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Antidote for Liberal Lies: A Free and Open Media

January 29, 2014 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Miscellaneous

News-media-manipulation-and-liesThey say if you’re going to lie, lie brazenly, so people don’t suspect you could possibly be inventing such a ridiculous story.  Though liberals are well-versed in this technique, they can’t get away with it in an age of universally available online primary sources that anyone can access to disprove their wild fantasies.

Take Juan Williams, who recently urged President Obama to “punch hard” in advance of his 2014 State of the Union address.  (No doubt Williams’ violent rhetoric is contributing to the nefarious “knockout” game sweeping hoods across America.)  After reciting the usual list of tired liberal accusations against Republicans—they’re obstructing Obama, they’re too partisan, they’re obsessed with fiscal responsibility—Williams gave Obama this remarkable piece of advice:

“Tell the critics that government spending as a percentage of the economy is near the lowest it has been under any president in the last 30 years.”

Suspecting that this could not possibly true, I headed to USGovernmentSpending.com—which reports federal and state spending based on data from the Census Bureau, the Department of Commerce, and the Government Printing Office—to check out Williams’ claim.

As I suspected, Juan Williams is a fat, stinking liar.  As this graph shows, spending as a percentage of gross domestic product for each of the past four years of available data—2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011—was higher than at any time since World War II.  The government projects annual spending as a percentage of GDP to decrease after 2012, but those aren’t real numbers, just rosy fantasies.  Even if we accept those estimates, spending as a percentage of GDP won’t approach Reagan-era levels until 2015.

In other words, Williams wants Obama to make the economic case for more spending based on data that haven’t even been generated.

Similarly, WhiteHouse.gov shows that the federal deficit as a percentage of GDP was higher in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 than in any year since 1946.

As egregious as Williams’ lie of commission is, lies of omission can be just as bad.  Over at the illiterate clown school they call MSNBC, Rachel Maddow shill Steve Benen recently sneered at a public letter that Republican Representative Marcia Blackburn had written in advance of Obama’s post-SOTU visit to her home state of Tennessee on Thursday.  Benen quoted the following text from Blackburn’s letter:

“‘Welcome to Tennessee,’ she said.  ‘While you’re here take a look around because this is what a thriving economy looks like.

“‘Despite what your teleprompter may tell you, our success is not a result of your failed policies.  It’s rooted in what’s always made our state and country great – hard work, ingenuity and fiscal responsibility.’”

Benen abruptly stopped quoting Blackburn’s letter, and went on to chide her because the unemployment rate in Tennessee is 8.1%, which is above the (fake) national average.  He jeered her for another eight paragraphs before asking, “[D]oes she know that Tennessee has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and unlike most states, it’s not improving?  And if she does know that, why would she say the state economy is ‘thriving’?  Maybe someone could put the answer on a teleprompter?”  End of column.

Having witnessed Blackburn speak articulately on the economy and marshal facts on the spot against hostile interviewers, I was surprised at her apparent obtuseness.

Then I searched online for the full text of Blackburn’s letter, which Benen deliberately declined to link to, and realized that Benen was another liberal who’s full of crap.

Far from having made an unsubstantiated claim, Blackburn had backed up her opening statement with a plethora of diverse economic statistics and arguments—not one of which Benen cited or linked to:

“We have the lowest debt ratio in the entire country, have been ranked the top state for Automotive Manufacturing Strength for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year, are continually ranked as the number one state in the country for retirement and are largely considered one of the best states in which to practice medicine.”

That’s four reasons right there that any rational person would consider evidence that Tennessee’s economy is thriving.  Is there some reason Steve Benen decided to leave all these reasons out of his piece, other than that he knew his fans were too lemming-like to investigate his claims on their own?

More from Blackburn:

“Furthermore, in just a few short months hard working Tennesseans will be able to keep a little more of their income because of a fight I led while serving in the State Senate that prevented a state income tax…

“More than a decade ago we dealt with the failed experiment of TennCare…  Instead of letting the program ruin our economy, we banded together, made tough decisions and survived TennCare similar to how we will eventually survive Obamacare.

There’s two more reasons why many would say that Tennessee’s economy is thriving.  Did Steve Benen decide that conjuring up eight paragraphs of sneering taunts to please the pod of trained seals reading his column was all the research he needed to do?  What kind of third-grade journalistic standards do they tolerate at MSNBC, that they would publish a critique of a politician’s economic policy without including the key arguments the politician included for the policy?  Benen’s column is about one step up from a reporter omitting the word not from a politician’s statement—“I do not support letting the government waste billions of dollars on fraud”—and then claiming he was only reporting the politician’s words.

