Ina column in The New York Times titled "Poor Sarah," Judith Warner pretends to feel for Sarah Palin as she innocently and pathetically tries to appear worldly. This is just one more piece of evidence that the "intellectual elite" are terrified that they will be shown one more time that Manhattan doesn't run this country. Her column's closing paragraph:
Frankly, I’ve come to think, post-Kissinger, post-Katie-Couric, that Palin’s nomination isn’t just an insult to the women (and men) of America. It’s an act of cruelty toward her as well.
Poor Sarah. Those mean old men are just using this helpless, pretty, sweet woman.
I don't know if Warner claims to be a feminist, but if she does she should be drummed out of the corps.
What we're witnessing in Washington this week is not a Wall Street bailout, it's a bailout of the politicians. The members of Congress are afraid, and they should be, that if there is a major near-term meltdown of our economy most of them won't be elected the next time they're up for re-election. They prefer that the economy be dragged down gradually over several years so that it won't be so directly linked to them.
Make no mistake about it. It's a zero-sum game. The economy has already taken the hit; we just haven't seen all the effects yet. The question is do we want to take the punishment now or do we want to spread it out over time? I say take it now. Let's gulp down the medicine and get on with the healing.
Let the weak companies fail. Let the strong (or new) companies step in to take their place. Put more weight on what the economists who don't have strong ties to Wall Street have to say than on what Wall Street executives and former executives have to say.
Let those who bought more house than they could afford lose the house. Let the lenders who gave them the opportunity lose their money. Rescind the laws that encourage bad lending practices. The worst thing we can do for the economy is to endlessly continue to prop up bad decisions.
I heard Senator Barbara Boxer this morning mock John McCain for saying last week that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. I don't know if she was just being political or is dumb enough not to know that McCain is right. I suspect the latter. I suspect she doesn't understand that the fundamentals of the economy are the skilled workforce, the capital infrastructure and the entrepreneurship that exist in this country. I suspect that she thinks it is the amount of control the government has over the economy.
The fundamentals are going to still be there whether Wall Street crashes or doesn't crash. We will bounce back if the government will get out of the way. I prefer that we start the bounce sooner rather than later.
In discussing the proposed financial institution bailout in his column yesterday Dr Thomas Sowell said that "many people have trouble even forming some notion of what such numbers as billion and trillion mean." To get some idea of the magnitude of a trillion he suggests thinking about it in terms of what was going on in the world a trillion seconds ago. The answer is not much. No one on the planet knew how to read. That could have been because no one knew how to write. It was over 31,709 years ago. I suspect there were no politicians around back then.
If you could earn a dollar a second (that's $3,600 per hour) and worked 24/7 with no sleep or vacations it would take you over 31,709 years to earn a trillion dollars. You would be earning over $32 million per year but it would still take you more than 31,709 years to earn a trillion dollars. If you don't think you can work that long and if you can recruit 31,708 people with the same earning ability to help out, you can earn the trillion dollars in about a year.
If the trillion dollar debt the government is about to incur is divided equally among 300 million Americans it will come to $3,333.33 per person. It seems to me that will drag down the economy as much or more than letting a few rogue companies go belly up.
I received an e-mail from my daughter that purports to explain how the US Income Tax system works in terms of ten men who gather nightly at their local bar to drink beer together. This has been around for a year or two but it's worth a read if you haven't seen it before. I found it on the web along with a rather clumsy and irrelevant attempt to refute the analogy. Truthorfiction.com has found that both David R. Kamerschen and T. Davies deny that they wrote the piece. Regardless of its origin, my opinion is that it is a relatively accurate but somewhat simplistic illustration of how our tax system works.
One of the reasons that many people don't understand how the tax system works is that they don't understand how percentages work. I kid you not. I see it quite often. One example is the willingness of diners to keep increasing the percentage of meal costs that they give to the server as a gratuity. We've seen it go from 10 to 15 to 20 percent. I've heard the argument that this is necessary due to inflation; that the servers need to get a raise along with everyone else. Huh? When a meal cost $10 and the expected gratuity was 10 percent the server got a dollar. When the meal went up to $15 the server got $1.50 at the old 10 percent rate. The server got a 50 percent increase in income just like the restaurant, and for the server it's all profit. But what really happened is when the meal cost went up to $15 the expected gratuity went up to 15 percent and the server got $2.25, a 125 percent increase while the restaurant only got a 50 percent increase in gross receipts.
We're a nation of suckers when it comes to income taxes and tipping.
In a column in Newsweek Jacob Weisberg tries to justify his belief that racism in America is preventing Barack Obama from building a substantial lead over John McCain. Yet he contradicts himself in his opening paragraph by saying that Obama has "every natural and structural advantage." Or does he believe that being half-black is unnatural?
