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Fellow taxpayers: we’re fools

Could be a hoax, but doesn’t sound like one:

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…To all you workers out there preaching morality about those of us who live on welfare… can you really blame us? I get to sit around all day, visit my friends, smoke weed.. and we are still gonna get paid, on time every month…

If I was in a position where I had to work, that might be a different story…

The Soviet Union used to have a slogan, “He who does not work shall not eat”. Though aimed at the bourgeoisie, in tough times it was also applied to the lazy. In other words, the communists were tougher on non-working healthy people than we are.

Via Zero Hedge, who previously noted “the single mom is better off earnings gross income of $29,000 with $57,327 in net income & benefits than to earn gross income of $69,000 with net income and benefits of $57,045.”

Now it’s Greek bug-chasers

UPDATE: (thanks Peter in the comments): The WHO has reversed itself on this:

“The [offending] sentence should read, ‘Half of the new HIV cases are self-injecting and out of them few are deliberately inflicting the virus’.”

“This was just a gross editing error for which the WHO apologises,” said its spokesman, Gregory Hartl.

Good for the Greeks! Now, if the other reports about bug chasers in the UK and the US have been retracted or disproved, that would also be interesting and please let us know in the comments.

As if to follow-on to my earlier post, “UK bug chasers: America’s future?”, comes this sad report from the World Health Organization, page 112:

Case study: countries’ experiences of financial crisis – Greece

Suicides rose by 17% between 2007 and 2009 and to 25% in 2010, according to unofficial 2010 data (398). The Minister of Health reported a further 40% rise in the first half of 2011…Homicide and theft rates have doubled. HIV rates and heroin use have risen significantly, with *about half of new HIV infections being self-inflicted to enable people to receive benefits of €700 per month* and faster admission on to drug-substitution programmes. Prostitution has also risen…

Emphasis added. In pursuing the cradle-to-grave Welfare State, Europe has created a society of smothering government regulation, taxes, “benefits” and controls where:

  • People can no longer get ahead, or even survive, in the private economy.
  • People can survive if they qualify for government-paid benefits.

Is it any wonder that economic crisis results? And that, in the midst of the crisis, some people will do anything to qualify for government-paid benefits?

To escape the trap, Europe must do the opposite. It must dismantle the Welfare State, creating a society of freedom where most people can’t get money from government, and can survive, or even get ahead, in the private economy.

Via New Scientist and ZH.

Venezuela: America’s future?

UPDATE: And a few days earlier, there was state-sanctioned looting:

Nov 9 – Thousands of Venezuelans lined up outside the country’s equivalent of Best Buy…President Nicolás Maduro ordered a military “occupation” of the company’s five stores…”I want a Sony plasma television for the house,” said Amanda Lisboa, 34, a business administrator, who had waited seven hours already outside one Caracas store. “It’s going to be so cheap!”

I’m shaking my head at the short-sightedness. If stores are going to be occupied and looted, then no, Amanda: TVs won’t be cheap.

I’m late getting to this, but from Reuters (via ZH):

Nov 15 – Venezuela’s socialist government has arrested more than 100 “bourgeois” businessmen in a crackdown on alleged price-gouging at hundreds of shops and companies since the weekend, President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday.

“They are barbaric, these capitalist parasites!” Maduro thundered in the latest of his lengthy daily speeches. “We have more than 100 of the bourgeoisie behind bars at the moment.”

Inflation is the problem:

Officials say unscrupulous companies have been hiking prices of electronics and other goods more than 1,000 percent…

To spell it out for any lefties reading this: Companies only do what’s needed to stay afloat – and what the market will bear. It’s the Venezuelan currency that has been printed into oblivion. So yes, inflation.

Naturally, the government claims that its interventions help the poor: (more…)

Why QE hurts the economy

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 10:02 pm - November 21, 2013.
Filed under: Big Government Follies,Depression 2.0,Economy

Most of us know the term “QE” as the central bank’s euphemism for creating lots of new money, but if you are not sure, I have an explanation here.

