Public Choice Economics Explains Government Failure

 By: George Noga – July 1, 2013
       The science of economics, far from being dismal, can be truly exciting; it offers much more than arcane supply and demand curves. In recent years economists have captured the public imagination with books such as Freakonomics, Super Freakonomics, More Guns – Less Crime and More Sex is Safer Sex. They are popular because they use the tools of economics, including rigorous logic and analysis, to reach what often are counter intuitive, but valid, conclusions.
     So it is with public choice economics. In the private sector, theoretically correct economic solutions usually are positively correlated with real world decisions In the public sector however, there is a huge chasm between the correct theoretical (economic) solutions and the choices made by decision makers, i.e. politicians. Public choice economics explains this chasm.
      Many citizens, particularly young people and liberals, have an infatuation with government. They see elected officials as benevolent, dispassionate planners looking out for ideal social outcomes as contrasted with self-interested actors in the private sector. Yet we constantly are bumfuzzled by political decisions contrary to all logic and national self interest.
“We constantly are bumfuzzled by politicians acting illogically.”
     Why is private sector decision making far superior to government? Business ownership and governance do a much better job of aligning business and personal objectives and incentives so that decision makers choose the economically (theoretically) correct decision. In government there is a wide gulf between self interest and public interest.
      In both government and business, decision makers usually decide on the basis of personal risks, rewards and incentives; this is embedded in human nature and is immutable. The private sector understands this. The founders of our country understood this, hence our constitutional system of federalism, limited government and checks and balances. Public choice economics explains why government fails us; consider five tenets from public choice economics.
  1. This comes as no surprise but politicians are far more interested in winning the next election than in doing the right thing. Their desire to win elections far outstrips their duty to the country. Their personal incentives are grossly misaligned with the public interest.

  2. Politics is extremely shortsighted, favoring debt financing over taxes; that explains why we have had deficits in 47 of the last 52 years. Politicians love to make unfunded  promises such as unsustainable pensions and benefits. They want to provide immediate benefits while borrowing, hiding or deferring the costs as far into the future as possible.

  3. Special interest groups and rent seekers (those who extract value from government without giving value in return – such as public sector unions) dominate the process. Politicians always favor highly concentrated and organized groups (that return the favor in various ways) at the public expense and contrary to the public interest. A great example is sugar subsidies where a few growers share nearly $1 billion a year in added profits while all 310 million of us Americans pay $30 too much for sugar each year.

  4. There is a myth that central planning leads to good decisions. This ignores the real world preferences of real people, creates perverse incentives and disincentives and inevitably creates a myriad of unintended consequences. The real world is far more complex and dynamic than any central planner or computer model can ever simulate.

  5. Whereas in business the culture is to quickly recognize and to cut losses, the incentive in government is to deny anything is a blunder and continue to throw more money at it.
      Public choice economics can lead to better decisions if we give it heed. We must recognize  economic science is just as applicable to government as it is to business. We must understand  human nature has not changed since the dawn of time. People are people and they do not suddenly become benighted when they enter public service. We need to return to the system  envisioned by the founders where government is so limited as to minimize the harm it wreaks. Failing that, we must closely align the risks, rewards and incentives of public officials with the long-term public interest – just as the private sector has done so successfully.

