Happy Days Are Here Again?

Tuesday, December 10, AD 2013





Michael Snyder at Zero Hedge has 37 reasons why the talk in portions of the mainstream media about an economic recovery is utter rubbish:


There has been absolutely no employment recovery.  The percentage of Americans that are actually working has stayed between 58 and 59 percent for 51 months in a row.  But most Americans don’t understand these things and they just take whatever the mainstream media tells them as the truth.

And of course the reality of the matter is that we should have seen some sort of an economic recovery by now.  Those running our system have literally been mortgaging the future in a desperate attempt to try to pump up our economic numbers.  The federal government has been on the greatest debt binge in U.S. history and the Federal Reserve has been printing money like crazed lunatics.  All of that “stimulus” should have had some positive short-term effects on the economy.

Sadly, all of those “emergency measures” do not appear to have done much at all.  The percentage of Americans that have a job has stayed remarkably flat since the end of 2009, median household income has fallen for five years in a row, and the rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row.  Anyone that claims that the U.S. economy is experiencing a “recovery” is simply not telling the truth.  The following are 37 reasons why “the economic recovery of 2013” is a giant lie…

#1 The only reason that the official unemployment rate has been declining over the past couple of years is that the federal government has been pretending that millions upon millions of unemployed Americans no longer want a job and have “left the labor force”.  As Zero Hedge recently demonstrated, if the labor force participation rate returned to the long-term average of 65.8 percent, the official unemployment rate in the United States would actually be 11.5 percent instead of 7 percent.

#2 The percentage of Americans that are actually working is much lower than it used to be.  In November 2000, 64.3 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  When Barack Obama first entered the White House, 60.6 percent of all working age Americans had a job.  Today, only 58.6 percent of all working age Americans have a job.  In fact, as you can see from the chart posted below, there has been absolutely no “employment recovery” since the depths of the last recession…

Employment-Population Ratio 2013

#3 The employment-population ratio has now been under 59 percent for 51 months in a row.

#4 There are 1,148,000 fewer Americans working today than there was in November 2006.  Meanwhile, our population has grown by more than 16 million people during that time frame.

#5 The “inactivity rate” for men in their prime working years (25 to 54) has just hit a brand new all-time record high.  Does this look like an “economic recovery” to you?…

Inactivity Rate Men

#6 The number of working age Americans without a job has increased by a total of 27 million since the year 2000.

#7 In November 2007, there were 121.9 million full-time workers in the United States.  Today, there are only 116.9 million full-time workers in the United States.

#8 Middle-wage jobs accounted for 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession, but they have accounted for only 22 percent of the jobs created since then.

#9 Only about 47 percent of all adults in America have a full-time job at this point.

#10 The ratio of wages to corporate profits in the United States just hit a brand new all-time low.

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10 Responses to Happy Days Are Here Again?

  • “Recession” and “Recovery” are states defined conventionally according to criteria stated by the National Bureau of Economic Research. It is not some media hoax or one cooked up by Obama and his camarilla. Production statistics turned positive in the Spring of 2009. We have a damaged labor market and the Democratic Party promotes policies which damage it further. That is a policy failure, not a feature of the business cycle.

  • Art, this is a miserable economy that the policies of the present administration has done everything in its power to make worse. The type of jobless rate we have is a factor of most entrepreneurs, being too terrified of the policies of this administration to risk the investment necessary for a true expansion of the economy that would bring the unemployment rate down, as happened routinely in prior real recoveries. In the so-called “jobless” Bush recovery post 9-11 the unemployment rate was between 5 percent and 4.5%, effectively full employment. The fact that we haven’t seen that type of recovery regarding employment I place completely at the feet of the current administration.

  • “Production statistics turned positive in the Spring of 2009.”

    Stats geek that I am, I am curious, “relative to what?”


  • WK Aiken, the salient metric is gross domestic product, which began to expand around about June of 2009.

    The fact that we haven’t seen that type of recovery regarding employment I place completely at the feet of the current administration.

    I would not credit them for anything, but, per Kenneth Rogoff, recovery from economic contractions brought about by financial crises are commonly slow. Also, labor markets do not in our era tend to aright themselves quickly even when liberalisation is pursued (the British labor market from 1983 to 2000 being an example).

    We are badly in need of measures which reduce the anxiety of employers about the future direction of public policy and labor costs. We also need federal spending and taxation realigned. We will never get jack out of the Democratic Party, of course.

  • Art.

    Got it. Thanks. Not out of the woods by any stretch and while that gang of self-important baboons with delusions of competence are still running things, nobody’s risking crap.

    Man, is the calendar slow these days or what?

  • Don, careful, you sound to me like you are expressing a crude and naïve trust in the importance of economic growth and the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.
    I was just at vatican.va to pick up the phrases I needed to rebuke Don with, and I ran across this gem in paragraph 59: “We are far from the so-called ‘end of history’, since the conditions for a sustainable and peaceful development have not yet been adequately articulated and realized.” Although Marx and Engels tried their best. It sounds like Pope Francis wants to take another bite at the apple.

  • this whole “scared to take risk” talking point is overly simplistic, recoveries have happened before after taxes have been raised (though not BECAUSE of it obviously)/not cut and new govt. programs were introduced. Crashes suck though, it’s true.

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  • Mass immigration has hampered any hope for a genuine economic recovery. We need to retain a jobs creation tempo of 250,000 a month for at least 12 years due to our explosive population growth. Halt mass immigration for two decades.

    And on the other hand, many of the jobs we create are part-time “service” jobs that don’t grow a competitive, entrepreneurial economy. Wal-Marts don’t make a country great. Return to manufacturing and selling.

The Reality Gap

Monday, October 1, AD 2012

We’ve reached the point in the election where the press decides to mostly report on how the election is being perceived rather than on any particular events, and since the president is doing well in the polls this results in a lot of “desperate Republicans do foolish things” stories. The flavor of the week seems to be the media’s discovery that somewhere out there in the right-leaning internet, there are people who have made a hobby of “re-weighting” polls in order to reflect what the re-weighters think is a more likely partisan composition of the electorate come election day.

There is, yes, a certain sad desperation about this. Now that election reporting is often more about “the race” than about issues or events, being behind in the race is crippling and so people come up with way to try to explain it away. Those with long memories (eight years counts as long in our modern age) may recall that when Bush was so rude as to be ahead of Kerry in the 2004 race, Michael Moore and those like-minded rolled out a theory that all the polls were wrong because an army of voters who only used cell phones and not land lines (and thus couldn’t be polled) were out there ready to vote against Bush.

However, just as everyone’s getting ready to announce that Republicans, in their constant flight from the “reality based community” have decided they don’t believe in polling, we find out that the left has its own reality problem: They’re convinced that the economy has been getting better over the last couple months, despite the fact there’s little reason to believe this. Gallup and the Pew Research Center both have data out showing that Democrats’ opinions of the economy and the job market have suddenly started improving, despite almost universally bad news over the last several months.

As you can see, partisan affiliation wasn’t much of a dividing factor in assessments of the economy a year ago, but now that a bad economy might mean President Obama not being re-elected, Democrats obediently come to the conclusion that the economy really isn’t that bad. According to Pew, the same divide now exists on the job market, consumer prices, the financial market, real estate, and even gas prices. You would think that at least people could agree on what the level of gas prices is, but no, apparently not, though the gap is narrower there than elsewhere: 89% of Republicans say they hear mostly bad news about gas prices while 65% of Democrats do.

The trope goes that you are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. However, as the political divide has become wider and more entrenched opposite sides increasingly do have their own facts, as reality become filtered through a partisan lens.

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8 Responses to The Reality Gap

  • The polls have tightened now that we are in October. In one day the poll average has fallen from 4.0 advantage Obama to 3.2 advantage Obama on the Real Clear Politics Average:


    This happens almost every presidential election cycle. A cynic might observe that the closer we get to election day the more that pollsters want their polls to be accurate.

    As for some of the wilder polls that we saw in September showing Democrat turnout in states highers than 2008, the best election for Democrats since 1964, Jay Cost explains why they were bogus:


  • As for the economy, it takes a special type of mindset to view it and not regard it as a disaster. I can barely understand someone thinking that Obama has done a bad job but Romney would do worse so they are sticking with Obama, but to deny the evidence before their eyes, what we have all been living through the past four years, is simply delusional.

  • Here are two answers to skewed polls: “Caller ID” and “voice mail.”

    About 91% (see Instapundit post) of us that have caller ID and see a number we don’t know let the call go to voice mail; the lying liberal poll organization hangs up; and we delete it. I let it happen about six times a day.

  • Certainly, I hope that Rasmussen has been more accurate overall than a lot of the one-off polls, and I can believe that polling is tricky because it’s likely to be a low turn out election where victory relies primarily on who shows up to vote — but I think the efforts to do amateur poll re-weighting based on party affiliation are, while well intentioned, kind of silly. Party identification is one of the things you seek to measure in the poll, not one of the things you should weight it by. If you get way too many people of one party, that may indicate your sample is bad. But polls should only be re-weighted to fit non-changing demographics (sex, income, age, race) not changing demographics like party identification.

    That said, I have a certain sympathy, at least, with the desire to fight the polls. Polling is necessarily imprecise and hard to understand, and it’s used far too often as a way to shape the vote. Insisting that the economy took a sudden turn for the better during the late summer, on the other hand, is fairly crazy.

  • Regarding the polls, I agree that Rasmussen is probably the best but even he is using a D+3 model which is why Obama is coming out on top in his calculations. Do people really believe that the democrats will have that much of an advantage on election day? Sorry – I’m not buying it. If Romney holds on to the independents, and the republican/conservative/libertarian/tea party people come out in big numbers and draw even with the democrats, which I think is very likely, than Romney wins. Better yet, if they match the 2010 election which was a R+1, then Romney wins comfortably. Even if you bring it down to a D+1, Romney still wins. Why don’t they start presenting polls that reflect this possibility? I would like the media to say: People, this is what we think will happen if the turnout is D+3, D+2, D+1, even, R+1, etc., etc. Some honesty from them would be refreshing.

  • I think what you neglect in all the controversy about polls is some problems with the sampling frames not as severe in previous years:

    1. Low response rates generally.

    2. Difficulties in contacting people who lack landlines.

    3. Variable methods among pollsters which produce divergent results (manifest now in a way it was not thirty years ago).

    4. Odd and novel biases in propensity to respond (manifested in exit polls eight years ago).

    And, yes, the curious partisan balance in some published polls is an indication there could be problems with the sampling method used. We are not going to find out how serious the problems have been for another month.

  • I wonder how much the local job market colors these responses, especially with various industries doing better/worse. Prior to leaving Seattle, things seemed ok (not great, not horrible) with regard to employment (aerospace was ramping up). Here in Waco, things seem better. Heck, we are having a hard time filling new positions at my current employer. On top of that, the local politics are very different too.

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Recession Here We Come

Thursday, September 27, AD 2012

26 Responses to Recession Here We Come

  • I know! Let’s print some more dollars and more and more,more,more,…..we will call it..Stupidulus!
    Yeah…that’s the ticket. Here’s your stimulus coming back at you Burn-naki.

  • When are people going to wake up that liberalism and socialist democracy don’t work?

  • PWP is absolutely correct.

    Everywhere they tried this crappola the same thing (economic ruin) occurred.

    Chavez rings in 2010 by state rationing of electricity.

    Chávez appears to have huge support from the poor: The Venezuelan poor seem to love Chávez’s nanny state, and his extremely succesful public relations gimmicks. Fidel Castro is Chávez mentor in many ways, and Castro’s pupil is exceeding his master. Sadly, as Revista Veja shows, things are a lot worse since Chávez took power:

    ——————————— -Before Chávez— Now
    People below poverty level——-43%————54%
    Income per capita—————-$4,650——–$4,190
    Number of industries————11,000———5,000
    Foreign investment————$2 billion——$1 billion
    Public debt——————$27.5 billion—$44.8 billion

    The (Nicaragua devolution into marxism) economic figures are depressing. From 1950-1975 under the dictator Somoza (whose departure was the one good thing the Sandinistas helped achieve) economic growth was the highest in Latin America: 6.8% per year. Per capita GNP in 1977, just before the Communists took over, was $2500 per person. In 1990, when the Sandinista regime fell, per capita GNP was $500 per person. That was the great achievement of liberation theology in Nicaragua.

    That is what liberation theology would have done to the rest of Latin America. That it couldn’t, that it was shut down, was the work of Joseph Ratzinger.

  • At http://www.kitco.com: Comex gold pops higher following fresh batch of weak US economic data. Thank you, Ben!!!

    Liberal Logic 101:

    Picture the Titanic. If the Captain had called for “full speed ahead” and rammed the iceberg a second time, not only would the ship not have sunk, it would have become more efficient and more luxurious!

    Geithner and the Bernank are stealing your savings as we click-clack.

  • The sad part is, this proves that liberal free market economics also does not work.

