Monthly Archive for August, 2008

Quote Of The Day

“Moreover, cutting our consumption of oil will not do anything to reduce our dependance on oil from the Middle East. First, because other countries–countries we trade with–will still be using the stuff, so changes in oil prices will continue to whipsaw our economy. And second, because the price of oil is set on the world market. If we cut world consumption back to 20 million barrels a day, we would be totally dependent on Middle Eastern oil, because they’re the low-cost producers–it takes, if I recall correctly, less than $5 a barrel to pull oil out of the ground in Saudi. The Middle East will be the last place to close the taps. The more we cut world consumption, the more dependent we’ll be on crazy Middle Eastern governments. Those governments might not be as rich. But we’ll still need them just as much, as long as oil remains critical.” — Megan McArdle, on Obama’s intentional misleading to the American public on oil dependence

Quote Of The Day

“Fifty percent of the variance in inequality in lifetime earnings is determined by age 18. The family plays a powerful role in shaping adult outcomes that is not fully recognised by current American policies. As programs are currently configured, interventions early in the lives of disadvantaged children have substantially higher economic returns than later interventions such as reduced pupil-teacher ratios, public job training programs, convict rehabilitation programs, adult literacy programs, tuition subsidies, or expenditure on police. This is because life-cycle skill formation is dynamic in nature. Skill begets skill; motivation begets motivation. Motivation cross-fosters skill, and skill cross-fosters motivation. If a child is not motivated to learn and engage early on in life, the more likely it is that when the child becomes an adult, he or she will fail in social and economic life. The longer society waits to intervene in the life cycle of a disadvantaged child, the more costly it is to remediate disadvantage.” —James J. Heckman, nobel laureate and Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, discussing the achievement gaps in todays society

Quote Of The Day

“There are countries in Europe that would love to have their unemployment rate fall to the 5.7 percent unemployment rate to which ours has risen. Yet those who seem to want us to imitate European economic and social policies never seem to want to consider the actual consequences of those policies. “Unacceptable” is one of the big weasel words of our time– almost always said when the person who says it has no intention of doing anything, and so is accepting what is called “unacceptable.”” — Thomas Sowell

Quote Of The Day

“The reason so many people misunderstand so many issues is not that these issues are so complex, but that people do not want a factual or analytical explanation that leaves them emotionally unsatisfied. They want villains to hate and heroes to cheer– and they don’t want explanations that do not give them that. ” — Thomas Sowell

Quote Of The Day

“Unless blacks and Hispanics markedly increase their secondary and tertiary graduation rates, the average educational level of the American work force will steadily decline in the coming decades as better educated whites are replaced by less well-educated blacks and Hispanics. On this trend, America will steadily lose competitiveness. America must find the means to better educate its minorities.” —Alvin Rabushka

Democrats On Abortion

The editorial pages of the WSJ report:

…it seems as if the Democrats have accomplished the impossible: They have moved to the left on abortion.

On the party’s platform, the Democrats dropped the words “safe, legal and rare,” the phrase used most famously by both Bill and Hillary Clinton to signal moderation on the issue. The Democrats also added the modifier “unequivocally” to strengthen their support for abortion rights. As if there were any doubt about the message that these changes send to the party’s radical factions, here is feminist Linda Hirshman celebrating in a piece for Slate: “With the release of the new platform, the emancipation of women may once again become a legitimate political position.”

Some conservative Democrats and a few leaders on the religious left have cited other shifts, such as the inclusion of access to “family planning services” and “age-appropriate sex education” in the platform, as evidence that the party is softening its stance. But phrases like “sex education” and “family planning,” especially when uttered by government officials, rarely warm the hearts of conservative, religious Americans.

If Democrats had wanted to “make room” for pro-lifers, they could have. One proposal for the platform was a statement of “conscience” — that is, language noting that people of good conscience can disagree on abortion. This was rejected by the platform writers.

The full article can be found here. The article in Slate by Linda Hirshman can be found here.

 

Video: Charlie Rose interviews Austan Goolsbee

Charlie Rose interviews Austan Goolsbee, Barack Obama’s chief economic advisor. The full interview can be found here.

The Incentives Of Welfare

What would you do if you were too poor to care for your children? If you said have less children, you have not factored in the economics of welfare:

The 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) gave states greater flexibility to formulate and implement initiatives to reduce welfare dependency and encourage employment for members of low-income families with children. For the nation, in 2006, 10 years after passage of the Act, the birth rate for women 15 to 50 years old receiving public assistance income in the last 12 months was 155 births per 1,000 women, about three times the rate for women not receiving public assistance (53 births per 1,000 women).

In other words, when you subsidize children, you create the incentive to have more children…3x the national average, in this case. Link via Perry here.

A Cure For Real Estate Markets Downturn

Given by Alan Greenspan:

“The most effective initiative, though politically difficult, would be a major expansion in quotas for skilled immigrants,” he said. The only sustainable way to increase demand for vacant houses is to spur the formation of new households. Admitting more skilled immigrants, who tend to earn enough to buy homes, would accomplish that while paying other dividends to the U.S. economy.

