Friday, August 06, 2010

Slippery Slope

Many like myself criticize government regulations and intervention by saying that while the act may seem and sound reasonable now, it will lead to ever more invasive actions. We talk of the slippery slope. We have, for years, suggested that increased regulations were, instead of protecting people, were going to lead to the OPPOSITE of freedom. And all along, we have been dismissed and chastised for "fearmongering" or simply exaggerating.

One of my personal favorites when decrying regulations was to suggest that if it doesn't stop, pretty soon 10 year olds' lemonade stands will be forced to submit to health inspectors and apply for a permit or be forced to shut down. And, predictably, I've been accused of using an absurd fallacy to make my point.

However, the slippery slope exists and while the results are absurd, it's not fallacious to be wary of it.

Along similar lines, people like myself have also argued that a truly free market has not existed for years ... like 150 years at least (if ever). While it's sometimes difficult to see the negative impacts of federal intervention, this is a great example to see how even local govt intervention can distort a market in favor of those with political ties. What's bad is that this kind of government "preferential" intervention goes back forever. Even in the mid-1800's, when the concept of robber barons and of industry's tyrannical oppression of its customers really began, we can look closer and see that most such instances (I would recommend you read the entire book or hopefully that first section, but at least read a page or two starting half way down page 12) were actually cases of govt intervention ending a free market and creating a preferred market for a specific preferential industry, business, or person.

Anyone that even TRIES to argue that the US is a free market is so removed from reality as to be dismissible. Keep these stories in your back pockets the next time someone says that the "free market" failed or that "free market capitalism" is the cause of our problems.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Explain this

The Democrats who voted for the health care bill use the 'Interstate Commerce' clause as the authority for regulating health insurance.   How does that work considering that health insurance is already not allowed to be sold across state lines.  Therefore, by DEFINITION, health insurance is NOT interstate commerce.

Somebody please explain it to me.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Stop Subsidizing Everything!!

An article from the Cato Institute describes my frustration with "part-time" conservatives:
Government Support for Nuclear Energy Misguided
Peter van Doren have long argued that the case for government intervention in energy markets is flimsy: "Despite promises in the 1950s that nuclear power would soon become 'too cheap to meter,' 50 years of lavish federal subsidies and regulatory preferences have yet to produce an industry that can turn a profit without taxpayer help."Calling the plan "radioactive corporate welfare," Taylor says the plan is highly misguided:President Obama announced this week he would allocate billions of dollars in loan guarantees to build a new nuclear power plant in Georgia, the first new nuclear power plant in the U.S. in thirty years. Cato scholars Jerry Taylor and
A good default proposition regarding the government's role in the economy would state that the government should not loan money to an enterprise if the enterprise in question cannot find one single market actor anywhere in the universe to loan said enterprise a single red cent. It might suggest — I don't know — that the investment is rather … dubious. Alas, like all good propositions regarding the government's role in the economy, this one is being left by the roadside by the Obama administration.
Many conservatives who regularly defend free and open markets praised Obama's decision to subsidize nuclear energy. The editors of National Review wrote, "the president has sent a clear message to the country — and to environmentalists — that nuclear will be part of the country's future energy mix. For that message, he deserves our approbation." Cato scholars have repeatedly warned against supporting such subsidies in energy markets, criticizing so-called "free-market advocates" who lose their way when it comes to energy policy. Taylor and Van Doren write: 
Rather than defend free markets, [conservatives] bang the table about the need for national energy plans and government timetables for energy-plant construction…. How is the conservative case for the above subsidies any different from the liberal case for subsidizing solar or wind energy, or high-mileage automobiles — or, for that matter, the case for government backing of financial institutions and automobile companies? It isn't, and conservatives should not check their skepticism about central planning and the bureaucratic ordering of markets at the door when they walk into the energy-policy funhouse.
Taylor and Van Doren further outline a plan for sound energy policy in the Energy Chapter of the Cato Handbook for Policymakers. For more, read Richard L. Gordon's 2008 Policy Analysis on energy policy and government subsidies that makes the case against government intervention in energy markets.

