A Vote for Obama is a Vote for My 401k!

I have no idea why people are so upset over the economy. I just checked my 401k and I’m up nearly 9k from my baseline. It’s been while since I’ve seen green on that thing. Quick, sell everything!

Of course it’s because I heavily weighted towards inflation hedges, including gold, natural resources, energy, and TIPS. I’ve also done well on zero coupon bonds (which are a deflation hedge) because they are government bonds.

Everything else I’ve got is either right around break even or negative. (Often hugely negative.)

Go Obama! Who says inflation (or fear of inflation anyhow) is a bad thing! I’m all in favor of inflation if it’s going to make me money.

Oh, and Obama please turn off the spigot as soon as I sell. Or you won’t get my vote next time. Can we coordinate this?

33 thoughts on “A Vote for Obama is a Vote for My 401k!

  1. Yeah, last I heard the stock market has climbed back up to the level before Lehman Brothers fell. (The Dow near ~11,500) But I the big problem is still the 9.5% unemployment. Great 401k + no job is still a killer. But hopefully the jobs will soon follow.

  2. Hmm, has something changed in the last few months since the market rally solidified (after hitting a real down point earlier in the year)? Could it be that the market is responding to the stalling of the Obama agenda?

    If only somebody had predicted this would happen in the early days of the Obama administration! Luckily, somebody did!

    http://www.millennialstar.org/moderate-remorse/

  3. There are ways to make money out of the failures of a failing economy. When I do so using some of the investments mentioned above, I have the guilty feeling that I am betting against humanity—and WINNING!

  4. If you look at the link above, you will see some links to broad stock market trends from the 1920s until today.

    1)The performance of the stock market over time is one of the best indicators of expectation of future prosperity.

    2)1 is only true if you look at long-term trends (you don’t want to look at day to day change but instead changes on a yearly or at quarterly basis).

    3)The trend of the market since Obama’s election has been flat. What you can deduce from this that expectations for future growth in the economy have also been flat.

    4)The fact that the market has picked up since a low point earlier in the year is a sign that future expectations of growth are improving. Economic growth is still flat (you need to grow at least 3-4 percent and we are growing about 2 percent on a GDP basis). But the market seems to be signaling that growth may pick up slightly in 2011.

    5)What is causing an improvement in future expectations? The single greatest factor is the stalling of the Obama economic agenda by the increasing chance that Republicans would take at least one house of Congress.

    6)If we want the market to continue to improve (which would be good for all our 401ks and for employment) we need to continue policies that will improve future expectation, ie, don’t raise taxes and work steadily to decrease the size of government. Notice that the stimulus bill did nothing to help the market in the long run, but lower taxes and cutting govt spending always do this. The market boomed in the 1980s (lower taxes, attempts to lower spending) and the 1990s (slightly higher taxes but accompanied by real, significant cuts in govt spending). The market improved in the 2000s after the Bush tax cut but has been sharply down because of the debt and the various economic crises. End the tax increases and make sharp cuts in govt spending, and watch the market boom. You can take it to the bank — literally.

  5. One last point and then I will go away for now:

    If you want to know the return on your 401k, then following this exercise.

    1)Take out your 401k statement from 2007.
    2)Calculate how much your have put into your account in the last three years (take your annual salary times whatever percent you put in times three).
    3)Add in an employer match if you have one.
    4)Compare to your 401k statement from today.

    Here is what I expect most people will experience.

    1)Let’s say $100k just to use a round number.
    2)Let’s say they put in $40k of their own money.
    3)Let’s say their company put in $20k.
    4)Today their statement says they have $160k.

    Yay! Their investment went up from $100k in 2007 to $160k now.

    No, actually their investment is completely flat and they are losing money because they have had no return at all (and inflation continued). That $60k increase was their own money and their company’s money.

    I predict most peoples’ 401k have been flat to slightly down in the last three years. If you are an exception, I salute you.

  6. John said,

    There are ways to make money out of the failures of a failing economy. When I do so using some of the investments mentioned above, I have the guilty feeling that I am betting against humanity—and WINNING!

