Thursday, August 18, 2011

Another Billionaire Offers the Country Unsolicited Political Advice

I like Howard Schultz, the billionaire who created the Starbucks chain from scratch.

I like Starbucks stores, and will occasionally spend some of my hard earned money on the over priced coffee and baked goods sold there. It’s an indulgence, I know, but I like the community atmosphere in the stores.

I used to buy Starbucks Coffee at our local grocery store, but I’ve switched recently. I got tired of paying $10 for eleven ounces of quality coffee when about $4 of that price was simply for the brand. I’ve found another brand for $6 and, to my taste buds, it’s just as good as Starbucks.

Now Mr. Schultz has decided to offer the country two pieces of political advice.

1. He’s asking everyone to forego their Constitutional rights to free speech by boycotting donations to all Congressional and Presidential candidates until our national debt issue is properly resolved.

2. He’s asking his fellow employers to start hiring new employees, not because the company needs them, but because the country needs fewer unemployed.

This sort of business “voluntarism” was popularized by Herbert Hoover back in the 1920s and early 1930s. Its prospects for success are as limited today as it was back then.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' Line of Fire here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rachel Maddow and the Anti-Intellectual Left

I’ve been pondering for some time now the need for a Voices of the Tea Party e-book that points out the intellectual weakness of political and economic arguments advanced by the Left in the contemporary public dialogue. As someone who always tries to get the facts of history correct, regardless where they lead, I am frequently dismayed to see how truly anti-intellectual the Left is. They frequently claim to be “seekers of the truth,” but the reality is they’re “protectors of the faith.”

Now comes a challenge to Rachel Maddow, a very smart and clever propagandist employed by MSNBC, from an academic who is committed to the search for the truth. His name is Professor Steve Horwitz. He serves as a Professor and Economics Department Chair at St. Lawrence University, and he’s written extensively on topics of economic policy.

Professor Horwitz heard Rachel Maddow make a false statement on her program recently. Here, in part, is his challenge to her:

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' Line of Fire here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Warren Buffet Takes a Page from Gerard Swope’s Plan

When captains of industry and billionaires offer pronouncements on public policy, their opinions often receive attention out of proportion to their merits. These wise sages must know what they’re talking about, mainstream media pundits argue. After all, they’ve succeeded financially far beyond the rest of us. The same skills that brought them wealth ought to be applicable to public policy, right?

To the contrary.

The acquisition of wealth demonstrates the exercise of skill, perseverance, and perhaps a tad of good fortune. It means that the achiever has a very deep, but narrow knowledge in one area of business endeavor.

Buffet, a savvy investor whose net worth is estimated in the vicinity of $45 billion, tells us that the wealthy should pay more in taxes. But as Tim Carney and Dan Mitchell point out, his knowledge may be deep, but it’s narrow to the point of parochialism.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' Line of Fire here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Upton Redux

Like a bad penny, RINO Congressman Fred Upton (R-Michigan) keeps turning up in some very unexpected places.

In 2007, for instance, he turned up as the co-sponsor of an amendment to ban the current generation of incandescent light bulbs.

In January of this year, he turned up as the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on the promise that he would repeal the incandescent light bulb ban he had sponsored.

In July, he was the mastermind behind the failed strategy to present the light bulb repeal ban for a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives under “suspended” rules. This meant the ban needed a two-thirds vote to pass, which it did not receive. (It did, however, receive a clear majority.)

Now, having performed so well in his other duties this Congress, Speaker Boehner has rewarded Congressman Upton today by naming him to one of the three coveted Republican House seats on the “budget reduction” committee.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' "Line of Fire" here.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

The Hoover Democrats of 2011

At the height of the Depression in June, 1932, Republican President Herbert Hoover decided it was finally time to pay for the additional $1 billion of spending he had persuaded Congress to authorize earlier in the year. The economy was in a downward spiral, having shrunk 20% annually since the Crash of 1929. Unemployment was nearing 20%.

The fiscal year was just coming to an end, and it wasn’t a pretty site. Revenues had plummetted to $1.9 billion, as expenditures jumped to $4.6 billion. The resulting $2.7 billion deficit was the highest in the history of peace time America.

Hoover’s solution for the slide in revenue was to increase income taxes across the board, but especially for the “wealthy.” He persuaded Congress to pass the Revenue Act of 1932 just as the new fiscal year began, and he sat back, waiting for the extra revenues to start rolling in.

Why wouldn’t they?

After all, tax rates for those earning more than $1 million a year increased from 25% to 63%. At every level, the tax code was made “fairer” and more progressive. Estate taxes were doubled, and corporate taxes were also increased.

But a funny thing happened.

Total revenue didn’t increase a penny. The next fiscal year was a mirror of the previous pre-tax increase fiscal year–revenues remained stagnant at $1.9 billion, expenditures were kept at $4.6 billion, and an additional $2.7 billion was added to the deficit.

You can read the rest of this article at Broadside Books' Line of Fire here.