Recently, President Obama nominated Janet Yellen as the new Fed chairman. She is expected to continue or increase QE. At her confirmation hearing, she said:

I consider it imperative that we do what we can to promote a very strong recovery. It’s important not to remove support [QE], especially when the recovery is fragile and the tools available to monetary policy, should the economy falter, are limited given that short-term interest rates are at zero. A strong recovery will ultimately enable the Fed to reduce its monetary accommodation and reliance on unconventional policy tools such as asset purchases [QE]. Supporting the recovery today is the surest path to returning to a more normal approach to monetary policy.

Yellen’s comments are tragic because QE cannot and does not promote economic recovery. It does the opposite. Why is that?

Jobs come from something called the division of labor. It’s the fact that people can produce more when they specialize intelligently. A “job” is really a package of specialized tasks that an employer needs someone to do because the specialist can do more for less (or can help the whole organization to do more, etc.).

The superior productivity of specialized labor comes, in turn, from something called capital.

  • Productive capital is the accumulation of knowledge, tools, machines, organizations and infrastructure that enables human labor to be productively specialized.
  • And financial capital is the accumulation of money (cash, shareholders’ equity, savings, etc.) that will buy or develop productive capital and direct its motions.

It is crucial to understand that not all capital is created equal. It takes work, sacrifice, talent and vision to form productive capital. Capital can be invested badly (called malinvestment, which flourishes under QE and 0% interest rates). Thus, raw investment spending levels do not matter. Financially sustainable jobs come only from the capital which has been invested well, for productive success.

QE undermines productive capital. When Obama/Bernanke/Yellen print money, they devalue money; they make it buy less than it would otherwise. So the financial capital of successful business people doesn’t go as far. QE, and 0% interest rates, also kill the return on capital: the incentive to use it very carefully (productively). Thus, QE messes up the economy’s capital, making financial capital perversely less effective for good projects and more available for bad projects, a toxic mix that injures the division of labor (the creation of economically efficient, valuable jobs). It’s as if the economy is on a narcotic and gradually getting more stupid.

The way it looks to businesses is: They thought they had some good capital, but now their capital doesn’t go as far. Everywhere they look, costs are a little higher than projected (or much higher, in the final stages of QE). Simultaneously, at 0% interest their marginal (unproductive) projects look better than those projects are. For both reasons, businesses’ capital is wasted. It somehow doesn’t go as far on their good projects – at the same time they’re tending to either idle it, or blow it on bad projects.

Businesses then need to squeeze out greater financial profits just to maintain their capital base. They do it by hiring fewer people. Some businesses seem very healthy (high-profit) after their job cutbacks. But fewer new businesses are started, and the healthy ones tend to grow by merging with (or buying out) competitors, which lowers employment. The overall economy either stops growing, or grows in unhealthy directions. The unemployed survive on government aid (which is surprisingly plentiful), while stories abound of people who ‘score’ with speculative investments, which tend to rise.

Does all that sound like the world we live in? Yes! Remember: The price of gasoline, the stock market, and the welfare/disability rolls have all roughly doubled in Obama’s reign so far. While new jobs have been far harder to come by. QE enables (at least) those disparate effects.

To be clear, QE is not the only reason Obama’s recovery has been lame. Other Obama policies also increase the cost of employing people, and other costs that businesses face. But QE doesn’t help; it adds to the economy’s burdens.

If you can think of a country that has emerged into vibrant economic recovery because of their doing large-scale QE, please post it in the comments. I haven’t been able to think of an example. And Japan, which has been doing QE since the 1990s and now faces rising costs, clearly isn’t an example. Neither will we be one.

Recovery for the One Percent: Record inequality

To “celebrate” Dow 16000 and S&P 1800, both of which the stock market just hit intra-day, I’ve gathered a few links on rising economic inequality in the U.S. A few remarks first, to set context.

As a capitalist, I have no problem with inequality – when it comes about for the right reasons, that is, when sovereign consumers have awarded it by their actions in free markets. The problem is that, under President Obama, we have inequality for the wrong reasons.

