William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Congratulations Again Democrats

Good for you Mr President, you won. Huzzah. Thank Sandy? The Senate stayed blue; turned bluer, even. My only advice is not to run the money-printing presses the full twenty-four hours a day. They’ll melt. But don’t worry about running twenty-three hours. Nobody can count to sixteen, eighteen, twenty…trillion anyway.

No dream lasts forever. Half of us decided that we want more, not less government; more, not less regulation; more, not less oversight in the minutia of our lives. Half say we want less, not more personal responsibility. We want higher taxes, and the fatter bureaucracies on which those taxes feed, which in turn foster more dependency on government and away from families.

Is it a coincidence that just under half of us do not pay any federal income tax, but these same folks are ready to claim the “rich” aren’t paying their “fair” share.

Perhaps the most brilliant of Mr Obama’s moves was to, without a single Republican vote, while simultaneously complaining about Republican obscurantism, pass his health care and to saw that that law should not begin until after this re-election. Ah, maybe it wouldn’t have mattered. The sound of “free” health “insurance” was too alluring. But stand by for a massive wave of taxes and paperwork which is about to descend upon us.

Part of Obamacare was the HHS “mandate.” A mandate thought up by an isolated, progressive bureaucracy, not voted on by anybody, which forces Catholic and other religious employers, including those that self-insure, to pay for their employees’ birth prevention and abortifacient medications. Because they are employees. Some believe this
is just an “isolated” stomping of the Constitution. How cute.

Word is many businesses are hiring fewer and more limited-hours workers to avoid many of Obamacare’s more draconian taxes, which kick in only for full-time employees. Never worry: those that don’t have regular jobs always have food stamps. Or 99 weeks of unemployment. Or welfare.

How soon until we, like Europe—which relied on our military and used the largesse to fund their welfare states—start discussing “austerity” measures? When what we really mean are responsibility measures, sobriety measures, and not spending ridiculous amounts hoping the money can be prised from the wealthy. Then maybe this isn’t a problem. Mr Obama never submitted a budget his first term, why should expect one in his second?

Don’t lets forget the Supreme Court, which will have two or so more progressive justices by 2016. A majority, and unbeatable. Like the changes instituted by FDR before, we are in for a long haul to the left.

Say, did you hear? Even Elizabeth “Fauxcohantus” Warren won a Senate seat. The lesson appears to be that if you’re a progressive, it really doesn’t matter what you have done (think Bill Clinton, etc.), just what you say you will do.

Let’s don’t think about China’s burgeoning navy—and the disputed waters with Japan and Taiwan! Let’s not worry about Iran—they don’t mean what they say! Let’s not fret about Russia—the submarine spotted off our coast Monday was an aberration! Let’s turn inwards and solve our own problems and let the world take care of itself.

Hey, look at any county-by-county election map. The country is overwhelmingly, by land area, Red. Cities, where on average rich people go to make deals with the government and the poor go to get free stuff, voted Blue. Rural areas, where on average people work or sink, and rely on their families and communities when they do sink, voted Red.

The trick for investors will be to figure which industries are to make the best deals with the government. Car companies? Union-reliant ones, yes. Wall Street banks? Some, not all. Health insurers? A few. Solyndra-type “new energy” firms? Oh, yes. Get in on the winners early, or see your investment companies labeled “rich” and your assets taxed and regulated. It’s only un-hip corporations that are part of the “1%”. Apple Corporation, despite being richest (in one sense), isn’t 1%. Oil companies, despite having less, are.

What will happen is that, as desired, equality of wealth and income will increase. But the absolute level of wealth will decrease. See, inter alia, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Ireland. There will be fewer people in control of proportionally more, both in and out of government. Imbalance in an absolute sense will increase. This will perplex many.

This isn’t too coherent, nor specially congratulatory, but it’s a fair stretch more gracious than many of the poor winners of the far left.

The only question before is: how long? Fifty-ish years? One hundred? More? Problem is, most of us reading this will be dead by then, and won’t be able to say I told you so.

Note: we return to normal material tomorrow and forget elections. Until the next one.

95 Comments

  1. Darn! I was right.

  2. Fifty-ish? More like ten, or less. See quote below from Robert Heimlein:

    “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

    This is known as ‘bad luck’.”

  3. As the party of good intentions, Obama and friends will likely be congratulated for trying instead of condemned for failing. The condemnation will be reserved for his political enemies, regardless of whether or not they actually have the political power to accomplish anything.

  4. It is interesting how many of the things found in Obamacare that Republican don’t like were actually Republican idea to begin with.

    -The mandate was first proposed by Republican in the 1990s, and was not desired by the President who would have prefer a public option.

    -The disposition named the death panel which really was that the consultation with a doctor to establish a living will be covered by the insurance was proposed by a Republican.

  5. «What will happen is that, as desired, equality of wealth and income will increase. But the absolute level of wealth will decrease.»

    The reality is that the fastest increase in absolute wealth was and always is when the difference between the rich and poor is less.

    Why?

    If every people gain enough money to by car, cell phone and other product, the rich are getting richer by selling a lot more of their products. Is it better selling 100,0000 with $1000 profit by car. Or to sell 1,000,000 car at $200.

    The very ugly reason why rich people don’t like the poor getting richer is that they have to share the road with them, they get to wait in hospital because more people can acces it. They may have prettier things but it doesn’t give them more power. The rich like to have the lives of the poor in their hand. They like being able to fire employees because god forbid they are getting to rich. They like being able to send people to bankcruptcy by sending there job to China so they can pay people $1/hour (see Freeport:

    http://www.alternet.org/election-2012/romneys-bain-capital-sending-bunch-high-tech-jobs-china-day-election ).

    Why is there economic stagnation since 2008? people cannot affort to buy what they could buy before.

  6. Looks like Silver wins again. I expect that his star will rise even higher now.

    I appreciate that you’ll be going back to your usual programming. This blog is extremely important and insightful when it deals with statistics and statistics-related cultural disasters–no one else does what you’re doing in the way that you’re doing it. Partisan arguments are a dime a dozen, though, and politics get old after awhile. I’m glad that the campaign is over.

  7. Speaking from the UK may I ask a question? Why are you Americans so stupid, to vote for a man with little intellect and no ability? Obama is a fool and yet you still vote for him.
    Warren? Dear God what were you thinking?

  8. On a lighter note, to simply notice that Nate Silver got exactly 50 states right in his prediction. So hurrah for math and bayesianism, and thumbs down for all the Scarborough pricks who wil never apologize for their despicable attitudes towards Silver.

  9. Well, Professor Briggs, commiserations that the election didn’t go the way you wished.

    My prediction – included in your survey – was that Obama would be re-elected.

    I do have some sympathy with Luis and wonder if your own prediction of such a low likelihood of an Obama victory was down to personal observation biases.

    I do wonder about the quality of political debate in the US. People segregate themselves via Fox and MSNBC and the election coverage is based not around policies and practical prescriptions, but around “values” and “character” and even such things as “patriotism”.

    The result is too often too strong dichotomies with uncompromising attitudes – how can you compromise with someone who has such alien “unpatriotic” values.

    Certainly the democrats are little better than the Republicans, but as viewed from my side of the Pond, the GOP has become very shrill in its “values” and the image of the Tea Party zealot, happily taking his mortgage tax relief on a $1,000,000 house and using every loop hole and deduction available in the tax code, while lobbying for even more such boondoggles from their pet Congressman, paid for via copious “donations”, snarling about reproductive rights and gays and how there are too many spongers, is too rich for me.

    Economically I’m on the right-hand-side of the spectrum, but that also means I don’t want the state in the bedroom or telling people how to deal with the dilemmas of pregnancy.

    Those have become “values” shibboleths for the Republican right – with God on their side.

    The Democrats, for all my concerns about unions and over-regulation, seem to be a more pragmatic party.

    Looking at the state of the world it is obvious to me that conservatism is not an option – who looking at the world would say the policy mix is right?

    The result is a need for policy ideas – pragmatic, sensible ones, based on the evidence. Certainly unintended consequences are a risk, and so democracy has to always to be able to amend and re-table legislation when it is obvious it is not working.

    The American political parties seem unable to do that – descending into a “dialogue of the death” slanging match.

    So Mr Obama has to deal with the fiscal cliff – I worry it is going to be a painful, dangerous period for US politics and the economy.

    The GOP needs to lick its wounds, and emerge practically minded to find a solution to a huge problem – controlling the House they have an important role in the process.

    I hope the policy haggling will be done at a higher level than the election.

