Friday, April 27

Obama saves jobs--at nearly a million dollars each:
President Obama was so proud of the jobs saved by shutting off imports of Chinese tires he cited the action in his 2012 State of the Union Address. According to analysts Gary Hufbauer and Sean Lowry of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, known for its support of free trade, the victory had a heck of a cost: at least $936,000 for each job saved.

Thursday, April 26

Child labor wasn't always slavery. As Lawrence Reed wrote some time ago:
Professor Ludwig von Mises, the great Austrian economist; put it well when he noted that the generally deplorable conditions extant for centuries before the Industrial Revolution, and the low levels of productivity which created them, caused families to embrace the new opportunities the factories represented: “It is a distortion of facts to say that the factories carried off the housewives from the nurseries and the kitchens and the children from their play. These women had nothing to cook with and to feed their children. These children were destitute and starving. Their only refuge was the factory. It saved them, in the strict sense of the term, from death by starvation.”[3]

Private factory owners could not forcibly subjugate “free-labour” children; they could not compel them to work in conditions their parents found unacceptable. The mass exodus from the socialist Continent to increasingly capitalist, industrial Britain in the first half of the 19th century strongly suggests that people did indeed find the industrial order an attractive alternative. And no credible evidence exists which argues that parents in these early capitalist days were any less caring of their offspring than those of pre-capitalist times.

The situation, however, was much different for “apprentice” children, and close examination reveals that it was these children on whom the critics were focusing when they spoke of the “evils” of capitalism’s Industrial Revolution. These youngsters, it turns out, were under the direct authority and supervision not of their parents in a free labor market, but of government officials. Many were orphans; a few were victims of negligent parents or parents whose health or lack of skills kept them from earning sufficient income to care for a family. All were in the custody of “parish authorities.”
The situation is not dissimilar from so-called "exploited" workers.

3.   Ludwig von Mises, Human Action (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1949). p. 615. 

Monday, April 23

Doug Bandow writes of America’s bipartisan statist consensus
Although politicians on both sides of the aisle like to pose as defenders of constitutional liberties, leaders of both parties have consistently supported more expansive government. Despite the odd exception here or there, members of America’s political class have enthusiastically promoted the relentless growth of government.


Most Democrats don’t even voice the verities of limited government and individual liberty. Their answer to every problem is to raise taxes. In their view, there is no human vice which should not be fixed by the national government. Moreover, government is supposed to enrich business and every other interest group.

Democrats also believe in international social engineering—through war, if necessary. There may be a few genuine pacifists on the Left, but they possess no political power, while the Lyndon Johnsons, Bill Clintons, and Barack Obamas bomb, invade, and occupy other nations whenever the Zeitgeist strikes.

Only in one area does the Democratic Party seemingly believe in freedom: to have sex. People can be prohibited from smoking, making contracts, and speaking incorrectly. Their money can be seized and wasted for the most bizarre and ludicrous purposes. People can be conscripted and forced to kill. However, Americans must be allowed to have sex, preferably with publicly subsidized contraceptives. That is, for Democrats, the essence of a free society.

President Obama enthusiastically and eloquently represents the modern Democratic Party.

Most Republicans, in contrast, chatter endlessly about their commitment to limited government and individual liberty. And the majority of Republicans prefer not to raise taxes. But there the differences with Democrats end. When it comes to most practical policies, the disagreements quickly vanish into nothingness.

For Republicans, only a few human vices should not be fixed by the national government. Like smoking. But Uncle Sam should crusade against other drugs, battle the scourge of pornography, and make us all moral. Moreover, government is supposed to enrich business and other favored interest groups, only those which contributed to the GOP instead of the Democratic Party.
And then he details the faults of both Obama and Romney.

Thursday, April 19

Higher taxes, but not for me

Shikha Dalmia writes,
Obama’s latest tax returns show that he paid a lower tax rate than his secretary, just like his billionaire buddy Warren Buffett. Buffett created a stir last year — spearheading the Buffett Rule — when he complained in an op-ed that he was not being taxed enough. His secretary paid a whopping 35.8 percent tax rate on her $60,000 annual income, while he paid a paltry 17.4 percent rate on his multimillions. There is some fuzzy math involved in this claim. But if this inequity was Buffett’s real concern — as opposed to doing quid-pro-quo propaganda for the billions in bailout money that he received from Obama — he could have simply gone to the Treasury website and voluntarily paid more taxes.

