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Wednesday
Sep142011

Is Lake Perry an Inch Deep?

These days I find myself agreeing with the talking heads:  The Republican primary is now down to two candidates—Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.  What I don’t agree with is how the pundits are characterizing the Perry/Romney matchup.  They are saying ultra conservative voters will support Perry while less conservative Republicans will go for Romney. 

In some sense they are right.  Those most skeptical of government power will no doubt lean toward the candidate most indignant toward it.  Rick Perry’s limited government message is timely and enticing, and much of it appeals to very conservative voters.

But Rick Perry has a big problem.  He may be conservative, but I, and other conservative voters like me, aren’t going to vote for him just because we agree with him.  To get our votes, Rick Perry must prove he is knowledgeable and persuasive enough to both beat Obama and govern effectively as a Conservative.

I’ve watched Perry for several weeks now, hoping he would prove capable of defending and explaining conservatism. The latest two debates, however, have confirmed what I already suspicioned—Perry either has a superficial understanding of what he believes or he can’t explain himself.  Either option is unacceptable for the standard bearer of the Republican Party and the Conservative movement.

Perry has made many bold and controversial statements in this campaign—many of them true.  Problem is, when challenged on his statements, Perry doesn’t seem to know why he is right.  “Government spending doesn’t create jobs,” he says.  That is true.  But is there any evidence Perry knows why? Can he refute Obama’s demand stimulus model? Does he know why Keynes was wrong?

The Conservative movement and its offspring the Tea Party would do well to nominate someone who is an effective advocate for the Constitution and limited government.  I’m not asking for an “intellectual” candidate, whatever that means.  What I am asking for is someone who is persuasive and can convince the American people of the value of conservative ideals and policies.  That candidate will be able to refute the nonsense of the left, win the presidency, and—like President Reagan after Carter—effectively promote the agenda necessary to get our country back on track.  

Saturday
Aug272011

Jonathan Alter Defends Obama with a Pathetic Non-Argument

Liberal columnist Jonathan Alter gave conservative pundits a gift this week in asking them to prove Obama has been a bad president.  It didn’t take long for several columnists to answer the “challenge” with unfavorable economic and unemployment statistics.  The most effective response was probably Peter Wehner’s over at Commentary who simply made a list of economic and unemployment facts under Obama that would make any Democrat wince.

Problem is Obama apologists already have an answer to the unemployment question.  And Alter uses it here:
When Obama took office, the economy was losing about 750,000 jobs a month…The recession ended (at least for a while) and we now are adding several thousand jobs a month…
This is a cynical and deceptive line but nevertheless one that is used multiple times by every single defender of the Obama Administration.  Turn on the TV and one will hear some Democrat, somewhere touting this non-argument.

Why is it a non-argument?

Because there was nowhere to go but up. Does anyone believe America would have continued to lose 750,000 jobs per month had Obama not come to the rescue?  Under John McCain would we have maintained this pace and lost 36 million jobs in four years? Is that the argument?

The point is the rate of job loss during that period was unsustainable.  That time was extraordinary and does not represent a pattern on which an historical argument can be based.  No economy could lose jobs at that rate for very long—much less the most productive economy in the world.  The economy was always going to come back. The issue for Obama is not whether the car is out of the ditch—as he likes to say—but whether the car is now capable of traveling the speed limit.  

By Obama’s own measures, the car can’t reach the speed limit—that is, unless we’re in a school zone.  Let’s not forget, it wasn’t a right wing conspirator who claimed unemployment wouldn’t surpass eight percent after the stimulus. Nor was it the right that dubbed the summer of 2010 “Recovery Summer”. Obama and his people made those predictions because they expected the economy to turn around, as did everyone.  But the Administration didn’t know their spending binge would hamper that tournaround.  
Sunday
Sep262010

How Fiorina Should Answer the "Exporting Jobs" Charge

The nation is watching carefully the California Senate contest between career politician Barbara Boxer and businesswoman Carli Fiorina.  In a place where Democrats reign supreme, the close election in California has frightened Democrats and energized Republicans.

In an anti-incumbency year, Fiorina has benefited from contrasting her executive experience against her opponents political experience.  Boxer has responded by turning Fiorina’s executive experience against her, claiming Fiorina exported 30,000 jobs overseas while CEO of Hewlett Packard.  Here’s Boxer from her opening statement of the September 1 debate:

And when I talk about shipping jobs overseas, I'm reminded of my opponent.

