Rhetoric. It's cheap, expect lots of it.
Tone Deaf: Obama, to make up for pandering to Wall Street, reportedly will announce plans to pander to the middle class. The trouble is, those of us who used to be in the middle class do not want to be pandered to, we'd like to get what was promised on the election trail. Besides, over on the Hill, Harry Reid's fast becoming a deficit hawk and this stuff isn't going to get past the GOP's 41-59 Senate majority. How's this fit with Obama's plans to announce a three year spending freeze as part of his budget/SOU outing on Wednesday. The freeze will save nearly $25 billion a year on the $4 trillion budget – that a savings of 0.6%. If Congress approves, which it wont, because the freeze only applies to that 17% of the budget that is 'discretionary' – for which you can read 'pork-barrel spending'. The liberals won't like it, the conservatives won't like it, and the economists – those who remember 1937 – won't like it either.
Point of View: Walmart announced it was firing 11,200 employees – 10% of its staff. Its stock shot up, of course.
Status Report: Our democracy is broken and the situation will quickly spiral out of control as what little leverage the people had dissolves into jingles and advertising. Is it fixable? Probably not, for few remember what it was supposed to look like.
Bipartisanship: House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), seconded by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, "made it clear that the only starting point for bipartisan compromise would be for Dems to drop their health care plan and embrace the GOP one."
Footnoted: Apple reported improved sales and profits. It was unclear if profits and sales had actually improved, but Apple adopted new accounting procedures which lead to the ability to report improved sales and profits.
Buy the Numbers: Even with the extension of the 8% tax bribe to new buyers, existing house sales fell nearly 17% m/m in December. This is the largest m/m decrease in 40 years. Existing houses are 90% of the housing market. Real estate professionals, not believing their lying eyes, still believe the worst is over.
The 'In' Thing: Poverty is the latest fad to sweep the country, with 30% of Americans taking it up as a lifestyle. Over 90 million Americans have taken up the challenge and are living on $10,800 a year (single) or $14,500 (single mom and one child).
Fighting Words: Experts claim there will soon be another al-Qaeda attack because of the words used in a tape purportedly from O.B. Laden match his style. Or maybe it's the grammar. Even worse, two men (out of tens or hundreds of thousands on the list) on the “no-fly” list were stopped from boarding a US-bound plane at Heathrow. But then, my mother-in-law's on the no-fly the list and her grammar is impeccable.
Quote, Quoted: In explaining how dangerous the financial sector has become, Jesse uses this clarifying observation: “Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing a people to slavery." Thomas Jefferson
Porn O'Graph: Borrowing trouble.
I am very far from a conservative, and even further from a free-market fundamentalist, but having said that, I'm not sure the Left's critique of Obama's spending freeze works (or the 1937 analogy). If this were a business cycle recession, in which supply temporarily outstripped demand, then stimulus might be appropriate. But this is not a supply-demand dislocation, it is (at the very least) a credit collapse and (at the most) a maxing out of global growth potential given the world's population and natural limitations. If that is the case, then paring back is what we'll need to do sooner or later, and the problem with Obama's plan is not that it calls for spending cuts but that it takes the fastest-growing and least productive part of the budget -- defense -- off the table.
Anony 10:07. The Nail On The Head Award is awarded. It is (our view!) "a maxing out of global growth potential..." You also get the runner up award for singling out the defense budget as a major villain. You did lose some style points for not placing greater emphasis on the growth-is-good virus.
Care to try for the Best Approach to a Solution award?
The 'In' Thing: Poverty is the latest fad....
An old fad which has been going on for centuries is the Black Market, aka Underground Economy. Over the years and in various jurisdictions I have seen estimates on this as ranging from 10 to 20 percent of the "economy" whatever that is. I would suspect that this percentage is quickly rising. Be assured that the Government measures this, it just doesn't publish their data.
As Regimes become more taxing and onerous, citizens take their survival into their own hands. They seek alternatives outside the Main, Taxed economic stream. There are lots of alternatives to the Mainstream. Totalitarianism is not a bottomless, beneficial pit, it eventually reaches a point of diminishing returns.
And as people go Underground, disrespect for the Government grows and grows.
(I lived in one Regime (Canada) where a National Sales Tax was instituted. Soon after, the standard phrase from the vendor when buying anything was: "Do you want the price with or without a RECEIPT!")
So, keep passing all those laws and regulations and SCOTUS rulings as it all has less and less and less affect.
How many of those in "poverty" are actually making out like Underground Bandits just like Goldman and the other Wall Street crooks?
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