  10. Trading cellphones, food stamps and other peoples’ monies for votes will win one elections but it will not win the economy. I live in a country where we had passed through this phase between 70’s and 80’s. That left wing party has been in opposition since 1987, losing each and every election for the last 25 years because of their past excess.

    Obama has won this election for the Dems but it could be that the Dems have lost the future.

    So, this election could be the worst thing that could have happened to the Democrats, and the USA.

  11. ….and btw, partial-birth abortions, homosexual marriages and anti-Christian laws will not create one single job……….

  12. Ah, Progressivism. Where the means justify the ends. And don’t think too hard about the means.

    I just cannot understand how Progressives can convince people that they are pragmatic about anything other than acquiring power.

    FORWARD comrades! To the Progressive Future of Next Tuesday.

  13. Obama understands Americans, Mr. Brigs doesn’t.

  14. Ye Olde Statistician

    7 November 2012 at 7:24 am

    the image of the Tea Party zealot, happily taking his mortgage tax relief on a $1,000,000 house and using every loop hole and deduction available in the tax code, while lobbying for even more such boondoggles from their pet Congressman, paid for via copious “donations”, snarling about reproductive rights and gays and how there are too many spongers, is too rich for me.

    This alone should be a clue that the image may diverge from the reality.

  15. To paraphrase Bette Davis:

    “Fasten your seatbelts, we’re in for a bumpy ride.” Though I fear the downswings will be more numerous.

  16. YOS, certainly*. But so is the image of Obama of an ultra left winger leading the bureaucrats forward to destroy America.

    The rhetorical tail is wagging the policy dog with grid lock the result as Teapartiers eject anyone who agrees with bipartisan cooperation. America doesn’t need endless debates about values, choice, gays, or God Bless America. I firmly feel that these issues are peripheral, but are fought over as though they are central.

    The image of the US as the City on the Hill is so simplistic. It is a part of the spectrum of modern democracy with social systems and government bureaucracy. Canada, the UK, Germany, Australia etc produce not dissimilar results but with considerably less inequality and social disfunction – the direction of correlation is complex but the US’s social problems do seem connected with this religious image of US exceptionalism – http://www.epjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/EP073984414.pdf. Unforeseen consequences again – a country so obsessed about sex that political parties promote policies that refuse to educate people about it beyond insisting on abstinence – the end result: the highest abortion and teenage pregnancy rates in the developed world. Go figure!

    At least Prof Briggs gives a more insightful view of a conservative, religious American. Not only does he give me an insight to statistics, but also into a theological mindset very different from my own. He’s erudite and manages to keep the debate civil and open – the tea party rhetoric has failed on both those accounts, which opens it up to caricature and I believe this election loss. Women and minorities were simply not won over.

    * Though Romney’s tax return and country club speeches give a hint to the reality to that caricature, coupled with the GOP platform on abortion

  17. In four years, we will say “we told you so” as runaway inflation, massive national debt and falling GDP reduce the United States to impotence and mediocrity but it may be too late to undo the incalculable damage that the people of the United States brought upon themselves through selfishness and ignorance.

  18. Briggs

    7 November 2012 at 8:23 am

    JH,

    x o to you, too.

    George Steiner, Chinahand,

    You’re right. I did not understand the mood of half of us. Too much hope on my part, too much wishcasting, too much, as you say, personal observation bias.

    Luis,

    Very true: Up with Nate Silver and Up with Bayesianism! Success like that should be noticed.

    Sylvain,

    Thanks should also go to the checkbooks of Billionaire one-percenters like Democrats Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, George Soros, Larry Ellison, etc., etc., who made the victory possible.

    rank,

    Back to non-partisan arguments like, as Alex says, abortion, homosexual marriages, etc. Oh and epistemology.

    All,

    A true, sincere congratulations who seems as he appears: a man with a terrific family. Too bad we selected him, though. Wanton Keynesianism, despite its many and obvious failures, is too tempting for too many. What’s happening to us is our fault, not his.

  19. My condolences Mr. Briggs. Look on the bright side: it’s only 4 more years until a Republican takes a seat in the Oval Office.

  20. Hey, look at any county-by-county election map. The country is overwhelmingly, by land area, Red. Cities, where on average rich people go to make deals with the government and the poor go to get free stuff, voted Blue. Rural areas, where on average people work or sink, and rely on their families and communities when they do sink, voted Red.

    Prof Briggs, I’m intrigued by your love of empty countryside. You’ve really got to look at this image (http://writinghistory.trincoll.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/countycartredblue1024.png) before you can say the country is overwhelmingly red.

    You’ve also got to ask where does the wealth the US is so proud of come from – the country side or the cities.

    Sure you work or sink in the countryside – but wealth is made in the cities which treat those worse off better rather than leaving them to the tender mercies of their family or churches, both of which have about as patchy records as the state!

    Viewing cities as simply places where “rich people go to make deals with the government and the poor go to get free stuff” is a great example of the sort of rhetoric which is getting the US in so much trouble.

    Its beyond cliche – please tell me you were being ironic.

  21. The next four years are going to be bumpy for Obama as well. In the days before the election the old-fashioned print media sat up and noticed the fiscal direness of the situation, and threw in their respective hats in Romney’s ring. Had the realization dawned a month earlier, maybe they would have been able to make some headway with the voting public. (It was a little shocking to see the NY Daily News–that had previously dragged Romney through the mud with great glee and fervor–take a position so squarely in his favor.)

    But it was a classic case of “too little, too late,” but the wall has been breached. I predict that the media (print and otherwise) will have more confidence in doing their job and do some real reporting, some of which will not be favorable to the president or his friends and allies. Maybe “predict” is too strong a word in a situation where Jon Stewart is considered to have as much gravitas as Walter Cronkite. It could very well be a another case of wishcasting.

  22. “Note: we return to normal material tomorrow and forget elections. Until the next one.”

    That is, assuming there is a next one.

  23. Yes, Professor Briggs. ‘Gadarene swine’ comes to mind as a metaphor.

  24. Katie, I hope you are right, but after looking at the joy and happiness of MSM anchors for Obama’s victory, I do not believe the media can be counted-on to be aggressive and impartial. If Solyndra, Benghazi, Fast & Furious, the dismal economy, Iran, etc. had happened under a Republican, the MSM would have crucified them. Bill O’Reilly had it right, people want to get “stuff” from the Government regardless of the national and international repercussions of doing so, and that trumps national self-interest.

  25. Guess I’ll have to resign myself to try collecting some of the free stuff I’m paying for. I think the price just went up, though.

  26. Briggs,

    Chances are the classical method would give similar results. Silver is clever in employing simulations to circumvent the time-consuming and hence difficult computations of the electoral votes for a total of 2^50 (a loss or win for each of the 50 states) possible combinations.

    Say, did you hear?

    Where do you get all your information?

  27. Wanton Keynesianism, despite its many and obvious failures, is too tempting for too many. What’s happening to us is our fault, not his.

    To be sure, Romney was also a Keynesian (his military budget confirms it so, his tax cuts confirms it so: oh yeah, tax cuts *are* Keynesian too!), and not a “fiscal responsible conservative”. So the choice was not between an “austerity guy” and a spend-everything liberal. That is, if you go by what their programs were.

    The trick Romney pulled was amazing though: albeit having a Keynesian program top to bottom, he painted it as fiscally responsible, and when asked how on earth was he going to do the impossible (spend so many trillions more and still cull the debt) he just answered “I’m competent so trust me okay?”. Well, I guess some people did trust him, but not enough.

  28. For those not in the US, we in the US have the problem that our left wing party is very old. It has had many generations to become corrupt (our right-wing party is also old and corrupt, don’t get me wrong). European parties were all pretty much chopped apart and reassembled after WWII, so have had less time to become purely patronage parties. If you want to see what happens in the US when the Democrats have unrestricted rule, look to Detroit, and the states California and Illinois. They quite simply lack any ability to reform, or to resist pressure from interest groups. Democrats thrive on poverty, and will in the long run work to increase the number of poor people, and the well-paid government workers who ‘support’ them. Compare who votes for each party. Government employees, protected union members and the poor vote left, out of self-interest. The independant vote right, also out of self interest.

  29. And yes, the above is simplistic.

  30. How is it possible that Obama never submitted a budget in his first term? Some people are gullible to propaganda.

  31. Briggs

    7 November 2012 at 11:44 am

    Luis,

    Right, brother. Romney was a Keynesian, and by nature, too. But not to the same extent as Obama, who views it as a religious truth. The choice here was not between “good” and “evil” but between a lesser and a greater fiscal disaster. We chose, barely, the latter.