  • Absolutely not, Ted. It rather proves that corporate socialism which has dominated much of the 20th and this the beginning of the 21st century does not work. We have not had a truly free market economic system. rather, we have had a system over-regulated by the Federal Government which rewards businesses that it likes, and penalizes those which it doesn’t like. This is particularly true in e energy industry where coal and nuclear power plants are penalized, but useless solar and wind energy subsidized while natural gas reaps profit hand over fist. If the regulatory playing field were leveled, and fossil fuel, nuclear power, solar and wind generators were held to the same standards of cleanliness and emissions (yes, solar and wind pollute tons of heavy metals to the environment) without any government subsidy, nuclear would win hands down because one eraser sized pellet of uranium equals tons of coal and tens of thousands of cubic feet of natural gas. But Government interferes. So you’re 100% incorrect on this score. We do NOT have a free market system.

  • “The sad part is, this proves that liberal free market economics also does not work.”

    I think it proves rather the contrary Ted, as Obama’s economic policies have been anything but free market.

  • How would you know, Ted? We haven’t had it in this country since 1965 and only in limited fashion since 1932.

  • Ted,

    Whenever two people make a voluntary exchange that they are both satisfied with, the free market is working. That’s all it is.

  • How can people protect their savings from the license taken by B & G under Obama?

  • PM: That is a difficult question.

    The Fed and “financial repression”: running inflation higher than interest rates to reduce government debt loads. It papers over debt-burdened economy. The Fed gravely fears deflation. Connection between expanding monetary base (printing money) and employment growth is tenuous. Inflation incentivizes buying before more dollar value drops. Not so sure about it fostering capital investment and hiring. Now they try unlimited QEternity.

    With a $16 trillion national debt, the Fed cannot allow rates to rise. Each percentage point up is $150 bilion in US interest expense.

    There is no free market. The stock and bond markets are puppets dancing on the Fed’s strings.

    “Treasuries Aren’t Safe, What Is?” Matt Phillips, WSJ. Physical assets, e.g., gold, which has little industrial use. Gold is primarily a financial asset: price rises with inflation expectations and economic, market, and political uncertainty (up $24 today). Triple-A German sovereign debt, conservative issuer. US corporate bonds could be safe haven, but if rates rise, prices fall. Non-interest deposits with unlimited FDIC insurance (ending soon). Short term UST’s purcased at discount.

    I don’t know. I have some gold: about 10% of net financial assets. Farm land (already inflated) may be a safety valve investment.

    This all plays into the Fed’s hand of getting asset prices higher, with no rise in interest rates.

    They got us right where they want us: at the end of the rope.

  • “There is no free market.  The stock and bond markets are puppets dancing on the Fed’s strings.”

    That’s why whenever anyone claims that unfettered Capitalism caused this, I just want to scream! We are NOT a Capitalist society, but a Corporate Socialist one and have been for at least the last few decades if not past century since FDR’s New Deal.

  • PWP: Truth, God help us.

    It will be 100 years in 2013: Federal Reserve Act and Internal Revenue Code (income tax) both around 1913. The Founding Fathers knew. They had to amend the Constitution for the income tax.

  • That little part about fdic ending soon is very not little. Then, what to do? Be like a the squirrels?

    After trying to understand, for a long time, statements like “Oh, Patty, we’re not in business to make money.”, this may be it. Corp. socialism v Capitalism. Is it?
    Would that be a something a well compensated corp. socialist would say when looking at the loss on a tax return? Is it that individual responsibility for a business is removed to corporate oblivion?

    I have ever failed to understand how anything but pure capitalism works. Profit and wise husbandry are the purest motive of business. Time and money driving out waste of either are the marks of a business that works – sort of on par with good household budgets.

    It seems to a bookkeeping cash flow brain that the corp. socialist format is susceptible to varieties of grave dishonesty and theft. So, the .gov is both of and for well paid mismanagement specialists with no responsiblity to we the taxpayers or to we the people in its care because it’s so complicated that they get away with it?!.

  • Don’t know whether you know of or follow David Malpass, but he makes a lot of sense, often. If you didn’t catch it, you micht consider reading his opinion piece in today’s Journal:


  • Mike Flynn at “Big Government.”

    “Make no mistake, the deteriorating economic situation is the result of Obama’s policies. Since the end of the recession we’ve had massive stimulus, auto bailouts, cash for clunkers, ObamaCare, Dodd Frank and a host of new regulations. We have also been promised a huge tax increase should Obama win reelection. If you were intentionally trying to trigger a recession, you’d be hard pressed to come up with more effective policies.

    “Obama’s reelection campaign is predicated on the myth that the economy, while weak, is steadily improving. It isn’t–at all. Come November, Obama ought to take his rightful place in the unemployment line.”

  • Curious. I agree with just about all of the above, yet . . .

    A week or two ago I suggested, on another thread, that you quit reviling Ayn Rand, and accept her good ideas and I was answered with derision. She promoted laissez-faire capitalism, but remember:

    1) The amazing thing about our capitalism in the US is that it works as well as it does, given our constant interference.

    2) Nobody ever said life was fair. Christ and his commandments, first, love God, second, love your neighbor, are the the best mitigation of that unfortunate lack of fairness.

    3) Remember we’ve never seen “socialism” our experience is with “dialectal materialism”, which almost by definition excludes the possibility of God, and it is not clear to me that what we are being pushed towards is anything new. If you want pure socialism, go become a Benedictine, though they are less than pure socialist as well.

    4) Pure economics is without morality (and to me that also means godless), whether it is pure capitalism or pure socialism. And the line between pure capitalism and pure socialism is a continuum. The only thing we argue about is where on that line we should be at any point in time.

    I’m glad I don’t have to make the “right” decisions. What is clear to me is that the federal government is way off track. They are taking over charitable acts, presumably to be fair, but the recipients of those acts are not fair, whatever that means, and it is in the nature of man to distort those gifts into rights and demand more. Of necessity that coerces me to forfeit some fruits of my labor and denies me the opportunity to practice Christian Charity.

    Fr. Charles VanDoren, my Neuman Chaplin in college, told me in about 1967 that one of the greatest hardships that could ever be imposed on a Christian was to deny him the opportunity to practice Christian Charity. Obviously the import of his statement is indicated by the fact that here, 45 years later I can quote it.

    Wonder what Obama’s “great society” will leave me when all is said and done.

  • “Pure economics is without morality (and to me that also means godless), whether it is pure capitalism or pure socialism. And the line between pure capitalism and pure socialism is a continuum. The only thing we argue about is where on that line we should be at any point in time. ”

    In Quod Apostolici Muneris, Pope Leo XIII was very clear about where on that line we should be:


  • SYWink:

    Agree with most of what you write.

    But, holy cow! You are about as old as I am.

    In any case, when I studied economics, in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, seemed it was about how relatively scarce resources/supplies/goods are distributed among relatively unlimited demands/wants/needs; and the acts in the market of rational, typically motivated buyers and sellers acting in their own best interests with usual and customary terms of exchange and financing, i.e., the seller tries to get the best price he possibly can and the buyer pays the least price he/she can obtain.

    I don’t think “rational” means being immoral or even, I could argue, amoral.

    Adam Smith and the classical economists, I think, observed the economy and tried to explain its workings.

    My issues with 21st century economists include (but are not limited to): one, they seem to be attempting to create (out of air and with government compunction) economics, policies and national programs as they think they should be, and two, they appear to be ideologues intent on advancing “dull and illogical” agendas such as income/wealth redistribution and the liberal nightmare that technocrats know better than the free market how to bring supply, demand, and price into equilibrium and bring about peace and prosperity. This despite the fact they failed every time they tried. See Einstein’s definition of “insanity.”

    In conclusion, until the Second Coming of Christ, my advice is “Don’t fight the Fed.”

  • well this article wasn’t filled with any hyperbole now was it?

  • Nope, merely a sober look at the disastrous state of the Obama economy. Denial LPM is a poor substitute for looking at the facts.

  • Wwell this blogpostarticle wasn’t hyperbbolic,filled with any hyperbole now was it?

    Editor’s Note: As an act of charity I will continue to help edit some of our guest’s comments – for educational purposes only.

  • Donald, singular facts out of a portfolio is not an effective story

    Paul, grow up – I didn’t know this was a child’s site. Feel free to delete my account

  • This may be insane – that is submitting a note for the 5th time and expecting a different result. I don’t suppose it was Einstein who said something like “this could be a hole with no bottom,” but I feel compelled to answer Paul WP, Mac (as I see you called), T Shaw (yes, I just turned 65) and add a note to my prior comments:

    1) I studied economics as a science at The George Washington University. Science is amoral (as is God’s universe). I think you can check with Galileo on that. Ayn Rand promoted laissez-faire economics, which is not real world, but is a science. She may have overstated her case, but who doesn’t in today’s day and age when that is what it takes to make your point.

    Consider that if you are going to do an experiment to test the result of radiating some organic compound, you can’t throw a handful of carbon on the compound in the middle of the experiment or you corrupt your science.

    Same with economics. If you are going to make what is in your wallet your ration book you can’t throw guilt or conscience or compassion into the middle of the transaction and use it as some form of payment. Forget feelings, you can’t even inject an Arab oil embargo, such as we had in the 1970s, and expect valid scientific results.

    2) I learned economics as a philosophy (amongst a bunch of liberals who I respected immensely – their social attitudes didn’t impact their economics) at the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) using matrix algebra to forecast the US economy. I studied the US economy in several hundred pieces and tried to forecast the interaction of those several hundred pieces with each other. An example of two among those hundreds of numbers might be the buy/sell statistics of the auto industry with the steel industry. This was the advent of computers and the accurate mathematics was simply impossible before it could be programmed into a mainframe. Vassily Leontief got the Nobel Prize in 1973 for coming up with the idea. I grooved on that stuff for several years! But got my comeuppetance when the Arabs embargoed oil. After all exogenous variables cannot be forecast, and an arbitrary stoppage of a major import/export defines exogenous.

    I’m not advocating anything. I’m just pointing out that the economic poligy decisions are not simple. There probably isn’t any “right” answer. As for Leo XIII, I have a backlog or JP II’s encyclocials, so I haven’t read too many of Pope Leo’s lately. I suspect he was not too specific on where on the continuum between pure capitalism and pure socialism we should be. I believe he was condemning Marxism and government control of “production, distribution and exchange.” (ah – John McKendrick would be proud that I remembered that definition). The solution of course comes from Christ – “. . . love God with your whole heart and your whole soul and your whole being . . . love your neighbor as yourself. . .” I don’t think of that as ambiguous, but go ahead and try to be specific about where that falls on the continuum and then repeat that it isn’t ambiguous. It seems He, with a capital, wants us to figure it out.

    Getting back to Obama and his worshipers: as an trained economitrician, i. e. economist specializing in statistical methods, (former – or should I say archaic), as an entrepreneur (former) as a small business owner (former), as an employee (21 years) of a fortune 100 company (retired), as a landlord of low income property (sold in 2009), as an investor (current); as the wearer of many hats over half a century I truly believe that job creation by people in all of the above enumerated positions are what we need today and that won’t happen until the people in those positions, whether at your local ice cream parlor or at Coke, can forecast what their liabilities are in creation of those jobs. “Trust me” as repetitively uttered by Obama doesn’t do the trick.

    Well I might advocate something. Back at BEA when our econometric models didn’t give us the results we expected we always looked for what we were missing; what we didn’t understand, or hadn’t included. We constantly teased about getting the “correct” results by simply including “Phaniglier’s variable constant.” If we simply added, subtracted multiplied or divided by it we always came out perfect (a smile is solicited!) That is what we see in politics today, included in EVERY statistic, and it isn’t even limited to the politics of economics!. I think of it more simply as lying.

    Anybody ever read “The Begatting of the President”? — It was a take off of the bible. Chapter 1, Verse 1: “In the beginning LBJ created the Great Society.” (but I’m old, I could be wrong). Wish I still had a copy but it got lost in a move somewhere. There was a good line about Eisenhower and his propensity to play golf. The essence was that sometimes it is about what presidents (and even more so the congress) don’t do, such as screw with the economy, which are important, not what they do. It also had a line about Humphrey being “defeated by the jawbone of an ass.” Hope Mitt doesn’t meet the same fate.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

  • SYWink: “It seems He, with a capital, wants us to figure it out.”

    He, with a capital, wants us to listen to His Words and put them into practice, but first we must listen to hear the answer to our prayers. And the answers may be all different and come together as a community of LOVE and compassion.

    “LBJ created the Great Society” The Great Society was great until this society removed the only innocent Person from their midst, separating themselves from the great commandments to love God and each other.

    “Eisenhower and his propensity to play golf.”

    Eisenhower deserved to relax playing golf. Eisenhower saved the freedom of the world from Hitler. Eisenhower risked his life for his people. Eisenhower’s presidency came before the Person of God was removed from the public square and with the removal of God, the removal of the soul of man as a human being. Obama never did anything but exercise “Phaniglier’s variable constant.” the lying. Obama risks the lives of the infants who survive abortion, and the conscience freedom of every citizen. Obama worshippers believe that they are spared the contempt inflicted by the removal of freedom from the citizens. Obama worshippers are now citizens without freedom of conscience.

    “Science is amoral (as is God’s universe). I think you can check with Galileo on that.”

