Index of Economic Freedom 2008

There is a strong correlation between economic freedom and prosperity, human rights & general welfare. I know that people on this blog like to pretend they are oppressed in the U.S., but in the countries w/o much economic freedom, like Cuba, Zimbabwe, North Korea or Libya people REALLY are oppressed and bloggers there do not dare do what people on Watchblog consider routine. The latest edition of the Index of Economic Freedom gives some details.

Of course there are places that have less economic freedom but still are decent places to live, but if you just look at the top and bottom of the list you will have to agree that you would not mind living in any of the top ten countries. They are all high quality of life places. The bottom ten, on the other hand, are all benighted sh*t holes where it is difficult or impossible for people to build decent lives for their families w/o corrupting political influence.

There is some confusion as to cause and effect. Does a free market make you rich or is it just that rich countries can afford a free market. But when you compare the rise of former Soviet Republics such as Estonia and Lithuania that embraced free market reforms with the degradation of nearby and similarly situated Belarus, which held fast to the failed socialist policies of the past you can see the differences such policies can make in the course of only around fifteen years in terms of prosperity, humans rights and just plain decency.

The U.S. is high on the list, but not at the top. Our lowest score comes in the “freedom from government” section. Government spending has been rising and now soaks up 36.6% of GDP. In comparison, government spending makes up 34.4% of GDP in Ireland and only 15.2% in Hong Kong. The U.S. also has the highest corporate tax rate of any of the developed countries. Just a couple of decades ago, the U.S. enjoyed big advantages in this respect, but as others have lowered their taxes, we have stubbornly kept ours high and it is beginning to affect our relative economic performance.

A generation ago, the U.S. had a big advantage over other countries because our market was so uniquely free. Today it is hard to find any serious policy maker who does not understand the efficacy of market mechanisms and others are catching up. This is a good thing. If others also become richer, we all benefit. The danger is if we forget out own lesson and start imposing on ourselves the kind of state directed policies that others are wisely shucking off. Some of presidential candidates, notably Huckabee & Edwards, are making their appeals to the cognitively challenged based on the idea that we can close ourselves off from the world, sort of the Smoot-Hawley solution. Hillary Clinton wants to cap interest rates. She evidently learned her economics from Richard Nixon. Let's hope she listens harder to some of her husband's advisors. Maybe she can invite Robert Rubin over for tea.

Posted by Jack at January 24, 2008 5:41 PM
Comments
Comment #243746

Inequality in income is as high now as it has ever been since the robber baron era…the greatest equality in earnings was in the 1950s…a good deal of that inequality has to do with tax rates…the top tier used to pay 90%…now it’s around 35%.

Posted by: Rachel at January 24, 2008 6:07 PM
Comment #243753

I surprised that you would open up the topic of economics given the current state of the United States economy. I can’t remember the last time the topic was even approached on this blog, even in the tangental way you have chosen.
I’ve been wanting to ask a question of the defenders of w’s economic policies and now is as good a time as any. W has consistently advertised his administration, his party, his policies, as being “pro-growth”. They have pumped the economy full of money, through tax cuts, foreign borrowing, tax policies, such as allowing foreign income of U.S. corporations to come back to this country at a five percent tax rate (%5!!!), and a relaxation of regulatory control that has promoted a “anything goes” attitude toward lending money.
I understand that we have a record trade deficit, that the national debt has gone through the roof and is once again appears to be accelerating and that power has been passed, in good measure, from government to business. I understand all that but what I don’t understand is that, at the end of it all, we apparently do not have growth. How can that be?

Posted by: charles ross at January 24, 2008 8:14 PM
Comment #243787

Charles Ross,
Im not a real smart guy on the state of the US economy by any standard but if we are so bad now under the Bush administration then just how would the Democrats improve it? I believe it is allways easy to complain about something then it is to fix it. If you raise taxes on the rich,big business and the evil oil companies will that improve my way of life? Really I would like to see a plan from the democrats that I could say “hey that makes sense!” but all I hear is “Bush and the Republicans are bad we are better”

Posted by: dolan at January 25, 2008 1:01 AM
Comment #243795

Charles

Market economies go up and down. Through it all, they consistently beat all the alternatives. I am unaffected by the ephemeral capriciousness of daily events because my gaze here is on the long term and the big picture.

I suppose that a lot of people miss the big picture, because they are too busy watching their new big flat screen TV. Life is better for us than it has been for the last 5000 years. The economy has grown robustly since 2003. The downturn that started at the end of the Clinton Administration was short. Despite all the gnashing of teeth right now, our economy is still growing. Most Americans have forgotten or have never known what hard times really are. Our economy has been fairly good since 1982. Many people just cannot remember hard times, so they think that a 5% unemployement rate is a bad thing.

Re this 5% tax rate you are talking about, I bet you could make a lot of money telling firms how to get this rate, since most seem to be taxed as 35%, which goes up to around 40% when you figure in state taxes. We have the second highest corporate tax rate in the world. This is a place where you do not want to be #1, BTW.

Rachel

The growth of inequality has been a worldwide phenomenon. It is related to globalization and growth. The rich pay a greater percentage of the total tax than ever before and the poorest 40% pay no net taxes at all.

This is a very old situation. When the ancient Greeks came out of their dark age around 700 BC, trade increased and so did inequality. The Spartans established a state based on strict equality. They outlawed coinage and instead used heavy steel bars. They managed to contain inequality at the cost of freedom.

If two guys are unemployed and one of them gets a job, inequality increases. If Bill Gates and Warren Buffet moved to Canada, inequality would decrease. BTW – if the stock market crashes and home prices tank, it will decrease inequality. Inequality increased rapidly in the late 1990s (during Clinton) and it decreased in the first years of Bush. Why? Think about the stock market and you have your answers. We can all be poor together, if that makes you feel better.

When I grew up in the working class in the 1960s, we did not own a car, we had a small B&W TV, no cable, no microwave, no entertainment center. Nobody could afford to use, much less own a computer. We lived in a small house with one bathroom for the whole family, with a bathtub no shower. Nobody we knew went on long distance vacations and few of my relatives had ever been on an airplane, except when they were in the service. We never ate at restaurants and my mother prepared most of our food from basic ingredients (i.e. no pre-prepared meals). This is how life was for most people back in those gold old days.

Today this description would not fit most of the poor. 70% of the poor own at least one car. Most have color TVs and many have entertainment systems. Many of the poor have been on vacations requiring air travel. Most have microwave ovens and computers.

The unequally that has grow is mostly on paper and it is completely relative. The progress has been so remarkable that we have not noticed it.

“The Economist” has a good article about real inequality.

Posted by: Jack at January 25, 2008 2:01 AM
Comment #243796

Jack,

I find it odd that you’d compare the USA to “Cuba, Zimbabwe, North Korea or Libya”, but maybe we have sunk that low …………….. ))))))sigh(((((((

Posted by: KansasDem at January 25, 2008 2:05 AM
Comment #243801

Is this the Republican view? : We are the greatest so we don’t have to try harder! Others have it worse, so don’t criticize Republicans in office for failures. Even with our failures, you are still alive to complain. So, stop complaining?

Whatever happened to conservative idealism, shining beacons on the hill, and working to meet the ideals of the Declaration of Independence?

A lot of screw ups, and Republicans become relativists to rationalize that they haven’t hit bottom yet, comparing themselves to others less fortunate by place of birth. Sounds pathetic to me.

Even John McCain is losing his integrity. ON the campaign trail he turns left and says: “I will work with Democrats”. Then he turns right and says: “I am Democrat’s worst nightmare”.

Really sad to watch people go downhill and lose their integrity of mind like that.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 25, 2008 4:45 AM
Comment #243805

Kansas

I am comparing market economies to those w/o such freedom. Yes Zimbabwe, Cuba etc are sh*t holes. How did they get that way? Why is it the case that when you have a market economy in similar situations to a non-free one, the free market is so much better. Consider North & South Korea, East & West Germany. Now you can see it in former Soviet Republics. You can see it historically in places like Ireland or New Zealand.