  32. Mes Condoléances, mon cher Professeur!

    Your observations you are right, Professor! I am going to start voting for republicans from now on! The red, obese and illiterate states are the ones responsible for sucking all the resources and productions from the blue states. Why would I want to continue to vote for democrats who are forcing them to live healthier lives and invest in their education?

  33. Briggs

    7 November 2012 at 12:03 pm

    The Architect!

    Merci, mon ami. You nailed it, old sweetheart, with the word “forcing.”

  34. Sander van der Wal

    7 November 2012 at 12:04 pm

    @Tom Bri

    I’ll buy your analysis for Detroit, but not for California. As far as I understood it, in California it is the middle classes who are against raising taxes while at the same time wanting more of the the services being for paid by the taxes.

    Illinois I know nothing about. One of the manufacturer states?

  35. Fair enough, the comparisons are unfalsifiable. I’ll see the commitment to fiscal responsibility of the Republicans on their deeds when the “fiscal cliff” conversation heats up, which really just amounts to the tax cuts for the richest imposed by Bush junior (a wholly Keynesian measure) being allowed to end, the Obama tax cuts being allowed to end, new spending cuts being allowed to be made (alongside with Obamacare new taxes, and so on).

    The paradox of much of right-wing tv pundits trying to make believe that these tax hikes and spending cuts are disastrous for the economy, while also critizicing Obama for his Keynesianism has staggered me for months now. Surely a truly “fiscal conservative” will gladly accept the new tax hikes and spending cuts as proper paths towards a more controlled gov budget. The irony for all that is that only a deep Keynesian would be so afraid of the ending of the tax cuts for the rich.

    That is, btw, the analysis that the markets have been doing for the past months: they fear the fiscal cliff (for they are much more Keynesian than the right wing) and they believe that a Republican in the White House would be able to convince a republican congress to stop the fiscal cliff from happening.

    I’ll be buying popcorn.

  36. BTW, much talk of Europe has been going on in the US election. Just to make things clear: What the Euro crisis shows is that the path of “Austerity” under a big depression is the stupidest economic policy ever invented, and it is dragging us downwards. What the euro crisis also shows is that this kind of crisis will never happen in the US, for it is a monetary crisis, not a “socialist breakdown” whatsoever (one should notice that ironically the most “socialistic” countries in Europe are doing just FINE).

    There’s a lot to be said about the euro crisis, but seeing how it was so badly abused in the US campaigns, it is quite clear to me that most american “pundits” just don’t understand Europe’s suffering. Obama *has* been right (IMHO) by letting huge deficits. Now that your economy is slowly recovering (and it could recover way quicker if Europe wasn’t in the dire straits), one *should* think about cutting the deficits hard. Not before.

  37. RE: “The lesson appears to be that if you’re a progressive, it really doesn’t matter what you have done (think Bill Clinton, etc.), just what you say you will do.”

    CONSIDER:

    Under Obama the percentage of those in poverty has increased to levels not seen since the inception of the “Great Society” Programs (and those were passed in a Republican Congress–only a Democratic president signed them into law); from the Washington Examiner (http://washingtonexaminer.com/article/2511417): According to the Census Bureau, the poverty rate has gone from
    12.5 percent in 2007 to
    13.2 percent in 2008 to
    14.3 percent in 2009 to
    15.1 percent in 2010 to
    15.0 percent in 2011.

    TAXING THE RICH: That’s been tried…and here’s an example of how that worked in Florida (which clearly has forgotten): The lower class workers ended up getting laid off & fired in droves as the rich just spent less on luxury items built & maintained by the poorer among us: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1991-02-20/business/9101090682_1_luxury-tax-tax-last-year-income-tax

    From the book, “The World is Curved…,” by David Smick, he addresed in a late chapter, in 2008 & 2009, the risks of class warfare…we’re there now. I recommended this book because his observations & predictions are still coming true.

    Elsewhere in that book he noted that in the USA there’s only about 19,000 people with liquid assets of $25M or more (i.e. about the attendence for a halfway decent rock concert). For every one percent (1%) increase taxes on this bunch about $6B in additional revenues are generated…in other words, not enough to make a dent in a TRILLION dollar budget deficit. There just ain’t enough rich to tap for government funding…and the associated policies are anti-business and especially anti-entrepreneurial in nature…which is to say the class-warfare “solution” for helping the poorer actually leads to reduced job opportunities and much more.

    MORE REGULATION is already stifling business: http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/rtd-opinion/2012/nov/04/tdopin02-we-need-regulation-but-not-this-much-ar-2333362/

    WHO’s AT FAULT: Most of us probably heard Bill Clinton’s ads asserting that Romney’s policies would be the same as the “failed” policies that got us into the economic mess we’re in…fact is, it was Clinton’s policies that did this! As explained by the the New York Times (NYT) in 1999, this was seen as a means of helping the poor buy homes…but…carried the risk of leading to the need for a bailout comparable to that with Savings & Loan industry some years earlier…which is exactly what happened (NYT article: http://www.nytimes.com/1999/09/30/business/fannie-mae-eases-credit-to-aid-mortgage-lending.html ); some excerpts:

    “In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders. …

    “”Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990’s by reducing down payment requirements,” said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae’s chairman and chief executive officer. ”Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.”

    …”In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980’s.”

    Again, that was in 1999, from the NYT, who saw the current mess coming (and there were/are others documented seeing the same risks)…and today nary a peep that the government went out of its way to create the conditions leading to a worldwide (at least developed world wide) ecomonic downturn of huge proportions…instead, its ‘Wall Street’s Fault” — where those firms did exactly what the government incentivised them to do.

    EROSION OF FREEDOMS: Pres Bush was castigated for violating FISA & allowing teh goverment to eavesdrop on conversations between US Citizens and foreigners, a violation of privacy rights. That created a furor.

    Obama has a documented policy of targeting and killing US citizens he/the government deems, in secret, are a terrorist threat…and has killed some US Citizens without due process, a blatant violation of constitutional rights (e.g. see: http://www.loweringthebar.net/2011/12/for-christmas-your-government-will-explain.html and http://www.loweringthebar.net/2011/12/whoa-did-something-die-in-here-oh-it-was-freedom.html and http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/12/05/the-national-defense-authorization-act-is-the-greatest-threat-to-civil-liberties-americans-face/ and http://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinunderhill/2012/03/05/attorney-general-explains-why-its-okay-to-kill-u-s-citizens-without-a-trial/ and http://www.loweringthebar.net/2012/03/ag-sort-of-explains-when-and-why-the-president-could-drop-a-bomb-on-you.html and http://www.loweringthebar.net/2012/07/secret-legal-memos-suck.html )

    In other words, the Obama Administration with help mostly from the likes of Pelosi & Reid are steadily nibbling away at a number of core freedoms with impunity…and in some cases (such as killing designated US citizens for reasons kept secret), they’ve had bi-partisan help.

    Believe the religious story of the “anti-Christ” or not, for illustration what we’re seeing happening in the USA is analogous: the Obama Administration’s impact on basic freedoms & healthy capitalism is analogous to how the [so-called] anti-Christ would have to gain a controlling position.

    We have a government, or more precisely a part (the Democratic Party subset, for the most part, but not exclusively) of the government that has initiated policies that created extraordinary problems in the economy, both domestically & contributing overseas — yet gets away with blaming the private sector parties (Wall Street) for doing what it induced them to do….it is regulating business out of business while saying it is trying to “create jobs,” while instigating a class warfare solution that cannot possibly work that hasn’t, yet, really impacted the “rich” but has increased poverty levels to unprecedented levels…and most of the population has no clue how & that the sweet-sounding teleprompter rhetoric is 180 degrees opposed to reality of what is happening.

  38. Obama submitted two budgets in his first term. The first received zero votes in the Senate and died. The second received zero votes in the House and died.

  39. Louis,

    The problem with the “Balanced” approach to balancing the budget is that history says that a truly balanced approach won’t happen. Every single time in the Past that the Democrats pushed the Republicans into accepting tax increases in exchange for spending cuts what happend was that the tax increases happened imediately and the spending cuts were illusary if they happened at all. Every single time congress ended up outspending the tax increase.

    For the balanced approach to work the spending cuts must be real and imediate. Total federal expenditures must be lower for the next fiscal year than for the current fiscal year in real dollars. If this doesn’t happen there were no spending cuts.

    At this point it is entierly proper for true fiscal conservatives to be very weary of tax increases as a budget balancing measure.

    The federal government must demonstrate that it has the capacity to live within its current means. Then and only then can a rational discusson be had over what the proper size and scope of the federal government should be.

  40. Ken, the amount of cherry picking you showcase is astonishing. At least consider the counter points to everything you’ve just said, instead of just parroting back everything you’ve heard in the conservative echo chambers.

