“I smell a rat,” says Robert Wenzel, editor and publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.com.
The rodent whose odor Wenzel detects is the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which just issued a pair of reports assessing the U.S. economy and its financial sector. The Washington Post lists the major recommendations of the reports: “Cut Social Security. Ditch the deduction for interest on home mortgages. Tax gasoline.”
“Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of this year,” according to USA Today. “At the same time,” continues the paper, “government-provided benefits — from Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs — rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010.” This reflects, says USA Today, “a major shift in the source of personal income from private wages to government programs.”
As part of its Tribal Energy Program, the U.S. Department of Energy is providing $6.5 million to various American Indian tribes for “clean energy” projects — everything from solar and wind power to fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. This being government, however, the majority of the money will not be spent on actual projects but on studies to determine if projects are even feasible.
San Francisco, as even casual observers of the political scene know, is one of the most liberal cities in the country. Many of its citizens fear big business — but not big government — and speak lovingly of locally owned small businesses. Its Mayor, Edwin M. Lee, recently announced a $1.5-million fund to assist small businesses.
Central banks are often justified on the basis that a complex, modern economy requires top-down management by experts. These people, it is said, can study the markets and then “fine-tune” the economy to keep it humming along.
On the morning of August 3, 2011, armed agents of the U.S. government and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office conducted a raid on a small private club in southern California, seizing the substances being sold therein and arresting three individuals on felony charges. It was the second raid on the club in two years and the culmination of a yearlong investigation by 10 local, state, and federal agencies that, according to the Los Angeles Times, “used high-tech video equipment hidden on a utility pole for round-the-clock surveillance and undercover agents to make covert buys.”
If you’ve seen “Little Blue Dynamos” ads urging you to consume blueberries, you probably assumed they were simply the result of blueberry producers getting together to promote their product. In fact, they are the result of certain blueberry producers’ collusion with the federal government to force all blueberry growers and importers to fund such promotions under the threat of hefty fines for noncompliance.
Here’s a story that’ll tickle your McRibs. On December 1 a law seemingly banning McDonald’s Happy Meals went into effect in San Francisco. The “Healthy Meal Incentives Ordinance” prohibits restaurants from giving away toys with meals that do not meet with the city’s approval — namely, meals with too many calories, too much salt or fat, or insufficient fruits and vegetables. Just a few days before the ordinance took effect, SF Weekly reports, McDonald’s announced it had found a simple way around the statute: Charge customers extra for the toys.
“New Company Policy: We Are Not Hiring Until Obama Is Gone.” Those words are plastered across every truck owned by U.S. Cranes LLC of Waco, Georgia — not as a threat but as a recognition of the fact that, as owner Bill Looman told ABC News, “overregulation and the cost of complying with federal mandates has [sic] caused many of his customers to shut their doors.” As a result, he has been forced to lay off three of his nine employees.
With all the talk of budget cuts in Washington, the average American could be forgiven for thinking that federal spending is, in fact, being reduced. Certainly the chattering classes are pushing the notion hard, arguing that the dawning age of austerity is responsible for the nation’s slow-to-nonexistent economic recovery.