David

I say in my original post that we do have to try harder. We have let government grow too powerful. We have to try harder to keep it from getting out of hand. I am not saying that we do not have to try to get better; I am merely pointing to the best way to do it.

You are making the mistake of viewing the world as static. The sh*t hole countries are not that way because of only bad luck. They are poor and miserable because they have been mismanaged. If we had a system like these places, we would soon be poor and miserable too.

See above re the Germany and Korea. Communists took working countries and ran them into the ground. Now look at Estonia, Ukraine versus Belarus. Or maybe consider the trajectories of Botswana versus Zimbabwe. The way to make life better is through the choice the free market provides.

Posted by: Jack at January 25, 2008 5:05 AM
Comment #243808

Again, since when being wealthy make people automagically happy?

We’re not talking about Freedom with a big F here, but just Economic freedom, with a big E.
Sure, the more unregulated, the more wealthy you can get. Ask any cocaine dealer for confirmation.
And?

Does it make more people happy, or just fewer people are more happier?
Even wealthy people commit suicide, go figure.

Where is my Index of Happyness Worldwide already…

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at January 25, 2008 6:16 AM
Comment #243811

Philippe

Most people need a basic level of income. After that, money doesn’t buy happiness. However, the freedom to choose that you find in free markets does contribute to well being.

I bet there is a happiness index, I just have not seen it and it would probably very biased anyway.

The Economist had an article on happiness. Evidently the happiest people are in Iceland, Netherlands and Switzerland, all of which rate high on the economic freedom index, BTW.

Of course, if you have to think about being happy, you probably aren’t. You also understand that the things that make you happy are usually not the same things that give you pleasure.

Happiness comes from doing what you think is right and accomplishing things you think are good. Hedonists do not understand this, which is why they are so vapid - think Paris Hilton.

Posted by: Jack at January 25, 2008 7:23 AM
Comment #243813

Just a quick question about the recent tax “rebate” we are about to enact as it seems. Is this is true rebate of the taxes I have paid? What year is it a rebate against - 2007 or 2008? And finally, is this rebate going to have to be accounted for when I file my taxes - either this April or next April? I am just trying to find out if I am really getting a rebate here, or just an advance on a possible refund. If I have to account for this rebate when I file, then I really haven’t gotten anything more than an advance. I know this is not the exact topic, but it does tie in to general economics. :)

Posted by: Steve K at January 25, 2008 9:14 AM
Comment #243816

dolan, I don’t speak for the Democrats, but I do have my own thoughts on the economy.
the top tax rate should be raised slightly, perhaps 3 percent or so.
the corporate tax rate should be left at 35 and COLLECTED.
the federal gas tax should be raised incrementally at least enough to pay for the costs of defending our overseas “interests” (oil, other key natural resources)
we should make conservation of energy the top talking point and emphasis both in government and business
where we know there is oil, we should get it.
Pay people to drive fuel efficient cars, charge people who drive fuel wasting vehicles (a lot)
subsidize domestic auto companys to produce and promote a fuel efficient line of cars
STOP subsicizing ethynol. It cost 1.1 units of carbon energy to produce 1 unit of ethynol (which, in itself is only about 80-90 % fuel efficient as oil)
tweak social security, current retirees receive inflation minus one percent for three years or so than back to old formula, raise retirement age by six months, raise cap faster on amount of wages subject to the tax.
Medicare. National health insurance for all citizens. Single payer.
secure the borders, dry up the jobs for illegals working at wages that are impossible to compete with (if you’re not into living ten people to a room!)
Cut back on big ticket military programs. eliminate development programs such as new fighter jet, missle defense (what a hole that has been)
eliminate earmarks. all bills should be open to debate. what? there is not time to debate 14000 bills? good. maybe there would be fewer bills that waste your money.

Jack. the five percent tax rate was a w idea. As you may know, profits earned overseas and kept overseas are not subject to u. s. federal tax. w allowed the money to come back to this country at a five percent rate on the condition that compays use the money to create jobs (of course, on the honor system. that worked real well)
Once again, my question remains out there. with all the pumping up of the economy, how could it be that we are on the edge of a recession? If the giveaways were not there to provide growth, what were they used for?

Posted by: charles ross at January 25, 2008 9:33 AM
Comment #243822

“The rich pay a greater percentage of the total tax than ever before and the poorest 40% pay no net taxes at all.”

Wow, what wool do you have over your eyes? According to the IRS tax schedule, those making between $0-7550 pay taxes on 10% of everything over $0. Don’t tell me that almost half of America doesn’t pay taxes.

Posted by: angrymob at January 25, 2008 10:52 AM
Comment #243824

“Again, since when being wealthy make people automagically happy?”

that is one of the best typos I’ve seen in a while. I’m going to use that in the future.

Posted by: angrymob at January 25, 2008 10:57 AM
Comment #243825

Jack, we took a great nation and ran it into the ground too, in 1929, and we are doing it again today. Mismanagement you accuse other nations of is not foreign to the U.S. These last 7 years are proof of that.

Largely due to Republicans dogged and erroneous belief that the nation exists to serve corporations and business to the exclusion of the citzenry in general if necessary. Why isn’t New Orleans rebuilt? Republicans vowed to make it better than before. Why is our national debt 3.67 trillion deeper?

Your party’s priorities ignore the Declaration, the Constitution, and the people in America out of servitude to a few dozen of wealthy families and a host of corporations and businesses who repeatedly threaten the nation’s future and get handed tax dollars as bail outs, subsidies to try something new, and blind eyes when up to mischief.

The Democratic Party is the worst political party in government, EXCEPT for the Republicans.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 25, 2008 11:12 AM
Comment #243854

David

Remind me again of the causes of the Great Depression and how and when it was ended.

Angrymob

With deductions and credits, the lowest quintile of earners actually gets more money back than it pays in Federal taxes. The next quintile more or less breaks even. It is not until you get to the middle that most of the people pay anything at all. The richest 20% pays almost all the taxes that are paid.

I am traveling in a rather disorganized place and my internet connection is so slow that I cannot google the sources. I have discussed this at length previously however. You can find the information in a variety of sources (CBO is good)

Or you can just think of it logically. You just cannot make much money on the poor because they do not produce much income. A person making 200K pays more in taxes than two or three people in the lowest income levels earn.

Posted by: Jack at January 25, 2008 3:45 PM
Comment #243862

“A person making 200K pays more in taxes than two or three people in the lowest income levels earn.”

according to the H&R Block calculator (single, no deductions), for every one person making $200,000 they pay the same as almost 50 of us McJob peons combined, however for every one $200,000 salary, they pay the same as 2.5 people making $100,000. Conversely every person making 1,000,000 pays 6.6 times what that 200,000 person makes.

What gets me is the jump from 50 to 75K. 6,736 vs 12,986 respectively.

Big discrepancy at the bottom, but not much along the top. I don’t really have an argument about all of this, but it makes me glad to be poor, and not middle class. This topic sure opened my eyes a little.

Posted by: angrymob at January 25, 2008 6:05 PM
Comment #243868

Jack
The Heritage Ounbdation is consistetly a dubious source but these surveys are always an interesting read. Interpretation is everything. #1 Hong Kong. Ever been there? Great wealth and around the corner is appaling poverty and slave-like working conditions.
Also interesting is the government size comparison yopu mentioned between Iteland and the US. They are close. A big difference is that Ireland is not saddled with a huge military burden. The government there invests in education and universal healthcare among other broad reaching programs. These programs are the principle reason for their rapid progress coupled with some smooth economic moves.Similar investments here would produce the same results. We cannot afford to make them because of our global commitment to imperial expansionism and its sister,an etroardinarily costly MIC.
You have mis-characterized Edwards international approach. His focus is on “fair trade” deals,trade deals that take labor and enviormental protecions into serious account. This is opposed to what we have now. Now we have effectually “managed trade” deals,managed that is by China.