    You are. But if it makes you feel any better, the fat cats and filthy rich are doing the exact same thing, and have been since the beginning of civilization. The only difference is that they don’t feel guilty about it.

    Geoff said,

    Could it be that the market is responding to the stalling of the Obama agenda?

    Exactly which of “Obama’s agendas” are you talking about? Do you mean the plan that is going to enslave all white folks and put us in camps? Or is it the one where he’s going to enact Sharia law in the US? Or maybe it’s the turn-the-US-into-a-Socialist-state agenda? Oh wait, I know! It’s the secret plan that Obama is a “Manchurian Candidate,” right? No? Ok, then I’m sure it’s the plan to secretly kill off all of the Tea Partyers with a constitutional coup via National Security Council! That’s got to be it, right?

    You need to be a lot more clear about which of these agendas you are talking about, Geoff. There’s way too many of them.

  7. James, nice to see you rented a sense of humor. You will be much more entertaining if you take out the long-term lease rather than returning it soon.

  8. Geoff,

    In all honesty, it’s not even a 401k. It’s a rollover IRA. I just call it my 401k because I thought of it that way for so long. (Obviously took 401k and rolled it over.)

    So that means I have added no money to it since it was opened, I think in 2007. So being “up” is for real.

    Got to confess, it was basically by voting against humanity and winning. And it won’t be long lived I’m afraid. But it’s nice to have a moment of being in the green after so long.

  9. James,

    I’m offended that you totally left out the Obama is the anti-Christ agenda. That’s the one I voted for him based on!

    Was trying to hasten the second coming.

  10. I too have benefited enormously from the gains in the market during 2009 and this year. I have made up everything I lost in my Rollover IRA and other accounts, and except for one bank stock everything I have is in green territory, some up 50 and 60 percent if not more — and I am no financial genius. Of course, the reason we have done so well is that the market tanked so badly during 2008 and actually the year prior to that. If you stop listening to most of what is on tv and only read financial and investment news you will begin to understand there is a parallel universe out there. One is dominated by Glenn Beck paranoia; the other by rational investors and businessmen and others who believe in America. To believe that the markets are only doing well because the Republicans did well in the midterms elections is sheer fantasy. We’re talking solid market gains over the past nearly two years and they cannot be explained away that easily. The economy is coming back, but it is not coming back in equitable fashion for everyone,not yet. It will be a different economy when it does come back, with people less trusting of large corporations, which in my book is not all that bad. But it is coming back, thanks in large part to the efforts of a president too many Mormons believe is at worst the anti-Christ and at best a socialist. Obama may, in fact, turn out to be the best friend U.S. Capitalism has had since FDR.

  11. Geoff,

    surprised to see that you are still touting that doom-and-gloom post, a contrarian tell if ever there was one, that came within days of a generational low, the best time in the past fifteen years to buy stocks.

  12. “4)The fact that the market has picked up since a low point earlier in the year is a sign that future expectations of growth are improving. Economic growth is still flat (you need to grow at least 3-4 percent and we are growing about 2 percent on a GDP basis). But the market seems to be signaling that growth may pick up slightly in 2011.”

    The average GDP growth for the entire period Jan2001-Jan2009 is slightly under 2%, so the fact that the last 5 quarters average out at 2.8% is not so bad, considering that in the last quarter of 2008 we were threatening to head over the cliff with -7% growth.

    Perhaps though, there are many complexities in the markets and not every move can be directly attributable to some political event or perception of such an event. For example, if the recent rise in the market is due to some idea about the recent election, why is the two-month move from beginning of September to the end of October, almost identical to the earlier move from mid-February to mid-April of this year? Simplistic analyses of market movements are usually doomed to failure.

