FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #43: “If business ain’t selling, business ain’t hiring.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 7th, 2010

The Greediest People are in Government

A lot of people don’t understand business.  No big surprise considering that most people get their education from the public school system.

Our teachers ingrain it into us from the earliest days of our schooling.  Business is bad.  And they’d be even worse.  If it wasn’t for government.

Business is all about profits.  Not people.  Business is greedy.  Government takes more of our money than business does but government is never greedy.  Just business.  Funny how that works.  The lesson we learn?  If you’re really greedy and want a lot of money, be in government.

Government Earmarks and the Airport for Nobody

We deal with business on our own free will.  We choose to buy what they’re selling.  It’s a little different with government.  They take our money.  And if we don’t cough up enough of it, they’ll seize our assets.  Even send us to jail.  A business just won’t do that.  No matter how greedy our teachers tell us they are.

And more times than not, we don’t want what government is selling.  Earmarks.  Such as the John Murtha Airport in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  The ‘airport for nobody’.  An airport nobody needs and few use.  But dump trucks of taxpayer dollars find their way to the John Murtha Airport.  Why?  Because Murtha was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.  And that’s what representatives do.  Raise our taxes.  And take our money home to their districts.

Yet business is bad.  And government is good.  Go figure.

Government Spending Disrupts the Free Market

During good economic times, people say business is greedy.  They’re making their employees work overtime instead of hiring more employees.  During bad economic times, people say business is greedy.  They’re causing a recession by not hiring more employees. 

Businesses hire employees.  That’s key.  The more they hire the better the economy will be.  And you just can’t say that about government.  Because when they hire more people, it doesn’t stimulate the economy.  It just increases our taxes.  Leaving us with less money to stimulate the economy with.

Some people will say that government spending does stimulate the economy.  That’s what Keynesians say.  But they’re wrong.  When government spends money, they’re just spending our money.  And when they spend more we spend less.  The spending nets out.  But it disrupts the free market.  Millions of taxpayers will spend less at millions of small businesses.  Who will then sell less.  And hire less.  Maybe even lay off some employees.

We Spend Less when We Earn Less

Are these small business owners greedy?  No more so than you are.  Consider this.  Let’s say you and your spouse both work.  You make a comfortable living.  You can afford to hire a landscaping company to cut your grass.  You can hire a lawn maintenance company to fertilize your grass.  You take your car once a week to where they hand wash it.  You and your spouse sign up for ballroom dance lessons (while a sitter watchers your kids).  Now let’s say one of you gets laid off.  What do you do?

Well, if you’re like most other people, you cut expenses.  You let your landscaping contractor go.  Your lawn maintenance company, too.  You tell the people at the carwash that they can’t wash your car anymore.  You tell your dance instructors that you don’t need them anymore for lessons.  And you let your babysitter go.

Because of you some people have lost their jobs.  Are you greedy?  Or are you just adjusting your expenses to be in line with your sales revenue (i.e., your income)?  When you go from 2 paychecks to 1, you simply can’t afford to spend money like you used to.  And it’s the same for a business.

A Business Spends Less when they Sell Less

In business cash is king.  They use it to pay their employees.  Their employee benefits.  Their suppliers.  The interest on their debt.  Even their taxes.  If a business doesn’t have enough cash to pay these, they may not be a business much longer.  To be successful, then, a business must master their cash flow.

Making this more difficult is the fact that a business has to spend cash often BEFORE they get paid.  They pay employees, employee benefits and taxes often before the customer pays for the product or service of these employees.  Of course, before a customer pays they have to buy what a business is selling first.  If the business is not a ‘cash’ business, this can add even more time between the cash going out and the cash coming in.

So when economic times aren’t good and businesses are not selling, businesses aren’t spending.  They try to get by on less.  They hold onto their cash.  As long as possible.  Because they are uncertain of what the future holds.  But one thing they do know is that the future will take cash. 

Hiring People doesn’t Stimulate anything but Costs

So why doesn’t a business just hire more people during a recession?  Wouldn’t that stimulate the economy by giving people more money to spend?  Well, let’s say a restaurant hires a new cook.  The business pays the cook a wage and a benefit package.  Let’s say it adds another $1,000 per week to the business’ cash flow.  But it’s a recession.  Hiring the new cook doesn’t change the number of people coming into the restaurant to eat.  It just costs the business more.

The new cook will have more money to go out and stimulate the economy with.  But what good does it do for the restaurant owner?  Unless the new cook spends at least $1,000 per week buying meals at the restaurant (which is not likely to happen), the owner loses money by hiring the new cook.  His or her cash flow will only get worse.

This is why businesses don’t hire people during bad economic times.  Because no one is buying what they are selling.  Hiring people will only make a bad situation worse.  It will put a greater financial burden on a business that is already struggling to get by on what little cash they have.   

 Businesses and Taxpayers Stimulate Best

But our public schools still teach us that business is bad.  And government is good.  Even though it is business that creates jobs and hires people.  And it’s government that raises taxes and kills jobs.

To create jobs you need to help business make a profit.  Tax cuts are a good way to start.  With fewer taxes to pay, a business can use that cash elsewhere. With fewer taxes to pay, a taxpayer can spend that money elsewhere.  You let businesses and taxpayers keep more of their money and they will do good things.  This is how you stimulate the economy.  And how you create jobs. 

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Financial Crises: The Fed Giveth and the Fed Taketh Away

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 3rd, 2010

Great Depression vs. Great Recession

Ben Bernanke is a genius.  I guess.  That’s what they keep saying at least. 

The chairman of the Federal Reserve is a student of the Great Depression, that great lesson of how NOT to implement monetary policy.  And because of his knowledge of this past great Federal Reserve boondoggle, who better to fix the present great Federal Reserve boondoggle?  What we affectionately call the Great Recession.

There are similarities between the two.  Government caused both.  But there are differences.  Bad fiscal policy brought on a recession in the 1920s.  Then bad monetary policy exasperated the problem into the Great Depression. 

Bad monetary policy played a more prominent role in the present crisis.  It was a combination of cheap money and aggressive government policy to put people into houses they couldn’t afford that set off an international debt bomb.  Thanks to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buying highly risky mortgages and selling them as ‘safe’ yet high-yield investments.  Those rascally things we call derivatives.

