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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

The Reality Show of Voting: You And Your 129 Close Relatives

In 2012 Elections, Hispanic Assimilation, Immigration on November 8, 2012 at 2:03 am

 

 

Your 129 close relatives decided your vote.  No, it’s not a strange Univision reality TV show, though there sure are many of those.  It was the 2012 US Presidential Election.You see, you’re a middle class American and you were born in lovely Guadalajara, Mexico in 1975.  Your average family meant a busy childhood for you and your six siblings.  In 1976, the average fertility of an average Mexican woman was an astounding 7.2 children [1], though it is nearly the same as the USA today at 2.3 [2].  Dad and Mom’s generation was a busy one.

Each of your parents had six siblings.   Of those 12 blood-related aunts and uncles, five of the six married and they had the average six children each.  That meant 22 aunts and uncles and sixty total cousins.  For some reason, three were named Jorge.  You recall youthful Quinceañeras, weddings, Easter and Buena Noche family events were always crowded.  Your four grandparents each lived to around seventy years.

When you immigrated to the US at age five, your family absorbed American culture.  Only four of your six siblings married, and they each had just three children.  That gave you 12 total nieces and nephews.  You married your high school sweetheart and had just two children.

Your spouse was a second generation Mexican-American and had two parents and two siblings, one of whom, Marissa, married with just two children. 

You graduated from the University of Texas and live today as a successful accountant the pleasant Houston suburb of Katy.  Your lawn is trim and green; you own a Toyota Camry and a Ford SUV.   You fly the American flag from your front porch.  Every Sunday, you attend Catholic mass.  While politics is of little concern to you, you’re generally for reasonable taxes, helping those who need help and like most Mexican-Americans, you’re uncomfortable with abortion.  You remember your Dad liked Ronald Reagan, who granted citizenship to your parents back in the 1980s.

At least once a year, you go back to visit relatives in Mexico.  You lost touch with some of your cousins, but most are a phone call away.  Some stayed in the large commercial city of Guadalajara, a few moved to the capital of Mexico City or to the growing metropolis of Monterrey, and others moved to California and Illinois.  Your siblings live in Texas, Florida, Arizona and the two sisters live in different suburbs of Denver, Colorado.

You were underwhelmed by the economy 2009-2012 but you have deep roots in Mexico.  You are, first and foremost, an American but on occasion in your life, someone screamed “wetback” or “Spic” at you from a car.  No, your car doesn’t run on tacos.  Most of the whites and blacks you come across with are very nice but sometimes you received unpleasant stares.  Last summer, when your cousin Isabella visited from Jalisco state, her husband played some ranchero music from the rent-a-car and some local teenagers laughed loudly through their open window.  These things are not a really big deal to you, the economic opportunities and freedom in the US make it well worthwhile.

But, deep down, you’re always a tad bit aware that some people don’t much like “Mexicans” and, American-citizen that you are, it’s always there in your mind.  You know your cousins Rosa and Maria snuck into the US with their husbands and have been living illegally in an apartment in Iowa, of all places, where they work at a slaughterhouse doing work no native-born American will do.

You heard about legislation in Arizona to demand proof of citizenship for anyone who looked like they could be an illegal immigrant.  You sure didn’t like that; you wondered why a Mexican-American citizen of the USA like yourself would be apt to get stopped when your Chinese-born and Korean-born coworkers would not, to say nothing of the rest who simply looked white or black. 

At times, there was national press about some obscure Republican from Colorado, a Tom something or another, who ran for President on a platform of shutting down the border.  You hear that term from time to time, shut down the border.  Since you cross it periodically to visit relatives or for vacations, you know it’s already shut down.  It can take eight hours to cross the line and the Border Patrol agents often are a bit icy.  You wonder what would happen if you ever had your wallet stolen in Mexico and lost your ID; getting back into your own country, the USA, would be a nightmare.  You have a hunch it’s a lot easier to cross from Canada.

Prominent national Republicans seem reasonable enough; you were okay with George W. Bush, who actually spoke Spanish.  You’ve already forgotten some words from disuse all these years, but you’re aware a lot of Americans are strangely obsessed with the Spanish language.  Which is odd, you know every aspiring Mexican wants to learn English and people in Mexico grow up listening to American pop music and watching US movies and TV shows with Spanish subtitles.  You know #1 hit albums in Mexico in 2012 include English-language hits from Adele, Madonna and that boy band called One Direction.  There aren’t any Spanish-language #1 albums in the USA.  You laugh when you hear English is “under attack.”  From what?

