Doakes Sunday: Glacial

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

My grandkids got school photos [a few] weeks ago.  I received my prints a week ago and took the extra set to the UPS store to send to my parents, the Great-Grand Parents.  Cheapest to send by US mail First class in a flat mailer so that’s what I did.  No tracking, no signature, just mail them.

Spur of the moment, decided to visit my folks on Saturday: no photos.

The mailer should have gone out in the evening mail from Lexington Avenue at 5:00 on Monday.  I was at my parents’ house Saturday.  Five business days is not long enough for a First Class letter to get from St. Paul to Rochester?

[Columbus Day, when Joe mailed this], is a federal holiday.  Tomorrow delivery maybe, for a total of eight days?  Pony Express could have gotten it to California in that much time.  The quality of service has fallen off dramatically.

It’s only photos, nothing urgent; but every time I use the Post Office for anything other than a Money Order, I am reminded why I refuse to use the Post Office for anything other than a Money Order.

Joe Doakes

I actually sent a letter – not an urgent one – via USPS last weekend.  It was the first time I’ve done it in years.

Low Expectations

Democrats are fond of trying to find statistics that try to show that the Obama Administration has not been a complete economic disaster.

One way is via a blizzard of charts that claim to show a long series of months with job growth:

Raw Numbers

“It’s Bush’s fault! It’s Bush’s fault!”

Of course, as Mark Twain once said – and it’s a cliche I almost regret to say – but there are three types of data; lies, damned lies, and statistics put out to defend Democrat economic policy.

A graph will look very, very different, and depict very different things, depending on the two dimensions you select, as Philip Bump points out in the Wall Street Journal.

Obama looks best when you compare his job creation record with the day he took office – a graph which, by the way, has some liberals chortling, in that it makes Jimmy Carter look like a boss job creator:

Versus First Month

Of course, Clinton is the champ – he’s the only two-term president since World War II that didn’t have a recession on his watch – thanks, of course, to Ronald Reagan and the Peace Dividend, as well as Newt Gingrich stifling the worst of Bill and especially Hillary’s agenda.  Clinton was a champ in spite of himself, and largely due to his opposition.

We also note that more jobs were created on Dubya’s watch in three years than in six and a half of Obama; remember, Dubya had the 9/11 recession and the housing bubble in his eight years.

But isn’t comparing job growth versus a president’s first day in office a little artificial?

Sure.  Let’s compare presidents with their administration’s low points:

Versus Low



So in other words, Obama’s like Nixon.  I wasn’t very old at the end of the Nixon administration, but we all know what a lousy time that was.

But of course, the population has changed; Reagan added 17 million jobs in a population that was around 260 million.  Obama has added nine million jobs in a nation of 315 million (although nobody’s really counting anymore).  So how about we measure this in terms of concrete percentages?

Versus Population
As anyone who was looking for work back then knows, life under Reagan was infinitely better; the economy added a higher percentage of jobs in the quarter after the end of the’82 recession than it has in the six years of the Obama recovery.

Print out that last graph.  Share it with your liberal friends.

Our Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes To You

What do we really need for President?

Jack Kemp.

The former Bills quarterback and congressman from Buffalo was perhaps the most influential American politician who never became President; he was behind much of the “get out of the way” legislation that led us to the prosperity of the ’80s and ’90s.

And he rose to prominence during an era with great similarities to today.

Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes write in the WSJ:

The present era resembles the miserable 1970s. Growth is glacial. Incomes are stagnant. The country’s mood is sour. Divisions are widening. In 1979 only 12% of Americans thought the nation was headed in the right direction. Now it’s around 30%. And politicians are pitting class against class: the “1%” against the “47%”; white workers against Mexican immigrants. The public is furious with Washington, and no wonder. Polarized Republicans and Democrats do nothing for them.

Jack Kemp shook things up—but with dramatic ideas about policy, not by pitting outsiders against insiders. The Republican establishment resented the gall of a backbencher’s butting into tax policy. Democrats hated tax-cutting, even though Kemp kept reminding them that President John F. Kennedy first proposed lowering the top rate to 70% from 90%. Special interests were furious when Kemp proposed reducing their tax breaks. He once wrote Reagan’s deficit-hawk budget director, David Stockman,demanding to know why Mr. Stockman wanted to raise taxes on working people and cut food stamps, Medicaid and Head Start, but keep subsidies and tax breaks in place forBoeing,Exxon and Gulf Oil.

Go on and read the whole thing.

And then ask yourself – which candidate would Kemp support?

Kemp was, of course, one of the people who converted me to conservatism.  We could do much, much worse, and we usually do.

There’s Just No Way…

…anybody could have predicted this: Seattle workers whose minimum wage has been jacked up to 15 bucks an hour…

…are now asking for fewer hours, so they don’t lose their housing subsidies.

