Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Krugman smacked down like Welshman in an Irish pub

Here's the former Enron advisor wailing like a banshee yesterday about draconian austerity measures in Ireland:

All that savage austerity was supposed to bring rewards; the conventional wisdom that this would happen is so strong that one often reads news reports claiming that it has, in fact, happened, that Ireland’s resolve has impressed and reassured the financial markets. But the reality is that nothing of the sort has taken place: virtuous, suffering Ireland is gaining nothing.
And today? WashPost: "Ireland emerges from recession after steep economic drop"

Ireland climbed out of recession Wednesday, with the economy returning to growth in the first quarter after suffering one of the deepest downturns of any advanced industrialized economy.
I’m sure this will engage Krugman's famous humility and he'll quickly admit his misjudgment.

Update (7/1) - I feel that this commenter so thoroughly counters my post that I have to give him/her props:

"First of all, it's one quarter. Second of all, the 2.7% quarterly increase comes on the immediate heels of two years of 15% contraction; it's easier for a basketball player to improve his foul shooting percentage after missing ten in a row. Third of all, non-Irish companies reaped the lion's share of the benefits. Fourth of all, the improvement was built on the slumping euro, but devalued currency isn't exactly going to be a longterm linchpin in The Irish Miracle. Neither is the higher interest that Ireland is obliged to pay on its bonds now, because investors worry that Ireland will be unable to pay its bill sin the future. Fifth of all, Ireland's unemployment rate has gone up during this recovery quarter, not down. Sixth of all, all of the above minor details are right there in the Washington Post article you've linked to. Doggone you, context!

BTW, what happened to the "two consecutive quarters of growth" rule of thumb? Even when the U.S. economy improved in the third and fourth quarters of 2009, the conservative blogosphere was quick to explain why it was a mirage and why Obama/TARP/the stimulus had nothing to do with it. But now, after one Irish report, austerity is triumphant and Krugman is ruined. Maybe so, and maybe no, but certainly not today."

Good points, all, anonymous. Let me add one other thing that bugs me: Ireland is taking on this austerity measure which - no doubt - is causing a lot of hardship on the Emerald Isle. But at least the Irish are taking their lumps. Greece, on the other hand, got wild on an overvalued Euro currency and let the country go bankrupt. Greece's "punishment"? A huge bailout by the Eurozone and an endless parade of strikes (anyway) that only further drives down the economy.

The lesson here for Greece (and AIG and GM)? Go crazy, Krugman-style. The bond vigilantes are dolts and somebody else will pay the piper if you really go bust.
Saving Social Security against all reason

Megan McArdle hits my favorite topic in "No easy way to fix Social Security":

Liberals who think this nonetheless sounds pretty swell [raising the cap on taxable income w/o raising benefits] should also reflect upon the fact that this would suck up any room they have to propose new spending funded by tax increases on the rich. If this is how we decide to pay for Social Security, every single other social program ever proposed would have to be paid for with either unpopular program cuts, or tax hikes on the middle class. Moreover, overruns in existing programs, such as . . . oh, I don't know, just off the top of my head, our new health care entitlement . . . would also have to be paid for this way: cut the program, cut another program, or tell average voters that it's time for another hefty tax hike.
Megan's thesis here is that raising the cap on taxable income would be the largest marginal tax in U.S. history and – once the trigger is pulled to save this government program – there's nothing left for every other program in crisis. Frankly, I think this argument is unpersuasive to the class warriors who don't give a fig about how the "rich" earned their money. They just want "somebody else" to pay for everything.

I prefer the equally unpersuasive argument that Franklin Delano Roosevelt set up Social Security to be a "universal" benefit in that everybody gets back something proportional to the taxes paid in. However, he knew that fat checks sent out to J. Paul Getty would not be popular, hence the cap on taxable income which also limits the maximum benefit. Lifting the income cap without raising benefits would destroy Social Security's universality and turn it into another welfare program.

If we're serious about making Social Security solvent, can't we at least be honest that a program formulated when people were still traveling around on horses might not be relevant to modern society?

