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.