Americanly Yours

Promoting Free Markets, Free Trade, and Freedom!

President Obama’s First Year: Failure As Far As The Eye Can See

January 26, 2010 By: Phred Category: Uncategorized

The phrase “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” works for Presidents too.  President Obama’s first year in office has been marked by failure after failure.  His only remarkable legislative success, last year’s “stimulus” bill is itself a failure.  But just how has the  first year of Mr. Obama’s Presidency been a failure?  Lets take a brief look:


The economy continues to deteriorate under President Obama’s leadership. When President Obama pitched the “stimulus” bill to the skeptical American public, we were told that if this “crucial” bill was not passed soon (ie, before Congress had ample time to read the bill) then the economy would face devastating consequences.  This was of course a well calculated and bold faced LIE.  The fact of the matter is that the majority of the spending in the “urgent stimulus” bill were not going to be spent for over a year.  We were warned by the Administration that failure to pass the bill would cause unemployment to skyrocket and could cause it to reach as high as 9%, but passing the bill would keep unemployment from raising above 8% (see this chart put out by the Obama Administration to urge support for the “stimulus”).  So, we passed the bill and despite (or because of) this, the official unemployment rate surged past 9% and currently sits at 10%.  Of course, the 10% figure is a lie as well.  Previous administrations changed the way that the unemployment rate was measured in order to disguise how bad things really were.  This U-6 unemployment figure is still reported by the government, however, the government now uses U-3 as the official unemployment number.  While U-3 unemployment is 10%, U-6 unemployment is 17.3%.  This figure was 13.5% one year ago.  Simply put, things are bad.  But, government data collection is shady and should not be trusted as definitive.  Shadow Government Statistics, a private data collection/analysis website places unemployment at over 22%!

Ben Bernanke failed to see the impending collapse even shortly before the economy tanked.  While a candidate for President, Mr. Obama repeatedly criticized the economic policies of the Bush Administration.  By choosing to reappoint Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, President Obama was giving his tacit approval to the policies of the Bush Administration.

The administration has also increased the national debt to dangerous levels.  The US is now in serious risk of having its credit rating downgraded.  Any hopes of an economic recovery would be shattered if this were to happen.

Foreign Policy:

Candidate Obama repeatedly attacked the Bush Administration on three fronts: the economy, the wars, and foreign relations.  President Obama has failed to correct the errors of the Bush Administration on any of these areas.  As mentioned above, President Obama has continued the “stimulus” and bailout policies initiated by President Bush.  His reappointment of President Bush’s Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke confirms the fact that President Obama’s economic policies are not notably different than those of President Bush.

The second area where candidate Obama frequently attacked the Bush Administration was his handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Mr. Obama criticized President Bush’s Iraqi surge, falsely claiming that it was not a success.  If I were a candidate who ran on a platform of change and who repeatedly criticized the previous administration’s military policies, I surely would not have allowed the previous President’s Defense Secretary to continue serving.  Furthermore, if I had attacked the former President’s Iraqi surge strategy, I would not have employed a similar strategy in Afghanistan.  However, President Obama has done both of these things.  He kept Defense Secretary Robert Gates in his position, and he has sent an additional 68,000 troops to Afghanistan since taking office (many of those troops were sent in the weeks following the President’s claiming of the Nobel Peace Prize).

Candidate Obama promised to have all of the combat troops out of Iraq within 18 months after taking office.  That leaves him less than six months to remove over 100 thousand troops from Iraq.  Id put the chances of this happening right at zero.  More likely, President Obama will declare that the troops in Iraq are no longer combat troops (despite the fact that they will almost surely be engaging in combat).

President Obama missed a historic opportunity to improve relations with Cuba.  Since taking over, Raul Castro has introduced many positive reforms, introducing notions of private property, increasing wages for productive workers, and allowing Cubans to take advantage of certain technologies.  Raul Castro’s Cuba still has a very long way to go, but any movement in the right direction should be seen as positive.  Candidate Obama pledged to improve relations with Cuba.  Instead, President Obama has continued to support the same policies towards Cuba which have failed for the past 48 years.  Of course, this si just one example of this administration’s failed foreign policy.

Candidate Obama pledged to repair our strained relations with foreign nations.  President Obama has failed at this as well.  He has been publicly scolded by Russia’s Putin, Israel’s Netanyahu, France’s Sarkozy, and other allies.  In fact, I would argue that our foreign relations have not noticably improved with a single foreign nation since President Obama’s inauguration.