Red Light Cameras Increase Death and Injury

By: George Noga – June 24, 2013
        The US Department of Transportation – Federal Highway Administration (“DOT”) has a national study assessing safety of red light cameras (“RLCs”). The study, prepared years ago, was buried (hidden?) inside a misnamed (intentionally?) and prolix report. Having read it, I can see why DOT never wanted it to see the light of day.
      In the US there are 100,000 red light crashes each year with many thousands of injuries and 1,000 deaths. Per the DOT study, the presence of RLCs at intersections actually increased – that’s right, increased – deaths and injuries a whopping 24%!
“Red light cameras are all about money – not safety.”
       If there ever was doubt RLCs are about money and not safety as claimed, such doubt is dispelled by the DOT study. In particular, rear end crashes (but not right-angle crashes) spike as drivers develop dangerously hard braking patterns. Let’s follow the money. In Florida RLCs  generate an estimated $250 million (quarter-billion) annually in 70 jurisdictions.
      As drivers adjust to RLCs however, revenue falls off. In Tampa, state and local authorities responded by shortening the length of yellow lights by 1.5 seconds, lowering the time well below the state minimum. They took this action knowing full well it would increase death and injury – and, in fact, at least one death is attributable to the shortening of the yellow lights.
      It is proven that longer yellow lights make intersections safer although they also make RLCs unprofitable. When the Georgia legislature mandated an increase of 1 second for yellow lights, many jurisdictions in that state terminated their now unprofitable RLC programs. Moreover, most yellow lights are set based on the posted speed limit rather than on the actual driving speed. Simply adjusting the yellow lights to real driving conditions vastly increases safety.
“Governments choose tax money over safety of motorists.”
       In order disingenuously to circumvent numerous safeguards in the US and state constitutions, government jurisdictions treat RLC offenses as civil code violations – akin to not mowing your lawn often enough. This means even serious violations are not reported to insurance companies and don’t count against the driving record of the offender. Ask yourself: is this the behavior of organizations that claim the primary purpose of RLCs is public safety?
     As with many government programs, RLCs are based on lies and misinformation. It is all about the money, not public safety. In fact, as described supra, governments intentionally make driving more hazardous by shortening yellow lights. Governments’ cold calculus values tax dollars much more than the lives and safety of  its citizens. RLC programs are nothing more than unethical, questionably legal (for now) government racketeering. And now, thanks to the DOT study, we know they are dangerous as well.

Lessons From the Bangladesh Tragedy

By: George Noga – June 17, 2013

    Our hearts go out to the victims of the building collapse in Bangladesh; they were hard workers striving simply to build a better future. The government building inspectors and all others who are complicit deserve severe punishment. However, it is crucial we learn the correct lessons from the workers’ terrible sacrifice. The media and their liberal camp followers have been quick to draw conclusions and to apportion blame; among the things they believe are:

  1. Greedy capitalists choose to pay subsistence wages for working in intolerable conditions;
  2. Capitalists’ ill-gotten gains can be used for higher wages and better working conditions;
  3. Desperate conditions in Bangladesh are due to an absence of government regulation;
  4. Globalization and free trade harm the poor and exploit child labor; and
  5. Boycotts of companies that sell products made in bad conditions help the poor.

    Each and every one of the above beliefs is wrong; they are voodoo economics and the consequences of acting on these beliefs is highly destructive. The masses in Bangladesh already are living at bare subsistence; anything that increases the cost of employing them – be it higher wages or better conditions – comes at their expense and results in unemployment. The higher the price of anything, the less will be bought; this applies universally including in Bangladesh.

“Economic Liberty – not government intervention – creates wealth.”

    Everyone desires higher wages and better working conditions for third-world workers. Ignoring the laws of economics (media and liberals) only worsens the situation. To actually bring about such results  requires the maximum degree of economic freedom and the dead minimum of government and outside interference. We have seen time and time again – in Hong Kong, South Korea, India, and now China that within one generation workers are much better off. New factories open with more advanced equipment and competition for labor intensifies leading to higher wages. As wages rise, workers are willing to trade off for better conditions.

Globalization – Free Trade – Child Labor – Boycotts

    Globalization and free trade benefit the poor in particular. To the chagrin of elitists, the poor grasp this viscerally; that’s why, inter alia, they embrace Wal-Mart. The greatest beneficiaries are those who live in poor countries (including Bangladesh) with whom we trade. Voluntary labor – yes including children – and even at low wages and less than ideal conditions – is not exploitative.  Workers choose to work because it is better than what they had before  and offers a path to a better life. This is how they work their way out of poverty.

