As usual, it takes a satirical take on a serious issue to make it make sense. Here is South Park’s take on how the government comes up with all its policies during this erratic economy.
Archive for March, 2009
Posted by Bobby on March 27, 2009
Posted by Bobby on March 27, 2009
I never understood the thought processes behind highly paid Hollywood actor/actresses and athletes back of Democratic candidates when they talk constantly about increasing taxes that would directly effect them and their very high salaries. Well, with the wealth and class envy rhetoric being amped up out Washington, these power players might end up finding themselves in the political cross hairs:
While a great deal of public anger is focused at corporate executives these days, Johnny Depp and the Boys of Summer don’t fare much better. Thirty percent (30%) of Americans believe the government should make it illegal to pay movie stars and athletes more than $1 million per year.
Now, Rasmussen mentions that 59% of people oppose such action. But it remain that way when all the political capital from Wall Street is spent? I’ve mentioned before, the power brokers in Washington need an enemy to keep the heat off them. Watch out, Hollywood. You could be next.
Posted by Bobby on March 26, 2009
The current recession in America has caused more and more laymen to begin paying attention to the economy. News outlets have presented wall to wall coverage of economic conditions featuring full page stories and segments to any up-tick or down-tick in economic news and markets. A lot of economists and new personalities that interview them throw the term “Keynesian” around with hints of both positive and negative connotations, but do people really know what this means?
I contest Keynesian methods are the wrong methods to use in any economy, but the average laymen probably does not understand what is implied when Keynesian Economics is used. To understand Keynesian Economics, one must first have a basic understanding of economics in general–which I also contest that a majority of Americans do not have either. Let’s look at a basic blueprint for economics.
Many people would be shocked to know that economics is the study of how to solve a basic problem. It is not the study of the economy. If that were the case, economics would differ from geographical region to geographical region. Economics actually has a mission to solve much like any other science does. The basic economic problem is this:
In economics, the problem posed by the fact that human wants are infinite but resources are scarce. Resources therefore have to be allocated [in a way that offers the most consumer satisfaction possible with the resources available].
The last part was taken from my Macroeconomics textbook I have from college. Now, there are two factors, based on that problem statement, to economics: supply (resources) and demand (human wants). This is where backbone to these “laws” we hear thrown around known as supply and demand. I’ll spare you the details of how one effects the other, and we’ll just step right into the predominant theory used by our government today: Keynesian.
Keynesian economics is a demand side economic theory. Basically states that the best way to produce the most consumer satisfaction is to curb demand. Make the people want less! This is the theory behind Obama’s energy plan:
This investment will place Smart Meters in homes to make our energy bills lower, make outages less likely and make it easier to use clean energy.
These meters “report electricity consumption on an hourly basis. This enables PG&E to set pricing that varies by season and time of the day, rewarding customers who shift energy use to off-peak periods.” Essentially, these meters promote changing consumer behavior. This theory stretches to the financial industry when the FED buys back Treasury bonds in an attempt “to encourage more economic activity by lowering interest rates, including those on home loans”. The government is using these methods to lower the demand for energy (whose supply is currently low) and strengthen the demand for consumer spending (whose supply is currently high).
What Washington fails to realize is the demand is too elastic to control. Telling someone to want something less actually makes them want it more (got any teenagers?). Not only that, but the two positions mentioned above are counter-productive. If a person were to go out and get a loan for a house or a car, aren’t they going to energy to power said new purchase? Even if the car is electric and uses no gas, it will still need the electricity from the house to operate.
People might think that fixing and tampering with demand is the only choice we have because, like the basic problem says: resources are scarce. What you have to understand is that resources are scarce in different ways. Certain resources are only scarce for a certain amount of time before they are renewed, like food and cotton for clothing. Televisions are scarce because the factories of the world can only produce so many at a time. Energy is scarce because there are only so many power plants and oil wells available to produce the energy. Rather than worry about adjusting human behavior, why don’t we adjust what we can adjust? The supply. This is known a supply side economics.
Supply side economics accepts human nature for what it is: greedy. I know, its a horrible word, but it is true. People want houses, cars, clothes, food, electronics, and the energy needed to power them all. Instead of trying to subvert or trick human behavior, it actually embraces it! If there is an energy shortage, we should create more energy to met the demand, aka. building new coal and nuclear power plants and drill here, drill now! If the demand for financial assistance is low, we lower the money supply so that interest rates can reach a responsible and non-inflationary level. If people don’t want to borrow money, they aren’t going to borrow money. Similarly, if someone wants to turn the thermostat to 80 degrees, they are going to turn the thermostat to 80 degrees.
