On Some Economic Questions

The US economy is mired in a slump, the European economic crisis add to the woes, and Americans are wondering, “Jobs, jobs, jobs – where art thou job.” Americans have lost over 8 million jobs, yet the economy has created on 2.5 million since the upturn.

For starters, the private sector (not the public sector) is the main job source in a capitalist economy. No matter if consumers are individuals or corporate, increased consumer demand for goods and services is the main fuel for hiring and investment. In other words, regardless of all the partisan talk, government can only do so much. Therefore, it is time to ask some questions.

Reducing payroll taxes for employees increases the money available to workers, but what if workers save more because of the uncertainties in their life?

Tax credits to companies hiring those unemployed for 6 months is a noble thought, but this would primarily fill a vacant existing position – thus not a new job. Do you think any company would create a steady stream of hire-to-fire so can get more credits?

Why should a company expand payroll if their demand for the good or service has not increased?

With demand driving growth, how do reduced regulations increase demand?

Companies are achieving more with less, and are using offshore workers to lower costs. Even with the GOP talking points of lower taxes, less regulations, loosened lending practices, and increased demand, what guarantee do the taxpayers have that the companies will invest in American workers?

A strong financial sector is the foundation for a capitalist economy. With a large reason for our economic troubles directly aimed at the roulette nature of the financial industry and their pseudo-promotion of the housing industry, how can returning to the less-regulated casino environment be good for the economy?

If the housing/building industry drives the demand for much of the economy, what is the plan to stimulate this industry?

Taxes decreases must increase revenue to federal, state, and local governments. What if they don’t?

Infrastructure projects increase the demand for materials while putting more people to work, which also returns money in the form of tax withholdings. However, where/what is the funding source for this investment – and at the expense of doing without what?

Do our leaders construct trade agreements to increase demand?

We have a federal government struggling with the opposing forces of deficit reduction and stimulating demand by providing aid to financially struggling public sectors in order to help local public workers keep their job. Of course, one’s position directly correlates with a concern about the next election.

Meanwhile, as consumers drive demand, three main factors act as significant forces acting on their psychology: high unemployment, a depressed housing market, and a political atmosphere consuming all the oxygen in the room with their battle between the inept, the misguided, and the knowledgeable choosing to be inept or misguided.

With another round of budget ideology ahead of a September 30th deadline, count on Washington lowering not only consumer confidence, but the confidence of the business and banking sectors, thus promoting consumers, businesses, and lending institutions to keep more money on the sidelines.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 79

On the BCS
The BCS announced their bowl pairings, and the non-BCS affiliated bowls did the same. Blah blah blah. Regardless what BSC head Bill Hancock states, the BCS system has little to nothing to do with determining a national champion, and everything to do with revenue. The BCS is a cartel working to protect the financial interest of its members by locking in a significant portion of the bowl venue to the members. It is that simple.

On the Palin Wonder
Part of me has always thought that Sarah Palin stays in the news because of the money gained – thus nothing to do with running for the White House. Now that Kate + 8 Gosslin is to appear on the TLC show, that helps solidify that thought – thus Mama Grizzly and all her anger continue to smile all the way to the bank.

On Capitol Hill Shorts

  • Congress is currently in their lame duck session. At least in January they can return to just lame.
  • Alas – the Republicans extending unemployment benefits must mean they are socialists.
  • Speaking of the latest news from Washington, I appreciate this New York Times article.

On the Latest Theme Park
The Cincinnati area had Big Butter Jesus, which burnt to the ground in minutes after a lightning strike; BUT the church will replace it with something bigger. (My take on the burning.) On the other side of the Ohio River offers the Creation Museum, whose parent organization recently announced its intention to build a creation theme park with a huge ark. Oh boy … and in the spirit of Sonny and Cher, the beat goes on.

An addendum: Just discovered this free program at Evolutionary Christianity.

On Just Imagine
This past Wednesday marked the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death. Wow – to think he would now be 70. I invite you to stimulate your brain with this post by Al at 2012.

On a Classic Exit
Thank you Elizabeth Edwards for showing death with dignity – and you are at peace.

On a Simple Gifts of Handbells
Many of us associated Simple Gifts, the classic Shaker tune, with the current holiday season. Obviously, many arrangements exist Here is the one our handbell choir is playing this weekend, which includes a lively section.

On a Classic Angle
I must admit that one of my secret dreams is to be a traffic cop at a grocery store. Oh no, not in the parking lot, but inside the store because too many shoppers do not know how to operate a shopping card! Since this is the shopping season, this archived post is about a trip to the grocery store.