    An atheistic science is amoral as is an atheistic universe. Galileo taught that science could be found in the bible. Again, one must listen to the Word of God in one’s heart to know God’s will.

    “If you are going to make what is in your wallet your ration book you can’t throw guilt or conscience or compassion into the middle of the transaction and use it as some form of payment.”

    If it is my wallet, my guilt, my conscience and my compassion, especially my compassion, I am free to do so. What is not free to do is for another, even a representative, to remove my guilt, my conscience, and especially my compassion from my transaction without my consent. Money is a transmogrified form of man’s labor. The word “dollar” comes from the German word “thaylor” which means “work”. Money belongs to the worker even as it is administered by the administration.

    “accurate mathematics was simply impossible before it could be programmed into a mainframe.”

    The God factor, known as “Divine Providence” in The Declaration of Independence was overlooked and not programmed into the equation. The American economy now has to wade through the parting of the RED SEA, the human blood of 55 million babies aborted and the cost of vice instead of the construct of virtue.

    Thank you for letting me vent

  • Mary De Voe, read Daniel chapter 4. Nebuchadnezzer was called by God to deport the rebellious children of Judah into exile for their sins. But he filled with pride and as chapter 4 explains was made to eat grass like an oxen for 7 years, himself for that period exiled from his own throne, until he repented and acknowledged the supremacy of the Lord God Almighty. We have a God who does not change and who always does the right thing in the right way every time. What happened to arrogant Nebuchadnezzer can happen equally well to Barack Hussein Obama. God will not allow arrogance to go unchecked forever.

Obama, Can You Spare a Dime?

Saturday, September 15, AD 2012

Something for a weekend.  A variant on the song of the First Great Depression, Buddy Can You Spare a Dime.  It seemed timely in regard to the terrible economic news that came out this week:

1.  AA- -Credit rating firm reduced the United States Credit Rating to AA-.  Here is why

Egan-Jones said it believes the Fed’s third round of quantitative easing,  which sent stock prices surging on Thursday, “will hurt the U.S. economy and, by  extension, credit quality.”

The firm said that while the program should boost equity markets, issuing  additional currency and depressing interest rates through purchasing  mortgage-backed securities will hurt the value of the U.S. dollar and cause a  painful increase in commodity prices.

“In our opinion, QE3 will be detrimental to credit quality for the U.S.,” Egan-Jones said.

At the same time, Egan-Jones warned that the cost to finance U.S. debt will “slowly rise” as the global economy rebounds and the Fed scales back on its  purchases of Treasury securities.

The ratio of U.S. debt to gross domestic product soared to 104% in recent  months from 66% in 2006 and will likely increase to 110% in a year, the firm  said. By comparison, Spain’s debt-to-GDP stands at 68.5%.

2.  Median IncomeUnder Obama Median income per household has fallen to $50,054.00.   When adjusted for inflation this is the lowest median income per household since 1995.

3.  Industrial Production-Down-US industrial production fell 1.2% in August pointing to a slowing economy.

4.  Unemployment-Fed analysts estimate that unemployment will not reach 7% until 2014.

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11 Responses to Obama, Can You Spare a Dime?

  • We are in BIG trouble. When half of the country would even consider voting for this guy (Obama) after all that he has done to wreck this country…just blows my mind.

    God help us.

  • Note to self: “Send resume to Egan-Jones.”

    A voice of reason is James Grant of “Grant’s Interest Rate Observer.”

    Steve, Agree!

    This crowd will destroy everything.

    Worse yet, the regime has driven millions into desperation and destitution; and these dependents likely will vote for more of it.

  • “Worse yet, the regime has driven millions into desperation and destitution; and these dependents likely will vote for more of it.”

    I doubt it T.Shaw. The elites in our society are in for the greatest shock on election day that they have experienced since election day 1980.

  • It’s 16-4 for Romney according to a school poll that has been very accurate since FDR. The only time they got it wrong was JFK (ha ha). It’s what the kids are hearing in their homes and what is being said on the ground.


  • Mac,

    I sincerely hope you are correct.

    Pray and work for the best. Prepare for the worst.

    President Reagan was also behind (in lying, liberal media polls) the Carter wrecking machine in 1980.

    Does anyone besides me see the parallel with Carter in the current ME cacophonies?

  • About the painful rise in commodity prices, open a brokerage account and buy the following etf’s:
    silver… buy SLV
    gold…buy GLD and
    gold miners…buy GDX. (best in past week because miners were undervalued)
    basic materials…buy IYM
    gas & oil….buy DIG (2x leveraged)
    if oil goes down for permanent reasons….buy DUG (shorts oil)
    Do a chart of these at bigcharts dot com. Hate the down days? Put a 1 or 2 or 5% stop loss on each position. Computer will sell them automatically but most do not do it unless the downward motivator is new and permanent. Better to just keep track of the macro trends and not watch the daily nonsense.

  • T. Shaw. The supporters of Obama will still be wearing their rose colored glasses as they stand in endless lines to purchase a rationed 5 gallons of gasoline at $12.00 per.
    They will rejoice, saying; It is good to be dependent upon the State.

  • This is what we get for letting the unions control education in this country.

    It may be too late to fix it. But thankfully, our real hope does not lie in this world.

  • “This is what we get for letting the unions control education in this country.

    It may be too late to fix it. But thankfully, our real hope does not lie in this world.”

    Our greatest asset is our consitutional posterity. WE have to fix it. Take control of our schools by being there. Government cannot forbid any parent from being in the classroom with their child. State kidnapping.

  • I like hearing the ‘snake charmer’ keep telling is his plan is working (affraid it is as many did not understand what his plan was) and that we have nothing to worry about. When government tells us we have nothing to worry about, that is the time to start worrying.
    shard this post on my FB line with note to listen to the song.

  • Richard E.,

    The plan is working.

    Two August statistics: 173,000 new American food stamp enrollments; and 96,000 new American jobs.

    The plan is income redistribution and centralized control/collectivism, not job creation and prosperity.

    And, the plan’s working fine. You got to break eggs to make an omelet.

10 Responses to Why Obama Is Going to Lose in Four Videos

  • The President is a dumb idiot nit wit.

    Oh yeah, I am not being loving and kind and nice and tolerant when I call a spade a spade.

  • I don’t care how many Ivy League degrees you possess, massive drug use during your adolescent years will always come back to bite you. If Barry Hussein really wants to help people, he would hold himself up as exhibit A regarding the dangers of choom.

  • What he meant was, “My cronies and cash bundlers in the private sector economy are doing FINE!”


    That was uncharitable.

    Cut the man some slack.

    After all, this is his first real job.

    That being said, I will not rehire him. I didn’t hire him in 2008.

  • To wit – I doubt Zerohedge reads St. Ambrose or the Pope.

    This blog post:

    “All that debt Obama acquired, and all the stimulus did work to redistribute wealth and income — it worked to redistribute wealth and income toward the well-connected crony capitalist groups that funded Obama into office. Obama can talk all he likes about cutting taxes for the middle class; the data shows who Obama’s redistribution policies have overwhelmingly favoured. Of course, leftists and statists often end up favouring the super-rich. That’s been the underlying reality of communism — politburos, bureaucrats, technocrats, party members all benefit at the expense of everyone else (in spite of all that proletarian rhetoric). Inviting the state to carve up national income and redistribute it is an invitation to corruption, and graft. Obama talks an updated version of the old communist rhetoric about redistributing wealth to the working class — he even adopted Stalin’s slogan “forward” — yet just like Stalin the reality of his policies is more wealth for the richest and most well-connected. What a surprise.”

  • “PP: That was uncharitable. Cut the man some slack. After all, this is his first real job. That being said, I will not rehire him. I didn’t hire him in 2008.”

    Love it, T. Shaw, love it!

  • Paul,

    The President is not a nitwit. His general intelligence is more than adequate. It is likely much more developed in the verbal sphere than elsewhere and one suspects he would perform wretchedly in an occupation with the most rigorous operational measures of competence. Neither politics nor law are such an occupation, so what he has will do.

    His real problem is that he is a serial dilettente. One can reasonably infer that he has no goal or prescription that is not self-aggrandizing or derived from whatever Kool-Aid is being consumed in his milieux.

  • Thanks, Art Deco. Perhaps you are correct. Nevertheless, I despise and loathe what he stands for and supports.

  • The problem T Shaw is that a some people either don’t seem to care that Stalin killed more peasants than Hitler killed Jews or even agree with what he did.

  • So I realized something guys, if the European countries go to war with each other I could be in real deep horse dung, because am a German citizen but live in the USA and have a green card and more recently ended up in the system because I got a drivers permit in December, so if Europe has one of its secular squabbles over banking and due to that has a war the USA no doubt will get involved and the USA doesn’t really like Germany (for many reasons).

  • I watched the Romney video and found one statement very disturbing (in that it will easily be used against Romney): “he wants more government; he wants more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. That’s not what we need. We need less government.” This, of course, can easily (and will) be taken as, “we need fewer firemen, policemen, and teachers in America.” Yikes! That sounds awful! I don’t think anybody likes the sound of a person saying we need fewer policemen, firemen and teachers (even if they are being paid on the public dime).

3 Responses to Open Thread Thursday – Never Let A Serious Crisis Go To Waste

  • The Japanese have been on this same road for 20 years. I think it’s a depression that we’re in. It’s spin to call it a recession and to continually announce the “recession” is over now, … no now, … no now, … no really, “this” time it’s over, ….

    -Paw, Doomer in Chief

  • The geniuses (former weathermen; clueless college profs; and retired bomb throwers) in the WH; among congressional dems (Fwank, Reid, Pelosi, Dodd in power since January 2007); and in the liberal/social justice elites are having their sway.

    Fasten your seat belts . . .

    Tax, regulate, mandate, take from the evil rich, unfund and mandate, cap and tax, kill jobs, murder opportunity, give to the saintly poor, sink everyone to an equal level of dependency and desperation.

    Here’s the plan: destroy the evil, racist, unjust capitalist system.

    They can always blame Bush.

  • Pingback: The Next Great Depression « The American Catholic

Obama To Announce New Business Tax Cuts

Monday, September 6, AD 2010

President Obama will propose several new tax cuts and incentives for businesses on Wednesday, September 8th, including one which is billed as having a decidedly right-leaning flavor:

President Barack Obama, in one of his most dramatic gestures to business, will propose that companies be allowed to write off 100% of their new investment in plant and equipment through 2011, a plan that White House economists say would cut business taxes by nearly $200 billion over two years.

The proposal, to be laid out Wednesday in a speech in Cleveland, tops a raft of announcements, from a proposed expansion of the research and experimentation tax credit to $50 billion in additional spending on roads, railways and runways. But unlike those two ideas, both familiar from Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign, the investment incentive would embrace a long-held wish by conservative economists that had never won support from either Republican or Democratic administrations.

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4 Responses to Obama To Announce New Business Tax Cuts

  • It would encourage businesses to invest more than they otherwise would have. The big problem with Cash for Clunker was that most of the money went to people who were going to buy cars anyway. Likewise, most of the business tax break will go to businesses that will have made those investments anyway.

  • The answer to your last questions strikes me as dependent on whether companies have been putting off replacement of critical equipment en masse or not.

    The long timetable is helpful because it makes it possible for companies to decide now to replace in six months or a year. In this respect it is different from the idiocy of the “Cash for Clunkers.” It may also be different in that manufacturers with an ongoing relationship to their equipment suppliers are in a better place to avoid the price gouging of the car program. (E.g. I was interested in a truck at a dealership up the street and was watching it for a couple of months. Come Cash for Clunkers, the price went up more than $3,000. I have heard the same from other people – that the incentive was eaten up by price increases.)

    In general, I am a whole lot more supportive of this idea than its companion bill – $50 billion in new investments. I am more supportive of that – because there is at least an offer of value (infrastructure) for money rather than just tossing money into the wind like the President’s past plans.

    Perhaps the President is coming to his senses on economic policy.

  • I am not so sure I would support this idea. Is this a carrot to conservatives to support other programs in the bill they would otherwise reject? Or, is this a favor to a select voting group?

    Additions to plant and equipment require planning. Would this actually encourage the purchase? Businesses would still need to fund the cost of the purchase.

    Without the accelerated depreciation of 100% in the first year, the business would deduct the cost over several years. So, the deduction is not exactly lost without President Obama’s proposal.

    Finally, it is similar to Cash for Clunkers. Businesses would receive a tax savings up front and pay more in taxes later with the lost depreciation. (The amount they would pay later could be at a higher tax rate per the expiration of Bush’s tax cuts for partnerships, S-Corps, and sole proprietorships.) They do receive a benefit from the time-use of money. However, without permanent business tax breaks, this will result in a slow down once the benefit expires.

    Is this a carrot or is it a political tool to make this administration look good due to a spurt of growth that is set to expire? Congress should look at a more permanent solution.

  • I found this comment from Veronique de Rugy the other day to be interesting. This ‘graph in particular struck me:

    “He rightly assumes that lowering the cost of employment helps firms keep their current employees or hire new ones. He wrongly assumes, however, that tax credits are a good way to reduce these costs. I asked a small business owner during a recent radio show to explain to me why the tax credit wouldn’t work, and he confirmed my intuition. This tax credit is useful only if you have a tax liability, which you likely don’t have when business is slow.”

