A Rising Tide…

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Jay reminds us of an important point: The great achievement of the Reagan economy wasn’t that the rich got a lot richer (though they did, and good for them!) but that the poor got a lot richer, too. As Treasury figures from the era document, the vast majority (nearly 85 percent) of those who were poor in 1979 (meaning they resided in the lowest income quintile) were in a higher quintile by 1988; even more impressive, two-thirds of them had moved up two quintiles or more. And most impressive of all: Of the people who were in the lowest income quintile in 1979, more had moved to the top quintile by 1988 than remained in the bottom quintile. Which is to say, if you were on the bottom in 1981, you were statistically more likely to be on the top by 1988 than to remain at the bottom.

There is more and it acts as a good reminder of why we on the right continue to fight for our vision of America.

Read it all.

An Absence of Leadership (Updated)

I watch the video below and I suppose I should be grateful that even Axelrod can’t bring himself to bring forth the lie that Americans under President Obama’s term in office are somehow better off than they were four years ago. Even he isn’t willing to say “yes” when asked a blunt question– although the dance he does to avoid answering is a little funny. But I’m not grateful because it still comes packaged by a guy who insists that this President has somehow created jobs.

It’s hard to make a claim of significant job creation when unemployment is worse than it was when you took office and job participation rates are lower than when you took office. And all evidence says that the jobs that were created weren’t particularly good ones– and if you happen to be leaving college right now, you shouldn’t even count on getting one of the bad jobs.

But the roster of folks receiving government assistance has grown. The roster of folks who have simply stopped trying has grown.

Axelrod can’t say it– he wouldn’t get to keep his job if he did say it–but President Obama has failed. His economic policies had doubled our debt, his energy policies have left us all poorer, and he can’t even manage to encourage his own party to offer up so much as symbolic support for his budget. And his own party has simply refused to commit to any budget throughout his term in office. No, not even when they had majorities in the House, the Senate, and a President who would sign whatever they put in front of him. Obama’s failed presidency is marked by a lack of leadership and achievement.

We have suffered not just because of our President’s progressive vision– as poorly articulated and argued as it has been– but because of an absence of leadership that has left us confused, demoralized, and weary.

Former President Carter doesn’t look better by comparison, but their presidencies look remarkably similar. Men, feted by the left for their intelligence and character, who had no idea how to lead a nation through difficult times, who failed to stabilize the economy, and who left the country worse for their care.

With Carter, though, we had Ronald Reagan waiting with the vision, charisma, and powerful leadership to help us rebuild. I truly hope that Romney and Ryan can live up to that towering standard.

Updated: A little related video.

Reminder: Government Successes Tend to Look a Lot Like Failures, Pt 2

Wrecked Car
Wrecked Car
Wrecked Car, Original Photo Compliments SXC.hu.

While we’re told that the auto bailouts were a wild success, the numbers tell a different story. Not a surprising story and some would still argue that the jobs and salvaging two-thirds of the American auto industry was worth the cost. No matter where you end on that particular conversation, the truth is this: this “success” cost far more than it was originally envisaged.

Government “successes” are rarely match up to the way real world successes might be measured.

The Treasury Department says in a new report the government expects to lose more than $25 billion on the $85 billion auto bailout. That’s 15 percent higher than its previous forecast.

In a monthly report sent to Congress on Friday, the Obama administration boosted its forecast of expected losses by more than $3.3 billion to almost $25.1 billion, up from $21.7 billion in the last quarterly update.

The report may still underestimate the losses. The report covers predicted losses through May 31, when GM’s stock price was $22.20 a share.

On Monday, GM stock fell $0.07, or 0.3 percent, to $20.47. At that price, the government would lose another $850 million on its GM bailout.

Of course, when you’ve got the Free Money Fairy in your pocket, you don’t always feel the need to worry over little things like budgeting properly.

Read the rest. 

Call Me Crazy, The Tasty Chicken Edition

Angry Us

Call me crazy, but today’s tolerance doesn’t much look like it did when I was growing up.

Look, tolerance doesn’t mean that everyone parrots the same line or that you have to like what people are saying around you. It means that they have a right to live their life the way they choose even if that means believing some things that you don’t and that you don’t have to hold them as evil, call them assholes, argue points in an unreasonably personalized manner, or harass them just because of a disagreement. I say this as much to remind myself as to remind others.

People have always talked politics and I’ve always been politically minded, but what is happening today is moving so far away from a reasonable dialogue that I wonder how we are managing to hold together as one society.

Of course, reasonable minds understand that this version of tolerance stops when it comes to truly harming others. Advocating for a political position rarely rises to that level. I have no idea how that conversation started nor do I know how it escalated, but I do know that a chicken sandwich wasn’t worth the kind of fight that left one man re-assigned and all folks starring in their own little accidental reality show on all of the news sites.

