Willisms
Navigation

Buy WILLisms

XML Feed
WILLisms.com on Twitter

WILLisms.com via email:

Delivered by FeedBurner



Featured Entries

The Babe Theory Of Political Movements.
Mar. 21, 2005 11:50 AM

Iran's Sham Election In Houston.
June 20, 2005 5:36 AM

Yes, Kanye, Bush Does Care.
Oct. 31, 2005 12:41 AM

Health Care vs. Wealth Care.
Nov. 23, 2005 3:28 PM

Americans Voting With Their Feet.
Nov. 30, 2005 1:33 PM

Idea Majorities Matter.
May 12, 2006 6:15 PM

Twilight Zone Economics.
Oct. 17, 2006 12:30 AM

The "Shrinking" Middle Class.
Dec. 13, 2006 1:01 PM

From Ashes, GOP Opportunities.
Dec. 18, 2006 6:37 PM

Battle Between Entitlements & Pork.
Dec. 21, 2006 12:31 PM

Let Economic Freedom Reign.
Dec. 22, 2006 10:22 PM

Biggest Health Care Moment In Decades.
July 25, 2007 4:32 PM

Unions Antithetical to Liberty.
May 28, 2008 11:12 PM

Right To Work States Rock.
June 9, 2008 12:25 PM



Donate





Links

Blogroll Me!







Search



Archives

July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004




Social Security Reform Thursday.
January 29, 2008

Caption Contest Archive
Jan. 21, 2009

The Carnival Of Classiness.
Mar. 14, 2006

Quotational Therapy: Obama.
Apr. 4, 2008

Mainstream Melee: Wolfowitz.
May 19, 2007

Pundit Roundtable: Leaks.
July 9, 2006

A WILLisms.com(ic), by Ken McCracken
July 14, 2006




Credits

Powered by Movable Type 3.17
Site Design by Sekimori




WILLisms.com January 2009 Book of the Month (certified classy):











The WILLisms.com Gift Shop: Support This Site

giftshopbanner.gif











This Week's Carnival of Revolutions: carnivalbutton.gif



Carnival Home Base: homebase.gif

























Willisms

« January 2009 | WILLisms.com | March 2009 »

Dispatch From Austin #teaparty, with photos.

A few choice shots from today's "Tea Party" event at the Capitol in Austin, Texas (lots more in this Flickr site):

IMG_0218.JPG
IMG_0229.JPG
IMG_0222.JPG
IMG_0244.JPG

This teaparty event was extremely impromptu. Very little promotion. Very little organization. And it was a muggy 85 degrees outside. But it still drew a good 60+ people or so.

I live-Tweeted the event from my Twitter account: Twitter.com/WILLisms.

I also uploaded a quick "video" from my iPhone to 12seconds.tv:


[iPhone] Austin, Texas #teaparty on 12seconds.tv

In the 12 second video, I spoke with Peggy Venable of Americans for Prosperity about the teaparty.

Posted by Will Franklin · 27 February 2009 06:53 PM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 543 -- School Choice For Me, But Not Thee.

We Have School Choice Now, But Only For Wealthy People-

President Obama sends his two cute little kiddos to private school. We're talking nearly 60 grand a year, according to various news reports. During his campaign, Obama made vague overtures toward supporting school choice, but ultimately he seems to side with the teachers unions on the issue.

It's so strange to me that so many people in Congress send their kids to private schools, yet so few are willing to eagerly endorse school choice reforms:

schoolchoice.gif

Indeed, even substantial numbers of PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS send their kids to private school.

We can do better. We have to do better.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Off The Deep End.

Posted by Will Franklin · 27 February 2009 05:42 PM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 542 -- Off The Deep End.

Boom Goes The Dynamite-

Bush's approval ratings fell and Republicans were ousted for a lot of reasons. One major reason was profligate spending.

Obama is already making Bush look like Scrooge:

offthedeepend.gif

It is just downright mind-and-soul numbing.

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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Fiscal Earthquake.

Posted by Will Franklin · 26 February 2009 04:12 PM · Comments (1)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Part 79 -- Tip Of The Iceberg.

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:

The Iceberg Is Coming; Unfortunately, Bipartisan Commissions Won't Help.

A nice idea, and a nice graphic, to a point, on Social Security:

iceberg56trillion.jpg

This is dead on. There's a slow-moving iceberg that is going to destroy our nation's fiscal ship. It's headed our way. We can see the tip of it now. For whatever reason, we're not doing anything to avert hitting it.

Unfortunately, the fine print begins discussing commissions and bipartisanship. The best chance for reforming these programs is through a supermajority (60+) of conservatives in the Senate, a strong majority of conservatives in the House, and a conservative President. Prediction: "bipartisanship" will likely just kick the can further down the road and raise taxes in the process.

