Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Just Say No to Keynesian Economics

During the past few years, you may have overheard references to "Keynesian Economics" in some of the debates about how to improve the economy.  What exactly is "Keynesian Economics," how is it shaping current U.S. economic policy, and, most importantly, is it a good idea?

Well, first of all, "Keynesian economics" refers to John Maynard Keynes, and is a macroeconomic theory named after him.

John Maynard Keynes knows what's good for you
Let me be clear about one thing: Keynesian economics has absolutely nothing to do with Kenya.  There are a surprising number of people who get this confused.  I had some nutcase on Twitter accuse me of being a racist and hating the President because I voiced an opinion about Keynesian policies.  Ummm, no.  (Side note: if you're  going to try and start a fight with someone on the internet, try not to do it about something that is easily disproved by Google.)

Anyway: here is a video taken at the Stewart-Colbert Rally that has some fun with this common misconception:

YouTube | Obama is not a Keynesian, He's an American!
Now back to the serious stuff.  Keynesian economics is also not socialism or communism, because it does not advocate actual government takeover and/or ownership of private enterprise.  However, it does advocate a high degree of interference with the private economy.

The Keynesians believe that the private sector creates "inefficiencies" and view the cyclical swings of the economy (booms and busts, inflationary periods, recessions, etc.) as something which ought to be tamed or suppressed.  Keynesians support government control over a powerful central bank, centralized fiscal policy, and other actions and interference by the government with the national economy in an effort to stabilize it.

The stimulus bill is a Keynesian type of policy: the justification for the bill was that the massive spending under the bill would increase consumer spending and thereby "stimulate" the economy.  However, this is a fallacy...or in simpler terms, it's complete and utter crap.

Economic growth (increases in small business profits, personal income, investment income, etc.) leads to an increase in consumer spending, not the other way around.  Think about it in terms of your own life - if you go to the mall and spend all your savings, does that make you richer?  Of course not.  On the flip side, if you get a raise at work or make a profitable investment, wouldn't you possibly be more likely to buy a more expensive car, take a nice vacation, or buy a lovely pair of designer shoes?
Buying these shoes won't make you rich.  However, if you are rich, you might buy these shoes.

Here is a great video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity that explains all this Keynesian stuff in 5 easy minutes (Seriously, watch it.  It's good for you):

YouTube | CFPEcon101 | Keynesian Economics is Wrong: Economic Growth Causes Consumer Spending, Not the Other Way

So, basically, just like you can't get rich by buying a pair of designer shoes, America can't improve the economy simply by having the government spend a humongous pile of money.

And just to make sure we are crystal clear - the reason the  stimulus bill didn't work was not because we didn't spend enough, but because the entire  underlying concept is fundamentally flawed (or, as I so eloquently wrote earlier, "complete and utter crap").

Finally, let's think about what happens if you spend money you don't have: you end up in debt.  Our country is in a big, gigantic, frighteningly deep hole of debt right now, and apparently it seems that none of the Democrats have heard the saying, "If you're in a hole, STOP DIGGING!"

"Forget a ladder!  I can tax and spend my way out!" (Image originally on BigHollywood.com)

Keynesian policies have no chance of getting us out of this debt or saving our economy; they can only dig us deeper into trouble.

I did a Google image search for Keynesian economics and found a wonderfully snarky illustration of the problem: a T-shirt that says - in Chinese - "Keynesian economics makes sense to me:"  

Keynesian economics = China owns us.
To further drive the point home, Citizens Against Government Waste put out a devastating ad right before the election, warning of what may come if we don't "stop digging:"

YouTube | CAGWmedia | Chinese Professor

So remember, Keynesian Economics = nothing to do with Kenya, the economic equivalent of trying to escape a hole by digging it deeper, and always a bad idea (unless you're China).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Unconstitutional + Useless = TSA

Here's an interesting op-ed at the Washington Post by Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at George Washington University, about the legal issues behind a recent lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center challenging the constitutionality of the controversial body scanners being used by the TSA at our airports:

