Archive for the “Politics” Category

I’m back from Washington, D.C. — the belly of the beast — after delivering a speech there.  Time to resume posting rounds from my on-going debate with my Hollywood pal Paul.


Round 15(a) – Paul

Tom –

Amid our last exchange, which started with a Krugman column, I gleaned your interest in Economics is limited to “Theory”.  And you are not a frequent reader of daily or weekly financial news.  As evidenced by your balking when  asked if you could produce articles from FORBES, FORTUNE, or W J S to support your contempt for the Federal Reserve.

Are you sure your interest in Economics is genuine?  If indeed it is, then financial news should interest you every bit as much.  FORBES, FORTUNE and WJS should be your ‘favorite’ sources.  They are the professionals at reporting financial news.

One has to see how Theory plays out every day.  When affected by the variables of every day events.  And if you’re not tracking financial news, you can’t put your theory into any real-world context.  Which makes it easier, of course, to be  ideologically rigid.

Which makes me wonder if your views would change if challenged by the intrigues reported every day on financial pages.  It could be you have placed yourself in an intellectual vacuum.  And judging from those websites you referenced, I would guess that is your case.

If you were following financial news, on a daily or weekly basis, you would understand that corporate CEO’s miscalculate all the time.  You would know that major companies frequently engage in extralegal schemes.  And that perfectly viable companies are often driven into bankruptcy.

When you see these stories routinely reported, over a period of years, you develop a certain cynicism with regards  to corporations.  Which gives you an appreciation for government regulators.  An appreciation ‘you’ lack by ignoring financial news.

I am sending you (separately) an article first published in THE NEW YORKER in October of 2010.  “Confounding Fathers” is actually 7 pages long.  So if you don’t have time to read it, I certainly understand.  In short, the author traces most Tea Party beliefs to radical conservatives of the Cold War era.  Which is interesting because I recognized the roots of several arguments ‘you’ have parroted.

I am also sending you (separately) a report from yesterday’s N Y TIMES.  Regarding the surprising health of America’s manufacturing sector.  It seems that a cheap dollar has boosted exports dramatically.  In fact, this is precisely the kind  of story you miss by ignoring financial news.

Paul

 

Round 15(a) – Tom

Paul –

Amid our last exchange, which started with a Krugman column, I gleaned your interest in Economics is limited to “Theory”.  And you are not a frequent reader of daily or weekly financial news.  As evidenced by your balking when asked if you could produce articles from FORBES, FORTUNE, or W J S to support your contempt for the Federal Reserve.

Like I said, I’m not interested in the daily movements of the stock market, which companies earned an extra 3 cents per share this quarter, which executives are moving up in the world, etc.  I find that stuff boring.

Are you sure your interest in Economics is genuine?  If indeed it is, then financial news should interest you every bit as much.  FORBES, FORTUNE and WJS should be your ‘favorite’ sources.  They are the professionals at reporting financial news.  One has to see how Theory plays out every day.  When affected by the variables of every day events.  And if you’re not   tracking financial news, you can’t put your theory into any real-world context.  Which makes it easier, of course, to be  ideologically rigid.

I’d say reading 30 or so books on economics is a sign of genuine interest, yes … and no, I don’t need to follow the daily financial news to see how economic theory plays out.  We don’t change economic policies every other day, so the every-other-day shifts in markets don’t tell us anything.  The effects of economic policies show up in the long term.  Many of the books I’ve read (especially those by Thomas Sowell) go back through history and demonstrate how changes in economic factors affected the next several years, if not decades.

Which makes me wonder if your views would change if challenged by the intrigues reported every day on financial pages.  It could be you have placed yourself in an intellectual vacuum.  And judging from those websites you referenced, I would guess that is your case.

What exactly is being reported in the financial pages that would challenge the theories of economics I believe?  And in case you’ve forgotten, the blogs I referenced are written by people who work in finance, and what they wrote was later confirmed by sources you deemed credible.  So are you actually criticizing me for linking to writers who were proved correct, simply because you haven’t heard of them before?

Forming opinions on economic theories based on daily financial news is useless.  If you believe otherwise, I suggest you review the past decade.  When housing prices and stocks related to housing were rising steadily, the daily financial news was full of glowing reports about the health of the economy.  People who’ve read and actually understand the work of Friedrich Hayek — Peter Schiff being a prime example — warned that the apparent prosperity was a bubble based on an artificial increase in the money supply and that we were headed for a crash. Naturally, the usual pundits pooh-poohed his prediction — By gosh, look at the rising prices!  The housing market has never been this strong!  Blah-blah-blah.

In the excellent book “The Big Short,” Michael Lewis also recounts how quite a few people who understood the economics involved saw where the housing market was ultimately headed and made billions by betting on a crash.  Their colleagues thought they were nuts … right up until they were proved right.  (So much for “nobody saw this coming.”)

So who was right, Paul?  The financial reporters who wrote glowingly about the health of the economy based on day-to-day market reports, or the people who took the long view based on their understanding of an economic theory — Hayek’s — that has performed as predicted over and over?  Who would you say had a better understanding of what was actually happening with the economy — the people who read FORTUNE, or the people who read Hayek?

If you were following financial news, on a daily or weekly basis, you would understand that corporate CEO’s miscalculate all the time.  You would know that major companies frequently engage in extralegal schemes.

None of which disproves anything I believe about economics.  Of course CEOs miscalculate.  Of course big companies fail.  That’s always been the case, and nothing in libertarian economic theories would suggest otherwise.  The difference between you and me is that I believe they should be allowed to fail, not transfer their losses to the taxpayers.  Nor do I have to read Forbes to know that some executives break the law.  Again, the difference between you and me is that I don’t believe making illegal activities double-super-illegal is going to make a difference.

And that perfectly viable companies are often driven into bankruptcy.

You’ll have to explain your definition of “viable.”  If a company goes bankrupt, it isn’t viable — or necessary.  (Although I’d make an exception for the companies in Illinois that are going bankrupt because the “progressive” government there isn’t paying what it owes them.)

When you see these stories routinely reported, over a period of years, you develop a certain cynicism with regards to corporations.

Did you already forget that reply in which I explained that libertarians believe people act out of self-interest?  Isn’t that a cynical attitude?  You’re still arguing from the position that we believe the people running corporations are saints.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Which gives you an appreciation for government regulators.  An appreciation ‘you’ lack by ignoring   financial news.

Paul, if you really and truly keep up on the news, you should have also developed a certain cynicism about government regulators by now.  You have a major blind spot there because you believe (against all evidence) that while the people who run businesses act out of their own self-interest, government regulators don’t.  A true cynic would realize that giving a small group of people the power to pick economic winners and losers will always lead to corruption.  Only an idealist would believe that giving someone the title of “government regulator” magically transforms him into someone who only cares about what’s good for society.

I am sending you (separately) an article first published in THE NEW YORKER in October of 2010.  “Confounding Fathers” is actually 7 pages long.  So if you don’t have time to read it, I certainly understand.  In short, the author traces most Tea  Party beliefs to radical conservatives of the Cold War era.  Which is interesting because I recognized the roots of several  arguments ‘you’ have parroted.

I read through the article.  Not sure what salient point you believe it makes, other than some right-wingers are conspiracy nuts.  Some left-wingers are conspiracy nuts too.  (I’m going to assume you don’t believe the Bush administration blew up the World Trade Center.)

I had to chuckle at the term “extreme right wing” in the article.  As Bernie Goldberg pointed out in his book “Bias,” you can find thousand of references to the “extreme right wing” in media news stories, but you’ll almost never find a reference to the “extreme left wing” … because in the minds of left-leaning reporters, there’s no such thing as an extreme left-winger.

I am also sending you (separately) a report from yesterday’s NY TIMES.  Regarding the surprising health of America’s manufacturing sector.  It seems that a cheap dollar has boosted exports dramatically.  In fact, this is precisely the kind of story you miss by ignoring financial news.

I don’t need to read daily financial news to know that a declining dollar boosts exports, because:

1) It’s an obvious and expected effect, and

2) I have personal experience with that effect.  About a third of my income last year was from sales of my trademark and patent docketing system, much of it coming from firms outside the U.S.  When the dollar tumbled, my sales went up as foreign firms rushed in to take advantage of the exchange rate.  Those firms also elected to pay for the system up front instead of stretching payments over six months (an option I offer), just in case the dollar rises again.

I presume you sent that article in order to suggest that spending trillions of dollars we don’t have and creating new magic money to cover those debts isn’t so bad after all, since the resulting decline in the value of the dollar is good for exports.

Now … here’s where actually studying economics instead of forming opinions based on the daily news make a difference:  In economics, as in physics and chemistry, actions produce corresponding reactions.  The essay by Bastiat on the broken-window fallacy that I linked (and which I’m sure you’ll never read) refers to them as the seen and unseen effects.  The broken window benefits the glass-maker (the seen effect), but it harms the other merchants the baker won’t patronize this month because he had to buy a new window (the unseen effect).  Most daily news reports focus on the seen effects, but few reporters ask themselves about the unseen effects.

Does a declining dollar benefit exporters, including those of us who export software?  Yup.  I benefitted.  That’s the seen effect.  But who are the unseen losers?  I can name a few:

1) Anyone who buys anything imported.  If a declining dollar makes exports cheaper, it correspondingly makes imports more expensive.  So everyone who buys from overseas — whether they’re buying finished products or parts for their own products — loses.  This will, of course, include low-income people who buy inexpensive clothes, shoes, and other necessities made outside the U.S.

2) My girls.  Whatever the immediate effects on exports, the dollar is declining because the Federal Reserve is creating new magic money to cover the federal government’s massive debts.  Someday my girls will be expected to pay those debts.  I’m not interested in saddling their generation with a massive debt burden so I can sell a few more software systems overseas today.  When the massive debt crashes our economy — and it will — none of us will be suggesting that a temporary boost to exporters was a worthwhile tradeoff.

3) Everyone who doesn’t have the skill or luck to invest successfully.  If the dollar’s purchasing power is declining (which is certainly is), that means salaries and savings accounts are losing value.  Some people are able to invest and receive high enough returns to stay ahead of inflation, but they tend to be the financially sophisticated types.  Poor people, working stiffs, and little old ladies with savings accounts — the kinds of people you claim to care about — are simply going to see the value of their dollars dwindle.  You don’t need to read FORBES to understand that.

By the way, if the dollar is declining in value and boosting exports as a result, that means we have significant inflation — the declining value of currency is the very definition of inflation.  But earlier, you sent me an essay by Paul Krugman (who is never wrong because he teaches at Princeton) in which he claimed we have very little inflation.  So which article do you believe?  Is creating all that new magic money out of thin air devaluing the dollar or not?  While educating yourself on economics by reading the daily business news, have you formed any consistent economic beliefs?  Or do you simply believe whatever you read next in the NY Times?

Tom

 

Round 15(b) – Paul

Tom –

I think it’s great you  personally profited from the weaker dollar.  And your complaint is ‘what’?

I think the weaker dollar could only become a problem if the U.S. were to suffer a military disaster.  Like some cheap but effective missile sinks a carrier.  And our response is impotent.  Or maybe some dirty nuke melts down L A Harbor.  These are the type of events, coupled with huge debt-load, that could crash the dollar.  But even with a surplus, events like these are trouble!  Like 9/11 for instance.  We had a surplus then.

But getting back to the debt and deficit.  If they are time bombs that could crash the dollar, let’s all chip in to pay them down as soon as possible.  The rich could easily help and many of them want to.  But Libertarians would have us believe our only choice is going back to a Coolidge state.  Like 300 million people could live with a government that was inadequate when the country had closer to 100 million.

To think this goal is more realistic than everyone paying more taxes is absolutely asinine.  It would be so much cheaper if everyone took a smaller paycheck now.  Hedge funds could be paying 35% instead of 15%.  And hey, if we’re patriotic, and working for a common good, paying down the debt should be our national priority.  But oddly people who claim to know “economic theory” are telling us a Coolidge state is the only way to go.   And their acolytes in Congress have  been totally obstructing the more realistic approach of paying down our debt the old fashioned way.

Tom I think you’re generalizing.  Why assume that FORTUNE readers had no worries with regards to over-inflated housing prices?  And why assume the business press wrote ‘glowingly’ about the housing bubble years?  I’m sure if you went back you’d find a number of stories concerning sub-prime mortgages and consumer debt.  Those issues didn’t just spring to life after the Financial Crisis.

In fact, when Bush ran for re-election, back in 2004, several pundits noted his job creation record was actually pretty bad. Which indicated, way back then, that our economy was only prospering on paper (instead of actually growing).  And every reader of business news could guess that the collapse of Bear Sterns, in March 2008, was a harbinger of things to come. You didn’t need to study Hayek to realize something ominous was in the process of unraveling.

I am sending you, separately, THE NY TIMES, year-end weather stats.  Which strongly suggest Global Warming is real.  In fact, just before Christmas, THE WASHINGTON POST carried a piece about some coastal city in Virginia where flooding has become increasingly serious.  But when the city attempted to hold hearings, on what to do about the problem, a bunch of Tea Party militants showed up to heckle and make sure than no constructive discussion could possibly take place.  And when asked why they were so obnoxious, the Tea Partiers explained that the hearing lent credence to Global Warming theories which they obviously disdained.  Sorry I didn’t send the  article to you.  Because you should know the intellectual company you place yourself amongst.

Paul

 

Round 15(b) – Tom

Greetings, Paul –

Ahhhh, Sunday … time to relax, hang out with the girls, explore the woods behind the house, and write a long, wonkish reply to my favorite socialist

Tom I think it’s great you  personally profited from the weaker dollar.  And your complaint is ‘what’?

I already explained my complaint.  The dollar is weak because the Federal Reserve is creating new magic money out of thin air to paper over our massive federal deficits.  I’m not interested in dumping massive debts on the next generation or reducing the current value of salaries and savings accounts just so I can sell a few more software systems today.

I think the weaker dollar could only become a problem if the U.S. were to suffer a military disaster.

You’re basing that opinion on what, exactly?  When people barely able to pay their bills see the buying power of their salaries or savings accounts reduced, is that not a problem in your economic worldview?  Inflation is a tax on the people least able to afford it.  Their devalued dollars now represent less wealth.  But the wealth didn’t disappear; it changed hands.  The wealth they lose ends up in the pockets of 1) the government, who spends it, and 2) the wealthy bankers who took the government’s IOUs and used them as assets on which they could write loans and collect interest – money for nothing and your chicks for free.  Any liberal whose bleeding heart is still beating should be outraged by the whole lousy deal.

Like some cheap but effective missile sinks a carrier.  And our response is impotent.  Or maybe some dirty nuke melts down L A Harbor.  These are the type of events, coupled with huge debt-load, that could crash the dollar.  But even with a surplus, events like these are trouble!  Like 9/11 for instance.  We had a surplus then.

The debt load will eventually sink us even if a cheap but effective missile doesn’t.  We’re well on our way to becoming another Greece.  If do ever end up in another major war, we won’t be able to afford to fight it – who’s going to lend us the money?  The Chinese?  How would we pay it back?

We never had a surplus.  The supposed surplus was the result of spending Social Security revenues instead of saving them for future payouts.  We now have trillions of dollars in unfunded forward liability as a result.  It would be equivalent to me buying a bunch of expensive goodies I can’t actually afford, taking the “no payments until 2013!” option, then declaring myself in “surplus” because I have still money in my checking account.

But getting back to the debt and deficit.  If they are time bombs that could crash the dollar, let’s all chip in to pay them down as soon as possible.

By “let’s all chip in,” you of course mean “let’s all get together and raise taxes on the rich.”

The rich could easily help and many of them want to.

As a longtime observer of leftist (ahem) “thinking” on economic issues, I’ve noticed a pattern:

Good economy:  “With such a robust economy, surely the rich, who are benefiting more than everyone else, should be willing to pay higher taxes and share more of their outsized gains.”

Bad economy:  “With such a lousy economy, surely the rich should be willing to pay higher taxes and shoulder more of the burden.”

Good economy, bad economy, mediocre economy, it doesn’t matter … the left’s appetite for spending other people’s money is never sated.  That’s why we have a debt crisis.

Are you aware of who actually pays income taxes in this country and who doesn’t?  Here are the figures:

The top 1% of income earners pay 40% of all income taxes.  The top 5% pay 57% of all income taxes.  The top 10% pay 68% of all income taxes.  The bottom 50% — half of all wage earners – pay nothing or nearly nothing.  Many “rich” people already pay more than 50% in combined federal, state and local taxes, yet you want them to pay even more so the government won’t have to reduce spending.  (That’s an impossible scenario, however.  More on that later.)

Paul, if you feel morally entitled to confiscate other people’s incomes for you own benefit, be a man about it.  Buy a gun and start robbing rich people.  Asking the government to commit theft on your behalf is cowardly.  But we’ll set aside the moral issue and deal with the economics.

But Libertarians would have us believe our only choice is going back to a Coolidge state.  Like 300 million people could live with a government that was inadequate when the country had closer to 100 million.

On what evidence are you declaring the size of that government inadequate?  Inadequate for what purpose?  The U.S. became a powerful and prosperous nation with a small government.  If the government taxed citizens at the same rate as in the Coolidge era and the population tripled, then government revenues would also triple.  What we can say with absolute certainty is that a Coolidge-sized government wouldn’t be trillions of dollars in debt.

To think this goal is more realistic than everyone paying more taxes is absolutely asinine.

Well, let’s do a little math and see if the theory that we can tax our way out of these massive deficits instead of drastically cutting spending is realistic or, as you put it, absolutely asinine.

In 2010, the federal government collected 2.16 trillion dollars, 42% of it from income taxes.  Another 40% came from Social Security taxes.  (I already see a major problem:  Social Security revenues are still being spent every year to fund current government programs – more trillions in unfunded forward liabilities)  Well, no decent leftist is going to propose jacking up Social Security taxes on working Americans.  Nope, the solution is to raise income taxes on all those rich people who can easily help and may even want to.

So … we take 2.16 x .42 and discover that income taxes provided 900 billion dollars in 2010.  The federal deficit, meanwhile, was 1.3 trillion dollars.  That figure, if you’ve never written it out before, looks like this:

1,300,000,000,000

Well, I guess you’ve got me on this one, Paul.  If we can just raise income taxes by 145% — on everybody – we’ll have a balanced budget and stop piling up massive debts future generations will be expected to pay (thus reducing their net incomes considerably).

