Category Archives: Economy

UPDATED: By Mistake, Maureen Dowd Said Something True

Business, Economy, Hillary Clinton, Left-Liberalism, Media, Taxation

To borrow from Camille Paglia (who was once interesting, but no longer), Maureen Dowd is a “catty, third-rate, wannabe sorority queen; empty vessel. One pleasure of reading online is that one never has to see anything written by people like Maureen Dowd [Kathleen Parker, Eugene Robinson, Thomas Friedman, Cynthia Tucker, on and on]. I ignore their hypertext like spam for penis extenders.”

Ditto.

However, I heard another sorority queen, the likeable, lovely but celebrity courting Megyn Kelly, mention that Dowd had penned an unfavorable piece on Hillary. So off I trundled to suffer through the tedium of “Grandmama Mia!” which is without one original or insightful idea.

By mistake, Dowd does say something true when commenting about “the ostensible and obscene $2.5 billion that [Hillary] is planning to spend to persuade us to make her grandmother of our country.”

She should give the kids some of the money, suggests Dowd. If Dowd liked Hillary she would, however, want Mrs. Clinton to keep the cash so that she could do all those “wonderful” things once elected.

Dowd is a dumb-dumb. She doesn’t understand that any politician makes the world a better place by giving money allotted for buying votes to privately run charities, instead of spending these billions on buying votes so as to get into office and pass programs, ostensibly for the poor, that ensconce bureaucracies that consume the lion’s share of the revenue stream coerced from taxpayers, in perpetuity.

UPDATE (4/15): Even better: Start a real business—as opposed to a foundation—with all those billions of dollars. Disinvest from politics. As Maimonides, I believe, instructed, it is better to give a poor person a job than a donation.


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Carly Fiorina Kills It

Business, Economy, Elections, Hillary Clinton, Politics

Former Hewlett-Packard chief Carly Fiorina, soon to be a presidential candidate, comes across as a genius compared to the low IQ Hillary Clinton (as Ann Coulter diagnosed The Hildebeest).

As libertarian economist Murray Rothbard reminded, there “are two mutually exclusive ways of acquiring wealth”—the economic means is honest and productive, the political means is dishonest and predatory. … but oh so very effective. Democrats, who respect only the predatory political way of making a living—will hammer Fiorina for her business career.

Fiorina is eloquent in this candid interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace.

WALLACE: Amid a crowded 2016 Republican field, the challenge now becomes finding a way to stand out. If she runs, former Hewlett-Packard chief Carly Fiorina would have no trouble doing that as the only woman in the GOP field. In recent weeks, she has also become a leading critic of Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton.

Ms. Fiorina, welcome back to “Fox News Sunday.”

CARLY FIORNIA, FORMER HEWLETT PACKARD CHIEF: Great to be with you. Happy Palm Sunday.

WALLACE: Well, thank you.

What are the chances that you’re going to run for president?

FIORINA: Very high.

WALLACE: You’re a former businesswoman. Give me a number.

FIORINA: Higher than 90 percent.

WALLACE: Really?

FIORINA: Yes, sir.

WALLACE: So what would prevent you? Why aren’t you willing to announce right here today, I’m a candidate for president?

FIORINA: Well, because, you know, we need — as other potential candidates are doing, we need to make sure we have the right team in place, that we have the right support, that we have the right financial resources lined up, just as all the other potential candidates are doing.

WALLACE: And when would you announce?

FIORINA: Probably late April, early May.

WALLACE: If you run, and it would be in a field of current and former governors, several current senators, why should Republican voters pick you?

FIORINA: Because I have a deep understanding of how the economy actually works, having started as a secretary and become the chief executive of the largest technology company in the world because I understand how the world works and know many of the world leaders on the stage today because I understand technology, a transformational tool, because I understand bureaucracies — how they work and how you need to change them and our government is a huge bureaucracy, and because I understand executive decision-making, which is making tough calls in tough times with high stakes for which you’re prepared to be held accountable.

WALLACE: OK. Let’s talk specifically about your experience as a business executive. Beyond the typical Republican talking points, not to say that they’re wrong, but what are your ideas that are different about the economy and about dealing with our national debt?

FIORINA: Well, I think we have two fundamental structural problems in our economy. One is that we have tangled people up in a web of dependence from which they can’t escape. We’re leaving lots of talent on the field. Secondly, we’re crushing small businesses now.