Naturally, the artificially-high minimum wage was supposed to cut welfare dependency, blah blah blah.

So now we’ve got fewer jobs, and just watch – the program dependence is going to stay the same.

Austered The Wrong Way

To: National Public Radio News

From: Mitch Berg, uppity peasant

Re: Terminology

Dear NPR:

Over the weekend, while listening to one of your news programs, I caught a story about skilled workers emigrating from Portugal. 

Your story announced that the Portuguese economy was “recovering from austerity”

Austerity was not the problem. Or, rather, austerity was, at most, a symptom; The disease was unsustainable government spending, that sapped the vitality of the private sector economy.  

Unrestrained spending on things like lavish pensions, cradle to grave welfare, a government workforce that displaces private enterprise, and yes, public broadcasting, committed governments to endless, crippling spending that, when the economy goes south, cannot be sustained.  

See that we don’t make this mistake again, shall we?

That is all.

It’s A Start

Bloomington residents turn out against racketized trash hauling (emphasis added):

Some angry residents want to take decisions on trash hauling out of the City Council’s hands. Residents are circulating petitions for both an initiative and a referendum that would allow citizens — rather than their elected officials — to have the final say on the issue.

Hard to say if the bolded parts are a little bit of editorializing by the Strib writer, John Reinan – but either way, it was a great turnout:

Nearly 100 residents testified for more than three hours at a public hearing on trash hauling Monday night. The city is proposing to implement a system of “organized collection.” In essence, the seven private haulers now licensed to do business in the city would carve up the territory and charge a single negotiated rate.

In other words, the city will pick winners and losers, and give everyone – resident and hauler – an “our way or the highway” “choice”.

The part that fascinates me, whenever people get to choose between freedom and socialism, is the rationalizations people choose for socialism:

[Supporters of the racket plan] pointed to the cost savings projected by the city, which add up to more than $8 a month for the average household.

“That will save the average person $103 a year,” said resident Greg Thompson. “Given the choice between choosing the color of the [garbage] bin and the name on the side of the truck, and saving 103 bucks, I choose the 103 bucks.”

You could choose bin colors and names.

Or you could choose prices.  That’s your call, in a free market system.  I, for one, stick with prices and service.

And if you believe that the “city negotiated price” is going to stay the same, once the trash haulers have no reason to compete in Bloomington, and that service will stay the same when the trash haulers have to cut cost corners to maximize profits (which is their job), you’re clearly a Democrat voter.

And you’re in ample company, as the Bloomington City Council is controlled by the DFL.  And it shows:

City residents last week received a mailing from Garbage Haulers for Political Choice, an industry group opposed to organized collection. That didn’t sit well with Council Member Andrew Carlson.

“What concerns me is, [the haulers] are negotiating in good faith — but at the same time, actively engaged with an organization whose purpose is to oppose organized collection. That doesn’t square up well with me,” Carlson said.

Complexity is hard.  If you’re a politician.

Surplus Of Stupid

SCENE:  Mitch BERG is ordering a Banh Mi sandwich at iPho on University.  Avery LIBRELLE enters the store.

LIBRELLE:  Hey, Merg!   After four years, Minnesota’s economy is rocking under Mark Dayton, while Wisconsin is sucking pond water!

BERG:  How do you figure?

LIBRELLE:  Minnesota has a $2 Billion surplus

BERG:  Right.  After raising taxes by…$2 Billion.  Now, if the economy is humming along, you’d think that the surplus would be bigger than the tax increase, now, wouldn’t you?

LIBRELLE:  At least Minnesota has a surplus!

BERG:  Right – apparetly, entirely due to the tax hikes.  In the meantime, Wisconsin is headed toward a surplus without the need for tax hikes – or, as we call it, a sustainable surplus.

LIBRELLE:  Yeah, but our economy is still better!

BERG:   Most of Minnesota’s growth is in metro-area medical, medical device, insurance and financial services companies – the ones that benefitted from Obamacare and “Too Big to Fail” stimuli.  Things aren’t nearly as rosy in Greater Minnesota.  In the meantime, Wisconsin’s growth is being held back by the slow manufacturing sector – which is a much bigger share of Wisconsin’s economy than Minnesota’s, and isn’t doing all that well here, either.

LIBRELLE:  If Minnesota had elected Tom Emmer governor in 2010, we’d be in the same boat!

BERG:  Right.  We’d have two economies being dragged down by Democrat policies.


BERG:  The parts of Wisconsin that are dragging the state’s economy are the ones that have been run by Democrats for generations.  The decay of Milwaukee’s manufacturing base is the state’s biggest economic problem.