  13. The Dow is at about 11,400 today. This is about the level it was at when Obama was elected. Two years and no growth. If you bought at the low point, you have made some money. If you bought in 2007, you are still way under. Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dow_Jones_Industrial_Average

    As I said in my earlier post, linked in comment #3, the Dow over the long term is one of the best indicators of expectations of future growth. There was zero expectation of growth until this summer, when the Republican gains in Congress appeared to become likely. Those are simply facts, not conjecture, not speculation. I know leftists don’t like facts, but nonetheless those are the facts.

  14. Geoff, part of this would depend on the investments made. Some companies did not suffer as much from the crash, as most others did, and recovered very well (and some did make a profit).

    However, in my own investments, I’ve found I’ve made the most money by investing against the American dollar and civilization. Most of my other investments are flat.

  15. Geoff said,

    James, nice to see you rented a sense of humor. You will be much more entertaining if you take out the long-term lease rather than returning it soon.

    Well, unlike the rest of you I didn’t make any money off of humanity. And so I can only afford to rent my sense of humor. But I am looking into a rent-to-own plan.

    Bruce said,

    I’m offended that you totally left out the Obama is the anti-Christ agenda. That’s the one I voted for him based on!

    Oh, come on! Don’t be silly. The “Obama is the anti-Christ” idea is just stupid. No one would believe that! :-)

    Geoff also said,

    The Dow is at about 11,400 today. This is about the level it was at when Obama was elected. Two years and no growth.

    I used up my sense of humor quota for the day in the first two quips, so here goes:

    Geoff, step back, look at the larger picture, and try to be a little less extreme. While I’d be the first to say that Obama isn’t at all perfect, and he’s made some boneheaded maneuvers and stupid mistakes, he isn’t even close to the demon you are painting him to be. The fact that we are back to a Dow of 11k after two years is a GOOD thing. You are not taking into account the policies he has put into plan that brought us back from the brink of disaster. How in the heck can you expect the nation to have grown in the last two years after the apocalyptic plunge it just took?

    Since you apparently like “facts,” Geoff, here are the real ones:

    There was a national blitz that caused a mania for home ownership in the years leading up to the disaster. And the main reasoning behind this mania was the belief that, “housing prices never fall.” From John Snow, Treasury Secretary in 2005, “The idea that we’re going to see a collapse in the housing market seems to me improbable.”

    Thus refinancing and sub-prime loans skyrocketed because the banks, among others, were making a killing off of loans for housing. And housing prices inflated to a level not seen before, creating the housing bubble. But all of this was considered safe because “housing prices never fall.” From Anthony Hsieh, CEO Lending Tree in 2006, “If you own your own home free and clear, people will often refer to you as a fool. All that money sitting there, doing nothing.”

    So banks are collecting very bad loans hand over fist. They pool these bad loans and rename them Collateralized Debt Obligations. They slice these CDOs into small investments using overcapitalization and some financial wizardry. They then sell these “safe” investments to other banks, cities, insurance companies, pension funds, etc.

    While these horribly bad loans were being used to generate an amazing amount of cash for the fat cats, they either didn’t care or didn’t see the problem they were creating. Because of the mania over home ownership:

    1) far too many houses were being built, so…
    2) housing prices fall, so…
    3) mortgages begin to be worth more than the homes themselves, so…
    4) homeowners now can’t pay their mortgages, so…
    5) they default, which makes far more empty houses (#1), which lowers prices even further (#2), ect…

    And this circle starts to spin out of control. But people are ignoring it. Stan Sieron, President, Illinois Assoc. of Realtors, 2006, “Housing is still the best investment, without question.” Dale Akins, Market Edge, 2006, “The national media is reporting a housing bubble. Don’t believe it.”

    Well they should have believed it. Because when the amount of homeowners who were forced to default shot upwards, the banks were suddenly no longer paid. Because they were not paid, many failed: Lehman Brothers for example. Because of the failure of many banks, we saw a domino effect to all of the other institutions who owned their debts. It was at this time that Bush (not Obama) rescued Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and AIG. (The GOP and the Tea Party likes to demonize this. But if Bush hadn’t done this, we would be living in a very different and much more frightening reality now. We seriously dodged the bullet there.)