  41. MattS, I would be more sympathetic to your point of view if the Bush’s (and Obama’s) tax cuts that are about to end were not themselves passed in Congress as temporary measures of booming the economy, Keynesian in both theory and practice I should add.

    The fact that “fiscal conservatives” are so much against the ending of Keynesian measures tells me something about them that perhaps they did not intend.

  42. Briggs

    7 November 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Luis,

    Just for fun, how is the data from Census on poverty rate derived from the “conservative echo chambers.” About what about the morality that half of us do not pay federal income tax? That fair? If so, should the percentage be larger? If so, how much larger? What level makes confiscatory/redistribution policies fair?

    Ken, did you leave out the record number of food stamps customers?

  43. Briggs

    7 November 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Luis,

    I’ll tell you one thing Republicans are nutty about: immigration. Plenty of looney lefties on the question, too: Dream Acts, endless idiotic euphemisms such as “undocumented”, and so on. But geez, if only Republicans would understand that Hispanic immigrants in general hold the same values as they do, then we’d be somewhere. We ought to be down in Texas holding the door open.

  44. Dias, You’ve confused what Keynes himself at one point advocated during his long career as an economist with the definition of Keynesian Economics—That is fiscal stimulation through government spending.

  45. Ken,
    Per the kill list–a terrible thing that has no place in a democratic republic:
    http://www.theonion.com/articles/new-do-not-kill-registry-to-allow-americans-to-opt,18155/

  46. “My condolences Mr. Briggs. Look on the bright side: it’s only 4 more years until a Republican takes a seat in the Oval Office.”

    But Will you fail to understand the lasting implications that this next 4 years will affect this nation. It’s not just 4 years and then something new. We will have a debt up to our eyeballs due to that Obamacare! Mark my words, this cost will exponentially rise. We will be the next Greece, Italy and Spain….

    Even the Democrats could not put a price tag on what that will cost us because the sky is the limit (and they certainly didn’t want that thought crossing people’s mind to deter it from passing!). You will either see our income tax increase to a minimum of 60% and/or increase borrowing from China…. As ideal as a social healthcare can be, it’s not practical for this nation.

  47. Mr Briggs,

    Millionaires and billionaires that voted for Obama like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet agree that they never needed the Bush tax cut and that they should pay more taxes in % than there employee.

    Jon Stewart interviewed J.k. Rowling a few days ago. She explained how she received for 7 years government benefit or welfare as it is called in the US, and how now she doesn’t complain to having paid about ­>$500 million in taxes since then.

  48. Luis @1:02 pm

    I’m not sure what “cherry picking” or “conservative echo chamber” to which you’re referring??

    For one, US Government-sanctioned killings of US citizens determined, in secret, to be ‘aiding or abetting’ the enemy (or whatever…we don’t really know because the legal analysis is secret) has bi-partisian fingerprints all over it.

    Along those lines, the US Government’s (USG’s) allowance for the President to conduct, and escalate, military operations without a formal declaration of war (recall there’s Libya) is somewhat unprecedented. Bush (conservative/republican) was just as guilty of that as Obama (liberal/democrat).

    As for the other data, it is what it is…and as Briggs noted, there is more.

    Regarding the financial crisis (housing bubble, Wall Street Firm collapse, leading to government bailouts) I suggest the following by Michael Lewis (author of Moneyball & Liar’s Poker):

    Boomerang & The Big Short (both are partial titles–enough to easily locate on Amazon, etc.).

    M. Lewis is very good at explaining complicated financial instruments in terms the layperson can understand (unlike David Smick in his ‘The World is Curved’ which tends more to an audience with a basic understanding of international finance & economics). Lewis makes quite a number of good points, is entertaining at it (my opinion) and is reasonably objective…however, as with any such analysis some will find points to debate. Regardless, one can get a pretty good appreciation for what happened & why. Ultimately, one cannot escape the USG’s intimate involvement in fostering the mechanisms that initiated a predictable outcome.

    Which ought to be, but clearly is not [yet, hopefully…] a cautionary tale taken to heart for limiting government’s roles, responsibilities, and direct power over, too much.

    Meantime, a whopping proportion of the US population is intent on making the USG a nanny-ish caretaker of things for which that government lacks any experience, skill or competence whatsoever. Even as that government proves its incompetence at that sort of thing repeatedly. Further, and more significantly, that government is structured such that accountability & reward/penalty arrangements for those leading/championing such initiatives are structured such that they have negligible relation to any program outcome, good or bad. The fundamental problem remains: politicians are rewarded for amassing power and not for effectively and responsibly exercising that power; the power it its reward, and, they can & do easily scapegoat–especially to a public that too-often willfully chooses & works hard to maintain blissful ignorance — which makes it so easy for them to present rosy promises & sentiments while delivering nothing and much worse.

    More to the point–politicians don’t deliver anything, instead its an army of paper-pushing bureaucrats that does the actual work. And when has such an army every accomplished anything of significance in any country? Structural arrangements squelch innovation, rigid pay scales squelch initiative, and government union-style job security ensures mediocrity is retained. Where things are really important, like the military (which has an “up or out” promotion scheme), some (some, hardly all or even most) of those structural/organizational disincentives to performance excellence are removed, but such are the exception proving the rule–

    –goverments are inherently inefficient & wasteful becuase that’s how they are designed.

    That’s hardly the kind of caretaker any thoughtful person wants to put in charge of things that are really really important.

    But that’s exactly what a lot of people seem to think they want–not because they’ve thought it thru, but because they’ve identified a charismatic person with a wasteful inefficient institution. Symbolism over substance…

  49. I would add that those who constantly harp about raising “taxes on the rich” demonstrate themselves to be more concerned with envy politics than any connection to revenue.

    Just like Obama did after he was asked about capital gains taxes. Even after it was pointed out that raising rates leads to lower revenue.

    Sure, lower tax rates are part of Keynesian economics. But even a stopped clock gets it right twice a day. But just because it stumbles onto a decent policy doesn’t mean it correctly understands the positive effects.

    What Europe has done doesn’t sound very austere to me.

  50. If billionaires want to “pay more” to the federal government there is no legal mechanism to stop them. It is all well and good for them to wail that how they wish they had the same rates as their secretary (lost in this the difference between salary and investment income, but whatever), but then they snap their purse shut. Must all largesse be pried out by the government?

  51. Luis, For Keynes, fiscal stimulus was a tool, cut taxes and boost spending during recessions to boost the economy. Fine and good. But the problem in the US is that on our left, it is stimulus in the bad times, and massive spending increases in the good times. There is never… and I mean never… any break from this. Please tell me of a time in the US since the 1960s when the Democrats have agreed to an actual reduction in spending. Continuous stimulus and huge deficits, good times and bad, is NOT what Keynes advocated. Our left is not honest enough to be allowed the checkbook of the nation. (This is not to say our right has been much better.) You seem to be under the misapprehension that our left is similar to a rational leftist party like some European countries boast of. It is not.

  52. Luis,

    I agree with Tom here. For deficit based spending to work as an economic stimulus the government has to turn off the spigot and pay down the deficit when economic times are good. Keynes wasn’t an advocate for long term govenrnment debt that never gets paid off.

    The more long term debt the government has the weaker the stimulus provided by additional deficit spending.

    Eventually the piper will have to be paide and the further we kick the can down the road the worse it gets.

    I am not opposed to limited tax increases IF and ONLY IF real spending cuts are enacted FIRST.

    I am a libertarian. I don’t consider most of the Rebublican establishment to be true fiscal conservatives. They talk a good game when government is devided but the moment they had both sides of the legislature and the White house the notion of fiscal responibilty went out the window.

    NOTE: this is not an argument I am making now for the first time. I have thought this way for a long time.

  53. On the internet, everyone is an expert. lol

    —-
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWQIlkleDr8

    “My view is that I have paid all the taxes required by law… I don’t pay more than are legally due & frankly if I had paid more, than are legally due I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president I think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires,” said Romney.

  54. Matt,

    No disrespect, but the “pay no income tax” complaint is a red herring.

    (Full Disclosure: I am a business owner, conservative, and 1%er, no CPA by any means, and shooting from the hip.)

    Based on the TANSTAAFL principle I think it is fair to say that employees in private industry cover their own costs, or they don’t have jobs. If we take a full time minimum wage employee, young and single, and look at his taxes, it works out that he pays a goodly percent. He pays his 7.5% social security, he pays (earns/creates/produces)the employers portion of 7.5%, he pays as much as 8% on his first 10,000 in unemployment taxes, and as much as 5% on his first 8,000 in workman’s comp. In addition, he will spend much of what he earns on taxable goods at 7% and other goods at a much higher embedded tax like beer, cigarettes and gasoline.(here in flyover country, other states may vary)

    I’d love to have a tax expert weigh in and tell me how that is less than Mitt’s “I never paid less than 13%.”

