Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Is Obama right to say that technology destroys jobs?

From the Wall Street Journal, a rebuttal to the community organizer’s latest episode of economic illiteracy.

Excerpt:

Today, a couple of workers can manage an egg-laying operation of almost a million chickens laying 240,000,000 eggs a year. How can two people pick up those eggs or feed those chickens or keep them healthy with medication? They can’t. The hen house does the work—it’s really smart. The two workers keep an eye on a highly mechanized, computerized process that would have been unimaginable 50 years ago.

But should we call this progress? In a sense it sounds like a deal with the devil. Replace workers with machines in the name of lower costs. Profits rise. Repeat. It’s a wonder unemployment is only 9.1%. Shouldn’t the economy put people ahead of profits?

Well, it does. The savings from higher productivity don’t just go to the owners of the textile factory or the mega hen house who now have lower costs of doing business. Lower costs don’t always mean higher profits. Or not for long. Those lower costs lead to lower prices as businesses compete with each other to appeal to consumers.

The result is a higher standard of living for consumers. The average worker has to work fewer and fewer hours to earn enough money to buy a dozen eggs or a pair of shoes or a flat-screen TV or a new car that’s safer and gets better mileage than the cars of yesteryear. That higher standard of living comes from technology. It isn’t just the rich who get cheaper TVs and cars, plus the convenience of using an ATM at midnight.

Somehow, new jobs get created to replace the old ones. Despite losing millions of jobs to technology and to trade, even in a recession we have more total jobs than we did when the steel and auto and telephone and food industries had a lot more workers and a lot fewer machines.

Why do new jobs get created? When it gets cheaper to make food and clothing, there are more resources and people available to create new products that didn’t exist before. Fifty years ago, the computer industry was tiny. It was able to expand because we no longer had to have so many workers connecting telephone calls. So many job descriptions exist today that didn’t even exist 15 or 20 years ago. That’s only possible when technology makes workers more productive.

This is discussed more in Jay Richards’ book “Money, Greed and God“, which is an excellent little introduction to economics meant for Christians. The chapter you want is on “The Materialist Myth”, which is the idea that wealth is only ever shuffled around, and never created.

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Michele Bachmann: hot photos from her vacation on the beach

Rep. Michele Bachmann

Before we see the hot pictures of Michele Bachmann from her vacation on the beach, let’s take a look at this Wall Street Journal article and find out what sorts of economics books Michele Bachmann reads on the hot beach possibly in her bathing suit.

Ms. Bachmann is best known for her conservative activism on issues like abortion, but what I want to talk about today is economics. When I ask who she reads on the subject, she responds that she admires the late Milton Friedman as well as Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams. “I’m also an Art Laffer fiend—we’re very close,” she adds. “And [Ludwig] von Mises. I love von Mises,” getting excited and rattling off some of his classics like “Human Action” and “Bureaucracy.” “When I go on vacation and I lay on the beach, I bring von Mises.”

Consider Thomas Sowell’s “The Housing Boom and Bust”. Here’s a photo of that book which Michele Bachmann reads on the hot beach possibly in a swimsuit:

Picture of book Michele Bachmann reads on the hot beach

Picture of a book Michele Bachmann reads on the hot beach

The Wall Street Journal explains more:

As we rush from her first-floor digs in the Cannon House Office Building to the House floor so she can vote, I ask for her explanation of the 2008 financial meltdown. “There were a lot of bad actors involved, but it started with the Community Reinvestment Act under Jimmy Carter and then the enhanced amendments that Bill Clinton made to force, in effect, banks to make loans to people who lacked creditworthiness. If you want to come down to a bottom line of ‘How did we get in the mess?’ I think it was a reduction in standards.”

She continues: “Nobody wanted to say, ‘No.’ The implicit and then the explicit guarantees of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were sopping up the losses. Being on the Financial Services Committee, I can assure you, all roads lead to Freddie and Fannie.”

Consider Walter Williams’ “Liberty vs the Tyranny of Socialism”. Here’s a picture of that book which Michelle Bachman reads on the hot beach possibly in a bathing suit:

Photo of a book Michelle Bachman reads on the hot beach

Photo of a book Michelle Bachman reads on the hot beach

The Wall Street Journal explains more:

Ms. Bachmann voted against the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) “both times,” she boasts, and she has no regrets since Congress “just gave the Treasury a $700 billion blank check.” She complains that no one bothered to ask about the constitutionality of these extraordinary interventions into the financial markets. “During a recent hearing I asked Secretary [Timothy] Geithner three times where the constitution authorized the Treasury’s actions, and his response was, ‘Well, Congress passed the law.'”

