Logic of Liberty’s February employment report

The February monthly jobs report is out.  The official news is the unemployment rate held at 9.7% from the last month,  meaning 36,000 jobs were lost.  President Obama has hailed this as “better than expected“.  Den. Harry Reid said, “Today is a big day in America. Only 36,000 people lost their jobs today, which is really good.”  Many claim this means the government stimulus is working.  President Obama’s enthusiasm was only tempered, as he called the unemployment rate “more than we should tolerate” as he encouraged greater efforts in passing a job bill.

With all this hype I think it is about time to do a real economic conditions report.  While the unemployment rate is good news and it really is better than expected, it is also misleading.  Here are three additional measures of the economy we need to be looking at:

1) Jobs lost verses Jobs created.  From “The Heritage Foundation,” statistically  50.8 million jobs were lost in the first six months of the 2001 recession under Bush comparatively 48.2 million jobs have been lost in six mouths of our recent crisis.  The unemployment during 2001 averaged 4.7% and peaked at only 5.7.  What reasons could be given for this lower unemployment rate in a time of similar job loss?  Jobs were being created, in those same six month as 2001 47.6 million jobs were created; under Obama only 40.3 million jobs were created in the 2nd quarter stats.  The difference in jobs creation in this example is 7.9 million.

2) The next measure I feel is important to seeing our economy clearly is the 15 week unemployment rate.   This long term unemployment measure gives us the percent of the country who has been without a job for 15 weeks (closing in on 4 months) who are still looking.  In other words these are the people who are not just moving job to job but really struggling to find employment in this economy.  In December 2007 the percent of long term unemployed was 1.6%, in December 2009 was up to 5.8%.  That is a statistically impressive jump of over 3 times.  It is also significant to note that over this time we have seen all the stimulus bills, the election of President Obama and his agenda.

3)  The third stat is maybe the most sobering to my mind.  It simply is that the average government worker makes $11,091 more than his private sector counterpart.  Now lets remind ourselves about what the private sector is, it is the non-governmental part of the economy that operates for profit.  So this stat means, in simple terms, you are better paid right now to not produce wealth.  The economy grows as the private sector grows and right now the most talented people are going to go to  jobs that do not produce wealth and grow the economy.  This statistic, unless it changes, is a very gloomy portent for the future.

In conclusion, while unemployment is down people who are out of work are finding it hard to find new jobs due to poor job creation, and there is more money in the public sector than the private.  All these stats tend to point towards a still struggling private sector who is not paying well or creating new jobs.  Until that sector of our economy is re-energized we can expect continued job woes.

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How Utah is at the Center of the Health Care Debate

As we approach the final votes on health care reform, there remains one big question.  Do they have the votes in the house to pass it? The first time the house voted on health care reform it was approved narrowly. They now get to vote on the Senate’s version of the bill.  The last time 39 Democrats opposed it (220 – 215 vote).  There are now 12 additional voters against Health Care Reform following Bart Stupak because of the bills language on abortion. This shows between 45-51 congressmen whose vote decisions are not known to us, when a simple majority of 51 votes are needed to pass or defeat the bill.  One of these 51 possible nay votes is Utah’s own Congressman Jim Matheson. Coming from a state known as being highly conservative and very republican it is amusing for him to have such an important swing vote.  But the fact remains that Jim Matheson is at the heart of health care drama.   In fact he is one of 10 congressmen at the White House tonight discussing their vote.

It is important we here in Utah take full advantage of this opportunity; because we as residents of Utah need to counter the pressure the president is placing on our Congressman.  Senator Jim DeMint, makes the case like this, “The President is planning a legislative sleight of hand, with a ‘takeover now, fix it later’ approach.  He’ll ask House Democrats to vote for the discredited Senate health care takeover bill and promise to change it later through a budget maneuver called reconciliation.”  We need to understand what Rep. Matheson is being told.  He is being told that his re-election chances will improve if health care is no longer hanging over and dividing the nation.  The American people have short memories even if he votes for this unpopular bill there will be time to win back constituents, or at least help them forget how he voted.

Ours is the opportunity and responsibility to show him the opposite is true.  Again from Senator DeMint, “So if they pass this and the president signs it, they’re going to be stuck with it in November. And so will the American people.”  This is the message Congressmen Matheson needs to hear from us.  We will hold you accountable for your vote come November.  The message I feel needs to be sounded is this, “If you support government takeover of health care you should prepare to be replaced by a new congressmen who will repeal the ‘affordable Health Choices Act of 2009’ and repair the damage you caused.”