Obama has built a crack political operation, raised record sums and inspired millions with his eloquence and vision. McCain has struggled with a fractious campaign team, deficits in clarity and discipline, and remains a stranger to charisma. Yet at the moment, the two appear to be tied. What gives?
Could it be that about half of the voters actually believe that McCain will serve them better as president than Obama? Could it be that about half of the voters aren't impressed with pure political acumen and tend to look past campaign rhetoric? Could it be that about half of the voters place more weight on what a candidate has shown himself to be than on what he promises to be? Could it be that about half of the voters chafe at the government holding their hand and can't face the prospect of it holding both their hands? Could it be that about half of the voters place more value on substance than charisma? Could it be that about half of the voters feel that Obama is better suited to playing the president in a movie than actually running the country? Could it be that about half of the voters don't have a problem voting for a black candidate but don't want to vote for this black candidate? I could go on and on.
“If it makes you feel better, you can rationalize Obama’s missing 10-point lead on the basis of Clintonite sulkiness, his slowness in responding to attacks or the concern that he may be too handsome, brilliant and cool to be elected. But let’s be honest: the reason Obama isn’t ahead right now is that he trails badly among one group, older white voters. He lags with them for a simple reason: the color of his skin."
It doesn't matter to Weisberg that in recent history white Democrats have trailed badly among older white voters. He just wants to attribute it this time to the Democrat having dark skin. To me Obama's appearance suggests gawky more than handsome and I haven't seen anything from him that I would call brilliant except his ability to sell himself. I'll accept cool.
Many have discoursed on what an Obama victory could mean for America. We would finally be able to see our legacy of slavery, segregation and racism in the rearview mirror. Our kids would grow up thinking of prejudice as a nonfactor in their lives. The rest of the world would embrace a less fearful and more open post-post-9/11 America. But does it not follow that an Obama defeat would signify the opposite? If Obama loses, our children will grow up thinking of equal opportunity as a myth. His defeat would say that when handed a perfect opportunity to put the worst part of our history behind us, we chose not to. In this event, the world's judgment will be severe and inescapable: the United States had its day, but in the end couldn't put its own self-interest ahead of its crazy irrationality over race.
Wow! Weisberg's absurd view is that this race for president hinges wholly on race. (The race hinges on race.) Not just the race but the world's judgement. Actually, he desperately wants to make it about race. He wants us to vote for Obama because he's black and then at his inauguration we can all stand and cheer with pride as he struggles to the podium carrying his great handicap with dignity. And then we can stand back and bask in the glow of bliss, harmony and world approval.
That will last about a week before the approving countries, special interests and victim classes line up at the White House with their demands -- and our country hastens its decline into socialism.
Weisberg is wrong in another sense. Electing Obama won't end racism in America. Racism will always be with us as long as people like him, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Jeremiah Wright are around to keep it stoked.
People seem to forget that Obama is as much white as he is black. It probably won't make Weisberg feel any better about staving off our "nation's historical decline" but I'm voting against the white half.
It looks like some of the homes on Galveston Island beaches may not be rebuilt. The AP reports that a Texas law prohibits private buildings inside the average high-tide line. Beach erosion caused by Ike has moved a lot of private homes into that category. The law not only prohibits rebuilding of destroyed homes, but requires undamaged homes to be demolished with little or no compensation to the owners. It is ironic that the owners of insured destroyed homes will be compensated by their insurers, but the owners of undamaged homes will likely get nothing. Apparently they will all lose their rights to the property.
Here's what A.R. "Babe" Schwartz, the former state senator who wrote the law said about the affected homeowners:
"We're talking about damn fools that have built houses on the edge of the sea for as long as man could remember and against every advice anyone has given."
I couldn't have said it better myself -- although I have tried.
I can't turn on the television these days without hearing some politician advocating the achievement of energy independence. Not a single time have I heard one pushing for banana independence. Yet we import all our bananas from foreign countries and some of them don't like us all that much.
The only half-way valid argument for energy independence is national security. If our foreign sources of oil were cut off we could be practically dead in the water after our strategic petroleum reserves are exhausted. For that reason we should be preparing all our known oil fields for production and exploring for more. We should also be developing alternative sources of energy.
But there is no reason to stop importing foreign oil as long as its price is competitive with domestically produced oil. It makes sense to me to keep using the foreign oil as long as we can get it and afford it, and save ours for later. That is, use theirs and hoard ours. If foreign oil becomes unaffordable and threatens our economy we could increase domestic production to hold the price down.
The politicians also rant about the hundreds of billions of dollars we are sending to the Middle East each year to satisfy our "addiction" to oil. They speak as if the money is being poured down a rat hole. Actually, if the foreign recipients of our dollars are pouring them down a rat hole or storing them in a vault, the oil we get from them is effectively free. We could just print more money to replace what they are holding.
