Less freedom, worse economy

The U.S. has dropped even lower in the Index of Economic Freedom, published annually by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal. “The U.S. is the only country to have recorded a loss of economic freedom each of the past seven years.” Since 2006, the U.S. has lost six points, has dropped out of the top 10, and has slipped from “Free” to “Mostly Free”.

It should surprise nobody that our economy is in bad shape. Economic freedom correlates closely with prosperity, lifespan, and happiness. We have terrible unemployment, millions have given up even looking for a job, median family income drops year after year.
Lots more interesting info at the link.
 
Advertisements

Train wreck update

The problems with ObamaCare are not just the website. Actually, the website failure is perhaps the least of the problems. For those who managed to buy their insurance on the website, their problems are just beginning.

Consider this woman who discovered that having insurance and receiving health care are two different things. When she went to the hospital, she was told that her policy number didn’t work and she would have to pay for her care herself. Then a few days later, she received an ID card so she made an appointment.

When she got to her doctor, she was told that she had not designated him as her primary care physician so she could not see him. Next step was even more hours and hours on hold getting that straightened out. She finally has her next appointment and is hoping she’ll finally get the health care she wants.

(The title of this post I have stolen from the great Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame. ObamaCare is an ongoing train wreck and I expect many more posts in this series.)

Obama’s callous disregard for casualties

Approximately 80% of the fatalities our military has suffered in Afghanistan have taken place on Obama’s watch. Some might excuse that if Obama honestly believed it was in our national interest. But according to former Defense Secretary Robert Gates in his new memoir, Duty, Obama expected the strategy to fail. He ordered the surge only because he thought it would benefit him politically.

Does the press care? No, what they care about is a stupid political decision to cause a traffic jam on the way to a bridge.

Washington Waste – dumb uses of taxpayer money

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Ok.) has again issued his annual “Wastebook”  containing 100 of the dumbest uses of taxpayers’ money:

  • the National Endowment for the Humanities devoted almost $1 million to the Popular Romance Project to “explore the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs, and internet fan fiction, taking a global perspective—while looking back across time as far as the ancient Greeks.”
  • The National Science Foundation spent a quarter of a million dollars to study “attitudes toward the Senate filibuster among the American public.”
  • The Army spent nearly $300 million on a blimp for surveillance in Afghanistan—only to drop the project after its inaugural U.S. flight, selling the airship back to its maker for $301,000.
  • The International Trade Association devoted nearly $300,000 to send Indi Rock music executives on a tour to Brazil.
  • The National Institutes for Health dropped $335,525 on a study which determined that “marriages that were the happiest were the ones in which the wives were able to calm down quickly during marital conflict.”
  • The $1.9 million Senate Office of Education and Training provides classes for staffers on such subjects as sleeping well and making small talk.
  • The National Endowment for the Arts used $10,000 to underwrite the PowerUP Project, which featured choreographed (utility) pole dancing.
  • Housing and Urban Development used $1.2 million to create an apartment designed for the deaf in Tempe, Arizona, only to then decide that three-quarters of the residences should be occupied by people with normal hearing.
  • The Agriculture Department gave an Oklahoma winery $200,000 to purchase new equipment.
  • The Institute of Museum and Library Services gave a New York museum $150,000 to create an exhibit on play.
  • NSF spent $2.9 million to create sites “where arts and science will be used to educate the public about Indianapolis’s water system.”
  • The Commerce Department provided Las Vegas with $800,000 to think about economic development.
  • The U.S. Marshals Service dropped nearly $800,000 on promotional “swag,” including Christmas ornaments.

Millennials Are Tiring of Liberal Failures

National Review predicts that 2014 will be “the year that a majority of millennials become disillusioned with their allegiance to today’s liberal movement and look elsewhere for political relevance.”

A poll by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics found strong majorities – nearly 2:1 – opposing Obama’s handling of the economy, health care, and the federal deficit. “A majority of Americans under age 25–the youngest millennials–would favor throwing Obama out of office.”

The Pajama Boy ObamaCare ads did not go over well with millennials.

The real Pajama Boy has a 50 percent chance of being unemployed or underemployed, on average is laden with thousands of dollars of student-loan debt, and is increasingly likely to still live at home with his parents.

Millennials “realize that a government that can’t design a website can’t be expected to manage the intricacies of the entire health-care industry. In the wake of the news that the NSA collects mountains of metadata, they also fret that the government that wants you to talk about health care could (with a warrant) listen in on that very conversation.”

