Thursday, January 29, 2009

Everybody knows.....

I learned a long time ago that everybody doesn't necessarily know what "everybody knows". I'm always a little leery whenever someone starts a conversation with "You can't argue with the fact that...", or "Practically everybody agrees that...".

There will always be somebody willing to argue about whether something is an opinion or a fact, and I can't think of anything that practically everybody agrees on.

I have little doubt that President Obama will be able to convince the politicians in Congress to pass most of his proposed economic bail-out plan. But as the cost of the plan and the federal debt continues to rise, not everybody agrees that even more government intervention is the answer.

Just so everybody knows.

The CATO Institute is running this advertisement signed by economists from around the nation. My friend Eric Schansberg is one of the signers, and everybody knows he's pretty smart:

"There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jumpstart the economy."

With all due respect Mr. President, that is not true.
Notwithstanding reports that all economists are now Keynesians and that we all support a big increase in the burden of government, we do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance. More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan's "lost decade" in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope over experience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today. To improve the economy, policy makers should focus on reforms that remove impediments to work, saving, investment and production. Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth.

Burton Abrams, Univ. of Delaware
Douglas Adie, Ohio University
Ryan Amacher, Univ. of Texas at Arlington
J.J. Arias, Georgia College & State University
Howard Baetjer, Jr., Towson University
Stacie Beck, Univ. of Delaware
Don Bellante, Univ. of South Florida
James Bennett, George Mason University
Bruce Benson, Florida State University
Sanjai Bhagat, Univ. of Colorado at Boulder
Mark Bils, Univ. of Rochester
Alberto Bisin, New York University
Walter Block, Loyola University New Orleans
Cecil Bohanon, Ball State University
Michele Boldrin, Washington University in St. Louis
Donald Booth, Chapman University
Michael Bordo, Rutgers University
Samuel Bostaph, Univ. of Dallas
Scott Bradford, Brigham Young University
Genevieve Briand, Eastern Washington University
George Brower, Moravian College
James Buchanan, Nobel laureate
Richard Burdekin, Claremont McKenna College
Henry Butler, Northwestern University
William Butos, Trinity College
Peter Calcagno, College of Charleston
Bryan Caplan, George Mason University
Art Carden, Rhodes College
James Cardon, Brigham Young University
Dustin Chambers, Salisbury University
Emily Chamlee-Wright, Beloit College
V.V. Chari, Univ. of Minnesota
Barry Chiswick, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago
Lawrence Cima, John Carroll University
J.R. Clark, Univ. of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Gian Luca Clementi, New York University
R. Morris Coats, Nicholls State University
John Cochran, Metropolitan State College
John Cochrane, Univ. of Chicago
John Cogan, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
John Coleman, Duke University
Boyd Collier, Tarleton State University
Robert Collinge, Univ. of Texas at San Antonio
Lee Coppock, Univ. of Virginia
Mario Crucini, Vanderbilt University
Christopher Culp, Univ. of Chicago
Kirby Cundiff, Northeastern State University
Antony Davies, Duquesne University
John Dawson, Appalachian State University
Clarence Deitsch, Ball State University
Arthur Diamond, Jr., Univ. of Nebraska at Omaha
John Dobra, Univ. of Nevada, Reno
James Dorn, Towson University
Christopher Douglas, Univ. of Michigan, Flint
Floyd Duncan, Virginia Military Institute
Francis Egan, Trinity College
John Egger, Towson University
Kenneth Elzinga, Univ. of Virginia
Paul Evans, Ohio State University
Eugene Fama, Univ. of Chicago
W. Ken Farr, Georgia College & State University
Hartmut Fischer, Univ. of San Francisco
Fred Foldvary, Santa Clara University
Murray Frank, Univ. of Minnesota
Peter Frank, Wingate University
Timothy Fuerst, Bowling Green State University
B. Delworth Gardner, Brigham Young University
John Garen, Univ. of Kentucky
Rick Geddes, Cornell University
Aaron Gellman, Northwestern University
William Gerdes, Clarke College
Michael Gibbs, Univ. of Chicago
Stephan Gohmann, Univ. of Louisville
Rodolfo Gonzalez, San Jose State University
Richard Gordon, Penn State University
Peter Gordon, Univ. of Southern California
Ernie Goss, Creighton University
Paul Gregory, Univ. of Houston
Earl Grinols, Baylor University
Daniel Gropper, Auburn University
R.W. Hafer, Southern Illinois
University, Edwardsville
Arthur Hall, Univ. of Kansas
Steve Hanke, Johns Hopkins