What other metaphors can I use to describe this situation?

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

Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 26 February 2009 03:33 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 541 -- Fiscal Earthquake.

Boom Goes The Dynamite-

Auto-pilot entitlement program growth is swamping our budget (.pdf):

entitlementsoverwhelmdiscretionary.gif

The only possible way to get government spending under control is to tackle entitlement spending. There. Is. No. Other. Way. Period. We can cut pork. We can end earmarks. We can withdraw all troops from every country. None of that matters if we don't get entitlement spending under control.

This means fundamental change. Obama and the Democrats talk about change, but they are really just agents of more and bigger New Deal/Great Society style programs.

UPDATE:

Ed Driscoll has a fantastic post and video on this subject.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Roughly 90% Of Texas Democrat Money Comes From Trial Lawyers.

Posted by Will Franklin · 25 February 2009 02:52 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 540 -- Trial Lawyers Own The Texas Democratic Party

There Is No Texas Democratic Party; Just A Trial Lawyer Lobby-

Republicans in Texas are under almost constant fire from the media, from liberal interest groups, and from Democrats for raising too much money from big donors like Bob Perry or Jim Leininger.

What about the Democrats?

Well, we learned this week that the Texas Democrats have no intention of giving back or donating to charity the 100 grand they received from Houston fraudster Allen Stanford.

If they gave back Stanford's money, it might boost the percentage of their money from trial lawyers from 87% to more like 90%. As it is, trial lawyers own the Democratic Party in Texas. They also own various offshoots that threw inordinate amounts of cash at their legislative candidates.

2008 Election Cycle Trial Lawyer Contributions:

* Texas Democratic Party
Total Contributions: $3,950,470
Trial Lawyer Contributions $3,450,933
Trial Lawyer Percentage 87 percent

* Texans for Insurance Reform
Total Contributions $1,727,154
Trial Lawyer Contributions $1,679,500
Trial Lawyer Percentage 97 percent

* Texas Democratic Trust
Total Contributions $4,028,701
Trial Lawyer Contributions $2,948,201
Trial Lawyer Percentage 73 percent

In the Texas legislative race I ran last year, our Democrat opponent received a staggering amount of money from a tiny number of out-of-district trial lawyers, including some infamous ones (such as the guy who paid John Edwards' mistress that hush money, Fred Baron. Baron actually passed away right before the election).

Trial lawyers are a big player nationally, to be sure, but trial lawyers have almost entirely co-opted the Democratic Party in Texas, because Texas-- once overrun with frivolous lawsuits-- has become a beacon of successful tort reform over the past few years:

new-tort-cases-scatterplot.jpg

The good news is that Texas is improving its legal climate, and it's paying off. The bad news is that our newly emboldened leadership in Washington, DC seems poised to overturn many state-based reforms in favor of a standardized, federalized leftism.

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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Obama's Incessant Pessimism Tanking Economy.

Posted by Will Franklin · 24 February 2009 04:56 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 539 -- The Obama Stock Market.

Debbie Downer Needs Some Hope-

Investor's Business Daily ponders, "is it any wonder the market continues to sink?" and offers a nice series of explanations:

obamamarket.gif

A couple of the explanations:

• Trade protectionism passes as policy, even amid the administration's lip service to free trade. Congress' vast stimulus bill and its "Buy American" provisions limit spending to U.S.-made products and will drive up costs, limit choices and alienate key allies.

Already, it has triggered rumblings of retaliation in a 1930s-style trade war from trading partners, just as the Smoot-Hawley tariffs prolonged the Great Depression. Several European partners have begun raising barriers. Meanwhile, three signed free-trade pacts with Colombia, Panama and Korea languish with no chance of passage. Free trade offers one way out of our problems, yet it's been sidetracked.

We may have the most economically isolationist Congress in many, many decades. Shutting down free trade is very reminiscent of the early 1930s anti-trade debacles, namely Smoot-Hawley.

Then there's our President. He ran on hope but his rhetoric has been designed to lower expectations to Carteresque malaise levels.

• Words like "catastrophe," "crisis" and "depression" are coming from the mouth of the newly elected president, rather than words of hope and optimism. Instead of talking up America's capabilities and prospects, he talks them down — the exact opposite of our most successful recent president, Ronald Reagan, who came in vowing to restore that "shining city on a hill."

Even ex-President Clinton admonished Obama to return to his previous optimism, saying he would "just like him to end by saying that he is hopeful and completely convinced we're gonna come through this."

Sure, government-chartered Fannie and Freddie and the Community Reinvestment Act fanned the flames of the subprime mortgage fiasco, and, sure, a lot of private companies packaged those toxic mortgages and sold them all over the world and then ended up insolvent because of it, setting off a chain of insolvency. Sure, very real, very frightening things have happened in our economy. But psychology is driving a lot of this crunch we're in right now, and our President's "New Deal" with "fear itself" is not helping at all.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: TARP Money Wasted.

