Government Archives

CONSTIPATED COLOMBIA PACT AND THE MISSING MASSACRE

By Michael Fumento

Pres. Obama has made expanding U.S. exports a centerpiece of his economic plan. In his January State of the Union Address, he noted that "95% of the world's customers and fastest-growing markets are beyond our borders" and that export-related jobs "pay 15% more than average." At a time when jobs are in short supply, he later said, "building exports is an imperative."

So naturally, he's done everything possible to ease passage of the Colombia Free Trade Pact, which the Bush Administration negotiated and the then-Democrat controlled Congress battled up. Right? Wrong.

As I write-in Investor's Business Daily, the pact is lopsided towards the U.S. in that Colombia's exports to us are already tariff-free, while our products sent there carry duties of up to 25% - an estimated $3.2 billion total since the agreement was reached.

Those tariffs would disappear and, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission, expand opportunities for a broad array of U.S. sectors, increase our gross domestic product by about $2.5 billion, lower our massive trade deficit and create J-O-B-S.

That's also where export markets are opening up. Economic performance confidence levels are higher in Latin America than in any other part of the world. That's why other nations are busily entering trade agreements with Colombia, including the entire European Union.

Yet in December Obama refused to even send the Pact to Congress. I absolutely will not speculate as to why.

Not at all.

Nothing.

Not a hint.

Well, except that Big Labor doesn't like the Pact because it means competition for them. And Big Labor donates Big Money to political campaigns, with 90% going to the Dems.

But, of course, the Dems can't say that. So they say they're worried about protecting the rights - indeed the lives - of Colombian labor union members. Except that the percentage of such members reported killed last year was vastly below Colombia's overall homicide rate - not to mention a fraction of that of New Orleans.

But, under tremendous GOP pressure, it looks like Obama is finally sending the Pact to Congress - who, we should hope, has the wisdom to force the President to accept his own rhetoric.

April 9, 2011 01:37 PM  ·  Permalink

The Subsidy of America is Coming to an End

By Michael Fumento

Two items on the front page of yesterday's Washington Post: "Record U.S. Deficit Projected this Year" and "Two lawmakers from Michigan propose billions in incentives for buyers of electric cars." What's wrong with this picture? That's the problem. We don't see anything wrong with this picture. We want it all. But we can't have it all.

Some people think electric cars are nice, because the pollution they generate is off-site. But as Charles Lane, a liberal, writes: "If the cars were cheaper than gas-power cars of equal performance," that would be one thing. "But electrics are substantially more expensive than cars of greater quality." So we have to heavily subsidize them to get them out the door.

On the other hand, gasoline-powered car owners are forced to use ethanol. That's a subsidy to the everyone involved in the ethanol industry, and again it has to be subsidized because it's inferior to gasoline. It cuts your mileage and does essentially nothing to reduce pollution. You just can't go around subsidizing everything.

Behold a pale rider.

True enough, the main problem is entitlements. Which, not incidentally, are subsidies. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid already absorb 40% of the budget and grow inexorably without anybody casting a single vote to increase them. Left untouched, they will destroy the country. But earmarks are readily controllable and yet still uncontrolled.

Our nation has a spending addiction. And our politicians don't have the guts to tell the public that no, we can't have it all. And so we will continue to borrow and the Fed will continue to print money. In other words, subsidize the government so it can subsidize special interests.

But as Peter Orzag, Obama's former budget director, writes in the Financial Times, "International investors would be wise to pay close attention to fiscal trends within the U.S." Don't worry, they already are. And at some point, although it will be very costly to them, they will get nervous enough to stop subsiding our subsiding.

Orzag adds, "I hope it does not ultimately require a crisis to restore fiscal sustainability at the federal level, but I fear it will." Indeed, it will. At some point, some point soon, it will all come crashing down.

Watch.

January 28, 2011 12:09 PM  ·  Permalink

Waxman baseball tobacco ban not worth chewing on

By Michael Fumento

Major League Baseball should ban players from using smokeless tobacco in dugouts and on the field because of its health risks and influence on kids, according to Rep. Henry Waxman (D.-Ca.), chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Shoot, spit! Shoot, spit!

"Millions of young fans are exposed on a daily basis to the use of smokeless tobacco by their heroes," Waxman, a California Democrat, said recently at a hearing in Washington. "This is a serious health risk. The increased use of smokeless tobacco will mean millions more teens getting hooked on nicotine."

