Lock ’em up! Convict them of felonies and jail them for as long as the law allows. Felony disenfranchement should take them off the voter rolls forever

From The Los Angeles Times:

Man shot before Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos’ speaking event is in critical condition

By Rick Anderson | January 21, 2017 | 10:25 PM PST

Seattle — Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos’ divisive speaking tour, provoking shouting matches and fistfights among college-age fans and foes, has now degenerated to the level of gunfire. A man was in critical condition Saturday after being shot outside a University of Washington hall prior to the controversial far-right commentator’s speech there Friday night.

The 32-year-old victim was rushed to a hospital for emergency surgery after being shot in the stomach, police said. A person of interest in the shooting turned himself in to University of Washington police, and was held for questioning.

A police official told the Seattle Times late Saturday that the man who fired the gun said he had fired in self-defense and that the man he shot was “some type of white supremacist.” The suspect was released without charges pending further investigation.

On Friday, black-hooded protesters were shown in videos sparking assaults outside Kane Hall on campus. Police had blocked the entrance after scuffles broke out over the Breitbart editor’s sold-out appearance.

When a group of protesters arrived after a downtown rally — where police had seized wooden dowels, homemade shields, flares, hammers and other items from masked people in the crowd — tensions increased. Protesters “began throwing bricks and paint toward police and others in the crowd,” police said in a statement.

“Seattle has a long, proud tradition of speaking up and speaking out, but we will not tolerate violence of any kind, “ said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

There’s more at the link, but the fifth paragraph is the telling one: the left showed up to protest Mr Yiannopoulos’ speech, with several wearing masks and armed in ways that indicate they intended to assault people. We don’t know yet whether the man who shot the victim was or was not acting in self defense — that remains a possibility — but the masked men who came armed for rioting clearly were not.

As I have noted previously, I did not vote for Donald Trump, but the actions of the left increase my likelihood of supporting him. Conservatives don’t act like this; conservatives are actually civilized.

Image of the First Amendment, from the original document. It was listed as the third article; the first two amendments proposed were not ratified. Click to enlarge.

Image of the First Amendment, from the original document. It was listed as the third article; the first two amendments proposed were not ratified. Click to enlarge.

The First Amendment recognizes and guarantees the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances, and I absolutely support that. It is the cretins who come looking to start fights, looking to assault those with whom they disagree, who need to be arrested the moment they break the law, charged to the full extent of the law, convicted of felonies if at all possible, and incarcerated for as long as the law allows. The felony conviction is the important part: it will deprive them of the privilege of voting in future elections — and I am absolutely, unalterably opposed to ever ending felony disenfranchisement — and restrict them to lousy jobs once they get out.

The noble, environmentalist left

CBS News reported that the protesters at the #WomensMarch ” left their signs and posters on the barricade facing the west front of the Capitol building, where Mr. Trump’s inauguration ceremony took place.”

Women’s March on Washington leave their signs by the U.S. Capitol building, where Mr. Trump had his inauguration ceremony Friday. Nicole Sganga/CBS News

Women’s March on Washington leave their signs by the U.S. Capitol building, where Mr. Trump had his inauguration ceremony Friday. Nicole Sganga/CBS News

But it wasn’t just there, as some sort of political statement:

Piles of trash left behind following #WomensMarch in Washington, DC, January 21, 2017.

Piles of trash left behind following #WomensMarch in Washington, DC, January 21, 2017.

That is supposedly near the Trump hotel. He’re another one, from H St and Vermont Ave NW near the White House:

Trash left behind from #WomensMarch on Jaunary 21, 2017.

Trash left behind from #WomensMarch on Jaunary 21, 2017.

The First Amendment recognizes our rights to peaceably assemble to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and, as far as I have heard, the #WomensMarch was peaceable, something that wasn’t true of the inauguration day protests. But it seems that the good leftists of the feminist movement couldn’t do something decent like carry their own trash away. And they think that I’m going to be persuaded or respect them after that?