Posted by Will Franklin · 21 February 2009 11:05 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 538 -- Wasted TARP Money.

TARP Money = Down The Drain-

When the TARP (bailout) program was sold to America last year, we were told that-- technically speaking-- the money is really just more of a really big loan, and that taxpayers would probably make money over the long haul from the whole deal. Notwithstanding the terrifying implications of state ownership of so many assets, let's look at how the TARP "investment" is doing for taxpayers:

tarpdown.gif
For the week ended February 13, 2009, the aggregate Ethisphere TARP Index is down $86.5 billion, out of the original investment principal of $195.5 billion, for a total balance of $109 billion. However, the Adjusted Ethisphere TARP Index, which excludes the calamity investments, has an aggregate loss of $27.6 billion as of the week ended February 13, 2009, bringing the original investment principal down to $68 billion.

Now, in fairness, not many investments are doing terrifically right now. But these bailouts were supposed to turn our economy around. Instead, they seem to have created more uncertainty, more insolvency, more doubt, and more generally negative psychology about the economy. And that's leaving out many of the long-term consequences.

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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Military Spending.

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 February 2009 09:49 AM · Comments (1)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Part 78 -- Eating Social Security's Seed Corn.

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:

Social Security Has Been Upside-Down For Decades.

John Steele Gordon, on Social Security:

It has been widely noted that 2009 will have the first "trillion-dollar deficit" in American history. Actually it's the second. In fiscal 2008, the national debt increased from $9 trillion to slightly over $10 trillion. Yet the budget deficit in the last fiscal year was officially reported as being $455 billion. How could the national debt have increased by considerably more than twice the "deficit"? Simple. Just call the money borrowed from the Social Security trust fund an "intragovernmental transfer" and exclude it from the calculation of the deficit.

Corporate managers have gone to jail for less book cooking than that.

Indeed.

Social Security is a pay-as-you-go Ponzi system, but it is supposedly backed by a trust fund. So how is that alleged trust fund doing? Not great:

...from the program's inception through 1986, the average annual return on the trust funds was negative. To repeat, through the first four and one half decades, the trust fund's investments lost money on average each year. Following 1986 the running average of annual returns was positive, but barely so: even extending through 2008, the average annual return on trust fund investments, adjusted for inflation, was only 1.38 percent above inflation.

At the link above, Andrew Biggs talks about how our current system is a bit like eating the Social Security seed corn. We're not doing our future selves any favors.

Meanwhile, with all the talk of the "moral hazard" concept these days in the news with regard to bailing out poor decision-making, Social Security has subsidized our declining savings rate, exposing our economy to greater risk. When Social Security is supposed to take care of retirement for you, and when you're already throwing 12+% of your salary into that hole, why do any additional saving?

Social Security is America's biggest expenditure today. If it were its own country, it would be Saudi Arabia:

nationofentitlements.gif

Inaction in 2005 on Social Security reform will cost America dearly, late into the 21st century.

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

Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 19 February 2009 04:41 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 537 -- Military Spending Not Exclusively Responsible For Massive Spending Surge.

Post-9/11 Defense Spending Increased, But Auto-Pilot Entitlement Growth Was Bulk Of Increased Spending Under Bush-

The Bush administration clearly had an unsuccessful second term.

The first term was top quartile material; the second term, not so much. It may have even been bottom quartile material.

One criticism I see from the left and right alike is that Bush was a big spender. From the right, it's that he didn't veto enough items and let pork get out of control. Occasionally, you'll also hear about the prescription drug benefit in Medicare. From the left, it's almost always that he spent way too much on Iraq and the War On Terror, so we "neglected" domestic social spending.

So, what about that? Was the War On Terror the primary driver of spending under the Bush administration?

No.

Auto-pilot entitlement spending increases drove higher spending, not military spending (courtesy of the Heritage Foundation):

nationalsecurity.gif

Defense spending went up, to be sure, and went up a lot. But it is still historically low. The big three of entitlement spending (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security) drove the overwhelming bulk of spending hikes during the two terms of the Bush administration.

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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: SCHIP.

Posted by Will Franklin · 19 February 2009 10:13 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 536 -- SCHIP (Socialized Children's Health Insurance Program).

Socialized Medicine For Kids-

When S-CHIP was first sold to the American people, it was supposed to be an insurance program of last resort for children in poverty. Like just about any government program, every few years S-CHIP has been tweaked to "fix" gaps in the program. In just a couple of decades of existence, S-CHIP will have grown from a tiny safety net program into a full-fledged mega-entitlement:

nochildleftoffwelfare.gif

Most conservatives will concede that poor children should have some sort of safety net if they are sick, but what we're doing is imposing an unaffordable, socialized middle-class health care entitlement for all children, which will inexorably lead to an even more unaffordable, socialized health care system for everyone.

