It’s marriage that makes you happy – who would have guessed?

Actually, I would have guessed. The ONS is the Office of National Statistics in the UK. This is from an article in the UK’s daily Telegraph:

The ONS has found that being married is 20 times more important to a person’s well-being than their earnings, and 13 times more important than owning a home.

The figures also indicate that having children has almost no impact on a person’s day-to-day happiness, although it does make them feel life is more ‘worthwhile’.

And it’s being married that matters, not just rooming together. And I also found this pretty well matching up with my own life cycle experience.

Overall, personal well-being is the highest for young and older adults, with those in middle age recording lower scores, the ONS found.

So for all you people in the prime of life, at least you have something to look forward to, if you remember to get married along the way.

The Swedish riots

An article on the riots in Sweden and how the Swedes have struck back while being fought off by the authorities and the police who seem content to let the riots continue. I also find the grouping of immigrants and the left as the instigators of the riots a very interesting take. Here’s perhaps the most instructive passage but read the lot:

There were also rumours that armed immigrants wanted to find the vigilantes and kill them, all this while the vigilantes continue their search for rioting immigrants and Marxists. It is also confirmed that left wing extremists have joined cause with the immigrant gangs in their rioting. They see the race riotings, the burning of cars and the throwing rocks at police, ambulances and fire-fighters as a ‘class war’. Even though the cars being set ablaze and the people injured by their violence are ordinary Swedish people and primarily working-class day labourers.

The largest vigilante group had more than 300 people in it. Another group had about 100 people, and there were several smaller groups. About 20 of the vigilantes were been arrested by the police and had to spend six hours behind bars. During which time the rioters could continue with their criminal activities. This should be compared to the 19 arrests of immigrants and rioters made in the preceding 5 days of rioting.

And now this from Andrew Bolt: Quite a story! The bolding is Andrew’s.

Look at Stockholm this past week. Our Government is actively working to increase the number of exactly the kind of communities having most trouble integrating. Expect more of the us-vs-them preaching of the likes of NSW Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane this week:

On 21 May 2013 the Hon. Amanda Fazio and I had the honour and privilege are formally presenting the Holy Koran to the President, the Hon. Don Harwin, MLC, at an official ceremony in Parliament House attended by more than 100 senior members of the Muslim community, dignitaries and multicultural media.

It should be noted that this was the first time in the history of any Australian Parliament—and possibly any Parliament in a Western non-Muslim nation—that a motion was formally voted on and agreed that a copy of the Holy Koran be presented to the Presiding Officer…

I will always say and do what is right, even in the face of trash that I have read in the Australian Israeli media. One or two reporters writing in the Murdoch press—namely the Australian—have been attacking me and denying the truth of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and the killing and dehumanising of the Palestinian people. That is utter garbage. I accept the right of people to express their views, even when they are wrong, naive, ill informed, indoctrinated and blinded by the power of a political lobby group that is cancerous, malicious and seeks to deny, misinform and scaremonger. What I do take exception to is foreigners intervening in the rights of Australian politicians to speak out. Therefore, I say to the Israeli ambassador, Yuval Rotem, ‘Butt out and stay out. Your perceived right to bully as you do in the Middle East does not extend to the Australian political arena.’

In today’s Australian Cassandra Wilkinson, lacking journalistic integrity and informed knowledge of Israeli occupation of Arab land, … conveniently attacks others in the New South Wales Parliament who simply dare to criticise—as any ethical or moral person would do—the State of Israel’s illegal and criminal practices against the Palestinian people. I applaud all Muslim and Arab leaders for speaking out on these and other issues. I call on the Australian Arab Muslim community to unite and for once to speak with one Australian voice. I ask them to protect the right of their community to speak out and deliver a message of peace and citizenship on behalf of their community so that neither they nor their messages are misconstrued or misunderstood.

Their tribe, “our” tribe. The demonisation of Israel supporters as a “political lobby group that is cancerous, malicious and seeks to deny, misinform and scaremonger”.

Remember – this is from a “moderate”, elected to the NSW Parliament with Labor’s help. You should hear the extremists.

Rogoff and Reinhart versus Krugman

Unless you are explicitly anti-Keynesian you are for all practical purposes pro-Keynesian. There is one economic issue at the moment that is paramount and that is whether public spending can add to economic growth and employment or whether such expenditure actually damages a country’s growth and employment prospects. And building from that is the question whether a major part of the answer to contemporary economic problems are cuts to public spending.