Aftermath of the #WomensMarch, Washington, DC, January 21, 2017

Aftermath of the #WomensMarch, Washington, DC, January 21, 2017

Aftermath of the #WomensMarch, Washington, DC, January 21, 2017

Aftermath of the #WomensMarch, Washington, DC, January 21, 2017

Remember: I didn’t vote for Donald Trump! But the more I see of the petulance and immaturity of the left, the more I am inclined to support him. And, one more picture:

Aftermath of the TEA Party rally in Washington, DC, 2010

Aftermath of the TEA Party rally in Washington, DC, 2010

Even after 73 days, The New York Times still doesn’t get it Rather than examine where they went wrong, they doubled down on their pre-election claims

Even with 73 days to ponder things since the election, The New York Times still doesn’t get it:

Trump’s Grim View of the Economy Ignores Most Americans’ Reality

By Binyamin Appelbaum | January 20, 2017

WASHINGTON — The dismal picture of the American economy President Donald J. Trump painted in his Inaugural Address on Friday is at odds with the economic reality of most Americans.

Mr. Trump described a nation depleted, despairing and in decline. “We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon,” he said, returning to that theme several times during his 16-minute address.

He spoke of “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones,” and of a middle class whose wealth “has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.”

In fact, the United States is in the midst of one of the longest sustained economic expansions in the nation’s history. The stock market has climbed to record heights; middle-class incomes are increasing after years of stagnation; and corporations are recording enormous profits.

Some measures of consumer confidence show that optimism about the economic outlook, and job and income prospects have climbed to the highest levels in more than a decade.

The striking contrast between his speeches and reality partly reflected Mr. Trump’s focus on the decline of a particular part of the American economy: The Rust Belt cities that were once the beating heart of American industry, and whose residents in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin propelled Mr. Trump into the presidency.

Mr. Trump, both before and after his election, has often described the entirety of America as if it were Youngstown, Ohio, with its factories gone and its residents embittered. And on Friday, as so often in the past, he blamed foreign trade for that decline.

“One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that we left behind,” the new president said.

While at odds with most economic assessments, Mr. Trump’s words find an audience in places that have been left behind.

There’s more at the link.

I addressed this issue before the election, noting Heather Long’s article Most Americans think unemployment is a lot higher than 5%. Mr Appelbaum is absolutely correct . . . for his zip code in New York City. And, as expected, Hillary Clinton carried the city, and the state of New York. She carried the well-off areas in New England and New Jersey, and the federal-employee-havens of Maryland and Virginia.

But, like so many on the left, Mr Appelbaum got carried away with the statistics: unemployment is down, the left say, never realizing that people, real people, don’t feel that it is down. When General Motors lays off 2,000 workers on Inauguration Day, lying through their corporate teeth that no Chevrolet Cruze’s built in Mexico were being sold in the United States, just how much does Mr Appelbaum think that those workers in Lordstown, Ohio, are celebrating the fact that the ‘official’ U-3 unemployment rate is just 4.7%? For those workers, the unemployment rate is 100%! There are other jobs in the area, but they pay half as much, if not less. The higher wages — and prices — in the urban areas skew the numbers a bit, but Mrs Clinton carried 472 counties, which produced 64% of gross domestic product, while Donald Trump carries 2,584 counties, which produced only 36% of GDP. Mr Appelbaum, safely ensconced in New York County, sees all sorts of wealth and economic activity around him, and the Big Apple’s highly segregated geography might mean that he never even sees the poverty that’s close to him.

This is why Donald Trump won! The left, so smug and secure in their dense urban enclaves, were able to look at the raw statistics and say, “See? Unemployment is down! There are eleven million more jobs!” without ever looking deeper, and noting that 59% of Americans don’t have enough in savings to cover a $500 or $1,000 emergency, or that much of the growth of jobs was in bad jobs, in jobs that simply don’t pay enough, in jobs that aren’t as good as the ones so many Americans lost in the last recession.

Instead, it took Donald Trump, a billionaire who was the son of a self-made millionaire, to see the pain that so many Americans were suffering. The oh-so-educated elite in our major cities, the economists who studied and crunched all of the numbers, could never see the people behind those numbers, but Mr Trump could. I would have hoped that the esteemed Mr Appelbaum, with the luxury of those 73 days since the election to try to figure out what went so wrong for the Democrats, to have looked a bit deeper into the numbers, to read the stories, to try to see the people behind a populist election outcome. Instead, he turned inward, talked only to the like-minded pundits in The New York Times building, and made the same mistakes today that he, and they, were making before the election.

