THE PRINCETON APPROACH

27 06 2011

Authored by William Robert Barber

Alan S. Blinder is an economist/professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University; he has some worries. “Right now, I’m worried about the damage that might be done by one particularly wrong-headed idea: the notion that, in stark contrast to Keynes’s teaching, government spending destroys jobs,” he goes on to quote John Boehner’s regular rail against “job-killing government spending.”

Mr. Blinder goes on with an eighth grade level explanation, “The claim is that employment actually declines when federal spending rises. Using the same illogic, employment should soar if we made massive cuts in public spending-as some are advocating right now.” He emphasis his perspective by adding a question: “How, exactly, could more government spending “kill jobs”?

This would be the perfect place to inject the Obama administration’s prediction that spending billions in stimulus will result in holding the unemployment number to 8%. In other words, using Mr. Blinder’s logic, Obama’s Keynesian adaptation to stimulate the economy, employment should soar if billions of taxpayer monies were deployed into the economy. Well, unemployment is at a low of 9.1%; the number could be 15%. Is this NOT evidence that government spending does not significantly abate unemployment?

To Mr. Blinder’s credit he does concede the reality of “dumb public spending,” he continues to declare that such spending deserves rejection. But ends with the conviction that such spending does not kill jobs; I assume he does concede that spending taxpayer monies on dumb stuff does negatively effect the federal deficit. In the interest of fairness he does point out that conservatives view the government as “too big” which, in the conservative mind, leads to a predisposition against spending. The very next one word sentence is “Ok.” He then continues with a question. “How can the government destroy jobs by either hiring people directly or buying things from private companies?” The example given is, “How is it that the public purchase of computers destroys jobs and the private purchase increases jobs?”

Hmm…this guy teaches at Princeton. Well, Mr. Blinder when the government purchases computers they are not concerned about matching the cost against their profits or investment of capital. Instead they need only match the cost against their budget. (Noting that government’s budget, for the most part, only increases year-to-year mostly because the preceding year’s budget sets the dollar standard for the upcoming year’s budget.) Indeed the process of government procurement is diametrically different form the procurement required of private enterprise. If private enterprise over spends there is an obvious penalty. If government over spends they print more money, increase taxes and fees, or borrow from the future. Therefore, when the government purchases computers the only fact of measurable consequence is that taxpayer funds are being spent. As to the proper allocation of those funds, the only real measurement is in the effectiveness of government services rendered. Clearly and unequivocally, private enterprise spends its own capital at its own risk and the sum of that process is that more computers mean more computer users.

The insistence of the Princeton professor is that government spending will not negatively affect unemployment and certainly, drastic expenditure cuts (as proffered by the Republicans) would imperil this shaky economy that, admittedly, still isn’t generating enough jobs. So I assume the point the professor is making: Government cash infusion into the economy is a good thing. While the Republicans are pressing forward the idea that such cash infusion is wasteful and at a minimum will not increase employment and at a maximum will cost the private sector employment.

Greece is enflamed. Rioting in the streets; Greeks beating on Greeks, destroying private and public property; its citizens are overtly breaking the law. The reason for this madness… Citizens young and the old believe that their government betrayed them.

Many years ago, the government of Greece said to its citizens: trust in unions, submit to the socialistic system, trade your individual freedom/liberty in favor of the collective; and the government guarantees your life’s blessings. This trade-off does sound a bit feudalistic. In trade for the protection offered by the Lord the serf submits his life, family, and services rendered to the state. Naturally, the Lord promises to lower his drawbridge when hostiles threaten.

As far as I am concerned issues that are relevant and relative to this nation’s economic system and culture, in the first cause, has more to do with individual liberty, societal freedom, and the measure of such when compared to the degree of government coerciveness. Every citizen must understand that funding government is enabling government. To enable government is to oblige and submit to the power of government intrusion.

