Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

28 August 2008

Joe Biden Says American Dream Slipping Away

Senator Joe Biden's speech before the Democratic National Convention last night was unremittingly depressing. He says, the "American Dream feels as if it is slowly slipping away." He claims that economic progress during the Bush years was abysmal. Meanwhile, as I pointed out in my post of 17 July, the real record is that earnings have increased by 17% in the last 8 years. Because of the high marginal tax rates people pay on additional income and because government is costing us more and more as evidenced by the addition of 4 days to the date of freedom from the cost of government which is now 16 July, people are taking more of their earnings in the form of untaxed benefits. Of course, having done this, the more static take home pay does have more trouble dealing with rising gasoline costs and food costs. Of course, the Democrats have no realistic plans to address those problems! In fact, they intend to increase the cost of gasoline and other fuels, the cost of many goods by restricting free trade, and the cost of government.

Biden trotted out an ever reliable jab at the oil companies and their large profits, despite the fact that they are only large because the industry is large. The rate of return on investment or the profits as a percent of sales is actually below the manufacturing industries average! But, it suits their demagogic purposes to only speak of the dollar size of the profit and to rely on the ignorance of the people for them to draw foolish conclusions to demonize the oil companies. Of course, there is really nothing wrong with them operating their businesses to make larger profits, if they can do so without invoking government subsidies. But as it is, their profits are a smaller fraction of the cost of a gallon of gasoline by far than are government levied taxes. Perhaps we should really be looking harder at the tax take than the profit take.

He also complained that McCain's reduction of corporate taxes was another $4 billion of tax breaks for the oil companies. Of course, he did not mention that this was not a tax reduction aimed only at oil companies, but a broad-based tax reduction to allow corporations to compete with the corporations of most other countries in this global economy, most of which now have a lower tax rate than U.S. corporations. Besides, if oil companies have lower taxes, they can hire more people and they can drill for more oil. But, Democrats do not want them to hire more people and drill for oil, so it is good for them to attack the oil companies for their profits as an excuse to continue draconian restrictions on drilling for oil in America.

He said McCain voted 19 times against raising the minimum wage rate. Great, that makes McCain the real champion of all the poorly educated young people who would have lost their jobs or would never have gotten their first job, if the minimum wage rate had been too high for a business to be able to hire a low productivity worker. The Democrats clearly prefer to pretend to be the champion of the underdog, while they are actually putting him out of work. The real job-killing effect of the minimum wage rate laws is well-established in history, economics, and in business. This is not rocket science. The Democrats are clearly without scruples here.

He claimed we should not be spending U.S. money on the war in Iraq when Iraq has a surplus of $80 billion. Iraq would have spent that money on needs of its people, except that they cannot yet agree among themselves on how to do that. The Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites are all fighting for that money. The U. S. will not let them spend it until they come to an agreement. What is more, that money will not likely be spent instead of the current U.S. spending, but will likely complement it. In addition, Iraq could make much more money from its oil, except Democrat Senators have opposed their letting contracts to U. S. oil companies. We would not want those oil companies to make more money so they can afford to drill for more oil or pay dividends to American shareholders, now would we? This really is another case of Democrat demagoguery.

Obama's alternative energy plan, which is very mysterious, will create 5 million new jobs. Well, I doubt it. Obama wants to spend $150,000,000,000 in ten years on alternative energy schemes so we will, he says, not need Mideast oil in 10 years. Apparently, this $150 billion will create the 5 million new jobs at a cost of $30,000 per job. Hmmm....maybe. But, each $30,000 removed from the economy in taxes to provide this alternative energy subsidy money will also kill a job. So where is the gain? If his gamble on the use of all this money does not result in subsidy-free and self-sustaining jobs in 10 years, then the destruction of other jobs through added taxes will continue and/or the created jobs will be terminated. This is just another case of government trying to pick losers and winners in the marketplace. We know how well government does that. This claim to produce 5 million new jobs is again a fraud dependent upon an unthinking public. Besides, there is no way we will not need Mideast oil still in 10 years. This is a whopping bit of blarney. No, that is too kind. This is a clear lie.

