Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More-on Bailout

So I've heard the argument from several sources saying that while the bank bailout was a terrible thing for the government to do, the auto bailout is a good thing. Why? Because auto companies employ people and provide jobs.

Point 1: So do banks.
Point 2: Actually, banks employ a lot of people and probably pay them more too.
Point 3: A bailout is a bailout is a stinking bailout.

A recent Fox editorial summed it up pretty good, and even used facts. Something I should probably do more often.

http://foxforum.blogs.foxnews.com/2008/12/09/bolling_automakers/

I just heard that Pres. Obama has proposed an "economic stimulus" package that will cost upwards of 1 trillion dollars. Only his will be building roads and stuff. If we need the roads, great. If it's just smoke and mirrors, I'm not impressed. He said his plan is more than just throwing money at the problems. I don't know, but 1 trillion sounds like throwing a lot of money. I'm truly baffelled by all of this. We rail on Washington for spending like a drunken sailor and then turn around and spend like a drunken sailor. And then we get mad at GM for spending too much money flying their personal planes to DC. We respond by blowing more money.

Look, if you can't afford it, you can't afford it. Even if it is a good or desirable thing. If you want something, earn the stinking money first. Then buy it. I'd be all for the auto bailout, if we were running a government revenue surplus. But we're not. We need to cut spending even if it means losing some good programs. We need to payoff debt and institute wealth generating programs. Then we will have the money to buy the other things we want or need or whatever.

When I was younger, if I wanted to buy something my parents would give me a job. I'd mow the lawn or wash the car or dig ditches. Then I'd get a dollar. Then I'd spend it. It wouldn't have made a lot of sense for my parents to buy the thing and give it to me and then tell me to pay it off. Oh, but only if it doesn't cause a hardship.

LIFE IS HARD. Deal with it. If it means buying Hondas because GM goes out of business, then great. We'll all be cruising around in eco-friendly, affordable, reliable cars in no time. And for those who lose their jobs in the meantime. I'm truly sorry. Really. I've been unemployed before. But you still have skills, so use it as an opportunity to get into something else and expand your horizons. There's a line from a song I love. It goes something like this:

Thank you God, for giving me this insight
So I might make these wrongs right
If and when there ever is a next time
Because failure is a blessing in disguise


(Relient K, "Devestation and Reform")

We slam big corporations again and again for being greedy and evil. Well, now they're eating the consquences of their greed. And we're saving them from it?? Isn't this what we wanted?? Would we bailout Walmart or Big Oil if they were the ones going out of buisness?? (Probably we would. I mean, what's another trillion?) I say let them fail. It's a blessing really. They'll come back more competitive and stronger than before.

SM

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The New Cabinet

Just for fun, I thought I'd toss out my opinion on the new cabinet members. They are ranked on a scale of "up" (=good or interesting choice), "down" (=bad, stupid, or strange choice), "whatever" (=vanilla choice or whether it's good waits to be seen) and "not sure" (=I really don't know much about this person at all and wikipedia wasn't very informative either). These are only positions that have been announced, and I may do another post after the next batch of appointments are named. (There are still some interesting positions that have not been decided in the areas of energy, transportation, etc.)
  • Secretary of Treasury - Timothy Geithner. Down. He has a strong resume, but if you've read my other posts, you might realize that anyone who supported the bailout to the extent that Mr. Geithner did is not going to have a lot of my support. (As if that matters coming from someone of my political clout, but still.) Mr. Geithner not only supported the bailout, the whole AIG thing may have been his idea.

  • Secretary of Commerce - Bill Richardson. Down. The other types of choices that are hard for me to get behind are ones that seem to be based on political moves, rather than actual qualifications. Gov. Richardson has a lot of experience, yes, but not a track record I'm very fond of.

  • Chairperson, Council of Economic Advisors - Christina Romer. Whatever. This seem to me to be a "sexy" choice, if you will. Dr. Romer is a prominent economist in academic circles, and has done a tremendous amount of work in areas relevant to our current economic crisis. She's smart, but I worry that research (recently presented at Ohio State) such as this takes interesting results and tacks politically motivated interpretations on them. That is, she may turn out to be someone who says "yes" to everything Pres. Obama proposes, and use her research to support this, even when the evidence is weak.