LIBRELLE:  Hah!  But in Minnesota, it’s the Democrat-run cities that are winning…

BERG:  …as a result of national Democrat probrams to transfer wealth from consumers to banks and health insurance companies.

LIBRELLE:  You should issue a rape trigger warning.

BERG:  Clearly.


Chu Bad, So Sad

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

In 2008, Obama’s Energy Secretary Stephen Chu famously said American gas prices should jump to European levels at $9.00 per gallon, although President Obama sought a gradual increase, instead.
Used my Cub Foods card at Holiday today.  Eat your hearts out, lads.

And it only took six years…

Smarter Than Our Leaders

Back during the 2008 presidential campaign, John McCain was right about one thing, anyway; despite all of governments foul-ups the fundamentals of the American economy are basically strong.

We have ideas, and entrepreneurial energy, I don’t labor force that (2008 and 2012 elections not withstanding) we’re pretty smart and capable, and one of the worlds larger, wealthier consumer markets. Those, among other things, give the American economy’s a degree of resilience that is going to be hard to extinguish, even after 14 years of flagrant overspending and six years of crypto-socialism.

That’s the economy. Not the governments massive piling up of debt. That’s a whole ‘nother thing.

Why does it matter? Because the fact that the American private market is bigger, stronger, and smarter than its government – for now – may be the only thing that saved it from complete collapse six years ago.

Low Information

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

I stopped for lunch at the Maid-Rite in St. Cloud. The St. Cloud Times article says Michele Bachmann is preparing to oppose Hillary’s run for president. The woman behind the counter wishes Michele Bachmann would just go away. “Obama could say snow is white and Bachmann would say it’s not.” But Obama would not say that: he’d say white snow is a micro-aggression against brown and black people; therefore Minnesotans are racist. I don’t mind having someone speak up against that attitude. Joe Doakes

The left seems to have trouble with the logical initial terms of most arguments.

Grounds For Optimism

It’s an easy time to feel pessimistic about America. 

Forget the fact that we have the worst president in history (althought that doesn’t help much).  Part of the disaffected right would have you believe that our entire political class, GOP and Democrat, are about the same.  I see your objection – Boehner’s depressing cave on spending – and raise you Ted Cruz and Justin Amash and a few good Tea Party Republicans.

But yet I feel some optimism. 

Part of that is I’ve pretty much internalized Kevin Williamson’s The End Is Near (And It’s Going To Be Awesome), a masterpiece from last year about the inevitability of the eventual collapse of the current political system, and how, if we’re lucky and work hard, it could actually free up some space for the free market to actually solve things.

Along those same lines comes this piece from Victor Davis Hanson.  You need to read the whole thing – but this was buried near the conclusion:

America is not saved by our elected officials, bureaucrats, celebrities, and partisan activists. Instead, just a few million hardworking Americans in key areas — a natural meritocracy of all races, classes, and backgrounds — ignore the daily hype and chaos, remain innovative and productive, and dazzle the world.

The silent few of a forgotten America have given the entire country an astonishing standard of living that is quite inexplicable.

The road to that paragraph is well worth travelling.  Go there.

Mandated Equality

Two truisms at play in this story:

  1. If someone has to mandate your equal outcome [*], then you probably really aren’t equal.
  2. Economics 101:  Forcing people to pay more or less for a good or service than they naturally would will distort the market.  Force the price up, and you’ll get a black market.  Force the price down, and you’ll get less of the good or service.

With that in mind, see if you can see both currents in this piece, about developers in NYC and their reaction to being forced (as a condition of a bailout) to include “Market-Rate rentals” which are, in fact, well below the market rate.

A Queens luxury tower that was bailed out by the city is blocking the large terraces of a few affordable units so tenants above with tiny balconies don’t get jealous, one resident claims.

Erin McFadzen chose her middle-income — and rent-stabilized — corner apartment at Long Island City’s new Q41 building because of its wrap-around terrace.

But when she moved in, half of it was fenced off by what she calls a “Jurassic Park”-style barricade.

The ugly 6-foot-high wire barrier also interferes with views from every window of her sixth-floor, $2,186-a-month pad.

“We’re caged in,” McFadzen told The Post.

“Every time someone comes over, I have to explain why the fence is there . . . and tell them we’re rent stabilized, like it’s a badge I have to wear,” she said.

And the tenants aren’t the only innumerate ones; the developers (read the story, for crying out loud) are just as bad.