The program was implemented in 1935. What are the odds that its structure and retirement age are suitable for the current era?
At the time Social Security was set up, it was unlikely most Americans would live to 65 to collect benefits. Also, the purpose of an old-age pension was that the elderly could not perform the physical labor of Depression-era jobs. Now there are computers and Walmart greeting to be done. Nobody's digging ditches with short-handled shovels anymore.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A world of Hong Kongs

My kid had another swim meet tonight but it gave me an opportunity to finally read this month's Atlantic magazine. Really interesting story about an economics professor who devised "The politically incorrect guide to ending poverty." Simply put, if poor countries can suppress anti-colonial antipathy and allow foreign-run "charter cities" within their borders, economic zones of opportunity can help everybody. Think of it as the England's experiment in Hong Kong which produced an economic template that China is now copying throughout the mainland.

Monday, June 28, 2010

What plants crave - There was once a time where I would link to an article that made a "Spinal Tap" reference, sight unseen. Now I gotta link this: "It's got electrolytes! California considers electronic ads on license plates."

Do you know what would help to close California's yawning budget deficit? Brawndo! The Deficit Mutilator!
Deep cover S.V.R. - Russian spies in our midst? What decade is this? NYT: "U.S. charges 11 with acting as agents for Russia."
Second-amendment rights in all 50 states - That seems to be the upshot (yuk, yuk) of the Supreme Court's ruling this morning. Another 5-4 decision.
Child of the Appalachian Coalfields - NY Times reports long-time West Virginia senator Robert Byrd has died. The old-timer worked his way up from poverty to become the single-largest industry in West Virginia and he wasn't above long speeches on the Senate floor about the Roman empire. Rest in peace.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I saw three movies this weekend

"Toy Story 3" - Terrific! Best in the series. Andy is heading off to college and he needs to break away from his childhood. You'll laugh, you'll cry (although I'll never admit to the latter). According to IMDB trivia, the screenplay took 2 1/2 years to write and storyboard - the effort shows.

"The Hurt Locker" - Gripping, hardcore drama from this Best Picture winner. Jeremy Renner was fantastic.

"Avatar" - Awful, hackneyed tripe dressed up with eye-candy colors. After two hours, it actually becomes painful to watch. Avoid at all costs and DIAF James Cameron. (P.S. "Titanic" sucked too, loser.)
Priorities - Obama's first words at the G8 conference: "You've got a lot of golf courses here, don't you?" Mark Steyn explains the "Rules of an unengaged President." Meanwhile, there are no skimmers available off the Mississippi coast.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Everybody act surprised, a continuing series

Time magazine: "How health care reform will affect existing plans"

"If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan."

Throughout the long health care reform debate, that promise from President Obama was one of the few constants, made to reassure the bulk of Americans who already have insurance that the sweeping legislation would not have a downside. Just Tuesday, Obama tried to counter critics who say the new law contains a slew of unintended consequences. Announcing a fresh set of newinsurance rules, he called the regulations "a true patients' bill of rights" and insisted that they are "not punitive."

But now that regulations about existing employer-sponsored plans have been issued, it's becoming clear that many of the 160 million Americans with job-based coverage will not, in fact, be able to keep what they currently have.
In Orwellian fashion, the new health care reform bill is called "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act." I guess it's an "act" after all.

Friday, June 25, 2010

GOAL-less! - For some reason, I watched the Switzerland-Honduras World Cup match this afternoon while I was recovering from dental work. They played to a zero-zero tie but somehow Switzerland "lost." What fun.
The first strands of Obamacare's unraveling appear

Those of us who understand history and can do simple math knew there was no way that the costs of nationalized health care could be contained. That's why the Obama Administration has been eyeballing price controls for health insurance. Here's Ed Morrissey teeing up the ball:

Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and their allies wasted no opportunity to cast health-insurance companies as “villains” and profiteers, but the truth is much different. The health-insurance sector is already a low-margin industry with profits between 2-6% in any of the years over the last decade. Pricing has remained pretty close to the bone as it is, and in states with price-fixing schemes like Massachusetts, they’ve already begun to go out of business.
Not so fast, Mr. Ed! If the battle over MassCare is a proxy for the coming war over Obamacare, there may be hope yet. From today's Boston Globe: "Rate cap for insurer overturned - Move a blow to Patrick’s health strategy."