  • Director, National Economic Counci - Lawrence Summers. Up, I think. The guy is way smart and has tons of experience. He might have the best resume in the entire cabinet. He was probably a contributor to the some of economic success we experienced during the Clinton administration. The only reason I'm not a solid "up" is that I haven't taken the time yet to really examine where he stood on a few policies of recent concern.

  • Chairman, Economic Recovery Advisory Board - Paul Volcker. Up. I'm a Volcker fan, what can I say? What he did in the 1980's as Fed Chairman was gutsy, not popular, but in retrospect was the right decision. He saved huge future problems at the expense of current discomfort. That's what we need now. Bring on the Volcker Recession Round 2! (Oh wait, we're already in a recession. Perhaps this time it will be the Volcker Depression. Whatever.)

  • Director, Office of Management and Budget - Peter Orszag. Down, but maybe up. Any student of Alan Blinder is going to make me a little nervous. Dr. Blinder does good work, in a rigorous sense, but he sticks too close to the economist way and doesn't consider the real world often. If that rubbed off on Dr. Orszag, that's not good. BUT, he's been somewhat vocal about our debt and it's potential long term problems. If he seizes on this point and keeps the Budget under control, I may be a supporter after all. Although he was in the budget office during the recent uncontrolled spending fiasco.

  • Secretary of State - Hillary Clinton. Down. The is clearly a political choice. I really don't see the qualifications. She needs more solid experience in direct foreign affairs before taking these rains. Up to now, she's really just been sort of next to a lot of things, but not directly involved, other than making speeches and stuff. Maybe she'll prove me wrong and usher in a new area of world peace, but I just see her as bring a lot of politics to the White House and not many real solution. We'll see.

  • Secretary of Defense - Robert Gates. Up. And not because of my personal feelings on the war, either. I'm extremely impressed at Pres. Obama's guts in putting someone in the cabinet who disagrees with him, and to do it in a critical position. This gives me a lot of hope that Pres. Obama really might be more middle ground than I've worried. Now if this was a political choice, then I'm not as thrilled, but I'll take it at face value for now and assume that Pres. Obama really wants a variety of opinions. Again, we'll see.

  • Secretary of Homeland Security - Janet Napolitano. Whatever. Good resume, political track record. Who knows? Not me.

  • National Security Advisor - James Jones. Up, probably. All sorts of experience, strong record, and frankly, I'm interested to see how a military guy will fit into this role.

  • UN Ambassador - Susan Rice. Not sure. I know she's been around a lot, but I haven't paid too much attention to her. I guess I will have to now.

  • Attorney General - Eric Holder. Not sure. See Susan Rice.

  • Secretary of Health and Human Services - Tom Daschle. Down-ish. He's over a department with a huge budget and doesn't have a super record suggesting he's not going to blow a lot of cash. That makes me nervous.

  • US Trade Representative - Xavier Becerra. Down. This one is really puzzling, maybe I don't know something about his track record that I should, but I don't see that he's had much experience in trade matters. He's a lawyer. That's weird. Maybe he's a specialist in international law? Personally, I would prefer to see someone who's more versed in trade economics. Maybe Mr. Becerra is and it just isn't that transparent in my readings of what he's done.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hail the Chief!

How did I miss this interview during the campaign?!?! Had I only known this was his position, I would have decked my house out in Obama '08 signs, worn Obama '08 t-shirts every day, and even helped ACORN register people.



He even said this on ESPN . . . that's like going on MSNBC and saying you're Republican. Good thing he won. We can finally get this country going in the right direction.