    Workers (including children) in Dickensian England were better off in the factories than the life they voluntarily left. It was the same in the United States where child labor was common until the early part of the twentieth century. My uncle began working in the coal mines at age six because young children with their small, lithe bodies could crawl into small places.

“Who do you trust to look out for children: government or parents?”

    In England and the US, child labor had vanished well before the passage of child labor laws. As soon as humanly possible, parents remove their children from the labor force. It comes down to who do you trust to have the best interests of children at heart – their parents or government?

   Boycotts are primarily the province of economically illiterate movie stars with too much time on their hands. Even if a boycott could be effective, the greatest harm would befall the displaced workers trying desperately to lift their families out of poverty. Low income Americans also are harmed by having to pay more for many products just to pander to the falsetto angst of Hollywood types who feel but do not think.

   The media and liberals set up straw men, in this case greedy businessmen, and then rail against them. They don’t understand economics and they don’t know what they don’t know. They ignorantly call for boycotts that harm those they seek to help. Then, satisfied they have demonstrated their compassion and good intentions, they retreat back inside their plastic bubble where life is so much simpler than in the real world, where thinking rather than feeling counts.

When Debt Becomes Equal to GDP

By: George Noga – June 10, 2013

     Having blogged extensively about the crisis of spending, debt and deficits, I am constantly alert for new perspectives to present the crisis in terms easier to understand. I have discovered one compelling new way to do this and it is presented herein.

       First however, the media have widely reported the  decline in the projected federal deficit which normally would be welcome news. Please note I referred to the projected deficit; the actual deficit continues its inexorable march to oblivion. The decline is due to two factors: (1) higher tax collections in late 2012 in advance of the Obama tax increases; and (2) payments from Fannie Mae. Both are one-time phenomena. So you may wonder, won’t the tax increases permanently shrink the deficit? If you believe thusly, you have forgotten Hauser’s Law which teaches tax rates may rise or fall, but the overall percent of revenue to GDP remains unchanged.

The Special Mathematics of a 100% Debt/GDP Ratio

    Now for the fresh perspective. As the Debt/GDP ratio approaches 100%, some simple but gripping mathematics come into play. First, a few numbers. GDP now is $16 trillion and the public debt is $12 trillion (75% ratio). At the end of Obama’s term GDP will be $17 trillion, assuming a perhaps optimistic 2.0% compound growth rate. The public debt also will be right at $17 trillion based on continued annual structural deficits of just under $1 trillion combined with the frightening demographics and high annual compound growth of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and ObamaCare. Please note I use public debt and not total debt; this is because we must pay interest only on the public portion – a key distinction to bear in mind as you read on.

    When the interest-bearing public debt equals GDP, the math gets interesting. Historically, the average maturity of US government debt is 5 years, while the average interest rate is 6%. When public debt equals GDP in 2016-2017, we can make the following observations.

“When debt and GDP are the same, the economy must grow at a rate  equal to the composite rate on the debt to prevent a death spiral.”

    First, the economy must grow at the same rate as the overall interest rate on government debt to keep from exploding interest costs and the deficit. If interest rates revert to the historic average of 6% while GDP grows at 2%, this will, ceteris paribus, result in a 4% larger deficit. At $17 trillion, the annual debt service (interest) will be over $1 trillion with 4%, or $680 billion, resulting from the gap between GDP growth and interest rates. Note: Interest now consumes less than 1% of GDP because of historically low interest rates – which will not last.

    Second, if (miracle of miracles) the interest rate becomes equal to GDP growth, the entire benefits of the expansion of the US economy are offset by and consumed by higher debt service. To put it straight: the US economy never can grow net of interest. One can only imagine the impact of this on unemployment and every other measure of economic well being.

“If both GDP growth and interest rates were at their historic averages, there would be a differential of -2.7% , adding $400 billion a year to the deficit.”

    Third, again using historic data, if the US economy grew at its average post WWII rate of 3.3%  (phat chance) and also experienced its average interest rate of 6%, that would result in a  differential of -2.7%, i.e. debt service would explode by nearly $400 billion more each year compounded. Even if economic growth was high at say 3+%, interest rates would be higher given the concomitant strong economy. Thus, even under such sanguine conditions, debt service would grow much faster than the economy resulting in a debt death spiral.

