Views on the News – 4/6/2013
By: David Coughlin
The mainstream media’s has slandered millions of well-informed, decent, hardworking Americans who love their country and reject it being transformed into a socialist kingdom in which government controls every aspect of their lives. When Obama told Joe the Plumber he wanted to ”spread the wealth around,” a little voice said, ”Danger! Danger, Will Robinson! This guy is a socialist!“ At the first Tea Party rallies, when the movement was new, many whites in attendance still felt extremely uncomfortable opposing Obama. This is why the mainstream media’s relentless slander of these good people, attempting to portray them as mobs of racist, violent haters, is so infuriating. Tea Party attendees are salt-of-the-earth Americans. They have jobs. They have businesses and families whom they bring to the rallies. They love their country. They have kids in the U.S. Military. Many attend church. They do not hate minorities. They do not suppress women. Many Tea Party group leaders and organizers are women. Tea Party folks want every American who is willing to work for it to achieve his or her American Dream. Pure and simple…end of subject. One point seven million Tea Party folks gathered in D.C. to protest ObamaCare leaving the park cleaner than when they arrived. When the Tea Party movement first began, black faces were rare in the crowds, but over the years, more and more blacks began showing up. The new blacks in attendance either were entrepreneurs/business people, or they had served in the military and had witnessed the negative effects of socialism abroad. Even some in the GOP have joined the MSM’s gang assault on the Tea Party. What is “extreme” about expecting our government to function according to the U.S. Constitution? What is extreme about not sheepishly going along with government dismantling our God-given freedoms and liberty? Despite being badly bruised and abused from all sides, the Tea Party is the only hope for restoring America back to the vision of our Founding Fathers. Millions of Americans have never attended a Tea Party event: but love their country; still believe success is achieved via hard work rather than government redistribution; still believe that marriage should remain between one man and one woman; believe that government does not have authority to override the 2nd Amendment to disarm us or force us to fund behaviors which go against our religious convictions, and whether you know it or not, the Tea Party is you.
(“The Tea Party: Who Are They, Really?” by Lloyd Marcus dated March 31, 2013 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2013/03/the_tea_party_who_are_they_really.html )
President Obama likes to pose as a martyred man, because when he entered office, the economy was in a recession, but the recession soon ended, following the pattern of the American economy for the entire previous two-thirds of a century, and more, and the recovery is taking far longer than any since the Great Depression. The long-term historical pattern of the American economy was also the deeper the recession, the stronger the recovery. Nothing like that happened during the Obama recovery from the Great Recession. Real GDP growth peaked at 2.4% in 2010, and has never again reached even that pitiful level for a recovery from a deep recession. Obama couldn’t do it because he was too busy fundamentally transforming America, a goal that implies there was something fundamentally wrong with America before he came along. He keeps trying to tell us what a great success he has been by comparing the recovery to the recession. Recoveries are always better than recessions, by definition, so that is no achievement. The right measure and comparison for Obama’s record is to compare the recovery not to the recession, but to 11 previous recoveries since the Great Depression. In those recoveries, the economy recovered all jobs lost during the previous recession within 25 months after the prior jobs peak (or recession start). So the job effects of prior post-recessions have lasted an average of about two years, but under President Obama, at the end of his first term in January 2013, 61 months after the prior jobs peak, more than 5 years, we still had not recovered all of the recession’s job losses. In January 2013, there were an estimated 134.8 million American workers employed, still down more than 3.2 million jobs from the prior peak of 138 million in January, 2008. During the entire 65 years from January 1948 to January 2013, there were no previous months with unemployment over 8%, except for 26 months during the bitter 1981-1982 recession, which slew the historic inflation of the 1970s. That is how inconsistent with the prior history of the American economy President Obama’s extended unemployment has been. In January 2013, jobs in the Obama recovery from the 2008-2009 recession were still 2.3% below where they were when the recession started, at least 3 million less, or a shortfall of about 8 million jobs if you count population growth since