SM

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President Obama

Well, it was no surprise to see the election results. In fact, it was downright thoughtful of Ohio, Iowa, and Virginia to seal it up quickly so that I didn't have to stay up much past my bedtime. I joked about donning a red shirt with a hammer and sickle on it and then walk around campus calling everyone "comrade", but then I figured that's a bad idea in one of the counties that helped tip Ohio to Obama. And besides, it's a tongue-in-cheek, crass comment that is not representative of my true sentiments regarding the outcome of the election. In fact, I try to be forward looking and view this as an opportunity to, as Obama himself has said, bring about real change. I sincerely wish President Obama the best as he takes on a tremendous responsibility. A few thoughts:

Cons: Anyone who talks about politics with me knows that Pres. Obama's overall approach to economic policy, including health care, frightens me. What he will actually implement remains to be seen, and I am hoping that his plans to redistribute wealth (in his words) don't get very far. While it will close the income gap, I fear it will do so at the expense of wealth-creating motives. It will close the gap by making the affluent poor, not by making the poor affluent. (You can probably just pick a post below at random to learn why I feel that way!) I also worry that President Obama is a little more arrogant than most politicians, but that's really just a personality thing. I suppose another could call it confidence. I am concerned about how he seems to view corporations as endless supplies of government wealth and not as organizations filled with people. Taxing corporations as punishment for outsourcing jobs is not only a poor reason for levying a tax, but since corporations are made up of profit-maximizing individuals, will likely only make the outsourcing problem worse (depending on precisely how the tax is levied). Finally, I worry about his apparent views concerning the class-structure of society. He seems to view the poor as a class of oppressed people who are now rallying behind him in an effort to rise up and beat the rich. That is not the attitude of a uniter. Perhaps I am mistaken in how I have interpreted some of the things he says, but it is a concern nonetheless.

Pros: The international community currently has a very favorable opinion of President Obama. This puts him in a strong position -- and a position not recently enjoyed by his predecessor -- to make big inroads into resolving foreign relations disputes through diplomatic means. I hope and pray that he is able to harness the power of such a position to be successful on this front. The last thing I want is more war. He carries himself well, and if our nation's face to the world is of concern, President Obama should be able to improve that image. He has a very excited and energetic base. If he can transfer that excitement and energy away from campaign-season-love-of-a-candidate to a desire to hit the streets and start working together to figure out and accomplish what is right for this country, then we may go a long way yet. He has the demeanor that is necessary to be a uniter. He strikes me as a moral man as well -- that is something our country desperately needs.

Either way, my prayers go out to the leadership of this country, as they long have. I will also try to rededicate myself to learning truth and working to make my community a good one.

God Bless America.

SM

Edit: I forgot one more pro: I don't have to listen to, nor look at, Sen. McCain anymore.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

November 5th

Now, to be clear, I've been predicting that Sen. Obama will win the election for a long time. I still think that he will, and frankly, I think it's going to be in a landslide. And while he deserves a huge congratulations for winning the election, even still, is this really necessary?? You're not winning a contest or a beauty pagent, you're becoming the next President of the United States. I would, personally, prefer to see a more humble acceptance, and a display of some sort of acknowledgment of the tremendous responsibility that comes with being the most powerful person in the free world. (Well, for now... the way the economy is headed, that later title might belong to Vladimir Putin before too much longer. Sorry, that was cynical of me.)

Although, here's an interesting thought: Should Senator McCain somehow pull off the upset victory, what would his celebration look like? Or better yet, what will his seemingly inevitable concession speech be? My vote is he cusses all the way to the podium, smiles and says something gracious, and cusses all the way back to his home. Or maybe just goes on an extended hunting trip in northern Canada with Gov. Palin to forget his sorrows. Or maybe it'll roll right off him... I mean, this will be the third election he's going to lose. He's got practice.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Almighty Bailout: Sticking the Government's Finger in a Cracked Dike

I'm back... maybe! I took a break this summer from blogging as I was studying for some nasty exams and otherwise traveling various places all over the country. I'm hoping that my life has calmed down sufficiently that I can now resume this thing. Either that, or this is going to turn into something similar to journal writing... meaning I'll write a lot in short spurts with large breaks in between. How regular this blog becomes remains to be seen!

The big news seems to be the economic bailout package, and since my phone has been ringing off the hook for the past several weeks with people wanting to know my thoughts on it, I thought I'd preemptively respond to future such inquiries.

In my opinion, the bailout is a terrible idea. Now, I confess that macroeconomics and finance are not my specialties, but I just don't see how throwing $700 billion at failing companies is a good idea. I see two reasons for the current problems: 1) Poor investment decisions made my greedy companies concerned with quick profits and luxuries 2) Restrictive government regulations, particularly in the subprime mortgage industry, in essence forcing companies to make otherwise poor investment decisions. So, why does the bailout not fix either problem?

