Saturday, February 14, 2009

New Podcast Posted

I've added a special edition of the Libertarian Party of Indiana's Weekly Podcast, to include more dialogue from Dr. Eric Schansberg. I asked him about the prudent ways Indiana should spend the stimulus money, since it seems certain that we aren't going to pull a Utah and say, "No thanks!" - plus the traps our state should avoid.

I very happy with the timeliness and the content!

I am very interested to talk soon with Ed Angleton (hopefully this week) about legislation at the Statehouse, and I have conversations with the dynamic duo of Susan & Rex Bell in the can, so there will be plenty more to listen to!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Incongruous Thoughts on Lincoln

Yesterday was Lincoln's 200th birthday, and of all the nice things said, I hadn't noticed anywhere that Abe Lincoln was once making a living in a way quite impossible to now: as a self-taught lawyer. If it was good enough to be self-taught then, and it produced Abe Lincoln...

The Lincoln penny was introduced in 1909, at Lincoln's 100th birthday. The Lincoln penny replaced the Indian Head penny, and is currently the longest running unchanged coin, at least on the obverse. In 1959, the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's birth, the reverse changed from images of wheat to the Lincoln Memorial. I still get about 5-10 "wheat pennies" every year in change, and I keep them all, just because. It's been about a year since I got a pre-1965 silver Roosevelt dime. I love getting those!

There is some talk about eliminating the penny altogether, on the basis of cost savings to the US Treasury. Now, I really like any cost savings that can be found. But there are other things I like about American money, such as the stability of the images of it, and, the fact that inflation, for all the damage it has done, has still not made the American penny as useless as, say, the Danish 25 Ore coin, which was just eliminated a few months ago.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Podcast Update

There are now five installments of the Libertarian Party of Indiana's Weekly Podcast available for your stimulation, and download. The most recent, just posted minutes ago, features Dr. Eric Schansberg, discussing the bailouts and stimulus, and whether the diseases might be less threatening than the cures.

Here's the linkages:

You can subscribe from the above archive link, and new episodes will be sent to your iTunes. Give me convenience, or give me death.
Cato's Retort

Obama made the claim that:
There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan
that will help to jumpstart the economy

To this, the libertarian think tank The Cato Institute created a full-page newspaper ad that ran in several papers, including the NY Times. The ad preceded the Obama press conference by several days. The ad begins:
With all due respect Mr. President, that is not true.

Notwithstanding reports that all economists are now Keynesians and that we all support a big increase in the burden of government, we the undersigned do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance. More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan’s “lost decade” in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope over experience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today. To improve the economy, policymakers should focus on reforms that remove impediments to work, saving, investment and production. Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth.

Then followed the names of 200+ economists who signed on, including Nobel Laureates. A second edition of the ad was created, because more than 100 other economists also wished to sign on.

So, I tend to think that Obama probably was speaking very specifically to libertarians when he marginalized those who would prefer no or little action as better than the deleterious 'stimulus'.

Indiana economists Cecil Bohanon and Courtenay Stone (both of Ball State) and Eric Schansberg (Indiana Southern Univ) are among the signers.
The Sky Is Falling!

President Obama is going all-in on the first hand dealt to him. That does one of two things in a poker tournament- it doubles your chip stack (political capital) or it sends you out of the tournament (see you in four years). That's a heavy gamble to take with a nation. From Obama's press conference:
So what I'm trying to underscore is what the people in Elkhart already understand: that this is not your ordinary run-of-the-mill recession. We are going through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We've lost now 3.6 million jobs, but what's perhaps even more disturbing is that almost half of that job loss has taken place over the last three months, which means that the problems are accelerating instead of getting better.

If there's anyone out there who still doesn't believe this constitutes a full-blown crisis, I suggest speaking to one of the millions of Americans whose lives have been turned upside down because they don't know where their next paycheck is coming from.

So, was 2008 the worst year since the Great Depression? Hardly.

Now, I like science rather than articles of faith. Show me the facts. Take a look at the Misery Index. You will see that 2008's numbers are actually better than the first year of Clinton's first term, better than all four years of George HW Bush's term, the first five years of Reagan's presidency, all four years of Carter's term, all three years of Ford's term, and three of the five Nixon years.

