Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Albert Pujols tax

The politically correct world of income equality has emerged in California in the form of the Albert Pujols tax. Ostensively, it is call the Kim Kardashian tax. The group is adopting the tired mantra that millionaires such as Kardashian are “not paying their fair share” and should be taxed more. The group calling itself the “Courage Campaign” wants those with incomes of $1-2 million to pay 3 percent more and 5 percent more if they make over $2 million. The bold – and wrong – claim is that this will raise state tax receipts by $6 billion a year. Of course this assumes that no one moves or shelters income. Of course if Kardashian threatened to move to Nevada, that state would probably enact a Kardashian specific tax to keep her out. That Ms Kardashian has been targeted is because despite her popularity (or notoriety) apparently she is also intensely disliked. If she has political views, they are not well known. “Courage” Campaign could have easily targeted Michael Moore, Morgan Freeman, Sean Penn or Meryl Streep. But of course those are the “good rich”. So what about Mr Pujols? He just signed a $250 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim rather than a competing contract with the Miami Marlins. I wonder if he now regrets moving to a high tax state instead of one with no state income tax since there is no way he will be able to avoid it. On a different level, it is really disturbing that the voters are allowed to take such punitive actions against their fellow citizens. However, lets take a microeconomic view of millionaires and the concept of marginal utility which says that each incremental unit conveys less value to the consumer. Total satisfaction is increasing but marginal satisfaction is decreasing. The empirical question is where does the marginal satisfaction of acquiring one more dollar decrease to the point where the earner is indifferent? Surely that point for Bill Gates is different from some relative pauper making $1 million. When the earner is at the point of indifference then the additional dollars can be taxed at higher rates without an appreciable change in behavior up to the point where the millionaire ceases to be indifferent about the increased tax burden. I doubt very seriously if that point is at one million for Californians or if Obama had his druthers $250,000 for the rest of us.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Are all fossil fuels from fossils?

The current dustup over the Keystone pipeline has conjured up one of my nagging questions. Call me crazy but I have always been skeptical of those who assert that we will run out of fossil fuels. This has always been a basis for advocating "alternative" or "renewable" energy as well as all the hand wringing on CO2 emissions. I guess the animals are not dying quick enough and decomposing rapidly enough to keep up with demand and even if they were we would die of pollution and global warming first. However, a couple of years ago I recall reading an article in Scientific America that indicated that my speculation was not entirely fanciful ( It is about a process know as abiogenic hydrocarbon genesis. Here ethane and heavy hydrocarbons are produced under pressure below the earth's crust. This may not be entirely fanciful since some scientists have argued that the new oil and gas discoveries well below the surface of the earth could not have originated from fossils due to the depth of the reservoirs. If this is true then the world will not run out of oil and gas regardless of the rate of demise in animals and plants. Such a discovery would speed up all the deep drill technologies and decrease the importation of oil world wide as more and more finds would occur throughout the world.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Is "social justice" just?

Return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. When I was in college “social justice” meant the equality of opportunity. Blacks wanted an equal opportunity to attend the University of Georgia rather than being denied admission based solely on race. The university insisted that there were no qualified blacks applicants. I have heard some people whine about EEO saying that the blacks hired will be looked down upon by the whites because if it were not for EEO they would not be there. Give me a break. Can you imagine the pressure we first blacks at Georgia were under where the other students thought “well if the courts had not ordered their admission, they would not be here on merit.” Some thought that some of us had chips on our shoulders – mine was a 2x4. My attitude was “lets see if anyone in here is smarter than I am.” Virtually all of us who graduated from there in the 1960s were high achievers with terminal degrees and of the first two admissions, one is a Pulitzer prize winner and the other was and orthopedic surgeon and hospital CEO.

Now social justice is less defined amalgamating into whatever the utterer means. Like all of us I hear the words “social justice” bandied about. Everyone nods their heads thinking they know what that means – except me. I haven’t a clue what is meant by “social justice”. So I proceeded to google it. There is a clear definition found in the Center for Economic and Social Justice's website. It is "Social justice encompasses economic justice. Social justice is the virtue which guides us in creating those organized human interactions we call institutions. In turn, social institutions, when justly organized, provide us with access to what is good for the person, both individually and in our associations with others. Social justice also imposes on each of us a personal responsibility to work with others to design and continually perfect our institutions as tools for personal and social development." Great definition but how is the term used? The web is a mishmash of topics: from bisexual/transgender equality to anti-smoking. There is Catholic social justice (which presumably does not include abortion rights) and Universalist Unitarian social justice (which does). There is even something called “ethical eating” which is probably PETA friendly. Environmental justice. Humane labeling (huh). And “slow food”? Must be the pro-crock pot crowd. From now on, when you hear someone spout the words “social justice”, say “define it”. If they can’t then tune them out – or simply say “you are an idiot”. More times than not I bet you will hear some disjointed, illogical ramblings which will invariably lead to some socialist collective solution for some imagined problems. Now I am in favor or putting all the bisexual/transgender-environmentalist-PETA friendly- humane labeling- slow food crowd into their own collective. The irony is that the social justice crowd wants to impose their values on the rest of us. Well that imposition is the opposite of justice. However, the important question is whether the Catholics and the Unitarians are socialist collectivists.

The payroll tax reduction: Only in Washington does this make sense

File this under the "I don't get it" category. We all know that social security is in trouble. It is a pay as you go system with current receipts paying current recipients. At some point in the near future, the payments to the recipients are projected to exceed the receipts creating a shortfall that must either be made up with tax receipts or decrease benefits. So why did the congress reduce the payroll tax? This reduces the projected payments into social security by $265 billion. Won't this make the day of reckoning even sooner? To add to my confusion, the president has advocated that the payroll tax reduction continue for an additional year. You can imagine my surprise when I heard him say and other dems repeat that increasing the amount of money in the hands of Americans is critical during these days of economic crisis. Of course if they really believe this as opposed to it being a mere talking point, they would make permanent by Bush tax rates and move to lower income taxes across the board (even to the so-called 1 percent). Since a reduction in taxes on a permanent basis leads to increased income, the result will be more paid into social security rather than less. Thus, what should have been done is to leave the payroll tax rate alone and to reduce income taxes instead. Only Washington could screw things up this badly.

Well they didn't get them all right: They left off the "State"

Here is the cover of Sports Illustrated College football preview issue back in August ( Note that their top four teams are 1. Alabama 2. Oklahoma 3. LSU and 4. Stanford. Could we get those guys to pick my stocks? As to the Heisman winner, their final three are Landry Jones (now eliminated because of Oklahoma's dismal and disappointing - for them - season), Trent Richardson and Andrew Luck. Want to better that they got the final two right? Their winner? Andrew Luck.

The negative income tax

The great Milton Friedman died on November 16, 2006 and we all have been worse off due to his passing. Friedman was a generator of ideas and possessed great vision and instinct based on micro economics. Some have misinterpreted his conclusions in the Monetary History of the United States by contending that he criticized the Fed for not inflating the currency during the Great Depression saying that this is why the current Fed has acted in such an irresponsible manner. Not so. Friedman was an advocate of steady money growth (the Quantity Theory of Money) and disliked discretionary monetary policy as being inherently destabilizing. Thus, he was critical of the Fed for allowing the money supply to contract by one-third during 1932-1933 which caused the Great Depression. Friedman always said that if the Fed had kept the money supply at a constant level, we would have had a recession and not a depression. Now it is time for consideration of another Friedman idea, the negative income tax. Perhaps the only positive byproduct of the republican presidential race has been the uniform notion to blow up the income tax structure in the United States with either a flat tax, or a value added tax, or a combination of the two (Cain's 999). The problem with these proposals is that although they would eliminate all other federal taxes, they would leave the structure of federal income redistribution unchanged. This would change with a negative income tax. Friedman's negative income tax would be coupled with a flat tax. These would not only replace all of the federal taxes (income. FICA, and excise) but would also replace all social redistribution programs (Social security, food stamps, housing subsidies, and all welfare programs) and eliminate minimum wages as well. The negative income tax would guarantee a certain income floor for all citizens. If a person earned above the floor then in Friedman's world they would keep a set declining percentage of each dollar earned up to some maximum level of income. Then the flat tax would kick in at that higher income. The advantage of this program would be that low income earners would have a positive incentive to work because they would keep more of their income. This is in contrast to the present system of disincentives where if you work you might lose the government assistance completely. The key to the negative income tax is that the guaranteed floor (say the so-called poverty level) cannot exist for an able bodied adult regardless of incentives to work or else the slothful amongst us would opt not to work. However, for those who want to do better and to have a brighter future for their children, the system would work. Lastly, I would advocate the elimination of all government transfers period (such as tax credits, farm subsidies, and corporate welfare). It seems to me that if we really want to blow up the income tax, we might as well blow it all up.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why is the failure of statism being foisted on us as a failure of capitalism?

