The New Demagogues

Have you ever come across people who trumpet statistics saying that Jews have a disproportionate share of the wealth? Those statistics may be right, but usually the person spouting them is prejudiced against Jews.

What they do is tout certain statistics without providing the right context or explanation, such as the fact that Jewish parents really emphasize education more so than people of other religions, resulting in their children having higher incomes when they become adults. They should be admired, not vilified. It’s a similar situation with Asian-Americans.

Now, media outlets, as well as President Obama and many others, are trumpeting statistics showing that in recent decades, the top 1 percent’s income has risen much faster than that of the other 99 percent.

To tout statistics like this without providing the right context is like anti-Semitic people touting statistics showing that Jews have a disproportionate share of the wealth. The people in the media and the President are prejudiced against the rich.

Just as the demagogues of old whipped up envy, prejudice, and hate against the Jews, President Obama and his enablers are doing the same against the rich.

(For context regarding the top 1 percent statistics, click here.)

 

Predictions: Did it Happen?

Jump back three years ago, October 8, 2008, on the eve of Barack Obama’s election to president. An article in the American Spectator by Peter Ferrara reviewed a newly released book by Steve Moore, Art Laffer and Peter Tanous, titled The End of Prosperity.

Writes Ferrara,

The book explains in full detail the economic disaster that will befall America if it takes a sharp left turn to neo-socialism under the leadership of the far left President Barack Obama, the ultraleft Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid with 60 liberal Democrat Senators, and their pal the ultraliberal Howard Dean heading the Democrat party.

He continues,

One of the insights of the book is that a major factor already tanking the stock market and leading foreign capital to flee America is the threat of the economic policies promised by Obama. Obama proposes increases in every major federal tax, on savers, investors, employers, small business, big business, and anyone who would start a business. Obama also promises to add additional federal spending of almost $1.5 trillion over the next four years ….That would be on top of all the spending increases already scheduled for our exploding entitlements and other programs. Obama also promises a massive increase in regulatory controls….These retrograde economic would ultimately produce a deep, long term decline in America’s standard of living, particularly for the middle class and working people. America would actually fall behind countries around the world.

Ferrara indicated that what happened under President Carter was a precursor to what was to happen under Obama:

The poverty rate actually started increasing in 1978 during the Carter years, eventually climbing by an astounding 33%, from 11.4% to 15.2%. A fall in real median family income that began in 1978 snowballed to a decline of almost 10% by 1982. Average real family income for the lowest income 20% declined by 14.2%. Indeed, during the Carter years (1977 to 1980), real income declined for every quintile, from the lowest 20% to the highest 20%.

So, three years later, here in October 2011, were the predictions of Ferrara, Moore, Laffer, and Tanous correct?

If you were an Obama supporter, you would have laughed off their predictions as being absurd. But how wrong you would have been. Their predictions were excruciatingly on target. As discussed three posts below, the poverty rate is the highest it’s been since 1993. And average real family income has declined to levels not seen in 15 years.

Seems, though, that the authors were a bit off on their prediction that Obama would add additional federal spending of almost $1.5 trillion over the next four years. It turns out that Obama has added at least $3 trillion in additional federal spending in three years. (The amount by which our national debt has shot up during that time.)

Ferrara’s article was presciently titled: Prepare for the Worst.

The Obama-Pelosi-Reid episode is proof positive if you let big-government policies flourish, the consequences are tragic. We need new leadership. Fast.

Obama Nation: Lower Living Standards, Rising Poverty

The Dow ended down almost 400 points today. But that’s not the real measure of prosperity or how the U.S. economy is doing. The real measure is per-capita income – i.e. income per person or the quantity and quality of goods and services per person. That’s what separates us from third-world countries. Our per-capita income of course is a lot higher, and over the decades it has increased faster. It’s also what separates us from Europe. Western Europe’s average per-capita income is equivalent to that of our lowest-income state (Mississippi). Europe’s per-capita income used to be equal or higher than ours, 40 years ago. But their welfare state has taken its toll – slower economic growth over the decades since, which really adds up.

