Friday, January 29, 2010

5.7 percent annualized growth? Not so fast!

The headlines are shouting about the 5.7 percent growth (annualized) during the 4th quarter of 2009. But most of this is due to higher inventory levels, rather than real growth, which is estimated to be only 2.9. Still growth, but nothing like the numbers put out by the government.

This is a blip on the radar, and the recession will continue. The stock market, where the smart money is, didn't even blink. DJIA is only up 4.61 points (as I write this Friday afternoon), which the NASDAQ has plunged 19.37.

The market is a leading indicator, so most investor aren't betting on growth in the future.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The State of the Union -- Same ol' same ol'

No. I did not watch the State of the Union address. This morning I've read enough to convince me that it was just more of the same old B.S.

A few comments, however, based on transcript excerpts and other commentaries and news items (I do try to pay attention).

The government doesn't create jobs. It's creates an economic and regulatory environment that is conducive to the private sector creating jobs. Throwing money at problems -- the liberal way -- does not solves problems.

His proposed spending freeze, which will supposedly save $250 billion over 10 years. Mmmmmm. What is the percentage of $250 billion over $40 trillion (assuming $4 trillion a year budget spending)? It is .63 percent, less than 1 percent. For example, if my budget calls for household expenses of $3,600 dollars a month, but I'm actually spending $5,000, I'd have to reduce my spending by $1,400 to balance my budget. But Obama's plan would have me reducing expenses by about $21 a month. I just don't get it. Do you?

His remarks about the Supreme Court border on arrogance, and provides a clear insight to Obama's lack of respect for the Constitution. If the Supreme Court says the law in question is unconstititional, then you can't get Congress to pass another one to replace it, unless its different; but I get the impression that's what he wants to do. That would be another unconstititional law. What audacity of hope is this?

The Democrats applauded him 80 some times during a 71-minute speech. How devote are they. And he blamed Bush three times. The Dems have had four years, and Obama one year, to fix some stuff, and haven't done jack. Give me a break. (Wonder how many times he used the pronoun, "I"? Update: One blogger put it at 96 times, but I have not confirmed this.)

Name one thing that the President has accomplished (a positive something) in the last year. Go ahead. Make my day.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tax Cuts for the Rich

This tired old liberal mantra -- usually called "Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich" -- is beginning to wear thin. Just about every liberal commentator can't help themselves and will work it into the majority of their columns. A search on Google News today for the exact phrase "tax cuts for the rich" found 53 current news articles.

It's a bunch of verbal virtuosity (borrowing the term from Thomas Sowell) in an attempt to get you to believe that the tax cuts where only for the rich. They were not. Let's look at some facts.

Assume a median family of four income of $66,381, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The figure is for Texas, which I picked because I live here. And for simplicity sake, let's assume that is taxable income, because there are so many varibles when it comes to deductions, it's hard to figure an average, though the IRS reports that there were 17.6 million people who made between 50,000 and 75,000, for an average of $61,000 per year. So it's close.

In 2001, a taxable income of $66,381 required a tax payment of $12,603 for a married couple filing jointly.  In 2009, this tax is $9,121. 

These tax cuts are set to expire next year. Not just for the rich, but for everyone. So if Congress doesn't do anything, this average family of ours will see their tax bill go up $290 a month.

If you're in a lower tax bracket, it's just as bad. For example, with a taxable income of $25,000, the tax in 2001 was $3,754 for married filing jointly. In 2009, it's $2,919.

If your're fortunate enough to have a taxable income of $95,000, the tax in 2001 was $20,468. In 2009, it is $16,119. If you have a taxable income of $95,000, you're well off, but are you "rich"?

These figures don't include Social Security taxes of 6.2 percent, or the medicare tax of 1.45 percent, for an extra tax burden of 7.65 percent.

On the expiration of the “Bush” tax cuts, the tax brackets will change as follows:
Brackets 10, 25, 28, 33 and 35 percent will be increased by 50%, 12%, 10.7%, 9.1% and 13.1% percent, respectively, to 15, 28, 31, 36 and 39.6 percent. Those of you at the bottom of the income chart will see a 50% tax increase. Still think that those tax cuts are strictly for the wealthy? The child tax credit will be cut in half (even for those wealthy families with children) so in reality, the upper and lower classes benefited the most from the tax changes, with the lower class receiving far and away the largest benefit. Yet, we seldom hear this in our daily news. The phrase “tax cuts for the rich” has been repeated so many times that the majority of the people simply believe it.

But it's not true. And if this happens, the recession will come roaring back. We'll be in worse shape than we are now.

