Video: Evil Rich People

These are the dastardly sneaky skunks who Betty Sutton and friends want to punish:

In other words, she wants to punish the people who employ three out of four small business employees. Guess what will inevitably result when those small business owners get hammered by Congress? They’ll be forced to cut payrolls.
J-O-B-S, right, Betty? Way to “protect the little guy.”

Tom Ganley still has a Cash For Clunkers problem

Shailagh Murray’s snarky piece in Saturday’s Washington Post jabs Betty Sutton’s challenger for taking advantage of Sutton’s signature legislation.

Republican House candidate Tom Ganley sold more than 800 cars last summer through the “Cash for Clunkers” government rebate program. But does Uncle Sam get a thank you?
“Let’s talk about Cash for Clunkers,” the voluble millionaire, who owns the largest auto dealership group in Ohio, told a group of voters here recently. “It created a 30-day surge in auto sales. After it ended, there was no business. It was like the faucet was shut off.”

Most economists say the nationwide stimulus effort has generally paid off, although they differ on how much.

But Sutton is a top target of Republicans, in part because of her support for the program. Her opponent’s 31 dealerships sold an estimated $17 million worth of cars through Clunkers rebates, but he now denounces the program as a fiscal folly.

Ganley needs to get in front of this “he’s-a-hypocritical-used-car-salesman-fatcat-rich-guy” portrayal quickly, before Sutton hangs it around his neck for good. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this line of attack, and there are more tasks that require Ganley’s attention.
Enough fund-raising and strategizing, Tom. Hit the campaign trail (Lord knows, Betty refuses to). Define yourself, define your socialist opponent, and publicize your plan to get government out of our health care, our lives, and our wallets.

Trade wars as election stunts

Betty Sutton’s been busy:

Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH) introduced H.R. 4678, the Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act, to protect consumers from dangerous and defective products manufactured and produced abroad. Every year, countless Americans are injured, sometimes fatally, by dangerous products that have been manufactured abroad and imported into the U.S. Recent examples included toxic drywall, faulty infant cribs, lead paint in children’s toys, and defective tires. These products not only hurt American consumers, they hurt American businesses.

The Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act:

  • Requires manufacturers to register an “agent” in a state where the company does business to accept service of process for civil and regulatory claims.
  • Registering an agent will constitute an acceptance of personal jurisdiction of the State and Federal courts of the state in which the agent is located.
  • Covers products regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), such as children’s toys; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including prescription drugs and medical devices; and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), like pesticides.

If that sounds good to you at first glance, Rick Woldenberg urges you to think again:

The purpose of this bill is to make foreign manufacturers of finished goods and parts intended to be used as components in those finished goods register for service of process in this country. In other words, foreign manufacturers must register here so our plaintiff’s bar and the government can sue them with ease. The new law prohibits trade with foreign manufacturers unless they are registered, and enlists the aid of the federal government’s snarling dog, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, to enforce this law.
This means that every factory we use outside the U.S. will have to register for service of process in the U.S. if we want to continue to import our products from them. The law goes even FURTHER, asking that each agency involved to study ways to force manufacturers of components to register here, too. So, for example, if you make a toy in China and your factory buys boxes from a local printer who has NO contractual relationship with you, this law asks the agencies to study the feasibility of getting such box printers to register for service of process in this country. To accomplish that lofty goal, of course, you have to know their identity. Our customers do not know our vendors’ names and we aren’t telling. It’s none of their business. Do you think it’s any different for our factories relative to us? Will they ever disclose that information to our Mother Government (to them, a foreign government)? Please – would you disclose your sources to the Chinese government? And who pays the administrative and out-of-pocket costs of this exercise? And what about the consequences of the fear factor and the costs of new litigation on markets?

This is an example of how I learned to HATE Congress and Democrats. These rules descend on our business in suffocating waves, adding no value but creating major distractions and feeding fear. On the other hand, perhaps I will be eating crow when Obama’s recently announced master plan to reduce the deficit by two-thirds in three years through increased spending, increased entitlements, increased taxes and increased regulation works like a charm. Maybe this law is part of the implementation of that great plan.

