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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
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 862 -- Obama's Jobs Deficit.
Stimulus Has Failed-
The stimulus has failed:
Time for America to cut its losses on this disastrous regime.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: The Emerging Pension Crisis.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 861 -- The Emerging Pension Crisis.
Defined-Benefit Retirement Plans Unsustainable-
One day, some of us will be saying "we told you so." Pensions, just like federal entitlements like Social Security and Medicare are just not solvent. They overpromise, and one day, the reckoning will be very, very ugly:
Much bigger increases in employee costs are on the horizon. Thanks to huge unfunded pension and retirement health-care promises granted by past governments, and also to deceptive pension-fund accounting that understated liabilities and overstated future investment returns, California is now saddled with $550 billion of retirement debt.
Nearly every governmental entity faces something similar, from local school districts and governments up through the federal government. It's not pretty.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas Has America's Recovery Blueprint.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 860 -- Texas, Germany, America, And Economic Experiments.
Which Model Works Best?-
A WILLisms.com reader Neville, from Oregon, writes in with a link to this David Brooks column which evaluates the divergent German and American responses to the economic/financial crisis:
According to Gary Becker of the University of Chicago, the Americans borrowed an amount equal to 6 percent of G.D.P. in an attempt to stimulate growth. The Germans spent about 1.5 percent of G.D.P. on their stimulus.
Neville also echoes the point Glenn Reynolds made this morning, which is that this is a "surprising indictment of everything the Obama administration has done since Inauguration Day."
As Professor Reynolds would say, "indeed."
In his email, Neville also brought up the point that Texas is in many ways America's "Germany" in this divergent set of examples.
Texas rejected huge portions of the federal stimulus-- the hundreds of millions of unemployment insurance dollars with strings attached. Texas has received the second lowest number of stimulus dollars per capita. Texas has one of the freest economies in the country, with one of the lowest debt loads per capita in the entire nation. Texas necessarily limits government by virtue of the legislature meeting for only 140 days every two years. Texas has relatively low taxes, keeps state government spending growth basically in line with population and inflation growth, and Texas has enacted among the most sweeping tort reform packages in the nation.
The result is that Texas' foreclosure rate is far below the national average and its bankruptcy rate is near the bottom. Texas has added far more jobs than all other states combined over the past few years, and income growth in Texas is far ahead of all other states.
Indeed, individual Texas cities (Austin, for example) have outpaced every other state in private-sector job growth over the past few years:
That green bar is the Austin metro area. The other bars are Utah, Delaware, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Alaska, Wyoming, South Dakota, Washington, Nebraska, and Montana.
Texas, just like Germany, is not completely out of the woods yet. Nor are Texas or Germany without their own shortfalls. Texas' economy was as turbulent as any in the 1980s, with bank booms and busts, oil booms and busts, and real estate booms and busts. While Brooks notes that "Germans have recently reduced labor market regulation, increased wage flexibility and taken strong measures to balance budgets," some serious long term structural issues remain in that country, in terms of over-promising on pensions and entitlements.
Still, the recent relative success of Texas and Germany, compared to the backsliding United States economic picture, offers strong evidence that Keynesian stimulus is a failed policy prescription, and market forces can best provide the kind of economic growth that political leaders covet.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Republicans Lead On Every Single Issue.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 859 -- Republicans Lead On Every Single Issue.
Top Issue = Jobs, Jobs, Jobs-
New numbers from Rasmussen:
Voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats on all 10 of the important issues regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports.
It is imperative that Democrats be sent a profound message this November that Americans will not tolerate the breathtakingly abuse of power and accelerated expansion of government we have seen over the past couple of years.
Americans voted Republicans out because they got too big government on us all. Then Democrats went and did the big government thing strung out on meth. Obama likes analogies about car keys and driving off cliffs-- and D and R standing for drive and reverse.