Fed sees little need for future “stimulus” spending For once, I agree with Janet Yellen!

From The Wall Street Journal:

Fed Officials See Less Need for Tax and Spending to Boost Short-Term Growth

Shift in thinking comes as economy improves, jobless rate declines

By Shayndi Raice | January 16, 2017 8:00 a.m. ET

Federal Reserve officials increasingly say they don’t see a need for stimulative government tax and spending programs to boost short-term economic growth, reversing their stance during and after the Great Recession.

The shift is drawing attention as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to takes office on the promise of tax cuts and spending increases. He has promised annual U.S. economic growth of as much as 4%, double the 2% seen since the recession.

To several Fed officials, the need for such fiscal stimulus to raise overall demand is a thing of the past—the postcrisis period when unemployment peaked at 10%. Today, with joblessness down to 4.7%, they instead advocate targeted policies to spur long-term economic growth by raising productivity—or output per labor hour. These would include improving education and infrastructure, fostering research and encouraging new business formation.

“I would say at this point fiscal policy is not obviously needed to provide stimulus to help us get back to full employment,” Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said in December.

To some observers, the turnabout appears political: Fed officials supported fiscal stimulus during the Obama administration but don’t as Mr. Trump takes the helm. However, central bankers see this as a return to normal now that the economy has healed.

There’s a lot more at the link. And then Fed Governor Lael Brainard added her 2¢:

Fed’s Brainard Warns on Fiscal Stimulus

Central banker says fiscal deficits could increase without a lasting improvement in the economy’s long-term growth potential

By Harriet Torry | Updated Jan. 17, 2017 1:54 p.m. ET

Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard.

WASHINGTON—A top Federal Reserve official warned that government tax and spending programs aimed at boosting short-term growth could stoke inflation and cause the central bank to raise rates faster.

“[F]iscal expansions that affect only aggregate demand and are enacted when the economy is near full employment and 2% inflation are relatively less likely to sustainably boost economic activity and relatively more likely to be accompanied by increases in interest rates,” Fed governor Lael Brainard said Tuesday at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

If such fiscal policies cause the labor market to tighten more quickly, rate increases would “likely be more rapid than otherwise,” she said.

Ms. Brainard never mentioned President-elect Donald Trump by name, but spoke as he prepares to takes office Friday on the promise of tax cuts and spending increases. He has promised annual U.S. economic growth of as much as 4%, double the 2% seen since the recession.

Her remarks echoed those of other Fed officials who have said recently they don’t see a need for short-term fiscal stimulus with low unemployment and inflation rising toward their 2% target, but would welcome policies that enable the economy to produce more goods and services over the long term.

“Changes in fiscal policy that raise the level or growth rate of productivity or that induce greater labor-force participation and higher levels of skill and education in the workforce raise the nation’s productive capacity and result in more sustainable increases in output and living standards,” she said.

Two messages from the Federal Reserve, on two consecutive days? Yup, they’re trying to tell in the incoming President that if he goes for a big stimulus package, they’ll raise interest rates more.

I have noted previously that the International Monetary Fund, counting on some form of a stimulus plan coming from the incoming Trump Administration, are projecting growth rates of 2.3% in 2017 and 2.5% in 2018, while the Federal Reserve Board are projecting little fiscal policy change, and real GDP growth of 2.1% for 2017 and 2.0% in 2018.

This is one area in which I am in agreement with Janet Yellen and the Federal Reserve, though possibly for different reasons. I do not want to see any idiotic Keynesian “stimulus” plan; I was opposed to the huge deficits run up under President Obama, and I would be opposed to huge deficits run up under President Trump as well. I do not see stimulus spending as being effective any longer, because we have, in effect, been stimulating the economy all along, with huge deficits for many years, and the results have been so pathetic that 2% growth is now seen by some economists as the new normal.

Unlike the esteemed Dr Yellen, I do not believe we are close to full employment; I do not accept the ‘official’ U-3 unemployment rate, currently standing at 4.7%, as realistic. Rather, I look at the U-6 number, currently 9.2%, as being far more representative of the state of employment in this country.

What I would like to see is federal spending reduced, not increased — that’s probably a pipe dream! — and the spending that remains adjusted to something more productive. President Trump is correct that we need more infrastructure spending, but we need to couple that with reduced spending in other areas. In particular, welfare needs to be cut, drastically, and the Trump Administration has only a small window to get that done. Steps need to be taken to see to it that non-citizens are not receiving welfare.