  55. Halflife,

    “I’d love to have a tax expert weigh in and tell me how that is less than Mitt’s “I never paid less than 13%.””

    I am not a tax expert but I am pretty sure that if you look at the full context, that comment by Romney refers exclusively to the income tax.

    No SST, no Medicare tax, no sales taxes.

    Also, I dispute some of your analyis on what a minimum wage earner pays.

    If it isn’t being deducted from the emplyees paycheck it doesn’t count as taxes payed by the employee. Additionally with very low earners you have to look at the effect of tax credits such as the earned income tax credit which are fully refundable even if the employee has not income tax liability at all (results in a refund that is larger than the employee’s total income tax witholdings).

  56. Matt,

    My premise is that the employee produces the money that I (the employer) pay to various taxing authorities. If he didn’t produce enough to cover his costs, I wouldn’t employ him. So, In my way of thinking, he not only pays the taxes he pays, he produces the money to pay the taxes I pay in his name, and, come to think of it, he produces the money I take home and use to pay the taxes on my profits.

  57. Halflife,

    Even if I granted your premis (which I don’t, it’s legaly your money or you would be required to give it all to the employee) it still isn’t valid to include payroll and sales taxes in a comparison to Romney’s statement which was strictly about income taxes.

  58. Ken’s comment made me realize something. Under Clinton the tax were much higher and the economy roaring with budget surpluses and a the repayment of the debt.

    Bush arrived, gave tax cut, unemployment starting to go up and he finished his term with the worst depression since 1929 and doubled the debt.

    So why is it that with higher tax unemployment go down and when they are lower unemployment go up.

    The reason seems simple enough higher taxes means companies need more expenses to lower there tax rate. Expenses means you need to invest more money in your enterprise, have more employee. Lower taxes eliminate this incentive.

  59. Sylvain Allard,

    I would be fine with going back to the Clinton era tax rates as long as we also went back to Clinton era spending levels at the same time.

  60. I am still intrigued by Prof Brigg’s statement concerning city verses rural values.

    Hey, look at any county-by-county election map. The country is overwhelmingly, by land area, Red. Cities, where on average rich people go to make deals with the government and the poor go to get free stuff, voted Blue. Rural areas, where on average people work or sink, and rely on their families and communities when they do sink, voted Red.

    I believe one of the reasons the US is so successful is due to its encouragement of entrepreneurial thinking – not only in business, but also in creative activities. Such thinking needs a tolerant attitude to different points of view, a willingness to accept failure (often repeatedly) and so write off the debts when ideas and people sink.

    Where do such attitudes thrive? I feel that if the cartograms in this Nature paper were coloured Red and Blue Prof Briggs would not be quite as happy at the size of the Red areas – http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080917/pdf/455270a.pdf

  61. Briggs: Politics aside, I hope you’ll give us a post about WHY, as a statistician, you thought Romney had an 80% chance of winning this election. Your prediction never made any sense to me but I was intrigued, thinking you had some clever model working behind the scenes that could outdo Nate Silver’s solid but rather obvious techniques. Please tell us you weren’t just talking out your butt.

  62. SteveN,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_budget_process

    “+The President, according to the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, must submit a budget to Congress each year.”

    http://democrats.senate.gov/2012/01/24/fact-sheet-responding-to-republican-no-budget-claims/

    “It is wrong to assert that there is no budget. The Budget Control Act enacted in August contained the budget for this year. It was passed by both the House and Senate, signed by the President, and enacted into law.”

  63. When existence becomes subsistence resistance becomes non-existent.

  64. Ken,

    I’m not sure what “cherry picking” or “conservative echo chamber” to which you’re referring??

    For one, you should realise that the Patriot Act was signed by Bush, not Obama. Do not pretend these new powers that these institutions have are somehow an invention of the big black satan. Did he void the Patriot Act? No. That is not acceptable and I agree 100% on that. HOWEVER, to state that this is somehow a lib’ral nightmare and so on is despicably forgetting history here.

    As for the other data, it is what it is…and as Briggs noted, there is more.

    There’s *lot* more. There’s a ton of trash every single tribe can throw to the other side. That’s why I said that you are on the conservative echo chamber, for if you had stayed long enough on the *other* echo chamber of the *other* side, you’d learn all about the amazing corruptions and crimes commited by the republicans as well. Look, anyone who doesn’t know by now that power corrupts and that power in America is *a lot of power* might be fooled by this narrative of “corruption is a liberal policy” or something. It’s not. Get over it.

    Meantime, a whopping proportion of the US population is intent on making the USG a nanny-ish caretaker of things for which that government lacks any experience, skill or competence whatsoever

    Yeah, rather than the all-too compentent market that utterly failed in 2008. Or the amazingly competent healthcare private market that constantly tries to boot patients to the streets, struggles with clients when the bills reach the insurance companies, obligates doctors to make calls to the insurance companies to know if they can operate someone or not, and so on and so on. It’s a living nightmare born out of some dystopia, but somehow this notion that markets are pristine perfect still lingers in many intellectual corners. It’s like zombies.

    Further, and more significantly, that government is structured such that accountability & reward/penalty arrangements for those leading/championing such initiatives are structured such that they have negligible relation to any program outcome, good or bad.

    This is true. But again, you miss the counter, that is that sometimes free markets are even worse in their natural incentives, pushing up a sense of greed and corruption that pervades the whole system, and degrades it until a huge crash comes up. And then, everyone’s involved so much that the only two options a state has is “let it fail”, which would be the only darwinian proper answer, letting the “natural selection of markets” do its thing and so on, and leave the economy in the pits, or bail everyone out. A free market is, by any standards, just as corrupt and unsustainable as any government in the long term. I so wished that conservatives would just appreciate the non-linearity and the chaotic nature of unregulated self-emergent “orders” that free markets spring. Everything would be so much easier.

    goverments are inherently inefficient & wasteful becuase that’s how they are designed.

    And yet, they are fundamental.

  65. Tom

    There is never… and I mean never… any break from this. Please tell me of a time in the US since the 1960s when the Democrats have agreed to an actual reduction in spending. Continuous stimulus and huge deficits, good times and bad, is NOT what Keynes advocated.

    Last time the US had budget surplus even despite having the lowest taxes in the developed nations was under a liberal president and you knew that. To ask for a data point on “reduction in spending” is somewhat misleading due to inflation. For instance, if you check this graph:

    http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/us_20th_century_chart.html

    You will see a reduction in government spending by percentage of GDP in the nineties, something that was abolished by… George Bush. One can understand the tax cuts in 2001, given the small recession and so on, but to continue them while pushing America into two costly wars was something amazingly preposterous.

    You can also look at the graphs to see what happened during “fiscal conservatives” Bush senior and Reagan for comparison.

    So there’s a lot to be said about who’s “honest” or not. Despite the rethoric, the conservatives are at least just as bad as the “lib’ral spenders”, while boasting their own austerity.

    MattS

    I agree with Tom here. For deficit based spending to work as an economic stimulus the government has to turn off the spigot and pay down the deficit when economic times are good. Keynes wasn’t an advocate for long term govenrnment debt that never gets paid off.

    Agree. That’s why it was annoying as hell to see tv pundits blaming Obama for the deficits. Those were not bad policies by him.

    I am not opposed to limited tax increases IF and ONLY IF real spending cuts are enacted FIRST.

    Here’s the kicker: it’s not a tax increase. It’s the end of a tax reduction, which was a Keynesian measure. And by your previous statement, such measures should *end* when the economy seems to recover from the recession / depression. So you are both for the end of the tax cut and for its continuation? Come on.

    NOTE: this is not an argument I am making now for the first time. I have thought this way for a long time.

    That’s pretty worse then, because you seem utterly confused.

  66. Louis,

    I am not the one who is confused.

    First, while I understand that what Keynes was promoting has been badly distorted I still don’t buy his argument. I am not a Keynesian.

    I would be fine with the GW Bush (Let’s be clear about which Bush we are talking about) tax cuts ending if I had reason to trust that congress wouldn’t use it as an excuse to expand spending further.

    History shows that congress will outspend any revinue increase (even the experation of temporary tax cuts) by 1.5 to 2 times.

    You need to understand that defict spending is a spending problem and not a revenue problem and no amount of revenue increases will fix the problem.

    There are other reasons to support leaving the tax cuts in place.