A few points up front.

Anybody who uses tobacco in any form has a screw loose. It's a powerful carcinogen. Chewing tobacco, or smokeless tobacco as it's sometimes called, can cause cancer to any part of the body it touches, including lip, tongue, cheeks, gums, and the floor and roof of the mouth. Here are some pretty pictures for you. Personally, I like those body parts. Granted most people who chew will not develop cancer from it. It's all a matter of odds.

Chewing is clearly one of the most disgusting habits ever invented. The only ones I can think of that are more disgusting are too disgusting to mention. For example, there's . . . Nope!

At one time in public places like post offices and train stations, women had to hold up their skirts as they walked because the floor was literally covered with spit. Sure, there were plenty of spittoons but invariably men's aim was off and a lot of men never even tried to use them. Why, when there was a perfectly good piece of floor below them?

I tried chewing tobacco once when it was offered to me in the Army. The nicotine rush came on so fast I almost fainted. The taste was horrific. Yeah, I spit and fast.

I also don't doubt that seeing their sports heroes chew leads some younger people to chew, and that's truly deplorable.

My problem with Waxman's would-be edict is that this isn't something the government should do, it's something Major League Baseball, individual teams, and fan groups should do.

There has never been a more powerful motivator than societal opprobrium and approval. Society makes clear certain things are wrong or right through social carrots and sticks. But it doesn't work when government does it, because government just passes a law. The more government became involved in negative behaviors like unwed pregnancy the worse they got, in part because government involvement replaced the old strictures.

Why is chewing already vastly less common than it once was? (Note inset photo with a spittoon behind every shooter in a gallery. When I go shooting, there's no spittoon behind me.) It's the success of societal opprobrium.

In other words, it's precisely because I think that chewing is such a bad habit that I want government to back off. This is an issue for others to deal with. And actually, I've got a nifty idea. Instead of directly outlawing spitting, why doesn't MLB mandate a spittoon at the pitcher's mound and at each base? THAT will send a message!

April 23, 2010 11:12 AM  ·  Permalink

No, Pres. Obama, the health care vote was not "of the people"

By Michael Fumento

I have repeatedly defended Obama against what I've considered unfair attacks from the right. I believe his actions for the most part have not been nearly as "liberal" as some have claimed. It's wrong to use his middle name of "Hussein" used against him, as if he could have chosen it in any case. And I don't care for the conspiracy theories such as his alleged foreign birth.

But one of my objections to all this is it weakens legitimate arguments against those actions and words of his that truly threaten our nation.

That includes his utterly outrageous claim following the House vote approving the health care bill.

The vote, he said last night, "proved that this government - a government of the people and by the people - still works for the people."

Just for using that cliche he merits 20,000 years in purgatory. I trust even my non-Catholic friends will stand by me on that.

But beyond that, we have those pesky surveys that repeatedly showed "the people" opposed the legislation. They include Gallup, Rasmussen, Fox, Pew, NBC/Wall Street Journal, and others. All were released anywhere from days to a week before the vote. All show only about a third of the electorate wanted the legislation to pass.

Then there are the numbers in the House vote itself.

It squeaked by with just seven more yeas than nays, or 50.8 percent of those voting. It got zero votes from opposition party and had 17 defectors from the majority party. That doesn't invalidate the vote, of course. It legally passed. But is that the kind of victory margin you'd really want for sweeping legislation that will affect all Americans presumably for the rest of our history?

Obviously it's not what Obama would have wanted. But what he wanted more was a political victory and a massive expansion of government, and now he's got them. Goody for him. But don't pretend this is what we wanted.

March 22, 2010 02:52 PM  ·  Permalink

Entitlement creep exemplified (or why we're going broke)

By Michael Fumento

1965, Medicare health insurance authorized for all Americans over age 65 along with Medicaid that covers both seniors and the poor. Somehow for 190 years Americans were able to make do without it.

2006, Largest expansion of Medicare since origin in also covering prescription drugs but only to and beyond a certain point, leaving what's referred to as a "doughnut hole."

2009, With the nation running a historic deficit that's skyrocketing and having just passed a budget-busting health care bill in the Senate, Sen. Maj. Leader Harry Reid declares of the "doughnut hole" we must "forever end this indefensible injustice for American's seniors."