Elizabeth Warren is right, crony capitalism is alive and well. Big business and big government go hand in hand. But for the first time in U.S. history now, we are destroying more businesses than we are creating. And so, while we have 10 banks, too big to fail, now have become five big banks too big to fail, 3,000 community banks have gone out of business, and that’s where family-owned and small businesses get their chance. That’s important because small businesses create two thirds of the new jobs and employ half the people.

So, if we want mainstream and the middle class going and growing again, we’ve got to get small and family-owned businesses going and growing again. Washington, D.C. has become a vast unaccountable bureaucracy. It’s been growing for 40 years. We have no idea how our money is spent.

I think there are two things that would help tremendously. One, zero base budgeting, so we know where the money is spent. We’re talking about the whole budget and not just the rate of increase.

And two, pay for performance in our civil service. We have — how many inspector general reports do we need to read that say, you know, you can watch porn all day and get paid exactly the same way as somebody who is trying to do their job?

WALLACE: But, Ms. Fiorina, and you know this is coming, your record at head of Hewlett Packard, and you were the CEO for five and a half years, and you were the first woman to lead a Fortune 100 company, is going to be controversial. Let’s put up some of the things on the screen.

During your five and a half years, you laid off — the company laid off more than 30,000 American workers, many of those jobs went to India and China, and Hewlett-Packard stock fell 49 percent and the board of directors fired you.

Isn’t that a record that you’re going to get hammered with?

FIORINA: Well, I’m very proud of our record. We took Hewlett-Packard from about $44 billion to $88 billion in six years. We took the growth rate from 2 percent to 9 percent. We tripled the rate of innovation to 11 patents a day. We quadrupled cash flow.

We went from a market laggard to a market leader in every product category and every market segment. And we grew jobs.

It is true that I managed through the worst technology recession in 25 years. You will remember the NASDAQ has only now recovered to its dotcom boom highs after 15 years. So, virtually, every technology stock was down over that same period.

And while it’s true that in a technology recession, we had to lay people off, many of those people were in Europe and elsewhere, and the truth is we outsourced more California jobs to Texas than we did to India or China, demonstrating we have to compete for every job.

WALLACE: But you know what’s going to happen. If you were the nominee, exactly what happened to Mitt Romney. There were 30,000 American jobs that were lost and they can get two or three or 200 people to go on and say, well, Carly Fiorina got a $20 million severance package, I lost my job. I mean, they’ll make you look like an unfeeling multimillionaire.

FIORINA: Well, first, I think you’re reading the Democratic talking points because it was not all American jobs. But of course, laying people off is the last resort. It’s a terrible thing to have to do.

But when you are managing through the worst technology recession in 25 years, sometimes there are tough calls that need to be made for the overall health of the enterprise. And in the end, we took a company that was really struggling and turned it into an exceedingly successful company where overall jobs grew.

WALLACE: You seem to take special delight in going after Hillary Clinton. And here is one of your greatest hits.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FIORINA: Unlike Mrs. Clinton, I know that flying is an activity, not an accomplishment. I have met — I have met Vladimir Putin, and I know that his ambition will not be deterred by a gimmicky red reset button.

Mrs. Clinton, please name an accomplishment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: That’s pretty good stuff. What is your basic case against Hillary Clinton?

FIORINA: Hillary Clinton lacks a track record of accomplishment. She is not candid, which suggests her character is flawed. And I think now in e-mail gate, we not only have a situation where she is clearly not being candid. I mean, her saying all those e-mails she erased were just her and Bill chatting is a little bit like Richard Nixon saying those erased moments on the tape were he and Pat talking. That’s ridiculous. There’s more than that.

But I also think there’s a confidence issue now. Anyone in 2015 to say you can’t have two e-mail accounts on a single device obviously doesn’t understand technology. When she talks about we had Secret Service agents guarding our server, for heaven’s sakes we’re not concerned about the server being stolen. We’re concerned about the server being hacked.

WALLACE: All right. Let me pick up on that, because Clinton’s lawyers, the latest development is late Friday, they told the House Benghazi committee, there’s no point going after the server because we have wiped clean all of the e-mails and so all of those 30,000 private e-mails, so-called private e-mails are gone. One, what do you make of it? Two, what do Republican investigators do now?