However you look at it, this is the core issue of Keynesian economic theory and the policy that comes with it. If it is your conclusion that increases in non-value-adding public spending can contribute to growth and employment you are a Keynesian. If that is not your conclusion, that you think it will make things worse, then you are not. There is nothing else to it. At a minimum 95% of all economists practising today accept the Keynesian premise. At a maximum there may be 5% of the profession who do not. Even with the dismal and disastrous effects of the stimulus everywhere to be seen, either the stimulus was insufficient or it saved us from far worse are the standard answers. That we are now living out the consequences of a major and fundamental error in policy is virtually stated nowhere. The debate over Keynesian economic theory has not even begun never mind having been brought to an end.

The supposed locus of anti-Keynesian sentiment was found in a paper by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff discussed here. R&R argued in a jointly published book that “when a government’s debt rises to 90 percent of its country’s gross domestic product, the country’s economy contracts by (on average) one-tenth of one percent per year.” Turns out that their maths may have been wrong and the descent not as precipitous as that.

The usual motley crew of Keynesians therefore piled on to discredit the very idea of fiscal sense. The most recent and central of this Keynesian assault has been a book review by Paul Krugman in The New York Review of Books under the catchy title, “How the Case for Austerity has Crumbled” which would have been far better titled, “Who You Gonna Believe, Me Or Your Lying Eyes?”.

As scholars, R&R have had their feelings bruised and are now attempting to reply to their critics. Rogoff has written an article which was forwarded to me from Canada’s Globe and Mail which came with the title, Anti-austerity: Keynes never met the euro zone. It’s not, you see, Keynesian economics that is intrinsically wrong, it’s only just that the particular circumstances of the Euro as a single currency unit that are at fault. Here is the final para of the article which tries to deflect attention away from Keynesian theory per se:

To my mind, using Germany’s balance sheet to help its neighbours directly is far more likely to work than is the presumed ‘trickle-down’ effect of a German-led fiscal expansion. This, unfortunately, is what has been lost in the debate about Europe of late: However loud and aggressive the anti-austerity movement becomes, there still will be no simple Keynesian cure for the single currency’s debt and growth woes.

“No simple Keynesian cure” of course leaves room for a more complex Keynesian cure which would be appropriate in a different set of circumstances. Since it’s all numbers without theory who knows what anyone believes about anything, and that even includes Rogoff himself who may be completely baffled by his own results.

But prior to that R&R wrote a joint post on Reinhart’s blog titled Letter to PK. Their problem is with debt, not with Keynesian theory. To wit from the paper:

Let us be clear, we have addressed the role of somewhat higher inflation and financial repression in debt reduction in our research and in numerous pieces of commentary. As our appendix shows, we did not advocate austerity in the immediate wake of the crisis when recovery was frail. But the subprime crisis began in the summer of 2007, now six years ago. Waiting 10 to 15 more years to deal with a festering problem is an invitation for decay, if not necessarily an outright debt crisis. The end may not come with a bang but with a whimper.

And from that Appendix, first Reinhart:

Reinhart Testimony before Senate Budget Committee, February 9, 2010. ‘In light of the likelihood of continued weak consumption in the U.S. and Europe, rapid withdrawal of stimulus could easily tilt the economy back into recession. To be sure, this is not the time to exit. It is, however, the time to lay out a credible plan for a future exit.’

And then Rogoff:

Farheed Zakaria, GPS ‘Krugman calls for Space Aliens to Fix US Economy,’ August 12, 2011, Ken Rogoff: ‘Infrastructure spending, if it were well-spent, that’s great. I’m all for that. I’d borrow for that, assuming we’re not paying Boston Big Dig kind of prices for the infrastructure.’

But how bout cutting all that wasteful public spending that is going on right now? Rogoff again:

The Economy and the Candidates, Wall Street Journal Report with Maria Bartiromo, October 21, 2012 (interview with Kenneth Rogoff) on Fiscal Cliff: ‘Hopefully we won’t commit economic suicide by actually putting in all that tightening so quickly. I like to see something like Simpson Bowles….If we did, we could have our cake and eat it too, we could have more revenue without hurting growth.’

And here the two of them signing off on a joint statement:

A couple of Senator Coburn’s quotes from us at the meeting, taken without the full context of our introductory remarks have been interpreted as saying we endorsed immediately closing the budget. This was at odds with our position, notably our work on slow and often halting recoveries from financial crises, which we also emphasized. In fact, taking into account our opening remarks, it is our impression that the Senators full well understood the urgency we were expressing referred to adopting a long-term Grand Bargain a la Simpson Bowles.