In a blow to the Patrick administration, an insurance appeals board yesterday overturned the state’s cap on health premium increases for small business and individual customers covered by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.
The three-member administrative panel - which consists of attorneys who work for the state Division of Insurance - found that rate increases Harvard Pilgrim initially sought in April are reasonable given what it must pay to hospitals and doctors.
That ruling trumped the Insurance Division’s earlier finding that the requested increases were excessive, a view that reflects Governor Deval Patrick’s campaign to curb health costs.
Fixing prices was never a solution to curbing the rising costs of health care but it was just easier to vilify the insurance companies. What's Plan B, soon-to-be-ex-Governor Patrick?

Related - Pajamas Media: "Obamacare - get ready for the mother of all epic fails." H/T Maggie's Farm.
Yawn - This is the top story on Memeorandum right now: WashPost reporter Dave Weigel apologizing for belittling remarks he made on conservatives and Republican politicians. Are we supposed to be surprised? I take it as an article of faith that every graduate of J-school (except this guy) espouse politics that run from hard-left to center-left.

Extra - Jennifer Rubin: "Will the Washington Post finally admit that the paper was snookered into hiring David Weigel as an authentic conservative voice?"

More - Althouse: "Burn, Davey, burn."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Blog post title of the day - Reason: "Paul Krugman now laughingstock on two continents." Everybody's just about had it with his "spend yourself rich" advice.

Extra - Big money spending generated lots of jobs. Not.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Can't hurry love - Atlantic: "No, health care reform is not very popular." Do you know which group particularly dislikes it? The one that votes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The apt Obama-Lincoln comparison

Today was a super-busy day (graduation ceremony, swim meet) but I can't have been the only person who thought about this incident from the American Civil War when Union General George McClellan gave President Abraham Lincoln the big snub:

President Lincoln pays a late night visit to General George McClellan, who Lincoln had recently named general in chief of the Union army. The general retired to his chambers before speaking with the president.

This was the most famous example of McClellan's cavalier disregard for the president's authority. Lincoln had tapped McClellan to head the Army of the Potomac--the main Union army in the East--in July 1861 after the disastrous Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run. McClellan immediately began to build an effective army, and he was elevated to general in chief after Winfield Scott resigned on October 31. McClellan drew praise for his military initiatives but quickly developed a reputation for his arrogance and contempt toward the political leaders in Washington. After being named to the top post, McClellan began openly to cavort with Democratic leaders in Congress and show his disregard for the Republican administration. To his wife, he wrote that Lincoln was "nothing more than a well-meaning baboon," and Secretary of State William Seward was an "incompetent little puppy."

Lincoln made frequent evening visits to McClellan's house to discuss strategy. On November 13, Lincoln, Seward, and Presidential Secretary John Hay stopped by to see the general. McClellan was out, so the trio waited patiently for his return. After an hour, McClellan came in and was told by a porter that the guests were waiting. McClellan headed for his room without a word, and only after Lincoln waited another half-hour was the group informed of McClellan's retirement to bed. Hay felt that the president should have been greatly offended, but Lincoln casually replied that it was "better at this time not to be making points of etiquette and personal dignity." Lincoln made no more visits to the general's home.
History will record that Lincoln didn't dismiss McClellan because the general was considered critical to the war effort. However, once he had to actually command an army in the field, McClellan proved to be a terrible leader and Lincoln had to relieve him from duty after failing to end the war at Antietam.

What does this portend for the Obama-McChrystal dustup? Darned if I know – different leaders, different generals, different conflicts, different times.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Adventures in tax avoidance - This is a novel approach, to say the least. Reason: "Man declares himself not a person, refuses to pay income tax." Alas, the Canadian government said "yes you are and yes you do, hoser."

Pleas are easy, sentencing is hard - Fox News: "American pleads guilty to Times Square terror plot." Sentencing is scheduled for October 5th - really? Over three months to figure out which cell he'll occupy in a federal Supermax prison?
Answering that 3am call

Here's Obama exploiting another Gulf crisis for political points, August 2009:

In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president noted that the Bush administration's response to the killer storm raised questions among people in the U.S. about whether the government "could fulfill its responsibility to respond in a crisis."

