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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 Do 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
Ace of Spades
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
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Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 824 -- Home Sales Sharply Down In America, Up In Texas.
A Tale Of Two Economies-
Surprisingly bad news on housing last week:
New home sales in the US slumped by a third in May compared with the previous month as tax credits for homebuyers expired, official figures have showed.
Indeed, after the federal credit expired, the drop was staggering:
Meanwhile, in Texas, existing home sales are up 18.2% this year:
Granted, it's not a perfect comparison (new homes versus existing), and Texas is still not immune from national and global pressures, but it is indicative of the resilience of the Texas economy that people are buying and selling homes. In Texas, single-family building permits in April were up 20.4% from a year earlier.
It is also important to note that Texas, with roughly 8% of the nation's population, had only 3.46% of mortgage foreclosures in the U.S. last month.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: More Education Spending Doesn't Create Better Educational Outcomes.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 823 -- More Education Spending Doesn't Create Better Educational Outcomes
We Spend Vastly More, Get Same Results-
Spending on education is way up:
Increase in the number of public school students from 1970 to 2010: 9%
More money doesn't mean more education.
Bigger government is not better government.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Structural Battlefield Benefits Democrats, Issues Favor Republicans.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 822 -- Structural Battlefield Working For Democrats In 2010.
Why 2010 May Not Be As Great As 1994 Despite Overwhelming Sentiment Against Democrats-
Before Republicans break out the Waterford Crystal champagne flutes and the 1994 Dom Perignon, let's keep things relatively in perspective:
...the vast majority of House seats that the Democrats lost in 1994 – 48 of 56, to be precise – were in “Red” or “Purple” districts. And this year, the Democrats have fewer of such districts to defend.
That being said, Republicans can and should make a big dent in the Democrats' Congressional majorities, both in the House and Senate. Republicans are also poised to win back a lot of gubernatorial positions, which means a much deeper GOP "bench" for 2012 and 2016.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Upward Income Mobility In America.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 821 -- Income Mobility Alive & Well.
Americans Not Entrenched In One Place-
The Tax Foundation has a new study showing that from 1999 to 2007, there was ample income mobility in America:
• Nearly 60 percent of taxpayers move up from the bottom quintile within this nine-year period.
We don't need to "spread the wealth around," as Obama suggested. Income mobility already exists. In America, anyone can hustle, work hard, and move up in life. Being a millionaire in income one year also doesn't mean you're part of some permanent gentried aristocracy:
Liberals like to paint "the rich" as some kind of entrenched class of people who do everything in their power to keep everyone else down, and they may have a point if they're talking about left-wing billionaire George Soros and the like, but in reality, many small business owners, investors, and entrepreneurs who make a million dollars in a given year aren't making a million dollars every year, year after year.
We should all aspire to succeed, and encourage others to succeed, not resent those who do.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: America's Fiddling Failure.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 820 -- America's Fiddling Failure.
Stimulus Not Working-
There is a classic animated short from 1934 about a fiddle-playing, spendthrift grasshopper and some hard-working ants. While the ants work hard and save up for the winter, the grasshopper goes around all summer playing his fiddle and singing about how the world owes him a living.
This depression-era animated fable is absolutely applicable today, as we try to spend our way out of a problem that was caused by too much unaccountable, free-wheeling spending and not enough fiscal discipline in the first place.
So, is the stimulus working?
... a one percent increase in government purchases (as a share of GDP) increases GDP by a maximum of 0.7 percent and then fades out rapidly. This means that government spending crowds out other components of GDP (investment, consumption, net exports) immediately and by a large amount.
In other words, the stimulus may indeed "stimulate" in the very short term, but it ends up harming the economy even more after the stimulus goes away.
Indeed, the Calculated Risk blog has a great graphic showing what a failure the first-time home buyer stimulus payments have been at actually righting the housing ship:
Meanwhile, as the United States fiddles, other G-20 nations are nearly unanimously launching austerity campaigns to limit their spending and reduce their public debt levels.
