Category Archives: Economics

Animal’s Daily Autophagia News

I swear, Alexandria Occasional Cortex is the gift that keeps on giving – to Republicans.  Now Democrat Carolyn Maloney has piled on to the list of Democrats denouncing Occasional Cortex’s aggressive economic illiteracy.  Excerpt:

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.) on Friday night slammed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y) for her opposition to Amazon headquarters coming to New York City, saying that she was “disappointed” at people protesting jobs in her district.

Maloney, who has been representing the 12th Congressional District since 2013, appeared on CNN’s “OutFront” to discuss Amazon’s decision to cancel its plan to build a headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, which is part of her district. Host Erin Burnett read Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet celebrating the decision and asked if she shared her sentiment.

“My constituents want jobs,” Maloney said.

“This was 25,000 jobs,” said Burnett, prompting Maloney to say this was a “minimum” amount of jobs.

“It would have been many, many more; 25,00 jobs at $150,000 minimum for the job,” Maloney said. “There were promises for a new school, and as a former teacher, I was intrigued with their plans to have a curriculum in 30 different schools supported by Amazon on high tech. We should be really diversifying our base of taxes, our base of businesses. We are too dependent on financial services.”

“It used to be that we would protest wars. Now we are protesting jobs? People are complaining about jobs coming to your [city] … If this had gone through, it would have made overnight New York City the high-tech capital of the east coast, the most important job center for tech jobs.”

Now the Democrats are nothing if not disciplined; it’s rare to see this kind of autophagia among the ranks of their elected officials, at least.  Non-elected activists all over the political spectrum slash and snap at “their own” all the time, but elected Democrats are normally pretty disciplined.

Not Occasional Cortex.  The girl just doesn’t seem to have any filter between mouth and brain, much less any actual knowledge of economics or the ins and outs of job creation.  And every time she releases another verbal outburst, she has to have elected Republicans chortling gleefully even as he horrifies her own side.

Watch in 2020:  I’m guessing she’ll face a primary challenge by some older, better prepared and more disciplined Democrat.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

No one thing in particular jumps out this Monday morning, so let’s have a links compendium with some comments.

In France, yellow-vest protestors continue to protest… well, just about everything.  The gist of their argument seems to be “we want more Free Shit, and we want other people to pay for it.”

Princess Spreading Bull has launched her 2020 Presidential bid.  This is a Quixotic quest if there ever was one; even her fellow Democrats are getting to be embarrassed by her serial dissembling over her background.

Portland, Oregon averages a 911 call every fifteen minutes – about homeless people.  Most of these aren’t really emergencies and should be called in to the regular non-emergency dispatch line, granted.  But Portland has in the past had policies like “no-turnaway” shelters, which has drawn itinerants to that city – and this is the predictable result.

Single-family zoning is now racist.  Who knew?  This is so facepalm-worthy it’s not even funny.  When everything is racist, nothing is racist, but that little truism is lost on these people.

Robert Stacy McCain chronicles the continuing downward slide of our Ivy League schools.  Why are these people so angry?

Our good friend Jillian Becker presents “Prophetess: A Cautionary Tale.”  Well worth the read.  Granted predictions are very difficult, especially when they’re about the future.

On that note, we return you to your Monday, already in progress.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links.  Also, you should read the last of my History of The Six-gun posts over at Glibertarians.com, and in fact you should read all of my articles there by using the link to the right.