We Americans sold our capitalistic soul many years ago; however, we retained the spirit. We traded in our liberty and freedom for the promises inherent in shiny-objects and pretty words, the power of promises and pretence captured our sagacious sense. Now we have a tax system no one understands but everyone must comply. We cannot cure our addiction to consumption. We are presently having a very tough time saving ourselves from ourselves. We have allowed and willingly permitted attorneys and ‘the process’ to do all the thinking for us. Professor Blinder is convinced that a grouping of selected economist could cure our economic ills. He believes, indeed he trusts in the moral integrity of the state to manage the taxpayers’ monies in the interest of the taxpayer; a foolish understanding of government’s operational scope. He thinks that government knows best…and I don’t think that government knows least.

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EDUCATION – A SACROSANCT

25 06 2011

Authored by William Robert Barber

In my last blog I stated that there were certain words and phrases that evoke the elected, as well as, the electorate, to disregard customary askance and prudence in favor of submissive acceptance. The effect of such disregards for vigorous scrutiny is not effectually moot, regretfully; the act of willful disregard of standard due diligence enables the opportunity for disastrous outcomes.

Supplemented directly by the apparatuses of government, the elected, as if enchanted (by those certain words and phrases) while faithfully gazing at butterflies and rainbows, (instead of insisting on scrutiny) act in a manner explicit, implicit, and premeditated, cheered on by a beguiled constituency as they implement the process of distorted allocation resulting in the wasteful depletion of taxpayer resources.

Of all the government programs and there are literally thousands competing for the most wastefully egregious; public education, from kindergarten to college, is definitely at the top of my list. I cannot think of another one word descriptive (education) whose presupposed meaningfulness is so contrary to expectation or a so distorted by the realities of implementation. The concept of education is, in practice, beguiling and wanting.

Education is in word and concept a theme of multi-billion dollar consequences. The taxpayer funding of education financially supports all-manner of miscellaneous. Inclusive of intrinsically establishing Byzantine organizational edifices, structures of brick & cement soon follow to dominate costs whose budgets are only exceeded by the expenditure of time and maintenance. Taxpayers’ cash underwrites the very teachers’ unions that create an administrative bureaucracy that mimics the largeness of our governments. Citizens cede, to a significant measure, the explicit core contextual of what’s being taught. The ideological slant, as well as, the particular subjects taught (there maybe variants of degree on a sector-by-sector basis) is the providence of union membership and the willy-nilly discretion of governments.

Education is the beloved, at-the-ready for endorsement of every politician. Education is the singular purposefulness of state lotteries, casinos, and gamming of numerous descriptive. In other words, if it is for the children’s education then it’s morally and prudently sane for the state to take the people’s money in a game designed so they cannot win. This is the perfect sin tax. The interesting contrivance is that when the state gaming monopoly market and advertise for players the supposition is that this marketing incentive to gamble is not an inducement (for the citizen) to put the money into the slot machine instead of paying the rent or buying food for one’s children. The politicians, teachers, bureaucrats, and state employees have convinced themselves that the inducement to gamble is morally grounded…an amazing deduction. Nevertheless, for a private company gambling warrants a criminal indictment; for the state gambling is a morally sanctioned monopoly.

Now clearly, we adults all know that gambling is an insidious game. I certainly believe that any willing adult has the right to partake but I do not believe, even if the cause is to fund education, that governments’ should sanction the role of lotto bosses. The elected know better, constituents understand the negative probabilities; nevertheless, in the interest of servicing education, the process of spinning into the metaphorical is a real behavioral continuum. By means extraordinarily counter-intuitive the ordinary gauntlet of prudent discovery is circumvented; for cause unknown the deductive process of analysis is abandoned. The words “for education” disarm the skeptical and replace askance with innocent nativity.

The acceptance is that a liberal college education is an all-around positive. There is a popular believe amongst those who know much more than others that there is a definitive connection between intellect and virtue. Indeed these very same believers also suppose that intellect influences virtue and vice versa. As a natural extension of this deductive, the precursor to the attainment of intellect is education; thus, education is the funnel to virtue. In essence, a fundamental belief of those that knowingly know much more than the common is that education begets intellect, and intellect begets virtue. In essence the believers’ believe that a liberal college education will transform the normative behavioral dysfunctions of humankind into the sublime of functional enlightenment.