This is a great opportunity to exercise our influence for good in the country.  It is of great importance that we use this opportunity to affect a vote.  Congressmen Matheson has invited our feedback and participation on his website, please make sure he hears from you.  Let’s not stop with his website alone.  Send him letters, email or call his office, visit his office, and make sure your voice is heard.  If we are complacent and miss this opportunity to influence our country we will someday regret our inaction.

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I am not Obsolete

As Posted http://errorandangermanagement.com/:

I don’t believe that civilization is on a course for some inevitable liberal societal bliss.  Often as I read newspapers, text books, or hear the words of politicians I am struck that there seems to be this belief that we are all headed towards a liberal utopia, and all those of us who love liberty can do is drag our heels and whine as the procession of progress slowly drags us into the future.  This is why the comments of Senator Harry Reid bothers me so much.  I quote from the Christian Science Moniter, “Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all the Republicans can come up with is, ’slow down, stop everything, let’s start over.’ If you think you’ve heard these same excuses before, you’re right,” Reid said. “When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said ’slow down, it’s too early, things aren’t bad enough.’”

“When this body was on the verge of guaranteeing equal civil rights to everyone regardless of the color of their skin, some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats that we hear today,” he added.

And so in one stroke of broad sweeping rhetoric I as an opponent of his health care reform end up 1) on the wrong side of history 2) just  like those who supported Jim Crow and Slavery.  Wow!  What revisionist history have we forgotten that Abraham Lincoln the man who freed slaves was not a member of Mr. Reid’s party.  For that matter is it really fair to let one party take all the credit for abolishing slavery and ending Jim Crow.

Bothersome as his original comments were his attempt as clarification was even worse.  This time from Politics Daily,

“At pivotal points in American history, the tactics of distortion, delay have certainly been present,” Reid said in the Capitol Tuesday. “They’ve been used to stop progress. That’s what we’re talking about here. That’s what’s happening here. It’s very clear. That’s the point I made — no more, no less.”

In his first statement he essentially says the idea of not having government meddling with heath care is as obsolete as slavery, now in his clarification he brings out the word progress. Why do we allow Harry Reid to declare so matter of factly that big government socialism is “Progress.”  He said it those of us who favor limited government are according to Mr Reid using “tactics of distortion” to slow progress.

Still more dismaying is the republican response, most wanted to clarify that democrats not republicans held up the freeing of slaves and the ending of segregation.  But really who cares, I am not that interested in vilifying the other party, there are people on both sides of the isle who make mistakes.  Other targeted Harry Reid, saying he was “beneath the dignity of the majority leader” or going over the top.  But still no one really called him on his attempt at painting his position as the inevitable future of the county.  We may in fact do Mr. Reid many favors by not talking about what kind of Progress he envisions, most Americans probably don’t want what he would give them.

I am actually very offended to be told by an elected official that all I am doing is procrastinating the bright dawning day of the future.  Stopping Progress. I love progress, we need to get better at solving our problems and we all want a bright future.  It is time for is to stand up, challenge this idea that limited government is the wrong side of history.  Show people how progressive limited government and capitalism.  When Sen Reid tells you to get out of the way of progress it is time to inform him we have a different idea of the future than he does.

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A Principled Discussion

When I was young I had a label making toy.  I went around the house printing labels galore: “book,” “train,”… I just enjoyed sticking labels on everything.  As I got older I realized there are people who want to label others as I labeled objects: conservative, liberal, young, old, extremist, moderate, etc.

We use labels to differentiate each other and help us feel like we do or don’t belong.  The problem is, labels tend to be inaccurate.  I am sure some would call me conservative, which would connote ‘resistant to change, reluctant to accept new ideas.’  But I don’t see myself that way.

I also find our use of the labels “right” and “left” to be misleading.  The usage of those labels date to the French Revolution, when those on the right  supported the king, those on the left did not.  Over time newer, more radical positions were labeled left and more traditional positions, right.  On this spectrum right and left also fail to describe me.

So if labels don’t do a good job of helping us understand the beliefs of another person, what does?

Principles.  Principles are foundational assumptions about what is right or wrong, effective or ineffective, etc.  Principles inform actions.  We use our principles to choose between solutions to problems because our principles help us see what ideas and things we value.

I’ll use myself as an example of why principles are better than labels at building understanding.  Earlier I said that I didn’t feel I fit into the label conservative or right wing.  My main reason for saying this is that I feel that both words suggest an unwillingness to change.  I, however, don’t feel uneasy with change; in fact, I believe we need to look for new and innovative ways to solve our problems. One principle I use to determine which solutions and new ideas I think are good: problems are not solved by reducing personal freedom and accountability.  Simply put, any solution that takes from me my freedom to life, liberty, or property I will fight.

There are other principles I also use when deciding on new ideas.  The important thing about principles is that they mean something to the individual.  Principles are like banners people are willing to fight for, instead of labels that people fight about.