But there are some small-time Republicans, some sheriffs out west, that Governor of Arizona and some US representatives who sometimes get mighty angry about “immigration”, “the border” and “the illegals” that steal jobs.  You know that last point is a joke.  If all the illegals left tomorrow, America’s lawns would grow long and America’s plates would go uncleaned in the nation’s restaurants.  You don’t even remember the name of the Republicans, they were low-level ones, mostly out  West, but a few spoke of taking away birth right citizenship, which struck you as deeply unfair and targeted at Mexican-Americans.  The political TV ads these folks ran, you saw excerpts on national TV, always showed dark-skinned Latinos sneaking under fences.  It’s never an Irish college kid who over-stayed his Visa, which is funny, because that guy Martin in the computer lab at work, the programmer guy – yeah, the dude who actually sings about Guinness beer – he was an illegal when he over-stayed his visa.  But no one runs TV ads about drunken Irish illegals.

You heard something on the radio news about an obscure Republicans talking of “live ammo” for the Border Patrol.  You shuddered at that, after all, some of your cousins crossed and who knows who else might someday.  Other crazy ideas were sticking alligators in the Rio or using unmanned drones to take out illegals.  You know there are Minutemen out there who spend their free time wandering the Arizona desert to stop immigrants.  They’re trying to stop the same people who clean the dishes at Applebee’s and wash cars at Spick-N-Span Wash for those same Minutemen.  You really get the sense some people really don’t like “your type.” 

That bothers you because it cuts against your family.  Like most Mexican-Americans, you’re big on family.  You loved your grandparents, your parents and your uncles and aunts.  Uncle Jose is the one who taught you to pitch a baseball!  Uncle Pablo was a blast when he used to tell you and your brothers stories about women when your dad wasn’t around.  These are your gente, your people.  And no one is more pro-family than your extended family.  Some people are all hat and no uterus!

All that talk about immigration rubs you the wrong way when its said “lazy” people want to come to the US for its welfare system (you’d go to Spain for that!) or to drop by and have “anchor babies.”  Anyone who thinks Mexicans are “lazy” has never seen your brother Ricardo juggle three jobs like an acrobat.  If anything, the Mexicans you know probably work too hard, they should relax once in a while.  That’s why your Dad always looked so tired with his full-time janitor job plus the side job as a handyman. 

That Mitt Romney guy never spoke crazy but he did talk tough about closing down illegal immigration.  Obama promised some immigration reform, but he didn’t even try, which frustrated you.  Still, he eventually came up with this complicated half-measure, a “Dream Act.”  It wasn’t much, just letting some college kids stay for two years.  You noted their parents and siblings could still be deported in the meantime.  But… it was something when the Republicans offered nothing so you took the meager Dream Act and thought, well, it’s a start.  And you voted Obama in 2012.  Like 71% of other Latino American voters. [3]  Will the Republicans compete for your vote in 2014 and 2016?

[1] http://www.colby.edu/personal/t/thtieten/pop-mex.html

[2] http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/mexico_statistics.html

[3]  http://news.yahoo.com/poll-latino-vote-devastated-gop-even-worse-exits-181922111–politics.html

 

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Rejoice For The Stimulus Project Called Hurricane Sandy!

In Economy, Job Creation, Obama Administration on November 2, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Do you believe in stimulus programs?  Do you believe jobs are created by the government?  Are you Keynesian?  Are you voting for Barack Obama?

If so, rejoice!  Hurricane Sandy is a massive stimulus program.  Set aside the civilian deaths for a moment and focus on the government and private sector spending.

Think of Sandy as a $60 billion dollar injection of stimulus. [1]

In one watery swoop, Sally sept into millions of tight-fisted consumers’ wallets.  A frugal Congress can’t stop government spending via FEMA.  “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said they will offer help to borrowers whose homes were damaged or destroyed.” [1] 

Deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses to fix broken windows will rev up the metropolitan New York economy.  Think of all the drywall and generators sold by Home Depot.  Surely, pump makers like Britain’s Andrew Sykes Group are busy.  Ruined cars must be replaced, employing autoworkers in Japan and the USA. 