Obama vs. the Banks

Obama's plan to place draconian regulations on the banking industry spooked the markets last week. According to Investor's Business Daily:

The president last year proposed a series of measures to tighten the reins on financial institutions, and the House passed a bill last month. His announcement Thursday broadens those measures, particularly by endorsing a proposal by ex-Fed Chairman Paul Volcker to restrict proprietary trading by commercial banks. Such a limit would separate commercial banks from investment banks, a line that was blurred a decade ago by the repeal of the 1930s Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act. Without such regulations, Obama said, the financial system will continue to operate under the same rules that led to its near collapse.

He's just trying to pin the blame where it doesn't belong:
But Wall Street didn't cause the collapse — government did . And this call for tougher rules is yet another attempt to escape blame. All Glass-Steagall did was let bank holding companies buy into investment banks. What undermined the financial system was a fanatical application of rules aimed at getting banks to lend as much money as possible to facilitate homeownership among minorities.

It was the government, not Wall Street, that created the subprime market by compelling banks to make bad loans and urging Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to cash out the banks by putting more and more of the toxic mortgages on their balance sheets.
The more the government meddles where it doesn't belong, the more trouble we get. As Reagan so aptly put it: Goverment is not the solution; government is the problem.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thoughts for Friday

Air America closes its doors
Blame it on the economy, bad management, or lack of talent, the fact remains that the market for liberal talk radio is much smaller than conservative radio because there are about half as many liberals as conservatives, according to self-identifying polls. If you're as far-left as Al Franken, then there are even fewer liberals.
But the bottom line is that radio is radio. If it's not entertaining,  you'll have trouble getting market share, and the resultant ad revenue. My exposure to talk radio is only about 20 minutes a day, but most of it is entertaining, even if I disagree -- sometimes -- with what is being said. Once upon a time, when I used XM Radio, I listened to the liberal talk there, and it was a big yawn. Boring with a capital B.

E.J. Dionne admits broken Obama promises, almost
In yesterday's Washington Post, E.J. says: "It turns out there were core contradictions in the promises Barack Obama made to the country in 2008." Ya think? Come on E.J. Just come out and say it. What Obama said on the campaign trail has nothing do to with the reality in Washington now. But he goes on to blame things on those obstructionist Republicans, the party of "no." He thinks the majority of Americans want "health-care reform." He's right. We do. The system needs some reform. But we don't need to throw out the current system and replace it with a government monstrosity.  Republicans do have a plan, despite what you are lead to believe. But Americans -- as evidenced by Scot Brown's senate victory -- don't want what the left-wing of the Democrat party proposes. Simple as that. Go figure.

The Supremes rule on corporate financing of campaign ads
I don't like the notion of a ton of money being thrown at political campaigns by corporations, wealthy individuals, et al (should it all be public financing?), but the 1st amendment is plain: Congress shall make NO law abridging freedom of speech. The fact that four justices desented amazes me. You can't read plain English? This is why we have so many problems in Washington. While I applaud the SCOTUS for upholding the Constitution, it's time for Congress to pass some campaign finance laws that make sense.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Brown wins in Mass; Dems to move full speed ahead anyway

Because there wasn't any polling surveys, there is no data on why people voted the way the did, but it's quite easy to postulate that they do not like the way things are going in Washington.

Here's Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's reaction, as quoted in USA Today:

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said only "the political math" has changed. "We remain committed to strengthening our economy, creating good paying jobs and ensuring all Americans can access affordable health care ... There is much work to do to address the problems Democrats inherited last year, and we plan to move full speed ahead."
Here we go again. Blaming all our problems on Bush. But the fact is, that in 2006 and 2008, voters gave the Democrats control of the Congress and the White House. During the last four years, they've had plenty of opportunity to create jobs, strengthen the economy and "reform" health care.

We gave liberals a chance. We've seen their agenda. We've rejected that agenda. Rather than providing what the majority of Americans want, they have tried to ram liberal, socialist policies down our throats.

That ain't gonna happen. But the question is, how is that not going to happen, when 20 percent of the country is mandating their liberalism to the other 80 percent?

Steve McCann, in American Thinker, has an excellent essay on just this question. One excerpt:
Conservatives must discipline themselves to stop being so thin-skinned about what the media, bloggers, and pundits on the Left say about them. These immature and self-righteous blowhards must be ignored and allowed to talk among themselves without any response from anyone on the right. The only response necessary is to correct or rebut immediately and firmly the mistakes and misrepresentations of the once-mainstream media.
To view an example of what these "blowhards" are now saying, check out Cassy Fiano's blog post, The liberal reaction to Scott Brown's victory.

I expect the next 10 months will be interesting, indeed.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Oops. Kerry thinks he's got it.

A story today in the Boston Globe quotes Sen. John Kerry as accusing the Republicans of "bullying" tactics in the Coakley/Brown race. While it's a weak story -- and quite hypocritical for a Democrat to say, considering Coakley's attack ads -- I figured reader comments -- at least some of them -- would support Kerry.