Obama puts government in control of more and more of the economy, and he has the Federal Reserve bailing out the biggest players on Wall Street (as well as the government) and goosing the financial markets ever higher. That doesn’t come for free.

Whenever someone is bailed out, somebody else was “bailed in”; somebody else lost wealth (or purchasing power). Obama’s policies stealth-transfer it from the wages, pensions, savings and balance sheets of productive people to those who happen either to (1) receive government spending, or/and (2) own financial assets (stocks, bonds, etc.).

Many of those are productive people; but many are not and, in any event, everyone should have to earn wealth the real way, by pleasing their employer or their customers in the market. None merit bailouts. No one deserves government-orchestrated wealth transfers (stealthy or otherwise). No one.

I want small government, natural rights under Rule of Law, sound money and free markets because they are both moral and populist. They form the only moral social system (the only system that lets people be free and doesn’t steal from them, or enslave them). And, as a consequence of being moral, they form the only practical system where masses of deserving poor and middle-class people can and will get ahead.

The Big Lie of Leftism is that leftism somehow stands for the People, or the little guy. It doesn’t. As we see today with President Obama’s policies, producing a result of record inequality – for all the wrong reasons.

OK, now for some data. First, via Marc Faber and Zero Hedge, here is household net worth by wealth percentile:

household net worth by wealth percentile

You can see that, in the last six years, the share of wealth held by the bottom 75% has plunged from 12.7% to barely 10%. (more…)

Communism vs. freedom: The war is back!

And it’s happening in the middle of our own society, now.

I didn’t say nearly enough about this morning’s incredibly wrong quote from Jonathan Gruber, who is billed as the ‘architect’ of Obamacare:

We currently have a highly discriminatory system where if you’re sick, if you’ve been sick or [if] you’re going to get sick, you cannot get health insurance.

The only way to end that discriminatory system is to bring everyone into the system and pay one fair price. That means that the genetic winners, the lottery winners who’ve been paying an artificially low price because of this discrimination now will have to pay more in return.

First, Gruber doesn’t understand free markets: If we had them (and we have NOT had them in medical care for decades), then health insurance would always be available to people with pre-existing conditions, at some price. And they could choose to take it, or not – as they have the means and perceive being to their own advantage (or not).

One of the ways the Left wins is by warping language. In this case, the Left has warped the concept of “health insurance” to mean “subsidized health care”, health care paid largely by Other People’s Money.

And it’s true: the free market won’t supply that – beyond voluntary charity. Because it is by definition a win-lose transaction. Someone must be forced to pay the subsidy, and that person loses. The free market is about win-win transactions. If your basic desire is to win at someone else’s expense, forcing them to pay for you, then you naturally hate free markets; the Left is your political home. Congratulations.

Next, Gruber thinks it’s “discriminatory” that people with conditions would pay more for health care. But here’s the thing: They take more health care.

Just like young men get into more car accidents, consume more repair services and thus have to pay higher rates for car insurance, so unhealthy people properly should have larger bills for health care – or health insurance.

Finally, Gruber’s quote wrongly chalks up everything about one’s health to genetics, ignoring the role of lifestyle choices in determining health – and thus ignoring the role of personal responsibility. And that may be where he’s most wrong. We know that socializing health care will lead a society to greater disease, as people make worse lifestyle choices.

But we also know that the Left has a ready ‘solution’ for it: namely, greater government control of people’s lifestyle choices. We’ve seen the beginnings of it in the U.S., with Nanny Michelle-Bloomberg’s efforts. It’s a road that ends with everyone doing mandatory calisthenics in front of the telescreen, _1984_-style. Because, at some point, no one’s life is their own anymore; each person is an investment (property) of the State.

Which brings me to my point. There are, so to speak, “two paths you can go by”.