Stephen Happel, Arizona State University
Frank Hefner, College of Charleston
Ronald Heiner, George Mason University
David Henderson, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Robert Herren, North Dakota State University
Gailen Hite, Columbia University
Steven Horwitz, St. Lawrence University
John Howe, Univ. of Missouri, Columbia
Jeffrey Hummel, San Jose State University
Bruce Hutchinson, Univ. of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Brian Jacobsen, Wisconsin Lutheran College
Jason Johnston, Univ. of Pennsylvania
Boyan Jovanovic, New York University
Jonathan Karpoff, Univ. of Washington
Barry Keating, Univ. of Notre Dame
Naveen Khanna, Michigan State University
Nicholas Kiefer, Cornell University
Daniel Klein, George Mason University
Paul Koch, Univ. of Kansas
Narayana Kocherlakota, Univ. of Minnesota
Marek Kolar, Delta College
Roger Koppl, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Kishore Kulkarni, Metropolitan State College of Denver
Deepak Lal, UCLA
George Langelett, South Dakota State University
James Larriviere, Spring Hill College
Robert Lawson, Auburn University
John Levendis, Loyola University New Orleans
David Levine, Washington University in St. Louis
Peter Lewin, Univ. of Texas at Dallas
Dean Lillard, Cornell University
Zheng Liu, Emory University
Alan Lockard, Binghampton University
Edward Lopez, San Jose State University
John Lunn, Hope College
Glenn MacDonald, Washington
University in St. Louis
Michael Marlow, California
Polytechnic State University
Deryl Martin, Tennessee Tech University
Dale Matcheck, Northwood University
Deirdre McCloskey, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago
John McDermott, Univ. of South Carolina
Joseph McGarrity, Univ. of Central Arkansas
Roger Meiners, Univ. of Texas at Arlington
Allan Meltzer, Carnegie Mellon University
John Merrifield, Univ. of Texas at San Antonio
James Miller III, George Mason University
Jeffrey Miron, Harvard University
Thomas Moeller, Texas Christian University
John Moorhouse, Wake Forest University
Andrea Moro, Vanderbilt University
Andrew Morriss, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Michael Munger, Duke University
Kevin Murphy, Univ. of Southern California
Richard Muth, Emory University
Charles Nelson, Univ. of Washington
Seth Norton, Wheaton College
Lee Ohanian, Univ. of California, Los Angeles
Lydia Ortega, San Jose State University
Evan Osborne, Wright State University
Randall Parker, East Carolina University
Donald Parsons, George Washington University
Sam Peltzman, Univ. of Chicago
Mark Perry, Univ. of Michigan, Flint
Christopher Phelan, Univ. of Minnesota
Gordon Phillips, Univ. of Maryland
Michael Pippenger, Univ. of Alaska, Fairbanks
Tomasz Piskorski, Columbia University
Brennan Platt, Brigham Young University
Joseph Pomykala, Towson University
William Poole, Univ. of Delaware
Barry Poulson, Univ. of Colorado at Boulder
Benjamin Powell, Suffolk University
Edward Prescott, Nobel laureate
Gary Quinlivan, Saint Vincent College
Reza Ramazani, Saint Michael's College
Adriano Rampini, Duke University
Eric Rasmusen, Indiana University
Mario Rizzo, New York University
Richard Roll, Univ. of California, Los Angeles
Robert Rossana, Wayne State University
James Roumasset, Univ. of Hawaii at Manoa
John Rowe, Univ. of South Florida
Charles Rowley, George Mason University
Juan Rubio-Ramirez, Duke University
Roy Ruffin, Univ. of Houston
Kevin Salyer, Univ. of California, Davis
Pavel Savor, Univ. of Pennsylvania
Ronald Schmidt, Univ. of Rochester
Carlos Seiglie, Rutgers University
William Shughart II, Univ. of Mississippi
Charles Skipton, Univ. of Tampa
James Smith, Western Carolina University
Vernon Smith, Nobel laureate
Lawrence Southwick, Jr., Univ. at Buffalo
Dean Stansel, Florida Gulf Coast University
Houston Stokes, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago
Brian Strow, Western Kentucky University
Shirley Svorny, California State
University, Northridge
John Tatom, Indiana State University
Wade Thomas, State University of New York at Oneonta
Henry Thompson, Auburn University
Alex Tokarev, The King's College
Edward Tower, Duke University
Leo Troy, Rutgers University
David Tuerck, Suffolk University
Charlotte Twight, Boise State University
Kamal Upadhyaya, Univ. of New Haven
Charles Upton, Kent State University
T. Norman Van Cott, Ball State University
Richard Vedder, Ohio University
Richard Wagner, George Mason University
Douglas M. Walker, College of Charleston
Douglas O. Walker, Regent University
Christopher Westley, Jacksonville State University
Lawrence White, Univ. of Missouri at St. Louis
Walter Williams, George Mason University
Doug Wills, Univ. of Washington Tacoma
Dennis Wilson, Western Kentucky University
Gary Wolfram, Hillsdale College
Huizhong Zhou, Western Michigan University
Additional economists who have signed the statement