But wait … according to leftist theology, it’s only the rich who can “easily” bail us out of our debt crisis, not everyone.  Let’s just raise taxes on households earning more than $250,000 per year.  According to the 2010 census, there are 2,350,760 such households.  Once again, I see the wisdom of your anti-deficit plan, Paul.  All we have to do is demand each of those households pay an additional $553,013 in annual income taxes, and we’ll have a balanced budget.  That’s obviously far more realistic than the asinine suggestion that the government must drastically reduce spending to avoid a future default.

It would be so much cheaper if everyone took a smaller paycheck now.

If everyone takes smaller paychecks now, then everyone has less money to spend on products and services.  That means the GDP will shrink – a recession — businesses will fail (or never be started), unemployment will rise, profits will be reduced, and therefore the incomes and profits available to be taxed will decline.

Hedge funds could be paying 35% instead of 15%.

Sure, if you want to ensure that investors stop investing or take their money elsewhere.

And hey, if we’re patriotic, and working for a common good, paying down the debt should be our national priority.

Funny how the leftist definition of “patriotism” always boils down to asking other people to give the government more money.  Since paying down the debt is indeed a common (and necessary) good, and since it’s mathematically impossible to tax our way out of our current deficits, are you ready to do your patriotic duty and call for a smaller government?

But oddly people who claim to know “economic theory” are telling us a Coolidge state is the only way to go.   And their acolytes in Congress have been totally obstructing the more realistic approach of paying down our debt the old fashioned way.

Asking everyone who earns more than $250,000 per year to pay an additional $553,013 per year in income taxes is the realistic approach, is it?  It doesn’t require any familiarity with economic theory to know we can’t tax our way out this mess; all it takes is the willingness to pull out a pocket calculator and do some simple math.

The old-fashioned way of paying down debt is to stop spending money you don’t have and divert as much of your income as possible to paying off the debt.  But of course, that’s not what liberals propose.  In earlier rounds of this debate, you were demanding a national health-care program – another entitlement that would add trillions to our debt load.  If you’re in a “we all need to work together and make sacrifices” mood all of a sudden, are you ready to call for an end to new government programs?  Are you ready to support phasing out Social Security and Medicare, since they’ll eventually bankrupt the country no matter how much wealth we confiscate?  Or does “let’s all work together and make sacrifices” in your worldview still translate to “let’s keep pretending we can tax the rich enough to pay for all this, even though simple math says otherwise”?

I’d love to live in your liberal fantasy-land, Paul.  Sounds like a swell place … a place where there are countless rich people who can easily afford to support everyone else and pay off all our debts; a place where no matter how much you tax those rich people, they happily continue working, taking risks, starting businesses and producing wealth for everyone else to consume; a place where (as Thomas Sowell put it so eloquently in his book “The Vision of the Anointed”) the really smart people have a solution for everything and the only thing standing in their way is the fact that so many other people are either too mean or too stupid to do what’s right.  Unfortunately, liberal fantasy-land is just that:  a fantasy.

Here’s the reality you can’t bring yourself to accept:  government is an economic parasite.  Governments don’t create wealth, they consume wealth and destroy wealth.  The more wealth government consumes, the less wealth we have left over for the kinds of capital investments that raise productivity and create jobs.  No amount of taxation will solve the debt crisis, because you can’t tax wealth that doesn’t exist.

You can, however, raise taxes to the point where the people who create jobs and wealth decide it’s not worth the risk or the effort anymore.  That’s what FDR learned to his great dismay when his sky-high taxes didn’t produce the additional revenues he thought they would.  Actions produce reactions.  Jack up taxes, and you discourage economic activity and suppress economic growth.  Since he was economic ignoramus, FDR was of course shocked and outraged by this reality.

Tom I think you’re generalizing.  Why assume that FORTUNE readers had no worries with regards to over-inflated housing prices?  And why assume the business press wrote ‘glowingly’ about the housing bubble years?  I’m sure if you went back you’d find a number of stories concerning sub-prime mortgages and consumer debt.  Those issues didn’t just spring to life after the Financial Crisis.

Yes, you might find a few warnings in the press.  But as you recall, when the 2008 meltdown occurred, we kept hearing how nobody saw this coming.  The reason the people profiled in “The Big Short” made billions by betting on a meltdown is that most financial analysts didn’t see it coming and were betting on housing prices to keep going up.

In fact, when Bush ran for re-election, back in 2004, several pundits noted his job creation record was actually pretty bad. Which indicated, way back then, that our economy was only prospering on paper (instead of actually growing).  And every reader of business news could guess that the collapse of Bear Sterns, in March 2008, was a harbinger of things to come. You didn’t need to study Hayek to realize something ominous was in the process of unraveling.

Yes, once there were clear signs the economy was falling apart, there were people who correctly predicted it would fall apart.  However, people like Peter Schiff were warning of the coming housing meltdown in 2005.  Hayek explained why artificial expansions of the money supply lead to booms followed by inevitable busts, he’s been proved correct over and over, so analysts who understand his work – like Peter Schiff – don’t have to witness a Bear Sterns collapse to know what’s coming.

I am sending you, separately, THE NY TIMES, year-end weather stats.  Which strongly suggest Global Warming is real.

I read the NY Times piece.  Yes, of course it “strongly suggests” global warming is real, because that’s the writer’s strong opinion.  There’s nothing resembling scientific proof in that article, just lots of speculation.

I looked up articles on hurricanes and found that we’ve had very busy hurricane seasons and very quiet hurricane seasons for as long as we’ve kept records on hurricanes.  In recent years, when we have a busy hurricane season, the global-warming hysterics offer that as proof of global warming.  But when the same hysterics predict that global warming will cause yet another busy hurricane season which instead turns out to be quiet – as in 2011 –  well, boy, we just got lucky, ya see.  Doesn’t disprove anything.  Keep those research grants coming, folks.

The NY Times writer blamed tornadoes on global warming as well.  Scroll down this page and look at the historical chart on the number of strong to violent tornadoes:

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/severeweather/tornadoes.html#history

The pattern is clearly cyclical.  Furthermore, there were more busy tornado seasons before 1975 (during a period of declining temperatures) than after 1975 (a period of rising temperatures).  The busiest tornado season before this year, by a huge margin, was in 1974 – i.e., just before Newsweek published a breathless article describing how temperatures had been declining for the past 30 years and warning of a coming ice age.

So, putting together the statements I’ve read from global-warming hysterics over the years, here’s how it all apparently works:

High number of violent storms during warming periods:  caused by global warming.

High number of violent storms during cooling periods:  doesn’t prove anything.

Low number of violent storms during warming periods:  doesn’t prove anything.

Warmer-than-usual winters:  caused by global warming.

Record-cold winters for three straight years:  also caused by global warming.

Reduction in rainfall leading to droughts:  caused by global warming.

Heavy rains leading to flooding:  also caused by global warming.

This isn’t science.  It’s a political agenda attempting to wrap itself in science.  To demonstrate how weak the supposed science is, I’ll propose an alternate theory and support it with the same kind of logic:  I believe hot air emanating from the mouths of angry leftists causes a rise in worldwide temperatures, and that the rising temperatures lead to an increase in violent weather events.

So I do some initial research … Aha!  My research clearly shows that for the past 40 years, leftists have been producing more hot air than in previous eras, with an unusual spike in leftist-produced hot air appearing on the eastern seaboard over the past summer.  We’ve also had a rise in temperatures in previous decades, and (in the years I choose to study, at least) a rise in the number of violent storms — with a record number of violent weather events this year.

Well, there you have it.  My theory has been proven correct.  Can’t argue with the science … as any good scientist knows, if two variables are statistically linked, it’s proof positive that one of them is causing the other.  That’s how I figured out that Dan Rather appearing on my TV to read the news was causing the sun to set.

I noticed the takeaway message from the NY Times is that we may be facing a crisis of severe weather due to global warming, but we don’t know for sure (egads!) because those eeeevil Republicans (double egads!) won’t vote to go even further into debt to fund more research.  Yes, if only we could divert more of our children’s future earnings to studying this issue, we could … uh …

… ya see, we’d be able to … uh …

… stop the violent weather? No …

… but we could … uh …

… aah, I’ve got it!  We could put even more climate researchers in a position where their livelihoods depend on global-warming hysteria and thus further our political agenda!

Now why on earth won’t those stupid Republicans get on board?

In fact, just before Christmas, THE WASHINGTON POST carried a piece about some coastal city in Virginia where flooding has become increasingly serious.  But when the city attempted to hold hearings, on what to do about the problem, a bunch of Tea Party militants showed up to heckle and make sure than no constructive discussion could possibly take place.  And when asked why they were so obnoxious, the Tea Partiers explained that the hearing lent credence to Global Warming theories which they obviously disdained.  Sorry I didn’t send the article to you.  Because you should know the intellectual company you place yourself amongst.

Since you didn’t link to the article, I have no idea what solutions the city council was proposing.  I’m not a member of the Tea Party, but of course all large movements include some obnoxious people.  If you’re making a weak attempt at guilt by association because I share the Tea Party view that we need to reduce the size of government, well heck, two can play at that game.

Paul, the Nazi political platform called for universal health care, free education, a guaranteed livelihood for all, sharing the profits of rich corporations with the German people, and expanded government pensions for the elderly.  I mention this because you should know the intellectual company you place yourself amongst.

Tom

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Comments 15 Comments »

Paul toned down the name-calling for this round … not that it made his arguments any more compelling.

Round 14(a) – Paul

Tom –

With regards to the hyperinflation you expect to come.  Paul Krugman wrote a column today which addressed exactly that.  And though I suspect you don’t like Krugman, you might be interested.  It’s as though he read your paragraphs to me and responded directly.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/16/opinion/gop-monetary-madness.html?emc=eta1

Paul

 

Round 14(a) – Tom

Paul –

Thank you for the Krugman column.  I don’t usually get to enjoy a good laugh first thing the morning.  When a “progressive” columnist declares that Austrian economics has been proved wrong, that’s just freakin’ hilarious, considering that “progressive” theories of economics have failed so miserably, in so many eras, in so many places, it’s a wonder Paul Krugman hasn’t developed a lucrative career as a standup comedian — his entire act consisting of standing on stage and citing “progressive” economic theories.

According to “progressive” economic theories, for example, we can never have high inflation and high unemployment at the same time.  The godfather of “progressive” economics, John Maynard Keynes, assured us that was the case.  Then in the 1970s, economists had to coin the term “stagflation” when this supposedly impossible combination afflicted the economy for several years.

Peter Schiff, who Krugman derides in his opinion piece, was one of the only economics pundits to warn of the coming housing meltdown years before it happened — and he made this prediction based on Austrian economic theories.  Nearly all the traditional economics (including Krugman, who doesn’t have the intellectual honesty to admit how wrong he was) were busy insisting the housing market fundamentals were strong right up until they weren’t.

As to the specific (and only) point Krugman attempts to make here — Austrian economics must be wrong because we’re not seeing the inflation the Austrians predicted — he’s quoting the government’s official inflation rate.  Now, this may shock a government-does-no-wrong “progressive” such as yourself, but the official inflation rate is intentionally under-calculated by a wide margin to avoid triggering Social-Security raises that would bankrupt that system almost immediately instead of later.  The government does this by NOT COUNTING FOOD AND ENERGY COSTS and factoring health-care costs at a fraction of their actual costs.  You know …  because nobody ever has to buy food, heat a home, fill up their vehicle’s gas tank, pay for medical care, etc.

http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=59409

http://www.chrismartenson.com/blog/inflation-so-much-worse-were-told/51631

The real inflation rate if those necessities were counted would be about 7 points higher — in other words, high inflation.  This is in spite of the fact that the government has factored in the depressed price of homes (thanks to the Fed-induced housing meltdown) for the sake of reporting a lower inflation rate.  (These statistical manipulations have been enthusiastically endorsed by leaders of both parties, by the way, depending on which party controlled the White House.)

So we’ve got a guy who’s been wrong over and over (Krugman) citing one government-manipulated statistic (which he surely knows is manipulated) as “proof” that Austrian economic theories don’t work.

Again, thanks for the chuckle.

Tom

 

Round 14(b) – Paul

Tom –

Glad you enjoyed the laugh.  Quite comically Krugman teaches at Princeton University.

I clicked on the links you offered here.  The first one pictured an American flag draped gloriously in the upper left corner.  Which told me instantly I was at a right-wing site.  Though in case I wasn’t sure, they had this little masthead vowing to serve “free people”.  In the top margin they had an ad featuring some loser mother with a not-so-cute child bearing the caption “sexual indoctrination”.  Oh boy, abstinence-only education!

When I clicked on the second link, I was greeted by ads for “crash courses”.  It seems that Mr Martesen’s day job is hawking these courses to regulars at the site.  Have you taken his classes, Tom? Is this where your ideas come from? Hilariously Paul Krugman never tries to sell me his Princeton class.  Because he knows I couldn’t get in.

I wonder if you can rebut Paul Krugman without linking to sites with flags in the corner?

It seems “Revolting Nerds” was an apt title for my email.

Paul

 

Round 14(b) – Tom

Greetings, Paul –

Glad you enjoyed the laugh.  Quite comically Krugman teaches at Princeton University.

Milton Friedman taught at the University of Chicago.  I take it you accept this impressive credential as proof that his economic theories are correct?

I was laughing because, in his lame attempt to justify Obama administration policy, Krugman attempted to deny one of the fundamental laws of economics, observed countless times throughout history: creating new money out of thin air devalues the existing currency and causes inflation.  The reason for this is simple: Money is not wealth.  Money is merely the representation of wealth, a medium for exchanging wealth.  Wealth is goods and services.  When governments create more money out of thin air so they can spend more, we now have more currency representing the same amount of wealth as existed before the new currency was created.  The result is a rise in prices — inflation.  It’s happened over and over and over throughout history, all the way back to the Roman emperors, who created more money by reducing the percentage of gold in the coins, triggering high inflation.  Governments inflating the currency supply is the reason that at certain times and places in history, people took entire bags of money to the market to buy a day’s worth of groceries.  I’m sure you’ve heard of those times.

So for Krugman to deny that the Fed’s recent expansions of the money supply — sorry, “qualitative easements” — aren’t causing inflation is laughable indeed, no matter he teaches.  (I feel sorry for his students, however.)

I clicked on the links you offered here.  The first one pictured an American flag draped gloriously in the upper left corner.  Which told me instantly I was at a right-wing site.  Though in case I wasn’t sure, they had this little masthead vowing to serve “free people”.  In the top margin they had an ad featuring some loser mother with a not-so-cute child bearing the caption “sexual indoctrination”.  Oh boy, abstinence-only education!

When I clicked on the second link, I was greeted by ads for “crash courses”.  It seems that Mr Martesen’s day job is hawking these courses to regulars at the site.  Have you taken his classes, Tom? Is this where your ideas come from? Hilariously Paul Krugman never tries to sell me his Princeton class.  Because he knows I couldn’t get in.  I wonder if you can rebut Paul Krugman without linking to sites with flags in the corner?

Paul, are you suggesting that because these sites are run by conservatives, this somehow proves the federal government DOESN’T exclude energy, food and some of the cost of health care from the inflation index? You’re back to your weak ad-hominem attacks …  we don’t have to listen to so-and-so because he’s a scaliwag.  What the government does and doesn’t count in the inflation index is a matter of public record.

But to satisfy your request, I didn’t see any flags on CNBC or these other sites:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/42551209/Inflation_Actually_Near_10_Using_Older_Measure

http://www.moneynews.com/StreetTalk/McClellan-housing-inflation/2011/09/04/i d/409741

http://seekingalpha.com/article/226186-cpi-not-a-true-index-of-inflation

http://allfinancialmatters.com/2010/09/20/whats-the-real-inflation-rate/

It seems “Revolting Nerds” was an apt title for my email.

Only if you believe Paul Krugman’s theory that the U.S. has (for the first time in recorded history) discovered a way to create new money out of thin air without reducing the buying power of the existing currency.

Tom

 

Round 14(c) – Paul

Tom –

With regards to sources try:  FORBES, FORTUNE, THE ECONOMIST or even THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.  Despite Murdoch’s ownership, the latter still has a fig leaf of integrity.  More so than those websites with flags in the corner.

And whatever you think of Paul Krugman, he still has credentials.  With obscure websites I don’t know who  the writers are.  They could be, quite possibly, the stupidest of asses.  And I don’t have time to investigate  the career of Mr Mortensen.

Paul

 

Round 14(c) – Tom

Paul, let’s think about this:

You sent me an opinion piece by a well-known leftist columnist and economist.  Did ya notice what I didn’t do? I didn’t try to dismiss it with an ad-hominem attack along the lines of “when you send me something that isn’t from a known socialist, maybe you’ll have a point.” I read the piece and replied with facts.

And yet when I sent you explanations of what’s excluded from the official inflation rate, you saw an American flag, decided (probably correctly) that the writers were conservatives, and replied by saying, in effect, that since the writers are conservatives this automatically excuses you from considering the facts they presented.

Paul’s leftist writers:  solid, objective sources.   Tom’s conservative writers:  we can ignore them because they’re conservatives.

You then cited four publications that will meet with your approval.  Do I get to approve your list of sources? Or can we perhaps agree that facts that are a matter of public record will be treated as facts?

You’re actually giving me more insight as to why you pine for the good old days before FOX News came along and ruined the liberal paradise with its “divisive culture wars.” I see the game now:

1.  Liberal news media conveniently ignore facts not beneficial to the Obama administration — such as the real inflation rate.
2.  Conservative media print those facts.
3.  Liberals attempt to dismiss those facts because …  well, ya see, the story only appears in conservative media, so it must not be true.

Damn, I don’t know why we didn’t think of that one.

So you consider CNBC an obscure source, do you? You know they’re owned by NBC, right?

Tom

 

Round 14(c-1) – Tom

Paul –

Hey, lookie what I found …  from the publications you deemed credible.

From Forbes:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/heatherstruck/2011/04/13/retail-sales-rose-in-march-as-inflation-fears-emerge-for-food-gas-prices/

Retail numbers from the Commerce Department Wednesday show that consumers have found more spending momentum to meet rising commodity and materials costs that are already being passed directly to consumers, with food prices, apparel, and most noticeably gasoline prices all rising in the first quarter of 2011.

Grocery prices increased 6.5% in March from early January, an annualized increase of 26%, according to a report from Consumer Growth Partners.  The group called the rise the “sharpest in a generation.” The overall basket of household staples was held to a lower 2.4% increase due to flat or slightly declining prices in health and beauty care and other non-edible household items, however.

A 25% increase in gasoline prices this year combines with higher food costs to take $18 billion out of monthly household spending on discretionary items, Consumer Growth said in its report, which compiles data from Target, Walmart and Aldi stores in four U.S. states.

