Category Archives: Economy

Versailles in California

Versailles or San Francisco, it’s good to be the king.

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media 

Photo via PJ Media

Photo via PJ Media

California is run from a sort of Pacific Versailles [1], an isolated coastal compound of elite rulers physically cut off from its interior peasantry.

To understand how California works — or rather does not work — drive over the I-5 Grapevine [2] and gaze down at the brilliantly engineered artificial Pyramid Lake. Thanks to California water project deliveries, even in a third year of drought its level still fluctuates between 90 to 100% full — ensuring, along with its companion reservoirs, plentiful water for the Los Angeles-area municipalities for the next two years. The far distant watersheds and reservoirs that feed Pyramid Lake are about bone dry.

The same disconnect is true of Crystal Springs Reservoir along the I-280 near San Francisco. The Sierra watershed that supplies the now 90%+full lake is drying up. But San Francisco will have an assured water supply from its manmade reservoirs for some time, even if the drought persists.

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Democracies Like Military Cuts

by Bruce S. Thorton // FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

Photo via FrontPage Magazine

President Obama has been rightly chastised for his proposed cuts to our military budget. Critics have gone after his Quadrennial Defense Review and its plan to shrink the armed forces, not to mention the clumsy optics of issuing pink slips to thousands of officers still serving in Afghanistan. More troublesome is the reduction of the military’s global mission from its traditional purpose of being able to fight and defeat two enemies at once, to only defeating one while keeping a second from “achieving its objectives,” a conveniently fuzzy criterion.

Worse yet, these cuts are coming just as China and Russia are flexing their geopolitical muscles, the Middle East is exploding in sectarian violence, and Iran is creeping ever closer to nuclear weaponry. As a bipartisan panel created by the Pentagon and Congress concludes of these latest reductions, “Not only have they caused significant investment shortfalls in U.S. military readiness and both present and future capabilities, they have prompted our current and potential allies and adversaries to question our commitment and resolve. Unless reversed, these shortfalls will lead to a high-risk force in the near future. That in turn will lead to an America that is not only less secure but also far less prosperous. In this sense, these cuts are ultimately self-defeating.”

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Egalitarian Grandees 

If you’re loudly green, you can have a carbon footprint the size of Godzilla’s.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

Photo by Chris Jackson via Getty Images

Photo by Chris Jackson via Getty Images

Charting liberal hypocrisy is now old hat. From academia to the Sierra Club, elite progressives expect to live lives that are quite different from what they envision for the less sophisticated. No one believes that Elizabeth Warren would wish affirmative action to work for everyone in the way that she herself subverted it. Nor would we expect Warren not to be in the 1 percent that she so scolds — any more than we would assume that Al Gore would not leave a carbon footprint as large as those of thousands of the less environmentally sensitive put together.

First lady Michelle Obama recently lamented that “many young people are going to schools with kids who look just like them.” And she added: “And too often those schools aren’t equal, especially ones attended by students of color, which too often lag behind.” But that anguish should not mean that the Obamas have put or would put their children in the inner-city public schools the way President and Mrs. Carter did with Amy.

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Questions Rarely Asked–and Never Answered

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media 

It Can’t Happen Here?

What does it take to warn Americans about unchecked pension growth, socialized medicine, vast increases in Photo Credit: Lester Public Library via Flickrentitlements, higher taxes, and steady expansion of government? In other words, what is it about DetroitItaly, or Greece that we do not understand?

In the last five years, the Obama administration has raised taxes on the top income rates, implemented Obamacare, added millions to the disability and food stamp roles, grown the size of the federal work force, run up the national debt, and vastly expanded the money supply, along with insuring near zero interest rates. Are there any historical examples where these redistributive efforts have brought long-term tranquility and prosperity?

To put it another way, does anyone ask basic questions about human nature anymore? If one gives more incentives to obtain government support while unemployed, why would not fewer people be working? If the food stamp, unemployment, and disability rolls are markedly up, and if it is almost impossible to verify that recipients are also not working for unreported cash wages (we hear mostly of government efforts to add more to these programs, rather than to audit those already on them), why would one seek a “regular” job that would lose such subsidies and make all one’s income reportable? (We know two basic truths about the IRS in the age of Obama: first, it goes after political opponents in partisan fashion, and second, it gives away billions of dollars in federal income tax rebate credits to those who did not deserve them.) Read more →

The Late, Great Middle Class

It’s never been harder to find a decent job making something real.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online 

The American middle class, like the American economy in general, is ailing. Labor-force participation has hit a 35-year low.Destitute_man_vacant_store

Median household income is lower than it was five years ago. Only the top 5 percent of households have seen their incomes rise under President Obama.

Commuters are paying more than twice as much for gas as they were in 2008. Federal payouts for food stamps, unemployment insurance, and disability insurance have reached unprecedented levels.

Meanwhile, the country is still running near-record budget deficits and is burdened by $17 trillion in aggregate debt. Yet the stock market is soaring.

How can we make sense of all this contradictory nonsense? Irony.

Obama promised to restore the middle class. In truth, Read more →

America’s Vast Margin of Error

by Victor Davis Hanson

Tribune Media Services

The Obama administration is facing scandals everywhere — using the IRS to punish political enemies, seizing the phone records of Associated Press and Fox News reporters, monitoring phone and email accounts of millions, and making up stories about what happened in Benghazi. Read more →

The Great California Land Rush

by Victor Davis Hanson

PJ Media

Boom or Bust?

I have lived on the same farm for 59 years and seen at least three boom-and-bust farm cycles — one in the late 1960s, another in the early 1980s, and a third right now. Read more →

How to Weaken an Economy

by Victor Davis Hanson

PJ Media

It is not easy to ruin the American economy; doing nothing[1] usually means it repairs itself[2] and soon is healthier than before a recession. Read more →

Wards of the State

by Bruce Thornton

Defining Ideas

The biggest political problem the United States faces — runaway entitlement costs on track to bankrupt the treasury — is like the weather. Everybody talks about it, but no one does anything about it. Even talking about it can be politically dangerous, as the Republicans learned in November and during the “fiscal cliff” negotiations. They chastised Mitt Romney’s post-election comments about the entitlement “gifts” President Obama promised voters. And the Republican demand that tax-hikes be linked to spending cuts to avoid the “fiscal cliff” was demonized as “holding the middle class hostage.”
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Dr. Barack and Mr. Obama on the Debt Ceiling

by Victor Davis Hanson

NRO’s The Corner

Barack Obama once had a lot of insightful things to say about the debt ceiling that transcended the usual political game of voting for debt-ceiling increases when your guy was president and against when he was not — and even some things that were quite blunt if not harsh about anyone who would be so reckless as not to address balancing the budget. According to Obama, raising the debt ceiling was a sign of leadership failure (“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure”), and a clear indication that the US was simply incapable of paying what it already owes (“It is a sign that the US government can’t pay its own bills”) — a fact that made us vulnerable to foreign pressures (“It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government’s reckless fiscal policies”).
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