The Great Depression suffered massive bank failures because the lender of last resort (the Fed) didn’t lend.  In fact, they made it more difficult to borrow money when banks needed money most.  Why did they do this?  They thought rich people were using cheap money to invest in the stock market.  So they made money more expensive to borrow to prevent this ‘speculation’.

The Great Recession suffered massive bank failures because people took on great debt in ideal times (low interest rates and increasing home values).  When the ‘ideal’ became real (rising interest rates and falling home values), surprise surprise, these people couldn’t pay their mortgages anymore.  And all those derivatives became worthless. 

The Great Depression:  Lessons Learned.  And not Learned.

Warren G. Harding appointed Andrew Mellon as his Secretary of the Treasury.  A brilliant appointment.  The Harding administration cut taxes.  The economy surged.  Lesson learned?  Lower taxes stimulate the economy.  And brings more money into the treasury.

The Progressives in Washington, though, needed to buy votes.  So they tinkered.  They tried to protect American farmers from their own productivity.  And American manufacturers.  Also from their own productivity.  Their protectionist policies led to tariffs and an international trade war.  Lesson not learned?  When government tinkers bad things happen to the economy.

Then the Fed stepped in.  They saw economic activity.  And a weakening dollar (low interest rates were feeding the economic expansion).  So they strengthened the dollar.  To keep people from ‘speculating’ in the stock money with borrowed money.  And to meet international exchange rate requirements.  This led to bank failures and the Great Depression.  Lesson not learned?   When government tinkers bad things happen to the economy.

Easy Money Begets Bad Debt which Begets Financial Crisis

It would appear that Ben Bernanke et al learned only some of the lessons of the Great Depression.  In particular, the one about the Fed’s huge mistake in tightening the money supply.  No.  They would never do that again.  Next time, they would open the flood gates (see Fed aid in financial crisis went beyond U.S. banks to industry, foreign firms by Jia Lynn Yang, Neil Irwin and David S. Hilzenrath posted 12/2/2010 on The Washington Post).

The financial crisis stretched even farther across the economy than many had realized, as new disclosures show the Federal Reserve rushed trillions of dollars in emergency aid not just to Wall Street but also to motorcycle makers, telecom firms and foreign-owned banks in 2008 and 2009.

The Fed’s efforts to prop up the financial sector reached across a broad spectrum of the economy, benefiting stalwarts of American industry including General Electric and Caterpillar and household-name companies such as Verizon, Harley-Davidson and Toyota. The central bank’s aid programs also supported U.S. subsidiaries of banks based in East Asia, Europe and Canada while rescuing money-market mutual funds held by millions of Americans.

The Fed learned its lesson.  Their easy money gave us all that bad debt.  And we all learned just how bad ‘bad debt’ can be.  They wouldn’t make that mistake again.

The data also demonstrate how the Fed, in its scramble to keep the financial system afloat, eventually lowered its standards for the kind of collateral it allowed participating banks to post. From Citigroup, for instance, it accepted $156 million in triple-C collateral or lower – grades that indicate that the assets carried the greatest risk of default.

Well, maybe next time.

You Don’t Stop a Run by Starting a Run

With the cat out of the bag, people want to know who got these loans.  And how much each got.  But the Fed is not telling (see Fed ID’s companies that used crisis aid programs by Jeannine Aversa, AP Economics Writer, posted 12/1/2010 on Yahoo! News).

The Fed didn’t take part in that appeal. What the court case could require — but the Fed isn’t providing Wednesday — are the names of commercial banks that got low-cost emergency loans from the Fed’s “discount window” during the crisis.

The Fed has long acted as a lender of last resort, offering commercial banks loans through its discount window when they couldn’t obtain financing elsewhere. The Fed has kept secret the identities of such borrowers. It’s expressed fear that naming such a bank could cause a run on it, defeating the purpose of the program.

I can’t argue with that.  For this was an important lesson of the Great Depression.  When you’re trying to stop bank runs, you don’t advertise which banks are having financial problems.  A bank can survive a run.  If everyone doesn’t try to withdraw their money at the same time.  Which they may if the Fed advertises that a bank is going through difficult times.

When Fiscal Responsibility Fails, Try Extortion

Why does government always tinker and get themselves into trouble?  Because they like to spend money.  And control things.  No matter what the lessons of history have taught us.

Cutting taxes stimulate the economy.  But it doesn’t buy votes.  You need people to be dependent on government for that.  So no matter what mess government makes, they NEVER fix their mess by shrinking government or cutting taxes.  Even at the city level. 

When over budget what does a city do?  Why, they go to a favored tactic.  Threaten our personal safety (see Camden City Council Approves Massive Police And Fire Layoffs Reported by David Madden, KYW Newsradio 1060, posted 12/2/2010 on philadelphia.cbslocal.com).

Camden City Council, as expected, voted Thursday to lay off almost 400 workers, half of them police officers and firefighters, to bridge a $26.5 million deficit.

There’s a word for this.  And it’s not fiscal responsibility.  Some would call it extortion.

It’s never the pay and benefits of the other city workers.  It’s always the cops and firefighters.  Why?  Because cutting the pay and benefits of a bloated bureaucracy doesn’t put the fear of God into anyone.

Here we go Again

We never learn.  And you know what George Santayana said.  “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  And here we are.  Living in the past.  Again.

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President Obama’s Bipartisan Commission’s Useless Report on Deficit Reduction

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 14th, 2010

Deficit Reduction:  Increase Taxes, Molest Our Women and Have Old People Hurry Up and Die

President Obama’s bipartisan commission has issued their report on deficit reduction.  A lot of unpleasant things in it.  But, then again, what do you expect from a commission/blue ribbon panel?  Politicians lie and kiss a lot of ass to get elected.  And they’re not going to throw that all away acting like they got a pair.  So they hide behind commissions and blue ribbon panels and say, hey, it isn’t me that wants to raise your taxes and cut your benefits.  It’s these guys.  These commission folks.  And they get a report that will meet with certain opposition and die in committee.  But they can say they tried.  And that’s how you do politics when you got no balls.

You know, Sara Palin probably could have done a better job.  She’s hunted bear.  She’s got balls.  Figuratively, of course.  That’s what you need to do the tough stuff.  Guts.  Pity Barack Obama is no Sarah Palin.

