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Willisms

« November 2008 | WILLisms.com | February 2009 »

A WILLisms.com Candidate Endorsement: Governor Rick Perry For Texas In 2010.

It is a rare condition these days when conservatives have elected officials we can celebrate. When we find them, we should reward them.

Observing from Texas, I tend to like what I see from Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Mark Sanford of South Carolina, and even Sarah Palin of Alaska. Senators Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma seem like they're doing a great job. In the House, there are a dozen or two conservative heroes. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Mike Pence of Indiana... these are a few that come to mind right away.

Now, in Texas, we now have a Governor who is pro-life, who signed tort reform to prevent frivolous lawsuits, who worked to keep Texas a strong Right To Work state, who spearheaded greater openness and transparency in government, who enacted property tax relief and fought for appraisal reform, who has repeatedly called on the legislature to pass revenue caps that limit government spending to the inflation and population growth, who has implemented aggressive border security programs along the Rio Grande River, who deregulated electricity markets in the state, who stood-- literally, stood-- with Suzette Kelo in supporting the private property rights of homeowners, who has opposed ethanol subsidies from the beginning, who stood up and rejected the idea of bailouts before it was cool to do so, and who is not afraid of privatizing parts of government when it will benefit taxpayers. This is the record of Governor Perry. Many conservatives in many states would kill for a governor who stood for just one of those things. In Texas, we have a Governor who has stood for all of them.

It's no wonder Texas is the only state to add more than a negligible number of jobs in the year 2008.

Now, what about Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison? She's a woman, she was on the short-list to become John McCain's VP nominee, and she is wildly popular in surveys and polls. Unfortunately, she also has a troubling record, even just this month, when you'd assume she would be trying to send a message to conservatives on the fence about this race.

For example, yesterday Hutchison voted with the Democrats on S-CHIP expansion, and she voted with the Democrats on Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act just 8 days ago.

Hutchison also voted for the bailout back in October, she has a weak lifetime rating from Citizens Against Government Waste (.pdf), weak ratings from the National Taxpayers Union (.pdf), and poor ratings on the Club For Growth's RePORK Card. She has also claimed to be pro-choice, voted for a resolution endorsing Roe v. Wade, and now claims to be pro-life; she's just wishy-washy on important issues.

I hate tearing down my fellow Republicans, but I am convinced that in order for our party to rebuild, we've got to repair our brand. Wishy-washy Republicans who get poor ratings on pork and other spending issues do not deserve to replace one of the top five governors in America.

The best case scenario from Senator Hutchison running for Governor is that she is compelled to resign her Senate seat, Governor Perry gets to appoint a true conservative, and that individual or another true conservative wins the special election (in 2010) and regular election (in 2012). Meanwhile, Governor Perry wins in March of 2010 and serves one more term until another true conservative emerges to take the torch in 2014.

I feel so strongly about this that I have recently taken a job working for Governor Perry. Consider this post my "full disclosure" for future posts on the Texas gubernatorial race.

Posted by Will Franklin · 30 January 2009 04:03 PM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 524 -- Lobbying Up More Than 25% Since Republicans Lost Congress.

Lobbying Dollars Now Stand At Record Levels-

In 2006, Democrats took Congress away from Republicans largely on the back of the "culture of corruption" issue, with Mark Foley somehow as the symbol of GOP misbehavior. Democrats promised to clean up Washington, to end the undue influence of lobbyists, and end the culture of corruption.

Not surprisingly, look what actually happened:

lobbyistspending.gif
WASHINGTON--While companies across the board were losing record amounts of money and laying off employees last year, at least one industry seemed to weather the recession: lobbying. Special interests paid Washington lobbyists $3.2 billion in 2008, more than any other year on record and a 13.7 percent increase from 2007, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics has found.

Analyzing 4th Quarter disclosure reports filed Jan. 20, the Center calculated that interest groups spent $17.4 million on lobbying for every day Congress was in session in 2008, or $32,523 per legislator per day.

Lobbying is dead. Long live lobbying!


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Mandatory Spending Swamping America.

Posted by Will Franklin · 30 January 2009 09:20 AM · Comments (0)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Part 75 -- Baby Boomers Begin Retiring.

reformthursdayblue.gif

Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays.