Is the Means of Production an Obsolete Idea?

Sunday, May 9, AD 2010

The “means of production” (which may be defined, roughly, as consisting of capital goods minus human and financial capital), is a central concept in Marxism, as well as in other ideologies such as Distributism. The problems of capitalism, according to both Marxists and Distributists, arise from the fact that ownership of the means of production is concentrated in the hands of the few. Marxists propose to remedy these problems by having the means of production be collectively owned. Distributists want to retain private ownership, but to break the means of production up (where practicable) into smaller parts so that everyone will have a piece (if you wanted to describe the difference between the Marxist and Distributist solutions here, it would be that Distributists want everyone to own part of the means of production, whereas Marxists want everyone to be part owner of all of it).

Where a society’s economy is based primarily on agriculture or manufacture, thinking in terms of the means of production makes some sense. In an agricultural economy wealth is based primarily on ownership of land, and in a manufacturing economy ownership of things like factories and machinery plays an analogous role. In a modern service-based economy, by contrast, wealth is based largely on human capital (the possession of knowledge and skills). As Pope John Paul II notes in Centesimus Annus, “[i]n our time, in particular, there exists another form of ownership which is becoming no less important than land: the possession of know-how, technology and skill. The wealth of the industrialized nations is based much more on this kind of ownership than on natural resources.”

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0 Responses to Is the Means of Production an Obsolete Idea?

  • As long as people combine to form economic enterprises that can be quantified in terms of share ownership, discussions of the “means of production” will continue to have relevance.

    I’ll also add that Distributism, and Catholic social teaching in general, does not merely apply to America or other developed economies – though both still engage in agriculture and industry.

    “if you wanted to describe the difference between the Marxist and Distributist solutions here, it would be that Distributists want everyone to own part of the means of production, whereas Marxists want everyone to be part owner of all of it”

    Some Marxists. Others advocate total nationalization of the means of production, in which the state owns all of it. Though technically, I suppose, the theory is that a “workers state”, by representing the working class, owns and distributes revenues on behalf of the working class, and by that logic they may say that “the workers own the means of production.”

    In reality, the people who argued for actual, direct worker ownership of the means of production in Russia, the “Workers Opposition”, were suppressed by the Bolsheviks.

  • As long as people combine to form economic enterprises that can be quantified in terms of share ownership, discussions of the “means of production” will continue to have relevance.

    A law firm might have share ownership, but I’m not sure how useful the means of production would be in analyzing it.

  • Btw, you make a good point that much of the world hasn’t yet moved to a service based economy.

  • I’m not so sure it is an obsolete idea, although I am neither a Marxist nor a Distributist. I have a particular set of skills and knowledge that makes me useful to an insurance company. That knowledge and skill cannot be put to use except within a corporate environment. I could potentially quit and hang out a shingle and try to obtain consulting work, but there is no market for it. It is impossible for most individuals to be able to capitalize an insurance company, and it is also not desireable that this be done due to the risk of policyholders would face that the company would collapse and their claims go unpaid.

    In a certain sense, the modern corporation is in itself the means of production in a modern service economy. It brings efficiencies through organization, time management, concentration of money, and market share that cannot be matched on an individual or small business level. Small businesses have to find small niches in which to compete. In effect, we have migrated from “things” to organizations in a service economy. I’m not saying it’s better or worse, it’s just the way things are.

    Now, there are niches in which small businesses can thrive, which larger organizations will fail in. It is crucial that individuals be allowed the freedom to pursue happiness and livelihoods in the manner of their choice, whether in a modern corporation or in a self-owned business. This is why I’m neither a Marxist nor a Distributist. I don’t want the government to try to force a particular “ideal” on everyone, as this is not conducive to human happiness. Government should simply step in when people’s liberty is being infringed upon.

  • “This is why I’m neither a Marxist nor a Distributist. I don’t want the government to try to force a particular “ideal” on everyone, as this is not conducive to human happiness.”


    Distributism is not about the government “forc[ing] a particular “ideal” on everyone.”

    Anyone can argue that any idea ought to be forced upon everyone. This isn’t exclusive to Distributism or Marxism.

    On the other hand, anyone can argue that individuals ought to embrace an idea freely because it is good. And this is one way to approach Distributism, and it is how I approach it.

    The role the government plays is a variable, not a fixed measure. It can be a little or a lot. It could even be none at all.

    If you want to learn more about Distributism from my point of view, I invite you to read this:


  • Doug,

    I think your example of the insurance company is more an issue of financial capital than of the means of production as such.

  • Yes! I think this is certainly true of intellectual workers, who are persons who are not interchangable and are themselves assets to the company.

    As you suggest, the idea of “the means of production” is not totally obsolete but is of less analytical value in modern industrial economies.

  • Even though I work for a company which is, in a sense, a manufacturer (of consumer electronics and IT infrastructure) it strikes me that in many ways most large modern corporations run more on organizational capital, information, financial and brand equity than on actually owning “means of production”.

    Thus, while many of us who work there would have a hard time making as much without working for some sort of large company, it’s also the case that employees are not interchangeable for the employer. With fairly specialized human capital, the employer doesn’t exercise nearly as much power as an 1880s era landholder or a turn of the century factory owner. (As demonstrated by the dramatic increase in wages.)

    I certainly think there’s been some sort of major shift in what the “means of production” are, and that this shift has implications for the economy and society, but I’ve got the feeling it’s a bit more complicated than simply “now human capital is the means of production.”

    Interesting train of thought…

  • The distributists never thought highly of intellectual property rights. Much of the modern economy is a discussion of IP rents. A cursory search on my part suggests Marx wasn’t all that cool with IP rights. While human capital could merely mean the training of works, it has tended to be code for IP.

    human capital cannot be easily alienated from the individual, either to another individual or to the collective as a whole.

    The movie and music industries would be counterexamples.

  • The movie and music industries would be counterexamples.

    I’m not sure I’m following your point — could you expand?

  • It is not unusual for a band that has gone on tour to owe the recording company money for doing the tour, leaving them no net. In the odd universe of music, performers sign away all their rights and the music companies give them permission to perform their works. This is most apparent if you read the complaint lists of American Idol winners. Likewise in the movie industry, a large portion of the gross does not go towards the actors. The amount that goes to the actors is actually quite insignificant once the headliners’s earnings are taken out of consideration.

    Of course this is in the end an argument of what is actually property. And despite BA’s protestations, worker ability and knowledge has been folded into working capital and been considered a part of it for a long time.

  • In the odd universe of music, performers sign away all their rights and the music companies give them permission to perform their works. This is most apparent if you read the complaint lists of American Idol winners.

    That does certainly suggest an odd state of affairs, though it sounds to me more like a case of people signing a contract based on an expectation of larger ticket sales than actually materialized. Or at least, it’s hard to imagine why it would be a standard business practice that people sign up to work for free.

    Though with American Idol winners, perhaps the key is that most of the skill leading to revenues is actually on the part of the marketers, producers, promoters, etc., while the “talent” is interchangeable.

    Likewise in the movie industry, a large portion of the gross does not go towards the actors. The amount that goes to the actors is actually quite insignificant once the headliners’s earnings are taken out of consideration.

    Isn’t that assuming that the only skilled “workers” involved in producing a movie are the actors? They are in fact a minority of those who work in a movie crew, and at a supply and demand level there are an incredible number of people eager to take minor film roles in hope of being “discovered”, or just for the fun of it.

    If anything, I would imagine that movies and music would be a good example of how technology has leveled things in the last 10-20 years, as independent musicians and independent film makers have become increasingly successful at working outside the studio system.

  • Joe, thanks for the link. It was informative.

  • An interesting article. Have you considered the possibility that the important thing now is that the government is trying to control the means of *re*production?

Set Me Free (From Ideologies) Part 2

Wednesday, April 28, AD 2010


To follow up on my first installment of “Set Me Free (From Ideologies), I am going to draw again from the rich well of Pope Benedict’s powerful encyclical Caritas In Veritate.  In this case it would seem that in paragraph #25 the Pope is sounding kinda liberal if we would attempt to fit the views expressed into one or another of our American political ideologies.

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7 Responses to Set Me Free (From Ideologies) Part 2

  • It seems a greater threat to social security are underfunded public pensions including Social Security itself which all seem at risk of collapsing. Perhaps someone can comment on this.

  • We’d all do well to remember that we’re Catholic first & American second. We’re in the mess we’re in because we’ve reversed the order for the last 50 yrs.

  • “The repeated calls issued within the Church’s social doctrine, beginning with Rerum Novarum[60], for the promotion of workers’ associations that can defend their rights must therefore be honoured today even more than in the past, as a prompt and far-sighted response to the urgent need for new forms of cooperation at the international level, as well as the local level.”

    For me the key phrase is NEW forms.

    I believe the old social welfare state is a failure.

    I believe the old union model is a corrupt failure.

    And I think John Paul II made this point pretty clearly in Centesimus Annus.

    The new forms are worker ownership, or possibly even community/worker ownership of businesses. Most of them are jointly owned by workers and investors.

    The way forward, I believe, is localism and distributism. And in some places it is taking place already with good material results – but it is being guided by secular liberals who have no use for the moral teachings of the Church, by radical campus intellectuals and hippies who believe in the materialist community but reject the spiritual community in favor of atheism or spiritual anarchy.

    It is simply an empirical fact that welfare-statism doesn’t bring an end to poverty. Instead it creates the conditions and the precedents for a secular bureaucracy to further meddle in Christian families, in the education of children, even growing food on one’s own property.

    The dichotomy in politics and morality is not individualism vs. collectivism. Or rather, that is A dichotomy but not the decisive one. It is materialism vs. spirituality. The materialist community has an idea of “justice” that is based on economics and cares nothing for the corruption and pollution of souls. The spiritual community sometimes neglects the details of the material – but with the guidance of the Papal encyclicals there is no excuse for that negligence.

    The vital question is whether or not we ought to accept a full implementation of “material” or economic justice, brought to us by secular liberal hedonists who let the soul rot, who poison it with filth and perversion, or,

    whether we ought to reject it and continue to show those who understand a spiritual reality, who believe in God and especially Christ, that they also have to focus their attention on the material community.

    I opt for the latter. I want nothing from the secular liberal hedonists, from the communist revolutionaries, from the sexual perverts who staff Western governments and the United Nations. They’ve rejected God and they’ll never accept him.

    It’s easier to get good Christians to see the areas they’ve been neglecting than it is to get materialists to see the truth and reality of God and all that follows from him.

    And if you think I’ve gone off topic, you’re wrong, because its secular, atheistic, materialists who manage and administer the welfare bureaucracies of the West, whether they call themselves Democrats, Socialists, or Christian Democrats, or Labour, or whatever.


  • to gb- what I would say is what my favorite professor once said- “the best gift we can give America is our Catholic faith”- I don’t see my citizenship in the U.S. to be a detriment to my faith- America is my homeland, and America needs Catholicism to fulfill her potential as a truly great and lasting nation. We have religious liberty here in our country- that’s all we need- that means the onus is literally “on us”- I have seen first-hand as a candidate that the Catholic community is for the most part so divided up and rendered passive in the political arena- when I see how effective the pro-Israel Jewish community has been in getting organized and mobilizing and lobbying all sectors of our American society in getting their vision and agenda into play- all of this with such a small percentage of the population! And Catholics act as if there is no unifying social doctrine, and fall headlong into the same ideological traps that catch everyone else- and it makes me sick.

    It doesn’t have to be this way- we are our own worst enemy I’m convinced of that- my primary targets are politically-active Catholics who publicly identify themselves as die-hard liberals or conservatives- these folks are the ones who do the most damage- they make it impossible for the whole body of believers to unite under the direction of the entire social doctrine- they want to make every Catholic a narrow liberal or conservative- a Kennedy or a Hannity- and that is something I disagree with vehemently. I will continue to post my complaints- soon I will detail my fallout experience from my participation in an elite Catholic Democrats listserve- that is quite a story to be told another day- I am bent on taking on all loud and proud liberal and conservative Catholic political animals- for I am convinced that the way forward is one that must release the hold that ideologies have over our collective Catholic and American heads.

  • Joe H.- as always so intense and direct in your views- I don’t find your passion for disconnecting from States and Government in the Church’s actual documents such as the above Encyclical. I do think that we should go in every good direction all at once- translation- create more fair trade producer-consumer networks- drawing upon the Catholic Relief Services model, and also the worker-owned business models, and such as you describe above. But I don’t think that abandoning the Government, Trade Unions, and Multinational Corporations to the current corrupt slate of big-wigs is the best solution. I really don’t think our system is rotten, I do think we have really rotten apples floating to the top- which is why I can’t relate to anyone who celebrates a Reagan or an Obama presidency.