Come on, America. Don't be the grasshopper:
Be the ants.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Tax Cuts Not To Blame For Deficits.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 819 -- Tax Cuts Not To Blame For Deficits.
Too Much Spending To Blame For Deficits-
Obama and the liberals are blaming the "Bush tax cuts" for the massive deficits we have right now. Not so much:
* The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts were responsible for just 14 percent of the swing from the projected cumulative $5.6 trillion surplus for 2002–2011 to an actual $6.1 trillion deficit. The vast majority of the shift was due to higher spending and slower-than-projected economic growth.
Spending is out of control, and it is mostly entitlements:
The notion that entitlement reform is somehow "off limits" because Social Security is popular will be the "Greecing" of America. We have to reform these programs now, to avoid serious pain later.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: "The Great Recession" Especially Hard On Men.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 818 -- "The Great Recession" Especially Hard On Men.
Womenfolk Not Hit As Hard-
The always spot-on Mark J. Perry has some startling data about how this national recession is impacting men more than women:
...for most of the months in the years between 2004 and 2007 jobless rates were approximately equal for men and women, with male unemployment dropping below female unemployment in some months. In early 2008, the U.S. unemployment rate started increasing due to the onset of an economic contraction, and by May 2008 I noticed a widening gap between male and female jobless rates, and that gender gap increased through 2008 and 2009 and was eventually one of the reasons that this period starting being called a “mancession.”
In December 2007 as the recession officially began, the male jobless rate of 5% was only slightly higher (by 0.20%) than the female rate of 4.8%; but a little more more than a year later, the jobless rate gender gap had widened to 2.5% in May 2009, as male unemployment increased to 10.5%, while female unemployment increased to only 8%. That 2.5% gender difference in jobless rates in May 2009 set a new all-time historical record for the greatest male-female jobless rate gap in postwar BLS history up until that time. Within just a few more months, that record was broken by a 2.7% gender jobless rate gap in August 2009, when male unemployment reached 11% and female unemployment reached 8.3%, and that 2.7% gap stands as the greatest jobless rate gender gap (in either direction) in postwar U.S. history.
During most of the period between 1950 and 1980, male unemployment was less than the female jobless rate. In the post-1980 period, unemployment rates by gender were approximately equal during economic expansions, but significantly higher for men than women during recessions. Therefore, the existence of “male-based recessions” actually started with the 1981-1982 recession, followed by subsequent male-based recessions in 1990-1991 and 2001, but those were all relatively mild in their adverse impacts on men compared to the huge, historically unprecedented disparities in jobless rates in 2008 and 2009.
Fascinating numbers. Women are getting better grades than men in school. Women now outnumber men at Universities. Women are taking professional white collar jobs in far greater numbers than they once did.
Men are in trouble. What are we going to do about it?
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Fortune Favors The Enthusiastic.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 817 -- Fortune Favors The Enthusiastic.
How Broad Will Republican Victories Be?-
An average of 59% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents have said they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting this year compared with past elections, the highest average Gallup has found in a midterm election year for either party since the question was first asked in 1994.
Since 1994, the party that has had a relative advantage on the enthusiasm measure has gained congressional seats in that midterm election year. Specifically, Republicans gained seats in 1994 and 2002, while Democrats gained in 2006.
A lot can happen between now and November, but if Republican candidates can stay out of trouble and stay on message, it will be a great year for the GOP-- and a sharp rebuke of Barack Obama and the Democrats.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: 1994 Versus 2010, By The Numbers.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 816 -- 1994 Versus 2010, By The Numbers.
Similarities, But Not Same Playing Field-
Some slightly mitigating numbers regarding 2010 versus 1994 and the political environment surrounding the election:
While the mood of the public today appears similar to the mood in 1994, there are a couple of important differences between the political situation now and the political situation then. Democrats hold 256 House seats today just as they did in 1994. However, fewer of their seats today are in marginal or Republican-leaning districts while more are in strongly Democratic districts. In addition, Democrats are defending only 19 open seats this year compared with 31 open seats in1994. As a result, Democrats are in a stronger position to defend their majority this year than they were in 1994.
