Rain Dancers

People who do rain dances know or at least suspect that dancing cannot change the weather. But they need to be seen to be taking some action, so they engage in elaborate ceremonies. Eventually it rains and when it does the dancers claim that it was their intervention with the gods that made it happen. Most politicians are good rain dancers. They enact elaborate programs that distract people until things improve. But we shouldn’t mistake their actions with causing the results.

Leaders decide basic questions of war and peace, but they are not much use in managing economies. Government is essential to the prosperity of any country, but it is essential in the long run. In the long run, good laws and competent administration allows the people to create wealth. But the good effects of government may take years, decades or even centuries to be manifest. Things just take a lot of time.

It might take years to build a highway system and then more years for the economic growth to follow. And that is a quick return on investment.

Think about something government influences strongly - human capital. It takes around twenty-five years to build an engineer and it might take a couple generations to build the culture that can employ one. That is why government needs to create stable conditions. In fact, the best thing any government can do is to create stability that allows people to develop.

All this creates problems for politicians, whose time horizon may be only a few days long, and it is almost never longer than a couple years, i.e. the next election. The politician might understand that the best thing he can do for his city is to fix the sewer & water system, but this investment will pay off many years after he has been in his last election.

So rather than talk about the good government long-run policies that a politician COULD deliver, most politicians promise short term results. Like the shaman who does the rain dance, they know that their policies will do nothing, but they know that in the long term if they dance long enough they can take credit for good news.

Whether they understand or not, politicians are using a variation of regression to the mean. This is the principle that states that in the long run variations will come back to the average. If I am a B student, I might get some As and some Cs but I will drift back to the middle. It is a simple principle. How does it work in politics and rain dancing? Easy.

Politicians know that negative swings will eventually come back to the mean. They must just wait it out. Dancing occupies the attention of the people. They also know that positive swings will also return toward the long-term mean. This they blame on their processors or political enemies. They claim that the good times were "normal" but that the stupidity of others brought things down.

What can government do? Both much less and much more than we think. In the long run, it makes all the difference. Governments shape culture as culture shapes government and between them they determine the fate of nations. This happens even in the medium term. You could see the difference between East & West Germany. It is even more pronounced with North & South Korea. In the short run, however, government policies are not particularly effective. That is why most political promises are lies.

We should vote for the candidate who is the most competent, but we often vote for the better dancers.

Posted by Christine & John at February 9, 2012 6:35 PM
Comment #335950

The obvious conclusion is that the US should make long-term investments in itself. As an intellectual investment, the US should fund education at state colleges for all who qualify. After WWII, the GI Bill proved to be a spectacular success. Why stop? Why not extend what works? As a physical investment, the US should fund universal health care, Medicare for all. The US currently ranks in the mid-thirties for longevity and infant mortality rate. Why would we not invest in ourselves in a way that provides an equal opportunity for every single citizen?

These investments would each cost about the same as the War in Iraq. Other industrialized countries making these investments tax their citizenry at a rate of about @45% for the upper bracket.

Posted by: phx8 at February 9, 2012 7:08 PM
Comment #335951

Determining who is most competent is clouded by ideology. A majority of voters choose the one that they consider the most competent dancer.

What should the government roll be? First, the government needs to doze the playing field where it has been mucked up by the pedigreed for the last couple of decades. The government should consider the wisdom in Phx8’s proposals. The government should continue to present a futuristic vision for the people with the continuation of great and large projects that have been so much a part of the great expansion of our economy and given the world positive examples of our countries greatness.

Posted by: jlw at February 9, 2012 7:53 PM
Comment #335953

One we can all agree on, C&J. Here is a fitting email I received on the retirement of a Florida writer.