Alas! Mr Trump has promised 3.5 to 4% real growth, and I’m worried that he’ll try more deficit spending to achieve it.

General Motors lied; Donald Trump told the truth

If anyone has wondered why I frequently use CNNMoney’s Heather Long as a source, this is why: she reports both sides of the story!

Trump was right about Mexican-made GM cars

by Heather Long | @byHeatherLong | January 19, 2017: 10:03 AM EST

Donald Trump doesn’t like things made in Mexico.

On January 3, he slammed GM, one of America’s big three automakers, for manufacturing cars in Mexico to sell across the border in the U.S. He focused his firepower on the Chevy Cruze, one of GM’s signature small cars.

“General Motors is sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to U.S. car dealers-tax free across border. Make in U.S.A. or pay big border tax!” Trump tweeted at the time.

A huge debate ensued: Did Trump have his facts right? GM (GM) was quick to say no. The company issued a statement claiming it makes all Cruze sedans sold in the U.S. at a big factory in Lordstown, Ohio. (Read the full statement at the end of this article).

But it turns out, what Trump tweeted was true.

There’s a lot more at the link, including documentation that, despite what General Motors said on January 3, 2017, there are Chevrolet Cruze’s assembled in Mexico being sold in the United States.

Now, what am I supposed to believe? Am I supposed to believe that GM made an innocent mistake, that somehow the corporation officers didn’t know that Cruze’s assembled south of the border weren’t being shipped to the United States? If the corporate officers didn’t know where the care were going, why did they make an unambiguous statement that none were shipped to the United States? And if they did know, wouldn’t that make the January 3 statement a deliberate lie?

There are two, and only two possibilities:

  1. Either General Motors is wracked by incompetency in upper management; or
  2. General Motors top corporate officials deliberately lied to the American people.

It almost doesn’t matter which one is correct, and it’s possible that both are true.
_____________________
Cross-posted on RedState.

General Motors plans on new American jobs, but is laying off American workers now

Just about everyone in the Lordstown area knows someone who has worked at GM. Cars are in everyone’s blood. Local diners and Dairy Queens are decorated with clocks and posters depicting American-made cars. Anyone driving a foreign car is likely to get a look … not a friendly one.

They might not be too happy with me, either, since I resolved to only buy Fords ever since the auto industry bailout; Chrysler and General Motors took the bailouts, but Ford arranged its own financing privately. Still, this isn’t good news:

2,000 GM workers to lose jobs on Trump Inauguration Day

by Heather Long | @byHeatherLong | January 18, 2017: 10:43 AM ET

Robert Sheridan is a 40-year-old GM worker who voted for Donald Trump. He can barely contain his excitement about Inauguration Day, even though it will be a rough day for him on a personal level.

He’s one of 2,000 GM factory workers losing their jobs on Friday, the same day that Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president.

Sheridan — and thousands like him — are desperately hoping Trump will save their jobs.

“Please help us in Lordstown,” says Sheridan, a soft-spoken Midwesterner with three kids. “This is a great middle class job. You can’t find one better around here.”

These are GM’s first layoffs in six years. About 1,200 workers in Lordstown, Ohio (where Sheridan works) are getting the ax and another 800 in Lansing, Michigan — both key states that led to Trump’s victory. Given the vote totals, many of these workers likely voted for Trump, breaking ranks with the United Automobile Workers union that backed Hillary Clinton.

Trump appeared to hear their outcry. In early January, he slammed GM in a tweet.

“General Motors is sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to U.S. car dealers-tax free across border,” Trump tweeted.

“Trump’s tweet really gave us hope,” Sheridan says. He’s worked at GM (GM) for seven years and makes $25 an hour installing brake lines. It’s the kind of pay that finally allowed him to buy a house and decent sports equipment for his kids. Other factories in the area pay only $9 to $12 an hour.

There’s more at the original. General Motors did announce new investment in the United States, but the schedules layoffs exceed the number of new jobs anticipated; the incoming President’s tweet might have been a bit too soon.

President Obama wrestled with whether to save Chrysler. (Photo Credit: Pete Souza, White House) Click to enlarge.

