The Utter Mendacity of the ‘Buy American’ Campaign

Take a look at what these gullible dumbassess over in the Snow White streets of Dallas are doing. No really. They’re emptying their home of anything foreign made. Because an “economist said that if everyone bought America made goods the economy would turn around faster.”

It’s the usual crap about how evil companies are outsourcing manufacturing jobs to third world hellholes and costing America jobs and money. (Seriously, man. You get 12 years of free education, endless community college programs, free education grants, public libraries and state level workforce training centers that are free. If after all that the best you can do is a job that an illiterate peasant living in a dirt shack can do, you have bigger problems.)

theytookourjobsThis is not just stupid. It’s absolutely wrong. Manufacturing in America is at an all time high by every measure except jobs. That’s because we’re really good at being productive, most of it is high-tech, and we have robots. Lots of robots. Robots that haven’t yet gone all SkyNet anyway.

Let me allow someone smarter to point out the obvious:

Ugh. Where to begin? Back in the “golden age” of 1960, when imports were oddities to marvel over in a disdainful way, the per-capita U.S. income was $2,914. In 2009, with imports ubiquitous, per-capita income was $46,411. (Economic Report of the President, 2010, Tables B-1 and B-34). In real, inflation-adjusted terms, even with a U.S. population increase from 181 million to 307 million, per-capita incomes in 2009 were almost triple what they were in 1960 ($42,277 vs. $15,669 in 2005 dollars—ERP, 2010, Tables B-2 and B-34). Oh, if only we could replicate the relative poverty, the limited consumer choices, the inefficient production processes, the massive trade barriers that compelled Americans to buy American, and the uneconomic work rules and wages commanded by once-powerful private sector labor unions. In 1960, before real economic liberalization spawned cultural and social liberalization, Diane Sawyer would never have dreamed of being a network news anchor, if she even dared to entertain the concept of working outside of the home. How can she pine for such an era?

It’s frustrating that so much research refuting the myth of manufacturing decline and supporting the conclusion that U.S. manufacturing is thriving—and is in fact leading the world in terms of value of output—is simply neglected by a media that is more committed to scaring than informing. Today Americans are less likely to find in their homes products manufactured in the United States because U.S. manufacturers have moved on to producing higher value products. American manufacturing isn’t focused on products that consumers find in retail stores, like furniture, hand tools, sporting goods, flatware, draperies, carpeting and clothes. American factories produce more value than any other country’s factories by focusing on producing the highest value products: pharmaceuticals, chemicals, airplanes, sophisticated componentry, technical textiles, and other items often sold directly to other businesses.

I and others have been making these points for several years, as U.S. manufacturing continues to thrive in every metric…except employment. Manufacturing employment peaked in 1979 and has been on a downward trajectory ever since. But that is the point that eludes ABC and everyone else who thinks U.S. manufacturing’s best days are in the past. Making more with less is the goal! That’s how an economy grows! The political imperative of “putting people back to work” regardless of the economic value of that work–remember the so-called stimulus?– spits in the face of economics. The fact that Americans are unemployed speaks to a mismatch of skills demanded and skills available, as well as to a business and regulatory environment that dissuades investment and hiring.

ABC’s proposition that Americans would support 10,000 new jobs by spending just $3.33 more (per year?) on U.S.-made goods obviously fails to consider the jobs lost by switching from imports to domestic or switching from savings (which is just money used for investment, which already supports jobs) to spending. Depriving foreigners of U.S. dollars just deprives U.S. producers of export sales.

Truth Comes Out in…Mother Jones?

Weird that this was the first media outlet to get it right.

At 2:00 a.m. on Saturday—about eight hours before he allegedly killed six people and wounded 14, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), in Tucson—Jared Lee Loughner phoned an old and close friend with whom he had gone to high school and college. The friend, Bryce Tierney, was up late watching TV, but he didn’t answer the call. When he later checked his voice mail, he heard a simple message from Loughner: “Hey man, it’s Jared. Me and you had good times. Peace out. Later.”