The innumeracy washes over us in waves in this piece:

  1. Rent Control/Rent Subsidy (as well as the city’s systematic demonization of landlords, much as Minneapolis and Saint Paul are doing, although not nearly as effectively as NYC does – yet) is exactly why it’s impossible to find an affordable apartment in NYC.  “If you make a good or service worth less than it would naturally be, there will be less of it”.
  2. The city shouldn’t be bailing out failed developers – so the developers shouldn’t be complaining that the bailout comes with strings attached requiring them to include rentals for much lower rates than the market would ordinarily bear.
  3. Real estate in New York being as much about image as value, the “low-income” tenants shouldn’t be surprised that the developers are doing something to give the residents paying the actual market rates some sense that they’re getting something justifying the premium that they’re paying for the upscale places they’re renting.  And in that case, that means making the the full-rent balconies a better deal than the cut-rate ones.  Even just by the seemingly bitchy means they used.

If governnment has to make you equal, you’re probably not.

[*] Civil rights legislation is, of course, not an example of this; civil rights and liberties are not given to us by a landlord, but by our creator.  Nobody can justly take them away.  Housing is not a right – much less a specific class of housing for a specific price.

It Was Twenty-Five Years Ago…

…that the Berlin Wall fell.

But make no mistake; the Soviets won.

The link is to an article about government’s role in the demise of medicine in America.  The whole piece is a pull quote, and that is not “fair use” by any stretch.  So read it.

And then look at every other area of your life where these same sorts of niggling government interventions happen “for your own good”.

Whose Time Has Come

It was fifty years ago today that Ronald Reagan gave one of the most important speeches in American history, and perhaps the most important speech in the history of American conservatism:  A Time For Choosing.

And it’s more vital now than it was, even then.

You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well, I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down: man’s old, old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism

Here it is, in its entirety.

It’s impossible to overstate this speech’s importance.  It was the opening salvo in the rebirth of conservatism.  It took a decade for its aftereffects to be  known; George Will wrote in 1984 that it won the Presidency for Goldwater – it just took 16 years to count the votes.

And it’s a hot, blazing rebuke for the mental midgets to claim the GOP has “become more extreme” lately.  Listen to the whole thing.  There is nothing the Tea Party stands behind that wasn’t stated in this speech.

It also destroys the even dimmer claim that “Reagan was too moderate for today’s GOP”.  If only today’s GOP – outside the Tea Party, anyway – had the balls to live up to the standards in this speech.   

In retrospect, Reagan’s presidency – and it may be fairly said that this speech was the beginning of Reagan’s political career – bought this nation a few decades before the extended populist spending orgy that took off in the sixties finally brings this nation to its heels. 

Is there still time to change things?

Perhaps.  But this is the real time for choosing. 



One of the more galling facets of the 2012 Presidential campaign was watching Mitt Romney taking flak from the social right, the Rick Santorum crowd, on having been marginally impure on social issues, while at the same time getting beaten up from the fiscal purists (egged on by the left) for Romneycare, and the Libertarians for having been insufficiently pro-Liberty, whatever that meant. 

Of course, the key difference was that Mitt Romney had been in office, governor of not only a large state, but a toxically left-leaning one, in which he had few legislative allies.  To get anything useful done as governor of Massachusetts – and he did – he had to compromise.  “Romneycare”, bad as it may be, was a better compromise than what the Massachusetts Democrats would have spawned. 

The lesson, of course, is that rock-solid principle is easy, when your job never involves having to engage on a daily basis with your opponents to get anything done.  US Congresspeople do that only on the most symbolic and ritual level. 

Governors?  It’s part of their daily job.

And so while the likes of Govenors Romney, Pawlenty, Walker and others may have great black marks against them in the great book of princples in the sky, those marks are given by people who’ve never had to negotiate with a recalcitrant state employee union, or horse-trade with a hostile legislative majority. 

Fact is – as I say all the time – politics is a marathon, not a sprint.  Things get done over time, not overnight.  It’s work for the obsessively patient. 

Society get changed not by the people who have the coolest slogan – “Repeal Now!” or “War on Womyn!” or “TRU LBRT!” or whatever it is that sends a tingle up one’s true believers’ legs – but by the people who not only show up, but keep showing up.

Which is Kevin Williamson’s point in this NRO piece, which you should read in its entirety, and which concludes:

The Democrats did not build the welfare state all at once in 1965, and Republicans didn’t have an honest shot at repealing it all at once in 1995. Everybody has a big plan, and Washington is full of magic bullets: leash the Fed, enact the Fair Tax, seal the borders. But what’s needed — what might actually result in a stronger American order — is a thirty years’ war of attrition against the welfare state and entrenched incompetency. Federal crimes and misdemeanors ranging from the IRS scandal to the fumbling response to Ebola suggest very strongly that we have management and oversight problems as well as ideological ones, but holding oversight hearings long after (one hopes) Ebola is out of domestic headlines provides very little juice for a presidential candidate facing a restive base all hopped up on Hannity. Being the guy who gets up and demands the repeal of Obamacare might get you elected president; being the guy who fixes the damned thing simply makes you a target for talk-radio guys who have never run for nor held an elected office but who will nonetheless micturate upon your efforts from a great height.