He estimates the number of new households in the U.S. currently is increasing at an annual rate of about 800,000, of whom about one third are immigrants. “Perhaps 150,000 of those are loosely classified as skilled,” he said. “A double or tripling of this number would markedly accelerate the absorption of unsold housing inventory for sale — and hence help stabilize prices.”

The full article (paid, WSJ) can be found here.

The Logic Of Vouchers (humor)

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLDb2V86Ei0&eurl=]

The Extreme Abortion Views Of Obama

David Freddoso writing in the National Review reports

On March 30, 2001, Obama was the only senator to speak in opposition to a bill that would have banned the practice of leaving premature abortion survivors to die. The bill, SB 1095, was carefully limited, its language unambiguous. It applied only to premature babies, already born alive. It stated simply that under Illinois law, “the words ‘person,’ ‘human being,’ ‘child,’ and ‘individual’ include every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development.”

Two related bills introduced that day included slightly more controversial provisions about liability and medical procedure, but SB 1095 did not go nearly that far. This bill did not apply to those not born, nor did it grant born persons anything beyond recognition of their rights as persons.

Under this bill, SB 1095, babies born alive during an abortion would have to be treated just like every other baby that is born alive and prematurely — not left to die as at Christ Hospital, but given treatment according to an acting physician’s medical judgment as to what is necessary and what is possible — the same standard that applies to any other human being.

There was no legal conflict between this bill and the right to legal abortion, but Barack Obama was still uneasy with the idea. He and 11 other senators would vote “present” in a strategy worked out with Planned Parenthood lobbyists (“present” votes in the Illinois senate essentially count as “no” votes). The bill would pass the Senate easily with a bipartisan majority, only to die in a House committee.

The full article can be found here.

Remember Hugo Chavez?

Wondering what he has been up to? The New York Times keeps us informed:

President Hugo Chávez is using his decree powers to enact a set of socialist-inspired measures that seem based on a package of constitutional changes that voters rejected last year. His actions open a new stage of confrontation between his government and the political opposition.

Some of the laws significantly increase Mr. Chávez’s power. For instance, one law allows him to name regional political leaders who would have separate budgets, which could help him offset possible victories by opposition candidates in state and municipal elections scheduled for November.

Mr. Chávez is also trying to assert greater control over the armed forces through a decree creating militias, a new military branch he has pushed for.

Reigniting private property concerns, another law allows his government to “occupy and temporarily operate” private companies not in compliance with bookkeeping rules.

The set of decrees stops short of removing term limits for Mr. Chávez, which was one of the most polarizing measures in the package voters rejected in December. But more than a dozen of the laws are strikingly similar to items included in the failed constitutional overhaul, angering the president’s critics.

The full article can be found here.

Every time I read something on Hugo Chavez I am reminded of Hayek’s book, The Road To Serfdom and this quote from Cato:

“Since the collapse of the Soviet empire, many defenders of socialism have argued that dictators, including Mao, Stalin, and Pol Pot, were aberrations; they took Marx’s ideas in the wrong direction. They claim that nationalization of the means of production (call it communism, socialism, or Marxism) and democracy can be compatible. In The Road to Serfdom, Hayek showed that it cannot. Some 50 years later, Hayek’s argument holds. Every socialist regime tends toward authoritarianism of some sort. Chavez reminds us of the anti-democratic nature of socialism. As such, he is turning into a major embarrassment for many on the Left who supported him. Unfortunately, what the proponents of socialism again and again fail to realize is that it is the message, not the messenger, that is embarrassing”.

Quote Of The Day

“The company is scrambling to retool for small cars, and I’m sure we’ll hear a loud chorus of voices saying that GM did this to themselves by becoming so dependent on light trucks.  Well, they did, but I’m not sure it’s fair to blame management.  GM’s historical pension and healthcare obligations, and the vast difficulties they have in permanently laying off workers, mean that the company had to maximize cash flow as best they could.  Indeed, I find it interesting that I spent so many years listening to europhile economists assure me that the Germans were going to kick our ass because their cooperative management style, with labor having a seat on the board, allowed them to engage in long-term planning.  The industries in America where labor has the most power are the ones that have the hardest time making strategic choices to lower profits now in order to raise them in the future.” —Megan McArdle, blogging in The Atlantic on the current GM crisis

McCain Speaks The Truth

The Associated Press reports:

Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Friday told an influential black organization that Democratic rival Barack Obama opposed private school vouchers and was beholden to the teacher’s union, both at the expense of underprivileged students.

McCain said that Obama sent his own children to private school while holding back efforts to give more choices to low-income families. The Arizona Republican acknowledged that he and his wife sent their children to private school, too, saying that “everybody should have the same choice Cindy and I and Sen. Obama did.”

McCain continues:

“My opponent talks a great deal about hope and change, and education is as good a test as any of his seriousness,” he said. “If Sen. Obama continues to defer to the teachers unions instead of committing to real reform, then he should start looking for new slogans.”

“If there’s one thing he always delivers it’s a great speech,” McCain said. “But I hope you’ll listen carefully, because his ideas are not always as impressive as his rhetoric.”

Thats a true and fair criticism.