On a local radio show I was asked to defend capitalism. I observed that it was interesting that capitalism was currently being attacked as a failed system based on the past four years or so. The irony is that rather than it being exhibited that capitalism had failed it was rather that statism had failed. Capitalism is not the bailouts of the financial institutions, the nationalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the takeover of Chrysler and General Motors, the stimulus packages. the takeover of health care, cap and trade and the myriad of the intrusions of the federal government into the economy. I said that this is a recipe for permanent European levels of unemployment, inflation, low productivity and lower standards of living. What follows is more to that point.

From the Wall Street Journal

A European's Warning to America
The perils of following us toward greater regulation, higher taxes and centralized power.

On a U.S. talk-radio show recently, I was asked what I thought about the notion that Barack Obama had been born in Kenya. "Pah!" I replied. "Your president was plainly born in Brussels."

American conservatives have struggled to press the president's policies into a meaningful narrative. Is he a socialist? No, at least not in the sense of wanting the state to own key industries. Is he a straightforward New Deal big spender, in the model of FDR and LBJ? Not exactly.

My guess is that, if anything, Obama would verbalize his ideology using the same vocabulary that Eurocrats do. He would say he wants a fairer America, a more tolerant America, a less arrogant America, a more engaged America. When you prize away the cliché, what these phrases amount to are higher taxes, less patriotism, a bigger role for state bureaucracies, and a transfer of sovereignty to global institutions.

He is not pursuing a set of random initiatives but a program of comprehensive Europeanization: European health care, European welfare, European carbon taxes, European day care, European college education, even a European foreign policy, based on engagement with supranational technocracies, nuclear disarmament and a reluctance to deploy forces overseas.

No previous president has offered such uncritical support for European integration. On his very first trip to Europe as president, Mr. Obama declared, "In my view, there is no Old Europe or New Europe. There is a united Europe."

Barbara Kelley
I don't doubt the sincerity of those Americans who want to copy the European model. A few may be snobs who wear their euro-enthusiasm as a badge of sophistication. But most genuinely believe that making their country less American and more like the rest of the world would make it more comfortable and peaceable.

All right, growth would be slower, but the quality of life might improve. All right, taxes would be higher, but workers need no longer fear sickness or unemployment. All right, the U.S. would no longer be the world's superpower, but perhaps that would make it more popular. Is a European future truly so terrible?

Yes. I have been an elected member of the European Parliament for 11 years. I have seen firsthand what the European political model means.

The critical difference between the American and European unions has to do with the location of power. The U.S. was founded on what we might loosely call the Jeffersonian ideal: the notion that decisions should be taken as closely as possible to the people they affect. The European Union was based on precisely the opposite ideal. Article One of its foundational treaty commits its nations to establish "an ever-closer union."

From that distinction, much follows. The U.S. has evolved a series of unique institutions designed to limit the power of the state: recall mechanisms, ballot initiatives, balanced budget rules, open primaries, localism, states' rights, term limits, the direct election of public officials from the sheriff to the school board. The EU places supreme power in the hands of 27 unelected Commissioners invulnerable to public opinion.

The will of the people is generally seen by Eurocrats as an obstacle to overcome, not a reason to change direction. When France, the Netherlands and Ireland voted against the European Constitution, the referendum results were swatted aside and the document adopted regardless. For, in Brussels, the ruling doctrine—that the nation-state must be transcended—is seen as more important than freedom, democracy or the rule of law.

This doctrine has had several malign consequences. For example, it has made the assimilation of immigrants far more difficult. Whereas the U.S. is based around the idea that anyone who buys into American values can become American, the EU clings to the notion that national identities are anachronistic and dangerous. Unsurprisingly, some newcomers, finding their adopted countries scorned, have turned to other, less apologetic identities.

The single worst aspect of Europeanization is its impact on the economy. Many Americans, and many Europeans, have a collective memory of how Europe managed to combine economic growth with social justice. Like most folk memories, the idea of a European economic miracle has some basis in fact. Between 1945 and 1974, Western Europe did outperform the U.S. Europe happened to enjoy perfect conditions for rapid growth. Infrastructure had been destroyed during the war, but an educated, industrious and disciplined work force remained.

Human nature being what it is, few European leaders attributed their success to the fact that they were recovering from an artificial low. They convinced themselves, rather, that they were responsible for their countries' growth rates. Their genius, they thought, lay in having hit upon a European "third way" between the excesses of American capitalism and the totalitarianism of Soviet communism.

We can now see where that road leads: to burgeoning bureaucracy, more spending, higher taxes, slower growth and rising unemployment. But an entire political class has grown up believing not just in the economic superiority of euro-corporatism but in its moral superiority. After all, if the American system were better—if people could thrive without government supervision—there would be less need for politicians. As Upton Sinclair once observed, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it."

Nonetheless, the economic data are pitilessly clear. For the past 40 years, Europeans have fallen further and further behind Americans in their standard of living. Europe also has become accustomed to a high level of structural unemployment. Only now, as the U.S. applies a European-style economic strategy based on fiscal stimulus, nationalization, bailouts, quantitative easing and the regulation of private-sector remuneration, has the rate of unemployment in the U.S. leaped to European levels.

Why is a European politician urging America to avoid Europeanization? As a Briton, I see the American republic as a repository of our traditional freedoms. The doctrines rooted in the common law, in the Magna Carta, and in the Bill of Rights found their fullest and most sublime expression in the old courthouse of Philadelphia. Britain, as a result of its unhappy membership in the European Union, has now surrendered a large part of its birthright. But our freedoms live on in America.

Which brings me to my country's present tragedy. The fears that the American patriot leaders had about a Hanoverian tyranny were exaggerated. The United Kingdom did not develop into an absolutist state. Power continued to pass from the Crown to the House of Commons.

Until now. Nearly two and a half centuries after the Declaration of Independence, the grievances it adumbrated are belatedly coming true. Colossal sums are being commandeered by the government in order to fund bailouts and nationalizations without any proper parliamentary authorization. Legislation happens increasingly through what are called standing orders, a device that allows ministers to make laws without parliamentary consent—often for the purpose of implementing EU standards.

How aptly the British people might today apply the ringing phrases of the Declaration of Independence against their own rulers, who have "combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws."

So you can imagine how I feel when I see the U.S. making the same mistakes that Britain has made: expanding its government, regulating private commerce, centralizing its jurisdiction, breaking the link between taxation and representation, abandoning its sovereignty.

You deserve better, cousins. And we expect better.

Mr. Hannan is a member of the European Parliament. This essay is adapted from the Encounter Books Broadside, "Why America Must Not Follow Europe."

Animal spirits and the stock market

The recent dramatic surge of 490 in the stock market over the news regarding the Fed and other central banks to lower the cost of banks outside the US to borrow cheaper dollars from their central banks is a head scratcher. First, the liquidity swaps are only related to European money markets and have absolutely nothing to do with the fundamental causes of the debt crisis - too much government spending. Second, it is a short term patch expiring in February 2013. Third, it is another slap in the face of finance fundamentals as taught in our universities. The price of a stock is supposed to reflect the market's long term assessment of the value of the firm rather than a short term temporary action (unless that action has a long term impact). Certainly it is true that the profitability of American internationals are dependent upon European markets. But I have seen little evidence that the resolution of their current liquidity crunch would have a great impact on firm profitability. It is similar to the volatility in the market that learned observers have attributed to the Greek financial crisis. Nonsense. Greece is a rounding error and its default would have little noticeable impact on US financial firms and internationals. It is as though those learned analysts are grasping at straws to come with an explanation as to what is going on in today's markets. I guess they cannot tell the truth which is "I don't know."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Global warming takes another hit; Is anyone paying attention?

Its no secret that I am a global warming skeptic. Like any other issue that is important to me, I thoroughly researched both sides of the argument. Although I was tempted to prejudge the issue simply based on who were the people and groups supporting the global warming mantra, I became increasingly skeptical when that side kept saying that the debate was over: scientists had reached a consensus. Huh? Scientists never reach a consensus on any hypothesis so the progrobal warming crowd was trying to squelch debate. . The cornerstone of the global warming argument is that it is caused by CO2 emissions and those need to be curbed or else we are all dead. Several things have transpired. First, a new study Andreas Schmitter of Oregon State reported in Science says that the global warming models have overestimated its impact on earth's temperatures and the previous estimates of temperature increases of 10 F are implausible. Nonetheless, he concludes that CO2 will likely cause climate change, but not as severe. Schmitter's work as well as other models must still be taken with a healthy dose of salt however. Remember this is the same crowd that cannot predict the temperatures next week rather than next century. Then there is the report from China Daily ( that poor nations cannot afford to aggressively reduce CO2 omissions but that black carbon soot (from stoves and fires) is the problem (not to the environment but to people's health). Although once thought to contribute to global warming, the research now shows that black soot lingers in the atmosphere too short a time to have a major impact on earth's tempertures. Lastly, there is the work of geologist (and retired energy executive) Leighton Steward who warms that aggressive reduction in CO2 levels will be dangerous. Steward argues that CO2 is not responsible for global warming and reductions will inhibit plant growth. Less CO2 means that food production would slow and that fruits and vegetables would require more water for growth. One of Steward's compelling arguments regarding CO2 is that currently the earth's levels are 338 parts per million while the danger level for US submarines is 8,000 parts per million. So we are nowhere near the danger zone for health, reductions will harm food production, CO2 does not cause the earth to warm and even if it did, it would have a debatable impact on temperature. So who do you believe?