  • If you believe in freedom – that is, in self-ownership, responsibility and choice under the Rule of Law – the logic of your position drives you toward limited government. Not to anarchy, but to *min*archy: the idea that government is there to protect people’s rights against attack and crime and, beyond that, to do little; allowing people to reap what they sow.
  • If, instead, you believe in community ownership of people’s lives and efforts – the central tendency of communism – the logic of your position drives you toward ever-larger government. You will always need more government, to solve the social problems that you caused by your last round of increases to government. Concluding in totalitarianism.

People support Obamacare and President Obama depending on whether – deep in their souls – they truly prefer freedom or dictatorship.

Gruber’s idea is essentially communist. The idea that capable and healthy people must be forced to pay for incapable or unhealthy people, lest society be “discriminatory” or whatever, means that people’s lives are not their own. Whatever people become, whatever they produce, is ultimately the State’s property to distribute as it sees the need.

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” – it can’t really ever be implemented, but if it could be, then only by total government diktat over everyone and everything. That is Gruber’s road – the underlying logic of his position – whether he admits it or not. It is also Karl Marx’s.

Thoughts for the day

From Jake Meyer in Bruce’s Twitter stream:

It can’t be a human right if it requires someone else’s labor. That’s theft, not freedom.

And, from Rep. Steve Stockman:

About 110,000 people contract chlamydia each month, more than signed up for Obamacare. Obamacare is less popular than chlamydia.

UPDATE: And America’s Communist era arrives thusly:

JONATHAN GRUBER, M.I.T.: …We currently have a highly discriminatory system where if you’re sick, if you’ve been sick or [if] you’re going to get sick, you cannot get health insurance.

The only way to end that discriminatory system is to bring everyone into the system and pay one fair price. That means that the genetic winners, the lottery winners who’ve been paying an artificially low price because of this discrimination now will have to pay more in return.

Gruber’s argument can (and will) be used to re-distribute anything. Literally anything. Because it’s founded on the idea that everything is generated, owned and consumed communally.

Steve Jobs of Apple, for example, was just a “genetic lottery winner” – right? He should have been forced to “pay in return” for his gene-crime of being unusually driven and talented, right? So that others could consume whatever wealth he created?

Health, and all other forms of wealth or success, never have to do with a person’s individual choices or efforts, right?

UPDATE: As long as we’re thinking like Communists, I just noticed something odd about how Obamacare ranges its plans from worst (Bronze) to best (Platinum). Isn’t it…um…kind of racist?

the color Bronze the color Platinum
(the color of Bronze) (the color of Platinum)

The disaster that is Obamacare

You could get all this like I did, by a quick scan of the HotAir headlines. But then you wouldn’t have a convenient discussion thread for it, on your favorite gay blog ;-)

That last link shows you this creepy pro-Obamacare ad:

Obamacare 'stupid slut' ad

Why creepy? Look – Birth control is cheap (quite a bit cheaper than Obamacare). The ad shows a young lady who believes that it’s hers only because she over-pays for her Obamacare insurance. That suggests she’s dumb. The ad also shows her gloating about having sex with a random guy. That suggests she’s a slut (as is the guy; my use of the word is gender-neutral). And so we arrive at Obamacare’s ideal demographic: Stupid sluts who think it’s “hot” to have a life of needless dependency on Big Government. That should tell you something about Obamacare.

UPDATE: Ron Fournier’s irony is note-perfect: “…We Lied to Obama. We told him he could be popular. What we meant to say was he could be popular … if he told the truth.”

Recovery for the One Percent (take 3)

I got onto this idea last May; for take one click here, and for take two click here. My key notion:

Even as I read about the stock market making new highs, I keep reading about more Americans on food stamps than ever before, more Americans quitting the workforce, old people who can’t get a decent income…business people who can’t start businesses…This is in Obama’s fifth year. Whom is Obama’s economic recovery for?…

Obama’s policies benefit the Big Government – Big Banking – Big Labor elites – in that order of seniority…[so] Why aren’t we all laughing in Obama supporters’ faces, when they pretend to stand for the People?…

Part of President Obama’s toolkit to benefit the One Percent is the Federal Reserve’s ‘Quantitative Easing’ policy, which I have explained (and slagged) many times; for example, here and here.