That’s how progressives like Betty Sutton work to “fix” unemployment. Do you feel encouraged yet? Check out what a well-respected lawyer has to say about the CPSIA, which Betty apparently thinks is too weak and needs strengthening with her new bill. Betty’s bill could be the next Smoot-Hawley Tariff. The first one helped trigger the Great Depression. Remember that when you see Betty’s TV ads touting her concern for “the little guy” and her tireless work to “create or save jobs.” It’s a protectionist election year gimmick that will result in serious pain later.

Supply and demand, surplus and shortage

It just occurred to me that some of my readers may be unfamiliar with the concepts in my post on price ceilings. Supply and demand are basic concepts in economics, and although we all intuitively react to them in our daily lives, it’s rarely a conscious thing. Public schools rarely teach economics, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
If a basic explanation of supply and demand confuses you, watch this video:

Rewind it a bunch of times if it goes by too quickly, and then try this interactive exercise (warning: it loads slowly).

Price ceilings cause shortages

What would happen to the supply of gold if tomorrow morning the federal government declared it illegal to sell it for more than $500 an ounce? Every last bit would be snapped up by the close of business that day, and gold producers would shut down. Instant shortage. You can apply the same relentless cause-and-effect to other forms of price ceilings (that is, maximum prices set by law).

Rent control laws cause a drastic boost in demand for apartments and a drastic drop in the supply of landlords willing to rent apartments at painfully low rates … which combine to cause shortages. Ask anybody in New York City how easy it is to find an apartment that you can afford that’s also suitable for human habitation.

Remember the gasoline lines of the 1970s? Price ceilings enacted by the Nixon administration were to blame. Demand spiked while supply cratered.

In 2007 the government of Zimbabwe imposed price ceilings on the prices of food, resulting in shortages and utter chaos.
Remember all of those rolling power blackouts in California in 2000? You guessed it. Price ceilings again, this time on retail electricity rates. The wholesale price of electricity was allowed to float freely, but the power companies weren’t allowed to charge enough to recoup their expenses. They had to reduce the supply of power to avoid going bankrupt. After all, you can’t stay in business by buying widgets for $10 and selling them for $5, could you?

The British health care system sets price ceilings on health care. The result? Artificially high demand, shortages, rationing, crappy care, black markets, and corruption.

Watch and learn.

Given this completely predictable pattern, how likely is it that President Obama’s plan to impose price ceilings on health insurance premiums will “promote competition, transparency and better deals for consumers” as he predicts?

Progressives are economic illiterates (Updated)

When I read Daniel Klein’s WSJ piece on the state of basic economic knowledge among American adults, I had to wonder how anyone could be surprised by his findings.

Who is better informed about the policy choices facing the country — liberals, conservatives or libertarians? According to a Zogby International survey that I write about in the May issue of Econ Journal Watch, the answer is unequivocal: The left flunks Econ 101.
Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic and I considered the 4,835 respondents’ (all American adults) answers to eight survey questions about basic economics. We also asked the respondents about their political leanings: progressive/very liberal; liberal; moderate; conservative; very conservative; and libertarian.
Rather than focusing on whether respondents answered a question correctly, we instead looked at whether they answered incorrectly. A response was counted as incorrect only if it was flatly unenlightened.

Americans in the first three categories do reasonably well. But the left has trouble squaring economic thinking with their political psychology, morals and aesthetics.

The survey also asked about party affiliation. Those responding Democratic averaged 4.59 incorrect answers [out of 8]. Republicans averaged 1.61 incorrect, and Libertarians 1.26 incorrect.

The eight propositions polled in the survey were:

  1. Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.
  2. Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services.
  3. Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago.
  4. Rent control leads to housing shortages.
  5. A company with the largest market share is a monopoly.
  6. Third-world workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited.
  7. Free trade leads to unemployment.
  8. Minimum wage laws raise unemployment.

Laffer Curve basics

Since anyone but a progressive like Betty Sutton will readily admit that taxes affect people’s behavior, how can a government get the most revenue from income taxes? By setting the right income tax rate, of course. If the government doesn’t tax income at all, it obviously gets no revenue. If it taxes every last cent of income, it also gets no revenue (since nobody would have any incentive to work in the first place). Somewhere in between is a “sweet spot.”