Have a safe weekend!

On the Deficit Commission

Last weekend, members of the Deficit Commission met with the media. I was in my car on a cross-state trek at the time, but with the glories of XM Radio, I tuned into P.O.T.U.S (channel 132) for the live broadcasts.

Member after member spoke, and what they had to say is easy to summarize.

  • All praised the committee’s leadership.
  • Most (if not all) said good things about someone else on the committee.
  • All addressed the importance of the task.
  • All had something to say about health care, social security, and/or tax policy. Interestingly, these comments were predictable based on their party affiliation.
  • The number of times I heard “I believe” was staggering.

More interestingly is what I did not hear.

  • Not once did I hear, because of the importance of the goal, I will give up (blank).
  • Not once did I hear, what is best for the country will outweigh what is best for my party.

I heard a lot of party rhetoric. While one praises for creating social security solvency, another vows to protect social security cuts. The members of this committee brought their sacred cows to this process and were willing to have cows slaughtered as long as it was not their cows, thus a result of nothing more than political theater as the committee failed to approval a proposal.

Rather than facing the challenge and accepting a sacrifice, too many members stood guard in their political rut in order to protect their interests/ideology. The current Capitol Hill climate favors continues to define seizing the moment as compromise agreeing with my interests and beliefs over any pragmatic common ground.

This committee started an adult conversation about the federal deficit, but the report did not make it out of committee because no enough adults were present. Hmmmm … the apparent agreement on the tax cuts that aren’t paid for is interesting timing.

Thank you John Avalon for this column.

On Random Post-Election Thoughts

On the Two-Way Street
Rightfully so, many are wondering how well President Obama will work with House Republicans, but I also ask one addition question: How well will House Republicans will work with President Obama?

On Mr. Boehner’s Job
In my own warped view, I feel sorry for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), the one who presumably has the task of leading the GOP Civil War. It will be interesting to see how he manages the divisions in his party, and working with President Obama.

On the other hand, Mr. Boehner is already using the results to suggest a mandate for GOP policies. In his WSJ opinion, Senator DeMint (R-SC) drew a line in the sand for the Tea Party members. Senator McConnell’s has well publicized that ousting President Obama in 2012 is his top priority. Warning: Independents will not buy that product.

On My Take
My suggestion of governing from the center is throughout this blog. Nevertheless, the overlapping center of the two parties no longer exists, which leads to an all-or-nothing approach.

Republicans say Democrats would not listen; Democrats say Republicans would not play. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure that problem – yet America re-elected the majority of incumbents seeking a return to Washington.

President Obama campaigned about bridging the dividing, hence one reason how he captured the majority of independents. Whether by choice, necessity, haste, or simply the way Washington works, he did not deliver – thus Tuesday’s results.

Contrary to what many believe, we pragmatics believe that voters elect presidents to lead a nation – not lead a party. Although a political ideology frames any elected official, a president needs to know when to shove, when to compromise, and when to give way. Heaven forbid if Capitol Hill did the same. Therefore, unless their is an unexpected significant event that brings the nation together, the next two years could be ugly.

On a Game Show Analogy for the Times

The other day I was thinking about the beginning of a television show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire. The initial once-a-week phenomenon hosted by Regis Philbin was a prime-time success. As ratings soared, the network expanded to two then three, and possibly more evenings. The show eventually peaked, got scaled back, and is now a regular component for daytime viewing; but no longer a craze.

The network’s rationale is obvious – cash in on those advertising revenues when you can – a get the money when you can approach. The eventually losers in the methodology are the viewers whose interest fades due to overexposure, thus ratings and revenue subsequently fall; but the networks had a successful cash cow.

Through the years I’ve seen this happen with other shows; in the same way I’ve watched political parties whose prominence ebbs and flows. Currently, the Democrats have the majority in both chambers of Capitol Hill and occupy the White House. The same was true for Republicans not all that long ago. And of course transition periods of divided power also occur.

In any time on single party dominance, their behavior is similar to the networks – you know, get it while you can. The Democrats know they must maximize their use of the time because it won’t last – and just like the last time the Republicans dominated the power – and the time before that with the Democrats.

So during our country’s time of need, a time when we could use a patriotic grace to do what is needed – what is right – let us remember that the party in power seeks to get it while it can – but, in this case, at the citizen’s expense – and the same would be true if the other party was in power because political parties practice their mantra – party first.