545 vs. 300,000,000 People -By Charlie Reese
> >
> > Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then
> > campaign against them.
> >
> > Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are
> > against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?
> >
> > Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and
> > high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?
> >
> > You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The President does.
> >
> > You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on
> > appropriations. The House of Representatives does.
> >
> > You and I don’t write the tax code, Congress does.
> >
> > You and I don’t set fiscal policy, Congress does.
> >
> > You and I don’t control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.
> >
> > One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme
> > Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are
> > directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems
> > that plague this country.
> >
> > I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem
> > was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional
> > duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private,
> > central bank.
I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason.
> > They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a
> > congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don’t care if
> > they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the
> > power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the
> > legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes.
> >
> > Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what
> > they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless
> > of party.
> >
> > What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive
> > amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who
> > stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The President
> > can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.
> >
> > The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole
> > responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving
> > appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? John Boehner. He is
> > the leader of the majority party. He and fellow House members, not the
> > President, can approve any budget they want. If the President vetoes it, they
> > can pass it over his veto if they agree to.
> >
> > It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace
> > 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts — of incompetence and
> > irresponsibility. I can’t think of a single domestic problem that is not
> > traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth
> > that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must
> > follow that what exists is what they want to exist.
> >
> > If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair.
> >
> > If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red.
> > If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red.
> >
> > If the Army & Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan it’s because they want
> > them in Iraq and Afghanistan ….
> >
> > If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan
> > not available to the people, it’s because they want it that way.
> >
> > There are no insoluble government problems.
> >
> > Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire
> > and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they
> > can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and
> > from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into
> > the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like “the economy,”
> > “inflation,” or “politics” that prevent them from doing what they take an
> > oath to do.
> >
> > Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.
> >
> > They, and they alone, have the power.
> >
> > They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are
> > their bosses.
> >
> > Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees…
> >
> > We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!
> >
> > Charlie Reese is a former columnist of the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper.
> >
> > What you do with this article now that you have read it… is up to you.
What you do with this article now that you have read it… is up to you.
> > This might be funny if it weren’t so true.
> > Be sure to read all the way to the end:
> >
> > Tax his land,
> > Tax his bed,
> > Tax the table,
> > At which he’s fed.
> >
> > Tax his tractor,
> > Tax his mule,
> > Teach him taxes
> > Are the rule.
> >
> > Tax his work,
> > Tax his pay,
> > He works for
> > peanuts anyway!
> >
> > Tax his cow,
> > Tax his goat,
> > Tax his pants,
> > Tax his coat.
> >
> > Tax his ties,
> > Tax his shirt,
> > Tax his work,
> > Tax his dirt.
> >
> > Tax his tobacco,
> > Tax his drink,
> > Tax him if he
> > Tries to think.
> >
> > Tax his cigars,
> > Tax his beers,
> > If he cries
> > Tax his tears.
Tax his car,
> > Tax his gas,
> > Find other ways
> > To tax his ass.
> >
> > Tax all he has
> > Then let him know
> > That you won’t be done
> > Till he has no dough.
> >
> > When he screams and hollers;
> > Then tax him some more,
> > Tax him till
> > He’s good and sore.
> >
> > Then tax his coffin,
> > Tax his grave,
> > Tax the sod in
> > Which he’s laid…
> >
> > Put these words
> > Upon his tomb,
> > ‘Taxes drove me
> > to my doom…’
> >
> > When he’s gone,
> > Do not relax,
> > Its time to apply
> > The inheritance tax.
> >
> > Accounts Receivable Tax
> > Building Permit Tax
> > CDL license Tax
> > Cigarette Tax
> > Corporate Income Tax
> > Dog License Tax
> > Excise Taxes
> > Federal Income Tax
> > Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
> > Fishing License Tax
> > Food License Tax
> > Fuel Permit Tax
> > Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon)
> > Gross Receipts Tax
> > Hunting License Tax
> > Inheritance Tax
> > Inventory Tax
> > IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
> > Liquor Tax
> > Luxury Taxes
> > Marriage License Tax
> > Medicare Tax
> > Personal Property Tax
> > Property Tax
> > Real Estate Tax
> > Service Charge Tax
> > Social Security Tax
> > Road Usage Tax
> > Recreational Vehicle Tax
> > Sales Tax
> > School Tax
> > State Income Tax
> > State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
> > Telephone Federal Excise Tax
> > Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
> > Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
> > Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
> > Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax
> > Telephone State and Local Tax
> > Telephone Usage Charge Tax
> > Utility Taxes
> > Vehicle License Registration Tax
> > Vehicle Sales Tax
> > Watercraft Registration Tax
> > Well Permit Tax
> > Workers Compensation Tax
> >
> >
> > Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, & our nation was the most
> > prosperous in the world.
> > We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the
> > world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.
> >
> > What in the heck happened? Can you spell ‘politicians?’
> >
> > I hope this goes around THE USA at least 545 times!!! YOU can help it get
> > there!!!
> >