President Obama has almost completely failed in his efforts to push his agenda during his first year.

Remember, this President was the candidate who vigorously campaigned on a platform of “change.”  There have been few noticeable changes in the previous year.

With sizable majorities in Congress and a public eager for change, President Obama should have had a relatively easy time pushing through at least some major parts of his agenda.  The only major bill that President Obama was able to push through Congress during his first year in office was the “stimulus bill.”  This was a bill which was passed by using intimidation, threats, fuzzy math, erroneous estimates, and down right lies.  The “stimulus” bill was a costly mistake that did little if anything to stimulate the economy but will cost taxpayers around $1 trillion when the time comes to repay the costs of financing this bill.

Congressional Democrats pushed various health care reform bills for well over 6 months.  During this time, President Obama showed almost zero leadership on this issue, basically promising to sign any bill that came out of Congress.

Had President Obama taken a leadership role and urged Congress to pass a series of smaller health care reforms instead of trying to push a sweeping bill down the throats of an adamantly opposed American public, he could have signed several of these reforms months ago and moved onto other pressing issues.  Instead, Democrats wasted the better part of a year, alienated a large portion of American voters, and came up empty handed.  Democrats might now adopt the strategy of pushing through smaller, incremental reforms, although it could even be too late for that approach.

Opponents of government controlled health care can thank President Obama’s complete lack of management abilities for preventing the nationalization of health care that seemed to be a foregone conclusion several months ago.

The President’s inability to lead has also prevented the passing of cap and trade and several other government intrusions into the lives of individuals.  He has placed his coalition in danger time after time, and now seriously risks losing the House of Representatives in November.  Things also look increasingly likely that the Senate may be in play in November as well.  More ont his in a future article, but it is beginning to look very likely that Democrats will lose President Obama’s former Senate seat, Vice President Biden’s former Senate seat, Harry Reid’s Seat, and possibly Hillary Clinton’s seat.  This would have been unthinkable only one year ago, but then again so would a Republican winning Ted Kennedy’s former Senate seat.  President Obama has alienated Democratic voters to a degree that even the most optimistic Republican would have thought to be impossible a year ago.

President Obama should follow the lead of Domino’s Pizza: soak in and address the valid criticisms, revamp his “product,” and use his rhetorical skills to sell his new image to the public.  Failure to do so can only lead to a changing of the guard in the 2012 Presidential election.

Americanly Yours,

Phred Barnet

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The Economy Is Recovering–Time To Repeal The “Stimulus”

March 25, 2009 By: Phred Category: Uncategorized

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed by over 1,000 points in the past two weeks.  Durable goods orders are up.  Housing starts as well as houses sold are up.

Typically, when the market hits a bottom and then starts to rebound, the recession will end in six months.  Of course, this is not a “typical” recession and past historical trends are never a guarantee of future results.

Yet, combine the recent rise in the stock market with the other factors that I mentioned above, and I think we have good reason to be optimistic that recovery is now under way.

This doesnt mean that we are out of the woods yet, or that things are going to magically get better over night.  In fact, the economy will probably shed another 1-2 million jobs or more before it begins adding them.  Still, the economy is fixing itself.

This is what recessions and recoveries have looked like since World War II (notice how our current one is not nearly happening as quickly, no as bad as most other recessions):joblossespostwarii_annotate

This is occurring despite government intervention, not because of it.  Markets are very powerful and they will always find a way to bounce back.

The massive “stimulus” bill passed by Congress last month was $787,000,000,000 [$787 billion] in size.  Very little of this money has been spent so far, and in fact the vast majority of this money is to be spent in 2010 and beyond (23% of the money will be spent in 2009 and 51% in 2010).  This bill is very costly and is being financed completely with debt that Americans will have to pay back in the future–with interest.

Members of Congress had only 10 hours to read the final bill before they were required to vote on the bill which was over 1,000 pages in length.This bill was passed by Congress urgently under the assumption that it was necessary that the bill be passed quickly.  I still dont understand why such urgency was required for a spending bill that wasnt going to spend most of its money for until the following year.

Well, now the economy is beginning to recover–before the “stimulus” has been spent.  As I have written several times before, both the CBO and the Federal Reserve are now saying that the recession will be over in late 2009 or early 2010 at the latest.  Even if their “latest” estimate is correct, the recession will have ended before the vast majority of the “stimulus” money is spent.  Because this bill is so costly, and because there is no need for an economic stimulus in a growing economy (which the experts say we will have by this time next year), I urge Congress to repeal the “stimulus” bill.

