Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 1863

Thanks to Pasadena Closet Conservative for digging up this little gem. There is always something to be thankful for.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bipartisan Disaster

Once again Thomas Sowell explains the essential problem:

Too many people who argue that there is a beneficial role for the government to play in the economy glide swiftly from that to the conclusion that the government will in fact confine itself to playing such a role.

The government, having created the credit bubble, is furiously trying to keep it inflated. A decrease in credit leads to a decrease in employment. Politicians on both sides often define success by the number of jobs created while they were in office. The President-Elects latest plan to create 2.5 million jobs is a good example. Will the "H" for Hussein, in time, come to stand for Hoover?

Despite a myth that Herbert Hoover was a “do nothing” president, he was the first President of the United States to step in to try to put the economy back on track.

Herbert Hoover did what Barack Obama is proposing to do. Hoover raised taxes on high-income people and put restrictions on international trade, in order to try to save American jobs. It didn’t work then and it is not likely to work now.

Economic expansions and contractions have a long and complicated history in our country. The first financial panic dates back to 1788. There were many during colonial times. Government attempts to promote growth and soften the landings only serve to exacerbate the original problems.

The merger of commercial banks, home loan banks, and insurance companies are the root cause of the current dilemma. The pro-growth policies and home ownership mania combined to create the credit bubble. I haven't seen anything yet from anyone in Washington about easy credit being the problem.

Monday, November 24, 2008

M3 Update

Little wonder why the government stopped tracking M3. It's the total value of our country, expressed in dollar terms. M1 shooting up at the bottom, is the Treasury flooding the market with cash.

Somewhat related, I've been having trouble getting a table to load on this page all weekend. I posted it on AAB for those interested.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Quote of a Lifetime

Rob Kirby unearths a gem from the recent past;

…as told by [then] Federal Reserve Vice-Chairman, Alan Blinder on national television, “The last duty of a central banker is to tell the public the truth.”

I suppose that’s true of anyone in Washington.

I was looking forward to following the $750 billion bank bailout story. I subscribe to, and get a daily boatload of data from, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). I receive daily emails directly from the Treasury Dept. I have several on-line sources for economic news. And yet, my original questions remain; how much have we spent? Is some of the money in the form of loans? What have we bought? How much did it cost? Are we making any money yet? Are they short-term or long-term investments?

Secretary Paulson promised transparency in testimony before congress. It looks pretty dark in there. So far, there’s nothing to follow. At what point do our representatives turn on their flashlights and take a look around?

The Real Cost of Bailouts

Now that the Republicans have started the gravy train chugging down the tracks, we can expect the Democrats to hop on board. It's important to remember the original problem. There is no shortage of cash. In fact, the better argument is that there is too much cash: credit is already too easy.Jonah Goldberg nails the the original problem, uncertainty:
One of the main reasons there’s all of this “money on the sidelines” out there among private investors is that Wall Street doesn’t know what the government will do next. Will it bail out the auto industry? The insurance companies? Which taxes will go up? How far will interest rates go down? How long will the federal government own stakes in the banks? Will more stimulus checks go out? If so, how big will the deficit get?

Uncertainty is what causes banks not to loan to each other. Uncertainty causes private investors to pull their money out of Wall Street. Uncertainty causes business owners not to take risks in new equipment or new workers.

Don Boudreaux, Chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University, explains the real cost of bailouts:
The number of different places from which these resources will be taken is large and spans a continent. So it's easy to overlook the fact that each of many productive firms from across the country will, as a result of this bailout, pay more for steel, machine tools, fuel, and other inputs they use in production. These other firms will contract their operations; they'll employ fewer workers; they'll produce less output.
On Cafe Hayek, Professor Bourdreaux points out the private investment during the Great Depression:

As government spending expands, private investment contracts. When government becomes active, the private sector stops. We'll hit bottom only when the government stops. That looks to be a long time from now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Missing Person

I learned recently that my friend E!!-lizabeth's sister is missing. It's been almost a week now. There is more information here and here. If you're reading this and live in Michigan, or have readers or friends in Michigan, could you please pass this along. Krista is a student at MSU in Lansing.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Little Poem

I couldn't help noticing that both Zeke and Tex went all poetic during the election. The wild emotionalism of some Democrats, eh? Well, poetry equates to culture, and I can't let a couple of Democrats out-culture a Republican, now can I? They're supposed to be the rabble; the great unwashed. Unfortunately, my cultural roots only go back to Mad Magazine and Jimi Hendrix. If we all pull together, maybe we can get the new Democratic Legislature to declare November "Bad Poetry Month".

Green Haze (Sung to the tune: Purple Haze)

Bailout money, all around
Ka-ching, Ka-ching is my favorite sound
I’ve got the Feds
In my pocket too.
Excuse me,
While I shake down the rubes.

Billions more, if you please?
Let's send more factories, overseas.
Your Chinese auto,
Will do just fine.
You can’t drive much
When all you’ve got’s a dime.

All the lawyers in old D.C.,
Add up to nothing since they can’t touch me.
They made the rules,
I just play along.
Meanwhile the Dem’s
Don’t know how far it’s gone.

Friday, November 14, 2008

An Open Letter

To Lloyd C. Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, inspired by CBS News

Dear Mr. Blankfein,

Our mutual friend, Hank
"Spanky" Paulson, has informed me of your plans to set aside $6.8 billion, of the $10 billion we sent you recently, for employee bonuses. Allow me to be among the first to congratulate you on your immense generosity in this season of giving. This will not only reward your dedicated employees in their quest to destroy the last vestiges of the free market, but will be of enormous benefit to the waiters, doormen, and cab drivers throughout the greater New York metro area.