    I do believe that Catholics have not yet begun to fight- from my own little campaign experience I saw how wide-open the door is for solid Catholic candidates if only the Catholic community was even a little bit organized to be of some service to her own. As it is we have two types of Catholic activists- the typical political liberal and the typical political conservative- they both seem to have one overriding passion- they hate like satan the Republican or Democratic party- and all that party stands for- pretty much across the board. This reality is something that is causing me to seriously consider dropping my formal affiliation as a Democrat to become an Indy with “Common Good” as my tag- there is just too much baggage associated with the two major parties- it is like a pavlov dog response for most political animals- Catholic or otherwise. What I know is that I am going to stay close to the Church’s actual teaching documents, and Hierarchical speeches/letters and commentary- I have found that the prudential judgments on socio-economic matters coming from the Catholic Hierarchy is truly awesome- it would figure that those who are charged with coming up with the principles that underpin the social doctrine would do well in helping to apply those principles to real life circumstances. I don’t think this is clericalism because I am open to other prudential points-of-view- I just don’t find many ideologically-transcendent points-of-view around town- so I’m sticking close to Mama Church- in my family when mama talks and gives counsel to the kids they better listen up because my wife and I are on the same page- I imagine that it works that way with Christ and His Church as well.

  • “I don’t think that abandoning the Government, Trade Unions, and Multinational Corporations to the current corrupt slate of big-wigs is the best solution”

    They aren’t ours to abandon. But they are ours to reject. We need to get our resources together, make our own proposals to banks and private investors, and build our own local economies. Some have tried, many have failed, few have succeeded – more will succeed if more people rally to the cause.

    Like you, I’m an independent. I don’t care about the Republicans. I don’t care about the Democrats. I’ll vote for the pro-life candidate. Otherwise change comes from us, not from Obama, not from a bureaucracy, not from a social worker.

    “I really don’t think our system is rotten”

    I suppose we’ll have to disagree on that.

Pray for the Unemployed this Advent and Christmas

Wednesday, December 16, AD 2009

In my brief life on earth I have not experienced such high unemployment amongst my family and friends this year than ever before.  As each week passes I hear of another friend or acquaintance who has lost his or her job.

This is the worst recession I have seen and I don’t see any signs that it will let up for the next 9-12 months.  So I find it appropriate that a simple request to all our readers to make time this evening prior to going to bed and include those that are unemployed, especially those with families and dependents in your prayers.

With extra time on our hands the unemployed can remain steadfastly busy by working on their faith through prayer and service.  For when work does come around there will not be time for such activities.

The following prayer is a traditional Catholic prayer that I have used from time to time due to the nature of my work of being an independent contractor and one that helps to put life in proper perspective and order:

Dear Lord Jesus Christ,
You wanted all who are weary
To come to You for support.
Lord, I am worn out
By my inability to find work.

Guide my steps to a righteous path;
Give me the patience
To find opportunities with a future.
Calm my worries and fears
As my financial responsibilities mount.
Strengthen my resolve;
Embolden my heart to open doors;
Open my eyes to see life beyond rejections.
Help me believe in me.

Let me realize other ways
To bring about Your kingdom on earth.
Let me grow as a person
That I may be worthy
For Your greater glory.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,


Saint Joseph has been especially helpful for me and I strongly recommend him for those seeking employment:

Dear Saint Joseph, you were yourself once faced with the responsibility of providing the necessities of life for Jesus and Mary. Look down with fatherly compassion upon me in my anxiety over my present inability to support my family. Please help me to find gainful employment very soon, so that this heavy burden of concern will be lifted from my heart and that I am soon able to provide for those whom God has entrusted to my care. Help us to guard against bitterness and discouragement, so that we may emerge from this trial spiritually enriched and with even greater blessings from God.


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11 Responses to Pray for the Unemployed this Advent and Christmas

  • Thank you for this post. I’ve been unemployed for six months, and I’m thankful that I have so much support from my family and friends. I often wonder, when job after job falls through for me, whether God is sending those jobs to people who simply need work more than I do. We should trust that God has a perfect plan for us, and that the right work will come at the right time, at the right place. Praise God!

    Saint Joseph, pray for us!

  • St Joseph is a powerful intercessor. Once had to sell our house quick. Old farmhouse that the real estate agent said would have almost no one interested in. Also said we wouldn’t make our asking price. In four days had two offers both above asking price. Accepted the final offer on March 19th.

  • My prayers for all the unemployed. Nate, I hope you will soon find employment in which you can exercise your considerable talents.

    Tito, these are the worst economic times I can recall in my lifetime.

  • Thank you. I’ve been underemployed for over a year and have been doing a perpetual novena to St. Joseph.

    Also, let’s pray for hasty trips to the unemployment line for our elected officials!

  • “Also, let’s pray for hasty trips to the unemployment line for our elected officials!”

    Hear! Hear!

  • I’ll say a prayer for the under- and unemployed too. We had many layoffs at my place of employment 6 months ago but things are stable – for now. My director warned us today that in another 6 months, we may be in for more belt-tightening, so I am grateful to God for having a job now. Heaven knows what 6 months will bring.

  • Nate and Steve, I’m here with ya. Right now I am earning about 1/4 what I earned monthly this time last year. That’s rough. I am also grateful for the immense support of family and friends, and for the talents and disposition that God has given me. Naturally, I am not a happy-go-lucky guy, but as the last several months of underemployment have worn on, God has given me a greater and greater sense of his presence and providence. That awareness has helped me to be confident, and even happy on a deeper-than-what’s-happening-now basis. I mean, I find myself enjoying experimenting with new recipes for rice and beans. Lolol. Believe it or not, I am actually living in the 3rd or 4th most expensive county in the country on an income below the poverty level, without having lost a pound or gone without shoes – although, mine are starting to look pretty ratty. It’s grace. Grace, grace, grace. He has blessed me with such amazing friends and family, and has given me just enough work to keep from having to beg from strangers or impose upon family.

    I have been trying to fill my time productively: resumes and job hunting, building side businesses, charitable work, odd jobs, prayer, watching favorite movies, socializing with friends, blogging, helping out neighbors. A former coworker of mine was downsized, and very quickly secured a new job. At first I was bitter, but then I realized that he probably needs it more than me. For starters, he has very little family in the area. Now, I find myself happy that he has the job rather than me – if it comes down to a cosmic either-him-or-me. God has taught me so many lessons on this sort of extended retreat.

    God is preparing for each of us just the right thing; and even now, we are exactly where he wants us. That is a consoling thought!

  • Nate, Ryan, et al,

    I’m with you guys on this as well. I have to say that the most fruitful time in my life thus far has been being unemployed.

    Right now is the best time to work on our virtues.

    My spiritual growth has developed by leaps and bounds and I am ever thankful for this.

    God does know what is best for us and we can never thank Him enough for these times.

    Patience, prudence, and faith has been the lessons I am learning these past few months and I am ever more grateful for them.

    Have a great Advent everyone!

    P.S. …and pray to send our politicians to the unemployment line, preferably all of them. They’re rich enough as it is anyways. 😉

  • Lol. You know, at first reaction, I thought the repeated prayer against our politician’s employment was a bit mean-spirited. Your last post has got me thinking, Tito.

    They have got a enough money, haven’t they? Moreover, they are, for the most part, entirely unqualified for the positions that they hold. And last of all, unemployment might teach them a thing or two. Their unemployment, moreover, would probably mean a replacement of their increasingly insane and wicked policies.

    So I’m with you – here’s to our politicians’ sanctification. Lololol.

  • This has been the worst year I can remember. My cousin and her husband both lost their jobs at the same time and there’s a 20% unemployment rate in their town. They are probably going to lose the house, the car, the truck and their marriage.

  • Hey Dymphna,

    Yeah, I have a lot of family in Michigan, where unemployment has been high since the 70s and has reached 27% in this past year. One of my uncles just landed a job after two years of unemployment and two brushes with foreclosure. When he called my mom to tell her, he was almost weeping he was so happy to have work again.

    Such times are hard ones in which to seek and find the hand of God at work. That is the concrete challenge that we face; we also need to help each other see the hand of God at work. If we fail to do so, then we will fall into despair of God’s love… we will forget he loves us. It is so hard to see that in such times. We must spend time, much time in prayer, asking not for our will, but for his, which is surely better.

Obamaville Shanty Towns: Tent Cities Sprouting Up Across America

Monday, December 14, AD 2009

As the recession continue to take its toll on our fellow Americans, rendering more and more of them homeless, tent cities have begun sprouting up across this great country.  It would not be fair to blame President Obama for the predicament that our nation is in, but President Obama has done nothing to help the situation.

President Obama’s ‘stimulus package’ only rewarded government contractors with more spending.  It is also correct to point out that former President George W. Bush’s ‘stimulus package’ did nothing more than President Obama’s spending bill.

Small businesses and the private sector in general got almost zero benefit for either porkulus spending bills.  Though this recession is typical of a business cycle, there are some things that can be done to alleviate the stress the economy is undergoing and maybe expedite the expiration of the current recession.  President Obama has done neither.

So it is fitting and fair to label the tent cities that are sprouting across America as Obamavilles.

(Note: In case the above YouTube video is taken down by the Blueshirts, you can see the entire story and video here.)

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23 Responses to Obamaville Shanty Towns: Tent Cities Sprouting Up Across America

  • Perhaps this can be the campaign song for Team Obama in 2012:

  • I would like to know what you think Obama could have done differently over the past year.

    There’s so much misunderstanding over the role of fiscal policy during this recession. It was precisely the huge expansion in the public deficit that counteracted the collapse in private demand, preventing huge negative growth rates, and equally dire employment numbers. Think of it this way: we went from a deficit of 2 percent of GDP in the balance between private income and spending shifted from to a surplus of over 6 per cent – in increase in private savings by 8 percent of GDP. What do you think would have happened without the fiscal crutch?

    It’s fustrating how few people get this point. I listened last night to John King lecture Larry Summers on how government debt is exploding at the very time when households are tighening the belt. Honestly, I thought this fallacy went out with Herbert Hoover! Here’s the issue: the vast majority of the increase in debt during this recession was because of the recession (lower taxes etc). In the jargon, it comes from automatic stabilizers. You work against the stabilizers, you make the recession worse. Moxt experts quite rightly felt that the depth of the collapse in private demand justified going even further than automatic stabilizers – hence the stimulus. The standing “crowding out argument” does not work in an environment when interest rates are near zero and nobody is lending (the case of a liquidity trap).

    Anyway, have a look at this post I did on what governments did right, and 4 key fallacies surrounding this recession.

  • MM,

    he vast majority of the increase in debt during this recession was because of the recession (lower taxes etc)

    Don’t you think if there was less federal government bureaucracy and programs, instead of raising taxes, that we wouldn’t have gotten to this point?

  • MM:

    Moxt experts quite rightly felt that the depth of the collapse in private demand justified going even further than automatic stabilizers – hence the stimulus.

    Except as the author rightly pointed out that the stimulus didn’t do ANYTHING. Most of the money in the Obama stimulus has yet to be spent.

    I supported TARP under the idea that despite that it would be mishandled, the banks needed shoring up. But make no mistake, there was a ton of corruption in TARP and even more under Obama’s stimulus.

  • Think of it this way: we went from a deficit of 2 percent of GDP in the balance between private income and spending shifted from to a surplus of over 6 per cent – in increase in private savings by 8 percent of GDP. What do you think would have happened without the fiscal crutch?

    My guess is that if Congress hadn’t passed a stimulus the Fed would have engaged in more quantitative easing, and we’d be pretty much where we are now. I don’t think Obama is to blame for our current troubles, but the things he’s done haven’t been particularly helpful either.

  • It also would have been nice if they had used tax cuts, or focused a higher percentage of the spending in 2009 and 2010, rather than just handing out money to every Democratic Congressperson’s favorite pork project.

  • Tito – I don’t get your point. The recession was caused by greed in the financial sector. Government softened the blow …. dramatically. And by that I mean monetary, fiscal, and financial sector policy.

  • I reckon living in a tent in Colorado in mid winter won’t be too much fun.

  • MM,

    This is a normal business cycle. Recessions occur every 5-7 years.

    To blame anyone is like throwing darts at a dartboard.

    I was just touching on the debt. Meaning that if we had less wasteful federal programs to defund the debt would be a bit more manageable.

  • John: I take your second point, but not the first. Multiplers are much larger on the expenditure than tax side. And I never got the whole “pork” thing — that’s the whole point of stimulus. Of course, it would be nice to get some socially worthwhile investments going (greening buildings, trains etc) but that’s not really the point of stimulus. The whole “pork” fetish is really an argument for good times – when you are supposed to be building your reserves to use them in times like this.

    On the tax point, Krugman just referenced some cutting edge new research suggesting that tax cuts are a really bad idea in liquidity type situations – http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/14/a-new-paradox/

  • Tito,

    No, this was not a normal business cycle. It was the buggest global slowdown since the Great Depression. The fact that a meltdown was avoided comes from policymakers learning the lessons of the Great Depression (see the chart in my post).

    On your second point, it certainly makes sense to run prudent fiscal policy in good times to store up reserves for the lean years. And the debt profile today would not look so scary if we had gone into this in good shape. But we did not – the major fiscal loosenings of the last administration were not paid for – Iraq war, tax cuts for the wealthy, medicare part D expanion. Each of these added more to the debt than any single Obama initiative, and they didn’t even pretend to pay for them.