Everybody wants to run for president. But somebody has to save the country.

Read the whole thing.

And hold the sloganeering.

It’s A Mad World

Not only some rock stars, but indeed the Communist Peoples’ Republica of Vietnam gets free enteprise in a way that Mark Dayton, scion of a business family, to say nothing of “community organizer” Barack Obama, never can. 

Maybe the parts of the United States that value economic freedom need to launch a torpedo at a US destroyer…

More Jobs!

…Inver Grove Heights-based CHS corporation is building a new fertilizer plant:

CHS, a farmer-owned cooperative based in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, said its board of directors gave final approval of the project on Thursday.

“With this decision, CHS is taking an important, strategic step on behalf of its membership owners by ensuring them reliable domestic supply of nitrogen fertilizers essential to help farmers raise healthy, profitable crops,” Casale said in a statement.

Casale said plant construction could begin this fall, and operating in 2018. It would employ between 160 and 180 workers, the company said.

And oh, yeah – it’s going to be in the Berg ancestral home of Jamestown, ND. 

Another Minnesota company, sending jobs to a neighboring state.

The Power Of Suggestion

To:  Progressives (again)
From: Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  Scotland’s Independence Vote

As someone who is of partly-Scottish descent (and it’s the part I have the most fun with), I’m looking at the potential Scottish independence vote (which is, according to some current polls, neck and neck, with the “leave the union” vote nosing ahead according to some polls) with great interest. 

Only partly because of the whole “personal ethnicity” thing. 

No, there are two aspects that are much more important

Dilution:  Scotland is as big a Labour Party stronghold as California and Massachussets are Democrat ones.  Having the Scots out of the Union would have a dramatic effect on English governance (according to John Fund writing in the National Review):

Scottish voters are currently much more hostile than the U.K. electorate overall to free markets — Scots view capitalism as the basis for the Thatcher government’s decision to close unprofitable Scottish industries in the 1980s. Currently, Scotland sends only one Conservative member of parliament to Westminister. The departure of Scottish MPs from Westminster would be dramatic: If 59 Labour-party and Scottish National MPs from Scotland leave Westminster, Tories in the current House of Commons would go from being 21 seats short of a majority to having an outright 20-seat majority. “It is unlikely that without Scotland the rest of the United Kingdom would elect a majority Labour government anytime soon,” says Eamonn Butler of the Adam Smith Institute.

And that could only be a good thing.

Perhaps better? 

No More Government By Unicorn Fart!:  John Fund compares the potential breakup with that of Czechoslovakia – a nation that similarly jammed two ethnicities together in a union that was more a matter of post World War 1 convenience than actual organic need. 

Fund notes that, once the Slovaks gained their independence, and got cut off from all of that Czech free-market money, they got a sudden reality check; the subsidy gravy train was over, and they had to become responsible adults. 

Fund notes that the Scots could have that same sort of ephiphany:

Even with its oil revenue, the same phenomenon could occur in Scotland, where the ruling Scottish National party has often pursued foolish economic policies. With independence, a new government might be more realistic…The stringent policies of the Bank of England and the loss of subsidies could push Scotland to become more fiscally responsible. “Scotland would eventually be forced into a more severe form of fiscal austerity than currently applied, giving the lie to Alex Salmond’s promise of a sort of welfare nirvana for all Scots once free of the Westminster yoke,” [“Salmond” is apparently Scottish for “Krugman”] wrote Jeremy Warner, assistant editor of Britain’s Daily Telegraph. “For the rest of the U.K., losing relatively pro-EU Scotland would further raise the chances of eventually leaving the EU from odds on to that of a virtual certainty,” he added.

Just saying, “Progressives” – you might want to get some ideas, here. 

That is all.

Paul Krugman Hates The Poor

Beating up Paul Krugman – a Nobel Prize-winner who is a poster-child for “narrow expertise” – is a little like fact-checking Heather Martens; it’s easy, and there will never be a shortage of material.

Rich Karlgaard at Forbes spells out yet another reason Krugman is jumping from Princeton in disgrace:

Krugman says the rich sock their money in low-yield bonds. But he fails to consider the obvious. Stocks have almost tripled since March 2009. Urban real estate is in a boom. Art is in a boom. If you believe Krugman, it must be the poor folks who are feeding these asset bubbles. Because the rich, Krugman says, are stuck in low-yield bonds.

This is utter nonsense. The excess liquidity created by U.S. monetary policy does not wind up in the hands of the poor. It winds up in the hands of the rich. The rich then put it into stocks, real estate, hedge funds, and art.