I recognize that nuclear is good, necessary, and a WAY better energy generator than wind and solar. But encourage it by LOWERING REGULATIONS/RESTRICTIONS!!! Stop thinking the only way that anything will ever develop is if government throws money (Other People's Money) at that market.

When supposedly fiscal/limited government conservatives jump on the subsidizing bandwagon just because that money would be going toward something they like or agree with, it makes me question the validity of their claims of truly being limited government. I know, I know, "But we need energy independence ASAP! It's about our national security. It's about lowering energy costs for those struggling. We can't wait to battle for lower regulations or for the market to mature itself. We must act

Sound frighteningly like another party I know.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Under the cover of darkness

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has the responsibility to police the business world (in the name of "Protecting America's Consumers"). They have a great deal of power to regulate corporations. And their power to enforce of these regulations is even greater. At the very least, they can just drag the process out to the point of enormous expense and loss of business.

With such power, in our government, there are supposed to be checks and balances. Congress should have bipartisan discussions about the power the FTC and all sub-organization agencies have and specifically those in positions of power in those agencies. Instead, what often happens is wholesale bypassing of discussion/debate.

These appointments (and who knows how many others) get tossed in at the end of the day (~8pm) with about a dozen people in the room, many of which are probably clerks and staffers (see video - slider time; ~625:30).  No discussion of qualifications, biases, philosophy; just basically "Approve them all."

Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to consider Executive Calendar Nos. 603, 604, 610, 625, 629, 630, and 700 so that the nominees be confirmed en bloc, the motions to reconsider be laid upon the table en bloc; that no further motions be in order; and that any statements related to the nominations be printed in the Record; that the President be immediately notified of the Senate’s action, and the Senate then resume legislative session.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

This is incredible. Now I'm not Congressional parliamentary procedure expert, so I may be reading this all wrong, but it seems that just  saying, "I'd like to pass this as long as nobody objects." when nobody else is in the room doesn't smack of a republic (or even a democracy). 

If you look at the description of the Senate Executive Calendar, you'll see that it does contain nominations: 

This section identifies Presidential Nominations submitted to the Senate for confirmation, placed on the Executive Calendar with a sequentially assigned calendar number and ready for Senate floor consideration.

But that description doesn't seem to imply that they can just bypass consideration. So I take this to mean that these nominations are supposed to considered by both parties on the floor.  Apparently not.

Here's how I read these statements individually:
I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to consider Executive Calendar Nos. 603, 604, 610, 625, 629, 630, and 700 
Ok, nothing major here. It seems this is just wanting to elevate these particular items to the floor for consideration [tomorrow?].  Then they will discuss each of them individually, right? 
so that the nominees be confirmed en bloc
Oh.  Well, at least they can't be confirmed with the Republican motions to reconsider (objections) blocking them.
the motions to reconsider be laid upon the table en bloc
huh? All of them?  Just like that? Well, as long as the the Republicans can resubmit their motions before confirmation...
that no further motions be in order
Wait, what? Now Republicans CAN'T submit motions to reconsider?
and that any statements related to the nominations be printed in the Record; that the President be immediately notified of the Senate’s action, 
Read: "Appropriate paperwork be done"
and the Senate then resume legislative session. 
"Just move along. Nothing to see here." Well surely nobody would allow this to just go by unchallenged.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Oh come on! 

I'm not only getting on the Democrats, I'm sure Republicans did the same blasted thing during their tenure. But that doesn't excuse the practice of what appears to be rubber stamp approving all the weasels while the farmer is asleep.