Lehman Brothers gave us a good example. How anyone thinks that accepting government rescue funds and then the very next day blowing half a million on a lavish company retreat is in any way ethical or good behavior is beyond me. This is why you shouldn't give large sums of money for free to people who have done a bad job of managing what they already had. They will continue to mismanage it. I don't see why we should step in and cover up the consequences of greed and a general lack of integrity. Let them reap the consequences of their bad business practices. Only when they feel the crushing defeat of their business going under will they begin to think that maybe they should have done things differently. No matter how much they cry in front of congress.

The second problem is just as bad. Particularly in the subprime industry, government oversight and regulation has been stifling. The government is generally staffed with people who have earned law degrees, political science degrees, and are otherwise very good at politics. Corporations tend to be staffed with people who have business degrees and have otherwise built their resumes based on work in industry. So who is more qualified to dictate how an industry should be run? Now, I understand that many of the regulation are made under the banner of protecting the consumer and keeping people in houses who may otherwise not be able to afford one. But still, the government all but forcing business (Fannie Mae) to lend to people with a history of bad credit is bound to be a big time money loser. And it's as much responsible for the current economic downturn as the greedy corporations. Now, I am not an advocate of kicking people out on the street just because they are living in unfortunate circumstances beyond their control. But I also don't think that requiring investors to lend them money, when they will not likely pay it back, is a great idea either. I would like to see programs where the unfortunate are provided with housing based on them giving some sort of effort back, and are held responsible for doing everything they are realistically able to do. Not one where they are protected and entitled to something they haven't really earned. It's a tough issue, and I don't have all the solutions. But I do know that current regulatory practices have proven clearly that they don't work.

The bailout is a classic example of masking the symptoms while failing to correct the underlying problem. Will it make things better in the short run? Ya, it might. And we might be able to put this thing behind us and continue on for a few more years thinking all is well. Until the bottom falls out again. Spending that large of a sum of money, when the government already carries a tremendous debt burden, will only hurt the economy's structure even more, and things will get only worse in 10 or 20 years.

Besides, it continues to further the mistaken idea that the government is the solution to our problems. The government is not the solution, but the government can help a solution to be discovered. By letting failed companies fail, and deregulating in order to allow the businessmen and people trained in, and having a deep concern over the performance of, these things do what they think will work. I believe that this will eventually result in our investments being shored up, and our economy being strengthened. It will, of course, be a slow and painful process. For the time being, investments will continue to fall. Loans will be hard to get. Foreclosures may continue. (But, hey, gas prices are tanking too!) However, eventually, the economy will rebound. Loans will start to free up, and investment portfolios will rise. People who lost their houses will be able to get into houses they can affort and will have more incentive to keep up on payments. Failed companies will correct their internal structures, come back more robust, and fire slimey CEOs who waste money. I worry that the bailout will prevent us from seeing the true problems and correcting them, by attempting to cusion the consequences of bad behavior. It is necessary to go through a little pain now so we can come back with greater strength.

So let the market run. As Adam Smith said, "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest." If we let the butcher, brewer, and the baker do what they do and get out of their way, we will get our dinner. And if their greed makes them engage in unethical practices to bake or brew or butch, their shops will fail, and a new, stronger one will come back to fill the hole. We need to have a little more trust in We The People, and not so much in the government.

***

That's the end of my ranting. If you want more, here are a few other economists:
Alan Blinder: Mr. Blinder doesn't agree with me. My only response to his story is that I only hope that when the little dutch boy does pull his finger out after help has arrived, the pressure buildup isn't so great that it kills the dutch boy, the help, and all the townspeople in much greater force.

Greg Mankiw: Although not responding to the current bailout, is much more articulate on these principles than I.

Steven Leavitt: The author of Freakonomics gives a much more technical, and neutral, list of answers to common questions about the current economic crisis.

