Tag: President Obama

Dogs in the White House

Dogs have been a regular part of the White House.

It will be of no surprise that dogs have been regular pets of Presidents over the years. Apart from the fact that they provide companionship and love the dogs are also never left alone unlike many  adults in normal life who often have difficult decisions to make.

So here’s an article in The Conversation that I am republishing.

ooOOoo

How Biden’s dogs could make the Oval Office a workplace with less stress and better decision-making

By

January 26th, 2021

Presidential pup Major Biden stretches his legs on the White House lawn. The Official White House photo/Adam Schultz via Twitter, CC BY

On Jan. 24 the White House welcomed two new residents: Champ and Major, the newly minted first dogs of the United States. The first dogs are poised to offer special benefits to workers in the White House.

The first ‘Indoguration’ hosted by the Delaware Humane Association. Delaware Humane Association

Since entering the political spotlight, Champ and Major have achieved celebrity status, making news when then-President-elect Joe Biden fractured his foot while playing with Major and stumping for Biden on the campaign trail. The dogs even share a Twitter account, which features photos and doggie press releases. Major, the first shelter dog to live in the White House, has delighted so many people, the Delaware Humane Association, from which Major was adopted, held an “indoguration” ceremony for him.

Pets in the Oval Office have long fascinated many on both sides of the aisle. George H.W. Bush’s springer spaniel, Millie, “authored” a book on life in the White House that charmed many readers – and even outsold her presidential guardian’s autobiography. More recently, Buddy Clinton, Barney and Miss Beazley Bush and Bo and Sunny Obama have captivated the American public while roaming the halls of the White House.

As a dog enthusiast, I too take enormous delight in seeing presidents’ dogs run down the White House hallways, deplane from Air Force One or campaign with their guardians. But as a psychologist studying dog cognition and behavior, I must add a crucial point: Dogs have much more to offer than feel-good stories and cute photo ops. A growing area of research suggests that dogs can provide real benefits, not only to their daily companions, but also to those in their orbit.

Promoting well-being

These benefits explain why many workplaces – from Amazon to Zygna – have begun welcoming dogs into their offices. Recent research suggests that dogs in the workplace can lead to increased worker engagement, lower employee turnover, greater work satisfaction and even enhanced employee cohesion and communication.

President Barack Obama takes a break outside the Oval Office with Bo in 2012. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The Oval Office, the site of momentous decisions, enormous stress and complex social dynamics, may benefit from dogs even more than typical workplaces. After all, stress can compromise decision-making and problem-solving abilities. Pets can alleviate stress, however, dampening these effects and leading to improved performance on difficult tasks.

Not only do people report feeling less workplace stress around dogs, but their very bodies tend to support this claim. A growing area of research suggests human heart rates slow, levels of the stress hormone cortisol shrink and blood pressure decreases when people hang out with dogs. Interestingly, the positive effects of pups on stress levels exceed that of even a close friend or family member: A dog will reduce your stress more than your spouse or best friend will. After all, dogs are naturally inclined to love you unconditionally and will never find fault with the way you slurp your soup.

President George H.W. Bush holds one of Millie’s six puppies at the White House in 1989. AP Photo/Ron Edmonds

Dogs may reduce stress because they provide social support. You may feel supported by your pooch, in part, because of the oxytocin feedback loop between humans and dogs. Oxytocin, a hormone involved in promoting social bonds, is released in both dogs and humans when gazing into each other’s eyes.

President George H.W. Bush holds one of Millie’s six puppies at the White House in 1989. AP Photo/Ron EdmondsPeople report improved mood, increased happiness and greater energy levels around dogs. And, on the flip side, they enjoy reduced feelings of depression, loneliness and negativity when dogs are present.

Creating connection

Given dogs’ skill at providing these supports and boosting mood, it may not surprise you to learn they work their magic not only one on one, but also in group settings. In the presence of a dog, people in groups have better social interactions, engage in more conversations and are more likely to form long-term friendships with one another.

President Clinton and President Chirac of France showing Buddy some love in 1999. National Archives and Records Administration

The effects of dogs as social lubricants can go further: Dogs even foster development of social support networks among their humans, leading to a sense of community, and more social interactions between people in their vicinity. These engagements offer opportunities for even more social support in high-stress environments. And perhaps most importantly, people are more likely to offer help when a dog is present.

Having Champ and Major in the White House may help President Biden and his staff navigate the stresses and tensions of the current political landscape. Beyond “indogurations,” tweets and cute photo ops, Champ and Major will offer physical, psychological and social benefits in the Oval Office.