Groceries up 26%, gas up 25% in annual terms — two of the items the government doesn’t count in the inflation index.  But it’s okay, ya know, because nobody actually buys groceries or gas.  So we don’t actually have high inflation going on, because Paul Krugman says so, and he (hold your breath in awe) teaches at Princeton.

From Forbes, reprinted on MSNBC:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44990722/ns/business-forbes_com/t/inflation-may- translate-lower-tax-bills/

If you think that the cost of living is increasing, it’s not your imagination.  Everything is getting more expensive from gas to milk to peanut butter.

Well, that’s not real inflation, since the feds don’t count energy and food …  apparently because those aren’t real expenses for anybody.  Paul Krugman, who can’t be wrong because he teaches at Princeton, has told us so.

From the Wall Street Journal:

http://tinyurl.com/7nsu9tu

Over the past 30 years, the federal government has made a lot of changes to the way it calculates inflation.  It’s taken place under presidents of both parties.  Each change in methodology has come with plausible-sounding justifications.  But, as if by magic, each change has had the effect of flattering the numbers.  Funny, that.

We are flooding the world with extra dollars.  The Fed simply invents as many as it likes.  In the past couple of years, to try to keep the economy out of a tailspin, it has more than doubled the size of the so-called monetary base.

A dollar bill has no intrinsic value.  Dollars are only “worth” something because you can exchange them for a haircut, or a pair of shoes, or a book from Amazon.com.  So if you drastically increase the number of dollars without a commensurate increase in the number of goods and services, each dollar must, by definition, be worth less.  That’s another way of describing inflation.

Yes, that explanation makes perfect sense and the effect described has been observed over and over and over throughout history …  but Paul Krugman apparently has inside information that the Obama administration has figured out a brand-new way to create new money out of thin air without devaluing the existing dollars.  And Krugman can’t possibly be mistaken because he teaches at Princeton.  (I mean, it’s not like he’s a known shill for leftist economic policies or anything.)

Tom

 

Round 14(d) – Paul

Well there you go, Tom.  You found pieces to support your argument in BRAND NAME SOURCES that are acceptable to both liberals and conservatives.  And since you seem so interested in economics, I would think you’d be reading FORBES and WSJ on a regular basis.  You don’t need those websites with flags in the corners.  In fact, you’re probably brighter than the people behind those sites.

I did notice, however, that the article from Forbes was from January (almost a year ago) And the WSJ story was from March.  Since then the price of gas has come down (since Qhadafi’s death, in fact).  So I’m not sure if inflation is the monstrous threat you claim.

One has to keep in mind that the economy we’re in right now is hardly normal by any means.  Not long ago ‘deflation’ was  actually a more serious threat.  As it was during the Great Depression.

Would you advise The Fed to crank up interest rates? Such a move would, no doubt, kill off any recovery.

And yes, the Dollar has lost some value.  Which has made our products cheaper abroad.  Boosting exports and lifting  our manufacturing sector.  Check more recent stats for that.  In fact, just last Friday the L A TIMES carried a piece  about the surge in exports at L A harbor.  So I regard that as positive news.

But if inflation takes off like a rocket, feel free to get back to me with obligatory “told you so’s”.  Then I’ll know Paul Krugman really is a fake.

And by the way, I watched Milton Friedman in FREE TO CHOOSE when it aired on PBS in ’79.  So the arguments you’re presenting are not just whizzing past me.

Paul

 

Round 14(d) – Tom

Greetings, Paul –

Well there you go, Tom.  You found pieces to support your argument in BRAND NAME SOURCES that are acceptable to both liberals and conservatives.

I believe you’re missing the point on purpose.  You sent me an opinion piece by a known leftist, I sent articles listing facts about how inflation is calculated, and you felt justified in dismissing them simply because the authors were conservatives.  I didn’t dismiss Krugman simply because he’s a leftist.  I pointed out the fact (yes, it’s a fact) that he was basing his “low-inflation” claim on the government’s official index which, as I confirmed with several sources, excludes necessities that are both undergoing a cycle of inflation and make up a decent chunk of the average family budget.

And since you seem so interested in economics, I would think you’d be reading FORBES and WSJ on a regular basis.  You don’t need those websites with flags in the corners.  In fact, you’re probably brighter than the people behind those sites.

Not really interested in the day-to-day reporting on business.  I prefer books on economic theory and history.

I did notice, however, that the article from Forbes was from January (almost a year ago) And the WSJ story was from March.  Since then the price of gas has come down (since Qhadafi’s death, in fact).  So I’m not sure if inflation is the monstrous threat you claim.

Gas may have come down a bit, but we’re still in a period of high inflation, and Krugman is still basing his claim on an index that excludes food and energy — my original point.  Since the Fed is continuing to print money and printing money generates inflation, it’s highly unlikely inflation is going down overall.  If they’re printing money like mad and inflation is truly dropping, it would be the first time in history.

One has to keep in mind that the economy we’re in right now is hardly normal by any means.

Of course it isn’t.  The Fed @#$%ed it up royally, and then Congress made it worse with trillion-dollar stimulus and bailout programs.

Not long ago ‘deflation’ was actually a more serious threat.  As it was during the Great Depression.

Deflation as a “threat” is hogwash.  It’s the straw man the Fed uses as an excuse to create new money out of thin air.  Seriously, if prices dropped, would you feel your economic health was threatened? When I can buy a PC for $400 that’s multiple times more powerful than the $2500 computer I bought ten years ago, does that mean the computer industry is about to fail? Without government meddling, a slight deflation is both natural and beneficial to people who save money — their money is worth more later.

The only reason “deflation” was such a problem in the Depression is that FDR refused to let prices and wages fall to their natural levels, which kept unemployment high.  (Two UCLA professors recently released a paper in which they concluded that FDR’s insistence on mandatory high prices and wages extended the Depression by seven years.  I assume you’ll ignore their economic arguments and dismiss them as Holocaust deniers.)

Harding allowed deflation to take place, which is part of why the deep recession of 1921 – which was worse than the first year of the Depression — was over in 18 months.

Would you advise The Fed to crank up interest rates? Such a move would, no doubt, kill off any recovery.

The more you blow up the balloon, the bigger the pop is going to be.  Creating magic money out of thin air creates a temporary illusion of prosperity, which always ends with a bust.  The Fed has been trying to forestall the bust with lower and lower rates for years, having now reached virtually zero, and yet they’re still attempting to go below zero.  The end of this nonsense is coming, and it isn’t going to be pretty.  A far better solution would be to gradually raise rates.  The best solution would be to abolish the Fed and turn to the days when companies financed their expansions with cash and banks could only lend out capital someone had actually saved.

And yes, the Dollar has lost some value.  Which has made our products cheaper abroad.  Boosting exports and lifting our manufacturing sector.  Check more recent stats for that.  In fact, just last Friday the LA TIMES carried a piece about the surge in exports at L A harbor.  So I regard that as positive news.

Do you regard it as positive news when people who are barely keeping up with their bills end up paying more for almost everything? Do you regard it as a positive when people watch their savings dwindle in value? Do you regard it as a positive when new magic money is deposited in banks owned by the super-wealthy, who then lend it out and make millions in profits for doing the paperwork, while the rest of us end up seeing our dollars decline in value?

We’re not talking about the dollar relative to other currencies.  We’re talking about the money people save being worth less over time.  That’s not a positive.

But if inflation takes off like a rocket, feel free to get back to me with obligatory “told you so’s”.  Then I’ll know Paul Krugman really is a fake.

Frankly, I’m far more concerned we’ll see another Depression in our lifetimes.  I may still get back to you with an I-told-ya-so, but I won’t enjoy it much.

And by the way, I watched Milton Friedman in FREE TO CHOOSE when it aired on PBS in ’79.  So the arguments you’re presenting are not just whizzing past me.

May I suggest reading the book for a refresher?

Tom

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Comments 12 Comments »

Paul out-did himself this time.  In our last round, I pointed out that it’s primarily the high-tax “progressive” states that are going broke.  In his round, he offers what has to be the most creative explanation ever for that inconvenient fact.

 

Round 13 – Paul

Tom –

During the post-war era, READERS DIGEST and TV GUIDE were on every toilet and coffee table with not just fluffy articles.

To the contrary, all those “New Soviet Threat” pieces from “U S News & World Report” were reprinted in READERS DIGEST. Whose content was largely drawn from well-known publications. Staunchly anti-Communist and staunchly anti-drugs, it was Number 1 in subscriptions every Cold War year.

During that same time TV GUIDE was Number 1 at check-out counters. And every issue contained journalistic pieces. Dealing with television coverage of major news events. Which were easier to track in the big 3 network era. TV Guide was our guide to political conventions. What’s more, prime time specials concerning current events were usually high- lighted in sidebars and, or, accompanying articles.

As I originally mentioned, READERS DIGEST and TV GUIDE, the two most widely read periodicals, were owned by fine Republicans. The problem is these facts don’t support your narrative. Claiming that conservatives were shunned by the liberal media.

Moving on to Murdoch, you compare him strangely to George Soros. The former is a press baron; the latter runs a hedge fund. However wealthy he might be, Soros owns no TV network. So the mention of his name is essentially disingenuous.

Like your disingenuous lists implying Red States are more solvent. I added populations to illuminate.

Tennessee  6. 4        Illinois      12. 8
Georgia     9. 7        New York    19. 4
Texas     25. 1        Connecticut   3. 6
Arkansas    2. 9        California    37. 2
Nebraska    1. 8        New Jersey   8. 8

TOTALS   45. 9                          81. 8

In other words those Blue States have almost twice as many people!  Which means they need huge budgets for basic infrastructure.

Our three biggest metropolitan areas make the Blue State list; New York, L A, and Chicago. All have major transit systems, bridge networks and tunnels (New York in particular). San Francisco is also here. Another top 10 metro area with major bridge and transit networks.

Notice too, Connecticut and New Jersey make the Blue State list. Both are densely populated and part of New York’s metro area. New Jersey also includes suburbs of Philadelphia. What’s more, four of the Blue States listed here are prone to heavy snowfall. While only Nebraska, of the Red States, gets major accumulation.

Obviously less urban states are easier to manage. And while Texas and Georgia have 3 major metro areas (Houston, Dallas, Atlanta) none has density rates even remotely comparable to your Blue State list. And none gets heavy snow- fall or single digit temperatures. Heating public buildings costs a lot, you know.

With regards to your county, I’m not shocked that it’s affluent. You can find affluent counties in every state. But in terms of population, Nashville is strictly second tier. Therefore it’s outer suburbs are going to be conservative. Certainly more so than Connecticut or New Jersey.

Now let’s move on to explore your hope for America: a Libertarian Revolution!  Or a “Revolt of the Nerds” as my subject line implies.

Tom, only a nerd could think that crashing the federal government is actually a good idea. Yet I now have you on record as advocating that!

Personally, I hope the federal government becomes so “dysfunctional” that it collapses and is replaced by the kind of government the Founders intended.

In other words you think the world is going to just stand still while the U S Government declares bankruptcy and dismantles itself?  Like none of our enemies would take advantage while we try to sort things out?  Like all our institutions would remain intact while the government fizzles out?

Tom, if our government crashes, the dollar crashes as well. The financial markets crash!  Wiping out every 401-K. Collapse means ‘collapse’. Like the fall of Rome. You don’t come back from that. You break apart instead.

Even if we could achieve an orderly transition, to a Calvin Coolidge size government, how effective would it be?  Can you name ‘one’ superpower in history that had a pint-size government?   Is there one such power in the world today?  Nooo!!!  The belief that we could achieve that is retarded intellectually

Yet a Libertarian Revolution captures the imagination of nerds. Who romantically envision a Communist revolution in reverse. Instead of nationalizing businesses, everything gets privatized. Outsourcing the government to private contractors. Whose employees will only be temps with no benefits or pensions. And ‘no’, they won’t give a shit. . about anyone or anything.

Which raises an obvious question. Would the Pentagon be down-sized to its Coolidge strength?  Or would it remain as is; completely out of proportion to the rest of government?  With a thousand Colonels for every civilian bureaucrat?

And finally, the outsourcing of government would just create webs of cronyism. With contractors racing to buy up Congress and The Courts. Only the stupidest of asses would expect a different outcome.

So “revolt of the nerds” is an apt description. Which makes me think of Scientology. Their beliefs only make sense within the bubble of other nerds. Only a nerd could think Grover Norquist is cool. To anyone else he’s just a sexually ambiguous troll.

And like Scientologists, Libertarians enjoy the fact that their movement is hard to spell. That way they can baffle people by identifying with something that sounds so alien. Because that’s how nerds amuse themselves. It’s only cool to them.

Paul

 

Round 13 – Tom

Greetings, Paul –

Tom, only a nerd could think that crashing the federal government is actually a good idea.

Yet a Libertarian Revolution captures the imagination of nerds.

The belief that we could achieve that is retarded intellectually.

Only the stupidest of asses would expect a different outcome.

And like Scientologists, Libertarians enjoy the fact that their movement is hard to spell.

Paul, considering that I just remarked in our last exchange that liberals tend to become apoplectic when their viewpoint is challenged, I don’t think it’s a smart strategy on your part to provide examples.

During the post-war era, READERS DIGEST and TV GUIDE were on every toilet and coffee table with not just fluffy articles. To the contrary, all those “New Soviet Threat” pieces from “U S News & World Report” were reprinted in READERS DIGEST. Whose content was largely drawn from well-known publications. Staunchly anti-Communist and staunchly anti-drugs, it was Number 1 in subscriptions every Cold War year.

As I originally mentioned, READERS DIGEST and TV GUIDE, the two most widely read periodicals, were owned by fine Republicans. The problem is these facts don’t support your narrative. Claiming that conservatives were shunned by the liberal media.

So once again, you’re relying on ancient history:  two publications (neither politically influential) with large circulations after World War II were founded by Republicans.  So what?   That has nothing to do with the left-leaning slant of most major media outlets in recent times. Ancient history does not negate the fact that 90% of political contributions by today’s journalists go to Democrats. It doesn’t negate the fact that self-identified liberals outnumber self-identified conservatives in the nation’s newsrooms by better than 10 to 1. It doesn’t negate the fact that prominent people inside network news operations (including self-identified liberals) have stated that journalism in the modern era attracts a disproportionate number of liberals. The national news organizations are overwhelmingly populated by liberals, Paul. If people inside those organizations are willing to admit it, I can’t for the life of me figure out why you aren’t.

Moving on to Murdoch, you compare him strangely to George Soros. The former is a press baron; the latter runs a hedge fund. However wealthy he might be, Soros owns no TV network. So the mention of his name is essentially disingenuous.

It’s an apt comparison. You keep bringing up Murdoch as if the crappy behavior of his newspaper reporters in England somehow reflects on the journalists at FOX News – none of whom has been accused of any similar behavior. Soros is a convicted criminal who funds and therefore controls dozens of left-wing organizations. If the behavior of Murdoch’s newspaper employees in England somehow reflects on FOX News, then Soros’ control of MoveOn.org reflects equally on that organization and every other left-wing organization that wouldn’t exist without his funding.

Soros also funds the Occupy Wall Street dimwits, who recently proved the depth of their ignorance by protesting in front of Rupert Murdoch’s home – a guy who has nothing to do with Wall Street – while bypassing Soros’ home – a guy who became rich through insider trading and currency manipulation on Wall Street.

Like your disingenuous lists implying Red States are more solvent. I added populations to illuminate.

Tennessee  6. 4        Illinois      12. 8
Georgia     9. 7        New York    19. 4
Texas     25. 1        Connecticut   3. 6
Arkansas    2. 9        California    37. 2
Nebraska    1. 8        New Jersey   8. 8

TOTALS   45. 9                     81. 8

In other words those Blue States have almost twice as many people!  Which means they need huge budgets for basic infrastructure.

Let’s start with the mathematically obvious: The amount of infrastructure required in a state is a direct function of the population. States that require a HUGE infrastructure because they have a HUGE population have a proportionally HUGE number of taxpayers to fund that HUGE infrastructure.

You’ve also conveniently ignored the fact that Texas has more people than all of the debt-ridden “progressive” states except for California, Tennessee has more people than Connecticut, and Georgia has more people than Connecticut and New Jersey. Population doesn’t explain why the “progressive” states are bankrupt.

Our three biggest metropolitan areas make the Blue State list; New York, L A, and Chicago. All have major transit systems, bridge networks and tunnels (New York in particular). San Francisco is also here. Another top 10 metro area with major bridge and transit networks.

I did a bit of research via Google and found that those bridges and tunnels were often built by, and are still largely subsidized by, the federal government. Many also charge tolls that provide revenue to their states. So I don’t think bridges and tunnels explain why the big-government “progressive” states are bankrupt.

Notice too, Connecticut and New Jersey make the Blue State list. Both are densely populated and part of New York’s metro area. New Jersey also includes suburbs of Philadelphia. What’s more, four of the Blue States listed here are prone to heavy snowfall. While only Nebraska, of the Red States, gets major accumulation.

Obviously less urban states are easier to manage. And while Texas and Georgia have 3 major metro areas (Houston,Dallas, Atlanta) none has density rates even remotely comparable to your Blue State list. And none gets heavy snow-fall or single digit temperatures. Heating public buildings costs a lot, you know.

Paul, you need to get on the phone with leaders from those “progressive” bankrupt states and share this insight with them immediately. Then they can call press conferences and explain to the media, “Ladies and gentlemen, conservatives have blamed the growth of government for the current debt crisis in our fine state. But the fact is, unlike during the many preceding decades when the state budget was balanced, we now get snow in the winter and have to heat government buildings. Also, we now spend money to maintain bridges and tunnels, both of which are recent developments.”

Be sure, however, to advise the politicians in California (one the most debt-ridden states in the country) to avoid mentioning snow as a cause of their budget woes. I don’t anyone besides pot-heads and half the actors in Hollywood would believe that one.

Another quick bit of Google research showed that the cost of removing snow falls largely on cities, not states. The city of Chicago, for example, budgeted $6 million last year – for the entire city. So I don’t think this new phenomenon of winter snow falling on northern states explains why Illinois is running an $8 billion deficit. I’d suggest the deficit has more to do with the fact that the cost of state-employee pensions in Illinois rose from $1.1 billion in 2000 to $4.6 billion this year.

I did find that the state of Illinois spent $52 million last year for salt and abrasives to keep state highways open after snowfalls, but again, that hardly explains an $8 billion deficit.

