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Works and Days

Learning through Pain

December 8th, 2013 - 6:03 pm

What Not to Do in a Recession

In terms of fiscal and economic policy, quantitative easing, trillion-dollar-plus deficits, massive stimulus, de facto zero interest rates, tax increases and more federal regulation did not lead to a summer of recovery. Instead they have discredited Keynesian economics for a generation, branding it as a sure way to ensure near zero economic growth and permanent 7% unemployment.

Obama logically expected all that liquidity would lead to an economic rebound in 2009, especially given that historically the sharper the recession, the more robust the recovery. Tragically, had he done nothing, he might well have seen an upswing, given huge new energy discoveries and a strong U.S. tech sector. Instead, Obama has taught us that vast expansions in borrowing, public entitlements, sloppy infrastructure spending, huge new federal programs, and the end of passbook interest are ways of institutionalizing 7%-plus unemployment, near non-existent comic growth, and growing collective dependency.  Obama’s five-year economic recovery plan will be studied for decades as a textbook example of what not to do in a recession, or immediately following one.

Obamacare likewise offers many lessons. When a government pays far more than the going rate for the construction of a website and receives in return far less than the normal product — and then must turn to the private sector for help — we are reminded why federal take-overs of anything are a bad idea. For all the millions of words written for and against Obamacare, for all the presidential sloganeering and the fights in Congress over its birth, we are left with a simple warning: even the most sophisticated ways of masking a vast redistribution scheme do not work.

In the end, Obamacare was a crass effort to extract cash from those who had health insurance and younger people who chose not to buy it in order to give coverage to others — with a growing federal bureaucracy taking its middle-man percentage cut as the price of adjudicating who should pay and who should receive. Obama may be able to lower the earth’s temperature and lower its seas, but he still cannot give more and better things to more people at a vast savings, or convince those who lost their coverage, lost their doctors, and paid more for the privilege that they are better off.

Obamacare also reminded us of two lessons about socialism: those who were sober and careful to purchase their own plans had to be demonized as callous or stupid for buying “junk.” Those who were without care had to been seen as noble victims without any free choice in the decision not to obtain coverage. The redistributionists could not simply tell the truth about what they were doing because a vast majority would not like what they were doing.

Had Obama just said that “many of you more fortunate Americans with insurance must pay more for coverage that you will not need in order to subsidize those with less resources who will need it,” the plan would have been aborted before birth. Without deceit and propaganda, Obamacare would never have passed on its own merits. Meanwhile, the exemptions to congressional staff, unions, and pet businesses remind us that redistributionists are always exempt from the ramifications of their own ideology. The reward for the brilliance and superior morality of thinking up a coercive redistributionist plan is to be freed from it.

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Top Rated Comments   
Dr. Hanson, you are making some implicit assumptions that may not be valid. Your entire piece presupposes that there is a posterity for whom an objective examination of the details of the history of this era will be possible. It is far more likely that that if there is such an examination, that it will be as biased and subjective as the teaching of Chinese history during the Great Cultural Revolution.

Hagiography will replace history. The sainted Obama, Father of His People, Smiter of the Racist Capitalist Exploiters of the Workers, and Summation of all that is Good and Proper in the world will be the subject. His victories against us retrograde supporters of that old document written by dead white people will be lauded.

At least, such are the odds.

I note that at the beginning of the Roman Empire, say through the Julio-Claudians, the pretense of the Law of Rome obtaining was maintained. Octavian was granted the title of Augustus, but called himself "Princeps", or First Citizen. He ruled by fiat cloaked in the forms of the Republic, but his word was law. Obama would be Augustus, and may yet be.

Augustus' Julio-Claudian successors destroyed traditional Roman law and society, the Senate as a body and as an institution of power, and the concept of public and private morality in government affairs. If given half a chance, and noting that events move faster than they did in those days; domestically Obama may "progress" as far as the later Tiberius or maybe middle Caligula. After he finally decides to leave office, his successors ....

The only non-violent options I see as even being conceivable would be a sudden injection of testosterone and the Constitution into the Institutional Republican Party. Followed by a real contested set of elections in 2014 and *Deo volente* in 2016. And then possibly the enactment of something akin to Levin's Liberty Amendments.

But given the fact that the Institutional Republicans have de facto allied themselves in governance with the Democrats and declared open warfare on those Republicans who want to resist the regime, this is the least likely of fates. And non-violent means are foreclosed.