    I hope the above perspective helps readers better understand why countries whose Debt/GDP ratios blow past 90% of their economies rarely, if ever, recover. These United States of America are headed toward a 100% Debt/GDP ratio by the end of the current presidential term. The only alternatives are: (1) massive spending cuts on the order of 30% which will wreck the social contract; (2) Draconian tax increases which will tank the economy further; (3) runaway inflation; (4) repudiation of the debt; and (5) a lost generation much like Greece is experiencing today. In fact, we are likely to experience several of the aforementioned perils. Avoiding widespread civil unrest and maintaining the rule of law will be no small feat.

Please Print This Email!

By: George Noga – June 1, 2013

      How often do you receive paternalistic, proselytizing and presumptive emails, both personal and commercial, that contain animadversions in the form of footnotes or subscripts exhorting you to “do not print” the email to “protect the environment”? If you’re like me, it’s far too often. This is nothing more than your friends or the businesses you deal with gratuitously foisting their politics on you.

   Friends or companies, who normally would not initiate a political discussion, somehow believe it is acceptable to derogate you thusly. Businesses that do this would not deign to attach email subscripts urging you to vote a certain way. They would not presume to lecture you about abortion, gun control or gay marriage. Yet somehow they arrogantly believe it is copacetic to inflict their somewhat extreme environmental views about paper products on you.

   I decided to fight back. Upon receiving an offending email, I always attach (without comment) my own footnotes to the reply; I have one for personal emails and one for business. The following paragraph contains my footnote for personal emails.

Footnote or Subscript for Personal Emails

    Please feel free to print this email along with all the attachments. Trees are a farmed product grown expressly for paper. It makes no more sense to conserve paper to save trees than it makes to conserve cloth to save cotton. Paper is natural, organic, biodegradable, renewable and sustainable. Working forests employ millions of Americans and help the environment by providing clean air and water, wildlife habitat and carbon storage. There are more trees planted commercially each year (by a vast margin) than are consumed; there are more trees than 100 years ago. In a very real sense, failure to print can hasten the conversion of forests to strip malls and parking lots. Therefore, by all means print this email and take satisfaction in knowing you are doing your part to help the environment and to save our American forests.”

Subscript for Business Emails

    For commercial emails I use the above paragraph, i.e. the same one as for personal emails. Then I add the following paragraph strictly for business.

   Your company’s email contained a footnote admonishing me not to print it for the ersatz purpose of protecting the environment. By doing this you gratuitously injected contentious and argumentative politics into what should be purely a business relationship. Surely, you would not deign to tell customers how to vote; therefore, why do you assume it is acceptable to foist other political views? Politicizing a business relationship is bad business for many reasons:

  1. If your company doesn’t believe this to be a divisive political issue, it is ignorant.
  2. You are wrong; conserving trees grown for paper does not help the environment.
  3. Even if I agreed with your politics, I would deeply resent your presumptive and unwarranted intrusion into my personal life.
  4. Inasmuch as I both disagree with your politics and resent your intrusion – I will not do business with your company and hereby demand you remove my name from all lists.
  5. Injecting politics into business always is a losing proposition. Do your shareholders
  6. know about this and do they approve?”

  You have my permission to use or to modify the above language without attribution. If you disagree with the “do not print” warning or even if you are agnostic or supportive but don’t like people cramming their political views down your throat, then – by all means – fight back!

Note to readers: During the summer months some (but not all) of our blog posts may be updates or revisions of earlier posts – usually from years ago. Our potential readership now is in excess of 100,000 as a result of various electronic journals, websites and other blogs that routinely pick up and republish our posts. Therefore, over 95% of our readers have never seen these posts before and they are just as relevant now as when originally published.