By the way, thanks to all the global warming, we had record snowfalls and record cold temperatures in Tennessee the previous two winters (much to the delight of my girls). As you can see from this article, the extra snowfall caused a spike in expenditures:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-02-04-southeastsnow04_ST_N.htm

Tennessee is already $10. 2 million over budget this year with statewide expenditures of nearly $25 million. The state had budgeted $14. 7 million, said B. J. Doughty with the Transportation Department. Last year it budgeted $12 million and spent $23. 4 million, she said.

Amazingly, the extra cost of removing snow and heating government buildings didn’t cause Tennessee to go billions into debt.

So after adding it all up, I’m going to stick with my original argument: the “progressive” states I listed are broke (beyond broke, actually) because they have too many government programs and too many government employees drawing higher pay and larger pensions than the people who are taxed to pay for them. Those states are broke because the Democrats running them wanted as many government dependents (otherwise known as “loyal Democrats”) as possible on the payroll.

Your state is a perfect example. During the time that Gray Davis was governor of California, revenues to the state treasury increased by 25%. But state spending increased by 40% — much of it due to an explosion in the number of state employees, pay raises, and pension increases. Gray Davis was attempting to buy himself a large and permanent voting block. It was never a revenue problem.

With regards to your county, I’m not shocked that it’s affluent. You can find affluent counties in every state.

But you should be shocked, Paul. You’ve been contending all along that the conservative agenda is the agenda of stupid hicks. When one of the most conservative counties in the South turns out to be populated by people who are far more affluent and educated on average than the enlightened population in “progressive” Boston, I’d expect you to be very shocked … because that kind of negates your “stupid hick” theory, doesn’t it?

But in terms of population, Nashville is strictly second tier. Therefore it’s outer suburbs are going to be conservative. Certainly more so than Connecticut or New Jersey.

I’ve read that sentence several times in a failed attempt to discern the logic. Are you suggesting that suburbs of cities that are “second tier” in population are automatically conservative?   Let’s test that theory with some population figures:

Houston: 2,099,451
Dallas: 1,197,816
Indianapolis: 820,445
San Francisco: 805,235

Interesting. According to your theory, the suburbs of second-tier San Francisco must be more conservative than the suburbs of Houston, Dallas, and Indianapolis. I’d check voting records to see if that’s true, but I think we both know the answer.

Nashville (2nd largest city in Tennessee): 601,222
Boston (largest in Massachusetts): 589,141
Bridgeport (largest in Connecticut): 144,229

So the suburbs of Boston and Bridgeport, both more second-tier in terms of population than Nashville, must (according to the Paul theory) be more conservative than Nashville. Again, I think we can forgo checking the voting records.

Now let’s move on to explore your hope for America: a Libertarian Revolution!  Or a “Revolt of the Nerds” as my subject line implies. Tom, only a nerd could think that crashing the federal government is actually a good idea. Yet I now have you on record as advocating that!

Well, let’s see … I’ve stated many times on my blogs that I’m a libertarian, and anyone familiar with the term knows libertarians believe most of what the federal government does these days is unconstitutional. I don’t think anyone checking your copy of my permanent record will be shocked.

“Personally, I hope the federal government becomes so “dysfunctional” that it collapses and is replaced by the kind of government the Founders intended. ”

In other words you think the world is going to just stand still while the U S Government declares bankruptcy and dismantles itself?

Thanks to all the debt we’re piling up, the U. S. government will eventually either declare bankruptcy or hyperinflate the currency and cause another Depression. It’s only a question of when. The threat to our security is national debt, not a small government. The Chinese — hardly our allies — could crash the government almost at will simply by refusing to finance any more of our debt. Great Society spending put us in that precarious position.

Like none of our enemies would take advantage while we try to sort things out?  Like all our institutions would remain intact while the government fizzles out?

Are you expecting North Korea or Iran to invade if the Department of Education is dissolved?  Or did you miss the part about “is replaced by the kind of government the Founders intended”?  They intended for us to have a military.

Tom, if our government crashes, the dollar crashes as well. The financial markets crash!

If (more like when) the economy crashes and dollar crashes with it, it will be because our big-spending government dragged us into a debt crisis. The debt crisis in Europe in the reason the Euro is most likely doomed. Please note, however, that just because the Euro is doomed, it doesn’t mean all the countries in the European Union are doomed. Germany will likely return to deutschmarks and be fine. Germany, unlike Greece, Ireland, Iceland and Italy, didn’t spend itself into a hole. Its only mistake was linking its financial system with other governments that borrowed and spent too much money.

The dollar lost 90% of its value in the big-government era, with good reason: when the Federal Reserve creates new magic money out of thin air to fund government deficit spending, all the existing dollars lose value.

Wiping out every 401-K.

My retirement fund is in stocks and mutual funds, which means I own itty-bitty pieces of many corporations. If the government shrinks, I’ll still own those itty-bitty pieces. Our economy isn’t strong because of our bloated federal government. Government is an economic parasite. Government doesn’t produce wealth; it consumes wealth others have produced (including wealth yet to be produced, thanks to deficit spending.)

Government-induced inflation is the reason most people will retire poor if they don’t manage to invest successfully during their working years. Without the government-induced inflation, you could save for retirement by simply putting a portion of your income in an interest-bearing savings account, and the dollars would be worth more when you retired than when you deposited them. But since government-induced inflation devalues dollars, simply putting your money in a bank means watching the purchasing power of your savings decline over time. Imagine how much less stressful planning for retirement would be if you didn’t have to hope and pray you’ve bet on the right stocks and mutual funds just to stay ahead of inflation.

Collapse means ‘collapse’. Like the fall of Rome. You don’t come back from that. You break apart instead.

I’d suggest you read up on how government over-spending financed by devaluing the currency contributed to the Fall of Rome. We are now following the same path.

Even if we could achieve an orderly transition, to a Calvin Coolidge size government, how effective would it be?  Can you name ‘one’ superpower in history that had a pint-size government?   Is there one such power in the world today?  Nooo!!!  The belief that we could achieve that is retarded intellectually.

You’ve already tried ringing that bell. The U. S. is a superpower because of our military, which in no way requires a New Deal or Great Society bloated government. We fought the Civil War and World War One with nothing of the sort in place. When the American military shows up, enemy soldiers don’t cringe and yell, “Run!  Those people have a huge Department of Education back home with lots of overpaid employees!”

Yet a Libertarian Revolution captures the imagination of nerds. Who romantically envision a Communist revolution in reverse. Instead of nationalizing businesses, everything gets privatized. Outsourcing the government to private contractors.

No, not everything would be privatized. Much of it would simply be eliminated.

Nice touch, attempting to equate libertarians with communists. The communists took over by force and established a government that controlled everybody. Libertarians want to take over via persuasion and establish a government that protects freedom and otherwise leaves people alone, as the Founders intended.

Whose employees will only be temps with no benefits or pensions. And ‘no’, they won’t give a shit. . about anyone or anything.

If you want to see employees who don’t give a $#@%, visit your local DMV or other government office. Knowing you can’t be fired without shooting a co-worker does not inspire high performance.

You apparently buy into the leftist nonsense that nobody in private industry is offered a pension or benefits anymore. I’ve been offered full-time jobs with a pension and benefits several times over the years, most recently at BMI.  I turned them down. I’d rather earn contractor rates and provide my own pension and benefits. I guess that makes me a temp.

Which raises an obvious question. Would the Pentagon be down-sized to its Coolidge strength?  Or would it remain as is; completely out of proportion to the rest of government?

Read these paragraphs and see if you can spot the logical inconsistency:

Can you name ‘one’ superpower in history that had a pint-size government?  Is there one such power in the world today?

Would the Pentagon be down-sized to its Coolidge strength?  Or would it remain as is; completely out of proportion to the rest of government?

Paul, make up your mind. Are you afraid we’ll shrink the military and lose our superpower status, or do you support shrinking the military?  To answer your question, yes, the Pentagon should be downsized as well. The military’s job should be to protect the United States, not intervene around the world.

But as for the military being “completely out of proportion to the rest of the government” … compared to when?  When JFK was president, more than half of all federal spending was on the military. Today it’s 20%. Or if we look at military spending as a percent of GDP:

1944: 42%
1960: 10%
1980: 6%
2011: 5%

I don’t believe we need bases all over the world, but to claim that today’s military is “completely out of proportion to the rest of government” requires willful ignorance. Historically, military spending averaged near 50% of the federal budget, spiking to nearly 80% during major wars.

With a thousand Colonels for every civilian bureaucrat?

Number of federal civilian employees: 1. 35 million
Number of Colonels in the entire U. S. Military: 12,200

You’ve already said you don’t enjoy math, so I’ll save you the trouble: that’s 111 federal civilian employees for every Colonel.

And finally, the outsourcing of government would just create webs of cronyism. With contractors racing to buy up Congress and The Courts. Only the stupidest of asses would expect a different outcome.

To the contrary, anyone with even a basic understanding of economic incentives would recognize that being empowered by government to spend other people’s money is the cause of cronyism. When people spend their own money, they’re much more careful … and if they aren’t, they suffer the consequences instead of the taxpayers.

Let’s revisit a recent example:  Suppose I work for the federal government and a big contributor wants to sell me a half-billion dollars’ worth of a drug no one is sure anyone needs. Hey, no problem … it’ll make my party bosses happy, and it’s the taxpayers’ money anyway.

Now suppose I run a for-profit business and the same contributor wants to sell me the same drug. If I buy the drug, I’ve just reduced my profit by a half-billion dollars while providing no known benefit to my customers. Therefore I tell the drug-seller to take a hike – unless I get to bill the government directly for the drug, in which case we’re back at the same root cause for this lousy decision: I get to spend other people’s money, a situation created by government coercion.

So “revolt of the nerds” is an apt description. Which makes me think of Scientology. Their beliefs only make sense within the bubble of other nerds.

Yup, that’s us … wonks, nerds, people who read books on economics before forming loud opinions on the subject, people who’ve read the Constitution and believe it means what it says, people who believe the country was founded on the principle of individual liberty, people capable of understanding enough financial math to see where on-going deficit spending eventually leads, people who remember that even John Maynard Keynes (the grand poobah of government “stimulus” programs) prescribed governments borrowing and spending money during a recession and then PAYING IT BACK when the recession was over, etc., etc.

We are indeed a strange bunch. Nerds, all of us. Let’s face it: the truly cool, sophisticated people in the country are those who complain that nobody can afford health insurance or a retirement program, then demand that other people fund their health insurance and retirement programs, and then (stunningly, amazingly) consider themselves competent to tell the people supporting them how to run their lives and their businesses.

Only a nerd could think Grover Norquist is cool. To anyone else he’s just a sexually ambiguous troll.

I didn’t say he was cool. I said I applaud him for resisting the “progressive” theory that our debt crisis is the result of government not confiscating enough wealth from the people who produce it.

And like Scientologists, Libertarians enjoy the fact that their movement is hard to spell. That way they can baffle people by identifying with something that sounds so alien. Because that’s how nerds amuse themselves. It’s only cool to them.

I’m sorry to hear you have a difficult time spelling libertarian. The possibility never occurred to me. If you’d like me to donate a copy of Hooked on Phonics to your personal library, let me know.

Tom

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My older brother Jerry (who recently became a libertarian-themed blogger) is the reason I became interested in economics.  He sparked that interest by kicking my @## in an impromptu debate on the topic  — I was a political “moderate” at the time –  which prompted me to pick myself up off of the floor and ask him for a reading list.  Decades later, I returned the favor by sparking his interest in low-carb/paleo nutrition.  We’re both better off for the exchange.

Fairly early into my self-directed education on economics, I spent six weeks in Canada on a comedy tour, where I met a Canadian comedian whose economic theories are even wackier than my leftist buddy Paul’s.  I sent Jerry a long letter describing the ensuing debate … which I completely forgot about until he sent me a copy of the letter some months ago.  At his suggestion, I’m posting it here.

—————————————————————————

Dear Bro–

I spent a week with a Canadian comic working around Edmonton and Saskatoon. He’s an ex-biker, ex-convict, about 6’5″, 260 lbs, full beard and hair down his back. As we were driving to Saskatoon, he pulled out a joint and said, “Hope you don’t mind. If I don’t smoke, I get belligerent and start telling people to f@#$ off.”

After his smoke, he started expounding on this and that. We ended up having a two-hour “discussion” of politics and economics. I don’t know of anyone outside of the Heartland Institute (or Friedman’s school) who would appreciate this guy’s theories more than you. So with a little cleanup, here’s what I recorded in my journal about my discussions with John Woodbury, biker comic and amateur economist:

I said something about Clinton’s tax increases, and when John responded with a harangue on how Reagan cut all those programs “the people” needed, I disagreed. And even as I was doing it, I was hearing the other comics in Calgary warning me about John Woodbury … “He’s an okay guy. Just don’t disagree with him.”  (Don’t feed him after midnight, and never, ever get him wet?)

We were off. He’s like half libertarian and half communist. “We’re all brothers, we all have to take care of each other.” I see, I said, and if someone tried to take your money by force to help someone else? “I’d kill the motherf@#$er. I’ll decide who I’m going to help and who I’m not.” Okay, no inconsistency there.

But he saved his biggest harangue for America. You see, it’s America that f@#$ed up Canada, not an overspending Canadian government. America talked Canada into the metric system then backed out, “and that cost us $50 billion, and we had to borrow the money from American banks, and they’re charging us 24 percent interest. That’s why Canada has high taxes.” And I’m thinking, haven’t these people ever heard of refinancing?

Americans talked Canada into producing wheat and producing cheese, then American farmers threatened to starve their own people if their government didn’t back out of the deal, so they did, and left Canada paying for the excess farm products.

I’m not sure what possessed me, but I did offer token resistance to that one. “Uh, you know, we already warehouse excess farm products our government ordered from our own farmers. You’re telling me they decided to go ahead and ask Canada for even more?” Yes, you see, but you’ll never read that in the American papers. You have to read Canadian papers to know this stuff.

And by the way, America gets all its water from Canada, and all its lumber, and it’s all subsidized by Canadian taxpayers, because the Canadian government does everything the American government wants them to otherwise, America would stop buying Canadian products altogether and stop the tourist trade Canadian cities depend on. By this point I’m thinking, Where was this guy when Oliver Stone needed him? Say, uh, John, wouldn’t you enjoy another joint about now?

We had some rather comical exchanges, such as …”Americans are the greediest people on the face of the Earth.”

“Then explain to me why 40 percent of all charity given in the world is given by Americans. Per capita, Americans give more to private charities than any other people on earth, including Canadians. ”

“Well … Americans only do it for the tax breaks.”

“Riiiight. I give away $100, I save maybe $15 on my taxes. There’s a good deal for you.”

And…

“And after talking us into the metric system and then backing out, the rest of the world went metric anyway, so now who looks stupid?”

“You’re right, John. Every day I wake up embarrassed about the whole thing. By the way, if the rest of world went metric, and now we look stupid for keeping the imperial system, didn’t we do you a favor?”

No …”

“Why not?”

“Because since we’re on two different systems, it makes it harder for Canadians to trade with Americans. That was the plan from the beginning anyway.”

By the time we checked into the hotel, he was actually laughing at his own paranoia. The guy at the desk looked at my registration card and said, “Oh, you’re from America!”

“That’s right,” I said. “And by the time I leave, you’ll probably have to raise your taxes.”

John broke out laughing and said, “Damned right. We’ve had entire towns fall apart behind us just because I drove this guy through ‘em.”

After our Saturday night shows, John and I stayed up and talked in his room until dawn. After a few hits of hashish, he decided he was ready to further my economic education. So without any prompting from me, he picked up nearly where we’d left off three days earlier. Thus I was treated to …

More Pearls of Wisdom From the John Woodbury School of Economics

(Socratic Method of teacher-student discussion and debate is employed.)

CHAPTER ONE: THE WEALTH OF NATIONS

Prof. Woodbury: Free trade was a stupid idea. Canada couldn’t possibly compete.

Student: Why not?

Prof. Woodbury: Because you have ten times the population we have, and you’ll just put us out of business.

Student: We have fives times the population of West Germany, and they’re competing rather well with us. Per capita, they’re the richest country in the world.

Prof. Woodbury: That’s because of Hitler. He just took all that wealth from other countries.

Student: John, at the end World War Two, Germany was the poorest industrial country in the free world. Hitler bankrupted the country fighting the war. They’re rich now because they’re productive.

Prof. Woodbury: The elite classes in Germany hid trillions of dollars’ worth of gold at the end of the war, and they’ve been bringing it out little by little ever since. That’s how they stayed rich.

Student: Japan has less than half the U.S. population, and they’ve been beating our pants off. They have almost no natural resources. It’s because they’re efficient and productive.

Prof. Woodbury: That’s because when they were starting to compete with you, they were paying their workers 10 cents an hour. They just killed you on labor costs.

Student: Japanese industrial workers make more per hour than U.S. workers.

Prof. Woodbury: Sure, now.

Student: Well, all those VCRs and Toyotas we buy from them, they’re making now. It’s not because of cheap labor, it’s because they’re efficient and they make products other people want to buy.

Prof. Woodbury: No, no, no. See, all those VCRs you buy now, they built the guts for those 15 years ago, when their workers were still making 10 cents an hour. They designed all the models for the next 20 years, and they put them in warehouses, and each year, they bring the next year’s model off the shelves and ship it over. They just make little cosmetic changes in the displays so you think it’s new. But it’s the same stuff inside. I’ve opened them up and looked. So they’re selling you VCRs they made 15years ago at 10 cents an hour.

Student: Okay, let me try this a different way. Iowa has one tenth the population of Illinois. We freely trade products back and forth, but Illinois companies don’t put Iowa companies out of business, because the individual companies in Iowa are as productive as those in Illinois.

Prof. Woodbury: It’s not the same thing.

Student: Why not?

Prof. Woodbury: Because you both get to use U.S. dollars. The Canadian dollar is actually only worth one-tenth the U.S. dollar.

Student: What?!?

Prof. Woodbury: Sure, because you have ten times the business we have, so your dollar has ten times as much wealth behind it.

Student: It’s not the population that determines the wealth of the dollar. It’s the value of the aggregate wealth in other words, the value of the all property owned and all the goods and services produced divided by the number of dollars the government puts into circulation. If 25 Canadians each produce a dollar’s worth of wealth, and Canada prints 25 dollars, each dollar is worth a dollar. If 250 Americans each produce a dollar’s worth of wealth, and our government prints 250 dollars, each dollar is worth a dollar. If your dollar is worth a little less, it’s because your government devalued the currency by printing too much money.