The greatest primary source available in a free and open media for shooting down liberal lies is the public record of the brazen, hysterical fantasies they relate to us on a regular basis in their own words.

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Minimum Wage Is Too High For Paul Krugman

February 20, 2013 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Economy

Wage_labour.svgIn his State of the Union Address last week, President Obama called for yet greater federal interference in the economy via a $1.75 per hour minimum wage hike, from $7.25 to $9.00, with additional increases tagged to inflation.

New York Times gossip columnist Paul Krugman opined that, “surprisingly,” increasing the minimum wage may be good policy: “Why ‘surprisingly’?  Well, Economics 101 tells us to be very cautious about attempts to legislate market outcomes.”  No, I didn’t make up that disclaimer; that’s just Krugman trying to sucker you in with a little false modesty.  Don’t worry—he still comes out all in favor of the wage increase.

And what an increase it would be: Raising the minimum wage $1.75 an hour would be by far the biggest single hike since the federal minimum wage was established in 1938.  The next biggest increase—of $0.70 an hour—occurred three times in 2007, 2008, and 2009, when newly sworn-in Democrats spiked the rate three years in a row.  Before the 2006 wave of Democrats rode into power, the minimum wage had never increased more than $0.50 at a time.

The proposed 24% increase would be the largest hike by percentage since 1974, when Congress raised it 25% from $1.60 to $2.00.

So what’s the argument for raising the minimum wage?  Proponents claim that raising it:

(1) Is moral, because workers at the bottom of the economic ladder will earn more;

(2) Helps the economy, because those workers will spend more and stimulate the economy;

(3) Increases employment, because more spending will lead to more hiring.

(Never mind that the employers who will supposedly do all that extra hiring will be the ones paying their workers to buy more of their products in the first place.)

In contrast, opponents argue that raising the minimum wage:

(1) Is immoral, because it restricts employers’ ability to hire low-wage workers, and thus reduces their employment;

(2) Hurts the economy, because it forces employers to direct financial resources in less efficient ways;

(3) Decreases employment, because small businesses can’t keep up with the need to increase all of their workers’ wages to maintain relative parity.

So what happens after minimum wage increases take effect?  Do employers hire more or less?  Does the economy improve or worsen?

To answer this question, I took a look at all federal minimum wage increases since World War II, to see what transpired after these hikes—in particular, what happened to the unemployment rate and the gross domestic product (GDP).

First I looked at the monthly U.S. national unemployment rate following the passage of each post-WWII federal minimum wage increase, to see what effect minimum wage legislation had on employment.  I found that the average unemployment rate during the first full month after each minimum wage increase, for all increases from January 25, 1950 to July 24, 2009, was 6.00%.  From three months out through ten months out, the average monthly national unemployment rate progressed as follows: 6.01%, 6.09%, 6.10%, 6.11%, 6.13%, 6.23%, 6.25%, and 6.33%.  So over the ten months following mandatory federal minimum wage increases, the unemployment rate steadily and reliably increased, on average a third of a percentage point from what it had been upon passage of the law.

Next I looked at the quarterly percent change in GDP following passage of each hike, to see what effect minimum wage legislation had on GDP.  The average percent change in GDP for all quarters from 1950 to 2012 was +3.31%.  In contrast, the average percent change in GDP during the first full quarter after each wage increase was +2.48%, almost a full point lower.  In the second quarter after the wage increase, the percent change was +3.00%, and in the third it was +2.63%.

These aren’t huge differences, largely because many factors besides minimum wage affect employment and GDP.  Other economists have done more detailed studies and isolated the deleterious effects of minimum wage laws.  But even my cursory analysis confirms that Krugman and his ilk are loons if they think that placing restrictions on employers’ hiring practices—which is what minimum wage laws do—will somehow increase hiring and strengthen the economy.  (Other pet theories of Krugman’s are that wearing leg irons helps you walk faster and having laryngitis makes you speak more mellifluously.)

Krugman pooh-poohs the detrimental effects of minimum wage increases: “Now, you might argue that even if the current minimum wage seems low, raising it would cost jobs.  But there’s evidence on that question…  And while there are dissenters, as there always are, the great preponderance of the evidence from these natural experiments points to little if any negative effect of minimum wage increases on employment.”

Krugman is such a pathological liar that when he says “the great preponderance” of evidence shows “little if any” negative effect, you know he’s brushing aside mountains of data contradicting his position.  Krugman cites just one paper titled “Why Does the Minimum Wage Have No Discernible Effect on Employment?,” published by leftist D.C. think tank the Center for Economic and Policy Research, whose founder recently authored a book called “The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive.”