When Republicans turned the keys over to Democrats in late 2006, unemployment was 4.5%, GDP growth was robust, federal budget deficits were on track to become surpluses, and things were cranking along just fine, economically. It is Democrats who created market uncertainty. It is top-down Democrat housing micromanagement that created the foreclosure crisis. It is Democrats who canceled pending free trade agreements which were expanding markets for American goods and services and providing higher quality products to American consumers and lower prices. It is Democrats who twisted the throttle on the insolvency of entitlement programs like Social Security. It is Democrats who drove this country off a cliff, economically.
It certainly will not be Democrats to get us out of this mess.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas Only State Among Largest Twenty To Gain Jobs Since 2006.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 858 -- Texas Only State Among Largest Twenty To Gain Jobs Since 2006.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs-
Compared to 2006, nearly every state in America has fewer jobs. Texas is one of the few (and the only large state) that has added jobs over that time:
Why is it that Texas has been more resilient in the face of the economic challenges our nation faces?
Could be the economic freedom.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas Economic Freedom, And Why It Matters.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 857 -- Texas Among Best In Economic Freedom.
Again, Texas Among The Very Best-
The Fraser Institute released new rankings of economic freedom for all 50 state in the U.S., as well as provinces in Canada, and Texas is again among the best:
Reinforcing the notion that economic freedom leads to greater prosperity, this year's report shows that Delaware, Texas, Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, Utah, Louisiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Tennessee—the top 10 most economically free states—had an average per-capita GDP of $40,183 in 2007, compared to $37,397 for the 40 lowest-ranked states.
Indeed, American states generally are freer than Canadian provinces, but there are a couple of exceptions:
Economic freedom is a good value on its own, but it also has serious social implications that liberals, conservatives, and everyone else should agree on. Over time, freer states produce more jobs, more prosperity, and higher standards of living:
Higher standards of living ultimately mean longer, healthier lives, and if you're one of those who glorifies the state, it ultimately means more tax revenue.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Income Growth.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 856 -- Income Growth.
Again, Texas The Very Best-
In his stump speeches and television ads, liberal trial lawyer turned career politician Bill White has now essentially acknowledged that Texas is the best state for economic and job growth in the country, but he has turned his attacks on our state toward the erroneous notion that the jobs being created aren't good enough.
The facts, from Texanomics (one of my favorite new blogs), don't lie:
It's kind of small and hard to read, but click on the graph for a bigger version over at Texanomics. That green bar is Texas private-sector wage growth from 2006-2009. Those blue bars are other states.
Another example of Texas domination.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Bankruptcy.
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Disclosure: I work for Texas Governor Rick Perry. As always, thoughts expressed on WILLisms.com are my personal thoughts.
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Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 855 -- Bankruptcy Rates.
Again, Texas Among Best-
Bankruptcies are way up in the United States this year, at a 5-year high, but Texas ranks 48th:
Of the ten states with the largest populations, Texas has the lowest bankruptcy rate by far.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: WNBA.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 854 -- The WNBA.
Disproportionately High Coverage Relative To Actual Attendance-
The WNBA is subsidized and loses money:
...the NBA owns and subsidizes 6 of the 13 WNBA franchises, and the WNBA teams lose between $1.5 million and $2 million per year.
And yet, some argue that there is anti-female gender discrimination in terms of televised coverage of the WNBA. The numbers, however, speak for themselves.
The WNBA is the butt of so many late night talk show jokes for a reason. Meanwhile, there are women's sports very much worth watching, but they are still a bit niche for general audiences in mass media markets. Maybe icons of female-friendly mass media could throw a little love toward these sports.
Christina Hoff Sommers makes just this point:
The latest USC report is silent about the near-total absence of sports in women’s media. The limited coverage consists mainly of human-interest stories about women athletes. By the logic of the USC authors, shows such as “The View” and “Oprah” should be offering sports highlights and scrolling tickers with scores. Magazines such as Vogue, Allure, Cosmopolitan, and Better Homes and Gardens should be bursting with stories about draft picks, photographs of awesome plays, and up-to-date information about fantasy teams and brackets.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: The Ring Of Fire.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 853 -- The Ring Of Fire.