If Buffett has trouble putting his money where his mouth is, he’s not alone. Obama’s tax returns (released last week) show that he paid a 20 percent effective tax rate on his $790,000 income — slightly lower than his secretary’s and a whole four points lower than the average rate for people in his income category. He could have easily avoided this by filing his tax returns the way he advocates millionaires do — by forgoing all deductions. But he didn’t. Not only did he claim a $47,564 mortgage deduction on his $1.6 million home in Chicago, he also claimed tax breaks on the $172,130 — about 22 percent of his gross adjusted income — he gave to charity...

It almost seems that the president would rather give his money to literally anyone but the government. He didn’t break any laws in the process, but many of his fellow tax-and-spend liberals in fact do. Indeed, Buffett himself is engaged in dueling lawsuits with the IRS over nearly $1 billion in unpaid back taxes. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner conveniently forgot to pay his taxes (even though the International Monetary Fund, his employer, gave him the money to do so). And in 2010, 41 White House aides owed $831,000 in unpaid taxes.

Wednesday, April 18

Gu Kailai is no Jackie Kennedy

This is from a couple of weeks ago, but I only now just noticed the dubious contention that Gu Kailai 谷開來was known by the Chinese as "China's Jackie Kennedy".
It seems to have first surfaced here:
The wife of sacked Communist Party official Bo Xilai made quite an impression when she showed up in Mobile, Ala., 15 years ago with her young son in tow. Denver lawyer Ed Byrne, whom she had hired to represent Chinese companies embroiled in a legal mess in U.S. federal court, was struck by her brains, charm and beauty. Gu Kailai, he says, seemed like the "Jackie Kennedy of China."
and then been embellished here:
Mr Byrne...worked with Ms Gu - whom he knew by the name of Horus Kai - on a number of other cases, meeting her in both the US and Dalian.

He also met her husband and was an "honoured" guest at lunches and dinners.

"People likened her and her husband to the Jack and Jackie Kennedy of China. They were the modern liberal element there."
I never understood the adulation for Jackie Kennedy, but this is ridiculous. Even if like Ed Byrne the Chinese were smitten with Gu Kailai's supposed glamour, few of them are likely to have even heard of Jackie Kennedy (or Jacqueline Kennedy or Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis). And certainly to have been impressed by the Kennedy glamour, one would have to have been around in the 1960's, but at that time the Chinese weren't able to access foreign news. I'm afraid this tells us more about Ed Byrne than it does about Gu Kailai's image. (Also, he has a curious idea of what "liberal" means.)

Worse, the fact that the WSJ, the BBC, CNN and others have picked up this meme reveals a lot about lazy reporters.

Sunday, April 15

Illinois’ unfunded liability for retiree health care

Aside from the $83 billion Illinois state government owes to the pension plans it operates for retired employees, the state has an unfunded liability to provide health insurance for pensioners, totaling more than $54 billion. The Illinois Policy Institute suggests
basing premium subsidies on income, age at retirement and years of service. Lifelong public workers collecting modest retirement incomes would largely see their insurance subsidies remain the same, but former union bosses or university executives collecting annual pensions nearing $200,000 would be required to cover their own health insurance costs. Moving forward, the state could reduce this liability further by capping subsidies to new retirees at supplement levels and by phasing out subsidies for new hires altogether.
It sounds like a no-brainer to me.

Friday, April 13

The most fairest, most moral system in the world

Senator Jon Kyl:
Free market capitalism is the most fair system in the world--and the most moral. It is premised on voluntary transactions that make both sides happy by meeting their needs. Unfortunately, the past few years have shown us what unfair economic policies look like. When the government picks winners and losers in the marketplace, it is being unfair. When it rewards certain companies or industries for ideological reasons while effectively punishing and demonizing others, it is being unfair. That is crony capitalism. When it shapes a corporate bailout to favor organized labor over secured debtholders, as the Obama administration did in the Chrysler bailout, it is being unfair. When it plays venture capitalist and gives a taxpayer-funded $545 million loan guarantee to a doomed company such as Solyndra, it is being unfair. When it makes the Tax Code even more complex and even more tilted in favor of special interests, it is being unfair. When it adopts financial regulations that institutionalize "too big to fail," putting taxpayers on the hook, it is being unfair. I could go on, but you get the point. Does anyone really think America's economic system is "fairer" today than in January 2009?
Yes, I'd say "fairest", but otherwise, this is spot on. (Of course, I suspect there's been a certain amount of Republican tinkering with the tax code, too.)