Prof. Woodbury: That’s not how it works. It’s like this. Your 250 Americans pool their money to buy apples. You get two apples per dollar, so you get 500 apples. We could only buy 50 apples because there’s only 25 of us. Now you’re 10 times richer because you have ten times as many apples. So your dollar is worth ten times as much. So every time we trade, Canada loses, because your money is worth ten times as much as far as what it actually buys.

Student: Then explain to my why all the banks, the governments, currency exchanges and everyone else agrees that the Canadian dollar is worth 83 cents American. If we’re ten times richer, how come your dollar trades for 83 percent of the value of our dollar?

Prof. Woodbury: (thoughtful pause) Because we work so much harder in Canada than you do. That’s how we keep up.

 

CHAPTER TWO: ECONOMIC HISTORY

Prof. Woodbury: Canada is still paying for all the land we had to buy from America.

Student: Run that by me again.

Prof. Woodbury: The American government seized all this land in the 1600s, without paying anyone for it. We had to buy a lot of our land from America after that. We’re still paying for it.

Student: John, there was no United States until 1776. We were a British colony, remember? You know, Britain? Same country that ruled Canada all those years?

Prof. Woodbury: Well, the states had a government, and it became the United States government later on. They still took the land.

Student: The one government did not “become” the other government. In fact — and you can check on this — they spent a few years shooting at each other. With real bullets and everything.

Prof. Woodbury: Well, we bailed you out of that war. Just like in World War Two.

Student: Canada bailed the United States out in World War Two?

Prof. Woodbury: F@#$, yes. Your military sucked. You didn’t have any pilots who could fly. Canada trained all of them. And we gave you the technology for the fighter planes so your factories could make them.

Student: I see.

Prof. Woodbury: Same with the space program. All that technology came from Canada. In 1958, a Canadian aerospace company produced a jet that was faster than the F-14 you make now. And it could climb at a steeper angle and carry twice the payload. But you made us stop producing it because you didn’t want to look bad.

Student: Why didn’t, say, Boeing just buy the plans if it was such a fantastic machine?

Prof. Woodbury: The U.S. government didn’t want Canada to know how your fighter jets work, so they just told us to stop making ours.

Student: Why didn’t Canada just tell the U.S. to take a hike?

Prof. Woodbury: We couldn’t. We’re practically a third-world country, you know. You would’ve just starved us.

Student: I thought Canadian farmers feed the rest of the world.

Prof. Woodbury: NOW, yeah. I’m talking 30 years ago.

 

CHAPTER THREE: CAUSES OF UNEMPLOYMENT

Prof. Woodbury: All the Canadian jobs are going to the states because your minimum wage is so much less. GM shut down a bunch of Canadian plants and hired millions of Americans at cheap wages.

Student: GM isn’t hiring; they’re letting people go.

Prof. Woodbury: In Michigan, sure. They’re moving all the jobs to Texas and hiring all these poor Mexican-Americans and paying them minimum wage. That’s the problem; you have such a low minimum wage, we can’t compete, so all our jobs move south.

Student: Do you know what percent of American breadwinners work for minimum wage? It’s 2 percent. You can’t find decent workers for anything close to minimum wage.

Prof. Woodbury: Well, ours is still a lot higher, and that’s why our jobs move south.

Student: You told me Americans are so much richer than Canadians. How can we be richer if Americans are working for lower wages?

Prof. Woodbury: Because, I told you, our dollar is worth less. Besides we have to pay a higher wage so we can take more out in taxes.

Student: So you’re overtaxed. What’s that got to do with America? Besides that whole metric system fiasco, of course.

Prof. Woodbury: We have to have higher taxes in Canada.

Student: Have to? Why?

Prof. Woodbury: The roads. We have just as many roads in Canada as you do in the states, but only one-tenth the population, so each Canadian has to support ten times the amount of roadway as each American. So we have to pay our workers more so they’ll have something leftover after paying the taxes we need for the roads, but the higher wages mean our jobs are going south to America because you pay your workers less. Jesus Christ, how simple do I have to make this for you to understand it?! ….Are you laughing over there?

Student: No, I was trying not to sneeze. So the roads are the reason Canada couldn’t survive free trade with the united States?

Prof. Woodbury: Right. Before the U.S.-Canadian free trade agreement, our unemployment was 10 percent. Since we opened our borders to U.S. products and let Canadian jobs go south, our unemployment has tripled.

Student: Canada’s unemployment is 30 percent?

Prof. Woodbury: Something like that.

Student: At the height of the Great Depression, unemployment in America was 25 percent. You’re telling me it’s worse right now in Canada? You’d have people starving in the streets.

Prof. Woodbury: We pay all those taxes to support them so they don’t starve in the streets.

Student: I still don’t see anything like the Great Depression going on in Canada. If your unemployment was 30 percent, I’d see a hell of a lot more poverty around here.

Prof. Woodbury: It’s not so much around here. It’s mostly out east. There are cities out east where unemployment is 80 percent. That’s what free trade has done to Canada. Mulroney was being bribed by the Americans the whole time. He’s going to work for American Express after he leaves office, and he’s making $600,000 a year. That was the deal they cut with him.

Student: The guy sold out his country to America and only got $600,000 for it? He’s being ripped off — even if he’s paid in American dollars.

Prof. Woodbury: That’s why we’re booting him out of office. He’s an idiot.

 

Bibliography/Suggested Reading

Marx, Karl: Economic Theories I Dreamed Up While sitting In English Tea Rooms. Workers’ Paradise Press, 1867.

MacKenzie, Bob and Doug: How Those Hoser Americans Screwed up the Great White North, Eh? Short Brown One Books, 1988.

McGovern, George: Prosperity Through Higher Taxes and More Government Spending. Massachusetts Only Publishers, 1972.

Brown, Ron, with DNC et all: Smoot-Hawley: What a Wonderful Act. Buddy Canya Spara Dime Press, 1929.

Crichton, Michael: Japan: Little Yellow Devils. Xenophobe Children’ Books, 1992.

 

I’ve always said I’d never do drugs, but if they make your mind that creative, maybe I should reconsider.

Well, going to go continue my quest to ruin the Canadian economy. See you soon …

Tom

 

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Paul is like Rocky … no matter how many times you land a haymaker, he keeps coming back.

 

Round 12 – Paul

Tom –

My original intent was to recap media politics from the end of World War II to the 90′s when FOX NEWS came along. And for most of that period READERS DIGEST and TV GUIDE were the two most widely read U S periodicals. That’s why I cited them. Not that I think they still matter. But in the post-war era, both were influential.

Your mother interviewed Mike Royko? That’s very interesting! Remember ‘why’ he left THE SUN TIMES? Because Rupert Murdoch bought it! And Royko wanted nothing to do with him. Which is fascinating in retrospect. Royko labeled Murdoch “The Alien”. A foreign megalomaniac who wanted to expand what was then an Australian/British empire concerning mainly newspapers.

And it almost gives me chills to think how deft Mike Royko was. With the foresight to envision the mischief Murdoch has wrought by dividing America with these stupid culture wars!

TWO THINGS YOU DON’T GET, TOM.

A) The Republican Party has shifted dramatically to the right since FOX NEWS became a factor.

B) The Culture Wars is largely a divide between diverse metro areas and less populated regions.

As Governor of California, Ronald Reagan approved tax hikes, legalized abortion, and supported gun control. Those three stands would make him completely unacceptable in today’s Republican party. And Betty Ford today would be a pariah to Republicans. This was widely noted when she died this year. And currently Richard Lugar, Republican Senator of Indiana, is being challenged by the Tea Party!

Republicans have moved so far to the right that our government is now dysfunctional. We can’t address the deficit because Grover Norquist won’t allow any revenue increases.

With regards to The Culture Wars, look at recent election maps. Almost every Blue State is on an ocean or a lake. And they tend to have big metropolitan areas. Whereas the Red States tend be either part of the old Confederacy, or inland states with no big cities.

Republicans are well aware that urban voters shun them. So they are drawing new congressional maps with the full intent of diluting urban districts.

But of course you like to identify as a “Libertarian”. It doesn’t matter, Tom! Since the Tea Party victories of last year, the Republicans have exasperated our fiscal problems by flirting with credit downgrades. And even when Obama offered substantial budget cuts, Republicans walked away; put off by minor tax hikes.

Instead their whole focus has been restricting voting and abortion rights while demanding open-carry laws. And you want me to think those ‘aren’t’ agendas of stupid hicks?

And Tom, since you’re such a wonk, you’ll get back to me. Citing major cases from Federal Courts regarding voting fraud in the last 10 years. Show me how widespread the problem is. Why we have to hassle students and the poor.

You certainly took the time to round up examples of embellished news stories printed in established papers. Too bad that isn’t the issue with Murdoch’s NEWS OF THE WORLD scandal. The issue there concerns the hacking of cell phone messages. With “thousands” of cases spanning a period of several years! Which any lawyer will tell you is a far more serious matter than printing embellished stories.

What’s more, Rebeca Brooks, former NEWS OF THE WORLD editor, is said to be closer to Murdoch than his actual daughter. She is also very close to Murdoch’s son James, who ran their British operations. So it’s hard to believe this scandal is not a reflection on Murdoch himself.

I suspect FOX NEWS hasn’t covered the Murdoch scandals. Which probably explains how they escaped your notice. Personally I’m always wondering how much happier this country would be had Murdoch never entered it.

Hey, weren’t you going to get back to me with Murdoch’s age at the time he bought his U S citizenship?

Paul

 

Round 12 – Tom

Greetings, Paul –

My original intent was to recap media politics from the end of World War II to the 90′s when FOX NEWS came along. And for most of that period READERS DIGEST and TV GUIDE were the two most widely read US periodicals. That’s why I cited them. Not that I think they still matter. But in the post-war era, both were influential.

When was either influential in shaping political opinions?

Your mother interviewed Mike Royko? That’s very interesting! Remember ‘why’ he left THE SUN TIMES? Because Rupert Murdoch bought it! And Royko wanted nothing to do with him. Which is fascinating in retrospect. Royko labeled Murdoch “The Alien”.

I remember those columns fondly. Royko wrote that no self-respecting fish would want to be wrapped in a Murdoch newspaper. From what little I’ve seen of his papers, that’s an accurate description.

If you were Royko fan, you’d enjoy “Royko: A Life in Print,” written by one of his colleagues. Royko was far more complex than his bar-brawler image would suggest. He could, for example, name pretty much any piece of classical music he heard played, as well as the orchestra playing it.

A foreign megalomaniac who wanted to expand what was then an Australian/British empire concerning mainly newspapers.

Lots of foreigners own businesses in the U.S. Lots of U.S. corporations own businesses overseas, including media outlets. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

And it almost gives me chills to think how deft Mike Royko was. With the foresight to envision the mischief Murdochhas wrought by dividing America with these stupid culture wars!

By “stupid culture wars,” I presume you mean you miss the good old days when liberals controlled most media outlets and therefore we didn’t have much by way of dissenting voices in the media.

Royko never warned of divisive culture wars. His complaint was that Murdoch’s newspapers were trashy.

TWO THINGS YOU DON’T GET, TOM.

A) The Republican Party has shifted dramatically to the right since FOX NEWS became a factor.

The Republican Party shifted dramatically to the right with the ascendancy of Ronald Reagan to the presidency in 1980. Newt Gingrich led a conservative revolution that took over Congress (for the first time in nearly 40 years) in 1994. FOX news was founded in 1996 and reached only 10 million households the first year. Many cable systems refused to carry it until FOX took the unusual step of paying the cable systems to carry the channel.

So I seriously doubt FOX News pushed the party farther right, but if they did, I applaud them. The big-government Republicans need to go away for good. One big-government party is more than enough.

B) The Culture Wars is largely a divide between diverse metro areas and less populated regions.

Yes, big cities are different culturally. I never disputed as much. I disputed your Hollywood stereotype that southern and rural conservatives are a bunch of stupid hicks. More on that farther down.

As Governor of California, Ronald Reagan approved tax hikes, legalized abortion, and supported gun control. Those three stands would make him completely unacceptable in today’s Republican party.

John F. Kennedy cut income taxes to stimulate the economy (which worked, unlike Obama’s trillion-dollar boondoggle), expanded the Pentagon’s budget, and urged standing up to Communist aggression. If he ran today, he’d be labeled a far-right Republican by the press. Times change.

And currently Richard Lugar, Republican Senator of Indiana, is being challenged by the Tea Party!

The Tea Party is entitled to challenge whomever they wish.

Republicans have moved so far to the right that our government is now dysfunctional.

I presume your definition of a “functional” government is one that spends trillions of dollars it doesn’t have and continues to expand endlessly without serious opposition? Personally, I hope the federal government becomes so “dysfunctional” that it collapses and is replaced by the kind of government the Founders intended.

We can’t address the deficit because Grover Norquist won’t allow any revenue increases.

Three cheers for Grover Norquist! Apparently he’s read his history and noticed that no matter how much money “progressive” governments confiscate from citizens, it’s never considered enough, so the spending continues to grow and the debts continue to pile up.

We’re not in debt because the federal government collects too little — the federal tax burden per capita is far higher now than 40 years ago. We’re in debt because the federal government over-promised and over-spent for decades.

If you believe “revenue increases” are the key to balancing government budgets, let’s see how that compares to reality. You live in a state with the second-highest overall tax burden in the U.S. Your state is also massively in debt. I live in a state with the third-lowest overall tax burden. My state is running a surplus. Tennessee, in fact, has the lowest government debt per capita of all 50 states, according to Money Magazine. The states with the smallest debt problems are:

1. Tennessee
2. Georgia
3. Texas
4. Arkansas
5. Nebraska

The states with the worst debt problems are:

1. Illinois
2. New York
3. Connecticut
4. California
5. New Jersey

Boy, if only those dumb hicks in the south would take some budget-management lessons from the sophisticated, educated, “progressive” northern politicians who live in world-class cities …

You may recall that when Illinois raised the state income tax in 1982, the politicians promised (cross their hearts and hope to die) that it was a temporary increase … really, folks, we mean it. Just gotta get past this current deficit, ya see, and then we promise to stop overspending.

Yeah, that worked out really well. Illinois just jacked up its tax rates by another 66% because – despite already being a high-tax state – it’s so far in debt, “broke” would be an improvement.

So you want to explain to me how it’s the “progressives” who know how to balance a budget? (This is one those things that makes “progressives” so fascinating … no matter how many times their theories fail in practice, they still insist their theories are correct.  Thomas Sowell aptly describes them as “often wrong, but never in doubt.”)

With regards to The Culture Wars, look at recent election maps. Almost every Blue State is on an ocean or a lake. And they tend to have big metropolitan areas. Whereas the Red States tend be either part of the old Confederacy, or inland states with no big cities.

The point being … ?

But of course you like to identify as a “Libertarian”. It doesn’t matter, Tom! Since the Tea Party victories of last year, the Republicans have exasperated our fiscal problems by flirting with credit downgrades.

I see … so the Republicans exasperated (or exacerbated) our fiscal problems by treating a debt crisis as a problem of overspending? Shame on them. If only they adopted the “progressive” theory that high taxes are the key to balanced budgets, we’d have a great credit rating. You know, like in high-tax Illinois … the state with the lowest credit rating out of all 50 … the state with a credit rating lower than some third-world countries.

The U.S. credit rating went down (and will continue to go down) because the debt-to-GDP ratio has been growing exponentially. We’re in debt because we over-spend. Personally, I hope our credit rating goes down again. That will make it more difficult for the Treasury to borrow money, and they need to stop borrowing money as soon as possible.

And even when Obama offered substantial budget cuts, Republicans walked away; put off by minor tax hikes.

… Give me a minute … still laughing about The Great Wise One Obama offering “substantial” budget cuts after he raised spending by more than a trillion dollars.

Instead their whole focus has been restricting voting and abortion rights while demanding open-carry laws.

I guess they have this crazy notion that illegal immigrants don’t have a right to vote and legal citizens don’t have a right to vote multiple times.

And you want me to think those ‘aren’t’ agendas of stupid hicks?

Ah, now I see why you keep pointing out that the red states are the southern and rural areas. We’re back to your belief that the northern “progressive” regions are populated by educated, sophisticated liberals who live in world-class cities (and are fashionable), while conservatives are a bunch of rural Baptist hicks who drive pickup trucks.

Allow me to put on my official Wonk hat and we’ll deal with actual data instead of Hollywood stereotypes. (I don’t actually own an official Wonk hat, but if I did, it would be triangle-shaped.)

I live in Williamson County, one of the most staunchly conservative in the entire South. According to Hollywood theology, this means the county is mostly populated by dumb, pickup-truck drivin’ hicks. So let’s compare the demographics here with those in world-class, sophisticated, northern, “progressive” Cook County in Illinois:

http://www.zoomprospector.com/CommunityDetail.aspx?id=2133&f=1

http://www.zoomprospector.com/communitydetail.aspx?id=2207

White Collar/Blue Collar %
Williamson: 64/36
Cook: 64/36

Household Income
Williamson: $91,189
Cook: $56,342

% H.S. Graduates
Williamson: 94.89
Cook: 84.32

% College Graduates
Williamson: 52.03
Cook: 34.38

Here’s an interesting one …

% Job Growth, 2000-2011
Williamson: 40.0
Cook: 0.2

Strange … for some reason, the pickup-truck drivin’ Baptist hicks here in one of the most conservative counties in the entire South are more educated and more successful on average than the residents of sophisticated, world-class, “progressive” Cook County. Stranger still, our backward, conservative, hick-populated county is attracting a shootload of new jobs, while Cook County isn’t. (And given the high household income here, we can probably conclude they aren’t minimum-wage jobs.)

Well, perhaps comparing our county to Cook County wasn’t fair. Let’s go with an even more sophisticated, world-class, “progressive” area like Suffolk County (Boston) in the liberal Mecca of Massachusetts.

White Collar/Blue Collar %
Williamson: 64/36
Suffolk: 70/29 (apparently 1% don’t wear collars)

Household Income
Williamson: $91,189
Suffolk: $54,017

% H.S. Graduates
Williamson: 94.89
Suffolk: 84.69

% College Graduates
Williamson: 52.03
Suffolk: 41.86

How strange … once again, the Baptist hicks in a southern, ultra-conservative county turn out to be more educated and successful on average than the “progressives” in Boston-area Massachusetts – and we pronounce our Rs as well!

Still want to try to tell me that southern conservatives are a bunch of stupid hicks? Based on those figures, it would be more accurate (but still not accurate) to declare that the northern “progressives” are a bunch of under-educated losers living on welfare.