Almost makes one wonder if someone could just slip in there real quick right before adjourning when there are like 2 clerks and a transcriptionist and say, "I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to consider Executive Calendar number 777 to direct all tax dollars to this offshore account; that a small island be granted to me; that all motions in objection be tabled; that no further motions be in order; that take-backs aren't allowed; that I'm rubber and you're glue; that no paperwork be filed on this in the Record; that the President be immediately notified of my retirement; and the Senate then resume legislative session."

Without objection, it is so ordered.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Government vs Free Markets

Now I'll admit I don't know everything, or even very much, about the operations of the United States Postal Service. I work with computers and electronic mail is how I prefer to deal with everything. However, today I came across yet another indicator that, in the long run, government typically cannot compete with the free market, even on ground slanted in their favor, let alone on even ground.

The post office is now suggesting that they will to do away with Saturday delivery. In addition, there is the ever-present threat of closing post offices.

istockphoto_1393704_money_from_the_mail.jpgThis is because the post office is, and has been, operating at a significant loss for several years now (even before the recession began). Their last quarter in the black was back in 2006 (and that was while issuing over $2 billion in bonds ... aka debt). They operated Q4 (Oct-Dec) of 2009 at a deficit of, get this, $300 million! In 2008 and 2009 they apparently lost $2.8 billion and $3.8 billion respectively. It was on target to be nearly $7 billion in losses for 2009, but by issuing bonds (shown as 'Debt' in the chart) the yearly revenue didn't end up being as bad.
Interestingly, notice that the difference in mail volume barely changed between 2005-2007. Really only 2009 was the first year to see a significant drop in volume and yet a huge swing in revenue took place starting in 2007.

The USPS has been struggling even beyond its fiscal problems. Even Obama said so. Though underlying the deteriorating work environments and aging employees (and a congressional requirement to pre-fund health benefits to employees), most of the problems come back to money. To combat this trend, there have been discussions regarding how to improve the post office's fiscal situation. Some have even mentioned fully privatizing the post office (note: that's from 1995).

Keep in mind, the USPS isn't strictly a government agency.  It only gets about $3 billion of federal tax money. It operates primarily from the revenue from its services. However, at the same time, there are a significant number of advantages (note: I'm not sure how old that article is as it claims the Post Office has made profits in the preceding years, which isn't the case currently) that they have over any truly private organization. It's sorta positioned as a pseudo-governmental entity:  Lots of the benefits of government with many of the freedoms to act like business.

Yet despite the advantages, it looks like some difficult times ahead for the USPS.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Forms of Government

I believe this video explains well the various forms of government.

While it can be debated whether there have been actual monarchies and about what anarchy would look like, I think it effectively conveys the difference between a republic and a democracy. We were not intended to just be simple majority rule nation. That can be seen in how the US founders required 2/3 majority of both houses of Congress to pass it AND 3/4 of all states ratifying it to enact a Constitutional amendment. It was not intended to be easy to make changes; to increase the reach and power of the national, federal government.

And I hope that everyone agrees that an oligarchy is undesirable. Even in the case where that oligarchy is several thousand in size, consisting of elected officials, bureaucrats, and various "experts", you still run into problems of bias, corruption and mistakes creating unforeseen problems that pervade the entire country or market.

Though I disagree with the 1 dimensional description of the political spectrum. I believe that it is a 2D  spectrum similar to the  Nolan Chart.

To me, this is a good example of the two ideas of Liberty and "Security" with regard to both Personal and Economic issues.

In this particular example, it places individuals to represent where their views are located. While you can disagree with the placement of the individuals in that example, the chart itself is great to map out most anyone's nuanced political views.

At the same time however, I'm willing to settle with simply going back to federalism. As long as the federal government gets out of the habit of making national laws regarding personal and economic matters and leaves that up to the states as was originally intended (see Ninth and Tenth amendments) then I think we'd all be better off.

Even many progressives believe that the idea of "laboratories of democracy"; of having 50 individual states attempting to find solutions to problems is more efficient and effective than a single national attempt which can take 20, 30, 50, 100 years to recognize as a bad idea. And by then, the political debate all too often revolves around how to fix the problem created by the implemented solution instead of asking, "Is there a different, better solution to the original problem?"