Lee Adkins, Oklahoma State University
William Albrecht, Univ. of Iowa
Donald Alexander, Western Michigan University
Geoffrey Andron, Austin Community College
Nathan Ashby, Univ. of Texas at El Paso
George Averitt, Purdue North Central University
Charles Baird, California State University, East Bay
Timothy Bastian, Creighton University
John Bethune, Barton College
Robert Bise, Orange Coast College
Karl Borden, University of Nebraska
Donald Boudreaux, George Mason University
Phil Bryson, Brigham Young University
Richard Burkhauser, Cornell University
Jim Butkiewicz, Univ. of Delaware
Richard Cebula, Armstrong Atlantic State University
Don Chance, Louisiana State University
Robert Chatfield, Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas
Lloyd Cohen, George Mason University
Peter Colwell, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Michael Connolly, Univ. of Miami
Jim Couch, Univ. of North Alabama
Eleanor Craig, Univ. of Delaware
Michael Daniels, Columbus State University
A. Edward Day, Univ. of Texas at Dallas
Stephen Dempsey, Univ. of Vermont
Allan DeSerpa, Arizona State University
William Dewald, Ohio State University
Jeff Dorfman, Univ. of Georgia
Lanny Ebenstein, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara
Michael Erickson, The College of Idaho
Jack Estill, San Jose State University
Dorla Evans, Univ. of Alabama in Huntsville
Frank Falero, California State University, Bakersfield
Daniel Feenberg, National Bureau of Economic Research
Eric Fisher, California Polytechnic State University
William Ford, Middle Tennessee State University
Ralph Frasca, Univ. of Dayton
Joseph Giacalone, St. John's University
Adam Gifford, California State Unviersity, Northridge
Otis Gilley, Louisiana Tech University
J. Edward Graham, University of North Carolina at Wilmington
Richard Grant, Lipscomb University
Gauri-Shankar Guha, Arkansas State University
Darren Gulla, Univ. of Kentucky
Dennis Halcoussis, California State University, Northridge
Richard Hart, Miami University
James Hartley, Mount Holyoke College
Thomas Hazlett, George Mason University
John Hoehn, Michigan State University
Daniel Houser, George Mason University
Thomas Howard, University of Denver
Chris Hughen, Univ. of Denver
Marcus Ingram, Univ. of Tampa
Joseph Jadlow, Oklahoma State University
Sherry Jarrell, Wake Forest University
Robert Krol, California State University, Northridge
James Kurre, Penn State Erie
Tom Lehman, Indiana Wesleyan University
W. Cris Lewis, Utah State University
Stan Liebowitz, Univ. of Texas at Dallas
Anthony Losasso, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago
John Lott, Jr., Univ. of Maryland
Keith Malone, Univ. of North Alabama
Henry Manne, George Mason University
Richard Marcus, Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Timothy Mathews, Kennesaw State University
John Matsusaka, Univ. of Southern California
Thomas Mayor, Univ. of Houston
W. Douglas McMillin, Louisiana State University
Mario Miranda, The Ohio State University
Ed Miseta, Penn State Erie
James Moncur, Univ. of Hawaii at Manoa
Charles Moss, Univ. of Florida
Tim Muris, George Mason University
John Murray, Univ. of Toledo
David Mustard, Univ. of Georgia
Steven Myers, Univ. of Akron
Dhananjay Nanda, University of Miami
Stephen Parente, Univ. of Minnesota
Douglas Patterson, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and University
Timothy Perri, Appalachian State University
Mark Pingle, Univ. of Nevada, Reno
Richard Rawlins, Missouri Southern State University
Thomas Rhee, California State University, Long Beach
Christine Ries, Georgia Institute of Technology
Nancy Roberts, Arizona State University
Larry Ross, Univ. of Alaska Anchorage
Timothy Roth, Univ. of Texas at El Paso
Atulya Sarin, Santa Clara University
Thomas Saving, Texas A&M University
Eric Schansberg, Indiana University Southeast
Alan Shapiro, Univ. of Southern California
Frank Spreng, McKendree University
Judith Staley Brenneke, John Carroll University
John E. Stapleford, Eastern University
Courtenay Stone, Ball State University
Avanidhar Subrahmanyam, UCLA
Scott Sumner, Bentley University
Clifford Thies, Shenandoah University
William Trumbull, West Virginia University
Gustavo Ventura, Univ. of Iowa
Marc Weidenmier, Claremont McKenna College
Robert Whaples, Wake Forest University
Gene Wunder, Washburn University
John Zdanowicz, Florida International University
Jerry Zimmerman, Univ. of Rochester
Joseph Zoric, Franciscan University of Steubenville