NYC looters [2] act as stimuli, forcing small businesses to restock.  Retailers who love a few dozen TVs and smartphones in a robbery have to replace their electronic inventory.   This creates jobs, doesn’t it?  Even if the products are made abroad, Americans are employed in the ports, on the railroads and at the trucking firms that bring in the replacement wide-screen plasmas.  The looters might even be 99%’s, taking from 1% retailers.

The rebuilding money comes from the federal government, consumers and insurance companies.  Isn’t it good to raid greedy insurance companies?

But does Mother Nature’s destruction of a 2011 Impala actually help us?  The 2012 Impala replacement comes from a combination of an insurance company’s settlement plus a consumer’s deductible.  Is that money free? 

The illustrious French economist Frederic Bastiat addressed the Lindsay Lohan-like thinking behind the above “Sandy stimulus” in his classic  “That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen.” [3]   Bastiat looked at the example of the shopkeeper, whose window is broken by someone.  The Obama-Krugman view is that broken windows are very good.  The shopkeeper spends six francs to purchase a window; someone is paid to install it.  The window seller and the window installer receive those francs which they then spend elsewhere in the economy, say for beer and fishing rods, employing even more.  The broken window bonanza flows through the economy, creating what the Keynesians call a “multiplier effect”.  A single dollar spent fixing a window broken by a vandal might become $5 as it filters through the world economy.

The strange conclusion becomes that the economy really needs more broken windows.  Vandals are heroes.  Bastiat saw through that twisted logic, writing about the unseen effects, namely the things the shopkeeper would have spent the six francs on something else, which would have the same multiplicative effect on the economy.  The difference would be a net increase in the economy.  Instead of ending with a replacement window no different from the previous pane, at a cost of six francs, the shopkeeper would have bought something else.

As our shopkeeper has spent six francs upon one thing, he cannot spend them upon another. It is not seen that if he had not had a window to replace, he would, perhaps, have replaced his old shoes, or added another book to his library. In short, he would have employed his six francs in some way, which this accident has prevented. [3]

Let us take a view of industry in general, as affected by this circumstance. The window being broken, the glazier’s trade is encouraged to the amount of six francs: this is that which is seen.

If the window had not been broken, the shoemaker’s trade (or some other) would have been encouraged to the amount of six francs: this is that which is not seen.

And if that which is not seen is taken into consideration, because it is a negative fact, as well as that which is seen, because it is a positive fact, it will be understood that neither industry in general, nor the sum total of national labor, is affected, whether windows are broken or not.

The Keynesian fallacy rests on an idea of huge amounts of savings, selfishly unspent, that could be employing someone.  In the USA of 2012, most everyone is leveraged.  The US government is $16 Trillion in debt, with no hope of repayment.  Consumers are struggling to make ends meet, many deep in debt.  Tens of millions of homeowners’ mortgages are as underwater as the Queens-Midtown Tunnel.  Insurance money is not free, it comes from somewhere.  Property insurers will liquidate their stock and bond holdings to pay Sandy claims, slicing money from the economic system.  They will replenish those reserves by reducing dividends, which takes money out of the economy, and by raising insurance premiums, which also grabs cash from the economy.

Sandy is not really a Stimulus project for the US economy.  It’s an economic calamity just as it’s a humanitarian crisis.

[1] http://business.time.com/2012/10/31/hurricane-sandy-estimated-to-cost-60-billion/

[2] http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/looters-arrested-post-superstorm-spree-182401079–abc-news-savings-and-investment.html

[3] http://mises.org/daily/3804/The-Broken-Window

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Obama Presidency 2009-2012: Weakest Economic Recovery On Record

In 2012 Elections, Economy, Obama Administration on October 19, 2012 at 7:34 pm

When deciding who to vote for President, the footnoted piece provides a sense of perspective about the exceptionally weak economic recovery of the Obama presidency.   This recovery is just one-third as large as the “Reagan” recovery from the 1980-2 recession.  The recession ended more than three years ago, but people feel it has not ended because the recovery is so tepid.  The Wall Street Journal said:

It’s important to understand how unusual this kind of weak recovery is. Deep recessions like the one from December 2007 to June 2009 are typically followed by stronger recoveries, as there is more lost ground to make up.

The most recent comparable recession occurred in 1981-1982. Yet as the nearby chart shows, the Reagan expansion exploded with a 9.3% quarter and kept up a robust pace for years. By the 12th quarter of expansion, growth popped up to 6.4.%. At this stage of the Reagan expansion, overall GDP was 18.5% higher versus 6.7% for the Obama recovery, according to Congress’s Joint Economic Committee.