    So since the surviving banks were hurting, they no longer lent money. And those who purchased from the CDOs lost everything as that money vanished. This created an overwhelming crisis of confidence in US finances which hadn’t been seen since the Great Depression. That crisis of confidence caused the stock prices to go into free fall. Thus the Government bailouts and the huge loss of jobs in the nation.

    And THEN Obama was sworn in.

    If you think Obama has had anything to do with this disaster other than trying to bail us out of it, you have some serious problems with understanding simple cause and effect, Geoff. Could Obama have done better? Absolutely.

    This is what caused the disaster:
    1) Greed of the bankers and the homeowners.
    2) Removal of the reasonable financial laws put into place after the Great Depression to ensure it wouldn’t happen again.

    Carter was in part responsible for easing some of the financial laws. As is Reagan’s Garn–St. Germain Depository Institutions Act, which caused (in part) the savings & loan crisis of the late 1980s. Greenspan loosened the regulatory ropes on the banks as well. Clinton signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act which repealed part of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. But the big one was on Bush’s watch: “In 2004, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission relaxed the net capital rule, which enabled investment banks to substantially increase the level of debt they were taking on, fueling the growth in mortgage-backed securities supporting subprime mortgages.” (from Wikipedia)

    So as you can see Geoff, both the Dems and the GOP are responsible for the state we are in now. Your hypocritical extreme partisan rhetoric solves nothing except to show how blind you are to the lies and propaganda of the political party you have bound yourself so closely to. No political party is always right! Every single one of them lies. It is absolutely impossible for the Democrats, the GOP, the Tea Party or Ron Paul to be always correct or to tell the truth all of the time.

    If you plant yourself in a political spectrum and only listen to people who think like you, and only watch TV shows that think like you do, and only believe someone if they think like you do, then you have effectively blinded yourself to two things:
    1) learning truths from those outside of your bubble, and
    2) seeing through the lies told to you from those inside your bubble.

    Geoff, worship your religion. Don’t worship your politics.

  16. James,

    You are missing major portions of the history of this crash, as well. For example, it was Congressional deregulation of banking, while maintaining the safeties, that allowed the banks and others to make such huge and risky deals. Why? Because they had the guarantee that the US government would bail them out. No risk for them, all the risk for taxpayers.

    In 2005-7, several people warned about Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, but Democratic leaders Dodd and Frank, who governed over finances in Congress, refused to believe it. To this day, Frank refuses to acknowledge his mistake, as he encourages more support for the two entities.

    Yes, Bush was involved in the initial bailouts. But so was Congress. And Congress was/is led by Pelosi and Reid.

    While Republicans were definitely involved in creating the collapse, so too were the Democrats. And there was a young and upcoming Democratic senator in the group, named Barak Obama.

    Since his election, Obama has not focused much on fixing the economy. Yes, there was the “stimulus”, however, the actual funds in it that go to stimulating the economy are rather small, compared to the amounts used to pay for unemployment, buy banks, etc.

    And, instead of working more towards job creation and debt reduction, he implemented, or sought to implement, liberal policies that expanded government and its cost, rather than reduce it. Very little money has gone into infrastructure, and even less into future jobs such as in new energy. Imagine how we could now be transforming our nation, if we built windmills and solar power all over the country! It would provide for energy into the future, with new long lasting jobs. Census jobs do not count as long lasting jobs, regardless of how much Pres Obama praised the bump in employment they caused over a few months time.

    There has been no tough decisions regarding more nuclear power, we’re still not drilling oil in many places even though he gave it lip service.

    Some presidents of the past were able to give hope and comfort to Americans in tough times. We think of FDR’s radio firesides, or Reagan’s vision of a city on the hill. Pres Obama has shown that he can do a teleprompter well, but cannot touch the American condition from where he is at. Even Peggy Noonan this last week noted that he does not understand the term “humility.” He cannot show it or feel it, and so he can only tell us that the defeat was “humiliating.” That is not what America in a tough time needs. While I’m not a GWBush fan, at least he truly reached out and touched Americans after the tragedy of 9/11. He united us.