So what’s in this report that’s got everyone talking?  More taxes.  And spending cuts (see Fiscal Panel Chiefs Eye $1 Tril Tax Hike, $1.5 Tril Outlay Cut by Jed Graham, Investor’s Business Daily, posted 11/10/2010). 

  • Raise taxes by a cumulative $1 trillion through 2020.
  • Cut discretionary spending by nearly $1.5 trillion over the decade.
  • Raise Social Security’s retirement age to 69 and beyond.
  • Trim cost-of-living increases for current retirees and disabled beneficiaries.
  • Apply a 15-cent gas tax.
  • Cut $500 billion from Medicare and other federal health programs over 10 years.

Well, we know higher taxes don’t stimulate the economy.  So, to pay down the deficit we are going to prolong the recession.  Swell.  Well, at least old people won’t have to worry much.  They’ll be put out of their misery with the ‘hurry up and die’ provisions included.  Less money to live on.  And less health care so they will hurry up and die before reaching 69.  And, if they do, not only does the government not have to pay them their Social Security benefits, but they can keep all that money the newly deceased paid into the system (the deceased’s Social Security benefits don’t go to their heirs which explains why government is so opposed to private 401(k)s – those contributions can be bequeathed to surviving heirs).  And the cuts in discretionary spending?

They proposed cutting annual discretionary spending by $200 billion, half from defense and half from nondefense.

Ah, yes, the ubiquitous defense cuts.  Gotta have defense cuts.  But you know what?  I don’t think they’re going to sit well after this holiday season.  The fondling of our wives, mothers and daughters in our airports.  Strangers looking at semi-naked images of them.  It’s not right.  Is this the price of safety?  The molestation of our wives, mothers and daughters?  I think not.  There are other ways.  And I’m not talking about the apology tour.  And before all you peaceniks start blaming this on America’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, remember this.  We weren’t in those countries before 9/11/2001. It’s better to violate 3-4 enemy combatants a year (say by water-boarding) than having all our women and children molested whenever they fly.  And if it takes a great big fat defense budget to do this, so be it.  Let’s have someone else suffer the fear and humiliation for a change.

Republicans and Democrats Disagree.  Centrists See a Way to Lie to Independents.

So what are others saying?  Well, The New York Times notes there ain’t a chance in hell of it being enacted as-is (see the Op-Ed A Deficit of Respect by Tobin Harshaw posted 11/13/2010 on The New York Times).

“Among Democrats, liberals are in near revolt against the White House over the issue, even as substantive and political forces push Mr. Obama to attack chronic deficits in a serious way,” reports The Times’s Jackie Calmes. “At the same time, Republicans face intense pressure from their conservative base and the Tea Party movement to reject any deal that includes tax increases, leaving their leaders with little room to maneuver in any negotiation and at risk of being blamed by voters for not doing their part.”

And The Washington Post dittos that (see Analysis: Deficit panel pushes Dems, GOP by Andrew Taylor and Charles Babington, The Associated Press, posted 11/12/2010 on The Washington Post).

Their plan – mixing painful cuts to Social Security and Medicare with big tax increases – has no chance of enactment as written, certainly not as a whole.

But they also point out warring sides could reach compromise.

On the other hand, a 1982 Social Security commission chaired by Alan Greenspan came up with a plan for solvency that earned the blessing of President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Thomas O’Neill, D-Mass. It passed Congress easily and generated almost three decades of program surpluses.

Then again, President Obama is no Ronald Reagan.  Reagan listened to the people.  He communicated with the people.  Unlike Obama.  Who’s detached and aloof.  He pushed his agenda against the will of the people.  For him, it’s all about him.  And there are some Democrats who like him as much as he likes himself.  They look at this report and see not what’s best for the country. But what’s best for Barack Obama (see Deficit Directive Tracks GOP Aims by John D. McKinnon and Laura Meckler posted 11/13/2010 on the Wall Street Journal).

Centrist Democrats are encouraging the president to embrace bipartisan ideas for deficit reduction, even if these are unpopular with the party’s liberal wing. They say that among other benefits, that would help Mr. Obama regain credibility with independent voters he will need to win re-election in 2012. Independents backed him in 2008 but shifted to the GOP this year.

A fight with liberals might even be politically helpful, said Jon Cowan, president of Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank. “If you’re looking at re-election, your No. 1 imperative has got to be winning back the center of the electorate,” he said.

It’s nice to know where some people’s priorities are.

Gridlock Can Reduce the Deficit.  So Can Repealing Obamacare.

Of course, all this bipartisan rancor can be a good thing (see Deficit report favors ‘do-nothing Congress’ by David Sands posted 11/11/2010 on The Washington Times).

The report’s scariest deficit scenario relies on a Congressional Budget Office projection that under what it calls “current policy,” the U.S. government’s debt will soar from the current 60 percent of GDP to 100 percent of GDP by 2023 and to twice the country’s annual economic output by the year 2035.

Current policy?  What’s that?

But “current policy” as defined by CBO does — in the sometimes upside-down world of Washington — require action. It assumes that Congress will pass and President Obama will sign a continuation of at least some of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts set to expire; that lawmakers will once again vote to ease the bite of the alternative minimum tax (AMT); that Congress will block a scheduled increase in estate tax rates; and that the government will continue to pass so-called “doc fixes” to shield physicians from mandated cuts in the payments they get under Medicare.

And all that means what?

But if none of those actions are taken — what the CBO calls the “current law” baseline — the deficit numbers look considerably brighter.

In layman terms, we haven’t spent a lot of this money yet.  If Republicans and Democrats simply agree to disagree and give us gridlock, actual deficits won’t be as high as projected.  Yes, there will be pain for some.  But the hole we’ll dig for ourselves won’t be as deep.

And this is really the frustrating part of this whole debate.  These are projections.  They haven’t spent the money yet.  So don’t.  Just don’t spend the damn money.  Repealing Obamacare should be a no-brainer.  That trillion dollar abomination hasn’t given anyone anything yet.  So kill it.  Now.  Before it becomes another entitlement like Social Security.  Come on.  Do the right thing.  And legislate like you got a pair.