    I am a Libertarian and I think the federal government is already way oversized.

    Polliticians of both parties and all those feeding at the federal budget trough need to learn that even the federal govenrment can’t raise infinite funds without very bad things happening.

    If a financial catastrophy is what it will take for them to learn that lesson so be it.

    Cut revinue at every opportunity.
    Oppose any increase in the debt cap.

    If they can’t learn to make real spending cuts in time to avoid catastrophy then we can start over after the current house of cards collapses.

  67. GoneWithTheWind

    8 November 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Clinton fought congress tooth and nail to spend more and tax more. It was Gingrich that brought us a balanced budget not Clinton.

  68. First, while I understand that what Keynes was promoting has been badly distorted I still don’t buy his argument. I am not a Keynesian.

    Well that’s too bad. If there’s anything remotely asking to be accepted viz a viz the great depression and the recent one is that Keynes was spot on, and that the “Austerity” guys were amazingly wrong. And still are.

    You need to understand that defict spending is a spending problem and not a revenue problem and no amount of revenue increases will fix the problem.

    No, budget deficits are a problem of revenue – spending. It’s as basic as that, and if you are just going to tell me that whenever there’s a revenue surge, it automatically means more spending, thus making the problem worse, well first it is historically untrue and second it is irrational. Personally, I am not against gov cuts at all.

    There are other reasons to support leaving the tax cuts in place.
    I am a Libertarian and I think the federal government is already way oversized.

    That’s an ideological opinion. It’s undebatable by nature. What is debatable however is that the notion that the government is “overreaching” by stopping the Keynesian measures of tax cuts. It is not, it is merely acknowledging their pledge of “temporality” that they promised about those measures to the public. What is sleazy is to paint this as “tax increases” and say that the problem is the government is spending “too much”, when those Keynesian measures were exactly betting on that same point from the start.

    Obama did try to negociate the taxes with the cuts, and he was cut off. According to you, it was because LIB’rls are not to be trusted. You know what? That’s BS. If you want stuff, deal. If you want to negociate, learn to trust other people. If you want to be trusted back, learn to respect other people. This whole notion of “We the righteous people will never deal with these satanic lib’rals” is one of the things that is amazingly wrong with your country. Get off that pedestal and see yourselves as you truly are: human beings filled with sin. Just like the dems.

    Cut revinue at every opportunity.
    Oppose any increase in the debt cap.

    Yeah, that’s too radical for me.

  69. Briggs

    8 November 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Kennedy,

    See the post on polls and models. I put up a brief comment. I got the proportions of who’d show up wrong. Too much persistence!

  70. Luis (@ 8 November 2012 at 12:23 pm)

    JUST to illustrate your blatant & libelous misrepresentation of my remarks I’ll pick one of your comments & dissect it briefly:

    TO MY COMMENT: “I’m not sure what “cherry picking” or “conservative echo chamber” to which you’re referring??”

    YOU WROTE: “For one, you should realise that the Patriot Act was signed by Bush, not Obama. Do not pretend these new powers that these institutions have are somehow an invention of the big black satan. Did he void the Patriot Act? No. That is not acceptable and I agree 100% on that. HOWEVER, to state that this is somehow a lib’ral nightmare and so on is despicably forgetting history here.”

    SPECIFICALLY, YOU LIE BY ASSERTING: “…to state that this is somehow a lib’ral nightmare and so on is despicably forgetting history here.”

    YOU LIE BECAUSE I specifically referenced a Forbes article, “The National Defense Authorization Act is the Greatest Threat to Civil Liberties Americans” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/12/05/the-national-defense-authorization-act-is-the-greatest-threat-to-civil-liberties-americans-face/ ) addressing an expansion of powers generally assessed to be to an unprecedented & UNConstitutional extent.

    That legislation was passed by a Republican-controlled Congress–therefore, it could not be the “lib’ral nightmare” you claim I claimed it was…because I never claimed anything of the sort.

    That & numerous other similar examples where no opportunity is missed to misinterpret any & all negative observation in the most personally (to you) threatening & demeaning manner clearly illustrate your hypersensitive & hyperdefensive paranoid temperment for what it is. For that, I pity you.

  71. I see the DOW dropped 313 points yesterday. We’re off to a good start.

  72. If I recall correctly, some time ago you asked us to make predictions. Are we going to check those to see who guessed right?

  73. Louis,

    “No, budget deficits are a problem of revenue – spending. It’s as basic as that, and if you are just going to tell me that whenever there’s a revenue surge, it automatically means more spending, thus making the problem worse, well first it is historically untrue and second it is irrational.”

    No it is not historically untrue. If it was untrue federal government wouldn’t have any long term debt and yet it does. I agree it is irrational but since when as a lack of rationality stoped the government form doing something.

    “Personally, I am not against gov cuts at all.”

    Good, we have some place to start negotiating from.

    “What is debatable however is that the notion that the government is “overreaching” by stopping the Keynesian measures of tax cuts. It is not, it is merely acknowledging their pledge of “temporality” that they promised about those measures to the public. What is sleazy is to paint this as “tax increases” and say that the problem is the government is spending “too much”, when those Keynesian measures were exactly betting on that same point from the start.”

    I never claimed that stopping the tax cuts was overreaching. When I said that the federal government is already way over size I mean that it needs to be cut in half at least. The Keynsian measures weren’t betting on anything (as they are incabable of action). I don’t much care what the polititions that enacted them were betting on at the time if those measures can be turned to support goals I care about.

    “Obama did try to negociate the taxes with the cuts, and he was cut off. According to you, it was because LIB’rls are not to be trusted. You know what? That’s BS.”

    I never said anything about liberals are not to be trusted. I have no idea where you get this from. I am a libertarian. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans can be trusted on this issue.

    “If you want stuff, deal. If you want to negociate, learn to trust other people.”

    Trusting those who have proven themselves unworthy of trust is foolish at best. The Rebulicans talk a good game when it comes to small government but proved under GW Bush that they don’t really care about small government. As for the Democrats, name one time that the Democrats actually supported cutting spending on anything other than the military.

    “If you want to be trusted back, learn to respect other people.”

    Tell that to both the Republican and Democrat establishments. Then turn it around back at your self and take a good long look in the mirror.

  74. Briggs

    8 November 2012 at 1:59 pm

    commieBob,

    I generally do this at the close of the year. Look at 31 December of last year for the predictions. Mine for president was wrong, wrong, wrong, and then wrong some more.

  75. People here speak as if the battle in the election was over raising taxes or cutting spending to solve the nation’s fiscal problems. It was not. The incumbent was calling for an increase in current marginal rates on a very small subset of the population in the interests of tax fairness. No one seriously argued that this tax increase would impact either the size of government or its funding. The other side called for keeping revenues roughly the same while lowering marginal rates and restructuring “entitlement” obligations.

    Note that revenues to the federal government would be largely unchanged in either case(and regardless of which set of assumptions you use, since the total impact of the changes in taxes on such a small subset is small no matter what reasonable assumptions you use).

    So what the choice came down to was whether we are going to deal with the problem that is sinking us – the size of government and its obligations. The voice of people was clear. We are not.

  76. @txslr

    “The incumbent was calling for an increase in current marginal rates on a very small subset of the population in the interests of tax fairness. No one seriously argued that this tax increase would impact either the size of government or its funding. The other side called for keeping revenues roughly the same while lowering marginal rates and restructuring “entitlement” obligations.”

    Except that the subset of the population that Obama wants to increase taxes on in the intresets of fairness is already responsible for a greater share of total income tax revenues than their share of total income. The group at the top that would hold around 30% of total income (I think it’s the top 5%) pay over 40% of all income tax revinue.

    Arguing that their share of the total tax burden should increase for the sake of fairness is an exercise in absurdity.

  77. As a libertairan I support the following deffinition of a fair income tax system (I don’t recall where I first saw it so no cite).

    1. Taxes all income.
    2. Taxes all income at the same rate.
    3. Taxes all income only once.

    The current US tax system fails on all three counts.

  78. So Ken, if the Patriot Act and that update are both stuff from the Republicans, why did you say it was the fault of big boy black Obama Satan?

    See:

    Obama has a documented policy…

    That & numerous other similar examples where no opportunity is missed to misinterpret any & all negative observation in the most personally (to you) threatening & demeaning manner clearly illustrate your hypersensitive & hyperdefensive paranoid temperment for what it is. For that, I pity you.

    Priceless.

  79. MattS,

    No it is not historically untrue. If it was untrue federal government wouldn’t have any long term debt and yet it does.