Let’s get real here: General Motors only exists at all because President Obama created the bailout program which saved the company from collapse. A lot of the $80 billion bailout has been repaid, but the taxpayers still took a $9 billion loss in the deals.1 Incoming President Trump has been pushing the automakers to consider patriotic ramifications in their economic decisions, along with threatening a 35% tariff on automobiles made outside of the United States and then imported here. Ford saw whatever wisdom there was in Donald Trump’s appeal, and CEO Mark Fields said that Ford’s new investments were a “vote of confidence” in the American economy. Yet Ford does not somehow owe the government and the taxpayers anything, while GM certainly does.

Glenn Johnson, the president of UAW Local 1112 in Lordstown, said:

We’re a hot spot in Ohio. The Democrats underestimated how many angry people there were here.

Yup, they sure did. Ohio had already been projected to be carried by Mr Trump, but it was the other industrial states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin which surprised the Democrats.2

That’s where Mr Trump beat the other Republican contenders in the primaries: he wedded patriotism to economics in a form of populism which hadn’t been seen before, and it pretty thoroughly trumped — pun most definitely intended — both the mostly free-trade Republican field and Mrs Clinton in the general election. The economists are horrified, in that free trade is very much the backbone of standard economic thinking, but it seems that the voters have been less interested in overall economic theory than they have been in what they perceive to be best for themselves.
_______________________

  1. At least GM is still an American company; Chrysler is now owned by the Italian carmaker Fiat.
  2. Even deep blue Minnesota, which Hillary Clinton won, turned out to be very close; Mrs Clinton won by only 1.52%. In the primary, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) stomped Mrs Clinton, 61.69% to 38.31%.

Big Brother is Watching You!

Castro was a piker! The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has left the Comités de Defensa de la Revolución in the rear-view mirror!

Goodbye registration stickers; hello license plate readers

By Jackie Cain | Updated: 6:40 PM EST February 10, 2016

You can say goodbye to those license plate registration stickers soon. Pennsylvania authorities have a new way to make sure your car is on the road legally.

PennDOT invited police and lawmakers to see a demonstration of an automated license plate reader (ALPR) on Wednesday in Harrisburg.

A reader scans thousands of license plates and runs the numbers through PennDOT’s database, allowing law enforcement to see if a driver has an expired registration or no insurance. It can also detect whether a vehicle is reported stolen.

“We call this catching criminals that are hiding in plain sight,” said Sean Petty, of public safety communications consultant Mission Critical Partners. “You can have hundreds of vehicles pass you in the course of a shift that you would never otherwise check in your computer, whereas this device is constantly checking every vehicle going past your car.”

The new technology is part of Act 89, which will eliminate vehicle registration stickers beginning Jan. 1, 2017. It’s expected to save PennDOT about $1 million annually in product and mailing costs.

While the new system is supposed to save PennDOT about $3 million a year in buying and mailing out the yearly registration stickers, the obvious question becomes: how are local police departments going to pay for the new technology:

Pennsylvania police chief skeptical of PennDOT’s plan to eliminate registration stickers

Officials question how state plans to finance ambitious transition to Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) technology

By Michael Tanenbaum | PhillyVoice Staff | February 17, 2016

Last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation announced that it will begin phasing out registration stickers at the start of 2017 in order to implement Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) technology in law enforcement agencies statewide. At least one police chief in Pennsylvania says, however, that he has no idea how Pennsylvania plans to adequately fund the transition and train officers to use the new database.

Beaver Falls Police Chief Charles Jones told Government Technology that his department was never briefed on the impending change and that he only heard about it through the news.

“I saw it on the news and I’m the chief of police at a fairly (large) sized police department in Beaver County,” Jones said. “And I have to watch the news to find out this information?”

Under the proposed plan, PennDOT will issue its final registration stickers on Dec. 30, 2016. Customers will still be required to have their vehicles registered and inspected, but as of Jan. 1, 2017, they will no longer need to display a registration sticker. At that point, customers who renew their registrations online will be able to print and save a copy of an official registration card.

From the vantage point of police departments, this ambitious goal carries significant technology and training costs. PennDOT says the elimination of registration stickers will recoup savings of $3 million in the first year by cutting more than $2 million in annual mailing costs and $1 million in annual product costs.