A bit of data that tempers the "2010 is just like 1994" enthusiasm.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas Cities Leading Recovery.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 815 -- Texas Cities Leading Recovery.
Every Major Texas City Among Best Overall Performing-
Economically, Texas cities are tops, even according to the left-of-center Brookings Institute:
Every single major Texas city is in the top fifth of all American cities, economically-speaking.
5 of the top 11 cities leading the recovery out of the recession are in Texas, and that's according to the liberal Huffington Post.
Texas: Disrupting the liberal narrative since 1836.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Republicans Regaining Public Trust On Fiscal Issues.
Social Security Reform Thursday: Part 80 -- We've Gone Negatory.
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:
We're There. Social Security Now Pays Out More Than It Takes In.
Sure, it's been more than a year since the last Social Security Reform Thursday installment. In that time, Social Security has-- much earlier than anticipated-- gone negatory:
These lines were not expected to cross for at least another five years. This is the cost of the protracted recession and the failure of the economy to generate new jobs. The 2008-2009 increase in benefits was at a nosebleed level of 9.5%. That level has collapsed to 3.9% in the 2009-2010 period. This is the result of a “0%” COLA increase for 2010.
All of those projections that were so far down the road and therefore not a problem for us now-- yeah, those are now arriving.
Read More »
Previous Reform Thursday graphics can be seen here:
-Week One (Costs Exceed Revenues).
« Close It
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 814 -- Republican Electoral Optimism Increasingly Warranted.
Republicans Must Recapture Spirit Of 1994-
NPR commissioned a poll, and it's not looking swell for Democrats:
It's especially bad for Democrats in those districts they have no business winning (but have been winning for the past two election cycles):
Optimism is good. It's valid. But overconfidence is not the way. The establishment media may "pull an '08" and pull the wool over the eyes of a lot of Americans. Republicans can also shoot themselves in the foot. The media can assist there.
There are more people saying that Obama's team wouldn't mind seeing a complete Republican takeover of Congress in 2010 to help him out in 2012. Think about 1994's Republican Revolution, and 1996's Clinton landslide.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Republicans Regaining Public Trust On Fiscal Issues.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 813 -- Republicans Regaining America's Trust On Spending.
Republicans Must Recapture Spirit Of 1994-
The National Taxpayers Union has crunched the numbers, and it is clear that Republicans have found religion on spending:
...the average Republican called for more spending cuts than increases – an outcome that has not been seen in BillTally data in many years.
Blue Dog Democrats, meanwhile, are a complete traveshamockery. They aren't fiscally responsible at all:
The NTU study also points to the 104th United States Congressional Session (the one directly following the Republican Revolution of 1994) as a time when fiscal restraint was the name of the game. Republicans walked the walk in that session of Congress.
You have a choice. Republicans are returning to their limited government principles after a brief flirtation with the dark side. Democrats are spending us into a ditch.
There's a reason why Republicans are now outperforming Democrats on the Congressional generic ballot:
Remember in November.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Obamacare Squeezing Small Business.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 812 -- Obamacare Squeezing Small Business.
Forcing Government Health Care On Companies That Don't Want It-
One of the justifications for passing Obamacare was that you could keep your existing health care if you wanted, but it turns out this-- like so many other parts of this bill-- was a bait and switch lie:
Internal administration documents reveal that up to 51% of employers may have to relinquish their current health care coverage because of ObamaCare.
Yeah, hope. Change. And forced one-size-fits-all bureaucratic health care boondoggles that will bankrupt our nation's already precarious fiscal balance sheet.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas Versus Illinois.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 811 -- Texas Versus Illinois/Michigan.
The Texas Way Versus The Obama Way-
I know, I know.
I write a lot about the Texas way and how it is working to produce better results than the Obama way.
But it's important and true.