Is green safe?

I am not a greenie weenie but I do own an electric four wheel drive ATV. At our farm I have always walked to where I deer hunt and then went back and got the ATV if I took a deer. Now as I have aged I ride to about a quarter of a mile of where I hunt and walk the rest of the way. I have found that I seem to see more deer if I use the electric rather than my gas ATV. However, two problems got my attention. First, I got shocked (no pun intended) when I had to replace the 8 batteries ($700). Second, I learned not to trust the battery charge indicator when the ATV died while on the way back from a hunt. These issues are probably obvious but now comes the news that the national highway traffic safety administration is investigating the Chevy Volt because of the tendency of lithium batteries to explode in a crash. It makes one wonder if green is safe. GM rushed out immediately and stated that the cars were safe but would offer loans to the dozen or so people who have bought the car if they had concerns. Presumably they are not offering another electric vehicle. The news also is augmented by Duke Power telling its customers not to use the home charging stations because of a fire hazard. With those concerns and questions raised on the impact on the power grid from off peak use if there were thousands (rather than dozens) of vehicles charging and questions on the demand on coal power plants, one wonders if these vehicles were not politically correct if they would be banned. The same is true for ethanol which has been demonstrated to be worse for the environment than gasoline and for the incandescent light bulb with its hazmat warnings. If these were conventional products the environmental activists would be up in arms demanding recalls and bans. However, since these products are "green" apparently it doesn't matter that they are harmful to the environment or even dangerous.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why socialism always fails

Recall that I was on the radio with the editor of Knoxville's "alternative" newspaper and he said that we should increase taxing the wealthy to distribute it to the poor to make them better off. My response was this was truly dumb because it created disincentives among both groups. Well a friend of mine sent me the following.

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

He also sent me the following basic economic lesson on why socialism always fails.

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism". All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A.... (substituting grades for dollars - something closer to home and more readily understood by all).

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy.
When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The "supercommittee": The mouse that didn't roar

Remember when we had the bogus agreement to preserve the Bush tax cuts? After months of haggling the compromise ended up being a budgetary rounding error. Now the so-called supercommittee has thrown up its hands and has given up trying to find $125 lousy billion in cuts a year for 10 years. Mind you although this was continually referred to as a $1.25 trillion cut, it actually is only 3 percent of the federal budget each year. Actually I thought that the supercommittee was anti-constitutional in the first place because the supercommittee replaced the House of Representatives which has the budgetary responsibility under the constitution. Some pundits have stated that the president who always sits on the sidelines would have gotten a deal if he wanted one. However, they argue he did not want a deal because he plans to run on a do nothing congress. The only problem is why the congressional democrats would be dumb enough to go along since they are part of the do nothingness (see Steny Hoyer's comments in a previous post). So the bottom line is that if the supercommittee succeeded it would have not made a difference. The fact that it failed reiterates the need to replace the incumbent administration and the overwhelming majority of the incumbent congress regardless of party.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

So Steny Hoyer agrees with Rick Perry?

Rick Perry in a speech in Iowa called for sweeping changes in the federal government. Among the highlights were to make congress part time, cut congressional pay in half, criminalize insider congressional trading, cut congressional staffs, end lifetime appointments to the supreme court. enact a balance budget amendment and limit federal spending to 18 percent of GDP. For all the proposals see Of course if spending is limited to 18 percent then a balanced budget amendment is unnecessary. But what about the ones dealing with the congress. I believe it was Mark Twain who said that when congress is in session no man's life, liberty or property is safe. Tis true. A part time congress would force our elected officials to have real jobs that would force them to live amongst real people with real problems rather than being on the fantasy island that is Washington, DC. I have written that the Fed needs to move from DC to Kansas City and we would see a dramatic shift in monetary policy. The same could be said for the congress. It was interesting to see Steny Hoyer's (D-Md) comments. Hoyer is a lifelong politician who is the number 2 house democrat. Hoyer was said to react angrily and stated: “Is this a serious proposal he’s making for a country that has very high unemployment, who’s budget deficit is larger than it’s ever been in history, which has two wars that we’re confronting and trying to bring to a conclusion?” Mr. Hoyer said of the Republican presidential hopeful. If this is what he thinks is pandering to the Tea Party, it is not in my opinion speaking to the issues that the American public feels are very, very critical to them, jobs being the number one issue,” Mr. Hoyer said. “So I don’t think it’s a very serious effort on his part.”

Methinks the gentleman protesteth too much. It seems that Hoyer is making Perry's case. The congress is in large part responsible for all that Hoyer laments. Instead of fixing it, they have - and are- making things worse. If I were Perry, I would circulate Hoyer;s comments as an endorsement for congressional overhaul.

How's that liberal professor bias going?

One of the blogs I follow is Greg Mankiw's - a Harvard professor with ties to republican administrations. Students walked out of his introductory econ class protesting that it was unbalanced in favor of Adam Smith over John Maynard Keynes. Excuse me? An introductory class has to be heavy on Smith since the basic principles of microeconomics are the heart of the discipline. Teaching Keynes is teaching macroeconomics which in some hands is a discipline other than economics. If it is not based on supply and demand, it becomes sociology. Here is the story from Slate.

Harvard Students Stage Walkout in OWS-Like Protest
Intro econ class walks out, criticizes professor as favoring the rich.
By Will Oremus | Posted Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, at 9:39 AM ET
The Occupy Wall Street movement has landed at Harvard University, where some 70 students walked out of an introductory economics class last week to protest what they saw as biased teachings.
The students explained their walkout in an open letter to professor Greg Mankiw posted on the website of the Harvard Political Review. "Today, we are walking out of your class, Economics 10, in order to express our discontent with the bias inherent in this introductory economics course," they wrote. "We are deeply concerned about the way that this bias affects students, the University, and our greater society."
NPR’s Morning Edition covered the kerfuffle, suggesting that the students objected to the class partly because of Mankiw’s résumé. He served as an adviser to President George W. Bush and is now advising the campaign of Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney. He has also criticized the Occupy Wall Street protests and warned against the "politics of envy."
Ironically, Mankiw said he was lecturing on income inequality on the day the students walked out.
Students who participated in the walkout wrote in the open letter that they had hoped to be presented with a balanced view of economics in a required introductory course. "Instead, we found a course that espouses a specific—and limited—view of economics that we believe perpetuates problematic and inefficient systems of economic inequality in our society today. There is no justification for presenting Adam Smith’s economic theories as more fundamental or basic than, for example, Keynesian theory."
A former student of Mankiw’s jumped to his defense, pointing out that the students offered little explanation of what they found "biased" in the course, other than the reference to Smith and Keynes. The student, named Jeremy Patashnik, wrote:
Incidentally, the authors of this letter are in for a treat: there’s plenty of Keynesian theory to come in the second semester of Ec 10. In fact, Mankiw is a great Keynes admirer, and once wrote, “If you were going to turn to only one economist to understand the problems facing the economy, there’s little doubt that that economist would be John Maynard Keynes.” The only reason that these students have not yet studied the father of modern macroeconomics in Ec 10, of course, is that the first semester of the class is devoted to microeconomics.
Asked on NPR to elaborate on his views about economic inequality, Mankiw said there’s no question it has been on the rise for the past 70 years. "I think it’s primarily being driven by a variety of forces in the economy including, for example, technology," he said. Asked whether he thought it was a problem that government needs to address, Mankiw said it depends on one’s political philosophy. "I think the liberal position is more to try to address the outcomes through a progressive income tax, and I think the conservative point of view is to try to address the causes. One of the causes is the educational system."

So the stimulus is not really a stimulus but a drag?

Since I do not watch the main stream media, I do not know if this was reported. CBO director Doug Elmendorf testified before congress. In an answer to Alabama's Jeff Sessions he conceded that the $800 billion stimulus package would in the end lower GDP.

SESSIONS: And in the next 10 years, since you’re carrying that debt and paying interest on it and the stimulus value is long since gone, it would be a continual negative of some effect?

ELMENDORF: Yes, it would represent a drag on the level of GDP beyond that, if no other actions were taken.