Dave Piuri, president of the Beaver Valley Fraternal Order of Police, says the math doesn’t quite add up.

“The last estimate I heard is that it would cost $18,000 for one of (the automated scanners),” Piuri said. “The idea that we could even get one of those readers into every police department’s hands, let alone in every police cruiser, is not realistic.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics 2008 ‘Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies,’ Pennsylvania had 1,117 agencies employing 27,413 sworn police officers. For each agency to receive one machine at the estimated price quoted by Piuri, the cost would exceed $20 million. At the time of its announcement, PennDOT did not address financing for the project beyond its reference to the annual savings noted above.

Jones said he was concerned by the state’s lack of communication about funding, adding that there are a lot of questions that have yet to be answered for police departments.

How will local police departments pay for the new devices? No one will admit it, of course, but I will tell you how: they will be paid for by generating thousands upon thousands more traffic tickets! And it won’t be long before PennDOT cross-references these things with whether your vehicle inspection is up-to-date, or you are behind on your child-support payments or have a concealed weapons permit — don’t think that New York and New Jersey wouldn’t love to track that item on out-of-state vehicles! — or whatever other thing the Geheime Staatspolizei believe they want to talk to you about. And if the computer can scan your plates and check to see if you are legal, it can also document where your vehicle was at any time it was near a police car.

We will be told, of course, that this is a good thing, that it will catch bad guys who have let their registrations lapse — and you had better remember, because you won’t have that sticker on your plate to remind you! — but it’s just another way that Stasi can keep track of your movements.

The Комитeт госудaрственной безопaсности will deny that anything troubling or invasive of privacy will occur due to these tracking devices being forced upon police departments; no one would expect anything else. But it is difficult to see how a free people can remain free when the government is asking for ways to track your movements.

An absolutely horrible idea!

From CNBC:

This professor says it’s time to kill your 401(k)

| @bytomanderson | Sunday, 15 January 2017 | 10:00 AM ET

Experts, including some pioneers of the 401(k) savings plans, worry that the current retirement system is not working for many Americans.

More than half of workers — roughly 55 million — don’t have access to a retirement plan on the job and 29 percent of households with members age 55 and older don’t have a nest egg or a traditional pension plan.

Perhaps a guaranteed mandate would work better, according to an odd couple of retirement system reformers.

Here we go again: a “guaranteed mandate.” Once again, one of Our Betters™ wants to tell people how to live, and use the power of government to enforce compliance.

Teresa Ghilarducci, director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School, and Hamilton “Tony” James, president and chief operating officer of asset manager Blackstone Group, have proposed replacing 401(k) plans with a guaranteed retirement account run by the federal government and managed by investment firms. .  .  .  .

Emphasis mine. It’s the “run by the federal government” part that gets to me. It’s so like the left to believe that the federal government can really run things well.

How the accounts would work

In guaranteed retirement accounts, every employee would contribute a mandatory 2.5 percent of their salary and employers would pay another 2.5 percent of a worker’s earnings. (This is on top of the combined 15.3 percent of wages workers and their employers contribute to payroll taxes to fund Social Security and Medicare.)

The accounts, which would guarantee at least a 2 percent annual return regardless of market conditions, would be controlled by the Social Security Administration and the contributions would be invested by managers selected by the federal government.

Now, how is anyone, no matter how good he is, going to be able to guarantee at least a 2% annual return on investment, regardless of market conditions? There are really only two ways:

  1. Investment in guaranteed bonds, which we already know would mean something on the order of Treasury Bills; or
  2. Compensatory payments out of the Social Security Trust Fund or the General Fund to make up any shortfalls in investment returns.

The Ten-year US bond (US10Y) has spent a significant time under a 2% yield, and even the “long bond,” (US30Y) spent some time under 2.00% earlier this year. But if Dr Ghilarducci’s plan became an investment in T-Bills, what it would mean is that everyone would be contributing another 2.5% of his paycheck, matched by his employer (and here I assume that the self-employed would have to kick in 5.0%, just as the self-employed have to pay both parts of Social Security and Medicare taxes) to the federal government’s general fund! That, after all, is what Treasury Bills are: money loaned to the federal government. The second option isn’t significantly different from the first: both require government payouts, and both would be treated as revenue into the federal government, for the President and Congress to spend.