    The key fiscal challenge is that taxes are too low for teh level of desired spending. And if you disagree, you need to be willing to cut military spending or medicare – nothing else is going to cut it.

  • Blackadder, that’s possibly right, but (i) QE doesn’t come without cost; (ii) its success has been limited – again, it comes back to the fact that monetary policy has limited value in a liquidity trap.

  • MM,

    I agree with you that taxes are too low for the level of desired spending.

    Which to me means that we need to cut more federal programs.

    We have never had an income tax at all in this country, with a couple of exceptions, until the current income tax I believe was finally imposed in 1913.

    There is nothing that warrants to take people’s hard earned money.

  • Tito,

    Much as it might hurt to admit it, MM is right here. This wasn’t an ordinary business cycle.

  • Tito:

    (1) But what programs? As I said, you can’t do this without touching the military and medicare.

    (2) Your last sentence is not fully aligned with developments in Catholic social teaching, and reflects more a laissez-faire liberalism. Remember Pope John XXII: “the economic prosperity of a nation is not so much its total assets in terms of wealth and property, as the equitable division and distribution of this wealth” (Mater Et Magistra, 1961). Powerful stuff, that!!

  • MM,

    There’s room for disagreement on taxing hard working Americans and redistributing to the proletariat in Catholic Social Teaching.

    Pope John XXIII’s teaching is not set in stone nor is it mandatory.

    And by wealth he didn’t mean taxes, he meant equitable distribution, ie, opportunities to capital, resources, etc. Not take from workers and redistribute to the proletariat.


    I’m not debating whether it’s ordinary or extraordinary (if I gave that impression, I didn’t mean to). But the fact remains it’s a business cycle that the socialist leaning Democratic Party is exploiting to further control our lives.

  • But what programs? As I said, you can’t do this without touching the military and medicare.

    Means testing Medicare and Social Security would be a start.

  • Multiplers are much larger on the expenditure than tax side.

    You will get quite an argument from some macroeconomists on that assertion.

    I would like to know what you think Obama [ie the Administation and Congress] could have done differently over the past year.

    1. Undertake a special audit of Citigroup, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo / Wachovia, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and GE Capital [?] to determine their authentic book value.

    2. Erect a fund of about $300 bn to compensate defined benefit pension funds and purchase preferred stock in insurance companies as needed, as these entities are abnormally invested in bank bonds.

    3. Prepare articles of incorporation for the successors of each of the foregoing. Each should have at least two successors – an ongoing business concern and a holding company which owns certain assets (illiquid securities, delinquent loans, and swaps & derivative). Citi, Bank of America and JP Morgan might have three successors: the dead asset holding company, their deposits-and-loans business, and their capital markets business.

    4. Recapitalize the aforementioned banks and investment firms through swapping debt (bonds, securitized receivables, l/t loans, &c) for equity in the successor corporations. If any one corporation retains a positive book value, it should be divided between its erstwhile creditors and equity holders; otherwise, the former bondholders, &c. get the whole enchilada.

    5. Call in all outstanding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debt and replace it with common stock. If necessary, agree antecedently to exchange the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds held by sovereign wealth funds abroad with U.S. Treasury debt.

    6. Suspend collection of federal payroll taxes. Phase them back in per the performance of the macroeconomy.

    7. Transfer responsibility for unemployment compensation to the federal government.

    8. Institute reductions in pay and benefits for all federal employees. Compensation would be cut each quarter in step with the decline in domestic product per capita.

    9. Remove all conditions on intergovernmental transfers from the federal government to state and local governments bar one: they have to cut the compensation of all public employees in their purview in step with the decline in per capita income in the country at large.

    10. Legislate a pre-packaged bankruptcy for General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler which would feature compensation cuts of at least a third for the workforce and legatees in return for equity shares in proportion to losses. The bondholders might get preferred stock. In lieu of making use of TARP funding, have the Federal Reserve provide a bridge loan by purchasing their commercial paper.

    11. Cut the minimum wage to $4.60 an hour.

    12. Institution a mortgage modification program along the lines suggested by Martin Feldstein (with NO means testing): those whose mortgages are held by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or banks held by the FDIC might apply for a reduction in the principal equal to the fall (since they purchased the home) in the OFHEO price index for their area; in return, their chattels could be attached and their wages garnished if they defaulted.

    13. Institution of comprehensive tax reform as part of medium term planning for a return to fiscal balance: the elimination of deductions and exemptions, the gradual replacement of the payroll tax with enhanced income levies, the gradual institution of a component which taxes an index of one’s personal consumption, and a an enhanced per-dependent credit.

    14. Introduction legislation to erect a revised financial architecture some features of which might be as follows:

    a. Divestiture of subsidiaries which hold deposits domiciled abroad;

    b. Prohibitions on the ownership of financial firms by non-financial firms, or (for more than a temporary period) of non-financial firms by financial firms.

    c. Separation of deposits-and-loans banking from securities underwriting, proprietary trading (in securities, futures, options, &c.), ‘prime brokerage’, and private equity.

    d. Separation of securities underwriting from all activities other than corporate lending.

    e. Separation of proprietary trading from all other activities.

    f. Separation of prime brokerage from all other activities.

    g. Separation of private equity from all other activities.

    h. The separation of mutual funds from retail brokerage, trust companies, and treasury services firms.

    g. The separation of mid-market, corporate, and governmental lending from mortgage, farm, consumer, and small business lending. The former would be lodged in national banks which take deposits only from governments and incorporated entities; the latter would be lodged in banks which could take deposits from anyone but would constrained to operate within geographic catchments.

    h. Erection of an exchange for trading in swaps and derivatives.

    i. Prohibition of credit default swaps and insurance on securities.

    j. Prohibition on the use of credit to purchase securities other than initial public offerings; limit the ratio of margin loans in individual portfolios to one quarter of total assets; limit the permissible leverage of hedge funds accordingly;

    k. Erection an agency similar to the FDIC to act as a receiver of bankrupt securities firms and roll them up as rapidly as possible.

    l. Prohibition on the securitization of receivables.

    m. Turning Fannie and Freddie into self-liquidating entities.

    15. Postponement of action on medical insurance UNTIL THE BLOODY BANKS ARE REPAIRED.

  • Means testing Medicare and Social Security would be a start.


  • socialist leaning Democratic Party


  • Morning’s Minion writes Monday, December 14, 2009 A.D.

    “preventing huge negative growth rates”

    I have read this phrase in several places. I have not succeeded in understanding what is “a negative growth rate”. Is it shrinking?

    [I make the point chiefly to illustrate that much discussion about matters economic has similar fine-sounding nonsensical phrases].

Moving Halloween to Saturday: Treat or Trick?

Thursday, October 29, AD 2009

In recent years Halloween has gone from a primarily child-oriented holiday to an occasion of commercial importance comparable to Christmas or Easter. National retail sales figures indicate that Halloween is the 6th biggest holiday for retailers — behind Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day — and rapidly gaining ground, particularly among young adults.

The trend has now sparked a movement of sorts — led by the Spirit Halloween retail chain — to move Halloween permanently to the last Saturday in October. Their online petition at this link (http://www.spirithalloweekend.com/ ) asks Congress to lend its official endorsement to the change, although that would not be strictly necessary since Halloween is not a federal or national holiday.

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15 Responses to Moving Halloween to Saturday: Treat or Trick?

  • Darn, I wish Spirit Halloween had a combox. Darn, darn, darn!

  • I vote (B) a concession to worldliness and indifference.
    Vigils, feast days, birthdays… the actual dates count for something. I enjoy a movable feast as much as the next guy, but it should have a better excuse behind it than grubbing for cash or extending the weekend.

  • Remember that they then consolidated both Abraham Lincoln’s and George Washington’s birthdays to “President’s Day”.

  • Halloween and All Saints have a particular significance for me since my wedding anniversay falls on All Saints. If they change it, I will have to come up with some other way to remember, so I vote no. Or maybe I can convince my wife to celebrate the solemnity of our marriage along with All Saints, rather than the actual day of our wedding?

  • I think you make a compelling argument overall. Actually changed my mind, as a matter of fact.

    As to changing the date – I actually find it to be more confusing. When I’m looking at my calendar, it’s so much easier to assess the fixed-date holidays as compared to the floating ones. “Which weekend is that on this year?”

  • For the record, I also would vote “no”.

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  • Also, I really need to give credit here to Todd Aglialoro, now a writer for Inside Catholic, who many years ago when he worked for the Peoria Diocese Family Life Office, wrote a column for The Catholic Post titled “How Halloween Is a Very Catholic Thing.”

    It was in that article that I first came across the quote from Chesterton on paganism and Christianity. Unfortunately, I cannot find this article online anywhere, and I no longer have print back issues of The Post to refer to.

    If you happen to be reading this, Todd, thanks for the inspiration, and can you tell me where to find that article?

  • Instead of moving Halloween to Saturday, it needs to be moved right off the calendar. There is nothing good about it- junk food for kids, wild parties for adults, strangers ringing your doorbell all evening, drunks in the ER all night. Once again, America has taken a religious day and turned it into a mockery.

  • I understand your concerns, Annie, but by your standards, St. Patrick’s Day should probably be “moved right off the calendar” too.

    It lacks only junk food for kids and strangers ringing your doorbell… although strangers in an adjacent apartment who start their St. Paddy’s Day party at 2 in the afternoon are just as annoying 🙂 Likewise, it too is a religious holiday that has been pretty much turned into a caricature of itself, at least in the U.S.

    Also, I read somewhere many years ago that the government of Ireland, back in the late 50s or early 60s, briefly considered moving St. Patrick’s Day to September so there would be better weather for outdoor celebrations! Needless to say, that didn’t fly.

  • And speaking of moving holidays to weekends — if I remember correctly, students at U. of Ill. in Champaign observe something called “Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day” on the Friday or Saturday closest to the actual St. Paddy’s Day. The observance consists entirely of hanging out in bars and getting as drunk as possible.

    I suppose that no matter what happens to the Spirit Halloween petition drive, the preceding Saturday will become, if it hasn’t already, “Unofficial Halloween” for adult partying purposes anyway.

  • Goodness, perhaps someday the secularists will wish to ensure “Christmas,” which they will call “The Winter Holiday,” always falls on Friday so everyone gets a 3 day weekend.

    Awfully pesky the way things are now, when Dec. 25 can fall on a Wednesday. Once you remove the religious significance of these holidays, there’s no point to keeping to a set date.

  • Some of you should read up on history a bit.

    The reality is that the Church chose Dec 25th for Christmas in an attempt to add religious meaning to an already existent pagan holiday. There is circumstantial evidence that Jesus was actually born in April.

    Back to the holiday at hand…Halloween is and always has been a pagan holiday. The religious holiday that the Church attached to it (once again, in order to add a religious meaning to it) is All Saints Day. This petition doesn’t mention moving All Saints Day. In fact, you might end up with more people in the pews on Nov. 1st if they haven’t been out trick or treating and then stuffing themselves full of candy all night the night before.

  • Martha,

    I wasn’t aware that the Hebrews were pagans. Wasn’t Dec. 25th the date the temple was re-dedicated? It seems like a religiously significant date for the temple in Jerusalem and since Jesus refers to Himself as the temple – it makes sense, don’t you think?

    As for Halloween – move it, don’t move it – it doesn’t matter – for most of us, including the secularists, it is just a fun night to dress up act silly, beg for candy and share some frivolous entertainment with each other. There is a danger that the occult becomes cool, but I think for most people this is innocent fun. As for all the drunks, rowdy morons, witches and satanists – they are going to do what they do, with or without secular Halloween and they’ll do it on Oct 31 and/or the last Sat in Oct – do they really care?

    People are not skipping Mass on All Saints because of Halloween – how else do you account for all the other days they skip Mass?

    Holidays have the significance we give them. Christmas can be just a day to drink egg nog and get gifts. Easter can just be about chocolate eggs. We are not forced to worship God; we are just as free to worship ourselves – at least for a little while – then Bam! Halloween won’t mean a thing although some of the imagery might be familiar in hell.

  • Thanks for sharing with information. now i know more about holloween..please keep posting. I will visit again.

It's A Depression, Thus Sayeth The Veep

Wednesday, October 21, AD 2009

During these dismal economic days, we can always rely upon the  comic stylings of Joe Biden to raise our morale, just as the American public during Depression I looked to the Three Stooges for comic relief.  I assume Jolly Joe in the above video was thinking of  the old Reagan line from Reagan’s 1980 campaign for President:  “A Recession is when your neighbor loses his job.  A Depression is when you lose your job.  A Recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his!”  Needless to say, the brighter lights in the Administration were reaching for extra strength pain relief as they saw the human gaffe machine use the “D” word, especially since they have been attempting to convince a sceptical public that the recession  is ending.

What makes this especially hilarious is that Newsweek, the unofficial house organ of the Obama administration, ran a puff piece on Biden last week entitled “Why Joe is No Joke” .  Hint Joe, when you are a politician and one of the most sycophanic press journals on your side runs a story arguing that you are not a joke, that is most definitely not a good sign.

