Archive for January, 2012

Milton Friedman on greed, capitalism — and the alternatives (video)

Something to tide y’all over until the results from Florida start rolling in.

(H/t: Jonah Goldberg, who calls it a useful reminder “that we’ve seen all this nonsense [about greed] before. Note the year: 1979, the tail-end of another president’s single term.”)

The full interview is in parts one, two, three, four and five and covers topics ranging from auto bailouts to environmental regulations to the minimum wage. (See? Jonah was right: It’s nothing new.)

It’s a lot to watch. But if you do, you just might learn something.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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Continue reading Milton Friedman on greed, capitalism — and the alternatives (video) »

2012 Tuesday: With Obamacare contraception ruling, the president burns a wide bridge

Sometimes, you have to wonder if the uber-brains in the Obama administration/re-elect team are so bored with merely running the country that they try to challenge themselves by making matters more difficult than need be.

Last week was one of those times. Just in case Obamacare — to which President Obama hardly referred in his State of the Union address/campaign speech — didn’t seem like enough of a liability, the administration declared that all employer health-insurance plans will have to cover sterilization, contraceptives and abortifacients. There will be no exception if an employer  is a religious group whose doctrine opposes these things. Among other things, it was the latest sign that President Obama’s infamous promise about his health-care reform — that you could keep your present coverage if you liked it — was an example of active deception.

(One assumes there will be no retroactive decisions by fact-checkers like Politifact to name that Obama line — and not the GOP …

Continue reading 2012 Tuesday: With Obamacare contraception ruling, the president burns a wide bridge »

Early projection: A Romney-Obama match-up goes to …

As I write, we’re still 30-plus hours from getting initial results from Florida’s primary. In the meantime, here is the first state-by-state analysis of electoral votes in November’s election, based on actual polling numbers, that I have seen. It anticipates a Romney-Obama match-up — no other Republicans are analyzed — in which the president is very, very narrowly re-elected: 272 electoral votes to 266.

(FYI: The source, a blogger named Scott Elliott, has been close enough in the last two presidential elections to be worth following this year. In 2004 and again in 2008, he ended up predicting 48 of 50 states correctly.)

A couple of points to note:

  • The conventional wisdom is that a Democrat, and particularly Obama this year, begins the race with most of the necessary 270 EVs sewn up. According to this initial projection, Romney actually holds a 170-149 advantage in those states in which he or Obama leads the other by double-digits. Obama pulls ahead only slightly, 217-206, …

Continue reading Early projection: A Romney-Obama match-up goes to … »

By the numbers: Why ethics reform makes sense in Georgia

The Pareto Principle is alive and well under the Gold Dome.

Roughly speaking, the Pareto Principle holds that 20 percent of the people produce 80 percent of the results. In business, it might mean a handful of salespeople are responsible for most of a firm’s revenue. In agriculture, it might mean — as the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto observed a century ago — one-fifth of the pods produce four-fifths of the peas.

Regarding our General Assembly, I allude not to how many lawmakers introduce the bulk of bills that are passed — although that might be true. Rather, I’m talking about gifts from lobbyists to legislators.

My review of such gifts reported in 2011 found that, for the top three leaders in the House (David Ralston, Jan Jones and Larry O’Neal) and Senate (Casey Cagle, Tommie Williams and Chip Rogers), 19 percent of reported gifts accounted for 72 percent of the money spent.

Pretty close to Pareto.

The dividing line that created the 19-72 split was a gift value of $100. …

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Why Ron Paul should be in some president’s cabinet

I have said throughout this Republican presidential primary that I do not believe Ron Paul will win the nomination. That said, I do think he will be in the race until the end because of his loyal supporters and fund-raising prowess. He might well finish second, and most likely no worse than third, in number of delegates to this summer’s GOP convention. That kind of success would merit more than a nice speaking time slot in Tampa and a few relatively meaningless planks on the party’s platform.

Should the eventual nominee, whoever it is, defeat Barack Obama in November, he ought to appoint Paul to his cabinet.

Which cabinet position? Whichever one that president-elect wanted to eliminate or dramatically shrink.

That’s not a way of pulling a fast one on the man who more than one wag has deemed America’s Grandpa (i.e., he says some things that sound wise, and some other things that make you think, Oh, there goes crazy ol’ grandpa again!). I intend it as a compliment.