Wither American Exceptionalism?-
America could end up like Greece if we're not careful:
Sadly, "The Ring of Fire" chart is highly suggestive of lackluster economic growth performance in the industrialized countries in the years ahead. Since one has to expect that, over the course of the economic cycle, high budget deficit levels will be associated with higher interest rates as industrialized country governments compete with their private sectors for a limited pool of available financing. One would also expect that high public debt levels will undermine private sector confidence as both households and companies will come to fear the prospect of future distortive taxes to deal with compromised public finances.
America needs to get back to what got us to greatness in the first place. Limited government. Limited federal intervention in the economy. Limited federal intrusion into state and local matters. Limited taxation. Pro-growth, pro-commerce laws. Freedom.
The only way to truly "drain the swamp" of corruption, mitigate the influence of lobbyists, and clean up Washington is to shrink and limit government.
It's the only way for America to succeed into the next century.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Obama Versus Small Business.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 852 -- Small Businesses Facing Major Tax Hikes Under Obama.
Tax Increases On The Way, Joy-
Small businesses are in for a world of hurt:
Times are tough, but they are about to get a lot tougher, absent some kind of change of course:
America is suffering its largest drop since World War II. When the economy was at its Bush-era height, in 2007, a little over 63% of adult Americans had jobs. Friday's report shows that only about 58.4% do, a decline of nearly five percentage points. While the unemployment rate remains steady at 9.5%, the employment-population ratio continues to fall each month. In April it was 58.8%, in May 58.7%, and in June 58.5%.
Yeah. Higher taxes will help this. Not.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas Economy.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 851 -- The Texas Economy.
Not Perfect, But The Best We Have-
Are you reading Texanomics yet?
You should be.
This graph shows private-sector employment changes in the handful of states that added jobs from 2005-2010. This is really a sad picture in so many ways.
We've really got to figure this thing out. Our country can't just not create jobs.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: America's Jobless Recovery.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 850 -- Jobless Recovery.
Mixed But Mostly Bad National Numbers-
The new normal:
The July jobs report reveals an economy struggling to add jobs. While private sector jobs have increased by 151,000 over the last three months, this job growth is slower than that of March and April. An average of 50,000 new private jobs a month is disappointing for this stage of a recovery and will not lower the unemployment rate. The unemployment rate remained flat at 9.5 percent in part because 181,000 workers exited the labor force. The labor force participation rate dropped to 64.6 percent, matching its low for the recession that was set in December 2009.
The President could learn something from his trip to Texas today.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Supreme Court Polarization.
Obama's Texas Visit.
President Obama is visiting Texas today to raise money for Bill White.
Bill White will gladly take the money, but he won't dare be seen with Obama:
One wonders if Obama knows some of these stats:
* Since 2005, Texas has gained more private-sector jobs than all other states combined, times four. Texas dominates private sector employment gains over the past half decade. From 2005 to 2010, Texas cities rank 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 11th in America for raw private-sector job growth.
* Of America's 100 largest metros, only 16 added private-sector jobs (84 shed) between 2005 and 2010. All 6 in Texas added jobs.
* More than half of all job growth over the past year has been in Texas.
* Texas is one of only 5 states to add manufacturing jobs each month so far in 2010.
* Businessweek- Texas has 3 of top 5 and 4 of top 10 cities for new grads looking for jobs.
* CNNMoney ranked America’s top counties for job growth over past 9 years. Texas has 5 of top 7.
* Also, Obama has publicly stated a goal of doubling U.S. Exports in five years. Texas is the top exporting state 8 years running now, so maybe he could learn something while he's visiting Texas today.
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Disclosure: I work for Texas Governor Rick Perry. As always, thoughts expressed on WILLisms.com are my personal thoughts.
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Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 849 -- Supreme Court Polarization.
Supreme Court Partisanship-
Traditionally, the Supreme Court was truly removed from politics, and decisions were rarely close:
We have become accustomed to “minimum winning coalitions” in recent decades. But throughout the 19th century, a one-vote majority decided only 1 percent of cases on average. Between 1900 and 1950, that average rose to 4 percent. Since 1951, the average rate is 17 percent.