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Printing Money and Screwing Friends

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 12th, 2010

My Coworker, the Cheap Canadian Bastard

I worked with a Canadian once.  A real cheap bastard.  Yeah, he had some financial issues.   But they weren’t my issues.  And I got tired of subsidizing his problems by driving him to lunch every day.  And I got tired of the conversations.  He brought up every negative story about America.  Belittled our president.  Chastised America for not signing on to the Kyoto Protocol.  And said that we did not honor our trade agreement concerning softwood lumber (that his government was subsidizing in order to undersell their American competitors).

What really bothered me was that he was a Canadian that lived near the border but worked in the U.S.  He criticized America but he chose to work in America instead of Canada.  Why?  Because he could get paid more in America.  And there were the perks of crossing the border every day.  He gassed his car up in the United States.  And his wife’s car.  Why?  Because our gas prices were cheaper.  Yeah, he would criticize America until he was blue in the face, but he took every opportunity to escape the taxes that paid for all those things that made his country superior to mine.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I like Canada.  I just don’t like hypocrisy.  He made good money over here.  And with a much more favorable exchange rate back then, that translated into big dollars on the other side of the border.  Back when the American dollar was strong and the Canadian dollar was weak, he did very well.  Those strong American dollars exchanged into a whole lot more Canadian dollars.  Which allowed him to buy a whole lot more stuff than his fellow Canadians.  In fact, a lot of Americans vacationed in Canada back then.  Because the American dollar bought more in Canada than it did in America.

Have Cheap Cash, Will Travel – In Canada

So what’s the point talking about this cheap bastard?  Exchange rates.  And whenever there’s a currency war on the horizon, I can’t help but think about this cheap bastard.  See how he, a Canadian working in America, lived very well with a cheap Canadian dollar.  We paid him in strong U.S. dollars.  He then could use those strong U.S. dollars to buy gas and other ‘less taxed’ items on the U.S. side of the border.  (If he brought in and exchanged weak Canadian dollars for strong U.S. dollars, that same amount of gas would cost him more.)  And when he took those strong U.S. dollars across the border back into Canada, he exchanged them and got so many weak Canadian dollars in return that he alone stimulated the local economy.

Of course, he wasn’t the only one bringing strong American dollars into Canada.  When those strong dollars were exchanged for weak ones, the Canadian tourism industry boomed.  People could vacation in Canada for a week for what a weekend in America would cost.  Canadians traveling into America, on the other hand, paid more for less.  A weekend in America would cost what a week in Canada would cost.

In the above example, you can see how the nation with the weaker currency has more economic activity than the nation with the stronger currency.  Now, to understand international trade and foreign exchange rates, make the following substitutions in the above example:

  • Canada -> America
  • America -> China/Germany/Brazil/other U.S. trading partner

Alone Against the World.  And Alan Greenspan

Well, America is devaluing their currency.  They’re printing money to buy back treasury debt.  Supposedly to stimulate the economy by injecting more liquidity. But our problem is not a liquidity problem.  It’s a lack of consumer spending because of high unemployment.  And a fear of being unemployed soon.  So this will do little to solve our problems.  But it will make our exports cheaper.  And our trading partners’ imports more expensive.  In other words, we’re trying to fix our broken economy by flooding our trading partners’ economies with cheap American goods.  Which is pissing them off big time (see Reuters’ Analysis: German tempers fray as U.S. policy gulf widens by Stephen Brown and Andreas Rinke posted 11/10/2010).

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, 68, said last week that the U.S. Federal Reserve decision to buy $600 billion of government bonds undermined U.S. credibility and was “clueless.” There was no point, he said, in pumping money into the markets.

China and Brazil were among those echoing his comments but U.S. officials were particularly stung by Schaeuble and German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle saying the Fed move amounted to “indirect manipulation” of the dollar to boost exports; this at a time when Washington is criticizing China for exactly the same kind of strategy.

“It’s not acceptable for the Americans to criticize China for currency manipulation then slyly help the dollar by printing at the Federal Reserve,” Schaeuble told Der Spiegel magazine.

And speaking of Brazil, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said warned America not to rely on exports alone (see Brazil’s Lula Says World Headed For ‘Bankruptcy’ Unless Rich Nations Act posted 11/11/2010 on the Dow Jones Newswires).

“If they don’t consume, and they just bet on exports, the world will go into bankruptcy,” he told reporters as leaders at the Group of 20 industrial and developing nations headed into a two-day summit in the South Korean capital.

Even Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman, is expressing concern over the impact of American policy on foreign exchange rates (see Greenspan warns over weaker dollar by Alan Beattie in Seoul posted 11/10/2010 in the Financial Times).  In that same article, Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, warned that this currency manipulation could trigger a trade war that would make the next 12 months worse than the previous 12 months.

We’re All Cheap Bastards Now

When it comes down to it, I guess we’re all cheap bastards.  We all want some unfair advantage in life.  Like my one-time Canadian coworker.  And I can understand how our trading partners feel.  I’ve worked with and been lectured for years about how my country should change.  All the while he prospered quite handsomely from the way things were.  Of course, I can take some solace in the dollar’s slide.  It’s trading pretty much at parity with the Canadian dollar now.  It’s gotten so bad that I’ve heard my old friend has since found work on his side of the border.  Good for him.  Now he can truly embrace all those taxes that he spoke so highly about while he was avoiding them for all those years.

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The Fed to Buy $600 Billion in Government Bonds

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 5th, 2010

The Fed’s $600 billion government bond Purchase may Worsen the Recession

The Fed is preparing to buy some $600 billion in government bonds.  They call it quantitative easing (QE).  The goal is to stimulate the economy by making more money available.  The problem is, though, we don’t have a lack of money problem.  We have a lack of jobs problem.  Unemployed people can’t go to the store and buy stuff.  So businesses aren’t looking to make more stuff.  They don’t need more money to borrow.  They need people to go back to work.  And until they do, they’re not going to borrow money to expand production.  No matter how cheap that money is to borrow.

This isn’t hard to understand.  We all get it.  If we lose our job we don’t go out and buy stuff.  Instead, we sit on our money.  For as long as we can.  Spend it very carefully and only on the bare necessities.  To make that money last as long as possible to carry us through this period of unemployment.  And the last thing we’re going to do is borrow money to make a big purchase.  Even if the interest rates are zero.  Because without a job, any new debt will require payments that we can’t afford.  That money we saved for this rainy ‘day’ will disappear quicker the more debt we try to service.  Which is the opposite of what we want during a period of unemployment.