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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: 2003 Tax Cuts Worked Wonders.

Posted by Will Franklin · 18 February 2009 10:41 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 535 -- 2003 Tax Relief Results.

The Psychology Of Tax Cuts-

In 2003, a few months after Republicans gained marginal control over the United States Senate, they passed the first significant pro-growth tax relief of the Bush administration. Not surprisingly, the economy flourished:

2003taxcutsworked.jpg

In the 13 quarters that followed the 2003 tax relief package, more than 5.3 million jobs were created. Stimulus is tax relief.

The central problem with the Bush tax relief of 2003 was that there were too few conservatives in Congress, so the tax relief was set to expire automatically a year or so after Bush left office. That day of reckoning is now rapidly approaching. Impending tax hikes cause a lot of uncertainty for individuals and businesses alike. That very uncertainty is the root of a lot of our economic problems today.

Add on the perceived value of what we'll receive from the stimulus versus what we will pay for the stimulus, and most people are looking at big tax hikes over the next few years:

whatyougetversuswhatyouowe.gif

The fundamental problem that a growing government imposes upon an economy is the growth of uncertainty. Every two years, there's another election. Every four or eight years, we may have a new President. Because government is such an increasingly central player in the economy, and because our government is so subject to populist whims and bad idea jeans, the growth of government not only does not smooth out the ups and downs, as many Keynesians and socialists argue, it causes and amplifies them.

Moreover, "tax rebates" (checks mailed or direct deposits wired) are not the same as tax rate cuts, so let's please stop blurring those lines.

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, freedom is always only one election away from extinction. When government is limited by statute, as our Founders intended, there is less corruption and more robust growth over the long run.

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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Socialized Medicine.

Posted by Will Franklin · 17 February 2009 11:02 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 534 -- Socialized Medicine.

The Problem With Health Care Is Not Too Little Government-

Often these days, proponents of the government takeover of the health care system cite the failures of the current system as evidence that we could do a lot better with a socialized medical regime. They, of course, don't usually call it socialized, but when government pays for, mandates, dictates, rations, provides, facilitates, or otherwise manages health care, that's certainly not the market at work.

Right now, government already runs nearly half of our nation's health care system:

socializedmedicine.gif

This chart was produced before some of the recent developments we've seen from increasingly left-wing Congress and the new President. Adding the S-CHIP bill and the stimulus package we're easily on the way to 50+% government control in the next several years.

That's the bad news, of course.

The good news is that-- well-- there really isn't much good news. Sure, patient-centered and market-driven reforms would save consumers and taxpayers money while delivering higher quality care and generating more innovation, but it will take a conservative President, a strong conservative majority in the House, and 60 conservative Senators to accomplish that kind of reform.

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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: 2008 Texas Exports Grew.

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 February 2009 11:25 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 533 -- Exports & Texas' Economy.

American Exports Struggled Last Year; Texas' Exports Increased-

America's trade deficit is down. That's-- to some-- the good news.

The bad news is-- due to the global economic crunch and a surge of protectionism in the U.S. Congress-- that all trade is down, both in and out:

tradedown.gif

From December 2007 to December 2008, imports decreased 14.7%, and exports were down 8.4%.

"Meanwhile, back at the ranch..."

In Texas, exports increased more than 14 percent over the last year, totaling $192.14 billion, roughly 24 billion dollars more than 2007.

There is little doubt that the tentacles of the national/global recession have reached Texas in the past month or so, but let the record show that Texas held off the recession through 2008 and was the only state in the country to add a decent number of jobs last year. There are some very real reasons for that.

The WILLisms.com archives are full of posts explaining the reasons that some states' economies fail and some succeed. Generally speaking, the key to economic success is economic liberty.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Visual: Biggest Leftward Lurch Since The 1960s.

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 February 2009 09:40 AM · Comments (1)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Part 77 -- How Would Personal Accounts Have Fared Had Reform Succeeded Years Ago?

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:

Personal Accounts Would Deliver Better Returns.

One criticism of President Bush is that we dodged a bullet when his Social Security reform push failed. "Look where we'd be now."

Well, we'd still be ahead of the current benefit levels:

socialsecuritypersonalaccounts.gif
...no cohort of retirees from 1915 through 2008 would have lost money by holding an account. Benefit increases ranged from 6 to 23 percent, with an average boost of 15 percent.

If Americans had been able to invest even just a portion of their Social Security taxes into the free enterprise system rather than into increased government spending, we'd all be a lot wealthier today. And this is AFTER the declines we saw in late 2008.