If liberals want a minimum wage hike, why don’t they just come right out and demand more redistribution of wealth from the bourgeois to the proletariat?  Could they spare us the act of dressing up their request in convoluted economic theories using data that can be manipulated to give them any results they want, and whose conclusions no one with common sense believes?

Previously published in modified form at Red Alert Politics


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Romney Paid Through the Nose

January 25, 2012 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Elections: 2012

Governor Mitt Romney has finally capitulated to the nation’s wealth-haters, releasing his tax records months before primary candidates typically do to quell swelling resentment fueled by Occupy Wall Streeters, left-leaning media, and boobs like Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and John Huntsman.  (Thanks, GOP candidates!)

Of course Romney’s forthrightness isn’t good enough for the left, who now argue that he must release a dozen or perhaps 20 years of tax records, so we can spend the next ten months scrutinizing them for rounding errors and keep the focus off President Obama’s record.

Obama-friendly journalists are suggesting Romney also release information on his complete financial portfolio, his retirement accounts, his trust funds for his wife and children, and sworn affidavits from eyewitnesses that he never cheated at Monopoly.  (When is the media going to demand that Obama release his college transcripts?)

Romney’s tax records showed apoplectic liberals and gullible mainstream media that he paid 14% federal income tax on the $42 million he earned in 2010 and 2011.

Doesn’t sound like a lot?  It’s much higher than the percentage shelled out by the 47% of Americans who pay no federal income taxes, and it’s more than the effective tax rate of 97% of Americans.

Mitt’s tax rate was lower than it otherwise might have been, in part because he lost tens of millions of dollars during the recession and carried those losses over, thus reducing his tax burden in subsequent years.  Our system handsomely rewards smart risk-taking in investment, because it’s just as likely that you’ll lose your shirt as strike it rich.

But the main reason Romney wasn’t taxed at a higher rate is that he wasn’t paying ordinary income tax.  He was paying long-term capital gains taxes, which have been levied at a preferential rate to encourage capital investment since their inception nearly a century ago.  Romney already paid the highest federal rate on the income he earned in years past, then paid again for the profits he made investing that income.

How many Occupy Wall Streeters understand that Mitt Romney paid a 14% tax rate on his long-term capital gains after he had already paid over 30% in federal taxes on the earnings he invested to acquire those gains?

Not to defend Warren Buffett, whose fabled secretary was trotted out as a campaign prop during the 2012 State of the Union address on Monday, but the reason Buffett got away with claiming he paid a lower percentage in taxes than his secretary was that he omitted that he had already paid handsomely in taxes on the income he earned and invested in capital gains.  If Debbie Bosanek ever becomes a celebrity business magnate and gets filthy rich, she’ll be forking it over to the government twice, too.

Lest we forget, all the wealth that Romney’s wise investment choices created will in turn be taxed, and the next generation of investments funded from this wealth will be taxed, and on down the line in a snowballing cycle of tax revenue generation.

The most fascinating aspect of the brouhaha over Romney’s tax returns is that it’s largely Democratic presidents who signed into law such favorable capital gains terms of which he has taken advantage—and of which they now disapprove.

Democratic presidents throughout the 20th century have certainly been less likely than Republican presidents to cut the marginal federal income tax rate.  But it’s Republicans, including Ronald Reagan, who have foolishly raised capital gains taxes again and again—admittedly often under pressure from overwhelmingly Democratic Congresses.

Richard Nixon raised the maximum capital gains tax rate from 36.5% to 39.875%, before Jimmy Carter slashed it to 28%.  Reagan raised it from 20% at the beginning of his first term to 28%, George H. W. Bush inched it up to 28.93%, and then Bill Clinton hacked it from 29.19% to 21.19%.

This ironic partisan trend wasn’t broken until the presidency of George W. Bush, the first Republican president to lower the maximum capital gains tax since it was instated under Warren Harding in 1921.  Maybe Democratic presidents lowered capital gains taxes to compensate for having raised income taxes.  But Republicans’ embarrassing record on capital gains taxes speaks for itself.

So why didn’t Romney make his tax records available to the public immediately after he was asked?  Perhaps he didn’t want to embarrass Obama.

As revealed in his War and Peace-length tax returns, Romney gave 370 times as much to charity in 2011 as Barack and Michelle Obama gave in the four years from 2000 to 2004.  By percentage of income, Romney gave 20 times as much.

Romney gave 1,000 times as much to charity in 2011 as Joe Biden did in the ten years from 1999 to 2009.

Mitt gave so much to charity in 2010 and 2011—$7 million—that it eclipsed the not-insignificant $6 million in federal income taxes he paid.