Courts evaluating airport-screening technology tend to give great deference to the government's national security interest in preventing terrorist attacks. But in this case, there's a strong argument that the TSA's measures violate the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.
Although the Supreme Court hasn't evaluated airport screening technology, lower courts have emphasized, as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled in 2007, that "a particular airport security screening search is constitutionally reasonable provided that it 'is no more extensive nor intensive than necessary, in the light of current technology, to detect the presence of weapons or explosives.' "
In a 2006 opinion for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, then-Judge Samuel Alito stressed that screening procedures must be both "minimally intrusive" and "effective" - in other words, they must be "well-tailored to protect personal privacy," and they must deliver on their promise of discovering serious threats. Alito upheld the practices at an airport checkpoint where passengers were first screened with walk-through magnetometers and then, if they set off an alarm, with hand-held wands. He wrote that airport searches are reasonable if they escalate "in invasiveness only after a lower level of screening disclose[s] a reason to conduct a more probing search."
 As currently used in U.S. airports, the new full-body scanners fail all of Alito's tests...
...Broadly, U.S. courts have held that "routine" searches of all travelers can be conducted at airports as long as they don't threaten serious invasions of privacy. By contrast, "non-routine" searches, such as strip-searches or body-cavity searches, require some individualized suspicion - that is, some cause to suspect a particular traveler of wrongdoing. Neither virtual strip-searches nor intrusive pat-downs should be considered "routine," and therefore courts should rule that neither can be used for primary screening.  
I strongly encourage you to read the rest of the article.  It makes it clear that the TSA is not only not using the best available technology, but is engaging in violations of our privacy far beyond what is necessary, and without any additional security benefits.  For example, scanner machines are available which do not create a complete detailed image of the person's naked body, but instead, "[i]f the software detects contraband or suspicious material under a passenger's clothing, it projects an outline of that area of the body onto a gender-neutral, blob-like human image," and that image can then be analyzed to determine if secondary screening of that passenger is necessary.  The fact that the TSA machines are capable of recording, storing, and transmitting images is also problematic.

I am supposed to fly next month and I am sincerely hoping that before I head to the airport, the TSA engages in some serious evaluations of its policies, either voluntarily or because one of these lawsuits forces them to do so.  I shouldn't have to chose between being groped by a stranger or giving the government a naked photo of my body in order to board a plane, especially when neither of these things actually helps keep us any safer.

Look what the body scanners miss...this is a video of Adam Savage, from Discovery Channel's Mythbusters show, sharing an experience he had with the TSA recently (warning, NSFW language):

Did you see that?   He had two 12" razor blades with him.  Twelve inch razor blades!  Remember, the 9/11 hijackers committed their horrific acts with box cutters, which have a similar blade, but smaller!

The scanner machines missed these razor blades.  Completely missed them.  "WTF" is right!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

If the Founding Fathers had Twitter...

From the Mashable blog, a very funny comic about what the American Revolution might have looked like on Twitter: 

Mashable | We Hold These Tweets To Be Self-Evident

(click on above link to see the cartoon)

Wanna see how your neighbors voted?

OK, that post title is a little misleading...you obviously can't look up how specific people voted, but you can see how your precinct voted, on this website from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections (you can look up your precinct number here):

The site also lets you break down see how many people voted with early, absentee, or provisional ballots.
You can see some interesting details by studying the election results up close, precinct-by-precinct.  

For example, my precinct leans Democrat, overwhelmingly voted for Alex Sink, and for Alan Grayson by about 7 points, but Teresa Jacobs still beat Bill Segal  here by more than 20 points...and I live in the heart of what should have been Segal's territory - College Park, Winter Park, downtown, etc. - the area that makes up Orange County's District 5 that Segal represented on the County Commission for years.  My precinct also voted overwhelmingly for Amendments 5 and 6 (both received slightly over 75%), but rejected Amendment 4 (more than 60% voting no).

If your curiosity about election results isn't satisfied yet...statewide election results for the 2010 general election can be found here.  Past election results (primary and general elections) dating back to 1978 can be found here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Catching up on my trip to Washington, D.C.