Here’s another interesting comparison from the demographic data:

Williamson
Median Household income: $91,189
Avg. government salary: $49,751

Cook
Median Household income: $56,342
Avg. government salary: $70,399

Suffolk
Median Household income: $54,017
Avg. government salary: $79,835

I think see a pattern here. Massachusetts, like Illinois, is high on the list of states with a major debt problem. Unlike their sophisticated, fashionable, “progressive” northern countrymen, the pickup-truck drivin’ Baptist hicks in the south seem to realize that if you pay government employees who live off of confiscated wealth more than the people who actually produce the wealth, you’re going to wind up with a debt problem. (The disparity listed above is actually wider than you might assume from a first glance, since “household income” often includes two wage-earners.)

And Tom, since you’re such a wonk, you’ll get back to me.

I’m already wearing the Wonk hat. But I notice you always get back to me as well. I’d offer this as evidence of your own wonkiness, but you don’t cite enough actual facts to justify wearing the hat.

Citing major cases from Federal Courts regarding voting fraud in the last 10 years. Show me how widespread the problem is. Why we have to hassle students and the poor.

Asking people to prove they are who they say they are isn’t hassling. It’s part of everyday life.

You certainly took the time to round up examples of embellished news stories printed in established papers. Too bad that isn’t the issue with Murdoch’s NEWS OF THE WORLD scandal. The issue there concerns the hacking of cell phone messages. With “thousands” of cases spanning a period of several years! Which any lawyer will tell you is a far more serious matter than printing embellished stories.

As a reader, I’d be far more outraged that supposed journalists are just making @#$% up.

What’s more, Rebeca Brooks, former NEWS OF THE WORLD editor, is said to be closer to Murdoch than his actual daughter. She is also very close to Murdoch’s son James, who ran their British operations. So it’s hard to believe this scandal is not a reflection on Murdoch himself.

It may indeed be a reflection on Murdoch himself. I don’t know how involved he was or wasn’t. But to suggest that it’s a direct reflection on FOX News is totally illogical. George Soros, who funds damned near every “progressive” organization in the U.S., is a foreign-born currency manipulator who was convicted of insider trading. Does that reflect directly on all the organizations which depend on him for funds?

I suspect FOX NEWS hasn’t covered the Murdoch scandals.

You should spend a couple of minutes using Google before you form your suspicions:

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/10/24/james-murdoch-to-testify-again-in-uk-phone-hacking-scandal/

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/07/15/wsj-publisher-quits-in-phone-hacking-scandal-1218218604/

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/07/18/britain-murdoch-dynasty-in-doubt/

Which probably explains how they escaped your notice.

What makes you think they escaped my notice? I read about them months ago.

Personally I’m always wondering how much happier this country would be had Murdoch never entered it.

Well, I’m pretty sure liberals would be happier if there were no FOX News, since liberals tend to go apoplectic when their viewpoint is challenged. (Which is understandable … when your only comeback to people who argue by citing facts is to compare them to Holocaust deniers, it’s got to be frustrating.)

Before FOX News, the leftists no doubt thought it was just lovely to have all the major news networks singing from the same liberal hymnal. But as a fan of the Marketplace of Ideas concept, I believe it’s far healthier for a democracy to be full of dissenting voices.

Hey, weren’t you going to get back to me with Murdoch’s age at the time he bought his U S citizenship?

I never made that offer.

Tom

 

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A friend sent this to me.  I don’t know if  it’s legitimate, but I agree with the sentiment.

At least we now know what happens when Washington runs out of cash — they just create more of it out of thin air.

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My leftist friend Paul still insists that FOX News is biased to the right (which they are), but it’s just a conservative myth that most other national news organizations are biased to the left.  Take a look at these Newsweek covers:

Bias?  What bias?  We don’t see any bias.

In his excellent book “Bias,” Bernie Goldberg (who worked at CBS for many years) explained that the liberals who dominate the nation’s newsrooms don’t believe they’re biased for one simple reason:   they see the liberal viewpoint as the obviously correct viewpoint, and so in their minds, they’re just reporting the truth.

With that in mind, here’s how Andrew Sullivan of Newsweek explained the Obama cover:

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” Sullivan defended his story, saying he was simply telling the truth about Obama, whom he described as a “sensible, pragmatic centrist.”

Bias?  What bias?  We don’t see any bias.

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On to the next round …

 

Round 11(a) – Paul

Tom

Like most FOX viewers you believe the Mainstream Liberal Media Myth.   Let’s just review, however, the history of mainstream media since the end of World War II.  When William Randolph Hearst was still alive.  Controlling something like 30 papers around the country.  Hearst was ‘not’ a liberal in his later years.  He famously fell out with FDR in 1935.  Yet Hearst newspapers remained a force long after Willie’s death in 1951.

TIME was co-founded by Henry Luce in the 1920′s.  Who became its longtime publisher until the 1960′s.  Luce also founded LIFE and FORTUNE (plus Sports Illustrated).  Making him highly influential in shaping America’s news throughout the early post-war years.

Luce was not a liberal.  Nor was his more famous wife, Claire Booth Luce.  The latter was, in fact, a Republican Congresswoman (who didn’t like FDR at all).  Luce retired from TIME in ’64 to champion Barry Goldwater.

DeWitt Wallace, founder of READER’S DIGEST, was certainly not a liberal.  Yet his magazine was Number 1 in circulation, all through the post-war era.  Shaped to fit on toilet tanks, it provided Nixon with a voice.  He was a frequent contributor during his wilderness years.  And Wallace was so generous to Nixon’s ’68 campaign that
Dickie gave him The Medal of Freedom in ’69.

Robert McCormick, aka, ‘Colonel McCormick’, ran the CHICAGO TRIBUNE as a Republican paper for much of the 20th Century.  And even after his death in ’55,  The Tribune remained Republican-leaning up to the Reagan era.  As the dominant daily in what was American’s 2nd biggest city.

The LOS ANGELES TIMES was founded as a Republican paper.  And it remained conservative into the post-war years. Servicing a city that zoomed from 4th to 2nd between the 40′s and the 80′s.

Walter Annenburg owned THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER from the 40′s through the 60′s.  Servicing what historically was America’s 3rd, then 4th, largest city.  Annenburg became a major Nixon backer.  Getting an ambassadorship to England.  Annenburg latter became best of friends with Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

Annenburg, by the way, founded TV GUIDE which he owned until the 80′s.  A magazine that was Number 1, in newsstand sales, for most of the post-war era.  Impacting our choices on what we chose to watch.  Annenburg also had an impact on teenage girls by founding SEVENTEEN.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL has been the nations’ top financial daily for more than a 100 years.  And for most of our lives it was respectably conservative.  A paper even liberals quoted when it served their needs.  But since Murdoch took control, The Journal’s reputation has been sullied by connection to the London scandals.

U S NEWS AND WORLD REPORT was America’s 3rd biggest newsweekly during the post-war era.  With a very conservative readership.  For years every issue contained “A New Soviet Threat”.

USA TODAY, launched by Gannet in the 1980′s, is one of our few national papers.  With a reputation mainly for  light and fluffy news.  Not a paper liberals quote when discussing politics.

Finally one should note that hometown papers all over the country tend to be conservative.  Especially in Metro Areas of cities with less than a million people.  And until the internet took over, most Americans got their news from local papers.

With regards to broadcasting, RCA owned NBC from the 20′s to the 80′s.  And NBC was the first television network.  Whose newscasts were top rated during the Huntley-Brinkley years.  While the TODAY show dominated morning news until the 1980′s.  Yet one should note that RCA was a major defense contractor.  Until it was swallowed by
GE, an even ‘bigger’ defense contractor!  A fact that many liberals find unsettling.

Interestingly, the NBC news desk actually bore the logo of GULF OIL for several years in the late ’60′s, early ’70′s. It disappeared in ’73 when gasoline spiked to 50 cents!

CBS was controlled by William Paley from the 20′s to the 80′s.  A man who frequently clashed with Edward R Morrow, foe of Joeseph McCarthy.   In fact, the George Clooney movie “Good Night and Good Luck” highlighted those clashes. Paley feared that Morrow’s liberalism would cost the network sponsorships.  And Morrow left CBS a very bitter man.

During the Cronkite era, ’62 to ’81, CBS NEWS offended conservatives.  In particular their coverage of Viet Nam and Watergate.  But ‘was’ Viet Nam a war America could have won?  Was Watergate not the scandal it seemed?  In any event, Walter Cronkite ranked as “The Most Trusted Man In America” in numerous public opinion polls.
And his newscast was top rated all throughout the 70′s.  Suggesting its appeal went beyond a liberal base.

ABC was the last network to have a serious newscast.  During the 70′s their news desk frequently changed butts. It wasn’t until GOOD MORNING AMERICA broke out in the ’80′s that their nightly news got a boost and became competitive.  Though even under Jennings it was known for lighter stories.  Not unlike the morning news.

During the ’80′s, columnist GEORGE WILL became a regular on ABC’s THIS WEEK (where he remains today). Will, you might remember, was a best-selling author of Victorian values.  Success that was due in part to ABC.  Which also used him frequently on Ted Kopple’s NIGHTLINE.  Where HENRY KISSINGER made numerous appearances.  WILLIAM KRISTOL is another conservative ABC has often featured.

And ABC RADIO was the home of PAUL HARVEY NEWS AND COMMENT for more than 50 years!  Harvey, who was unabashedly square, had a peak audience of 24 million listeners.  Few, if any, considered Paul a liberal.

WILLIAM F BUCKLEY, publisher of THE NATIONAL REVIEW was a fixture of PBS’s FIRING LINE from the ’70′s through the ’90′s.  Becoming the foremost conservative of his time.  As a syndicated columnist, Buckley was a
superstar.

PBS also carried WALL STREET WEEK IN REVIEW every Friday night from the 70′s through the 90′s.   And FREE TO CHOOSE, in 1979, was hosted by Milton Friedman himself.  A multi-part series based on his best-selling book.

THE McLAUGHLIN GROUP has been a staple of PBS for more than 20 years.  Providing a weekly showcase for old Nixon colleagues, JOHN McLAUGHLIN and PAT BUCHANAN.  They are frequently joined by MORT ZUCKERMAN, N Y DAILY NEWS publisher.  That paper, by the way, has always been conservative.  And was, for many years, bigger than the N Y Times in terms of newsstand sales.

Therefore your contention that conservatives had no voice in the mainstream media until FOX NEWS came along is a denial of media history.  It reflects a paranoia akin to Scientology.  A mindset Fox News caters to!  And nothings more pathetic than a bunch of nerdy White guys claiming they’ve been oppressed by liberals.

And yes, there’s going to be a few sour apples.  Like John Stossel, for instance.  Journalists who feel appreciated only at FOX NEWS.  But one should note that every field has disgruntled ex-employees.  Why would broadcast journalism be any different?

The problem is conservatives are frequently pushing ideas that seem mean and, or, stupid.  Like Abstinence Only Education, denial of Evolution, restrictions on woman’s rights, open-carry gun laws, schemes to gut environmental laws, schemes to privatize the government, schemes to restrict minority voting rights, etc, etc, etc.  None of these
ideas sound positive when analyzed by responsible journalists.  Only within the vacuum of FOX NEWS can these ideas make any sense.

And Tom since you’re such a wonk you’ll get back to me.  With the age of Rupert Murdoch when he bought his US citizenship.

Murdoch ain’t American.  Nor is he British.  Murdoch’s from the swamps!  As you shall see from THE N Y TIMES article I’ll be sending with this.

Paul

 

Round 11(a) – Tom

Greetings, Paul –

Like most FOX viewers you believe the Mainstream Liberal Media Myth.

It’s not just FOX viewers.  I saw a poll once in which 90% of conservatives said they believe the national media leans left.  Interestingly, 20% of self-identified liberals in the same poll said the national media leans left.  Nice to know some liberals still have good powers of perception.  As I pointed out before, even Walter Cronkite’s former boss said in an interview that the national media is dominated by liberals.

As for your examples of newspapers that were originally founded and run by Republicans, so what?  That has zero bearing on the political leanings of today’s journalists.  Most of the Hollywood studios were founded by political conservatives as well, but if you’re going to deny that Hollywood today is dominated by liberals, I would suggest you seek professional help.

(TV Guide and Reader’s Digest, seriously?  You’re offering those up as examples of news media?  They’re fluff.)

Finally one should note that hometown papers all over the country tend to be conservative.  Especially in Metro Areas of cities with less than a million people.  And until the internet took over, most Americans got their news from local papers.

Hometown papers aren’t the national media.  It’s the national media that leans left.

Our hometown paper leans left, even though Tennessee is a conservative state.  We were treated to a series of rah-rah articles about the “stimulus” package, which I wrote about here

http://www.tomnaughton.com/?p=400

and when the 2010 elections came around, the editorial board at the Nashville paper got together and — being totally unbiased and objective, of course — endorsed the Democrat candidate in all nine of the state’s districts.  Tennessee voters were so impressed with the totally unbiased and objective endorsements, they elected Republicans in seven of the nine districts.

During the Cronkite era, ’62 to ’81, CBS NEWS offended conservatives.  In particular their coverage of Viet Nam and Watergate.  But ‘was’ Viet Nam a war America could have won?  Was Watergate not the scandal it seemed?  In any event, Walter Cronkite ranked as “The Most Trusted Man In America” in numerous public opinion polls.  And his newscast was top rated all throughout the 70′s.  Suggesting its appeal went beyond a liberal base.

As for the most trusted man in America, some quotes from the horse’s mouth:

“Everybody knows that there’s a liberal, that there’s a heavy liberal persuasion among correspondents…..Anybody who has to live with the people, who covers police stations, covers county courts, brought up that way, has to have a degree of humanity that people who do not have that exposure don’t have, and some people interpret that to be liberal.” — Cronkite at the March 21, 1996 Radio & TV Correspondents Dinner.

“I know liberalism isn’t dead in this country. It simply has, temporarily we hope, lost its voice….We know that unilateral action in Grenada and Tripoli was wrong. We know that ‘Star Wars’ means uncontrollable escalation of the arms race. We know that the real threat to democracy is the half of the nation in poverty. We know that no one should tell a woman she has to bear an unwanted child….Gawd Almighty, we’ve got to shout these truths in which we believe from the housetops. Like that scene in the movie ‘Network,’ we’ve got to throw open our windows and shout these truths to the streets and the heavens. And I bet we’ll find more windows are thrown open to join the chorus than we’d ever dreamed possible.” — Cronkite at a People for the American Way banquet.

His successor, Dan Rather, once gave a speech at a Democratic fund-raiser and had to have it explained to him by the CBS brass that it wasn’t a good idea — ya see, Dan, it’s kinda hard to deny those “bias” accusations when you’re out there raising money for Democrats.  That’s the same Dan Rather who put forged documents on the air in a botched attempt to embarrass George W. Bush, even though one of the document experts called in by CBS warned Rather the documents appeared to be forged.

Bias?  What bias?  We don’t see any bias …

During the ’80′s, columnist GEORGE WILL became a regular on ABC’s THIS WEEK (where he remains today). Will, you might remember, was a best-selling author of Victorian values.  Success that was due in part to ABC. Which also used him frequently on Ted Kopple’s NIGHTLINE.  Where HENRY KISSINGER made numerous appearances.  WILLIAM KRISTOL is another conservative ABC has often featured.

And ABC RADIO was the home of PAUL HARVEY NEWS AND COMMENT for more than 50 years!  Harvey, who was unabashedly square, had a peak audience of 24 million listeners.  Few, if any, considered Paul a liberal. WILLIAM F BUCKLEY, publisher of THE NATIONAL REVIEW was a fixture of PBS’s FIRING LINE from the ’70′s through the ’90′s.  Becoming the foremost conservative of his time.  As a syndicated columnist, Buckley was a superstar.

PBS also carried WALL STREET WEEK IN REVIEW every Friday night from the 70′s through the 90′s.  And FREE TO CHOOSE, in 1979, was hosted by Milton Friedman himself.  A multi-part series based on his best-selling book.  THE McLAUGHLIN GROUP has been a staple of PBS for more than 20 years.  Providing a weekly showcase for old Nixon colleagues, JOHN McLAUGHLIN and PAT BUCHANAN.  They are frequently joined by MORT ZUCKERMAN, NY DAILY NEWS publisher.  That paper, by the way, has always been conservative.  And was, for many years, bigger than the N Y Times in terms of newsstand sales.

Therefore your contention that conservatives had no voice in the mainstream media until FOX NEWS came along is a denial of media history.  It reflects a paranoia akin to Scientology.  A mindset Fox News caters to!  And nothings more pathetic than a bunch of nerdy White guys claiming they’ve been oppressed by liberals.

Are you seriously suggesting that because a few conservatives appeared on the networks once per week (usually on Sundays), that disproves the Brian Williams comment that the left-leaning media created the market for Rush Limbaugh and FOX news?  Limbaugh has a daily three-hour show.  FOX is a 24/7 news station.  Before they came along, there were liberals on the air every day, but no conservatives.

And yes, there’s going to be a few sour apples.  Like John Stossel, for instance.  Journalists who feel appreciated only at FOX NEWS.  But one should note that every field has disgruntled ex-employees.  Why would broadcast journalism be any different?

Stossel felt very appreciated at ABC until he started covering stories from a libertarian point of view.  Then his stories were spiked and Paul Jennings stopped talking to him.  That’s the point.

The problem is conservatives are frequently pushing ideas that seem mean and, or, stupid.  Like Abstinence Only Education, denial of Evolution, restrictions on woman’s rights, open-carry gun laws, schemes to gut environmental laws, schemes to privatize the government, schemes to restrict minority voting rights, etc, etc, etc.

Please cite the FOX newscasters who deny evolution and want to restrict minority voting rights.

None of these ideas sound positive when analyzed by responsible journalists.  Only within the vacuum of FOX NEWS can these ideas make any sense.

Thank you for proving my point.  That’s exactly the attitude Bernard Goldberg described as being rampant among national journalists in his book “Bias” … well, of course all the reasonable people are liberals!  Of course the liberal viewpoints are the correct and responsible viewpoints – and we know this is true because we’re all liberals, and we all tell each other so.

You’ve made several snide remarks about FOX news in our exchanges, indicating that you believe they report with a right-wing bias.  I believe CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC report with a left-wing bias — which you insist isn’t true, even though 90% of the political contributions made by their journalists have gone to Democrats, even though Walter Cronkite himself admits there’s a “heavy liberal persuasion” among correspondents, and even though according to internal media surveys, liberals outnumber conservatives in national newsrooms by better than 10 to 1.

