The Locker Room

February 11, 2009

Re: Journalists at Wal-Mart

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:35 PM

What a difference from the last journalist who worked "undercover" at a Wal-Mart, Hal.

It's amazing how one's experience differs when one approaches Wal-Mart as existing to serve customers, out of the business' regard for its own best interest (Adam Smith would be proud) instead of going there with the perspective that one took a job at Wal-Mart with the selfish mentality that one was so entitled to being served by the Evil Rich Corporation that one could steal from the Wal-Mart if one wanted.

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Speaking of Larry Schweikart...

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 6:32 PM

He appeared on Fox & Friends today and discussed liberal bias in history textbooks.

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He L-u-v-s Wal-Mart

Posted by Hal Young at 6:23 PM

As the Obama "stimulus" takes effect I think a whole new segment of the population will discover the joys of shopping (and employment) at the galaxy's largest Ueberretailer.

Journalist George Platt went undercover for the New York Post and applied for an entry-level position at an Arizona Wal-Mart and came away impressed. His entertaining article reveals a central tenet of customer focus there:

... almost all the rules devolved to the sacred principle of never, ever offending a customer - or "guest," in Wal-Mart terminology.

The reason was clearly articulated. On average, anyone walking into Wal-Mart is likely to spend more than $200,000 at the store during the rest of his life. Therefore, any clueless employee who alienates that customer will cost the store around a quarter-million dollars. "If we don't remember that our customers are in charge," our trainer warned us, "we turn into Kmart." She made that sound like devolving into some lesser being - a toad, maybe, or an amoeba.

They're far from perfect getting complete buy-on from their associates, I have to admit, but I'm a firm supporter of the people from Bentonville and working hard on my lifetime quarter-million there.

(HT: El R'bo)

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A great line, for the history books

Posted by John Hood at 3:06 PM

I was just looking up something in my copy of A Patriot's History of the United States, a highly recommended work of scholarship and prose, when I came across this wonderful little witticism:

It is not surprising, then, that so many left-wing historians miss the boat (and miss it, and miss it, and miss it to the point where they need a ferry schedule).

Good stuff, co-authored by JLF friend and University of Dayton professor Larry Schweikart. The entire 900-page work is well worth a read, or a re-read as the case may be. Take your time. There's a lot in it to savor, to ponder, and to take to heart.

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The new bank plan

Posted by George Leef at 12:57 AM

Writing in the New York Post, Alan Reynolds explains why the market plunged after hearing the administration's new plan to help troubled banks.

The Obama administration is looking much like FDR's -- furious but utterly clueless activity.

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Congress to forego pay raise ... at least next year

Posted by David N. Bass at 11:29 AM

Another sign of congressional benevolence amidst a tumultuous economy.

Now, how about giving back that raise for '09?

[The] No. 2 Democrat in the House said Washington lawmakers are going to have to give up their automatic raise in 2010. It would be “inappropriate,” said Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer, for Congress to accept its 2010 raise when the economy is in bad shape and people are losing their jobs.

Well, Mr. Hoyer, what about the 2009 raise last month?

We think is not only inappropriate but almost immoral for Congress to have accepted a 3 percent pay increase last month, which raised members’ salaries to $174,000.

The congressional pay raise in January added an additional $2.5 million to the budget.

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Obama is acting like Bush

Posted by George Leef at 10:52 AM

So argues Jacob Sullum here.

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How do we know when jobs have been saved?

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 10:27 AM

"My initial measure of success is creating or saving 4 million jobs," President Obama said Monday night. But it raises three questions:

  1. How do we know which ones would have disappeared?
  2. How do we know which ones will be saved for a limited time only?
  3. How do we know which jobs would have been created but aren't because we've temporarily avoided the loss of others?

It's not like companies have to apply to threaten to close, like Goodyear did in NC a couple years ago. Maybe he really can see what is not seen.

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A direct hit!

Posted by George Leef at 10:24 AM

Writing in today's Wall Street Journal, Peter Ferrara scores a direct hit on the Obama economic plan.

Everything he's doing will be counterproductive, but Obama is sticking with his argument that because he won the election, his ideas must be the right ones.

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Socialized health care stimulus

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 10:16 AM

The more people dig into the details of the stimulus bill, the more it becomes clear that it's purpose is not to jolt the economy back to action, but to create new entitlements and move us further along the path to nationalized health care.