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at February 9, 2012 8:16 PM
Comment #335955

Re investments - yes we should make them. I wish Obama had done so.


Spending should not be the sole measure, especially government spending. We have the world’s best system of higher education by far. Most of the 100 best universities are American. This system is a good mix of state plus private plus choice.

I am not very impressed with the higher “investment” in places in Europe. They get less bang for their Euro. And their systems are in more trouble than ours.

I think we need to develop a system of investment that does not come with such a strong system of entitlement.

jlw & Phx8

I think we have a “seeds of its own destruction” problem when we “level” the playing field. As we create opportunity, we value talent and hard work. Good. But as these people rise they start to create greater inequality. People tend to meet and marry people like themselves. They pass their good habits onto their kids. People with less effective habits do the same.

I have seen this happen in my life. I grew up in a poor-working class neighborhood. A few of us went to college and moved well-ahead of our peers. Our kids have our better habits as well as more opportunity. It is odd to go home. We look physically different. My old friends that stayed home are fat and they look ten years older than they are. Their kids are fat with not good attitudes. You can see the divergence.

Ironically, as you create opportunity, you also allow these differences.

Think of the metaphor of two cars. One is a fast new car, the other an old one that cannot go more than 25 MPH. If both are stuck in traffic, there is no difference between their performance. Create the opportunity of a open road and the difference are manifest.

Posted by: C&J at February 9, 2012 8:30 PM
Comment #335959

C&J, before the playing field was made unlevel, we valued talent and hard work and we did not begrudge wealth or economic success because we considered the playing field level.

There is no evidence suggesting that the unleveling of the playing field has created greater economic opportunities for the people as a whole. The possibility of having a jobless recovery points to the exact opposite.

There is plenty of evidence to show that what you say has occurred actually has, that being a greater inequity. You say this is fair and it will be as long as you can depend on the continued ignorance of right wing workers.

“Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago,& our nation was the most prosperous in the world.”

Roy, actually, that was a little more than 100 years ago, and I don’t think our nation was the most prosperous in the world then, just well on our way to being that.
And, prosperous is in the eye of the beholder. Workers back then, for the most part, worked for very low wages and in atrocious working conditions. Children as young as 6 and 8 were working in factories and coal mines just to help families survive. The middle class was much smaller and most of them were marginally better off than the lower class.

The Progressive Era, New Deal, and other progressive legislation such as the G.I. Bill and Civil Rights Reforms is what made America the most prosperous nation in the world with respect to the many as opposed to the few. Those reforms are what leveled the playing field.

Take those reforms away and we would have the right size Gentry, Middle, and indentured servant class that wealth has deemed appropriate throughout most of human history. IMO, those middle class workers who support wealth in this endeavor should be the first to make the fall.

Posted by: jlw at February 9, 2012 10:13 PM
Comment #335962

Jlw, the more things change the more they remain the same. Thanks to globalization working conditions are similar to that of the Gilded Age, circa the 1920’s. Rich getting richer and the workers getting the shaft.

Here is an article on Microsoft child labor in China


Here is a WaPo article on Apple in China


WaPo article on Ear Marks for the ‘public sector’ by some of the 535


another WaPo article where ‘Ear Marks’ fund projects near properties of the 535


Readers should be heartened at the chance to vote incumbents from office in large number come the 2012 elections.