That's why WILLisms.com offers a chart or graph, every Thursday or so, pertinent to Social Security reform.

This week's topic:

They're Here, They're Old, Get Used To It.

An onslaught of Baby Boomers are rapidly approaching age 65. Our fiscal house is rapidly approaching total meltdown:

ramirezsocialsecurity.gif

That's reality. Here's the data behind it:

babyboomervisual.gif
As the baby boomers age, the nation’s demographic makeup will change greatly. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the population of those who are 20 to 64 years of age is projected to grow by 11 percent, whereas the population of those who are 65 or older will grow by 50 percent. This shifting ratio means that fewer and fewer people are supporting an ever-growing population of the elderly.

We really missed a chance in 2005 to do something really important for the future existence of this country, when Democrats and a handful of Republicans killed President Bush's Social Security reform. And let's be frank, here. These kinds of numbers in no uncertain terms threaten our country's ability to prosper and remain relevant.

The clock is still ticking:


Tune into WILLisms.com each Thursday or so for more important graphical data supporting Social Security reform.

Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 29 January 2009 12:44 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 523 -- Mandatory Spending Outpaces Discretionary, BIGTIME.

Whatever We Do, Please, Please, Let's Avoid New Auto-Pilot Entitlements-

The unstimulating stimulus package passed the House yesterday with zero-- count 'em, ZERO-- Republican votes. In examining the package, it's clear that this measure is little more than a grab bag of special interest wishes that have not been fulfilled for one reason or another over the years. Some of the provisions are probably not going to make the cut due to vociferous opposition from grassroots folks. That's the silver lining to this terrible cloud of a bill.

While the prospect of an additional trillion dollar spending spree is terrifying, if it were immediate and temporary, it might not be quite as ugly.

But it's not immediate, nor is it temporary:

delayedreactionspending.gif

This is not even stimulus. It's the fulfillment of hundreds of left-wing dreams, under the guise of stimulus. It's Democrats seizing this crisis, amplifying it, and then using the sense of urgency to pass a massive bill with dozens of individual parts that would have each been shot down by themselves.

Look at federal spending since LBJ's Great Society:

entitlementversusdiscretionaryspending.gif
Discretionary spending, the portion of the budget subject to annual review or budget debate, has risen 152 percent since 1965. Mandatory spending, consisting mostly of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which run on autopilot, has risen 759 percent since 1965.

We've kicked out Republicans for spending too much money and being too corrupt, only to replace them with Democrats who spend FAR more money and are even more corrupt.

We're in trouble, people. For those of us who love America and the liberty she stands for, this is getting heavy.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Conservative Stimulus Alternatives.

Posted by Will Franklin · 29 January 2009 10:46 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 522 -- Conservative Stimulus Alternatives.

We Can't Simply Be Against Bailouts, We Must Have Our Own Good Ideas As Well-

Recent history provides an important lesson for politicians on how to stimulate the economy. In 2004, America tried out a very short-term experiment. We drastically lowered the corporate tax on repatriated profits (money made overseas and brought back to the United States for reinvestment or shareholder disbursement) from 35% to 5.25%. Because conservative Republicans were only marginally in charge of government at the time, the change was VERY temporary.

We've discussed the results of this temporary change before, in a post in November of 2006. Essentially, it encouraged hundreds of billions of dollars to flow back into the United States.

And it went toward good and productive purposes:

In order to motivate businesses to bring this money back to the U.S., the new administration and Congress should consider legislation similar to a bipartisan 2004 law, The American Jobs Creation Act. This law incentivized U.S. businesses to bring $360 billion of foreign subsidiary earnings back into the U.S. at a reduced corporate tax rate of 5.25% for one year. A survey of several hundred of these companies found that they used, on average, 25% of those funds for U.S. capital investment, 23% for hiring and training of U.S. employees, 14% for U.S.-based R&D, and 13% for U.S. debt reduction.

But then it went away.

Instead of spending trillions on top of trillions on permanent expansions of government, why not try this out.

It will inject hundreds of billions of dollars into the U.S. economy over the next few years:

repatriatedearnings.gif
Temporarily reinstating the dividends-received-deduction for repatriated foreign subsidiary earnings leads to significantly higher corporate cash flow, increased capital expenditures including R&D, improved business financial conditions, more jobs at nonfinancial corporations and at financial institutions, and a significant increase in real economic activity.