The contention is, by those who know much more than others, that education is not given the wherewithal it deserves. The querulous complaint by those who know most is founded on the-if-only the ill-educated and the under-educated could just surrender to the dictates of the superbly educated. If they would render sensible obedience and of course financial support, education would blossom and upon such blossoming, in short order, a sense of true value will prevail over the land. Acts of the amoral and immoral will diminish; countenance subdues the xenophobic, greed converts to charity and the motivation to covet another’s property dies do to a lack of ignorance.

They who know much more than others therefore conclude that education is the linchpin of a just culture. But beyond the acceptance of education as essential and critical, the implication of such a belief must deduce that a superbly educated intellectual is more virtuous than the simple, uneducated, common man. A man of skillful application, a person of talent, a cook, a baker, a candlestick maker could not be as intellectual thus as virtuous as those who are most learned. Interestingly, the logical sequencer of such a belief must conclude that the higher the professional station of an individual the more intellectual and virtuous the individual. Hmm…Such could not be the intent of the most erudite? Unless, the business of education is nothing more than a taxpayer supported industry managed by the Wizard of Oz.





PRESUMPTIONS AND ASSUMPTIONS

19 06 2011

Authored by William Robert Barber

There is this Marine Corps saying, “Presumptions and assumptions gets you killed in combat.” The accurate transference to civilian life of this saying is attained by merely substituting the action word “killed” with expressions such as: A waste of time and money, a distortion of original intent, the replacement of the tenets honesty and truthfulness with immoral or amoral.

Our United States of America has over the last century (or more) developed and in the main established a government whose process of operational scope is not of the people, by the people, nor for the people; indeed, there is evidence that the 1789 constitutional intent has perished from reality. We the people can no longer presume or assume that our representative republic is in fact representative, that our federal system of power sharing between the government of central and state is intact, or that our republic functions within the lawfulness of the constitution.

We citizens have been bewitched into what cognitive scientists have described as “existence bias;” which is the persistent suggestion that the status quo is so prevalent in thought acceptance that its continuance cannot be denied. Interestingly, while believing in the power of incumbent thought citizens act on the razor’s edge of disingenuousness. They will entertain almost any antithesis of the status quo. Even when details are omitted…a declaration by any politician of an alternative to the prevailing has popular appeal.

A perfect example is the election of President Obama. Obama’s message was viciously anti-Bush. With complicit aid of the national media and the entire Democratic leadership President Bush was bludgeoned by personal attacks. Obama’s most pronounced antagonisms were for Bush’s foreign and domestic policies. Now after holding office for more than two years Obama has mimicked more of Bush’s policies than not. We now know that President Obama is evermore the status quo politician. We now understand that his battle cry of “Change we can believe in,” was nothing less than words empty of belief.

Possibly the continuance of the status quo was a more accurate descriptive of Obama’s administration after all, it was Obama who declared the simple answer to an ancient riddle of politics when he noted that if the ingredients stay the same how could we citizens expect a difference result. He pledged different! Well, his actions proved him to be the same; the same as any other politician seeking to achieve and now sustain power.

If that is so how is it that so many Americans still maintain a positive sentiment for his presidency? Often our eyes deny us clarity. We discount the actual with the utility of self-serving contrivance. The same occurs on what we hear or read. We have sentiments that can with some artful prompting discombobulate the meaningfulness of the palpable and evidentiary.

Besides the effective of self-serving contrivances, there are certain words, subjects, and phrases that mindlessly spin the minds of the normally rational and reasonable into a metaphoric array of self-determined illusions. These certainties that prompt one’s mind into the illusionary are disjointed from sensibility but not from effect.

Let me name a few of these certain words, education, fairness, level playing field, and social justice. For example let’s take education. A very powerful stand-alone word that entails passionate conjectures, even some facts, but do bridge to other descriptions such as teachers’ unions, school bonds, subjects taught, parental influence, sin and property taxes. Who in their right mind would be against education? But of course the real question is more of a definition along cost benefit analysis then the generalities of education on a per se basis.

Assumptions and presumptions are dangerous means…illusions of blissfulness and wisdom are not automatically encased behind a pretty face or beautiful words. And without a doubt assumption, and presumption gets one killed in combat.





THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER

12 06 2011

Authored by William Robert Barber

Although sobriety has many intrinsic values, one of which being clarity of cognizance, when the subject is the present status of US governing and governess, alert awareness does have its negatives. For example, consider the diverse problems that face this nation state of ours: Three wars, two of which have lasted nearly a score of years. Interestingly, the preeminent analysis (by the best military minds) is that meaningful withdrawal from one of these wars will not occur until 2014 and withdrawal is subject to that nebulous dictum, “depending on the situation on the ground.” The issues and concerns of our nation are numerous: Immigration, ObamaCare, raising the debt ceiling, entitlements, the seemingly never reversing high unemployment, securing the border. Obviously, without neglecting those peoples that blatantly just want to kill Americans, I could go on and on… but I think my point has been made. The price one might pay for soberness could lead to frustration at a minimum, even depression. So to those that believe I am drinking too much vodka these days I say firstly that the vodka is Belvedere and secondly Newt Gingrich’s most recent behavior is that of a sober man. Oh and so was that Wiener fellow… he was sober when he initiated, over many years, such extraordinarily stupid behavior we are now so overly familiar with.

Logic dictates that once a problem is realized one must find and implement a solution. This is the rational of western thought. So in order to solve the problems defined in the latter paragraph I need to find a perpetrator, a rat, a dirty no good to harness the blame. After that, if I was a progressive or a social worker, I could spend some time empathizing with the rat’s issue, finding the rat, the appropriate taxpayer funded therapy, and finally blaming Bush for creating the policies that drove this individual to act out such heinous anti-social behavior. But since I am not a progressive I can, without hesitation or concerns over the violation of civil rights, move into direct prosecutorial mode. So I charge the blame onto political ideologies that are purposefully manifested into the potent delivery systems known as the Democratic and Republican parties. These political parties have willfully, in the interest of power, prestige, greed, and let’s not set aside the overwhelming power of stupid, perverted the constitution of 1789 solely for the perceived benefit of their party.

Well, I have enjoyed the swallow of several vodkas. I can now read the comings and goings of the political sway that lies within the opinion section of the Wall Street Journal. I might even tolerate an English interpretative analysis of American wherewithal enclosed within the Economist. But most importantly, my Belvedere has dulled my sensitivity to the reality of what’s happening. I still have a tough time tolerating what is tolerated by so many. On the other hand, them, the others, and those out there in the great Hinterland, despite the efforts of forces counter to my interest, I am still putting one foot in front of the other….

Clearly, the default position to not winning the presidency is to dominate the senate… we must stop the liberal progressivism of President Obama. There is no Plan B.





letter from a WASHINGTON POST staffer

5 06 2011

Dear Bill,

I write today about the ever increasing pressure to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. A vote last week drove home the point that this is becoming more and more of a contentious issue. In a bill that was expected to fail by a longshot, the vote actually came to a close failure vote of 215-204, with 26 Republicans joining in the effort with all but eight of the Democrats. This was a significant step for the Democrats to step out against the President in opposition to his public stance. This bill essentially called for the Obama Administration to establish a plan this summer to accelerate the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and to pursue a negotiated settlement with “all interested parties”.

This is a substantial shift as just one year ago Congressman McGovern suffered a much greater defeat with 98 Democrats going against a similar piece of legislation. After the heightened coverage surrounding Bin Laden’s death, Americans are more aware that as Congressman Hoyer observed, “Many of the terrorists against whom we are fighting are no longer located in Afghanistan but are in disparate locations, from Yemen to Somalia to Southeast Asia.” This is one factual point that has provided a basis for the sentiment that the U.S. troop’s ongoing mission in Afghanistan is in part a futile waste of U.S. time and resources.

