Archive for August, 2016

More Government, Less Manufacturing

Monday, August 29th, 2016

As the first country to mass produce everything from automobiles to computers, America has a well-deserved reputation for innovation, thanks to its manufacturing sector. U.S. government employees, conversely, are most adept at producing paperwork, as we’ve previously noted.

So which sector do you think employs more people in the U.S.—those who produce or those who bog down production with new regulations?

The answer—and it’s not even close—is that government employees outnumber employees working in manufacturing. In fact, as of a year ago, there were 21,995,000 government employees and 12,329,000 manufacturing employees.  That’s 1.8 government employees for each manufacturing employee, or one employee to produce and nearly two employees to regulate.manufacturing_and_government_employees-1939-2015

Granted, not all government employees are regulators and many serve valuable roles … but is it healthy for the economy to have nearly twice as many employees working in government as we have working in manufacturing?

It didn’t used to be this way. Until August 1989, manufacturing employees outnumbered government employees. But that month, government employed 17,989,000 and manufacturing employed 17,964,000. The two sectors have been going in opposite directions ever since. (more…)

The Fed’s Multi-Trillion Dollar Ponzi Scheme

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

“You loan me ten bucks. I photocopy the bill four times, give you back one of the copies, and announce that we’re square. That’s monetizing the debt.”                                                                                                                                                                         From Lionel Shriver’s The Mandibles

In the private sector, it would be called a Ponzi scheme.  When the Federal Reserve Board does it, it’s called “monetizing the debt.”

The Balance explained that, “The Federal Reserve monetizes debt any time it buys U.S. Treasuries. When the Federal Reserve buys these Treasuries, it doesn’t have to print money to buy them. It issues credit and puts the Treasuries on its balance sheet. Everyone treats the credit just like money, even though the Fed doesn’t print cold hard cash.”united-states-money-supply-m1@2x (1)

The process lowers interest rates, because the bonds taken out of circulation reduce supply, driving demand higher. But if reducing the supply of bonds drives prices higher and interest rates lower, shouldn’t more dollars drive the value of the dollar lower and the price of goods higher?

Logically, if you were to double the supply of money tomorrow, a dollar should be worth half of what it is worth today.  Prices would double, so the rate of inflation would be 100%.

And yet even with boatloads of new money, the inflation rate has barely budged.  The M1 money supply, which includes cash, checking accounts and other liquid monetary assets, is about 245% higher than it was eight years ago, when the Federal Reserve Board began its easy money policy.  Meanwhile, the Fed has been reluctant to increase interest rates in part because it has not been able to reach its targeted inflation rate of 2%. (more…)

Do You Like Being Told What to Do?

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Listen, this whole system of yours could be on fire and I couldn’t even turn on the kitchen tap without filling out a twenty-seven B stroke six … bloody paperwork.                                                                                                                                                            Harry Tuttle in “Brazil” 

Americans didn’t used to like being told what to do.  We fought the Revolutionary War so that we wouldn’t have to take orders from England.  We fought the Civil War to end slavery and make every American free.  We fought two world wars to hold on to that freedom.

And then along came big government.  Medicare to help the old.  Medicaid to help the poor.  Food stamps and medical leave, help for the disabled and guaranteed wages, regulations to reduce pollution and prevent financial wrongdoing.  And much, much more.88468_Words-and-Actions-by-Eric-Allie-Caglecartoons-515x356

Some of it was good.  Some of it was needed.  But much of it wasn’t.  Do we really need more than 80 federal welfare programs to provide money, food, housing, medical care and social services to low-income Americans?  Wouldn’t maybe three or four be more efficient?

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when regulations got the better of us.  You could argue that it goes back to 1930, when the protectionist Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act helped cause the Great Depression and the New Deal made the impact worst.  You could argue that it was during the ’60s, when the Great Society programs and the War on Poverty took place.  As we (and many others) pointed out last year, during the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, after spending $20.7 trillion (based on 2011 dollars), the poverty level today is essentially unchanged at about 15% of the American population. (more…)

What’s Your Platform?

Monday, August 8th, 2016

“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”                                                                   John Sharp Williams

We’ve made our disapproval of both presidential candidates clear, but suggested that, given this year’s poor choices, voters consider the platforms of both parties before deciding how to vote.

Last week, we dissected the Democratic platform, and concluded that the party’s problems extend beyond having an untrustworthy candidate.  While both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump deserve their high unfavorable ratings, the party platforms showcase the differences between the two parties.Trump

If a Congressional majority is from the same party as the president, the party platform provides a guide for what to expect.  Neither candidate, if elected, is likely to veto major legislation that’s overwhelmingly approved by his or her own party and both have signed off on their party’s platform.

Based solely on the party platform, if you want slow growth, higher taxes, more government and an activist Supreme Court with little regard for the U.S. Constitution, vote for Hillary.  It’s all outlined in the platform, which makes 10 references to the right to unionize, but not a single word about the need for tort reform.

While there’s no guarantee that if Donald Trump is elected president the economy will grow again, the Republican platform at least doesn’t abandon the free-market capitalism and Constitutional rights that have made this country the freest and most prosperous country in history. (more…)

No Hope and No Change

Monday, August 1st, 2016

Finally, the candidates are no longer presumptive.

American voters and their delegates have chosen, yet somehow we’ve ended up with candidates from both parties that almost no one likes. Both are liars. Both are power-hungry narcissists. Both have questionable morality. Most of us would use the term “sleazy” to describe actions both have taken to add to their personal wealth. Few of us would trust either of them enough to buy a used car from them.

But come November, barring a third-party candidate, a coup or an act of God, we’ll be choosing either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump as president. If our founding fathers were alive today, they might be thinking that a monarchy doesn’t seem so bad after all. Never has the phrase “lesser of two evils” been so literal.Hillary

So which candidate is the greater lesser?  Or, more to the point, which candidate should get your vote?

One way to decide is to review the platforms each party passed at this year’s convention. A party’s platform, of course, is just a guide. Either candidate, if elected president, may ignore the party platform. Congress will have an influence, too, even if the next president follows President Obama’s precedent and pretends that Congress doesn’t exist. (more…)