Misery Index Two
US Deficit (% of GDP)
US Trade Deficit (% GDP)
$0.20 (baseline 0%)
Fed Income (top margin)
Total MI2 (sum of %)
Lets also define something new, the Joy Index.
US GDP Growth
Total JI (%)
5.25 (other data is baseline)
Now, let us track these over the Bush term. As you might expect, its good if the JI increases and the MI2 declines. This effort marks the first time to my knowledge that anyone has applied a concrete metric to measure the economic performance of the presidency - and you've had it here for the past 8 years. Given current trends, I would predict:
1. recession over the next year, due to the anti-business policies of the previous Admin finally bearing fruit (taxes, regulation, Justice Dept. breakups of companies and induced market jitters).
2. Also, we can expect the US Deficit to increase, to rebuild the military and energy production facilities that have been allowed to decay under Clinton and fuel his economic "recovery".
3. This will all, of course, be blamed on the ineptitude of Bush. Which is why it would have been interesting to see what the blame meisters would have done to Gore.
January 3, 2001
Truly a Golden Age, if we can keep it
In 1787 as the Constitutional Convention was concluding,
Benjamin Franklin was asked that famous question, "What
the delegates created?" Franklin's equally famous response was, "A republic, if you can keep it." Taking my cue from
Franklin, I would like to herald the advent of this New Year and the new millennium (according to the Gregorian calendar)
by reasserting my hopes and belief and echoing Franklin's words that America and possibly the world are entering a new
Golden Age, "if we can keep it." Last May I wrote about a trip my wife and I had taken to the Mediterranean and Aegean
seas following the footsteps of St. Paul. Reflecting on the conflicts and rivalries that plagued St. Paul's time as they plague
our own, I quoted Hegel, who said that "the only thing one learns from history is that no one learns from history."
I went on to express the belief that we have the chance
at last to learn from the mistakes of the past and build a
Golden Age of Democracy, freedom and peace provided that we practice the Golden Rule.
The bitter election battle of 2000 may set the stage for
a new era of national achievement, invention and prosperity.
Franklin foresaw, there's always an "if." In this case the "if" is whether we truly can learn from the mistakes of the past and
join together as one people toward common goals: equal opportunity and economic prosperity for all, the continual
advance of freedom at home and abroad, and true compassion toward those least able to help themselves.
This is what President-elect George W. Bush and his
running mate Dick Cheney appear to believe they can help
for our nation. Nevertheless, while strong, wise and compassionate leaders are essential, they can only succeed if the
people as a whole share a common commitment to the cause of freedom, equality and democracy for the world.
My optimism that the new administration will succeed in
bringing us together stems, in part, from the economic
technological revolution through which we are living, truly a wonder in itself with little precedent in history. Yet as the last
year also shows, innovation, entrepreneurship and economic advancement should not be taken for granted, and the ability
of policymakers to throw a wrench into the proceedings with monetary policy mistakes, excessive tax rates and regulatory
overkill should never be underestimated. That's why I temper my optimism with Franklin's warning.
My friend Rich Karlgaard echoes these same sentiments in
his Forbes magazine columns. Recently he observed that if
can get through the current choppy waters of economic slowdown without major policy blunders, "the next five years will
be golden: stunning innovation, soaring rates of venture capital formation and yet more wild-eyed start-ups that change the
But for Karlgaard, too, Franklin's admonition looms
large: "The caveat is always policy. Bad decisions on trade,
monetary policy turned a 1929 stock market hiccup into the 1930s-long Great Depression. Higher tax rates on capital
gains would flatten the uptrend in risk capital and bonk this boom, too."
Today we have it within our grasp to avoid the mistakes
that would repeat the experience of the 20th century in
earlier promise of a golden age of freedom withered away under the crush of war, ideology, and racial and ethnic conflict.
"Life is a gift," Karlgaard reminds us, and "freedom is rare. Civilizations must be built a brick and a law at a time - and be
defended by blood."
That may sound harsh, but true optimism lies in a
realistic assessment of what is at stake and a realization
that with God's
providence and mankind's best efforts, we can truly be masters of our own destiny and good stewards of our earthly
realm. To believe otherwise is both naive and profoundly cynical, not sentiments to which I am prone.
