Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

The Public Has Spoken – Sort Of

Once you understand public choice theory, watching politics unfold becomes less of a frustration and more a source of amusement.

I just heard President Obama lay out his near term agenda. He was elected by a decent majority and will fight for the issues for which he campaigned. The people have spoken, and the people want a Democratic agenda implemented.

But the House of Representatives was also just elected. It is firmly Republican. The people have spoken, and the people want a Republican agenda implemented.

Same voters. Two conflicting agendas.

Some pundits say that voters want compromise. I don’t understand how you compromise between raising taxes and lowering taxes, for example.

I can only conclude that what voters actually favor is gridlock. This restrains both Democrats and Republicans and preserves the status quo. The last several presidents, when given a compliant Congress, have moved the country in unhappy directions. Gridlock forces politicians to take a “timeout” and allows only actions which are broadly acceptable to voters.

voting day in a small town

voting day in a small town (Photo credit: Muffet)

Don’t expect a lot to happen in a gridlocked political system – the public has spoken and inaction seems to be our preference as a nation.

Dealing with Information Overload

The Web is a wonderful thing, but it’s hard to keep up. Every day it dishes up more essays, quips, useful videos, lectures, and books than you can read in a lifetime. And that’s just the serious stuff. And that enormous outpouring is dwarfed by the stuff meant primarily to entertain. Plus there’s another huge explosion of stuff that’s difficult to classify – wanderings of demented minds and the like. Is there a good strategy for dealing with it all?

You could, of course, just ignore it all or at least ignore the serious stuff. That might be the best strategy, but I find it unsatisfying.

I have some rules for my reading.

If the output involves name calling, I ignore it completely. If someone has a serious point to argue, they won’t engage in name calling.

Ignore anything that purports to tell you what other people think, such as “conservatives think…” or “Democrats think…”.  This kind of argument is itself empty of thinking, relying on mind reading instead.

Ignore guilt by association. If Obama’s secretary once got a speeding ticket, that has no bearing on Obama. If Romney had college buddies who went rogue, that has no bearing on Romney.

There are other filters – in fact, there’s a whole branch of knowledge devoted to identifying false arguments. But these three are a start. If you can have enough discipline to stick to these rule, a day’s Web output may only take half a lifetime to absorb

World wide web

Image via Wikipedia

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The Medicare Plan

Created by vectorizing Image:Medicare and Medi...

Image via Wikipedia

The news is full of angst about S&P’s dropping the government’s credit rating. But you’d have to look far and wide to find any reference to S&P’s stated reason: they don’t believe our government has the political will to reform the entitlement system. I don’t see where they’re wrong.

The three big entitlements are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. When President Bush proposed baby steps to begin working on Social Security, he was lambasted by the Democrats. When Senator Ryan proposed a more robust but still modest plan for fixing Medicare, liberals launched the “Mediscare” campaign. Bush’s proposal is long dead; Ryan’s proposal has no chance. So, we are left with the Democrat’s plan.

What’s the Democratic plan? There isn’t one. Maybe just let Medicare collapse under it’s own weight? Maybe raise taxes and throw more people out of work? Your guess is as good as mine.

I probably wouldn’t like Obama’s plan, but I dislike the lack of a plan even more. So far, on this topic at least, he’s demonstrated a total lack of leadership.

Ultimately, Democratic politicians will produce a plan, or else there will be no more Democratic politicians. They need a plan and the sooner the better.

Government Shutdown Phase 1

It’s coming down to the wire, but I don’t see anyone other than politicians and media types getting too excited. I see more annoyance. In all the media yakking, an important point is often overlooked: Congress shouldn’t be doing this now. This budget exercise was, by law, due last year when the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. Through sheer ineptitude, the Democrats failed in their most elemental responsibility of governance. Now the GOP gets to fix the mess the Democrats left behind. And it’s not looking pretty.

But this is a warm up exercise: the real battle will be the 2012 budget. There are two proposals: Obama’s and Ryan’s, and they couldn’t be more different. It’s hard to imagine what a compromise would look like. We could be looking at a *real* government shutdown next year.

Budget Problems

In Washington, they’re getting lined up for a battle royal on the budget. President Obama’s budget proposal is basically to drive the government deeper and deeper into hock. The Ryan (Republican) proposal calls for major cutbacks. Both rely on long range forecasts that are unrealistic, but for different reasons. A battle is coming. The Democrats are aghast that we would cut spending on such vital national interests as the Cowboy Poetry Festival (I’m not making this up). Republicans want to gently slash everything except our massive military outlays. If nothing else, this will be fun to watch.

I am not convinced that the Ryan (Republican) proposal cuts enough, but it would at least buy some time. The Democrats simply seem to want to throw future generations under the bus. I could be wrong, but that’s how it looks to me.

Whatever happens, it won’t be more severe than the Ryan (Republican) proposal. That’s the upper bound of fiscal rectitude, which means we’ll be in big trouble again – but not as bad as if the Obama budget were adopted.

There’s little you or I can do about this. Angry calls to Congress or letters to the editor are of hardly any value. All you can do is plan your affairs accordingly.

With Friends Like This…

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

Image via Wikipedia

Recall the Team Obama modus operandi: getting something done, no matter how lame, compromised, or even counterproductive it is, is considered to progress because it presumably can be swaddled in enough propaganda to be made attractive to a presumed to be chump public.

via The Sandbagging of Elizabeth Warren (and 49 State Attorneys General) « naked capitalism.

Wow. If this is what liberals think, what will the 2012 election look like? But the Democrats can take some comfort in the knowledge that the Republicans will probably pick the least appealing candidate they can find.