The Locker Room

January 29, 2009

President Obama a Hypocrite? Impossible.

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 5:15 PM

This from Steve Milloy's Junk Science.com.

 "Could this be the same Barack Obama who said last May that,

"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times... and then just expect that other countries are going to say "OK"... That's not leadership. That's not going to happen."
And could this be the same Barack Obama who is looking to sign a stimulus bill that would spend billions of dollars installing millions of "smart meters" that would enable your power company to prevent you from being as comfortable as Bambi on hot and cold days?

While Bambi is warm-and-toasty in the Oval Office, is he considering the plight of Michigan's Marvin Schur, a 93-year World War II veteran, who was recently found frozen to death courtesy of a malfunctioning electricity "limiter" device installed by his power company?

Change has come to Washington. Elitism is dead. Long live elitism."

 

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Obama's thermostat

Posted by David N. Bass at 4:50 PM

Check out this comparison of President Obama's actions and rhetoric:

Conservation for me, but not for thee? That seems to be President Obama's philosophy, based on Thursday's positive front-page profile by [New York Times] White House reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg -- though the president's hypocrisy was missed by the Times reporter.

Stolberg led off her preview of the more informal White House, "From the Top, the White House Loosens Its Buttoned-Up Style," with an anecdote about Obama and his love of indoor heating.

The capital flew into a bit of a tizzy when, on his first full day in the White House, President Obama was photographed in the Oval Office without his suit jacket. There was, however, a logical explanation: Mr. Obama, who hates the cold, had cranked up the thermostat.

He’s from Hawaii, O.K.?” said Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, who occupies the small but strategically located office next door to his boss. “He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.”

Stolberg is apparently oblivious to Obama's hypocrisy. On the campaign trail in Oregon in May, he made this Jimmy Carter-style lecture, in a grasp for the greenie vote:

“We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times…and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK.”

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sign the AFP petition against the "stimulus" bill

Posted by George Leef at 2:57 PM

If you want to sign AFP's petition, go here.

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'Brother National Socialist, did you know that our Führer is against smoking?'

Posted by Jon Sanders at 2:10 PM

For some reason, today's news about a potential smoking ban in North Carolina reminded me of the Nazis' many bans against tobacco:




I propose a general rule of thumb: any public policy supported by Hitler, Hillary, and Huckabee cannot be good for a free society.

As you see, however, the Soviets were in agreement with them:

(Get a load of the dead rabbit and horse on the right.)

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Re: I wasn't kidding

Posted by George Leef at 1:37 PM

Thanks for a splendid demonstration of the empty-headedness of the Keynesians, Roy!

Clueless people like Baker can only see statistics on employment. If the government creates a job for someone who has become unemployed, that's good because he then has, as the Keynesians like to say, "effective demand." If the government does enough of that, the unemployment rate goes back down and supposedly we have regained prosperity. What could be simpler?

A real economist would see what's actually going on: the government is taking wealth away from people who are doing productive things and giving it to people who are doing things that are not productive.

The objective should not be "full employment" but rather to get the maximum output for our resources. The Soviet Union had full employment, but used its resources very wastefully because it substituted governmental direction for market competition.

The debate we should be having is whether you get better resource allocation through markets or through politics. I'd like to hear what the interventionists would say.

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I wasn't kidding

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 1:30 PM

In my post below I noted that it didn't matter whether or not people were actually producing anything so long as they were employed. Here's one supporter of the stimulus package who actually understands the Keynesian economics he supports. It's Dean Baker from the left wing/progressive Center for Economic and Policy Research being interviewed on PBS.

"Well, basically, to put it crudely, you have to spend money. You know, we heard a discussion, is this a good way to spend money, sod on the mall? I mean, I actually don't mind the mall looking nice. But the point is, you're employing people.

Even if it's wasteful, there's a line -- you go back to Keynes -- there's a line where he says, "We could pay people to dig holes and fill them up again. At least we've employed them."

Now, ideally we are employing people in useful things, and we should look it over and try and make sure it's as useful as possible. But the key point is that we want to spend a lot of money, probably actually a lot more than what's talked about in this package. But we want to get that money out there and do it quickly."

All these arguments about how the money is being spent, and whether this kind of spending will stimulate the economy or this kind won't is all besides the point. A good Keynesian knows that the whole idea is simply to spend--dig ditches and fill them back in again, build pyramids, it makes no difference. Hats off to Mr. Baker. While he is clearly a crummy economist, he does know his Keynesianism and right now that's where the money is.