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I been thinkin'...

about money:

*I saw the other day that John Thain, ex CEO of Merrill Lynch, had spent $1.22 million on remodeling his office. He had some fine tastes in furniture, too:

Area Rug $87,784
Mahogany Pedestal Table $25,713
19th Century Credenza $68,179
Pendant Light Furniture $19,751
4 Pairs of Curtains $28,091
Pair of Guest Chairs $87,784
George IV Chair $18,468
6 Wall Sconces $2,741
Parchment Waste Can $1,405
Roman Shade Fabric $10,967
Roman Shades $7,315
Coffee Table $5,852
Commode on Legs $35,115
I don't know if Mr. Thain has found another job yet, but given his penchant for expensive furniture, he might want to get in touch with the Wayne County EDC when they start looking for another president again.

*In the 1965 James Bond movie, "Thunderball", the evil organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E. seized two atomic bombs and threatened to detonate them unless they were paid $100 million. Luckily, 007 was able to thwart the plan, and squeeze in a little romance to boot. James is getting on in years, so he might not be as much help nowadays, but the good news is, if S.P.E.C.T.R.E. was to try it again, we could pay the ransom 8250 times just with the new stimulus package. Probably wouldn't make much of a movie, though.

*When the RCA Dome was demolished, taxpayers still owed $70 million on it, or just about as much as it cost to build in the first place. Its replacement, the Lucas Oil Stadium, is on track to lose about $20 million a year. If it lasts as long as the RCA Dome lasted, and added to the initial cost of the new stadium, we could very possibly owe $1 billion on it when we tear it down. See what you can do when you really try.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Is everybody happy?!?!

Our oldest granddaughter, Hannah, (left) is three years old today. Within the next 26 days all 4 of them will celebrate their third, second, and first birthdays respectively. Like most grandparents, we take a ton of pictures, and we're downright obnoxious about flashing them around.

It is quite a challenge to get them all sitting still, smiling and looking in the same direction for a picture. It took 75 tries to get their Christmas picture co-ordinated to suit their mothers. Hannah and Audry love to mug for the camera, and Dawson is happy most of the time anyway. Two year-old Rebekah, on the other hand, tends to be a little less of a conformist, and is not always quite as willing to invest so much time in simply sitting still and smiling. They say it takes a little more to keep her happy.

I'm not convinced that is the case. I think Rebekah is a little bit like her Grandpa. Sometimes it takes a little less to keep us happy.

Our new President, Barack Obama, has his work cut out for him trying to keep 300 million people happy. I can't imagine that we will all ever be happy at the same time, and I imagine that there are some will never be happy as long as he is President.

A lot of Democrats are happy simply because Obama won the election. One of the bitterest Democrats I have ever had occasion to deal with is positively giddy over the outcome. And in as much as I expect a Democratic President to push Democratic party ideals and programs, I suspect most Democrats will have a lot to smile about for the next few years.

It might take a little coaxing to get a smile out of some Republicans, but I think if everybody calms down and looks around, they will see a continuation of the handout and bailout policies that we have been operating under for the past 8 years. There might be a small percentage of change in the amount that is taken and given, and there might be a small change in who is giving and who is taking, but the redistribution concept will remain the same, and continue to expand.

There could even be something for Libertarians to smile about. Obama appears to be serious about correcting at least some of the government sponsored rights violations. He has also pledged to shut down government programs that are found to be ineffective. Now, I understand that my definition of "ineffective" might not be the same as Mr. Obama's, but it's at least worth a grin.