For the curious, I believe I fall between the classical liberal and the market liberal. 

I suppose there could be some entertainment from telling people I'm a liberal, then go on to describe my views :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sweden as Socialistic Example

I've talked with several people recently about the effectiveness of a libertarian-style free market. They seem to believe that different groups of people require different types of government. That some people are designed for communism whereas others for capitalism.

Sweden was recently used as an example by someone who said that their socialism is actually quite successful and that those people are perfectly happy with it.

Here's an actual look at the country of Sweden and the "success" of it's socialistic policies.

Looking objectively at the statistical history vs just the perception of success, it seems that Sweden and the socialism isn't faring much better than anywhere else.

In addition to the economic ramifications of collectivism, the effects of socialism on the mentality of people is also detrimental.

It's easy to understand that when people are raised in an environment where most everything is provided for you by someone else, your attitude about work, about expectations, about rights themselves, changes. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Say what you will, I like the guy

You can joke about him crying, about him being a goofball, about him being overdramatic, about him being more about sensationalism than realism, but I like him.

Glenn Beck's keynote speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was impressive. It touched on all the things that fiscal conservatives are demanding and used actual history and stats to reinforce the point. Not much was discussed regarding social conservatism, to which I say all the better considering the economic state of affairs. Best of all, he expressed a skepticism about the Republican party and their limited government intentions that I don't hear enough. Plus ... you gotta love the chalkboard. :)

Oh, and Jon, talk about missing the forest for the trees.

Conservatives don't want to get rid of public libraries. Please explain the logic behind claiming conservatives who advocate for enumerated powers and the 9th and 10th amendments to limit the federal government, are somehow hypocritical because they use public libraries. Not everything paid for with taxes is evil communism. We just think that falls squarely outside the enumerated powers of the federal government (as does a LOT of what the federal government is doing nowadays). If states and city/counties want to fund their own libraries with taxes, then by all means they can do so and most conservatives would support that.

If you truly believe that there is a group trying to get rid of all public libraries... Well, you're right. They're called libertarians. I agree with them on many, many things. But I tell you what, if you're worried, I think libertarians would be willing to put "Eliminate Public Libraries" LITERALLY at the end of their list of priorities. 

Law of Comparative Advantage

The Law of Comparative Advantage
Long name that basically says that even if you have the ability to do something, it's to your advantage to let someone else do it if you can be more efficient at something else.

This is nothing new, but it helped me understand why, in a truly free economy, you wouldn't have megalithic corporations that do end-to-end vertical production as well as having a huge breadth of products. In our current setup, government tax schemes have created an environment where it is to the advantage of the corporation to provide everything "in-house". This means that because of taxes that Dell would pay to buy network cards from some manufacturer, it would be cheaper for Dell to manufacture their own network cards for themselves. Soon it becomes nearly impossible for an upstart to get into the market because in order to be able to compete at Dell's prices, you have to start with a massive manufacturing infrastructure to avoid the same tax penalties. 

Even in situations where one person/group is better at everything they do than anyone else, it's still going to be to their benefit to cooperate:

You want increased competition and smaller megalithic corporations? Lower the barriers of entry into the market (i.e. regulations, taxes, permits, etc) and don't incentivize monolithic practices while claiming to despise them. Through a combination of comparative advantage and increased competition, you'll see that companies find it beneficial and more profitable to do one thing, and do it very well. In the end, it's the customers, we consumers that benefit.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Booms and Busts

Excellent economic video contrasting two key economists of the 20th century. While one is the prominent basis of all economic theory and taught in economic classes, the other is hardly known.

This describes the crisis we're in. The housing bubble and Wall Street are all blamed, but Hayek describes how the Fed has played the key role in creating the boom and bust cycles.  We need to learn from history.

Why don't we go nuclear?

I read an article titled There is No Perfect Fuel published on Acton blog.  However, while the article itself is good, it was a comment that I found that really impressed me with how powerful it was. Now, I haven't double checked all his numbers, but I do know from my own reading that the concepts he's talking about are accurate. This really makes one wonder why we aren't really pushing nuclear more beyond just promises and rhetoric.

Yes, there is a perfect fuel: uranium and thorium. I have worked in nuclear energy for more than 30 years. I have been on a submarine that could traverse the ocean depths, surfacing only for food and toilet paper, all thanks to a 158 MWth nuclear reactor. I have worked in 1000 MWe nuclear power plants that emit zero CO2 and zero particulates, and whose spent fuel of some 30 years of operation fits inside five or six dry storage casks, completely sequestered from the environment and ready for reprocessing to be used in the next generation fast neutron burner.
With nuclear energy we can make our own liquid fuels or produce hydrogen to replace imported oil. With nuclear energy we can obviate the need for coal fired power plants whose emissions kill 30000 annually from lung disease in the US alone. With fast neutron burners we can consume all the long lived actinides in spent nuclear fuel, making Yucca Mountain or any other long term geologic repository a moot point. By using fast breeder reactors, we have enough uranium and thorium in Earth's crust to fuel nine billion people with a level of energy consumption equal to that of the average American for one million years.
Consider this: The energy in one uranium fuel pellet—the size of the tip of your little finger—is the equivalent of 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas, 1,780 pounds of coal, or 149 gallons of oil. If you used only uranium or thorium for energy and added up all the energy you use in a lifetime, it would be the size of a 12 ounce can of soda. But if you did the same with coal or oil or gas, it would hundreds of tons of refuse dumped willy-nilly into the air and water and ground.
BTW, did you know that coal fired power plants that supply 50% of US electricity emit more radioactivity in the form of uranium, thorium and radium occurring naturally in coal than any nuke plant releases? Indeed, Con Ed in the 1960s wanted to build a coal fired power plant next to its Indian Point nuclear facility but couldn't because the radioactive emissions of the coal plant would swamp the radiation detectors in the nuke plant. I know - I worked at Indian Point for 18 years and I was the radiation monitoring system engineer for unit 3, and the two 1000 MW pressurized water reactors (units 2 and 3, 1 is decommissioned) produce almost as much electricity as the US portion of Niagara Falls!
Take a look at emission numbers below:
Coal Plant Emmissions: Pounds of Refuse per 1 MWe of Generation
 Carbon Dioxide 2249
 Sulfur Dioxide 13
 Nitrogen Oxides 6
Oil Plant Emmissions: Pounds of Refuse per 1 MWe of Generation
 Carbon Dioxide 1672
 Sulfur Dioxide 12
 Nitrogen Oxides 4
Natural Gas Plant Emmissions: Pounds of Refuse per 1 MWe of Generation
 Carbon Dioxide 1135
 Sulfur Dioxide 0.1
 Nitrogen Oxides 1.7
Nuclear Plant Emmissions: Pounds of Refuse per 1 MWe of Generation
 Carbon Dioxide 0
 Sulfur Dioxide 0
 Nitrogen Oxides 0
So what's safer for the lungs?
BTW, solar and wind are a joke: no wind - no electricity. No sunlight - no electricity. If wind were so darn great, then why are not commercial ships still propelled by sails? Capacity factor of wind and solar never exceeds 30%, but the current capacity factor for an American nuke is more than 92% and its environmental footprint is miniscule compared to the dozens of square miles of landscape that have to be torn up for wind or solar.
Yes, there is the perfect fuel - two of them in fact: Thorium from which we can breed U-233, and uranium from which we get get U-235 or with which we can breed Pu-239.
I have worked 30+ years in the nuclear industry. It's the safest and best industry in the world, and that is exactly why it is opposed by all the right (er, I mean left) thinking people.
More nukes, less kooks is what I say. I shall have more to say about safety, Chernobyl, TMI, etc., in later posts. Suffice it to point out that not ONE member of the public has been injured or killed as the result of the operation of ANY Western light water reactor. A Chernobyl event cannot happen at a US plant because Chernobyl was an RBMK - a plutonium weapons breeder. It was graphite moderated and light water cooled. It had a positive tmeperature and void co-efficient of reactivity. No US reactor is like that. The laws of physics prevent a Chernobyl event at any light water cooled, light water moderated reactor. As for TMI - when the worst happens to a US reactor, the radioactivity is contained in containment and the public unaffected. Just look at the gas fired power plant explosion in Conneticut earlier this week. Can't happen at a nuke. Not possible.
By the way, I want to make something perfectly clear here. Obamolech is NOT pro-nuke. Yes, he proposed 57 billion in loan promises to the US nuke industry, but he appointed anti-nuke Jackzo as head of the US NRC.
Remember back in Bush's days John Roberts was selected for SCOTUS? Harry Reid had a fit about that and said no. But Harry Reid (who opposes the Yucca Mtn repository and is anti-nuke) had as his science advisor Gregory Jackzo. he proposed to Bush that he'd let John Roberts go to SCOTUS is Jackzo became a commissioner in the NRC. Bush agreed, but NEI (Nuclear Energy Institute) wanted balance in the NRC, so they contacted Pete Domenici (a pro-nuke senator) whose science advisor was Peter Lyons, a pro-nuke himself. Domenici offered Lyons as the balance to Jackzo. Then the Obamination of Desolation got elected. The terms of Jackzo and Lyons both ended early in Obamolech's presidency. Obamolech renewed Jackzo's term but dismissed Lyons, leaving an open vacancy. Additionally, Obamolech demoted pro-nuke Dale Klien as NRC Chairman and appointed anti-nuke Jackzo.
Guys, this ain't rocket science. The Obamination of Desolation opposes nuke power no matter what he says. Why? I can only assume that coal and oil suppliers have him in their back pocket. What's the biggest threat to coal and oil and gas suppliers? Nukes!
Oh, here's a bit of trivia: pick up an ordinary piece of bitumous coal. There's more energy in the uranium and thorium of the piece of coal then there is in burning the coal. Think about that. Think about how we could cut down on our consumption of coal if we used that as a resource for uranium and thorium instead of burning it by the megaton. And did you know that a nuke operates for 2 years before refueling, and only 1/3 of the core gets refueled at any time? Coal and oil and gas suppliers hate nukes.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Article Response #6