Incidentally, do you know how the Fed will buy those bonds?  Where they’re going to get the $600 billion?  They going to print it.  Make it out of nothing.  They will inflate the money supply.  Which will depreciate our currency.  Prices will go up.  And our money will be worth less.  Put the two together and the people who have jobs won’t be able to buy as much as they did before.  This will only worsen the recession.  So why do they do it?

Quantitative Easing May Ease the Global Economy into a Trade War

A couple of reasons.  First of all, this administration clings to outdated Keynesian economics that says when times are bad the government should spend money.  Print it.  As much as possible.  For the economic stimulus will offset the ‘negligible’ inflation the dollar printing creates.  The only problem with this is that it doesn’t work.  It didn’t work the last time the Obama administration tried quantitative easing.  As it didn’t work for Jimmy Carter.  Of course, when it comes to Big Government policies, when they fail the answer is always to try again.  Their reason?  They say that the government’s actions that failed simply weren’t bold enough.

Another reason is trade.  A cheaper dollar makes our exports cheaper.  When the exchange rates give you bushels full of U.S. dollars for foreign currency, those foreign nations can buy container ships worth of exported goods.  It’s not playing fair, though.  Because every nation wants to sell their exports.  When we devalue the dollar, it hurts the domestic economies of our trading partners.  Which they want to protect as much as we want to protect ours.  So what do they do?  They fight back.  They will use capital controls to increase the cost of those cheap dollars.  This will increase the cost of those imports and dissuade their people from buying them.  They may impose import tariffs.  This is basically a tax added to the price of imported goods.  When a nation turns to these trade barriers, other nations fight back.  They do the same.  As this goes back and forth between nations, international trade declines.  This degenerates into a full-blown trade war.  Sort of like in the late 1920s.  Which was a major factor that caused the worldwide Great Depression.

Will there be a trade war?  Well, the Germans are warning this action may result in a currency war (see Germany Concerned About US Stimulus Moves by Reuters).  The Chinese warn about the ‘unbridle printing’ of money as the biggest risk to the global economy (see U.S. dollar printing is huge risk -China c.bank adviser by Reuters’ Langi Chiang and Simon Rabinovitch).  Even Brazil is looking at defensive measures to protect their economy from this easing (see Backlash against Fed’s $600bn easing by the Financial Times).  The international community is circling the wagons.  This easing may only result in trade wars and inflation.  With nothing to show for it.  Except a worse recession.

Businesses Create Jobs in a Business Friendly Environment

We need jobs.  We need real stimulus.  We need to do what JFK did.  What Reagan did.  Make the U.S. business friendly.  Cut taxes.  Cut regulation.  Cut government.  And get the hell out of the way. 

Rich people are sitting on excess cash.  Make the business environment so enticing to them that they can’t sit on their cash any longer.  If the opportunity is there to make a favorable return on their investment, guess what?  They’ll invest.  They’ll take a risk.  Create jobs.  Even if the return on their investment won’t be in the short term.  If the business environment will reward those willing to take a long-term risk, they will.  And the more investors do this the more jobs will be created.  And the more people are working the more stuff they can buy.  They may even borrow some of that cheap money for a big purchase.  If they feel their job will be there for awhile.  And they will if a lot of investors are risking their money.  Creating jobs.  For transient, make-work government jobs just don’t breed a whole lot of confidence in long term employment.  Which is what Keynesian government-stimulus jobs typically are.

We may argue about which came first, the chicken or the egg.  But here is one thing that is indisputable.  Jobs come before spending.  Always have.  Always will.  And quantitative easing can’t change that.

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LESSONS LEARNED #38: “Repeating a lie doesn’t make it true.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 4th, 2010

Liars Lie

Lying works.  Political spin.  Poetic license.  Fibbing.  Slander.  Libel.  Call it what you’d like.  Politicians lie.  Because it works.  Especially when you can’t win in the arena of ideas.  If they can’t win the philosophical debate what do our politicians do?  Attack the messenger, not the message.  If the history doesn’t validate their policies what do they do?  Revise history.  It never changes.  The only thing that does is the people hearing the lies.

Presidents may dream, but the House of Representatives controls the purse.  That’s why there are numerous battles between Capitol Hill and the White House.  Between Speakers of the House and presidents.  Some of the big partisan battles in recent times?  Tip O’Neil and Ronald Reagan.  Tom Foley and George H.W. Bush.  Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton.  Nancy Pelosi and George W. Bush.  When different political parties hold the White House and the Hill, the partisanship escalates.  And the lies get more brazen.  Especially on the political fringe.

Some lies bordered on the ridiculous.  Like Ronald Reagan created AIDS to kill homosexuals.  That George H. W. Bush flew to Iran on an SR-71 to meet secretly with the Iranians during the 1980 presidential campaign.  Why?  To negotiate with the Iranians to keep the American hostages until after the election.  That George W. Bush blew up the Twin Towers to start a war that would let him invade Iraq.  No doubt there was some political damage from these lies.  But the lasting damage from these ridiculous lies pale in comparison to the Big Lies that the Left perpetuates to this day.

Trickle-Down Economics

Ronald Reagan was president from 1981 until 1989.  When he entered office, the economy was in the toilet.  Double digit inflation.  Double digit interest rates.  Unemployment at 7.1%.  Reagan wanted to cut taxes and spending.  The Democrat controlled Congress wanted to increase federal spending to ‘stimulate’ the economy (ala Keynesian economics).  The Congress fought him.  But Reagan used the bully pulpit and appealed directly to the American people.  They liked his message which brought pressure down on Congress.  They gave a little.  Reagan got his tax cuts.  The top marginal rate went from 70% down to 28% by the time he left office.  The result?  The economy boomed.  They call it the Decade of Greed.  Because we were very materialistic and greedy.  And people lived well.

Yes, but at what cost?  That’s what the Left always says to refute Reaganomics.  What they deride as trickle-down economics.  They point to military spending.  They point to Reagan’s deficit spending.  And the growing federal debt.  The Left says this is what Reagan’s tax cuts have given us.  Growth and prosperity at the expense of future generations.  Which is perhaps the greatest lie of the 20th century.  But because the Left has repeated it so often, a lot of people accept it as fact.  Even though the numbers refute this grand lie.