Shouldn't the lack of details in Son of TARP indicate how much room there is for error? Evolution and markets allow room for good enough. Legislation, because of its durability, leaves less room to correct errors as they arise.

The whole legislative process in Washington is starting to resemble the budget process here in Raleigh.

Updated for clarification

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Financial Markets Working Group

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 09:44 AM

Our friends at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University have established the Financial Markets Working Group to critique the stimulus package and related "solutions" to the economic crisis. also allows you to view "shovel ready" projects in the states.

Below are the "shovel-ready" projects for which the mayors of this state have requested federal stimulus funding. You can click on a project to read (and add to) its description. You can also discuss the project and vote on whether you believe it is critical or not. For a more local view, you can drill down to projects in a particular city. Just choose a city from the following list.

The total of cost of all the projects submitted by North Carolina is $1,976,159,270

Here is the link to the North Carolina projects.


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Rush Limbaugh picks up my interview with Mike Munger

Posted by George Leef at 09:35 AM

On his program yesterday, Rush Limbaugh quoted extensively from my interview (published last Friday on the Pope Center's site) with Duke University professor Mike Munger.

The word is getting around that many economists thoroughly reject President Obama's economic plans. But don't be surprised if Obama and his spokesmen say that because Rush Limbaugh quoted the words, they must be wrong.

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Dick Armey's attack on Keynes

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 09:22 AM

Former professor of economics and House majority leader and current chairman of FreedomWorks Dick Armey adds his attack on Keynes here. "Washington Could Use Less John Meynard Keynes and More Friedrich Hayek" 

According to Nobel economist Friedrich Hayek, a contemporary of Keynes and perhaps his greatest critic, Keynes "was guided by one central idea . . . that general employment was always positively correlated with the aggregate demand for consumer goods." Keynes argued that government should intervene in the economy to maintain aggregate demand and full employment, with the goal of smoothing out business cycles. During recessions, he asserted, government should borrow money and spend it.

Keynes's thinking was a decisive departure from classical economics, because arbitrary "macro" constructs like aggregate demand had no basis in the microeconomic science of human action. As Hayek observed, "some of the most orthodox disciples of Keynes appear consistently to have thrown overboard all the traditional theory of price determination and of distribution, all that used to be the backbone of economic theory, and in consequence, in my opinion, to have ceased to understand any economics."

In reality, no one spends someone else's money better than they spend their own. The charade of the current stimulus package, chockablock with earmarks to favored pet constituencies and virtually devoid of national policy considerations, is the logical consequence of Keynesianism in action. It is about politics and power, not sound economics, and I believe that the American people will reject it.


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"Keynes Can't Help Us Now"

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 09:11 AM

Or so says Harvard professor and Hoover Institution senior fellow Niall Ferguson here

There is something desperate about the way economists are clinging to their dogeared copies of Keynes' "General Theory." Uneasily aware that their discipline almost entirely failed to anticipate the current crisis, they seem to be regressing to macroeconomic childhood, clutching the Keynesian "multiplier effect" -- which holds that a dollar spent by the government begets more than a dollar's worth of additional economic output -- like an old teddy bear.

They need to grow up and face the harsh reality: The Western world is suffering a crisis of excessive indebtedness. Governments, corporations and households are groaning under unprecedented debt burdens. Average household debt has reached 141% of disposable income in the United States and 177% in Britain. Worst of all are the banks. Some of the best-known names in American and European finance have liabilities 40, 60 or even 100 times the amount of their capital.

The delusion that a crisis of excess debt can be solved by creating more debt is at the heart of the Great Repression. Yet that is precisely what most governments propose to do.

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Obama embraces bad economic theory

Posted by George Leef at 09:04 AM

Finance professor Michael Rozeff explains here what's wrong with Obama's economic plans: they're rooted in the completely mistaken Keynesian notion that if the economy slows, it must be due to insufficient demand.

Rozeff also notes that in his press conference yesterday, the president once again resorted to the creaky and dogmatic explanation that "tax cuts for the rich" did great harm to the economy. That idea is so fatuous, so indefensible, that it ought to put to rest the idea that Barack Obama is some exalted intellectual. I don't know whether he is much of an intellectual, but as a politician, he's just a two-bit demagogue.

