Tag Archives: Intentions

Has Obama succeeded in spreading the wealth around?

Obama Economic Record November 2011
Obama Economic Record November 2011

From Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

According to an IBD review of various economic data, while corporations and Wall Street investors have made significant gains under Obama’s economic leadership, average Americans have seen their fortunes steadily decline.

Since the start of the Obama administration, corporate profits have climbed 68% (about 59% after inflation), and are now 19% above their pre-recession peak, according to the latest Commerce Department data out Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, companies are sitting on a pile of cash that’s grown 38% from Q1 2009 to Q2 2011, according to the Federal Reserve’s quarterly “Flow of Funds” report.

And since Obama’s inauguration, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed 45%.

However, these solid gains haven’t translated into prosperity down the economic ladder.

Since Obama took office, median weekly earnings have dropped almost 5% after inflation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Home prices are below their January 2009 levels; unemployment is higher, as is the inflation rate. Gas prices alone have more than doubled since January 2009.

[…]Household income: Since the recovery started, household income has fallen 6.7%, according to a study by former Census Bureau officials. That’s a bigger decline than during the 18-month recession, when income fell 3.2%.

Jobs: Despite job growth since the recession ended, there are still 1.4 million fewer private sector jobs today than when Obama was sworn in, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the pace of growth — 1.6 million new jobs over the past two years — is far below what’s needed just to keep up with growth in the labor force.

Income inequality: After remaining essentially flat under President Bush, the gap between rich and poor has climbed in each of Obama’s first two years, according to the Census Bureau.

Consumer confidence: The Consumer Confidence Index dropped to 39.8 in October, down almost 10 points from when the recession ended, and almost right where it stood when Obama took office.

Misery Index: This index, which combines the unemployment rate with the inflation rate and is meant as a proxy of middle class pain, is 60% higher than when Obama took office, and it’s at a level not seen since mid-1983.

Home prices: The median price for existing home sales has dropped 4.6% since January 2009, according to monthly National Association of Realtors data. And the number of underwater mortgages is up, according to Core Logic.

Union membership: The share of private sector workers who belong to a union fell to 6.9% in 2010, compared with 7.6% the year before Obama took office, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The article explains why Obama’s rhetoric differs from reality – it turns out that the very policies he enacted created the poverty he claims he was going to reduce. Because he’s not an economist. He’s trying to do things that sound good so that people will like him. But those things don’t work.

Is Obama smart? How can we measure his intelligence?

Here’s a very interesting assessment of Barack Obama’s intelligence from the Wall Street Journal. (H/T Melissa)

Excerpt:

When it comes to piloting, Barack Obama seems to think he’s the political equivalent of Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Yeager and—in a “Fly Me to the Moon” sort of way—Nat King Cole rolled into one. “I think I’m a better speech writer than my speech writers,” he reportedly told an aide in 2008. “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m . . . a better political director than my political director.”

On another occasion—at the 2004 Democratic convention—Mr. Obama explained to a Chicago Tribune reporter that “I’m LeBron, baby. I can play at this level. I got game.”

[…]Then there is Mr. Obama as political tactician. He makes predictions that prove false. He makes promises he cannot honor. He raises expectations he cannot meet. He reneges on commitments made in private. He surrenders positions staked in public. He is absent from issues in which he has a duty to be involved. He is overbearing when he ought to be absent. At the height of the financial panic of 1907, Teddy Roosevelt, who had done much to bring the panic about by inveighing against big business, at least had the good sense to stick to his bear hunt and let J.P. Morgan sort things out. Not so this president, who puts a new twist on an old put-down: Every time he opens his mouth, he subtracts from the sum total of financial capital.

Then there’s his habit of never trimming his sails, much less tacking to the prevailing wind. When Bill Clinton got hammered on health care, he reverted to centrist course and passed welfare reform. When it looked like the Iraq war was going to be lost, George Bush fired Don Rumsfeld and ordered the surge.