The power of unlocking approximately 5% of our economy that is now being siphoned off into big government would immediately rejuvenate and correct the trajectory we're on right now.

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 · 12 February 2009 02:29 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 532 -- Bailout 2009 Visual Depiction.

The Biggest Lurch Toward Socialism In Decades-

A nice visual of the stimulus:

visualofstimuluspackage.jpg

If only that were true. The REAL cost is three times that big: 3.27 trillion dollars.

This is sickening.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Bailout Recipients & Political Donations.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 February 2009 10:48 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 531 -- Bailout Recipients Continue Political Contributions.

Kickbacks For Voting "Correctly"-

Bailouts are a good political fundraising tool, apparently:

Lawmakers said the federal bailout program, which was passed Oct. 3, would help banks keep credit moving in the market to help Americans buy homes and cars.

But within weeks, money also was moving into their campaign accounts.

JPMorgan's employee PAC, for instance, has issued $275,552 in political donations since Oct. 16, including $91,000 spent three weeks after the bailout was approved.

Wells Fargo & Co.'s employee PAC has approved $211,400 in political donations. Bank of America's PAC issued another $304,265.

It should be stressed that these political donations are from the PACs of these companies-- the money comes voluntarily from individuals who work at these companies. Donations given and taken in a vacuum by themselves are not evidence of anything nefarious. HOWEVER, this is a great example of how a more expansive government necessarily leads to corruption at the worst and the appearance of conflicts of interest at best.

When government grows, individuals and organizations are compelled to contribute more in order to gain access to lawmakers and protect their interests from uninformed whims and populist showboating. When government is playing an active role in confiscating, regulating, and redistributing wealth, a rent-seeking bailout mentality necessarily takes hold. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. When government is small and limited, it's in the background-- an afterthought. Limited government limits the opportunities for corruption and curtails the need to lobby.

And speaking of lobbying, didn't Democrats win in 2006 primarily on the "culture of corruption" issue?

Under Democrat control, we now have an explosion in the lobbying industry in Washington, DC:

lobbyistslongtermcontributions.gif

We also have a litany of anecdotal stories of Democrat corruption that is far more broad and deep than anything people revolted against in 2006.

Democrats right now are drunk with power. They are reckless. If we can just eject brand-tainting elected officials (Senators Collins, Snowe, and Specter, for example) from the party, Republicans have a very real opportunity to regain power very soon.

Unfortunately, the massive expansion of government we're currently witnessing is likely creating new handout/bailout addicts as we speak. The growth of dependency culture in America may very well lead to a lengthy generation of Democrat electoral dominance. Policies have consequences. Nearly every single policy coming out of Congress right now is designed not to grow the economy but to grow the Democratic Party.

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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Bad Economy? Yes. Worst ever? No..

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 February 2009 10:36 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 530 -- The Worst Economy Since The Great Depression?

THE WORST ECONOMY EVAR! OMG!-

Are we currently in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression?

That's all we hear from our President, our media, and just about everyone else. But is it true?

No. Not really.

Compare today's recession to a couple of other recessions America has faced since the Great Depression:

recessions.jpg

Could we get to the "worst economy since the Great Depression"? ABSOLUTELY. Given that our taxes are going up and that we've added $9.7 trillion dollars in debt to our books, we could very well get there.

Are we there yet? Or even close?

No.

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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Japan's Terrible Experience With Enormous Stimulus Packages.

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 February 2009 02:50 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 530 -- Japanese Bailout Lessons.

Building Infrastructure For The Sake Of Infrastructure = BAD IDEA JEANS-

A decent read in the New York Times about Japan's "lost decade" and the failure of massive public works stimulus spending:

japandebt.jpg

Japan’s rural areas have been paved over and filled in with roads, dams and other big infrastructure projects, the legacy of trillions of dollars spent to lift the economy from a severe downturn caused by the bursting of a real estate bubble in the late 1980s. During those nearly two decades, Japan accumulated the largest public debt in the developed world — totaling 180 percent of its $5.5 trillion economy — while failing to generate a convincing recovery.

It's difficult to have confidence in the economy when so many bad ideas are headed our way. The entire article is definitely worth a read.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Three Sets Of Facts Against The New Bailout.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 February 2009 08:38 AM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 529 -- Three Important Bailout Facts Every Conservative Should Be Armed With.

We Have The Facts And We're Voting No-

FACT I: Perspective On Bailout Size.

A visual of what the Spendulus/Porkulus Bailout of 2009 looks like, when compared to the entire annual economies of other large nations:

porkulus.gif
[hat tip: The Rising Republic blog]
Just think of it: The deficit-spending package passed by House Democrats already is bigger than 168 of the 180 national economies measured by the World Bank. Now, in the Senate, it threatens to break into the Top 10 by catching up with Russia (No. 11) and then Brazil (No. 10).