FIORINA: Well, I think it was part of the plan all along that the Clintons had. Look, I think it was very deliberate that they had a private server. I think it was very deliberate that she used a personal e-mail account. I think this clearly was a deliberate effort to shield her communications.

I don’t quite know what the investigators can do at this point, but I know this, we need a nominee who will bring this up in the general election. The reason Benghazi was not enough of an issue in the 2012 election is because, unfortunately, our nominee pulled his punches when he had an opportunity to remind the American people of the Benghazi tragedy and scandal.

WALLACE: So, what are you saying, you won’t pull your punches on Hillary?

FIORINA: Oh, I will not pull my punches — not now and not in a general election.

WALLACE: Some people have suggested, even as I ask it, it sounds sexist, you’re really running to be the running mate, that you would the person to lead the attack against Hillary Clinton. It would be easier for you as a woman attacking another woman and that you would in a sense neutralize the vulnerabilities the Republican Party has with women?

FIORINA: You know, I come from a world outside of politics where track record and accomplishments count, words don’t. If I run for president, it’s because I can win the job and it’s because I can do the job.

WALLACE: Would you even consider being the running mate?

FIORINA: Well, when you start asking all the other candidates that question, then maybe we’ll have that conversation.

WALLACE: Fair enough. Carly Fiorina, thank you for coming in. Always good to talk with you. And we will be following your big decision.

FIORINA: Thank you so much, Chris, for having me.

WALLACE: Please come back here, and let us know.

FIORINA: All right.


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‘How Economic Inequality Is Essential for Successful Economic Competition by the Less Able’

Capitalism, Economy, Free Markets, Political Economy, Political Philosophy

Republicans, Democrats and conservatives—come to think of it, most people—do not fear flaunting their inveterate ignorance of economics. Thus almost all have railed against economic inequality to boost their empathy credentials and likelihood of being elected or re-elected.

The Capitalist Professor, George Reisman, has the antidote, and has been kind enough to send me a complimentary copy of his essay “Fundamental Insights into the Benevolent Nature of Capitalism.” It is available to the general public for 99¢ as a Kindle Book on Amazon.com.

An excerpt:

How Economic Inequality Is Essential for Successful Economic Competition by the Less Able

By George Reisman, Ph.D.

“As von Mises has … shown, with his development of Ricardo’s law of comparative advantage into the law of association, there is room for all in the competition of capitalism. Even those who are less capable than others in every respect have a place. In fact, in large measure, competition under capitalism, so far from being a matter of conflict among human beings, is a process of organizing that one great system of social cooperation known as the division of labor. It decides at what point in this all-embracing system of social cooperation each individual will make his specific contribution—who, for example, and for how long, will be a captain of industry, and who will be a janitor, and who will fill all the positions in between.

In this competition, each individual, however limited his abilities, is enabled to outcompete all others, however superior to him in their abilities they may be, for his special place. Quite literally, and as an everyday occurrence, those with abilities no greater than required to be a janitor are able to outcompete, hands down, without question, the world’s greatest productive geniuses—for the job of janitor. For example, Bill Gates might be so superior an individual that in addition to being able to revolutionize the software industry, he might be able to clean 5 times as many square feet of office space in the same time as any janitor now living, and do it better. But if Gates can earn $1 million an hour running Microsoft, and janitors can be found willing to work for, say, $10 an hour, their readiness to perform the job at one one-hundred thousandth of the hourly rate Gates would require, so far overcomes their lesser abilities that it is they who are the winners of this competition, without any question. For cleaning the amount of floor space that one of them can clean in an hour costs just $10, if one employs one of them, while having Gates clean that same amount of floor space costs $200,000, since the hour of his labor that would be required to clean 5 times as much floor space costs $1 million. To say the same thing slightly differently, employing 5 of them, who in combination clean as much floor space per hour as Gates, costs only $50, while employing Gates to do the same job costs $1 million.

It should go without saying that the same principle applies to all lesser degrees of productive superiority. Thus, for example, individuals capable of being janitors twice as efficient as the average janitor but also capable of doing work that the average janitor simply cannot do and that pays them more than twice as much per hour as the average janitor earns—these people will be outcompeted by the average janitor for the job of janitor. For it will be less expensive to employ two ordinary janitors than one twice-as-efficient janitor, who must be paid more than the two of them in combination, while their combined performance matches his.