The Christmas and Hanukkah season yielding to the New
Year is always an extraordinary mix of reflection and
projection, reaching into the past and future all at once. But while history cautions us to guard our inheritance of freedom,
the promise of a fresh start itself inspires optimism. As I wrote last May, "I contend that freedom and free enterprise under
the rule of law are beginning to take hold in the hearts and minds of people all over the globe. ... If we get it right, this
century truly can and ought to be a century not of America alone, but one in which those values and ideals bequeathed to
us by our founders give meaning to life and also will bring progress, prosperity, freedom and democracy to the world."
Let us indeed get it right, and a blessed and Happy New Year to all my readers.
1. From Matt
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2000 16:11:03 -0700 (MST)
From: Matt Birkholz <email@example.com>
> Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2000 09:59:11 -0600
> A friend of mine is Pres. of Wis. Rapids League of Women Voters
> I thought you might be interested in taking part in their national effort.
Oh, yes! I can just imagine how the League of Women
Voters thinks we
should reform the election system so as to avoid another close election:
disenfranchise the men? Every household I can think of has ONE Democrat
and ONE Republican (well, except THIS one), so I am not surprised the 2000
election was evenly divided. I AM surprised every OTHER election is not
split exactly down the middle. After all, the ratio of women to men is
very close to 50/50.
If the League of Women Voters would like to avoid discord
in the future by
devolving to single, Democratic Party rule, I'm all for it. "If it doesn't
work, force it; if it breaks, it needed replacing anyway." A few decades
of OVERT single party rule should put the last nail in.
> Election Reform
> WE NEED ELECTION REFORM!
> A Statement from Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, President of the League of
> Women Voters December 14, 2000
> We've heard all the appeals for healing and unity. These appeals have to
> be bolstered by appeals for election reform. True healing comes best when
> we learn from experience -- and act to solve the problems that caused the
> divisions in the first place. The League is moving to solve those
> problems. We call on elected officials and citizens across the country to
> join with us in that effort.
If they weren't being coy, they'd just point out that
male sufferage is the
major cause of "division".
> We watched in frustration as Election 2000 revealed
> outdated voting procedures used all across the country.
Punch cards are a 40 year old technology. NOT
antiquated by any measure
EXCEPT a myopic, computer-revolution standard. I can't think of anything
more modern yet practical. Keyboard and mouse? I can't think of any more
disastrous method of data entry to use in Florida than a keyboard or mouse.
> The League believes that every vote should count,
and count the same. Our
> organization was founded in 1920 as an outgrowth of the woman suffrage
> movement. One of our bedrock principles is that of one person, one vote.
Sounds like a safe position behind which to hide the REAL agenda.
> We have:
> * antiquated voting machines,
> * a crazy quilt of voting systems that vary from
state to state and
> county to county,
Voting systems devised by the various people in the
according to whatever makes sense to them. It would be better for Cowboys
and Creoles to vote as D.C. Brahmans do, eh?
> * ballot systems that confuse rather than clarify,
I'm sure that was unintentional. I'm also sure
there is no such thing as a
fool-proof ballot, nor ever will be.
> * overcrowded polling places that keep voters in line for hours,
Is there any service, public or private, that is NOT
crowded directly after
quit'n time... or 5 minutes before closing time?
> * so-called "ballot security" measures that are used
I'm guessing "ballot security" is about fraud, not
intimidation. In fact,
I am SURE of it.
> * incomplete registration lists and absentee ballot
> disenfranchise voters, a federal government that doesn't pay for
> administering federal elections, and
Yes, we have an election administered by 50 separate
governments. It was
designed that way for good reason by very smart people (ok, GUYS, but
> * an Electoral College that is archaic and unnecessary.
Whatever. Does it take two hands to count the
number of times the
Electoral College has handed us a surprise?
> These are problems for which there are identifiable
> should pass, and the new President should sign, legislation to help
> states implement "best practices" voting systems. We need a
> Constitutional Amendment to abolish the Electoral College and provide for
> direct election of the President. Beyond this, we also need meaningful
> campaign finance reform.
Speaking of hidden agendas, could this be one? If
there was a problem on
the above list that might be solved by campaign FINANCE "reform", I missed
As a member of a third party, I have a BIG problem with
campaigning by "authorized" parties -- an even bigger problem than the one
I have with publically funded party functions like primaries (again, for
"authorized" parties). Soak us twice, shame on US.
> History shows that the United States of America is a
> nation. Let Election 2000 be a clarion for reform. Join with the League
> in making election reform a priority for the 107th Congress.