But the welfare state is really taking hold here in the U.S., especially under Obama who has raised government’s share of the GDP from about 20 percent to 25 percent, and who has added more to our national debt in two-and-a-half years than George Bush did in eight years (which was bad enough as it was).

And it shows: our per-capita income here in 2011 has fallen to 1996 levels. That’s scary – usually per-capita income rises over time. It may fall during recessions, but then during the rapid economic growth that usually follows recessions, per-capita income spikes up.

In this Obama economy, however, post-recession growth is anemic. It was less than 1 percent at last count, which is slower than population growth, meaning there are fewer and fewer goods and services per person. Normally after deep recessions, growth is in the neighborhood of 5 to 8 percent. But when it comes to the economy, Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing (assuming he genuinely wants to help the economy, in contrast to many hard leftists who want to see growth come to a halt).

What more evidence do we need to show that big government solutions don’t work? They only make our standard of living decline. The main driver of rising per-capita income isn’t government, but the people outside of government who are producing the goods and services. It’s government’s job to make sure there are good ground rules. But too often, they go overboard on the rules, and coerce too much out of the private sector.

Another frightening bit of news: the percentage of Americans living below the poverty level is the highest since 1993.

What more evidence to we need to show that poverty is alleviated by private-sector-driven economic growth, and not clumsy government programs? It’s the latter that exacerbate poverty.

If government programs were the main alleviators of poverty, then practically all third world countries would now be first world, given that most of them have socialist governments. But they’re third world precisely because of their bloated governments. It takes months or years to just get permission to open a business in many of those countries.

So poverty in America reaches an all-time high, even though Barack Obama was expected by the economically naive to bring it to an all-time low.

Hopefully the Obama experience will squeeze that naïveté out of some of them.

Yes, the main cause of poverty is a shortage of goods and services in society. That’s what separates us from a third world country like Haiti. Yet now, goods and services per person are decreasing. Of course we’ll never become like Haiti (except perhaps in certain pockets like Democrat-controlled inner cities), but our standard of living will be a lot lower than what it could have been, had we had fewer economically illiterate people running our country.

 

 

Folks, You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Gotta love this lampoon by Mark Steyn, ever the shrewd and incisive wit:

“This plant indirectly supports hundreds of other jobs right here in Toledo,” Obama told the workers at Chrysler. “After all, without you, who’d eat at Chet’s or Inky’s or Rudy’s? Manufacturers from Michigan to Massachusetts are looking for new engineers to build advanced batteries for American-made electric cars. And obviously, Chet’s and Inky’s and Zinger’s, they’ll all have your business for some time to come.”

A couple of days later, Chet’s announced it was closing after nine decades. “It was the economy and the smoking ban that hurt us more than anything,” said the owner.

Funny parody, eh?

Actually that’s what I thought at first. Steyn had to have been making that up.

But he wasn’t. It’s all true.

Can I Start the Job When My Unemployment Benefits Expire?

 

Yep, Obama’s economy is here. Employers are having difficulty hiring because people would rather stay on unemployment than work.

See this article. It’s stark evidence that the unemployment rate goes down when unemployment benefits run out.

Chris Pompeo, vice president of operations for Landscape America in Warren, said he has had about a dozen offers declined. One applicant, who had eight weeks to go until his state unemployment benefits ran out, asked for a deferred start date. “It’s like, you’ve got to be kidding me,” Pompeo said. “It’s frustrating. It’s honestly something I’ve never seen before.”

There are a lot of things we’ll start seeing that we’ve never seen before, now that Obama is here. And little of it’s good.

Obama and the leftist majorities in Congress keep passing extensions of unemployment benefits. Will they do so indefinitely? We seem to be getting the Euro-sclerosis-like structural unemployment where the unemployment rate is so high because government benefits are so lavish. (Note: the word “generous” is normally used there, but when you’re lavish with other people’s money, that’s not generosity. It’s only generous when you give away your own money.)

As in Europe, people choose to be a ward of the state rather than work.

For more on this, see the Nov. 9, 2009 entry below: “More Unemployment Benefits = More Unemployment”.

