Monday, November 24, 2008 - Change Our Public Schools Need

Democrats are fervent supporters of public education, and the party genuinely wants to help disadvantaged kids stuck in bad schools. But it resists bold action. It is immobilized. Impotent. The explanation lies in its longstanding alliance with the teachers' unions...

Democrats favor educational "change" -- as long as it doesn't affect anyone's job, reallocate resources, or otherwise threaten the occupational interests of the adults running the system. Most changes of real consequence are therefore off the table....

What should the Democrats be doing? Above all, they should be guided by a single overarching principle: Do what is best for children.  

It all boils down to a simple question. Will President Obama have the courage to unite with the rebels inside his party, champion the interests of children over the interests of adults, and be a true leader who really means it when he talks about change? We can only stay tuned. And have the audacity of hope.

Friday, November 21, 2008 - Obama Should Look Into Putin's Record, Not His Eyes

How should Mr. Obama deal with Russia's official president, Dmitry Medvedev, and Russia's real leader, Vladimir Putin? The choice is straightforward: Mr. Obama can treat them like fellow democratic leaders or like the would-be dictators that they are. 
There is little doubt the most recent elections in Russia had even less value than those in Venezuela and Iran. Russia's own "supreme leader" cannot be treated as a true democratic representative if the new U.S. administration wishes to maintain any credibility on matters of human rights and freedom abroad.

Thursday, November 20, 2008 - Let's Have a Real Middle-Class Tax Cut

[Obama's plan for] tax credits will do little or nothing to promote economic growth because they do not reduce marginal tax rates -- the rate on the next dollar of income -- to provide powerful, meaningful incentives for productive activities such as investment, entrepreneurship and work. A tax credit is effectively a cash grant that can only affect incentives up to the amount of the grant. Indeed, such tax credits would likely reduce economic growth because the credits are phased out as income rises, and so effectively impose higher marginal tax rates over those income levels.

Marginal tax rates for middle-income families in the 25% tax bracket are too high....  Reducing the marginal tax rates for these middle-income earners would lead to income increases for middle-income workers, just as reducing excessive marginal tax rates for higher-income workers did, going all the way back to the Kennedy tax cuts of the 1960s. 

[A] 40% cut in middle-class income tax rates would provide a powerful boost to the economy, greatly expanding incentives for savings, investment and work. This would be much more effective than Mr. Obama's tax plan with it's $1.3 trillion in redistributive tax credits, as well as yet another so-called stimulus package based on another $300 billion or more in increased government spending.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 - Why Spending Stimulus Plans Fail

What Congress gives to some it takes away from others. 

Government stimulus bills are based on the idea that feeding new money into the economy will increase demand, and thus production. But where does government get this money? Congress doesn't have its own stash. Every dollar it injects into the economy must first be taxed or borrowed out of the economy. No new spending power is created. It's merely redistributed from one group of people to another.

Governments don't create new purchasing power out of thin air. If Congress funds new spending with taxes, it is redistributing existing income. If the money is borrowed from American investors, those investors will have that much less to invest or to spend in the private economy.  
In reality, economic growth -- the act of producing more goods and services -- can be accomplished only by making American workers more productive.

Monday, November 17, 2008 - Just Say No to Detroit

Today, our government is being asked to put tens of billions of dollars in GM, Ford and Chrysler, but we would be much better off if Washington allowed these companies to go bankrupt and disappear.
...when a company makes money-losing investments, the cost falls upon all of society. Investment capital represents our limited stock of national savings, and when companies spend it badly, our future well-being is compromised.
If the government wants to spend $25 billion to protect auto workers, it would do better to transfer the money to them directly (perhaps by cutting each worker a check for $10,000) rather than by keeping their unproductive employer in business. - Martian Triumph

Between August 4, 2007 and this past Monday, the Dow fell by more than 4,000 points, John McCain resurrected his primary campaign from the political ashes, the surge succeeded in Iraq, Russia invaded Georgia and Barack Obama was elected President of the United States.

Oh, and the presence of frozen water was discovered on the surface of Mars, thanks to a 770-pound spacecraft named Phoenix.

Time will tell which of these events proves the most consequential. But surely the 420 million mile voyage of the little Phoenix lander and its five-month sojourn near Mars's north pole deserves a mention.

[Note: For those who didn't know, Phoenix was built by Lockheed Martin at our Denver Waterton Campus.]

Wednesday, November 12, 2008 - Mischief in Minnesota?

When Minnesotans woke up last Wednesday, Republican Senator Norm Coleman led Mr. Franken by 725 votes. By that evening, he was ahead by only 477. As of yesterday, Mr. Coleman's margin stood at 206. This lopsided bleeding of Republican votes is passing strange considering that the official recount hasn't even begun. 

In a normal audit, these mistakes could be expected to cut both ways. Instead, nearly every "fix" has gone for Mr. Franken, in some cases under strange circumstances.

If Minnesota wants to retain its reputation as a state with clean elections, it needs to run an honest recount.

Monday, November 10, 2008 - Nationalizing Detroit

In the Washington mind, there are two kinds of private companies. There are successful if "greedy" corporations, which can always afford to pay more taxes and tolerate more regulation. And then there are the corporate supplicants that need a handout. 
 For decades, Congress has never had a second thought as it imposed tighter emissions standards on GM, Ford and Chrysler, denouncing them for making evil SUVs. Yet now that the companies are bleeding cash, and may be heading for bankruptcy, suddenly the shrinking Big Three are the latest candidates for a taxpayer bailout. 