    Non Sequitur. Your proclamation is whenever taxes rise, spending rises by 1.5x or more. This is historically untrue. The governments have long term debt because most of the time it runs deficits (which is not a bad thing, given it isn’t a big deficit) What is true is that whenever a republican decides to make “tax cuts” ala Reagan or Bush, they all argued that spending cuts would follow, and precisely the opposite happened.

    When I said that the federal government is already way over size I mean that it needs to be cut in half at least.

    Well, I have no opinion on that matter. My country is the size of a small state of yours, and I do not understand entirely what libertarians propose regarding state functions: if it is of the opinion that states should have their own education minister, healthcare program, so on and so on (and so the problem is just the centralization of many of these things federally wise), or if these things should be on the market entirely.

    If it is the latter, well then we disagree plenty. I do not think markets work everywhere, nor should they. Markets are, IMHO, entirely incompatible with the Hippocrates’ oath, morally and philosophically, and in practice. For example.

    As for the Democrats, name one time that the Democrats actually supported cutting spending on anything other than the military.

    It was Bill Clinton who slashed Social Security with the famous “The age of Big Government is over”.

  80. Luis,

    “Non Sequitur. Your proclamation is whenever taxes rise, spending rises by 1.5x or more. This is historically untrue. The governments have long term debt because most of the time it runs deficits (which is not a bad thing, given it isn’t a big deficit)”

    You are the one who is wrong if spending didn’t keep outsriping revinue increases the government wouldn’t be running deficits most of the time. Even with the recession, total federal tax revinue is higher today than it was 10 years ago. And yet we are still saddled with deficits. The only way for this to happen is for spending to constantly outstrip the revenue increases. A large part of the reason for this is hidden in that congress does not specifically authorize the spending increases because much of it comes from non-discretionary spending. Around 51% of total federal expenditures comes from a combination of entitlement spending and interest payments on the long term debt.

    From what I undersand of whay Keynes wrote he himself would not aprove of this. What I understand of what Keynes proposed was that all acumulated debt from running deficits durring bad times was supposed to FULLY paid off durring the next economic boom. He did not support government running long term debt.

    “What is true is that whenever a republican decides to make “tax cuts” ala Reagan or Bush, they all argued that spending cuts would follow, and precisely the opposite happened.”

    This is a red herring, stop bringing it up. I have been very consistant in putting the blame for the situation on both the Republicans and the Demicrats. You have already stated that you aren’t a US citizen and don’t live in the US, stop pretending that you have a better understanding of the dynamics between the Rs and the Ds.

    “My country is the size of a small state of yours, and I do not understand entirely what libertarians propose regarding state functions: if it is of the opinion that states should have their own education minister, healthcare program, so on and so on (and so the problem is just the centralization of many of these things federally wise), or if these things should be on the market entirely.”

    For the majority of libertairians it is the former rather than the latter. Try reading the US constitution, it will help you understand.

    What the constitution says is that the federal government has certain specifically enumerated powers and that all other powers are reserved to the states and or the people. However the courts have allowed the federal government to repeatedly streach the interstate commerce clause (allows the federal government to regulate interstate commerce) so far as to moot the very idea of a limited federal government.

    Take Obama care for instance. The primary justification in the law is the interstate commerse clause. Yet for most, neither medical care nor health insurance is purchased interstate. Yet the courts rejected a chalange to the individual mandate on the basis that the commerse clause allows the federal government to regulate an individuals decision to refrain from interstate commerce. A sane cort system giving fair reading to the commerce clause would have invalidated the whole thing on the basis that it doesn’t fall under the federal government’s enumerated powers.

    “It was Bill Clinton who slashed Social Security with the famous “The age of Big Government is over”.”

    Again you show a failure to understand the dynamics of the US government (try reading our constitution) and R vs D pollitics. The president has no power to slash spending on anything. All spending authority lies with congress. The republicans controled both sides of congress for the majority of Clinton’s time in office. This and the entirety of the ballanced budget durring his time was something he was pushed into (I will grant that he didn’t fight it very hard) by the Republicans in congress. The Republicans had a majority in both the House and the Senate but not enough of one to override a presidential veto. Clinton saw that he wouldn’t be able to get anything done without Republican support and cut a number of deals with them that were fought tooth and nail by the Democrats in Congress.

    Bill Clinton governed as a centrist due to a Republican congress and he fought his own party to do it. But don’t be fooled by the hype he put out. None of the spending cuts were his idea, they were all payoffs to the Republicans to get some of his agenda passed.

  81. Louis,

    Again you missquote Ken.

    What Ken said was: “Obama has a documented policy of targeting and killing US citizens he/the government deems, in secret, are a terrorist threat…and has killed some US Citizens without due process”

    No where does the post from Ken from which this quote is taken mention the Patriot Act. The policy of targeted killings was not authorized by the Patriot Act and it is not in anyway a hold over from Bush. This policy is an Obama invention and even many of his supporters in the US have criticized him for this.

  82. I notice that not only was Obama re-elected to keep doing the same thing, but the Republican House was re-elected to keep trying to stop him. How long will it be before we hear complains about Obama defying the clear will of the people, as expressed by their choice of House members? I won’t hold my breath.

  83. You are the one who is wrong if spending didn’t keep outsriping revinue increases the government wouldn’t be running deficits most of the time.

    Again we have to disagree. Tax cuts have put your country in this position. Look you are just basically ignoring history here. In 2000, the US had a surplus. Note that even with a deficit it is quite common for a nation to decrease its debt (with a deficit of 2,3% such a thing normally happens), and with a surplus that’s a given. This surplus was destroyed with Bushian tax cuts, and war spending.

    From what I undersand of whay Keynes wrote he himself would not aprove of this. What I understand of what Keynes proposed was that all acumulated debt from running deficits durring bad times was supposed to FULLY paid off durring the next economic boom. He did not support government running long term debt.

    He wasn’t worried by “long term” at all, so that’s not a proper vision of Keynesianism. The reason he wasn’t worried about long term is threefold. First we are “all dead” in the long term. Second, if GDP grows the debt we have right now becomes tinier and tinier in proportion to the wealth of the nation, thus becoming irrelevant (this is what happened to the debt of the WW2, it became irrelevant), third, inflation.

    Nations are not households. They can have long term debt, because (in principle) they won’t “die”. They have to manage it proper, and not let it take hold of everything else obviously.

    stop pretending that you have a better understanding of the dynamics between the Rs and the Ds

    As if such thing was automatically a given with the american citizenship.

    Regarding healthcare, yeah I can see that the proposed system is junk. A single payer system is so much better it isn’t funny.

    Clinton saw that he wouldn’t be able to get anything done without Republican support and cut a number of deals with them that were fought tooth and nail by the Democrats in Congress.

    You asked an example of a democrat president where things were slashed I gave you one. Now you shift your goalposts, saying it was the Rs. I KNOW THAT. I know very well what happened: a tough but necessary negociation between conflicting and opposed views on how the future of the US was supposed to be. Imagine that. However, you asked for an example I GAVE you one. At least acknowledge it.

  84. No where does the post from Ken from which this quote is taken mention the Patriot Act. The policy of targeted killings was not authorized by the Patriot Act and it is not in anyway a hold over from Bush. This policy is an Obama invention and even many of his supporters in the US have criticized him for this.

    That’s all fine and well, except it is entirely FALSE. The bill was written by Carl Levin and John McCain, passed the Senate and Congress, and the only thing we can blame Obama is that he didn’t vetoed it. To say this is “an Obama invention” is an abhorrent distortion of the truth.

  85. Election Model Post-Mortem: Exactly right at 332 EV
    http://tinyurl.com/c72ebs3

    By Richard Charnin

    But Obama did much better than that, just as he did much better than his 365 EV in 2008.

    The recorded result was confirmed in the model.

    Obama had 332 electoral votes based on the recorded vote total – not the True Vote.

    Obama was able once again to overcome the built-in FRAUD FACTOR, which would be reflected by a red-shift in the UNADJUSTED EXIT POLLS. But to paraphrase what Alec Baldwin told the real-estate salesmen in the famous opening scene of the classic film Glen Garry Glen Ross:
    “These are the unadjusted exit polls. They are gold – but you don’t get them. They’re for NEP only”.

    The red-shift did not go away. We do not have the unadjusted exit polls. The True Vote Model forecast the TRUE VOTE as 55-45%. I also projected the RECORDED VOTE based on the pre-election polls from which the Monte Carlo Simulation Model derived Obama’s 99% win probability. No rocket science – and that is why I got it EXACTLY right at 332 EV (the actual SNAPSHOT).