Ghilarducci estimates that the average 401(k) investor receives an annual return of less than 4 percent while people in guaranteed retirement accounts could generate an average 6 percent annual return with professional investment firms.

Really? Just what guaranteed retirement accounts have been yielding 6% over the course of dozens of years? Aggressive investment mutual funds frequently do better than 6%, but those are not guaranteed, and investors can, and have, lost money.

But here’s the real problem, as I see it: the average employer matching contribution to sponsored 401(k) plans is 4.7% of salary, and the most common form of matching is dollar-for-dollar on up to 6% of salary deferral. The most probable result of following Dr Ghilarducci’s proposal is that corporations would cut their costs by dumping existing 401(k) plans for the Ghilarducci plan: rather than paying 3% or 4.5% or whatever percent of salaries in employer defined contributions, they could reduce that to 2.5%. Passage of the plan, as suggested, would increase costs for a current plan-sponsoring employer from an average of 4.7% of wages to 7.2% of wages, a pretty significant increase, but one which could be held off completely by simply dumping their current 401(k) plans, or reducing the size of their employer-matching contributions.

I have previously stated that I supported President Obama’s myRA account proposal, though I thought it didn’t go far enough. However, the myRA proposal does not increase expenses on companies, and thus would not be as much of a corporate disincentive to sponsor 401(k) retirement plans.

There is much that could be done to encourage employers without them to offer 401(k) plans. The simplest way to do it would be to make them more profitable for corporations, by reducing the corporate income tax rate by some percentage for those companies which offer qualified plans. (Corporations already get to write off employer-matching contributions as business expenses; they’re simply another form of salaries and wages.) But Dr Ghilarducci’s proposal is not the right way to do it, not the right way at all. It would have the effect of making American workers poorer, not better off.

The ‘Trump effect’ hits General Motors Looks like Mary Barra got caved

Remember this story:

GM CEO says company won’t change production plans despite Trump tweet

Mary Barra on the cover of Time magazine, October 6, 2014

Mary Barra on the cover of Time magazine, October 6, 2014

January 8, 2017 | 10:22 PMDETROIT — General Motors has no plans to change where it produces small cars because of criticism from President-elect Donald Trump, the company’s top executive said Sunday night.

CEO Mary Barra said the auto business has long lead times for where it produces vehicles, with decisions are made two to four years ahead.

Last week Mr. Trump threatened on Twitter to slap a border tax on GM for importing the compact Chevrolet Cruze to the U.S. from Mexico.

“Make in U.S.A.or pay big border tax!” the president-elect tweeted.

There’s plenty more at the link, but the important part is there: Mrs Barra stated that General Motors had no plans to succumb to the pressure from the incoming President to bring some production back to the United States.

Well, that was then, and this is now. From The Wall Street Journal:

General Motors Plans at Least $1 Billion in Fresh U.S. Investment

Auto maker’s move is expected to create more than 1,000 new jobs

By Mike Colias | Updated Jan. 16, 2017 7:53 p.m. ET

General Motors Co. this week will announce plans to invest at least $1 billion across several U.S. factories, two people familiar with the plan said, a move aimed at underlining its commitment to U.S. manufacturing jobs in the wake of President-elect Donald Trump’s criticism of the auto maker’s imports from Mexico.

GM’s announcement could come as early as Tuesday, the people briefed on the plan said. The company will cite a number of new jobs in excess of 1,000 stemming from the investment but doesn’t plan to specify which of its factories are in line for more work, one person said.

A GM spokesman declined to comment. The Trump transition team didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

The move comes days after Mr. Trump publicly ratcheted up pressure on the nation’s largest auto maker. During his press conference last week, the president-elect thanked Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for recently announced U.S. investment plans that are expected to create a combined 2,700 jobs. He then turned up the heat on GM to follow suit.

“I hope that General Motors will be following. And I think they will be,” Mr. Trump said.

There’s more at the original, but what amuses me is the timing. It was reported on the evening of the 8th that Mrs Barra had stated that GM was not deviating from its production plans, plans with decisions taken years ahead. Yet, just eight days later, we hear that yes, General Motors is planning an approximately $1 billion investment in American factories. Now, if Mrs Barra told the truth eight days ago, then she must have known about the decision to make the investment in the US, which, at the most, could have been waiting only for the last ‘i’ to be dotted, last ‘t’ to be crossed, and would have said that something was in the offing, but had been still in the final planning stages. Now comes word of the investment in the US.

