The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Obama and the recovery that wasn't

President Obama claims that he should not be blamed for the current weak economy. According to him, the economy was so bad when he took office that he had no chance at fixing it. But I recently saw an article in the Weekly Standard by Jeffrey H. Anderson, entitled “Was Obama Dealt a Tough Hand on the Economy? Hardly.” which points out that Pres. Obama actually should have been happy to have taken office under bad economic straits. The economy would have improved under normal conditions, and he could have taken credit even though it was really the workings of the laws of economics:

Of all the generally accepted claims that have been repeated throughout this presidential campaign, perhaps the most false is the assertion that President Obama was dealt a tough hand on the economy. In truth, Obama was dealt a winning hand; he simply had no idea how to play it.

In sports, most coaches don’t want to replace a legend. From that starting point, there’s almost nowhere to go but down. A far better situation is to take over from a losing coach, at which point there’s almost nowhere to go but up.

It’s the same with presidents and the economy. The best situation for a president is to inherit a bad economy, wait for the nearly inevitable recovery to occur, and then take credit for the predictable gains.

As Obama would be the first to tell people, he didn’t follow a legend. He inherited a bad economy, from which there was almost nowhere to go but up. Politically speaking, he was dealt beautiful cards. But if you play it poorly enough, it’s possible to lose even with a great hand.

Just compare Obama with FDR, another Democrat who fell into the envious situation of inheriting a bad economy from an unpopular Republican president. In 1936, the year in which FDR first ran for reelection, the gross domestic product (GDP) grew a whopping 13.1 percent in real (inflation-adjusted) dollars.

So far in 2012, as Obama is running for reelection, real annualized GDP growth has been a puny 1.9 percent — less than a sixth of what it was under FDR. That’s according to the federal government’s own figures (see “Percent change from preceding period”).

In other words, both FDR and Obama inherited bad economies that were poised to get better (although the economy of the Great Depression wasn’t poised to rebound as quickly). As such, both were dealt winning hands. FDR played his hand well and, on the wave of a revitalized economy, won reelection in a landslide.

But for Obama, even George W. Bush has proven to be a tough act to follow.

As Anderson says, Obama could have done nothing and things would have improved on their own. But he didn't. He messed it up, so the economy did not recover. More reason to retire Barack Obama this November.

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