Optimism in America? 2

[I’m just going tp pit this post up and let the air clear again. I was working on other things and didn’t get today’s done. But Jessica reminds us of some eternal verities here. America was built on optimism, and we’d be remiss if we see only the gloom these days. So enjoy. Neo]
America optimism

One thing which has always struck me about America, and it is one of the reasons that FDR and President Reagan stand so pre-eminent, is that it is built on optimism. When you think of the situation of the Founding Fathers, goodness, what a leap of faith! They literally laid their lives on the line in a fight for independence against the great British Empire with its huge military might; but they triumphed. Their Republic consisted of twelve States on the eastern edge of a great, and largely unexplored Continent, with French and Spanish territory to the south and south-west; Louisiana essentially barred the route westward; Spanish Mexico barred the route to the south. Yet, within fifty years of the founding of the Republic, these barriers had vanished.

West of the Missouri, however, despite Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition, was more or less terra incognita, and even within the United States, tension was growing between the slave-holding States and the Free, so much so that by the 1860s, the Republic was tearing itself apart in one of the bloodiest of civil wars. Until the end of World War II there was hardly a decade when Bruce Springsteen’s lines about having ‘no work, because of the economy’ were not true; forty-odd years of exceptional prosperity in a material sense may have inculcated the belief that somehow the Republic’s people would always live on easy street – but that, whilst being part of the American hope, was never necessarily something most people actually achieved; you only have to look at the history of the Irish and Italian immigrants to see how it was for many first generation ‘Americans'; and of the suffering of the slaves, well, that is indeed a scar on the conscience.

But, despite of these things, America got on with it. Shady politicians? Crooked businessmen and bankers with their hold over the politicians? Politicians who were in it for themselves? Pork-barrelling? Faction fighting? Bitter insults hurled by political opponents at each other?  These are not new, these are American history; and you know what? America is bigger than them all. Sure, there are worrying developments – that FDR and his attempts to use SCOTUS to put in place that socialistic ‘New Deal’, with that Communist Wallace and Harry Hopkins, that really worries me! What’s that, that happened in the 1930s? Oh well, I mean Obama and Pelosi – except they don’t have an ounce of the talent and drive of FDR and his ‘Brains Trust’. The Great Republic remains standing. Does that mean that the fears of FDR’s opponents were wrong? Or does it mean that their vigilance stopped the worst happening? Or does it mean that the realities of America proved too great even for FDR’s ambitions? I confess I don’t know.

But what I do know is that at his first election Obama spotted something important – he knew that the American people are optimists, ‘can do’ people; after all, how many of their ancestors would have been there had they not been so?  So when he ran on a rhetoric of ‘hope’ he struck an authentic chord in the American people. It was one his opponents did not catch and still show insufficient sign of catching. It is all very well to call Obama out for being pretty useless, and to prophesy that the skies will darken and the waters rise and doom will fall upon the land; but is it a political programme to put before a People founded on the optimistic dreams of a bunch of guys who, if they’d calculated, would have paid the tax on tea and gotten on with feathering their nests?

I am an outsider who loves America. But I can’t help thinking that unless President Obama’s opponents get away from negativity (after all, if people feel, as they do, negative about him, they don’t need to be told to feel it) and offer a vision of the America its people recognise as optimistic, then for all her many faults, it will be Hillary in ’16. At which point, even my capacity to be Sunny will vanish :)

Jobs Alone Aren’t The Answer

English: Calvin Coolidge. 30th President of th...

English: Calvin Coolidge. 30th President of the United States (1923-1929) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is, as always from Amity Shlaes, excellent. It has often seemed to me that our politicians think the electorate is very stupid, not to mention having no memory at all.

While this seems more obvious on Democratic side of the aisle, it’s pretty bipartisan, as watch Congress continually indulge in get-rich quick schemes for Congresscritters and their sycophants, especially in the lobbying industry. Truly I have come to believe we have the best Congress money can buy. Somehow, I don’t think that is quite what Jefferson, Washington, Madison, and the rest had in mind. Who comes to my mind is a chap named Nero, a famous violinist who thought he was more than that.