In short, pets (yes, cats too!) improve the quality of life in almost every context – including presidential ones. Perhaps they can, even in a small way, play a role in uniting a divided country. After all, personal politics aside, isn’t it comforting to know there will be paws pattering around the White House again?

ooOOoo

As was said in the article: “In the presence of a dog, people in groups have better social interactions, engage in more conversations and are more likely to form long-term friendships with one another.

Dogs are miracle creatures and if you think of the benefits that dogs provide in crucial groupings and discussions that go on the White House then, frankly, they should be a non-negotiable addition to any White House incumbent!

One way to fix America!

Albeit, a slightly tongue-in-cheek fix from this ex-Brit.

I thought after yesterday’s pretty grim and turgid post that today’s offering should be connected but not in nearly such a dark manner.

The following came to me having done quite a few rounds so it’s not clear whom I should thank. But it’s an interesting proposition; nonetheless.

ooOOoo

A MESSAGE FROM THE QUEEN

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II:

In light of your failure to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up ‘revocation’ in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except North Dakota, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

———————–

  1. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour,’ ‘favour,’ ‘labour’ and ‘neighbour.’ Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters, and the suffix ‘-ize’ will be replaced by the suffix ‘-ise.’ Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up ‘vocabulary’).

————————

  1. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ”like’ and ‘you know’ is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter ‘u” and the elimination of ‘-ize.’

——————-

  1. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

—————–

  1. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can’t sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you’re not ready to shoot grouse.

———————-

  1. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

———————-

  1. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

——————–

  1. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

——————-

  1. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

——————-

  1. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth – see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

———————

  1. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialect in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one’s ears removed with a cheese grater.

———————

  1. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

———————

  1. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

——————–

13.. You must tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us mad.

—————–

  1. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

—————

  1. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!

ooOOoo

Can’t beat that for advice!

Preliminaries taking place!
Preliminaries taking place in a very genteel (British) fashion!

Loving our wilderness

Loving our wilderness is another vital loving relationship

I quite deliberately named today’s post so that it would extend the theme of loving relationships posted yesterday.

So the recent announcement from the White House, “White House announced President Obama signed proclamations Friday to protect almost 2 million acres of pristine lands.” is to be welcomed with open arms. The article published in The Press Enterprise explained that those millions of acres were in California.

 The Castle Mountains, shown, will be declared a national monument in the Mojave Desert, along with Sand to Snow and Mojave Trails. KURT MILLER, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

The Castle Mountains, shown, will be declared a national monument in the Mojave Desert, along with Sand to Snow and Mojave Trails.
KURT MILLER, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

President Barack Obama established three national monuments today, Feb. 12, that cover almost 2 million acres in the Mojave Desert, the White House announced.

Obama used his power under the Antiquities Act to sign a proclamation designating the Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow and Castle Mountains national monuments. The move bypasses similar legislation, introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that has languished for years in Congress.

Feinstein asked the president in August to use his executive power to create the monuments. She praised the action in a statement: “I’m full of pride and joy knowing that future generations will be able to explore these national monuments and that the land will remain as pristine and as it is today. To a city girl like me, this expanse of desert, with its ruggedness and unique beauty, is nothing short of awe-inspiring.”

While on the subject of California, there is more good news from the Canis lupus 101 blog.

ooOOoo

Wolves get a grudging welcome from Northern California ranchers

By Tim Holt February 11, 2016
Photo: Oregon Fish And Wildlife
Photo: Oregon Fish And Wildlife
Wolves such as OR 25, a 3-year-old male, have crossed the Oregon border, and Northern California ranchers are preparing to accommodate them.

We are going to have a viable population of wolves in the far northern reaches of California, and it will be with the grudging cooperation of our ranchers.

That was the takeaway from a public hearing held last month in Yreka (Siskiyou County), where the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife invited public comment on its draft plan for accommodating our new four-footed residents, and where there were as many Stetsons in the audience as you’d see at a cowboy poetry convention.

Where are the wolves?

premium_landscapeYes, there was some foaming at the mouth, some evidence of the government-hating libertarianism this region is known for. “We don’t want people in Sacramento telling us how to live our lives,” grumbled one rancher.
But on the whole, there was a lot of thoughtful comment by those in attendance, and the beginnings of a dialogue between those who are charged with facilitating the wolves’ re-entry, and those who will be most affected by it. There was a focus on practical, down-to-earth matters — the threat to one’s livelihood when livestock are killed by predators, and the impracticality of maintaining 24-hour surveillance on sprawling ranch lands.