Hello everyone...sorry I haven't posted anything in awhile.  My trip to Washington, D.C. was absolutely fantastic until the very end when I ended up with a wretchedly evil cold.  I managed to make it through security without getting groped, irradiated, photographed naked or otherwise assaulted by TSA, but thought my ears were going to explode from the air pressure changes during the flight.  Not fun.  Anyway, I'm finally feeling better now - just in time for Thanksgiving with the family, hooray! - so I thought I'd share some of my photos and adventures in our nation's capital last week...

(Long post with pictures and video...after the "read more" link...)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sarah on Flashpoint

Lauren Rowe hosts a great political talk show on Local 6 WKMG called "Flashpoint" and she invited me to join the discussion for her post-election show.  You can watch the show, which was taped the day after the election, here:

Flashpoint November 7, 2010 | 'Flashpoint' Revisits Election Night

Lauren and I are joined by Jeremiah Jaspon, Chair of the Orange County Democratic Party, and Chris Trenkmann, WKMG political reporter, and we discuss the races for Governor, Senate, Congress, as well as the amendments.

It was my first time on the program, and I really enjoyed it.  Besides her hosting duties, Lauren oversees all the production for Flashpoint, so I got a great behind-the-scenes view of how a program like this is put together.  Thanks also to Lauren for giving a great shout-out to my little blog!

...and P.S. to Jeremiah: The GOP is not like bell bottom pants!  (See his comment near the end of the program.)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Watch out, DC, here I come!

The very nice people at Americans for Prosperity are sponsoring a trip for several of us from Florida to go to a "Stop the Lame Duck" rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Monday, as part of their "November Speaks" initiative.   Senator Jim DeMint, and Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, and Congressman Mike Pence will be joining us. 

If you're in the D.C. area, please try and join us.  Here's the flier for the rally:
November Speaks Flier

For those of you who can't join us, you can still participate.  Check out the November Speaks website and you can join us in a "virtual march" on the Capitol, and even make a rally sign for the virtual march (AFP is going to download the messages from all the online signs and send them to Congress).

...and of course, follow me on twitter (@rumpfshaker) and watch this blog for all of my updates.  

More totally obvious self-promotion by a presidential contender

So, last week, Mitt Romney was running ads on Facebook that congratulated Marco Rubio on winning the Senate race, in what was a totally obvious effort to promote his own 2012 presidential bid.

Now, this week, it appears that a few more contenders are joining the Facebook ad game.  I saw this ad from Tim Pawlenty, looking suspiciously like the Romney ad:

OK, same color scheme, same pairing of Marco's photo on the left, Rubio's name in bold letters, and the congratulatory message referring to Marco's election as a "history victory."  Sheesh.  At least he could have tried to be a little bit original.

Clicking on the ad takes you to Tim Pawlenty's Facebook page, with this photo:

...Note that the tabs at the top include the traditional Facebook "Wall," and "Info," and of course an invitation to "Join TPaw" by supporting his "Freedom First PAC," and then ..the next two tabs are "New Hampshire" and "Iowa," listing all the many fun stuff that "TPaw" has been doing in those little states lately.

I don't feel like going into my full "why do these itty bitty snow covered states have such a ridiculously disproportionate impact on Presidential primaries" rant, but at least they did serve as a very simple litmus test: any politician who is not from Iowa who posts a bunch of Facebook photos with random corn farmers is definitely running for President.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Marines!

Today marks the 235th Birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Please take a moment and say a special prayer of thanks for these brave men and women, and their families, for all the sacrifices they have made, and continue to make every day, to protect our country.

God Bless the Marines and God Bless America.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

File this one under "Totally Obvious:" Mitt Romney might be running for President in 2012

Right after last week's election results, I noticed a new Facebook ad popping up on my page that looked like this:

Did you get similar ads on your Facebook page too?  Looks like Team Romney was well-prepared to use the Republican victories as a launch pad for his second try to get to the White House. 

The folks at the TechRepublican blog noticed Romney's Facebook ads too, and also noticed that Marco wasn't the only one he congratulated:

Clicking on Romney's Facebook ads takes you to a Facebook fan page with a link to, what else, a YouTube video of Mitt Romney...in New Hampshire...hmmm...what's so special about New Hampshire?

