This year marks one hundred years since the beginning of the First World War in the summer of 1914. The Great War, as it used to be called, brought great devastation in its wake. Millions of human lives were lost on the battlefields of Europe; vast amounts of accumulated wealth were consumed to cover the costs of combat; and battles and bombs left a large amount of physical capital in ruins. But the “war to end war,” as it was called, also resulted in another weapon of economic mass destruction – an orgy of paper-money inflations.
Even so, you do not have to be smart with numbers to know that the real state of the U.S. economy is pathetic these days. You can thank Barack Obama for that because, dear reader, he is utterly clueless regarding America’s economy; how it works, and what it needs to work.
The banking crisis of 2008 and its attendant deep recession have been hailed by statists the world over as the ultimate demonstration of capitalist greed and a justification for more and more regulation and government control of the economy, particularly the financial sector. Their argument boils down to an accusation that private actors in the marketplace are incapable of dealing with systemic crises and that government is the only agent that can address the market as a whole in order to combat panics and economic shocks. That argument won out in the aftermath of the recession, leading to a raft of new regulations, most notably the voluminous Dodd-Frank Act.
A new book by French economist Thomas Piketty on “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” has recently caused a major stir on the opinion pages of newspapers and magazines. Piketty has resurrected from the ash heap of history Karl Marx’s claim that capitalism inescapably leads to a worsening unequal distribution of wealth with dangerous consequences for human society.
It tells you everything you need to know about the utter contempt those in the White House and the circles of power that the announcement of 0.01% economic growth thus far this year was blamed on—wait for it—the weather! Specifically, a cold winter.
From his first great insight into racial discrimination, through subsequent insights into schooling, the family, crime, addictive behaviors and even suicide, Gary Becker re-unified the social sciences, with economics as the King, mathematics as the Queen and statistics as the Jack.
The real inequality problem is that of the Two Americas: not divided between one that is rich and one that is poor, but between one that is protected by government and another is punished by it. It’s a class war, yes, but not along economic lines – instead, it runs along the lines of the unprotected vs. the protected.
Few French economists have achieved the kind of adulation Thomas Piketty has experienced recently from the media and the left. Within the context of the American political scene, Piketty’s dour predictions for the future of capitalism and his call for a “utopian” global wealth tax fit perfectly with the left’s frame of an inequality message.
Shortly, Congress will be debating the fate of the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im). Its authorization — last extended in 2012 — will expire on September 30 unless reauthorized. Ex-Im was first incorporated in 1934 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to finance trade with the Soviet Union. Under the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, Congress established the bank as an independent agency. It provides loans and loan guarantees (as well as capital and credit insurance) to facilitate U.S. exports. Backed up by the full faith and credit of the U.S government, taxpayers are put on the hook.
Last week John Stossel hosted a segment on Earth Day featuring Heartland Senior Fellow James Taylor and Paul Gallay from the Riverkeeper environmentalist organization. Taylor (with some backup from Stossel) crossed swords with Gallay on a number of environmental subjects.
We have before us – and the government – Comcast’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable.
Which the Leviathan and the Left view as an opportunity to outright blockade the free market. Or, barring that, unilaterally impose many, many a la carte regulations – that they otherwise can’t get imposed – in exchange for Mother-May-I government-transaction-approval.
On April 15, nearly 90 percent of American adults filed their income tax returns for the 2013 tax year. And at the end of that day, I finished drinking a glass of truly tremendous bourbon; 130 proof seems appropriate to numb the pain.
Instead of deregulation to reduce unnecessary, stifling regulatory burdens and barriers, as both Carter and Reagan did to such fully documented success, Obama regulates mercilessly as if regulation is cost free to the economy, as the most interventionist President in American history.
In whatever direction we turn, we find the heavy hand of government intruding into virtually every aspect of American society. Indeed, it has reached the point that it would a lot easier to list those areas of people’s lives into which government does not impose itself – and, alas, it would be a very short list. But it was not always that way.
There is an increasing recognition – at least outside the academy, planning organization and urban core developer groups – that the spatial expansion of cities or suburbanization represents the evolving urban form of not only the United States and virtually all of the high income world but also across the developing world, whether middle income or third world.
In recent years, Mexico has made substantial economic progress. Per capita income (purchasing power parity) in Mexico exceeds that of all the “BRIC” nations (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) except resource-rich Russia.
President Obama and many of his fellow Democrat politicians think they have identified a terrible injustice in the “gender pay gap.” But with almost no effort, anyone who can access the Internet can go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website and find information showing a far greater injustice: the pay gap between young people and older workers.