Nothing has changed since May. Now a former Federal Reserve official, Andrew Huszar, explains – and apologizes:

Confessions of a Quantitative Easer

I can only say: I’m sorry, America…I was responsible for executing the centerpiece program of the Fed’s first plunge into the bond-buying experiment known as quantitative easing. The central bank continues to spin QE as a tool for helping Main Street. But I’ve come to recognize the program for what it really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.

As I’ve been saying for years! Except that, even more than a Wall Street bailout, QE is also a Big Government bailout. Whether the Fed buys Wall Street’s mortgage bonds, U.S. Treasury bonds, or anything else, the new money sooner or later funds the government’s spending and deficits, including Obama’s $6 trillion (and rising) of additional U.S. debt.

Although Huszar’s piece neglects the Big Government angle (focusing almost exclusively on the Wall Street angle), it gives some interesting color and is worth reading in full.

UPDATE: If you prefer wonky video, CNBC interviews Huszar here.

Fables of the Living Wage; or, How the Middle Class Became the Radical Fringe

Blogger Matt Walsh cuts through the nonsense about everyone deserving a living wage.

I was arguing about the minimum wage with someone recently. Halfway through the discussion, she forcefully proclaimed that “everyone deserves a living wage.”

I hear this idea quite a bit nowadays. There’s a lot of deserving going on, apparently. Everyone seems to deserve everything. We deserve a job. We deserve affordable housing. We deserve a phone. We deserve cable TV. We deserve internet access. We deserve higher wages. We deserve. We deserve. We deserve.

Is everyone qualified for a job? Is everyone worthy of one? Does everyone have a claim to a job? If you have a claim to something, that means you are owed it. So if I’m automatically owed a job, who, precisely, is in my debt? All business owners? So I suppose I can walk into an interview, plop down on the chair, put my feet up on the desk, light a cigar and shout, “I’m here to collect my debt!”

You are encouraged to read the whole thing.

I would expand on his point. In most any Sheetz or Wawa in the eastern part of this country, you can order a meal not by talking to a person but by entering selections on a touch screen. When people are demanding $15.00 an hour to do something a machine does for pennies… the machines have a real leg up in the job market.

It has come to this because is a very sizable contingent of voters in this country who believe that politics is a legitimate means to lay claim to the wealth possessed by others; that they “deserve” it.

The ruling political party is backed by moneyed interests (Media/Academia/Owners of Inherited Wealth) who know nothing of what it is to earn a living through hard work, conscientious budgeting, and striving to avoid making bad choices. Their foot soldiers are the Low Information Voters (Free Sh-t Army) who are dependent on Government benefits and who count on Government to save them from the consequences of their bad choices.

This is why the Middle Class Values championed by the Tea Party — keeping what you earn, a Government that is no larger than necessary and held accountable for its actions, the encouragement of self-reliance — are now derided as “radical” and “fringe” values. The Democrat Party and its constituencies simply cannot relate to them.

Democrat mainstream values are now EBT cards, Obamaphones, and demanding a “living wage” for a job that can be done by a touch screen.

Why the Obamacare Website Woes Are Significant

Glenn Reynolds explains:

A government that can’t build a health care website isn’t likely to be very good at running health care for 330 million people. But the technocrats aren’t so concerned with being good as with being in charge.

Emphasis added.   (Read the whole thing as the blogmeister excerpts Daniel Greenfield’s wonderful reflections on the magic powers of government.)

RELATED:  Michael Barone asks us to

. . . check out this story from Britain’s Independent. The United Kingdom’s National Health Service is going to abandon a $17 billion information technology system that was being rolled in over a 10-year period.

The Independent account suggests that big universal governent IT systems just can’t be made to work.

UPDATE (from Jeff): Is cronyism involved? Meet Anthony Welters. He and his wife have been top Obama donors/”bundlers”, and White House visitors. His company owns QSSI who got a lot of money for the broken Obamacare website…including millions more right now, to fix it.