Because eventually Obama is going to want to use the Wreckers and Kulaks as the excuse for failure, and the penalty for standing in the path of history is death.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Obamacare was a crass effort to extract cash from those who had health insurance. . .in order to give coverage to others."

That's part of Obama's simple-minded idea of the presidency: reward his friends, cronies and homies, and bash his enemies. I swear that's the only notion in his head about the job of President: bash England, Israel, doctors, oil companies, insurance companies, and others hated by him. And reward poor blacks who want mortgages, unions, Pigford frauds, students with loans, and other pets.

That's his only concept of the presidency. What a self-absorbed dunce!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My admiration for VDH knows little in the way of boundaries. We share a birth year, but he so often seems the wiser older brother. There is much to agree with when he takes the time and effort to write.

Such is true again here.

However, his binary choice of the Republican leader having the utter lack of accountability or a sudden turnabout in accountability for a leftist Democrat...misses the ugliest truth of our Orwellian nightmare.

There are two separate rules and we are not playing the same game on a level playing field.

The IRS is a political weapon for leftists, the Financial Gestapo. The NSA is a spy agency like the KGB, spying on anything that moves outside the leftist orbit. The EPA is an enemy agent. The military is being taught to treat Catholics, Jews and White Christians as terrorists.

When radical extremists soil the landscape for decent human interaction and self-governance and replace it with corruption, tyranny, and brutal treatment against the will NOT be cured unless the "favored" side rises in protest.

The reason that radical Islam continues it's brutality and criminal ways is not because effective countermeasures aren't employed, it is because of the silence and passive acquiescence of those who champion the "cause" it represents over a life of honor and integrity.

In the same way (and in collusion with radicals of Muslim and every other stripe), it is the silence of "liberals" in whose name these atrocities are being committed that allows, enhances and furthers the erosion of human decency and honorable governance of our mutual contract and covenant to each other.

If the "side" that "benefits" does not find their honor when abusers on "their" side loses every shred of restraint in power...the entire society crumbles. If you shatter all the china, you equally eat off the dirt.

The fact that "liberals" have and continue to remain silent is to their great shame. The fact that they are more invested in "winning" than in principle...means they no longer have the latter and are deluding themselves about the former.

Nobody wins in tyranny. And principles of convenience that evaporate when tested...are no principles at all. It is precisely when one's side crosses the line that honor is tested. The media has failed this test miserably. They have not merely cheapened their honor, they have abandoned it.

No, my dear cyber friend, VDH...we will neither see a Republican obtain an office wholly unaccountable as this cabal has been, nor will we see a repentant "liberal" base. That would presume an honor and fair play that is no longer present in people who call themselves "liberal".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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...otherwise brilliant policies...? And these are?

I was sorry to read the comparison with Richard Nixon. Who despite the myth of him as a danger to the nation created and propagaged by legacy media as handmaiden of the Kennedy wing of the "Democratic Party" cannot be compared IN ANY WAY with BH Obama.

Nixon was without doubt a "natural born citizen" with documents to prove. He earned his chops with military and civilian service to the nation. He was one of the more intelligent men to ever sit in the Executive Chair. AND he had experience on the ground. Was not born or cosseted by any special groups of socalled "elites", or "best and brigihtest".or other privileged wealthy of gated communities. He was "an ordinary American", who "worked his way up"..

That he was able to implement any of his policies with a hostile and recalcitrant Congress is just one sign of his abilities and competence for the job to which elected.

In addition there was never any question that Nixon respected the Law, the ethos of America as Constitutional Republic and was not intent on

However much the world has changed in the interim Nixon was one of the better and more honourable Presidents. And he loved the nationi. Was not intent to damaging her.

Two questions remain in sddition to those you have:

1. WHY DID THE PLUMBERS try to bteak into the Democratic Natrional Headquarters in the Watergate. WHAT did they expect to find there?
2. WHAT is the difference between Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden with respect to publishing government secrets?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
> Critics of Colin Powell’s flawed UN presentation were not tarred as racists.

The spheres on you.

Flawed? Was that what you said back in the day VD?

I can never decide if you're an idiot or a monster, perhaps a mix.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
''I can never decide if you're an idiot or a monster, perhaps a mix''

Nice satire, or maybe example, of the very flaw in Powell's UN presentation. Regardless of any after-the-fact critique, the mere fact of its controversy --individuals themselves 'can never decide'--is likely the flaw ('lingering confusion') to which your target refers.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is to Henry Reardon's comment below.