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Neighborhood stabilization funds axed from stimulus bill

Posted by David N. Bass at 08:18 AM

Looks like “neighborhood stabilization” funds were axed from the economic stimulus bill prior to its approval by the U.S. Senate yesterday.

The stimulus package passed by the House in late January included $4.19 billion for Housing and Urban Development’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program. Some of the funds would be up for grabs by nonprofits – and, naturally, conservatives are concerned that groups like ACORN, renowned for voter fraud during the ’08 election, could get their hands on the money.

It remains to be seen whether the final compromise version between the House and Senate will include the funding or not.

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Alternative Certification Doesn't Hinder Student Acheivement

Posted by Hal Young at 06:59 AM

The federal Department of Education just released a study of 63 schools in seven states which looked at student testing results from teachers who graduated from traditional certification channels versus those who qualified through alternative or lateral entry programs.

The study found "no statistical difference" in student performance when taught by an alternative-certified teacher instead of a traditionally-certified teacher; no difference whether the alternative certification program required more or less hours of coursework; and no difference linked to the content of the teacher's coursework -- including whether the teacher had majored in education or some other field.

The one significant difference was that math students scored 4.9% lower on tests if their alternatively-certified teacher was loaded up with continuing coursework at the time. In other words, if the teacher had too much homework, their students suffered. The study did not ask if the same effect was observed for traditionally-certified teachers pursuing graduate degrees while teaching.

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Sticking with the Socialist theme …

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:54 AM

If we’re not traveling on the road toward New France, we at least seem to be headed back to the bad old days of the New Deal.

As Hillsdale College history professor Burton Folsom reminds us in the college’s latest volume of Imprimis:

[T]he taxes to pay for the New Deal became astronomical. In 1935, Roosevelt decided to raise the marginal tax rate on top incomes to 79 percent. Later he raised it to 90 percent. These confiscatory rates discouraged entrepreneurs from investing, which prolonged the Great Depression.

Henry Morgenthau, FDR's loyal Secretary of the Treasury, was frustrated at the persistence of double-digit unemployment throughout the 1930s. In May 1939, with unemployment at 20 percent, he exploded at the failed New Deal programs. "We have tried spending money," Morgenthau noted. "We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. . . . We have never made good on our promises. . . . I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. . . . And an enormous debt to boot!"

For more on the New Deal’s failures, check out Amity Shlaes’ work.

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Says who?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:52 AM

In their article “We Are All Socialists Now,” Newsweek’s Jon Meacham and Evan Thomas (grandson of a perennial Socialist presidential candidate, by the way) declare:
If we fail to acknowledge the reality of the growing role of government in the economy, insisting instead on fighting 21st-century wars with 20th-century terms and tactics, then we are doomed to a fractious and unedifying debate.

Really? Says who?

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I think he means it as a compliment

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:51 AM

Here's the first line of Michael Freedman's latest Newsweek cover story:
Have you noticed that Barack Obama sounds more like the president of France every day?

To learn about the “virtues” of French-style socialism, click here, here, or here.

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:42 AM

Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Jay Schalin's report on new evidence questioning the traditional definition of "student-athlete" on college campuses. 

John Hood's Daily Journal dissects the impact of a recent newspaper report on Wake County public schools' diversity policies.

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'No, no, no. Dig up, stupid!'

Posted by Jon Sanders at 00:17 AM

The AP uses the presumptive word of the year, along with an exclamation point, in its latest headline on the stimulus madness, "$3 trillion! — Senate, Fed, Treasury attack crisis":

On a single day filled with staggering sums, the Obama administration, Federal Reserve and Senate attacked the deepening economic crisis Tuesday with actions that could throw as much as $3 trillion more in government and private funds into the fight against frozen credit markets and rising joblessness.

"It's gone deep. It's gotten worse," President Barack Obama said of the recession at a campaign-style appearance in Fort Myers, Fla., where unemployment has reached double digits. "The situation we face could not be more serious."

If any more emphasis were needed, Wall Street investors sent stocks plunging, objecting that new rescue details from the government were too sparse. The Dow Jones industrials dropped 382 points.

Has it not occurred to anyone that they're just digging us in deeper? With each new round of stimulus spending, they admit it's gotten worse — do they think that's coincidental? The last time the Fed, the president, and Congress combined for such lunatic responses to a recession, the end result was a depression that might not ever have ended were it not for the outbreak of world war over a decade later.

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