Friday, February 3, 2012

Top 10 Reads of the Week - February 3, 2012

$5 Trillion and Change - Editors [Wall Street Journal]
The political strategy behind Obamanomics was always simple: Call for "stimulus" to rescue the economy, run up the debt with the biggest spending blitz in 60 years, and then when the deficit explodes call for higher taxes. The Congressional Budget Office annual review released yesterday shows this is all on track. 
CBO reports that annual spending over the Obama era has climbed to a projected $3.6 trillion this fiscal year from $2.98 trillion in fiscal 2008, or more than 20%. The government spending burden has averaged 24% of GDP, up from an average of about 20%. This doesn't include the $2 trillion tab for ObamaCare. 
All of this has increased the federal debt by about $5 trillion in a mere four years. Thanks to higher revenues, the federal deficit will decline to $1.08 trillion in 2012, or 7% of GDP. But that is still the highest deficit since 1946—except for the previous three years. In other words, the four years of the Obama's Presidency will mark the four highest years in spending and deficits as a share of the economy since Harry Truman sat in the Oval Office... Read the Rest

A Fast and Furious Fib - Michael Walsh [New York Post]
It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup, goes the old Washington cliché. In the case of the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal, it’s both. 
As Attorney General Eric Holder gets ready to face more congressional grilling Thursday, something’s clearly rotten at the Justice Department. The stench goes all the way to the top — to Holder... Read the Rest
Barack Obama is trying to make the US a more socialist state - Janet Daley [The Telegraph]
What was it everybody used to say about the United States? Look at what’s happening over there and you will see our future. Whatever Americans are doing now, we will be catching up with them in another 10 years or so. In popular culture or political rhetoric, America led the fashion and we tagged along behind.
Well, so much for that. Barack Obama is now putting the United States squarely a decade behind Britain. Listening to the President’s State of the Union message last week was like a surreal visit to our own recent past: there were, almost word for word, all those interminable Gordon Brown Budgets that preached “fairness” while listing endless new ways in which central government would intervene in every form of economic activity... Read the Rest
The Problem with Bambi-nomics - Robert McHenry [The American]
Mitt Romney's difficulty with his history at Bain Capital may be our most nearly perfect example of how ignorance and misunderstanding, willful or otherwise, render our political discourse impotent. 
Businesses that do what Bain does are sensitive about the common analogy comparing them to scavenger species in nature. In large part this is owing to how we are trained from childhood to think of nature in terms of postcard vistas, pettable furry things with large eyes, and the romantic notion of some sort of sweetly cooperative community of creatures. We tend not to teach children about vultures, fungi, slime molds, or maggots. More importantly, we do not teach them why such things are every bit as important to the ecology as Bambi. Without them, the world would soon be tree-deep in corpses, large and small, and life would become impossible. With them, the soil is constantly enriched with recycled nutrients, and life continues abundant. But this kind of comparison clearly doesn't help Bain's image very much... Read the Rest
It's Working in Walker's Wisconsin - Christian Schneider [City Journal]
One morning last February, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker called his staff into his office. “Guys,” he warned, “it’s going to be a tough week.” Walker had recently sent a letter to state employees proposing steps—ranging from restricting collective bargaining to requiring workers to start contributing to their own pension accounts—to eliminate the state’s $3.6 billion deficit. That day in February was when Walker would announce his plan publicly. 
It turned out to be a toughyear. The state immediately erupted into a national spectacle, with tens of thousands of citizens, led by Wisconsin’s public-employee unions, seizing control of the capitol for weeks to protest the reforms. By early March, the crowds grew as big as 100,000, police estimated. Protesters set up encampments in the statehouse, openly drinking and engaging in drug use beneath the marble dome. Democratic state senators fled Wisconsin to prevent a vote on Walker’s plan. Eventually, the Senate did manage to pass the reforms, which survived a legal challenge and became law in July. 
The unions aren’t done yet: they’re now trying to recall Walker from office. To do so, they will try to convince Wisconsin voters that Walker’s reforms have rendered the state ungovernable. But the evidence, so far, contradicts that claim—and Wisconsinites seem to realize it... Read the Rest

Electric Cars: Doubling Down on Dumb - Kenneth Green [Real Clear Markets]
Once again, the regulators in California have decided to lead the nation in terms of vehicle emission standards, proposing to require that 15.4 percent of all vehicles sold by 2025 must be electric cars, plug-in hybrid cars, or (currently non-existent) fuel cell cars. 
In case you're wondering why this all sounds familiar, it's because California is re-running the same delusional program that it ran in 1990 (Yes, 22 years ago) when "Specifically, the Air Resources Board (ARB) required that at least 2 percent, 5 percent and 10 percent of new car sales be zero-emitting by 1998, 2001 and 2003 respectively."... Read the Rest

The Button That Made Facebook Billions - Andy Kessler [Wall Street Journal]
As bizarre as this sounds, one of the most valuable innovations in technology over the last several decades is Facebook's "Like" button. That's what has propelled the company to a galaxy-orbit valuation for its forthcoming initial public offering, filed Wednesday. 
This is not only because the word "like" is, like, the identifying word of an entire generation. It's because computing has evolved beyond just taking directions from humans—and instead is cozying up to us and sniffing out our emotions and intent... Read the Rest (and hey, as long as you're reading about this stuff, please "like" our Facebook page)

Mitt Romney, Economic Growth, and the Myths of American Poverty - James Pethokoukis [The Enterprise Blog]
... The optics are obviously lousy, a multimillionaire saying he’s unconcerned about those at the bottom. It seems to lack a certain noblesse oblige, especially right now when the poverty statistics seem so bleak. In September, the Census Bureau reported that the percentage of Americans living below the poverty line last year was 15.1 percent, the highest level since 1993. And measured by total numbers, the 46 million now living in poverty is the largest on record dating back to when the census began tracking poverty in 1959. 
But what do we really know about “plight of the poor” in America. There are certainly a lot of misconceptions that, once corrected, cast what Romney said in a totally different light. Here is the reality... Read the Rest
Getting Nowhere, Very Fast - Thomas Sowell [Real Clear Politics]
California has a huge state debt and Washington has a huge national debt. But that does not discourage either Governor Jerry Brown or President Barack Obama from wanting to launch a very costly high-speed rail system. 
Most of us might be a little skittish about spending money if we were teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. But the beauty of politics is that it is all other people's money, including among those other people generations yet unborn... Read the Rest

One Year Later, Another Look at Obamanomics vs. Reaganomics - Daniel J. Mitchell [Cato@Liberty]
On this day last year, I posted two charts that I developed using the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank’s interactive website. Those two charts showed that the current recovery was very weak compared to the boom of the early 1980s.
But perhaps that was an unfair comparison.Maybe the Reagan recovery started strong and then hit a wall. Or maybe the Obama recovery was the economic equivalent of a late bloomer. 
So let’s look at the same charts, but add an extra year of data. Does it make a difference? 
Meh… not so much.... Read the Rest
The Funniest Thing I Saw This Week

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