Elmendorf stated that the stimulus should have had a positive short run effect but a negative long term effect. I guess I should said "I told you so." But its like taking candy from a baby. The money to finance the "stimulus" would have to come from somewhere. Since the US was already deeply in deficit, the money would either have to be created by the Fed or borrowed from the private sector. Basic economics tells us that if created by the Fed, it would end up being purely inflationary with no creating in real output. If borrowed, it would reduce monies available to the private sector and crowd out business investment. Either was it would be a drag on the economy. Those who invented other scenarios are using faith and voodoo to supercede Adam Smith and like usual have failed. However, although I used to work at CBO I always take their projections with more than a grain of salt. Economics like the weather is a crap shoot when projecting long term and ten years is an eternity.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Obama's selective outrage

When Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac came with hats in hand to beg for another $14 billion in taxpayers' money, there was bipartisan outrage at the committee hearing over their salaries and bonuses. The president was noticeably silent. Didn't the president rail over the AIG bonuses and give approval to the SEIU pickets at the homes of AIG's executives? Didn't the president appoint a wage czar to approve the salaries at the car companies? Something about protecting the taxpayer from the greed of corporate executives? So where was the president's outrage over the million dollar bonuses at Freddie and Fannie? As one of the committee members pointed out it was not just the bonuses but also the inflated salaries of the executives. "How many corporate general counsel's are paid $2 million?" one congressman asked. Indeed. How many? Of course Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have always been known to pay big salaries and bonuses. Where was the outrage when Franklin Raines took home more than $90 million during his tenure? Regardless, Fannie and Freddie have difficult jobs but not that difficult.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Herman Cain: Another High Tech Lynching

One of my closest friends is an Obama apologist. Yet she marvels at the hackneyed assault on Herman Cain wondering what blonde is going to be dredged up next. In the past when the accused were democrats, the press scoffed saying "private lives didn't matter" and then attacked the women accusers. In this case, where by some miracle all the women are connected to the democratic party, not a peep is heard. The first woman was trotted out as a republican. No one asked how someone who had not worked in 13 years, was in debt, bankrupt, somehow could live in the same building as Obama honcho David Axelrod. Surely Axelrod is not living in some slum yet this woman manages to live in the same building. Notice that this is playing on some's racisms by having a black man being accused by (blonde) white women. Somehow they have forgotten that the president is the result of a joining of a black man with a white woman. Regardless, the whole episode is shameful and as my mother said "I wondered how long it would take before they slandered Cain". When he was at the bottom of the polls it did not matter. Now it does. The left is threatened by a successful conservative black who is more of a role model than the president. Although both have remarkable stories, the president from humble beginnings went to elite ivy-league schools and has been either running for public office or elected to public office all his life. Cain on the other hand is like most of the wealthy people I know: humble beginnings, public education - although a Morehouse grad - and up from the ranks to success. Which is more likely for most of us regardless of origin? Its Cain. Hence the threat to the elite establishment. The following is from a piece by Ann Coulter, who incidentally is a blonde white woman.

David Axelrod's Pattern of Sexual Misbehavior
by Ann Coulter

Herman Cain has spent his life living and working all over the country -- Indiana, Georgia, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, Washington, D.C. -- but never in Chicago.

So it's curious that all the sexual harassment allegations against Cain emanate from Chicago: home of the Daley machine and Obama consigliere

David Axelrod.

Suspicions had already fallen on Sheila O'Grady, who is close with David Axelrod and went straight from being former Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley's chief of staff to president of the Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA), as being the person who dug up Herman Cain's personnel records from the National Restaurant Association (NRA).

The Daley-controlled IRA works hand-in-glove with the NRA. And strangely enough, Cain's short, three-year tenure at the NRA is evidently the only period in his decades-long career during which he's alleged to have been a sexual predator.

After O'Grady's name surfaced in connection with the miraculous appearance of Cain's personnel files from the NRA, she issued a Clintonesque denial of any involvement in producing them -- by vigorously denying that she knew Cain when he was at the NRA. (Duh.)

And now, after a week of conservative eye-rolling over unspecified, anonymous accusations against Cain, we've suddenly got very specific sexual assault allegations from an all-new accuser out of ... Chicago.

Herman Cain has never lived in Chicago. But you know who has? David Axelrod! And guess who lived in Axelrod's very building? Right again: Cain's latest accuser, Sharon Bialek.

Bialek's accusations were certainly specific. But they also demonstrated why anonymous accusations are worthless.

Within 24 hours of Bialek's press conference, friends and acquaintances of hers stepped forward to say that she's a "gold-digger," that she was constantly in financial trouble -- having filed for personal bankruptcy twice -- and, of course, that she had lived in Axelrod's apartment building at 505 North Lake Shore Drive, where, she admits, she knew the man The New York Times calls Obama's "hired muscle."

Throw in some federal tax evasion, and she's Obama's next Cabinet pick.

The reason all this is relevant is that both Axelrod and Daley have a history of smearing political opponents by digging up claims of sexual misconduct against them.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A black Bull Connor?

The Occupy folks have not covered themselves with glory all of the country. The reaction of the local authorities has been interesting. In Nashville, the governor has ordered the removal and arrests of Occupy Nashville. A local judge however has refused to hear the cases and has released them back to the streets. Little has been said of what happened in Atlanta where we have the case of a black mayor and a mostly black police department with a black police chief clearing out the mostly white Occupy Atlanta folks. If the races had been reversed we would have seen story upon story evoking the racist history of the south. Indeed one of the older Occupy Atlantans accused the black mayor, Kasim Reed of being akin to Bull Connor. Now it is likely that Reed who was born in 1969 does not have a clue who Bull Connor was. But the irony of it all: a black Bull Connor! Probably the only similarity is that both Reed and Connor are democrats. Regardless, one of the protestors opined that Reed was reacting to qrowing white constituency that is gentrifying midtown and downtown Atlanta implying that these in-migrants are conservatives. Quite the contrary, most of these whites are themselves liberals. I guess it is difficult for some to wrap their arms around the fact that many people regardless of political affiliation do not like to see their city trashed. Also the growing charges of crimes such as rape and robbery are disquieting. Perhaps Reed like mayors and governors across the political spectrum are more interested in maintaining law and order than in posturing by this generation's flower children.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Illegals in Alabama versus legals in Ohio: The new racial politics

In the Kingsport, TN paper the Times News on October 26, 2011 was a story from the Associated Press with no by-line entitled “Alabama battle reminder of civil rights past.” It was an attempt to link the upcoming Supreme Court hearing of Alabama’s immigration law to that of its ugly history on civil rights. Saying that its immigration law “has resurrected ugly images from Alabama’s days as the nation’s battleground for civil rights a half-century ago” evoking memories “of the state’s sometimes violent path to desegregation.” I am sorry but it is a far stretch to equate the denial of state services to illegal immigrants to the denial of civil rights to citizens of the state. The main point of contention is the provision in the law that required schools to check the immigration status of students. How this “provision conjures images of Gov. George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door to block integration” leaves me mystified. However, I am open minded to anyone who sees a parallel. George Wallace was the typical southern democrat: a segregationist who yelled the N-word loud and often to get elected and re-elected. He even used his notoriety to run for president. When blacks finally were able to vote in large numbers in Alabama, he was miraculously transformed, issued the appropriate mea culpas and re-elected with a significant number of black votes.

A basic question is what is the Alabama law if parents who are citizens secretly send their children to a school outside their district? In some states parents have been fined and/or jailed for doing this. For example, early this year a poor black Ohio woman living in subsidized housing in Akron was sentenced to 10 days in jail and three years probation for sending her two children to a school in another district! Instead of sending them to an inferior school in Akron, she registered them with their father’s address in nearby Copley. The children’s father was found guilty of a felony of grand theft for “defrauding the school system for two years for the educational services provided to his children.” The court said that the cost of sending the children to the wrong school was $30,500.

Ohio’s governor pardoned the parents. However, if it is legal for state to do this to its own citizens for sending their kids to the “wrong” school then why is it illegal for a state not to provide educational services to non-citizens? Moreover, what would Alabama law provide for a non-resident citizen of say neighboring Georgia illegally sending a child to a school across the state line in Alabama? I would wager that there would be expulsions, penalties, fines and possibly jail time too. So the question is why should illegals be given privileges not granted to citizens?

Alabama has been subject to calling the R-word (racist) by the usual suspects. It is not mentioned in the media that two republican representatives have introduced legislation to remove all racist wording from the state's constitution. The measure, co-sponsored by Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and Rep. Phil Williams, R-Huntsville, would have to be a ratified by voters in a statewide referendum, likely in November 2012. The offensive language that would be removed includes a provision that says separate schools shall be provided for "white and colored children," and that no child of either race shall attend the same school.It would also remove references to Alabama's "poll tax," which was used to keep blacks from voting until passage of the 1965 federal Voting Rights Act.

So the democrats have replaced the N-word with the R-word in electoral politics. Isn't it interesting that the liberals and especially the black liberals did not say a peep in the defense of the poor black woman in Ohio and yet have all come to the aid of illegals in Alabama? That says something about who is becoming the more important voting block in racial politics.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

News flash: Ron Paul has nice things to say about government workers!

