Sunday, May 22, 2011

Notes From the Past

Had a long discussion with a friend today about many things, and I promised to email her links to my blog. So now that I'm home, I started thinking about what posts I thought best represented Logicology and my writing, and thus I began perusing old posts, starting with the beginning of my Blogger usage in late 2007.

I had been blogging for a few years prior to that, but not on any very good platforms, and at the time I think I was writing a few massive Facebook "notes" each week. And at the time, as I recall, my constant Facebooking was starting to annoy people.

Turns out my problem at the time wasn't the prolific amount of content I was generating, but that my audience wasn't really very interested or targeted. Apparently high school and college musician friends don't really care to spend much time talking about what's wrong with Paul Krugman's latest column.

Who knew?

Anyway... Now that I am reviewing some of these old blogs I figured it could be fun to pull some excerpts from my previous writings. Strap in, this may get interesting.

From June 7th, 2008:
"That said, we are now left with two shitty options for president, hooray! Aren't elections great???

Yeah. Ok, so Obama is a socialist who would like to "solve" our problems by contributing an extra 200+ billion dollars to the federal budget, expand the powers of the presidency some more (after 8 years of Bush doing just that, I'm a little surprised not one party-nominated candidate save Bob Barr is talking about *reducing* the scope of presidential authority!), keep us in an un-winnable war at least for a few more years, and push for more autocratic, monolithic government micromanagement of healthcare, energy and transportation industries.


McCain, by "contrast" might only raise the federal budget, according to some analysts, by about 15, Carl Sagan Billion with a "B", Billion dollars in clearly marked spending, but keep us in an unwinnable war for "100 years", advocates a lot of the same New Deal socialism that Obama does and would expand the powers of the presidency even farther in terms of military related issues.

Boy was I way off! Not only did Obama fail to "solve" America's economic problems, he did so far more spectacularly than I had imagined at the time. To be fair, this was a few months before George W. Bush kicked off America's version of a "lost decade" with a $700 Billion bailout.

Instead of a scant $200 Billion, Obama has increased spending by about $8 Trillion, and increased deficit spending to a whopping $1.4 Trillion per year! Just the 2011 deficit alone is well over 6, maybe 7 times what I'd predicted Obama would add to the budget.

AND, as a special bonus, he's kept us in the existing wars, expanding our presence in Afghanistan and adding a brand new war in Libya plus a huge amount of unspoken war in Pakistan and elsewhere.


One can only imagine how much different McCain (who also stopped his campaign in late 2008 to go support the bailouts and stimulus nonsense) might have been. I struggle to see how he could have been "worse".

Later, on December 8th, 2008
"I need a presidential candidate to understand the Constitutional limitations of his power, I need a presidential candidate who will act as a legitimate check against the abuses of legislature by actually vetoing bills (as Bush almost *never* did), I need a presidential candidate who doesn't muck up the meaning of the document he's sworn in to protect by hiring teams of lawyers to find legalese loopholes in wording to do anything he damn well pleases in foreign & domestic policy... I need a presidential candidate who understands the Enlightenment philosophy that guided our nation's founders and created the framework for the greatest era of social, political, religious, & economic freedom the world has ever experienced. An era rapidly diminishing.
Still diminishing... Though we may be poised for a shift.

In one of the first instances of me talking about President Obama as Bush V.02, on March 9th, 2009 I wrote:
"Just to clarify here... Obama first blames Bush for *expanding* the government and deficit spending - a perfectly valid, and rather important criticism. Then he says that because of those policies, he has essentially no choice but to do the same thing.

Of course he also throws in the "lax regulation" bogeyman."
And.... He's still doin' that.

Then I got serious about the stimulus packages and Ben Bernanke's constant idiocy. In "Ben Bernanke's Pitiful Prognostication", on June 3rd, 2009, I wrote:
"Now, all that said, there is a much more insidious character to the fact that all this mad Government spending hasn't actually made it into the regular economy yet... What the time lag on the stimulus spending really means to us ordinary folks is that the coming hyper-inflation necessarily won't be noticeable or really "start" happening for a couple years yet. Unfortunately, that's going to lull an awful lot of people into a false sense of security and the belief that the "worst is over".

It isn't.

As inflation starts to set in and cost of everything rises, there is naturally a time lag between prices rising and wages rising and certainly history has shown that the faster the increase in inflation, the greater the gap between cost of living and wages can become. As that happens over the next 5-6 years, the real standard of living in America will continue to decrease significantly - and with it comes wonderful things like civil unrest, hunger and possibly increases in crime & violence."
Fortunately not too much of an increase in crime, but of course as I've written multiple times, inflation is most assuredly rearing its ugly head. Again, Bernanke is out there claiming that the increase in prices on raw goods & commodities, and the rising cost of living for everyone is no big deal.

Not so hilariously, a prediction I made in that blog came true a couple weeks later. On June 14th, 2009 there's this:
"A few of my predictions from the Ben Bernanke blog (below) have already come true...

Here's VP; Joe Biden spinning the "recovery" efforts as not going as well because things were worse than they'd estimated.

From this article:
"everyone guessed wrong" on the impact of the stimulus, economy was worse off than anyone thought.
Everyone, huh? Evvveryone.... Right... Everyone.

Good lord..."
This isn't fun any more...

This whole process just kinda goes on like this. I make predictions, I generally say something is a terrible idea, I explain precisely why it's a terrible idea, and then I watch as the predictable consequences unfold in real time.

On Cash for Clunkers, I originally wrote this:
"There's simply no excuse for the idiocy that is Cash for Clunkers. No, it's not a huge program compared the rest of the bailouts and the massive printing of monopoly money that we've seen in the last year. No, it's not the worst thing that's ever happened in terms of big-government stupid, but it's a perfect example of Bastiat's broken-window fallacy."
Turns out I was right about that too... Cost of used cars has gone up 30% in three years, and there was no long-term boost to demand for new cars at all - simply a shift where all the new purchases for 2009 were concentrated into a few months.

Check it out for yourself:

I really don't know why anyone is surprised by this stuff, but it seems they always are. The same pattern can be observed throughout all the rest of the government stimulus spending. Stimulus spending only "works" so long as government is continually pumping money into the program.

By the way, Cash for Clunkers wound up costing over $3 Billion... Hooray!

Now that all that money has been consumed, there is no real consumer demand driving new purchases, so the spike goes away, and sales fall... and continue to fall. This stuff really shouldn't be rocket science. People as "smart" as Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner shouldn't struggle with these realities so much.

The fact that they do suggests to me that they really aren't that bright after all.

At any rate, I could go on like this kind of endlessly until we get to the present day. Most of my predictions have been dead on. Obviously, like any sane economist will tell you, predictions in that realm  are not ever going to be perfectly timed - and I don't waste my time offering to predict precisely when something is going to occur, but the logic is always clear enough to understand the likely consequences.

If you print a ton of money, prices are going to shoot up. If you give people thousands of dollars to buy a new car, those who were already planning on committing to the expense will shift their purchase into the window of time alloted for them to get the "free money". If you raise taxes, increase the burdens of regulation and generally create mass uncertainty in costs for the business community, then the business community isn't going to do much investing or expansion. They might even leave the state, or the country, for greener pastures.

I honestly wish people weren't continually surprised by this stuff. It's way too predictable... See above.

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