Saturday, January 10, 2009

Thursday talk radio update

Bill O'Reilly spent his first hour on the theme of whether Sarah Palin is the future of the Republican Party. For various reasons, I missed most of this, so I don't know what he concluded.

Palin remains unfathomably popular in certain quarters. Beats me. She lost me as soon as she started lying about the Bridge to Nowhere. Sorry, but when it turns out that a job applicant has exaggerated the first item on the resume, I don't bother to check the second item.

Some argue that Palin simply aroused a liberal media. Maybe there is something to that, but I'm dubious. She never sounded all that conservative to me. She favored a windfall profits tax, exposed corruption in the Republican Party, hired a lobbyist to fish for federal handouts and made noises about abortion that sounded far more conciliatory than her official position. She certainly never offended any of my liberal sensibilities, but, then, my sensibilities aren't all that sensitive.

The media scrutiny she drew was a perfectly natural reaction to her relative obscurity, the brevity of her record and some obvious smoke clouds in her background. The fact that she didn't stand up too brilliantly to the scrutiny she received just invited more scrutiny.

At a more personal level, her rhetoric left me cold. People just didn't want to hear the argument any more that some Americans are more American than the rest of us. Barack Obama's strength was his ability to make voters feel like we are all in this together; Palin sent a message that only a few are worthy. Not surprisingly, only a few voted for that position.

So maybe she will resurface in 2012. But not for long, I suspect.

Hannity devoted a couple of hours to:

1. Attacking Obama for scaring us all to death about the economy.

2. Scaring us all to death about how Obama will end the free market economy in America.

What would Hannity have us do instead of Obama's plan? Interestingly, the nearest thing I heard to an answer was a suggestion that the federal government should simply stop collecting income tax for a year. Since Hannity always argues that cutting taxes increases revenues, he presumably believes that removing taxes altogether would bring in infinite revenues. It's a great plan. We could balance the budget, pay off the national debt, put everybody back to work and never have to pay a nickel in taxes. Sometimes, his genius goes unrecognized.

Hard as it may be to believe, Hannity actually made more sense on this topic than Glenn Beck did. Beck's point was that -- well, I'm not sure exactly what his point was. He seemed to be saying that Obama was wrong for wanting to spend so much money, and wrong for not spending money on large enough projects, such as building huge dams and atomic bombs. He seemed to confuse the New Deal with World War II for a while -- he may think that World War II was the New Deal -- and there was something in there about building a lifeboat large enough to hold 300 million people.

That would be a project big enough, presumably, to meet Beck's requirements for sufficient scale, and I don't know why Obama hasn't thought of it yet. It would be one way to fight global warming. Dibs on the bow seat.

I should mention that "To the Point" was on the economy, too, but in typical liberal style it actually used facts and figures to make its points. Here was a stunner (given here from memory but close enough, I think): Americans historically have spent 70 percent to 80 percent of their income each year and saved the rest. In recent years, they have spent 120 percent of their yearly income, fueling the consumer economy with debt. But since the big financial crash, Americans have been spending only 52 percent of their incomes. The problem would not appear to be (at least not yet) that we have too little money in our pockets, which makes Hannity's solution even more suspect. The problem is that we are afraid to spend it.

Another stunning figure was that banks are sitting on some $800 billion in a certain type of reserve whose name I have forgotten but which the analyst described as banks' equivalent of petty cash. Typically, he said, banks keep only a few billion around in those reserves. So banks are sitting on a ton of money that they can't, or won't lend -- and some of that is money from the $700 billion bailout.

If Obama didn't scare you, maybe the facts will.


Chuck Rightmire said...

David: I always like your brief and scathing reviews of Thursday talk radio since I won't take the time to listen to the ignorance. I'm not sure I'd call To the Point liberal, except to define liberal as you do: based on facts rather than mythology. Palin should fade away before 2012, I would think unless the Mayan calendar really has it correct (or right) and the world takes an abrupt turn into a new age. Not only are her position suspect, but she is also mean. I wouldn't want to be needing her support to get into a full lifeboat. She'd push me away. And the talk radio guys are just silly. Putting the money into middle class hands would do much to bring industrial production back on line as they buy things. And I keep repeating: there is no such thing as a free market. County how many; grocery chains there are in the country now compared to counting grocery stores 75 years ago. And how many car makers. We had probably as many car makers in the country when I was growing up as we have in the world today. Free markets become oligopolies if not monopolies.

Mark T said...

The thing about the Laffer Curve is that it is theoretically indisputable. There is a point where increased tax rates yield diminishing revenues. But there's never been any rigor applies to ascertain exactly where we might be on the curve. Instead, we went willy nilly about slashing tax rates, assuming increased revenues. Didn't work.

Anyway, I'm skeptical about anti-tax people wanting to increase tax revenues.