He said he wanted to ensure "that the legacy of a terrible storm is a country that is safer and more prepared for the challenges that may come."
Question answered! Well let's hit the golf links.
Zinger of the day - Powerline: "The Economist recently compared Obama to Vladamir Putin, Russia's dictator in all but name. However, as Barone points out, there is a difference: Putin is an effective thug."
The madness of Paul Krugman

In his blog today, the NY Times columnist bypasses an editor who might bring sanity to his writing and posts the following on Social Security:

And bear in mind what happens when payroll receipts fall short of benefits: NOTHING. No new action is required; the checks just keep going out.
If by NOTHING you mean that the Social Security surplus which has been hiding the true size of the federal deficit now tips into negative territory. When outlays outstrip the FICA income, the Social Security Trust Fund has to cash out Treasury bonds and the U.S. Treasury must pay them off. The money has to come from somewhere, either in the form of higher taxes or cuts in spending. Ha-ha, just kidding, it will be paid off with even more borrowing.

Here's what the wet-blanket Social Security Trustees said in 2009:

Annual cost will exceed tax income starting in 2016, at which time the annual gap will be covered with cash from redemptions of special obligations of the Treasury that make up the trust fund assets until these assets are exhausted in 2037.
Everybody chill out, declares Krugman, you're still getting a check, right? Geez!

The projected trust fund deficits should be addressed in a timely way so that necessary changes can be phased in gradually and workers can be given time to plan for them. Implementing changes sooner will allow their effects to be spread over more generations. Social Security plays a critical role in the lives of 52 million beneficiaries and 160 million covered workers and their families in 2009. With informed discussion, creative thinking, and timely legislative action, present and future Congresses and Presidents can ensure that Social Security continues to protect future generations.
Zombie lies! Everybody remain calm! All is well!

Krugman's argument amounts to claiming that while we're deep in debt and can't possibly afford to pay the long-term obligations we've made, at least the repo men haven't shown up yet.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

VikingPunditH8r keeps leaving nasty comments - The Boston Globe magazine has an article today that should be near and dear to the heart (and ego) of every blogger: "Inside the mind of the anonymous online poster." It's a delicate line of free speech where some posters online don't want to risk reprisals (think China) vs. the abusive trolls looking for a fight.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Well we're living here in Allentown

From President Obama's speech at some road project in Ohio:

"Now, these projects haven’t just improved communities. They’ve put thousands of construction crews -- just like this one -- to work. They’ve spurred countless small businesses to hire because -- these are some big guys here, so they got to eat -- (laughter) -- which means that you got to get some food brought in -- or the local restaurants here benefit from the crews being here at work."
Yes, that's what's made America great: catering. Catering and census jobs.
Alan Simpson lays out the facts on Social Security. The Left responds: "He's a potty mouth!"

Here's a Rashomon moment for you. Former senator Alan Simpson emerged from the White House Debt Commission meeting and was hit with questions from an activist from Social Security Works. Breitbert links the video with "Watch Alan Simpson school a lefty" and notes "He doesn't duck. He doesn't hide. He doesn't grab the guy around the wrist or neck. And the cry-babies at Huffington Post complain that he uses profanity."

Indeed that seems to be the nub of the HuffPost review which lists the transcript of the confrontation. Simpson hits all the points that are familiar to (the handful of) readers of this blog: the program will be insolvent in 2037 and then will be able to pay only a portion of benefits, there are no "assets" in the SS Fund because it's a series of circular IOUs, raising the retirement age is a reasonable first step to modernize the program to today's life expectancies, and so on.

Instead of addressing these unassailable truisms, the lefty blogs – who have been big fans of profanity – gripe that Simpson used expletives and the term "lesser people" to refer to those of lower economic status. The comments on the blogs are noted for their typical maturity: Simpson's old, he's from Wyoming, he hates workers, he's a Rethug. Kudos to Simpson for sticking it out for eight minutes; he understands what's at issue here:

SIMPSON: Just listen, will you listen to me instead of babbling? In the year 2037, instead of getting 100% of your check, you are going to get about 75% of your check. That's if you touch nothing. If you like that, fine. You'll be picking with the chickens yourself when you're 65.
Fine...wanna do nothing? The rate of return for Social Security, which is already in the low single digits, will drop firmly into negative territory when the legislation-mandated benefit cuts fall into place. When that occurs, the people most affected will be the poorer Americans who depend on the system most, the very people that clowns like Alex Lawson and Jane Hamsher allegedly support.