Obama is appealing to emotion, not facts. Rather than speaking to someone who has lost his job- something you can do any day of any year, of any decade, of any century- I'd rather look at the economy as a whole, as a nation, by judging the facts.

Now, if I have it straight, the Left likes to say that it prefers facts over faith, science over emotion. (See: 'global warming', etc.) Well, stick to it!

The definition of propaganda and 'assertion' are useful to review here, especially since Obama said the debate over whether or not to have a stimulus is 'over'.

Full disclosure: I don't know where my next paycheck is coming from. I have had one new job come in since October 1, where I like to keep a portfolio of 50-60. Hardly a time to panic, though. It's been a time to get my house in order, to position for the next opprtunities. But, if Obama directs you to talk to me, I'll tell you that he's full of shit. I spent my time when making money paying off my debt and lining up a savings- something everybody else should have done. It shouldn't be my problem if they blew their dough on entertainment, and failed to pay down debt and save. One's financial woes are self-created, beginning with how one chose to educate himself, continuing forward to the decisions they made in better times, including what they bring to the table as a potential employee, and whether or not one should run through their money, or rack up unsustainable debt, as though it wholly impossible that the money could stop.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What Would A Libertarian Do?

President Obama really alienated me last night with his press conference/sales pitch for the 'stimulus' package, going out of his way to single out people who would prefer we did little or nothing in terms of government intervention. This had to be a jab at libertarians, because Republicans had made an Exhibit 'A' case for their brand of economic interventions and 'stimulus', especially in the first 6 years of the Bush Administration.

When is it better to do nothing? When the 'solution' is worse than the malady. In the words of Harvard's Jeffrey A. Miron, via CNN:
When libertarians question the merit of President Obama's stimulus package, a frequent rejoinder is, "Well, we have to do something." This is hardly a persuasive response. If the cure is worse than the disease, it is better to live with the disease.

In any case, libertarians do not argue for doing nothing; rather, they advocate eliminating or adjusting policies that are bad for the economy independent of the recession.

Biron's actions would include the following:
  1. Repeal the Corporate Income Tax
  2. Increase Carbon Taxes While Lowering Marginal Tax Rates
  3. Moderate the Growth of Entitlements
  4. Eliminate Wasteful Spending
  5. Withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan
  6. Limit Union Power
  7. Renew the U.S. Commitment to Free Trade
  8. Expand Legal Immigration
  9. Stop Bailing out Businesses that Took on Too Much Risk
That's hardly a list of 'do nothing', in any case.

American leadership has gotten positively batty with overreactions and crisis. In this sense, Obama is a real continuum from Bush.

Is it bad out there? Sure, it's bad. Is the solution the same as taking all the money and going to Vegas and putting it all on 'red'? No, but it isn't far off, either.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Dog And Pony Show For Failure

It was mere months ago that Republicans were alarmists. So, what is President Obama's tone? It was mere months ago that President Bush's borrow-and-spend was failed policy. So, why are we to believe it is no longer failed policy?

So, here is Obama in my state, sounding alarmist, and promoting proven failure. From an Indy Star report:
Campaigning for action in the most dire terms, President Barack Obama said Monday that if Congress does not quickly pass an economic stimulus package, the nation will slip into a crisis so deep that “we may be unable to reverse” it.

“We can't afford to wait. We can't wait to see and hope for the best,” Obama said in Elkhart, Ind., a community reeling in job losses during the recession that has defined Obama's young presidency. “We can't posture and bicker and resort to the same failed ideas that got us in into this mess in the first place.”

Sorry- If Congress does pass this badly misnamed 'stimulus', that is when we slip into crisis that we may not be able to reverse. That is when we take Bush's recession and turn it into Obama's depression.

I am not suggesting 'doing nothing', although allowing failing businesses to go under would be good. It would be justice, for one thing. It would punish bad business practices, which would also be good. Rewarding failure with bailouts ensures continued bad business practices.

If you want to stimulate the economy, stop dragging it down with so many taxes. Reduce Federal spending by 25% or more, and stop ALL borrow-and-spend.

But, how about the panic in Obama's rhetoric? Where is the steady voice of Obama The Campaigner?