There is an important implication in these examples for the subject of economic inequality. Namely, it is the ability of less capable people to work for wages sufficiently below those of more capable people that enables them to outcompete the more capable people and thereby to secure employment. It follows that all measures, such as minimum wage laws, that seek to force up the wages of less capable people operate to undercut their ability successfully to compete and thus to force them into unemployment, while depriving the rest of society of their services and forcing the movement of more capable workers into jobs that could have been filled by less capable workers.

In addition to the fact that under capitalism, there is room for even minimally capable people to be employed in the economic system, it is also the case that because productive geniuses are free to succeed in revolutionizing products and methods of production, those with minimal abilities are able to enjoy not only food, clothing, and shelter, but even such products as automobiles, television sets, and personal computers, products whose very existence they could probably never have even dreamed of on their own.”

Read the complete essay, “Fundamental Insights into the Benevolent Nature of Capitalism.”


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Blessed Are The Burgerflippers

Business, Capitalism, Economy, Labor

By Myron Robert Pauli

So I see that Portland OR has raised the minimum wage to $15/hour and the rest of the state may soon follow.

Years back, I did some minimum wage work at a chemical-spectroscopy lab in New York – not particularly lucrative or enjoyable but it paid money. The company mostly hired college graduates from the Philippines (probably with some H-1 visa) because they were cheap. Not surprisingly, companies pay workers at little as they can get away with. Workers, in turn, are right to grumble and are free to seek out higher paying work (or at least better conditions – that lab was rather unsafe). Most people do not work for some great satisfaction – most jobs range from somewhat stinky to complete stinky. Who the hell wants to pick crops in the hot summer or climb up cleaning gutters in winter? Workers primarily work for one primary motivation – money.

The $15 minimum wage will be a boon to developers of automated burger-flippers. Not only do they not get the $15, the robots don’t need Social Security, W-2 forms, OSHA inspectors, Obomney-Rombama care, paid vacations, sick leave, and those other things that raise “overheads.”

Anyone who has studied the history of labor in the 19th or 20th Century should be aware of the Luddites who went around smashing machinery. I would not be surprised if some restaurants not only take reservations online but orders as well – press the steak icon and it will ask rare through well-done. This should not be too hard to code and people can pick up their orders cafeteria style. Or a robot can probably deliver the gourmet food to the table. The chef can be well paid, but who goes to the restaurant for the waitresses (excepting, perhaps, Hooters)? Four star pre-ordered robot delivered gourmet meals with profits shared between consumer and restauranteur.

However, let me put on my Samuel Gompers hat when it comes to the anti-worker rant of Jennifer Harris. First of all, workers have every right to be greedy and should be free to strike (but not destroy property or resort to violence) – with the flip side that the employer can find replacements. If I choose to “refuse” to be locker-room attendant for the Russian Women’s Volleyball Team for less than $1500 an hour, perhaps the team owner can find someone who will work for less pay!

The second point of Harris’ rant is how the troops are “getting shot at, deploying for months in hostile environments, and putting their collective asses on the line every day protecting your unskilled butt?” The first part about being shot in hostile environments is perfectly true. As to the second part: How are these “troops” protecting the butt of anyone, skilled or unskilled, other than the military brass and politicians who sent them in to be 21st Century IED-fodder? I know what benefits I get from the grocery clerk and the restaurant waiter and the guy who cleans my gutters. (Or from Edward Snowden.) Does the average American get protected when some troops “engage” Sunnis who are shooting at Shiites or Shiites who are shooting at Sunnis? Harris makes fun of “Sally McBurgerflipper” and “Johnny Fry-Boy,” but they enable Mom to save a day of cooking and let the brats play at the McSlides. What great “service” did anyone get out of Petraeus and that neo-con phony “surge,” other than some titillation concerning lover Paula Broadwell? Yet, “conservatives” deify Petraeus and sneer at the gardener.

In that sense, I can neither endorse the leftist desire to ignore the realities of labor markets, nor these rightists who extol senseless, pointless, endless killing over honest backbreaking work. Maybe the poor schlub mowing your lawn will motivate his kids to get a real education (not modern “liberal arts”), and that kid might invent a new “smart lawnmower.” Anyway, the poor shlub is doing honest work.