No one supports immediately closing the budget since it cannot be done “immediately” anyway. But as Simpson-Bowles will take more than a decade, you cannot interpret R&R’s underlying theoretical position as stating that wasteful spending is the problem that must be cured. As I read what they wrote my conclusion is that they don’t get it. They just don’t get it. They don’t see that the wasteful spending is the problem in and of itself. That they share this perspective with 95% of economists means that there is no constituency whatsoever in favour of taking the only kinds of actions that will actually produce a return to a solid foundation for future economic growth, higher living standards and full employment.

Where’s the outrage, the anger, the will to do something about it?

Without the media beating the drum, no issue, no matter how crucial, will ever become front and centre in the national conversation. The media is lock, stock and barrel in the hands of the left and they are just running dead on the various scandals that the Obama White House has been involved in. The intensity of the current debate – or lack thereof – will never wake the slumbers of a somnolent population.

This story of the Gibson Guitar Company, which always had the strangest look about it from the start, is now explained. But the explaining is not done with the intense anger it ought to bring forth but really, is nothing more than a venture into, now I can understand what I didn’t understand before. Fancy all that. The para that matters:

On Aug. 24, 2011, federal agents executed four search warrants on Gibson Guitar Corp. facilities in Nashville and Memphis, Tenn., and seized several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. One of the top makers of acoustic and electric guitars, including the iconic Les Paul introduced in 1952, Gibson was accused of using wood illegally obtained in violation of the century-old Lacey Act, which outlaws trafficking in flora and fauna the harvesting of which had broken foreign laws.

In one raid, the feds hauled away ebony fingerboards, alleging they violated Madagascar law. Gibson responded by obtaining the sworn word of the African island’s government that no law had been broken.

In another raid, the feds found materials imported from India, claiming they too moved across the globe in violation of Indian law. Gibson’s response was that the feds had simply misinterpreted Indian law.

Interestingly, one of Gibson’s leading competitors is C.F. Martin & Co. According to C.F. Martin’s catalog, several of their guitars contain ‘East Indian Rosewood,’ which is the exact same wood in at least 10 of Gibson’s guitars. So why were they not also raided and their inventory of foreign wood seized?

Grossly underreported at the time was the fact that Gibson’s chief executive, Henry Juszkiewicz, contributed to Republican politicians. Recent donations have included $2,000 to Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and $1,500 to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

By contrast, Chris Martin IV, the Martin & Co. CEO, is a long-time Democratic supporter, with $35,400 in contributions to Democratic candidates and the Democratic National Committee over the past couple of election cycles.

And the story’s title, “Now The Gibson Guitar Raids Make Sense“. Good to understand things, I suppose, but where’s the outrage. where’s the anger, where’s the will to do something about it?

An ecological quiz from the Daily Mail

global warming myths

This is picked up from Andrew Bolt under the heading, Global Warming, The Quiz. How much ignorance must go into the belief in AGW is one of the most bizarre experiences, even more incredible than the belief in socialism or Keynesian economics which not so oddly affects almost exactly the same people. The quiz is originally from The UK’s Daily Mail, one of the few sane newspapers left in the world.

“Why should the government make me afraid to use a work phone to gather news”

A memo sent by Roger Ailes, the Fox CEO, to his newsroom following the revelations that the telephones at Fox had been bugged by the American government under the explicit direction of the Attorney General.

Dear colleagues,

The recent news about the FBI’s seizure of the phone and email records of Fox News employees, including James Rosen, calls into question whether the federal government is meeting its constitutional obligation to preserve and protect a free press in the United States. We reject the government’s efforts to criminalize the pursuit of investigative journalism and falsely characterize a Fox News reporter to a Federal judge as a ‘co-conspirator’ in a crime. I know how concerned you are because so many of you have asked me: why should the government make me afraid to use a work phone or email account to gather news or even call a friend or family member? Well, they shouldn’t have done it. The administration’s attempt to intimidate Fox News and its employees will not succeed and their excuses will stand neither the test of law, the test of decency, nor the test of time. We will not allow a climate of press intimidation, unseen since the McCarthy era, to frighten any of us away from the truth.

I am proud of your tireless effort to report the news over the last 17 years. I stand with you, I support you and I thank you for your reporting with courageous optimism. Too many Americans fought and died to protect our unique American right of press freedom. We can’t and we won’t forget that. To be an American journalist is not only a great responsibility, but also a great honor. To be a Fox journalist is a high honor, not a high crime. Even this memo of support will cause some to demonize us and try to find irrelevant things to cause us to waver. We will not waver.
As Fox News employees, we sometimes are forced to stand alone, but even then when we know we are reporting what is true and what is right, we stand proud and fearless. Thank you for your hard work and all your efforts.

Sincerely,

Roger Ailes

He says the right things but you know what has now been done will have a chilling effect just as it was intended to do.

The note has been reprinted from an article by Erik Wemple in the Washington Post