There was not much discussion of the nonlethal methods that can be used to ward off wolf depredations, although a number of speakers strongly urged that radio collars be put on wolves so ranchers can be warned if they’re getting near their cattle or sheep. That idea is already in the draft wolf management plan, as well as hazing techniques that include spotlights and air horns, as well as guard dogs and mobile electric fences.

Suzanne Asha Stone was on hand as the Rocky Mountain field representative for Defenders of Wildlife. After listening to some of the ranchers’ comments, she said, “This is verbatim what we heard in Idaho 20 years ago,” when wolves were introduced in Yellowstone National Park. Ranchers in that state were naturally concerned about the impact those wolves would have on their livelihoods. Two decades later, through programs Stone and her organization have helped implement, nonlethal strategies have reduced wolf kills of livestock in Idaho to “near zero,” she said. And that’s with a wolf population than now totals 770.

According to Stone, “It takes a while living with wolves before people realize that their worst fears won’t come true.”

I think most ranchers in California’s far north respect the wildlife around them, but their relationship with it is complicated by the need to make a living. Looking closely at the strategies used in Idaho would be a good first step in helping convince them that there are ways to reconcile ranching with the presence of this new predator.

John Wayne has long been a conservative icon, the personification of rugged individualism in the Wild West. In the 1963 movie “McLintock,” made late in his career, Wayne plays a cattle rancher and land baron. At one point he tells his daughter what he plans to do with his holdings after he dies: “I’m gonna leave most of it to the nation, really, for a park, where no lumber mill (can) cut down all the trees for houses with leaky roofs, nobody’ll kill all the beavers for hats for dudes, nor murder the buffalo for robes.”

John Wayne was no tree hugger. But neither, like the ranchers up here, should he be reduced to a simple stereotype.

ooOOoo

Back to Governments or is this case the U.S. Government and a little-known unit known as Wildlife Services. Another arm reaching out to love our wilderness? H’mmm. Not according to Wolves of Douglas County blog:

PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 12, 2016

Wildlife Services—ever heard of it? No, not the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. That’s something different. The Fish and Wildlife Service is part of the Department of the Interior, charged with enforcing wildlife laws, restoring habitat, and protecting fish, plants, and animals. Wildlife Services isn’t your state fish and game commission, either, which issues hunting and fishing licenses and manages local wildlife.
Wildlife Services is a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and it specializes  in killing wild animals that threaten livestock—especially predators such as coyotes, wolves, and cougars. Outside the ranching community, Few have heard of Wildlife Services.
Since 2000, the agency has killed at least two million mammals and 15 million birds. Although it’s main focus is predator control in the West, Wildlife Services also does things like bird control nationwide at airports to prevent crashes and feral pig control in the South.

What one hand gives out, the other takes away.

Funny old world!

And another postscript!

Further reflections on Tom’s essay Is Climate Change a Crime Against Humanity?

If you are new to this thread then drop in here to read the essay and here to read my postscript from last Monday.

This further postscript is founded on a recent email from Dan Gomez that included two stories that seemed relevant to the theme.  I’m going to reproduce the email as Dan sent it to me.

Idealism, Pragmatism, Irony and Hypocrisy

Two short stories attempting to explain why everyone should think twice about their leaders, their promises and their intent regarding climate change and money:

Story One

The guy who just made the big global warming/climate change announcement, President Obama, today [Dan’s email was dated 7th July] flew into Los Angeles at around 5PM, rush hour. At a cost of $6M and unbelievable amounts of expended carbon matter, one B747 and two C-141 four-engined jets landed at LAX. LAX TCA [Terminal Control Area] was tied up for hours. And this is to say nothing of the traffic disruption caused by multiple street shut-downs as everyone headed home.

The C-141 delivered Marine One, Obama’s helicopter; a Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King. After assembly, Obama flew 12 miles to a hotel in Beverly Hills. This only cost several thousand dollars and just a bit more hydrocarbons.

Why did Obama come to LA? To raise Money. Really? Millions to raise a million?

At a Beverly Hills hotel, and after several SUVs, also flown in, dropped off the support team, Obama and his entourage delivered a dinner speech to many wealthy Hollywood types to raise money for the Democratic Party. Most expensive “donation” – $38,500 per plate. Just think, all this public money spent for a partisan political campaign revenue event.