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13 Responses to It's A Depression, Thus Sayeth The Veep

  • “We can always rely upon the comic stylings of Joe Biden to raise our morale, just as the American public during Depression I looked to the Three Stooges for comic relief.”

    Remember a few months ago when we were speculating on who the Third Illinois Stooge might be to go with Blago and Burris? Looks like the great state of Delaware stepped up to fill the gap — thank you very much Delawareans 🙂

    Blago, Burris, and Biden…it even kinda rhymes with Moe, Larry, and Curly!

  • Wait, am I supposed to be tickled at Biden for actually slipping out the truth? It is a depression and its not going away. Man, I’d love it if the Administration actually admitted reality.

  • C’mon Anthony. ‘Not going away’ on what time scale?

    The decline in per capita income over the last year or so has been on the order of 4-5%. That during the period from the fall of 1929 to the spring of 1933 was on the order of 30%. We have a ways to go ‘ere we can be said to be suffering adjustments on the scale people did during the Depression.

    No one is certain at this point whether production levels have stabilized or whether there will be a secondary contraction brought on by renewed stress on the banks (as leases on commercial real estate contracted after 2003 expire) or by a currency crisis (given the ratio of public sector borrowing to domestic savings).

    The tax increases necessary to balance the public books will likely put a drag on economic growth for a couple of business cycles, even if nothing acutely disagreeable happens over that time. The situation is bad enough without overstating matters.

  • Nah. Its a depression.

  • Just another in a long line of VPs who were best kept a closet and brought out for state functions only.

  • I’m just waiting for him to mis-spell tomato during a photo-op with school children. LOL

    God bless our poor doofus Veep.

  • Ha! Loved this. Just wish the overall effects of this administration were half as funny and a billions times less scary. Hey you want to catch some frightening stuff Obama is up to, catch my post tomorrow. Are you aware of the “Climate Debt Treaty” Obama is scheduled to sign in Denmark next month? Effectively signing away our sovereignty as a free nation and subjugating it to the New World Order?

    Like you blog – I’ll be back.

    Marvin D Wilson

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  • Hi there, nice site with good info. I really like coming back here often. There’s only one thing that annoys me and that is the misfunctioning of comment posting. I usually get to 500 error page, and have to do the post twice.

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Red Ink

Wednesday, March 25, AD 2009


A look at the federal budget since 2000, with projections, for what little they are worth, by the White House and the Congressional Budget Office to 2019.  By CBO estimates last week, the budget deficits between now and 2019 would total $9, 300, 000, 000, 000.00.  The entire cost of WW2 for the US in 2008 dollars was 3.6 trillion.  This year the budget deficit will total 13% of our gross domestic product.  This isn’t economic policy, it is lunacy.  These type of deficits are completely unsustainable, and we are running towards national bankruptcy.  It is impossible to borrow these type of funds from abroad.  We will simply create the funds out of thin air.  The long term impact on our children and their children can be easily imagined.  As the Heritage Foundation points out, this is a completely bi-partisan disaster.  Politicians have acted like teen-agers with stolen credit cards for far too long.  However, this will stop.  It will stop either by voters throwing out of office the fiscally irresponsible, or, much more likely in my estimation, the economy will simply hit a brick wall.  This will not, cannot, go on.  How it is stopped is up to us.

Update I:  The President of the EU slams current US economic policy as a road to hell.  I never thought I would live to see the day when a President of the EU would have more economic sense than a President of the US.

UpdateII:  Hattip to Instapundit.  A sign of things to come.  Stocks slide after a lack-lustre sale of T bills and notes: 

“Bond prices fell after the auction of $34 billion in 5-year Treasury notes. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, jumped to 2.77 percent from 2.71 percent late Tuesday. The yield on the three-month T-bill rose to 0.19 percent from 0.17 percent Tuesday.

Investors gave an unexpectedly cool response to the note sale just a day after a $40 billion auction of 2-year notes suggested strong demand. The government is running up huge deficits in order to fund an array of plans to provide stimulus to the economy and support to the ailing financial system. Any suggestion that demand for U.S. government debt is weakening is a negative for stocks, simply because Wall Street has been relying so heavily on the government’s rescue plans.

The surge of worry over the debt auction wiped out the market’s early optimism in response to durable goods and home sales data.”

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9 Responses to Red Ink

Obamanomics, or How Low Will the Dow Go!

Wednesday, March 4, AD 2009


As Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit notes here, since the passage of the Bankrupt the Nation Act of 2009, erroneously referred to as the Stimulus Bill,  the Dow has lost over 1400 points.  Since the election of President Obama, the Dow has lost over 2700 points as detailed here.  However, in the midst of the greatest Bear market in a generation, our President has financial advice for us:  Buy stocks!

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19 Responses to Obamanomics, or How Low Will the Dow Go!

  • Very well authored and understood!

    I favor President Obama’s Stimulus plan, as you can see by my recent posting:


    And sure hope it works for all Americans, everywhere!

  • Out of curiosity, I wonder how many of our readers do plan on buying stocks in the near future?

    I’ve been thinking about it. (Of course, I’ve also been thinking about stockpiling gold, so my investment strategies are a bit diversified).

  • Much pain is being felt by people in their late 50’s who could have done well had they opted out of the 401 stocks into the safety of principal feature of such plans….about two years ago. Now they have lost half of their life’s retirement savings. Had leveraged shorting etf’s been available to 401 people, they would still be hurting but would be better off than they are. IRA people (retirement accounts in IRA plans…not left over Irish radicals) can use leveraged short ETF’s. The 401 options need a lot of tweaking after this in the bylaws. They fix inexperienced people into the long direction which is chaos when a down market comes. Do a hundred year chart at big charts using .spx for the broader market and you will see that people whose stocks went down during the depression, took 25 years to come up to their peak again. Hopefully this time being different will be much quicker than that. But the carelessly bandied about canard of the past decades: “the market always comes back”…. executed some older folk who stayed long…..trusting in that….. as the market went down.

  • Hmm, not that I’m fan of the Prez and his stimulus plan which is obscenely laden with pork and counterproductive spending, but I think his promoted investment in the stock market is a good thing – or could/should be. The market is sensitive to confidence and fear. You want to tank the market for sure, have the nations executive and financial leaders say that the market is in horrible shape and recommend everyone bail out of it. On the flip side, try to instill some confidence and (genuine) hope, that we will work our way out of this, but part of that is to behave in a manner that looks to the future.

    I’m not saying that I think we’ve hit the bottom – I have no idea. And I’m not saying that if everyone started investing more heavily in the market it still won’t tank and bust the nation further. I just know that if the only way to help the market to recover is to build some confidence. I’ll give the Prez credit on that front because the M.O. of his party is usually to peddle fear which always makes things worse.

  • Tom,

    what exactly do you like about the stimulus bill that is mostly void of the key stimulating measures that are universally agreed to? tax cuts, and infrastructure projects?

    Community organizing is not infrastructure, steelworkers will not retool to become social workers and pre-school teachers.

  • I did go ahead and crank up my 401k contributions a few percent back in January, on the theory that the stock market is low enough that it’s a “bargain” to buy more now. I also started buying my company’s stock again for the first time in a couple years — it’s bottomed out at roughly the cost of lunch per share and I think the company’s essentially sound so I figure it’ll go up eventually.

    However, being 30, I have a lot of years for the buying-at-the-low behavior to pay off. I don’t know if I’d be doing it if I expected to need that money within the next five years.

  • I’m with Rick as far as not knowing how far the market will drop, but I also am of the same mind as Black Adder is on Gold. I haven’t made any decisions at all, but I’m eyeballing high risk mutuals the closer the stock market approaches 4-5000.

  • Sold almost all I had in August so avoided big losses (took some losses.) Have all my contributions on hold as of this month. Will watch how the market will go in next couple and decide on restarting contributions. Think 5000 is not unreasonable. Will wait until sure bottom is hit before considering reinvesting. No need to buy now if stocks are still overpriced.

    My big concern is long-term. The stimulus plan may actually improve the economy somewhat in the short-term (next year.) My concern is for the long-term which the plan may impair. Thus my doubt in investing for the long-term.

  • I had been doing some volatility trading with indexes, but (fortunately) got out last week. Not sure if I’ll go back in anytime soon. I think stepping up the 401k contributions is probably a good idea long term, though.

  • “I think stepping up the 401k contributions is probably a good idea long term, though.”

    The problem is probably. It is probably good if you’re thirty. If your in your fifties I’m not so sure.

  • John Henry,

    It is in my humble opinion that what you’re doing is exactly what I do to during times like these. I increase my contributions when the market slides because when the market does rebound you’ll have many more shares in your 401k that will drastically increase your bottom line.

  • There is a lesson here for all the 30 year olds and 40 year olds vis a vis their 401’s…when they age into retirement. As one gets into their 50’s, one must be way cautious and seeking more safety.
    The other more adventurous lesson is to put something in IRA’s alongside a 401 which would have helped you even now….because IRA’s permit short ETF’s meaning ETF’s (bought exactly like stocks) that do the opposite of the market. The market goes down;they go up.

    When a dark period comes with systemic warnings on the whole economic system being given weekly on the nightly business news, the IRA pensioner can load up on vehicles like QID which does 2 times the inverse of the Nasdaq. As the market tanks, QID goes up and depending on the principal, it can prevent one’s whole total from doing anything negative or positive if one watches it as one can with IRA’s on the internet at places like Fidelity. Since it does 2 times the inverse, it takes less money in the IRA to counterbalance the 401 regular stocks but it needs watching because the short vehicles lose their advertised leverage when things are very bad so that a 2X’s can become something less than that in efficacy.

    It is not perfectly easy…otherwise no hedge funds would be down since they employ this technique…but many of them are down half what the market is down and hedge funds have the added burden in dealing with so much stock, that they are not as nimble as an IRA person in this area. There are short only hedge funds that are up 90% in this time period.

    Laws for 401’s should make something like the Prudent Bear Fund available: it is a Mutual Fund that is always short….goes up when the market goes down.

  • I guess this all presupposes what the Obama plan will do to the economy long-term. By this I mean for the next ten to twenty years. Will the plan make the American economy (and the stock market) grow much more slowly? If so, will we not see the historical 8% returns on stock investments (as I understand them to have been.) Or will they be significantly less? If significantly less, what would be a better investment especially if one is still not a youngster and a 4% return on an investment may not yield much in ten or fifteen years.

  • As one gets into their 50’s, one must be way cautious and seeking more safety.

    It’s a very good point. I turn 30 later this year, and so I can accept a higher level of risk. It may be a very bad idea to step up 401k contributions into the market if you plan to retire in the next five years. Even for younger people, the Japanese stock market is a pretty stark reminder that markets don’t always continue upward.


  • Bill,

    I completely agree. I probably should have put a caveat to my earlier posting concerning investing in high risk mutuals, but while you’re still in your 30s and 40s.

  • In the 80’s Japan was the economic miracle. John Henry’s link above shows how things can change. The general rule for the American Stock Market has been to hang in there. In the long-term things will turn out just fine.

    However, is Obama’s economics making the future of the American Stock Market look more like the current Japanese one?

  • Obama’s anti-capitalist rhetoric has driven the market further down. The economic slowdown may have started with President Bush, but Obama is pushing this economic slowdown into a disasterous depression.

  • The question for long-term investment then is will this (possible) depression transition into sluggish, European style growth? If so, will the conventional wisdom about long-term investing hold? Or if one is already in their 40’s it might not be advantageous to invest but if one is in their 20’s and young 30’s perhaps so?

  • Another thought on “how low can it go.” They’re talking 4000! Do I hear 3?


Obama Finds His 9/11

Friday, February 27, AD 2009

Critics of the Bush Administration often complained (especially during his first term) that Bush used 9/11 as a justification for nearly everything he did. Given that the country was widely supportive of the administration in the years right after the attack, this was (the complaint went) a way for Bush to do things he’d wanted to do anyway under the guise of responding to an emergency. While I think this complaint was overstated, there is an element of truth to it. For instance, I don’t think there’s a whole lot of question that many within the administration (rightly or wrongly) wanted to get rid of the Baathist regime in Iraq even prior to taking office.

In this respect, Obama seems to have found his 9/11, his excuse for doing all the things he and his party want to do while assuring everyone it would be a Very Bad Idea it not Downright Unpatriotic for them to disagree. Obama’s 9/11 is the recession, or as the media seems to have named it “The Worst Economic Downturn Since the Great Depression”. (This is, to my mind, a rather unwieldy name. Perhaps we could just call it the “Big Recession” or the “Little Depression”?)

Thus, in his presentation of a new budget which is heavy on partisan measures (big tax increases on “the rich” and preparation for major changes in social service structure and spending) and racks up the largest deficit (as percentage of GDP) since 1942, Obama assured people that this was necessary in order to restore the economy:

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20 Responses to Obama Finds His 9/11

  • Interesting. Bush used 9/11 to spread imperialism; lead a series of unjust military actions that resulted in 100s of 1000s of unnecessary deaths; torture, suspend habeas corpus etc,

    So far, Obama has used the recession to extend healthcare for children, invest in our infrastructure and attempt to put a modicum of order to the shambles of an economy that Bush and his Republican majority bestowed on us.