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Simmering Mount Redoubt

Posted by Paul Chesser at 1:10 PM

Great -- I travel to Anchorage next week and it turns out I may get stuck there.

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"Let the market function"

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 1:09 PM

Watch Peter Schiff explain what really stimulates the economy. 

 

 Peter Schiff vs Obama's Stimulus Plan 12/08/2008

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The Post Office should get with the program

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 12:37 AM

It is being reported that the Post Master General is proposing that mail delivery be scaled back to five days a week. But this is totally at odds with the new administration's Keynesian ideology to spend the country out of recession. Post Master John Porter needs to get with the program. In order to create jobs the PO should not only be expanding service to seven days a week but should actually increase home delivery to twice a day--even if there's not enough mail to justify it. The point is to employ people. Whether or not you are producing anything of value is beside the point.

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Keynesianism debunked

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:32 AM

Before they hated George W. Bush, many folks on the left hated Ronald Reagan. Before Reagan, they really loathed Richard Nixon.

It's interesting that many left-leaning thinkers are now adopting Nixon's line: "We're all Keynesians now."

The latest fiscal bulletin (pdf link) from the Cato Institute discusses "The Troubling Return of Keynesianism." 

Co-author Chris Edwards also co-wrote the recent book Global Tax Revolution.

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re: a new theory of global warming

Posted by Dr. Karen Y. Palasek at 11:32 AM

Here's the thing. Both cooler and warmer temperatures are consistent with global warming because...
global warming begins at home!!
It's a micro-macro thing, apparently.

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Civitas poll on smoking ban

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:15 AM

From the Civitas Institute:

Raleigh, N.C. – North Carolina voters want bar and restaurant owners to have the ability to set their own smoking policy according to a new poll released today by Civitas Institute.

Rep. Hugh Holliman (D-Davidson) yesterday reintroduced a bill (HB 2) identical to one that was defeated two years ago that would ban cigarette smoking in all bars, restaurants and enclosed workplaces.

According to the poll of 600 North Carolina voters, when asked if a bar or restaurant owner should be able to set their own smoking policy given that it is clearly posted at the entrance to the restaurant, 62 percent of voters voiced their support, while 34 percent opposed the proposal. Three percent were not sure.

“Rep. Holliman’s draconian ban leaves no exception for restaurant or bar owners to have the ability to set their own policy,” said Chris Hayes, senior legislative analyst for the Civitas Institute. “Voters clearly recognize that private businesses should be able to set their own policies for a legal activity, such as smoking, so long as the public is adequately informed before entering the establishment.”

A state policy banning smoking in bars and restaurants, but allowing them to “opt-in” and permit smoking so long as it is clearly advertised within the establishment was adopted two years ago in Virginia, but vetoed by Gov. Mark Warner.

“Providing an ‘opt-in’ provision for bars and restaurants would protect the interests of private businesses while allowing consumers to make an informed decision about which businesses to patronize,” Hayes added. “If left free from government intervention, ultimately, the market will set smoking policies in restaurants. As consumers demand more and more options for smoke-free establishments, businesses will respond in the way that best suits its bottom line.”

Those interested in hearing an interesting take on the social costs and benefits of smoking might enjoy revisiting Duke professor John Staddon's recent presentation on the topic for the John Locke Foundation's Shaftesbury Society.

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Players in The Fall of the Wall (& other streets)

Posted by Dr. Karen Y. Palasek at 10:34 AM

This article from The Guardian offers an interesting look at the contributions of an entire spectrum of people whose professional, political, or personal moves contributed powerfully to financial crisis. Even if you don't agree with the analysis or the picks for this group, the synopsis for each in this cast of characters makes it worthwhile reading.

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Shuler alone on 'stimulus' vote

Posted by David N. Bass at 10:30 AM

N.C. Rep. Heath Shuler, D-11, was the only member of the Tar Heel congressional delegation to break party ranks on the "stimulus" vote yesterday.

Eleven Democrats joined all House Republicans present in the chamber in voting against the bill.

Shuler released this statement after the vote (quoted in part):

In my opinion, the legislation before the House today contained too much additional spending in areas that will not offer immediate economic stimulus. As our nation faces an historic budget deficit and a national debt approaching $11 trillion, I cannot in good conscience borrow and spend $825 billion, further burdening future generations of Americans.

