Sunday reflection: John 10:11–18
28 minutes ago
“A railroad between continents? A railroad from, say, New York City all the way across the Atlantic to France? Now, THAT would be a bridge! It’s yet another humorous gaffe by the Harvard graduate, overlooked by most media for whatever reason. Like Obama saying Abraham-Come-Lately Lincoln was the founder of the Republican Party. Or Navy corpseman. Or the Austrian language. Fifty-seven states. The president of Canada. Etc.”Mr. Reynolds (aka Instapundit (hat-tip)) - "WHOEVER’S PROGRAMMING HIS TELEPROMPTER MUST BE A GOP MOLE" I think Glenn Reynolds' caption of this headline pretty much sums up the proper reaction to this latest gaffe. That is if you are willing to put aside the complete MSM ignoring of this and all his other gaffes - which is insulting, alarming, and irresponsible on the MSM's part. And speaking of the MSM (because I love beating dead horses), this little tidbit has come out of Gallup. Majority in U.S. Continues to Distrust the Media, Perceive Bias. More perceive liberal bias than conservative bias
Managers whose budgets do not depend on customer satisfaction and who do not face competitive pressure in the marketplace, will not, on balance, spend their money wisely. Vendors selling to those managers know that price matters much less than it does to, say, Wal-Mart. And anywhere there is political urgency and official involvement high up the command chain, conditions will begin resembling a gold rush.The article is worth a full reading. And the hits keep coming. This nugget is from the big book of Duh - Americans Say Federal Gov't Wastes Over Half of Every Dollar. I'd say it wastes 75% of every dollar.
As major Solyndra investor and Barack Obama donor George Kaiser told a crowd of his fellow Oklahomans not long after Obama's stimulus was announced in 2009, "There's never been more money shoved out of the government's door in world history and probably never will be again than in the last few months and the next 18 months. And our selfish, parochial goal is to get as much of it for Tulsa and Oklahoma as we possibly can."
There is no such thing as war without the brutal, violent death of innocents, including children. Similarly, there is no such thing as government spending without gobs of disgusting waste, graft and corruption. It's all cooked right into the system.
Friedman asks if we should "pay a little more per gallon of gas and make the country stronger, safer and healthier." To put this call for human sacrifice in context, allow me to pose a multiple choice question.
Roughly what percentage of the earth's atmosphere is composed of carbon dioxide?
If you answered D, 9%, you're…wrong. In fact if you answered any of the above, you're not just wrong, but wrong by two or three orders of magnitude. The answer is that the earth's atmosphere is less than 390 parts per million, or less than 0.04%, CO2. Yes, this is up from about 320 parts per million, or .032% CO2 fifty years ago, but it is an astonishingly low number to most whose only contact with "climate science" is through what they read in the papers.
Have you ever heard that fact discussed in the "mainstream" media, or even on the nominally conservative Fox News? You hear that the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has increased, but you never hear that it's gone from a minuscule number to a very slightly larger minuscule number.
In fact, our atmosphere is approximately 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. For those of you keeping score at home, that's 99% of the atmosphere. Of the 1% that remains, more than 90% is Argon. Less than 4% of that 1% is carbon dioxide. (Those measures are of the "dry atmosphere," excluding water vapor, because the water vapor percentage is highly variable. At the surface, water vapor is usually somewhere between 1% and 4% of the atmosphere, reducing the other numbers proportionately.)
If this doesn't already have you asking, "What's all the carbon dioxide fuss about?" here's a little more:
• The "greenhouse effect" of increasing carbon dioxide is logarithmic, meaning that each additional increase has less impact on temperatures than the prior (same sized) increase.
• It is estimated (such as here and here) that 96%-97% of carbon dioxide comes from natural sources, such as animals, plant decay, and volcanoes. Climate alarmists claim that the single-digit percentage human contribution to atmospheric CO2, a small percentage of a tiny percentage, is nevertheless destroying the world.
• Although estimates vary widely, water vapor, which is essentially 100% naturally occurring, is responsible for the majority, somewhere between 50% and 90%, of the "greenhouse effect." So, man-made carbon dioxide is responsible for a small percentage of a tiny percentage of less than half of the greenhouse effect… but is destroying the world.
The point of this is not to offer you a science lesson, but to put in context the fear mongering as anti-capitalists posing as environmentalists become ever more desperate. As Solyndra pounds one of the last nails into the "green jobs" and solar-as-savior coffin, alarmists are making one last stand urging you to reduce your standard of living on the altar of the cult of man-made global warming. It is an altar bloodied with human sacrifice, made to a false god.
Greece is in economic meltdown. Its economy has become so biased towards the public sector that it is now literally unsustainable. It cannot afford to pay its bills and will surely default soon, unless Germany can be persuaded to bail it out. Unfortunately for America, the principles that got Greece into this mess are the same ones that President Obama wants to use to supposedly get America back to work. If he has his way, we'll head down the Greek road, with the added problem that there is no Germany waiting to bail us out.
Let's see where Greece is today. It has a GDP of $310 billion, enough to place among the world's top 25 economies. That's where the good news ends. Greece has public debt of $470 billion, and spends about 50 percent of GDP on government, while raising only 39 percent in revenues. Over the past year, it lost 7 percent of GDP as a result.
The International Monetary Fund has told Greece it needs to significantly reduce its bloated public spending, but that it should not try to make up the gap with new taxes. Yet that's exactly what the Greek government is trying to do. Rather than close or privatize loss-making public enterprises like the nationalized railroads, it has attempted to raise money by selling gaming licenses and increasing property taxes -- measures the newspaper Ekathimerini described as "appalling."
As the government attempts to shore up its collapsing public sector, the private sector has been paying the price. Every day in August, 1,000 Greeks lost private sector jobs. Meanwhile, the government has hired between 15,000 and 20,000 new public employees since 2010. Attempts to raise income taxes resulted in massive tax evasion, so the government has decided to levy a property tax paid via electricity bills. The electricity employees union has already said it won't help collect this.
This is a Greek tragedy, but in a comic move worthy of Aristophanes, President Obama is following this particular Greek play. His American Jobs Act aims to shore up the public sector, paying for it by tax rises.
The President wants to keep public employees in jobs, particularly teachers, whose generous pay and benefits are causing problems for states and localities across the nation. He also wants to expand the number of public works projects via a national infrastructure bank, bringing the failed financial principles behind Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to spending on high speed rail and green energy investments. Solyndra is just the beginning.
Obama says he wants to increase taxes on unpopular targets, like "millionaires and billionaires" and oil companies. If you don't believe these people won't employ enough accountants to find new loopholes, I'd like to sell you the Corinth Canal. As for electricity bills, the President has already said that he wants electricity bills to skyrocket, in order to close down coal-fired power plants.
None of this worked in Greece, and it won't work here.
The right solution for America is the same as for Greece -- end public sector obesity by putting the state on a revenue-controlled diet. In addition, reduce the burden of bureaucracy, ending uncertainty, and empowering the private sector to make the investment it needs to get the economy working again.
Greece's prime asset is its history, which could be the basis of a thriving tourism industry. Instead, Greece invested in an unsustainable public sector and became famously rude to visitors. There's a lesson for America in that.
Our prime asset is our innovative genius. Yet we have also invested in an unsustainable public sector and made the country less nurturing to innovative industry. We need to turn back before we go as far down as Greece already has.
As Virgil put it, beware of Greeks bearing gifts. He might have added, especially when the gift is an economic plan.