But that's not how it works. We engage in a voluntary transaction with the foreigners in which we get oil and they get US dollars. The only place on the planet where US dollars can be redeemed is in the US. The dollars that they accept in exchange for their oil are effectively promises that they can come to the US later and exchange them for goods, services or property. They may choose to trade the dollars to some other country but that country still has to spend the dollars in the US. So, in the end, all that money sent abroad has to eventually come back and when it does it creates commerce (and jobs) here. This is true of all other forms of foreign trade as well.
This process still might work to our disadvantage if we pay too much per barrel of oil. We were recently paying about $140 per barrel. A Saudi could (but probably wouldn't) stay overnight in a decent hotel in the US for that amount. We get about 20 gallons of gasoline and numerous side products from the barrel of oil. Is that a good trade? I don't know but a free market will.
Energy independence sounds good but let's not go there as long as foreign oil is comparable in price to domestic oil and we are ready to tap into our known deposits in case of a national emergency.
Two weeks ago it was New Orleans, now it's Galveston. The federal government is riding to the rescue of thousands (millions?) of Texans. It has not only plucked people from the water and rooftops, but will also help them rebuild their homes and businesses.
I'm all for saving people in imminent danger of being killed, but I believe that someone who refuses to evacuate and then has to be extricated by the Coast Guard should have to reimburse the cost of the operation.
It's time for people to reconsider their decisions to build their homes on an ocean beach -- especially those for whom the beach house is their only place of residence. For each person living on the beach there are probably a hundred people who would like to but don't because they don't want to accept the risk. But have at it if you can afford to lose it and won't ask the government to replace it for you.
If the government is not bailing out homeowners who make bad decisions about where to build their homes it is bailing out those who make bad decisions about the size of home they can afford or bailing out the lending institutions that facilitate the acquisition of too much house. Now it is also bailing out investment bankers who make bad decisions. Next thing we know we'll have a huge Department of Homeland Bailouts.
I wonder if any homes in foreclosure were destroyed by Ike. If so, will the homeowners get a double bailout? Don't laugh.
This is all quite depressing but if Obama gets elected we ain't seen nothin' yet!
The Democratic strategists try to look upbeat about their presidential candidate on the talking heads shows, but I suspect they are sweating bullets in private. They are convinced that the country is in the toilet after eight years of Republican rule, they now have their dream candidate for president, and yet he can't pull away in the polls from the Republicans' old white-haired guy.
They claim that John McCain selected the worst possible running mate and that Barack Obama made a great selection, yet the country seems much more excited about Sarah Palin than Joe Biden. Palin even appears to be on the verge of achieving rock star status like Obama.
They complain about Palin's lack of experience although her experience at least matches that of Obama. They seem not to understand that most of the voters probably prefer to have the most experienced candidate at the top of the ticket rather than the bottom.
Obama and his team just can't comprehend why all those simple people out there in fly-over country don't believe in the "Change" he is offering. They don't understand that many of those people are quite happy with the way things are and that many of those who aren't happy with the status quo aren't convinced that he will make it better. They don't understand that most of those people believe that he will make things worse for them in the long-run.
I think the one thing Obama and his team do understand is that a lot of the people out there are suspicious of his motives. They aren't sure that they know who Obama is and what he wants to do. I'm a bit leery of his motives too but I find plenty of reasons not to vote for him without getting into that.
The Democrats used to say that the Republicans were out of touch with middle America. I think the tables have turned. I hope Obama's strategists stay in the dark about what makes us tick.
But are they spending untold millions to repair their reputation or to save the lives of the citizens of New Orleans? Or both?
My fireman nephew in Tennessee called yesterday to say that FEMA has turned his station into an emergency operations center for the processing of evacuees from Louisiana. They plan to house thousands in the barracks of a nearby National Guard base. You've probably seen some TV coverage of other far-ranging operations that FEMA has underway.
It's not that I think the residents of New Orleans should be left to drown. I just don't think they should be living in a place that requires such heroic efforts to save them every few years. They might argue that before Katrina it had been decades since the city had suffered any significant storm damage. But I would respond that the millions spent on levees, pumps and other measures probably helped protect them during that period. Storms or no storms taxpayers across the country are paying dearly to try to keep New Orleans safe. And it's not working very well. For taxpayers there's nothing easy about the Big Easy.
I read that thousands of the pre-Katrina residents have never returned. They're the smart ones. We should reward them. Hey there's an idea! Perhaps we should pay New Orleans residents to leave and never come back. It might cost less than evacuating them every time a hurricane enters the gulf and housing them after each storm that destroys or floods their homes. And make no mistake about it. An evacuation operation will have to be started for every hurricane that can hit New Orleans within four or five days.
If Al Gore is right New Orleans will be permanently underwater within a few years anyway. Regardless of Gore's climate astuteness it just doesn't make sense for us to encourage people to live where they can't afford the risks they are taking.
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