And if all of this turmoil gives you a headache, a little satire should help.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Zero Sum Games

There's an interesting little concept in economics called a Zero Sum Game. To give a simplistic example, consider two people, each with $5, for a total of $10 in the economy. Now take $2 from one guy and give it to the other. This redistribution leaves one person with $7 and the other with $3. The total is still $10. This is a zero sum game because the total sum of their interactions is, well, zero. ($2 to person 1 - $2 from person 2 = $0 net change.) Easy enough? The basic idea is pretty simple.

It hit me the other day, while pondering on a discussion I had with a colleague about welfare, that perhaps one of the big reasons that there is a debate on how to handle social aid policies can be explained through this concept. That is, I think some people look at welfare and tax issues as if it is a zero sum game. Again, to be abstract, this perspective would interpret an economy as 1 rich guy with all the money, say $10, and one poor guy with nothing. Suppose also that in order to live at an average standard of living, one would need $5. Since we have a moral obligation to care for our poor, a good intentioned person may look at this situation and say we need to tax the rich guy and give a welfare check to the poor one. Take $5 from the rich guy, give it to the poor guy, and we no longer have an income gap and both can live at a decent standard. Problem solved.

But here's why I don't like that: I don't think this is a zero sum game. See, the guy with the $10 probably earned that through his job. Maybe he's a CEO and his job involved playing golf all the time, but no matter, he has a job that paid it to him. Now, in order to get that $10, presumably his company has to provide a service that people pay for. If you take $5 from him, that's $5 he doesn't have to use to expand his company. His company's growth is stunted and so he backs off on production. Instead of making $10 worth of stuff, maybe he only makes $9 now. After taxes he gets $4 and the poor guy gets $5. Total in the economy: $9. Wait, where did the other dollar go? Oh ya, the CEO shrunk his business. So it's not a zero sum game. Taxes distort profits and discourage production. The result is less stuff built, less money made, and an overall drop in average wages.

It works the other way too. See, CEO's are selfish jerks. They don't care about the little guy... just their own bottom line. And without taxes, there is incentive to earn money (since you get to keep it and don't have to just give it to the government). So in all his selfishness, the CEO expands his company and tries to produce more stuff. That means he needs to hire someone to do that. So he hired the guy without a job, and pays him say, $5. The poor guy gets his $5 and the rich guy gets, well, richer than before. Or better yet, maybe the poor guy says "Hey! The government doesn't tax profits! Awesome! I'm gonna start my own business!" He does, becomes a greedy CEO himself, and lives the American Dream.

Okay, I know this is a baked example, but here's the point: Taxes and welfare is not a zero sum game. By not taxing, we encourage entrepreneurship which creates more jobs for those that don't have them. Welfare generally depress this effect and in fact encourages the poor guy to stay poor. Why work if the government will give you stuff for not working? Traditional handout based welfare programs create dependency on the system and don't teach self-responsibility. In fact, it's fundamentally discriminatory against poor people because it's based on a philosophy that says, "You're poor and uneducated and so you don't have the ability to care for yourself so we'll do it for you." I respectfully disagree. We should encourage business and alleviate tax burdens so CEOs can be more competitive, plow money into R&D, and keep our economy alive and strong. Taxes to fund welfare programs is a downward spiral that may help in the immediate present, but in the long run will make rich people poorer while not making the poor people any more rich. Don't believe me? Look at our existing programs: Social Security, Medicare, etc.... all of which are just about ready to go bankrupt and implode.

Now, I'm not done just yet. I do support some taxes and even some welfare. There are three welfare programs I would like to see replace our current ones:
  • Improve public education and keep it free for everyone. Don't have a job? Get an education (for free) and the go get a job.
  • Additional job training and search services. Need money to support your family? We won't write you a check, but we will find you a job so you can earn that money on your own two feet. And we'll help you find that job for free.
  • Emergency medical assistance. If you don't have money and get hit by a bus, we'll still treat you and the government will pick up the check. And even send the tax bill to the evil CEOs. How very... liberal of me... ;-)
I just keep getting angry when I hear people talk about evil corporate conservatives who don't care about helping the poor. My heart breaks when I see people who are less fortunate than myself. I want to help them. As I'm able, I do help them. But that's personal. On a federal level, I guess I just want to see society helping people help themselves, instead of just helping people scrape by. Socialized welfare programs are 100% fine with me if they are based on the self-help principle, not on the government-help principle.