Of all people …

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Poll Position: How many debates for a presidential primary?

Last night brought us the 19th or 22nd — depending on how you count them — GOP presidential debate of 2011-12. It was the second this week and sixth this month.

Mercifully, there won’t be another for almost four weeks.

To say the networks have had to strain to keep things fresh would be an understatement of Newt-ly grandiose proportions. We were only two debates into the schedule when moderators tried the “This or That?” gimmick (as in: Elvis or Johnny Cash?). Last night, we were treated to questions about such issues of immediate national importance as lunar exploration, Puerto Rican statehood and why each candidate thought his wife would make a good first first lady. (Note that CNN was responsible both for these and “This or That?”, as well as the infamous debate-opening exchange between Newt Gingrich and moderator John King in South Carolina last week about allegations by Gingrich’s second wife that he’d asked her for an “open marriage.”)

How many debates should there …

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Pass charter schools amendment, get back to fixing education in Georgia

Ask Georgians about education, and you’ll likely hear two things: It’s important to our future prosperity, and we’re lagging behind. They’re right about its importance. There is one area, however, in which Georgia doesn’t trail most other states when it comes to education:

Spending.

Not what you expected? Join the club. But Georgia ranked 23rd in spending per pupil according to the latest data available for all states, the 2007-08 school year. Further analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities suggests budget cuts since then have yet to push Georgia out of the top 30. We remain right around the middle.

Where we do lag behind is in the results we get for our money. Georgia ranks in the bottom third of states when it comes to proficiency in reading and math among fourth- and eighth-graders taking the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP.

The disparities show up all too plainly when one compares Georgia to the states with which we sometimes compete for …

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2012 Tuesday: The Romney tax return distraction

Mitt Romney’s tax returns are slowly leaking out, with full details to come later today. (UPDATE: The 2010 returns and 2011 estimates are available on Romney’s campaign website.) And as fully expected, progressives are in high sanctimony about his effective tax rate of 14 percent — as if they would have thought he’d fulfilled his patriotic duty by paying  25 percent, or 35 percent, or 50 percent, and still had well over $10 million they hadn’t gotten their claws on.

Lefties who always harken back to the Clinton-Gingrich-Lott years as a golden era of satisfactory, budget-balancing tax rates seem oblivious to the fact that the difference between what Romney paid under the current rates and what he would have paid under the rates that prevailed then is roughly $900,000. No, you’re not missing a decimal point: At a top income tax rate of 39.6 percent and a capital gains rate of 20 percent, Romney would have paid something like $900,000 more on his $21.7 million in 2010 income …

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Too often, the only security regulators provide is a false one

If you haven’t read the investigative piece about day-care safety reports hidden from the public, printed in Sunday’s AJC and available online, you really should do so. Among other things, it’s a reminder that government oversight of an industry often creates nothing more than a false sense of security for that industry’s customers.

Day cares in Georgia (and most other states, I’d be willing to bet) must have a state-issued license in order to operate. It has to be renewed annually. A parents might inspect the day care personally before enrolling Junior there. But it would be typical, and reasonable, for a parent to assume the day care meets certain minimum standards if its license was granted and later renewed.

Instead, the AJC investigation found, more than a third of the day cares in Georgia had been deemed — by state regulators — out of compliance with state health and safety standards at least once in the past four years. The vast majority of them, even those with …

Continue reading Too often, the only security regulators provide is a false one »

After South Carolina, how Romney should fight back

A week ago, Mitt Romney led Newt Gingrich in the South Carolina opinion polls by an average of eight percentage points. Today, he is licking his wounds from a 12-point loss there in the only poll that matters, the one taken at the ballot box.

Romney spent Sunday suggesting he will sharpen his attacks on Gingrich, particularly his character and past leadership performance, and that’s fair game and fine as far as it goes. But South Carolina voters — and Republican voters more broadly — have not gravitated toward Gingrich because they think his track record in those areas is superlative, or even because they’re unaware of his shortcomings in them. He has attracted voters because he’s proven willing to be a fighter, while Romney has come off as unwilling to protest as much.

That this would have happened in South Carolina after attacks by Gingrich and his super PAC against Romney’s record at Bain Capital, and by others about Romney’s wealth and tax payments, is telling (note I did …

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