Otherwise -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at February 9, 2012 11:16 PM
Comment #335963

Government policies are not effective. Now I get it. That’s why we lost WW2. That’s why the civil rights movement withered on the vine and we never put a man on the moon.Thats why we no longer have a US auto industry. That’s why rural America still has no electricity and most senior citizens live in poverty.That explains why a president like Bush who did a horrible job should get no blame and a president like Obama, who has done a fairly good job should get no credit.Its all so clear now!

Barney Frank quips about congressmen that insist the government can’t and shouldn’t address unemployment come out of the woodwork to protect defense spending in their own districts. He calls them “weaponized Keynesians”.

Posted by: bills at February 10, 2012 1:00 AM
Comment #335964

Roy, what is called the Gilded Age was the late 19Th century and those who say it was a period of unprecedented economic growth are not lying. It was called the Gilded Age because of the way the wealthy were flaunting their opulence. It was associated with the Robber Barons who were titled that because the general public perceived that they had somehow cheated or stole to gain their fortunes. Although some of these Barons of finance and industry were very underhanded, especially in regards to their competition, they were perceived as such because of their stubborn refusal to share the wealth with their workers in all but a minimalist way. We see a similar situation with the growing issue of inequity.

The thing about voting out incumbents is that their replacements quickly catch on to the Congressional game and they become the incumbents. It may be bad for the incumbent, but the Party lives on to contest for that seat in the next election.

The only way to success by voting out incumbents is to do it generously, each election, and in a non-partisan way. Partisans will never do that in significant numbers to make the policy work the way we think it should.

Posted by: jlw at February 10, 2012 1:11 AM
Comment #336044


Oil dependency has drop to less than 50% under the BO administration. Rain dancer? Nice spin but not reality based. Federal regulations are playing a large role . Does it shock you that we have a president actually doing his job?

Posted by: bills at February 10, 2012 10:29 AM
Comment #336045

Ah, shucks. Just admit it: Things are getting better, and you don’t want Obama getting credit.

I mean, you’ve been arguing two different things here. The first is that Obama’s economic programs have had a strong and immediate effect of squeezing out public investment, and causing a fiscal drag on the economy due to the debt, that his regulations have had an immediate troublesome effect on the economy, stifling growth.

The other thing you’re arguing is that his economic programs have had no effect, that we can’t know what effect his policies will have.

You cannot argue a specific cause and effect relationship and uncertainty on the same matters at the same time. If you think we’re rain dancing here, I’m thinking you’re trying to dance between the rain drops.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 10, 2012 11:25 AM
Comment #336050


Things are getting better, but delayed, not very fast and it is a weak recovery. Obama’s policies are probably responsible for some of this.


“before the playing field was made unlevel, we valued talent and hard work” I think we value these things more than ever and that is the cause of the problem. A person with a small or even large advantage in talent could not/cannot leverage that difference to much advantage in a small of constrained environment. If everybody is farming with traditional methods, the difference between an excellent farmer and a mediocre one will not be very great. In fact, random chance may completely trump greater skill or effort. When choices increase, however, so do differences.

Opportunities are really available today to all WHO CAN TAKE THEM. This is the key. I have learned to my sorrow that there are important things that I cannot do, or cannot do as well as others. This is what has limited my opportunities. I am certainly not saying that life is fair in the sense that we all have the same opportunities, but much depends on us.

I think the biggest proof of this is the rapid rise of immigrants from Asia, who make up a large percentage of entrepreneurs in high tech. They come w/o advantages, not having strong American establishment connections and sometimes not speaking the language well. Yet they leverage their talents.

There is a fundamental between tension & opportunity on the one hand and equality on the other. Most of the labor movement and much of the progressive agenda is designed to create uniformity and does so at the expense of opportunity and differentiated talent. In a traditional union shop, all workers are equal and they are paid not according to their talents or work habits but rather according to their status or class.