Although the situation in Afghanistan is complicated and may be hard for those without military experience much less inside intelligence information to fully understand or appreciate, there are a few basic observations that can be made. First, there multiple obstacles preventing the U.S. from making progress as intended. Second, Obama has failed to present a clear strategy that people, even those within his own party, can unify behind. For any issue in politics, messaging is always key to rallying support. The problem is that the Administration has not determined a clear exit strategy and therefore, they are unable to communicate a vision of a withdrawal method to the taxpayers who are funding these efforts. It is natural for Americans to grow anxious about an exit strategy when it is clear our troops are not making significant progress in regards to the stated purposes of the mission, namely “nation building”. The white elephant in the room is the fact that the U.S. Government is conceivably not revealing the true purpose for remaining in Afghanistan. This of course is the geographic proximity to a growing threat to the U.S., Pakistan. This is a country in which the core leadership of al-Qaeda is now located in addition to their develop nuclear weapons. The U.S. would not want to vocalize this purpose as it would further strain the delicate relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan. However, there is logic in positioning ourselves in the region in a way that prevents the terrorist groups from growing in size and power. Since this purpose is still only hypothetical, I will just address the current challenges the U.S. faces in Afghanistan which are delaying an immediate exit.

Fist, the U.S. has stated that our troops would be withdrawn when Afghanistan has a permanently stable and well-resourced government. After the fall of the Taliban in 2001, the Bush Administration made the decision to try to rebuild a relatively strong central government and to assist Afghanistan’s economy. Even at the January 28, 2010 “London Conference” and the July 20, 2010 “Kabul Conference”, two international conferences on Afghanistan, the focus was still on expanding and reforming the Afghan convernance.The problem with using this measurement as a prerequisite to exiting, is the fact that Afghanistan may never meet this objective. Current President Hamid Karzai’s failure to forcefully confront corruption within the government has caused a great loss of support by the people. The rife corruption has caused the Afghan citizens to even resent the Karzai government; completely undermining any faith they may have held that America could be trusted in their strategy of rebuilding stable governance. The two more recent corruption stories were that involving the Kabul Bank, and the U.S. sanctions imposed on the money trading firm New Ansari Money Exchange on February 18, 2011. In response to this, the Obama Administration and Congress have begun strategically urging Kazai to publicly confront government corruption. Karzai has in turn resisted these efforts and has become more suspicious of the U.S. motivations.

Secondly, there are several factions of conflicting governance currently controlling this country in various regions and capacities. Amidst the more organized, legitimate bodies, there are also individual “warlords”, local strongmen who wield personal militias and functionally destabilize the progress between the U.S. and Afghan officials. In newly released Defense Department reports in May 2011, they recognized the fact that our security efforts are being challenged by multiple armed groups. Until the U.S.-led offensives launched in 2009, the Karzai government was estimated to control about 30% of the country, insurgent’s controlled 4% officially and were considered to heavily influence or operate in another 30%, and finally local tribes and groups controlled the remainder. As of 2009, the Taliban had named shadow governors in 33 of 34 Afghan provinces. It is incredibly difficult for the U.S. to make progress when the citizens have such varied and divided loyalties to difference governing bodies. Certain regions continue to be potential safe havens for al-Qaeda forces, and therefore General Patraeus has stated the U.S. will not leave these areas. These threatening areas include Kandahar and Helman in the South and Kunar and Paktika in the East, along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, he U.S. has stated it would hand-over security responsibilities to Afghan Security Forces for seven areas of the country in July, even though there is no apparent solidified Security Force to hand off the baton to. The U.S. has failed to strengthen a central governing body that the citizens could coalesce behind. Unless a strategy to accomplish this is formed, the U.S. progress will continue at a sluggish pace at best.

Thirdly, there is the instability that is created by way of their drug creation and distribution, an issue that gets little media coverage. However, some consider the narcotics trafficking to be a core impediment to the U.S. missions. The trafficking of narcotics undermines the rule of law and provides large sums of money to the insurgency, which often times goes untraced. The Taliban makes between $70-$100 million per year off the trafficking of poppy or opium. As the Obama Administration has focused on developing and promoting alternative agricultural crops, the Afghans have turned away from the U.S. and instead to the Taliban for protection of their ability to earn income in what is one of the top industries for Afghans. This counter-narcotics approach has severely back-fired on the U.S. and given the Taliban more control among the locals.