    Meanwhile, I’m not sure from what I’ve heard Pres Obama say the last few days, whether he really understands us Americans. He thinks the problem is only that he didn’t communicate his vision well. However, Americans are concerned about trillion dollar debts and jobs; not bureaucratic health care programs that do not really save any money, but expand the debt and make it harder for businesses to hire. Americans DO get it. Pres Obama, however, is focused on his vision, and angers that the American public will not share it with him.

  17. All quotes from Rameumptom:

    You are missing major portions of the history of this crash, as well.

    If I was trying to write a dissertation, I would have included a lot more. I just went over the basics and so obviously a lot was left out.

    While Republicans were definitely involved in creating the collapse, so too were the Democrats. And there was a young and upcoming Democratic senator in the group, named Barak Obama.

    So exactly what part of “So as you can see Geoff, both the Dems and the GOP are responsible for the state we are in now.” did you not understand. This was a large part of my point: no political party is always correct. Everyone screwed up. I’m glad to see we agree on this.

    Since his election, Obama has not focused much on fixing the economy.

    Huh? So here, ladies and gentlemen, is a prime example of the blindness of extreme partisanship I was talking about earlier.

    The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was in a large part responsible for about 3 million jobs and helped pull the nation from the brink. He enacted reforms in wall street to put an end to any further bailouts. He signed the Small Business Jobs Act which created tax breaks for small businesses. He launched the National Export Initiative with the hopes of doubling exports. The President launched a $15 billion plan to boost lending to small businesses so as to further pull us out of the hole. And he signed the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act, expanding on the Making Home Affordable Program to help millions of Americans avoid preventable foreclosures, providing $2.2 billion to help combat homelessness, and helping to stabilize the housing market. I could go on.

    If this is not focusing on the economy, I’d love to see him focus.

    Some presidents of the past were able to give hope and comfort to Americans in tough times. We think of FDR’s radio firesides, or Reagan’s vision of a city on the hill.

    Now with THIS I’ll emphatically agree with you! The idiot has been far too mild, and for some insane reason he doesn’t want to dirty his hands with calling out the lies and spin from Limbaugh, Beck and FOX. He is attempting to use the politics of reason and temperance in a politically poisonous environment and so he is getting outshouted and outmaneuvered. He basically brought harsh language to a knife fight.

    For example, because of the propaganda from the right, the majority of the electorate believes that Obama raised taxes on the middle class. No, in reality it can be proven that taxes were lowered. The majority of the electorate believes that Obama’s health plan will balloon the deficit. No. While the health plan isn’t perfect by a very long shot, in reality it will stem the skyrocketing costs of health care in the nation which will lower the deficit over time. Without this plan (which the GOP had originally put forth, BTW) the country would have stagnated and choked on it’s health care debts. The majority of the electorate thing Obama is some kind of Socialist. At best, he’s a slightly left leaning centrist.

    Once again, I could go on and on.

    If you refuse to call out those who lie; if you just turn your back and ignore them, then you have given fair reign to their lies & propaganda and have helped them make their case to the public. Obama should have been much more systematic in pointing out the reality of the national situation. Instead he stood back and let the screaming heads focus the national conversation onto provable lies, insane conspiracy theories and unwarranted hysteria. He should have tried much harder to stem the overwhelming radical partisanship that swept the country after his inauguration. I blame Obama in part for the current political stalemate and extremism in the U. S. The extremism was created as a political tool by the far right, true, but Obama and the self-centered, “how-much-is-in-it-for-me” fat cat Democrats in Congress just let them walk in the front door, grab a beer, and sit down in front of the TV in their underwear to watch ‘rasslin’.

    What a bunch of spineless imbeciles! The Dems had a chance to turn the nation away from the hyper-partisan politics we have been subjected to over the last few years. But instead they helped make it far, far worse. This is why I was actually glad to see Congress become split between the Dems and the GOP. Hopefully this will force them to shut the !@#$ up and actually do their jobs for the first time in a decade!