So here’s the question:  why is your ability to correctly perceive bias so much more advanced than mine?  Is it something you eat?

Tom

 

Round 11(b) – Paul

Tom:

I made a point of not mentioning Dan Rather because I could never stand him myself.

What’s more, I told you in previous emails that I don’t think news can be explored with commercial breaks.  That goes for all the commercial networks.  In fact, all those pharmaceutical ads have driven up Medicare costs.  Convincing people they need the purple pill!  And it seems that cable news networks have even more commercials yet.  I don’t bother with MSNBC just for that very reason.

For every conservative like you who thinks the big 3 networks have a liberal bias, you can bet there’s a liberal who feels they are beholden to corporate interests.  Because they are!

With regards to my recap on post-war media history, I feel I made significant points.  READERS DIGEST wasn’t frivolous. Most of its articles were first published in other well-known magazines.   And TV GUIDE was the most widely read magazine about the media itself.

Furthermore, I’m not really sure when you think this liberal media era began.  The 70′s?  80s?  90′s?  When??  Get specific.

Realize too that big league journalists tend to be educated, well-traveled residents of world-class cities.  You cannot expect them to share the views of Baptists in the South or farmers on the plains.  You cannot expect educated women to support legislation requiring rape victims to carry resulting pregnancies.  Nor can you expect them to support legislation banning contraceptives.  Or abstinence only education.

With regards to restrictions on voting rights, since the Tea Party came to power, in several state legislatures, there have been flurry of laws requiring voters to present state I D’s.  With the calculation that X number of poor people cannot choke up the cash to get copies of their birth certificates.  What’s more, about 15 states have passed laws this year making it far more difficult for students to vote in college towns.  They will have to either go home on Election Day, or cast absentee ballots.  Again, it’s a cynical calculation that X number of students won’t bother going to the trouble.

Did you read that article I sent about News Corp in London?  If you think those scandals are not a reflection on the Murdoch empire, I question your intelligence.  According to testimony at the House of Commons, News Of The World sanctioned thousands of phone hackings during the last 10 years.   I also read that Murdoch visited James Cameron at 10 Downing Street something like 15 times during Cameron’s first year in office.  Entering from the back door every time he went.

Can you imagine how Americans would feel if some foreign media magnet paid that many visits to the White House? So yeah, I regard FOX NEWS with absolute suspicion.  Why should Murdoch be a lord at large to the English speaking world??  Meddling in the politics of not one but ‘three’ major democracies (including Australia).  Again, if you don’t get my concern with that, I question your intelligence.

Paul

 

Round 11(b) – Tom

Greetings, Paul –

I made a point of not mentioning Dan Rather because I could never stand him myself.

With good reason.

What’s more, I told you in previous emails that I don’t think news can be explored with commercial breaks.  That goes for all the commercial networks.  In fact, all those pharmaceutical ads have driven up Medicare costs.  Convincing people they need the purple pill!  And it seems that cable news networks have even more commercials yet.  I don’t bother with MSNBC just for that very reason.

I agree, but I don’t think our over-consumption of drugs has anything to do with a liberal/conservative debate.

For every conservative like you who thinks the big 3 networks have a liberal bias, you can bet there’s a liberal who feels they are beholden to corporate interests.  Because they are!

You still are laboring under the belief that “corporate” means “Republican.”  It doesn’t, not by any stretch.  Plenty of large, powerful corporations love big government, because big government helps make them rich.

With regards to my recap on post-war media history, I feel I made significant points.  READERS DIGEST wasn’t frivolous.

I don’t know anyone who turns to Reader’s Digest for political opinions. (I don’t know people who read Reader’s Digest, as far as that goes.)

Most of its articles were first published in other well-known magazines.   And TV GUIDE was the most widely read magazine about the media itself.

TV Guide is about TV.  I’m talking about the national news media leaning left on political issues.

Furthermore, I’m not really sure when you think this liberal media era began.  The 70′s?  80s?  90′s?  When??  Get specific.

After Watergate, the attitude among journalists and aspiring journalists took a sharp turn towards advocacy journalism.  My mom, in fact, wrote a paper on the topic while pursuing her master’s.  She interviewed Mike Royko for her paper.  The new generation of journalists saw their mission less as one of reporting facts and more of a need to be agents for change.  In surveys of journalism students, “I want to change society for the better” (or some similar sentiment) is now the most popular reason given for choosing journalism as a career.  “Change the world!” types tend to be liberals.

Realize too that big league journalists tend to be educated, well-traveled residents of world-class cities.

So we’re back to the “all the smart people are liberals” nonsense.  You may not have noticed this yet, Paul, but I’m pretty well-educated and well-read.  So is my brother, my best friend (a partner at the biggest law firm in Tennessee), the programmers I work with at BMI, etc. — all libertarians or conservatives.  Journalists don’t become liberals because of their superior educations.  They become journalists because the field attracts a disproportionate share of liberals — as Walter Cronkite’s former boss said himself.  (He said the same about the entertainment field, by the way.)  When I was in journalism classes, 90% of my fellow students were liberals … and that was long before any of them became well-educated, world-travelin’ residents of world-class cities.

You cannot expect them to share the views of Baptists in the South or farmers on the plains.

I see you still believe conservatives are all religious hicks who drive pickup trucks.  Perhaps you should travel outside Hollywood someday so your perception of conservatives will be informed by something more realistic than Hollywood stereotypes.

You cannot expect educated women to support legislation requiring rape victims to carry resulting pregnancies.  Nor can you expect them to support legislation banning contraceptives.  Or abstinence only education.

I don’t expect educated people of either gender or of any political persuasion to support legislation banning contraception or forcing rape victims to give birth.  As for sex education, I expect the schools to teach the biology of reproduction.  I don’t want them to teach my kids how to have sex without becoming pregnant, and I sure as hell don’t want them giving my daughters birth control.  (I say this despite not being a Baptist or a farmer.)  Those aren’t decisions the schools have any right to make for my child.  That’s my job as a parent.

With regards to restrictions on voting rights, since the Tea Party came to power, in several state legislatures, there have been flurry of laws requiring voters to present state ID’s.  With the calculation that X number of poor people cannot choke up the cash to get copies of their birth certificates.  What’s more, about 15 states have passed laws this year making it far more difficult for students to vote in college towns.  They will have to either go home on Election Day, or cast absentee ballots.  Again, it’s a cynical calculation that X number of students won’t bother going to the trouble.

I want voters to show IDs. I realize that’s an outrage to Democrats, who would lose some of their ability to win elections by encouraging illegal immigrants and dead people to vote early and often, but considering that I can’t rent a DVD, write a check, open a bank account, buy a beer, or visit a doctor without showing ID, I don’t think it’s too much to demand that people picking the next president prove they are who they say they are.  In fact, I want more than just a requirement to show an ID.  I want anyone who applies to vote in elections to pass the same tests proving they understand the basics of U.S. government that we demand foreigners pass before they become citizens and vote.  People who can’t identify the two houses of Congress have no business voting.

Did you read that article I sent about News Corp in London?  If you think those scandals are not a reflection on the Murdoch empire, I question your intelligence.  According to testimony at the House of Commons, News Of The World   sanctioned thousands of phone hackings during the last 10 years.   I also read that Murdoch visited James Cameronat 10 Downing Street something like 15 times during Cameron’s first year in office.  Entering from the back door every time he went.

Can you imagine how Americans would feel if some foreign media magnet paid that many visits to the White House?   So yeah, I regard FOX NEWS with absolute suspicion.  Why should Murdoch be a lord at large to the English speaking   world??  Meddling in the politics of not one but ‘three’ major democracies (including Australia).  Again, if you don’t get my concern with that, I question your intelligence.

Yes, I’m aware of the crappy behavior of Mr. Murdoch’s employees at News of the World.  But unless and until employees of FOX news in the U.S. engage in similar behavior, I don’t see what it has to do with FOX news.  Bad behavior by journalists is, unfortunately, not all that uncommon.  To recall a few examples in the U.S.:

1. Maureen Dowd (NY Times), caught stitching together separate quotes from George W. Bush into single quotes to produce controversial statements he never actually made.

2. Stephen Glass (New Republic), caught making up entire stories.

3. Janet Cooke (Washington Post), caught making up entire stories.

4. Dan Rather (CBS), used forged documents on the air in a botched attempt to take down George W. Bush

5. Jayson Blair (NY Times), caught making up entire stories.

6. Michael Gallagher (Cincinnati Enquirer), caught fabricating sources for a story and (apparently) hacking into a corporation’s voice-mail system.

7. Michael Gartner (NBC), resigned when it was revealed that NBC staged an explosion of a GM truck for a news story on the supposed dangers of the trucks.

8. Adnan Hajj (Rueters), caught doctoring photographs while covering the Israeli action against Lebanon.

9. Jack Kelley (USA Today), caught fabricating stories.

10. Christopher Newton (API), fired for fabricating stories.

11. Patricia Smith (Boston Globe), resigned after admitting her columns described people and events that were fabricated.

I could go on, but you get the idea.  Bad behavior by journalists is hardly limited to Murdoch-owned media.

Best,
Tom

Greetings, Peter —
I made a point of not mentioning Dan Rather because I could never stand him myself.  
With good reason.  

What’s more, I told you in previous emails that I don’t think news can be explored with commercial breaks.  That goes for all the commercial networks.  In fact, all those pharmaceutical ads have driven up Medicare costs.  Convincing people they need the purple pill!  And it seems that cable news networks have even more commercials yet.  I don’t bother with MSNBC just for that very reason.

 

 

 

I agree, but I don’t think our over-consumption of drugs has anything to do with a liberal/conservative debate.  

For every conservative like you who thinks the big 3 networks have a liberal bias, you can bet there’s a liberal who feels they are beholden to corporate interests.  Because they are!

 

 

 

You still are laboring under the belief that “corporate” means “Republican.”  It doesn’t, not by any stretch.  Plenty of powerful corporations love big government, because big government helps to make them rich.  

With regards to my recap on post-war media history, I feel I made significant points.  READERS DIGEST wasn’t frivolous.

 

 

 

I don’t know anyone who turns to Reader’s Digest for political opinions. (I don’t know people who read Reader’s Digest, as far as that goes.)

Most of its articles were first published in other well-known magazines.   And TV GUIDE was the most widely read magazine about the media itself.  
TV Guide is about TV.  I’m talking about the national news media leaning left on political issues.  

Furthermore, I’m not really sure when you think this liberal media era began.  The 70′s?  80s?  90′s?  When??  Get specific.  

 

 

 

After Watergate, the attitude among journalists and aspiring journalists took a sharp turn towards advocacy journalism.  My mom, in fact, wrote a paper on the topic while pursuing her master’s.  She interviewed Mike Royko for her paper.  The new generation of journalists saw their mission less as one of reporting facts and more of a desire to be agents for change.  In surveys of journalism students, “I want to change society for the better” (or something like that) is now the popular reason given for choosing journalism as a career.  “Change the world!” types tend to be liberals. 

Realize too that big league journalists tend to be educated, well-traveled residents of world-class cities.  

 

 

 

So we’re back to the “all the smart people are liberals” nonsense.  You may not have noticed this yet, Peter, but I’m pretty well-educated and well-read.  So is my brother, my best friend (a partner at the biggest law firm in Tennessee), the programmers I work with at BMI, etc. — all libertarians or conservatives.  Journalists don’t become liberals because of their superior educations.  They become journalists because the field attracts a disproportionate share of liberals — as Walter Cronkite’s former boss said himself.  (He said the same about the entertainment field, by the way.)  When I was journalism classes, 90% of my fellow students were liberals … and that was long before any of them because well-educated, world-travelin’ residents of world-class cities.
You cannot expect them to share the views of Baptists in the South or farmers on the plains .
I see you still believe conservatives are all religious hicks who drive pickup trucks.  Perhaps you should travel outside Hollywood someday so your perception of what conservatives are like will be informed by something more realistic than the Hollywood stereotypes.
You cannot expect educated women to support legislation requiring rape victims to carry resulting pregnancies.  Nor can you expect them to support legislation banning contraceptives.  Or abstinence only education.
I don’t expect educated people of either gender or of any political persuasion to support legistlation banning contraception or forcing rape victims to give birth.  As for sex education, I expect the schools to teach the biology of reproduction.  I don’t want them to teach my kids how to have sex without becoming pregnant, and I sure as hell don’t want them giving my daughters birth control.  (I say this despite not being a Baptist or a farmer.)  Those aren’t decisions the schools have any right to make for my child.  That’s my job as a parent. 

With regards to restrictions on voting rights, since the Tea Party came to power, in several state legislatures, there have been flurry of laws requiring voters to present state ID’s.  With the calculation that X number of poor people cannot choke up the cash to get copies of their birth certificates.  What’s more, about 15 states have passed laws this year making it far more difficult for students to vote in college towns.  They will have to either go home on Election Day, or cast absentee
ballots.  Again, it’s a cynical calculation that X number of students won’t bother going to the trouble.

 

 

 

I want voters to show IDs. I realize that’s an outrage to Democrats, who would lose some of their ability to win elections by having illegal immigrants and dead people vote early and often, but considering that I can’t rent a DVD, write a check, open a bank account, buy beer, or visit a doctor without showing ID, I don’t think it’s too much to demand that people picking the next president prove they are who they say they are.  In fact, I want more than just a requirement to show an ID.  I want anyone who applies to vote in elections to pass the same tests proving they understand the basics of U.S. government that we demand foreigners pass before they become citizens and vote.  People who can’t identify the two houses of Congress have no business voting. 

Did you read that article I sent about News Corp in London?  If you think those scandals are not a reflection on the Murdoch empire, I question your intelligence.  According to testimony at the House of Commons, News Of The World sanctioned thousands of phone hackings during the last 10 years.   I also read that Murdoch visited James Cameronat 10 Downing Street something like 15 times during Cameron’s first year in office.  Entering from the back door every time he went.

Can you imagine how Americans would feel if some foreign media magnet paid that many visits to the White House? So yeah, I regard FOX NEWS with absolute suspicion.  Why should Murdoch be a lord at large to the English speaking world??  Meddling in the politics of not one but ‘three’ major democracies (including Australia).  Again, if you don’t get my concern with that, I question your intelligence.

Yes, I’m aware of the crappy behavior of Mr. Murdoch’s employees at News of the World.  But unless and until employees of FOX news in the U.S. engage in similar behavior, I don’t see what it has to do with FOX news.  Bad behavior by journalists is, unfortunately, not all that uncommon.  To recall a few examples in the U.S.:

 

 

 

1. Maureen Dowd (NY Times), caught stitching together separate quotes from George W. Bush into single quotes to produce controversial statements he never actually made.
2. Stephen Glass (New Republic), caught making up entire stories.
3. Janet Cooke (Washington Post), caught making up entire stories.
4. Dan Rather (CBS), used forged documents on the air in a botched attempt to take down George W. Bush
5. Jayson Blair (NY Times), caught making up entire stories.
6. Michael Gallagher (Cincinnati Enquirer), caught fabricating sources for a story and (apparently) hacking into a corporation’s voice-mail system.
7. Michael Gartner (NBC), resigned when it was revealed that NBC staged an explosion of a GM truck for a news story on the supposed dangers of the trucks.
8. Adnan Hajj (Rueters), caught doctoring photographs while covering the Isreali action against Lebanon.
9. Jack Kelley (USA Today), caught fabricating stories.
10. Christopher Newtonw (API), fired for fabricating stories.
11. Patricia Smith (Boston Globe), resigned after admitting her columns described people and events that were fabricated.
I could go on, but you get the idea.  Bad behavior by journalists is hardly limited to Murdoch-owned media.
Best,
Tom  

 

 

 

 

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If Paul keeps at it, I’ll never have to come up with another idea for a post.  He’s been quiet over the holidays, but I suspect I’ll hear from him soon enough.  In the meantime, here’s another round.

 

Round 10(a) – Paul

Tom:

I did some searches on Climategate to see what I’d been ‘sleeping through’. First I found this BBC piece that seems to vindicate the scientists in question.  Then I found a WASHINGTON POST story (from that same week last month) commenting on the same study reported by the BBC.

** Earth is warming, study concludes **

A study by an independent scientific project, set up in the wake of the  Climategat email affair, concludes the Earth really is warming.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/news/science-environment-15373071

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/will-new-climate-studies-settle-skeptics-questions-dont-hold-your-breath/2011/10/23/gIQApUDiCM_blog.html

Paul

 

Round 10(a) – Tom

Paul –

You either desperately want to believe humans are warming the planet, or you’re more gullible than I thought.

So a bunch of scientists at Berkeley (who also no doubt desperately want the theory to be true, since their livelihoods probably depend on it) attempted damage control by rushing in, producing their own analysis, and saying ,”No problem folks.  Doesn’t matter how irresponsible and clearly dishonest the ClimateGate folks were.  We also found that the earth is warming.  Keep those grants coming.”

Their new “proof” doesn’t change several pertinent facts:

1. The ClimateGate scientists were freakin’ liars.  As I said in my Science for Smart People speech, that’s the unfortunate conclusion you have to reach once you start looking into some scientific fields.  The freakin’ liars are way more common than we’d like to think.  I don’t have the articles handy, but other  freakin’ liars in climate science have also been busted recently.

2. The ClimateGate scientists and others worked to suppress papers that didn’t support their theories.  This has in fact happened many times, in many organizations.  Somewhere in my files I even have a stinging letter of resignation from a scientist who’d finally had enough of being told what results he was expected to produce.

3. Thousands of real, honest-to-god climate scientists signed the statement I sent you earlier because they have examined the data and don’t agree with the supposed consensus.  And as Robert Carter — a real climate scientist — points out in his book, there is no consensus.  Lots of papers have been written (though not often published) detailing data that goes against the theory.  In real science, a hypothesis is not considered supported unless the data confirms it consistently and repeatedly.  Real scientists, in fact, are supposed to start with the “null hypothesis” — i.e., they’re supposed to assume their hypothesis is false and try to prove it false.  If they can’t prove it false, then they’re onto something. That’s certainly not the case with the AGW theory.

In fact, I agree with Michael Crichton, who once believed the theory himself, then began researching it for a book he was writing.  He later concluded (and gave a terrific speech on the topic) that AGW is just a new, modern religion.  We have saints, sinners, orthodoxy, persecution of those who don’t espouse the orthodoxy, a bite-from-the-apple event that caused the fall from grace (the invention of the combustion engine) and the threat of a fiery hell if we don’t stop sinning.  Most importantly, he concluded, we have high priests who, like Catholic bishops, are able to simply ignore or dismiss scientific evidence that their religious beliefs aren’t true.