Gommygoomy Says it All

Today there’s a mea culpa column in the New York Post written by someone who, based on his article, seems fairly right-of-center, yet who voted for Obama and regrets it. I was fixin’ to write a comment to the article by Michael Goodwin, pointing out how in the heck could he ever have voted for Obama given that the latter’s leftist record was so plain to see, as I did vis-a-vis Clive Crook in this video.

But then I read one of the comments under the article, and knew right then that anything I write could never, ever even come close to topping what this guy had to say. Remember that ad where the guy takes one look at his cell phone bill and is blown out of his chair? Well in my imagination, that’s what happened to Michael Goodwin when he read that comment.

It was written by “gommygoomy” dated 12/20/2009, 9:04 am. Here are the relevant points:

See? … This is what happens when you IGNORE what you know to be true. Barak Obama was NOT a secret. He had a VOTING RECORD. He had a RESUME’. He had a HISTORY. “Men shall know you, by the company you keep.” Jeremiah Wright, for TWENTY YEARS! William Ayers and Bernadine Dorhn. John Marshel Davis. Louis Farakhan. Khaleed Rashidi. The Black Panthers. He ADMITTED who he was in his BOOKS. His life, running the streets of Chicago. TRAINING ACORN in the ways of SAUL ALINSKY. The most LIBERAL VOTING RECORD in the Senate. And now you’re SHOCKED, that there’s gambling taking place at the Casino.
What did you think was gonna happen.. . . Ever wonder how ROME fell? You’re looking at it. Obama is CALIGULA. He’s NERO. And he’s LENIN. And YOU put him there. IDIOT.

(Disclaimer: In the comment, Obama is equated with Lenin. For the record I disagree with that equation. Actually, gommygoomy likely was exaggerating. Nevertheless, to guard against the eventuality of someone evoking Alinsky’s Rule #12 on me, I am obliged to include this disclaimer. As far as equating Obama with Nero and Caligula, I have no opinion because my Roman history is quite rusty. Also, I don’t endorse name-calling, as in “IDIOT”.)

Deciding to Delay a Decision: A Show of Strong Leadership?

There’s the idolization of Barack Obama within the traditional media, and within the blogosphere as well. A good example of the latter is Andrew Sullivan. Recently he wrote one of the most extolatory pieces on a president I’ve ever come across – based on an action the president didn’t take!

It was titled “We Have a President”. A title like that implies that 10-odd months into his presidency, Barack Obama really has proved himself as president. The occasion? Obama’s decision not to decide yet on Afghanistan.

As of this writing Obama finally has decided to send 30,000 troops there, but in early November the president’s war council presented him with four options regarding Afghanistan. He initially turned down those options. That really impressed Sullivan, who wrote, “What strikes me about this is the enormous self-confidence this reveals. Here is a young president, prepared to allow himself to be portrayed as ‘weak’ or ‘dithering’ in the slow and meticulous arrival at public policy.” In fact, it’s “a kind of strength we haven’t seen in a president since Reagan.”

People like U.K. minister of defense Bob Ainsworth, who publicly criticized the president for his delays in deciding to send more troops, begged to differ. That Obama took such a long time to decide was a common refrain from many other quarters as well. And Tina Brown of the Daily Beast wrote, “he can’t adequately convey either the imperatives or the military strategy of the war in Afghanistan because he doesn’t really believe in it either.”

Sullivan’s contention that the president’s decision to delay his decision was a show of strong leadership is not convincing to say the least. Given Obama’s votes of “present” 129 times while a state senator, it instead seems like a manifestation of a propensity for indecision – i.e. weak leadership.

And Sullivan’s panegyric was way premature. One won’t know whether Obama’s decision to be “slow and meticulous” was meritorious until a few of years from now when we see what happens in Afghanistan.

Obama’s eventual decision, a month after being presented with the four options, to commit 30,000 additional troops was not that different from one of the options presented to him earlier: to send 34,000 troops.

And according to George Friedman of STRATFOR Global Intelligence, Obama’s 30,000 troops isn’t enough to defeat the Taliban, but rather to quell the Taliban long enough to train and turn over the fight to Afghan forces. And Friedman isn’t optimistic that that’s a viable strategy.

But only time will tell. In any event, few people other than Sullivan think that Obama’s long delays in deciding exhibits strong leadership.