When Reagan entered office, federal tax receipts were $517 billion.  When he left office in 1989, federal tax receipts were $991 billion.  This is an increase of 91.7%.  Or, to look at in another way, tax receipts in 1989 were 1.9 times the amount they were in 1980.  That’s almost double.  So, despite the great lie of the 20th century, Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts did NOT cause deficits or increase the debt.  Cuts in the tax rates brought MORE money into the federal treasury.  Excessive federal spending caused the deficits.  Federal spending increased from $590.9 billion in 1980 to $1,143.7 billion in 1989.  That’s a 93.6% increase.  Spending, too, almost doubled.  In other words, spending increased 1.9% more than tax receipts by the end of Reagan’s second term.  Washington was awash in money.  They just spent it faster than it came in.

Blame the excessive spending on Cold War defense spending or domestic spending.  The point is moot.  Because it doesn’t change the fundamental truth that Reagan’s tax cuts INCREASED federal tax receipts.  Or the lesson learned that tax cuts stimulate the economy.  Anyone saying otherwise is lying and trying to revise history.

Wither on the Vine

The Reagan decade ended prosperously.  Reaganomics were a success.  Which was a threat to those with a vested interest in Big Government.  But people liked Reagan.  And only agreed to vote for George H.W. Bush when he made the infamous ‘read my lips – no new taxes’ campaign pledge.  But Bush was no Reagan.  He wasn’t as conservative.  Or as charismatic.  He couldn’t sell conservative America (center-right) his less than conservative policies (center-left).  The Left, seeing he was no Reagan, maneuvered him into a position favorable to them on the deficit.  The Republicans wanted to cut spending.  The Democrats, of course, wanted to raise taxes.  And with the Democrats in control of the House, he caved.  He raised taxes.  And when he did, he became a one-term president.  The American people were so angry when he reneged on his ‘read my lips – no new taxes’ pledge, the third party candidate in the 1992 presidential campaign, Ross Perot, got 18.9% of the popular vote.  No third party candidate did better.  Exit polling shows he drew equally from both Bush and Clinton, though only 20% of his voters were liberal.  The rest were conservatives and moderates.  Perot brought a carnival atmosphere to the campaign.  Charts and props made for good TV.  This spectacle, though, drew critical attention away from Clinton’s past.  Parts of which moderates would have found objectionable.

Clinton ran as a centrist.  He lied.  As liberals are wont to do during a campaign in a center-right country.  Once in office, he swung to the left.  The American people were angry.  As people are wont to be when lied to.  At the 1994 midterm elections, the people spoke.  And gave both houses of Congress to the Republicans.  Newt Gingrich became the Speaker of the House.  He co-authored the Contract with America which was a Republican pledge to return America to a conservative path.  It appealed to the American people.  It’s what swept the Republicans into power.  And it scared the Left.  So they attacked it.  Called it the Contract on America.  And they attacked Newt Gingrich.  With a vengeance.

In 1995, Gingrich discussed an alternative to Medicare.  Number crunchers projected Medicare (and Social Security) to go into the red a decade or two out.  Medicare (and Social Security) is a big federal expenditure and a political third rail.  The Left uses the elderly as political pawns whenever they can.  Because that’s what Big Government does.  Get people dependent on Big Government and then scare the hell out of them by saying the Right wants to take their benefits away.  Gingrich was discussing high-deductible health insurance plans and tax free Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs).  The MSAs included an annual federal subsidy for seniors.  The plan would be appealing to seniors, Gingrich thought, because they could get better health care coverage with a private plan.  The MSAs and the federal subsidies would make it affordable.  Better care without paying more.  Who wouldn’t want that?  Once people made this choice voluntarily, they would move out of Medicare into a private plan.  Those comments in 1995 included this:

What do you think the Health Care Financing Administration is? It’s a centralized command bureaucracy. . . . Now, we don’t get rid of it in round one because we don’t think that that’s politically smart and we don’t think that that’s the right way to go through a transition. But we believe it’s going to wither on the vine because we think people are voluntarily going to leave it — voluntarily.

Wither on a vine?  Talk about a hanging softball.  There was no way the Democrats weren’t going to whack that one out of the park.  It quickly became ‘Medicare benefits’ and NOT the inefficient ‘centralized command bureaucracy’ that was going to wither on the vine.  The Left ran with it.  Another grand lie.  Repeated it at nauseam.  And scared the seniors.  Gingrich’s days were numbered.  And Clinton had a new enemy to demonize.  Which came in handy when no one wanted his policies.

The Lies that Keep on Giving

Big Government depends on getting as many people dependent on government as possible.  Medicare (and Social Security) is one program that does this very well.  And when Gingrich dared to threaten it, they destroyed him.  With a grand lie.  Like the grand lie that tax cuts stimulate deficits, not the economy.  Perpetuating these lies enables unsustainable government spending.  Threatens the future of all Americans.  And the longer it takes for the truth to come out, the deeper the hole we dig ourselves into.

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Repeal Obamacare – Cut the Deficit, Pay for the Bush Tax Cuts, Stimulate the Economy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 1st, 2010

Obamacare – Bold and Audacious, but Against the Will of the American People

Most Democrats have accepted that they will lose the House this Tuesday.  And that they have lost touch with America.  Some are scratching their heads about when this happened.  Others are fairly sure.  They point to when they governed against the will of the American people (see Grim Dems await huge House losses by Alex Isenstadt appearing 10/31/2010 on www.politico.com).

There is ongoing debate within Democratic circles about when, exactly, the party lost its handle on the electoral environment. Some consultants say they realized they lost the House in early October, when it finally became apparent that incumbents couldn’t move their poll numbers.

But others say the electoral map hardened this spring, after the House passed a health care bill that remains deeply unpopular among voters. Democratic campaign officials say it is no accident that there are few Democrats in moderate-to-conservative districts who have promoted their support for the health care measure on the campaign trail, and most don’t even acknowledge it.

Yes, Obamacare.  That was just a little too much like the bridge at Arnhem.  That was the bridge made famous in the World War II movie A Bridge too Far.  It was a bold and audacious plan by Bernard Montgomery.  As it turned out, too bold and too audacious.  The British 1st Airborne Division almost fought to the last man.  It suffered some 75% attrition.  The 1st Airborne Division was no longer a factor in World War II after Arnhem.  Like Montgomery at Arnhem, the Democrats have reached too far with the bold and audacious Obamacare.  We know it.  The Republicans know it.  Even those Democrats who voted for it know it; Obamacare is conspicuous by its absence in their campaigns this election season.   The only question now is how many Democrats won’t be going back to Washington after the elections.