This is the guy who the day before claimed that “climate change” and CO2 contributions were causing the destruction of the planet. In one event, over a couple of hours, he wasted millions of tax payer dollars and injected a shit load of carbon into the atmosphere to wine and dine a few very wealthy party donors.

Why the press does not point out this obvious hypocrisy, I’ll never know.

Why the public and climate idealists who live the dream cannot understand that their leaders are as greedy, corrupt and egocentric as any Wall Street Hedge Fund Manager, I’ll never know.

Anyway, this is the guy who everyone loves and ostensibly believes has the best interests of his constituency and the future of the world at heart. Right.

Story Two

Last week, Toyota announced it was vacating California for Texas after more than 50 years running its USA business from Torrance, CA. Taxes and local EPA regulations finally drove them out. Over the years, all of Toyota’s production lines were developed in other business friendly states. With HQ finally debouching, 3,000 good paying jobs are gone, mostly due to strict environmental regulatory laws harder and harder to comply with.

Now, Tesla, the new, tax-payer supported, alternative car company, who has declined to build any manufacturing plants in California is being aggressively wooed by Governor Brown. Brown wants Tesla’s battery technology to be manufactured here. Fits with his idealistic view of California’s future. Only thing is, Tesla wants no part of this due to the same issues that Toyota, a conventional auto builder, has stated. It’s too expensive in California with too many regulations and unknown future regulations. California’s predatory regulatory agencies are now “bending” all the rules to try to get them to come into California. Irony and hypocrisy, all rolled up in one.

Crazy world.

Dan.

Reminds me of the old saying, “There are lies, damn lies, and politicians!”

Irishman

It also reminds me of that wonderful Irish response to a young Englishman who was asking an elderly local how to get to Tipperary in Southern Ireland.  The old Irishman pulled at his grey beard for a while, looked the young man full in the face and said, “I’ve been thinkin’ about it and have to tell ‘ee, me young man, that if I were going to Tipperary, I wouldn’t been startin’  out from here!

So whatever the rights and wrongs of Dan’s two stories, core issues, as in deeper, more fundamental concerns, override them both.

More on the theme tomorrow.

Romer’s Resignation

Christina Romer

Christina Romer

I don’t know Ms. Romer personally but I certainly know her work both in and out of the White House. I can only hope that the inconsistency between her work as a truth-seeking academic and as an Obama apologist finally got to her and is, at least in part, one of the reasons she resigned as chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

It will be very interesting to see how her writings progress from here.

by Sherry Jarrell

The State of the Union?

A view of the Union from across the Pond

Dr Sherry Jarrell commented recently on her disappointment with President Obama, with two specific criticisms:

A) the way he speaks to the people, or perhaps to some of the people

B) his handling of the economy

With this in mind and given that the President has now been in office for long enough for a judgement to be made, here is a view from this side of the water.

HOME

How he speaks to the people. I can’t judge this; I don’t currently have a television, let alone one with access to all the US media; And “yes”, I know this is a bit bizarre, but there you go …

What does surprise me is that during the election he showed himself to be an orator of considerable talent. Indeed, without this talent to inspire people it seems unlikely that he could have got elected in the first place. So what has gone wrong? Do the people he is speaking badly to perhaps deserve it?

The economy? Dr Jarrell is the expert. However, I just caught sight of a headline about US growth, which seems to be picking up surprisingly well.

Surely it is not all gloom, even if unemployment is high at nearly 10%. However, if you think this is bad you should visit Spain.

Health? As a European, one struggles to understand why he has been criticized by some on this issue. The US can’t afford it? Well, perhaps the bankers should be giving up some of their vast salaries and bonuses to help pay for it.

Priorities? How can the USA possibly NOT have a universal health system, when poor little Cuba has one? As I understand it, health consumes about 17% of US GDP, which is WAY above other comparable nations.

Something is wrong here. Have the medical profession and pharmaceutical companies got Americans by the short and curlies? And even this 17% didn’t until now include tens of millions of people. I would really like to have someone’s take on this.

The Republicans? Well, are we seeing a great party beginning to implode? The hysteria over the health reforms is astonishing. The “Tea Party” group has issued all kinds of threats and complaints that even senior members of the Republican party have not criticized. What is going on here?

Do they have no understanding of how modern, civilised societies work? As a friend of mine put it (as it happens a strong supporter of the Cuban regime, which I certainly am NOT) “You judge a society by the way it treats its poorest and weakest members.” On this score, the Republicans are living on another planet.