    Not that I’m holding my breath on that…

  18. “Yes, there was the “stimulus”, however, the actual funds in it that go to stimulating the economy are rather small, compared to the amounts used to pay for unemployment, buy banks, etc.”

    Paying unemployment is one of the very most stimulative uses of funds since it helps sustain aggregate demand. According to congressional testimony of Moody’s Mark Zandi (adviser to McCain 2008) the fiscal multiplier for unemployment payments is 1.61 (compared to food stamps, 1.74, job tax credit, 1.3, payroll tax holiday, 1.24, making Bush tax cuts permanent, 0.32, etc.) Check the chart on p. 5 of this link:

    http://www.economy.com/mark-zandi/documents/Senate-Finance-Committee-Unemployment%20Insurance-041410.pdf

    As for infrastructure, Democrats would have liked to do much more, but faced pressure to keep the stimulus small (it was approximately 1/3 tax cuts, 1/3 aid to states, and 1/3 infrastructure and other spending) and Obama proposed a modest additional $50 billion in infrastructure spending in September, of course opposed by the GOP. More recently, some idiotic governors have been prancing and preening about cancelling big infrastructure projects in their states funded with federal dollars, thereby killing thousands of jobs.

  19. Bill, if there is anything we have learned in the last two years, it is that the multiplier effect doesn’t exist. Zandi’s theory has been completely debunked by actual facts on the ground, the most important of which is that unemployment has not gone down and we have had the most anemic “recovery” in modern history.

    If the multiplier effect really did exist, and you take it to its logical conclusion, you should simply pay half the population not to work. But as we are seeing, several things happen when you do this:

    1)You increase debt. The money to pay people has to come from somewhere, and right now it is literally coming from printing money (QE2).
    2)You take money from productive people and give it to less productive people.
    3)The claim that savings does not have its own multiplier effect has been completely debunked and dropped by all economists except the most ideological leftists. Where do you think people get venture capital money from? From the savings of people who want to get a return on their investment. You should hear Zandi now — he has completely changed his tune and is triangulating his way to becoming a monetarist because of the lack of success of the stimulus bill.

    The stimulus was one of the most cynical pieces of legislation ever passed (second only to the health care bill). Its primary goal was to pay off unions and other Dem constituencies. Its “tax cuts” were a repeat of the Bush one-time tax rebates of a year earlier that also did nothing because people don’t change their long-term behavior if you give them a one-time check. And, of course, now Krugman and other idealogues are claiming it was too small, which is the most cynical ploy of all because it is unverifiable because another stimulus is dead politically.

    The extension of the unemployment benefits has primarily resulted in a new generation of people living off the dole. I personally know several people who have turned down perfectly good jobs because they paid less than their unemployment benefits. One thing we learned from Clinton’s welfare reform was that when you force people into the labor force by cutting benefits, they actually end up working if they have no other choice. The same thing applies to unemployment benefits.

  20. This will be my last post on M* and probably my last visit. The climate change dialogue stopped being productive long ago (you’ll notice I don’t bother to comment on those threads anymore) and the economic/political dialogue has become totally non-productive as well.

    We don’t even agree on the facts. What you call facts (as in comment 15) I would characterize as an interpretation of facts. When I cite facts, you either fail to acknowledge them and change the subject, or dispute their accuracy without offering any evidence.

    “The stimulus was one of the most cynical pieces of legislation ever passed (second only to the health care bill).” — you may think that is a fact as well, but I consider it an opinion (I could easily think of hundreds of more cynical pieces of legislation). Same with what its primary goal was. I think it would be hard to find anyone but the most rigid ideologue (one of your favorite words to throw around) who would say that was its primary goal. Sure, union jobs were saved when aid to the states allowed cuts in teachers to be less severe, but however much you hate unions, at least those people are not now unproductively unemployed. In Colorado, the max unemployment payment is $475 a week. Perhaps your acquaintances are living it up on that amount, and, it’s true, it’s more than the minimum wage. Maybe they are overqualified and are just waiting a little longer trying to find a better job which, with it’s higher salary, will make them much more productive citizens. If you take the lower-paying job, and then get laid off, the unemployment benefit is reduced.