Liberals Live In a Plastic Bubble

Defining Liberalism – Part 3

By: George Noga – March 20, 2013
       Liberalism has much in common with the 1976 movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. The movie’s hero, Tod Lubitch, was born with an improperly functioning immune system; contact with unfiltered air could kill him. Hence, he lives inside a protective bubble insulated from the outside world. Similarly, liberals have a malfunctioning belief system that can’t handle contact with the truth; they live in intellectually isolated, segregated enclaves, i.e. inside a plastic bubble. Most live their entire lives without ever conversing with an evangelical Christian, conservative or tea party supporter. Note: Lyrics are from Eiffel 65: Living in a Bubble.
Living in a bubble baby
A bubble’s no reality
You’ve gotta have a look outside
Nothing in the bubble is the way it is supposed to be
And when it blows, you’ll hit the ground
      Liberals become more isolated than conservatives because of schools, government, media, the workplace, pop culture and even religion. They can’t relate to their fellow Americans in fly-over land. They believe to visit New Mexico you need a passport, visa, interpreter, inoculations, water purification pills and currency exchange. In contrast, conservatives, who also must endure all these liberal institutions, have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of liberalism. The following details how liberals construct their plastic bubble.
     Education: Most everyone attends K-12 public schools and colleges which are highly liberal government institutions. A liberal curriculum written by liberal professors is taught by liberal unionist teachers. Political correctness and liberal mythology permeate everything. They are taught that there are no universal values except that there are no values. It is like Lake Wobegone, without winners and losers and every child is above average.
     Media, Pop Culture and Religion: The ultra left wing media solidify liberal lies and myths. Businesses always are portrayed as despoiling villains while crusading journalists and government activists are saviors of the planet. Pop culture and the media are symbiotic. Even most (non evangelic) religions have mutated their beliefs to accommodate liberal statism.
The bubble doesn’t make you but it’s you that makes the bubble
And you better try to remember that it’s in your head
The bubble is a very tricky thing all full of hype and it is not easy
To try to see the way things are they’ll always be
       Government and Workplace: An ever bigger share of Americans work for government at all levels; it is now approaching 17% of all workers. Public sector workers now are heavily unionized and see their interests diametrically opposed to the private sector. Most everything government does promotes the liberal agenda. Political correctness, speech codes and sensitivity training now have hit the workplace resulting in a highly liberal work environment.
      The ubiquitous and powerful combination of schools, universities, media, pop culture, government, religion and the workplace, along with physical isolation, create the bubble. Once inside, escape is nigh impossible, nor do the denizens of the bubble even realize they are in a bubble. It is like they exist in a parallel universe. They do not know what they do not know. No one they meet and nothing they ever read or see forces them to confront their ignorance.
Living in a bubble baby
But it’s not the place to be
Cause it’s a place of lies and hype
Don’t believe the bubble cause it’s nothing  but a dream
And when it blows you’ll be alone
       On those rare occasions when liberals are confronted by truth, they don’t know how to react; they don’t realize how isolated they have become.  Just like Tod Lubitch, the boy in the plastic bubble, contact with unfiltered truth could kill their liberal beliefs. Consequently, their first instinct is to deny the truth; after all, nothing in their bubble has prepared them for it. Their next instinct is to call the speaker of truths racist, homophobic, sexist, ignorant and evil.
      Tod Lubitch finally left his bubble, but few liberals ever do. After all, life is more comfortable inside the  bubble than venturing out into the real world where things are not so simplistic and dogmatic and some thinking is required. Liberals don’t know what they don’t know. They prefer life inside the bubble even though that life is a lie because liberalism is a lie.