Posted by: BillS at January 25, 2008 7:30 PM
Comment #243875

Jack
Cuba has a near 100% literacy rate,a lower infant mortality rate,and slightly longer average lifespan.As free as they should be?Of course not but the freedom to not die from a treatable desease because you do not have the money should count for something.What is amazing is these achievements have taken place in spite of a mis-guided US economic embargo. What could they have accomlished if the US did not follow a policy of to “close us off from the rest of the world”,as you put it and developed similar trade relations with Cuba that we have with other communist countries?

Posted by: BillS at January 25, 2008 8:03 PM
Comment #243901

BillS, you made great points until you crossed over into Peter Pan land by saying: “Similar investments here would produce the same results. We cannot afford to make them because of our global commitment to imperial expansionism and its sister,an etroardinarily costly MIC.”

There is no escaping the reality that if the U.S. gave up its military superiority around the world, another nation would quickly fill that void, perhaps the Russians, the Chinese, or, even the Indians or Saudi’s. America cannot turn back the hands of time. We are the world’s potentially stabilizing military force. We simply need leadership which will fulfill that potential for stabilization, as opposed to naked aggression and imperial raw resource ends.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 25, 2008 9:39 PM
Comment #243902

Jack asked: “Remind me again of the causes of the Great Depression and how and when it was ended.”

Why are you asking me to repeat myself?

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 25, 2008 9:42 PM
Comment #243904

Should Cuba be the aid station in the war on terror?
Should it be our emergency room state?
Give cuba 2 seats in the senate and it’s fair share of seats in the HOR.

Then we can talk.

Posted by: Weary Willie at January 25, 2008 9:49 PM
Comment #243907

Charles Ross,
Im impressed, with your answer to me! That all makes sense and what I disagree on is the completely cutting out missile defense and jet fighters although they do need more oversight. Also have a problem with Government health care for all but those are all worth debating. Thanks again that is what I want to see on these blogs answers to currant problems! Again thanks for a imformative answer!

Posted by: dolan at January 25, 2008 10:30 PM
Comment #243925

angrymob,

“Automagically” is often used in my professional field, software developement, to designate any automatic mecanism complex enough to win its magical status. While I’ll agree it’s not a word, it was not a typos here.

Have fun using it too
;-)

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at January 26, 2008 9:26 AM
Comment #243930

Dolan, I’m not a real smart guy either, but I do know that over 50% of my state’s revenue and a lot of our federal revenue comes from the estate tax alone, something Republicans are talking about repealing. Just where will the money come from then? How do you pay back debts with less not more money coming in? Honestly I’m just flabbergasted by the Republican proposals to pay back our debts. Again, I’m not a smart guy but I just don’t see any commonsense at work from the Republican side. On the Democrat side what I hear makes perfect sense - increase taxation and pay back our debts, the same as you would, presumably advise any friend to do. The last time I heard there was no difference between Republicans and Democrats was when Gore ran against Bush. Remember that dumb proposal of Gore’s to take our surplus and save and invest it? Wow what a concept.

Posted by: Max at January 26, 2008 12:41 PM
Comment #243932
Jack wrote: I know that people on this blog like to pretend they are oppressed in the U.S., but in the countries w/o much economic freedom, like Cuba, Zimbabwe, North Korea or Libya people REALLY are oppressed and bloggers there do not dare do what people on Watchblog consider routine.
“pretend”?

Yes, it can be worse in other places.

But, does that mean we should ignore our problems and be more grateful?

Should we be more grateful for:

  • increasing crime and lawlessness, constitutional violations, eminent domain abuse, etc.?

  • Wars (7 in the last 90 years)? Not to mention some based on lies.

  • Increasing Plutocracy/Kleptocracy where 99.85% of all 200 million voters are vastly out-spent by a tiny 0.15 that make 83% of all federal campaign donations (of $200 or more)?

  • illegal immigration costing U.S. tax payers $70 Billion to $338 Billion in net losses (and crime)?

  • Election problems, lost votes, voter fraud, Gerrymandering, 90% of elections won by the candidate that spends the most money?

  • Massive $9.2 Trillion federal debt, $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security, the PBGC pensions $450 Billion in the hole, etc.?

  • Regressive taxation?

  • Inflation, an unsustainable pyramid monetary system, and the collapsing U.S. dollar?

  • Insufficient education and misinformation?

  • unaffordable healthcare; that’s probably a good thing with 195,000 people killed annually by medical mistakes ?

Or should we wait until this 10 abused (regressive/oppressive) systems actually give us more reasons to be unhappy?

The fact is, we probably should have been MORE vocal in communicating those numerous problems growing dangerously in number and severity, threatening the future and security of the nation. Sure, we should always be grateful things are not worse, but we should never discourage attention to problems and potential solutions, which happens far too often … especially by the IN-PARTY in an election year.

David R. Remer wrote: … we took a great nation and ran it into the ground too, in 1929, and we are doing it again today.
True.

Everthing since 1929 should be telling us something … such as: “Did we not learn anything?”

From the list above, it appears not. Especially with respect to monetary theory.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 26, 2008 12:59 PM
Comment #243933
Dolan, I’m not a real smart guy either, but I do know that over 50% of my state’s revenue and a lot of our federal revenue comes from the estate tax alone, something Republicans are talking about repealing. Just where will the money come from then?
Imagine this.

One person works for a living and their hard earned income is taxed at 25%.

Another person inherits $200K, and pays 0% tax on it.

Also, consider that person earning capital gains on that $200K inheritance and paying a lesser 15% income tax rate.

Now consider Warren Buffet, who paid a 17.7% income tax rate on his $46 Million in 2006, but his secretary paid 30% income tax on her $60K salary.

Now consider ONLY those making below $97,500 all paying 12.65% of their gross to Social Security taxes.

Hmmmm … what’s wrong with this picture?
It appears many people eager to get a tax cut were oblivious to the fact that the tax system was NOT significantly regressive.
But don’t you love it when the hacks say the rich pay most of the taxes.
Never mind that they paid half the income tax percentage that you paid.

Yet, we are supposed to be grateful for that too?

How dare you ungrateful Americans complain about these oppressive systems when they are less oppressed than people in other countries! ? !

What is wrong with a flat 17% income tax ONLY on ALL income above the poverty level (including inheritance)?
Well, it all depends on who you ask.
If you ask Bush and most Republicans, they want MORE tax cuts for the wealthy. They know about the regressive tax system, and tney like it just the way they perverted it. But so do most Democrat politicians, who helped pass it. But, that’s what happens in a plutocracy/kleptocracy.

What would be more fair?
There is something more fair, but it would first require a major reform to the monetary system.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 26, 2008 1:25 PM
Comment #243935

DR
What are you talking about with your “Peter Pan” remark? Do you mean,for example,that if we offered low cost college access like Ireland that we would not get a better educated workforce for some reason? Do you mean that we do not spend an extroardinary amount on the military? If you mean we are not an imperial power then your following arguement that if we stop being one some other country will become one is incongruent.Please clarify.