Mr. Obama, by contrast, appears to consider himself immune from error. Perhaps this explains why he has now doubled down on Heckuva Job Geithner. It also explains his insulting and politically inept habit of suggesting—whether the issue is health care, or Arab-Israeli peace, or change we can believe in at some point in God’s good time—that the fault always lies in the failure of his audiences to listen attentively. It doesn’t. In politics, a failure of communication is always the fault of the communicator.

Much of the media has spent the past decade obsessing about the malapropisms of George W. Bush, the ignorance of Sarah Palin, and perhaps soon the stupidity of Rick Perry. Nothing is so typical of middling minds than to harp on the intellectual deficiencies of the slightly less smart and considerably more successful.

Obviously, you can’t really measure a person’s intelligence using their statements about their own intelligence in speeches read from a teleprompter. And it’s hard to assess the intelligence of someone who refuses to release any of his university transcripts. The WSJ article is right to imply that a more important way to measure intelligence is by measuring success. And we certainly are capable of looking at raw numbers to measure Obama’s success – like the unemployment rate:

The Five Worst Job Creation Presidents
The Five Worst Job Creation Presidents

And the budget deficit:

Obama Budget Deficit 2011
Obama Budget Deficit 2011

It’s pretty easy to assess someone’s intelligence from those two numbers alone. Obviously, none of these numbers are going to matter to people who get their news by watching Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Obama is the Comedy Channel president. If provoking laughter is your standard for measuring intelligence, then Obama is very smart indeed.

What are Obama’s smart policies?

Who voted for Obama?

I notice that some people in the mainstream media have begun to pick on Texas Governor Rick Perry. It turns out that Perry is also a dastardly Darwin-doubter. (H/T Mary) For the mainstream media, if you believe in traditional Christian views on theology and morality and free market capitalism, it doesn’t matter that you created more jobs than all the other states combined. You’re still “stupid” because you value prayer and doubt materialist explanations of the origins of life.

But the mainstream media thinks that secular leftists are smart regardless of practical measures like job creation. If you are a secular leftist, and you support abortion and same-sex marriage, and you spend 864 billion taxpayer dollars on things like building underground turtle tunnels, and you actually raise the unemployment rate instead of lowering it, then you are are “smart”. Understand?

So who is smart?

Thomas Sowell is smart in the traditional sense of understanding how things work in the real world.

Thomas Sowell is smart: he understands economics

If you want to understand the realities of economic policy, why not pick up some books by an actual economist?

Here are some of his books that I recommend:

Disclaimer: I have only read the first editions of Applied Economics, Economic Facts and Fallacies, A Conflict of Visions, and The Housing Boom and Bust. And I’ve only read the second edition of Basic Economics.

I have male and female friends who go through multiple Thomas Sowell books per month. It’s impossible to read just one. The first Thomas Sowell book you should read is Intellectuals and Society. That one is an introduction to his thought over a wide range of topics.

Sometimes good intentions meet unintended consequences

A funny video from those crazy libertarians. (H/T Ari)

We should avoid making decisions on the basis of wanting to feel good about ourselves, because it can harm the very people we say we want to help. The right thing to do is to consider the consequences for ALL parties involved in a policy.

How the irrational left prefers intentions over actual results

Post from Red State. (H/T Babalu Blog via ECM)

Excerpt:

A clunker that travels 12,000 miles a year at 15 mpg uses 800 gallons of gas a year.

A vehicle that travels 12,000 miles a year at 25 mpg uses 480 gallons a  year.

So, the average Cash for Clunkers transaction will reduce US gasoline consumption by 320 gallons per year.

They claim 700,000 vehicles, so that’s 224 million gallons saved per year.

That equates to a bit over 5 million barrels of oil.

Five million barrels is about 5 hours worth of US consumption.

More importantly, 5 million barrels of oil at $70 per barrel costs about $350 million dollars.

So, the government paid $3 billion of our tax dollars to save $350 million.

We spent $8.57 to for every dollar saved.

How good a deal was that ???

They’ll probably do a great job with health care though!!

But at least they’re nice people, and so generous with other people’s money.