Extra – Legal Insurrection: "Ambush interviewer gets ambushed."

More - From Memeorandum.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Does not control costs - CNN/Money: "Five painful health-care lessons from Massachusetts." You're welcome, America.

And this in the WSJ: "The bad news about Obamacare keeps piling up - It's now obvious that many millions will lose the coverage they have."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Headline of the day - LA Times Top of the Ticket: "There's a pipe spewing a gazillion gobs of oil into the gulf, so let's build more windmills."
Some might say

From the American, here's the template to every Obama speech:

1. Invoke and exaggerate a problem.
2. Blame the last guy.
3. Invoke a straw man.
4. Baldly espouse optimistic drivel
5. Play Brer Rabbit

Example: "Some might say that we can't plug that hole, but I say that if we can put a man on the moon, we can succeed through cap-and-trade legislation."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

This means something - AP: "Jesus statue in Ohio struck by lightning."
Can't sleep - It's 4 a.m. and the sun is up.
Obama's speech - Some viewers didn't like it. I only caught part of the address on CNN International so I can't speak to the overall proposals but I can't shake the impression that this President is perpetually annoyed that he has to deal with this spill.

Extra - Jennifer Rubin: "Obama's boring speech."

More - The Left Coaster: "Jumping the shark."

Monday, June 14, 2010

Federal, state, municipal, personal - Everybody's broke and in debt. Steven Malanga looks at the local conspiracy in "America's municipal debt racket."
There is no joy in Denmark - The Danes lost to the Netherlands in the World Cup, 2-0.
The future is now - Remember when we still had a couple more years before Social Security needed to start cashing in Treasury bonds? Yeah, not so much: "Social Security cash flow suddenly negative." Change!
Stuff I saw in Copenhagen

Bicycles! Everywhere, thousands and thousands of bikes. Bike lanes on the side of the road, bikers backed up at an intersection, bikers using hand signals. Also, there are no $1000 bikes here - they're all second-hand wheels which is why half of them aren't even locked up. I guess the owners figure that you'd be a fool to steal a crummy bike, so go right ahead.

Some of the buildings are real old. Like 15th-century old. We passed one building that was old-style Europe, huge, and permanent. I half-expected the Von Trapp children to make an appearance (yeah, I know that's Austria).

It's a Monday here but the streets are packed with roaming gangs wearing red "Danmark" shirts, clashing with orange-clad soccer fans rooting for Holland. Yes, the World Cup is big here in Europe in case you haven't heard.

Flying east is tough because you're heading towards the sun. I think we had two hours of "night" and I couldn't sleep at all. Then I noticed I blew a blood vessel in my eye - just in time for our business meeting tomorrow! Cool.

Everybody here speaks English, thank heaven. I tried to pick up some Danish phrases from an Itunes download but it's a tough language. So far, every Dane I've met has been, um, great.

When the European Union vote came up, Denmark resisted enormous pressure to adopt the Euro and stuck with their Kroner. Smart move.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Wonderful Copenhagen

I'm off on another business trip, this time to our company's sister plant in Brondby, Denmark - on the outskirts of Copenhagen. I'm very much hoping to take a couple of hours to hop over to Malmo, Sweden and visit the Motherland, if only for lunch.

This post was completed without umlauts and that weird "O" with the line through it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Our man-child President

I think it's been obvious for a while that President Obama loves to jet off to Oslo or London or New York (date night!) on a whim and the taxpayer's dime. But when faced with a genuine crisis, well, here's some of what he did the first 50 days after the Deepwater Horizon explosion:

- Vacation in North Carolina.
- Vacation in Chicago.
- Numerous rounds of golf.
- Meeting with the New York Yankees.
- Meeting with UConn women's basketball team
- White House Correspondent's Association Dinner
- Meeting with Pittsburgh Steelers
- Meeting with U.S. World Cup soccer team
- Meeting with Duke men's basketball team
- Dinner and award ceremony with Paul McCartney

Who did he not have time to talk to during this critical period? The CEO of British Petroleum, presumably because he was not an ex-Beatle.