“Government policies are not effective. Now I get it” Government can be very effective at things that require large movements and mass regimentation. That is why it has the monopoly of the use of force and war and is so important for large infrastructure projects. What it cannot do is closely manage the economy. Government doesn’t do nuance well and it can almost never make close differentiations.

It was very good at mobilizing millions of men and throwing them onto beaches in Normandy. It is not good at figuring out the particular talents and preferences of each of those millions of men.

Posted by: C&J at February 10, 2012 5:10 PM
Comment #336052

Your argument might work better if there wasn’t something else government could do: require things of people.

That’s what government’s most basic service to the economy is: it inhibits the behavior of the greedy, who might lie, cheat, and otherwise misbehave in ways that destroy the economic framework

Also, government can give us choices in where the market takes us, where otherwise circumstances might force ugly results. You dump on the green economy, but let’s be blunt here: it’s growing fast! It wouldn’t have been growing much at all, with the financial crisis drying up venture capital, if the Obama administration hadn’t acted.

I don’t expect the government to run the economy, or decide all the winners and losers, but I think it can be useful for giving the market the chance to pick up on winners otherwise crowded out by bad choices with too much market share to be easily dislodged.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 10, 2012 7:05 PM
Comment #336055


Government, as I said hundreds of times, maintains a monopoly on the legitimate use of coercion.

Re the green economy - I don’t dump on the green economy. I do not think that the Obama command and control method is the best way to achieve it.

Government can play a crucial role in supporting research. Government can deploy its market power to encourage innovations. For example, it can run all government vehicles on natural gas or electricity creating capacity.

What government does very poorly is to manage innovation. It should stay out of that business. It should not try to pick winners and losers among the people. Not only is government not good at this, it is not a legitimate task for government in a a free society.

Obama does not understand the economy. He had no background in anything related to making anything, managing finances or managing much at all. He thought that wishing was enough, which is why he made that rookie with “shovel ready” projects. He is exactly why we cannot rely on government to manage the economy. People like him - smart but ignorant - make too many of the choices.

Posted by: C&J at February 10, 2012 8:39 PM
Comment #336424

You’re just basically restating your political beliefs here. Beliefs that haven’t been vindicated. Did the market make electricity or fuel cheaper after those markets were deregulated to allow more competition and speculation? No, but the energy companies made a killing. Saying that competition and speculation would drive prices down was part selling that policy to a skeptical public, part covering for a policy that they might have known would cost people more.

That often seems to be the pattern. Folks say that deregulation will make things cheaper, or letting the corporations do something will bring the price down, but there’s always a catch on the other side. Folks don’t lobby congress so they can provide cheaper goods and services, or higher quality at their own expense.

The fact that doing the right thing, or charging an appropriate price is often the more expensive of two options, the less competitive, given you doing the right thing, and your competitor doing the expedient thing, is why we need regulation. There will always be places where the markets don’t police themselves, where the temptations prove to great, and consumers find themselves in a position where simple market mechanisms do not provide relief.

I don’t mean we should rely merely on command and control, but there’s a point where the Republican party stopped considering it as an option altogether, even in reaction to some of the worst failures of the market to prevent catastrophes.

The fact of the matter is, non-green energy isn’t succeeding merely on its own merits in the marketplace, and your policies in Washington demonstrate that. I mean, what precisely are those subsidies for drilling there for, what are they doing? You’ve always talked about the need for a carbon tax, but what about simply levelling things off? What would be the market position of gasoline if we cut that subsidy, especially given the profits of the big oil companies?

Whether you like or not, that subsidy or the other tax breaks you have granted are market distorting mechanisms. You’ve been picking winners and losers all along, just haven’t had the nerve to admit it. Or perhaps the self-awareness of your own policies. I mean, there’s always what we think about a certain policy, and what it actually is. A Tax break is seen as not being a market distorting subsidy because it’s in the category of tax cuts, which Republican orthodoxy has declared A-OK.