What happened to the kind of tolerance where we actually manage to get along on a daily basis without someone trying to shout us down or tell us how vile and horrible we are for, essentially, not believing every little thing that they believe? I wonder if people see just how hugely damaging our over-politicized culture is becoming.

When everyone thinks that they have to take absolute stances on all of the issues of the day, when it comes to a place where it harms friendships and family relationships, and when it is so unyielding, how can anyone be surprised at the size of the wall we’re building between us? Of course, we’re a deeply divided country. Not only are we faced with hugely difficult problems, but we’re faced with an increasingly uncivil nation where folks are happily willing to demonize each other with little regard for the harm or hurts caused.

Whatever threads still bind together the fabric of our nation are being slowly unravelled by our own unforgiving nature.

The Mark of Mitt

Here’s a little ha ha to get your day up and running. I mean, it’s a little late for that, but my morning coffee is just finally starting to kick in.

…[I]t’s not just that Mitt Romney hasn’t paid any taxes since 1975 and that Bain Capital is the planet’s largest distributor of E. coli which it manufactures in petri dishes offshored to Mitt’s safe deposit box in the Cayman Islands, but that Mitt will kill your loved ones five years after his minions lay you off. Just because he can. He doesn’t have to meet you. You might show no outward signs of ill health. You might even have a job and health insurance. But you bear the Mark of Mitt, and decades later when you keel over and expire it’ll be because he once laid off your brother, or your cousin, or your hairdresser’s sister, or someone who once heard something from someone who knows Harry Reid.

Very funny stuff from Steyn.

Reminder: Government Successes Tend to Look a Lot Like Failures

Last weekend, I was in the midst of being told that Social Security was quite a government success. I remember thinking to myself that if SS is what counts as a success for the US government, it’s no wonder that President Obama thought Solydra was such a good idea.

Social Security, the biggest Ponzi scheme of all time, is finally catching up to that point where the calculus flips. For early “investors,” the Ponzi scheme works like a charm. As long as an ever growing base of donors props up the system, the checks still roll out on time and no one gets hurt. In this case, it took a mighty long time and a lot of big and little tweaks to the system before a prolonged recession tipped the equation.

One of the big, scary side-effects of prolonged high unemployment and lower labor participation is that the pool of donors has decreased and their “investments” aren’t keeping up with the demand for payout on the other side.

With that, here’s the happy thought of the day:

“For the early generations, it was an incredibly good deal,” said Andrew Biggs, a former deputy Social Security commissioner who is now a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “The government gave you free money and getting free money is popular.”

If you retired in 1960, you could expect to get back seven times more in benefits than you paid in Social Security taxes, and more if you were a low-income worker, as long you made it to age 78 for men and 81 for women.

As recently as 1985, workers at every income level could retire and expect to get more in benefits than they paid in Social Security taxes, though they didn’t do quite as well as their parents and grandparents.

Not anymore.

Read the rest. But keep in mind that the “surplus” discussed in the article is illusory. It’s a big stack of government IOUs to itself that is called a “Social Security Trust Fund” but doesn’t actually contain any money. All it contains is the wobbly legal obligation of the US government to fund for the future– but not an obligation to fund to any specific level or under any specific circumstances. Essentially that money was loaned into the general funds for paying for other things and will now have to be paid back over time and we, the folks who paid into the system, have no specific claim to any of the money that we handed over. The enormity of that may not be obvious, but consider this: that surplus made our budget deficit look smaller every year and now, since the program can’t cover its own costs, it will make our budget deficit look even bigger. The changes that will be required to maintain the illusion of good stewardship of our retirement monies will likely make the deal even worse for upcoming generations.

What those IOUs really mean is that the government will have to borrow more and more from either general funds or from the Free Money Fairy; it also means likely increases in our taxes in some way to help make up for the shortfalls. It may be in bumps to retirement ages, expansion of the income that is taxed, or even a more straightforward bump in the tax rates along with those increased deficits– most likely a combination of a few of the above– but the one sure thing is that the deal has gotten worse and worse over time for workers entering the job market.

We’re asking our kids to fund our retirement with the near-certain knowledge that they will never be returned the equivalent of what they pay to keep us fat and happy in our old age. Merry Christmas, youngster, and get off my damned lawn.

If that has just stoked a little flame in you hungering for more Social Security fun, then read this Forbes article next. It’s a ray of sunshine in all of our lives.

Forget about “lockboxes” and other rhetorical devices used by politicians to perpetuate the unconstitutional falsehood that is Social Security, the unhappier reality is that the minute your employer withholds your Social Security taxes, the money is no longer yours. Deal with it.