If the bill is not repealed, then Congress is in effect forcing the American people to borrow money to buy something costly that we dont need.  The economy will recover with or without the “stimulus” bill.  The difference is that if we allow it to recover without the costly bill, our future will not be [as] burdened by debt.

Americanly Yours,

Phred Barnet

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You Can’t Ignore Numbers

February 20, 2009 By: Phred Category: Uncategorized

A year ago, America was completely different than it is now.  In the last year, the government has nationalized the banking industry, taken over the worlds largest insurer (wasting well over $100 billion in the process), and taken control of two iconic car companies.  Last week, Congress agreed to a plan that will cost nearly $800 billion.  Between actions by Congress and the Obama administration, as much as $3 trillion was pledged to government bailouts last week! This amounts to 21.7% of American GDP (US GDP is 13.7 trillion).  This new spending is more than government’s entire 2008 budget of just under $3 trillion.  Every penny of this money is being financed with debt.  This will raise the size of the national debt substantially.  Our national debt currently stands at roughly $10.7 trillion.  If we add another $3 trillion to the debt, our debt will increase by 28% and will be roughly equal to our GDP!

Of course, even Mr. Obama has admitted that there is no guarantee that these plans will work.  Even more interesting, he has said that these plans will have little effect before 2010.  This is particularly interesting because the non-partisan CBO recently estimated that the recession will supposedly be over in mid 2009 even if these “stimulus” plans werent passed, meaning that Mr. Obama’s plans wouldnt even begin working until after the economy has already started to heal itself.

But, lets pretend that Mr. Obama’s boldest predictions are correct and that this plan will create 4 million new jobs (although he says it will create or save 3-4 million jobs).  Let us also assume that each of these jobs is a high paying job of $100,000 a year and that these jobs are permanent jobs that will never go away in the future, regardless of future circumstances.  According to both H&R Block’s tax calculator and the Heritage Foundation’s much simpler tax calculator, a single person earning $100,000 pays $19,472 in Federal taxes.  So, the 4 million jobs that we are pretending this plan will create will return $77.888 billion in taxes per year to the federal government.  Excluding any interest (which will likely be a hefty sum and will go countries like China), it will take the government about 35.5 years to recoup the money!

If, however, this plan still creates 4 million jobs but these jobs pay $50,000 per year instead of $100,000, the government will collect $6,606 in taxes per person totaling $26.424 billion in taxes per year.   Under these circumstances, it will take the government 113.5 years to recoup the money!

However, I made a little Excel spreadsheet assuming that the government would have to pay 3% interest on these new loans.  This is a generous assumption, considering that the average rate on treasury bills has been much higher.  I used both of the above jobs assumptions in my calculations and found that the government will actually never be able to recoup this money if interest is factored in! Check it out for yourself.

Americanly Yours,

Phred Barnet

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Property Taxes

January 26, 2009 By: americanlyyours Category: Uncategorized

I received my property tax bill the other day and noticed a substantial increase.  I think that property taxes are entirely inappropriate and should be abolished for several simple and logical reasons.

If you buy a house or some land, you become the owner of that property.

When the government charges a property owner a property tax, they are essentially charging the owner to use property that he already owns.  To me, at least, this idea is completely baffling.  I could not imagine how vocal the opposition would be if the government began assessing a 5% annual tax on the value of your jewelery or your ipod.  Why then should the government be allowed to charge you money to live in a house that you have already purchased?

The government does this because it has a captive audience, meaning that most of us cannot simply pick up and move our property to another county.  They also claim that in exchange for the increases, you will be given a better standard of living—new roads, better schools, and more parks.  I’m not even going to address the fallacy of these claims now.

The main problem now is that the government is raising property taxes at a time when foreclosures are growing and the unemployment rate is surging higher.  Simply put, people are hurting for money and they are afraid of losing their jobs.  This is the wrong time for the government to raise property taxes on its citizens.

You might be saying that you dont own your home, and therefore the increases in property taxes do not affect you.  However, you are wrong.  If you rent your home or apartment, the owner of the property still has to pay property taxes to the government.  Any increases in his property taxes will likely lead to increases in your rent.  Homeowners arent the only people who are required to pay property taxes.  Businesses also pay them.  When property taxes on businesses increase, so does the cost of goods and services produced by the businesses.  Even worse, these increased costs on businesses could cause companies to cut down on their employees’ hours, or even cause the businesses to fire some workers.
Property taxes are immoral because they result in the government charging you a fee to use something which you have already purchased.  When the government charges a property tax, they are essentially saying that even though you have already bought the land, the government still considers it to be their land, and they reserve the right to charge you to use it.  In fact, you could argue that property taxes are nothing more than the government charging you rent to use your own property.