The purpose of government…

…is to protect rights to life, liberty and property so that people in all walks of life can produce and trade in peace. And a big part of that is making sure that violent crime is a non-issue in people’s lives.

While President Obama fiddles with Obamacare, violent crime in America is going up.

In other words: Even as federal and State governments become engrossed in a matter that isn’t government’s job (and in which government violates everyone’s rights on a huge scale), society is losing ground on a more basic matter that is indeed government’s job. Coincidence?

Violent crime rose 15% in the past year, a time of (supposed) economic recovery and rising employment. I’ll hate to see what happens, when the next recession hits.

Via The Economic Collapse blog, which gives further information on rising crime.

UK bug chasers: America’s future?

A commentor (thanks V) points us to this July 2013 article from the UK, on the practice of deliberate self-infection with HIV:

The reckless practice, known as bug chasing, started in the US as a bizarre means of getting a ­sexual high from risk-taking.

Now, according to one man who willingly caught the virus, hundreds of men in the UK are introducing themselves on online forums, Face­book groups and Twitter.

Many then meet up and try to transmit the potentially life-threatening virus, which attacks the ­immune system weakening the body’s ability to fight disease.

Some bug-chasers actually claim the virus gives them a better quality of life because of the medication they subsequently have to take.

Nick, 30, an admin worker from the Midlands, said: “I feel fit as a fiddle. I feel full of energy and healthier as a result of being on my medication.

“I get my liver function tests every three months, my cholesterol tested regularly and I get loads of general health checks so if there are any underlying conditions I know straight away. Even better, I get it all on the NHS.”

Last year, 73,659 people in the UK were treated for HIV – 43 per cent of them gay or bisexual men – a rise of 58 per cent over the last 10 years.

You can read the rest.

Needless to say, such behavior is deplorable for its nihilism. It embodies contempt for self and society alike. It is anti-life.

But for these men, having their behavior deplored is part of the thrill. In thrall to sex addiction as well as their nihilism, they ‘get off’ on doing and being the worst things that their society will peaceably reward (pay) them to do and to be.

What enables their behavior is the payment: the socialized medicine. These men are partly rational. Not completely; for instance, the one man’s supposition that HIV medications are healthy is not rational. But these men have seen that a socialized (and still somewhat wealthy or ‘First World’) society will give them lots of medical care that they have not earned and do not merit.

These men have gauged, correctly, that their society will give them the best care possible, if they inflict some sort of manageable and tolerable medical condition on themselves. Consciously or not, they are ‘playing’ the socialized medical system. That is partly (not entirely) the fault of the system itself: socialized systems for private goods always warp a society’s incentives in some way, and should not exist to begin with.

Morally speaking, these men have a suicide-like ‘right’ to get HIV if they really want to; but no right to have government forcing the rest of their society to pay their way. Yet their government does force the rest of society to pay their way. And so there are enough of these men around to start making a social phenomenon of it.

(NB: Spelling fixes, phrase/wording edits, etc. after initial publication.)

In the first 24 hours: Six enrollments

I haven’t had time to blog lately (and guess the others haven’t either), but this can’t pass without comment: As reported by the intrepid Sharyl Atkisson of CBS, in its first 24 hours, Obamacare had 4.7 million unique visitors and…six enrollments.

Within a few more days, they had…a few hundred enrollments. That’s why they haven’t been telling us the enrollment numbers. They need 7 million by March 1 (for some reason), and aren’t going to come close.

UPDATE: More complaints about Obamacare’s high cost, along the lines of “Most…are happy that millions of previously uninsured people will receive free or heavily subsidized insurance under the Affordable Care Act. We just didn’t realize that…we’d be the ones paying for it.

Evidently, tens of millions of young people have been so mis-educated that they thought Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy would be paying for it. Or perhaps the Federal Reserve?

UPDATE: For South Park fans.