From Amity

But 18-year-olds are wiser than their elders realize. Jobs alone won’t suffice to keep them. Young people seek something else: prospects. The distinction feels trivial, but there’s a difference between jobs and prospects. That difference is one of time. “Prospects” means long term, and long term is how many youths think.

This became clear in a contest recently conducted by the Vermont-based Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation, where I work. The foundation asked high school students to answer a simple question regarding the Green Mountain State: Should I stay, or should I go?

That’s indeed the question we have all faced isn’t it. The perennial American question, ever since the Pilgrims landed. Is the grass greener someplace else, or is this rockpile as good a farm as there is. usually itching feet have prevailed, and we have indeed, “Go west, young man, go west.” and what we have usually found is the chance to build something to be proud of, whether it was a farm, a business, a church, or indeed a nation, which has become second to none.

Still, the kids were just breaking bad news gently. And that bad news was that they were indeed departing. One semifinalist established the imperative of migration: “In times such as these, the world needs people to step up and keep it from collapsing in upon itself. … While I do not think every Vermonter should leave the state, I think those of able mind and body should.”

The winner put her conclusion more bluntly: “I need to get out of Vermont to see different places around the world and to meet different people. I need to experience those things in life that Vermont simply cannot offer.” Another pupil wrote in rap-style slang: “Not necessarily the state for success. … So competition is weak/ People need to travel so they can raise to their own peak/Vermont’s getting older.”

Now mind you, I’m very traditional but you know, if I was growing up in Vermont, and it’s as lovely as everyone says, I’d leave as well. Why? I like to eat, and I believe in earning my own way. The view out the window is important but not as important as that.

The economist Milton Friedman, who once had a house in Vermont, labeled a phenomenon he observed as the “Permanent Income Hypothesis.” People, Friedman posited, were not rabbits. They would spend not according to what cash they had on hand but according to their estimate of what money they’d have in their lifetime. The PIH holds for decisions beyond saving. You choose a home not just because it pleases you this year but because it might prove a good investment over a lifetime.

The essays of the perspicacious Vermont teens suggest that states around the nation may want to alter their pitches. Jobs matter, but less than education. Regulation matters. Tax rates matter, even top rates—again, because of prospects. The ambitious consider what rate they’ll pay tomorrow, not the rate that applies to them as they start out.

Well, of course they do, we all do. And that is why what Washington does increasingly is so pernicious. When you kill people’s dreams, which is what our welfare system has done systematically in our cities for fifty years now, we train whole generations to believe they are worthless, that the best they can hope for is to be paid for existing, so sit down and shut up.

But it’s even more than that, isn’t it. I’m a highly skilled tradesman, living in one of the better states for business, and yet, as I’ve written before, because the state itself has a habit of ignoring its laws, to take care of its guild members, I’m unlikely to work again. When a guy like me becomes convinced that my best chance to retire is to win Powerball, you are doing something wrong.

Jobs Alone Aren’t The Answer – Forbes.


This is more an aside than anything else but, am I the only one who thinks the national Democrats increasingly look old and tired, yesterday’s news. I mean jeez, guys, I’m in my early sixties myself, and when you look old and shopworn to me, what must you look like to the 30 year olds that you built your party on. It’s the people, to an extent, we’ve been talking about the Clinton’s for what seems like forever, is it really only twenty years? Then again, do you have anything else that you bought in 1990?

Nor does it help that they are still pushing the same programs that have failed everywhere they’ve been tried, usually catastrophically and they haven’t changed a jot or tittle since Wilson was president. I is a further handicap to at least some of us that not a single one of the member of the nomenklatura has ever held a real job even (mostly, anyhow) ever served in the military.

Time to consign them to the dustheap of history and move on.

Netanyahu Speech Before Congress On Iran: Fist Pumps From The Midwest

iStock 20492165 MD - American and Israeli flagsMy, and many of yours, as well, old friend, Cultural Limits wrote today in the DC Gazette a Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of the US Congress. Her article is linked here, and I recommend that you read it. But one paragraph really struck home with me:

For Americans starved for forceful leadership without excuses, Mr. Netanyahu’s address was a breath of fresh air.  It is very obvious that this man loves this country and respects the system it represents even if he is the leader of a different nation.  His presence was without apology  – and without constant references to his own achievements real or imagined.