Meanwhile:  We’re all too aware of the dumpster fire that socialist Venezuela has become.  The libertarian Von Mises Institute has some ideas on reforms that could once again make Venezuela one of the most prosperous countries in South America:

  1. Open the road to monetary freedom, eliminating all legal tender laws and the nation’s central-bank supported system of fractional-reserve banks. Allow Venezuelans to adopt whatever medium of exchange they wish. Even dollarization ought to be on the table.
  2. Open the country to International Trade: eliminate all tariffs, taxes, and trade barriers. All of them.
  3. Privatize Everything! All state-owned companies and assets, following Econintech’s proposal.
  4. Decentralize the Government: Grant total administrative and budgetary autonomy to Venezuela’s twenty-three states . Decentralization is a key to minimizing the damage an abuse central government can do.
  5. Lower taxes drastically, and decentralize tax collection and administration to the state level. All new taxes must be approved byreferendum.
  6. Allow private Venezuelans to access and accept both humanitarian and security assistance from foreign organizations.
  7. Guarantee the right to self-defense: demobilize all the armed groups, purge the prisons, implement widespread private gun ownership, and auction to the public all weapons confiscated by the state.

Good ideas all, but I have just one question:

Forget Venezuela, why can’t we have these reforms here?

An actual photo of Venezuela’s economy.

Venezuela provides us with a vivid illustration of how socialist economics end, in practice, every time they’re tried.  (And, no, Sweden and the other Scandinavian nations are more statist than the U.S. in many ways, but they aren’t socialist.)

But it’s illustrative to look at that list and see how many items, from one to seven, that we currently do not enjoy in the U.S. – supposedly a free nation; supposedly a nation where we value liberty and individual rights.

Could there be a dumpster fire in our future?

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

China, like their neighbor to the north, may be a dying giant.  Excerpt:

Ignore the laughable claim of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that China’s economy is still growing at 6.5 percent year over year. No one believes this, least of all that country’s increasingly embattled business owners.

They know from firsthand experience that China’s economy is not only in recession, but that it is contracting across all sectors, from manufacturing, to retail, to autos, to real estate. And they know the Communist Party, and not Donald Trump, is responsible.

Accurate data is hard to come by, of course, since the party blocks economic data that contradicts the officially rosy economic picture, which is to say almost all of it. But occasionally there is a crack in the Great Firewall and a sliver of truth escapes.

One such sliver was the remarkably courageous presentation of Professor Xiang Songzuo at the Renmin University School of Finance on Dec. 15. Not mincing words, he kicked off his talk with the question: “Just how bad are things?”

He answered his own question by citing an “internal report completed yesterday” — which I strongly suspect was his own — that produced two estimates of China’s real GDP growth using the NBS’s own data. The first set of assumptions produced an estimated annual growth rate of 1.67 percent. This figure, though positive, is low enough to suggest that China has fallen into recession over the past two quarters.

As far as the second estimate of year-over-year growth was concerned, Xiang would only say it was “negative.”

Here’s a shocker:  Communists lie.

To be fair, trying to find something positive to spin about communism is being handed a shit sandwich of the first order.  And one would think that Beijing could learn something from Hong Kong, the former British protectorate that they took in and which (due to being exempted from much of the enterprise-killing policies of the rest of China) is one of the few bright spots in their economy.

To the extent that China prospers today is precisely the extent to which they have embraced some aspects of a market economy.  If they want to turn things around, they should fully embrace a free-market system.

But communists aren’t known for admitting their system is a total shitshow.  That kind of change rarely comes peacefully.

 

Rule Five Shutdown “Crisis” Friday

National treasure John Stossel has some thoughts on the shutdown.  Excerpt:

This government shutdown is now longer than any in history. The media keep using the word “crisis.”

“Shutdown sows chaos, confusion and anxiety!” says The Washington Post. “Pain spreads widely.”

The New York Times headlined, it’s all “just too much!”

But wait. Looking around America, I see people going about their business — families eating in restaurants, employees going to work, children playing in playgrounds, etc. I have to ask: Where’s the crisis?

Pundits talk as if government is the most important part of America, but it isn’t.

We need some government, limited government. But most of life, the best of life, goes on without government, many of the best parts in spite of government.

Of course, the shutdown is a big deal to the 800,000 people who aren’t being paid. But they will get paid. Government workers always do — after shutdowns.

Columnist Paul Krugman calls this shutdown, “Trump’s big libertarian experiment.” But it’s not libertarian. Government’s excessive rules are still in effect, and eventually government workers will be paid for not working. That makes this a most un-libertarian experiment.