(a few quotes, ellipses between)

It was the diagnosis of "sluggish schizophrenia" that was most prominently used in cases of dissidents.[42] The leading critics implied that Snezhnevsky had designed the Soviet model of schizophrenia and this diagnosis to make political dissent into a mental disease.[43] According Robert van Voren, the political abuse of psychiatry in the USSR arose from the conception that people who opposed the Soviet regime were mentally sick since there was no other logical rationale why one would oppose the sociopolitical system considered the best in the world.[44]


The hypothesis implies that there are three main types of schizophrenia:

1.the continuous type that is defined as unremitting, proceeding with either a rapid ("malignant") or a slow ("sluggish") progression and has a poor prognosis in both instances;
2.the periodic, or recurrent type that is characterized by an acute attack followed by full remission with minimal progression, if any;
3.the mixed, or shift-like, type ("schubweise" — in German "schub" means phase or attack), a mixture of continuous and periodic types that occurs periodically and is characterized by only partial remission.[46]

This systematization of schizophrenia types attributed to Snezhnevsky[47] is still used in Russia[48] and refers sluggish schizophrenia to the continuous type.[49]

A carefully crafted description of sluggish schizophrenia established that psychotic symptoms were non-essential for the diagnosis, but symptoms of psychopathy, hypochondria, depersonalization or anxiety were central to it.[45] Symptoms referred to as part of the "negative axis" included pessimism, poor social adaptation, and conflict with authorities, and were themselves sufficient for a formal diagnosis of "sluggish schizophrenia with scanty symptoms."[45] According to Snezhnevsky, patients with sluggish schizophrenia could present as quasi sane yet manifest minimal but clinically relevant personality changes which could remain unnoticed to the untrained eye.[45] Thereby patients with non-psychotic mental disorders, or even persons who were not mentally sick, could be easily labelled with the diagnosis of sluggish schizophrenia.[45] Along with paranoia, sluggish schizophrenia was the diagnosis most frequently used for the psychiatric incarceration of dissenters.[45]


In particular, the scope was widened by sluggish schizophrenia because according to Snezhnevsky and his colleagues, patients with this diagnosis were capable of functioning almost normally in the social sense.[44] Their symptoms could be like those of a neurosis or could assume a paranoid character.[44] The patients with paranoid symptoms retained some insight into their condition but overestimated their own significance and could manifest grandiose ideas of reforming society.[44] Thereby, sluggish schizophrenia could have such symptoms as "reform delusions," "perseverance," and "struggle for the truth."[44] As Vladimir Stayzhkin reported, Snezhnevsky diagnosed a reformation delusion for every case when a patient "develops a new principle of human knowledge, drafts an academy of human happiness, and many other projects for the benefit of mankind."[50]


That's enough to give the picture, but plenty more at the link.

I wish to high heaven it were otherwise, but i can find no reason to believe that, on their current path, this is precisely where this admin's brain trust is nudging you and I and a few million others.

BTW, in the sidebar at the link there is a short quote by Alexander Solzhenitsyn:

--shucks--virus scanner just kicked in and my mouse won't hi-lite --just go read it, it's only a sentence or three --45 seconds worth --

(show less)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
..of course, that should've read, "no reason to DISbelieve".

And i could've edited the whole comment to the next-to-last para, and even to just this:

"...Symptoms referred to as part of the "negative axis" included pessimism, poor social adaptation, and conflict with authorities, and were themselves sufficient for a formal diagnosis of "sluggish schizophrenia with scanty symptoms."[45] According to Snezhnevsky, patients with sluggish schizophrenia could present as quasi sane yet manifest minimal but clinically relevant personality changes which could remain unnoticed to the untrained eye.[45] Thereby patients with non-psychotic mental disorders, or even persons who were not mentally sick, could be easily labelled with the diagnosis of sluggish schizophrenia.[45] Along with paranoia, sluggish schizophrenia was the diagnosis most frequently used for the psychiatric incarceration of dissenters.[45]"


One could let out a low whistle, as did Yossarian when Doc Daneeka told him about 'catch 22'.

"That's some catch, that catch 22," Yossarian had said.