    The EXPECTED THEORETICAL 321 EV was based on the summation formula:
    EV= ∑ P(I)* EV (I), for I =1,51 STATES. The probability P(I) of winning the state was based on the 2-party poll projection.

    Looking at the numbers, assuming that Obama had 51.7% of the two-party recorded vote:
    Romney needed 15% of returning Obama 2008 voters and 50% of new voters.
    Romney needed a 2% turnout rate advantage of returning McCain voters over Obama voters.

    Scroll down to row 375 in this spread sheet to view the sensitivity analysis:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AjAk1JUWDMyRdDQzLWJTdlppakNRNDlMakhhMGdGa0E#gid=25

    The pollsters anticipate the red-shift without saying so. They use the Likely Voter Cutoff Model which reduces Democratic turnout in their LV polls. And this is very important: they use PREVIOUS election BOGUS RECORDED votes as part of their strategy when they design their sample – and we KNOW that the previous recorded votes were inflated for the Republican.

    THE POLLSTERS GOT THE RECORDED VOTE RIGHT; THEY USUALLY DO. BUT THEY ALWAYS AVOID DOING AN ANALYSIS TO DETERMINE THE TRUE VOTE. THE POLLSTERS ARE PAID TO PREDICT THE RECORDED VOTE – NOT THE TRUE VOTE.

    http://richardcharnin.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/4380/

  86. Luis, the only thing “abhorrent” is your ability to do the most basic research. The NDAA penned by Levin and McCain does not allow the president to kill American citizens. Obama gained this power through an executive order–in the same fashion Bush II acquired the power to torture–by having a memo written by the Office of Legal Counsel that gives him the green light. And like the Bush memo, the contents are secret(and probably suck).

    http://www.loweringthebar.net/2012/07/secret-legal-memos-suck.html

    Abhorrent, indeed.

    I voted for Obama in 2008, and I am appalled by a record on civil liberties that would make Dick Cheney blush.

  87. Louis,

    “You asked an example of a democrat president where things were slashed I gave you one. Now you shift your goalposts, saying it was the Rs. I KNOW THAT. I know very well what happened: a tough but necessary negociation between conflicting and opposed views on how the future of the US was supposed to be. Imagine that. However, you asked for an example I GAVE you one. At least acknowledge it.”

    No, I didn’t move the goal posts. And I did not ask for a democratic president where things where slashed. I asked for a case where the Democrats (the party not any one individual) supported cutting spending on anything other than the military. Clinton had to fight his own party on the deals with the republicans that led to the spending cuts. (Note: there were tax cuts in those deals as well)

    “Tax cuts have put your country in this position. Look you are just basically ignoring history here. In 2000, the US had a surplus.”

    No, I explained this quite clearly much of the spending increases are in so called non-discresionary spending and debt service. This is over half the US budget.

    “Second, if GDP grows the debt we have right now becomes tinier and tinier in proportion to the wealth of the nation, thus becoming irrelevant (this is what happened to the debt of the WW2, it became irrelevant), third, inflation.”

    Except that US long term debt is not tiny compared to GDP and is growing. Even durring the Clinton surplus years the long term debt grew because the us is making the intrest payments with new debt. The interest alone on the US long term debt is a significant and growing fraction of the US budget.

    “They can have long term debt, because (in principle) they won’t “die”. They have to manage it proper, and not let it take hold of everything else obviously.”

    And obviously in the US it hasn’t been managed at all much less properly and is taking hold of everything else. As I have said repeatedly, the intrest alone on the long term debt has become a significant portion of the US budget and in fact the US has had to pay that interest in some cases with new debt.

    “A single payer system is so much better it isn’t funny.”

    And such a system at the federal level would be unconstitutional. Healthcare is not among the federal governments enumerated powers.

  88. Louis,

    One more point on the issue of revenue vs spending.

    If you look at US tax rates vs reviues historically going back to the inception of the income tax you will see something quite interesting. Actual federal revinue stays in a very narrow band between 16.5% of GDP and 19.5% of GDP no matter what the tax rates are. Please note that there were times where the top marginal tax rates hit 80%. The relationship between tax rates and revinue is non linear.

  89. Louis,

    “That’s all fine and well, except it is entirely FALSE. The bill was written by Carl Levin and John McCain, passed the Senate and Congress”

    No it is not false. You are wrong. The targeted killings (assasinations) of terrorist suspects (including at least one US citizen so far) are not authorized by any legislation including the 2012 defense authorization bill. If you have evidence otherwise please quote specific sections of the bill.

    This policy was enacted by Obama by the extra constitutional process of executive order. (executive orders in general while not authorized by the constitution have a long tradition going all the way back to the early history of the US, however their legality has never been tested in the courts)

  90. What a Paul Craig Roberts Administration Would Look Like
    Paul Craig Roberts
    November 9, 2012
    http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2012/11/09/what-paul-craig-roberts-administration-would-look-like/

    Unless I am being spoofed, several hundred readers wrote me in as their selection for President. I am honored. Some asked if I were elected by write-ins and not instantly assassinated, who would I appoint?

    An easy question to answer.

    Nomi Prins would be Secretary of the Treasury, and Pam Martens would be Deputy Secretary of the Treasury.

    Lew Rockwell would be the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

    Michael Hudson would be chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors.

    Harvey Silverglate would be Attorney General.

    Glenn Greenwald would be Deputy Attorney General.

    Dean Booth and Larry Stratton would be White House legal counsels.

    Willie Nelson would be Secretary of Agriculture.

    Jeffrey St. Clair would be head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

    Elizabeth Warren would have whatever post she wants.

    Cynthia McKinney would be Secretary of State.

    The CIA would be headed by Ray McGovern and Philip Giraldi.

    The FBI would be headed by Sibel Edmonds.

    Homeland Security would be abolished.

    David Ray Griffin and Richard Gage would head the 9/11 investigation.

    Bradley Manning would be in charge of closing down the torture prisons.

    Julian Assange and John Pilger would be heads of the Public Broadcasting Corporation.

    Gerald Celente would be White House Press Secretary.

    John Williams (shadowstats.com) would be in charge of federal statistics.

    Key members of the Bush and Obama regimes from the president down, and every neoconservative would be handed over to the war crimes tribunal for trial.

    The Republicans on the Supreme Court would be impeached and removed from office.

    Brooksley Born would be in charge of all federal financial regulatory agencies.

    Major General Antonio Mario Taguba would be Secretary of Defense.

    Col. Lawrence Wilkerson would be Deputy Secretary of State.

    Ron Unz would be chief of staff of the White House.

    Norman Finkelstein would be US Ambassador to Israel.

    Noam Chomsky would be US Ambassador to the UN.

    David M. Walker would be Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

    The Israel Lobby would have to register as a foreign agent.

    I could go on. There are two or three hundred appointments to fill, but I think the picture is clear. It would be an administration that represented Americans, not special interests and foreigners, and an administration that put the country back in order.

    But, of course, it is all a dream. No one who actually cares about our country is permitted to serve in public office.

    Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate.

  91. Mr Briggs,
    I see a lot of news articles recently claiming massive voter fraud in districts that were critical to Obama’s victory, along with horrible cases of military disenfranchisement. As a statistician, could you apply your expertise to see if these claims really could have lead to a fraudulent win for Obummer?

  92. Briggs

    10 November 2012 at 10:53 am

    Jethro,

    I will not. There is always voter fraud, particularly in Democrat-controlled areas. Think Chicago, where Dia de la Muertos is Spanish for “Election day.” Think Brooklyn, where Republicans can’t even make it on a ticket. On TV Tuesday, a reporter asked Michael Barone when would Gary, Indiana report. He joked somebody would call them and say, “When will the votes be counted?” and somebody would answer, “How many votes do you need?”

    No, voter fraud is just there and known. But this election was not decided by a few thousand stuffed votes.

  93. The only “fair” solution to this divide is to divide the country. Democrats get everything east of the Mississippi, Republicans to the west. No money changes between the two halves, no one can move from one side to the other once chosen. This will, of course, never occur because without the “evil rich robber barons” (assumed to be on the Republican side), one’s sources for taxes and industry quickly dry up and poverty begins to set in. You cannot have welfare without someone to take the money from. The rich benefit the liberals greatly. They do not want to end the rich, only to bleed enough money out of them to keep the masses happy. If the rich are punitively taxed, as in France, they flee and the slide to mediocrity accelerates and standards of living drop quickly. Virtually everyone wants and needs the rich, even those that claim to despise them. Only the very foolish try to bleed all the money out of their best revenue sources.

  94. “It is interesting how many of the things found in Obamacare that Republican don’t like were actually Republican idea to begin with.”

    Unfortunately there are Progressives in both parties.

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