SM

Edit: I swear, next time I'll find a new topic instead of harping on this same one over and over.

Friday, March 7, 2008

McCain's Position on the Political Spectrum

Just a thought... I believe John McCain could quite possibly be the first candidate ever in history who, upon securing his party's nomination and beginning a general election campaign, has run further to the right instead of more toward the middle.

SM

Monday, March 3, 2008

Are Corporations Evil

I've been hearing a lot of rhetoric around the good state of Ohio lately as we prepare for the nasty primary election coming up tomorrow. A good deal of it is anti corporation. So I pose the question: Are corporations that evil? Recently someone gave a speech where they basically told people to go into industry jobs (as opposed to corporate jobs) because their candidate's plans will take away corporate profits and give it to the poor who deserve it. Now, I advocate helping the poor, but is stealing people's hard-earned income a good way to do it? I think we should be able to 1) choose our own vocations without the government trying to give incentives us one way or the other using tax tricks and 2) expect to earn a decent living on our own strength, again without the government getting in the way. So what is it about corporations that is so bad? I always thought that it was the innovation of business to find a niche that the consumers want and sell them a product and earn money that was the foundation of our economy. Which, incidentally, is the largest and most successful in the world. (By most key indicators, particularly per-capita GDP.) I'm just getting sick of this idea that we need to beat down the evil business men. Good grief. If helping the poor is our goal, lets get out and help the poor. But not at the expense of those whose hard work got them something good.

SM

Edit: Apparently I need to either slow down when I write or repeat English 101. My grammar is terrible... ;-)

Edit 2: I don't like the last line anymore. I want to add a word. It should be "But not at the forced expense of those whose hard work got them something good." I think if your hard work got you something good, you should go out and share that something with others.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Obama in Ohio

Senator Obama has been campaigning in Ohio lately and has given a few speeches. Although I have been unable to attend, I have tried to listed and read as much as I can. I have concluded two things so far. First, the Senator is very good at motivational speaking. He can get people to rally around him, and that can be a good thing for healing partisan divisions. What is starting to scare me, however, is exactly the policies we would be rallying around.

For example, he recently said that he wants to keep jobs in America. That's a good goal. How is he going to do it? In his words, "we will end the tax breaks for companies who ship our jobs overseas, and we will give those breaks to companies who create good jobs with decent wages right here in America." I have several problems with this:

1- It sounds good. I mean, who doesn't want to hear that we are going to keep jobs in America? But it's very naive. It is precisely high tax rates on business that is forcing jobs overseas. The economics are straightforward: Tax Business -> Companies lose profits -> Managers must cut costs to continue to function, grow, and provide services -> Companies decrease levels of American workers, which are generally higher paid, and outsource to cheaper labor overseas. Mr. Obama's plan strikes me as one that will actually results in increasing levels of job outsourcing. I recommend Todd Bucholz's book, Bringing the Jobs Home for more details on this.

2- On a more philosophical level, the idea that it's okay for government to penalize business for not running their companies the way the government thinks they should frightens me. The very essence of freedom and the American dream of "rags to riches" says that any entrepreneur has the right to engage in commerce the way they wish. It was the tea tax that lead to the Boston tea party. Sure, we want US companies to hire US citizens. But it is wrong to punish companies for not doing so. That sort of policy is the rule of the state, not the rule of the people. It's a dangerous precedent. If we want companies to keep jobs domestic, we should by all means encourage companies to do so, but that encouragement must stop short of penalties and mandates. We could reduce taxes to provide companies with the ability to hire domestic labor. We could continue to improve education and job training resources to allow more people to enter the work force. I admit these are slower fixes. Such incentives take time to really take effect, but they are not only philosophically correct, they tend to provide for more durable, long-term improvements. Manipulating business by forcing behavior through tax incentives (or in Mr. Obama's case, disincentives) may cause immediate positive responses, but it will not last and it will result in further depressing the economy and motivate pressures that will aggregate the problem in the long run.

3- As an aside, in the back of my mind, I am still not personally 100% convinced that outsourcing is inherently a bad thing. It actually helps poor economies, like India, and allows those outside of our country more opportunity to improve their own standards of living and care for their poor. Why do we get so frightened when other countries start to gain strength?