Netanyahu Speech Before Congress On Iran: Fist Pumps From The Midwest ⋆ Dc Gazette.

I doubt that I need to say that I couldn’t agree any more with her. This afternoon Daniel Hannan. MEP Tweeted this, which you can see I retweeted.

It is rather refreshing to see a man address Congress who has, and likely will again put his life on the line to do “the harder right instead of the easier wrong”, isn’t it?

Here’s Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel to the United States Congress yesterday.

And just a quick note, Netanyahu thanked Congress for our help with the Iron Dome system that saved so many Israelis last summer. If you didn’t know the Israeli Iron Dome system is a spin-off of the much maligned Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI-Star Wars) that so many ridiculed President Reagan about.

Spanish Flu ≠ Ebola Virus; Unless We Make It

spanish_flu_newOK, let’s be honest here, Ebola is not anything to panic about. And there’s little reason it should ever be.

But we also all know the phrase, “Never let a crisis go to waste,” don’t we? And that’s the danger here. Because Obama is a statist and a progressive that believes everything should come from the government. Nor is he the first to put his politics ahead of his duty to the country. And for that matter there is a precedent for Ebola getting completely out of hand. Didn’t know that did you? I didn’t either.

But there is, and it’s a horrid story. It goes back to Woodrow Wilson, who may well be the worst man to ever be president, including Obama. Like him, Wilson was a statist, and a progressive, who thought the Constitution was outdated, and wanted to rule by his prerogative, to use the old term. He pretty much did, especially after we got into the Great War.

And as James Jay Carafano says in the linked article, the last time we made an epidemic/pandemic a national security matter, fifty million (50,000,000) people died, worldwide. Think about that for a minute.

Sufficiently revolted? Yeah, me too. Let’s let him tell part of the story.

Progressives like to expropriate the label of national security to help drive their agendas. Statist, centrally managed, with top-down direction, the national-security model is the perfect vehicle for any policy “crusade,” be it fighting global warming or raising taxes. Thus, for example, when the administration got the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to label the “debt the biggest threat to national security,” it had all the cover needed to press for cutting defense and raising taxes—two cornerstones of President Obama’s progressive political agenda.

But playing “national security” progressive politics with public health can bring outright disaster. When the United States entered World War I, Woodrow Wilson played the national-security card early and often. The war effort became an excuse for everything from jailing political opponents to spying on everyday Americans. But, when the president used a global war as an excuse to preempt sound public-health policy, he reaped a global catastrophe.

In 1917, the war to end all wars was well under way. At Camp Funston within the boundaries of Fort Riley, Kansas, sergeants were turning recruits into doughboys. During their training, the soldiers picked up backpacks, rifles, helmets—and a new strain of flu. They carried all these with them as they traveled from the camp to the railroads, the big cities, the ports and, ultimately, overseas. On every step of the way to the trenches in Western Europe, they spread the deadly disease.

When news of the epidemic reached Washington, the White House decided it was a national-security problem. The British and French desperately needed reinforcements to turn the tide of the war; getting our boys over there was far more important than stopping the spread of the flu over here.

I can understand their thinking, I guess, but it’s simply wrong isn’t it? Was delaying the American deployments until the flu was burned out going to cost the war? Doesn’t seem very likely, does it? And starting a pandemic is pretty callous, even for a progressive.

Of course, so is ignoring the problem to fundraise, campaign, and play golf. Although, the president did cancel a fundraiser and a rally yesterday, so he could look like he was doing his job. What I really detest, along that line is that Wilson kept having mass rallies to sell war bonds.

President Wilson took one precaution. He transferred the Public Health Service to military control. Support the military effort, not the public health, became Surgeon General Rupert Blue’s main mission.

In less than a year, the Kansas outbreak had become a global pandemic. It was commonly referred to as the “Spanish flu.” Spain was a nonbelligerent in the First Word War. The government had not imposed press censorship. As a result, widespread news of the disease’s deadly progress appeared first in Spain. Most assumed that was where the problem started.