If liberals refuse to believe that high-income earners like Mitt are the ones who do the bulk of the investing in our economy, foster the largest share of job creation, and shoulder the overwhelming majority of the federal tax burden, can they at least admit that rich people are the ones who keep most charitable organizations afloat?

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So Now Democrats Want Bipartisanship

January 26, 2011 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Miscellaneous

donkey
Image by Scott Spiegel via Flickr

Ever since Democrats suffered historic, butt-spanking losses in the 2010 midterms, they’ve been whimpering for “bipartisanship,” “cooperation,” “compromise,” “togetherness,” “shared responsibility,” and “national unity.”

President Obama has been coaxing House and Senate Republicans to work together with Democrats to get things done.

Recently New York Senator Charles Schumer, one of the most viciously partisan individuals on the planet (you might say he’s full of “vitriol”), suggested it might be melodious for Democrats and Republicans to sit mingled among one another at Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Address, rather than hunkering down battalion-style on opposite sides of the room.

Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn was the first to stupidly take the bait, followed by dozens of other Congressmen including Charles Grassley, Pat Toomey, Mark Kirk, Olympia Snowe, and—surprise!—John McCain.

Obama, it should be remembered, campaigned for president on the promise that he would usher in a “new era of bipartisanship.”

If the Democratic 111th Congress took Obama up on his idea, they had a funny way of showing it.

When they weren’t shutting Republicans out of committee meetings to write the 2009 stimulus bill and health care reform act, they were failing to post bills online with enough time to allow Republicans to read them and offer input.

Democrats rammed health care through inappropriately using budget reconciliation, because they couldn’t keep their 60-vote coalition after Massachusetts elected Republican Scott Brown.

The health care bill was so partisan and calculated to exclude a single strand of GOP DNA that not one Republican voted for it—not because Republicans were stubborn, but because the bill was so egregious that even 34 House Democrats voted against it.  As Governor Haley Barbour noted, the only thing bipartisan about ObamaCare was opposition to it.

Despite the misconception that the GOP covered their ears during the health care reform debate and refused to offer suggestions, House Republicans introduced dozens of their own bills during 2009.  These acts proposed innovative free-market improvements such as allowing sale of health insurance across state lines; expanding tax deductions, vouchers, and health savings accounts for routine care, prescriptions, and long-term care; and enacting medical malpractice tort reform.

None of the Republicans’ bills left the referral stage.  None of the GOP’s suggestions was included in any of the Democratic versions of the bill.

For that divisive, impenetrable firewall between Democrats and Republicans, you can thank then-House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her sterling “bipartisanship.”

Ditto for the cap-and-trade legislation that passed the House in 2009 but stalled in the Senate, and not for Democrats’ lack of trying.  (Coincidentally, the partisan energy bill squeaked by in the House with the same vote as ObamaCare, 219-212.)

The bill, cosponsored by über-leftists Henry Waxman and Ed Markey, was so odious and economy-wrecking that 44 House Democrats voted against it.

(Hey—maybe the 111th Congress was bipartisan, only not in a way that anybody predicted!)

Now that cap-and-trade has died in the Senate, Obama is scheming to have Lisa Jackson and other far-left appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency implement an emissions-limiting plan over the objections of most Americans.

To be clear, I don’t favor bipartisanship for the sake of bipartisanship.  I wouldn’t have expected Democrats to capitulate to Republicans on everything when they had a majority in both chambers just to be nice.  (I would have expected them to capitulate on everything because they were wrong.)

There are significant philosophical differences between the two major parties.  One party is based on mob rule and is incongruent with the foundational nature of our country, which is not a democracy.  The other party is based on individual rights, rule of law, an inviolate Constitution, and representative government and is congruent with the foundational nature of our country, which is a representative, constitutional republic.

In his speech last night, Obama declared, “[W]e are still bound together as one people… we share common hopes.”  No we don’t, Mr. President.  Liberals hope for the government to take over every aspect of our lives, and conservatives hope to be left alone to figure it all out for themselves.

While conservatives try desperately to cut spending in Washington, Obama’s speech was dominated by pledges to blow trillions more we don’t have on green research and jobs, college degrees for everybody, and high-speed rail and Internet.

Conservatives want to protect us militarily against our enemies, whereas Obama’s speech covered everything under the sun until it meandered into the realm of foreign policy, and even then mostly bragged about the end of the Iraq War, troops returning from Afghanistan in July, and the useless Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

So I favor any action, symbolic or otherwise, that clarifies and amplifies the philosophical, partisan differences between the parties, including maintaining the traditional seating arrangement of one party on each side of the aisle.

Republicans should never fall into the bipartisanship trap Democrats set.

Democrats’ idea of bipartisanship is asking Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman what they think, then doing what Harry Reid wants.


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