Friday, December 23, 2011

The Final Five: December 23, 2011

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
December 23, 2011

Thought of the Day:
The problem with gun control is that it requires everyone to give up their guns, including criminals. But if criminals have no problem breaking the law in other ways, why would they break the law and turn in their guns?


News of Note:

- New car anti-theft system analyzes your bottom

- UK bookseller sorry for promoting 'Mein Kampf' as Christmas present

- Eight states to increase minimum wage next year

- South Carolina Voter ID law blocked

- Gunshot detectors becoming more prevalent

- Go Daddy backs off of support of SOPA after boycott

- Christians being expelled from Laos

- Virginia Presidential ballot down to three

- Obama finally headed for Hawaii (can he just stay there?)


Tonight's Crazy Story:
TSA Agent Finds Pot in Rapper's Luggage, Just Leaves Note
What happens when a TSA agent finds a bag of weed in someone's luggage? Do they call the police? Or do they just leave a simple note?


The Final Five: Number 5
What Does $40,000 Mean to You?
As Obama screams about $40/week possibly being cut from everyone's paycheck, Daniel Horowitz asks at RedState what the $40,000/person that Obama has added to the national debt means to you. "Obama has been running around all day making a fool of himself as he promotes his $40 Social Security tax cut. Yes, the tax plan that will create a new class warfare Social Security Taxable Wage limit in order to accommodate his totally unworkable two-month extension. Obama has even set up a new web page asking people “what $40 per paycheck would mean to you.” Republicans should respond by setting up a web page asking every taxpayer to explain how a $40,000 increase in their share of debt will affect their finances and those of their grandchildren."


There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"President Obama bought about $200 worth of Christmas presents at Best Buy. Then it got awkward when he asked the Geek Squad if they fix economies."
-Jimmy Fallon, 12/22/11


The Final Five: Number 4
5 Myths About President Obama's Economic Recovery
John Merline breaks down five myths about the economy for Investor's Business Daily. "Over the past several months, President Obama has spent much time pleading for patience on the sluggish economy and ongoing high unemployment, arguing that the economic hole was so deep and the crisis so monumental that a slow recovery — now in its 30th month — was inevitable. But in making his case, Obama appears to be perpetuating several myths about the recession he inherited and the slow recovery over which he's presided."


Debt Watch:
On Thursday, the government paid off $112,611,410.20 worth of debt, bringing the national debt to:
$15,123,728,427,980.16


The Final Five: Number 3
The GOP’s Payroll-tax Debacle
Charles Krauthammer analyzes the fallout from the payroll-tax debate for National Review Online. "Now that Congress appears finally to have reached a compromise on what must be one of the worst pieces of legislation in years — the temporary payroll-tax-holiday extension — let’s survey the damage. To begin with, what even minimally rational government enacts payroll-tax relief for just two months? As a matter of practicality alone, it makes no sense."


Tweets of the Day:
Kathryn Jean Lopez (@kathrynlopez): #onemoredaytostartChristmasshopping!


The Final Five: Number 2
Obamacare and the Ratchet Theory of History
American Thinker's Mike Stopa analyzes the fear of Obamacare's irreversibility. "There are a lot of things that Americans fear about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. They fear that they won't be able to continue to go to the doctor whom they trust. They fear that once a single consumer -- the government -- replaces 300 million consumers of drugs and medical technology and then begins to regulate costs, the spigot of medical miracles will slowly shut off (just such regulation and results are already a reality in Europe). Americans fear the disappearance of choice of treatment as they age and the inevitable appearance of death panels (a prelude to which -- mandatory end-of-life counseling for Medicare beneficiaries -- is already materializing in Massachusetts). But perhaps Americans' greatest fear of all is that Obamacare is a one-way door -- that it has been plainly designed, rammed through, and implemented with an aim to being irreversible."


Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great Nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a People always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence."
-George Washington


The Final Five: Number 1
Holder's Voter ID Fraud
A Wall Street Journal editorial analyzes the fraud in opposing voter ID laws. "Thirty states now require some form of ID at the polls, and one goal of Mr. Holder's attack is to intimidate other states that want to toughen their laws. He's probably also signaling that Justice will strike down the Texas and South Carolina statutes. This would please the Democratic Party's left while not-so-subtly inventing a threat of Republican racism to drive minority turnout in 2012. Mr. Holder's voter ID alarums are one more reason he's earning a reputation for politicized, partial justice."


Tomorrow in History
December 24, 1943 - General Dwight D. Eisenhower is officially named the Supreme Allied Commander.


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Medicare Cannot Afford the Status Quo

Richard Kirsch wrote a column for the Huffington Post this week titled, "The Last Thing Medicare Needs Is More Privatization". His argument centers around the claim that privatization would shift costs from the government onto seniors because Medicare is better able to control its costs. Kirsch argues,
"Health care costs have increased at a significantly lower rate under Medicare than in private insurance plans, chiefly because Medicare is much better able to limit how much it pays to doctors and hospitals. The private insurance plans that now cover about one out of five Medicare patients do so at a cost that is 13 percent greater than Medicare pays for the same benefits...

