Monthly Archives: December 2009

Handouts for China

Unemployed Americans may be surprised to learn that they are paying to clean up pollution in China.  Jeremiah is not necessarily a global warming skeptic – the evidence is actually pretty good – but he is certainly a give-a-trillion-dollars-to-China skeptic.  Even the Economist, which is liberal on this topic, avers:

The idea that rich countries will hand over 1.2% to 1.7% of their wealth in perpetuity is not going to fly.

No kidding.  You have to read this article to grasp the full extent of arrogance in Copenhagen.  China pollutes like crazy, fouling her own air and waterways, whilst flooding America with poorly-made, toxic exports.  Millions of Americans are out of work, but we will nonetheless pay for the cleanup.

Here is a better idea – slap a fat “pollution tariff” on Chinese goods.  For good measure, tack on a “human rights tariff.” You have read about pollution tariffs here before, and at Policy Innovations.  This is a fair and reasonable way to enforce responsibility for the global environment.

Of course, we can’t stand up to China in a tariff dispute.  Congress is too addicted to Chinese cash, to pay for their spending habit.  We wanted a metaphor to describe this kind of dependency.  Please write in, if you have got one that avoids “crack whore.”


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Gentlemen, Don Your Headscarves

We don’t know when the mainstream media will pick this up. has been reporting the latest protest statement from the Green Revolution.  Student dissident leader Majid Tavakkoli was picked up by the police and made to dress like a woman.  Sympathizers are posting photos of themselves in hijab, on the site.

The Green Revolution is now at such a scale that America must recognize it.  On the nuclear matter, it is time anyway to stop waltzing with Ahmadinejad and implement sanctions.  President Obama should add that, when talks resume, we would like to negotiate with the legitimate leader of Iran, Mir-Hossein Mousavi.  Separately, the U.N. should resolve not to recognize the authority of Mr. Ahmadinejad, nor the police state that supports him.

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Filed under Foreign Policy

Someone Else Will Pay

John F. Kennedy has been quoted lately in the press.  The Economist has compared his “pay any price, bear any burden” to President Obama’s (rather less inspiring) speech at West Point.  Citations regarding the end of the space program include “we do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”  Then, of course, there is the immortal “ask not what your country can do for you, but rather what you can do for your country.”

Kennedy was a Democrat, and no friend of big business, but neither did he espouse the doctrine of dependency common among Democrats today.  In fact, his vision of America was closer to Ronald Reagan’s than to modern Democrats.  Both men spoke of America having a great purpose, demanding courage and sacrifice.

The notion that government can somehow support the people is not only wrong economically, it is wrong morally.  Government is supported by the citizens, not vice-versa.  Democrats in Congress would like us to believe in a magical, off-balance-sheet source of funding for their programs.

It is easy to see how this fiction helps the lazy and dishonest in Congress.  The greater danger, though, is its demoralizing effect on the public. Those who are poorly educated – and the education system is a disaster – come to believe that, indeed, the government has unlimited resources.  Sacrifice?  Courage?  If only we can protest loudly enough, the government will give us what we desire.

Secretary Geithner can’t print money fast enough.  He has yet to resist a spending request.  Speaker Pelosi balanced her health bill using a 50% surtax.  Kennedy would not recognize his party today.  Where he spoke proudly of Americans pulling together, they have added a qualification – someone else will pay.

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Filed under Finance

You Might Be a Republican

Take this simple quiz.  If you agree with eight (8) or more of the following statements, then you qualify as a righteous Republican.

  1. I want smaller government, smaller national debt, and lower taxes.
  2. I want market-based health care reform, not a government program.
  3. I want market-based energy reforms, not the “cap and trade” tax.
  4. I want workers to unionize only by secret ballot.
  5. I oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants.
  6. I support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  7. I want strong action against nuclear weapons in Iran and North Korea.
  8. I oppose gay marriage.
  9. I oppose abortion.
  10. I support the right to bear arms.

As silly as the “purity pledge” sounds, these are exactly the issues the Republican Party needs to answer.  Following the Scozzafava debacle, the party must decide if abortion and gay rights are really its defining issues.

The Republicans should romp in 2010, given the other side’s dismal performance on economic and defence issues – but not if the GOP remains shackled to the religious right.  The Democrats will not miss an opportunity to paint them as the party of bible-thumping rednecks.

A Republican candidate might be electable with seven of these items, maximum – and only in conjunction with a positive message and some constructive proposals.  When they named the pledge after Ronald Reagan, it seems they forgot the part about getting elected.

See also:  A GOP Purity Test?

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Filed under Center Field

A New Apollo Program

Lockheed Martin’s new print ad quotes President Kennedy inaugurating America’s space program.  Jeremiah waxed nostalgic, as the program is now winding to a close – concurrently, it seems,  with our economic supremacy.  So, we got to thinking – what program could President Obama initiate, that would have the same salutary effect on American industry?

I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.

Next month begins 2010, the perfect date for an energetic young president to rally the nation once more to an historic cause – but which cause?  America faces a number of challenges, to be sure, but Obama will not make his mark by putting out fires.

The new program must be audacious, but achievable.  It must have an inspiring goal, but also generate practical benefits.  We liked the idea of a rededicated Peace Corps –but that would again be copying Kennedy.  It will have to be a technology project.  Health care is a loser, climate change impossible to prove, and we could not now justify launching dollars into space.

We thought about energy independence, and then somebody mentioned fusion – brilliant!  Not snake-oil “cold fusion,” or desktop fusion, but serious industrial hydrogen-burning power plants.  Fusion power would instantly change the world’s political and economic landscape.

The petroleum economy would come to an end, as would global warming, and America’s trade deficit.  Oil-exporting dictatorships would have to reform, and peace might even come to the Mideast.  Unlimited clean power for the twenty-first century – the time for fusion is now.

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Filed under Finance

Obesity is Subsidized

Viewers of the hit documentary, Food Inc, are invited to blame the industry’s sins on capitalism.  The markets are not to blame, but rather distortions in the market created by lax regulation and perverse incentives.

American taxpayers spend roughly $5 billion per year to subsidize corn production.  This “corporate welfare” for the food industry results in artificially low prices for everything from Pepsi to Big Macs.  The film shows that unhealthy foods are more economical for poor families – until they develop diabetes.  The statistics on diabetes, especially in minorities, are truly alarming.  So, taxpayers pay once to subsidize high-fructose corn syrup, and then we pay again for the medical bills.

Similarly, beef packers are motivated to build huge, unsafe factories because the FDA – unbelievably – lacks the power to close them for safety violations.  If Kevin’s Law were passed, these factories would instantly split into more manageable units.  Would a lower scale of production cause prices to rise?  Probably not, thanks to the miracle of competition.  Jeremiah is reminded of the steel industry, where Japanese micro-foundries whipped the big American plants.

Liberal viewers of the film will likely conclude that “big companies are evil,” and this is partially true.  Big companies that have captured their regulators, and collect billions in subsidies, are evil.  Morally weak politicians are to blame, not capitalism.  Capitalism is good for America, and the world’s food supply.  Corruption is not.

See also:  Michael Pollan

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Filed under Health