The Lies of Liberalism

Defining Liberalism – Part 2

By: George Noga – March 8, 2013
        We previously defined liberalism as a lie based on obvious contradictions and disdain for facts; let’s get specific. Liberals can’t be honest about their beliefs and must cloak and misdirect them in various ways. They favor abortion including termination of babies born alive during a botched abortion, a/k/a infanticide. They are sanguine about 50 million legal US abortions since Roe v. Wade but oppose capital punishment of which there have been about 1,300 during the same time period. Instead of directly making the case for their beliefs, they adopt palliative terms such as pro choice and women’s health. Of course, they don’t really mean pro choice as they strenuously oppose a woman’s choice about where to send her kids to school, owning a gun, having medical insurance, joining a labor union and even what to eat and drink.
      They readily embrace absurd contradictions; it is okay for a very young girl to have an abortion without parental knowledge or consent but don’t protest if the same girl is arrested for selling lemonade in her own front yard. In the craziest contradiction of all, liberals advocate gender-selective abortion that results in culling girls from the population as is commonplace in China, India and now among certain ethnic groups in America. This is nothing more than asserting we must accept the systematic killing of young girls in order to protect their rights, i.e. we must destroy the village in order to save it. How’s that for modern feminist thinking?
“Liberals advocate gender-selective abortion, i.e. the systematic abortion of 
baby girls arguing they must abort the girls in order to protect their rights.”
      Liberals voluntarily do business with Apple, Disney, Wal-Mart and countless other companies; they love their quality, value and customer service. They also must interact with DMV, USPS and IRS. Immediately following Hurricane Katrina, Wal-Mart had trucks loaded with food and water ready to help victims. Within 24 hours of Sandy, Verizon had 95% of its cell phone service running. Government did nothing. Yet liberals demonize business and prefer government; they believe corporations create oppression and governments create prosperity. They are ignorant of public choice economics that proves politicians’ and bureaucrats’ actions are based on self interest to maximize their own power and are opposed to the public interest.
      Following are a demi-dozen other liberal lies and the list (for space limitations) omits mention of energy, guns, climate change, public unions, the debt crisis and a vast array of other issues where liberal thought consists of legerdemain, prestidigitation and bald-faced lies.
  1. The US has the most progressive tax system in the world; the rich pay a higher share of taxes than in any other country and our corporate tax rate is the highest in the developed world. Nevertheless, liberals argue vociferously that the well off don’t pay their fair share.

  2. Liberals are for diversity in every possible way except for thought where they oppose it.

  3. Organic food fails every independent taste test versus conventionally grown food; isn’t healthier; requires more land; is worse for the environment; and costs more. Yet, it is a darling of liberals who oppose genetically modified food that actually is better for people.

  4. Every one of the top 100 measures of human and environmental well being is the best it has been in the past 50-75 years and is getting better all the time. In the face of all this, liberals continue to argue counter factually that things are bad and getting even worse.

  5. Our schools are terrible and getting worse. This has nothing to do with funding; it is the fault of educrats who regard it as a jobs program for adults and teachers unions that stand in the schoolhouse door blocking poor children from leaving. School choice is the civil rights issue of our age and liberals are on the wrong side despite their falsetto empathy.

  6. Photo IDs are needed to buy tobacco, alcohol, drive, cash checks, fly, open bank accounts and attend the Democratic convention. Liberals believe it is racist to require one to vote.
     In what may be the biggest whopper of them all, most liberals refuse to call themselves liberal, opting instead for non descriptive and misleading terms such as progressive, non-aligned  and independent. Not only is liberalism a lie, liberals lie about being liberal.
Coming next week: The final part in the series defining liberalism: Life in a Plastic Bubble.

