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Rule Five Friday

2015_05_01_Rule Five Friday (1)Not like this should be a surprise to anyone who has followed economic policy for the last 35 years, but here it is anyway:  Obama vs. Reagan on GDP Growth – Not Even Close.  Excerpt:

Ronald Reagan’s economic plan saw GDP surge at a 3.5% clip – 4.9% after the recession. That’s a 32% bump.

During the Obama years, thanks to his big government policies, the US economy has stalled. Today the quarterly GDP was announced. The GDP for the first quarter of 2015 braked more sharply than expected at only a .2% pace. The US economy has grown an anemic 9.6% during the Obama years (excluding today’s dismal number).

Of course, Obama’s record on job growth is also much worse than President Reagan’s record.

2015_05_01_Rule Five Friday (2)Net job growth has declined under Obama. By the end of the second year of their terms as president, economic growth under Reagan averaged 7.1% , under Obama an anemic 2.8%. (IJ Review)

And today, more than five years into the tepid recovery, labor-force participation remains at its lowest level since 1978 during the Carter years.

More from Forbes:

Let’s look at some numbers. President Reagan entered office in a period of high inflation which was stamped out by high interest rates that in turn led to the 1982 recession. His job-creation record after that may fairly be termed outstanding: nearly 20 million more Americans were employed when he left office than when the recession ended. Overall, including the recession on his watch, Reagan’s net job growth over eight years was 16.1 million.

2015_05_01_Rule Five Friday (3)Barack Obama entered office in different circumstances: He inherited a recession that was already well underway, which ended much earlier in his presidency than did the Reagan recession. If you think of the economic cycle like a bouncing ball, Obama entered office just as the ball was about to strike the pavement. The bounce, though, has proceeded in agonizingly slow motion. Some eight million jobs have been created under Obama since the mid-2009 end of the recession, with a net gain of about five million. Charting Obama and Reagan’s job-creation against overall U.S. population increases makes the picture look even worse for Obama, and the Reagan-era U.S. had a much smaller population. At any rate, more people have been added to the food-stamp rolls than the job rolls under Obama.

It’s misleading to compare employment rates during the two presidencies. 2015_05_01_Rule Five Friday (4)Imagine 90 out of 100 people are employed, and because the economy looks like it’s picking up more steam 10 more people enter the workforce. If nine out of ten of them find jobs, the unemployment rate doesn’t go down at all, yet ten percent more people are employed.

So what’s the chief difference between these two completely different takes on economic policy?

There’s one key difference:  Incentives.  President Reagan pushed policies that encouraged growth; they encouraged investment, small business, they rewarded success – at least to the extent that the Democratic Congress of those years (and mind you, the Democrat party has moved a ways to the left since the 1980s) allowed.

President Obama’s policies – at least to the extent that the rather squishy GOP Congress is allowing – punish success and reward failure.

2015_05_01_Rule Five Friday (5)It’s a truism in economics that you get more of what you reward, and less of what you punish.    Barack Obama’s economic policy can be boiled down to “you can’t make it without the Imperial Federal government.  We’ll give you handouts.  We’ll give you preferences.  We’ll give, give, give, and someone else will pay.”

Economic policy should be:  “You can do this yourself.  We’ll show you how.”

At present nobody much in the Imperial City is talking like this.  Why not?

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Rule Five Friday

2015_04_24_Rule Five Friday (1)This is a good idea.  Excerpt:

As the economy improves, should states continue waivers that were enacted during the recession to allow healthy adults who are not working to get food stamps longer than the law’s time limit? Maine is one of the states that say no.

Last year, the administration of Gov. Paul R. LePage, a Republican, decided to reimpose a three-month limit (out of every three-year period) on food stamps for a group often known as Abawds — able-bodied adults without minor dependents — unless they work 20 hours per week, take state job-training courses or volunteer for about six hours per week. 2015_04_24_Rule Five Friday (1)Maine, like other states, makes some exceptions.

“You’ve got to incentivize employment, create goals and create time limits on these welfare programs,” said Mary Mayhew, the commissioner of health and human services in Maine. She said the measure was in line with Mr. LePage’s efforts to reform welfare.

The number of Abawds receiving food stamps in Maine has dropped nearly 80 percent since the rule kicked in, to 2,530 from about 12,000. This time limit is an old one, written into the 1996 federal welfare law. But, during the recession, most states took advantage of a provision that allows them to waive it when unemployment is persistently high, which meant poor adults could stay on the program regardless of their work status.

2015_04_24_Rule Five Friday (2)Of course this is a good idea!

