Friday, December 30, 2011

Quick Hits - December 30, 2011

The Euro crisis is continuing to bubble and boil as the Euro currency hit a 17 month low yesterday.  In Greece, their new government has effectively ground to a halt as it remains divided in trying to decide if they will implement the painful steps needed for the austerity programs they are being asked to adopt in order to continue getting bailout funds from the other EU members (ie Germany). 

The new conservative government in Spain has announced that the 2011 national budget deficit will be 8% of it's Gross Domestic Product - several points higher than the 6% target they needed to achieve.  The government has announced a number of steps to address this including a freeze on civil servant wages, increases in income and property taxes, and €8.9-billion spending cuts.  Despite these efforts it is likely that the country will fall back into recession.  By comparison, the US current national budget deficit is nearly 10% of our Gross Domestic Product.

The US economic conditions continue to be the major focus as the country remains entrenched in the slowest economic recovery in modern US history.  While apologists for the President remain busy trying to blame the previous Administration, which left office in January 2009, for today's anemic economy, it's becoming more and more apparent that our present economic conditions are derived directly from the economic policies and agenda of President Obama and his Administration.

As posted before, Bill Whittle in his last Afterburner presentation for 2011, addresses the State of the Union after the first three years of President Obama's term in office.

One of the biggest canards around the Obama agenda when it comes to economics is the one that the President is focused on saving and protecting the middle class - therefore the basis for his class warfare rhetoric against the 'wealthy'.  However, in this, Obama is embracing one of the meme's created by progressives back in the days of the Vietnam War.  Peter Arnett, the former CNN reporter who was best friends of Saddam Hussein, was a reporter in Vietnam working, as was his habit, on promoting an agenda - in that case an agenda against the actions of the US military.  He fabricated (not for the first time) a quote from an unnamed US military official that a South Vietnamese village had to be destroyed by US military action 'in order to save it'.

As the American Spectator notes, President Obama is not only no friend of the middle class as he enacts his agenda, but 'by his reasoning, Obama needs to destroy the middle class in order to save it'.  Since the President's ultimate goal is based around achieving a 'fundamental change' in the US, enabled by the Fox-Piven Strategy, the message is clear that the present conditions do have to be discredited to the point that people are willing to embrace the progressive model as the 'only solution'.

Michael Barone sees this and notes that rather than focusing on the redistribution of wealth from the upper classes to the lower classes, the proper course to adopt is to encourage economic growth...
Growth needed, not redistribution… So why should voters be leery of economic redistribution in times of economic distress?

Perhaps because they realize that they stand to gain much more from a vibrantly growing economy than from redistribution of a stagnant economic pie. A growing economy produces many unanticipated opportunities.

Redistribution edges toward a zero-sum game.

They miss growth when it is absent. They don’t appreciate it so much when it is happening.

Roosevelt’s 1934 and 1936 victories were won in periods of growth. After the economy shifted into recession in 1937, New Deal Democrats fared much worse, and Roosevelt won his third and fourth terms as a seasoned wartime leader, not an economic redistributor.

Lesson: If you want redistribution, you’d better first produce growth. Which the Obama Democrats’ policies have failed to do.

One of the things interesting with Barone's analysis is it's timing. Today is the 75th anniversary of the first 'Occupy' moment. On this day in 1936, the United Auto Workers, involved in a dispute with General Motors, staged a sit-in / occupation of the GM Flint, Michigan production plant. This created a labor crisis for the FDR Administration. As noted by the Wall Street Journal, the support and efforts made by the FDR Administration towards the UAW (and other unions) and to expand the power of the Administration (Wagner Act) which included efforts to stack the Supreme Court when it ruled against some New Deal initiatives resulted in a backlash against FDR not unlike the 2010 backlash against the Obama Administration in midterm elections.

When we talk about the need for different economic policies than those done by the Administration over the past 3 years, one of the arguments that comes to the fore is to look at the 1990's and the policies of the Clinton Administration towards promoting the job growth of that decade.  However, as noted in this video, there are 5 primary reasons for the economic growth in the 1990's - and none of these reasons are the actions or policies of the Clinton Administration. 

We have the lessons of history to learn from when it comes to defining and implementing effective economic policies - but all too often we refuse to learn the right lessons from history.  Rather than accept the lessons that the problem is in the architecture of the concept (Socialism, Communism, Marxism, Euro single currency (Jacques Delors and others), Progressivism, Keynesian economics, etc), true believers delude themselves by claiming the failures resulted from an imperfect implementation.

We only need to look at the Euro crisis of today to see the effects of irresponsible fiscal management and planning - of the price of excessive entitlements and onerous taxation policies - but under this Administration we've made huge strides trying to catch up to the European's by following their path.