December 29, 2009 09:51 AM  ·  Permalink

EPA moves to bypass climate change legislation

By Michael Fumento

While climate experts were off at the Copenhagen summit working on their tans (in sunny Copenhagen), the EPA pulled a fast one. As the Washington Post noted in an article that was actually quite good in providing the negatives, the agency formally announced that six gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, pose a danger to the environment and the health of Americans and said it would begin drafting regulations to reduce those emissions.

"Is it hot out here or is it just me?"

So if you think the recent poll showing most Americans reject the basis of global warming legislation, plus the scandal over "climategate," may have derailed the Waxman-Markey legislation you may be right. But you'd be wrong in thinking the crisis has passed. The EPA was explicitly given the power by the Supreme Court to regulate greenhouse gases and could produce a web of regulations far worse than Waxman-Markey. The only recourse of opponents would be in the courts (see previous sentence) or via Congress cutting funding to the agency. And would this Congress really do that?

For more, see this Forbes piece on the issue published before the EPA announcement, and the EPA press release. This is bad news, folks!

December 9, 2009 04:07 PM  ·  Permalink

The government forgot about hiring the vet

By Michael Fumento

With unemployment up yet again, it must be reassuring to Americans that job-seeking veterans are being helped so much by the government, and by all those Web-based organizations with such names as VetJobs.com, MilitaryHire.com, RecruitMilitary.com, HireVeterans.com, and Military Job Zone.

Except that they're not. Remember the expression "Don't forget; hire the vet"? We've forgotten.

Read my Philadelphia Inquirer piece, "No Medals for Hiring Vets," and be enraged.

November 11, 2009 08:48 PM  ·  Permalink

Flu Watch Nov. 7 - What Swine Flu ISN'T Doing This Week

By Michael Fumento

Well, what swine flu isn't doing this week is apparently less than what it wasn't doing last week. In other words, it appears to have peaked.

http://www.openmarket.org/wp-content/themes/gazette/thumb.php?src=http://www.openmarket.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/laboratory-confirmed-influenza-associated-hospitalizations-and-deaths-national-summary_1257549777424.png&h=175&w=255&zc=1&q=95
CDC data show both hospitalizations and deaths going down.

How do we know?
Here we see it's going down the right side of the bell curve both in terms of deaths and hospitalizations.

And there's both a massive decline in samples submitted to CDC surveillance labs and a small decline in those testing positive.

College infections have essentially gone flat.

And finally we see from the Australian swine flu data in figures 1,2, and 7 that swine flu does indeed resemble the normal epidemiological curve. Once cases start going down they keep going down.

Unfortunately, the "hysteria curve" as indicated by emergency room visits is still at the highest level in the century. You can probably credit the Obama administration declaration of a "national emergency" for that.

November 7, 2009 07:02 PM  ·  Permalink

Poll shows little faith in government, media

By Michael Fumento

CAPTION
A new Harvard poll, in a ranking of 13 leadership categories, found Congress and the media ranked 11th and 12th respectively. They probably would have been even lower had there been a category for used car salesmen.

November 3, 2009 04:06 PM  ·  Permalink

Hysteria, not illness or death, drives gov't disease spending

By Michael Fumento

You've heard that the highly-drug resistant germ MRSA causes 94,000 U.S. invasive infections each year, with about 19,000 deaths. Here's what you haven't heard. As I write in the New York Sun, the government is doing practically nothing about it.

Meanwhile it's working mightily and spending the bank on three diseases that have yet to kill a single American and probably never will: Ebola virus, SARS, and avian flu. Federally-funded Ebola and SARS vaccines are in human trials and the government is already stockpiling FDA-approved avian flu vaccine. Yet government-funded MRSA vaccine research is still in mice.

One spending comparison: Congress has specifically earmarked $5.8 billion for avian flu, the threat of which continually recedes. Yet, although the CDC lists in addition to MRSA 8 important diseases connected to antibiotic resistance, the total annual budget for these is merely $221 million.

I conclude: "We need a government that pays more attention to medical statistics than to headlines. The one we have now is killing us."

November 8, 2007 12:26 PM  ·  Permalink

Who should be the next pick for the Supremes?

By Michael Fumento

John Hawkins from Right Wing News is polling 50 blogers on who should be Pres. Bush's next Supreme Court nominee. I told him that despite being a lawyer I just don't keep up on these things. That said, I told him, "I do concur with the MSM that what's needed is more diversity. So let's find a bulemic Eskimo-Asian lesbian dwarf with a severe speech impediment."