Remember that we’re just trying to figure out how to maximize revenue from income taxes, not whether it should be maximized.

Cash for Clunkers: nothing for a whole lot of something

U.S. Census data on automobile sales offer yet more proof that Betty Sutton’s biggest “achievement” was nothing but a clunker.
Cash for Clunkers
Just like every other Keynesian stimulus program, Cash for Clunkers relied on the delusional idea that government can create new wealth by destroying old wealth:

It destroys wealth by not letting these cars be used up over their useful life. It destroys wealth by routing scarce resources into activities – in this case, car building – that wouldn’t otherwise take place, denying other industries access to those resources. It destroys wealth by taking on liabilities, through borrowing, that have to be paid back later by taxpayers (reducing their purchasing power in the future) or by taxing them immediately (reducing their purchasing power today).

These people traded in a car they’ve been likely to drive less. We can safely assume these cars didn’t get as good gas mileage or were older, “clunkers”, because they were targeted for these reasons. These cars also may not have been driven at all, or driven rarely. However, they’ve been used to help people get a vehicle that they’re now more likely to drive more frequently!!! More driving means more emissions, even if the emission per unit of travel is less. More driving means more fuel consumption, even if the fuel consumption per unit of travel is less.

Betty Sutton’s a labor lawyer and a career politician. All she’s ever done is spend money to pander to big union bosses, radical environmentalists, and every other nutty leftist special interest in existence. She knows absolutely nothing about the free market, nothing about creating capital and jobs, and nothing about the real world consequences of her actions. Nobody should be surprised that her hare-brained ideas have wrecked the economy and burdened our children with mountains of debt.
Betty Sutton
Re-electing her and expecting anything different makes as much sense as giving an alcoholic a bottle of whiskey and the keys to your car. This shambling monstrosity is her baby. No wonder she didn’t abort it.

Using hay to control oil spills

Could this be a fast way to limit the spread of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? I’m not seeing any drawbacks here.

Some Coast Guard buoy tender CO with gonads (CYPRESS? OAK? JOSHUA APPLEBY?) needs to load his cutter with hay, get out to the spill, dump it overboard, and film the results. Waiting for direction from CG Headquarters and the rest of the jokers in Washington, DC is no strategy for success. Be bold!

Video: “Reason Saves Cleveland”

Drew Carey and The Reason Foundation decided to look for ways to save Cleveland from its aggressively stupid political leaders and their refusal to heed the first rule of holes. The result is a video series called “Reason Saves Cleveland”:

Keep checking back as new episodes premiere, because I’ll add them to this playlist.
3/18 Update: Right on cue, Tim Russo (a standard-bearer for typical Cleveland progressives) posts a spittle-flecked screed that misses the points of the Reason video … and indelibly beclowns its author. Statist hacks like Russo simply cannot admit (or even comprehend) that punitive taxation and suffocating bureaucracy are responsible for Cleveland’s sorry decline.

Time Warner Cable sucks

Here I sit, trying to watch the premiere of “The Pacific” on HBO, and the signal from Time Warner Cable is hitching, pausing, and pixelated. I signed up for HBO on Thursday just for this. I’ve been calling customer support all day to demand assistance. The response?

Gee, sorry, our computers are down. Try rebooting your box. Besides, we’re working on the “outage” and things should be fine by tomorrow.

Fail. This is what monopolies get you.
11:55 PM Update: This is almost exactly what it looks like. I’ll try to record my own video soon.

Zach Lahn corners Barack Obama

Bravo to Zach Lahn, for having bigger balls than 99% of the media! I hope this young man’s ready for the Joe The Plumber treatment, courtesy of ACORN and SEIU.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

President Obama spent the majority of his “answer” restating the question, then talked about “opposing” the exact kind of public option that’s in the House bill. ABC transcribed some of it:

“Certainly they can’t compete if the taxpayer is standing behind the public option just shoveling more and more money at it,” Obama said. “That’s certainly not fair. And so I’ve already said I would not be in favor of a public option of that sort, because that would just mean more expenses out of our pockets and we wouldn’t be seeing much improvement in quality.”

