Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

08/01/2012 (2:03 pm)

I Had Help Building That. So?

Whenever President Obama gets too far away from the teleprompter, he says something he genuinely means. That’s a disaster for him, because what he genuinely means is usually something odious to the average American.

Back in 2008, in a candid observation to a plumber named Joe, it was a raw expression of the rationale behind income redistribution, which many Americans properly regard as theft. Respect for private property is the cornerstone of American liberty, and one of the principle reasons government exists is to protect it. For the government to steal property and give it to others who have not earned it negates the reason for government the same way policemen ignoring the law negate the reason for policemen. What candidate Obama said to Joe the Plumber made it clear that the Democrats’ candidate for President embraced at least some ideas from within Marxist thought.

This time around, it is a raw expression of Marxist collectivism — only the Left wants us to think that it was something thoughtful and harmless.

Here is what the President said:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

“Give something back.” As though providing wanted goods and services at an acceptable price, providing jobs for the community, and paying taxes as required by law do not give something valuable to the community on their own.

The Left has been adamant that the furor over this statement is because Obama was misunderstood. “He is not dismissing entrepreneurship,” they cry. “You’re taking him out of context.” Michael Smerconish, a moderate talk show host from my former hometown, Philadelphia, speaks calmly for the Left from the Huffington Post:

…the context of Obama’s two sentences was a far cry from an assault on American entrepreneurship. He was arguing that, while he was willing to cut government waste, he would not gut investments that grow the economy or give tax breaks to the likes of himself or Romney…lost in a squabble over “you didn’t build that” was the opportunity for a more serious conversation about social contracts.

To illustrate the more subtle point about social contracts, Smerconish brings up an earlier speech from Harvard professor and US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren (she of the false “native American” claim,) running against Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts, which has gotten fame and notice all over the Internet. Ms. Warren, in an off-the-cuff talk in Andover, MA (a bastion of posh leftists like herself, as it happens,) expressed the same idea as President Obama in more eloquent fashion:

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.

You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.

Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

“The rest of us paid for…” Oh, my God, the arrogance…

What is astounding is that Smerconish and the rest of the Left think we on the right object to these sentiments because we do not understand them. They are incorrect. We understand them perfectly, and reject them. They arise from a system of thought on the basis of which a third of the world was subjugated under brutal tyranny in the 20th century, and hundreds of millions of citizens were murdered by their own governments. We would like to avoid those results if we could, thanks.

These statements from the President and Ms. Warren presuppose that a business exists solely to benefit itself, and nobody else. That particular form of ignorance has its roots in Marxian thought, namely, the notion that the bourgeois make their wealth on the backs of the poor while providing nothing in return, like vampires.

Nothing could be further from the economic truth. The truth is that the primary aim of every successful business is to benefit the consumer, and it only makes profit if it succeeds in benefiting the consumer. This benefits the entire community by providing desired goods and services at an acceptable price.

You don’t think so? Wait ’till you hear how people whine about the loss if it’s forced out of business. Remember how they declared that Catholic hospitals had no right to go out of business, because they provide a unique public good? Remember how they wailed about Wal-Mart putting smaller retailers out of business?

Additionally, the successful business pays taxes. The amount it pays in taxes is fixed by the legislature. The laws passed by the legislature define, for the sake of the community, what the business’ fair share is. By definition in a free republic, if the business has paid its taxes according to law, it has paid its fair share. It is not benefiting from roads “the rest of us” paid for; it is benefiting from roads it helped pay for itself, by paying taxes.

And finally, the business provides jobs in the community, and pays its employees for performing those jobs. The employees also pay taxes, which fund the roads and bridges about which Ms. Warren is so concerned.

So for every successful business that is moral and legal, the social contract has already been fulfilled. The businessman owes nothing more than he has already provided. He is entitled to keep all the profit that is left over, not just “a big hunk of it.” He has already paid back to the community, and owes nothing more.

The entire conversation about the social contract is already encompassed by the US Constitution, and by the body of laws formed under it. The terms of the social contract are defined by the law of the land. When an individual or a business has met the obligations set out in the duly constituted laws, that individual or business has met the terms of the social contract — and owes nothing else. The same is true of people “paying their fair share;” it is completely defined by the law. When a person has met the obligations of the law, they have paid their fair share — and owe nothing else.