Now, only two weeks after "taking responsibility" for the federal response to the BP oil spill, Obama has decided that Congress deserves some blame. Well, not Congress, but certain members of Congress who hypothetically would have responded a certain way in Obama's self-serving scenario:

In an interview with POLITICO, the president said: "I think it’s fair to say, if six months ago, before this spill had happened, I had gone up to Congress and I had said we need to crack down a lot harder on oil companies and we need to spend more money on technology to respond in case of a catastrophic spill, there are folks up there, who will not be named, who would have said this is classic, big-government overregulation and wasteful spending."
That's what you get, America, when you elect a first-term Senator with no executive experience – somebody who has never faced any serious critical review from his glory days at Harvard until today. He's enjoyed the trappings of the Presidency until the moment he's asked to provide leadership, whereupon he'll make a stab at "taking responsibility" before falling back onto familiar defensive tropes, popularized by eight-year-olds.

"It's complicated?" No kidding, Sherlock. That's why you get the big house on Pennsylvania Avenue. Why don't you push off the Stevie Wonder concerts until after unemployment dips below 9%, OK? I know this is a new experience for you but: this is a real job.

Extra - Patterico: "Campaigner in chief."

More - Sister Soldjah: "This guy simply cannot handle criticism of any kind."

And this - Minuteman: "What a whiner."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Maybe those Mayans were on to something - Based on current projections, in the year 2012, America's debt will surpass the GDP. That's when bad things happen, right Greece?
And office parties have never been the same - The Atlantic: "The Mother of all Inventions - How the Xerox 914 gave rise to the Information Age."

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

I haven't been this excited since "Everybody loves Hypno-Toad" - The Onion: "Obama to make reassuring eye contact with every last American."
Still can't sell the public on Obamacare

Peter Suderman asks "How politically toxic is Obamacare?" He's not sure but I thought his handy wrap-up of where we stand so far – coupled with Obama's road trip to convince seniors they'll really like it (honest!) once it's fully implemented – indicates that there's a lot of ammunition amongst those of us who believe it's a terrible, and terribly expensive, piece of legislation:

And at this point, I suspect it will be more difficult to defend the law than before it was passed. Since its passage, bad news has continued to pile up, and many the claims made about it have become increasingly difficult to maintain. We've already seen reports that the total cost will be more than expected, that the administration isn't hitting its deadlines, that it won't bring overall health care spending down, that some health insurance premiums will probably rise, that Medicare benefits for many seniors are scheduled to go on the chopping block, that it will strain emergency rooms, and that employers expect medical costs to rise and are looking at dropping millions from their health care plans—all of which is to say that what the law's advocates sold to the public isn't quite what they delivered. If protecting the public from distortions and misrepresentations is really what these folks hope to do, maybe they ought to start with their own side.
And don't forget: "Legal challenges to Obamacare continue." This comment echoes my feeling exactly: "If the federal government is empowered to require you to buy a product or service from a private company, when that product or service is, by law, only offered intrastate: Just exactly what is not within its Commerce Clause powers?" Good question!
To which I reply: "Who said what about who?" - Radio Equalizer: "Rosie O'Donnell says Helen Thomas was right." Was she that grating woman married to Tom Arnold? I forget.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Everything we've been told about Obamacare is wrong - Remember when we were assured that "if you like your health insurance, you can keep it?" Not so much. Politico: "Health law could ban low-cost plans." And welcome a new addition to the blogroll: Obamacare Watch.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Preserving the dignity of the Office of the Presidency, Roddy Piper-style

Obama: "I don't sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar, we talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick." Hells yeah!
The problem with entitlements - Veronique de Rugy looks at America's structural deficit and explains why we may be worse off than Greece: "Athens on the Potomac."
No more half-measures, Walt - Let me just take a moment away from politics to ask: did anybody catch last night's episode of "Breaking Bad?" Daaamn, Heisenberg!
Irony explosion! - Hot Air "Deficit commission out of money?": "Saddled with a tight deadline and great expectations, members of President Obama's deficit reduction commission say they may not have the resources necessary to meet their task." Classic.
When will I see you again? - A couple months ago, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Springfield Republican about my congressman, John Olver. Every two years, this guy blows the dust off of his campaign commercial which is simply themed "I've been everywhere." Except he hasn't held any town hall meetings anywhere in Massachusetts' First District. The first and last time he visited any towns in Western Massachusetts was to shoot that damned commercial.