  • Bush used 9/11 to spread imperialism;

    Really? It’s certainly one of the more interesting imperialistic regimes of all times, one in which the supposed imperial power has not exactly displayed a penchant for flexing its will on the supposed colonial powers.

    lead a series of unjust military actions that resulted in 100s of 1000s of unnecessary deaths;

    A series? There have been exactly two military actions taken, the first of which was largely supported. So we have exactly one supposedly unjust military action that resulted in the creation of the only Arabic democracy in the world.

    suspend habeas corpus

    This allegation would be true were it the United States circa 1861, but last I check habeas corpus remained well in tact unless you were a non-citizen who was considered a terrorist.

    Obama has used the recession to extend healthcare for children, invest in our infrastructure and attempt to put a modicum of order to the shambles of an economy that Bush and his Republican majority bestowed on us.

    Yeah, keep drinking that kool-aid Mark. So far Obama has used the “crisis” to drastically increase the size and reach of the federal government. The “infrastructure” developments largely extend to helping union construction workers here in DC in order to make the federal government buildings look prettier. But hey, billions of dollars for ACORN and trains between Disney and Las Vegas will surely restore the economy.

    BTW, you do realize that the Democrats have been in the majority for well over two years?

  • Paul

    It is well documented, even by Paul Wolfowitz himself, that our primary reason for going into Iraq was oil.

    I am sorry I do not minimize the deaths of Middle Easterners in the manner that you apparently do.

    When localized governments,human service organizations, and the private sector fail to deliver what the common good demands, CST allows– even calls for– actions by government on the higher-level.

    Stop reading your Rand, Acton, or Limbaugh propaganda.

  • It is well documented, even by Paul Wolfowitz himself, that our primary reason for going into Iraq was oil.

    That claim doesn’t pass the sniff test. If we were going there to take their oil, isn’t it odd that we haven’t taken it?

    I am sorry I do not minimize the deaths of Middle Easterners in the manner that you apparently do.

    And yet you wish so very much that the Iraqi people were still being crushed under the Baathist’s boots, rather than running their own country democratically? I’m afraid I don’t despise them so much.

    However, I do think that the attempt to use 9/11 as a shortcut to gain support for the Iraq War (a worthy cause in its own right) has resulted in a great deal of trouble in the long run. The Iraq War should have been sold on its own merits.

    And I strongly suspect that as people wake up to realize that Obama is mortgaging (if not destroying) the US economy in order to achieve his dream of a euro-style technocratic state, they will similarly turn on him for having sold them a bill of goods under false pretenses.

    When localized governments,human service organizations, and the private sector fail to deliver what the common good demands, CST allows– even calls for– actions by government on the higher-level.

    Which is exactly why Obama should not be frittering away money on silly pet projects and political games in the middle of a recession.

  • Darwin,

    Nice post. There’s nothing like a crisis to justify a power grab by politicians.

    And to Obama’s claim that this is not a normal turn of the business cycle, I’d suggest checking out some of the nice charts that the Minnesota Fed has put out comparing this recession to previous postwar recessions. It’s not obvious that this is the worst (or even the 3rd or 4th worst) in the past half century or so.

  • It is well documented, even by Paul Wolfowitz himself, that our primary reason for going into Iraq was oil.

    If it is well documented, then you can easily provide the documentation. I await with baited breath.

    I am sorry I do not minimize the deaths of Middle Easterners in the manner that you apparently do.

    What Darwin said in response is basically what I would have said.

    Stop reading your Rand, Acton, or Limbaugh propaganda.

    Never read Rand or Acton, but some people named Madison, Adams, and Hamilton who all predicted that this would come to pass if we destroyed the breaks on plebiscatary democracy.

  • that this would come to pass if we destroyed the breaks on plebiscatary democracy”

    O O O O…
    It’s so elegant,
    So intellligent.

    And try Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas and Maratain.

  • O O O O…
    It’s so elegant,
    So intellligent.

    And try Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas and Maratain.

    Mark, seriously, if you have something intelligent to contribute, do so.

    For instance, you speak of Plato. Clearly you know nothing of Plato if you believe that he was a proponent of mass democracy. In The Politics he described the degeneration of regimes from timocracy, to oligarchy, to democracy, to tyranny. The democratic form of government is actually castigated by Plato. Aristotle also lists democracy among the bad forms of government – “polity” was the good form of rule by the masses, one in which the people governed indirectly.

    The Framers established a Republic, one which was designed to limit the harm done by mass democracy. The Framers feared that demagogues could use crises to devise hasty legislation that would be designed to do good, but instead would do more harm. As Madison said in Federalist 63:

    “As the cool and deliberate sense of the community ought, in all governments, and actually will, in all free governments, ultimately prevail over the views of its rulers; so there are particular moments in public affairs when the people, stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn. In these critical moments, how salutary will be the interference of some temperate and respectable body of citizens, in order to check the misguided career, and to suspend the blow meditated by the people against themselves, until reason, justice, and truth can regain their authority over the public mind? What bitter anguish would not the people of Athens have often escaped if their government had contained so provident a safeguard against the tyranny of their own passions? Popular liberty might then have escaped the indelible reproach of decreeing to the same citizens the hemlock on one day and statues on the next.”

    Seems like he was on to something.

  • It is well documented, even by Paul Wolfowitz himself, that our primary reason for going into Iraq was oil.

    It depends on what you mean. Here are some options:

    1) The Middle East wouldn’t play such an important role in international politics if it did not have oil, and that this was a sine qua non of U.S. military involvement in the region in both of the Gulf Wars. In other words, the strategic importance of the region’s resources creates the necessary background conditions for military involvement.

    2) The U.S. went into Iraq because they wanted to take Iraqi oil.

    If you mean the former I agree; if you mean the latter, I expect next you’ll confess you have some suspicions about the ‘official story’ for 9/11. I’m kidding…mostly, but I think both are fevered conspiracy theories.

  • Paul,

    Plato wrote the Republic. Aristotle wrote the Politics. Plato said what you summarize in the Republic.

  • Paul

    And read, say, Maratain’s beautiful Universal Declaration on Human Rights, written for the U.N.

    BTW, in the words of some rock persona whose name I cannot seem to remember, “I am a lover, not a fighter.” So I advise that you save your spiritedness for your Rush fix on Monday. But I pray for your co-workers and relatives who think differently than you and may happen to be in your proximity. 😉

  • Sorry for the typo. But do you care to actually argue about what was said? And while you’re at it, you still have not shown any documentation that the Iraq war was about oil – something easy to do since it is so well documented.

  • And I much prefer another French philosopher, linked to today by Zach at Civics Geek. Again, it fits the occasion:

  • John Henry,

    not to mention it’s unlikely that Hussein could have remained in power without oil revenues, nor could he have been as great a threat to US interests without it.

  • Very nice link, Paul. I particularly liked this passage:

    “[The despotism that arises from a democracy] does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which government is the shepherd. .??.??.”


  • Hit the nail right on it’s head.

    A fine post.

    Obama and the liberal Democrats will seize as much power as possible to push their Marxist agenda.

    Can’t wait for the congressional elections in two years.

  • It is amazing that these Obama nuts still do not seem to realize that they voted for a total idiot that has no idea what he is doing. He is without a doubt a socialist, but this one cannot add, does not know history, and certainly hates the USA.

  • Gramps,

    Just a friendly reminder to address the issues and not to demean people.


  • I certainly agree with many (though not all) of the President’s goals, but his statist impulses vary in no way from the standard Democrat line for the last sixties, and as numerous scholars have argued, such an approach only furthers the atomization of our culture and the withering away of intermediary associations, tending toward a future in which the State is involved in every aspect of our life and the exclusion of other entities… in other words, totalitarianism.

  • “in other words, totalitarianism.”


    You surprised me here. I take you as much more intellectually temperate.

Res Ipsa Loquitur (II)

Tuesday, February 17, AD 2009

I posted last week about the negative reception to Geithner’s bank plan. Here, for instance, was Paul Krugman’s take:

It’s really not clear what the plan means; there’s an interpretation that makes it not too bad, but it’s not clear if that’s the right interpretation….So what is the plan? I really don’t know, at least based on what we’ve seen today. But maybe, maybe, it’s a Trojan horse that smuggles the right policy into place.

Not exactly an enthusiastic endorsement. Today’s Washington Post has some of the back story:

Just days before Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner was scheduled to lay out his much-anticipated plan to deal with the toxic assets imperiling the financial system, he and his team made a sudden about-face.

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6 Responses to Res Ipsa Loquitur (II)

  • Another view of the limits of Governments and economic policies:

    “The third issue, I would like to mention here today, is the current financial and economic crisis. I recently spent three full days discussing this topic at the World Economic Forum in Davos and my feeling is that the rationality and the economic science have been suppressed or forgotten. The very unpleasant, day by day deeper economic crisis should be accepted as a standard economic phenomenon, as an unavoidable consequence and hence a “just” price we have to pay for the long-term playing with the market by the politicians. Their attempts to blame the market, instead of themselves, are unacceptable and should be resolutely rejected. Their activities, aiming at “reforming” the economic system, are all very doubtful and I as said in Davos: I am getting more afraid of these reforms than of the crisis itself. ”

    Václav Klaus, Foreign Policy Lecture Series, Foreign Policy France, Ledoyen Restaurant, Paris, 11 February 2009

    Full text here:


  • While Klaus is known for taking controversial positions, I think the debates around the stimulus package have clarified his point fairly well: we don’t know that it will work, but we hope (and have some reason to expect) it will be better than nothing. Time will tell.

  • The haste of our Hope and Change President and enlightened Congresspersons in enacting the Porkapalooza Bill speaks loudly. As though releasing pent-up energies building up since 1965. Possibly since 1933. As in always one or more reasons not to do it. Those pesky wars. Roaring economic times or the lack thereof in the 30s. Those even peskier GOP Presidents- Ike, Tricky Dick, Ronaldus Magnus, Bush pere et fis. Those really annoying elections of 1994, 2000, 2004 that held back the tide. By November 4, 2008 the stars and planets aligned in their favor. The Messiah of Hope and Change ascended to the White House. Another two years of enlightened Dems running Capitol Hill. A GOP dismayed and flummoxed. And we can’t wait write write write get it done Speaker Pelosi’ trip to Rome may be in jeopardy. Listening to our all-news radio station this morn- story of how City Hall bureaucrats pour over the 1000-plus pages of the Porkapalooza Bill, rightly dividing the word of truth to see how much cash funnels to Philly. Where it better help our beleaguered police department, pronto- Officer John Pawlowski, fine young Catholic law enforcement pro, gunned down like a deer in the woods Friday night. Sixth such murder of an officer in a year. Leaves a greaving bride pregnant with first child. No sympathies coming from Washington. Why? If Porkapalooza is the first of such bills, why need state or local governments? And who would care in D.C. of such heroes as Officer Pawlowski? Thus we interpret Hope and Change.

  • we don’t know that it will work, but we hope (and have some reason to expect) it will be better than nothing. Time will tell.

    I think that’s part of it, but another big chunk (and I fear it’s actually the larger part of the motiviation) is that as a matter of self defense people are always more inclined to do something rather than do nothing in a situation with a lot of pressure — even if the information and reason they have available to them suggest that a less interventionalist course might actually be the best one.

    If you say, “We’re already doing everything that we can, and now we just want to execute to our plans and hope for the best,” you leave yourself wide open to all sorts of, “But if he had done this,” claims. If, on the other hand, you constantly come up with and execute new plans (even plans that use up resources without helping — possibly even make things slightly worse) you can always point back and say, “We did everything we could. Surely things would have been even worse if we hadn’t acted.”

    So in an attempt to assure approval people will often do incremental actions that are actually helpful, just so that they can claim to have “done everything”.

  • I would agree that the 1) something must be done, 2) this is something, therefore it must be done line of thinking was a primary motivation for the stimulus package. I would add a third: cramming in eight years worth of projects from the Democratic Congressional wish list.

    Larison thinks the Democrats will come out of this fine, regardless of the outcome. At least they can say they did something. That’s quite possible, but it seems to me they over-played their hand somewhat. As discussed previously, almost half the funding won’t even be spent until 2011; the Democrats basically refused to make any concessions on the bill, saying basically, ‘we won’.

    If it doesn’t work out, I think they will be vulnerable to the charge that they acted irresponsibly; pursuing their own pet projects instead of policies like payroll tax deductions that most economists support. The ‘we were trying everything’ line only works if people think you are sincere. I am not sure the Democrats effectively made the case that their motivations were for the public rather than their party.\

    On the banking plan, the article seems to suggest they’ve (rather clumsily) decided on a somewhat less interventionist approach than they originally planned.

  • but we hope (and have some reason to expect) it will be better than nothing.

    It may do what it is intended to do, but that is far worse than nothing. This is not a stimulus bill, it is a vast enlargement of the Federal government, it creates new entitlements and distributions which will never be rolled back, and to boot… it will not likely help the economy even in the short run.