UPDATE: Democrats, you will recall, created and passed Obamacare in a hideously divisive and arrogant fashion: shutting the GOP out of the legislative process; ridiculing critics’ predictions (that are now all coming true); implying that political opponents are racists, terrorists, etc.; railroading Obamacare through Congress on a mix of party-line votes, lies, and legislative twists that were even more constitutionally suspect than usual; and generally misbehaving in a manner to all-but-ensure a bad program with years of continuing opposition.

Via Ace, now Politico brings us the new lefty meme: that the opposition to Obamacare, which would be considered normal for American democracy in any other political era, is a GOP “conspiracy” that has “sabotaged” Obamacare. Welcome to the Brave New World.

Will Secretary Sebelius face any consequences as she takes responsibility for Obamacare debacle?

When, just over a year ago, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took responsible for the Benghazi debacle, she suffered no consequences, even as the media claimed the former First Lady had fallen on her sword.

Now another member of President Obama’s cabinet has changed her tune and taken responsibility for the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, asking that Congress hold her “accountable” as she is “responsible.”  And what exactly does that mean to hold her responsible?  Mrs. Clinton kept her job after verbally taking responsibility.  Looks like Mrs. Sebelius will keep hers as well.

Guess maybe she’s going to go to the White House where the president will dispense fifty lashes with a wet noodle.

RELATED: Why Obama Won’t Fire Sebelius

UPDATE:  Jennifer Rubin writes:

Sebelius claimed she was “accountable,” but this means little. She isn’t resigning. She still insists contractors were at fault. It’s a kind of no-consequences accountability, I suppose.

Read the whole thing.

Why won’t Mrs. Sebelius follow the example of the man who tapped her to be his Secretary of Health and Human Services?

Gee whiz, Kathleen, didn’t you hear what President Obama said to Jay Leno in March 2009?  Here’s a reminder for those who don’t read this blog that often:

And one of the things that I’m trying to break is a pattern in Washington where everybody is always looking for somebody else to blame. And I think Geithner is doing an outstanding job. I think that we have a big mess on our hands. It’s not going to be solved immediately, but it is going to get solved. And the key thing is for everybody just to stay focused on doing the job instead of trying to figure out who you can pass blame on to.

But, alas, the Secretary of Health and Human Services is passing the blame onto someone else.  In her testimony tomorrow before the House of Representatives, she intends to “blame contractors, not HHS, for problems in House testimony“:

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will tell a House committee tomorrow the site’s botched rollout was the result of contractors failing to live up to expectations – not bad management at HHS, as the contractors suggested.

Wouldn’t a good executive have recognized well before the rollout date that the contractors were derelict in their duties?

UPDATE (from Jeff): Today Sebelius is doing the opposite and apologizing. Someone must have explained to her, finally, that it’s part of her job to publicly fall on her sword for her boss.

The Reality of America’s Finances

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 11:26 am - October 21, 2013.
Filed under: Big Government Follies,Debt Crisis,Government Shutdown

That’s the title of a nice post recently from Jon Gabriel at FreedomWorks.

America’s fiscal crisis is not that our debt ceiling was too low, the fiscal crisis is that our debt is too high. When I mentioned this to left-leaning folks, they seemed indifferent…So I made this infographic…

RTWT. As a further tease, here is Mr. Gabriel’s graphic:
America's finances: deficit, revenue and debt

ADDENDUM: Gabriel notes one leftie talking point that’s been making the rounds, “Obama lowered the deficit.” Umm, not really!

First, President Obama’s annual deficits are still larger than President Bush’s were. (Count the FY2009 deficit as Obama’s because his signature is on that budget, not Bush’s. In 2008, the Democrat Congress deliberately held back the FY2009 budget from Bush’s signature, so that Obama could sign it in early 2009 with lots of so-called “stimulus” spending added. Not fair to make Bush responsible for that. Also, even aside from that, Obama’s average deficit is still vastly larger than Bush’s average.)