I think the thing that gets me is the lack of desire to understand the CAUSE of whatever income gap might exist. There appears to be an assumption that this is the natural order of things in an open, free market and since there is a lack of rules about such things, it continues to propagate. Thus, the conclusion reached from such an assumption is that rules are needed. And this is exactly where Ashley goes, ignoring the cause and jumping straight to 'there ought to be a law', "The point of the story is not to get hung up on the past, rather, it's to look forward to the types of legislation that could prevent another economic collapse..."

Consider the possibility that another regulatory law won't fix the problem and that perhaps the cause of the income gap is primarily corporatism. That some, with connections, are able to gain by influencing laws, rules, regulations, and mandates toward their benefit. Those of us with a philosophy of smaller, limited government view this as a tragic abuse of government to reach beyond its defined limit.  We believe that more often than not, the expansion of government into regulation of areas of personal and economic liberty lead to MORE problems, not less.

So again, consider that possibly, just maybe, the best, the best way to fix the inequity is to eliminate government favors for some at the expense of others. Eliminate subsidies, eliminate bailouts, eliminate tax breaks, credits, incentives, loopholes, and exemptions, eliminate excessive regulations required to enter the market, allow businesses that are poorly managed or that come under difficult times, or that are faced with a changing environment to deal with those problems on their own merits, and yes, allow them to fail if need be. It's better to let the phoenix to die and be reborn than to toss first twigs, then branches, then logs and entire trees to attempt to rekindle the flame. Eventually you'll find that while you've kept it from extinguishing, it's cost you the forest.