But if you want to take it from a truly conservative point of view, Tax cuts in a time of deficit are themselves market distortions at government and taxpayer expense. I made this point before when I was explaining that taxpayers would have to pay back all your wonderful tax cuts with interest. And these tax breaks and loopholes your people won’t get rid of are basically little more than subsidies and corporate welfare themselves, and your people used them to that effect. You always heard of using tax breaks and tax cuts as a means to artificially stimulate the economy, or encourage certain behavior. In real terms, your people are more liberal, even the folks on the right fringe of the party, than they’d like to believe.

Your party does pick winners and losers. The important thing to keep track of is just who they picked with their policies.

Let’s go back to Solyndra. The approval may have been that of the Obama administration (with Bush appointees, though) but the program is a product of the 2005 energy bill, passed and signed by unequivocally Republican majorities and a Republican President. You’re going after your own policies, basically.

Let’s get back to the problems of making things. You say he’s doing a bad job? Then why is manufacturing taking up a greater share of economic growth for the first time in years? If this is the result of electing a smart but “ignorant” leader, then why are we complaining here? He’s made some mistakes, and not all of his policies have worked, but nobody makes perfect policy decisions.

Some people, though, fail to recognize their mistakes, and continue to make them. Republicans have put themselves in a position that whether or not their policies get results, they’re sticking to them, and they won’t try anything else. Worse yet, they ascribe all kinds of virtues to themselves and their policies that can’t really be said to match the reality.

With the way your side has handled the economy, with the way its policies have put people at greater and greater disadvantage, it kind of irks me to get lectures about what does and does not work. What do you folks know? You said you knew what would make for cheaper gas. Everything you’ve done so far, policy wise, has only led us to where we are now. You said deregulated utilities would charge less. They charged more, and in California that deregulation lead to horrific abuses of the market that disrupted not only the state’s economy, but the ability of the system to reliably deliver power.

Letting Wall Street have more discretion over its accounting, more say over how it invests, and on what margins and whatever hasn’t lead to any significant improvement in self-policing in my lifetime. From junk-bonds to derivatives, there doesn’t seem to be a financial instrument that Wall Street traders have resisted getting in over their head on leverage with. Provide them with something to speculate themselves into bankruptcy with, and they’ll do it. Hell, they almost rode derivatives into a market crash fourteen years ago with the LTCM collapse. And that occured for no less ridiculous a reason than they made the wrong bet on the Ruble!

So why should we listen to you, take your word as infallible, discounting our own judgment. You’ve neither lived by your own principles, nor proven those principles a successful way to manage things when you’ve imposed them. I mean, theoretically, letting Lehman Brothers collapse, and helping to defeat the first version of TARP should have had a different result if you were right. It shouldn’t have been the start of a panic.

But it was.

If you were right, then the Stimulus should have no effect. Estimates say it created millions of jobs, added points to growth, kept at least 1.4 percentage points of unemployment from coming to pass, if not more. Obama’s trade and energy policies, his restructuring of the auto industry have resulted in a growing manufacturing sector for the first time in decades.

His policies have positive results, which is better than we can say for the Bush Tax cuts, which were followed by over two years worth of net negative job growth, even long after the recession had ended.

It’s time to end the double standard of rationalizing policies that don’t work to bash policies that do, if somewhat imperfectly.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 11, 2012 10:11 AM
Comment #336427


“You’re just basically restating your political beliefs here. Beliefs that haven’t been vindicated. Did the market make electricity or fuel cheaper after those markets were deregulated to allow more competition and speculation?”

As a matter of fact, it usually did. When we stopped the control of gas in the 1980s, the prices came down and gas lines disappeared almost immediately. There is no place where electricity prices are completely deregulated, but using market forces to manage demand is now one of the best ways to avoid building expensive new plants.

People may complain about deregulated airlines, but I recall paying more than $400 for my first trip to Europe in 1979. Despite inflation and higher costs, the price of such a trip is about the same now, i.e. adjusted for inflation much lower.