Rep. Ron Paul in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer was reported in the Politico as: "Paul was pressed by Wolf Blitzer on how eliminating about 221,000 government jobs across five cabinet departments would boost the economy. He responded: 'They're not productive jobs,' he said." The implication is that the 221,000 were employed in activities that would not be demanded by the private sector. Eliminating these positions would enable the 221,000 workers to pursue activities demanded by the market which are by definition "productive". The question is whether this is the case. Undeniably, many government jobs are a creation of the government's desire to grow itself. However, to address the issue of whether these jobs as productive, I fall back on the venerable Adam Smith. On May 29, 2009, I wrote "What would Adam Smith do? Here Smith on the role of government says that the functions of the government were national defense, administration of justice, and the provision of public goods (transportation infrastructure and education). Although many of us would quibble over education, it strikes me that some of these should be the province of the federal government while others belong to the states. For example, the national defense is the federal government's responsibility rather than the states. To argue that those employed in all aspects of national defense from the private sector companies servicing the demands of the military, to those directly employed by the military are "nonproductive" is at best specious. Although the market does not provide this service, it is because of the difficulties of measuring and meeting individual demands in the market place. All within proximity would receive the same service regardless of demand. In that case, all individuals would allocate $0 for the service. Thus national defense is as much a public good as in transportation infrastructure. Although some may argue that this is the responsibility of the states, one must consider the building of the interstate highway system - a wonderful boon to commerce and to public convenience. It would have been difficult if not impossible for this to have been done by the states. However, other than these few items, the federal government should have few if any other responsibilities rendering those other employees nonproductive. Rather than nonproductive, these workers are counterproductive in that they suck capital out of the real economy and dramatically raise the costs of production. In that sense, Ron Paul was being kind when he called them "nonproductive".

Monday, October 31, 2011

Herman Cain and the attack of the racist left

The left in our country accuses the right and the Tea Party as being racist. Where is the evidence? I have spoken at Tea Party rallies. I know blacks who are leaders in the Tea Party. None of us has seen any manifestation of racism. How a bunch of citizens concerned with the growth of the government and the enormous burden of ever increasing deficits could be linked with racism is beyond me. The only link is that the leader of the party endorsing big and bigger government is black. However, some of the leading Tea Party advocates are also black, namely Allen West (R-FL), Tim Scott (R-SC) and of course Herman Cain. So it was only a matter of time that the leftist media would try to besmear Herman Cain. Their tactic was to use the racist stereotype regarding black male sexuality. In a sense it was reminiscent of the attack on Clarence Thomas who called it all quite correctly "a high tech lynching" of a black who didn't know his place and who refused to stay on the welfare plantation. The same can be said of Cain. The main difference is that in the case of Thomas, the left dredged up a live person - Anita Hill - to make the accusations. For Cain, its all innuendo, no named victims and generally shameful shabby journalism. The laughable thing is that both the accusations against Thomas and Cain seem tame. It is interesting to see all the headlines and lead stories when the same media all but gave Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner a pass for much more egregious escapades. Attacks like this on liberal blacks are unheard of. When black politicians on the left are cited for taking bribes, or violation of ethics they are defended and the accusers are accused of racism. Well please pardon me but let's call a spade a spade: the attack on Herman Cain is the latest example of racism on the left.

Obama: The Anti-American American President

I am really disturbed by the president's anti-wealthy rhetoric. His constantly harping on the rich "not paying their share" and the wealthiest one percent profiting at the expense of the other 99 percent is incendiary and dangerous. Having determined that he cannot run on his record, he has proceeded to forget his Gabrielle Giffords speech where he implored that American's should set aside partisan animosity and talk with each other "in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds." He has declared that republicans only care about the rich and if elected will give us dirty air, dirty water and fewer people with health insurance. I don't recall a sitting president being this openly partisan while in office and not campaigning after the convention. His anti-wealthy mantra has been adopted by the occupy Wall Street crowd who seem to be increasingly violent. Before president's implored the country to strive toward greatness not begrudge the success of others. Instead of saying that all can pursue the American dream, this president says that the doors to success are closed to the 99 percent and the situation can only be changed with the help of the government. This president also seems to believe or at least get us to believe that the economic pie is fixed and that the only way the rich get richer is by stealing from the rest of us. This is sheer lunacy. The president has forgotten that people like Herman Cain, Bob Johnson, Steve Jobs, Jim Clayton, Jim Haslam and scores of successful Americans were not born into wealth. He has conveniently forgotten that the growth of the American pie has made our poor the envy of 99 percent of the rest of the world. When Giffords was shot, the media rushed to put the blame on Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh. Hence Obama's inference in his speech. Now with Obama spewing out speech upon speech berating the rich and evoking class envy, what will the media say which the inevitable crazy inflicts bodily harm on someone rich?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So who is this Biden guy?

The dumbing of our children is nothing new. I'm a former professor whose students did not know Joe Biden, could not name their senators, had no idea of how the political process worked, did not know geography, had not read a book other than a text, could not compute, did not know history and had no basic skills. This is nothing new. My mother thought that although I took Latin and French in high school, she sniffed "Well we had to take Greek". (Note: this was in an all black school in the deep south!) I just noted that things are getting worse as technology is substituted for knowledge.To show that the dumbing down is nothing new consider the following written in 1986: "America's children need strong academic skills more than ever before. Yet, despite a decade of educational reforms, their achievement remains disappointing. In a 1986 assessment of 17-year-old juniors, students were asked when World War I occurred. A little more than 40% were unable to place the event "sometime between 1900 and 1950. Last year's National Assessment of Education Progress found that only 6% of American high school graduates are ready for college math. American students rank near the bottom of industrialized countries."

When I would tell my students that they had less basic knowledge than kids in the 1800s they scoffed. I then said that if they could pass an entrance exam to high school in 1885, I would increase their grade by one level. If they failed, I would reduce it my one level. When asked if they could see the exam first, I agreed. After showing them the exam not one ever took it. One student actually asked me why did he have to know anything? Why know math when there are calculators? Why know geography when there is mapquest? Why know anything when there is google? My answer was that all on google is not correct and while they are googling, the successful are doing things because they do not have to waste their time trying to acquire fundamental knowledge. The exam was printed in the Wall Street Journal in 1992 and is as follows:
The following is the Jersey City, NJ High School Entrance Examination for June 1885, reprinted in the Wall Street Journal in 1992. Keep in mind that this was a test given to children at about age 14 or 15 at most, and was based on what was determined to be important knowledge. Test yourself in algebra, arithmetic, geography, grammar and US history.

Sharpen Your Pencil, and Begin Now
Jersey City High School, June, 1885

1. Define Algebra, an algebraic expression, a polynomial.
2. Make a literal trinomial.
3. Write a homogeneous quadrinomial of the third degree. 4. Express the cube root of 10ax in two ways.
5. Find the sum and difference of 3x-4ay+7cd-4xy+16, and 10ay-3x-8xy+7cd-13.
6. Express the following in its simplest form by removing the parentheses and combining: 1-(1-a) + (1-a+a2)-(1-a+a2-a3).
7. Find the product of 3+4x+5x2-6x3 and 4-5x-6x2.
8. Expand each of the following expressions and give the theorem for each: [a+4] 2, [a2-10] 2, [a+4] [a-4].
9. Divide 6a4+4a3x-9a2x2-3ax3+2x4 by 2a2+2ax-x2.
10. Find the prime factors of x4-b4 and x3-l.
11. Find the G.C.D. of 6a2+11ax+3x2 and 6a2+7ax-3x2.
12. Divide (x2-2xy+y2)/ab by (x-y)/bc and give the answer in its lowest terms.
1. If a 60 days note of $840 is discounted at a bank at 4 1/2 % what are the proceeds?
2. Find the sum of the square root of 16.7281 and the square root of 72 1/4.
3. The interest of $50 from March 1st to July 1st is $2.50. What is the rate?
4. What is the cost of 19 cwt. 83 lb. of sugar at $98.50 a ton?
5. What is discount? A number?
6. Divide the difference between 37 hundredths and 95 thousandths by 25 hundred thousands and express the result in words.
7. The mason work on a building can be finished by 16 men in 24 days, working 10 hours a day. How long will it take 22 men working 8 hours a day?
8. A merchant sold a quantity of goods for $18,775. He deducts 5% for cash and then finds that he has made 10%. What did he pay for the goods?
9. A requires 10 days and B 15 days to do a certain piece of work. How long will it take A and B working together to do the work?
10. By selling goods it 12 1/2 % profit a man clears $800. What was the cost of the goods, and for what were they sold?
11. A merchant offered some goods for $1170.90 cash, or $1206 payable in 30 days. Which was the better offer for the customer, money being worth 10%?
1. What is the axis of the earth? What is the equator? 2. What is the distance from the equator to either pole in degrees, in miles?
3. Why is it warmer at the equator than near the poles?
4. Name four principal ranges of mountains in Asia, three in Europe, and three in Africa.
5. Name the capitals of the following countries: Portugal, Greece, Egypt, Persia, Japan, China, Canada, Hindostan, Thibet, Cuba.
6. Name the states on the west bank of the Mississippi and the capital of each.
7. Bound New Jersey and name six important cities in the state.
8. Tell the situation of the following: Detroit, Chicago, Portland, Rio Janeiro, Callao, Venice, Bombay, St. Louis Halifax, Vera Cruz.
9. Name 10 countries of South America and the capital of each.
10. Bound Russia and name its capital and largest river.
11. In what countries is coffee raised?
12. What are the principal exports of France? Of the West Indies?
13. New York is nearly 75 degrees west of London. When it is noon at the former, what time is it at the latter?
1. Analyze the following: Perseus ground his teeth with rage, for he saw that he had fallen into a trap.
a. Make a list of all the verbs in the sentence above, and give the principal parts of each of them.
b. Parse for, had fallen, that, saw.
2. Give two uses of the hyphen.
3. Copy the sentence and punctuate it properly. "Will you please to tell me boys, for what the reindeer is useful".?
4. Write a sentence containing a noun used as an attribute, a verb in the perfect tense potential mood, and a proper adjective.
5. Correct [a] It is only me. [b] Who did she invite? [c] Whenever my husband or son take an umbrella down town, they always leave it.
6. Write the declension of [a] bird, [b] man, [c] fly, [d] fox, [e] it
7. Write four lines of poetry, giving particular attention to the use of capitals, and to punctuation.
8. Make three sentences, using the plural of sheep [1] in the nominative case, [2] in the possessive, [3] in the objective.
9. Write a declarative sentence; change to an imperative, to an interrogative, to an exclamatory, and punctuate.
1. What people settled Massachusetts? Where did they land, and was their character?
2. Name four Spanish explorers and state what induced them to come to America.
3. What event do you connect with 1565, 1607, 1620, 1664, 1775?
4. Name the thirteen colonies that declared their independence in 1776.
5. Name three events of 1777. Which was the most important and why?
6. What caused the war of 1812? Who was president during that war? What was the result of it?
7. What form of government was established in 1789?
8. Into what three branches was the government divided? 9. What do the Senate and House of Representatives constitute?
10. What caused the Mexican War? What was the result? 11. What American general commanded at the capture of the City of Mexico?
12. What was the remote and the immediate cause of the great Civil War.
13. Who captured Fort Donelson?
14. Name three commanders of the Army of the Potomac. 15. In what battle was "Stonewall" Jackson killed? How?