If progressives want to reopen that discussion, it signals their intent to revise the basic social contract reflected in the Constitution. (Will they admit that? Never.) They have flooded the nation with their calls for a redefinition of “fair share,” and their notion that somehow, legitimate businesses need to “give back” more than they have already given under the existing social contract.

Have they told us how they intend to redefine those things? Not really, but the structure of ObamaCare gives us a clue: almost the entire “law” consists of the creation of a series of unaccountable bureaucrats, each of which will decide on their own how medical practitioners will meet the standards they produce. There is no recourse for changing the standard produced by the bureau. There is no oversight for the bureau.

They seem to want to be able to define “fair share” and “giving back” themselves, and to modify them at whim. That way, they can create a permanent debt, one that can never be fully repaid. This gives them permanent control over the populace, without any possible appeal or recourse.

This is the language of control. Individuals with control issues do something similar: they create a permanent, interpersonal debt that somehow never gets fully repaid, so you remain under their control. Loan sharks do the same: whatever you pay goes against interest, but somehow the principle never gets repaid and you remain under their control. Political controllers create the idea of a debt that you owe the collective that can never be repaid; that way, you will always be under the control of the collective.

By contrast to this, the US Constitution guarantees that the definition of “fair share” will be determined by properly selected representatives of the people. No person will be held to an arbitrary standard created by some tyrant’s whim, nor will the standard vary by the individual’s race, religion, or national origin, nor may it be changed except by due process of law. Those are the terms of the social contract designed to protect our liberties — the contract that Progressives now want us to reexamine.

Oleg Atbashian, at the PJMedia blog, captured the collectivist spirit of Obama’s remarks perfectly today, and explained in detail where we’ve seen those ideas before. (Note: free registration might be required.) He observed, among other things, that Obama’s intent to pin the success of businesses on the collective encompasses the same spirit by which the left blames its failures on anything but its own ideas. None of us are responsible for our failures, nor for our successes; we all belong to a collective consciousness, and our destiny comes to us from beyond our control:

In the erstwhile USSR, the government redistributed not only the nation’s dwindling wealth; it redistributed successes and failures. All achievements were credited to the Party and its leaders, as well as to a centrally appointed regiment of “Heroes of Socialist Labor” who conspicuously “sacrificed for the common good.” The failures were blamed on foreign aggressors, Western imperialism, enemies of the people, kulaks, saboteurs, corrupt bureaucracy, irresponsible middle management, selfish greed, and lack of proletariat consciousness, as well as on natural disasters and bad weather. Sound familiar?

Yes, we are all dependent on each other, and yes, we are all part of each other. Like so much of that about which the Left lectures, it is annoying, not because it is false, but because it is trivial. We are interdependent; and we cannot build a tree house before God has first created trees. What of it? Every adult knows that he or she has to function as part of an interdependent society to survive: and those of us who have grown up know that when one has lived a moral and virtuous life, one has fulfilled one’s obligation to society. The interdependence of everything is not something liberals grasp and conservatives don’t; it’s something liberals think is new revelation, like teenagers discovering “world peace” for the first time, and conservatives understand is already encompassed in the way we do things. No, the grocer did not build his grocery by himself; and by the same token, I did not fill my refrigerator without the grocer. I thank him by paying his price and honoring the rules of his store. He thanks me by providing fresh vegetables and employing my neighbors. We all get along fine. Beyond that, we owe each other nothing more than decent treatment.

But none of that negates the crucial fact that we are responsible for our failures, and we are responsible for our successes. The businessman really does deserve credit for building his successful business, and President Obama really did insult him when he said that he was no smarter and worked no harder than anyone else. Maybe he didn’t mean it that way, but that’s what he said.

We all get the same benefit from government: we drive on the same roads, and the same firemen put out our neighbors’ fires. So, why aren’t we all equally successful? Because, despite the prating of America’s Marx-influenced political left, individual effort really does make a difference.

President Obama wants us to give him leave to redefine at will how much we all must contribute to the collective in order to fulfill the social contract. The world has already seen where that leads; that’s why we object. We think the social contract under which we currently operate works just fine, thank you very much. We did not misunderstand him at all.

01/16/2012 (2:07 pm)

What’s Blocking Economic Recovery.

I can add nothing to this:

Credit goes to Newsbusters.org, which posted this image to their facebook account.

01/03/2011 (9:50 pm)

A Light Critique of Ayn Rand

A friend posted this portion of Mike Wallace’s 1959 interview with Russian-American philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand, in which she discusses how her philosophy, Objectivism, should be applied in American society. A lively discussion ensued, so I’m going to post my thoughts here.