Biden said Obama will decrease the cost of healthcare for the average family by $2500/year. How? We all know that Medicare and Medicaid were supposed to cost a tiny fraction of what they now cost. We know that those systems have very little interest in reducing their costs, in reducing fraud, and in preventing waste. If you believe for a moment that Obama will decrease healthcare costs per family by $2500/year, you are an easy target for a con man. You had better closely examine his plan, if he ever gets around to telling us what it is! I suspect he has visions of turning water into wine and creating fish and bread with words. I am sure he is not going to save a family this much money. Perhaps he thinks he will simply tax the rich and use that money to pay for healthcare for the average family. If he does, the economy will have slower growth and the average family will lose more than $2500/year very soon in added income they might have had in a faster growing economy.

Obama will put more cops on the streets. Just what we need, the federal government playing a bigger role in local police law enforcement. No thanks. Leave this to the locals who can decide how much they want to spend. There is no reason why the people of Buffalo, Oklahoma should be paying taxes to put more cops on the streets in wealthy Boston or New York City.

Obama will put security back in Social Security. This just means that Obama will continue the giant Ponzi scheme and increase taxes to cover the shortfall which will be developing rapidly as Baby Boomers retire. Sure, let's increase the taxes on fewer and fewer workers so we can transfer their income to the group which has the most wealth, the older people. Of course, these are older people who will enjoy good health for many more years in most cases and be supported in luxury ease and indolence by hardworking younger people. The younger people could be putting their money into investments that would give them a great and secure retirement some day, but instead we will mandate that they get no return on their money. Some security we will offer them. Social Security as the Democrats see it is security for the wealthier older generations and insecurity for the poorer younger generations.

Obama will provide equal pay for women. Whooppee! So women are able to do equal work, but they are unable to get equal pay? If that is so, then it seems dubious that they are able to do equal work. If you cannot drive a hard bargain, if you do not have the self-confidence to get what you are worth, then you surely would have other job shortcomings. The Democrats like to say women get 30% less for equal work. This comes from some really poor studies. Better studies have found the differential much less. There is reason to doubt that the better studies have even figured all the differences out yet. In any case, it is terrifying to think of some government agent coming into a workplace and decreeing that Joan and John are doing the same job equally well after interviewing each for 15 minutes and then dictating to the employer what they will be paid. Can you imagine the chaos? It would really be tempting for the employer to decide that he would only hire men or only hire women to avoid this. I suppose that any firm hiring only men would be prosecuted for discrimination, so all firms would have to hire only women to avoid that.

Bush failed to deal with the emergence of Russia, China, and India as great powers. Well, as I recall, Russia is the much less powerful result of the breakup of the USSR. That occurred under the Republican presidencies and based in large part on policies the Democrats resisted. The more recent belligerence of Russia is based upon its surge in oil income as the price of oil has gone up. The reason for that is increasing world demand which national oil companies, who have almost all the oil, do not wish to increase production sufficiently for. What is more, the Democrat Congress has not allowed U.S. oil companies to drill in many of our most promising areas and they have acted to reduce the oil exported from Iraq, which has the third largest known oil reserves of any country and much undiscovered oil. So, the real reason Russia can be so aggressive is fueled by the anti-fuel policies of the Democrats, who also do not encourage our military with their support. It is rather foolish to think that anyone is going to control China. China has had a hurt national pride for centuries of interactions with the West and it is going to take some time to work out our differences. Our commercial operations with them may help to generate mutual respect in time, though they also provide China with more wealth and knowledge to devote to building their military. India on the other hand has been turning more to the U.S. as they worry about Pakistan and China. We are doing much more business with them and we share a language. I have seen no reason to believe the Democrats will work better with Russia, China, and India than has Bush.