the recession started. Moreover, in the 11 post-Depression recessions before President Obama, the economy recovered the GDP lost during the recession within an average of 4.5 quarters after the recession’s start. It took Obama’s recovery 16 quarters, or 4 years, to reach that point. Today, 5 years, or 20 quarters, after the recession started, the economy (real GDP) has grown just 2.4% above where it was when the recession started. Average annual real GDP growth during Obama’s entire first term was a pitiful 0.8%. Even Jimmy Carter produced 4 times as much economic growth during his one term as Obama did during his entire first term. Real GDP growth under Obama has been the worst of any President in the last 60 years. By the fourth quarter of 2012, Obama’s economy basically stopped growing altogether. Even if the economy finally breaks out into some real growth this year, that is only because of the long overdue recovery that is still straining to break out inside this economy, as indicated by the data above for 1936, in the depths of the Depression, and the postwar boom that started in 1950. Don’t be fooled by some way overdue short-term growth spurt this year that just reflects the basic cycles of the economy. The real reason Obama’s recovery has been the worst since the Great Depression is that he went back to the Keynesian economics of the Great Depression, which didn’t work then and won’t work now, and has pursued exactly the opposite of every pro-growth policy illuminated by Reaganomics. Obama’s Keynesian economic policies have focused on increasing demand, particularly through increased government spending and deficits, and through easy monetary policy, as the key to restoring economic growth, rather than focusing on incentives to increase production, as in the new, modern, supply-side economics that Reagan adopted in 1981. Obama’s so-called “stimulus” failed thoroughly, just wasting nearly a trillion dollars, and adding that much more to the national debt. Economic growth is not driven by demand, which is insatiable, but by increased production or output (supply), which is driven by incentives for productive activity. Keynesian economics has survived so long in Western thinking not because it works, or even makes any sense, but because it justifies what liberal politicians already want to do – spend with reckless abandon, run bigger and bigger deficits so they don’t have to explicitly pay for the spending with higher taxes today, and run up the national debt, which will be someone else’s problem later. Obama was sold to us as a progressive, forward-looking thinker, but he is actually taking America back to the thoroughly failed economics policies of the 1970s, and even the 1930s, and so ultimately to the same results. This latest experience with Keynesian Obamanomics in producing the worst recovery since the Great Depression should be taken as the final failure of the transparently foolish Keynesian doctrine, which now needs to be put to bed, in American colleges and universities, and throughout the councils of government.
(“His Greatest Failure” by Peter Ferrara dated April 3, 2013 published by The American Spectator at http://spectator.org/archives/2013/04/03/his-greatest-failure )
President Obama is ramping up the country for housing bubble 2.0 as he urges banks to loan to people with poor credit so they can purchase a home. Don’t worry, the government is going to promise banks everything will be just fine. The Obama administration is engaged in a broad push to make more home loans available to people with weaker credit, an effort that officials say will help power the economic recovery but that skeptics say could open the door to the risky lending that caused the housing crash in the first place. President Obama’s economic advisers and outside experts say the nation’s much-celebrated housing rebound is leaving too many people behind, including young people looking to buy their first homes and individuals with credit records weakened by the recession. In response, administration officials say they are working to get banks to lend to a wider range of borrowers by taking advantage of taxpayer-backed programs, including those offered by the Federal Housing Administration, that insure home loans against default. Housing officials are urging the Justice Department to provide assurances to banks, which have become increasingly cautious, that they will not face legal or financial recriminations if they make loans to riskier borrowers who meet government standards but later default. As a reminder, the housing market crashed after the government forced banks to lend to people who: 1) shouldn’t have been applying for a housing loan in the first place; 2) had no way to pay a housing loan back; and 3) never intended to pay back the housing loan in the first place. President Obama’s crappy economy has caused people’s credit to decline and even though the economy isn’t much better (and neither is their credit) he wants them to buy a home with money and credit they don’t have, AGAIN!