It’s actually the poor and lower middle classes whose wealth — such as it is –lies fallow in no-interest bank accounts (or wealth-eroding cash if they have no bank account at all). It’s not the rich, but middle-class retirees that try to eke out a living on low-yield interest rates.

Krugman has it exactly, 180-degrees wrong. Cheap money is a transfer payment to the rich. It is a tax on the poor. The rich-poor divide grew vast under the cheap money policies of Ben Bernanke. This trend will surely accelerate under Janet Yellen.

Wonder what it’ll be like, someday – maybe decades from now, maybe in the afterlife – when “progressives” realize they’ve been squeeeeeing like a bunch of teenager grrrls at a One Direction concert over the permanent destruction of the middle class.

“The Clinton Years”

To:  The American Electorate
From: Mitch Berg, Guy Who Was Of Cognitive Age In 1992
Re:  The “Clinton Years”


Michael Barone, writing about the putative Hillary Clinton juggernaut:

It seems that Clinton’s standing reflects less on current judgments of Obama and more on rosy retrospective ratings of the presidency of Bill Clinton. Voters may not be eager for a third Obama term, but might like a third Clinton term.

Now, many of you weren’t adults – or at least not paying attention to politics – between 1992 and 2000 (especially in Minnesota, considering who we elected goverrnor in 1998).  You may have been fed a lot of gauzy beatifics about “the Clinton Years”; they were prosperous and peaceful.

Let’s be clear on why that was.

Twang:  Bill Clinton was a Democrat – but he was no Barack Obama.  He was part of the “Democrat Leadership Conference”, a moderate, business-friendly caucus of Democrat pols and advocates.  The DLC has, by the way, been completely extinguished; there’s no  room in the modern Democrat party for such moderation.

Shriek:  But Hillary was not.  Nobody mistook her for a moderate; she was the fire-breathing liberal of the couple.  And for the first two years of Clinton’s first term, many of her pet initiatives – including “Hillarycare”, which in those innocent days before Obamacare seemed like a grotesque power grab, nationalizing 1/7 of the national economy.  The first two years of Clinton’s reign were not much further to the right than Obama’s.

Pow:  The 1994 elections put a stop to that; the GOP took control of Congress for the first time since the ’30s, in a reaction to the Clintons’ “progressive” overreach.  In response, Clinton swung to the right, triangulating to the GOP’s right on issue after issue – essentially neutering all of Hillary’s “progressive” ambitions – to save his presidency in 1996.

During his last six years in office, Clinton was more fiscally conservative than George W Bush.

Poof:  As a result, between the 1994 landslide and his self-inflicted sex scandals, the best thing about the “Clinton Years” was that government was deadlocked between a Congress that was conservative, and a President that was frantically trying to act conservative.

Jing!:  Of course, deadlocked government works best against a background of overwhelming prosperity.  And the US was prosperous during the mid-late nineties – mostly because by 1994, the economy had shifted from Cold War priorities to full-scale civilian production, the so-called “Peace Dividend”.  All those Cold War-period innovations in technology  started filtering into the civilian market, driving frenetic booms in technology, equities, and consumer spending.  We enjoyed the first genuine peacetime boom since the Roaring Twenties – nation’s economic blender switched to “puree”.

The end of the Cold War was, of course, predicated on the end of the USSR – and that was largely the work of Ronald Reagan.

Bill Clinton didn’t govern anything like Ronald Reagan.  Hillary would be much less so.

The Good Old Days Are Gone For Good:  It’s not the nineties.  The GOP doesn’t control Congress – and any circumstances that lead to a Hillary! win would likely also lead to a blunting of any GOP effort to retake the Senate or extend control of the House – as Barone points out in the piece I link above, people are much more likely to vote straight tickets than they were 22 years ago.

So while the Democrats and media (ptr) will flog the idea that Hillary would be a return of Bill which would lead to a return of their gauzy, soft-focus version of “The Nineties” – it’s just not true.  Hillary is not Bill; without a conservative Congress, it’ll be like having Maxine Waters running things.  And Obama has seen to it there will be no surge of productivity when he leaves office.

We will get an expansion of government power; Obamacare will become un-repealable (even as its most onerous provisions finally kick in – and you really ain’t seen nothing yet).  And government debt will zoom under paleo-“progressive” Hillary!, pushing the nation further and faster down the road to the inevitable financial cataclysm.

That is all.

Why Does The DFL Hate Poor Urban Single Mothers?

I saw this idea in “Think” “Progress”…:

Five state lawmakers in Minnesota have decided to take on the “Minimum Wage Challenge” and live off of a typical budget for a worker who makes the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

…and I thought “I loved that skit the first time I saw a bunch of upper-middle-class liberals pretend to be poor to advance their narrative the first time I saw it – when Barbara Ehrenreich did it!”