Anyway, on a related note, the NY Times explains why Democrats like Olver are keeping away from the constituents they serve: "Democrats are skipping town halls to avoid voter rage." Let me know when you'll be around Congressman so I can say "hi."

Extra - Boston Globe: "Many in Mass. seek House seats." Call it the Scott Brown effect.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

People do stuff when they're rewarded - And less-so otherwise. Economist Arthur Laffer looks at incentives and the future in "Tax hikes and the 2011 economic collapse."

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Stubbornly-high unemployment - Some time ago, after health care reform passed, I wondered why any business would be compelled to hire new workers. Now on Opinion Journal we have: "Congress keeps giving business reasons not to hire."

Friday, June 04, 2010

Stromuhr - ABC has been broadcasting the Scripps National Spelling Bee live and Anamika Veeramani just won with the word for a device to measure blood flow in an artery. The Ohio teen was victorious at the 9:35 EST mark which means the ABC crew is now scrambling, trying to figure out how to stretch out 25 more minutes. ESPN commentator Erin Andrews just came back from a looong commercial break to note that the competition "flew by." No kidding.

Update - Here on the East Coast, they're filling the last 15 minutes with a "Wipeout" rerun! Talk about a contrast of programming choices.
Escape from Massachusetts - Bruce MacMahon, formerly of the blog MassBackwards and then No Looking Backwards is hanging up his blogging hat to run for state office in New Hampshire. Good luck, Bruce, and thanks for the occasional link.
"Our American Cousin" - funny play, but interrupted half-way through - The NY Times economics blog called today's unemployment review "A good report, with two dark linings." As the comments indicate, the readers aren't buying it. The 320-point drop in the Dow today was just a bonus.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

A paper trail, after all - NY Times: "In Supreme Court work, early views of Kagan."
That we can afford it - Hennessey: "CBO director Elmendorf destroys a core Presidential health care argument." Graphs and numbers for you. And even the NY Times says that Obama's costing model is based on a load of nonsense. Nice to know, now.

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, the state's largest health insurance companies are asking Beacon Hill if they can raise rates before they go bankrupt.

Extra - Pundit & Pundette: "Obamacare's three bad outcomes."

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Fixing Social Security - Megan McArdle: "No good answers on public pensions."

I'm against means-testing and raising the payroll tax because they both undermine FDR's original intention that Social Security would be a plan for "all" Americans. But I support raising the retirement age since the program was supposed to help seniors who could no longer do the physical work of the Depression-era. There are very few ditch-diggers anymore and there's little reason why much-healthier senior citizens can't fill the low-impact jobs of the 21st century.
I write, therefore I think - Does the decline of sophistication in writing ability foreshadow the onset of mental illness? Some science-type guys are, like, looking into it on this NPR story "Agatha Christie and nuns tell a tale of Alzheimer's." It followed writing things and brains over time, and stuff.
What's bad for General Motors is bad for America

Writing in today's WSJ, Paul Ingrassia reviews "The Lessons of the GM Bankruptcy":

The relevant question looking forward is whether the unthinkable - going broke - also could happen to America.

Everybody knows that we're running unsustainable federal deficits. And that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac created financial sinkholes by helping lenders make mortgages to people who couldn't afford them. And that many states' public-employee pensions funds are hopelessly underfunded for the level of benefits they provide. And that shoveling more money into the public schools without insisting on structural reforms and accountability hasn't produced results and won't do so in the future.

Addressing these issues inevitably means enforcing spending discipline and standing up to public-employee unions in a way that GM failed to do with the UAW. Continued denial and delay will prove ruinous. To put it another way: America bailed out General Motors, but who will bail out America?
Good question. I wonder how much longer Eastern Asia is going to prop up the United States once they figure out we're a nation of deadbeats. Dude, we totally swear we're not going to monetize our debt.