Posted by: BillS at January 26, 2008 1:59 PM
Comment #243937
Jack wrote: Remind me again of the causes of the Great Depression and how and when it was ended.
There were many reasons for the cause of the Great Depression:
  • Federal Reserve’s unsustainable pyramid scheme signed into existence in 1913 by President Woodrow Wilson, who later said he was very regretful;
  • mismanagemed of banking systems, over 9000 bank failures in 1931 and 1932, incompetence by the Federal Reserve;
  • dysfucntional federal government; largest peace-time tax increase in history by President Hoover in 1932;
  • commodity, stock, and real-estate speculation, margin trading, irrational exuberance, other manifestations of unchecked greed, and the crash of 29-OCT-1929; the DOW did not close above 1929 high of 319 until year 23-NOV-1954;
  • nation-wide personal debt;
  • drought, dust bowl, bad farming practices;
  • debt from World War I ;
  • wide disparity in the distribution of wealth;
  • international trade problems; world trade collapse;
  • exacerbation by import tarrifs;
  • fear; money hoarding; fear of spending;
  • ripple effects such as unemployment, foreclosures, lower federal tax revenues, over-production / under-consumption, etc.;
But today, we see many of those same problems (above), and many more (below):
  • two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; the invasion of Iraq based on a web of complex lies and exaggerations of the threat to the U.S.;
  • the U.S. acting as the world police; troops stationed all over the planet;
  • terrorism;
  • the gap in wealth distribution now has never been worse since the Great Depression; in year 1980, the wealthiest 1% that owned 20% of all wealth now own 40% of all wealth; 1 in 10 people in the U.S. own 70% of all wealth; never worse since the Great Depression;
  • more taxation and more regressive taxation; many more types of taxes; taxes on taxes; politicians are more tax happy than ever before in American history;
  • more National debt: $9.2 Trillion; including $12.8 Trillion Social Security borrowed and spent from Social Security, and $450 PBGC pension debt, the DEBT-to-GDP ratio has never been worse;
  • more personal nation-wide debt (much of it credit card debt): $20 Trillion; the U.S. is borrowing $3 Billion per day!
  • plundered pensions; ENRON type frauds; the PBGC pensions are $450 Billion in the hole;
  • more entitlement liabilities with $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security and a 77 million baby boomer bubble approaching;
  • illegal immigration costing Americans $70 Billion to $338 Billion in annual net losses, broken borders; and thousands of Americans murdered each year; our own politicians are pitting American citizens and illegal aliens against each other for profits from cheap labor, pandering for votes, and the votes from millions of new immigrants just as soon as they get their shamnesty BILL pushed passed (like the shamnesty BILL of 1986, which quadrupled the problem);
  • sense of false prosperity; many wearing rose-colored glasses and refuse to see many problems growing in number and severity;
  • increasing crime rates and a collapse is not even upon us yet; crime was very high during the Great Depression;
  • government corruption, government FOR-SALE, plutocracy, rampant pork-barrel, graft, waste, several flagrant constitutional violations, rising lawlessness, eminent domain abuse & supported by the Supreme Court, abused presidential pardons to put politicians above the law; election problems, voter fraud and electronic voting problems; torture; Habeas Corpus; all exacerbated by a complacent and apathetic electorate that blindly rewards incumbent politicians with 95% re-election rates;
  • Based on Transparency International, the U.S.’s Corruption Score has fallen from position 11 (year 2004), to 17 (year 2005), and to 20 (year 2006);
  • not only a very costly, but a deadly healthcare system that kills 195,000 people per year by preventable medical mistakes; hundreds of hospitals closing due to being overrun by illegal aliens (84 hospitals alone in Califonia) and medical insurance is becoming extremely unaffordable, but that may be a good thing since medical mistakes are killing 195,000 Americans per year;
  • increasingly expensive and declining quality of public education; this isn’t going to makes us more competitive in a global economy;
  • global competition; globalism, corpocrisy, sell-out trade policies, race to the bottom; China’s total of their mere top 1% of science and engineering college graduates far exceed number of American graduates, and many of those foreign students are being educated in U.S. colleges;
  • government bloat; growing ever larger to nightmare proportions; there are more jobs in government than all manufacturing;
  • a lot of people lost a lot in when the 1999 stock market bubble burst;
  • rising foreclosures and bankruptcies;
  • rising unemployment; replacement jobs paying less and less than the previous jobs;
  • the U.S. currency has been falling fast since 1999; a U.S. Dollar for the first time ever, is worth less than the Canadian Dollar; a 1950 U.S. Dollar is now worth less than 11 cents;
  • falling median household incomes for decades; especially when also accounting for the National Debt and more workers per household;
  • energy vulnerabilities; urban sprawl is literally killing people every day;
  • crumbling infrastructure; our aging bridges and structures are literally falling apart;
  • incresing dependency on the federal government; perpetuating the myth that one can all live at the expense of everyone else;
  • environmental and over-population issues; poisoned and infected foods; dangerous products from China, many things that could eventually exacerbate many other problems; and our president and politicians tell us to do like them … spend, borrow and spend some more! What’s up with that?
  • the potential ripple-effects of all of the above; an economic meltdown is not far-fetched;
Some people triviallize those trends and all of the above and say is not sufficient reason to be too worried?

Some may even say we should be grateful?
They must be a banker, economist, or a politician.

  • Posted by: d.a.n at January 26, 2008 4:53 PM
    Comment #243942

    Jack,

    While I will agree that “economic freedon” and political freedom post WWII are connected, Historically that isn’t really true. Most wealth was created through slavery or subserviant subsets of population.

    Some would argue that if you buy into the politics of capitalism and the appearance of freedom, you can succeed. Otherwise you are relegated to modern slave labor.

    Posted by: googlumpugus at January 26, 2008 7:40 PM
    Comment #243945

    Can you define “slavery”? It appears to be yet another broadened liberal word.
    Every enterprise has some level of authority and all workers may at times claim they feel like slaves. Spouses claim to be victims of it sometimes. Slavery was a whole lot worse.
    By broadening definitions like this the real atrocity of slavery is diminished and put on the same level as petty complaints. Everyone has to work for someone.

    Posted by: Kruser at January 26, 2008 8:22 PM
    Comment #243947

    Socialists broaden the word wealth to include anything that represents success. What is interesting is that a corporation is an entity formed so large groups of people (investors) can own a company and earn money as it does. This is every workers dream. The portion is called “Stocks”. Success for the business is called “profits”. Government policies that encourage both corporate investments and profits will cause the economy to grow and give people a bigger piece of the company. The people or investors have more to invest and spend. They are also optimistic; this causes an increase in investment for new technologies and risky businesses since they can afford the risk of possible losses.
    The “wealthy” aren’t the corporations themselves. They are owned by stockholders. The wealthy are those the stockholders appoint due to their skill at making profits. Other corporations compete for these people and paying millions is nothing compared to the profits they generate. Of course, as in any speculation, the CEO may not pan out, but you have to pay them for their expertise.
    Profits reward investors and CEO’s for doing a good job. They also pay for expansion, and give the ability to reward those who are contracted to do the work required (workers). We have are a country that can both work for and own a company. We all have a dream of moving from contractor (paid employee) to an owner. The way to do it is to invest and for the companies we invest in to do well or make “profits”. Corporate taxes are a double taxation. The investors are taxed on their earnings (thus stifling the dream) and the machines they invest in are taxed for making profits for them. You could say the government removes by force, the raw material and rewards of being a business owner.
    I think it is important to distinguish between penalizing the “Wealthy” who oppress others and those who are there because of their ability to make others wealthy. An example would be Hollywood stars. They do make money for the studio, producers and cinemas. This makes them worth much more than the normal Joe off the street. If they want to pay more taxes on their own income, then fine since it isn‘t hurting the studio. A problem is caused when both corporate and personal earnings are included together as wealth and socialists want to tax them. If a wealthy person wants to contribute more from his static and earned wealth that is fine, but removing corporate incentives stifles the dream for stockholders.
    This is where free enterprise is great. Socialism and government takeovers cause everyone to stagnate into a worker drone mindset. Opportunity for ownership is over and a bureaucracy takes its place. We will continue to be the country of opportunity if government influenced by the mob (special interest and handouts) along with the weapon of over taxation aren’t allowed take this freedom from us.

    Posted by: Kruser at January 26, 2008 9:07 PM
    Comment #243957

    Googlumpugus

    Slavery is the ultimate in non-free market institutions and it is not coincidence that – after existing since the dawn of history – it largely disappeared soon after economic freedom began to developed and disappeared first in those places where the economic freedom was stronget.

    It is true that most societies were slave (or serf) based before 1750, when we started to see some significant economic freedom emerge (Remember, Adam Smith published wrote “Wealth of Nation describing the system in 1776). I suppose in that respect you could say that most of the wealth created by the Babylonians, Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans etc was created by slavery. Of course, there was little economic freedom in any of these societies. Governments regulated economies are closely as their technologies allowed, generally even setting prices and mandating methods of distribution. There were the days before things like communism, socialism or capitalism, but if you just heard the description of economic management in these places, you would characterize all of them as socialist.