I don't have any illusions that Mr. Obama will give me a lot to smile about in the next few years. While the other parties seem to beam whenever they come up with some new plan to spend our money or some new program to control our lives, Libertarians are much happier with less government spending and less government control. And while I was happy that the President froze the salaries of his White House staff, I also heard that he had rescinded President Bush's order that my tax dollars could only be used to fund abortions in the United States, and that they could now be used to fund abortions around the world. Going from bad to worse has a way of wiping the smile right off of your face.

I'm sure Rebekah's doting grandparents are going to be snapping thousands of pictures over the next few years, and I imagine she'll get bored with us long before her sister and cousins do. From a political standpoint, I'm also pretty sure that those of us who prefer less government won't have any more to be happy about than we've had in the last few years.

But I can't stop smiling when I'm around those babies.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

100 years ago...

"When men get in the habit of helping themselves to the property of others, they cannot easily be cured of it."
— The New York Times, in a 1909 editorial opposing the very first income tax.

And after a while, it becomes the accepted norm. Very few people even question the government's policy of forcibly taking property from one person and giving it to another.

It was wrong 100 years ago.

What makes it right now?


Friday, January 16, 2009

And that's the truth....spllllllll...

Facts are facts, and opinions are opinions. Truth, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder, and what qualifies as truth could fall into either category. With that in mind, we might want to keep a wary eye on State Representatives Randy Truitt and Mark Messmer. They have introduced House Bill No.1521, which, among other things, makes it a misdemeanor to write a letter to the editor containing information about a candidate that someone might consider untrue. My friend Mark Rutherford has more on the bill, including links, here:

Every so often someone introduces a really dumb piece of legislation, and every so often that piece of legislation gets shot down. This needs to one of those times, in my opinion.

But then, every so often, somebody introduces a piece of legislation that actually makes a little sense. Beverly Gard introduced Senate Bill 202, which requires municipalities to obtain signatures from 75% of the property owners in an area before they can start annexation proceedings. Now granted, it doesn't require 75% in every case, and by all rights it should require signatures from 100% of the property owners in the potenial annexation area, but it is at least closer to the type of law that we should be able to expect from our government.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Now, that's an emergency..

Apparently, there are some concerns that the $15 million government has set aside isn't enough money for the upcoming presidential inauguration. In order to be able to spend more, President Bush has declared a state of emergency in Washington D.C.

I'm thinking this isn't anything new. The way Congress spends money, Washington has been in a state of emergency for years. At least the people paying the bills have been.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

That's just the limit...

When I was a kid back at Millville Grade School, my old buddy Stinky Wilmont used to tell stories about his Uncle Pug. It seems he had a fondness for hard liquor, and according to Stinky, Uncle Pug knew his limit when he began to imbibe. The problem was he always passed out before he got to it.

We seem to have a similar problem with the federal debt. Anytime we get close to the limit, somebody moves it. And they move it pretty often anymore, about once a year, or there abouts. The most recent action to raise the limit is buried in last fall's bail-out bill, and puts the ceiling at $11.315 trillion. For now.

It causes all sorts of problems, too. The National Debt Clock in Times Square, that displays the ever increasing debt, ran out of spaces last year when the debt reached $10 trillion. Reports have it that its owners are working feverishly to design a clock that will register a quadrillion dollars. From the sounds of things coming out of Washington this week, they better start working a little faster.

As it stands right now, every person in the United States owes about $37,400.00 as their share of the national debt. That's if you don't count the unfunded future commitments to Social Security and Medicare. That kicks it up to about $160,000.00 per person.

I don't know about you, but I think that's about my limit.


Friday, January 02, 2009

Thanks for the warning...

It's always nice to get a "heads up" about a potential problem. This morning, I heard on the news that people who received gift cards for Christmas should redeem them as soon as possible. Apparently, people who study such things have predicted that due to business failures, as many as one fourth of the gift cards may be rendered worthless in less than two years. Luckily for me, I didn't get any gift cards for Christmas. One less thing to worry about, I guess.

But, I also heard on the news this morning that the Federal Reserve is going to step in again to help our nation's staggering economy. Now, since 1913, when the Federal Reserve started stepping in to help out, the dollar has lost about 96% of it's purchasing power.

While I didn't get any gift cards for Christmas, I was lucky enough to get a $50.00 bill from my mother-in-law, and since the Fed is making plans to step in again, I think I'll hurry out and make a down payment on that new hammer I've had my eye on for a while.

Oh, and thanks for the "heads up"!

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