George Sarant

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Archive for October 2010

NPR NUTTINESS BUT…

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I’ve been watching the world go by for the past week, and a recurring theme has been the nuttiness at NPR that has resulted in the firing of Juan Williams for remarks deemed insensitive to Moslems. Juan Williams is hardly a right-winger, and is generally perceived to be a fair-minded commentator. I found this whole situation to be hysterical, particularly in terms of what is says about how NPR pretentiously perceives itself. So Juan Williams has a gig at Fox News, and um, NPR. How that ought to come down and did is a no-brainer, even though many affiliate stations were very unhappy about this.

Notwithstanding that I am about as friendly to NPR as anyone can be, largely because the stations are just about the only source available for classical music and programs like Music from the Hearts of Space. I even go to fundraisers for my local station, although I could certainly live without the rest of NPR. But even then I recall one time hearing an interview with Jacques Barzun discussing his epic masterpiece on Western civilization (From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life 1500 to the Present). I don’t know where else that kind of thing can be found. To me it is more disconcerting that intellectually stimulating material falls into such a narrow band and gets mixed up with “progressivism.” Overall, as far as content goes, NPR does cover things that no one else does, and does a reasonably good job of it. It is only the political slant that sometimes enters that diminishes it, as with the firing of Juan Williams. Lurking behind all of this may be the influence of the evil currency speculator George Soros, who recently gave a large donation to NPR.

However, leaving ideology aside, I don’t believe that taxpayers should have to fund this network. I find some value in it so I provide support. I don’t expect that everyone else should have to. It really isn’t a function of government. Meanwhile the only result of this is that Juan Williams will go on to bigger and better things.

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Written by georgesarant

October 28, 2010 at 3:55 PM

Posted in Politics

THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM

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The federal reserve apparently believes there is not enough inflation and they would like to get it above 2% to 3% or 4%. This would be done by printing money and buying government bonds. The administration’s economists want a weaker dollar to encourage exports. Of course other countries feel the same way andwant their currencies to depreciate for the same reason, and all want the Chinese yuan to rise, presumably to slow down their export machine. But it is the height of irresponsibility for the country with the world’s reserve currency to manipulate its currency rather providing a predictable and stable store of value. Furthermore all this does is make all of us poorer. It is obvious that if you have something of value, if it is worth less it is in fact worth less. That means the dollars you have buy less.

We are seeing commodity prices escalating upward as a result, for everything from the corn and soybeans that are vital to the food chain, to oil, to gold. This means higher gas prices, as well as higher food prices. That certainly looks like inflation that people can ill afford. Seared in my memory is the misery of the Carter years with double-digit inflation worthy of a banana republic, with instability and sky high interest rates. That won’t exactly prop up the housing market. Runaway inflation is inevitable down the road unless we stop printing money, slash government spending and begin reducing debt instead of increasing it. To get economic growth to resume we need to assure a stable business climate, reduce regulations and red tape, and cut taxes to encourage new investment, which is the only way to create jobs. What we have now is a climate of uncertainty to the point where, incredibly, we don’t know what our taxes are going to be next year due to an irresponsible congress that has failed to pass any legislation.

It is ridiculous to blame the Chinese for this, when it is all of our own doing. Consider our deal with China. They sell us really cheap stuff, which goes into the hands of people who could otherwise not afford it. What do they get from us? A lot of paper debt that is worth less each day. If Chinese goods cost more the people most hurt are those with the least amount of resources. Much of these goods are the products of American companies. For example, Apple designs everything here but builds it in China. Trade is a net plus for this country in terms of job creation, and clearly in terms of prices. We have a trade deficit because Americans save too little and spend too much. But rather than encouraging savings the government is penalizing the thrifty with miserably low returns on savings accounts due to the easy money policy.

We need a strong and stable dollar to assure that we remain the world’s foremost economic power. Instead of racing for the bottom we should be reaching for the top. None of these inflationary policies and wasteful government spending are going to create jobs. The only way that that will happen is with a positive business environment and taxation that encourages, rather than discourages investment. Unless current policies are changed we will continue to be victims of a no-growth environment.

Written by georgesarant

October 16, 2010 at 2:08 AM

THE CAPITAL STRIKE

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There are literally trillions of dollars sitting on the sidelines in corporate treasuries and private accounts because of continuing uncertainty about taxes and the economy. The congress adjourned without passing any tax legislation in lieu of the expiring Bush tax cuts, leaving everything up in the air. As a result new investment in the U.S. is suffering. New investment is the only way jobs are created and without it the economy is going to continue to stumble along with little growth and unemployment near 10%. As a result the U.S. has actually fallen behind Brazil, China, and India as the best place to invest.

This is a “no confidence” vote on the part of people in a position to invest in the current government if ever there was one as a result of its anti-business policies. I have no great love for the wealthy. A majority of them voted for Obama, and in one sense should get what they deserve in terms of taxes. Unfortunately there is no way to tax the liberals without hurting everyone else. I also don’t understand their obsession with money above everything else in life, because you can’t take it with you. However, in simple terms it is a question of who gets control of the money. The left views money as something that is theirs to redistribute rather than the property of its owners, but then the left has never understood economics. The issue is simply who gets to allocate the money- those who own it, or the government. As Margaret Thatcher once said, “the trouble with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.”

Those who possess wealth can do one of three things with it- spend it, invest it, or keep it on the sidelines or in some nonproductive asset like gold. Suppose they spend it on luxuries like yachts. Some might disapprove of conspicuous consumption but the reality is that someone has to build that yacht and workers get paid for doing so. Someone has to supply the company building the yacht, which helps small business. Spending money then is actually a transfer to other people directly or indirectly. If instead they invest it, they take some risk for reward, but in the process create jobs, new business, and economic growth.

The alternative is for the government to tax and spend it through punitive taxes. But the government is notoriously inefficient and incompetent at most things it attempts to do. It is the grand conceit of the elites of the left that they somehow “know better” than other people how to run things, and therefore should be given control of their resources in order to achieve “social justice.” As we are seeing now, what they don’t achieve is economic growth and full employment. We have a clear example of this ideology in the government’s “stimulus,” which has stimulated nothing but more government.

Unless people know that there is a stable, predictable environment friendly to business they will sit on their hands, as it doesn’t pay to invest or even to work that hard if the government is going to tax away most of what they earn. The United States always had a reputation for being a free, stable, and welcoming environment providing opportunity for anyone willing to work, save and invest. That has been seriously damaged by this administration, and as long is its policies persist there will be continued high unemployment and low growth as the capital strike continues.

Written by georgesarant

October 2, 2010 at 8:57 PM

Posted in economy, government