In my experience, American conservatives who are non-religious are likely to be Objectivists in some sense; Rand has plenty of fans on the right. Objectivism is a bit scary; it claims that man should pursue self-interest instead of altruism, that to serve one’s fellow-man is immoral, and that love is earned by developing personal virtue. Rand’s fans on the right mostly like her application of this to politics and economics, where she claims that the only legitimate political systems are those that grant unbridled individual liberty and permit laissez-faire capitalism.

Rand is brilliant, and defends her thesis ably. Enjoy, and then come back for some discussion.

As far as economics goes, Ms. Rand is right on the money. I would have wanted her to say only a couple of things differently:

(1) She should have emphasized that Mike Wallace’s version of the robber barons was a myth. She did actually say that, but it got buried in the detail. The real robber barons were those who used government regulation to obtain a competitive advantage.

(2) She should have corrected Wallace’s notion that the welfare state was an implementation of the principle that “We are our brother’s keepers.” It is not; it is an implementation of an anti-ethic masquerading as a Christian ethic, which says that an enlightened elite should trump the choices of the many in order to achieve what the elite claims is a Christian ideal. It would be a Christian ethic if individuals encouraged each other to care for their brothers. It is a statist tyranny that asserts the right of an elite to force others to implement their notion of a just state. This has nothing to do with Christianity.

Ms. Rand does not understand the vast difference between legitimate self-interest and selfishness. Modern progressives tend to make the same error, failing to differentiate between ordinary profit motive and greed. Rand’s version of conservatism is thus just as dangerous as the progressivism it opposes, and if it takes hold, would turn our nation into a nation of callous, self-centered fools.

Rand is correct about this: everybody operates out of self-interest. It’s why we feed and dress ourselves. The absence of self-interest is a pathology; people who lack this ordinary sense of self-interest don’t take care of themselves, become promiscuous, smoke, engage in high-risk activities without proper precautions, or become self-destructive in other ways.

“Selfishness” is ordinary self-interest pursued to the exclusion of necessary moral limits. Selfishness occurs when we allow our self-interest to trump other important moral imperatives, like concern for others or loyalty to family, among other things.

Those moral imperatives come from God, and are innate; Objectivism, however, claims that no God exists and that religion is illegitimate. This is where Objectivism and Christianity part company. Objectivism attempts to produce virtue without God, and makes a hash of it.

The same difference exists between self-interest and greed as exists between self-interest and selfishness. Greed is when we allow our desire for profit to trump our commitment to other, necessary moral rules, like the proscription on stealing or the imperative of telling the truth.

Modern liberals & progressives (who have, in this matter, swallowed the lies of Marxists) err by imagining that all profit motive is greed. Rand similarly errs by imagining that all self-interest is selfishness. Both of them err by making no distinction between the principled pursuit of self-improvement, and the unprincipled pursuit of it.

(I suspect that both fail to note this distinction because they’re both unprincipled themselves. Virtue is like knowledge; the virtuous can see both virtue and vice, while the vicious can see neither. But I can’t prove this.)

The interesting consequence of understanding the distinction between principled self-interest and greed or selfishness is that one realizes that our free society can only work among a highly principled populace. If, in general, we lack moral principle as a people, then our liberty becomes an occasion for selfishness and greed, and everything falls apart. Ultimately, the prosperity of free America did not arise only from its freedom, but from the combination of freedom and morality. Freedom without morality does not produce prosperity, it produces chaos. We actually saw something like this occur in post-Soviet Russia during the 1990s — although despite the chaos, what took place there was more prosperous than the Worker’s Paradise it replaced.

If you’d like to hear the portion of the interview in which Ms. Rand describes her philosophy for Wallace, you can find it here.

09/29/2010 (1:48 pm)

Hollywood Hates Capitalism

We’ve known this for years, but it’s helpful to have a brief, professional vid point out just how pervasive is the fallacious message that economic liberty is nothing but greed. This is 90 seconds well spent. Enjoy.

My only objection is that genuine economic liberty has nothing whatsoever to do with greed. “Greed” is defined as self-interest to the immoral extreme, an excessive or rapacious desire. Nothing in the ordinary practice of economic freedom requires or even briefly condones rapacious or extreme desire; those things are destructive, and everybody knows it. The pursuit of self-interest is normal, healthy, and most emphatically is not greed.