It's important because Washington, D.C.'s one-size-fits-all mandates threaten to undermine the success that Texas is having. The Texas model-- tort reform, no income tax, a predictable regulatory climate, and a general dash of "leave us alone"-- should be emulated, not overruled.
Other bloggers have caught on to the Texas phenomenon. CARPE DIEM, which always has great economic content, compares Texas and Illinois:
Others have compared Texas to Michigan, and pondered that Michigan may be like Greece, so where does that leave Texas?
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Free Trade Is Green.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 810 -- Free Trade Is Green.
Throw Out The Anti-Trade Bums-
The United States has prospered over the past 200+ years. This current administration and Congress comprise one of the most, if not the most, anti-trade governing regimes the United States has ever had.
It's ironic, because in addition to promoting economic growth, free trade is green:
The anti-trade diplomatic fallout has gotten so absurd that the Korean Ambassador has been visiting American cities outside of Washington, D.C. (the Koreans clearly don't think the incumbents in Washington will be there much longer) lobbying for Congressional approval of a free trade agreement between South Korea and the United States that was approved and signed three years ago:
America's lethargic pace toward ratifying a free trade agreement with South Korea is costing this country tens of thousands of jobs and $10 billion to $11 billion in new exports.
Democrats are anti-growth, anti-trade, anti-green, and anti-job. Mercantilist, isolationist economic protectionism is bad for America's economy, and it's bad for foreign relations with our allies.
Weren't Democrats supposed to make everyone around the world love us again? They are only alienating America's allies and would-be free trading partners even further with their anti-trade policies.
Throw out the anti-trade bums. Remember in November.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: America's Debt To Surpass GDP By 2012.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 809 -- America's Debt To Surpass GDP By 2012.
Just In Time For 2012, A Tipping Point-
Public debt levels in this country are reaching untenable levels, and debt is threatening to overtake GDP under the Obama administration:
The CHART OF THE DAY tracks U.S. gross domestic product and the government’s total debt, which rose past $13 trillion for the first time this month. The amount owed will surpass GDP in 2012, based on forecasts by the International Monetary Fund. The lower panel shows U.S. annual GDP growth as tracked by the IMF, which projects the world’s largest economy to expand at a slower pace than the 3.2 percent average during the past five decades.
Not good. Symbolically, debt bigger than our entire annual economy would be a symbolic Jimmy Carter-esque malaise moment for our country. More than symbolically, it will begin to impact America's place in the world in a time of rapid global economic change. It will have tangible effects on our currency, our inflation rate, interest rates, tax rates, and a whole host of other economic inputs. It will impact our ability to project power and protect our interests and allies in the world.
It's not set in stone, but we can and must do everything in our power to reform our entitlements, cut out the pork, and curb the growth of the Leviathan.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Infrastructure Privatization Is Conservative.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 808 -- Infrastructure Privatization Is Conservative.
Texas Is A Donor State-
Texas and many other states are "donor" states when it comes to transportation dollars:
In 2008, there were 25 donor states and 25 donees, although many states were close to being even in their return ratios. In 2008, for example, Texas received only an 81 percent payback, costing it $728 million in underpayments that year, while Florida received just 79 percent back, Indiana received 91 percent, and South Carolina received 90 percent. As column 3 reveals, many of the losing states in 2008 have been consistent losers since 1956. Tabulating return ratios over the past 52 years reveals that, among some of the 24 long-term losers, Texas received just 80.1 percent, Oklahoma received 85.5 percent, and Georgia received 84 percent.
While few states will have a perfect 100% return on their dollars, states should not be faced with having 1 out of every 5 dollars they send to Washington for transportation evaporate in federal bureaucracy or be siphoned off toward other states.
Indeed, Texas is suffering from this long-term donor state imbalance:
According to TxDOT, Texas typically receives about 70 cents for highways from each dollar remitted to Washington in federal motor fuel taxes. The federal tax is 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24.4 cents on diesel. In each of the past five years, however, Congress has cancelled some of the previously authorized funds owed to Texas.