Biden says the Democrats will provide secure energy, food, and water. Apparently, the pie in the sky idea of $150 billion in subsidies for 10 years is the idea for supplying the secure energy. We have no idea yet of the idea for supplying secure food, but it sounds like it would go down some protectionist path to refuse entry of imported food and refuse to allow some food exports. This will only result in higher food prices and less food selection. Dems may like this, since it would allow them to pretend to come marching to the defense of the newly food-deprived and create a new government food program for the poor. I have still less clue what the Democrats are promising with respect to water. Perhaps they will redistribute the limited water in the west in some way. This line sure does seem to suggest that the Democrats are promising to solve every real and imagined problem, without regard to any need to focus our still finite resources. There will be many broken promises if they win the Presidency.

The Dems will prevent Climate Change. This is pure pretense. The claim that anthropomorphic global warming has occurred is unproven. Worse, it is already clear that it is ridiculous. This topic has been addressed many times in this blog. It is clear that natural effects are very dominant in determining the earth's temperature and climate. Man has a small effect around populated areas, which causes a heat island effect, which causes the land temperature record to be wrongly biased upward. Upper atmosphere and ocean temperatures are clearly not showing the temperature increases they would if CO2 greenhouse warming were occurring. Increased radiation from the sun was clearly behind most of the warming of the 1980s and 1990s. The other planets, without benefit of man-made CO2 emissions, also warmed then. Since 1998, there has been no warming, yet the CO2 in the atmosphere has increased. There is no claimed CO2 emission effect causing warming which we can observe scientifically. So, in the name of this fictional man-made Global Warming issue, the Dems want to grab control of everyone's use of energy and cripple our freedom to travel, to transport goods and provide services, and to control manufacturing processes. This is a socialist's dream. Let's keep it an unrealized dream!

He then said the Democrats will hold Russia accountable. How? So far the Democrats have been very slow to respond to the Russian invasion of Georgia and have had little to say about the recent threats against Poland and Ukraine. It seems clear to me that if you want to hold Russia accountable, you go with John McCain. There are many accounts of socialists on the web apologizing for Russian actions already. The left, as usual, is divided on any effort to confront socialist powers.

Then there was a quick reference to removing troops from Iraq. The extent to which it is now possible to look to being able to do that is the extent to which the Surge in Iraq worked and the task has been so diminished that the now better trained and better committed Iraqis can hope to handle the ongoing military challenges in Iraq. But, some American forces will likely remain in support and it is unlikely that Obama will understand what number will be needed. I am always puzzled by the Democrat claims of being stern guardians of the national security when Clinton did nothing about the first attack on the World Trade Center, nothing about the attack on our two embassies in East Africa, and nothing about the attack on the USS Cole. Then there was the Carter debacle in Iran. Before that, there was the refusal to supply and support South Vietnam two years after American troops were pulled out. The Dems are very weak as defenders of our allies and as supporters of our military capabilities. There is very little credibility here.

In short, Biden's speech was a grab bag of assorted old and standard socialist "problems" with a wild flurry of promises to solve them. Many of the "problems" are imaginary or the likely "solution" is imaginary. There was certainly no reason to think anything promised represents anything but business as usual for the Democrats. They have controlled the Senate and the House for some time now and they have solved nothing. The American people view the House and Senate in even more unfavorable terms than they do President Bush. Yet, they are offered a 30-year veteran of the Senate in Biden and a newbie from Illinois, who accomplished nothing in the Illinois Senate of note and much less in the U. S. Senate, as the agents of meaningful change. Hogwash!

We shall see just how gullible Americans are. We know that many are: they voted in large numbers for the condescending Gore with his crazy Global Warming mantra and for the traitor from the Vietnam era, Hanoi John. Perhaps enough can be gulled into votes for the silver-tongued socialist of the current campaign that he will become our master.

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