An analysis of the Democrats socialist health care policies

I would summarize the ideals of Democrats (socialists) as follows:

  1. There are unequal life outcomes in society
  2. Those who have little wealth are the victims of those who produce wealth
  3. We (democrats) must transfer wealth until everyone’s life outcomes are equal, regardless of their life choices
  4. We (democrats) must use government coercion to achieve this equality
  5. Since we (democrats) are so morally superior, we are not obligated to transfer our own wealth to anyone

Consider health care. Some risky lifestyle choices are more likely to require more health care services. The socialist’s goal is to make sure that no one is deterred from making these risky choices. Those who do not engage in these risks must be forced to pay for the health care of those who do choose to take on these risks. That way, everyone is equal in the end.

The way this is done is to make sure that people who don’t engage in risky behaviors cannot pay less for their health care than those who do engage in risky behaviors. Let me explain.

Suppose a safe person S knows that he only needs coverage for catastrophic care, since his lifestyle choices eliminate the need for elective treatments like abortions, birth control, STD medications, sex changes and drug addiction treatments. He can be covered for a very low premium.

Consider another irresponsible, risky person R who is engaged in all kinds of risky behavior. He can be covered for all of the medical services for a very high premium. His own choices expose him to risks that will require more medical services.

Democrats (socialists), solve this problem by forcing S to pay for mandatory health care with a very high premium that covers services he will never use. That way, he is really paying for his own health care, and R’s health care, too.

Take a look at this article I found on Health Care BS. In the article, they cite Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute, who analyzes the health care policies that may be included in the Democrats’ health care reform bill.

This is the one I want to draw your attention to, because this is what single-payer countries like Canada have that causes them so many problems:

An Individual Mandate. Every American will be required to buy an insurance policy that meets certain government requirements.  Even individuals who are currently insured — and happy with their insurance — will have to switch to insurance that meets the government’s definition of acceptable insurance, even if that insurance is more expensive or contains benefits that they do not want or need.

And here is another one that will force employers to lay off American workers because employers have to pay more for the same productivity.

An Employer Mandate. At a time of rising unemployment, the government will raise the cost of hiring workers by requiring all employers to provide health insurance to their workers or pay a fee (tax) to subsidize government coverage.

Yes, that’s right. Socialism attacks businesses. Attacking businesses causes unemployment.

And there’s more:

A Government-Run Plan, competing with private insurance.  Because such a plan is subsidized by taxpayers, it will have an unfair advantage, allowing it to squeeze out private insurance.  In addition, because government insurance plans traditionally under-reimburse providers, such costs are shifted to private insurance plans, driving up their premiums and making them even less competitive. The actuarial firm Lewin Associates estimates that, depending on how premiums, benefits, reimbursement rates, and subsidies were structured, as many as 118.5 million would shift from private to public coverage.   That would mean a nearly 60 percent reduction in the number of Americans with private insurance.  It is unlikely that any significant private insurance market could continue to exist under such circumstances, putting us on the road to a single-payer system.

When government controls your health care, you pay them at gunpoint and when you want care you get in line behind people who paid nothing into the system. That is socialized medicine, the dream of all Democratic socialists.

And there’s also redistribution of wealth:

Massive New Subsidies. This includes not just subsidies to help low-income people buy insurance, but expansions of government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare.

And remember what I said about the government needing to reducing costs when demand skyrockets for “free” care?

Government Playing Doctor.   Democrats agree that one goal of their reform plan is to push for “less use of aggressive treatments that raise costs but do not result in better outcomes.”  While no mechanism has yet been spelled out, it seems likely that the plan will use government-sponsored comparative effectiveness research to impose cost-effectiveness guidelines on medical care, initially in government programs, but eventually extending such restrictions to private insurance.

This is all caused by the good intentions of people who have no knowledge of economics, whatsoever. And it is important to note that it is this kind of naive, incompetent meddling in the free-market that leads to poverty and the loss of all of our liberties.

Further study

Here are some previous links that are relevant: