Bloomberg BusinessWeek had a ringside seat at the heavy-handed messaging of the Obama administration in its recent Oval Office interview with the president.
The focus of the interview was to dispel the image of President Obama as anti-business, an idea that has perplexed the president. As he noted, "on the left we are perceived as being in the pockets of Big Business. And then on the business side, we are perceived as being anti-business."
Of course the two are not mutually exclusive. It's called corporatism, fascism, or Obamanomics. As ">Mitch noted, from the environment to health care, President Obama has been very engaged with big business cronies while developing policies that could cripple the economy. Even on Wall Street, he thinks his friends like Jamie Dimon deserve their bonuses.
At least on this day, business and the economy topped Obama's agenda. Twenty steps from the Oval Office, GE's (GE) Jeff Immelt, Honeywell's (HON) David Cote, and several other CEOs huddled with White House officials to provide industry input on climate change. With his economic council waiting outside, Obama repeatedly expressed his disappointment that policies he believes are overwhelmingly pro-business have been misunderstood. Obama even had a staffer send a follow-up e-mail to a question about CEOs he admires with additional names, including Cote, Verizon's (VZ) Ivan Seidenberg, and John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers.
If that opening doesn't convey just how skeptical the Bloomberg BusinessWeek crew were, check out the of it.
The Fusionist Party's success in North Carolina's 1894 election helped inspire a backlash among Democrats that led to the disenfranchisement of black voters.
Lee Craig, alumni distinguished professor of economics at N.C. State University, outlined some of the history of that backlash during a presentation today to the John Locke Foundation's Shaftesbury Society.
In the video clip below, Craig explains that race wasn't the only factor motivating Democrats to remove blacks from the voting rolls in the late 1890s and early 1900s.
Watch the entire 54:12 presentation below.
You'll find other John Locke Foundation video presentations here.
This story from the London Daily Mail should, but won't be, the final nail in the global warming alarmist coffin. Phil Jones, the East Anglia University scientist at the center of the climategate scandal, is now admitting that there has been no warming since 1995 and that the Mid-evil warm period may have been warmer than that the last 100 years. He also acknowledges that he doesn't have a clue about where the data sets are that were used to construct the famous hockey stick graph, which has served pretty much the same function for global warmists as the cross does for Christians, accept that Christians freely acknowledge that the cross is a religious symbol. Here are the key quotes from the Daily Mail article:
Colleagues say that the reason Professor Phil Jones has refused
Freedom of Information requests is that he may have actually lost the
Professor Jones told the BBC yesterday there
was truth in the observations of colleagues that he lacked
organisational skills, that his office was swamped with piles of paper
and that his record keeping is ‘not as good as it should be’.
The data is crucial to the famous ‘hockey stick graph’ used by climate change advocates to support the theory.
Jones also conceded the possibility that the world was warmer in
medieval times than now – suggesting global warming may not be a
And he said that for the past 15 years there has been no ‘statistically significant’ warming.
PS--It should also be noted that the hockey stick graph was at the center of nearly all the presentations made to the NC Legislative Commission on Climate Change that supported the alarmist position. This is just another reason that the Commission should be completely disbanded or go back to the drawing board.
If you’ve been wondering why syndicated columnist, Liberal Fascism author, and National Review snickerdoodle Jonah Goldberg has become one of the most popular writers and speakers on the Right, check out his Corner post today on the Obama administration’s latest communications retooling. Jonah makes a good point with an even-better series of one-liners:
"It was clear that too often we didn't have the ball —
Congress had the ball in terms of driving the message," communications
director Dan Pfeiffer said. "In 2010, the president will constantly be
doing high-profile things to be the person driving the narrative."
So wait, the multiple trips to Copenhagen, the
five-Sunday-show-in-one-day-marathon, three joint session addresses to
Congress in one year, the prime-time news conferences, the state
dinner, the speech in Cairo: These don't add up to "constantly" doing
"high profile things"? What's he going to do in 2010, wrestle an
alligator in the Map Room? Crown himself Holy Roman Emperor? Challenge
the pope to a game of Boggle?