The stated U.S. policy thus far has been to ensure that Afghanistan will not again become a base for terrorist attacks against the United States. The Obama Administration has asserted that it is pursuing a well-resourced and integrated military civilian strategy intended to pave the way for a gradual transition to Afghan leadership that is to be completed by 2014. To support this mission, an additional 51,000 U.S. forces were authorized in 2009 reviews to increase U.S. troop levels to 99,000. However, Obama has also said we intended to have a relationship with Afghanistan that will include military involvement long after 2014, an indication that the administration sees no foreseeable end to our presence.

Amidst the tension over this issue, is the continual increase in Government funding for expanded efforts. The House Appropriations Defense subcommittee just released their Pentagon budget bill for FY 2012 which contained $119 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. government continues to spend a substantial portion of our defense budget in a country where there is a lack of clear vision for efforts moving forward. It is now time for the Administration to communicate their intentions to the American people, in a way that is nonthreatening to our security. At some point we will have to determine whether it is worth the billions of dollars and other resources spent to remain in a region when we continue to take one step forward, two steps back.

Sincerely,

Hill Observer





ONCE UPON A TIME

2 06 2011

Authored by William Robert Barber

Once upon a time, long, long, ago… I believed that there were those predestined by means inherent to their academic achievements and specific experience to know material matters such as the strategic right from the wrong when the nation is in a crisis. These very same individuals, committees, or derivatives of governmental institutions (state department, CIA, other councils of the heretofore respected) would intrinsically know the better from the worse. I thought that these few, those that knew more than the many, were different than the common and that their educational differing sublimely inclined them to be leaders.

Their ideas and concepts have been published in the most prestigious of magazines and newspapers. They have served as advisors to presidents, prime ministers, and the like; I was persuaded by such and interpreted the fact of publication as evidence of worthiness. I surmised that these are the ones that know the most, that these are the wizards of Main as well as Wall Street. I truly thought that they were the cognizant, the all knowing. After all, these few had distinctive titles; titles that by simple pronunciation automated respect. They lived in eloquent houses, were members of private clubs, and drove fancy cars. Because they graduated from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or the similar I thought they had to have knowledge; and I thought that because they had knowledge they could apply such in a superior style.

Well, I was stone cold wrong. Implementation of concepts, ideas, plans, or design is not necessarily the sequential result of academic achievement.

A significant portion of our congressional representatives are attorneys. These persons, for the most part, marched up the system of public employment and learned the trade of politics. They learned to say one thing and do another. They learned that the most important item of attention is the symbiosis of raising money and winning reelection. They also learned how to game the system to service their best interest.

Imagine: These elected officials, the appointed, and their non-elected staff (these graduates of Harvard, these attorneys, these academic achievers) have enabled and created a perverse process that has enhanced entitlements to the point of bankruptcy. These incompetents, these unprincipled ignoramuses have devised and developed a scheme that is robbing the average doer in America of their financial surety.

So now these very same are debating the ‘how’ part of raising the national debt, knowing that these esteemed (mostly) democratic members of congress were more about a wink and a nod than prudently addressing the debt limit. Actually, Democrats are mostly interested in raising taxes. The conservative solution of cutting spending was really never a consideration for the Obama segment of congress.

I am forced by evidence provided to once again acknowledge that government is by its very nature corrupt. Incompetence is a statutorily compliant form of governmental corruption. Of course so is distorting the truthfulness of an issue for the sole purpose of winning an election. But even through this counter-to-sensibility behavioral transgressions are detrimental to the nation’s interest, they are accepted as part of the political norm.

Interestingly, it is the legislative and judicial process that is near impossible to beat. The elected have secured a solid lead on us citizens. If conservatives do not win majority in the Senate and Obama wins the next election, progressives will have won an overwhelming victory.

I believe the republican presidential nominee must run on creating the governmental ambiance for employment, restoring fiscal discipline, and a strong dollar, pulling the majority of our troops out of the present war zones, returning educational responsibilities to the states, and redressing our federal health and social services safety net.

Certainly, we all must understand by now that attorneys and graduates of Harvard and Yale have not done their jobs…