | Leave a Comment »

Why I "Heart" Capitalism

Posted by Dan Draney on August 7, 2008

It’s summed up nicely by National Review’s Jonah Goldberg

People ask, “Why is there poverty in the world?” It’s a silly question. Poverty is the default human condition. It is the factory preset of this mortal coil. As individuals and as a species, we are born naked and penniless, bereft of skills or possessions. Likewise, in his civilizational infancy man was poor, in every sense. He lived in ignorance, filth, hunger and pain, and he died very young, either by violence or disease.

The interesting question isn’t “Why is there poverty?” It’s “Why is there wealth?” Or: “Why is there prosperity here but not there?”

At the end of the day, the first answer is capitalism, rightly understood. That is to say: free markets, private property, the spirit of entrepreneurialism and the conviction that the fruits of your labors are your own.

… and there’s this gem from Thomas Sowell:

“Many have argued that capitalism does not offer a satisfactory moral message. But that is like saying that calculus does not contain cabrohydrates, amino acids, or other essential nutrients. Everything fails by irrevelant standards.”

Posted in capitalism | Leave a Comment »

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