I came across a useful illustration in a radio interview with Jay Richards, author of Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism is the Solution and Not the Problem. This is based on Richards’ actual experience watching an elementary school teacher illustrating free markets to her students. Pay attention, class:

The teacher brings out a basket of toys, just enough for everyone in the classroom to get a toy. She hands them out arbitrarily. Then, she asks each of the students to grade their toy, A through F. When they’ve all graded their toys, she does a quick computation to arrive at a class grade for the toys: C-.

Then, she announces that for the next two minutes, members of the class may trade their toys with anybody in the same row. A little confusion follows, after which a large number of the students in the class have exchanged their toys with somebody else. She then allows the students to grade their toys again, and computes the class average again: B-.

Finally, she announces that for the next five minutes, they may trade their toys with anybody in the entire class. Pandemonium erupts, but when she blows a whistle to get their attention after 5 minutes of free market capitalism, and gathers up the grades again, the value of the toys has risen to a solid A.

What we’re watching is wealth creation. The toys don’t change; you have the same set of toys at the end as you had at the beginning. But the perceived value of the toys has increased dramatically, so that nearly everybody ends up better off.

So, where was greed in that classroom? Every transaction in that classroom was made voluntarily; both sides of every transaction felt that they were increasing their wealth by trading, or the trade did not take place. If somebody had coveted a toy they could not obtain by trading, and had attempted to coerce somebody into giving it to them, or trick them into it — that would be greed in action. And, of course, the teacher was there to make sure that did not happen. Greed is the part of the system that is forbidden by law, as our video suggested. What was going on apart from that was ordinary self-interest, and when that’s allowed to take place without interference, it results in increased wealth for everybody, even when there’s no increase in the raw components of the system.

We need to stop paying money to let the Marxist/Leninists tell us how awful it is that we’ve created enough wealth to raise a couple of billion people out of poverty in the last century and a half. They’re lying to us. Put your money into shows that portray the productive genius of individual liberty, like Iron Man II, or The Incredibles.

06/07/2010 (8:47 am)

The World Economic Collapse, in 3 Minutes

Comedy, but also as clear a description of the fiscal crisis among the EU nations as you’ll hear anywhere. Sometimes economics is just common sense. Listen:

By the way, “they’re owned by China” is not very secure, either. China has been deliberately limiting their birth rate to 1 or less for several decades, so they’re sitting on a depopulation bomb that just hasn’t gone off yet, and that cannot be defused. When the next, smaller generation starts into its earning years, what they’re going to discover is that an industrial economy cannot survive a massive depopulation. Who will buy our trillions of dollars worth of debt then?

05/26/2010 (7:33 pm)

CBO Publishes Fiction Regarding the Stimulus

The Congressional Budget Office issued its quarterly report regarding the effect of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), claiming that the ARRA spending has increased real (inflation-adjusted) GDP somewhere between 1.7% and 4.2%. Leftie blogs are reporting this as proof that the stimulus worked, including gloating from Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen:

There’s a word to describe a recovery effort like this: success.

Facing the greatest economic crisis in generations, the nation had two choices early last year: the Democratic stimulus or the Republicans’ proposed five-year spending freeze. We’re all very fortunate the latter was in the minority.

Even worse was Prairie Weather:

I don’t think even the toxic right can wiggle around those results.

These guys are beclowning themselves. The CBO report is an exercise in question-begging. All it does is run the actual spending numbers through a model that presupposes that Keynsian government-spending multipliers are correct, producing a range of results by changing the multipliers. In other words, they’re using a model to project what the spending did, not actually measuring economic output. Since the projections of what the stimulus would accomplish used exactly the same models, all they’re doing is reciting their theories and patting themselves on the back. Bruce Reidl of the Heritage Foundation explains, and Stephen Spruiell boldly predicts that each quarter’s CBO report will simply repeat the fiction.

In case you’re not familiar with Keynsian multipliers, allow me to explain briefly:

Keynsians argue that when individuals have money to spend, they save some of it, but when the government has money to spend, they spend all of it. They argue that by taking the money as taxes and spending it as government spending, more money reaches the economy — the difference being what the taxpayers would have saved. That’s how they claim that taking money out of the economy through taxation then re-inserting it through government spending actually stimulates the economy.