Obamacare – A Big Lurch to the Left, Bankrupting our Children

Obama is not on the ballot this year, but people will be voting against him all the same.  He lied.  He campaigned as a centrist.  And then governed as the most liberal president ever.  Government spending exploded.  Stimulus.  Bailouts.  None of which moved the unemployment numbers.  They just made the economic future bleaker.  Then came Obamacare.  The bill too far.  Which was seismic (see Republicans Predict Obama Rebuff in Election; Democrats Foresee Surprise by Heidi Przybyla posted 10/31/2010 on www.bloomberg.com).

Barbour, governor of Mississippi, said the election is a referendum on Obama’s health care and economic policies that represent the “biggest lurch to the left in American political history.”

With control of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Democrats spent like there was no tomorrow.  And for some of them, there won’t be.  Deficit spending is projected at approximately 2,000% greater than Ronald Reagan’s deficit spending.  And Reagan was bankrupting our children.  Apparently, Democrat math is different than Republican math.

Repeal Obamacare, Make the Bush Tax Cuts Permanent AND Cut the Deficit – Yes We Can

With the loss of the House imminent, the Democrats are wagging their collective finger at the Republicans.

Kaine [Democratic National Committee Chairman] said Democratic losses would force House Republicans to vote for unpopular spending cuts and tax increases in order to uphold a pledge to voters to trim the budget deficit by $100 billion next year.

“The Republicans will be forced to govern,” said Kaine. Republicans will face a difficult choice on whether to keep former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for all Americans or to end them for those earning $250,000 a year or more, as Obama has proposed, Kaine said.

All right, let’s say the Obamacare portion of Obama’s projected annual $4.125 trillion deficit is $1 trillion (close to what CBO scored it to be).  Keeping the Bush tax cuts (according to Obama) would cost about $70 billion per year (see Barack Obama Outspends George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan Combined from this same website).  A pledge to cut the deficit by $100 billion?  The math seems pretty easy to me.  Repeal Obamacare.  Make the Bush tax cuts permanent.  And cut the deficit by NOT spending the other $930 billion or so of Obamacare.

Yes We Can; No You Can’t – We Hope Come Tuesday

Deficit reduction.  Tax cuts to stimulate the economy.   And the repeal of a very unpopular health care bill.  Where’s the downside?  Unless you’re a far-left liberal (that small 20% of the population), there is none.  Which is why the Democrats are so grim.  They gave that 20% what they wanted (well, sorta – they wanted a whole lot more).  But when it comes to votes, 20% just isn’t enough to win elections.

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Obama Makes FDR Look Like a Conservative

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 29th, 2010

Then

None of FDR’s New Deal programs pulled the economy out of the Great Depression.  Businesses sat on their cash.  Afraid of further liquidity problems.  Afraid of what anti-business policy the FDR administration would pass next.  And the depression had left them with so much excess capacity (because no one was buying anything) there was no need to hire anyone to expand capacity.  So they didn’t.

FDR tried to stimulate the economy with record government spending.  None of it helped.  There were some make-work projects for some people.  But public make-work projects don’t stimulate an economy.  Jobs in the private sector do.  And excessive government spending just makes the businesses in the private sector nervous.  The government has to pay for that spending eventually.  Through higher taxes.  Excessive borrowing.  Or simply by printing money.  None of these actions bode well for the private sector.  They will just increase the cost of doing business (via higher taxes, higher interest rates or a higher inflation rate which makes everything more expensive).

The Great Depression finally ended thanks to Adolf Hitler and Hideki Tojo.  With a world plunged in war, our allies needed war material.  Enter the Arsenal of Democracy.  The FDR administration suspended the New Deal policies and allowed the private industry to do what it did best.  Unfettered capitalism.  Unimpeded by government.  And the rest is history.

Now

We are trying the failed policies of the FDR administration again.  And they’re working just as well as they did for FDR.  Excessive government spending is making the businesses in the private sector nervous.  Because they know the government will have to pay for that spending eventually.  Through higher taxes.  Excessive borrowing.  Or simply by printing money.  So they’re battening down the hatches.  Preparing for a rough ride through stormy, economic seas.  Sitting on excess capacity.  And piles of cash.  Because they don’t know what anti-business policy the Obama administration will pass next.

It’s worse now than it was then.  The world is not at war.  Massed armies are not threatening our allies.  There are no customers for the Arsenal of Democracy.  World war can’t pull us out of this depression.  We are on our own.  We will pick up the tab for Obama’s spending.  Well, not us.  Our children will.  Or their children.  Or their children’s children.  And each day the Obama administration spends more, the worse that day of reckoning will be. 

It doesn’t have to be this way, though.  If we stop the spending we can mitigate the damages.  But we have to act soon.  For we are fast approaching the point of no return.

I Have this Strange Feeling of Déjà Vu                                                           

Command economies don’t work.  That is, if you go by the historical record.  The New Deal failed.  The Soviet Union failed.  And where they haven’t failed, life isn’t so good.  I mean, no one is trying to sneak into North Korea or Cuba.  Why?  Because it sucks in those countries.  And yet we keep trying to be like those countries.  Why?

How bad is it?  Well, here’s one opinion:  U.S. Economy “Close to a Destructive Tipping Point,” Glenn Hubbard Says (by Aaron Task on Yahoo! Finance).  It’s a discussion of a new book:  Seeds of Destruction: Why the Path to Economic Ruin Runs Through Washington, and How to Reclaim American Prosperity by R. Glenn Hubbard and Peter Navarro.  Based on titles, I’d say it’s pretty bad.  You might want to add this book to your reading list.

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Obama to Small Business: Take the Money. Please.

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 27th, 2010

Smart Dumb People

Imagine you’re a business owner.  Let’s say you manufacture and sell fancy, high-end, architectural lighting for high-end homes.  Business was good during the housing bubble.  So good you expanded production.  Built a new factory.  Then, with the subprime mortgage crisis, sales took a nosedive.  You had to shutter the new plant you built during the bubble.  And you had to cut a shift at your other factory.  Because with the new home market in the crapper, high unemployment and a general lack of optimism in the future, few people are buying fancy, high-end, architectural lighting.  So what do you do?  Borrow money so you can expand production and hire more people?  If you’re an idiot, perhaps.  But you’re not.  So you won’t.