    I looked for evidence that Zandi is “triangulating”. I’m sure I missed some right-wing propaganda site explaining it (perhaps in the Worth Reading sidebar), but as recently as a week ago he still appeared to be in favor of extending unemployment insurance:

    http://www.upi.com/Business_News/2010/11/04/Economists-Lame-ducks-have-big-decisions/UPI-61481288883420/

    Incidentally, Krugman and many other economists are not “now” claiming the stimulus was too small. They were claiming that from the beginning. Most economists agree that without the stimulus, negative growth and job losses would have been much worse, but ideologue don’t wish to believe a counterfactual because it is “unverifiable”. And no, the multiplier effect has not been “completely debunked”. Economists still use it, the CBO still uses it, only ideologues don’t believe in it.

    But if it makes you happy, I won’t try to convince you otherwise.

  21. Bill, you and I see the world very differently. I would ask you to consider the “fact” that unemployment is still 9.6 percent and that our national debt is nearly 14 trillion and growing at 1 trillion-plus a year for the foreseeable future. Your apparent prescription is more stimulus in the form of more debt and more government. That approach is being rejected by the American people and more and more economists.

    I have listened to several interviews with Zandi on Planet Money and other NPR outlets. He now favors extending the Bush tax cuts for everybody, even the “rich,” and admits the stimulus did not have the effect of actually stimulating the economy. He also admitted that the Obama recovery has been slow compared to other recoveries, which of course is another fact you seem eager to ignore.

    You might want to look at this link. Ignore the (admittedly over-the-top) rhetoric in the article and look at the charts, which are pretty stunning. And depressing.

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/11/truth_and_science_and_facts_vs.html

    In terms of unemployment benefits, the people I know who are unemployed come from many different states. One of the most egregious cases is somebody very close to me who lives in Massachusetts, where he is receiving $800 per week in unemployment benefits. He made $50k a year in his last job. If you include commuting costs and “going out to lunch” costs, he makes more money not working than working. The problems with such a system should be obvious to everyone.

    Bill, I used to be somebody with an ideology pretty similar to yours. I say this not to be condescending but instead to show empathy. I do not doubt that you and many other leftists are well-intentioned. Most liberals/leftists I know are pained by the warts in capitalist systems and feel a great need to bring equality. For them (and I am guessing you) it is about “fairness.” One of my great goals in life is to show that A)the fairest system is one that has better results, ie, brings more prosperity to more people and B)it is better to have freedom than the leftist view of “fairness.” I believe that with all my soul. That directly contradicts the views of many people in the world of Mormon blogs. You may take comfort in the fact that, at least in the Bloggernacle, my views are the distinct minority.

  22. I wish I made $800/week at my current job!

    There are arguments on how to fix the economy. Krugman insists on more debt and larger government intrusion. Yet, when one looks at most of the EU, China, and other nations, they think we are crazy. Recently a Chinese leader wryly commented that it is normally the communists that have planned economies….

    Yet, we see how planned economies have consistently failed over history. Recent ones under socialism/communism were forced to accept free markets and private property, in order to lift their peoples out of poverty.

    History shows the Weimar Republic seeking to control the economy by pumping tons of money into it, only to see that a wheelbarrow of marks could not buy a loaf of bread.

    We see the current collapse of big government economies in Greece, Ireland and elsewhere on the verge of collapse. When Greece and France try to rein in its spending, the people protest in the streets, somehow thinking that these largesses are rights, rather than social welfare.

    It isn’t that we are taxed too much right now, it is that our government spends too much. Our economy stagnates because business does not trust government enough to attempt to create new jobs. New regulations, such as the healthcare’s requirement that all companies file tax paperwork for interactions of over $600 is forcing companies to spend money on figuring out how to implement or skirt the rule via a loophole. Or simply not do business anymore. Regulations are hidden taxes on the economy, as business now spends about $500 billion a year on decisions regarding how to legally survive within tax and regulation rules.