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Watch out DC fat cats!

The news is just out that the highest income MSA is Washington DC. Federal employees whose compensation averages more than $126,000 and the nation’s greatest concentration of lawyers helped Washington edge out San Jose as the wealthiest U.S. metropolitan area, government data show reports Bloomberg News. So its DC, not silicon valley, not Wall Street and yet the protestors have concentrated on financial centers when they need to be protesting government centers. There has been a rather feeble Occupy DC which is more like a sleep over by a couple hundred at McPherson Square but it has been targeting banks and "corporate greed". More relevant should be government greed where the government has the authority to line its own pockets with our money without our consent. Last year $719 billion went to anti-poverty programs and only 32 percent made it to the poor. Sen. Tom Coburn has pointed out that $340 billion a year is wasted on duplicative programs. Obama has said on many occasions that he is going to go after waste and fraud. Bur like on most issues he is simply lying. The reason is that these are among his most loyal constituents. Regardless of the administration, most federal employees are loyal democrats and he is not about to alienate them. So if Occupy DC wants to be relevant rather than being a hippie commune, they should target the fat cats in the federal government.

Occupy Wall Street: A creation of the media

What is the genesis of Occupy Wall Street? Perhaps it was the President’s constant demonizing of the wealthy. Perhaps it was his urging others such as the Congressional Black Caucus to put on their marching shoes – although few of the protestors are black. Are what are they protesting? Asking them is not particularly helpful and the media has simply summed it up as “unhappiness”. But why Wall Street? Most of the protestors haven’t a clue as to the function of Wall Street. If they did, they would find somewhere else to protest. So its not Wall Street that they are protesting but rather the achievement of wealth by a talented few. They could be protesting Apple, or Microsoft, or Warren Buffett, or Michael Moore, or Susan Sarandon, or most sports stars. But for whatever reason, these wealthy few are exempt from protestations. So what do the protestors want? There is the famous list of demands posted on their website that they disavow such as forgive all debt worldwide and free college education for all. Then there is the “proposed demands for congress” emanating from the “Sovereign People’s Movement” that reads like an Obama platform such as pass the Buffett rule and revamp the SEC Very very few of the Wall Street protestors would have a clue about any of these. It is ironic that when juxtaposed with the Tea Party, this motley crew is lacking. It is also ironic that when the left called the Tea Party racist and nazi, that the nazi party of the US would endorse Occupy Wall Street, along with the socialist party and the communist party. Where is the media outrage about that? So to sum up, these people do not have coherent common demands, they are wildly diverse, they are disaffected, unproductive and reminiscent of the flower children of the 60’s. However, they do have something in common: they hate capitalism and the ability of individuals to make choices via markets. Perhaps this is why their numbers are so small and why without the media coverage they would fade back into the holes that they have come from.

Musings on the Republican candidates

Rick Perry: There are certain defining moments that influence my views of political candidates. Mine for Rick Perry was when he was asked on Fox's morning show what would he do about illegals currently in America. Now you would think that of all questions, he would be prepared to answer this one. Especially after being beat up on the out of state tuition waiver in Texas for illegals, Perry should have known that this was a logical follow up question. His answer was that we should first address the problem of illegals coming into the country. He explained why a continuous border fence was not practical and that other methods would be much more effective. He was then reminded that he did not answer the question which was what would he do with those currently in the country. He then repeated his non-answer evading the question. The Fox person gave up and said thank you. Certainly as governor of Texas, Perry has been implementing a policy regarding the 1.7 million illegals in Texas. That he was evasive on this issue is illuminating. On the basis of that one answer, Perry has moved to the bottom of my list of republican candidates.

Herman Cain: I have heard several talking heads and callers on talk shows saying that Herman Cain was on the Fed board. One even said that Cain was head of the Fed! Cain was a Kansas City Fed director and chairman. Just like I was an Atlanta Fed - Nashville branch - director and chairman. Neither I or Cain were ever on the Fed's Board of Governors. Fed directors are akin to advisors to the Fed regional banks and have virtually no influence on the actions of the Board of Governors. To say that Herman Cain was on the Fed is misleading and just plain wrong.

Whatever happened to Michele Bachmann?

I liked Rick Santorum when he was in the senate but someone who is an incumbent senator and loses a race for re-election by 20 points cannot be seriously considered for the presidency - regardless of how many people try to use to the Richard Nixon analogy.

Ron Paul is considered a libertarian - why else would he name is son Rand? However, his position on illegal immigration is in conflict with basic libertarian principles. Libertarians generally favor open borders with labor flowing freely in response to market forces. Paul on the other hand favors closed borders. My position is basically libertarian. I favor open borders but all "visitors" must be documented. With no documents they will be arrested and deported as soon as the law permits. While in the country non-citizens cannot avail themselves to entitlements which are reserved for citizens. As to healthcare, hospitals would still not turn down those in need of medical care but those without insurance would be billed for the services and pursued by debt collectors in the event of no pay. One interesting thing to consider is the possibility allowing state citizenship without national citizenship because these decisions are best made at the state level.

Who are Jon Huntsman and Gary Johnson and why do they think we should vote for them? I guess they feel that the exposure will position them for the future.

I also like Newt Gingrich - except for his lobbying for ethanol. Gingrich is clearly the most articulate, informed, intelligent of all the candidates. His knowledge on both domestic issues and foreign policy is encyclopedic. Although trained as a historian, he is rare among that profession in his understanding of market forces and capitalism. I have thoroughly enjoyed his alternative history novels with Bill Fortschen. However, his main liability may be that he will not listen to the advice of his staff and cabinet if elected president.

Mit Romney: Romney keeps touting himself as a successful businessman. However, is he really? He was head of a hedge fund. Although hedge funds serve a vital role in the market of mainly keeping listed firms focused, hedge funds are certainly like what we generally consider as a business. Herman Cain came up through the traditional business world and managed a firm that provides goods and services to consumers rather than to other investors. Although both rely on market tests, they are not similar in scope or responsibility. I for one think that having to meet budgets, to market your products to the public and to be cognizant of the forces of supply and demand are qualities I would like to see in a president and on that basis Cain is superior to Romney. For me I would like to see a Cain-Romney ticket if one were to come from these candidates with Gingrich as Secretary of State.

Herman Cain versus Cornel West Part Deux

The dust up between Princeton professor Cornel West and Herman Cain is interesting from several aspects. Recall that West said that Cain was smoking a "symbolic crack pipe" by insisting that racism was no longer debilitating to blacks in America. Cain said that racism is overcome by hard work and diligence. Cain said to CNN's Cathy Crowley, “I have seen blacks in middle management move up to top management in some of the biggest corporations in America,” the candidate explained. “They weren’t held back because of racism. No, people sometimes hold themselves back because they want to use racism as excuse for them not being able to achieve what they want to achieve.” West was then asked for his opinion and he said something to think that racism no longer held back people of color. “Well, black people have been working hard for decades. I think he needs to get off the symbolic crack pipe and acknowledge that the evidence is overwhelming. And I think he also knows that if brother Anthony Davis — a brother who was just put to death — were a white Wall Street banker brother, that the response in the nation would have been very different as opposed to a poor black brother. And that’s just one small example — one very small example of racism still at work holding people back.” Huh? What does the execution of Davis have to do with "racism holding people back"? Also West seems to have forgotten that conservative Georgia ex-congressman Bob Barr supported staying the execution of Davis. Nevertheless it is instructive to compare West and Cain and make your own decision about who is correct. West was the son of a Department of Defense contractor and a teacher. Cain's mother was a domestic and father a chauffeur, barber and janitor. West grew up in Sacramento and was educated at Harvard and Princeton. Cain grew up in segregated Atlanta (as did I with separate water fountains, restrooms and schools) and was educated at a black college - Morehouse and has a masters' degree from my brother's alma mater - Purdue. West is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, a Marxist, pro-Palestinian with his entire career in academia. Cain's business career is well documented. So here we have one individual growing up in the racist segregated south overcoming odds and becoming a successful businessman who understands markets and the power of capitalism saying from experience that racism is being used as an excuse by people like West. On the other hand we have someone who was by comparison a child of privilege, who goes to "elite" schools and becomes a dedicated socialist who opines on a system of which he is ignorant and only knows as a outside observer. Who would you believe?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I bet she isn't Italian

"When we were young we might have been able to claim ignorance of the atrocities that Christopher Columbus committed against the indigenous peoples," wrote Kennedy School Principal Anne Foley.