Business people are smart.  They understand business.  The people in the Obama administration, on the other hand, are a bunch of idiots.  When it comes to business.  They may have their Ivy degrees and their smug condescending arrogance, but they are some of the dumbest smart people that ever were.  To them all business owners are thieves who exploit their employees.  They don’t like them but they understand they need them.  To provide the jobs.  Because everyone can’t work in government.  Someone has to work in the private sector so the government has someone to tax.

With their simplistic understanding of business, they believe business just needs more money.  That’s their answer to everything.  More money.  A business owner can hire more people if only he or she had more money.  Ergo, get them more money.  Hire the people.  Create jobs.  Build stuff.  Just do it already.  What’s the problem?

“Ah, Mr. President, what am I going to do with all this stuff if no one buys it?”

“Huh?  What?”

“That’s what I thought.”

Spend Baby Spend

The economy is a complex thing.  But it’s simple to operate.  All you have to do is get the hell out of the way.  But there are those who just can’t.  They need to tinker.  Because they are smarter than you.  And every other consumer.

Economists are like weather forecasters.  They’re wrong more than they’re right.  Let’s face it; if these people could figure out the economy, they wouldn’t need a day job.  But they do.  They need to offer ‘expert’ commentary.  And advise presidents.  To feel important.  To feel better about themselves.  For being such abject failures that they need a day job.

And, of course, the ones who find favor with those in power are the ones who favor the use of that power.  Keynesians.  Unemployment, Mr. President?  Why you fix that by spending money.  Inflation, Mr. President?  That’s just too much money chasing too few goods.  So you need to spend more.  To stimulate the economy to build more goods.  Inflation is good.  It stimulates.  And it helps to pay off the debt you’re building with your deficit spending.  A trillion dollars today may only be a few hundred billion, say, 10 years from now.  Billions are easier to repay than trillions.  And the more we inflate, the easier it will be to pay off that debt.  See?  Deficit spending and inflation are good things.  So keep spending.

It’s a load of crap.  But it’s doesn’t take much to sell it to a president.  Especially if they want to spend.  As the current president does.  And, boy, does he.

Failed Policies of the Past

Easy money and irrational exuberance created the housing bubble.  People borrowed money and bought over-priced houses.  Then the bubble burst.  The huge inventory of unsold homes corrected the market.  Prices plummeted.  Interest rates went up.  Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) reset at higher rates.  Subprime mortgages defaulted.  Foreclosures.  More houses thrown on the market, pushing prices down further.  People still paying their mortgages found they owed more than their houses were worth.  Some walked away.  More houses thrown on the market, further depressing housing prices.  That’s what easy money and excess capacity gives you.  A bubble.  Then a deflationary spiral.

And now the Obama administration wants to return to these failed policies of the past.  Obama wants business to borrow money to increase capacity to build stuff no one will buy.  (See AP article Small biz, banks may spurn Obama’s $30B program by Pallavi Gogoi on My Way.)  It’s not housing.  But it’s still the same.  Irrational exuberance.

It’s the Government, Stupid

It’s not a tight credit market that’s hurting this economy.  It’s the Obama administration.  Just like it was the FDR administration.  There’s just too much uncertainty.  Too many anti-business policies.  When you see government dissolve a legal obligation (screwing the bond holders) in favor of helping a political constituency (the UAW), business owners take notice.  And get nervous. 

If you want to help the economy, you got to stop scaring business owners.  You got to stop running roughshod over the rule of law.  If people enter into legal contracts, they need to have some assurance that the government will honor those contracts.  And, to date, the Obama administration’s actions don’t give much assurance.

Until they stop scaring business, what idiot is going to expand and hire people?  That doesn’t work for the government?

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Hmmm, Help the Economy or Class War?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 17th, 2010

Do you know why some Democrats are now urging their leaders to extend the George W. Bush tax cuts?  That’s right, because Bush and the Republicans were right. 

The Democrats want to tax and spend.  But you can’t tax and spend if you don’t win reelection.  And there lies the problem.  They’ve crashed the economy.  Created a permanent underclass.  And shook down the average working stiff to pay for it.  The problem the Democrats have is that there are still too many people who want to have a job.  And until they can take the vote away from these people, they can’t just take their money.  They have to…represent them.  Yeech.  (That would be how these Democrats feel.  Personally, I feel that representing your constituent is a beautiful thing.  So rare these days.)

You see, Democrats are elitists.  They’re part of the Washington aristocracy (which includes RINOs, too).  Life was simpler in the 15th century.  Or so they would think.  And this is what they would say.  If they were honest. 

People knew their places in the 15th century.  The noble classes owned the land.  And the land was everything.  The lord of the manor enjoyed the good life while the peasants worked the land.  Feudalism.  The way it was supposed to be.  Not these days.  This uppity middle class works wherever they want and does whatever they wish.   With no deference to us.  We who are better than they.  No, they act, well, as if they are our equals.  Imagine that!  These impertinent, despicable guttersnipes.

But they’re not honest.  So they don’t say this.  But when they act against the will of the people, they don’t have to.  Their actions speak louder than words.

So now they must deign to listen to these voters.  And these voters want something that’s alien to them.  Jobs.  So they must turn to the alchemy of the Republican Party.  That mysterious witch’s brew.  They have no idea what it is.  But it stimulates the economy.  For real.  It’s one part tax cuts.  Something else.  They don’t know.  It’s all Greek to them.  They don’t know anything about the economy.  But when the Republicans get their way, a crap-load of money comes into Washington.  And they can take it from there.  For they know how to spend that money.  Their money.  So they’ll act like Republicans.  For a little while.  Just long enough to make it through another election cycle.  Then they can stop that nonsense and return to tax and spend.  With a great, big pile of new money.  Their money.  Yeah, that’s right.  To them, it’s all their money.  If only us dunderheads would get it through our thick skulls.

So the Washington aristocracy will call a temporary truce in the class war.  And they will try to stimulate the economy.  And this time it won’t be another spending bill to fund some underfunded union pension plan.  It’ll be something that actually stimulates.  Because it’s for real this time.  It’s election time.

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