Any increase of inflation is negligible, 0.1 percentage points, but there is a sizeable decline in the unemployment rate, although with lags, of 0.5 percentage points.

Two major problems of the current situation are addressed: some relief to business in a credit- and liquidity-constrained environment that is holding back business spending and contributing to a rise of unemployment. The improvement in business financial conditions sets the stage for more hiring later on by enhancing the liquidity and financial position of nonfinancial corporations. Thus, both current problems of tight credit and jobs are helped by the program.

So, this is one alternative. We Republicans have lots of alternatives. Frankly, doing nothing would probably be better than kicking this crisis' can down the road a bit. If we have to "DO SOMETHING!!!!!", we should explore ways to jump-start our economy through pro-growth policies.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas Created Jobs In 2008.

Posted by Will Franklin · 28 January 2009 02:37 PM · Comments (0)

Follow WILLisms.com on Twitter...

WILLisms.com is now on Twitter. If you're a twitterer, you can follow all of the posts made here, plus bonus tweets made on-the-go.

Posted by Will Franklin · 28 January 2009 12:11 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 521 -- The Jobs Picture in Texas & America.

Texas the only state to add statistically significant number of jobs in 2008-

The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells the state employment story this morning (.pdf):

Regional and state unemployment rates were universally higher in December. All 50 states and the District of Columbia recorded both over-the-month and over-the-year unemployment rate increases, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. The national unemployment rate rose from 6.8 to 7.2 percent in December and was up by 2.3 percentage points from a year earlier.

It's not rosy. Every single state saw its unemployment rate climb in December. Only Louisiana and Washington, DC added net jobs, and those numbers were only 3700 and 100, respectively. Oklahoma was the only state that did not add or lose jobs. All 48 other states lost jobs in December, some more than others.

For the year 2008, only 8 states (plus Washington, DC) added net jobs, while 42 states lost them. Twenty states had minor changes one way or the other (.pdf):

Over the year, 30 states reported statistically significant changes in employment with only 1 of those being an increase. The only statistically significant increase was recorded in Texas (+153,700).

So, in 2008, Texas added more than 150 thousand jobs. California, by contrast, shed more than 250 thousand.

Looking strictly at private sector jobs, the chasm gets even more pronounced. Some states have bolstered their job numbers through government jobs, while Texas' job growth has been almost entirely in the private sector.

december2007todecember2008.gif

The national recession's waves have certainly rippled onto Texas' shores, but our resiliency thus far should prove to the world that low taxes and tort reform matter. Freeing up your economy matters.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Economic Freedom Retreating.

Posted by Will Franklin · 27 January 2009 03:53 PM · Comments (6)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 520 -- Economic Freedom Retreating.

2008 Bad For Economic Freedom; 2009 Looking Even Worse-

The United States is a great country. We remain the greatest engine of ideas, commerce, and power in the world. Among Western nations, the USA is relatively free-- and relatively free from socialism.

We're not perfect, though, and last year we took a big step in the wrong direction, precisely at a time when we need to be cutting our tax rates, streamlining government, and letting free enterprise flourish.

In five out of the ten categories in the 2009 Index of Economic Freedom, America went in the wrong direction:

usaeconomicfreedomdown.gif

In a competitive global economy, the United States will lose jobs and capital (and even well-educated, productive people, in some cases) to other countries if these trends hold up. This is the case whether we're in a global boom, a global downturn, or anything in between.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: FDR Escalated Deep Recession Into Great Depression.

Posted by Will Franklin · 26 January 2009 02:31 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 519 -- New Deal Prolonged America's Depression.

We Don't Need Another FDR-

The economy is in the tank. The media consensus has somehow settled on free markets and deregulation as the cause of our current woes (which is completely bogus). The logic thusly follows: if free markets and deregulation caused the crisis, then we must need a new New Deal (also bogus).