Here’s the kicker:

The Washington Post ran a front-page headline about farmers “reeling… because they aren’t receiving government support checks.”

But why do farmers even get “support checks”?

One justification is “saving family farms.” But the money goes to big farms.

Government doesn’t need to “guarantee the food supply,” another justification for subsidies. Most fruit and vegetable farmers get no subsidies, yet there are no shortages of peaches, plums, green beans, etc.

Disclaimer:  I come from a long line of farmers, on both sides of my family.  Both of my grandfathers farmed.  My Dad farmed for much of his life.  But there is a distinct tendency these days to treat “the family farm” as though it’s some holy calling.  It’s not.  It’s a business, like any other, and when new business models prove more efficient, old ones die out – and should be allowed to die out.

Speaking of dying out, is anyone in the Imperial City taking a good look at these “defunded” agencies that we seem to be doing quite well without?  There’s an opportunity here that nobody seems to be – heh – capitalizing on.  News stories on the fake crisis of the “shutdown” bemoan the “non-essential” government employees that have been furloughed.

Okay.  If they’re non-essential, then why the hell are we paying them with taxpayer dollars?

Barry Goldwater had it right when he said “I have no interest in making government more efficient, for I mean to make it smaller.”  But the two are not only not contradictory, they may actually be complimentary.  But I’ll settle for smaller, less intrusive government.  By hook or by crook.

We are seeing just a little bit of that right now.  More, I say!

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links – and check out my latest part in the “History of The Six-Gun” over at Glibertarians!  In fact, you should check the link to the right to read all my Glibertarians articles.

Meanwhile, California’s descent into lunacy continues apace.  Excerpt:

This is the state that told McDonalds they could no longer give away Happy Meal toys, all because a politician said it was hard for him to tell his children “No” as they drove by the Arches. (McDonalds instead charges for the toys, and they actually move MORE of them, while turning a larger profit as a result.) This is the state that recently criminalized restaurants serving drinks with plastic straws.

Now the next micro-managed policy is being forwarded. An assemblyman by the name of Phil Ting has latched on to the next big crisis to rock the Golden State, and we thank the stars he is there for the goodness of the residents.

All the elements are in place, from the fact-challenged statistics to the catchy rhyming hashtag!

And please, enough cannot be said about the shaming of the intern by posing on a stool as an anthropomorphic CVS receipt!

I have to agree on the mental and emotional abuse of the intern; that poor schmuck looks absolutely mortified.  And California residents will also feel mortified if this crap becomes law, another useless, feel-good measure intruding on how businesses conduct their affairs.  This will cost businesses more money to transition, once again jacking up the prices of consumer goods in the Golden Loony State, and making it harder on the margins for small businesses to compete.

Why the hell does anyone even attempt to do business in Californey any more, anyway?

Rule Five Socialist Sweden Friday

OK, so the title is a bit misleading, as national treasure John Stossel explains to us that Sweden is not a socialist country, and that proponents of socialism should stop pointing it out as an example.  Excerpt:

For years, I’ve heard American leftists say Sweden is proof that socialism works, that it doesn’t have to turn out as badly as the Soviet Union or Cuba or Venezuela did.

But that’s not what Swedish historian Johan Norberg says in a new documentary and Stossel TV video.

“Sweden is not socialist — because the government doesn’t own the means of production. To see that, you have to go to Venezuela or Cuba or North Korea,” says Norberg.

“We did have a period in the 1970s and 1980s when we had something that resembled socialism: a big government that taxed and spent heavily. And that’s the period in Swedish history when our economy was going south.”

Per capita GDP fell. Sweden’s growth fell behind other countries. Inflation increased.

Even socialistic Swedes complained about the high taxes.

Astrid Lindgren, author of the popular Pippi Longstocking children’s books, discovered that she was losing money by being popular. She had to pay a tax of 102 percent on any new book she sold.