We've got to replace this thing with major tax relief. Lower the corporate rate (now the 2nd highest in the world) so our businesses can compete against businesses in other countries. Lower and flatten income taxes. Lower capital gains taxes. Give people a holiday from paying payroll taxes (and permanently reform Medicare and Social Security). Get our fiscal house in order.


FACT II: Inaction Actually Better Than This Package.

Right now, there's such a frantic push from Democrats to "DO SOMETHING," it reminds me of a lot full of pushy used car salesmen telling me they have to make the deal today. Gotta make it happen today. The boss'll be mad if I don't get this done today. Another young couple was ready to make an offer on this car tomorrow, so we have to get it done today.

Obama even gave a miserable, scaremongering, Debbie Downer speech yesterday on "the price of inaction." Democrats are freaking out that they're losing the stimulus battle.

So, what about inaction?

The CBO estimates that the New Bailout of '09 would reduce GDP by 0.1 to 0.3% through 2019:

Including the effects of both crowding out of private investment (which would reduce output in the long run) and possibly productive government investment (which could increase output), CBO estimates that by 2019 the Senate legislation would reduce GDP by 0.1 percent to 0.3 percent on net.

So, "doing nothing" really is better than rushing to "do something."


FACT III: Ramming Things Through Causes Waste.

The rush to "do something" typically leads to waste. Indeed, more than a third of TARP dollars went down the toilet:

...in the ten largest transactions made with TARP funds, for every $100 spent by Treasury, it received assets worth, on average, only $66. This disparity translates into a $78 billion shortfall for the first $254 billion in TARP funds that were spent.

Haste makes waste. When government's involved, haste makes radioactive waste.

When you're in a hole, stop digging.

Let's stimulate the economy with policies that are actually stimulative. The stimulus package today is nothing more than pork and-- more dangerous than pork-- the fulfillment of a pent up left-wing wish list of permanent government programs. There's nothing temporary or short-term or stimulative about this package. It's a Trojan horse for permanent and aggressive government overreach.

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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: 1960s Set Off Bailout Boom.

Posted by Will Franklin · 6 February 2009 09:38 AM · Comments (4)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Part 76 -- Social Security Crisis Nearer Than Common Wisdom Holds.

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:

The Downward Roller Coaster Begins Today.

In just a few short years, Social Security will begin paying out more than it takes in (.pdf):

socialsecurityrollercoasterdown.gif
In theory, Social Security is supposed to continue paying benefits after 2017 by drawing on the Social Security Trust Fund.

Furthermore, the trust fund is supposed to provide sufficient funds to continue paying full benefits until 2041, after which it will be exhausted. At that point, by law, Social Security benefits will have to be cut by approximately 27 percent.

However, in reality, the Social Security Trust Fund is not an asset that can be used to pay benefits. Any Social Security surpluses accumulated to date have been spent, leaving a trust fund that consists only of government bonds (IOUs) that will eventually have to be repaid by taxpayers.

There's a Social Security shortfall, and it's not 20 or 30 or 30 years away. It's knocking on our door.

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 · 5 February 2009 11:38 AM · Comments (4)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 528 -- Bailing Out States... A 1960s Legacy.

States As Laboratories For Policy Ideas Died With LBJ-

Once upon a time, America was a truly federalist system, where the notion that "all politics is local" was not at all controversial or questionable.

The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s often hinged on an argument about whether the Federal government had the right to impose mandates, rules, regulations, and edicts upon states. It was a 10th Amendment argument: that which is not spelled out in the U.S. Constitution is left to the various states.

Before the 1960s, the concept of states' rights actually carried weight in our judicial system. The 10th Amendment was not disrespected the way it is today, and states still reserved more rights and responsibilities than the federal government.

However, because the Civil Rights movement was such an important moral imperative, courts and legislators and the President essentially crushed the 10th Amendment in favor of standardized federal rules against discrimination. Our country is a better, fairer, more prosperous place because of the Civil Rights movement.

Unfortunately, when the concept of federalism was killed on behalf of the Civil Rights movement, it opened the floodgates for greater government control in Washington, D.C. of what had always been considered state-level decisions. Speed limits. Education curricula. Vehicle emissions. Everything.

Today, all but a couple of Governors seek federal bailouts for their states. Since the 1960s, the number of federal grant programs to states has grown almost exponentially (.pdf):

numberoffederalgrantprograms.gif

It's interesting that these grants have tracked higher and higher state and local government spending over the same time period (although you can see that Reagan put the kibosh on a lot of federal grants to states).

No wonder so many Governors now line up at the federal trough seeking federal government cheese. Believing in federal supremacy is now the default position in our political culture; the 10th Amendment is just some antiquated bit of filler text.