Many in Washington talk down supply side economics because you are unable to regulate it. This is simply untrue. The elimination of monopolies was a supply side regulation. Having only one firm in complete control of the supply could enable that person to charge whatever they want. Competition, many firms competing for one consumer sector, allows prices to remain at a fair market level because if one firm overcharges, the consumer can move onto one of the firms that charges less.
Of course, like most things, the government has to stick its nose in where it doesn’t belong and subvert what would otherwise be seen as economic progress–at least though the eyes of those that understand economics. The problem today is that the firms that charge more (GM) than its competitors which charge less (Toyota) for the same product are being bailed out. Thus, the firm that charges too much has no incentive to lower its prices and remain competitive, but this is a topic for another day.
The facts are these: the power brokers in Washington have latched onto an economic philosophy that attempts to subvert and change humans from what they want to what the government believes they should want. As I understand it, this is known as tyranny.
Posted by Bobby on March 22, 2009
So, I finally sat down and watched Media Malpractice, a film by John Ziegler who followed the media’s coverage of Obama through both the primaries and the general election. Here are my thoughts on it.
To start out, to contrast documentaries of the past that contained a political subject, this movie was not partisan in the same way one might view Michael Moore’s movies. The movie in no way attempted to promote a political philosophy, rather it was a step by step coverage of the media roll in the last election cycle. It might seem like the movie was overly kind to Sarah Palin, but only because Ziegler attempts to shed light on the press-based attacks on Sarah and her family. When it comes to Mrs. Palin, Ziegler never says anything that he doesn’t back up with another video or news story.
My initial impressions when I saw the trailers and promos for the movie could best be described as a “Tell me something I don’t know” attitude. Having the 20/20 vision that is hindsight, any person can go back and see the blatant cheer leading that the news media put forth for Mr. Obama. However, this movie does an excellent job of showing just how egregious it truly was. I found myself calling for and showing my wife–who is a big Palin supporter–clips of the movie that left her with that wide eyed and disappointed expression that she gives when she truly could not believe what she just heard. I couldn’t believe half of what I saw.
This movie does give me a new respect and feelings toward talk radio. In his movie, Zielger makes no reference to talk radio, a medium that was overly supportive of McCain/Palin. Lately, there have been stories of talk from Senators and bureaucrats saying that the need for a fairness doctrine on talk radio. Media Malpractice screams in response that a fairness doctrine should, if enacted, also encapsulate the television news media, newspapers, and alike. There is definitely bias in these mediums as well. The only difference is that talk radio admits the are bias. While the other mediums hold their objectivity up as a badge of honor and attacks any who dare say otherwise.
Overall, it is water under the bridge. Obama is president. That is change we can’t believe in. But, with the economy being what it is, I am curious if any of those in the media who carried the man to the top of the mountain now regret any of what they did. After all, they have pensions and 401k’s as well. We’ll never know for sure, but my curiosity remains.
Posted by Bobby on March 19, 2009
Welp, tonight is the big night. Tonight, the President of the United States of America is going to do what any other has done and go on a late night television comedy show. It is easy to see both sides of the “effects” coin, here. On one side, the president is obviously lowering himself to the position of the jester, and on the other side, the president comes off as a normal guy in a normal atmosphere in which he can state his message. Of course, the reason for doing this is definitely that of Obama’s making.
It is obvious that Obama is still cruising in campaign mode. I image that it would be hard to just switch that off after nearly one and a half years of campaigning for the position he now holds. It is obvious why he is doing this. He did it with the passage of his not-so-stimulus bill, and he now has to campaign for the results of his stimulus. Tonight, his message will most likely consist of a positive message about the economy, because it is effecting the rest of his agenda. Even the Duke basketball coach is joining the drum-beat of “eyes on your own paper!“
A good question would be: is all this campaigning necessary? For Obama? Oh my, yes.
I enjoy studying human nature. Maybe it is my marketing degree or my love of story telling, but I am intrigued by the most complex of all God’s creations. And what I have learned–that has anything to do with Obama–is this: humans are more likely to unite in opposition to an enemy than unite behind the positivity of a leader. I might create a post on the subject later, but for now, just remember how everyone felt after 9/11 for an example.
Now, Obama was elected under the positive message of change. That same message saw his voters turn into a cult-like following of crying men and women who looked to Obama as a rockstar with the power who execute what his songs sang of. Well, time has passed and Obama’s numbers are starting to slip. Obama saw what happened to a president who cut himself off from the public (Bush), and he is not going to see this happen to him. If Obama does not reach out and keep his support in the pool of positivity, he might see them slip into an opposition against him. The anger is fomenting, but as long as he has the voting majority on his side, Obama will be able to get his agenda passed. This is why Obama will never leave campaign mode.