Blessed are the Burgerflippers – may they profit both themselves, their employers, and their customers for they are the Children of Peace.

******
Barely a Blog (BAB) contributor Myron Pauli grew up in Sunnyside Queens, went off to college in Cleveland and then spent time in a mental institution in Cambridge MA (MIT) with Benjamin Netanyahu (did not know him), and others until he was released with the “hostages” and Jimmy Carter on January 20, 1981, having defended his dissertation in nuclear physics. Most of the time since, he has worked on infrared sensors, mainly at Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC. He was NOT named after Ron Paul but is distantly related to physicist Wolftgang Pauli; unfortunately, only the “good looks” were handed down and not the brains. He writes assorted song lyrics and essays reflecting his cynicism and classical liberalism. Click on the “BAB’s A List” category to access the Pauli archive.


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Europeans Are Germanophobic!

Britain, Debt, Economy, EU, Europe

The word for the hatred/fear of Germans is Germanophobia. Europeans are certainly guilty of this anti-German sentiment. It is rooted in, I believe, their jealousy of the workhorse of Europe: Germany. Moreover, these brazen haters seem to think that Germany’s distant, belligerent history makes the German people fair game for gratuitous hatred.

Duly, the programing note for today’s segment of BBC News’ HARDtalk promised that the host, Stephen Sackur, will be asking “the senior economic adviser to chancellor Angela Merkel if Germany has used its power wisely in the high stakes showdown over Greece’s debt.”

Sackur is a smart bloke with a slanted perspective. The segment was thus given over to the brutal bullying of a country that is carrying the deadweights of the EU: the PIIGS of the Eurozone—Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain—are living at the expense of their more industrious, austere neighbors to the north. Germany, in particular, is an industrial dynamo whose highly-skilled workforce produces technology in the first rank.

As Reuters reported, the “Euro zone finance ministers agreed in principle on Friday to extend Greece’s financial rescue by four months. … European Union paymaster Germany, Greece’s biggest creditor, had demanded ‘significant improvements’ in reform commitments by Athens before it would accept an extension of euro zone funding.”

AND:

BILD, Germany’s biggest tabloid and one of the highest-circulation newspapers in the world, is not happy about the support Germany’s political class is giving the Greek deal.

The Greeks have had a lot to say about their democratic right to reject the “deeply unpopular austerity measures.” What of the German people? Do they have a democratic right to refuse to be roped into working to support the Greeks?


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Land of Moussaka And Moochers

Debt, Economy, EU, Europe, Regulation

Greece is “in a world of its own” when it comes to debt as a percentage of GDP (165%, last I checked). The Greeks’ route to solvency has been … to elect a socialist, Alexis Tsipras, as their new prime minister. DER SPIEGEL summed up their hopes for the future: “… one has the feeling that the Greeks are hoping for a pink elephant that can play drums.”

Athens, like Washington, is corrupt to the core. It continues to spend more than it takes in. Greek labor markets have yet to be liberalized. A high minimum wage impedes hiring. And, by BBC News’s accounting, “a habit of paying a ‘holiday bonus’ equal to one or two months’ extra pay” persists. One need not be a Delphic oracle to divine the next stage in Greece’s unraveling.

Tsipras was asked: “… if the Germans elect a government that refuses all support to Greece, then that is their sovereign decision, right?”
He said: “No, you have to show solidarity, you have obligated yourselves to do so.

Taki Theodoracopulos suggests the following for the survival of Greece: “Most important are structural reforms, not feel-good bullshit. Public sector unions are choking the nation’s economy, whereas the private sector is booming. Starting a business is almost impossible due to bureaucratic blackmails, while overregulation is stifling economic activity. Free the economy and stop protecting cartels, shrink the state, and in five years Greece will be the Switzerland of the south.”

I have a few more suggestions:

Greeks constitute a high-cost and low-efficiency workforce. They cannot compete. Had they a moral and intellectual compass—and were allowed to chart their destinies—the people of Greece would opt to leave the Eurozone and the wider European Union (EU). Greeks could then reclaim their sovereignty. First, by reinstating the drachma, their ancient currency. Next, they could elect to float their exchange rates against those of EU member states so as to increase the appeal of lackluster Greek labor.


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