Capping the premiums would not result in lower health care costs, but in shifting costs to people on Medicare, which would result in seniors forgoing the care they need, ending up in the hospital with more serious illnesses, and dying sooner."
Yes, it is true that government health insurance has done a better job of controlling costs, but that cost control comes at a price. A survey this past summer showed that if the over $1 trillion in cuts passed as part of the Affordable Care Act and the Budget Control Act take effect, 87% of doctors will stop seeing Medicare patients or will limit the number of patients that are seen. This will limit the ability of our seniors to see a doctor when they become ill, and it will eventually drive prices up as seniors are forced to seek care from an emergency room or urgent care center.

Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act also calls for an Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) to assist in cutting costs. However, the law makes hospitals and hospices off-limits for the IPAB until 2020 and laboratories off-limits until 2016. Without changes to prohibit further cuts, payments for doctor visits are most likely to receive further cuts. Even though the Affordable Care Act prohibits the IPAB from authorizing rationing, reducing the number of doctors accepting Medicare will be a form of indirect rationing. Cuts can only be made to a certain point without affecting patient care, and the high number of doctors threatening changes to the way they see Medicare patients shows that we are rapidly approaching that point.

I will reserve the debate over the effect the Ryan-Wyden plan will have on health costs for another article. However, there is a way that Medicare can save money, regardless of whether it stays in its current form or becomes privatized: move to a consumer-driven approach. Currently, consumers only pay 12% of their healthcare costs, down from over 45% in 1960. When 88% of a person's healthcare costs are being covered by someone other than the patient, the patient has little incentive to keep costs down. An article on the blog American Thinker showed how Whole Foods salvaged their medical care system by moving to a plan with a $2500 deductible, but also had an $1800 HSA.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has also brought the consumer-driven model to state employees. Since 2006, Indiana has allowed state employees to use a plan with low premiums and high out-of-pocket expenses, partially reimbursed through a Health Savings Account (HSA). Indiana's plan has been met with great success: 90 percent of state employees have chosen the consumer-driven plan for 2012, and only two percent of employees covered by this plan have opted to switch back to the traditional model. The Indiana plan also allows employees to roll over their HSA balances from year to year, giving employees the opportunity to develop a substantial savings to cover catastrophic events.

When the vast majority of a person's healthcare is being covered by private insurance or the government, there is no incentive to save money. As a result, unnecessary tests and expenditures skyrocket and increase the cost of insurance. However, when the costs are coming from a person's own money, even if it is through money given through the insurance plan, consumers have shown that they are much more likely to be frugal while still receiving necessary care.

Medicare is rapidly approaching insolvency, and it can no longer afford to maintain the status quo that people like Richard Kirsch desire to keep. Instead, we must find solutions that will maintain the quality and availability of care while keeping costs under control. Consumer-driven plans, such as those implemented by Whole Foods and the state of Indiana, have shown the ability to do just that.


Note: I will be taking next week off from writing my daily column in observance of the holiday season. I will continue to post The Final Five and all other regular features of the blog, and I may write one or two columns if a pressing issue arises. My regular columns will resume on Tuesday, January 3rd.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Final Five: December 22, 2011

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
December 22, 2011

Thought of the Day:
House Republicans say they want a one year extension of the payroll tax cut. Obama says he wants a one year extension of the payroll tax cut. However, the Senate passed a two month extension of the payroll tax cut. Answering "Which one is not like the others?" should determine the source of the problem in Washington.


News of Note:

- Holder plays the race card

- Oops! Economic data revised downward

- New pro-union rule approved

- US faces another downgrade in 2013 without debt solution

- Occupy protesters sue over claimed lack of freedom

- Romney: state healthcare mandates are "conservative"

- Ethics confusion around the holidays

- "Peaceful" Islam teaching extremism in Saudi Arabia

- The aftermath of the US withdrawal

- NY Times explains how to get to all 99 Iowa counties in the shortest time


Tonight's Crazy Story:
Utah Man Wins Lamborghini, Crashes It Hours Later
A Utah man won a $380,000 Lamborghini in a contest. However, six hours later, he lost control and put it through a fence.


The Final Five: Number 5
Paul Ryan's Old-Fashioned American Vision
Larry Kudlow explains the vision Paul Ryan has for our nation and why it is important now. "With this vision, and with a pro-growth budget framework called "A Roadmap for America's Future," Ryan's serious ideas have seriously gotten under President Obama's skin. In a White House meeting this year, Ryan's superior knowledge of health care baffled Obama and left him speechless. And the serious Ryan budget, which lowers spending by $6.2 trillion and reduces deficits by $4.4 trillion over ten years, totally outflanked the White House. It embarrassingly exposed the Obama administration's flimsy and inconsequential 2012 budget, which even rejected the findings of Obama's own Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission. (Another Oval Office embarrassment.) And when Ryan unveiled his first Medicare-reform package, which featured patient-centered consumer choice and market competition, the White House went nuts."


There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"The Taliban is now on Twitter. So if they start following you, go hide someplace where no one will find you ... like MySpace or Friendster."
-Jimmy Kimmel


The Final Five: Number 4
Obama’s Near Self-Abasement
Peter Wehner analyzes Obama's recent comment about being the fourth-best president in a different light. "Most people took this as proof of the president’s arrogance. I took it as an indication of his growing humility. After all, Obama said as president he would heal the planet, repair the world, and halt the rise of the oceans. Divisions within our country would end. Dictators from every corner of the globe would bow to the power of his reason. For Obama to now say his achievements might rank below those of Lincoln is, I think, a show of near self-abasement..."