    But before 1750 the world did not create very much total wealth. The big question today should not be why some people are still poor, but rather why some are not. In 1750, even the richest people were poor by our standards and the general wealth on earth available to people had not changed much in 1000 years (i.e. a peasant in China, France or Egypt lived much the same way as he had 1000 years earlier.)

    Re “buying into economic freedom” that is just the system that works. It is like saying that a person has to “buy into” the idea of exercise and good diet to be healthy. Over any significant period of time, a freer economic system produces more of the things we associate with human welfare than an unfree system. That is so evidently clear that we can often overlook it.

    We also need to be careful not to associate particular countries too much with behaviors. Just as an individual might live a healthy lifestyle and then slip into something else, so too countries. And it doesn’t matter what they call themselves. Judge by what they do. That is why that index is so useful. It looks at behaviors, not labels.

    Kruser

    I agree with most of what you say, but the biggest indictment of socialism is not that it just dulls initiative, but it is rather a technical point. Socialism doesn’t have the benefit for free market prices. W/o knowledge of price, it is impossible to determine efficient distribution and production. The market price of a good contains within it more information than a government bureaucracy could gather in 100 years. It is the result of the aggregated preferences, choices, intelligence and wisdom of millions of people. And the market price is forward looking. No government has ever been able to overcome that key problem. It is truly the weak link in socialism, but it gets little attention because it is impersonal and difficult to quantify.

    Posted by: Jack at January 27, 2008 12:55 AM
    Comment #243964

    Jack said: “Slavery is the ultimate in non-free market institutions”

    Slavery is the wet dream for capitalism which seeks the lowest possible cost for labor. Slavery didn’t end because of economic freedom, slavery ended because of legislation and regulation. May I remind you that child sweat shops remained a part of American capitalism right into the 20th century, UNTIL legislation and economic REGULATION halted this freedom of exercise by capitalists of the garment and coal industries to exploit and enslave labor.

    The RailRoads in the early 20th century paid their workers less than they charged the workers for life sustaining supplies from the company store. Effectively enslaving through debt to the “Company Store” owned and operated by the RailRoad capitalists building the railroad.

    Your understanding is enormously blinded by ideology. Capitalism allowed to operate freely produces ethical and moral evils intolerable to the human empathic capacity. Which is why capitalism and so called ‘free’ enterprise in America came to be regulated, overseen, and fined for their evils by movements and organizations of people with compassion and empathy for the inhumane treatment of labor and consumers at the hands of free market capitalists chanting their ‘laissez faire’ and ‘caveat emptor’ mantras. Note the foreign language. That was so the workers and general public would not understand what the capitalists were talking about.

    Code words still used today by Republicans, some Libertarians, and some capitalists calling for a return to the good old days of indentured servitude, and monopolistic freedom from competition. The credit card companies have recreated indentured servitude by other means under Republican rule. And that bubble is about to burst. The military manufacturers have created monopolies to supply the federal government exacting 100’s of billions of extortion from the taxpayers of America as typical monopolists will do.

    Monopolies like Haliburton, Blackwater, Boeing, Lockheed/Martin, and KBR are routinely contracted with by the Republicans in office through NO BID contracts. I don’t want to hear your rationalizations. Republicans have allowed and fostered monopolism and indentured servitude to be resurrected in America in the 21st century. This is why Republicans will govern NO MORE.

    This is why I consider your ideological fidelity to the GOP, blind in the extreme. For I know from your writings you do not believe in monopoly or indentured servitude. Yet, you remain loyal to the party that resurrected these.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at January 27, 2008 2:27 AM
    Comment #243969

    David

    I have never liked the term capitalism. It does not describe the free market system as we experience it. Beyond that, it tends to be defined by its detractors. Marxist, who understand nothing much about freedom, are the leading definers of that term.

    I learned this lesson when I lived in E. Europe. I found that many people were very eager to embrace capitalism, but that they defined it in Marxist terms. It didn’t work. The free market requires the rule of law, reasonable regulation and the market mechanism.

    Political policies have the life span of a mayfly. They seem to endure because they are correlated with the version immediate preceding. It is like the pictures on an old movie reel. They are in fact not the same, but they give the illusion of continuity and movement as each one flashes before us. Democrats and Republicans have switched sides on many issues and you really cannot go very far back in history and clearly identify their positions. The Dems were the party of slavery. Republicans broke up monopolies. We have to look at the values they espouse today.

    It is possible to admire both FDR and Ronald Reagan. In many ways, Reagan was more an heir to FDR than the Dems who opposed him. Both were adapting to circumstances and trying to turn the country around after it had run out of steam. In 1938, one strategy made sense. A different one made sense in 1988 and still another one is appropriate now.

    No party has a monopoly on truth and competence and neither is perfect. You have to buy the package. There are lots of things Republicans stand for that I do not like, but they are better than the alternative package, i.e. the Dems. Since I am more interested in practical results than ideological purity, I choose the package that best represents my values.

    The one thing that has defined my choices since I was a young man is freedom. That is why I support the free market. I do not trust business to do the right thing; I do not trust NGOs to do the right thing; I do not even trust myself to do the right thing and I certainly do not trust the government. But I believe that a combination of these things, aggregated by the market mechanism, produces the most good.

    There is not much chance in our modern era to suffer from too little government. Government tends to expand at the expense of liberty, as people ask it to solve particular problems that either they could better solve themselves or cannot be solved at all. You know sh*t happens and sometimes nobody can fix it. When governments get involved, it gets worse.

    Republicans since 2000 betrayed their principles and expanded government. This does not make me happy. But Dems want to expand it even more. I cannot trust the likes of Pelosi and that guy Reid with our national security. So I remain in on the Republican side.

    I also do not think government is the solution. It is just one of the players in the U.S. society, yes the predominant one, but with many of the same power motivations and bias as the others. It is big enough already.

    So my long around answer to your post, I do not have IDEOLOGICAL loyalty to any party. I do not find it inconsistent to admire both Roosevelt and Reagan. I have a practical connection to the Republicans, which I consider the best PACKAGE available to mitigate the growing nanny state and protect our national security. The package the Dems offer is worse.

    BTW - I will never forgive Harry Reid for his defeatism. I can still picture him telling us we were whipped. A lot of other Dems jumped on the wagon and tried to sink our country. This is one of my few truly viseral feelings re politics. It would probably keep me from voting for Dems until this generation of them has passed away.

    Posted by: Jack at January 27, 2008 3:39 AM
    Comment #243970

    Are we talking government oversight, regulation or ownership of business as removing “slavery”?

    I worked with Halliburton in the oilfield as a youth; they were the best and most equipped to do the jobs. I am curious who would bid against the listed companies that have capability to actually do the work demanded.

    Labor movements as with civil rights were accomplished by individuals outside the government standing up for their rights. Why do socialists always give government the credit for accomplishments in these areas? Reluctant government support for these things only came when it become critical due to associations gaining momentum without outside help.
    Strikes and protests by courageous people got the job done and not pontificating politicians.
    We should all stand up against injustice. This mindset doesn’t require a bureaucracy.
    Freedom does take guts. It isn’t a government entitlement. Free markets and free people are synonymous.


    Posted by: Kruser at January 27, 2008 4:04 AM
    Comment #243972

    Kruser,

    You are exactly right that few others could compete with the Haliburtons. However, by outsourcing a governmental role, the government has created a defacto monopoly. Frequently these corporations already have a cozy relationship and are the ones who implemented the idea of outsourcing to start with. It’s relatively easy to create competition by breaking up outsourcing into small enough packages to be handled by numerous competitors, but this has to be developed over time. Monarchies are always more efficient than democracies, just as monopolies can be more efficient than competition in the short term.

    This is the creep of corruption and patronage. It works because it was designed to work. It doesn’t mean it’s the best or least corrupt way.

    Posted by: googlumpugus at January 27, 2008 4:41 AM
    Comment #243978

    googlumpugus

    There is a subtle difference between efficient and effective. Effective is more encompassing and in the long run, monarchies and monopolies are not more effective. That is why democracies and markets have been replacing them over the last centuries.

    Think about it. 250 years ago there were few democracies and most big firms were OFFICIALLY monopolies, with their rights enforced by law and force of arms. There was no free market and the will of the people counted for little.