As someone who believes that competition makes most everything better, it is sad that we're increasingly subsidizing bad ideas in poorly-performing states at the expense of good ideas in well-performing states, all while standardizing so many bad ideas from the top-down.

The death of the 10th Amendment is the worst legacy of all-- worse even than the music of Jefferson Airplane-- left behind by the 1960s.

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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Spending Growth Unsustainable.

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 February 2009 11:00 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 527 -- Government Spending More Than Doubled Since 1965, Even After Inflation Taken Into Account.

Federal, State, & Local Spending All Growing Bigtime-

Over the past few decades, government growth has already been on a frightening trajectory:

The total spending burden on American households has grown 129 percent since 1965. State and local spending per household has increased 156 percent, while federal spending has increased 115 percent.
statefederallocaldoubledsince1965.gif

Now we're adding trillions in bailout spending, much of which looks to be permanent and recurring. Awesome.

There are other options, however. Pro-growth stimulus. It's what people want. It's what they thought they were getting when they voted for Obama.

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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Obama Pays Women Less Than Men.

Posted by Will Franklin · 4 February 2009 03:35 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 526 -- Obama's Gender Inequality.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do-

The first major legislation President Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which overturns a Supreme Court decision. Some background and analysis on the move:

Lilly, who worked for Goodyear from 1979 through 1998, filed a discrimination claim in May 1998 alleging that she had to rebuff sexual advances of her foreman boss in the early 1980’s, and that his unflattering write-ups of her work led to her being underpaid for nearly 20 years. Having stayed on the job, collected money for working and retired receiving additional benefits, she subsequently sought compensatory and punitive damages for actions dating back more than 20 years prior to the time of the trial.

A jury awarded her $228,438 in back pay (including $4,662 for mental anguish), and $3,285,979 in punitive damages. The alleged harrassing supervisor was dead by the time of the trial, so it was Ms. Ledbetter's word against his coffin. She then conflated her sexual harassment claims along with a claim of equal pay for equal work, inviting a mind numbing review of her roles over the years. The case ended at the Supreme Court in 2007, which overturned this psychodrama by insisting that EEOC claims of discrimination be made within 180 days of the actual discrimination.

Ms. Ledbetter may or may not have had a case of sexual harassment. I am genuinely sympathetic to sexual discrimination, and I am positive that it still happens today. There may be many women like her. But how is this new law anything but an opening of the trial lawyer floodgates?

Can you imagine how many companies, big and small, that might now be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars in back pay and millions of dollars in anguish pay for office interactions that may or may not have taken place a generation ago, before public service ads like these became so ubiquitous during the 1980s:

While the path to this bill signing was assuredly paved with good intentions, so is the road to hell. The consequences of this bill might not be all that great for women:

When Congress passed the higher minimum wage law in May of 2007, teenage unemployment was about 15%. One year later, it was over 20%--the unintended consequence of making teens more expensive to hire. I guess that by this summer it will be 25% to 30%.

Lilly’s Law may have a similar impact on women. From December 2007 through December 2008, men’s unemployment rate went from 4.4% to 7.2%, while women’s unemployment rate went from 4.3% to 5.9%. Women are employed at higher rates so there must be widespread discrimination, right? One unintended consequence of this act may in fact be greater discrimination against women. Given two equal candidates for a NEW job, the female may now be viewed as carrying greater financial risk from the increased long-term potential for litigation because of Lilly Ledbetter’s Act. And perhaps fewer women will be hired compared to men.

If the unemployment rate for women had been heading towards 8% in the next year or so, I would guess Lilly’s Act will add at least one or two percent to their top unemployment rate and it will add to the number of hall monitors hired to mitigate liability.

But this law has the words "FAIR PAY ACT" in it. As in, "women only make 80 cents on the dollar, relative to men." As in, we have to fix this. This law does little about that issue, but the Paycheck Fairness Act just might:

The Democratic majority is also resurrecting the concept of "comparable worth" with the Paycheck Fairness Act. This idea holds that only discrimination can explain why female-dominated professions (teachers, secretaries) tend to command lower wages than male-dominated professions (plumbers, truck drivers). Yet most of these pay disparities are explained by relative experience, schooling or job characteristics. Teachers do tend to earn less than truck drivers, despite more education. Then again, truck drivers work long, hard, often unpredictable hours....

The paycheck fairness legislation would nonetheless require labor officials to use comparable worth in creating "voluntary" wage guidelines for industries. Voluntary or not, these guidelines would become the basis for more litigation against companies that didn't follow them. Meanwhile, the bill strips companies of certain defenses against claims of sex-based pay discrimination. It also makes it easier to bring class actions, and it allows plaintiffs to claim unlimited punitive damages even in cases of unintentional discrimination.

Sounds like more trial lawyer enabling and more government meddling.