Other data suggest that millennials share conservative views of government:

  • 51% believe that when government runs something, it is usually wasteful and inefficient
  • 86% support private Social Security accounts
  • 74% would change Medicare so people can buy private insurance
  • 63% support free trade
  • only 38% support affirmative action

Here is the opening for conservatives to win back millennials. “Conservatives must offer positive, uplifting solutions that emphasize upward mobility, opportunity, and personal liberty through education, job creation, and reforming the over-intrusive federal government.”

Government knows best

“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.” — Thomas Sowell

Are you smart enough to make your own decisions or do you need the government to make decisions for you? Our governments – federal, state, and local – more and more think that you are not smart enough so they make decisions for you.

Imagine that you have lived in your house for 20 years. For you and your husband that house is perfect; you love it just the way it is. Then tragedy strikes and it burns down. Fortunately, you have insurance and you quickly decide to rebuild it precisely as before.

Then the government says “Nope, we won’t let you rebuild it as it was. Your ceilings were too low; you must raise the ceilings and roof.” No matter that you lived with those ceilings for umpteen years and they were just fine for you, government knows best and you’ll have to make the ceilings higher.

Later, the government tells you that you must install more outside faucets. Personally, I have never lived in a house that had more than two faucets outside. Most had just one. Now government says “We won’t let you live in your own house unless you have three outside faucets. Oh, and while you are at it make sure you have outside electrical outlets on three sides.”

You grumble and curse but you do what government decides is good for you, and finally your house is finished and ready for you to move in. “Not yet!” says the government, “Your water heater is 30 gallons; you should have at least a 40 gallon tank.” But you reply, “30 is plenty for us. That’s all we ever had.” Doesn’t matter, the inspector says. Someday you might sell the house and the next family might want a larger heater. Well, they can install a larger water heater, you reply. Finally you give in and replace the perfectly good water heater with a slightly larger one just to get the government off your back.

The above happened to a friend of mine. She is still seething that she and her husband do not have the right to choose what is right for themselves, that the government makes those choices for them.

Many government agencies treat citizens as if they are children incapable of making good decisions themselves. The Department of Energy (DOE) justified recent regulations on the basis that consumers needed to be protected from their own “irrational” choices. The DOE determined that 79% of the benefit of the new regulations was “correcting irrational consumer behavior” while only 3% of the benefits was reducing CO2 emissions.

Federal agents raided an Amish farm at 5 a.m. for the crime of selling raw milk to people who wanted to buy raw milk. I have never tried raw milk, but many say that it tastes better and is much healthier. If adults decide to drink it, should their decisions be blocked by armed federal regulators?

A Pennsylvania city spent $2 million renovating its ballpark. The teams were about to play, fans were about to enter the stadium when a government inspector refused to allow it to open because the “mirrors in the men’s room were a quarter-inch too low.” A speech in Congress complaining about such micro-regulating received a very rare standing ovation.

A magician was told that he needed a federal “animal exhibitor’s” license to display his one bunny rabbit. Later he was ordered to write a disaster plan to save the rabbit from “Fire. Flood. Tornado. Air conditioning going out. Ice storm. Power failures”, etc.

Some towns have regulations about how tall your grass can be. In Georgia, a “Code Compliance Officer” entered a woman’s house, located her bedroom, and woke her up to give her a ticket for her front lawn being too long. Lest you think that is urban legend, it is a true story and it indicates how full of self-importance some of these regulators are.

Around the country, kids selling lemonade or girl scout cookies on their own land suddenly find police officers telling them to cease and desist because they are violating some regulation. One enterprising teenager saved up his money to buy a hot dog stand. He and his parents thought they had followed all the regulations, obtained all necessary permits, but he was shut down for operating too close to a restaurant. It had nothing at all to do with safety, and everything to do with restaurant owners not wanting competition.

In some states only a licensed funeral director could sell a casket. It had nothing to do with safety – the casket sellers were not handling any bodies. The funeral directors wanted a monopoly so they could keep their prices high.

Should you have the right to choose an interior designer, floral arranger, or hair-braider or should government make that decision for you?

How about a compromise? Let the government issue all the licenses and regulations it thinks are good for you. But let them be advisory, not mandatory. If you trust only a licensed floral arranger then so be it. But if you choose to hire an unlicensed interior decorator or floral arranger let the government not interfere.