Monday, August 31, 2009

What's in a Name?

What's happened to all the left wing Liberals in the U.S.of A? It seems that they've recently morphed into Progressives. Does this mean that we should start calling right wing Conservatives "Regressives"? Does this move suddenly render the "L-word" obsolete?

This shift in nomenclature reminds me of the situation several years ago when it became unclear how white people were to refer to their non-white American brethren. Starting with Negro, the appellation shifted from "Colored People" to "Blacks" to "People of Color" and then settled into the new politically correct name "African-Americans". The NAACP apparently said the heck with this. They have remained the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. If they want to be taken seriously, shouldn't they have to get on the bandwagon and become NAAAAP? Besides, all those"A"s look pretty impressive.

The hyphenation trend has opened up the opportunity for a veritable plethora of newly hyphenated Americans, including "Asian-Americans", "Italian-Americans", "Irish-Americans", "Plump-Americans", "Kinda Skinny-Americans", ad nauseum. By the way, why exactly did "Orientals" become "Asians"? The Orient sounds far more exotic than Asia.

Using hyphens is probably less confusing than the color codes that were becoming the norm. For example, left wingers were called "Commie Pinkos" when I was a kid. This political bloc instead now comes from "Blue" states. The right wingers now emanate from "Red" states. This is really mind boggling since the Communists used to be called "Reds". Blue Dogs are a new group that has emerged from the political womb. They are called "Blue" because they come from Blue states. Why they are called "Dogs" is beyond me.

Right wing and left wing politics seem to be ingrained in our nomenclature. According to "Ask Yahoo",..."these terms come from pre-revolutionary France... Inside the chamber where the National Assembly met, members of the Third Estate sat on the left side and members of the First Estate sat on the right. The Third Estate consisted of revolutionaries, while the First Estate were nobles. Thus, the left wing of the room was more liberal, and the right wing was more conservative."

All this leaves me pretty unsettled. For example, does our goverment expect me to see red if the level of risk of terror attack is orange?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Clunker of a Program

Have you gotten your $4500 Cash for Clunkers rebate from the government yet? I bet you haven't.


Because you probably didn't buy a gas guzzler that qualifies. So how does it make you feel to know that you and the rest of your fellow taxpayers are subsidizing people who made the bad decision to buy one of those Clunkers. If you're like me, you think it's a blatant rip off.

Some of the defenders of this program tout the improved national fleet mileage and resulting reduction in gasoline and green house gas emissions. But even under the most optimistic assumptions, the impact is truly negligible, about the same as what the U.S. burns every 22 seconds. And this is at a cost to the taxpayers that is about seven times what "Cap and Trade" carbon permits trade for in Europe.

Proponents of this giveaway also cite the great public response to the program which is jump-starting the sales of new cars.

Sure. People will gladly accept a $4500 gift.

Auto sales that were postponed while this program was being debated and those which were planned for the future are being consummated now, making it pretty likely that sales will drop once the program expires. Additionally, there are a bunch of negative effects. One, for example, is the impact it's having on the car repair and aftermarket parts industries, which are being badly hurt by the decision to scrap the clunker cars instead of repairing them.

This program is just one more example of the government picking winners and losers. While advocates of more government intervention tout how programs like this and other "stimulants" are enhancing the economy, to me it's just the government distorting the free enterprise system.

Whether it's Cash for Clunkers, subsidies for underwater mortgage holders or any of the other government interventions implemented recently, the negative impacts often outweigh the positives.

Also, let's be real. There's no free lunch. Somebody has to pay for all this massive spending. That somebody is us, our grandchildren, or even better, now that I think about it, China.