The gist of all of this is that the White House has concluded it
needs to hone precisely the strategy it's had all along. This is a new
streamlined, retooled, cowbell 2.0 strategy. Faster, more efficient,
and more selective bell-ringing will turn things around for the White
House. Moreover, they're telling us in advance how they're going to
crank this cowbell to eleven.
The last sentence mixes two metaphors. But it’s okay because they refer to Christopher Walken’s Saturday Night Live “more cowbell” bit and Nigel Tufnel’s amp riff in the immortal This Is Spinal Tap.
Microsoft has announced its new phone — the Windows Phone 7 Series. FromThe New York Times:
Steve A. Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, took the stage for a few minutes before a demonstration of the new software began.
“We debated a lot about how much we should position and talk about from whence we have come and what we will show you,” Mr. Ballmer said. “At the end of the day, we said, ‘Let’s get on with the show.’”
The product marks a rare moment when Microsoft scrapped previous versions of its software in favor of building something new from scratch. Microsoft has spent the past 18 months trying to add gloss and sophistication to a product that had suffered ridicule as being clunky and too wedded to the company’s personal computer roots.
I've tried Windows 7, and it's definitely better than the disastrous Vista. (A running joke I have with friends is that I tried to install Vista on my Mac, and the virus protection software blocked it).
Whenever Microsoft is brought up, though, I can't forget the following — um — enthusiastic presentation from Ballmer from a couple years back.
Professor Norm Van Cott says that the lack of property rights in the country is most of the explanation. Read his Freeman article on Haiti and the connection between property rights and economic progress.
In this column Will maintains that what motivates the Democrats is their desire to expand dependency upon government. Everything the president and his congressional allies have been doing is consistent with that.
Consider the financial markets. "Soon," Will points out, "the two most important financial decisions most families make -- to get a mortgage and a college tuition loan -- will almost always be transactions with the government."
The auto industry? The administration funnels federal money into GM and Chrysler to keep them afloat, while exerting extra-legal influence to stiff secured Chrysler creditors in favor of the UAW. The UAW, Will writes, "relishes dependency on government as an alternative to economic realism."
Education? The tiny DC voucher program had to go to appease teachers unions, which can't abide any competition and want as many parents as possible to be dependent on government schooling.
Excellent, revealing column, Read the whole thing.
Recently, Rob Schofield made an excellent observation. "One of the most common problems for those involved in contentious policy debates is a lack of historical perspective." He is right. (Holla atcha flibbity dibbity!) Historical perspective is a necessity, which is one of the reasons why JLF established the North Carolina History Project.
Mr. Schofield cited a lecture by Dean Jack Boger of the UNC School of Law as an example of the importance of historical perspective. "Common Schooling in the 21st Century: What Future for American Education?" is an interesting lecture and I am glad that I read it. Those of us who work in education policy rarely get an opportunity to discuss the history of education.
Mr. Boger's lecture begins with a discussion of the work of Horace Mann and North Carolinian Calvin Wiley, two nineteenth century proponents of "common schools." The notion of a "common" school is an interesting one because, for reformers like Mann and Wiley, the "common" meant that students would be forced to learn a common core of pan-Protestant values. Of course, this did not sit well with Catholics (and other minority faiths) and immigrant groups. It probably would not sit well with those who want to keep religious dogma and moralistic instruction out of the public schools.
Speaking of public schools, nineteenth century education reformers did have a notion of "public" schools, but one should not impose a present-day meaning on the idea. As historian Michael Katz notes, "[I]n the early republican period, “public” implied the performance of broad social functions and the service of a large, heterogenous, nonexclusive clientele rather than control and ownership by the community or state." (Class, Bureaucracy, and Schools: The Illusion of Educational Change in America, 23)
Indeed, most communities, legislators, families, and religious groups were satisfied with the educational configurations as they existed - state-supported charity schools and universities and privately or denominationally supported academies, grammar schools, Sunday schools, proprietary schools, Lancastrian schools, and colleges. Apprenticeships, home schools, and private tutors were particularly prevalent. All of these types of schools served a "public" purpose, as nineteenth century folk understood the term.
When the Prussian model of schooling arrived in the United States and inspired those like Mann and Wiley, Americans had already had 250 years of public schooling under their belts. The state-run, compulsory system of public schools that we have today has been around for about half that time.
What do people who are in business think of the president? If the author of this article is representative of the small business community (and I think he is), Obama's pro-market talk is worthless because his policies are ruinous.
Leftists used to call writing like this "speaking truth to power." Now, I guess they just pretend not to hear.
Dr. Holly Brewer, associate professor of history at NC State:
"The claim by DPI officials that more history will be taught under the new proposals is misleading." (News & Observer op-ed)
State Senate leader Marc Basnight:
"I am absolutely opposed to any change that would limit the study to the years proposed." (Letter to State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison and state Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson)
Supporters of the proposed changes include the Department of Public Instruction, the State Board of Education, the News & Observer, the Sanford Herald, and Dr. Stephen Jackson of NC Policy Watch.
The North Carolina Association of Educators has not made an official statement, although they appear to side with DPI.
"Draft version 1.0 has created an up roar [sic] due to the fact that some teachers saw only part of the draft standards and thought that the State DPI was going to leave out important pieces of American History; which is not true! . [sic]" (Angela Farthing, NCAE Center for Curriculum & Training, NCAE SBE Overview, February 8, 2010)
Spalding tells us that John “Locke was especially influential in America, so it is important to understand how the Founders viewed him and his work.” Spalding dubs Locke the “expositor par excellence” of an argument that England’s Glorious Revolution represented “a legitimate, popular resistance to government tyranny based on what was then a new idea of the consent of the governed.”
In his Two Treatises of Government, Locke taught that all men were by nature free and equal, that legitimate government came into existence through a social contract, that political power required consent, and that government should be constitutionally limited to protecting fundamental rights of life, liberty, and property. The Americans learned these political ideas both directly from reading Locke and through intermediaries. … Most Americans learned the argument in popular form through the writings of their own political thinkers — Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, Madison, and others. These arguments even showed up in American church sermons, right alongside and understood to be perfectly consistent with the arguments of biblical theology.
Throughout these American writings, Lockean arguments for natural rights are presented not in the context of the Enlightenment per se but rather as part of the larger intellectual horizon that encompassed the American mind. … [T]he American Founders understood Locke in light of classical political reason and biblical revelation, as part of the English Whig republican thinking and natural law tradition in which they understood themselves.
For more on the Glorious Revolution, see Michael Barone’s excellent book on the topic. For more on John Locke’s history and influence, see George M. Stephens’ outstanding essay for the JLF Web site.
You might remember a recent kerfuffle involving Karl Rove and David Axelrod; each made the case that the other’s patron (Bush 43 and Obama, respectively) represented the worst of the big-spending presidents.
Kevin A. Hassett examines the evidence in the latest National Review. You might expect that he proclaims Rove the clear winner in the dispute. You would be mistaken.
Hassett offers two forms of analysis. First, the simple method: subtract the national debt a president inherited from the national debt he left to his successor. This is “debt added.”
Second, a more subtle approach: compare the debt that exists when a president leaves office with the eighth-year debt projection the Congressional Budget Office had forecast at the time that president took office. (In other words, compare the debt at the start of 2009 with the debt the CBO had projected in 2001 for 2009.) Hassett calls this figure “debt surprise.”
[F]or Bush, the two methods give strikingly different answers. In 2001, when he took office, the CBO projected that there would be large surpluses in 2008 and that the national debt would decline steadily. Those surpluses never appeared, in part because of Bush’s profligate spending and tax cuts and in part because hopes of economic growth were disappointed. The sum of money that the U.S. owed to all lenders increased on Bush’s watch by almost $5 trillion more than the CBO expected in 2001. But since the CBO started with a forecasted surplus, the actual increase in U.S. debt was much smaller, a bit more than $2 trillion.
When Obama took office, the CBO already knew that the economy was terrible, so it projected large deficits. The national debt has increased by more than expected, but only by $1.47 trillion more. The absolute increase in the debt over that same time, however, was a whopping $3.5 trillion. So if you think that presidents should be scored by what actually happened, Rove wins. If you think they should be scored relative to expectation, Axelrod does.
Hassett adds one more caveat: Rove would win the argument under either system if you make an apples-to-apples comparison of eight years of Bush with a hypothetical eight years of Obama. Rolling Obama’s policies forward to 2016, the “debt surprise” would surpass $5 trillion.
Get the government more involved in health care, and public bean counters will spend much more time developing an “official” answer to that question.
It’s an idea explored in a new TIMEarticle, which speculates about the impact of a hypothetical pill unveiled in 2012 “that could increase life expectancy for every 50-plus American by 10 years.”
While this pill would constitute a medical miracle, not everyone would be happy:
Not surprisingly, this gray boom wouldn't come cheap. If life expectancy increases 10 years in 2012 and later, by 2028, annual Medicare expenditures alone would more than double relative to current levels, reaching $1 trillion. They'd double again to $2 trillion by 2050 and top out at $3 trillion in 2080. Total expenditures — including Social Security and disability — would be $10 trillion by that final year. In the real world, of course, life expectancy doesn't increase in [a] sudden way …, but it can increase fast — as America's addition of almost 30 years in a single century shows. [T]he financial burdens on societies will inevitably grow as people live longer.
What drives up the medical portion of the costs so fast is that the mere ability to hang around till you're nearly 90 doesn't mean you're hanging around healthily. A study by the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund found that up to 20% of people entering Medicare are already suffering from five or more chronic conditions, such as hypertension or high cholesterol. Most of those ills are treatable, but not always inexpensively, and every extra year of life is another ring of the cash register.
What’s the likely result of that increased “social cost”? Death panels, anyone?
On another note, this article repeats a point Shaftesbury Society audience members will remember from Duke professor John Staddon’s presentation on the costs of smoking. The article warns us “eliminating smoking may boost Medicare costs $293 billion, because people would live longer and make more claims.”
Click play below for Staddon’s thoughts on the topic.
A new TIMEarticle on continuing efforts to improve failing public schools includes a passage that caught my eye. It focuses on insights gleaned from the success of three Mastery Charter Schools in Philadelphia:
Of course, the education establishment (i.e., the teachers' unions and ed schools) likes to remind critics that children are not cogs and what works for companies may not necessarily work for schools. But the business analogy holds, says Mastery CEO Scott Gordon, if you see kids as customers and schools as the product to be reworked, perfected and sold. Mastery schools operate with obsessive attention to data. Daily and weekly figures on student performance, attendance, tardiness--these numbers are pored over by teachers who are themselves regularly monitored and evaluated. The goal is for every person in the building to be constantly improving.
Gordon believes that if you focus on the performance of the adults and the system in which they operate, student success is sure to follow. The biggest problem with many failing schools, he and others in the turnaround movement say, isn't the kids, the parents or the community--though all three are undeniable factors. The key flaw is that the schools are poorly run. "We are trying to apply modern-management common sense," says Gordon. "Invest in your talent, set goals--continuous improvement, constant feedback." This differs, he says, from typical public schools, where teachers receive evaluations only once a year--light management exemplified.
Charter schools — freed from the sclerotic effects of a typical public school establishment — have the opportunity to find new ways to improve public education. That is, if the establishment doesn’t aim to shut them down.
Sorry about that. I had to clear my throat. Now, where were we? Oh, yes, President Obama’s support for free markets and limited government.
Now might be a good time to revisit an astute observation John Podhoretz offered last summer:
I think that Obama and his people … believe that the people of the United States can and will retain their entrepreneurial drive, their creative spark, and their willingness to take personal risks to make new fortunes and invent new ways of doing things no matter what. They would like to enjoy and make use of the benefits of the extraordinary energy of the American people in their pursuit of happiness, and so they believe they can act almost at will.
They can’t, though. A statist culture hospitable to individual achievement is a contradiction in terms. If the government of the United States makes it clear through word and deed that entrepreneurship is acceptable primarily because it provides funds to enlarge the government itself, and then moves aggressively to collect those funds at an accelerating rate, it will create both spiritual and practical disincentives to individual effort.
The question is: How much can government take before its efforts amount to slamming the brake on the nation’s entrepreneurial drive?