"We can no longer do so. For many of us and our students celebrating this particular person is an insult and a slight to the people he annihilated. On the same lines, we need to be careful around the Thanksgiving Day time as well."

Poor Ms Foley. Someone needs to tell her that Columbus Day does not celebrate Christopher Columbus but rather Italian-American heritage. This is because the Icelandic-Americans did not have enough political clout to get a Leif Ericson Day.

True, Columbus was not a particularly good person – which was par for the course for ship’s captains of the day. But even if not viewed through today’s politically correct lens, he was not even a particularly good person in his day. He and his brothers were imprisoned in Spain due to their acts in the new world and on their ships. However, Columbus Day has been a federal holiday since 1937 to celebrate Italian-American heritage. Several states do not observe Columbus Day and have substituted their own versions such as Hawaii’s Discoverers’ Day and South Dakota’s Native American Day. I think that it is interesting that the Italians have their own day. Only the addition of MLK Day celebrates another ethnic American group. What about St. Patrick’s Day, or the Chinese New Year, or Mardi Gras, or Cinco De Mayo as official US holidays? Why not Hanukkah because its for 8 days? Personally, I celebrate December 6 since the 13th amendment was adopted on December 6, 1865.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Well maybe it was Columbus, Mississippi

We have just observed Columbus Day which is as we all know the day that Columbus discovered Ohio.” In that vein, when I was talking with a group of very bright students at my alma mater – the University of Georgia – we fell into a discussion of history. One of the students said that he did not know that Columbus, Ohio had a harbor. I said, then why is the airport called “Port Columbus? I then asked “who discovered America?” Any educated person knows its not Columbus however most answers were some European. Then I asked them to define “discover”. Most then realized that you cannot discover something that has already been discovered, yet “the Indians” somehow did not get traction in our history books. I then asked “who freed the slaves?” All answered “Abraham Lincoln”. Really? How did he do that? “The Emancipation Proclamation.” When I told them that the Emancipation Proclamation was only valid in wartime and only “freed” the slaves in areas not at war with the union, then obviously Lincoln was not the correct answer. I then said “How about that homeboy East Tennessean Andrew Johnson who was president when the 13th amendment was ratified in December 1865?” Mostly they agreed. Then I told them that the president has no overt role in the ratification process. It is the congress and their two-thirds vote and the vote of three fourth of the states and not the president who ratify constitutional amendments. So who freed the slaves? The answer is the United States of America – all the states including those in the former confederacy – voted for the amendment. I did not know which was most egregious, bright students not knowing about the Emancipation Proclamation or their not knowing the Constitution of the United States.

This is a republic - right?

Thank goodness we do not have a democracy which is akin to mob rule. Rather the founding fathers decided upon a republic where the power is vested in the states with the power of the federal government limited. Section 8 of the Constitution enumerates the powers of the congress. These are:
To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current coin of the United States;
To establish Post Offices and post Roads;
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;—And
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

The interpretation of the exercise (or abuse) of these powers has been one of the main tasks of the Supreme Court. However, one thing is clear. The states should be the laboratory where social policy is conducted and not at the Federal level. Therefore, I have no problem with Mitt Romney signing Romney care in Massachusetts, Romney defends his actions saying that any veto of the bill would have been overridden by the legislature. So he attempted to craft a less onerous bill. I have no problem with Rick Perry and the waiver of out of state tuition for illegals in Texas. As Perry points out, in state tuition is not waived. Since Texas is a no income tax state and is sales tax driven, illegals are paying for government just like legal residents through consumption. For me, the argument is that we are a republic and the states are free to craft policies and programs that may work for them. If they don't work then they can be re-crafted or repealed. Regardless, these are state specific. Therefore, I would expect Romney to say that Romney care is Massachusetts specific and no plan should be imposed on other states without their endorsement. The same is true with tuition waiver or with state immigration laws for that matter. If Arizona, Alabama and Georgia want to right state specific laws, then let them if they are constitutional. The same is true for health care and tuition waivers. Condemning Rick Perry on tuition or Mitt Romney on healthcare makes no sense unless they favor implementing those policies nationwide. Then condemn away!


After Herman Cain shot to the top of the polls, the other republican candidates started sniping at his 999 plan. Much like when Rick Perry was at the top and Mitt Romney - of all people - turned attack dog on Texas' waiver of out of state tuition for children of illegal immigrants, the republicans turned their sights on each other rather than President Obama - Newt excepted. The result is that the plan will be nit picked to death. Much time will be wasted and very little accomplished. Well Art Laffer who likely knows more macro economics than any of the candidates has embraced 999. Laffer says “Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan would be a vast improvement over the current tax system and a boon to the U.S. economy,” Laffer told HUMAN EVENTS. “The goal of supply-side tax reform is always a broadening of the tax base and lowering of marginal tax rates. Cain’s plan is simple, transparent, neutral with respect to capital and labor, and savings and consumption, and also greatly decreases the hidden costs of tax compliance. There is no doubt that economic growth would surge upon implementation of 9-9-9.” Laffer is mostly correct. 999 is better than the Rube Goldberg machine that we have now and decreases the costs of tax compliance. It does broaden the tax base and lowers marginal tax rates. So what is not to love? First, it includes a national sales tax that hides the cost of government. Again a flat tax is far superior in that everyone knows how much government costs. Bur a consumption tax layered on top of an income tax even if that income tax is a flat 9 percent is inferior to a simple flat tax that eliminates the income tax altogether. As Rick Santorum pointed out in the debate, how many consumers would like to see their sales tax increased? In non-sales tax states like Delaware, this will be a shock. In high sales tax states like Tennessee, it will be a bigger shock especially on high ticket items. Let's go back to Econ 101 and see what will the impact be on supply and demand. First, the reduction in income taxes will shift demand curves for goods and services and for savings outward as net income increases. Cet. par., this means an increase in the prices of goods and services due to the increase in demand and a decrease in interest rates due to the increase in savings. The increase in demand will prompt an increase in the production of goods abetted by the decrease in interest rates. This, in turn leads to a decrease in prices as more supply comes on board. However, counter to this is the impact of an increase in all consumption goods caused by the consumption tax. The higher prices of goods and services will decrease the quantity demanded and works counter to the increase in net income. This may discourage consumption and encourage savings instead causing interest rates to decline further. However, given the decrease in demand, the additional savings will not generate real investment in plant and equipment. With deepest respect to Art Laffer, there is no way that a significant increase in prices can cause demand and production to increase. Thus, rather than mucking around with prices and wondering about the net effect of an increase in income and an increase in prices, the cleanest solution is to not have the government directly interfere with the prices set by the market for goods and services. Instead of 999, Herman Cain and the US would be better served by 18. That is an 18 percent flat tax on all earned income with no exceptions. no deductions and no IRS.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Herman Cain or Cornell West?