Let's look at some unemployment figures for the 1930s:

newdealunemployment.jpg

Not exactly a compelling success story, that New Deal. Indeed, take a gander at this graph and this hard data:

The Reconstruction Finance Corporation was established in 1932 to “promote economic recovery” by disbursing billions of dollars of aid and representing the largest expansion of government’s role in the economy to date. Over 13 years, the RFC distributed more than $35 Billion – initially to financial institutions, but then to other industries like railroads, and eventually even to businesses of ill repute (massage parlors, strip clubs). When the government undertook to “promote economic recovery”, unemployment stood at 8 million. Through government seizing the allocation of resources, capital was diverted from more efficient market-allocated uses to less efficient, politically motivated uses. After 7 years of such misallocation, unemployment had actually increased more than 10% (from 8 to 9 million), and after 13 years, an estimated 1/3 of the distributions had been lost to defaulted loans and other write offs.

Precisely at the moment we need to be injecting more freedom into economy and making our country more competitive in a global marketplace, we're poised to burden ourselves with trillions of dollars of dead weight big government spending. It's a disturbing development.

For a great assessment of FDR and the New Deal, I can hardly recommend Amity Shlaes' The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression highly enough.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Median Household Income NOT Stagnant.

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 January 2009 12:14 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 518 -- Bogus Wage Stagnation Claims.

Middle Class Faring Well-

The Obama administration has some reasonable folks in it, to be sure, but it also seems to be populated by left-wingers who are just hung up on "inequality" and this tired notion that the uber-wealthy elite are getting fatter and happier at the expense of middle income folks.

The Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank disagrees and offers some important facts on wages in America:

The main finding is that—after adjusting the Census Bureau data for three key factors—inflation-adjusted median household income for most household types increased by roughly 44 percent to 62 percent from 1976 to 2006.

....

Incomes of the middle 50 percent of households—between the 25th and 75th percentiles—increased by at least 22 percent and as much as 59 percent for most household types, with gains exceeding 30 percent for most households.

And a revealing chart:

incomegrowth1976to2006.gif

The study takes on why the alleged median household income stagnation is a poor number. Part of it is the overstatement of inflation, part is that our society has changed and households have changed as well, and part of it is that the Census Bureau has vastly understated rapidly and broadly growing sources of income.

The study concludes:

The claim that the standard of living of middle Americans has stagnated over the past generation is common. An accompanying assertion is that virtually all income growth over the past three decades bypassed middle America and accrued almost entirely to the rich.

The findings reported here... refute those claims. Careful analysis shows that the incomes of most types of middle American households have increased substantially over the past three decades.

If we try to "solve" this middle income crisis, we'll almost definitely end up doing more harm than good.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Obama Not Even Very Hopey/Changey.

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 January 2009 12:21 PM · Comments (1)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 169.

We're retiring the Caption Contest on WILLisms.com. Like Michael Jordan and his misguided baseball adventure, however, don't rule out an eventual comeback. In the meantime, it's time to judge the lingering contest from November...

The Photo:
mysteriousshadow

And... the winners:

1. Jody:

Bush: There's a few things I should fill you in on before you assume the office.

Obama: Talk to the shadow hand, cause the face don't want to hear.

2. Bigfoot:

The MoveOn plant was apprehended by the Secret Service so quickly that for a few seconds, his shadow could still be seen on the wall of the White House.

3. Maggie Mama:

Shadow notwithstanding, we have yet to learn if an Obama presidency will be have the magic of Peter Pan or the reality of the Peter Principle.

Captioning, like MacArthur, may or may not return. Or shall. Whatever.

Posted by Will Franklin · 21 January 2009 12:18 PM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 517 -- Obama Less Changey & Less Hopey Than Most Presidents.

Taft The Most Changey & Hopey-

The Economist points out that Obama's inaugural address was filled with less change and hope than the median inaugural speech:

change&hope.gif
BARACK OBAMA is fond of hope and change. By one tally, he said “hope” nearly 450 times in speeches delivered on the campaign trail. (By contrast, his rival John McCain only used the word 175 times.) “Change”, too, was a campaign buzzword. In his inaugural speech Mr Obama made three mentions of hope and only one of change (plus a “changed”). He mentioned America seven times, followed by “work” and “common” (six times each).