I do hope the remaining $3.2 billion will be enough for the little Mrs. to fulfill her diamond tiara fantasy. Having more baubles than Catherine the Great provides an excellent example for the young people regarding setting one's goals and "working hard" to achieve them. Should you feel the need for further pocket change, or more lessons in the art of materialistic paganism, please drop by my offices at any time.

Happy Holidays and keep up the good work.

Satan ( Yes, that Satan)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Join The Fun

King George at Let Them Eat Cake has taken up President-elect Obama's offer and shared his vision. A few others have joined in, including yours truely.

My Vision:

I was disappointed to hear you will not be holding séances in the White House. I would like to suggest we hold them in the Treasury Dept. instead. I can call Roosevelt, Morgenthau, Wilke, you name it, I know them all. As I’m sure you realize, their policies are what made the depression great, but the press still gives them high marks for saving us. I think their advice would be very useful to you.

Depending on how you want to play it, Andrew Jackson’s destruction of the Second Bank of the United States could be instructive for getting rid of this pesky Federal Reserve system. (Don’t tell Bernanke). I suggest we leave out William Jennings Bryant, (he tends to be long-winded) and Trotsky because he likes to appear with the ice pick still embedded in his head just to scare people. (He thinks it’s funny).

Think universally, act nationally,

The Great Zamboni

So, be creative, have some fun, and share your vision with our soon to be president. He's asking for it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Elephants Never Forget

Every so often Russ, a friend from work, sends me an email.

In 1986, Peter Davies was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University ..

On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Peter approached it very carefully.

He got down on one knee, inspected the elephants foot, and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Peter worked the wood out with his knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. Peter stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away. Peter never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later, Peter was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Peter and his son Cameron were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Peter, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.

Remembering the encounter in 1986, Peter could not help wondering if this was the same elephant. Peter summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing, and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Peter legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn't the same elephant.

Why Reagan Still Matters

Sam Huntington at Praesidium Respublicaetakes a look at some of Pesident-Elect Obama's advisors. Among others, Teresa Ghilarducci is expected to be appointed soon. From a personal standpoint, she has the worst idea I've heard yet.

The testimony of Teresa Ghilarducci, professor of economic policy analysis at the New School for Social Research in New York, in hearings Oct. 7 drew the most attention and criticism. Testifying for the House Committee on Education and Labor, Ghilarducci proposed that the government eliminate tax breaks for 401(k) and similar retirement accounts, such as IRAs, and confiscate workers’ retirement plan accounts and convert them to universal Guaranteed Retirement Accounts (GRAs) managed by the Social Security Administration.

IRA's were first instituted in 1974 largely due to the fact that the SSA retirement funds had become nothing more than a pile of IOU's, courtesy of our elected representatives. There was also a widespread, and well deserved, belief that the SSA could not fund anything more than a subsistence level retirement. In the thirty four years since, there is no indication that either of these conditions have changed.

It would seem that we now have our answer to McCain's question; where will Obama get the money for all his social programs?". He'll get it from the same people he always does, the only people who still have some: us. In the rush to save those “too big to fail”, those who have scrimped and saved all their lives are about to get “thrown under the bus”. If ever there was a case for a healthy dose of obstructionism, this is it.

Thankfully, Mr. Huntington leaves us with a gold nugget to put in our pocket.

“Not too long ago, two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, "We don't know how lucky we are." And the Cuban stopped and said, "How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape to." And in that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.” — Ronald Reagan, 1964

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The New Dawn

As George W. Bush takes his well deserved place as the Jimmy Carter of the Republican Party, Libertarian Vox Day sums up the situation:

So, what now? I'm not concerned about whatever it is that the Democrats occupy themselves with doing over the next few months, since it's not going to work and will only exacerbate the present problems. Yes, it will be outrageous, yes it will be stupid, and yes, it will all end in tears, but that's obvious. I have little interest in attempting to guess precisely with what idiocies they will indulge themselves. The much more important thing is how the right reacts to all of this. Will it be the Euro-style Christian Democrat conservatism that the anti-Palin crowd are preaching in order to nibble away at the edges or will it be a principled Ron Paul opposition party?

One thing is clear; the experiment in Neo-Conservatism is over. That is good news for everybody. The “American Exceptionalism” movement started by The Weekly Standard, and defended to the death by the eastern conservative establishment, is in full retreat. The core groups of a more traditional conservatism remain intact. The cultural and economic conservatives, didn't lose a thing yesterday.

Republican House members will be picking new minority leaders, while in the Senate, conservative stalwart Mitch McConnel remains in charge. The only rising stars among the governors, Palin, Jindal, Pawlenty, are all traditionalists. So, take heart. Have faith. It's a new dawn for our side too.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Good Satire

If you like satire, Iowa Hawk assumes the role of Christopher Buckley (aka T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII). It's hysterically funny.

On "true conservatives" discussing Obama:

It's that easy-going, almost effortless grace that has all the A-list conservatives like David Frum and Kathleen Parker whispering Reaganesque in hushed tones. Even Peggy Noonan -- the Grand Dame of Gipperism -- has succumbed to Obama's undeniable conservative charms. Just last month I listened to her wax poetic about the Adonis of Chicago between chukkers at the Newport Club polo tournament final. "Why Peggy, you old dowager," I quipped, "I believe you just had an orgasm."

On Sarah Palin:

I mean, my God, this woman is simply awful; the elided vowels, the beauty pageantry, the guns, the crude non-Episcopal protestantism, the embarrassing porchload of children with horrifying hillbilly names, the white after Labor Day. As fellow conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan quipped to me the other day outside a Martha's Vineyard antique shop, it's gratifying to know the Gipper isn't alive to see what has become of his party.

It gets better. Enjoy.