This is nonsense, in my humble opinion, because dollars saved do not disappear from the economy, they get cycled into capital formation. Capital formation results in expansion, and expansion occurs by way of spending. For instance, Widget Manufacturing builds a new plant by buying materials from suppliers, paying construction workers, etc. So saved dollars circulate just as readily as spent dollars, only they cycle through the banking system first.

I accepted the Keynesian multiplier when I first studied economics, because that’s what college freshmen do when their professors feed them an equation, but I’m not buying it now, especially with all the real-world examples of failed Keynesianism to work from. Those reading this who feel compelled to complain that I’m a nobody criticizing the uncontested brilliance of Nobel prize-winners should reread my post addressing that very point back in February 2009, when the Cato Institute took out a full-page ad in the New York Times listing the names of all the professional economists who simply don’t believe that the Kenysian multiplier has any relevance to the real world.

It is not clear that stimulus spending has done anything other than benefit Democratic party donors and bloat an already unmanageable deficit. It is abundantly clear that Democrats want very badly to claim that it has helped things. Those who use the CBO report to prove it, though, prove either that they have no idea what they’re talking about or that they have no scruples.

05/08/2010 (8:10 am)

Malinvestment

I came across the word “malinvestment” in a newsletter from a folksy economist named Richard Maybury. Maybury is reputed to be expert at making difficult economic concepts simple by way of clear illustration. In his recent newsletter regarding the bailout of Greece, he explains how a government’s adding to the money supply does not affect all areas of the economy equally by way of just such an illustration. Listen:

ConesWhen a government inflates its money supply, the new money does not descend on the economy in a uniform blanket. It goes into specific areas, usually those that are fashionable, or those at which the government directs the money through its own spending or regulations.

Businesses crowd into areas that are receiving these extra flows of money. They invest in stores, offices, factories, machines and other capital to tap into the flows. The more money flows into an area, the more capital is created there.

In effect, the money pours into the economy like thick molasses poured into a bathtub from hundreds of pitchers. This creates cones of money, and businesses crowd into these cones.

The cones are not natural. Businesses would not move into these areas if money were not poured there, they’d go elsewhere. So, the businesses in these cones are not investment, they are malinvestment. When the government stops inflating, the cones wither; businesses dependent on the flow of money starve.

The newsletter also explains the European Union as the rise of what Maybury calls “the Roman Disease,” or Fascism. His information here is mostly sound, although not entirely (he uses the fact that Hitler was more popular in Austria than in Germany as evidence of the widespread European acceptance of Fascism, when it probably had more to do with Hitler being Austrian himself. OTOH, Europe did accept Fascism easily.) Likewise, he accurately describes the ancient and local loyalties of various European districts, but inaccurately (in my humble opinion) predicts civil war in the EU because of them. Still, his understanding of both history and economics is sound, and the entire piece deserves to be read, if not entirely believed.

04/14/2010 (1:52 pm)

Welcome to the Republican Party

I clipped the following from an email newsletter I somehow started receiving a few months ago, from Guns & Patriots. The author is Mike Piccione, the editor. Take it away, Mike…

I recently asked my friends’ little girl what she wanted to be when she grows up. She said she wanted to be President some day. Both of her parents, liberal Democrats, were standing there, so I asked her, “If you were President what would be the first thing you would do?”

She replied, “I’d give food and houses to all the homeless people.” Her parents beamed.

“Wow…what a worthy goal.” I told her, “But you don’t have to wait until you’re President to do that. You can come over to my house and mow the lawn, pull weeds, and rake my yard, and I’ll pay you $50. Then I’ll take you over to the grocery store where the homeless guys hang out, and you can give them the $50 to use toward food and a new house.”

She thought that over for a few seconds, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked, “Why don’t the homeless guys come over and do the work, and you can just pay them the $50?”

I shook her hand and said, “Welcome to the Republican Party.”

…Her parents still aren’t speaking to me.

Mike Piccione
Editor, Guns & Patriots

02/22/2010 (10:07 am)

A Lesson in How Leftists Think

I picked up this gem from the still-active ObamaBot web site, Organizing for Obama. It’s written by David Plouffe, Obama’s campaign manager in 2008:

Just last week, we learned that insurance companies all around the country are trying to jack up rates — by 39% in California, 23% in Maine, and up to 41% in the D.C. area. This, after health care spending rose at a record rate in 2009.