"Yep," the doc had replied, "'s the best there is!"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Recall Sir Thomas More's rebuke to English Parliament concluding his mock trial for Treason...(refusal to sign an oath of allegiance to Henry VIII as Supreme Head of The Church that he, in unbridled Apostasy and spiritual usurpation declared)...
QUI TACET CONSENTIRE~Silence implies consent.
Indolence,greed, envy and rank ignorance(comprising Saul Alinsky's cornerstone commandments/Rules for Radicals) are the ingredients of the miasma with which Obama and his racist minions and lackeys-- in Academe, MSM and pseudo-elites-- have poisoned the American polity. "What does it profit a man(or woman) to make $73/$75/$84/hour playing on a computer if he sell hisr soul (or COUNTRY) by distraction from distraction by distraction??? (turn-up the music by Lady Ga Ga)
As Orwell posited: IGNORANCE is STRENGTH (for the Totalitarians). And SLAVERY is FREEDOM...WOE to those who trade their freedom (and that of hard working citizenry) for the illusion of security and prosperity. Non Deus vult!

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Now I know how the intelligent people in Venezuela feel.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Knowledge is gained by experience. Experience is gained by lack of knowledge."

I don't remember who said it, but it's so true.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Anyone who voted for this imbecile, has permanently disqualified him/herself from any intellectual political discussion in the future....
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
When I finished reading his book, “Dreams from my Father”, my only comment was, ”wow”, what a load of unmitigated hubris, fabricated lies, and distortions. Then I realized that if this is the person who is going to lead the country, the country is in serious trouble. For five years, the train wreck that is recognized by Obama’s declaration that he was going to fundamentally change America has slowly unfolded into a nightmarish reality and the nightmare continues to haunt every concerned citizen except the 43% that has morphed into a majority and basically secured a permanent stranglehold on the country.

When Nazi Germany is invoked as an example of a country led by a narcissistic and messianic leader whose sole intent was to do the same thing Obama declared by changing the face of the country, anyone using the comparison is ridiculed and literally ridden out of town on a rail after being tarred and feathered by the liberal media, Democrats, and the cult like following of Obama.

Maybe there is hope and maybe the country will eventually wake up but will it be too late? Obama has three more years to inflict more harm on the basic freedoms Americans once enjoyed. The liberal mantra has invaded every aspect of American life and nothing is sacrosanct any longer except the right to an abortion, the right to ridicule Christians, the right to demonize white males, and the right to blatantly lie to the people about Benghazi as a prime example. The ACA is a Gordian’s Knot of unrelated regulations that are open to interpretation by Sebelius and her word is final. Obama has made it a presidential right to arbitrarily allow exemptions to a law without going through congress first. Now, he is being encouraged by an ever growing number of liberals and leftists to ignore the Constitution altogether and make executive decisions to change or invoke any interpretation of existing law to comply with their wishes.

Lest we forget, once someone is given a free ride, if for one moment you believe they will vote for the person who is trying to take it away or even reduce it, then you do not understand the basic human nature of self-preservation. The liberals, Democrats, leftists, socialists, and communists decry capitalism and greed but they forget that greed cannot be assigned to the very wealthy since greed transcends all social and economic spectrums. I know too many people who are not wealthy but they do personify greed at its worst. Who is to say that the person receiving a monthly benefit check for not working and refuses to at least try is not guilty of greed and personal gratification? Do you think for one moment they actually want to earn the support they receive? Do you think the people who make up the core of ACORN who work the lower wage jobs do not receive benefits from the government well beyond what they say in public?

We are becoming what Obama promised, a fundamentally changed nation and it is happening at a much faster pace than I thought possible. But, it is a mistake to underestimate the lack of understanding of the every growing majority of people dependent on the government to make decisions for their life so they don’t or won’t have to.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Eight years of economic incompetence and corruption is an expensive lesson, especially for young people starting out and those who were planning to retire during those 8 years. Now because of Obama and his lunacy, many business owners will probably never be able to retire.

The folly redistributionist schemes of Marx were recognized by a few, as being a disaster, when Obama first started posing for the public and reading from his teleprompter. Some of even had personal experiences with Wealth Redistribution and caring for the irresponsible:
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And so the pain will come. Perhaps if we had gone through the necessary catharsis in 2008, we would be finally on right track moving away from the terrible dependency that so many of our young adults are experiencing. A campaign ad for 2016 might be one that shows a young college grad in '08, bright eyed and confident, followed by a fast-forward to 2016, sitting unshaven, playing video games, and waiting for his unemployment check.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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