Friday, October 30, 2009

Am I Crazy, or What?

JGL was a Pyschology major long ago, and even though I was also an honors math student, I won't pretend to have even a journeyman's grasp of economics. One thing I do have, none the less, is a pretty firm grasp of logic, and the ability to study and analyze factual information. So here are some basic economic facts:

Unfunded liabilities (from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid alone) are approaching the One Hundred Trillion Dollar Level

The national debt is rapidly closing in on a level equal to our GDP

Current deficit is $1.4+ Trillion dollars, and is projected to continue in that range for years to come.

Unemployment is 10% (though unofficially closer to 20% if you count discouraged workers, part-timers wanting full-time, and people working reduced hours or furloughs)

The Federal Reserve has more than doubled the money supply in the last year, and still printing, and has committed hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars in guarantees to entities unknown.

The Dow Jones and markets have rebounded to around 10,000 from an earlier low in March.

The GDP rose at a 3.5% rate in the 3rd quarter!! (unless you take out the Cash for Clunkers, $8,000 Homebuyer credit and massive government spending) Oh, and a minimal inventory rebound from an abysmal 2nd quarter devoid of consumer spending.

Real disposable income dropped in the last quarter, and nobody is expecting a bonanza of spending for the holiday season.

Note I'm not even including the falling dollar, looming hyperinflation, or the twin train wrecks that are Cap & Trade and Government Healthcare.

So. I'm asking. Can someone, anyone, please point me to an alternative set of facts, or innovative new theory or model that might explain how this economy will magically rebound, and investment, jobs and prosperity return? And no hell no, I don't want to hear any more from you, Ben Bernanke, Timmy Geitner or anyone else that even knows how to spell Goldman Sachs. .....Yeah, that's what I thought- there isn't one that doesn't involve a lot more pain for everyone west of Wall Street. The only possible solution is for all those productive citizens in the unemployment line to trade places with 15 million government employees. Only a bloody evisceration of the Godzilla that is Washington DC, with equivalent reductions in spending and regulation can put us back on the road to the American Dream. This will be at best a long, slow process, and I believe there will be a lot more misery (maybe a necessary precursor) along the way. I will continue to fight like hell to make that a reality, but in the meantime I think I'll avoid the stock market and invest in precious metals- gold, silver and lead!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Galt's Daydream

In the past, I've written about Thomas Jefferson transported to 2009 (Jefferson's Nightmare) and a fictional “Tea Party” candidate capturing the White House in 2012 (State of the Union 2013). As a Jeffersonian/Libertarian/Anarchist I've had more opportunity than I could ever had wished, or dreaded, to consider what exactly might have been done differently in both domestic and foreign policy over the last 20 or 30 years. I guess we'll call this JohnGaltLives' daydream......

What if we had seriously pursued energy independence? I'm talking expanded oil and gas exploration and production, new refineries, no “boutique” gas blends for each and every state, new nuclear facilities and a corresponding upgrade in transmission infrastructure. How might that have changed our need to protect Mid-East oil production, and would we have ever seen gasoline over $4.00/gallon? Would that have spurred development of fuel cells and other green technology at a realistic market cost and demand?

What if we had seriously followed through on Reagan's much derided “Star Wars” program, and developed defensive missile systems that stayed far ahead of anyone's ability to attack us? Would we need to now spend inordinate time and money and political capital to forestall rogue powers like Iran and North Korea, or could we simply provide or sell that defensive capability to our vulnerable allies like Japan or Israel? Would we need to fight an ongoing war in Afghanistan to prevent Pakistan's nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of Al Quaida or the Taliban? Perhaps, but only...

What if we had actually secured our borders, and implemented the technology that has long existed to track every non-citizen who enters and leaves our country? Would we need to sacrifice civil liberties to prevent enemy infiltrators from waging an internal attack? Would we be paying for myriad social services and prison costs for illegals? Would perhaps Americans actually “do some of those jobs Americans don't want to do” if low-wage illegal labor didn't depress the wages of legal workers? Is it possible we would have a rational visa system to allow entry of both short-term unskilled and long-term highly skilled workers?

And finally, what if, as has been proposed many times, we had an ironclad balanced budget amendment (no “emergency” exceptions!) that capped any spending increase at inflation plus population growth, and immediately froze all spending levels if it was exceeded? Would George W Bush have been able to put federal spending on steroids? Would Obama and a Democratic Congress have been able to then quadruple the worst deficit that Bush was able to run up?

There are countless other “what ifs” that I could list, but I have to believe that if just these few things had been implemented, we might have the luxury to argue about the other important issues of the day. I have to think any good Jeffersonian or Libertarian would approve (anarchists might have other plans for the federal government!) The good news is, I'm also an optimist! All these things are still available and achievable if we have the will and leadership put them in place. We've dug ourselves a deep, deep hole, but maybe not yet quite so deep that we'll never climb out of it. But time is short, and the situation is dire, so man up, patriots – Let's Roll!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Insanity, or "Would you buy a used car from a Lib?"

Who's running the asylum, or, Would you buy a used car from a liberal?

It has never been clearer that the inmates have taken over. How else to explain the totally deranged approach our “government” takes on almost every issue of the day? Let's look at it from a purely practical viewpoint. If you want to start an automobile manufacturing company, and you are putting your own money on the line, what are the first practical steps you would take? I'll suggest a few.

First, you would want to do some market research to see what kinds of cars people want, could afford, and would be most likely to buy. While a whole lot of people might think a hybrid or an all-electric Volt would be kinda cool, not too many will be willing to pay a $10-40,000 premium to indulge that whim. Same goes for buying a Hummer or Porsche Boxter. Sounds great, but not really going to work for your average car buyer. Maybe Toyota or Honda could provide a clue.

Second, once you decide on your target market, you'll need to actually build the car itself. Would you go cheap and hire a bunch of 20 something newly graduated designers and engineers to start your business? Maybe you'd dig up the folks who designed and built the Yugo. Or perhaps you'd try and find the best available people who had some years of experience with Ford, Mercedes, BMW or Toyota. I think the answer is obvious to any rational person.

Why then do the so-called leaders of this country insist on trying to resurrect the Yugo with every single policy they undertake? Take any subject you like, and our elected leaders will are doing their damnedest to build a better Yugo.

Taxes? Don't look back to JFK, Reagan or Bush II. They lowered tax rates and saw robust growth.

Strong defense? Reagan buried the Soviet empire. Chamberlain settled for “peace in our time”.Jimmy Carter is... too painful too even think about.

Morals, values, and faith? Best not ever read the Old Testament or Roman history. For sure don't tally up the body count for the Nazis, Stalinists, Maoists or Pol Pot. Might be unsettling.

Socialized medicine? How's that workin' out for all you Brits, Canadians, and Cubans? Hey, there might be no toilet paper in Havana until next year, but your health care's free!

It's patently obvious that the idiots in Washington are either historically and economically illiterate, or crazy, or both. Einstein is famously credited with saying “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”. I'll leave it to you decide if you'd rather trust Pelosi, Reid and Obama with their new and improved Yugo. Me, I'd rather take old Albert out for a spin in a Mercedes Benz.