Even comparing this recovery with the average since the end of World War II, the Obama growth rate is well below the norm of 15.2%. The U.S. is running about $1.5 trillion of economic output behind where it should be.

This may sound like an abstraction, but it is the difference between a robust job market and lost opportunity for millions of Americans. It is the difference between a small federal budget deficit and more than $1 trillion for four straight years. It is the difference between a rising or falling poverty rate. [1]

[1] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443477104577553211912280818.html

Job fair picture from Wikipedia Commons.

There Is No Tax Deduction For Off-Shoring Jobs

In Political Rhetoric, President Obama, Tax Breaks on October 13, 2012 at 10:24 pm

During the first presidential debate against Mitt Romney, President Obama repeated a charge I see in the netherworld of liberal blogs and progressive’s Facebook posts.   As the head of the Business Round Table, John Engler, wrote in an op-ed:

What the candidates didn’t agree on was whether there is a deduction in the U.S. tax code that encourages companies to move plants overseas. Mr. Obama contended that such a deduction exists. Mr. Romney said, “I’ve been in business for 25 years and I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

According to the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, there are no specific tax credits or deductions for moving plants and jobs overseas. …the tax code provides a deduction for all business expenses, including plant-closing costs, severance pay and worker retraining. [1]

I’ve never seen any “offshoring” deduction and am confident the Joint Committee on Taxation is correct that no offshoring jobs tax credit exists.

As President, Mr. Obama should know the law.  If he thought there’s a tax credit for exporting jobs, why didn’t he undo it during the past four years, especially the two when his party held complete control of Congress?  The answer is no such tax credit exists, Obama continued the spread of a false internet rumor.

Image of a globe centred on India, with India highlighted.

 [1] http://www.4-traders.com/news/BR-Business-Roundtable-The-Wall-Street-Journal-Op-ed-Engler-Corporate-Taxes-the-Myths-and-Fa–15327082/

Pictures from Wikipedia Commons.

What Barack Obama Would Tell Vincent Van Gogh

In President Obama on July 18, 2012 at 1:45 am

Vincent Van Gogh, you’re nothing.

You didn’t paint “Starry Night on the Rhone” on your own. You might think you had some special talent but any three-year old with a paintbrush could do it. 

Did you build the quay?  Did you build the gas lighting system or the buildings you painted?  I didn’t think so.  Some local government officials are more responsible for your art than you are, my painter for the 1% friend.  

Don’t even get me started on the river or stars in the sky.  I speak Austrian better than Netherlandian so I dunno who was king back then, but the Rhone had to be a Stimulus project.

Just to prove anyone can do what you did, I’ll take up painting as soon as I’m retired from politics.  Like you, I’ll paint a few self-portraits. 

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

File:Starry Night Over the Rhone.jpg

Taxes Already Going Up On Warren Buffett

In Buffett Rule, Income Tax Rates, Obama Administration, Warren Buffett on September 20, 2011 at 1:46 am

Warren Buffett does not have to worry: his income tax rate will be rising about 3.8% on January 1, 2013.   He does not even need a new “Buffett Rule” tax:  it is a part of the health care reform bill of 2010 (“ObamaCare”) that “unearned income” (meaning interest, dividends and capital gains like those enjoyed by Mr. Buffett) will pay an additional surtax of 3.8% on amounts over $200,000 for individual taxpayers. [1]  

This means Mr. Buffett’s average income tax rate, which he says was 17.7% in 2010, will be approximately 21.5% under the 2013 tax rates.  The new rate is already enacted as law.  This fact is certainly relevant for any discussions of a “Buffett Rule” or higher tax rates on the affluent, yet it seems to be almost completely ignored in the media.

For more on Mr. Buffett’s misleading opinion piece, see https://econscius.wordpress.com/2011/08/19/trust-a-cpa-warren-buffet-is-wrong-about-tax-rates/ and https://econscius.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/is-warren-buffetts-924725-employee-super-rich/

 Berkshire Hathaway.svg

[1] http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2010/04/Obamacare-Impact-on-Taxpayers

Pictures from Wikipedia Commons.  Disclosure: the author owned common stock in Berkshire Hathaway as of this writing.