Tax cuts and less intrusive government helps Canada soar - Away from the low growth and high regulation of an America under Washington's thumb, our northern neighbor is economically strong. As 2011 ends, Canada has announced yet another tax cut — and will soar even more.

The Obama administration and its economic czars have flailed about for years, baffled about how to get the U.S. economy growing.

In reality, the president need look no further than our neighbor, Canada, whose solid growth is the product of tax cuts, fiscal discipline, free trade, and energy development. That's made Canada a roaring puma nation, while its supposedly more powerful southern neighbor stands on the outside looking in.

To highlight our economic problems - and to direct focus on the real issues we face as opposed to the class warfare / ideological argument offered by President Obama, the Heritage Foundation lists their top charts for 2011.

In related economic news, the Washington Post is taking a surprising look at the real effects of the temporary Social Security Payroll Tax reduction - not as it applies to working families, but as it applies to the Social Security Insurance program...
WaPo looks at the not so rosy side of the 2% temporary social security payroll tax reduction impact – ‘Payroll tax cut raises worries about Social Security’s future funding’.. “It’s a grave step for Social Security,” said Charles Blahous, one of two public trustees for Social Security and a research fellow with the Hoover Institution. “It just seems to me the program both financially and politically will be on a lot rockier footing.”

Robert Reischauer, the other public trustee and president of the Urban Institute, said extending the payroll tax cut another year during high unemployment seems justified. But it “could, if it continues for a substantial period of time, undermine one of the foundational arguments that makes the Social Security program inviolate.”

The effects of the Administration's economic mismanagement combined with their progressive ideological focus is not being lost on the electorate as we ready to enter 2012. With the assist of the sympathetic mainstream media, the President noted a brief bump in his approval ratings over the kerfuffle around the temporary Social Security Payroll Tax reduction. Yesterday's QH noted that 'The Hill' was promoting this bump as evidence that the President had turned the corner. However, that was a specious argument as 'The Hill' notes today that his approval rating has plummeted again to his low water mark. What is also interesting is that both ABC News and NBC News continue to ignore this drop in approval and tout the 'outlier' poll.

One of the Executive Branch departments that most reflects the political agenda of the Administration is the Department of Justice under AG Eric Holder. AG Holder continues to use and play the race card with abandon when it comes to voting - and in particular the efforts by states to protect the integrity of our electoral process by passing Voter ID laws to ensure that the voter is who they say they are - and only casts one ballot. Holder, and the Democrats, are apoplectic about this ID requirement and as noted by Hot Air and the WSJ, he's willing to bet Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on trying to oppose these laws.

Watchgroup 'Judicial Watch' started to publish their list of the most corrupt politicians for 2011 - commencing with the House of Representatives edition. Included are Republicans Spencer Bachus (AL), David Rivera (FL), and Don Young (AK). Democrats named include Alcee Hastings (FL), Jesse Jackson Jr. (IL), Laura Richardson (CA), and Maxine Waters (CA). Dishonorable mentions include Democrats Barney Frank (MA), Nancy Pelosi (CA), Charles Rangel (NY) and Republicans Hap Rogers (KY) and former Speaker Newt Gingrich.

The only real questions are - how do these corrupt officials keep getting elected - and why are they still in Congress?
CNN has an interesting definition of 'technology failures' when they post their list of the biggest 'Tech Fails' of 2011....leading the list is former Representative Anthony Weiner for sending twitter pictures of his junk to women. I don't see the 'Tech Fail' with this - not even in Weiner's failed excuse that his twitter account was 'hacked'. The 'fail' is in Weiner...not the technology.

Returning briefly to more international news...

Syrian protesters flood the streets in the largest protests so far against the Assad regime. Syrian forces are using violence to counter these protests, despite the Arab League monitors, and at least 30 more civilians have been killed. Reports are that the Arab League monitor mission to Syria is already failing...was this part of the plan in the first place?

Kurds in Turkey are demonstrating against the Turkish Government as an air strike the Turkish military made on suspected Kurdish militants killed 36 civilians instead.

On This Day in History...

1853 - The Gadsden Purchase was signed - this $15M purchase of 30,000 square miles of territory that is now part of New Mexico and Arizona defined the border between the US and Mexico.

1916 - Grigori Rasputin was murdered

1922 - The Union of Soviet Socialist Republic was established - creating one of the most oppressive and murderous regimes in history. Estimates are the communist regime was responsible for some 60 million deaths between 1922 and 1991.

1936 - The United Auto Workers kicked off their 'sit down' / 'occupy' strike of the GM plant in Flint, Michigan in a major labor / management battle. The UAW win helped dramatically increase the power of unions - which resulted in consequences decades later...

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