Saturday, March 31, 2012
Friday, March 30, 2012
CNBC: Author Claims Obama's War On Jobs and Growth a ‘Debacle’
CNBC has this discussion of my new book here:
GUEST AUTHOR BLOG: John R. Lott, Jr. Co-author of "Debacle: Obama's War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future."The recovery has been painfully slow, and Americans naturally look for the silver lining in new economic numbers. Yet, thirty-three months since the "recovery" officially started, and the unemployment rate still hasn’t fallen below 8.3 percent. Unfortunately, the recent “good news” on the drop in initial unemployment insurance claims and job number increases don’t mean what reporters think they mean. . . .
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Piece in Investors' Business Daily: Big Labor's Endorsement For Obama Is All About Repaying Favors
My piece starts this way:
This month the AFL-CIO "enthusiastically" endorsed Obama's re-election bid. No surprise there. No previous president has created anywhere near as large wealth transfers to unions.Obama's $825 billion stimulus package targeted union jobs. Then there was the $26 billion Public Sector Jobs Bill of 2010. And the Disaster Relief and the Summer Jobs Act of 2010 provided another $24 billion to specifically help teachers, police and firefighters.The stimulus required Davis-Bacon "prevailing wages and benefits" rules for contracts receiving any stimulus money. These rules typically force companies to pay union wages. . . .
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Washington Examiner piece: "Ask Canada -- gun registration won't make D.C. safer"
Friday, March 23, 2012
New Fox News piece: Where did stimulus money really go?
My newest piece starts this way:
When President Obama signed his economic stimulus plan into law on February 17, 2009, he promised it “includes help for those hardest hit by our economic crisis,” and “As a whole, this plan will help poor and working Americans.”
But the newest data on how the stimulus money was given out across the 50 states and the District of Columbia shows a perverse pattern: The states hardest hit by the recession received the least money. States with higher bankruptcy, foreclosure, and unemployment rates got less money. And lower-income states also received less.
Rather than helping out those in the toughest shape, it looks like Democrats ended up helping their supporters, including unions and many very wealthy supporters.
According to the Obama administration’s Recovery.gov, a total of $504 billion of federal contracts, grants, and loans to states and territories were awarded between February 17, 2009, and December 31, 2011. The amounts vary a lot across states, with the very lowest at $978 per capita in Virginia and the highest at $2,495 per capita in Alaska. The District of Columbia is the real winner at a whopping $7,603.
The transfers to the states having the least economic problems were large. The following relationships were statistically significant: . . .
Monday, March 19, 2012
Something to think about including if you want to explain the changes in the number of robberies over time
Using electronic payments won't only reduce bank robberies, it should also reduce street robberies. But as this article points out, you will see more cybercrime (so-called substitution effects). It isn't just for underground economies that people like cash. They also like it sometimes to protect their privacy. From CBS News:
The Swedish Bankers' Association says the shrinkage of the cash economy is already making an impact in crime statistics.
The number of bank robberies in Sweden plunged from 110 in 2008 to 16 in 2011 — the lowest level since it started keeping records 30 years ago. It says robberies of security transports are also down.
"Less cash in circulation makes things safer, both for the staff that handle cash, but also of course for the public," says Par Karlsson, a security expert at the organization.
The prevalence of electronic transactions — and the digital trail they generate — also helps explain why Sweden has less of a problem with graft than countries with a stronger cash culture, such as Italy or Greece, says economics professor Friedrich Schneider of the Johannes Kepler University in Austria.
"If people use more cards, they are less involved in shadow economy activities," says Schneider, an expert on underground economies.
In Italy — where cash has been a common means of avoiding value-added tax and hiding profits from the taxman — Prime Minister Mario Monti in December put forward measures to limit cash transactions to payments under euro1,000 ($1,300), down from euro2,500 before.
The flip side is the risk of cybercrimes. According to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention the number of computerized fraud cases, including skimming, surged to nearly 20,000 in 2011 from 3,304 in 2000.
Oscar Swartz, the founder of Sweden's first Internet provider, Banhof, says a digital economy also raises privacy issues because of the electronic trail of transactions. He supports the idea of phasing out cash, but says other anonymous payment methods need to be introduced instead.
"One should be able to send money and donate money to different organizations without being traced every time," he says. . . . .