Besides this, property taxes are not fair to older Americans.  Retired Americans who are earning a fixed income from Social Security or their corporate pension already have to deal with inflation in the costs of everyday goods.  It is unfair for them to also have to continue to pay taxes on something that they may have purchased decades ago.

Americanly Yours,

Phred Barnet

Inaugural Speech

January 21, 2009 By: Phred Category: Uncategorized

I worked all day long on this blog yesterday, stopping only to watch President Obama’s inauguration, and to eat some Chicken Wings. Thank you to Chris Cassimus for helping me with all of my WordPress problems.

I thought the speech was pretty good—say what you want about President Obama, but he is a great speaker. I thought that he had some nice, positive things to say about our Nation, and I especially liked the point he made about how great it is that a man whose father would not have been allowed to eat at a local restaurant 60 years ago has now become President. The American Dream is not dead!

I did, however, have problems with some of the things that Mr. Obama said. I have copied parts of the text of his speech and placed the in italics with my criticism of them below.

“On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.”

I thought these sentences were completely inappropriate. For one, the way Mr. Obama described putting “hope over fear” makes his sound like a sore winner. I voted for Senator McCain, but I did not vote for “fear.” That was a ridiculous statement by President Obama which serves no purpose other then to reopen old wounds. I didnt vote for fear, I voted for free trade, free markets, economic freedom, experience, strength, and leadership. Obama did not need to say that.

On a side note, I have a friend (who will remain nameless here) who has an awful habit of changing his views to agree with whatever the candidate he supports says, even going so far as to copy the rhetoric of those who he supports. I have seen him do so for years and he did this quite a bit during the election. Well, he has already reminded me (in all seriousness on his part) that I “voted for candidates who preach fear.”

The final sentence of the above paragraph is troubling to me. Does Mr. Obama really believe that his election has put an end to politics? Does he think that there will be no political resistance to his lofty, overly expensive, and intrusive plans? He had better think again.

As far as false promises go, you can track these for yourself throughout Mr. Obama’s presidency. Here is a link to an Excel spreadsheet of the nearly 900 promises that Mr. Obama made during his campaign. Here is a webpage that tracks statements made by elected officials—kind of like for politics. They have created a user friendly table of nearly 500 of Obama’s campaign promises and his progress towards achieving them.  He is off to a great start so far.

“Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.”

The above statement is mostly true, but to me it provides another example of President Obama talking out of both sides of his mouth. He derides those who prefer leisure over work, yet he is calling for an extension of unemployment benefits so that unemployed workers can receive taxpayer money for doing nothing—probably the worst way to encourage hard work and employment. Bush already made a mistake by signing a bill extending unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 39 weeks, but Mr. Obama wants even this to be extended. If you disagree with my assertion that this is bad policy, think about Europe’s extended unemployment benefits and their constant double digit unemployment rates. President Obama celebrates “the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things,” yet he has plans to raise taxes on those very people. Raising taxes on risk takers (entrapreneurs) will not help our society create new innovations, and will surely not lead to the creation of the 4 plus million jobs that Mr. Obama has promised to create.

“What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works.”

Again, how can Mr. Obama believe that the day of political arguments and disagreements have ended. This is just not how things work in a Democracy. Sure, President Obama will enjoy a large majority for at least 2 years, this does not mean that we have reached the end of political arguments.

Our government is too big. This is clear, as is the fact that it is not working correctly. The proper role of the government is to protect its citizens from foreign invaders, to protect its citizens from violence brought on by other citizens, and to protect the citizens from fraud and abuse through the creation of an objective and fair legal system. These are the only duties and responsibilities of government. The government should not be providing, owning banks, making cars, placing priority on any one type of scientific innovation over another, “creating jobs,” or deciding what children should learn.

“Those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.”

Did those words really come from the mouth of a man whose inauguration cost 4 times more than what was previously the most expensive inauguration in the history of this Nation and who has promised trillions of dollars in new spending and programs when the Nation is broke?  My trust will be restored when the budget is balanced.

Americanly Yours,

Phred Barnet