Now, his numbers are still pretty good, but not near where Bush’s were when he took over. Obama’s message tonight will be a positive one meant to draw up support for the economy and his agenda. He will plea that health care reform will help the economy rebound (it won’t), and he will assure his sheep that the stimulus bill is hard at work. But, the overall message will be that he is doing what he can for the American people, and he might even throw in a few jabs at Bush.
I, personally, will not be watching it. I’ll wait for the sound bites.
Posted by Bobby on March 17, 2009
The hot button news of the day has to be the AIG paying bonuses. All that I am about to talk about is personal. I don’t know what you (the reader) thinks about AIG paying their employees bonuses based on merit, but these are the facts: AIG has been given a bailout twice, the amount of money they gave out in bonuses drafts the amount of money they have been given, and just as the president admits, these were contracts! These were not what most people view them as.
When most people hear that AIG is giving out bonuses, they probably view the executives swimming in a swimming pool of taxpayer money. They envision smoke-filled rooms with a couple of fat white men drinking expensive brandy and smokey expensive cigars telling each other, “the money from the government came in. Who wants some free money?!?” This is a complete misconception. These were contracts entered into years ago in which payment would be given in the form of bonuses based on merit. Now how would you feel if Uncle Sam walked in and told you you couldn’t have a bonus this year, because it isn’t fair?
“But, it’s taxpayer dollars!” Are you outraged over the money being given to AIG in the first place? How about the second time? Here in lies the true reason for this demonization of the AIG bonuses. There are a lot of people out there furious over these bailouts. With Obama’s polling numbers starting to fall, they must redirect this anger from themselves back to who they foresee as the true enemy. It might work temporarily, but more bailouts and government waste is going to follow, and the AIG bailouts will fade out of the news cycle just like any bank bonuses paid out in the past. The waste and out of control spending of the federal government is not going to leave the minds of those Americans who are angry about it.
The anger being thrown at AIG is completely wasted. Let’s forget about the almost laughable amount of money AIG gave to its employees, and start directing some of that anger where it truly belongs. At the federal government. They are the poster boys (and girls) for what it means to waste money!
Posted by Bobby on March 13, 2009
I was watching TV last night, and I watched an interview Jon Stewart of the Daily Show did with Jim Cramer. Now, typically, I do not watch the Daily Show, which is a satirical news show, because if I want news, I’ll go to an actual news source and if I want to laugh, I’ll watch one of my favorite cartoons. But last night I was interested in this particular show because Cramer was the guest, and they have had a little bit of a media based back and forth over comments Cramer made a few days ago. If you want to see some of the things being said, the Daily Show’s website has a lot of the material on the front page. After watching the interview–which, even after editing, took up the whole half hour–I was interested in Jon’s take on CNBC. Here is the full video, but I am quoting some excerpts that best point out Jon’s position:
about 2:32 in:
Cramer: The Regulators watch the tape, they realize the shenanigans going on there, and they can go after this. They… they didn’t catch Madoff, that’s a shame…
Stewart: When you talk about the regulators, why not the financial news network? That’s the whole point of this…
Stewart: CNBC could be an incredibly powerful tool of illumination for people that believe that there are two markets. One that has been sold to us as long term. ‘Put your money in 401k’s. Put your money in pensions. And just leave it there, don’t worry about it. It’s all doing fine.’ Then there’s this other market, this real market, that occurring in a back room. Where giant piles of money are going in and out. People are trading them and its transactional and its fast. But its dangerous. Its ethically dubious, and it hurts that long term market. So what it feels like to us–and I’m speaking purely as a laymen–it feels we are capitalizing your adventure by our pension and that it is a game that you (Cramer) know, that you know is going on, but you go on television as a financial network and pretend isn’t happening.
About 5:00 in:
Stewart: Its not, Its not just you. Its larger forces at work. It is this idea that the financial news industry is not just guilty of a sin of omission, but a sin of commission. That, they are actually in bed with [them].
Now, I like John Stewart. I think he is a funny guy and I’m happy he is starting to see the lack of any true journalism or news reporting on the CNBC or–as he calls it–the financial news network, but sir, you are missing the bigger picture. ALL journalism is dead. There is very little hard news reporting coming out of newspapers and network new agencies. They have all become opinion oriented. The most popular and publicized personalities are opinion personalities.