September 29, 2005 11:36 AM  ·  Permalink

NASA discovers time travel -- back to 1969

By Michael Fumento

What if the Dell and Apple computer companies announced an "ambitious" plan to produce desktops by 2018 that did what computers could do back in 1969? Then why is everybody going gaga over NASA's announcement that it would do the same with lunar landings? And while research that goes into desktop computers only takes funds from willing consumers, NASA's scheme will cost an "estimated" $104 billion. And you know the value of long-term government estimates. Lost in all the excitement is WHY we would want to do such a thing. The original moonshot was a powerful psychological boost during the Cold War but all we got out of it otherwise was a bunch of rocks. Just how many more moon rocks do we need? They might discover there really is cheese there, but then the dairy lobby would go nuts. Even NASA is at a loss for words for this incredible extravaganza. NASA Administrator Michael Griffin defended it as (I'm not making this up) a jobs program. He noted that it would employ many people along the Gulf Coast devastated by Katrina.

Speaking of which, isn't Pres. Bush looking for $200 billion in cuts from the budget to pay for Katrina recovery? But Griffin has an answer to that. "When you have a hurricane, we don't cancel the Air Force and we don't cancel the Navy. We're not going to cancel NASA," he said. In fact, despite the ongoing war on terrorism (Anybody remember that?) the Air Force and Navy were forced to make major cuts. Katrina? Terror? Name a needy project and it's almost certainly going to be more worthwhile than bringing back more darned rocks. Whatever purpose NASA once served, its main purpose now is self-perpetuation. It IS time to cancel NASA and divide its useful duties among other agencies and the private sector.

September 20, 2005 05:41 PM  ·  Permalink

They deserted because they couldn't go pee?

By Michael Fumento

If you don't already know it, the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisana have made no mistakes either prior to or after Katrina's landfall. Everything is the fault of the feds. Explaining why 200 NO police have simply walked off the job, P. Edwin Compass III, the superintendent of police, told the New York Times: "If I put you out on the street and made you get into gun battles all day with no place to urinate and no place to defecate, I don't think you would be too happy either." They actually aren't getting into gun battles all day (to my knowledge, there's only been one so far) so what does that leave? Cops who cop out because they can't take a comfortable cr-p?

September 6, 2005 09:48 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  TrackBack (0)

Blame Bush for Katrina!

By Michael Fumento

I'm surprised nobody has yet blamed President Bush for causing Hurricane Katrina in order to wipe nutcase Cindy Sheehan off the pages of America's papers. Or maybe they have and I just haven't heard about it...

September 2, 2005 01:16 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  TrackBack (0)

Conservatives and government admonitions on obesity

By Michael Fumento

How should conservatives view government efforts against the obesity epidemic? This exchange might be useful.

Dear Mr. Fumento:

When getting someone else's comment about your obesity article at townhall.com, I heard that you are considered libertarian in your thinking. When I saw in the article, however, I sensed a strong dose of "Do Something". Don't throw away your conservatism on your war against obesity. Many people whom we call "liberals" are just conservatives who got all consumed on ONE issue that needs urgent government action. A government that has the right to tell you not to eat a big mac has the right to tell you what to do in your bedroom.

Billy [omitted]

Dear Billy:

Actually, in just the last few days hate mailers or bloggers have referred to me as "a liberal twirp" and a "neo-con" along with other things that are usually written out as &%$#^ or *&$#@+. But yes, I've also been called a libertarian. None of the above is true. I'm just an old-fashioned conservative, or to be more specific I refer to myself as a "Burkean conservative." Despite my disgust with politicians who call themselves conservatives and actually believe in nothing more than power and money, I will not "throw away" my core beliefs. On the other hand, you are the one who seems to be adopting the libertarian position that even government advice on food consumption is going too far. I'm sorry, but I draw a huge distinction between told something is bad for you and having a law passed against it. We have a Public Health Service for a reason – to protect public health. When it strays into areas like divorce, as the CDC has, it needs to be slapped down. When it lies, as it did about the AIDS epidemic, likewise. But weighing in (pardon the pun) on the second-greatest controllable cost of premature death seems to be exactly what public health people should be doing.

Sincerely,
Michael Fumento

July 15, 2005 08:31 PM  ·  Permalink  ·  TrackBack (0)