Debt Watch:
On Wednesday, the government used $8,138,224,898.44 of its revenues to reduce the national debt, bringing the total amount owed to:
$15,123,841,039,390.36


The Final Five: Number 3
Lack of Principle Got Them In This Mess. Principle Gets Them Out.
RedState's Erick Erickson analyzes how the Republicans themselves got themselves into the payroll tax cut mess. "Third, and most importantly, the GOP lost — and they did lose, here being clubbed to death like a baby seal — because they abandoned long held Republican principles. It has been a defining principle of the GOP that drives the left crazy that tax cuts need not be paid for. Tax cuts generate economic grown which then cause the tax cuts to pay for themselves. The GOP abandoned this and instead decided to engage in a tit-for-tat over cuts with the Democrats. The cuts turned into Democrats and Republicans competing to see who could raise fees and taxes to pay for this cut. That is a war that cannot be won right now if not ever."


Tweets of the Day:
Reince Priebus (@ReincePriebus): This entire episode has showed us once again, we have a President who is incapable of offering a long-term roadmap for restoring our economy


The Final Five: Number 2
Tebow and the Left's Religious Bigotry
American Thinker's Peter Heck analyzes the bigotry of the left in their treatment of Tim Tebow. "While resisting the urge to condone and embrace destructive beliefs and behavior is not irrational or hateful, impugning millions of faithful Christians by suggesting that they will torch mosques and exile immigrants just because a football player leads his team to victory is both. What causes it? Given that Tebow has preached no sermon, written no scathing op-ed blasting the practice of abortion, taken no public stand on the issue of gay marriage, nor endorsed the eventual presidential nominee of the Republican Party, the only plausible explanation for such absurdity is that he dares to boldly utter the name of Christ, unreserved and unashamed. If that be not bigotry, the word has no meaning. If liberals want a real reason to despise Tim Tebow, it should be because his mere presence in the national spotlight has pulled the veil off their seething and self-evident anti-Christian bigotry."


Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground that 'all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people.' To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, not longer susceptible of any definition."
-Thomas Jefferson


The Final Five: Number 1
The Paradox of Merit Pay
Malcolm Unwell at American Thinker analyzes the problem with the idea of merit pay for teachers. "Given that the ideologies and practices which derive from the educational establishment are the root cause of our educational woes, it hardly makes sense to rely on administrators, who are themselves merely products of the educational establishment, to become change agents and reformers. In their evaluations to determine teachers' merit, they will be judging from the prism of dogmatic "progressive" ideas which represent the status quo. Hence, the very notion of merit pay as a solution to teacher quality is quite a paradox."


Tomorrow in History
December 23, 1970 - The top is placed on the North Tower of the World Trade Center, making it the tallest building in the world at the time (1368 feet).


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The Coming Bills

Every doctor knows that in order to effectively treat a patient, the doctor must find the root cause instead of treating the symptoms. For example, if a patient comes into the office complaining of diarrhea, any qualified doctor would try to find the cause of it instead of sending the patient home with prescription-grade version of Imodium. The same is true in psychology: a wise psychologist will attempt to go back through a person's life until that person comes to terms with other issues that are causing the depression or other psychological problems the patient is facing. In fact, we could go through a long list of examples in just about any field of work where an employee must get past the simple list of symptoms and find the root cause.

This is the issue currently facing the United States. Our leaders are focused on trying to solve the symptom of high debt, but both parties are wrong about the root cause. One party says that we can solve the debt problem by raising taxes. However, there are not too many Warren Buffetts in the world who feel they are not paying enough in taxes. The other party says that we can solve the debt problem by cutting spendng. While there are certainly areas where spending needs to be cut, this is also not the real root of the problem. Now you are probably thinking, "If the problem is not taxes and it is not spending, what else can it be?" The answer is simple: bills.

Consider this plausible family scenario. A family of four finds that their income has dropped significantly because everyone at the husband's workplace has been forced to take a salary reduction in order to avoid layoffs. The husband comes home, calls the family together, and tells them that they will have to cut back on their spending. The family does significantly cut back their spending: family trips are kept to a minimum, they eat out once per month instead of once per week, they cut out the cable and internet, husband and wife agree to share one cell phone instead of paying for two phones, and instead of making trips to museums and zoos, they rent educational videos that teach similar topics. However, despite making cuts in just about every area possible, the family finds that it is still a struggle to make ends meet because some of their biggest expenditures just cannot be cut. Their mortgage payment or rent continues to stay at the same rate, the electric bill can be cut a little by conserving energy, but that only reduces the bill by five or ten percent, and their credit card bills only drop significantly when they are able to make significant payments on the principle, which they have not done for some time. Finally, the family comes to the conclusion that they cannot afford to simply cut spending; they must make a major restructuring of their lives and move to a smaller house in order to reduce their bills.