(“Obama Pushes for Housing Bubble 2.0” by Katie Pavlich dated April 3, 2013 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2013/04/03/obama-pushes-for-housing-bubble-20-n1556894 )
Gay marriage is not about expanding marriage, it is about destroying marriage. Since the Seventies, marriage was either (a) a “meaningless piece of paper” or (b) institutionalized rape are now insisting it’s a universal human right. Anarchists understand that when it comes to destroying core civilization institutions, trying to blow them up is less effective than hollowing them out from within. When you look at the alternative scenarios: the demolition of marriage or the taming of the gay, both scenarios may come to pass. In the upper echelons of society, our elites practice what they don’t preach. Lower down the socio-economic scale, the quality gets more variable. One reason why conservatives appeal to protect the sacred procreative essence of marriage have gone nowhere is because Americans are rapidly joining the Scandinavians in doing most of their procreating without benefit of clergy. 70% of black babies are born out of wedlock, so are 53% of Hispanics, and 70% of the offspring of poor white women. Over half the babies born to mothers under 30 are now “illegitimate.” For the first three-and-a-half centuries of American settlement the bastardy rate was a flat line in the basement of the graph, stuck at 2% or 3% all the way to the eve of the Sixties. Today over 40% of American births are “non-marital,” which is significantly higher than Canada or Germany. Entire new categories of crime have arisen in the wake of familial collapse, like the legions of adolescent daughters abused by Mom’s latest live-in boyfriend. Millions of children are now raised in transient households that make not just economic opportunity but even elementary character-formation all but impossible. In the absence of an agreed moral language to address this brave new world, Americans retreat to comforting euphemisms like “blended families.” Meanwhile, social mobility has declined: Doctors who once married their nurses now marry their fellow doctors; lawyers who once married their secretaries now contract with fellow super-lawyers, like dynastic unions in medieval Europe. Underneath the elite, millions of Americans are downwardly mobile: The family farmers and mill workers, the pioneers who hacked their way into the wilderness and built a township, could afford marriage and children; since it was an economic benefit. For their descendants doing minimum-wage service jobs about to be rendered obsolete by technology, functioning families are a challenge, and children an economic burden. In Europe, where dependency, decadence, and demographic decline are extinguishing some of the oldest nations on earth, a successor population is already in place in the restive Muslim housing projects. The sooner some judge somewhere takes gay marriage off the table the sooner the right can go back to talking about debt and ObamaCare without being dismissed as uptight theocratic bigots. Most of the social liberalism comes with quite a price tag. The most reliable constituency for Big Government is single women, for whom the state is a girl’s best friend, the sugar daddy whose checks never bounce. A society where a majority of births are out of wedlock is a Big Government welfare society. Ruining a nation’s finances is one thing; debauching its human capital is far harder to fix.
(“The Death of the Family” by Mark Steyn dated March 29, 2013 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/344287/death-family-mark-steyn )
For the first time since 1995, the U.S. will likely produce more oil than it imports, but the benefit of all that cheap domestic crude still haven’t shown up at the one place it matters most: the gas station. Even as fuel consumption has fallen to 16% below its 2007 peak, gasoline remains about a dollar higher than the average price over the past decade. Simple economics suggest that higher supplies and lower demand should translate into cheaper prices. Most of the surge in oil production has happened in places such as North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and Oklahoma, far from refining hubs and big population centers. Competition is fierce for limited pipeline capacity, producers have begun moving crude on barges and trains, adding as much as $17 a barrel to the price of domestic oil. That extra cost eventually makes its way to the price at the pump. In late 2011 the U.S. quietly surpassed Russia as the largest exporter of such refined products as gasoline and diesel. Canada’s fuel imports from the U.S. jumped 15% in 2012. Brazil’s demand for U.S.-made fuel rose 6%. China’s leapt 17%. Exports to Venezuela and India more than doubled. Without realizing it, U.S. drivers are competing for American-made gasoline with consumers in Latin America and Asia, where demand is rising. Despite the added costs of transport, U.S. refiners retain a price advantage over their foreign competitors in Europe and Latin America, since U.S. crude is still cheaper than most foreign benchmark blends. All of this means that while U.S. oil production is forecast to rise this year, much of it will be refined into gasoline or diesel for the new drivers of Brazil, India, and China. To bring U.S. gasoline prices way down requires improvements in the pipeline, barge, and truck network that connects the fields of North Dakota with refineries on the Gulf and East Coasts. Progress is being made; already more barrels of North Dakota crude are being carried by train from the Bakken Shale thanks to several newly completed rail terminals near East Coast refineries. Two refineries are also being built in North Dakota. Some analysts are betting that gasoline prices will be lower by summertime, yet even with improvements in oil-field logistics, as long as U.S. refiners export their fuel, U.S. drivers will be competing for gasoline with their counterparts elsewhere in the world.