“She wrote this angry essay about a witch who was mean and vicious — but not as vicious as the Swedish tax authorities,” says Norberg.

Sweden’s regulations on business are much less onerous than those in the United States, even after a round or two of Trump-era deregulating.  Their schools, pension programs and mass-transit systems have been privatized.  They do run a substantial welfare state, but they are able to do so because of their free market policies, not because of socialist ones.

Words mean things.  Here’s what “Socialist” means:

1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods

2a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property

b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state

3 : a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

None of those apply to Sweden; they do apply to Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea.  They applied to the old Soviet Union and to East Germany.  Now take a look at the standard of living in those places.

People who want to apply socialist policies to the United States are advocating for economic ruin, whether they realize it or not.

Here’s an extended lesson on why socialism always fails:

At the moment aspects of the U.S. economy are being dragged in the direction of socialism; you have, even in the halls of Congress, nitwits like the soon-to-be-seated Ocasio-Cortez advocating for “democratic socialism,” which is a contradiction in terms; you can’t have government control of an economy and any level of citizen control over government at the same time.

It would be damned nice if our elected leaders employees had the same level of economic understanding as Mr. Stossel.

 

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Boxing Day!

Will California be the next Detroit?  Sure seems possible.  Excerpt:

California has a $16 billion deficit that no one seems to notice. Brown’s budget “assumes” that California voters will pass massive tax increases on themselves. If they do not, the 2013 deficit becomes a mind-numbing $20 billion. The budget, mandated to balance by the Calfornia Constitution, has been billions in the red for 10 straight years. How could Californians re-elect the same politicians year after year that produce budgets with multi-billion dollar deficits?

To protect the endangered Delta Smelt, a fish known better as bait, water has been diverted from the Central Valley to the Pacific Ocean. Orchards in the Central Valley have been allowed to wither and die, resulting in unemployment in the Central Valley as high as 40 percent. Imagine Californians living in what was the breadbasket of American now living on food stamps. California voters rejected Republican Carly Fiorina for U.S. Senator in 2010. She ran Hewlett Packard. Instead, they re-elected Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer ,who vowed to protect the Delta Smelt at the expense of the Central Valley.

California has 519 state agencies, like the state Blueberry Commission, that pay each of their commissioners more than $100,000 per year. State politicians, when asked to make cuts, fire teachers and fire fighters to inflict maximum pain on its citizens, while leaving these patronage commissions intact. State politicians have elevator operators in the state capital to push the buttons for them. Their solution for the overcrowding of the state’s prisons is to release inmates or transfer them to local facilities in already bankrupt cities. Yet, they are re-elected by California voters in numbers consistently higher than the old Soviet Politburo.

California’s public education system, once the envy of the world, now ranks 49th in the nation. Its business climate, according to 650 CEOs measured by Chief Executive Magazine, ranked dead last. Apple will take 3,600 new jobs to Austin, Tex. at its $280,000,000 new facility. Texas ranked first in the same survey.

Californey seems to be prone to a unique lunacy.  the once-and-former Golden State has plenty to offer; beautiful scenery, gorgeous weather, generally just a salubrious place to live.  But the tendency of California voters to keep putting the same lunatics back in charge of the asylum is troubling.

And the residents of that asylum will be calling on the Imperial government for help when the inevitable crash occurs.

The correct response from the Imperial City, of course, would be “you assholes made your bed – now go lie in it.”  But that probably won’t happen; whoever sits in the Imperial Mansion when that day comes will probably continue to enable the asylum’s behavior by making some nebulous claim as to how the entire nation’s economy depends on propping California up, and funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to the Left Coast.

And things will just keep going on the same old way.  California’s not too big to fail.  The rest of the country should let it.  There’s an object lesson in there for the other forty-nine states.

Rule Five Mexican Standoff Friday

It’s not enough that we serve as a relief valve for Mexico and Central America; we also apparently have to pay them for the privilege.  Excerpt, with my comments:

The United States pledged $5.8 billion in aid and investment Tuesday for strengthening government and economic development in Central America, and another $4.8 billion in development aid for southern Mexico.

