November 3, 2011When I moved into my suburban Washington, D.C., neighborhood three years ago, the nearby town center was a thriving hub of restaurants, shops and theaters, where boutique dealers of furniture and knick-knacks rubbed shoulders with high-end eateries of all kinds.
But lately, when I've stopped by some of these shops and eateries, with a meal or a gift in mind, I have increasingly encountered a sickening sight: Closed doors.
In fact by my own informal tally, at least a half dozen businesses within a few blocks of my front door have gone belly up since my arrival -- a lot, it seems to me, especially given such a small area in such a short amount of time. It remains to be seen how many new businesses will rush in to fill the void, but so far some windows have remained dark for more than a year.
Don't get me wrong. It's still a nice neighborhood, and there's still lots to do. But the...
October 28, 2011According to an estimate by the United Nations’ population division, Earth’s seven billionth human will be born on or about Halloween 2011, most likely in South Asia.
To put that number in perspective, consider this: It took 250,000 years, from the birth of our species until the beginning of the 19th century, for the human population to reach 1 billion (I guess it’s true what they say; the first billion's the hardest). After that it took just a little over a century to hit the 2 billion mark in 1927. By 1999 the world’s six billionth person was born (identified as Adnan Nevic from Sarajevo, Bosnia). And now here we are, only 12 years later, and number 7 billion is upon us.
It’s quite a milestone. And on the face of it, would seem to indicate homo sapiens is a...
October 25, 2011The nonprofit fiscal watchdog State Budget Solutions has conducted an extensive analysis of state government finances. Reuters sums up the dismal findings:
State Budget Solutions combined states' major debt and future liabilities, primarily for pensions and employee healthcare, unemployment insurance loans, outstanding bonds and projected fiscal 2011 budget gaps. It found that in total, states are in debt for $4.2 trillion.
Let that sink in. $4.2 trillion. In debt. And that’s only the state governments whose official financial calculations “…do not offer a full picture of the states' liabilities and can rely on budget gimmicks and accounting games to hide the extent of the deficit." Great.
True, Reuters points out that other estimates of state liabilities are lower: The American Enterprise Institute (AEI)...
October 21, 2011What do the Wall Street protesters want? According to a survey of 200 protesters encamped in New York's Zuccotti Park and reported by pollster Doug Schoen in The Wall Street Journal: “What binds a large majority of the protesters together—regardless of age, socioeconomic status or education—is…opposition to free-market capitalism…”
So we know that they are opposed to the free market. But what does that mean, exactly?
Obviously they are not opposed to “markets” as such, because that would be tantamount to being against human economic activity of almost any kind -- as long as homo sapiens has existed, he has traded with others of his kind. Plus, I see a lot of laptops and smartphones being used and shared among the throngs of protesters, so I know they are not opposed to ...
October 17, 2011Conservatives who are enjoying a chuckle over the protesters occupying Wall Street (and an increasing number of public spaces across the country) would do well to hold their mockery and reflect on a few sobering facts:
- The post-industrial economy demands highly-specialized skills in order to fill ever-fewer highly specialized jobs.
- An entire generation has been raised by YouTube and Twitter to believe that their every thought and want is worthwhile, that they are born stars inherently deserving of wealth and success.
- Structural deficiencies “baked into the cake” of our socioeconomic fabric -- the entitlement state, a vast and expensive federal bureaucracy, punitive tax and regulatory policies -- have made it harder and harder for businesses to grow and create jobs, and thus harder and harder for the economy to grow.
These propositions add up to a...
October 13, 2011The Washington Times
In a recent address to a union rally in Ohio, Vice President Joseph R. Biden underscored the threat to organized labor posed by the wave of collective bargaining-reform legislation sweeping the country, spearheaded by governors like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Ohio’s John Kasich.
“This is a fight for the existence of organized labor,” said Mr. Biden. “You are the only ones who can stop the barbarians at the gate!”
Mr. Biden’s use of “barbarian” to describe politicians - of both parties - who have come to realize that...
August 8, 2011The Baltimore Sun
On July 10, three Chicago-area Alderwoods funeral homes were viciously vandalized. All were Dignity Memorial network facilities that had also been targeted for a strike by local Teamsters.
Teamsters Local 727, which represents 16 Alderwoods embalmers, drivers and funeral directors, had been negotiating with the company that owns the homes after their labor contract expired June 30. The union complained that the other side had bargained in bad faith and had "…proposed a three-year wage freeze and a company health care package that is more expensive and less comprehensive than the union's health and welfare benefits," reports the Chicago Sun-Times. And so the Teamsters...
June 13, 2011The Examiner
With an unemployment rate of 9.8 percent, South Carolina is in dire economic straits, and so in desperate need of the 1,000 jobs created by the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner assembly plant in North Charleston.
Unfortunately, in April, the Obama administration's National Labor Relations Board decided that Boeing's decision to open the Charleston plant was an unlawful retaliation against the company's unionized work force in Washington State.
Boeing's decision to relocate some Dreamliner production (the Washington facility will remain open) was driven by the Washington machinists unions' propensity to strike, a propensity that has cost Boeing a fortune -- one 39-day strike in 2008 cost the company an estimated $2 billion.
Read more at the Washington Examiner: ...
June 3, 2011Pajamas Media
Americans are accustomed to thinking of themselves as the freest people on Earth. Except that according to the Heritage Foundation’s 2011 Index of Economic Freedom, the United States stands at a dismal 9th in international rankings for economic liberty, embarrassingly behind social democracies like New Zealand (4th) and Canada (6th) and well behind Asian powerhouses Hong Kong and Singapore (first and second, respectively).
It is safe to say that these depressing stats would come as no surprise to the higher-ups at Boeing, who had the temerity to act as if they were a private company operating in a free market when they decided to relocate the company’s 787 Dreamliner assembly from Washington state to a new production facility in South Carolina.This new relationship was poised to be mutually beneficial — South Carolina would...
May 19, 2011Pajamas Media
Americans have a lover’s faith in technology. And no wonder: for much of American history, technological innovation has lifted millions out of poverty, giving birth to new industries that require vast armies of workers.
True, many businesses have fallen by the wayside in the process, but those job losses were usually compensated by the opportunities created by new industries. The buggy whip business was devastated by the automobile, but car companies required many times more workers than the buggy shops, so this “creative destruction” was a net positive for the economy. Railways, the telephone, refrigeration, and air travel are only some of the technological advances that drove median household incomes and national GDP steadily upward for generations.
In his penetrating new book The Great...