I read a fascinating take on this the other day in the New York Times.  In essence, Frank Rich claims that the Tea Party hysteria is nothing to do with the health system, but concerns the fact that WASPs feel threatened as they will soon be in a minority in the USA.

Yup – hard to believe for a British kid brought up on John Wayne, the Pilgrim Fathers, New England and all that … but true. Even so, if the Republicans are not to become a laughing-stock they need to find some more statesmanlike leaders. Sarah Palin just doesn’t cut the mustard I’m afraid.

Oil & Energy? Well, he is cracking down on gas-guzzlers. He has to have points there, surely? It is both essential and long overdue. On the other hand, he has sanctioned oil exploration in hitherto off-limits areas, the  idea being to reduce dependency on imported oil. Very commendable, but the aim of all nations is to reduce consumption, isn’t it?

AWAY

As a European, whatever impression one has of the USA has to be tempered by remembering that one does not live there. One simply cannot pick up the real mood of the country unless one has feet on the ground, and so all the above comments are impressions, possibly misplaced.

But on INTERNATIONAL affairs one is on slightly firmer ground, and of course what the US does internationally also concerns us more directly. When he took office, I decided I would judge him on one thing in particular ……

Palestine: There has been precious little movement since 9/11. Lots of “talks”, “negotiations” and proposals of course, but underlying it all the feeling that the Israelis are not going to give up anything at all.

The present government in particular seems like an immovable object on many key issues that must – frankly – be resolved by compromise on all sides. This is where an irresistible force comes in, and this can only be Obama.

Well, there have been positive signs, but I have yet to see evidence that pressure on Israel will be both real and sustained. Sometimes “negotiations” and “frank-talking” are just NOT enough, and this is one of them. The jury has retired with some recent positive feelings, but it is still out, and very sceptical.

Iran/China?: Obama has tried to be nice to these people, but – as with Israel – being nice sometimes doesn’t do it. There is I feel serious trouble ahead with China, one way or the other. Will Obama be tough enough to deal with it? The jury is still out on that one, too.

SUMMARY: Humans tend to be optimistic folk: we believe there is a solution out there somewhere. We believed Obama might be it.

We were as ever hopelessly-idealistic. Nevertheless, I am mindful that this is an extremely inexperienced President, chosen by Americans for his youth, optimism and charisma more than his long experience as a statesman.

He will need time. Unlike some Americans – who already think he is the anti-Christ (those strange Republicans again) – I am prepared to wait a bit longer to make a final judgement.

By Chris Snuggs

Every Economist? Second Pass!

On the 10th February, I wrote an article entitled Every Economist, Mr President? No Sir! The thrust of my argument was “that the unemployment rate would have been much lower today had the stimulus program never occurred.”

That post also appeared on my own Blog and there attracted a fascinating response from Rick Rutledge.  Rick’s response is worthy of a separate article, as below, together with my reply.

Sherry,

The problem with your explanation here is that it states that “government spending is funded with taxes that WOULD HAVE BEEN invested by private industry” and that “the unemployment rate WOULD HAVE BEEN much lower today had the stimulus program never occurred.” (Emphasis mine.)

This argument, it seems to me, is predicated on the conceptual fiction of a two-dimensional relationship between government spending and business investment, with taxes as the lever. That model lacks a time vector, not so much from omitting it, as compressing it. The relationship between those factors can only be simplified to this level by compressing all time into the representational plane.

That is to say that, to fairly represent the relationship between government spending and business investment (via taxation), we have to compress three presumptions into one premise:
– Past government spending that resulted in increased taxes diminishes past, present, and/or future business investment resources;
– Increasing present taxes to fund present and future spending diminishes business’ investment resource pool.
– Past, present, and future government spending without matching funding WILL, EVENTUALLY result in increased taxation, diminishing future business investment resources. (And, consequently, MAY have a chilling effect on present business investment attitudes.)

However, unless NPR has let me down (it could happen), and I’ve missed a big, breaking story about an increase in business taxes, these stimulus programs have been wholly funded by deficit spending.

Of course, it could be argued that deficit spending generally COULD (nay, should) have a chilling effect on business investment. This, together with the third presumption of the aggregate premise above (that is to say, burgeoning national debt), does create a basis for the belief that the unemployment rate COULD have been much lower today, IF a number of things had been done differently. The French have a saying: “With enough ‘IFs,’ we could put Paris in a bottle.”