But we’ve been throwing billions in U.S. taxpayer dollars down this particular rathole for generations now, to no tangible result.  Remember the old line about the definition of insanity?

The U.S aid aims to promote better security conditions and job opportunities as part of a regional plan to allow Central Americans and Mexicans to remain in their countries and not have to emigrate.

That’s our fervent wish as well.  Of course, it would help if they came legally.

The plan was announced in a joint U.S.-Mexican statement released by the State Department and read aloud by Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard in the Mexican capital.

“In sum I think this is good news, very good news for Mexico,” Ebrard said.

Of course it’s good news for Mexico!  Billions in free money!  Most of this, mind you, will wind up in the pockets of the many levels of Mexico’s deeply and fundamentally corrupt government, just like in generations past.

Newly inaugurated President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador waxed poetic about the plan to provide jobs so people won’t have to emigrate.

“I have a dream that I want to see become a reality … that nobody will want to go work in the United States anymore,” Lopez Obrador said at a morning news conference before the announcement.

Yes, plenty of Americans have that dream as well, although, again, our issue with your folks would be less adversarial if they came legally.

But here’s the real kicker, at the end of the story:

Ebrard had previously suggested that about $25 billion in U.S. investment would be an appropriate figure for what Mexicans and Central Americans have dubbed “The Alliance for Prosperity” in the region.

Because you can never pour too much of the U.S. Treasury – that is to say, yours and my money – into corrupt Third World shitholes.

I seem to remember at one point President Trump talked about re-examining this practice of pouring U.S. tax dollars into unproductive countries.  He hasn’t said anything about that for some time, unless I’ve missed something.  It would be nice if someone in the Imperial City would at least talk about this waste of our money.

Animal’s Daily Venezuela News

Former Venezuelan Andres Malave has a message for those who advocate socialism:  Let them come to Venezuela.  Excerpt:

Venezuela was once the most prosperous country in Latin America, but today almost 90% of its population lives in poverty. Venezuela’s economy is in shambles. Recently, Venezuela’s own government released a report showing that its annual inflation rate accelerated to a whopping 833,000% in October alone.

In practical terms, Venezuela’s misery means that it is not uncommon to see children rummaging through the garbage for food. And as basic medical supplies and medicine run dangerously low, newborns and the elderly die unattended in Venezuelan hospitals.

These heartbreaking scenes are difficult for anyone to bear, but for me, it’s personal.  I know many Venezuelans who held out hope that this “21st Century” form of socialism would turn out better than the 20th century version, but their dreams were quickly dashed.

Chavez may have died in 2013, but his ideas live on through his hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro. Today, Maduro rules Venezuela with an iron grip, fighting the growing opposition as more and more Venezuelans are realizing that Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was right when she said the trouble with socialist governments is that they eventually “run out of other people’s money.”

Scores of people who dared to speak up against the government have been killed or imprisoned. Political dissidents have been subjected to brutality, torture, and constant persecution.

Feature, not bug.

Plenty of those on the political Left here will claim that this isn’t “real” socialism, that socialism will work if we only put the right Top Men in charge.  You need only look to the daffy old Socialist from Vermont, with his seven-figure net worth and three spacious estates, to see what political leaders look like under the supposed egalitarian vision of socialism.

Out on a limb.

Because socialism always ends up this way.  Every.  Single.  Time.  Folks like to point to the heavily-socialized Scandinavian nations as an example of “…see, socialism can work,” without mentioning that those nations’ economies are propped up by extraction revenues and, further, that their corporate taxation and regulation policies don’t much resemble socialism in the least.  And, yet, even with those things in place, their native populations are cratering, with only massive Third World immigration keeping them active.

But the argument that gets left on the table is this:  Socialism is incompatible with liberty.  That alone is reason enough to oppose it.