Back during the high times of the early 2000’s, Democrats assuaged their self-righteousness about poverty by reading Ehrenreich’s Nickeled And Dimed.  Ehrenreich – an upper-middle-class congenital “progressive” who has lived her life by her parents’ dicta “never cross a picket line and never vote Republican” – made a great show of pretending to live as a minimum wage worker in various parts of the country.

It was BS, of course.  Ehrenreich approached minimum wage life the way you might expect someone who’d never had to do it.

And I wouldn’t expect much better from the DFLers that’ll be doing this iteration of the stunt:

Rep. Frank Hornstein (D) told CBS Minnesota that it made him take more notice of his costs. “An orange juice was $1.79. That’s not something that I would normally notice,” he said after getting breakfast from McDonald’s Dollar Menu. “Making the decision to take the bus today versus taking the car will save me a little money for dinner. For food,” he added.

Another lawmaker who lives far from the capitol, Rep. Shannon Savick (D), said, “I can live on what they set for food. I don’t eat a lot,” but she worried about transportation. Where she lives, “if you don’t have a car, you don’t go anywhere, because there is no public transportation. Driving will cost more than what they’re allowing me.” The other three participants are Democratic Reps. Karen Clark, John Lesch, Jason Metsa.

And what exactly will these legislators be trying to do?

The state has one of the lowest minimum wages in the country at $6.15 an hour, which means it gets trumped by the federal wage. A worker who puts in 40 hours a week at that level will earn just $290 before taxes. The challenge limits the lawmakers to $5 a day for food and $9 for transportation.

Meaning $210 a week (before taxes) on…what?

It’s not an idle question.  When you’re poor – and I spent a good chunk of my 20s and early 30s as “low income”, and I’m happy to say I’m forgetting some of the finer points of that lifestyle – you either budget ruthlessly to your circumstances, or you flounder.  Or, often enough, both.

But this stunt seems to assume that the minimum wage earners are heads of households.  Not teenagers living in Eden Prairie and working at Boston Market for pin money.

But minimum wage workers are not, as a rule, adult heads of households – even their own.

This table – from Heritage – shows the demographics of minimum wage workers as of 2012:

Check out the average income line:  most minimum wage earners, even those older than 25, are parts of households with average incomes averaging $26 an hour (including, it must be said, all of the DFLers in the stunt – who, presumably, won’t be eschewing their spouses’ incomes during the stunt).

Upshot?  They are a third as likely to live in poverty as they are to live in a household over 150% of the poverty line.

Most – even the older ones – work part-time, and they are 3-4 times as  likely as the general public not to have finished high school yet.

So the push to hike the minimum wage will  benefit the Dairy Queen worker in Maple Grove – who at best will get a 40% raise, and at worst will spend more time playing “Grand Theft Auto” at home while bitching to their friends about getting laid off.

It’ll directly harm the stereotype they claim they’re trying to help – the urban single parent who never finished high school because they were busy raising kids, and is part of that minority of minimum wage workers who don’t actually have a functional support system, a family to fall back on (like the legislators all do, even during the course of their weaselly little stunt).


When Grownups Run Things

On the one hand: Minnesota hikes taxes two billion dollars.  The “surplus” rises about $200 million over what the Republican majority in 2011-2012 left.  The DFL majority is currently arguing not so much over how to spend the “surplus’, but how many times over it shall be spent. 

On the not-stupid hand:  Wisconsin under Scott Walker cut taxes.  Wisconsin’s surplus is pushing a billion dollars.  And the only argument in Wisconsin today is “how are the taxpayers going to get the overbilling back?”

“The additional revenue should be returned to taxpayers because it’s their money, and my administration will work with the Legislature to determine the most prudent course of action,” Walker said in a statement.

Walker has been talking with Republican leaders about tax cut proposals he plans to release in his State of the State speech next Wednesday. Walker’s spokeswoman Jocelyn Webster said the governor wants to adjust income tax withholding tables to put more money in taxpayers’ pockets immediately and is also eyeing income and property tax reductions.

It’d sure be nice to have grownups in charge in Minnesota again.

(VIa regular commenter Chuck)

The Kids Are Kinda Not Alright

“Millennials” are rapidly approaching “Baby Boomers” as the most over-doted generation of all time.  Since the baby boom is slowly ageing out of the demographic hogpile, I figure “millennials” will soon eclipse the Boom as the most hated generation in history around the time the peak of their demographic bell curve hits 45 or so.

Not that its any more the Millennials’ fault than it was the fault of any individual baby boomer.  It’s not that they are individually and severally awful people.  It’s just that they had such awful spokespeople.

In the case of the Millennials, the spokesman I refer to is Jesse Myerson, whose piece “Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For” (in the ever more vacuous Rolling Stone, natch) delivers eighty distilled years of “progressive” fever dreams in a few pages of Yale-via-video-game argot.