Liberalism is a Lie

Defining Liberalism – Part 1

By: George Noga – March 1, 2013
       This posting is the first of three that examines and defines modern liberalism. We mustn’t however allow ourselves to become confused by political labels such as conservative, fascist, communist, liberal, progressive, centrist, populist, democrat, republican, libertarian, socialist and anarchist. Labels notwithstanding, mankind always has been divided into two camps.
      Robert Heinlein (Stranger in a Strange Land) wrote: “The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.” Grover Norquist stated it simply: people divide politically between the “leave us alone” and the “takings” coalitions. Thomas Jefferson nailed it 250 years ago: “Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe . . . depository of the public interests. In every country these two parties exist. Call them  . . . by whatever name you please. they are the same parties and pursue the same object.”
       Modern liberalism wants people to be controlled, doesn’t want to leave them alone and wants to take from them. As Jefferson described, it fears and distrusts the people and desires to arrogate all power. Today’s liberals believe in the supremacy of the state and thereby reject the principles of America’s founding documents. They must control individuals in order to control society with the aim of bringing about their vision of Utopia – inevitably resulting in hell on earth as with all Utopias throughout human history. This leads to a soft tyranny (which we already have) and ultimately results in a hard tyranny, i.e. some form of totalitarianism.
     This is a good beginning point but there is much more to understanding and defining modern day liberalism. It is anti-empirical, inconsistent with objective reality and driven by emotion; it eschews logic, reason and persuasion in favor of compulsion. It is all about feeling and its credo is sentio ergo sum, i.e. I feel therefore I am. Thus, liberalism can be understood and defined as an emotional state characterized by obvious contradictions, disdain for facts, Utopian fantasies, obsessive desires to control and to take from others and antipathy for all who differ.
Liberalism: An emotional state characterized by obvious contradictions, disdain for truth, Utopian fantasies, obsessive desires
to control and to take from others and antipathy for all who differ.”
      As accurate as the preceding definition is, it represents but a  way station in my grasp of liberalism. My thinking has since evolved to an even higher level and I have come to  understand the true nature, and hence the ultimate definition, of modern liberalism. Everything about it is based on lies. Liberalism has been mugged by reality, although none of its acolytes dares acknowledge it, preferring instead prevarication, deceit, ad hominem attacks and appeals to emotion. The true definition of liberalism thus requires only four words: Liberalism is a lie!
       In part two (next week) I describe in detail how and why liberalism is a lie. The third and final part (two weeks hence) describes how contemporary liberalism has become so insular that its adherents live lives that resemble that of the “Boy in the Plastic Bubble“. Stay tuned!

Lives of Quiet Desperation

By: George Noga – February 15, 2013

      You could see it in their faces; the look was unmistakable. I noticed it throughout our trip but it was confirmed by Mario on our final day in Europe. My wife and I were staying in Paris and took a hotel shuttle to the airport. We were the only 2 passengers on the shuttle van for the 30 minute ride and immediately struck up a conversation with Mario, our driver.

     Mario, age 33, was trilingual and personable. We soon learned he was from Italy where he  had completed his schooling but moved to France because there were no jobs in Italy. His job driving the shuttle van had zero possibility for upward mobility and he expected to remain in the same menial, monotonous position his entire working life. He was living with his girlfriend but stated he had no intention ever to marry; he was adamant about never having children. He had already begun to think about his pension which was at least a quarter century in the future.

     Contemplate Mario’s situation. He left his native country and family for a low paying, dead end job in another country where he never would totally belong. He already had driven the van for 14 years and was facing another 29 years – a total of 60,000 hotel/airport round trips. He would subsist perpetually on the economic fringe of society, eschewing wife and children. Yet, according to his calculus, this hardscrabble existence was better than the life he left behind in Italy. Multiply Mario by tens of millions of others in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and elsewhere and you will begin to understand the magnitude of the quiet desperation I witnessed.

“We are a lost generation for sure.”

    Take Carlos from Madrid, who was quoted in a recent Bloomberg report. He graduated from university but faced Spain’s 52% unemployment rate for those under age 25. He now washes and chops vegetables for a salad bar in London. Of the 17 employees, 13 are from Spain, including 3 from Carlos’s university. “We are a lost generation for sure“, Carlos stated.

     As bad as the situation is currently, it is certain to get far worse as governments and central banks impose anti-growth policies including massive tax hikes and pile on ever more onerous regulations. Even the courts add to the perdition. The European Court of Justice just ruled workers who don’t feel well during vacations are entitled to a paid makeup vacation day for every day they were ill. Meanwhile, thanks to many millions like Mario and Carlos, Europe’s demographics are imploding. Unfortunately, Europe’s problems have reached the USA.