Similar to our fictional family, the government has areas where it can cut back on spending. We can debate the ups and downs of where to cut spending, but the truth is that the so-called discretionary spending amounts to less than one-third of the government's total outlays. The remaining amount comes in the form of bills which must be paid by the government. Some of these bills include the interest on our debt, Social Security payments, Medicare payments, and the public welfare programs the government has established. While an act of Congress could reduce most of these payments (excluding the interest on the debt), it is unlikely that any leader in government would have the courage to propose something like a 10% reduction in Social Security payments, and anyone who did propose such a plan would likely be criticized in the media to such an extent that he or she would never be reelected.

America's entitlement programs are on a path toward bankruptcy. The Social Security program is already paying out more than it brings in, and Medicare will soon reach that point, as well. Other programs are seeing more people added to the rolls, and they are already "underwater" since they do not have a tax that directly supports them. The only way that our nation can deal with its bills is to restructure these programs to guarantee solvency.

However, this restructuring is not a popular idea in Washington. Any time someone proposes changing the way one of the entitlement programs operates, America will be inundated with ads attacking the proposal and its supporters. Furthermore, the "solution" proposed to halt Medicare spending was to cut payments to doctors, a plan that will only serve to reduce the number of doctors accepting Medicare. Instead of implementing measures that hurt Americans, it is time to face the truth and implement real reform.

Without entitlement reform, America will not be able to survive financially. 40% of our spending is already financed through debt instead of taxes, and cutting discretionary spending will do little to solve the debt problem. Mandatory spending (entitlements and interest) almost results in spending all of America's revenue before discretionary spending is even considered, and without reform, this is only going to increase. While America certainly needs to control its spending, the debt problem will not be solved until America fixes its underwater entitlement programs.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Final Five: December 21, 2011

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
December 21, 2011

Thought of the Day:
An undercover raid in Washington DC yielded $7.1 million of drugs and guns. I would have thought that the city with the strictest gun control rules would have eradicated guns by now.


News of Note:

- Is Black Friday illegal in Oklahoma?

- Gingrich fighting just to get on ballot in Virginia

- Chavez criticizes Obama

- Europe approves cap-and-trade for airlines

- Hackers hit Chamber of Commerce network

- More young people consider farming

- North Korean military to share power with Kim Jong Un

- Are electric cars fizzling out?

- Touted new bus fails on highway

- New 200-page book describes Obama's economic knowledge


Tonight's Crazy Story:
Will Facebook Sue Mark Zuckerberg?
Rotem Guez was being threatened by Facebook with a lawsuit, so he changed his name to Mark Zuckerberg. His hope is that Facebook will not file a suit against someone with the same name as its founder.


The Final Five: Number 5
Even Before Fast and Furious, They Had Guns on Their Minds
American Thinker's M. Catherine Evans describes that what the administration knew about Fast and Furious does not matter as much as what they should have known. "All four principals -- Obama, Holder, Napolitano, and Clinton -- visited Mexico in March and April of 2009. All four raised the issue of smuggled guns, and each in his or her own way vowed to "take the fight to the Mexican drug cartels." All four supported tightening loopholes in existing gun laws and reinstituting the AWB. All four have denied knowledge of a program named Fast and Furious. All four executives in charge should have known what we citizens now know."


There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"I found out my secret Santa was Kim Jong Il. Three days in a row I got sunglasses, then nothing."
-Conan O'Brien, 12/20/11


The Final Five: Number 4
Deflecting Blame for Tax-Cut Logjam
Charles Hurt describes the idiocies of blaming the tea party for the gridlock on the tax cut. "The vast majority of tea partiers in Congress actually voted in favor of extending this tax cut. In the Republican-controlled House, they overwhelmingly supported the bill to extend the tax cut for a year. The Democrat-controlled Senate, meanwhile, approved a bill to extend the tax cut for only two months. So the tea party supports a 12-month extension, Democrats want a two-month extension, therefore the tea party wants to kill this tax cut. Only in Washington and only among liars."


Debt Watch:
On Tuesday, the government spent $27,924,596,597.32 more than it brought in, bringing the national debt at the end of the day to:
$15,131,979,264,288.80


The Final Five: Number 3
Obama’s Transparency
Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes describes the one way in which the Obama administration has been transparent. "President Obama has a trait that Republicans should appreciate. He’s utterly transparent. His motives are anything but hidden. No matter what he says, it’s abundantly clear that he has one thing in mind these days: getting reelected."


Tweets of the Day:
David Burge (@iowahawkblog): @nickgillespie @mleewelch Instead of subsidizing each Chevy Volt $250k, why not give each Volt buyer 4 Corvettes instead?


The Final Five: Number 2
Why The Fed Can't Be Counted On To Save The Economy
Forbes contributor Jim Powell describes how the Federal Reserve System has done more harm than good since its inception in 1913. "The Federal Reserve was established in 1913 supposedly to maintain economic stability, but it presided over America’s worst depression (1930s), the worst peacetime inflation (mid-1960s to mid-1980s) and probably the worst asset bubble and bust (early 2000s to the present). In addition, there have been 18 recessions or depressions during the Fed era, generally the result of prior inflations. How could such a problematic track record be possible? The Federal Reserve was billed as an improvement over the gold standard."


Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose creature it is, must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify."
-Alexander Hamilton


The Final Five: Number 1
Obamacare Abominations
FOX Host John Stossel explains the truth about Obamacare and business. "...the law's impenetrable complication does almost as much damage. Robert Higgs of the Independent Institute is right: If you wonder why businesspeople are not investing and reviving the economy, the answer lies in all the question marks that Obamacare and other new regulations confront them with. Higgs calls this "regime uncertainty." It's also what prolonged the Great Depression. No one who understands the nature of government as the wielder of force -- as opposed to the peaceful persuasion of the free market -- is surprised by this."


Tomorrow in History
December 22, 1864 - General William Sherman concludes his "March to the Sea" by capturing Savannah, Georgia.


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Free-Market Economics Is Not a Fraud

Ian Fletcher wrote a column for the Huffington Post this weekend, in which he contended that the free market does not work. Here are some of the highlights (or should I say, lowlights) from his column:
It's time to start getting honest about a very simple fact: Nobody, but nobody, really believes in free markets. That's right. Not the Republican Party, not the libertarians, not the Wall Street Journal, nobody.

Here's why: a truly free market is a perfectly competitive market. Which means that whatever you have to sell in that market, so does your competition. Which means price war. Which means your price gets driven down. Which means little or no profit for you.

Oops!

Naturally, businesses flee perfectly competitive markets like the plague. In fact, the fine art of doing so is a big part of what they teach in business schools.

That's why businesses use strategies like product differentiation, so their competition is no longer selling the exact same product they are. That's why they use strategies like branding, so their buyers don't think the products are the same.

Businesses will, in fact, do almost anything to get out of the hell of pure head-to-head competition.

They don't do it because they're crooked; they do it because they have an intrinsic economic incentive to. Always.

A few important points here:

First, Fletcher is off in his definition of the free market. His definition is what most men dream about when they walk into a grocery store. The man receives a text from his wife asking him to pick up an item, say detergent. The man walks into the store, goes to the laundry supply aisle, and sees hundreds of identical bottles labeled "laundry detergent." The man grabs one bottle, takes it to the checkout line, pays for it, and brings it home to his happy wife.

However, this is not what happens when the man walks into the store. The man is instantly faced with many different brands, such as Tide, Clorox, Purex, etc. Then, once the man finds the proper brand, he must choose the proper scent. (As a man, don't even ask me to provide examples of scents; I have no idea!) We have these choices available to us because of the free market: any company can create their own formula and scents of detergent and market them. Product differentiation and branding are a result of the free market, not a way around the free market.

Fletcher describes a situation that is the exact opposite, but just as bad, as the circumstances he claims we find ourselves in today. He says that people want free markets when they are buying, because that drives the price down, but they do not want free markets when they are selling, because that maximizes their profit. In Fletcher's supposed free market system, the lack of different brands or product differentiation eliminates the free market for the purchaser. The free market relies on these ideas of brand and differentiation in order to improve competition.

Second, the free market does not necessarily reduce profit. Fletcher's analysis relies on a "per product" idea of profit, and he is correct in his analysis when it is taken on this level. However, lower prices lead to increased sales, which makes up for the loss of "per item" profit. Imagine that 1000 people purchase my product at a $5 profit and 1000 people purchase my competitor's product at a $5 profit, allowing each of us to make $5000 profit. I decide to lower my price by one dollar, and in doing so, I attract 250 of my competitor's customers. I now only make $4 per product, but I am also now selling to 1250 customers, and I still make $5000 profit.

Furthermore, price wars force companies to look at ways to reduce costs. Obama has railed on technological advancements such as ATMs and automatic check-in terminals at airports, but these devices have allowed companies to keep their prices down by reducing expenses. Even computerized scanners at the grocery store allow the employees to check out customers more quickly, improving efficiency and reducing employee costs while still allowing customers to leave in a timely manner. Reducing expenses through innovation allows companies to recoup some of the money that they lost due to price wars.

Third, Fletcher points out government's intervention in our economy as another example of why we do not have a free market. On this point, Fletcher is right, but he is wrong again on the solution. Fletcher points out that politicians intervene on behalf of their supporters, creating free markets (and lower prices) for the things they buy and limited markets (and higher prices) for the things they sell. It is true that this happens, but the subsequent conclusion is wrong.

Fletcher's conclusion is to use this to argue that the free market system is a fraud. The problem is not the free market system; the problem is the corrupt politicians who have sold themselves out for donations. Therefore, the solution is not to interject more government into our current semi-free market system; the solution is to get the government out of the way and allow the free market to work in the way it should. Corrupt politicians and crony capitalism--not free markets--are America's true economic fraud.

Mid-Week Media: Green vs. Unions, Evil Republicans, and Missing Money

It's Wednesday again! That means it's time to take a look at some of the best media put out in the last week.

Dick Morris explains how Republicans have put Obama in the position of having to alienate either the unions or the environmentalists:


Another great video from Bill Whittle, explaining why Republicans are evil.


Now, let's look at some proposed slogans for the Democratic Party:


Next, we have Corzine giving the only plausible explanation of how it is possible to lose $1.2 billion without anyone knowing about it.