I was going to respond to the whole noxious mess – I spent a week noodling with the idea as I nursed my flu last week – but Walter Hudson has done it, and done it better.

It’s not what Myerson presents so much as what he takes for granted which deserves rebuttal. His proposals proceed from unspoken assumptions which have been promoted in the popular culture by an organized Left, manipulating the nation’s youth into sacrificing their future. Here are 6 lies millennials must reject to live free.

Hudson’s conclusion:

Like each generation before them, millennials will define their own destiny with the ideas they choose to embrace. The whole of human history reads as a tale of tyranny, of political will trumping individual rights. Whether a pharaoh, an emperor, or a democratic majority, the powers that be tend to crush individuals under a banner of grandeur – an appeal to greatness, national pride, or the common good.


The American experiment stands out as a remarkable deviation from that dark standard, an attempt to recognize individual lives as ends in and of themselves, rather than a means toward the ends of others. What Myerson advocates is not new when viewed in historical context. He prescribes the old. He rallies for the tried and failed. Following his advice will return us to serfdom.


The real revolution, the truly youthful cause, erupts in the pursuit of liberty. A celebration of life and our living of it, liberty unleashes you to be who you are and pursue what you want, demanding only no trespass upon others. That’s the reform millennials–and everyone else–should enthusiastically fight for.

To get the logic that led from the beginning to the conclusion, you need to read the whole thing.

And have it ready, in case any of the “Millennials” in your life try to parrot Myerson.

Start the Revolution Without Me

New York is anything but blasé as de Blasio takes office.

If Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis was correct that States are the “laboratories of democracy,” then perhaps America’s cities are the petri dishes – developing political cultures at a micro level.

For 20 years, the Big Apple had largely quarantined the most aggressive tendencies of New York liberalism through a succession of centrist Mayors.  Even for all his nanny-state inclinations, Michael Bloomberg was (as we once noted) all that stood between the average Gothamite and an “army of liberal partisans who saw City Hall as Grand Central Station for a variety of socioeconomic engineering ideas.”

It should be of little surprise then that newly ensconced New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign certainly looked like something engineered in a political science lab.  De Blasio’s “tale of two cities” rhetoric, his promises to end “income inequity” and repeal “stop and frisk” defined his candidacy as being in stark contrast to Bloombergian Era.  Despite Bloomberg polling at a 51% approval as he left office and his supposedly controversial police chief Ray Kelly at 64%, de Blasio won running directly against the accomplishments (and their architects) of prior two decades.  Voters who cared about crime and candidate experience – once centerpieces to any New York campaign – barely broke for Republican Joe Lhota, and constituted a paltry 15% of the vote.

De Blasio’s supporters haven’t minced words about the expectations his overwhelming election has created in liberal circles, calling his mayoralty a “progressive revolution.”  Such rhetoric, amplified by a litany of speakers at de Blasio’s inauguration that trashed Michael Bloomberg (with apparently with de Blasio’s consent, as he stated he was “very comfortable with all that was done”), glosses over what exactly entails a “progressive revolution”?

From the early previews, de Blasio’s “revolution” may resemble Michael Bloomberg’s in one key, and often criticized, factor – policy tinkering instead of major reforms.  Candidate de Blaiso talked on the campaign trail about affordable-housing projects, stopping hospital closures, and a tax on upper-income earners to fund, in part, universal pre-kindergarten.  The first act of Mayor de Blasio was to end the handsome cab, horse-draw carriages – a move that drew criticism left and right, and even speculation that the position was based on a campaign pay-off.

Even when de Blasio talks about broader political themes, such his obsession with reducing “income inequality,” it’s rarely followed by policy prescriptions that will address the issue.  Some of de Blasio’s proposals will require support from Albany to enact, including aspects of his desired pre-K and after-school programs, while others reek of desperation to find an agenda, regardless of impact or practicality.  De Blasio declared he would expand the Paid Sick Leave law…which was just passed months ago and hasn’t even been enforced yet.  De Blasio campaigned on a goal of “zero deaths” in New York –  a policy that sounds like it was crafted by King Canute the Great.

If de Blasio truly wanted to address “income inequality,” he could look at New York’s punitive tax structure.  A married couple with $60,000 in taxable income pays nearly $2,000 in taxes to the city alone.  That doesn’t include the 25% federal tax rate for a couple in that income bracket, or the State of New York’s $3,200 in taxes as well.  Without including property taxes, school board levies, and a host of other taxes (how about the city’s 8.875% sales tax?), a couple with $60,000 in earned income would be paying out over $20,000 in taxes in one of the most expensive cities in the world.  Is that “equality”?