My theory on this is that the scope of action from our legislative and executive branches is advancing rapidly, and therefore the judicial branch is required to weigh in on more gray-area partisan issues rather than the traditionally clear-cut "is it Constitutional?" arguments they once weighed. Any student of Constitutional law will tell you that early Supreme Court rulings generally interpreted the Constitution far more narrowly and overruled Congressional or Presidential action on just about everything remotely questionable.
Moreover, beginning with FDR and escalating throughout the mid-to-late 20th Century, the Supreme Court has expanded its own scope, legislating from the bench, and wading into questions that necessitate weighing further into similar questions when they arise.
Early Congresses would have never dreamed of passing socialized health care bills, even if they wanted to, because they knew early Supreme Courts would unanimously rule such action unconstitutional. These days, not so much.
The antidote for these polarized rulings is to dramatically reduce the size and scope of governmental interference in our lives. If government is limited, what is and what is not Constitutional becomes far more obvious.
Reducing the size and scope of big government interference, unfortunately, will require decades of conservative Congresses, with conservative Presidents, who appoint the kinds of Justices who are willing to return to the Founding Constitutional principles that made America great and unique in the first place.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Transportation.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 848 -- Transportation.
A couple of decades ago, traffic congestion was pretty terrible in every growing, sunny area of the country. Today, it's not that it is especially better anywhere, but it has gotten worse a lot faster in some places, compared to other places.
Take the California solution versus the Texas solution over that time.
The California way led to more congestion. The Texas way worked:
Traffic congestion has gotten much worse, and traffic volumes have increased materially. Our recent article showed that transit market shares had declined.
Not so incidentally, the GAO reported recently that Texas had the lowest rate of return on dollars sent to the Federal Highway Trust Fund, from 2005-2008:
Sound familiar? Per capita, donor state Texas ranks in the 40s in terms of pork received, second-to-last in stimulus dollars received, and last place in Highway dollars coming back to the state.
Meanwhile, California is subsidized by Texans for building the equivalent of the Monorail boondoggle on The Simpsons:
It's hard to sustain this kind of imbalance forever, and what works for old, dense, compact urban areas on the East Coast is not necessarily right for growing, modern cities in "Flyover Country." Yet, our national transportation policy is largely designed and "driven" by people who live in high rise condos in Virginia and commute via underground train into the heart of the District of Columbia each day.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Politics Too Integral In Federal Money.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 847 -- Our Broken Federal Fund Dispersal System.
Pork, Stimulus, Recession-
Here's yet another good example of what I don't like about the establishment press.
The Houston Chronicle somehow manages to get it wrong even when they're on the brink of getting it right:
Small states earning big federal dollars: Seniority for senators can mean money disparity per resident
Great. This is an interesting story that illustrates how broken our system is, but here's what irks me. On the sidebar of the story, there is this graphic:
This is really just a failure on so many levels. Where is the link to the source? Citizens Against Government Waste puts out a lot of great reports, so this vague citation from the Chronicle is not helpful at all. Why only list a few states? This "I have the information, and I choose which parts to tell you" model of reporting is old style journalism, and it is dying out for a reason.
More importantly, in the entire story, never does the word "earmark" appear, and the word "pork" only appears once, right at the end, in a quote.
This entire story is based on pork barrel spending, not total spending. Pork is defined pretty specifically, too. Pork has to meet one or more of the following criteria:
• Requested by only one chamber of Congress;
This doesn't sound like the spending referenced in the article. The article calls North Dakota's pork haul, simply, "projects to benefit its population."
Yeah. There's a fundamental difference there.
Citizens Against Government Waste's Pig Book details the information referenced by the Houston Chronicle:
What is so hard about that?
The future of journalism is not this antiquated top-down offering of patchy bits of information. The future of journalism is data. For example, the most viewed page on the online-only Texas Tribune website is a data app detailing what public employees earn.