    Deficit spending and new regulation aren’t necessarily a bad thing. They are when spent on buying a Congressman another 2 years in office. It is bad when it causes Americans to not go into business, or expand business. It is bad when it causes inflation or deflation to the point of stressing the average American family.

    We do not produce most of our own energy due to regulation. Heck, even wind mills are stopped in many areas because of environmental lawsuits. Eventually, we will turn ourselves into a third world nation with nuclear capability, just like Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Why? Because we will go bankrupt. The world will stop using the dollar as its major currency. The world will stop lending to America, and will call their markers in. 10% unemployment (actual of about 18%) is bad. Imagine what it will be like when 30% are out of work, and the dollar isn’t worth much in buying power. At that time, people will wish they had purchased their home and stored a year’s supply of food.

  23. Bill said,

    This will be my last post on M* and probably my last visit. The climate change dialogue stopped being productive long ago (you’ll notice I don’t bother to comment on those threads anymore) and the economic/political dialogue has become totally non-productive as well.

    You know, that’s a very good point. You’ve put into words the feeling in the back of my mind that has been bugging me about M* for quite a while now.

    I absolutely love discussing subjects like this. (Yeah I know. I’m kinda weird that way.) I tend to always learn a lot and it broadens my mind when I see the world from someone else’s viewpoint. An intelligent two-way conversation over differences of opinion is one of the best methods of learning there is. It used to be a lifelong pastime among friends and associates a century ago. Read C. S. Lewis’ letters for an example of an amazing series of such conversations.

    But a conversation is healthy and beneficial only if the conversation is two-way. Or in other words, only if each person is willing to give the other person’s ideas a “fair shake” and really try to see the world from their viewpoint. You very well might completely disagree with that person, and that’s fine and normal. But that doesn’t mean that the other person is always wrong in every opinion they hold, or that their isn’t some gem of truth in their ideas that you can take home with you. At the very least each person tried to understand each other, which is basically the main point of holding a conversation in the first place.

    But unfortunately in my experience commenting on M*, that form of conversation only rarely happens here. The main reason for this is that some of the more prolific posters are so dead-set in their world views that they refuse to see anything outside of their cosy, comfortable perspective as worthwhile. You can have a knock down, drag out argument with such people, but it’s impossible to hold any useful conversation with them. They are always right and you are always wrong. Period. End of sentence.

    Nothing beneficial will ever come from talking to someone who will never believe you have anything useful to share with them and will completely ignore you when you point out an occasional mistake or fallacy, such as we all make. Now that I’ve come to the same realization that Bill has, I will join him. For the record I have no hard feelings towards anyone here, and I wish everyone well. But since I can see now that I am basically wasting my time here, this will be my last post to M*.

    Try not to miss me too much. :-D

  24. James and Bill,

    For what it is worth, I really appreciated your comments. I’m sorry to see you guys go. I probably made a mistake not commenting more. If no one says anything you don’t know we’re lurking and enjoying your point of view. I enjoy Geoff’s too. The truth is that on most political subjects I’m undecided, so I don’t have much to say but I enjoy seeing the two sides debating.

    In any case, I have to admit I left Mormon Matters for something close to what you describe, so I accept that there is nothing wrong with finding a blogging community that fits your personality. I wish you both the best.

  25. James and Bill, if you are still reading this, my wife looked at the interchange and basically told me I’m a jerk. I appreciate her judgement, so it’s probably true. I thought I was being hilarious, but my sense of humor doesn’t translate into blogging that well. If you knew me personally, I would have you laughing all the time — I promise.

    Anyway, if you decide to come back to M* I pledge to be nicer and to take your arguments more seriously. No hard feelings, Geoff B

  26. Thanks for the conciliatory words. I will probably still make an occasional visit. If nothing else, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that great Veterans Day story.

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