When she was CEO of Hewlett Packard, before she was terminated, actually, she shipped 30,000 jobs overseas.  Think of it.  That's the size of Foster City.  And through all of that pain, what did she do to show any sacrifice?  She took $100 million.  So that reminds me of Wall Street.

Admittedly, it’s a difficult charge to answer, and Boxer was debating in real time.  But if she had time to think, perhaps she would have responded like this:

To be a CEO in the private sector means one must make difficult, and sometimes painful, decisions.  All of those decisions are based on the needs of the company, the efficient use of company resources, and the reality of the balance sheet.   It is devastating to lose a job to outsourcing, and I hated making those decisions.  When we had to outsource, we did everything we could at HP to soften the blow to the people affected. 

But the global economy is a reality; and if a CEO makes uneconomic decisions, it threatens the existence of the company, the jobs of every other employee in the company, and the thousands of others who count on the company to fund their investments and retirement.  Like a company our country needs leaders who will make economic rather than political decisions--leaders who won’t cause the economy as a whole to suffer because they want to please a particular interest group. 

For 28 years, my opponent has had the luxury of spending your money without having to make tough decisions. To Senator Boxer resources are endless and there is no need to spend wisely as long as the Chinese are willing to finance our debt and our grandchildren are willing to pay the interest.  In the private sector I had no such luxury.  I could not fall back on the ability to print money or borrow from the next generation.  I had to make the best decision I could and live with it.

As a career politician, Senator Boxer has expected, because she’s a Democrat, that you would never hold her accountable for what she has done—or hasn’t done—in Washington.  Think about it.  How much money have you and your neighbors sent to Washington in 28 years?  And what does Barbara Boxer have to show for it?  Every step of the way, she’s made poor decisions that have jeopardized California and the entire nation.  And now Senator Boxer is asking us—even after witnessing the results—to send her back to D.C. for more of the same.  

Sunday
Aug292010

The Green Jobs Con

By John Prothro

Last week CNN.com published an article from Jesse Jackson, the founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network.  The article was meant to promote a march (also supported by the UAW) on behalf of the so-called “green jobs” movement.  The idea is government should be targeting investment into green technology, thus creating American jobs and improving the environment. The slogan “green jobs” is an attempt by the environmental movement, supported by opportunists in big labor, to address its main shortcoming; that is, the environmental movement is often anti-growth, and in tough economic times, people aren’t as willing to save the whales if it means losing their job.

Enter the “green jobs” mantra as a way to recast the message.  Here we have a policy where everyone wins—we have more jobs and cleaner air.  From a social perspective, it's nice sounding policy.  From an economic perspective, however, it’s indefensible.  Let’s take for instance the quite mainstream arguments of Jackson and Rogers: 

“A key component of stable job growth is our nation's energy policy. If our country gets serious about energy savings and independence from oil, we could rebuild domestically and power the U.S. economy with American jobs.”

While saving energy is a worthy goal, there is no link between saving energy and job growth.  If that were true, North Korea would be an economic powerhouse.  Of course, if a company develops an energy saving device or a way to replace oil, more people are employed creating that device.  But the same goes for any other industry, and the private sector is much better at R&D than the government.

“We need an economy that creates employment that can't be shipped overseas. You certainly can't retrofit a house in the Midwest from China or India. Home-grown American labor will be installing windmills and solar panels.”

There is nothing unique about “green jobs” in these examples.  One could just as easily say, “You certainly can’t paint a barn in the Midwest from China or India.” Or “You certainly can’t mow a Milwaukee lawn from China or India.”  The industry in question is not the issue; what matters is the strength of the economy.  Does the family in Milwaukee have enough surplus capital to retrofit their home, paint their barn, or hire someone to mow their lawn?  That’s the question. 

But it’s a question the left believes it doesn’t need to answer.  If resources are limitless, the government can simply give the family enough money to pay for the retrofit.  And there you have it.  Someone has a green job and a house is more energy efficient. 

But the economy doesn’t work that way; government expenditures must come from the private sector’s pocket.  In our example, while both the person hired for the retrofit and the Milwaukee family temporarily benefit, the family next door does not.  The neighbors live in a global and open economy, where the private sector needs surplus capital to expand production, research new products, and create jobs.  The global economy is harmed each time government robs from the marketplace to fund its pet industries.