Obvious question: given that, how can we be expected to believe that there was no “Trump effect” in this decision by General Motors? For me, I find it very unlikely that there was no Trump effect on this, but, even if there the small chance that there was none is the truth, the incoming President is going to get credit for Mrs Barra’s decision.
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More from The Wall Street Journal:

Yes, deficits matter. They mattered under Bush, they matter under Obama, and they will matter under Trump

From CNNMoney:

IMF: Trump stimulus set to boost U.S. growth

by Jethro Mullen | January 16, 2017: 9:08 AM ET

U.S. economic growth should get a lift from stimulus measures under Donald Trump’s presidency, but it won’t hit the speed he promised anytime soon.

That’s according to the International Monetary Fund, which has pushed up its forecasts for the world’s largest economy.

Companies, workers, investors and governments around the globe are hoping to get a clearer picture of Trump’s economic policies after his inauguration Friday.

For the time being, the IMF has nudged up its U.S. growth forecast for 2017 to 2.3%, from the prediction of 2.2% it made in October. The increase to next year’s forecast is bigger: from 2.1% to 2.5%.

That’s a good deal faster than the 1.6% growth the IMF estimates the U.S. economy grew in 2016. But it’s still slower than the 2.6% it reached in 2015 — and way off the 4% pace Trump previously claimed his economic proposals would achieve.

There’s more at the original.

FOMC projectionsIt seems that the learned economists at the International Monetary Fund are more optimistic about growth in the American economy than the just-as-learned economists in the Federal Reserve, whose estimates for economic performance are shown in the chart to the left.1

The Fed based their estimates on economic and fiscal policies remaining unchanged, even though the December meeting was held after Donald Trump won the election.  The obvious question becomes: will Mr Trump’s policy proposals, which include significant stimulus and deficit spending, really spur the economy to greater production?

I’ve said it before: I do not believe that ‘stimulus’ has any positive reward anymore, because we have not been following the economic models for stimulus. The Keynesian argument that governments need to run deficits during poor economic times has seemed particularly blunted to me, because the second part of John Maynard Keynes’ point, that governments need to balance their budgets and pay down their debts during good times, simply hasn’t been part of the plan. Our continual deficit spending, during good times as well as bad, has taken us completely away from Keynesian ideas and has, in effect, inoculated our economy to any projected benefits from stimulus. Constant stimulus has already been figured in to our economy.

What would it take? Under President Bush, we were stimulating the economy with well over $100 billion every year, $161 billion in FY2007 and that was before the recession began. FY2008 saw a $458 billion deficit, and FY2009 ramped the deficit up to $1.413 trillion. We had four straight years of trillion dollar deficits, which means four straight years of trillion dollar stimulus, and still our economy did nothing more than settle into a slower-than-normal growth pattern.  Even the incoming President doesn’t plan on trillion dollar deficits, so if there is to be any benefit at all from them, those benefits should be less than what was achieved under President Obama, which is to say: not much at all.

Naturally, we’ll see continued hypocrisy from the liberal economists. Paul Krugman wrote that President Obama’s huge 2009 stimulus plan was way too small, and just before the election, when he assumed that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would win, he tweeted:

But, once Mrs Clinton didn’t win, once it became Donald Trump who would be the next President, to the esteemed Dr Krugman Deficits Matter(ed) Again.

At The First Street Journal, we are many things, but hypocrite is not one of them. I was opposed to the huge deficits run up under President Obama, and the $9,314,930,334,915.97 added (so far) under his term to the national debt, and I am not suddenly in favor of more deficit spending just because it will be a Republican proposing it. If the incoming President finds ways to pay for the increased infrastructure spending he proposed during the campaign, I will support that; he simply needs to cut spending elsewhere. It makes a lot more sense to pay more people to do productive work than it does to pay welfare to allow them to live indolently, but welfare has to be cut so that we are not supporting both the workers and the non-workers. As I’ve said previously, yes, I want to see my taxes cut, but I want spending brought under control first.
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  1. The chart is a simplified version, produced by me, of this .pdf file of the Federal Open Market Committee’s projections. The FOMC’s estimates are discussed here.