While the idea that plumbers and truck drivers make a good comparison to teachers and receptionists is laughable on its face, there still remains a slight gender gap within many industries. Why?

The fact of the matter is that men, on average, still earn more than their female colleagues, because they still have higher education levels (however, more women than men are now receiving higher education degrees), more experience (men don't take years off to raise kids), work longer hours (there are still a lot of working moms who leave work early to pick up the kids from school), and sign up for more assignments that amount to "hazing" (lots of travel away from home, dealing with high stress situations, etc.) early on in their careers in order to move up the ladder.

When women receive professional degrees of higher education (engineering, law degrees, MBAs, etc.), delay having children, put in long hours, and sign up for tough tasks early in their careers, there is evidence that they actually make more money than their male counterparts. There is also evidence that men simply ask for more raises, while women are more passive in their salary and bonus negotiations.

Our President doesn't seem to understand that there are valid reasons for the wage gap between men and women.

Or does he?

As reported last summer, Obama supports all kinds of new government regulation and bureaucracy, but he doesn't practice what he preaches:

On average, women working in Obama's Senate office were paid at least $6,000 below the average man working for the Illinois senator. That's according to data calculated from the Report of the Secretary of the Senate, which covered the six-month period ending Sept. 30, 2007. Of the five people in Obama's Senate office who were paid $100,000 or more on an annual basis, only one -- Obama's administrative manager -- was a woman.

The average pay for the 33 men on Obama's staff (who earned more than $23,000, the lowest annual salary paid for non-intern employees) was $59,207. The average pay for the 31 women on Obama's staff who earned more than $23,000 per year was $48,729.91. (The average pay for all 36 male employees on Obama's staff was $55,962; and the average pay for all 31 female employees was $48,729. The report indicated that Obama had only one paid intern during the period, who was a male.)

National Review also noted the disparity.

Are there probably legitimate reasons for the gender inequality on Obama's staff?

Of course. But isn't this just part of the pattern we see from the Obama administration?

Do as I say, not as I do. Pay higher taxes, while nearly all of my nominees don't even pay their required share. Be more ethical, while my posse is full of some of the most unsavory characters in politics today. Etcetera. Etcetera.

To look at Obama's staffer salaries yourself, visit Legistorm and become aghast at all the sexual discrimination going on there.

In the meantime, let's say a solemn prayer (or meditation, if you're not religious) for the male youth of America, who are actually getting left behind right now (.pdf):

schoolenrollmentstatus.gif

Look at how many more women than men are pursuing college these days.

Women have made amazing strides in higher education, passing up men along the way (.pdf):

womenimprovements.gif

We're addressing 1950s and 60s problems-- problems that have found or are finding their own solutions in the marketplace-- more than fifty years later. For a President who was supposed to move us past the rehashed politics of the Vietnam era and Baby Boom generation, Obama sure seems eager to tilt at those gender gap windmills.


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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Democrats Paying Back Unions For Political Support.

Posted by Will Franklin · 3 February 2009 05:26 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 525 -- Union Membership On The Rise.

More Labor Union Members For Second Straight Year Since Democrats Took Over Congress-

unionmembershipdown.gif

For decades in the latter half of the 20th-century, labor union membership in America fell, year after year after year. It got so bad that a few years ago, union bosses saw the writing on the wall: in another decade or two, they would be all but extinct in America. That is, without desperate, bold, and concerted action.

The plan: pump hundreds of millions of dollars into political campaigns on behalf of pro-union Democrats. Go "all in" behind candidates who would pass legislation growing the union ranks.

The result: well, you've seen the past two election cycles, right? That's the union surge in action.

The 2006 election is already paying dividends, as union membership reversed its downward trend in 2007, then continued its new upward trajectory in 2008.

So what is driving this oldfangled union trend?

Government growth:

Government workers were nearly five times more likely to belong to a union than were private sector employees.

In the private sector, union membership went from 7.5% to 7.6% in 2008. In the public sector, unionization bumped up from 35.9% to 36.8%.

What's surprising is that public sector weekly wages are 21.3% higher than private sector weekly wages-- a troubling data point, no doubt.

It's also interesting that California's union membership rate went from 16.7% to 18.4% in 2008, while the state shed more than a quarter million net jobs. Texas' union rate went from 4.7% to 4.5% in 2008, while adding more than 150 thousand net new jobs.

A few of these kinds of figures in isolation might be a coincidence, but the evidence that unions are antithetical to job (and overall economic) growth is so overwhelming, so irrefutable, and so patently obvious, it's incredible that the pending Card Check legislation and other union payback schemes in Congress today are not a national scandal.

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

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Lobbying Dollars UP 25% Since Republicans Lost Power.

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 February 2009 12:53 PM · Comments (0)