Our President has some advice for Santa.


It looks like the reindeer are getting into the spirit of #Occupy.


Finally, Master Sgt. Robert Allen wrote this song and recorded it for his family.


Thank you to Master Sgt. Allen and all the other soldiers who will spend the holiday season away from home so that the rest of us can spend it safe in our homes.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Final Five: December 20, 2011

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
December 20, 2011

Thought of the Day:
A Congressional Research Service report says that the Obama administration has missed several deadlines specified in Obamacare. If the administration can't even want to implement it, why should it be forced on us?


News of Note:

- Siri hates British, southerners, and Mexicans

- The EPA, doing its part to kill American jobs

- Welcome to your new democracy

- Feds kill the free market

- Israel not prepared for war, even in the face of war

- What do we know about Kim Jong Un, new possessor of a nuclear arsenal?

- Banks get new rules

- Undercover sting in DC nets $7.1 million in drugs and guns

- Coburn releases his annual "Wastebook"


Tonight's Crazy Story:
FTC Fines Santa Claus for Violating Children's Privacy
Jeff Jarvis writes a satirical piece for the Huffington Post describing the FTC's recent action against Santa Claus.


The Final Five: Number 5
The Slow, Agonizing Death of Europeanism
Steven Hayward describes the death of the Euro and European culture for Real Clear Markets. "But British clarity about the shortcomings of "Europeanism" are bipartisan. Back in 2005 Prime Minister Tony Blair recognized the futility of the Kyoto Process, when he said "The truth is no country is going to cut its growth or consumption substantially in the light of a long-term environmental problem. I don't think people are going, at least in the short-term, to start negotiating another major treaty like Kyoto." For this Blair was blasted by environmentalists, even as European unionists are attacking Cameron now. It has been a source of outrage that in the Eurozone negotiations, and in climate negotiations, it is the English-speaking democracies that have been the main dissenters from "Europeanism." It calls to mind another of Thatcher's great observations: "During my lifetime most of the problems the world has faced have come, in one fashion or other, from mainland Europe, and the solutions from outside it." She didn't need to say the solutions came from the English-speaking world."


There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"The FDA is now warning people not to eat raw cookie dough this holiday season. Is that how fat we're getting in this country? Our ovens are too slow now?"
-Jay Leno, 12/19/11


The Final Five: Number 4
Postal Service Should Adapt, not Angle for a Bailout
Rep. Darrell Issa writes an op-ed describing how the Postal Service needs to change in order to stay solvent without a Congressional bailout. "The reality is the needs of the American people have evolved since the inception of the Postal Service and since the six-day mandate was put into place. The choice the United States Postal Service faces is simple: Adapt or die."


Debt Watch:
On Monday, the government added $4,557,207,333.90 to the debt, which brought it over $15.1 million for the first time. At the close of business yesterday, the debt stood at:
$15,104,054,667,691.48


The Final Five: Number 3
Obama's Freeloader Economy
American Thinker's Christopher Chantrill describes why freeloading is the problem with the American economy today. "If you want to understand the deep political philosophy underneath the Obama administration's random-walk economic policy, it is this: freeloading. ... Let's have a national conversation. Let's talk about big government; let's talk about freeloaders; let's talk about crony capitalists. Let's divide the nation. Let's separate the makers from the takers, the freeloaders from the workers, the exploiters from the exploited, the retire-at-55 chaps from the work-till-you-die Walmart greeters, the employment-at-will folks from the lifetime-tenure folks, the rent-seekers from the wealth-creators, the road warriors from the class warriors."


Tweets of the Day:
Ramesh Ponnuru (@Ramesh Ponnuru): Doesn't any reform to a program end the program as we know it?


The Final Five: Number 2
An Energy Crisis Created by Government
An Orange County (CA) Register editorial describes how the federal government has created an energy crisis. "Government's death grip on energy production prevents use of plentiful, affordable resources. Instead, Washington dictates use of hard-to-harness, expensive "alternative" fuels, inadequate to meet ever-growing demand. Alternative energy sources require big taxpayer subsidies and drain money from the economy, where it could be creating jobs and meeting needs without a dime of taxpayer underwriting. Washington's own calculations show vast untapped North American resources of oil, natural gas and coal, their discovery and extraction made possible by recent technological advances."


Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"This gave me occasion to observe, that when Men are employ'd they are best contented. For on the Days they work'd they were good-natur'd and chearful; and with the consciousness of having done a good Days work they spent the Evenings jollily; but on the idle Days they were mutinous and quarrelsome, finding fault with their Pork, the Bread, etc. and in continual ill-humour."
-Benjamin Franklin


The Final Five: Number 1
The Ugly Realities Of Socialized Medicine Are Not Going Away
Forbes's Sally Pipes describes the truth about socialized medicine. "[Britons have] foregone cutting-edge medical treatments available in the United States, told by their leaders that these new therapies were no better than the old ones — just more expensive. At least in Britain, they thought, everyone has access to basic health care. That has to be better than the situation in America, where tens of millions of people lack health insurance, right? Hardly. The British healthcare system may “guarantee” access to care — but that doesn’t mean patients actually receive it. ... The law furnishes all Britons — Evans included — with health insurance. But he might as well not have coverage at all — because he’s certainly not getting any care."