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Re: Teach-In, turn out, cool off

Posted by Paul Chesser at 10:30 AM

By the way the National Teach-In on Global Warming is scheduled for Feb. 5. Most of the educational institutions who have signed up (at least according to the Teach-In map) appear to be colleges and universities. However there are a smattering of public schools, and two of them in the Triangle are Fuquay-Varina High School and Leesville Road High School here in Raleigh. Here's what Fuquay organizer (and science dept. head) Randy Senzig says he has lined up:

13 teachers in the Environmental Education Professional Learning Community will have the opportunity to talk about and teach about Global Warming in their classes.

Leesville organizer Denis DuBay does not provide any details about his plans, but he's on the record with his alarmism.

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Perhaps this is not the best time for that bill

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 09:54 AM

Cullie Tarleton (D - Ashe, Watauga) filed House Bill 13 to request funds for the Horn in the West show.

Even in a good economy, there would be little chance of this bill passing. But that is not the point. In light of our current economic conditions, legislators should refuse to file bills that call for pass-through funds for goodies in their district. I think the electorate would appreciate that symbolic gesture.

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Clarification on support for 'sin tax' hikes among legislative leaders

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 09:49 AM

Laura Leslie's thorough and informative report on the General Assembly's opening day included the following observation:

Hackney also seemed to be backing off his earlier opposition to a sin tax hike.  Last week, he was pretty clear about not wanting to raise any taxes. Today, he would only say that "it’s too early" to go there.

Laura might be referencing another conversation she's had with the speaker when she calls his earlier statements "pretty clear." If she's talking about Friday's news conference, I heard the speaker's comments in that forum a little differently. At that time, Hackney said neither yes nor no to a tax increase. What was clear was that he did not want to place "emphasis" on taxes. He didn't mention tax increases in his opening statement and discussed the topic only when asked to respond to Sen. Marc Basnight's statements from the prior day.

I don't think our emphasis should be on taxes in this kind of economy. As you probably know, the money you get out of those sources [tobacco and alcohol taxes] is quite small in comparison with the stimulus package and the cuts that are going to be required. So we will look respectfully at anything the Senate passes in that regard, but I don't think that ought to be our emphasis.

That's a little different from saying "I don't expect we will raise these taxes." This statement and the one cited from yesterday's opening session seem pretty consistent to me.

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Teach-In, turn out, cool off

Posted by David N. Bass at 09:48 AM

Be sure to check out Paul Chesser's column in the DC Examiner today on the National Teach-In on Global Warming -- another attempt to spread global warming alarmism in the public school classroom. All courtesy of your tax dollars, of course.

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The other side of the 'greening' of America

Posted by David N. Bass at 09:41 AM

Obama has pledged to create "millions of new jobs" via his green economy. What he fails to acknowledge is the other side of the coin -- namely, the impact that "greening" has on existing sectors of the economy. Say, for example, the auto industry.

Some good thoughts on that here. As Eric Peters points out:

The Obama administration has apparently decided to slam shut -- and nail down -- the coffin lid on the U.S. auto industry.

It was announced this week that the administration intends to give California and a handful of other states legal authority to impose their own mileage, emissions and fuel economy requirements -- requirements that may and probably will exceed federal standards.

The auto industry -- already crippled by sales that are off as much as 30-50 percent from last year -- faces two equally unpalatable options: It will either have to either build two sets of cars for two different markets (California and the rest of the country) or make all their new vehicles meet the stricter "California standard" -- which will be both complex and costly.

This is a devastating blow -- and one that the enfeebled U.S. auto industry probably cannot withstand.

I've come to realize that some, if not most, environmentalists think the policies they advocate exist in a vacuum. They fail to see the ripple effect in the economy and the lost jobs. Or they do see it and think it's a worthwhile price if it means their agenda will succeed.

In any event, I doubt you'll see many laid off auto workers signing on with windmill or solar panel manufacturers.

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Do people see that the CON game makes no sense?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 09:04 AM

The News & Observer reports today the winners and losers in the "battle" for new hospital facilities in Wake County.

The report leaves this reader with a nagging question: "Why is anyone 'battling' over this stuff?"

Don't get me wrong. I understand the source of the conflict: North Carolina's certificate-of-need legislation. That law allows government bureaucrats to decide whether any new facilities are warranted and — if — who should get them.

But the question remains: Is there a need to decide this issue through a political "battle"? The results of this latest conflict expose once again the problems associated with placing decisions about medical facilities in the political arena. It's a zero-sum game. If someone wins, someone else has to lose.

Imagine if this process affected law firms, gas stations, restaurants, or office-supply stores. (Sorry, Staples, the government says only Office Depot can expand here.) Consumers would face severe limitations in choice. Producers would have fewer opportunities to compete, and they would waste more time lobbying the government than working to improve the price and quality of their products.