    I spent my younger days fighting world communism. As late as the 1980s, intellectuals were almost unanimous that the totalitarians could beat us on organization, at least in theory. Both those theories and practice were mistaken. The market in economics and its political version democracy are more powerful precisely because they “disorganized” and less hierachical. Coordination comes through impersonal aggregation. This works very well, much better than the rule making required by monopoly or big government.

    Monopolies cannot sustain themselves w/o the collaboration of government. Government holds a monopoly on the use of coercion. So government is the weak link. Only the government has the power to sustain monopoly, as you imply. That is we need to keep government’s hand light on the free market.

    I know you probably think that the problems result from Republican mismanagement, but it is not the drivers, but the vehicle. You probably recall that Republicans were elected in 1994 largely because the public was fed up with Dem corruption. If you create the power, somebody will use it. That is why you have to keep it smaller and less intrusive.

    Posted by: Jack at January 27, 2008 8:24 AM
    Comment #243982

    A recent example of what I am talking about happened during the recent primaries. Martin Luther was a hero of the civil rights movement. Hillary in true socialist fashion gave credit to Linden Johnson as though he did something courageous. He never did a peace march looking at death and imprisonment. Johnson merely responded to necessity brought about by those who took risks by peaceful means.
    This also applies to economics. People take risks and weather storms. We innovate and out produce other countries and usher in the modern age. Socialists constantly try to give politicians credit for what the private sector produces when they really were a thorn in the flesh and we produce despite the ball and chain.

    Conservatives believe in empowering people, Socialists believe in empowering bureaucracies.

    Jack, Your answers are great.

    Posted by: Kruser at January 27, 2008 9:56 AM
    Comment #243988
    Hillary in true socialist fashion gave credit to Linden Johnson as though he did something courageous.

    Johnson was very courageous for a president coming from the South…he said, and it has come to pass, that pressing for and signing the civil rights legislation delivered the south into the hands of the Republicans…what party leader would do something against her/his own party these days? Johnson signed the legislation because it was the right thing for the US…who is doing the right stuff according to the Constitution these days???

    No one seems to have Johnson’s courage…in either party.

    Posted by: Rachel at January 27, 2008 1:32 PM
    Comment #243991

    Rachel, Johnson was also a president who was wrong, and who could admit it, and lamented heavily over have been wrong, about the Viet Nam War, which for too long he viewed as an obstacle to his Great Society legacy. He was a man of conscience, and that conscience prevented him from seeking another term in office. Regardless of how one views his presidential legacy, he was a flawed human being who found a common path for his own and the nation’s benefit in the Civil Right’s legislation, which as you point out, trumped political considerations.

    That is hard to find in politicians today. Many seem to think they are finding that quality in Obama. Time will perhaps tell the truth of it.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at January 27, 2008 1:54 PM
    Comment #243993

    I am not trying to take all the credit away from him but a lame duck president has no political worries. Ignoring the civil rights problem to the end of his term would have been disastrous to his legacy, therefore the signing was a necessity and not something he risked his life over like many of the protesters did.
    Johnson lamented over the lack of popular support for the war due mostly to the absence of an alternate media. He also had a lack of resolve. The Great Society through confiscation and handouts was a failure due to the above economic stifling effects. It was worth a try, but now that we know it doesn’t work we need to move on.


    Posted by: Kruser at January 27, 2008 2:18 PM
    Comment #243998

    The point is that neither Johnson or Kennedy would have cared less about civil rights were it not for people like King risking their lives and insisting on results. It is the nature of politics and not faults of their own.
    Responding to the crisis was their job and not some sort of personal crusade. They did a good job but the heroes were the protesters and those who stood up to the status quo in danger of their lives and livelihood.

    Economics are the same. We have politicians who are responsible to maintain order and fight corruption. They do not produce anything. It is risk takers and hard working Americans that make our economy work. Giving politicians credit for booms is nonsense. Credit for lack of obstruction is about all you can give them. This is what conservatives are after. Just stay out of the way and private citizens will step up and boost our economy.

    Posted by: Kruser at January 27, 2008 2:41 PM
    Comment #244019

    Kruser said: “The Great Society through confiscation and handouts was a failure due to the above economic stifling effects. It was worth a try, but now that we know it doesn’t work we need to move on.”

    Laughable, considering its principles have been in place in various forms since FDR and produced one of the wealthiest per capita nations on earth, with the highest standard of living of most nations, and the broadest middle class in the world.

    What didn’t work was GW Bush and Republican rule, as evidenced by 2006’s elections kicking the GOP out of majority control of Congress. And it will worsen for the GOP in November. That’s what didn’t work. Trickle that down and see how it lifts your boat. :-)

    Posted by: David R. Remer at January 27, 2008 7:27 PM
    Comment #244050

    Yep, American innovation had nothing to do with our rise in living standard. It was taxation and government givaways. Fits the socialist pattern, politicians made it all happen.

    We rose dispite the social experiment and its failure.


    Posted by: Kruser at January 28, 2008 7:30 AM
    Comment #244053

    David

    Germany has a GDP per capita about the same as Arkansas. Countries such as Ireland and the UK benefitted from reforms and some of the others are contemplating them. The U.S. had one of the lowest corporate tax rates a generation ago, now it is almost the highest. Others reformed; we did not.

    The big government era just ran out of steam. It was not necessarily wrong for its time, but the time for it has passed as the nation became richer and too complicated for government bureaucrats.

    BTW social welfare works very differently in homogenous societies (as Europe was) than in diverse ones, where there is less trust. I saw that happen in Scandinavia.

    In Norway, as late as 1988 BUS drivers would sometimes deliver cash among banks. Norwegians are very honest people and nobody stole it. But soon others moved in whose standards of honesty were more flexible. It began to ruin the system of trust.

    Our country - and the world - has just become to complex and diverse for big government programs. We no longer have a common vision of what should be given and to whom. All that is left is a spoils system.

    In the Great Society, Johnson declared war on poverty. Poverty won that war and demanded reparations in the form of ruined communities, illegitimate births, an entrenched underclass and a spike in crime. Many of the pathologies of the 1970-80s came not despite the great government programs, but BECAUSE of them.

    Posted by: Jack at January 28, 2008 9:15 AM
    Comment #244057
    Republicans since 2000 betrayed their principles and expanded government. This does not make me happy. But Dems want to expand it even more. I cannot trust the likes of Pelosi and that guy Reid with our national security. So I remain in on the Republican side.
    If only enough voters would take Dawn’s advice:
    The only way to fix the problem is to throw them ALL out at the same time …

    Unfortunately, misplaced loyalties continue to reward the incumbent politicians in the two-party duopoly with 93% to 99% re-election rates (since year 1980).

    And disdain for the OTHER party, and the fear that the OTHER party will win a few extra seats in Do-nothing Congress is so great, that voters feel compelled to pull the party-lever.

    And the incumbent politicians are well aware of these very high 93% to 99% re-election rates. And fueling the partisan warfare ensures they will continue to enjoy their cu$hy, coveted incumbencies indefinitely.

    Voters have their vote, and will have the government that they deserve.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2008 10:10 AM
    Comment #244093

    Jack said: “Our country - and the world - has just become to complex and diverse for big government programs.”

    I see what you say. But, what I read into it is, the world and our country have become to complex and diverse for you to understand or grasp.

    I see the rest of the world intent and serious about global warming, dragging you and the U.S. kicking and screaming against your own scientific evidence. And why? Because your and the Bush administration’s fear is it might cost you something, or worse, that some other nation might pay less and benefit more.

    But, the cost of not going along with the rest of the world will be vastly higher. “The times are a changin”. If you can’t grasp the future and lend a hand, get out of the way so the next generation has a chance to adapt and evolve toward something better. Your old GOP road of taking what you want and passing the cost to our children is worn out.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at January 28, 2008 5:07 PM
    Comment #244100

    Nice word “adapt” sounds like the right plan. We have been doing it for a few thousand years now.
    Global warming is not science. It is speculation.
    Americans aren’t as gullable as the little pocket of European styled liberals you call the “world”

    Posted by: Kruser at January 28, 2008 7:44 PM
    Comment #244115

    Kruser made the incredulous comment: “Global warming is not science.”