In the end, more died from the pandemic than from the war.

Stateside, at a military camp outside of Gettysburg, a young post commander named Dwight David Eisenhower ignored Washington’s advice to ignore the disease. Instead, he developed health protocols that broke the back of the disease’s run through the ranks. Impressed with the success of his methods, the Army ordered Eisenhower to dispatch his staff to other camps to train them on how to rein in influenza.

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Likewise, many American cities got the disease under control only by ignoring the federal government and adopting responsible public-health policies.

See the thing is, even then, how to stop an epidemic was conventional knowledge, likely we didn’t know why, until we figured out germ theory, and all that in the late nineteenth century, but we had known that quarantines worked since the Black Death cost Europe one third of its population in the middle ages.

The moral of the story is not that it’s 1918 all over again. Ebola and influenza are two very different contagious diseases. But this cautionary tale from the last century reminds us is that the best way to deal with a disease outbreak is to follow sound public-health policies, not cloud the issue with the trappings of national security.

H/T Moe Lane

Obama’s Great Big Ebola Error | The National Interest.

All accounts say that Ebola isn’t anywhere near as contagious as the (Spanish) flu. But that is no reason to screw around and generate another pandemic, while playing politics.

President Obama Already Has An Ebola Czar. Where Is She?

NIH logo

NIH logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So are you panicking over the Ebola virus? No, of course you’re not, like me, you understand the utter futility of panic. I imagine also, like me, as well, you find it worrisome, it gives the TV folks something to talk about, nor would it hurt if someone in the government was in charge. The thing is, there is. There is a federal bureaucrat (and agency) specifically charged to take care of this kind of stuff.

So of course, that is the one person who hasn’t had anything to say about it. But Mollie Hemingway thinks we should meet her, and she’s right. This woman is the head of a multi-billion dollar agency tasked to protect us from things like Ebola, and biowar, and stuff like that. She, and the agency, appear to be totally corrupt as well. (Wait, why would that surprise you?)

Mollie found a video from the administrator about the agency, here it is.

You did note that her highest priority is to support the President, right? I would have thought it was to carry out the agency’s mission but, I’m old fashioned like that.

As the Ebola situation in West Africa continues to deteriorate, some U.S. officials are claiming that they would have been able to better deal with the public health threat if only they had more money.

Dr. Francis Collins, who heads the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told The Huffington Post, “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.” Hillary Clinton also claimed that funding restrictions were to blame for inability to combat Ebola.

Or did they?

See, in 2004, Congress passed The Project Bioshield Act. The text of that legislation authorized up to $5,593,000,000 in new spending by NIH for the purpose of purchasing vaccines that would be used in the event of a bioterrorist attack. A major part of the plan was to allow stockpiling and distribution of vaccines.

Just two years later, Congress passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, which created a new assistant secretary for preparedness and response to oversee medical efforts and called for a National Health Security Strategy. The Act established Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority as the focal point within HHS for medical efforts to protect the American civilian population against naturally occurring threats to public health.

Via President Obama Already Has An Ebola Czar. Where Is She?.

Of course, you realize that incompetent Washington politicians and bureaucrat (redundancy alert) will throw more of your hard earned money (that they stole from you) at the problem. It will also be ineffective.

Why?

Because they’re corrupt as well as incompetent.

Our government at work.

Election Economics 101; US and a little UK as well.

thobamaThe other day, Dan Hannan wrote on how much better Britain would be doing if it was not in the EU. Economically, yes, but in other ways as well, which are arguably more important. At least I think they are, although if I was trying to make a living in Britain, my priorities might be different, although given my outlook, I wouldn’t bet a lot on that. I’m one of those radical Americans that believe freedom is more important than nearly everything, and the EU is inimical to freedom.

Here’s some of Dan’s article:

1. Autonomous trade policy
Europe is the only continent in the world that is not experiencing economic growth, and Britain is the only EU state that sells more to non-members than to members. We are thus especially badly hit by the EU’s Common External Tariff, which sunders us from our commercial hinterland. Again and again, we have been unable to benefit from free trade because the common European position must take account of French film-makers, Italian textile companies, Austrian farmers and what have you. Norway and Switzerland, being in EFTA, recently signed free trade agreements with China. Britain can’t. Given that China grew by 7.7 per cent in 2013 while the EU shrank by 0.3 per cent, I’d say that’s a major disadvantage. Just look at this chart of where we’ll be in three years’ time.