Welfare benefits must not come with no strings attached.  There is no good reason why able-bodied recipients should not repay the taxpayers’ generosity with work.  There are plenty of streets that need sweeping, and a dozen men with picks and shovels could do the work that would ordinarily cost the state the price of a backhoe and operator.

This should be reasonable, mind; there is the old apocryphal story of Milton Friedman in Europe, when observing a gang of men digging a trench with shovels, commenting that “in America they would have a machine doing that work.”  His guide replied that this was a government make-work project, and that the manual work with shovels would employ more men.

2015_04_24_Rule Five Friday (3)“Then you should take away the shovels,” Friedman replied, “and give them spoons.”

That’s beyond what should be done, but public works could always use some help.  Picking up litter in parks, sweeping sidewalks, raking leaves, mowing grass – there’s any amount of unskilled work that welfare recipients could perform.  And if they have any skills, they would be even more useful – filing, data entry, clerical work – that could even lead to permanent employment.

The moral principle is simple:  The taxpayers have every right to expect some value in return for the money spent on welfare 2015_04_24_Rule Five Friday (4)payments.

From the Manifesto:

It is not the proper role of government to shield people from the consequences of their bad decisions.   There will always be a need for a modern, prosperous society to care for the truly helpless, such as people disabled through no fault of their own, children with no adults to care for them, and so forth.  But the lazy, the indigent, the irresponsible – they have no moral claim on the fruits of the labor of the industrious.  Government, and only government, has the power to tax – to claim a portion of your resources with force of law, with the implied threat of armed force if you try to abstain.  In our age of ever-increasing welfare entitlements, that government has claimed a portion of every taxpayer’s proceeds toward just such a shield – requiring the industrious to toil longer and harder to support the indigent.

But if we are to continue to pay out for people’s poor decisions, or to be fair, the occasional bit of bad luck – by all means, let’s get something in return.  There is no good argument against this policy.

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Rule Five Friday

2015_04_17_Rule Five Friday (1)Her Majesty Hillary the First’s initial Iowa campaign appearance, during which the media shamelessly made fools of themselves, was all staged.  Who didn’t see that coming?  Excerpt:

Hillary Clinton’s astroturf candidacy is in full swing in Iowa.

Her Tuesday morning visit to a coffee shop in LeClaire, Iowa was staged from beginning to end, according to Austin Bird, one of the men pictured sitting at the table with Mrs. Clinton.

2015_04_17_Rule Five Friday (2)Bird told Daily Mail Online that campaign staffer Troy Price called and asked him and two other young people to meet him Tuesday morning at a restaurant in Davenport, a nearby city.

Price then drove them to the coffee house to meet Clinton after vetting them for about a half-hour.

The three got the lion’s share of Mrs. Clinton’s time and participated in what breathless news reports described as a ’roundtable’– the first of 2015_04_17_Rule Five Friday (3)many in her brief Iowa campaign swing.

Bird himself is a frequent participant in Iowa Democratic Party events. He interned with President Obama’s 2012 presidential re-election campaign, and was tapped to chauffeur Vice President Joe Biden in October 2014 when he visited Davenport.

‘What happened is, we were just asked to be there by Troy,’ Bird said Wednesday in a phone interview.

There is not, nor has there ever been, anything authentic about 2015_04_17_Rule Five Friday (4)Hillary Clinton.

Bear in mind  Her Highness’s campaign has been characterized as an “astroturf” candidacy in the linked article, which appears in that notorious right-wing rag, the U.K. Daily Mail.  Funny how clearly the Mail sees the truth of this from all the way over in Blighty, while the crowd of sycophantic reporters that was sucked into this “event” never had a clue.

But it won’t win Hillary Clinton the White House.

Already there is some unrest in the Democrat ranks over the apparent coronation of Hillary Clinton as their 2016 candidate.  Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has said – correctly – that the Presidency isn’t “some crown to be handed back and forth between two families,” and that’s a good point.  But more to the 2015_04_17_Rule Five Friday (5)point is this:  Hillary Clinton has no record of successful public works.

When she was the carpetbagger Senator from New York, she did not sponsor any significant legislation.  Her tenure as Secretary of State lurched from mistake to disaster to calamity, bookmarked by the failed Russian “reset” and ending with the murder of a U.S. Ambassador at Benghazi.  She is the last person the Democrats should be putting up as President.

But that’s not going to stop Her Highness from trying.

It’s going to be an interesting primary season.

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Rule Five Friday – Liberty and Property, Part Two

2015_04_10_Rule Five Friday (1)(Continued from yesterday.)

In a society that prizes liberty and property above all other things, what constitutes morality?