(“Why Abundant Oil Hasn’t Cut Gasoline Prices” by Asjylyn Loder, Mario Parker, and Matthew Phillips dated March 28, 2013 published by Businessweek at http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-03-28/why-abundant-oil-hasnt-cut-gasoline-prices#r=read )
Like the bike you bought after saving lawn-mowing money for a year, welfare reform was the prized trophy of the conservative governing philosophy. We believed that we’d found the vehicle of social mobility for poor Americans, once and for all. President Obama ran over our bicycle, issuing illegal waivers to welfare’s work requirements and taking the wheels off the program. Out of the 80 different federal welfare programs, the ‘96 welfare reform really only fixed one. A third of the U.S. population received benefits from one or more of these 80 programs in 2011. According to the Department of Agriculture, food stamps alone gave benefits to a record-breaking 47.7 million in the last month of 2012, benefits those millions didn’t have to work to receive. Paul Ryan used the 1996 reform as a model to fix welfare:
· Welfare programs are redundant and inefficient - There are at least 12 separate programs providing food aid, 12 funding social services, and 12 assisting education. Redundant programs can be streamlined to save money while getting the same or better value.
· Means-tested welfare programs are fiscally unsustainable - These cost nearly $1 trillion annually. By the end of the decade, welfare spending will rise from 5% to 6% of GDP.
· The welfare state encourages dependence instead of lifting people out of poverty - Poverty has actually increased with federal spending on anti-poverty programs. In 1966, the share of the population living below the poverty threshold was 14.7%; by 2011, that share rose to 15.0%. This spending gives people significant incentives to stay on welfare.
· Welfare dependence creates behavioral poverty – Perhaps FDR said it best: “Continued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fibre. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit.” Americans want to give everyone a helping hand, but hand-holding year after year, generation after generation, patronizes, corrodes, entraps. Material poverty has been replaced by “behavioral poverty,” a vicious cycle of unwed childbearing, social dysfunction, and welfare dependency in poor communities.
· Work requirements promote individual responsibility and reduce poverty - Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) work requirements slashed welfare caseloads by nearly 60%. Poverty among all single mothers fell 30%. About 3 million fewer children lived in poverty in 2003 than in 1995.
Welfare reform succeeded primarily because of one policy: 30% to 40% of those receiving welfare benefits in each state must engage in 20 to 30 hours of “work activities” per week. These include unsubsidized or government-subsidized employment, community-service work, up to 12 months of vocational training, job searching (for up to six weeks), and high-school or GED education. It succeeded because it was based on a sound understanding of human nature, that work builds character and character drives success. By engaging impoverished Americans in work, it gave millions the experience, skill, and character to rise to individual responsibility and out of poverty. These truths about human nature are the foundation of the American experience. We should apply them to the menagerie of government programs consuming both our budget and our poor. Welfare reform was a victory for the conservative movement, but not a permanent one. Its waxing and waning proves that today’s 80 welfare programs are a serious challenge, but not a lost cause. The lesson of welfare reform is we must renew our commitment in public policy again, and it’s a cause worth working for.
(“Five Reasons to Reform Welfare… Again” by Elliott Gaiser dated March 29, 2013 published by The American Spectator at http://spectator.org/archives/2013/03/29/five-reasons-to-reform-welfare )
David Coughlin is a political pundit, editor of the policy action planning web site “Return to Common Sense,” and an active member of the White Plains Tea Party. He retired from IBM after a short career in the U.S. Army. He currently resides with his wife of 40 years in Hawthorne, NY. He was educated at West Point (Bachelor of Science, 1971) and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (Masters, Administrative Science, 1976).