Y'all've got a LONG ROW TO HOE before you convince me the
between Republicrat Bore and Demoblican Gush is worth more than a coin
toss. Even then... Short of shooting all the lawyers, you will ALWAYS be
in danger of the simplest thing turning into an interminable mess.
The above political rant is not to be construed as an
official statement by
the Lori & Erica Birkholz household. Any opinions expressed therein are
the sole difficulty of that disenfranchised guy who keeps hanging around
2. From Jeff Thorne
Subject: right-wing readers and rape
Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2000 20:33:00 -0500 (EST)
From: Jeff Thorne <firstname.lastname@example.org>
As I will not be getting around to sending a card this year, Merry Xmas!!
On other topics, I was just perusing the November 2000 issue of the Stevey Press. In it, I happened to find a response to a message that I posted in the Stevey Press in 1995 (!). Wow! I guess my words really will live forever. In my 1995 letter, I wrote
"... I want to get my contribution to the next
the Stevey Press to you as soon as possible. It's a quote from North
Carolina state representative Henry Aldridge. Aldridge was speaking
during a house committee meeting. He was speaking in support of
eliminating money that North Carolina currently provides to fund abortions
for women who are raped and become pregnant. He was claiming that women who
are raped cannot get pregnant. ..."
Then, I included Mr. Aldridge's statement...
"... The facts show that people who are raped, who
truly raped, the juices don't flow, the body functions don't work, and
they don't get pregnant."
In the November 2000 issue, someone named Peter
responded with ...
"... As a right-wing lunatic, I object to your reader's thought process and invite you to consider whether there is not a need to watch out for and educate one's followers about the danger of stereotyped thinking. ..."
First of all, Mr. Henderson is incorrect when he refers to himself as a right-wing lunatic. He cannot possibly be a right-wing lunatic because he invokes evolution later in his letter to support his argument. Right-wing lunatics do not believe in evolution. Alternatively, maybe this is just stereotyped thinking on my part.
Mr. Henderson supports the view of the esteemed North Carolina Republican legislator by writing ...
"... I invite you to consider that there is no
logical absurdity in the idea that the body attempts to hinder the penetration
and successful transmission of semen during an act of forced intercourse.
From an evolutionary as well as a psychological point of view it
makes a certain amount of sense. There are many stranger things in human
and animal biology. ..."
The existence of "many stranger things in human and animal biology" (as if human biology is somehow fundamentally different than animal biology) does not make Mr. Aldridge's claim true. Aldridge's claim is about "facts." The claim was ...
"... The facts show that people who are raped, who
truly raped, the juices don't flow, the body functions don't work, and
they don't get pregnant."
Where are the facts? If someone finds sound evidence that women who are raped cannot get pregnant, please let me know so that I can retract this and also my 1995 letter.
By the way, Mr. Henderson also believes the writer (me)
"... tacitly invokes stereotypes of southerners as
and of religious believers as nincompoops, the two classes overlapping." Unfortunately for me, I am not capable of "tacitly" doing anything.
Plus, the word "nincompoop" is not in my working
vocabulary. The fact that Representative Aldridge was an
North Carolina does not mean that I believe all Southerners are nincompoops. After all, I live in North Carolina and I do not believe that I am a nincompoop.
Most importantly, what did my 1995 letter have to do with religion? The answer is that it had nothing to do with religion. It seems to me that it is Mr. Henderson who is invoking stereotypes. The stereotype seems to be "if someone makes a stupid statement about rape then that person must be religious." I don't believe in this stereotype and I hope Mr. Henderson does not believe it.
Now that the U.S. Presidential election has been "decided" by the U.S. Supreme Court, I hope I do not have 4 years of reading this sort of letter in store. By the way, I closed my 1995 letter with
P.S. I think your last issue of the Stevey Press was on
target regarding the slanted coverage of right-wing fringe groups
by the mass media since the Oklahoma bombing. On the other hand,
I would be quite proud of you if you could spend some of the next issue
discussing how many of the views espoused by the the militia and
guns-rights groups are sheer lunacy. I know such a discussion would be
contrary to your usual tone but you are smart enough to see the
weaknesses in some of the arguments put forth by groups to which you
are largely or partially sympathetic. Also, it would be educational for
some of your more feeble-minded right-wing readers. ..."