Insufficient focus on constitutional limits to federal power is a Bachmann pet peeve. “It’s like when you come up to a stop sign and you’re driving. Some people have it in their mind that the stop sign is optional. The Constitution is government’s stop sign. It says, you—the three branches of government—can go so far and no farther. With TARP, the government blew through the Constitutional stop sign and decided ‘Whatever it takes, that’s what we’re going to do.'”

Does this mean she would have favored allowing the banks to fail? “I would have. People think when you have a, quote, ‘bank failure,’ that that is the end of the bank. And it isn’t necessarily. A normal way that the American free market system has worked is that we have a process of unwinding. It’s called bankruptcy. It doesn’t mean, necessarily, that the industry is eclipsed or that it’s gone. Often times, the phoenix rises out of the ashes.”

Consider Milton Friedman’s “Capitalism and Freedom”. Here’s a pic of that book which Michelle Bauchman reads on the hot beach possibly in a bikini:

Pics of a book Michelle Bockman reads on the hot beach

Pics of a book Michelle Bauchman reads on the hot beach

The Wall Street Journal explains more:

“For one, I believe my policies prior to ’08 would have been much different from [President Bush's]. I wouldn’t have spent so much money,” she says, pointing in particular at the Department of Education and the Medicare prescription drug bill. “I would have advocated for greater reductions in the corporate tax rate and reductions in the capital gains rate—even more so than what the president did.” Mr. Bush cut the capital gains rate to 15% from 20% in 2003.

She’s also no fan of the Federal Reserve’s decade-long policy of flooding the U.S. economy with cheap money. “I love a lowered interest rate like anyone else. But clearly the Fed has had competing goals and objectives. One is the soundness of money and then the other is jobs. The two different objectives are hard to reconcile. What has gotten us into deep trouble and has people so perturbed is the debasing of the currency.”

That’s why, if she were president, she wouldn’t renominate Ben Bernanke as Fed chairman: “I think that it’s very important to demonstrate to the American people that the Federal Reserve will have a new sheriff” to keep the dollar strong and stable.

[...]Ms. Bachmann attributes many of her views, especially on economics, to her middle-class upbringing in 1960s Iowa and Minnesota. She talks with almost religious fervor about the virtues of living frugally, working hard and long hours, and avoiding debt. When she was growing up, she recalls admiringly, Iowa dairy farmers worked from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Her political opponents on the left portray her as a “she-devil,” in her words, a caricature at odds with her life accomplishments. She’s a mother of five, and she and her husband helped raise 23 teenage foster children in their home, as many as four at a time. They succeeded in getting all 23 through high school and later founded a charter school.

Michele Bachman is actually willing to pass a lower corporate tax rate than even Tim Pawlenty’s 15% rate:

If she were to take her shot, she’d run on an economic package reminiscent of Jack Kemp, the late congressman who championed supply-side economics and was the GOP vice presidential nominee in 1996. “In my perfect world,” she explains, “we’d take the 35% corporate tax rate down to nine so that we’re the most competitive in the industrialized world. Zero out capital gains. Zero out the alternative minimum tax. Zero out the death tax.”

The 3.8 million-word U.S. tax code may be irreparable, she says, a view she’s held since working as a tax attorney at the IRS 20 years ago. “I love the FAIR tax. If we were starting over from scratch, I would favor a national sales tax.” But she’s not a sponsor of the FAIR tax bill because she fears that enacting it won’t end the income tax, and “we would end up with a dual tax, a national sales tax and an income tax.”

Her main goal is to get tax rates down with a broad-based income tax that everyone pays and that “gets rid of all the deductions.” A system in which 47% of Americans don’t pay any tax is ruinous for a democracy, she says, “because there is no tie to the government benefits that people demand. I think everyone should have to pay something.”

On the stump she emphasizes an “America-centered energy policy” based on “drilling and mining for our rich resources here.” And she believes that repealing ObamaCare is a precondition to restoring a prosperous economy.