    Mass. is losing coast line to rising ocean level. The Arctic Ice Cap is melting faster than any previous predictions. More people in the world are living in dislocation camps than at anytime since WWII, due to disease, weather catastrophes, and war caused by weather related diminishing life sustaining resources. The ocean’s average temperature has risen 1 degree. Biologists are reporting increasing changed adaptive migration patterns by growing numbers of species both land and oceanic.

    Your comment is pitifully ignorant of these and many other empirically observable and verifiable facts regarding the topic, which is why your opinion’s minority is shrinking by the month. Even Pres. Bush has abandoned your minority opinion. And I say Amen to that brother, Amen. Leaves hope that the incredibly undereducated and ignorant can be taught.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at January 29, 2008 1:50 AM
    Comment #244117

    David
    The world has always been too complex for me, or anybody else, to grasp as an individual.

    For a short time, with the help of big bureaucracies and bigger computers, it looked like a dedicated group of researchers could figure it out and that wise politicians could pass the proper laws that an honest bureaucracy would implement. That was an ideal situation, never realized, but theoretically possible.

    Today all those assumptions are no longer accurate. There is no longer any research or model that can encompass our interactions with each other and the world. Among politicians, there is no consensus about what is the right thing to do, even if they disagree on details. And bureaucracies have become too big to handle their tasks.

    Fortunately, we have a way forward. The aggregated wisdom of large numbers of autonomous individuals. You see its power in something like Wikipedia, which – although very imperfect – is as accurate and more complete than any comparable “expert” produced system. You see it in emergent technologies or in the constant shifting of resources to where they work the best. What you are seeing is the market mechanism.

    You mention global warming. I have the solution. Put a tax on carbon. The market mechanism will give you the best possible solutions and technologies to reduce carbon consumption. Government has that role – to point in the general direction. After that, it can best serve the people by letting them get about the work of finding solutions.

    I think the U.S. should go along with international program, BUT only as a PR measure. hey are happy with words; words are inexpensive. Give them words, while we solve the real problem. We do need that carbon tax, however.

    You know that the U.S. since 2001 has increased its carbon emissions at a lower rate than the EU. In 2006, our carbon emissions actually declined, the first time this ever happened during a time of robust economic growth. So what did Bush do right? It was the price of energy that did the deed. All the talking, posturing, pontificating and wailing did nothing except give international bureaucrats and good looking celebrities the opportunity to fly to exotic places and stay at nice hotels.

    It is generally the case that the command and control types win the argument, but the market produces the results in the real world.

    Posted by: Jack at January 29, 2008 1:56 AM
    Comment #244134

    David,
    Empiric evidence of normal climate change and extremes that occur every century.
    You cannot gather evidence of events that haven’t occurred unless you can time travel.

    Posted by: Kruser at January 29, 2008 9:51 AM
    Comment #244165

    So, why didn’t Bush openly claim that the state of the union was good, wonderful, etc. … without saying that it would be good, wonderful, etc. only if the Congress passed “his” bills…

    Here’s why:

    U.S. Economy Sinking into Crisis Mode

    Posted by: Rachel at January 29, 2008 3:20 PM
    Comment #244200

    Kruser, thank you for your comment demonstrating an abject ignorance of the very probability and statistics science that control you savings, investments, movements, choices, nationality, political affiliation etc. etc. etc.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at January 29, 2008 10:03 PM
    Comment #244202

    Jack said: “There is no longer any research or model that can encompass our interactions with each other and the world.

    Sure there is, and are. Probability and statistics modeling. Ain’t always right, but most of the time it is. :-) It can’t predict time/space instances, but, does a pretty handy job of predicting trends with a high degree of accuracy. Politics, economics, financial systems and oversight, military positioning, and a whole host of other human societal activities are predicated on probability and statistics modeling. Even what brands we buy and are available is determined in large part by this science. This science has underwritten the world as we know it today.

    “Among politicians, there is no consensus about what is the right thing to do, even if they disagree on details. And bureaucracies have become too big to handle their tasks.”

    My point, exactly. The electorate MUST improve its educational level if these circumstances are to improve. Fracturing the educational system into religious and secular, regional political, and economic stratification, with the goal of processing overriding educating, is not the direction to salvation.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at January 29, 2008 10:12 PM
    Comment #244204

    Jack said: “I have the solution. Put a tax on carbon.”

    No, Jack. That is A solution. Not THE solution. THE solution will have to be far more complex and diverse in approach than that simple recipe.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at January 29, 2008 10:14 PM
    Comment #244216

    David

    Re carbon - The solution is both simple and complex. For the government, the solution is very simple – carbon tax. That will change the dynamics of the market and allow millions of people to pool their aggregated intelligence, preference and insights to come up with the complex solution that no government planner or no individual person could understand.

    The same way you got your coffee and newspaper this morning will deliver the solution. The government will need to help with whatever infrastructure the new systems require, but that should be easier for them to understand.

    Re systems – those statistical programs are exactly what the market gives you. The market provides that sort of decision making. Government planners can try to copy it, but they can never have the resources or the lack of bias to make it work over a large system.

    Reliance on government is old fashioned. We all like it because we grew up with it and it has been the human condition since we emerged from caves. It is comforting to look to good and kind leaders, who will sort out all the conflicts. But we have evolved beyond that.

    The government today is a key player in society, but no longer always the dominant one. In my own government job 20 years ago, I had access to information only people like me could get. Today, I tend to hear about changes on the news or Internet. A guy with a good internet connection and some skill can find more relevant information faster than it was possible for the president to get 20 years ago. When all this kind of information is spread to the people, what does this mean for the role of government?

    The bottleneck is no longer information; it is interpretation. We need smart people to interpret and make decisions. There are lots of smart people in government, but there are always more smart people outside than inside any organization. Even if you assume the smartest 10% of Americans went to work for the government (and a visit to the DMV will convince you that this is just a hypothetical) they still would not have the judgment power of the whole American society.

    We the people can take care of ourselves much better than we could in the past. The government’s role in our lives should shrink to reflect that.

    Re Fracturing of our society - that is what diversity and pluralism mean. People in Iceland or Finland do not have as big a challenge as we do, but America is and always has been diverse. You and I who grew up in the post war time saw an unusually homogenous America. Immigration levels were way down and we were still feeling the effects of the great unifying experiences of WWII and the great depression. This was a calm time, but it is over.

    The bad news is that government is as inefficient and misguided as it has always been. We need government, but it is always a blunt instrument. The good news is that we need government less than we used to.

    Posted by: Jack at January 30, 2008 1:42 AM
    Comment #244225

    Jack said:

    Re carbon - The solution is both simple and complex. For the government, the solution is very simple – carbon tax. That will change the dynamics of the market and allow millions of people to pool their aggregated intelligence, preference and insights to come up with the complex solution that no government planner or no individual person could understand.

    The same way you got your coffee and newspaper this morning will deliver the solution. The government will need to help with whatever infrastructure the new systems require, but that should be easier for them to understand.

    Jack, do you not see that this is precisely how our national debt was increased 3.67 trillion dollars in just 7 years, and climbing another quarter trillion this year?

    Your proposition throws open the gates to the national treasury for every shylock private enterpriser to dip into for their handout with the assurance that theirs is the R&D that will save the politicians from their potential election defeats. Have you not learned anything conservative from Haliburton, KBR, and Blackwater who assured Bush they could save his mission and dream in Iraq? Are you really that sold on the Bush way of doing things?

    Thankfully, his way is all but instructional history, now, of what and how NOT to run a White House and this once great country. Hopefully, after Bush, we can make America great once again, instead of prepping China and the Saudi’s for the role.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at January 30, 2008 4:44 AM
    Comment #244226

    Jack said: “The bad news is that government is as inefficient and misguided”

    Yes, what the Democratic and Republican parties have done with government is truly deplorable. Time for a monumental change. Have you heard, Independent registered voters now outnumber either Democrats or Republicans.