Stevey, you responded by claiming that coverage of
right-wing lunacy could easily be found in the mainstream
press. However, I am afraid that some of the
right-wing readers of the Stevey Press do not read the
mainstream press and/or are unable to believe it. Therefore,
I still think it would be a service to readers if you
promote your libertarian cause by educating some of
your more helpless right-wing readers in the fashion that I
suggested above. You can think of it
as a Xmas present to me.
happy holidays, Jeff
3. Matt writes again.
Date: Sat, 23 Dec 2000 22:03:30 -0700 (MST)
From: Matt Birkholz <email@example.com>
To: LANGER STEVEN C <sglanger@Oakland.edu>
Subject: last call
> From: LANGER STEVEN C
> Date: Sat, 23 Dec 2000 11:07:43 -0500 (EST)
> "Can the country and Congress support whomever becomes our next
> President, and if not what can be done about it?"
No the country cannot support the President. It
cannot now any more than
it has in the last 40 years. What WILL be done? The special interests and
their sympathizers will continue to vote for higher taxes distributed
to... you guessed it... their favorite underdog (penguins?) if not their
own pockets. Maybe Atlas will Shrug, maybe not. I care not; I plan to be
long gone. :-)
If you don't believe in apathy, I'll let Hunter weave his
has a black heart, but it is in the right place:
We live in
cheap and twisted times. Our leaders are low-rent
Fascists and our laws are a tangle of mockeries. Recent polls
indicate that the only people who feel optimistic about the future
are first-year law students who expect to get rich by haggling over
the ruins...and they are probably right.
-- Hunter S. Thompson, _Songs Of The Doomed_
Wait! Here's an APPROPRIATE goodie by Lysander
("All hail, the Lysander!")
from the depths of what passes for my "mind" (a 4GB notebook disk):
As long as
mankind continues to pay 'national debts,' so called -
that is, so long as they are such dupes and cowards as to pay for
being cheated, plundered, enslaved, and murdered - so long there
will be enough to lend the money for those purposes; and with that
money a plenty of tools, called soldiers, can be hired to keep them
in subjection. But when they refuse any longer to pay for being
thus cheated, plundered, enslaved, and murdered, they will cease to
have cheats, and usurpers, and robbers, and murderers and
blood-money loan-mongers for masters. -- Lysander Spooner
I take "blood money" to mean money gained by putting guns
guns -- REAL guns) to peoples' heads. I.e. blood money = tax money
Just for the record, I have no problem with
nonblood-money load-mongers, as
attested by forthcoming seducement of the capital industry to the tune of
several hundred thousand in cold, hard dollars. (I'm hoping to build a
Merry Xmas, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, whatnot, AND
I wish all a Happy New Millenium (now that it actually approaches),
1. Olympia, Dec 7: Taking almmoost as long the presidential election, Dem challanger Maria Cantwell has beaten incumbent Rep Slade Gorton by less than 2000 votes. This makes the US Senate balance 50/50. Gorton said he was ready to retire, but may be picked up in the Bush appointments.
1. NY City, 13 Dec: Apparently, over 14,000 sunbirds dual registered to vote absentee in New York while voting locally in Florida. One lady who consented to be interviewed said, "That's illegal ???"
2. Dec. 20: Hillary is apparently selling off her upscale
NY home (which she never paid for as the downpayment and
first few payments have been covered by friends), to buy an
upscale residence in Georgetown now that she's won the
Senate chair. In the year that the CLinton's have owned the
house, reality values on the neighborhood have shot up so
that a tidy profit was made on the barely used residence.
Its not know how the valules will move now that the ex first
family are not going to be there.
1. 21 Dec: Sen Tom Daschle (D, SD) has introduced a bill to remove voting ballots from military bases and to prevent overseas military personnel from being able to use absentee ballots. He says this is to prevent future military voters from being disenfranchised due to incorrectly filled out ballots.
2. Dec 21: At the request of Reps, the founder of the Votamatic punch card voting machine (used in FLorida) made a videotape on the use of the machine. It demonstrates that the only way to get cards with dimpled chads is to put more than two cards into the device at once, and then to not have enough physical strength to penetrate them all. With only one card in the device, either no mark was made, or the punch produced a clean hole or hanging chad.
3. Dec 20: Figuring she has nothing to lose, outgoing EPA chief Carolyn Browner signed statutes that will require automakers to increase their fleet mile per gallon ratings by 25%, include emission controls on Deisel semis akin to what is on cars, and require makers of Diesel fuel to make it 90% cleaner than it is today. No mention was made if any of this is possible.
4. Dec. 21: Pres-elect Bush announces that New Jersey
Rep. Govr Christine Todd-Whitmann will take over EPA.
Happy Holidays and New Millennium!