I keep on repeating that government has a role, but it is not in management. Obama does not understand business. Most politicians do not. Most business people don’t understand government. That is why we should let the right people do what they do best.

Re Obama’s job - Manufacturing has been steady or growing part of the U.S. economy for years. We just do it with 2/3 fewer workers than we did in 1970. Productivity. Our manufacturing is helped by the decline in the value of the dollar. It is really simple. To the extent that Obama’s policy was to weaken the dollar, it worked.

In general, however, what you and Obama cannot seem to understand is that things take time. It is not possible that new plants came on line last year that were not planned well before Obama took office.

As I explained up top, it take many years to “build” an engineer. Years to create infrastructure and build plants. There is no way Obama policies have done that. He has just pissed away money on short term goals to give the appearance of action - a rain dance.

Obama is not doing a good job. We have a sub-par economic performance that is beginning to improve two years after the Obama policies were supposed to work. It would have happened w/o Obama and might have been better and faster.

Posted by: C&J at February 11, 2012 10:26 AM
Comment #336450

A local rural community has been trying for years to get government funds to build a sewer system. Two years ago, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act granted the project $29 million. Since then, the county and the local community have done little to prepare the project to get underway. In two years, they have only secured 150 of the 740 easements necessary to proceed with the project. With a July 31 deadline looming, the county may have to ask the OMB for an extension. The county must submit in writing why the project has been delayed and present a new timeline for commencing construction and final completion.

Posted by: jlw at February 11, 2012 5:13 PM
Comment #336455


That is how it works. We can decry the system, but it is always slow like that.

That is why government’s short term moves are rain dances.

Posted by: C&J at February 11, 2012 6:15 PM
Comment #336487

I remember OPEC increasing production has something to do with it. I’m not with you on your rain dancer theory, but I don’t buy that their behavior had nothing to do with it.

As for avoiding new plants, I seem to remember pressure being put on California to build new plants, during the artificially caused brown-outs. As it is, there is also the problem of what happens as your deregulated energy entities put online and take offline generators. It’s not the most efficient way, as a matter of simple electromagnetic physics, to run a power grid, and its put stress on the components.

And yes, people do complain about deregulated airlines, which seem to have gone through bankruptcy every few years ever since.

You can throw around generalities about who understands what, but the proof will be in the pudding, and so far, America’s gotten stronger, recovered under the Obama Administration.

As for increases in manufacturing sector? Well, we’re talking jobs here, or rather: Jobs, here.

Between 1997 and 2010, jobs in the manufacturing sector declined. Somehow, the liberal did what Republicans have failed to do, despite the fact that he asks more of their employers in terms of regulation.

If you want to play the “everything takes years” card, be my guest, but I’ll tell you one thing: companies can put their plans on hold if economic conditions aren’t right. Loans and financing people were counting on might vanish and did vanish in the midst of the financial crisis. Unexpected events can put an end to the plans of many, and did in fact do so. To portray the whole system as long-term oriented is a joke. Short term events can have significant effect, especially when a crisis is at hand, or when policy persistently favors one way of doing business over another.

The dance between the rain drops is what we’re seeing here, as you try to argue Obama’s incompetent and the economy’s been weakened by him in the presence of evidence that argues the opposite.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at February 12, 2012 12:21 PM
Comment #336493


I think we will disagree on this. I do not believe that the Obama policies had much to do with the improving economy. I think some policies did good things, but others, like the increased debt, negated them. Some, like cash for clunkers, were very popular and showy, but had no effect (and cost money.)

If the Obama policies had worked on time (in 2010) I might have had to rethink my ideas. But the fact that we get a weak economy two years after the summer of recovery, after Obama money has been mostly deployed, indicates that it is just a normal rebound, perhaps actually harmed by Obama.

Posted by: C&J at February 12, 2012 2:02 PM
Comment #336587

Fontana dam was constructed in 3 years.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at February 13, 2012 8:14 PM
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