The New “Misery Index”

Remember the Misery Index?   The simple formula – unemployment percent plus inflation percent – was created by an LBJ advisor and used for a while as a campaign tool.  Jimmy Carter set the record of 21.98, in June of 1980.  I remember those days – we were forced to turn down our thermostats and wear sweaters, drive roller-skate cars made of tin foil and wait in line for rationed gas, and pay 18% interest on our mortgages.   For you youngsters: no I’m not being sarcastic – it’s the truth.

The Misery Index was rendered useless in more recent times when the Federal Reserve decided to artificially hold interest rates to zero to hide the extent of our economic crisis.

US Economic Freedom Index

But there still is an indicator of how well our nation is doing for its citizens, and it compares us to other countries: the Economic Freedom Index.  It’s a broader measurement of each nation’s citizens’ well-being, measuring such things as property rights, freedom from corruption, limited government, regulatory efficiency, and open markets.  The aggregate is an indicator of how easy, or difficult, it is to do business and make a living.

While other nations move up the scale, in the last few years the United States has slid down.  Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous state of communist China, has moved up to number one.  Singapore, Australia and New Zealand follow close behind.  Canada is number six. Norway, the darling nation of liberals, is number 40.

According to the Heritage Foundation:

The United States’ economic freedom score of 76.3 drops it to 10th place in the 2012 Index. Its score is 1.5 points lower than last year, reflecting deteriorating scores for government spending, freedom from corruption, and investment freedom.

What would it take to get us back in the leadership position we were accustomed to?

Restoring the U.S. economy to the status of a “free” economy will require significant policy changes to reduce the size of government, overhaul the tax system, and transform costly entitlement programs. By boosting growth in the private sector, such freedom-enhancing policies are the best hope for bringing down high unemployment rates and reducing public debt to manageable levels.

Seems to me that’s what Romney and the conservatives are proposing. The other guys? Well, they would like us down there with Norway. Or Uganda. It would be more fair that way.

If the Misery Index made us cry in the Carter years, our declining  Economic Freedom Index under Obama should have us reaching for a XXL hanky.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Take a minute for this fun clip –
a 60’s garage band classic:

And when the sun comes up
I’ll be on top
You’ll be way down there
Lookin’ up
Cryin’

96 Tears – Question Mark and the Mysterions

Crony Capitalism At Its Ugliest

Eric Clapton with Gibson Les Paul guitar

Is it any wonder American businesses are afraid to open their doors in the reign of King Obama?

Today Gibson Guitar’s CEO Henry Juszkiewicz announced that the company has settled with the Dept. of Justice, who ruled last year that Gibson had violated the Lacey Act by importing unfinished rosewood for guitar fingerboards from India and Madagascar.

It was clearly another case of “picking winners and losers”, the Obama administration’s favorite political tool – used to bludgeon opponents and reward cronies and contributors.

You see, most guitar fretboards are made with imported rosewood.  Guitar manufacturers often buy fretboards which have been manufactured in India, and the Indian government is grateful for the business (memo to Obama – most nations appreciate the chance to employ their citizens).  In fact Martin Guitars imports the very same rosewood for its guitars, from the same suppliers that Gibson does.  If this is a crime (which it has not been proven to be), it certainly is a victimless one.

Gibson plants were raided by armed federal agents, who confiscated $1 million worth of rosewood inventory.  They were shut down for a time, and now the company has been extorted for a $300,000 fine and a $50,000 “contribution” to the US National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Martin’s use of the same rosewood has never been questioned.

Oh, did I mention that Gibson’s CEO Juszkiewicz is a Republican supporter, while Martin’s CEO, Chris Martin, is a long-time donor to the Democrat party?

We have always been taught that there was a presumption of innocence in this country, and an opportunity for defense and redress if we have been wrongfully charged.  Unfortunately in today’s world where government agencies and czars rule with impunity, that’s no longer the case.  A bureaucrat can be judge, jury and executioner.

“We’re in this really incredible situation. We have been implicated in wrongdoing and we haven’t been charged with anything,” Juszkiewicz said. “Our business has been injured to millions of dollars. And we don’t even have a court we can go to and say, ‘Look, here’s our position.”

Due process be damned, this is politics.

The “picking winners and losers” tactic has worked so well on the national level that our Montana Democrat administration has taken the page from the Obama playbook.  Stay tuned as that story develops.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

I don’t know how someone controlled you
They bought and sold you.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps – George Harrison
(guitar solo by Eric Clapton on a GIBSON LES PAUL )

The Government Sucks – So We, the People, Have to Step Up

Today’s bad news: our economy added only 80,000 jobs in June – while another 85,000 workers dropped out of the labor force to join the ranks of the disabled.  As fewer people can find or keep jobs, our federal government continues to take former workers onto the “dole” to artificially hide the true unemployment rate.

Our President’s reaction?  “It’s still Bush’s fault”, and “We need more government union workers who will vote for me (teachers and firemen)”, and “Things are not all that bad”, and “There are no quick fixes”.  Not exactly inspirational, is it?

By the way, when did you agree to have your federal tax dollars spent on more firemen for the city of El Paso?

And when did your local school board decide that your federal tax dollars should pay for “hundreds of thousands more teachers”?

Punch after punch, the federal assault on citizens continues.  It’s enough to drive one to depression or drink, or both.  Unless . . .

Unless we conservatives can make ourselves so strong individually and collectively that we can fight and win the daily battles in our city, state and federal government offices – and strong enough to educate and convince our misguided or disengaged brethren to vote correctly this fall.

When times are tough I take comfort in something I learned a long time ago, when I joined a bunch of young friends in a civic group called Optimists, Intl.   Even the first line is enough to bring you out of your funk:  “Promise yourself to be so strong . . . ”

The Optimist Creed

Promise Yourself …
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

Sounds kind of “Reagan-esque”, doesn’t it?

Tom Balek, Rockin’ On the Right Side

Give me a job, give me security
Give me a chance to survive
I’m just a poor soul in the unemployment line
My God, I’m hardly alive

“Blue Collar Man” – Styx