Plus, as we noted in a recent blurb from Walter Williams, we would see a lot more conflict: Wendy's versus Burger King supporters; Home Depot versus Lowe's partisans; clients of Dewey, Cheatam, & Howe versus those who favor Jones, Smith, & three other dead guys LLC.

Why not allow Wake Med, Rex, and all other players to build what they want and try to make it work? Don't prop them up when they fail, and don't stand in their way when they succeed.

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Congressional Republicans should heed Will and Hayek

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 08:12 AM

George Will argues here that since Obama won the election with nearly 53 percent of the popular vote, congressional Republicans should defer to him on the stimulus package--somewhat.   He qualifies that deference by quoting Hayek:

The opposition's third duty is to assert inconvenient truths, one of which is that the truth shall make you modest. There never is a moment when an open society that wants to remain such does not need the wisdom of Friedrich Hayek, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who said: "The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design." So the deference accorded this president should be proportional to his willingness to acknowledge that neither he nor anyone else can know whether the stimulus will work.

And from the quantity of deference owed to him, Republicans should subtract the sum of the opportunism of congressional Democrats. If Republicans conclude that the truly stimulative portion of the legislation is less than half the size of the portion composed of banal and brazen opportunism, and irrelevant but consequential policies surreptitiously pursued, they should oppose it.

 

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Cato ad attacks Keynesian "We must spend!" idea

Posted by George Leef at 08:01 AM

In several major papers today, Cato Institute is running this ad. It takes issue with Obama's statement that everyone agrees that there is a need for increased federal spending, with dozens of good economists signing. Mike Munger of Duke is among them.

This is an excellent start, but there's much more to be done. I hope that Cato and other groups will figure out how to explain in simple terms why increased federal spending can only shift resources from productive, market-determined ends into usually unproductive, politically-determined ends. Most if not all of those who signed the ad can do that.

What we should aim at is a widespread public perception that the so-called stimulus package is actually an economic depressant.

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N&O editors on bailout money for public schools

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 08:00 AM

Again, from the editorial page of the News and Observer:

It's true that the education plan is a heap of money, $150 billion, and that it would indeed enlarge the federal government's financial participation in education, an area historically left to the states and the country's 15,000 public school systems. But these are exceptional times. And here is what public schools are facing because of tapped-out state and local budgets: out-of-date and crowded buildings, teacher shortages, all manner of program cuts, classrooms overbooked.
I want to address the issues of "out-of-date and crowded buildings, teacher shortages, all manner of program cuts, classrooms overbooked." There is nothing "exceptional" about these issues.

Some school buildings are out-of-date and crowded, and a number of the school systems that have out-of-date or crowded schools have passed school construction bonds recently. In other words, they addressed the problem on their own. And don't forget all of that lottery money!!!

North Carolina has teacher shortages every year, yes even in unexceptional times, and our school districts have dealt with them appropriately.

Program cuts are not a bad thing, particularly if those programs are not effective.

"Overbooked" classrooms, which (I assume) means large class sizes, is a problem related to the allocation of human resources. It has nothing to do with the size of the teacher workforce. After all, the student/teacher ratio in North Carolina is around 15:1, depending on the student count used.

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N&O editors take on non-issue

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:37 AM

From the editorial page of the News and Observer:

Some schools are located in a different sort of harm's way. They're built too close to a potential hazard, or in the path of unhealthy air.
I'll let my colleagues pick apart the silly air quality issues.

Apparently, locating schools near highways and railroads is considered a "potential hazard" because "a nearby rail or highway accident involving deadly chemicals could lead to a disaster." And a nearby rail or highway accident involving Gustaf's Licorice Beagles could lead to great fun.

In all seriousness, I want my school located near a highway. School buses should have easy access to highways in the event of an evacuation for a hurricane, a more likely scenario than a chemical spill.

More importantly, strict guidelines for school sites will limit the number of sites available and thus substantially increase their cost. Our urban and suburban school systems, which build most of the new schools in the state, are already having a difficult time finding suitable sites. It is no time for the state to make that search even more difficult by imposing top-down regulations that do not take into account the unique challenges of the county's topography, population density, or population growth.

Besides, school systems already take potential hazards into account when they look at school sites. The assumption that school systems are recklessly siting schools next to chemical or bomb factories is an insult to the professionals who plan and build our public schools.

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:48 AM

Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Jay Schalin's report on the emergence of "teaching specialists" on college campuses.

John Hood's Daily Journal offers an economically efficient alternative to a proposed new tax on computer downloads.

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