    Just because your party bungled it so absolutely badly, does not mean the founding fathers built a Constitution with that in mind. In fact, the Founding Fathers made no provision and gave no thought whatsoever to the potential ill effects of political parties like ours today. Because they didn’t yet exist.

    Your argument is akin to that of the scorpion and frog and tale. The scorpion promises the frog not to sting it if the frog will give the scorpion a ride on the frog’s back across the river. Mid-stream the scorpion stings the frog, and the frog with paralyzing breath asks: “Why did you sting me, now we will both drown.” The scorpion replies, it is my nature to sting.

    You mistake the nature of political parties for our U.S. Constitution. Misguided and grossly inefficient and wasteful government is the nature of your and the Democratic Parties. Not our government or U.S. Constitution.

    Checks and balances do not, and should not, be used by the political parties as justification for incompetence, waste, and inefficiency. The parties made it this way. Not American government design in law.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at January 30, 2008 5:00 AM
    Comment #244231

    Ah, yes…Bush’s and the Republican’s push to balance the budget on the head of the poor…meanwhile Halliburton and the oil companies make obscene amounts….

    The roster of programs facing the guillotine is a closely-held secret at the White House budget shop. But it’s hardly guesswork as to most of what’s on the list. Most of the cuts have been tried before, only to be rejected by Congress, whether controlled by Republicans or Democrats.

    The Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which provides nutritionally balanced boxes of food to about a half-million mostly elderly poor people each month, faces elimination of its $140 million budget. It’s been targeted for elimination twice before. Last year, Democrats awarded the program a 30 percent budget increase.

    The president also will likely target again the $654 million budget for community services block grants, which provide money to community action groups that help the poor….

    Last year, Bush for the first time sought $134 million in cuts to grants programs giving poor, unemployed senior citizens part-time community service work. Congress instead provided a $38 million increase.

    Posted by: Rachel at January 30, 2008 8:20 AM
    Comment #244232

    David,
    I agree with your accessment of parties. The republican party was formed because there were too many pro slavery people in the Whig party to get anything done. The pro slavery Democrats were considered conservatives then. Now it has reached the saturation point with liberal policy. Liberal policy with conservative taxation spell trouble.
    If a third party starts up that isn’t whacked (is realistic)yet holds to conservative ideals and also has a chance of getting somewhere, I would join. Until then hopefully someone has some guts. Cuts like the above post by Rachel is a good start.

    Posted by: Kruser at January 30, 2008 9:04 AM
    Comment #244234

    David,
    You confuse the use of “Empirical” while trying to prove global warming. Emperical science requires observing the results of experiments based on hypothesis. Theories are confirmed when the hypothesis is proven.

    “Statistics” study the possibility in the future of events. They call it a science but it is just a better way to guess in all the above mentioned areas. Data can be easily manipulated to get predetermined results and are certainly not accurate. Statistical science is what global warming is based on since it is impossible to prove the hypothesis without going ahead in time.

    Posted by: Kruser at January 30, 2008 9:31 AM
    Comment #244243

    David

    I fail to see how keeping the government out of most business will run up the deficit. It doesn’t cost money to do nothing. Infrastructure that benefits all is not much of a cost of government now. I do not propose giving government money away freely.

    With the carbon tax there are no handouts. The carbon tax makes carbon (and energy that uses carbon) more expensive. This gives anybody who figures out ways to produce carbon free energy or conserve energy in general a greater incentive. If gas costs $1 a gallon, nobody cares about conservation of alternatives. When it gets up above $3, these things become very popular.

    Re government in general, it is always inefficient and it is meant to be in the U.S. at least. Checks and balance protect our liberty by making government exercise of power less effective and inefficient.

    As governments go, the U.S. is fairly good. There is no country of our size that has a more efficient or honest government. That is scary, but in the whole history of the world and the world today, there is not an example of a really good and efficient government. Even little, honest places like Singapore or Norway have their share of troubles and few governments are as little … or as honest.

    Government has an essential role to play in society, but it is not the role of manager of details. Government, as the voice of the people, can provide general direction, but it should not try to mange the methods.

    I know how to make decisions for myself better than the government does for me. That is because I am more familiar with my personal situation and preferences. Most people believe this about themselves and it is odd that many also want the government to take a bigger role in telling them what to do. There will always be some people who prefer not to have that freedom. They are unwilling or unable to make their own decisions. Let them give it to those who they think are better able to handle it, but that is not the choice of free people and it is not my choice.

    Posted by: Jack at January 30, 2008 11:57 AM
    Comment #244282

    Kruser said: “Emperical science requires observing the results of experiments based on hypothesis. “

    Proves how much you don’t know about it. Empirical refers to observable and verifiable. Science refers to both probability and statistical sciences and cause and effect controlled variable sciences.

    If you need a little more education on the topic, just ask. If I look out my window and see daylight, is it proof it is daytime? No. But, if I look out my window and see daylight, and call 100 other people in my neighborhood and confirm with them that by their observation and calendars and clocks that it is indeed daytime, I have empirically established by probability and statistical methodology that it is very likely daytime.

    Same goes with observing the natural environmental changes around us, and correlating those verifiable observances with laboratory science on the causes of atmospheric and oceanic warming. If the conclusions drawn by a vast majority of scientists who are not paid for predetermined results, agree we are experiencing global warming, it is a very safe and high probability that we are in fact experiencing global warming.

    Correlate the CO2 in our atmosphere with proportional laboratory greenhouse amounts, and get the same effects, science has established cause and effect if the results are verified by others replicating the same experiments.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at January 30, 2008 7:15 PM
    Comment #244300

    Wow! how unrelated to topic can you get.

    Yes it has been observed that the globe has warmed in the past ten years. No it hasn’t been conclusively confirmed that it doesn’t happened all the time without Human assistance.
    The CO2 levels are presented by circular reasoning. If carbon has decayed from a predetermined amount thus providing the date, how do you know the original amount? The articles I have read call it “the best guess”. These were your top scientists. Now they say that they can compare this amount to today’s? Do you recommend any unbiased studies? Maybe a conservatives have a better ones. The study of carbon in the atmosphere is young and accurate data concerning its effect on weather runs over a very short time.

    Liberal thought is based in creating crisis, cursing capitalism and claiming government regulation is the only cure. Enter any liberal cause and it will follow the pattern. I studied the liberal side of global warming to try and differentiate it from this familiar pattern and it hasn’t happened yet.

    Now, can you observe climate changes besides normal extremes in weather? (look at the 40s). I recall record breaking weather somewhere every year of my life. You can see what “is” such as daylight and draw conclusions, but you cannot observe what they are predicting or speculating about. Their data from the past is also wanting.

    It is the usual socialist broadening of terms. “Science” to most people means empirical conclusions. Now we have Social Science, Political Science, Statistical Science and many more. It now is used as a qualifier for the “study of” any pet subject. They imply they are always talking about empirical conclusions when they are only using the word as a qualifier for studies that manufacture conclusions that conform to a set of ideals. True empirical science tries to prove itself wrong and can show a conclusive observation. Don’t put statistical predictions in the same class. Have we ever been able to predict the economy with precision? You would be rich if you could. Can’t because there are too many unpredictable factors involved. Namely humans. Now climate has even more of a “Chaos” factor if you will. Good luck. We start with 50/50. Warmer or Colder. The last choice was colder and the “scientists” got it wrong….


    Posted by: Kruser at January 30, 2008 11:11 PM
    Comment #244427

    John McCain: said he’s ready to lead ! I think
    he’s a “Democrat” in “Republican” attire, with an
    Attitude to match. McCain-Feingold,McCain-Kennedy
    and McCain-Leiberman. John McCain can’t be
    trusted … !

    Hillary & Obama: vow Bigger Government,more
    entitlement’s for the LAZY-DO-NOTHIN’S at the
    tax payer’s expense. ……..”HELP”……….!

    Posted by: j.i.m at February 1, 2008 2:26 PM
    Post a comment