Hmm… is there a connection between “health care spending rose” and “insurance companies are trying to jack up rates?” Hmm… Hmm… Let’s think real hard now…

In case any leftists are reading this and can’t make the connection, or in case there are some cynics among us who have sadly been infected with the cultural disease of instantly thinking “theft” whenever a corporation is involved, it’s really very simple. Insurance companies pay claims according to what doctors and hospitals bill. If the amount of billing goes up, the amount paid out by insurers goes up. Insurance rates are calculated based on the expected medical costs of the individuals in their insurance pool; if the rates being charged by medical practitioners goes up, the expected costs for the pool goes up, and they have to charge each member more. That’s the way the business works.

Trust a leftist to imagine that there exists no legitimate connection between actual medical costs and insurance rates, and to insist further that at a time when actual costs are rising, insurance companies ought to hold their rates steady, or even reduce them, as a public service. Insurance companies are not in business to make money, you see, or even to spread the cost of medical care over a larger population to make them manageable, they’re a public service organization. They exist to make medicine free for all. This is a cute, charming point of view when voiced by a 5-year-old; it’s incredibly dangerous when voiced by an adult who is supposed to be mature enough to vote.

So let me remind you of the words of PJ O’Rourke, which I posted here ‘way back in 2008:

What will destroy our country and us is not the financial crisis but the fact that liberals think the free market is some kind of sect or cult, which conservatives have asked Americans to take on faith. That’s not what the free market is. The free market is just a measurement, a device to tell us what people are willing to pay for any given thing at any given moment. The free market is a bathroom scale. You may hate what you see when you step on the scale. “Jeeze, 230 pounds!” But you can’t pass a law making yourself weigh 185. Liberals think you can. And voters–all the voters, right up to the tippy-top corner office of Goldman Sachs–think so too.

The occasion for the letter containing this stellar example of the American left’s disconnect from reality is a request for activist calls into the state of Colorado and Virginia’s 5th congressional district, which Republicans ought to be able to wrest from two freshman Democrats in the fall election. Colorado’s Senator Michael Bennett, former Superintendent of Denver’s public schools, was appointed Senator by Colorado’s Democrat Governor, Bill Ritter, after Sen. Ken Salazar was selected to be Secretary of the Interior in President Obama’s cabinet; Rasmussen puts Republican Lt. Governor Jane Norton ahead of the pack at the moment. Virginia’s 5th is represented by newcomer Tom Perriello, who won the seat by a margin of fewer than 800 votes in 2008. The district has been represented by Democrats for most of the 20th century, and only slipped into the R column after Rep. Virgil Goode, Jr. switched from D to Independent in 2000, then from I to R in 2002. However, the district went for Bush in 2000 and 2004, and for McCain in 2008, indicating a close split between the parties there. A fight appears to brewing among Republicans to decide which of them will challenge him; the RNC favors a moderate, but local Tea Partiers are angling for a conservative.

01/30/2010 (11:17 am)

Bipartisan Job Creation, My Posterior

Yesterday Democrats went into a screeching frenzy of glee when Obama mouthed a few Democrat talking points at a Republican Congressional retreat. The sum of the talk was, “Let’s pretend that my hard-left policies and bullying tactics are really moderate, and you guys are really, really naughty for not bending over when I say ‘Bend over.’ Now lets create jobs together.”

I’ve been listening to this blather about government job creation for more than a year, and it’s worn me down. The Republicans are not responding properly at all. The fact that the government’s job creation statistics are fictional does not address the core fallacy. The point is not just that they’re frequently lying when they say the money has created a job, nor that there’s no way to say when a job has been “saved”; it’s that a job created by government spending is always, always, a job that would have been created by private spending if the government had not taken the money. Even if they can show a policeman in Weewau, WI who got a job based on a government grant, the fact is that a machinist in Illinois can’t find a job because the money that would have started a business there was yanked by the government and sent to Wisconsin. Government spending stimulates nothing. It just makes the government bigger, and the private sector smaller.

So, today, while the big news is Obama seducing Republicans to go along with yet another expansion of government, let’s review just how silly Keynesian economic theory really is — the theory that says government borrowing and spending can stimulate an economy. I wrote about this almost exactly a year ago, and here’s the video again — Dan Mitchell from the Cato Institute explaining why Keynesian economics fails to stimulate economies. You might want to go back and read last year’s version, since I did have a few minor quibbles with the video. And then, you get to see a second video by the same guy, explaining why the administration is so interested in concocting a second stimulus when it’s clear that the first stimulus did nothing. Enjoy.

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