The reason for such a shift is probably more disturbing than what they refuse to report. In “the good ole days” of journalism, reporters made their careers on bringing politicians down. Exposing corruption in any form of power (government, wall street, even Hollywood) was a fast track to instant success. Today, the culture has changed. Media and news has become so commercialized and profit based that reporters will print whatever will sell, regardless of what is really happening. Anti-Bush press sold heavily during his last 2 years, so the press gave it; but, pro-Obama pieces are more profitable, so the media is acting accordingly. Before the financial melt down, people wanted to learn how to profit from the economic climate. CNBC followed suit, did pieces on how to make a buck in this market, and completely left any journalistic integrity at the door.
I like Jon’s criticism of the news media, but I think he targeted the wrong person. Cramer is an opinion personality. Expecting him to report hard news on the financial sector is like expecting Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Chris Matthews, or Keith Olbermann to do the same. Opinion personalities are fine in moderation, but when they begin to dominate the medium you have what we have today. A mass of sycophants attempting to please the very people they should be protecting us from.
Posted by Bobby on March 11, 2009
Honestly, I used to not care about political gaffs. Everyone misspeaks and it is unrealistic to expect politicians to be so cut and polished when nearly every word they speak is recorded. That is, I used to not care until this past election season, and the biased media treatment of Sarah Palin.
So, here it is. It speaks for itself.
Posted by Bobby on March 8, 2009
According to this article I found on Google:
The administration of US President Barack Obama moved Friday to rescind a rule that would allow health care workers to deny medical care such as birth control or abortion to patients if it clashes with their morals.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) filed a proposal to “rescind in its entirety” the so-called refusal or conscience rule, which was pushed through by former president George W. Bush on December 18, a month before Obama took office.
For the sake of this posting, let’s forget about the inherent hypocrisy found in using moral imperatives to promoting your own health care plans and then telling doctor’s they must leave their morals at the door when they put on the scrubs and white coat. Let’s forget about the thousands of catholic hospitals who provide the best care–as well as agree with the premise that health care is a right, not a privilege–in most cities that are going to come under federal indictment because they won’t lower their moral standards for a temporary government official. Let’s talk about the abortion debate itself.
It seems that conservatives have been painted with a broad brush in the abortion debate. I always find myself explaining that I don’t want to tell women what to do with their body, rather than debating the actual moral and philosophical reasons for being against abortion. Which is what any political debate should be about. I remember the Republican candidates being caught completely off guard by a question about making abortion illegal at this past year’s YouTube debate. Personally, I have never heard any Republican express the desire to make abortions illegal. Maybe it was an idea, but it was obviously shelved. Well, that is until Obama gave those who do want abortion made illegal the opening.
Think of what this action by Obama does for the abortion debate. Obama is writing a law that is requiring doctors to do something. Forget about the loss of liberty and the moral injustice of taking the right-of-choice away from the doctor. The government believes that the doctor has a moral obligation to provide health care. No problem with that? What happens when a new government comes along and requires the doctor not preform abortions? Forget about the loss of the patient right-to-choose, the government believes the doctor has a moral obligation to preserve life!
This is the problem with any loss of liberty. It only encourages more loss. As a conservative, I believe that both life and liberty need to be preserved, and it is not the governments job to take either away. The people of the society should decide what is acceptable, and the government creates law accordingly. The abortion debate must first be conducted on the foundation of ideas and principles. Not the floor of laws and regulation. Circumventing the process only creates disdain that will build up toward a certain belief, and when those who’s opinions were not listened to get into power (and we will), tit for tat will be happen.
Posted by Bobby on March 8, 2009
Has anyone else wondered why we are not where we thought we might be with technological advancements? Looking back during the 80’s with movies like Back to the Future, we were all so sure that we would have flying cars and instantaneous oven pizza by now. Why the slow down? Why are the only scientific and technological advancements of the last decade the ability to make existing technology smaller?
Is it because scientists have stopped dreaming? Fiction writers, from movie and television to novelists and fan-fictions, seem to be the only ones capable of coming up with an original thought. Maybe it is because scientists are afraid of dreaming. Scientists who question theories like Darwinism and Global Warming are often chastised and ridiculed before being laughed out of a grant application.
Maybe that is why: all funding comes from government entities. Look at Space travel. Space travel has long been a popular genre of fiction. Star Wars and Star Trek have been around since at least the 70’s. Why have we not obtained the depth of space travel everyone dreams of? Is it because space is off limits to private entities, be it corporations or even citizens?
I’ll leave you with this. It just seems to me that the truly exciting science, like space travel and medical cures, are completely untouched by a majority of the scientific community. However, if you want to know 50 different ways to get an erection, well that is information you can be sure scientists are hard at work at.