I believe that Senator Obama will most likely be our next president. Good. He has qualities that our nation needs, such as the ability to unite us and repair the trust in the White House that our current president has lost. But if President Bush's security policies take away our liberties, as the Senator has said, irresponsibly stealing from business is the other ugly head of the same monster.

I only hope our nation's hunger for change and optimism isn't satiated at the cost of further eroding personal freedoms.

SM

Saturday, February 16, 2008

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's a Superdelegate

http://www.rawstory.com/news/mochila/Candidates_donate_to_superdelegates_02142008.html
http://www.capitaleye.org/inside.asp?ID=336

Is it just me, or does the idea of superdelegates seem to run contrary to the fundamental idea of power-to-the-people democracy? Regardless of how they actually end up voting, the very fact that they exist strikes me as elitist at best and flat out oligarchist at worst.

SM

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Election Prediction

Just for fun, I'm going to call the 2008 presidential election:

If the match up is:

McCain v. Clinton: It's a huge fight, but Clinton wins by a razor thin margin. If McCain does win, it will be by delegate count only. Clinton gets the popular vote either way.

McCain v. Obama: Obama wins by a close, but indisputable margin. Of course, McCain will try to dispute it anyway. I don't expect him to take losing very well.

So now the question is, who will get the democratic nomination. I really have no clue on this one, but I'm going to call it for Obama. His campaign of hope and change resonates and people will vote for him because of it. Now if only I could figure out what his actual policies are... If anyone knows, please point me to some sources (I'm being serious), because although I like the guy as a personality, I can't find anything of much substance from what I've been able to dig up. I want to know why and how he is going to fix the problems he says he will. Ditto on the other candidates as well, but at least I do feel I know where they stand. Maybe I just haven't paid enough attention, but I really can't figure Obama out, to be perfectly honest.

Regardless of who wins the nomination, I just continue to hope that we will come together and reach solutions on more than just whether or not Roger Clements took steroids. Oh wait, Congress hasn't solved that one yet either...

Stimulus Package, My Eye

Dr. Greg Mankiw, a very prominent Economist, made the following observation concerning the president's stimulus package.

http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2008/02/debt-jobs-tradeoff.html

I had to laugh. The package will indeed stimulate, but at a cost that will probably hurt more in the long run.


SM

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Thoughts on Romney

Well, most of those who I'm aware read this know that I am (was) a Romney supporter. I haven't always been pleased with him, but I thought he was the best out there for what I personally think the nation needs. But I also believe in the democratic process and so I will support whomever the nation decides the president should be. Seriously. (Please note, however, that support doesn't necessarily mean agree with...!!)

Anyway, I recommend checking out his most recent speech. When I can find a direct link, I'll post it, but for now, you have to go to mittromney.com and click on "Campaign Suspended" in the Mitt TV section. (Or you can read it here, but I recommend watching it.)

It's essentially his concession speech... for once, the Romney that I was voting for really came out. If only he could have talked like this when he was campaigning... It's a great speech.

SM

P.S. The speech is long, like 22 minutes or something, but you can find abbreviated versions of it on Google. FoxNews seemed to have a clip somewhere that caught the real good parts.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My Break from Politics

Really, the reason I haven't written for a while has not been lack of time, but rather desire. You'd think I wouldn't be surprised that politics gets dirty and subsequently disgusts me, but I always am. I don't know... I guess I looked at the field at the beginning of the season and was quite optimistic. On the red side, we had a bunch of people who I took to be honest, decent, moral individuals. On the blue side, we had those that seemed optimistic and hopeful. And while I don't think that their individual good qualities have diminished any, it just seems that the demons are now coming out. McCain and Romney are calling each other the dreaded L-word, Huckabee turned out to be someone I can't support at all, and Clinton and Obama apparently hate each other.

I'm looking for the guy who can come out and run a campaign that's clean, honest, and consists of telling people why they will be good and not why the other guy in evil. I want someone who can lead with optimism and unity, not cheap fluff about hope while continuing to propagate partisan division. I have yet to find that person.

And without saying names, let me just say that if the current GOP frontrunner ends up winning the White House somehow, I'm gonna move to Mexico.

SM