“Some reports estimate that a clean energy industry can provide 3.2 million jobs. As just one example, since initiating its clean energy plan, Assembly Bill 32, California has added 500,000 green jobs.”

And how many jobs did California lose to add 500,000 green jobs?   How much productive capital—that could have been used in more efficient, sustainable job creation—did California pull from private industry to pay for those jobs?  (The same question, by the way, should be asked of the Stimulus.)  As of June 2010, California had 12.2% unemployment, well above the national average.  These numbers are a product of a well-meaning but imprudent state government, famous for its intense belief in unlimited capital.

“Even now, the only sector of the economy that has seen job growth during the recession is the green job sector.”

Real growth must be sustainable.  Like the “cash for clunkers” program, government sponsored growth is spurned by artificial demand, demand that exits when government either runs out of cash or changes priorities.

“Our current path favors big oil and coal interests, which don't offer the potential job growth of a clean energy economy. Offshore drilling and mountain top removal provide a few thousand jobs nationwide, but, as the BP oil spill recently demonstrated, can jeopardize millions of other jobs in other industries such as fishing and tourism.”

Offshore oil drilling and coal mining provide only a few thousand jobs nationwide?  This is probably news to the heavy equipment manufacturer, the coal coking plant, the logistics firm, the catering service, the electricity provider…and the thousands upon thousands of other interconnected benefactors.  We live in an open economy. The end of coal harvesting and offshore drilling, if not replaced by something economically superior, would have damaging effects far beyond the people who actually work in the coal mines or on the oil rigs.

“The European Union and China are investing considerably more than the U.S…We can sit idly as China and Germany invest in clean energy -- a soon-to-be $8 trillion world market -- or we can step up, get Americans back in the work force and export the best clean energy vehicles and technology.”

China’s investments into clean technology are strategic and reflect China’s ever-growing demand for a national infrastructure to support 1.4 billion people rising from poverty, not a need to satisfy left wing pressure groups.  This is why China has made the construction of nuclear power plants the cornerstone of its energy policy, something impossible to support within the American left. America needs an energy policy, to be sure, one designed to promote its national interests, not one designed—under the cover of green jobs—to promote the interests of organized labor and the global warming crowd.

And as for the “soon-to-be $8 trillion world market…” Assuming this number is even knowable, there is no potential 8 trillion dollar market that needs any help finding capital.  Green technology is and will be a large market, but it’s best to let private capital decide how to place investment in the most efficient areas with the highest returns.  Only in this way will we see any meaningful improvement in American jobs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Aug192010

GZ Mosque About Sacredness not Constitutionality

The Ground Zero mosque issue has exploded so far out of control that it has become borderline nauseating to listen to opinions on it. In that spirit, I now offer you my opinion on the GZ mosque. But for the sake of brevity, I will format my opinion as simply answering questions. 

Does this Muslim group or any other Muslim group have a right to build a mosque near ground zero? Yes, of course. No serious person argues differently.

Will the GZ mosque be a symbolic loss in the war on terror? Ehhh, I don’t really think so.

Will building the GZ mosque tangibly harm the country? Nah.

Should the GZ mosque get built? No.

Why? Well….

There is an important, much larger cultural point to be made here. Ground Zero is sacred ground. Sacred. And we as a culture do not give proper respect to those things that ought to be held as sacred.

Childhood innocence ought to be held sacred, yet we litter the airwaves with sex and profanity and label those who might object as Puritans.

The practice of law ought to be sacred, yet we allow attorneys to have cheap, gimmicky ads insinuating that lawsuits are some sort of get-rich-quick options.

The office of the presidency ought to be sacred, yet our own vice president refers to the president he serves as “Barack.”

Ground Zero is sacred ground. And what happens in and around Ground Zero ought to happen with the extreme sensibilities of those who lost their lives there solely in mind. Ground Zero is not that place to make a point about how building a mosque would show off the best of America. Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn’t. But Ground Zero is and should only ever be the place where the victims are honored. Some say the terrorists win if we don’t build the mosque. Poppycock. The terrorists win when we stop honoring the victims.

Maybe we can talk about building a mosque when we finally have a memorial built at Ground Zero. In fact, that would be a great time to talk about building a mosque a few blocks down from a respectful, honoring memorial.

You wouldn’t build an NRA museum next to the location of a gun crime. You wouldn’t air an anti-Semitic ad during a showing of Schindler’s List. And you shouldn’t build the GZ mosque. Certainly not now, without a memorial to honor the victims first.