That was it. But later in the day, when Tierney first heard about the Tucson massacre, he had a sickening feeling: “They hadn’t released the name, but I said, ‘Holy shit, I think it’s Jared that did it.’” Tierney tells Mother Jones in an exclusive interview that Loughner held a years-long grudge against Giffords and had repeatedly derided her as a “fake.” Loughner’s animus toward Giffords intensified after he attended one of her campaign events and she did not, in his view, sufficiently answer a question he had posed, Tierney says. He also describes Loughner as being obsessed with “lucid dreaming”—that is, the idea that conscious dreams are an alternative reality that a person can inhabit and control—and says Loughner became “more interested in this world than our reality.” Tierney adds, “I saw his dream journal once. That’s the golden piece of evidence. You want to know what goes on in Jared Loughner’s mind, there’s a dream journal that will tell you everything.”

Full story on their site. And everyone using this incident to push their political points can suck it.

Texas Budget Has Problems; Krugman Has Pants on Fire

From Dave Cavannaugh at Reason:

In his column Nobel from Los Tiempos de Neuva York, Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, the doctor, makes some legitimate criticisms of Perry’s vague budgeting habits before engaging in his newspaper’s long and honored tradition of making up facts:

But reality has now intruded, in the form of a deficit expected to run as high as $25 billion over the next two years.

And that reality has implications for the nation as a whole. For Texas is where the modern conservative theory of budgeting — the belief that you should never raise taxes under any circumstances, that you can always balance the budget by cutting wasteful spending — has been implemented most completely. If the theory can’t make it there, it can’t make it anywhere.

How bad is the Texas deficit? Comparing budget crises among states is tricky, for technical reasons. Still, data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities suggest that the Texas budget gap is worse than New York’s, about as bad as California’s, but not quite up to New Jersey levels.

“About as bad as California’s”? Not quite. California’s projected deficit over the next two years is a whopping 29 percent of revenues. The worst-case interpretation of Combs’ figures has Texas with a 17 percent deficit, and the actual current deficit is a mere 5 percent. As Combs points out, the Lone Star State would still be ahead even under the worst circumstances because, unlike California, Texas has a real “rainy day fund” and has kept it funded. If Krugman’s $25-billion guesstimate (which is not to be found anywhere in Combs’ review) were to come true, Austin would still be able to reduce it by $9 billion by drawing on emergency funds.

The contrast is even more striking if you believe there is more to the health of a region than the government’s fiscal condition. The worst part of Texas’ job loss appears to be in the past, and unemployment is gradually decreasing. In California it is still increasing. The state’s business community and population continue to grow. They continue to shrivel in the heavy tax states. The problem for the Empire, Golden and Garden States isn’t just that they face present deficits but that their tax bases are not growing. Every year they have fewer and smaller pockets to pick.

That you’ll get different outcomes with different tax policies is an idea Krugman would have understood when he was still doing economics rather than demagoguery. It’s true Texans’ overall tax burden is more than 2 percent lower than Californians’ but the most important differences are in how revenues get collected. In Texas, where property taxes are higher and zoning is looser than in California, land values didn’t zoom as much during the boom, and they haven’t tanked as badly during the bust. By the same token, lack of an income tax makes job and business creation easier. That’s not fiscal-con cant; it’s basic economics. Rick Perry deserves criticism for concealing Texas’ fiscal troubles, but it won’t be time to gloat until people stop voting, with their feet, in favor of his state.

Commenter Knocks Out Professional Columnist

First, the doctrinaire anti-libertarian take from Ezra Klein:

But if the argument is that incremental libertarianism deserves more respect, then it also deserves more accountability. Desperate storytelling about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aside, the financial crisis was, in large part, the product of the idea that massive financial markets that we didn’t understand would effectively regulate themselves. Alan Greenspan, perhaps the only man in America with the unilateral power to have prevented the blowup, has been quite clear on the flaw in his thinking: “Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder’s equity — myself especially — are in a state of shocked disbelief.”

To a first approximation, that was a failure of not just a crucial pillar of libertarian economic thought, but of libertarian practice: We spent the ’90s not just deregulating, but much more dangerously, refusing to enact new regulations even as the financial system changed dramatically. One of the key players there was Sen. Phil Gramm, who certainly has his fans at the Cato Institute. His was the sort of libertarianism that is politically potent because it is backed by lots of money and lots of elites who combine to push it into the public discourse.

Taxes are another example. Plenty of libertarians have lined up for repeated tax cuts under the theory that they would stoke enough growth, and force enough compensatory budget cutting, to put the country on a more sustainable fiscal path. Plenty of wealthy individuals and firms have pumped a lot of money into propagating that theory and rewarding politicians who vote they way it asks them to. That theory, however, has been a disaster as a policy matter, even as the individuals and firms have made a lot of money.