You know … kinda like religious conservatives who simply dismiss evidence that the earth isn’t a mere 6,000 years old.

4. Even if your pals at Berkeley had gone out and performed a totally unbiased, thorough review of the data, even if they actually had the capability of measuring all the temperatures all over the world and comparing those temperatures to equally accurate measurements from the same places under the same environmental conditions throughout time (measurements that don’t actually exist, by the way) and then — with no attempts to massage the data — they concluded that the earth has gotten warmer, here’s what you could reasonably state based on their conclusions:

The earth has gotten warmer.

That’s it. It doesn’t tell us diddly about WHY the earth has gotten warmer and therefore isn’t proof that humans have anything to do with it.

Tom

 

Round 10(b) – Paul

Tom:

A poll has discovered that viewers of FOX NEWS are less informed than people who watch ‘no’ news.

Though in all fairness, the survey found that MSNBC (which I don’t watch) isn’t that great either.

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-fox-news-poll-20111121,0,3985

Paul

 

Round 10(b) – Tom

Hey, Paul –

Since my research for Fat Head and my ongoing research for my blog have turned me into a bit of a science nerd, I’ve gotten into the habit of tracking down studies after seeing them reported in the media — the reason being that there’s a LOT of biased and manipulated crap out there passing for science, and most media reporters are either too scientifically illiterate to recognize when a study is crap, or they’re too lazy to actually look into the data, choosing to simply repeat what the researchers wrote in their conclusions.

(Dr. John Ionnidis, a Harvard MD and math genius, has spent years analyzing health and medical studies after the fact.  He found that 80% of the conclusions reached in observational studies and 25% of the conclusions reached in clinical studies have turned out to be wrong … often because the researchers designed the study to produce the results they desired, or even played statistical games with the results.  As Dr. Mike Eades put it, “If you torture the data long enough, it will tell you what you want to hear.”)

Took awhile, but I found the full paper for the study you referenced.

They conducted a small-sample phone survey, solely among New Jersey residents.  They only asked a few questions.  Already, this wouldn’t qualify as a legitimate study by any real scientific standard.

The researchers claim their overall margin of error is 3.5% but note that the margin of error for each group and each question is much higher, due to the small sample size.  Once the margin of error for a result exceeds 5%, the result falls into the category of “statistically insignificant” — in plain English, “Likely due to chance and therefore not scientifically valid.”  If I flip a coin four times and it comes up heads three times, I cannot declare that 75% of coin flips results in heads, because my sample size is too small.

So by the usual rules of science and statistics, their claim that people who watch FOX news are less informed than people who watch no news is completely invalid.  (Not that the scientific illiterates at the Huffington Post, etc., will either notice or care.)

I also noticed that while CNN was included in their questionnaire, results for CNN viewers somehow vanished in their analysis comparing people who watch TV news to people who don’t — not that the analysis would be valid, since their margin of error was way over 5%, but I find it suspicious that CNN mysteriously disappeared from the tabulations.

Tom

 

Round 10(c) – Paul

Hey Tom!

Yeah, I admit the New Jersey study should be taken with a grain of salt.  Though personally I believe FOX NEWS has had an extraordinarily divisive impact on this country.  And the fact that Murdoch is not really an American pisses me off to the max!  Nor is he really British.  Yet he has had an outsize impact on British politics as well.  Though not in any positive way.

Earlier this year I read about a study calculating the impact of FOX NEWS and (right wing) talk radio.   The study was comparing American politics today with politics of the Vietnam era.  And though the Vietnam era was very turbulent, there was actually more agreement then on what the basic facts were.

Because everyone then was getting their news from the same sources.  The big 3 TV newscasts, major newspapers, TIME, LIFE, NEWSWEEK and even READERS DIGEST.

But thanks to FOX and Rush Limbaugh, Americans today cannot even agree on basic facts.  For instance, you asked if I was sleeping all through Climategate.  Well I hate to tell you, Tom, but Climategate was actually a made-for-FOX NEWS story.  Outside the right-wing media, it didn’t get much play.

And that myth of ‘mainstream liberal media’ is totally outdated.  As I’ve said before, the big 3 network newscasts are largely dependent on pharmaceutical commercials.  In fact, there are so many commercials in those newscasts, that one is only getting about 8 minutes of hard news.  Which is often devoted to just a single (disaster) story.

In fact, I think the only worthwhile TV newscasts are PBS, BBC and Al Jeezera, all of which have no commercials.  NPR is also an excellent source because of no commercials.  Only with no commercials can you really go in-depth.

My other main sources are THE NY TIMES AND WASHINGTON POST, as you’ve probably guessed.   One suspects the best writers gravitate to their newsrooms.

With regards to your contention that studies can be manipulated, I totally agree!  In fact, I believe that think tanks do that on a regular basis.  Which is basically their mission.

Paul

 

Round 10(c) – Tom

Paul –

Yeah, I admit the New Jersey study should be taken with a grain of salt.  Though personally I believe FOX NEWS has had an extraordinarily divisive impact on this country… Earlier this year I read about a study calculating the impact of FOX NEWS and (right wing) talk radio.   The study was comparing American politics today with politics of the Vietnam era.  And though the Vietnam era was very turbulent, there was actually more agreement then on what the basic facts were.

Because everyone then was getting their news from the same sources.  The big 3 TV newscasts, major newspapers, TIME, LIFE, NEWSWEEK and even READERS DIGEST.

Yes, I’m aware liberals miss the days when all the news came from three left-leaning networks and the left-leaning national newspapers.  Ahhh, the good ol’ days when people were only given the slanted news we wanted them to see…

I’m always amused by liberals practically pissing themselves over the existence of FOX news.  To understand what it felt like to be a libertarian or conservative back in those good ol’ days you miss so much, imagine only having three news networks, and they all report from a right-wing perspective, just like FOX news.  (And yes, I admit that FOX reports from a right-wing perspective.  They’re not “fair and balanced,” but they do provide the balance that was missing previously.)

But thanks to FOX and Rush Limbaugh, Americans today cannot even agree on basic facts.  For instance, you asked if I was sleeping all through Climategate.  Well I hate to tell you, Tom, but Climategate was actually a made-for-FOX NEWS story.  Outside the right-wing media, it didn’t get much play.

Of course it didn’t get much play outside of right-wing media!  The left-wing media wasn’t about to shout from the hilltops that the people producing the data that’s fed so much global-warming hysteria were a bunch of freakin’ liars who fudged their own data and tried to suppress dissent.  That’s exactly why we need right-wing media to cover the stories the left-wing media would prefer to sweep under the rug.

And that myth of ‘mainstream liberal media’ is totally outdated.  As I’ve said before, the big 3 network newscasts are largely dependent on pharmaceutical commercials.  In fact, there are so many commercials in those newscasts, that one is only getting about 8 minutes of hard news.  Which is often devoted to just a single (disaster) story.

And the fact that their advertisers are drug-makers proves they’re not biased to the left how, exactly?  Advertisers don’t care if the newscasters lean left or right (which is why their ads also appear on FOX) … they only care how many eyeballs are watching their ads.

Walter Cronkite’s former boss admitted the national news media is biased to the left.  ABC’s ombudsman admitted the national news media is biased left.  Jonathan Alter of Newsweek admitted the national news media is biased left.  Bernard Goldberg (formerly of CBS news) wrote an entire book describing how the national media biases the news left.  NBC’s Brian Williams, in fact, once said that if the national news media weren’t so biased to the left, there never would have been a Rush Limbaugh or a FOX news.

You stated above that ClimateGate — a scientific scandal reflecting on a major issue of the day — didn’t get much play outside of right-wing media.  How do you square that statement with your contention that the mainstream media isn’t biased?  That’s a perfect example of bias.  That scandal should have been front-page news in the New York Times.  The mainstream media didn’t report on that story because they don’t want people doubting the man-made global warming theory … same reason the news story about temperatures declining and ice increasing in the eastern Antarctic never saw the light of day in most American media.  That also should have been front-page news.

In fact, I think the only worthwhile TV newscasts are PBS, BBC and Al Jeezera, all of which have no commercials.  NPR is also an excellent source because of no commercials.  Only with no commercials can you really go in-depth.

My other main sources are THE NY TIMES AND WASHINGTON POST, as you’ve probably guessed.   One suspects the best writers gravitate to their newsrooms.

So someone who leans left prefers left-leaning media.  Not sure what that’s supposed to prove.  You suspect the “best” writers gravitate the big left-wing newspapers?  I suspect the best left-leaning writers gravitate there.  A right-leaning reporter would find his work unwelcome, as Stossel did at ABC.

With regards to your contention that studies can be manipulated, I totally agree!  In fact, I believe that think tanks do that on a regular basis.  Which is basically their mission.

A point I make over and over in my Science For Smart People speech.  Learn how to read the studies and ask the critical questions – no matter what the issue.

Tom

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Here we go again …

Round Nine – Paul

Tom:

With regards to Global Warming, you say my cousin’s opinion doesn’t matter.  But he is a physicist who spends most of his time with physicists.  So I’m likely to believe that he and his associates have looked into the math ‘you’ presume to offer.   And while my own mathematical training is somewhat limited, I have to think that 4 billion extra people, in a span of 80 years, is going to have an impact.  But if you want another opinion, the link below connects to an excellent article by NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC entitled “The Carbon Bath”.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/big-idea/05/carbon-bath

Said article features simple graphics that explain the science of global warming by describing the world as a carbon bathtub.  NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, by the way, has presented global warming updates in almost every issue for several years at this point.   And don’t come back and tell me that National Geographic is part of Al Gore’s conspiracy!

One should note that Republicans and Libertarians have been waging a war on science with regards to global warming.

Why?  Because to admit the problem exists would be a call to action.  Requiring more regulations and increased costs for industry.  Actions that would be unspeakable to conservatives.

One should also note Republicans have been waging war on science with regards to Evolution. abortion and sex education (or lack of).  In all these campaigns the right wing media has falsely claimed mainstream science is on their side.

On another issue, the link below is to a NY TIMES concerning TARP funds repaid.   The article clearly states that figures vary wildly with regards to how much has actually been repaid.  Nevertheless it appears that substantial sums have been repaid.

And allow me to note something you may have overlooked.  Alan Greenspan, who enabled the housing bubble with years of low interest rates, is actually a Libertarian.  Look it up!  In fact Greenspan and Robert Rubin were champions of derivatives.  What’s more, they overrode calls within the Clinton administration for a regulated exchange for the trading of derivatives.  A story that was compellingly presented on PBS’s FRONTLINE in a 2009 segment entitled “The Warning”.

Paul

 

Round Nine – Tom

Paul –

With regards to Global Warming, you say my cousin’s opinion doesn’t matter.  But he is a physicist who spends most of his time with physicists.  So I’m likely to believe that he and his associates have looked into the math ‘you’ presume to offer.   And while my own mathematical training is somewhat limited, I have to think that 4 billion extra people, in a span of 80 years, is going to have an impact.

Four billion extra people will absolutely, positively have an effect on the earth’s resources.  But to conclude that because we’re burning more fossil fuels as a result of the population explosion, this somehow proves fossil fuel use is warming the earth is a tautological argument with no scientific validity.

But if you want another opinion, the link below connects to an excellent article by NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC entitled “The Carbon Bath”.

Said article features simple graphics that explain the science of global warming by describing the world as a carbon bathtub.  NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, by the way, has presented global warming updates in almost every issue for several years at this point.   And don’t come back and tell me that National Geographic is part of Al Gore’s conspiracy!

I read the article, which simply restates the theories promoted by the global-warming hysterics without providing anything resembling proof.  The article assumes that rising CO2 leads to higher global temperatures, then describes how long it will take to clear the CO2.  There’s no proof of that initial assumption — that’s a theory, not a scientific fact.

I noticed they conveniently stated that CO2 concentration hasn’t been this high in 800 million years.  True.  But it was far higher at other times in the planet’s history, and during some of those periods the planet was far colder than today.

One should note that Republicans and Libertarians have been waging a war on science with regards to global warming.

No, libertarians aren’t waging a war on science.  We’re waging a war on hysteria that isn’t based on anything resembling scientific certainty.  The people who are screwing up science are the irresponsible grant-whores who manipulate data to support their theories — did you sleep through the whole ClimateGate episode?  To refresh your memory:

1) The emails suggest the authors co-operated covertly to ensure that only papers favorable to CO2-forced AGW were published, and that editors and journals publishing contrary papers were punished. They also attempted to “discipline” scientists and journalists who published skeptical information. (Gee, maybe that has something to do with why 90% of the zoologists agree with your cousin — the papers disputing AGW aren’t published.  In real science, opposing views are encouraged.)

2) The emails suggest that the authors manipulated and “massaged” the data to strengthen the case in favor of unprecedented CO2-forced AGW, and to suppress their own data if it called AGW into question.

3) The emails suggest that the authors co-operated to prevent data from being made available to other researchers through either data archiving requests or through the Freedom of Information Acts of both the U.S. and the UK.

4) Comments left in computer-modeling programs by programmers stated that the programmers were frustrated at how difficult it was to force the models to produce the conclusions the researchers desired.

Real scientists don’t tell programmers what results they want ahead of time, and real scientists don’t try to prevent other scientists from reviewing their data.  Attacking these bozos isn’t attacking science — it’s attacking bad science.

Why?  Because to admit the problem exists would be a call to action.  Requiring more regulations and increased costs for industry.  Actions that would be unspeakable to conservatives.

To “admit” the problem exists would be to accept a theory for which there is no proof, in a branch of science in which the honest scientists admit they’ve barely begun to identify all the variables involved.

I’d suggest you turn that question around:  why are leftists so eager to insist we act on a theory that hasn’t been proved?  The answer, of course, is that the supposed cures involve imposing new taxes without having to call them taxes.  We have governments subsidizing researchers who conclude that we have a serious problem on our hands — and the answer is to impose taxes that would provide those governments with more revenue.  Do you see a conflict of interest there?  I see a perfect analogy to scientists who were funded by the USDA concluding the key to health is to consume more of the grains the USDA subsidizes.

But let’s suppose we take those “unspeakable actions” you support.  If we adopted every draconian provision in the Kyoto treaty, it would reduce carbon emissions by about 1/30th of what’s necessary to prevent global warming (assuming you believe the theory that humans cause global warming).  So we would tank economies all over the world in order to solve … nothing.

You’re already convinced that no one can afford medical care, no one can afford to save for retirement, and yet you support making absolutely everything people buy significantly more expensive (energy is an input cost for nearly all goods and services), even though 1) those extra costs wouldn’t even begin to solve a supposed problem that 2) hasn’t been proved to be a problem in the first place.

Is this another situation where you believe the government can wave its magic wand and cancel the economic effects?

One should also note Republicans have been waging war on science with regards to Evolution. abortion and sex education (or lack of).  In all these campaigns the right wing media has falsely claimed mainstream science is on their side.

The small fraction of Republicans who try to dispute evolution are, like the “scientists” involved in ClimateGate, not interested in real science and should be ignored.  As for attacking the “science” of abortion and sex education, what the hell are you talking about?  What does science have to do with abortion and sex education?

On another issue, the link below is to a NY TIMES concerning TARP funds repaid.   The article clearly states that figures vary wildly with regards to how much has actually been repaid.  Nevertheless it appears that substantial sums have been repaid.

The figures vary wildly, but you’re offering this up as proof of something?  Of course the figures vary wildly, because the government officials compiling them are self-serving hacks.  Regardless, I don’t care if all the TARP money is eventually repaid.  The federal government has no business bailing out private corporations.

And allow me to note something you may have overlooked.  Alan Greenspan, who enabled the housing bubble with years of low interest rates, is actually a Libertarian.  Look it up!  In fact Greenspan and Robert Rubin were champions of derivatives.

Wow, Alan Greespan was a libertarian?!  Thanks for informing me … I guess that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that libertarianism caused the housing boom and meltdown …

For Pete’s sake … It doesn’t matter what he calls himself, Paul.  He abandoned libertarian principles years ago, doing exactly what libertarian economists from Hayek on down warned against.  Hayek wrote thick books on the dangers of allowing a central bank to manipulate interest rates and create new money out of thin air.  He warned that those actions would always lead to a bubble followed by a bust.  Libertarian economists were highly critical of Greenpan’s tenure at the Fed, precisely because he abandoned the principles he’d once espoused.  If a self-proclaimed Buddhist goes on a killing spree, that doesn’t mean the tenets of Buddhism are wrong.  It means the killer wasn’t much of a Buddhist.

Bill Maher used to call himself a libertarian too, even though he hasn’t taken a libertarian position on economic issues in years.  (Which really pisses me off, by the way.  I tell people I’m a libertarian, and once in awhile someone will reply, “Oh, like Bill Maher!”  Grrrr….)

What’s more, they overrode calls within the Clinton administration for a regulated exchange for the trading of derivatives.  A story that was compellingly presented on PBS’s FRONTLINE in a 2009 segment entitled “The Warning”.

I’m going to shock you here … you may want to sit down for this.  Are you seated?  Okay:

Given the circumstances under which they were created, I wouldn’t have a problem with the issue and trading of those types of derivatives being regulated.   Free market principles work in free markets, not in markets where the federal government has skewed all the normal market factors out of proportion.  Greenspan’s attempts to manipulate the housing market (along with Fannie, Freddie and Congress) created an unnatural situation that never should have existed, with more and more loans being written for less and less qualified buyers.  This never would have happened without Fed and government involvement.  Those bad loans were turned into bad bonds which became bad derivatives.  So given that the government enabled and encouraged so much crappy debt to be created, I would support someone else in government stepping in to prevent the government-created bad debt from being sold to unsuspecting investors.  But the situation never should have existed in the first place.

The bond market was where the crappy loans eventually did their damage.  Take away the derivatives, and the implosion merely would have happened somewhere else.  Once the bad loans were written, we were going to have a financial failure somewhere.  If Fannie and Freddie had kept the loans, all the damage would have shown up there.  They sliced and diced the loans and sold them to Wall Street, so the damage showed up on Wall Street.  No amount of financial regulation would have prevented the trillions in bad loans from going bad once they were written — and they wouldn’t have been written without the Fed, Fannie, Freddie and Congress @#$%ing everything up.  Again, go back 25 years, before our government geniuses created all those asinine incentives, and banks didn’t write loans like those.

Take a look at Barney Frank insisting Fannie and Freddie were sound and the government should be doing more to “encourage home ownership” — i.e., backing more loans that were doomed to go bad:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMnSp4qEXNM&feature=player_embedded#!

Tom

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