The core problem of this type of life support is that the two people that are benefiting are the poor being sustained by the hand of others, or the wealthy being given advantages. So who are being hurt the most by this setup? Those in the middle. Those who work day to day, spend time with their families and simply look to make each day slightly better than the last. Too well off to get handouts, still expected to pay taxes, but not wealthy enough to have excess. No wonder we have such an income gap.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Article Response #5


I'm no fan of Bush. I'm basically a libertarian. I have MANY issues with his policies, but at the same time, this article uses cherry picked items to indict Bush while skipping things that . By picking a 2000 DJIA point and then comparing it to now is extremely misleading and omits the fact that the 14K+ record was set during Bush's time. Same with the median income. 1998 was during the height of the boom economy. It's again misleading to compare incomes then with incomes during a recession while leaving out that there were higher incomes in 2006 & 2007. There are many things to complain about with regard to Bush, we need not cherry pick things to do so.

There are a several comments on that article. A couple of those sparked my response. I'm reposting them here for less confusing chronology and better readability using names submitted to the public forum.

By POR Economy:
The Pelosi-Obama-Reid (POR) economy kicked in during the latter part of June 2007, when its Congressional architects — Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid — decided that starving the economy of energy by refusing to allow more offshore drilling in the face of $4 gas prices was a winning political position. Pelosi claimed that because we couldn't totally "drill our way out of this," we shouldn't increase drilling at all. Reid put an exclamation point on Pelosi's stubbornness by insisting that fossil fuels are "making us sick." Well, they only thing sickened by their policies was the US Economy. FDR tried massive public works programs during the Depression. All he did is prolong it for seven years. Japan tried government stimulus for 10 years running in the 1990s. It only resulted in "the lost decade." What Pelosi, Obama, and Reid should do is expand the tax cut element of the stimulus plan to include all incomes, ditch almost all of the alleged "investments," open up oil and gas exploration, and, eventually, watch the royalty money pour in. I know; that's way too much to "hope" for. 
Response to POR Economy:
I personally believe that while the internal energy embargo definitely put a cap on the economy's ability to grow, it was the increase in the minimum wage that lit the fuse of our current issues. In an economy beginning to struggle for real growth, already in a bubble, shifting the entire wage scale (which is what we should really call a minimum wage increase), was the tipping point that halted any growth and began to exacerbate the tearing where it was already stretched thin.

By Jared:
Ashley: Great editorial, but I think its time we stop talking about how bad Bush was as President. But essentially, the 00's basically proved that neoconservative and inherently conservative policies do not work. When you essentially tell regulatory agencies to stop regulating, financial giants are free to break the law and prey upon their customers. When you spend more than all past presidents combined while enacting exceedingly high tax cuts, you drive up the deficit to dangerous levels. When you go to war against one country based on an ideology while the real war is denied resources, terrorism spreads. I honestly think that the world is experiencing a global transition where the focus of power lies between China and the US, rather than just the US. The road may be tough, and lower class Americans may be left behind as China's middle class grows. Bob--you are an exception to the rule. Thrift is not a trendy word these days. Between the cars people own, the clothes they wear, to the college they go to, its more of a competition than what is practical. Being financially secure should be the equivalent of having that big-screen plasma HD TV, however it is not. 
My Response:
What free market ideas were actually tried that didn't work? When did we have limited government? Bush cut taxes in 2001 and the recession bottomed out (even with 9/11). Outside of that and working to increase trade with foreign countries (though even this was more protectionism than it was free trade), I'm hard pressed to really think of anything significant that Bush did that was free market, limited government oriented. No Child Left Behind - Nope, bigger govt spending and regulation. Prescription Drug Benefit - Nope, bigger govt spending and regulation. The Bailouts - Nope, bigger govt spending and regulation. Sarbanes-Oxley - Nope, massive increase in regulation. Even things like his proposed social security reform was nothing more than moving from tax&spend to a forced savings account (he even suggested lifting the FICA tax cap to pay for it). Please show me where government spending was reduced (even minus the wars), government programs were cut (and a "cut" of an 8% increase to a 3% increase doesn't count), or the pages of government regulations were reduced. The whole "compassionate conservatism" was, I feel, a ploy to get conservatives to THINK he was for free markets and limited government while it was basically just slightly slower government growth than what liberal Democrats would have done. The 00's didn't prove free market, limited government policies to not work. We didn't HAVE a free market and limited government. However, if you don't believe that the 00's show that expansive spending and strict control by government do not create prosperity, if we continue along the path we're traveling, the 10's may prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