Not-so-incidentally, looking at stimulus spending, certain states are also created more equal than others:
This speaks volumes about the effectiveness of government spending.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Unbalanced Recession.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 846 -- Only Four Of Twelve Federal Reserve Districts Have Had Job Growth Since January 2001.
2001-2010 Job Growth, Or Lack Thereof-
The Dallas Federal Reserve district includes all of Texas, plus parts of Louisiana and New Mexico. Since 2001, it has far outpaced the rest of the nation's other 11 Fed districts:
Every district is down from the peaks of a couple years ago, but only the Richmond, Minneapolis, Kansas City and Dallas Fed districts have experienced employment any growth over this period whatsoever.
The Dallas Fed district is up (in thousands) from 10,112.5 to 10,997.9 (+885.4, or 8.76%) over this period.
The Richmond Fed district is up from 13,105.6 to 13,326.0 (+220.4, or 1.68%) over this period.
The Minneapolis Fed district is up from 4307.6 to 4339.6 (+30.0, or 0.7%) over this period.
The Kansas City Fed district is up from 7628.0 to 7693.3 (+65.3, or 0.86%) over this period.
All eight others are down since 2001.
Indeed, comparing Texas' job growth during the zeros/aughts/ohs (or whatever the last decade was called) to every other state's job growth or lack thereof, the comparison is stark:
From 2005-2010, among the 100 largest metros in America, only 16 added private-sector jobs. 84 shed jobs. All 6 in Texas gained over this five year period.
From 2005-10, Texas cities rank 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 11th in America for raw private-sector job growth.
10 states plus Washington, D.C. created any net private-sector jobs whatsoever from 2005-10. 40 states lost them. Texas gained more than all other adders combined, multiplied by four.
Since 2005, California has lost average of 520 private-sector jobs per day (-950,300 total). Texas has gained 260 per day (+474,400 total).
These ridiculous numbers don't mean that Texas is immune to the nation's deep and prolonged downturn, but it doesn't it mean that maybe Texas had something right, and Obama's one-size-fits-all prescription for the nation just isn't right.
Washington, D.C., Obamanomics, Congress in general-- they are all broken and need to be rendered as insignificant in our daily lives as possible.
Governors-- good ones like Rick Perry and Chris Christie-- competing, innovating, and reforming in their various states will bring this country back:
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Laffer Curve, Visualized.
Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 845 -- Tax Hikes A-Comin' Our Way.
The Art Of The Laffer Curve-
Art Laffer has an important take on tax rates and tax payments in the Wall Street Journal:
Since 1978, the U.S. has cut the highest marginal earned-income tax rate to 35% from 50%, the highest capital gains tax rate to 15% from about 50%, and the highest dividend tax rate to 15% from 70%. President Clinton cut the highest marginal tax rate on long-term capital gains from the sale of owner-occupied homes to 0% for almost all home owners. We've also cut just about every other income tax rate as well.
The entire semantical/linguistic argument in the establishment media right now regarding the near-term future of tax rates in America hinges on the tax "cuts" for the "rich" "expiring" or going back to "normal."
For those of us in our twenties and even early thirties, we have only paid taxes under the "Bush tax cut" rates. For us, when the rates go up-- as they will under Obama and the Democrats on January 1, 2011-- that is absolutely a tax hike. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
It will be the largest tax increase in American history, and it will happen at precisely the worst time possible for our struggling national economy.
No amount of passive-aggressive semantical gymnastics by the Democrats can change that reality.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: America's Economy Would Be Far Worse Without Texas.
Sunday Heidi Weimaraner Update: 4+ Years Old.
These were shot at Auditorium Shores in Austin, just South of downtown and the Colorado River (also known as Town Lake at this spot):
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Her favorite thing is catching the frisbee at the park:
It is really hot, really clear, and really blue outside today in Austin, Texas:
At four and a half years old, she still needs a lot of exercise, but a bit less so on these 100-degree summer days:
I still get a lot of people asking what kind of dog she is. A greyhound? A gray lab? Etc. etc.
She's still a Weimaraner.
Incidentally, all of the pictures were snapped with a Nikon D90.
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