Yeah.  Romney's in New Freakin' Hampshire.  One of those itty-bitty cute little states that clings to electoral relevance by having ridiculously early primaries.  He's, like, soooo totally running for President.  Totally.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Just in case you aren't sick of post-election commentary yet

Wow, Tuesday, wow.  I'm still pretty excited about the results.  I've been spending this week relaxing, hanging out with family, cleaning out my car (it is amazing how many palm cards can hide under a car seat), and enjoying all the post-election commentaries. Just thought I'd share a few of my thoughts on Tuesday's results and what it all might mean moving forward...if you're not sick of all the endless election rehashing yet, read on...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Senator-elect Marco Rubio Delivers Weekly Republican Address

Senator-elect Marco Rubio (man, I like the sound of that...) was selected to deliver the weekly address for the Republicans today. The party should make this a regular gig for him.

Here's Marco addressing some of the challenges facing the newly elected members of Congress, and the importance of the Republicans not squandering the second chance the voters have given them...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Goodbye Alan Grayson

I'm still working on post-election stuff...cleaning walk lists and stickers out of my car and a writing blog post about my thoughts on Tuesday's results...until I get that done, here is something fun from our friends at the West Orlando Tea Party...

Na na na na, na na na na! Hey hey hey! Goodbye!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Looks like everything's turned out all "right" tonight!

Republican sweep of the Governor's race and Cabinet, Republican takeovers of Congressional Districts 8 and 24, Orange County Mayor's race, good stuff!

I am VERY happy about District 8.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Today's the Day!

Today's the big day!  If you haven't already voted, make sure you get out to your precinct well before 7:00 pm today.  If you don't know your precinct, Direct Media Strategies has teamed up with Google on the Voting Information Project to create a Polling Place Locator app:

Still not sure what to think about the amendments?  Read my discussion here.  My complete list of endorsed candidates is available here (or just click the "Endorsements" tab at the top of this page).  *My personal opinions only*


Election predictions on Ed Dean Radio

I was on the Ed Dean Radio show earlier today to talk with Ed about our predictions for tomorrow's elections.  We'll see if I'm right in less than 24 hours!

Ed Dean Radio | Monday November 1st, 2010

I'm on at about the 22 minute mark.  Jesse Phillips with Citizen2Citizen.us is on starting at the one hour mark, and then Ed took listener calls.

Mystery mailers sent out supporting Peg Dunmire

Last week, I received two mailers at my house, attacking Republican District 8 Congressional candidate Daniel Webster and supporting Peg Dunmire.  Neither of them had a return address or any political advertising disclaimer.

Here is one of the mailers (the other is substantially similar, slightly different text and graphics, but same message and again no return address or disclaimer):

(click to enlarge image)

(click to enlarge image)
Federal law requires disclaimers for political advertisement mailers, regardless of whether they are sent by a candidate, a political party, or a independent PAC or "527" organization.  These mailers have no disclaimer whatsoever, no return addresses, no way to identify who sent them.

The only identification is the mail house's bulk mail ID and the print shop's union label, the logo on the bottom left of the first page of the mailer above that says "16 Typographical Union Label Casselberry, FL."

This union label can be traced to Lawton Printers in Casselberry.  Here is a screenshot of their website page that shows the same union label:


Interestingly, last week the Florida Democratic Party sent out a similar mailer in Congressional District 2, with similar fonts and message, and again attacking the Republican candidate and promoting the third party candidate:

See Practical State's great discussion of this mailer here:
Practical State | Florida #2: Allen Boyd's Last Dirty Trick

So who paid for the Dunmire mailers?  Was it the Florida Democratic Party?  The voters of District 8 have the right to know who is trying to influence this very important election.

UPDATE: Here is Local 6 WKMG's story on this mailer:
Local 6 Click Orlando | Lawyer: Pro-Grayson Mailer Breaks Law
...and yes, the "Lawyer" is yours truly :)

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