Liberty

In a moral society, any competent adult should be free to do as they please, with the only condition being that they cause no physical or financial harm to another.  The astute reader will be quick to note that I do not mention “emotional” harm, and that is with good reason; emotional harm cannot be quantified or even rigorously defined.  As an utter intangible, it cannot be used as a rational standard in any discussion of public policy.  The free person should be encouraged to avoid causing unnecessary emotional pain as a standard of everyday living, but the government cannot and should not be the arbitrator of behavior affecting such an ephemeral.

In a moral society, competent people are expected to support themselves.  A moral society must not force free persons to labor longer and harder for the benefit of others who can produce but do not.  Only government has the legal power to initiate force, and only 2015_04_10_Rule Five Friday (2)government has the power to confiscate a portion of a free person’s income and wealth.  (Yes, confiscate is the correct word; government compels taxation by the implied use of force.  If you doubt that, stop paying taxes, and see how long it is before agents of government, men with guns, come looking for you, to either force payment or fling you into jail.)  It is immoral for government to use that power to confiscate income and wealth for no better reason than redistributing it to the indigent – and it is perhaps the height of immorality for politicians to use that power to purchase votes, which is precisely how many political campaigns are run today.

In a moral society, the only acceptable form of financial interaction is free trade.  In free trade, persons exchanges value for value, voluntarily, with both parties realizing gain from the transaction.  This is how wealth grows in a society.  If a transaction is conducted by force, that is robbery.  If it is conducted by deceit, that is fraud.  Any instance of the two should be punished.  Other than that, markets, not government, must be the only arbiter of success in business.  Why?  Businesses can persuade the consumer, but only government can compel.  Since they have this power, government must not be allowed to prop up failing businesses or even failing 2015_04_10_Rule Five Friday (3)industries; government must not dispense favors in the form of subsidies to businesses or industries they favor, or slap regulations and conditions on businesses or industries they disfavor.  As there is a wall of separation between church and state, so should there be a wall of separation between the government and the free market.

In a moral society, no person should be compelled by threat of government force to engage in business or otherwise associate with persons they find morally objectionable.  This happens today and is all the more egregious because it is so unevenly applied; it is acceptable for college campuses to have dormitories restricted to one ethnic group, but it is not acceptable for a Christian baker to refuse to cater a gay wedding.  It is acceptable for a halal butcher to refuse to provide pork for sale, but it is not acceptable for a Jewish bookstore to decline to stock and sell Korans.  We are either a free people or we are not, and increasingly in matters of freedom of association, it has become clear that some people, some groups are far more free than others – and this is not indicative of a moral society.  If I were to open a restaurant, for example, I would refuse to serve patrons who refused to remove their headgear at the table, and that would be my choice – if I lost business because of it, on my head be it (pun not intended), but the choice – and the consequences thereof – must be 2015_04_10_Rule Five Friday (4)mine alone.  It is morally consistent, therefore, to assert the right of a businessperson to discriminate against patrons for any reason of their choosing, and in the next day to join the throngs of protestors that form in the street in front of his storefront to shut the bigoted son of a bitch down.

Property

In a moral society, the products of a free person’s labor belong to themselves first.  Government should only take what is strictly required for narrowly defined roles – such as national defense, border security, coining currency, dealing with foreign powers, and so on.  Note that all legitimate roles of government have one thing in common:  The protection of private property.  This completes the two essential elements of a free, moral society:   Liberty and property.

In a moral society, the free person has one right above all others:  The right to protect their own existence.  Your life is the most precious property you can ever possess, and so the rights associated with that life must be the ones we guard most jealously.  Liberty and 2015_04_10_Rule Five Friday (5)property are meaningless without life itself, and protection of life is a moral imperative.  That translates in modern terms to the right to self-defense and, by proxy, the defense of others.  We have militaries and police forces to aid in this moral imperative, but in the final analysis, it is the right and responsibility of all competent, free people to take responsibility for their own defense and the defense of their loved ones.  For this right to have any meaning, a free person must have access to a reasonable means of self-defense.  That means arms.  There is therefore a moral right to possess and bear arms outside the home for purposes of self-defense and for defense of the community, and that right, as stated in the Constitution, shall not be infringed.

Conclusion

Personally, I do not need a god to tell me these things; I find these facts to be self-evident.  I live by the moral standards I mention above, I advocate for those standards, and I think (I do not feel, I do not believe, I think) that these standards apply to us due to our existence as moral, thinking beings.

Unfortunately, it is in the nature of government to grow ever more restrictive, ever more intrusive and ever more dominating.  It is also in the nature of government to reduce liberty, and in so doing to become ever less tolerant of individual moral decisions.  That is the pass at which we find ourselves today, and if you are a student of history, an examination of other societies at similar times does not give one much cause for optimism.

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