I wonder how many of you have actually gone to IU in some academic capacity, especially POR? Copying Fox News articles does not mean you know what you are talking about. In fact, it means the opposite. If you can show me objective, peer-reviewed analytical proof that FDR's policies protracted the Great Depression I might actually read the rest of your BS. Ever hear of a Hooverville? For now, put down the glue and put your nose in a book.
My response:
I don't like worshiping at the alter of "peer-reviewed" primarily because I'm aware of the flaws in the peer-review process. However, if you are going to be condescending and refuse to open your mind unless you get what you want, I will try to satisfy you. If you don't like the hundreds of historical descriptions of the cause and effect relationship of FDR's policies and the lengthening of the Great Depression (also read what Milton Friedman says about it), here's a paper that analyzes exactly what you apparently consider to be hallucination induced fantasies: As for a Hooverville, I hope you're not suggesting that Hoover was the sole cause of the Depression. He certainly shares in part of the blame due to his massive spending attempts to "stimulate" the economy (sound familiar?). In fact, Hoover spent so much in an effort to right the ship that FDR actually ran his campaign against him on a platform of fiscal responsibility, though obviously his actions did not match his promises.

Your comment that you don't "worship the alter of 'peer-reviewed'" says all I or anyone else needs to know in how you gather and analyze the information you use to form your opinions. Granted, some articles may have poor analytical methodologies, but when you form opinions about complex topics, I suggest you have facts to back them up while also taking into account the inadequacies in your own arguments. I've learned at least in introductory US History classes that Hoover thought that the severe downturn in the economic was simply part of a larger "economic cycle." As a result, he earned the nickname "Do Nothing Hoover." He thought that the market would simply correct itself over time. Although he did rack up the largest peace-time federal deficit in history at the time, it was not enough.
My Response:
You're exactly wrong on two accounts. Firstly, the reason I don't worship at the alter of peer-reviewed is NOT because I think they're all wrong or have "poor analytical methodologies". But many times, errors in peer-reviewed papers DO slip through, despite reviewers. Beyond that, peer-reviewed papers can be completely wrong and still get published simply because of things like the reviewers agreeing with the premise of the paper or the technology or understanding of the time doesn't provide for good criticism. You have to admit, the peer-review process itself has problems: or But my point was that I don't think 'peer-reviewed'='absolutely true' any more than 'found on the internet'='absolutely false' and that it is close-minded for you to demand peer-reviewed material to even consider that you may be misinformed. And regarding how I gather the information on which I base my opinions, I find your assumptions based on "poor analytical methodologies." Secondly, maybe you need to do some reading beyond what you learned in your Intro US History before you get condescending with people. The name "Do-Nothing Hoover" was started by opponents of Hoover! But looking at the facts, nothing could be further from the truth He spent large amounts of money and used the government as the mechanism to try to bolster the economy: or And in the end, Hoover himself indicated that he had ignored those who recommended "do-nothing" and that it was he who initiated the interventionism: Actually, I'm curious how you explain the contradiction in your own last sentence. If his plan was "do nothing", how and why did he rack up such massive deficits?