 

Via Nine things David Cameron could bring back from Brussels to satisfy Eurosceptics – Telegraph Blogs.

OK, I hear you saying, so what, that’s Britain. Well yes, aside from the fact that I have a certain number of British readers, I want to point out the IMF number on where our economy ranks with the others as well. The other thing I want to note, as Dan did, and we’ll talk more about, the EU is dying, In a lot of cases, it almost looks like it is living off of Britain, and if Britain leaves, it’s going to be in real trouble.

Why? Well if I read right the other day, if you do your tax planning wrong in France these days, your tax bill can be about 105%, I can’t speak for anybody else but I wouldn’t work very hard to make a dollar if when I did I had to pay the government $1.05 for the privilege. That’s why so many people are leaving France.

But we aren’t doing all that well either, for all Obama’s bragging. We’re surely better than Europe but that saying almost nothing good. Here’s a bit of an article from Dan Mitchell yesterday.

[…]

Here are some blurbs from a Bloomberg report about the President’s remarks on that issue.

A month before congressional elections, President Barack Obama is making an appeal to American pride in promoting his economic policies, arguing that the U.S. is outpacing the recovery in other nations. …“The United States has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and every other advanced economy combined.” Obama said. …economies in Europe and Japan are sluggish. The recovery for the euro area – including France and Italy – stalled, with gross domestic product unchanged, from the first quarter to the second, according to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg. Japan contracted by the most in more than five years, with GDP shrinking an annualized 7.1 percent, data from the government Cabinet Office in Tokyo show. …Jason Furman, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers…called Obama’s emphasis on the relative strength of the U.S. economy “useful context to compare to other countries that are facing similar challenges.”

I don’t know if the White House is correct on every specific claim, but it’s definitely true that the United States is out-pacing Europe.

Here are a couple of charts I found with a quick search. We’ll start with one comparing GDP performance. It’s not as up-to-date as the one I shared back in June, but it does a good job of showing how our cousins across the ocean are falling behind.

And here’s another chart I found showing how Europe also is lagging on employment.

And I can also say from personal experience, based on my trips to various conferences, that Europeans look at the American economy with envy. Heck, they even think 1 percent growth is a reason for celebration!

Which should give you an idea of how bad the outlook is in Europe.

After all, the United States is experiencing the weakest economic expansion since the Great Depression. Yet compared to European nations like France and Italy, we’re a powerhouse.

Via Obama Is Right about the European Economy…

Meanwhile John Hinderaker over at Powerline Blog reminds us that the Democrats are running on the recovery. Personally I think they should be running away from such a botched recovery but, I suppose when you think all good things come from Europe. Here’s a bit of that

[…]

President Obama boasted in a speech yesterday that by any measure, the economy today is better than when he took office.

I should hope so! Obama took office shortly after the financial collapse of September 2008, in the depth of a recession. The stimulus, as you no doubt recall, was supposed to get the economy back on its feet. The problem we have today is not that we are in an even worse recession than in January 2009–God forbid–but that the current recovery is the worst one ever, by a wide margin. This graph, which I posted a few days ago, tells the story:

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 3.48.00 PM

As for the September jobs report, was it anything to crow about? Pre-Obama, a 5.9% unemployment rate was considered unacceptably high. The average unemployment rate during the George W. Bush administration was 5.3%. Moreover, most people have figured out that the official unemployment rate has been dropping primarily because Americans are leaving the labor force. Is the latest report a sign of some real awakening of the jobs market, that will make voters more optimistic over the next 30 days?

I doubt it. The September report says that the number of those not in the labor force increased by another 315,000 last month. […]

Via WILL YESTERDAY’S JOBS REPORT BOOST DEMOCRATS?

The “dismal science” wasn’t nearly as dismal back when Reagan was President, was it?

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