Let me accept all the statistics others give about the poor. However, I have some numbers for you. Last year we spent $714 billion on anit-poverty programs. Thats $17,850 per person or $71,400 a year for a family of four. Note that the official povery line per person is $10,830. We could have just mailed every poor person a check and saved $210 billion. We are spending enough each year to make the poor middle class. Actually we would have spent less since only $3,000 is added on to the poverty level per child. That is why long ago when I started paying enough in taxes to support a family of four above the poverty level I suggested that the government just assign me a family. I would send them the money, give the kids birthday presents and visit them at christmas.
Do you know that the standard of living of America's poor is higher than that of the average European or Japanese? Poverty in America does not mean the devastating poverty seen in the rest of the world. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation points out that very few of America’s 40 million that live in poverty are actually impoverished suffering significant hardships. Rector notes such figures as 40 percent own their homes. 84 percent of the households are air conditioned. Two thirds have cable or satellite tv. 3-4 own a care. 98 percent own a color tv with 2/3 owning two or more color tvs. The typical poor American has more living space that the average european. Poor boys at 18 and 19 are an inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
The problem is that we have programs that do not encourage the incentives that lead to a reduction in poverty. We have programs that do just the opposite. Those programs when implemented saw the black nuclear family little different that whites. Now disincentives translate to 70 percent of black babies being born to single mothers. I would heavily subsidize the poor nuclear family whose kids are not in trouble, who go to school and work hard. Surely we are smart enough to structure anti-poverty programs that encourage people not to be poor.
We are all ill served by black intellectuals and our spokesmen. I am looking forward to the day when we have no spokesmen. Who speaks for the Jews? Who speaks for the Asians? Who speaks for the Hispanics? Who is the white spokesman? In the main, black scholars are not comfortable analyzing the black business tradition. Black scholars almost uniformly condemn capitalism. Black scholars tend to be socialists rather than capitalists. This is due in part to their training. They did not major in business but in liberal arts. It was telling to hear the criticism of Herman Cain by Cornell West who resorted to name calling. Well Herman Cain has done more for black people than Cornell West ever has. Just what has Professor West accomplished other than profess? No positive solutions from him. Although they exist in growing numbers, haven’t you noticed that most of the black voices that are pro market and pro free enterprise are seldom heard? The media ignores them and runs to Cornell West, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton rather than Bob Woodson or Allen West or Tim Scott.
The media which in the main are also educated in liberal arts chose those who are like minded to speak for blacks. We are left therefore with apologists who blame every ill on racism and demand more handouts which reinforce poverty rather seeking positive solutions.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Occupy Wall Street? Pity the poor parents of these kids

Have you noticed how the icons on the left are falling all over themselves to praise and sympathize with the Occupy Wall Street bunch? Both Obama and Joe Biden made sympathetic clucking noises. Nancy Pelosi said “I support the message to the establishment, whether it's Wall Street or the political establishment and the rest, that change has to happen,” Robby Mook, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, wrote: “Protestors are assembling in New York and around the country to let billionaires, big oil and big bankers know that we’re not going to let the richest 1% force draconian economic policies and massive cuts to crucial programs on Main Street Americans.” While calling a turnout of middle class Americans as terrorists and racists (since someone said that they saw a racist sign and a swastika at a Tea Party rally - even if not verified) can you imagine what the Tea Party folks would be called if they acted even a wee bit like the Occupy Wall Streeters? Eric Cantor was kind and understated when he called them a mob. Somehow the dems and the press have ignored the anti-semetic undertones of the rally. There are signs a-plenty complaining about Jewish bankers. One even referred to nazi Jewish bankers! Go figure that one out. So here we have a group protesting the bail out of Wall Street while approving of the bail out of the UAW and General Motors and Chrysler. Also approving of the bailout of state and local governments who used the money to keep paying the teachers unions and the SEIU. So some bailouts are ok. The Tea Party would differ in that it opposes them all. I can't imagine seeing my children with the occupiers and I feel for those who see their kids filthy, attacking the police, trying to force their way into museums, parading around naked and copulating in public while not being able to articulate why they are there. Occupy Wall Street is just this generations Woodstock.

The income inequality nonsense

The occupy Wall Street rabble have brought to the fore the old mantra of the badness of income inequality. Of course they have no idea of what is "equitable" because even few of this bunch would argue that everyone should have the same income. But let us imagine that everyone had the same income. Would this mean that wealth would also be equal? Of course not. My favorite example is the economics of a prisoner of war camp ( Essentially all the prisoners start out the same. They have equal income. They are issued the same clothes and other goods. Monthly they all get the same package from the Red Cross. Thus, all incomes are the same. Complete income equality. Yet before long, the wealth distribution is skewed. Some prisoners are wealthy while others are poor even though their income is the same per month. How can this be? Well tastes and preferences differ. Some smoke and others don't. Barter takes place for cigarettes. Some gamble and lose. Some gamble and win. Some incur debts to others. Soon when the prisoners receive their monthly package, some have to give it or parts of it to those they owe. Some accumulate wealth while others go lacking. As a consequence even if you could start out in perfect socialist heaven, it will quickly become full blown capitalism if left to its own devices. Socialism simply does not work because it goes against basic human nature. The only way to make it work is to have the state enforce it through coercion. And be honest, would you want to share your wealth with society's dregs who don't have a life and are occupying Wall Street?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Go Dawgs! Fran Tarkenton on our teachers

In his blog Professor Bainbridge asks "What happens if the NCAA adopted Dodd-Frank"? In the same vein, the great Fran Tarkenton - an alumnus of my alma mater as is Bob McTeer - in the Wall Street Journal asks what would happen if pro football was modeled after our public school teachers. It appears in the Wall Street Journal today (October 3, 2011). Its a great piece.

* The Wall Street Journal

* OCTOBER 3, 2011

What if the NFL Played by Teachers' Rules?
Imagine a league where players who make it through three seasons could never be cut from the roster.


Imagine the National Football League in an alternate reality. Each player's salary is based on how long he's been in the league. It's about tenure, not talent. The same scale is used for every player, no matter whether he's an All-Pro quarterback or the last man on the roster. For every year a player's been in this NFL, he gets a bump in pay. The only difference between Tom Brady and the worst player in the league is a few years of step increases. And if a player makes it through his third season, he can never be cut from the roster until he chooses to retire, except in the most extreme cases of misconduct.

Let's face the truth about this alternate reality: The on-field product would steadily decline. Why bother playing harder or better and risk getting hurt?

No matter how much money was poured into the league, it wouldn't get better. In fact, in many ways the disincentive to play harder or to try to stand out would be even stronger with more money.

Of course, a few wild-eyed reformers might suggest the whole system was broken and needed revamping to reward better results, but the players union would refuse to budge and then demonize the reform advocates: "They hate football. They hate the players. They hate the fans." The only thing that might get done would be building bigger, more expensive stadiums and installing more state-of-the-art technology. But that just wouldn't help.

If you haven't figured it out yet, the NFL in this alternate reality is the real -life American public education system. Teachers' salaries have no relation to whether teachers are actually good at their job—excellence isn't rewarded, and neither is extra effort. Pay is almost solely determined by how many years they've been teaching. That's it. After a teacher earns tenure, which is often essentially automatic, firing him or her becomes almost impossible, no matter how bad the performance might be. And if you criticize the system, you're demonized for hating teachers and not believing in our nation's children.

Inflation-adjusted spending per student in the United States has nearly tripled since 1970. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, we spend more per student than any nation except Switzerland, with only middling results to show for it.

Over the past 20 years, we've been told that a big part of the problem is crumbling schools—that with new buildings and computers in every classroom, everything would improve. But even though spending on facilities and equipment has more than doubled since 1989 (again adjusted for inflation), we're still not seeing results, and officials assume the answer is that we haven't spent enough.

These same misguided beliefs are front and center in President Obama's jobs plan, which includes billions for "public school modernization." The popular definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. We've been spending billions of dollars on school modernization for decades, and I suspect we could keep on doing it until the end of the world, without much in the way of academic results. The only beneficiaries are the teachers unions.

Some reformers, including Bill Gates, are finally catching on that our federally centralized, union-created system provides no incentive for better performance. If anything, it penalizes those who work hard because they spend time, energy and their own money to help students, only to get the same check each month as the worst teacher in the district (or an even smaller one, if that teacher has been there longer). Is it any surprise, then, that so many good teachers burn out or become disenchanted?

Perhaps no other sector of American society so demonstrates the failure of government spending and interference. We've destroyed individual initiative, individual innovation and personal achievement, and marginalized anyone willing to point it out. As one of my coaches used to say, "You don't get vast results with half-vast efforts!"

The results we're looking for are students learning, so we need to reward great teachers who show they can make that happen—and get rid of bad teachers who don't get the job done. It's what we do in every other profession: If you're good, you get rewarded, and if you're not, then you look for other work. It's fine to look for ways to improve the measuring tools, but don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Our rigid, top-down, union-dictated system isn't working. If results are the objective, then we need to loosen the reins, giving teachers the ability to fulfill their responsibilities to students to the best of their abilities, not to the letter of the union contract and federal standards.

Mr. Tarkenton, an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback with the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants from 1961 to 1978, is an entrepreneur who runs two websites devoted to small business education.

Saying Bev Perdue is a bird brain insults chickens

Was I the only one puzzled by the reaction over North Carolina governor's Bev Perdue's comment? You may recall that she said “I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won't hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover. I really hope that someone can agree with me on that. You want people who don't worry about the next election.” The conservative talkers went ballistic arguing that she should be impeached for suggesting this. This would be a first: impeachment due to stupidity. Naturally most think that a governor should have some modicum of intelligence, However, being raised in the south during the civil rights era and seeing Lester Maddox, Ross Barnett, Herman and Gene Talmadge among others, an ignorant governor comes as no surprise. One of my dearest friends who is an Obama supporter (yes even now) lives in North Carolina and says that Perdue is simply stupid. So why we should be outraged over comments that carry little weight and reflect more on the ignorance of the people who voted for her rather than on the ignorant governor herself is beyond me. All of us (except the governor) know that the only way to suspend a congressional election is via a constitutional amendment and not by simple fiat. Perhaps the governor was engaged in wistful thinking given her dim prospects for reelection. For the talking heads to waste an entire day on this dolt simply shows that it was a slow news day.