While hope has found a place in each of the 26 inaugural addresses, change is used more sparingly. Seven inaugural speeches did not contain the word; six more made use of it just once. Presidents coming to office during economic booms, such as Calvin Coolidge and Warren Harding in the 1920s, Dwight Eisenhower and then George Bush junior, have been heavier users of hope than those who were inaugurated during leaner times.

Maybe the lack of hope and change in the speech was intentional. Maybe President Obama was attempting to downplay expectations. Maybe he was trying not to appear too optimistic or happy when times are so bad (although not NEARLY as bad as people are making it out to be). Who knows what he was going for in his inaugural speech. One thing is certain: it was the worst inaugural speech of my lifetime, going back to Ronald Wilson Reagan, both in content and delivery. The delivery was also easily in the bottom quintile of speeches Obama has given in his public life.

While the new President is clearly attempting to distance himself from the triteness that "hope" and "change" became on the campaign trail, let's hope that Obama and those around him don't spend all of their time subtly complaining about how terrible things are to the point of sapping America's optimism and amplifying our current economic recession into an actual generational crisis.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas Leads, California Now Lags.

Posted by Will Franklin · 21 January 2009 11:00 AM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 516 -- Texas, California, & Domestic Migration.

Texas Now America's Leader-

In the 1980s, when I was a youngster in a small town in the middle part of the country, I'd hear about some crazy new idea and not be all that surprised to learn that it had originated in California.

Sometimes the ideas were great, or at least seemed like the wave of the future. Personal computers. Avocados. Things like that.

Other times, though, California just seemed increasingly dysfunctional-- socially, economically, and politically. And it just seemed to get worse and worse as years went by. The worst impulses of Hollywood stars, labor union bosses, campus activists, urban rioters, and Aztlan nationalists seemed to take root in California. The 1990s were not kind to California. They lost the Rams to Missouri, and they couldn't even convict O.J.

That's why, earlier this decade, Arnold was such an appealing candidate. It was a chance for a Republican to clean things up and show people how to run a state government. It was a chance for Republicans to at least regain some electoral competitiveness in a deep blue state. Arnold was a chance to redefine the Republican brand in liberal America, proving to a new generation that conservative ideas are the cure to the consequences of decades of big government.

Unfortunately, under Arnold, the California state budget has grown even faster than under his predecessor. He has governed from the left-of-center status quo.

The continued-- accelerated, even-- liberal dysfunction in California helped drive 681 thousand people away from 2005 to 2007:

california.gif

Meanwhile, Texas welcomed 430 thousand net new people over that same time frame:

texas.gif

Unfortunately, far too many of the movers are bringing their dysfunctional political values with them. Far too many can't seem to make the connection between why they left California, why they chose Texas, and why they shouldn't try to make Texas like California.

Texas has continued adding hundreds of thousands of jobs over the past year, while the nation has shed several times that number. While no state in our interconnected national economy is an island unto itself, Texas continues weathering the national storm for now.

Let's just hope that President Obama looks at what Texas has done right and what California and many other states have done wrong before he drives the remaining pockets of success into standardized economic gloom.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Congress Just Existing Ruins The Economy.

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 January 2009 03:52 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 515 -- Keeping Investments Safe From Congress.

"That government is best that governs least."-

Ronald Reagan famously remarked that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."

In Texas, our legislature meets for only 140 days every two years. We're not as fortunate at the Federal level.

As I've highlighted on WILLisms.com before (here & here), when Congress meets, our economy underperforms. Stocks, specifically, don't like Congress.

For example, from May 23 through December 31 of last year, the S&P 500 lost 34.20% of its value. If you eliminate days over that same period in which Congress met, it only lost 2.19% So far this year, the S&P 500 is up 2.57% when Congress is not meeting, although it's down 5.78% overall.

These are not merely recent trends. The trend goes back more than 100 years.

An examination of the data from the mid-1960s through the end of 2007 reveals that stocks gained 17.6% (annualized) when Congress was not in session and only 1.6% when Congress was in session:

congressionaleffect.gif

I've often wished there was some way to invest in the overall market, but exclusively when Congress was out of session. Now there's a way to do just that.

It's a tempting prospect for sure. Their minimum investment is a thousand bucks.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Bush Cut Middle Class Taxes.

Posted by Will Franklin · 19 January 2009 04:32 PM · Comments (1)