Not so. I scanned about half the comments and found not one in support of Kerry.

It seems people are gunning for both Kerry and the Globe. While I'm not sure if all the comments are from Bostonians, it seems that the days of Democrat rule may be coming to an end.

This only makes sense. Depending on which poll you look at, 17-21 percent of Americans consider themselves liberal. The other 80 percent are conservative or moderate (about evenly split).

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thoughts for Friday

Obama vs. the banks
Obama's proposed "fee" on banks to pay the cost of the TARP program is absurd. Most of the banks that were provided with TARP funds have paid them back with interest. This makes no sense, but points out his liberal belief that banks are bad. '

Why doesn't he charge GM or Chrysler, or AIG, for the money we gave them, yet haven't paid back, and probably won't? (As of Jan 28, 2010: I was informed by a friend who works for GM after I wrote this post that GM is now planning to pay back TARP funds.)

Crony capitalism
An interesting post on crony capitalism by John Stossel. The more I learn about what's going on in government, the more nervous I get.

Liberalism through quotes
"Over time, however, the endless war in Iraq began to play a role in natural selection. Only idiots signed up; only idiots died. Back home, the average I.Q. soared." Who said this? See The Last Decade of Liberalism in 40 Quotes.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

More mushy thinking from a die-hard liberal

E.J. Dionne is one of my least favorite writers, not because he's a bad writer, but because I disagree with just about everything he writes. His columns are so left-wing biased that the facts seem to get in his way.

(Of course, we all tend to do this with our built-in psychological filters, but my experience shows me it more pronounced with liberals. Of course, it could be my conservative filters, but I'm betting not. Being aware of them is the first step toward intellectual honesty.)

But when it comes to liberalism, even E.J. admits that liberals are avoiding that label today.

Conservatives have had great success in discrediting liberalism, to the point that most liberals dare not call themselves by their own name.

E.J., liberalism has discredited itself. After 70 years of liberal policies, look where we are: high unemployment, high crime, high poverty rates (after 4 trillion dollars, have we lowered it any?), etc. And we are being taxed out the gazoo, with government -- currently run by the left-wing of the Democrat party -- wanting more. Much more. When will this madness stop?

There comes a time when government sucks so much out of the private sector, that the private sector can't create any growth. Everyone gets poorer.

He then goes on to blame the economic downturn on Wall Street (a favorite punching bag for liberals).

...they were the high fliers who tanked the American economy.

Not quite true, but this is where the left points their finger. It really was liberal government policies mucking with the market -- and greedy business people -- that caused the meltdown in financial markets.

If government had stayed out, and let those firms fail, things would have been bad for the short term, but better for the long term. You don't reward failure; this is a die-hard liberal belief though, and you'll never convince them otherwise. Just look at the policy of our schools in which no one fails.

Then he excuses Obama's deficit.

In the short run, deficits make sense to boost the economy. In the long run, they will have to be dealt with.

I wish someone could point to one example of where higher government spending actually boosted any economy, any where, at any time. Come on, I'm waiting, E.J.

A higher deficit because goverment lowered taxes so that more people had more money would be beneficial. Tax cuts have always worked. But government has not.

Here's a biggy.

This also has the benefit of challenging the Tea Party movement to come clean on whether it really is populist, or merely using populist rhetoric to pursue the same old low-tax, low-regulation agenda that got us into this mess.

Low-tax, low-regulation got us into this mess? This is so far from the truth that it amazes me that anyone can think this, let alone someone who is educated and writes for the Washington Post.

This is one of the starkest differences between liberals and non-liberals. Liberals want big government, conservatives don't.

Those of you out there who don't pay attention to what liberals write should start doing so now. It makes for some interesting reading.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Random Thoughts for Today

Spending by the federal government on bridges and roads, as part of the "stimulus" package, isn't working to create more jobs. Duh. Those construction jobs where already there. Have you driven around the country lately? Is there anywhere you can escape construction zones? Growing federal expenditures will not get us out of a recession.

The controversy over Harry Reid's comments are absurd, but not unexpected. And the comparison to Lott is lost on me. Lott's beliefs were worse. Yes, Reid's comments probably are stupid, but everyone is stupid at times. Like when many went to the polls and elected stupid people. But there does seem to be a double-standard on this type of stuff.

There is a double-standard when it comes to both behavior and talk. Liberals are forgiven the majority of the time, while conservatives not so much. But remember, liberals are nicer with better intentions. And intentions count more than consequences. (Well that's what liberals believe).

You got the cons (conservatives) and the libs (liberals). Too warring camps. But there is a difference. Libs hate cons. They think cons are drooling, knuckle-dragging nincompoops. Which they are not. I know as many smart cons as I do smart libs. But the difference? Libs think of themselves as the elite. That's how cons see it too. Which view is more reality-based?