[...]Ms. Bachmann also voted for the Republican Study Committee budget that cuts deeper and faster than even Mr. Ryan would. “We do have an obligation with Social Security and Medicare, and we have to recognize that” for those who are already retired, she says. But after that, it’s Katy bar the door: “Everything else is expendable to bring spending down,” and she’d ax “whole departments” including the Department of Education.

Below are some links to learn more about Michele.

Campaign speeches, interviews and debates

Speeches:

Reactions from her recent debate performance:

Profiles of Michele Bachmann:

And here are some of her media interviews and speeches in the House of Representatives.

You can contribute to her campaign right here. You can be her friend on Facebook here and also here.

This post was linked by:

And tweeted by Kathleen McKinley and Robert Stacy McCain.

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What is the conservative plan for taking care of the poor?

Here’s is the Heritage Foundation explaining what conservatives would do to solve the problem of poverty.

Excerpt:

Since 1964, the U.S. has spent $15.9 trillion on means-tested welfare programs. After adjusting for inflation, welfare spending is 13 times higher today than it was in 1965. Welfare spending has grown more rapidly than Social Security, Medicare, education, and defense. And what do we have to show for these efforts? According to the Census Bureau, a record high 3.7 million Americans fell into poverty in 2009. The out-of-wedlock birthrate is now 40% and the African American out-of-wedlock birthrate is 72%. When the War on Poverty began the out-of-wedlock birthrate was just 7%.

The collapse of marriage is the root cause of child poverty in the U.S. today. It is far past time to reboot our poverty programs to promote work and encourage marriage in order to control costs and promote greater self-reliance. Among Rector’s recommendations:

  • Slowing the growth of the welfare state: Congress needs to establish reasonable fiscal constraints within the welfare system. Once the current recession ends, aggregate welfare spending should be rolled back to pre-recession levels. After this rollback has been completed, the growth of welfare spending should be capped at the rate of inflation.
  • Promoting personal responsibility and work: Able-bodied welfare recipients should be required to work or to prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid. Food stamps and housing assistance, two of the largest programs for the needy, should be aligned with the TANF program to require able-bodied adults to work or to prepare for work for a minimum of 30 hours per week.
  • Ending the welfare marriage penalty and encouraging marriage in low-income communities: Current means-tested welfare programs penalize low-income recipients who get married; these anti-marriage penalties should be reduced or eliminated.

During the administration of President Bill Clinton, conservatives successfully reformed one welfare program in the 1990s: replacing the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with the new Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). But President Barack Obama’s failed economic stimulus gutted those reforms. And his budget proposal would spend $10.3 trillion on means-tested welfare over the next decade. Before the current rise in poverty, that was enough to give $250,000 to each person currently living in poverty in the U.S., or $1 million for a poor family of four. Our nation can’t afford another 10 years of failed War on Poverty thinking.

You can read more about this issue in this Townhall.com column by Walter Williams, which explains everything you need to do to avoid being poor, and to avoid making your kids poor.

Excerpt:

Avoiding long-term poverty is not rocket science. First, graduate from high school. Second, get married before you have children, and stay married. Third, work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage. And, finally, avoid engaging in criminal behavior. If you graduate from high school today with a B or C average, in most places in our country there’s a low-cost or financially assisted post-high-school education program available to increase your skills.

Most jobs start with wages higher than the minimum wage, which is currently $5.15. A man and his wife, even earning the minimum wage, would earn $21,000 annually. According to the Bureau of Census, in 2003, the poverty threshold for one person was $9,393, for a two-person household it was $12,015, and for a family of four it was $18,810. Taking a minimum-wage job is no great shakes, but it produces an income higher than the Bureau of Census’ poverty threshold. Plus, having a job in the first place increases one’s prospects for a better job.

The Children’s Defense Fund and civil rights organizations frequently whine about the number of black children living in poverty. In 1999, the Bureau of the Census reported that 33.1 percent of black children lived in poverty compared with 13.5 percent of white children. It turns out that race per se has little to do with the difference. Instead, it’s welfare and single parenthood. When black children are compared to white children living in identical circumstances, mainly in a two-parent household, both children will have the same probability of being poor.

Here’s more Walter Williams: (2 minutes)

And some Thomas Sowell: (4.5 minutes)

Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell are my two favorite economists.

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