Labels do have their role in helping simplify the process of stating our positions, but when we allow the label to take precedent over the principle we lose the ability for deeper conversation and better understanding within our own, or without our labels.

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Focus on issues more than miscues

As posted on ErrorandAngermanagement:

Recently we posted a piece entitled “double Standard”  I would like to take a different view on the same set of events.  In the book “Game Change” we can read of the opinion of one Harry Reid (D-Nev)

“Reid would claim that he was steadfastly neutral in the 2008 race; that he never chose sides between Barack (Obama) and Hillary (Clinton); that all he did was tell Obama that “he could be president,” that “the stars could align for him.” But at the time, in truth, his encouragement of Obama was unequivocal. He was wowed by Obama’s oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama — a “light-skinned” African-American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,” as he later put it privately.”

Now I am as dismayed by the political game and the hypocrisy of the NAACP, the Rev Al Sharpton and the congressional black caucus as you may be.  We all know if those same comments were made by a person whose politics were seen as less in line with the objectives of each person/organization they would be tossing him out on his ear right now.  I still feel that the fact remains that the comment by itself probably doesn’t require more then an apology which Sen. Reid has issued.

The politics of Gotcha-ism (as Sen. Ensign also of Nev. has called it) really needs to stop.  The reality is that I am not convinced this poor choice of words meets a high enough standard for me to call Sen. Reid’s character into question.  For all of us who thought Sen. Lott was treated unfairly we need to remember two wrongs do need equal a right.

IN many ways I am sad to see so many ranking republicans running to the nearest microphone to complain about Sen. Reid’s choice of words, when his politics cause me much greater concern.  How about asking for his resignation over the huge national debt, or his poor domestic policy, those seem to me to be bigger issues than his characterization of our president.  In all of this whirlwind we have lost sight of the bigger news, SEN. REID WAS ALREADY LOSING TO HIS MORE CONSERVATIVE CHALLANGERS BASED ON HIS CONSTITUANCYS DISAPROVAL OF HIS POLICY (polling at about 40% against all three possible challengers).  In other words we were winning based on our message, and now we are no longer even talking about conservative values.  I firmly believe that we are better off keeping our political arguments based in issues and the character of the individual.  I am not sure I see these recent comments as much an issue of character as one of expediency and gotch-ism

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A Shiny Trophy for Peace

I promised myself I wouldn’t make a big deal out of President Obama’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize.  Still I must admit I find it a little funny.  I guess I always thought you had to do something to win the Nobel Peace Prize (I assumed that breaking from the policies of George W. Bush doesn’t count.)  In the words of my friend Joseph who just returned from teaching English in Egypt ”Oh, come on…I travel around the world spreading good will and all… Obviously a major contribution to peace in the Middle East.  At least they could have come up with a better reason than “Plans for a Nuclear Free World.” I mean, I have plans to colonize Mars, but I didn’t get a prize.”

So what does this prize really mean and why was Obama chosen?  To see what the award means we have to look forward and back.  Historically this award may turn out to not mean much.  Quick, how many former Nobel Peace Prize winners can you name?

How about I name a few: Emily Greene Balch (in 1946), Philip Noel-Baker (1959)Âand Sen MacBride. Who are these people?  Maybe that is the best question.  You see, history has a way of passing different judgments on people as their accomplishments are put up against the test of time.  In fact here are two examples of Nobel Peace Prize winning efforts failing after being awarded.

Woodrow Wilson (1919) who won his Nobel for the “Treaty of Versailles”.  Now as a student of History it is my opinion that almost every major world problem since then has at least some of it’s roots in Versailles. It drew up the modern boundaries of the middle east. It placed unrealistic economic expectations on Germany which poisoned the Wiemar Republic and gave Hitler his path to power and so forth.  Needless to say the fruits of this prize winning treaty were less than wonderful.

Frank Kellogg (1929) who won for the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which banned war as “an instrument of national policy.”  Japan and Germany both signed the treaty and well…I guess they kept it for a few years.

Interestingly, we may find that President Obama may have done about as much as other past winners of the Nobel Prize which is to say nothing, or in some cases the wrong thing.

So what in the long run will this mean? Well, we don’t actually know.  The award essentially is a pat on the back and nice job from Europe; a ‘congratulations you’re not President Bush.’  True, it will give President Obama greater clout in his diplomatic aims, but one must wonder if in the next Somali Pirate standoff or border dispute how much being a Nobel Peace Prize winner will affect his decisions?

I for one find the whole argument overrated except for the fact that it again shows how obsessed the left is with their new leader.  Winning the Nobel Prize purely on charisma and idealism shows how powerful a leader he is.  One can only hope that that power is not misused.

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