Tomorrow in History
December 21, 1913 - The New York World publishes the first the first crossword puzzle, Arthur Wynne's "Word-Cross."


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Monday, December 19, 2011

The Final Five: December 19, 2011

The Final Five: Bedtime Stories for Conservatives
December 19, 2011

Thought of the Day:
Jesse Jackson says that Jesus was an occupier. Can't you just see Jesus being involved with trespassing, rape, groping, drugs, prostitution, and public defecation? Yeah, neither can I.


News of Note:

- Call this #OccupyObamaCampaignHQ

- Were feds complicit in hiding fake climate data?

- Highlights from the $1 trillion spending bill

- America's future? What government run healthcare in Mexico looks like

- EPA wants expanded powers

- MTV drops "Choose or Lose" slogan

- Hackers threaten Iowa caucus polling system

- Biden says Taliban, per se, is not our enemy

- The Blaze eulogizes the death of world's greatest golfer


Tonight's Crazy Story:
Could You Win The World's First 'Watching Paint Dry' Championships?
The UK will host the world's first "Watching Paint Dry" championship. If you want to enter, send in a picture of yourself watching paint dry, state the longest time you've watched paint dry without looking away, and give your favorite color of paint. The winner will receive an iPad.


The Final Five: Number 5
Courage, Not Scorecards
RedState diarist Mary Catherine Sibley explains why Congressional voting scorecards should include a measure of courage. "In the Senate, they will need unanimous consent to move the package through the process. Where are the conservative heroes going to be then? The same place they’ve been in the past — hiding behind two very good score cards. Instead of objecting and displaying courage and the willingness to fight the establishment when it matters, they will be smelling jet fumes and trying to get out of Washington to come home and tell us how hard they are fighting. The truth is, they’re fighting, but not when it matters. HAFA and CFG need to add another element to scorecards. When they’re scoring a vote like the ominibus, which continues us down the path to bankruptcy, spending at a minimum $20 billion more than we spent last year, no member should get credit for fighting and voting “right,” unless they’ve used every procedural process possible to save America."


There's Always Time for a Laugh:
"President Obama now says he didn't know how bad the economy was when he took office. And if it doesn't improve soon, that's what the next president is going to be saying."
-Jay Leno, 12/16/11


The Final Five: Number 4
Are America's Best Days Behind Us?
Janice Shaw Crouse explains at American Thinker why America's best days do not have to be behind us. "Ironically, we have experienced a great blessing in that the failures of the Obama administration have brought to the fore the dismal consequences of a dependency culture nurtured by big government. If we return to the truths taught us by our Founding Fathers -- most especially that our liberty is a priceless gift from God -- the election of 2012 can become the turning point necessary for opportunity, individual initiative, and personal responsibility to once again be the hallmarks of the American experience and the wellsprings of its exceptionalism."


Debt Watch:
On Friday, the government added $1,398,973,568.76 to the debt, bringing the current debt to:
$15,099,497,460,357.58


The Final Five: Number 3
Decline of Democratic Control and Faith in Market Capitalism?
Irwin Stelzer explains why America must not allow democratic control and faith in the free market to decline in our current economic times. "Everyone expects the decline of democratic control and of faith in market capitalism to disappear after the November U.S. elections, or at least with the return of prosperity. That’s what some thought would happen to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal reforms of capitalism when peace and prosperity returned. They were wrong."


Tweets of the Day:
John Boehner (@johnboehner): A two month extension of the payroll cut is just kicking the can down the road. We need to give certainty 2 job creators. #4jobs


The Final Five: Number 2
How the Free Market Can Cure Health Care
American Thinker's Matt Palumbo explains why the free market can solve the rising costs of health care. "There are many different ways to combat rising costs: rationing and price controls, increasing subsidies to health care (and thus further masking costs), or market competition. Rationing has its obvious consequences, and price controls remove the profit motive, thus stifling innovation -- something the current system tends to specialize in. Increasing subsidies to health care cannot lower the cost of health care any more than a student changing the D on a test to a B would change his grade. Subsidies can only give the appearance of lower costs, but they have to be counterbalanced with the tax increases necessary to pay for them. In addition, the government tends to under-project its expenses when it comes to health care. As the Joint Economic Committee noted, while the initial estimate of Medicare expenses by 1990 was $12 billion, the actual bill totaled $110 billion. The third option, competition, has a track record of success and thus is the only viable option."


Food for Thought - A Quote from our Founders
"The Grecians and Romans were strongly possessed of the spirit of liberty but not the principle, for at the time they were determined not to be slaves themselves, they employed their power to enslave the rest of mankind."
-Thomas Paine


The Final Five: Number 1
The Truth about the New Detainee Policy
Rep. Justin Amash explains the confusion over the NDAA in a RedState diary. "Our Constitution does not permit the federal government to detain American citizens indefinitely without charge or trial. I strongly believe in protecting the country’s security and equipping our Armed Forces with the tools they need to defeat our enemies. But the American people cannot support measures that, in the name of security, violate our constitutional rights. The NDAA’s backers succeeded in part because of the bill’s length and complexity. And I concede that this issue takes time to understand. Over the next few months, I hope to join others who value our country’s constitutional rights to block the NDAA’s dangerous detention provision. Once the American public sees for itself what’s included in the NDAA, I’m confident they will demand we do so."