Second: actually, the Tea Party lowered the deficit. In 2011-13, they have dragged Obama reluctantly into the sequester budget cuts – which Democrats officially haaaaaaaate, remember? Don’t mix up your talking points, lefties! :-)

Thoughts for the day

“Gaius Gracchus proposed a grain law. The people were delighted with it because it provided an abundance of food without work. The good men, however, fought against it because they thought the masses would be attracted away from hard work and toward idleness, and they saw that the state treasury would be exhausted.”
- Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Politicians get up and promise you all sorts of free stuff. They say, I’ll give you more and more stuff, and you won’t have to pay for it…My own view is that we have to tell people the truth, and we’re going to have to demand sacrifice of the American people. The idea of borrowing a trillion dollars more than we take in [each year] is not just bad economics, it’s immoral. I’m not going to do it, and I’m not going to promise what can’t be delivered.” – Mitt Romney

“We had a chance, in 2012, to elect as president a man who built his entire career and fortune on turning around financially troubled enterprises. But the voters rejected him because Obama claimed he was going to give women cancer and outlaw tampons. That is when I knew our country was f—ed.”
- V the K

Didn’t someone once call this level of debt “unpatriotic”?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:30 pm - October 19, 2013.
Filed under: Big Government Follies,Liberal Hypocrisy

As I caught this headline, U.S. debt jumps a record $328 billion — tops $17 trillion for first time, I recalled hearing a politician once call huge increases in debt unpatriotic.

Just found the clip on Youtube:

Twenty months ago today, CBS News reported that the “national debt has increased more under Obama than under Bush“:

The Debt rose $4.899 trillion during the two terms of the Bush presidency. It has now gone up $4.939 trillion since President Obama took office.

The latest posting from the Bureau of Public Debt at the Treasury Department shows the National Debt now stands at $15.566 trillion. It was $10.626 trillion on President Bush’s last day in office, which coincided with President Obama’s first day.

The federal government has added an additional $1.509 trillion in debt since the date when the debt accumulated under Obama exceeded than accumulated under Bush.  And the Democrat has not yet completed a full five years in office.  George W. Bush served for eight full years.

On the inevitability of default

In recent days, I’ve ridiculed President Obama’s claim that not giving him a debt ceiling increase would somehow force him to default on U.S. debt payments. (Since current revenues cover the minimum debt service many times over, making any debt default the president’s choice.)

But over the longer term, U.S. default is inevitable – if we keep raising the debt ceiling.

If you’ve ever seen a bankruptcy, you know that the path to default is to take on ever more debt – to supposedly “pay your bills”, in Obama’s expression – as you fail to cut your spending down to what you can afford.

By raising the debt ceiling so that Obama can borrow even more, America comes closer to default. NOT raising the debt ceiling – that is, giving up the deficit habit now, and running immediate balanced budgets – would postpone or prevent America’s coming default.

Some may answer “Ah, but letting Obama borrow more will keep things smooth and buy time to fix our other problems.” All I can say is: People told me that in early 2009, some six trillion dollars ago (of U.S. debt). Bullhockey. It’s how an alcoholic or drug addict thinks: tomorrow is always the day to officially clean up; never today.

Under present leadership, a U.S. default is inevitable. The only question is what form it will take.

  • Less likely: We could yet have an ‘honest default’, where we admit that we can’t repay our creditors and we negotiate cutbacks to our debt – and to our spending.
  • More likely: We will have a ‘dishonest default’ where we borrow, spend and print money until the dollar is confetti, and we never officially default, but we pay our creditors in dollars that buy far less than the dollars they loaned us (or were promised).

Either way, it’s a default (our debt is no good; our creditors don’t get what they were promised). And it’s the road we’re on. “Thanks, Obama!”

More details:

  • Niall Ferguson on why “the fiscal position of the federal government is in fact much worse today than is commonly realized”.
  • Jim Grant on America’s past defaults – honest and dishonest – and the one that’s coming.
  • Seeing the inevitable, China has called for the dollar to be overthrown (removed) as the world’s banking reserve currency. Read about it in the IB Times, the New York Times (which twists the facts to blame the Tea Party, natch) or the LA Times.

UPDATE: Obama has just called on America to stop listening to ‘the bloggers’, by a strange coincidence!