This donor state thing is not likely to change anytime soon. Too many states derive too much of their transportation funding from this system. The alternatives?
Higher taxes? Not a great solution. Plus, tax revenue from the gas tax is declining as vehicles become more efficient and thus use less fuel.
More debt? That's only viable up to Texas' debt cap, and we don't need to follow the federal government down that path anyway.
Just not building roads, other new infrastructure? Well, the costs associated with increased gridlock are enormous:
Privatization of roads sometimes gets a bad rap, and I've even heard the peculiar assertion that being in favor of tolls to fund new infrastructure construction instead of higher taxes or more debt is "not conservative."
That's absurd on its face.
As Reason Foundation's Leonard Gilroy predicted back in January:
...playing politics with infrastructure privatization—generally in the form of a challenger's populist opposition to an incumbent's privatization initiatives, while offering no realistic alternative—is unlikely to be a fruitful path to success. The gubernatorial campaign of Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison may learn this lesson the hard way.
Indeed, while there are a sizable number of vocal anti-privatization activists out there, even many within the Republican Party, and they often intimidate politicians into taking psuedo-populist positions against toll roads, being pro-gridlock and anti-infrastructure is ultimately not a winning issue.
I just hope legislators have the foresight to see that, before it's too late and we're all stuck in traffic all the time, with dilapidated roadways, higher gas taxes, and maximum debt.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Deficit.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 807 -- Deficit.
No End In Sight-
We've got to fix this.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: 2nd Amendment Deters Crime.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 806 -- Second Amendment Deters Crime.
Rising Firearm Sales, Declining Crime Rate-
From the NRA:
Anyone needing proof that fanaticism for gun control hasn't waned on Capitol Hill, that anti-gunners are -- as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) put it last year -- only waiting to "pick the time," should watch the video of Mexican president Felipe Calderon's speech to Congress last week, versions of which have been posted on youtube.com. When Calderon asked that the federal "assault weapon" ban be re-imposed, a very large number of U.S. Representatives and Senators present gave him a standing ovation.
Indeed crime is down, to the lowest points since the mid-1960s:
This, as gun sales are up sharply. Indeed, judging by NCIS background checks, sales are up substantially:
From the time Democrats retook Congress, we've seen a 39.8% increase in background checks for weapon purchases. In the first few months after Obama was elected, we saw a massive surge in background checks. November and December of 2008 still stand as records. In November 2008 alone, background checks for gun purchases jumped 41.6% from the same month a year before.
In the first month of President Obama's tenure in the White House, background checks jumped 28.8% from January 2008 to January 2009, 23.3% from Feb. 08-09, 29.2% from March 08-09, and a 30.3% increased from April 2008 to April 2009.
Overall, the FBI logged 14,033,824 NICS checks in 2009, a 10.4% rise from the 12,709,023 checks in 2008. Over the same period, violent crime was down 5.5%, murder was down 7.2%, forcible rape was down 3.1%, robbery was down 8.1%, aggravated assault was down 4.2%, property crime was down 4.9%, burglary was down 1.7%, larceny-theft was down 4.2%, motor vehicle theft was down 17.2%, and arson was down 10.4%.
Even in a recession, gun sales are up, and crime is down. Correlation? Definitely. Causation? Possibly. At the very least, the hyperbolic predictions about crime rising due to the expiration of the Federal AWB in 2004 were overblown and incorrect.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas Job Creation Machine.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 805 -- Texas Job Creation Machine.
Texas Jobs Increasingly Threatened By Obama's Intrusiveness-
Over the past six months (through April 2010), Texas created more new jobs than any other state in the country. Texas’ increase of 82,100 jobs totaled more than the entire employment increases of California, Illinois, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, Colorado, and Washington combined:
Is it not obvious that Texas is doing something right? Maybe worth emulating, even?
This success is threatened by President Obama and his allies such as liberal trial lawyer and Texas gubernatorial candidate Bill White.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Leave Texas Alone.