The financial panic has hit Detroit hard, but its problems go back decades and are far deeper than reduced access to credit among car buyers.  

A bailout might avoid any near-term bankruptcy filing, but it won't address Detroit's fundamental problems of making cars that Americans won't buy and labor contracts that are too rich and inflexible to make them competitive...  While GM has spent billions of dollars on labor buyouts in recent years, they are still forced by federal mileage standards to churn out small cars that make little or no profit at plants organized by the United Auto Workers.

Rest assured that the politicians don't want to do a thing about those labor contracts or mileage standards.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008 - Five Myths About the Great Depression

The current financial crisis has revived powerful misconceptions about the Great Depression. Those who misinterpret the past are all too likely to repeat the exact same mistakes that made the Great Depression so deep and devastating. is essential that the decisions of the coming months are shaped by the right lessons -- not the myths -- of the Great Depression.

Here are five interrelated and durable myths about the 1929-39 Depression:

- Herbert Hoover, elected president in 1928, was a doctrinaire, laissez-faire, look-the-other way Republican who clung to the idea that markets were basically self-correcting. The truth is more illuminating...

- The stock market crash in October 1929 precipitated the Great Depression. What the crash mainly precipitated was a raft of wrongheaded policies that did major damage to the economy...

- Where the market had failed, the government stepped in to protect ordinary people.   Following in Hoover's footsteps, FDR concentrated on trying to raise farm income by such tactics as setting quotas on production and paying farmers to remove acreage from production -- even though this meant higher prices for hard-pressed consumers and had the effect of both lowering productivity and driving farmers off their land.

- Greed caused the stock market to overshoot and then crash. The real culprit here -- as in the housing bubble in our own time -- is... a speculative fever induced by excessively easy credit and broken by the inevitable return to more realistic valuations...

- Enlightened government pulled the nation out of the worst downturn in its history and came to the rescue of capitalism through rigorous regulation and government oversight. To the contrary, the Hoover and Roosevelt administrations -- in disregarding market signals at every turn -- were jointly responsible for turning a panic into the worst depression of modern times...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 - Guantanamo Revelation

According to the six-year narrative of the press and political class, the Bush Administration's counterterrorism policies fall somewhere between the Spanish Inquisition and the Ministry of Love in "1984." So it was something of a shock to read a remarkable front-page story in the New York Times yesterday, the abridged version being: Never mind.

In their 1,600-word dispatch "Next President Will Face Test on Detainees," reporters William Glaberson and Margot Williams discover that, gee whiz, many of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay really are dangerous terrorists.  

As we learned under FDR (internment camps), LBJ (spying on political enemies) and Bill Clinton (rendition to Arab regimes), liberals aren't as punctilious about civil liberties when liberals run the government.  

Monday, November 3, 2008 - Argentina Impoverishes Itself Again

What happens when government meddles with private wealth.

Argentina is a constitutional republic with many historical similarities to the U.S. It has a rich immigrant heritage and an abundance of natural resources. But the U.S. is a rich, advanced country and Argentina is poor.

How did the breadbasket of South America fall so far behind? One explanation goes back some 90 years, when the Argentine Supreme Court began chipping away at property rights as a way of addressing economic inequality. Argentine politicians quickly learned that lawful plunder was their path to power.

This history is still being written, and the latest chapter ought to frighten Americans.

Saturday, November 1, 2008 - Most Presidents Ignore the Constitution

The government we have today is something the Founders could never have imagined. 

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt first proposed legislation that authorized the secretary of agriculture to engage in Soviet-style central planning -- a program so rigid that it regulated how much wheat a homeowner could grow for his own family's consumption -- he rejected arguments of unconstitutionality. He proclaimed that the Constitution was "quaint" and written in the "horse and buggy era," and predicted the public and the courts would agree with him.

Remember that FDR had taken -- and either Mr. Obama or Mr. McCain will soon take -- the oath to uphold that old-fashioned document, the one from which all presidential powers come.

Unfortunately, these presidential attitudes about the Constitution are par for the course. Beginning with John Adams, and proceeding to Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson and George W. Bush, Congress has enacted and the president has signed laws that criminalized political speech, suspended habeas corpus, compelled support for war, forbade freedom of contract, allowed the government to spy on Americans without a search warrant, and used taxpayer dollars to shore up failing private banks.

All of this legislation -- merely tips of an unconstitutional Big Government iceberg -- is so obviously in conflict with the plain words of the Constitution that one wonders how Congress gets away with it. - The True Meaning of 'Historic Vote'

Shifting America's animating idea from creation to protection. 
The real "change" being put to a vote for the American people in 2008 is not simply a break from the economic policies of "the past eight years" but with the American economic philosophy of the past 200 years. This election is about a long-term change in America's idea of itself.  ...the U.S. is at a philosophical tipping point.
In the aftermath of the financial crisis, prominent Democrats, European leaders in France and Germany and more U.S. newspaper articles than one can count have said that the crisis proves the need to permanently tame the American "free-market" model... The question is: Are the American people of a mind to throw in the towel on the system that got them here? 
[The Obama proposals] would transform the animating American idea -- away from creation and toward protection.

Many voters -- progressive Democrats, the asset-safe rich, academics and college students -- regard this as where America should go. They explicitly want America's great natural energies transferred away from unwieldy economic competition and toward social construction.  

An archive of my past articles can be found here:
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