“I think there are ways that we can address those competitive issues,” he said. “And you’re absolutely right, if they’re not entirely addressed, then that raises a set of legitimate problems. But the only point I wanted to make was the notion that somehow just by having a public option you have the entire private marketplace destroyed is just not borne out by the facts.”

Read the whole thing; ABC interviewed Zach afterward, and he kept the pressure on the president for regurgitating nothing but vague talking points. Ten bucks says Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck are all over this within a week. Oh … notice that Obama didn’t accept Zach’s challenge, either (wuss).
More coverage:
Politico

UK writer: US health care beats ours

Stephen Glover admits that the truth hurts:

In treating almost every cancer, America apparently does better than Britain, sometimes appreciably so. According to a study in Lancet Oncology last year, 91.9 per cent of American men with prostate cancer were still alive after five years, compared with only 51.1per cent in Britain.
The same publication suggests that 90.1 per cent of women in the U.S. diagnosed with breast cancer between 2000 and 2002 survived for at least five years, as against 77.8 per cent in Britain.
So it goes on. Overall the outcome for cancer patients is better in America than in this country. So, too, it is for victims of heart attacks, though the difference is less marked.
If you are suspicious of comparative statistics, consult any American who has encountered the NHS. Often they cannot believe what has happened to them – the squalor, and looming threat of MRSA; the long waiting lists, and especially the official target that patients in ‘accident and emergency’ should be expected to wait for no more than four – four! – hours; the sense exuded by some medical staff that they are doing you a favour by taking down your personal details.
Most Americans, let’s face it, are used to much higher standards of healthcare than we enjoy, even after the doubling of the NHS budget under New Labour. Of course, the U.S. is a somewhat richer country, but I doubt its superior health service can be mainly attributed to this advantage.

In other news: jumping into water leads to wetness, rocks fall downward, and there’s no way to pick up a turd by the “clean end.”

The tragedy of the commons

Do people treat rental cars better than their own cars? Is the office fridge cleaner than your home fridge? Does a public park have less litter than your back yard? Is a government housing project maintained as well as a privately owned apartment building?
The answer in each case is obviously “no”, but have you ever wondered why?

Earth to the Ohio GOP … come in, please …

If this unethical tactic for pushing an immoral policy doesn’t justify a full-throated attack, what does? Via Drudge:

On the night of June 24, the media and government become one, when ABC turns its programming over to President Obama and White House officials to push government run health care — a move that has ignited an ethical firestorm!
Highlights on the agenda:
ABCNEWS anchor Charlie Gibson will deliver WORLD NEWS from the Blue Room of the White House.
The network plans a primetime special — ‘Prescription for America’ — originating from the East Room, exclude opposing voices on the debate.

Hey, Ohio Republican Party bigwigs! What in the world are you waiting for? Blast this! Get aggressive. This is a no-brainer in at least two ways. 1) Americans don’t want socialized medicine. 2) Americans hate biased media outlets that claim to be unbiased.
Couple that with cratering support for Obama’s policies and you guys have a perfect opportunity to contrast the statist path of the Democrats with the traditional GOP values of rugged individualism, independence, and capitalism. Yes, Obama’s popular. So what? Attack his policies and his plans, not him.
Stop worrying about being treated badly by the media. You lost that war in the 1960s. They’ll never like you. Use it to your advantage. Say things that they can’t afford to ignore, things that they’ll have to cover. Call ABC “a wholly owned subsidiary of ACORN and the Democratic Party.” Draw comparisons to Joseph Goebbels’ “Big Lie” strategy. Remind people of what Pravda used to publish. The media and the statists on the Left have just exposed their weakest point of vulnerability to you. Hit it with a sledgehemmer!
Learn from Sun Tzu:

You may advance and be absolutely irresistible, if you make for the enemy’s weak points; you may retire and be safe from pursuit if your movements are more rapid than those of the enemy.

Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards.
So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.

Get off your asses and attack!