Another Republican I won’t be voting for

May 15, 2011

Well, this pretty well seals it. I’m not voting for Newt Gingrich for the Republican nomination, and I’m not voting for Mitt Romney, either, for the same reason. Gingrich said on Meet The Press today that he backs an individual mandate, requiring every American to buy health insurance, though it sounds like he just doesn’t like the way it’s done in the Obama health care bill. It doesn’t matter. I still don’t like his idea. Saying that people should have health insurance makes sense, particularly for catastrophic situations, heart attack, cancer, etc., but “should” is not the same as “must.” “Should” is a suggestion. Saying that people must have it so that everyone can afford it, as Gingrich did, is BS. It’s an overreach of government. People should buy the insurance they think they need, and insurance should act like insurance, to deal with the consequences of risks. Health insurance should not be another name for managed care.

What’s going on with inflation?

May 2, 2011

Edit 5-4-11: Decided to change the title of this post, adding the “?”, since I realized Dick Morris’s article is more an opinion piece.

Dick Morris has a good column today on “How the Feds conceal inflation.” He not only talks about the “lying with statistics” that’s going on. He also mentions what is causing the increased prices that consumers are generally seeing.

He said that if we use the same standard that we used to measure inflation in 1980, after the Carter years, then our annual inflation rate would be measured at 10% right now. I’ve been thinking for a while that the predicted problems with inflation were overblown, that it’ll be like the 1970s, but Morris is saying it will be different, because the problem is different. He said that before, the problem was the textbook definition of inflation: too much money chasing too few goods. Demand increases while supply remains the same. Now he says the problem is there’s a “price push” on the goods we buy. I looked this up, and apparently what “price push” means is that demand remains constant, but supply decreases. Therefor prices increase without increased demand. It’s the opposite problem.

Morris says that increasing interest rates now will not help this situation, though it was the solution to the inflation problem of the 1970s. He doesn’t say what the solution for this is, but I suspect it has to do with decreasing taxes and regulation, and I’d imagine decreasing the rate of federal spending, because public debt is crowding out private credit. I’d imagine that if the Fed increased interest rates we would likely see out-of-control inflation, because banks would be more motivated to lend into the private economy. This would increase supply over the long term, but also increase demand in the short term. This would force the Fed to increase interest rates higher to try to contain the increase in demand. Morris has said we’re entering a stagflationary period, but I can see now how it could get really bad.

Osama bin Laden is dead!

May 2, 2011

I got word rather late last night that Osama bin Laden was killed in an early morning raid by U.S. Navy Seals on May 1. Other details I’ve heard are that the Pakistani government was not told about the raid until yesterday. The U.S. government got intelligence last August that bin Laden was in a building in Abbottobad, Pakistan, just outside of Islamabad. Abbottobad is a wealthy community mostly made up of retired Pakistani military personnel. The building was 8 times larger than any other building in the area, and it was fortified against attack. It was also set apart from the community, and was only accessible by a dirt road. It was described on the news as a “mansion,” but the ABC News article I link to gives a description that makes it sound more like a large military building.

Obama said in a speech last night that the U.S. had been gathering intelligence on this location since it first learned of it. He said last week he felt he had enough information to know for sure that bin Laden was there, and he ordered a raid on it, which took place early yesterday morning. It was successful.

Reportedly, three other people were killed in the attack. One of them is thought to be one of bin Laden’s sons. Another was a woman that bin Laden’s fighters used as a human shield. There were children housed in the building, who were unharmed in the raid. No U.S. soldiers were killed.

I heard a report just a little while ago that bin Laden was given the opportunity to surrender, but he chose to fire his weapon, and so he was killed. Bin Laden always said that if it came to this, he would refuse to be taken alive. His body was taken by the Seals, and has been identified by comparing his DNA with that of his relatives. It is now in U.S. custody.

Shortly after the news broke of bin Laden’s death spontaneous celebrations started gathering at the White House, Times Square, and Ground Zero.

This is a great moment for President Obama, and he deserves praise for finally getting the leader of Al Qaida. Of course, my thanks go to the U.S. military who actually did the work! The only other “big fish” who is still at large is Ayman Al Zawahiri, who was bin Laden’s “#2”. The fight is still not over. As President Bush said, even if he was able to get bin Laden, it would not end Al Qaida as a movement and organization. That is still the case.

Edit 5-3-11: Reportedly the body was buried at sea, according to Islamic customs. The White House has backtracked on some details of the raid. See here.