And there’s a lot of power, of course, lined up against anything that gets us close to single-payer health care. Most of the arguments made in that debate are fundamentally libertarian ones: that it will reduce freedom, or that government programs are inevitably bloated and wasteful (“Like going to the DMV? You’ll love government health care!”). Cato’s policy wonks spent much of 2009 on television arguing against reforms that would mean more government intrusion into the marketplace. Politicians and political organizations, meanwhile, received a lot of money and support in exchange for making those arguments. But it’s of course true that America, being the developed country with the least nationalized health-care system, also spends the most and has the highest rate of uninsurance.

And now the inside uppercut from a commenter at Hit and Run.

Klein knows that this country started out a totalitarian regime, with all enterprise centrally planned (if anyone could decipher the 100-plus-year-old Constitution, this would be provable). It’s what built America at its height into a prosperous nation. The billionaire libertarians have been effectively chipping away at that well-ordered machine for years, until we’re left with the hollowed shell of a regulatory state that we now see in smoking ruin before us.

My Book Is Being Shopped Around

My first full-length novel, The Merchant Princes: A Far Ranger Adventure, is being shopped around. I’m closer to getting it published.4460450363_4668c02004_b

It’s a very different 1928. The North American continent is comprised of several rival nations, the Nazis came to power in Germany a decade sooner, and science and the supernatural co-exist.

The Nazis have hatched a plot to raise a legion of undead soldiers. An anti-Nazi faction within-1 the Third Reich recruits a young Prussian doctor, Dr. Kurt von Deitel, to find help in the West to stop this devious plan.auroraheadshot02smalljpeg

Enter Sean Fox Rucker and Jesus D’Anconia Lago, two Great War veterans and freelance pilots who are reluctantly pulled into the quest. They are joined by a brash Greek merchant, a brilliant Jewish cowboy, and the woman who once broke Rucker’s heart.

The heroes race against Nazi clockwork assassins, a charismatic commando, a telekinetic sadist, and transgenic man-beasts known as wehr-wolves.

IMG_1078The quest takes them around the world, with settings both familiar and exotic: Colombia, Austin, dieselpunk_nazithe capital of the Union States in New York City, a floating city over the Caribbean, Rome, and Poenari Castle in Transylvania. Along the way, they encounter well-known historical figures and uncover the shocking truth about the real Spear of Destiny.

german-nazi-airship-color-picture-from-wwii-1The Merchant Princes recaptures the unapologetic adventure, excitement and suspense of the classic pulp fiction of the 1930s and 1940s, along with a healthy dose of steampunk, historical fiction and humor.

LOCKHEED ELECTRA (11)Yet it also alludes to philosophical and moral issues relevant to our world today: the trade-off between security and liberty, the morality of pre-emptive war, and what fundamentally separates good from evil.

3961483861_90e4b233af_bIt’s got Nazis, zombies, cowboys, robots and airships. Isn’t that everything you want in a book?

Obama = Keynesian

Awesome. From the Stewart/Colbert rally…

Anonymous Political Speech Has Honored History

Unless you’re some kind of illiterate hack who hasn’t heard of Publius, Brutus and the other authors of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers.

How Team Left and Team Right Are Screwing Texas Education

Both the left and the right are guilty of manipulating standards, textbooks and curricula to favor their own narrow view of American history, world history, social studies and all the other malleable subjects not math and hard science.

Zombie turns an angry eye towards both the Tweedledees and Tweedledums.

Great read. First in a series.

The Intellectual Marvel That Is TX Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee

She once asked why the Pathfinder didn’t photograph the U.S. flag that was planted on Mars in 1969, and says that Tea Party members are Klansmen without sheets.

Now she tells us that today there are two Vietnams.*

(*For those of you enrolled in or employed by DISD, Vietnam has been united since 1975.)

(h/t Moe Lane)

NYT: All the News Unfit for Informed Readers

In one story we see everything wrong with the sheltered, uninformed readership of the New York Times.


And in one paragraph within that one story, we see what lies at the heart of everything wrong with the New York Times.

But one day it occurred to me: how would they know? All of these buzzy social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter sort of crept up on us. The government never mailed fliers to every household explaining what it’s all about.

Emphasis mine. As if I really needed to add that.

I mean, just, wow.