Friday, March 16, 2012
My newest Fox News Piece: "If lead bullets are banned, it could compromise self-defense"
My piece starts this way:
Lead poisoning from bullets? Sounds scary, but the push by the Center for Biological Diversity in a petition to the EPA is nothing new. The claim has been brought up many times, and even the EPA during anti-gun Clinton administration dismissed the fears about traditional, lead ammunition.
The lead in ammunition has never been shown to produce any health hazards, but a ban would produce a real health hazard, making it much more difficult for people to use guns to defend themselves. . . .
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Excerpt from new book "Debacle" at Fox News
Sunday, March 11, 2012
New piece in Philadelphia Inquirer: Speculators smooth out the rough spots
My new piece with Grover Norquist in the Philadelphia Inquirer starts this way:
With regular gas prices topping $3.70 last weekend, angry politicians are blaming the higher prices on speculators and greedy oil companies. On Monday, The Hill newspaper reported that 23 senators and 45 congressmen, all Democrats except for one independent, called for urgent action against the "speculators" they hold responsible. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania demanded, "Consumers shouldn't be forced to pay higher prices at the pump because of speculative bets on Wall Street."
These politicians want the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to use its new regulatory powers under a law signed by President Obama two years ago to limit the amount of oil that speculators can buy.
This isn't a new concern. Last April, when regular gas prices hit $4 a gallon, the president launched a Department of Justice investigation into what he called "manipulation in the oil markets that might affect gas prices."
Unfortunately, neither the Democrats in Congress nor Obama appear to have a clue how markets work. The policy reminds one of Richard Nixon's attacks on speculators during the 1970s. . . .
Sunday, March 4, 2012
New Fox News piece: What's the truth about the unemployment numbers?
My new piece starts this way:
The recent sudden drops in both initial unemployment insurance claims and unemployment rates have generated a slew of positive news stories and lifted White House spirits. Fox News contributor and former Clinton pollster Doug Schoen even writes about the “high-fiving in the White House.”
But other numbers show a much weaker job market and economy; the average unemployment duration remains near its all-time high, hiring is stuck near record lows, and there are almost 3 million workers in part-time rather than full-time jobs. Further, GDP grew just 1.7% last year and few new companies are being started.
So which scenario is right?
First, let us set one thing straight. The apparent contradiction between a falling unemployment rate and other indicators isn’t because the Obama administration “manipulates numbers to get [the] unemployment headline under 9%” as Rush Limbaugh claims. The current "recovery" is so unusual that the normal rules for relating the unemployment rate to other labor market indicators don’t hold; indeed those rules can be quite misleading.
Take initial unemployment insurance claims. As the Wall Street Journal reported the end of last month: “Analysts generally believe the economy is adding jobs when jobless claims are consistently below 400,000.” Seasonally adjusted initial unemployment insurance claims held at around 353,797 on Thursday, and they have been consistently below 400,000 since the beginning of December.
But the “below 400,000” rule only makes sense if new hiring parallels growth during past recoveries.
Forecasting the number of people employed by focusing on workers filing for unemployment insurance is like guessing a pool’s water level by measuring how much flows out but ignoring the rate at which water is being added. . . .
Thursday, March 1, 2012
My newest Fox News Piece: "Obama's contraception deception"
My new piece starts this way:
Thursday Senate Democrats narrowly voted down an attempt to end President Obama's mandate that Catholic organizations provide their employees with abortions and contraception for no co-pay or deductible.
Democrats pulled out the heavy artillery, sending out an e-mail last night charging that Republicans want to “tear down access to better care.” The campaign linked this vote to the specter of Republicans “bann[ing] many common forms of birth control, including the pill, and fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization.”
Obama’s so-called reversal a couple of weeks ago that switched mandates from religious organizations to insurance companies that they buy policies from changed nothing. This cynical ploy can only work if women and the Catholic Bishops don't understand really basic economics.
Catholic organizations are upset that they might be forced to pay for abortions and contraception. Obama's solution?
The president originally wanted to mandate that Catholic organizations buy insurance policies with those services offered.
Now he instead proposes that health insurance plans must always cover abortions and contraception, and that these services must be provided for free.
By Obama's reasoning, if insurance companies are banned from charging for abortions and contraception, Catholic organizations aren't really going to be forced to pay for their costs. . . .