Monday, February 27, 2012

Santorum's church

On This Week yesterday, Rick Santorum said "I don't believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute." With complete conviction, he went on to say "the idea that the church can have no influence, no involvement, in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our" nation. I challenge Santorum to show America where these objectives and vision are documented -- he, of course, could not.

But even were I to concede that the vision of our nation is that the church have influence and involvement in the operation of the state, I'm sure it would be easy to convince him to oppose that vision. All that would have to happen is to make the church with the influence and involvement the Church of Latter-day Saints. Suddenly Santorum would believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. And I'm not saying that Santorum opposes Mormons in particular -- he would oppose the influence and involvement of Islam or Judaism in the operation of the state just as much.

Santorum's position that church and state should not be separate is based on the presumption that the church with the influence and involvement is Christianity. If he were to win the GOP nomination, Santorum would have a hard time getting the vote of Americans of other faiths -- or of no faith at all.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Endangered species

Normally I'm a proponent of scientific advancement but, when I read about a new breeding program aimed at keeping moderate Republicans from going extinct, I was skeptical. It'll probably work out okay in captivity but they'll never be widespread in the wild. The far-right subgenus will eat the moderates alive. And with their aversion to contraception, they'll crowd the moderates out of the population by their advanced reproductive rate. Even if they didn't crowd them out, the far-right could easily drown out the moderate voice with their constant howling over non-existent threats. I'm afraid the moderate conservatives will only thrive in the confines of a column in the Gray Lady (e.g. David Brooks) or the far northeast territory (e.g. Susan Collins).

Not how to create jobs

I was watching a guest on the Nightly Business Report tonight speak about employment not increasing in America the last couple years. He went on to say that the way to increase employment is to make it easy for job creators to get credit and to reduce regulation. You would think that being a business show, the guest would not be so wrong.

Let's break this claim down to see how wrong it is, starting with the idea that extending credit to employers would make them hire more employees. It's possible that it would in some economic environments but not in this one. Right now, businesses are flush with cash, so credit is not what they need. If they really wanted to hire employees, they would just dip into their retained earnings. But they're not because there's not enough demand to make businesses confident about hiring. And the businesses that do need credit don't have retained earnings for the same reason -- there's insufficient demand for their products. So extending credit to them would not make them hire more employees either.

Reducing regulation isn't going to create jobs either, and for pretty much the same reason -- reducing regulation doesn't have any impact on demand. It might make it easier for a company to operate or make more profit but that's not why businesses hire more employees. They hire more employees because sales are going up and they need more staff to make more widgets or provide more service. Again, regulation does not fit into that equation but, again, demand does.

So, even though the guest was on a business show, he was wrong -- making it easy for job creators to get credit and reducing regulation is not how to create jobs. To increase employment, there needs to be an increase in demand, which is accomplished by stimulus in this economic environment.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Conservative moniker

I've been watching the GOP presidential hopefuls falling all over themselves to be more "conservative" than the next, as if being "the" Conservative is a badge of honor. The irony is that, much as those GOP hopefuls use the term "liberal" derisively, the term "conservative" has a negative connotation to me. It has nothing to do with conservative values -- I share conservative values on a number of issues myself. The reason I cringe when someone claims to be a Conservative is because hypocrisy, fallacy, and hyperbole seem to run rampant in that crowd. I recognize that the same traits can be found among liberals but it's the exception more than the rule, whereas they seem to be ubiquitous on The Right. Sadly, it appears that hypocrisy, fallacy, and hyperbole are very effective at swaying public opinion.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Newt-land: the mirror image of reality

Newt Gingrich was on the stump today and I saw an excerpt of his speech. He was echoing the same claims he has been making for months now. He was essentially telling the crowd that President Barack Obama has:
  • raised taxes
  • increased regulation
  • is anti-American energy
  • wages class warfare
Of course, the crowd probably believed every one of these claims, even though they are all blatant lies.

In fact, Obama has ratified every extension of tax rates brought to his desk on taxes that would have otherwise increased according to law from before he was in office. He requested authority to consolidate federal agencies, which reduces regulation, and has consistently stated support for eliminating obsolete regulations that unnecessarily stifle business. His official energy policy is to develop more energy here at home and reduce our dependency on foreign oil. And he's bailed out bankers and forced millions of Americans to buy health insurance from private corporations, which heavily favors the wealthy.

Basically, Newt is 180-degrees wrong on every count.