Tomorrow in History
December 20, 1946 - The film It's a Wonderful Life is first released in New York City.


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Ranking the Republicans: A Wrap-Up

I've received some e-mails recently regarding the "Ranking the Republicans" series. The majority of the e-mails I received centered around one of two questions, which I will address here.

Why Rank?

I was asked by two people why I chose to rank the candidates instead of just writing about the one I felt was best. There were several reasons for this. First, when I started the series, I honestly did not know who I would rank in the top spot. I quickly had it narrowed down to the top two candidates, and ranking each of the candidates allowed me the opportunity to write my article on each one and then decide which candidate I felt was better.

Second, there were some candidates (such as Jon Huntsman) I knew very little about until I did my research. In order to make a completely informed decision on each candidate, I would have to research each of them thoroughly. Since I was conducting research on each of them, I felt that it would be beneficial to share my analysis of each candidate with my readers.

Third, even among true conservatives, there is not a "one-size-fits-all" candidate. There are reasons to like each of the seven candidates, and there are reasons to dislike each of them. Ranking the candidates helps everyone reading the series to come to a conclusion on which candidate they feel is best. Perhaps Perry's gaffes, the HPV vaccine issue, and/or his immigration stance are a bigger deal to someone else than they are to me. If that is true, then I would suggest you consider Rick Santorum. Perhaps you do not care for Santorum, either. In that case, consider Michele Bachmann. Ranking the candidates allows a person to read my opinion on each person, rather than only reading about my top choice.

X vs. Y

The remainder of the e-mails I received were intended to explain why my rankings were "wrong." I understand that anything of this nature can be hotly debated. My rankings are exactly that: MY rankings. I have published them so that they can be a benefit to others as they analyze the candidates for themselves. I do not intend to get into discussions with others about the specifics of the rankings. However, my articles about each candidate were intended to focus on the specific candidate and not on what makes one candidate better or worse than another. In the next few paragraphs, I will explain why I chose to rank the seven candidates in this particular order. Again, this is only to give a clearer picture of why I ranked the candidates in this order, not to provide additional fodder for further argument on the rankings.

I placed Ron Paul in seventh because of his isolationist foreign policy stance. Paul's foreign policy will--at the very least--result in Americans living in fear of a nuclear Iran or a resurgent Al Qaeda, and at worst, result in an attack worse than 9/11. Furthermore, fear is the vehicle used to take away our freedoms. For example, the fear instilled by 9/11 resulted in the loss of our freedom through the Patriot Act and the TSA. While Ron Paul will probably not use this fear to steal our freedom, it could set the stage for a successor elected in 2016 to take advantage of America's fear to do exactly that.

I viewed Romney and Huntsman as moderates, and therefore ranked them in the next two places. I placed Mitt Romney in sixth place because of the number of multiple positions he has taken on issues. Jon Huntsman, Jr. was ranked ahead of Romney because, even though he may be a complete moderate on social issues, at least we know with a reasonable certainty where Huntsman stands on the issues.

Newt Gingrich was ranked in fourth due to moderate statements he made after resigning from Congress. Bachmann's criticism that Gingrich and Romney are similar candidates may be correct, but at least Gingrich has conservative legislation to show for his time in politics (welfare reform and a balanced budget, among other laws). Gingrich may not be a true conservative and he may have contradicted himself in the past, but unlike Romney, Gingrich has a record that he can run on.

The top three candidates earned their positions due to their unwavering support of true conservative principles. I ranked Michele Bachmann third due to some statements she made based on false or unsupported claims and her lack of a clear vision for America. While some might label Bachmann's claims as "gaffes" and consider me a hypocrite for saying they are a big deal to Bachmann but not to Perry, there is a major difference: Perry's gaffes have not affected the substance of his claims. Despite the worst of Perry's gaffes--his infamous "I can't remember the third department" moment--we still understood that there were three departments he would cut, even if we did not know the third one. However, Bachmann's HPV argument fell apart when it was discovered that her claim was based on one unsupported claim, not medical fact. Furthermore, Bachmann has failed to lay out a vision for America. I think she would take America in the right direction, but in the absence of a plan from her campaign, I cannot be sure.

I truly believe that second-ranked candidate Rick Santorum is a true conservative on both fiscal and social issues. However, he has tarnished his record by supporting candidates who do not share his values. Meanwhile, Rick Perry has also established himself as a true conservative, but without the type of endorsements that tarnish Santorum's record. Even on immigration, the one major area where I am inclined to not agree with Perry, his experience as governor in a border state makes me think that he might have the right answers, even if I do not currently agree with his plan.

Ultimately, my decision was made on the basis of two major factors: conservative principles and consistency. Bachmann, Santorum, and Perry made it to the top due to their conservative stances, but Bachmann's claims and Santorum's past endorsements show they lack an element of consistency. Perry may not be the best candidate, but I believe he would make the best president. After all, this is the process to select someone to serve a four-year term as president, not a four-year term as a presidential candidate.