To simply state that “the unemployment rate would have been much lower today had the stimulus program never occurred” strikes me as conclusory, and the sort of reasoning on which our elected officials too often rely to justify partisan and ideological positions.

Too, and unfortunately, there is a great body of evidence to suggest that business leaders have historically taken a disappointingly short-sighted approach to management, so I would be reluctant to put too many eggs into the “chilling effect” arguments.

Rick Rutledge

As a person who teaches financial literacy, I’m fully aware that sometimes there are urgent needs that justify the use of leverage (and short-term deficit spending) to deal with near-term emergencies. Credit has its uses. I’m of the belief that short-term deficit spending is not the primary (and certainly is not in and of itself) the cause for our current woes. I’m more inclined to believe that short-sightedness, whether in the form of The Quick Buck on Wall Street, or a systemic refusal to acknowledge the looming problem of the national debt, is more to blame than any single short-term stimulus program. Government spending on stimulus, OUTSIDE THE CONTEXT OF DEFICIT SPENDING, wholly evades your argument.

(But then, there may be good reason I don’t claim to be an economist – through no fault of yours, to be sure!)

Rick Rutledge

This was my reply:

Hi Rick,

Goodness. Where to begin! I simply stated my conclusion because it’s a post, and I was responding directly to Obama’s claim about what “all” economists think or say. He was misinformed or stretching the truth, and I wanted to point out that fact. So, yes, there were a lot of unstated underlying assumptions and data and studies and research and theory that I did not specify. Apparently you’ve supplied some of your own to try to deconstruct the “reasoning” or “ideology” that I might have used to arrive at my conclusion! Creative and ambitious but, alas, wrong.

You’ve ignored or misunderstood the very essence of causality: the only thing one needs to know is that business profits are the ONLY source of tax revenues to the government, and when the government takes and spends those tax revenues, they are spending dollars that WOULD HAVE BEEN RETAINED AND INVESTED by the business that created those profits and those very tax revenues IN THE FIRST PLACE, and would have then caused further profits next period. CAUSED. And it doesn’t matter whether you talk one period or multiperiod or lags. This fundamental economic fact does not change.

You bring deficit spending (the relation between this period’s G and this period’s T) and the level of debt (cumulative deficits) into the picture, both of which are entirely irrelevant to the issue I am raising and, worse yet, are the accountant’s version of business profits.

You site “evidence” that business leaders have been short-sighted (do please share some of that evidence with me — cite the source and let me have at it — it will not hold up) and use that to conclude that government spending does not reduce economic wealth? And then literally blame our current woes on the short-sightedness of business? or on national debt? huh?

You say: “Government spending on stimulus, outside the context of deficit spending, wholly evades my argument.” Not so. My point is that when the government takes a dollar of tax revenues, whether the government is running a deficit or surplus, it reduces the economic wealth of the economy relative to what it would have been had the government not taken that dollar of business profits as taxes. Very simple. Very straightforward. The plain, simple, unadorned, incontrovertible truth.

Thanks for your interest and for taking the time to write such a thoughtful, thought-provoking comment!

By Sherry Jarrell

The Hypocrisy of Cutting Waste

Cut Waste Later?  How about now?

I honestly cannot understand how President Obama can look the American people in the eye and tell them that Health Care reform will be paid for, in part, by finding savings and reducing fraud in Medicare over the next several years.

President Obama on Health Care Reform

If it is possible to operate Medicare more efficiently, why have we not done it already?  Why must doing it right wait for new programs and new legislation?  Why doesn’t Congress first prove to the American people that it can operate a program efficiently and then come back and ask for more?

Because it can’t, that’s why not.   The plain and simple truth is that it cannot do so now, and will not do so in the future.  So why are we letting our elected officials get away with such a charade?

I just don’t understand it.

By Sherry Jarrell

Health Care Summit

Political leadership or grandstanding?

What has become very clear to me, after watching the U.S. Health Care Summit between Democrats and Republicans as objectively as possible, is that the President’s goal was not to craft a thoughtful approach to shoring up and improving the U.S. health care system.

Pres. Obama making one of many points at Healthcare Summit

No, the reason for the President and the Democratic leadership to convene the so-called summit was to grandstand; to make a show; to create a photo opportunity; and, most importantly, to try to garner enough support from the Democrats in Congress to ram through the Reconciliation option on the behemoth, disastrous 2000-plus page version of the bill, filled with incomprehensible, internally conflicting doublespeak.

A sad day for American politics.  A very sad day for American citizens.  We deserve better.