America is Becoming More Like Europe

    More and more Americans are working part time and in low wage jobs. Our unemployment rate is 15% when including involuntary part-time workers. Unemployment for those under age 25 is higher at 16% and that number is set to soar as ObamaCare kicks in and the cost of insuring full time workers skyrockets. America gradually is descending into a low wage, part-time economy with stagnant growth accompanied by decreasing social mobility.

     Obama’s policies fix these trends in place for at least the next 5 years – 4 more years of Obama and at least one year to change course. The high rate of government spending, massive debt, huge deficits and higher taxes are certain to result in tepid economic growth. We will be  lucky to average 2% growth per year and to avoid recession and/or an  existential debt crisis.

     In short, the youth (and increasingly the middle class) of America are becoming more like Mario and Carlos. They will be part of a lost generation and it is just a matter of time until we will begin to see the unmistakable looks of quiet desperation in our children’s faces.

Clinging to the Global Warming Religion

By: George Noga – February 1, 2013

      Why do some people still cling to the man-made global warming myth? As the headline above suggests, it has transmogrified into a religion. As all religions, it is based on faith in things unseen; it has its high priests and dogma. It is replete with its own sacraments (bio-fuel, windmills, ethanol) and demons (coal, oil, CO2). As a religion its core beliefs are unassailable and impervious to all countervailing facts and logic. It is harsh toward apostates, labeling them deniers. However, its high priests and numeraries succumb to all the usual temptations of money, power, politics and arrogance.

     Their co-coreligionists, i.e. the state sycophant media, serve as enablers by their grotesquely distorted reporting. Let’s examine recent reportage (and non reportage) to see how this works.

  • An acolyte of the warmist religion recently emailed me, gleefully citing a media story about the melting of the polar ice cap. That’s true enough insofar as it goes. However, the media never report that the antarctic ice cap has been increasing for many years. And oh by the way, the antarctic ice cap is 10 times larger that its arctic counterpart.
  • Recently the media have been flogging the story about 2012 being the hottest year in the lower 48 states by a full degree Fahrenheit. Again, a true statement. But did the media report 2008 was cooler than 2006 by 2 degrees? Did they report 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 all were cooler than 1998 by a greater margin than 2012 was hotter than 1998? Did they note the continental US is only 1.58% of  earth’s land mass?
  • It is an uncontested fact there has been no warming trend for the past 16 years. So, what does the media do? They glom on to the fact that the decade including 1998 was the warmest on record. Given 1998 was the hottest year, it follows statistically almost automatically the same decade would be the warmest decade. This media misdirection is solely to assuage readers’ anxiety from unwanted facts counter to their religion.
  • What the media ignore can be equally significant. The US Department of Energy reports US CO2 emissions are the lowest in 20 years (by 14%) despite 50 million more people. You didn’t read this in your local paper because these incredible gains result from free market hydraulic fracking and not windmills, solar or government diktats. By the way, have the media reported it has been nearly 2,300 days since a Cat 3 storm hit the USA? So much for climate change and the purported increase in extreme weather events.
  • Arguably the greatest failure of the global warming religion (and its media stooges) is to account for temperature readings from planets and moons in our solar system. NASA has taken readings from several bodies over many years and they closely track changes in Earth’s temperature. Unless there are CO2 belching SUVs on Mars and Triton, this can mean only one thing: temperature changes result from solar activity. When faced with such overwhelming evidence, warmists do what one would expect – they totally ignore it.

       Thus far I have failed to mention the ultimate apostasy, i.e. the amount of warming now projected for the remainder of the century is a net benefit to mankind. I am going to miss the warming religion when its final adherent figuratively closes the door and turns out the lights much as I have come to miss the former Soviet Union. They have much in common. Both were religions based on deeply flawed premises; they became funny (in a pathetic way) as their stars faded. And, they were such inviting targets to write about. But religions never die and there are a few die-hard commies around as there will be a similar number of warmists in a few years.

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