Economics

Full Text of Obama's Inaugural Address

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Here's the full text of President Barack Obama's first big speech. Some snippets:

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land—a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights….

The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act—not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do….

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate….

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed—why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

More here.

I think the crisis talk is highly and purposefully exaggerated, both by Obama and virtually every other politician and commentator around. Crisis, after all, allows for the New Dealesque bold, persistent experimentation and all that. The economy may be in the shitter, for sure, and as readers of this site know, that's in large part precisely due to the sort of government action taken over the past eight years and more. Indeed, Obama campaigned on the idea that overspending and too much credit are to blame for the crunch. Now he advises we do even more of the same.

The reality that Obama underscores in that last paragraph quoted above—that race relations and tolerance in general have radically changed for the better in post World War II America—is something phenomenal that really can't be overstated. But the declinist tone in Obama's opening address to the country, and the "new New Deal" sort of policies he's suggested leave me worried that he's going to be ruling like it's 1979. Christ, the Steelers are even back in the Super Bowl.

Reason staffers tell their hopes and fears for the 44th president of these United States (approximately four minutes; links and embed code here):

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  1. Are you watching how the markets are pricing sovereign defaults – even among AAA rated countries? It really is that bad.

  2. Eh. If anybody needs me, i’ll be listening to the Who.

  3. “I think the crisis talk is highly and purposefully exaggerated, both by Obama and virtually every other politician and commentator around.”

    Nick – you got it!! well spake, sir! – everybody with an agenda is hyping the doom. look at the people hier. you see DOOM words all the time.

    it gets even better when different groups claim ownership of the prediction of doom. heh! 🙂

  4. “I think the crisis talk is highly and purposefully exaggerated, both by Obama and virtually every other politician and commentator around.”

    Yup.

    It’s pretty funny that Obama is a pompous denouncer of the “politics of fear” out of one side of his mouth and one of the primary purveyers of it out of the other.

  5. Well, we all know for sure that Obama gives great speeches, he talks the talk! Now the big question is, can he WALK THE WALK? I guess we will soon see!

    RT
    http://www.privacy-web.us.tc

  6. Fuck the Steelers. I hate them even more than I hate anonymity-bot.

  7. Yes, I’m definitely for the Cardinals.

    As for the fear, well, a population that’s not scared might object to an overreaching government. On occasion.

  8. “We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.”

    He’s going to my money, isn’t he?

  9. It’s pretty funny that Obama is a pompous denouncer of the “politics of fear” out of one side of his mouth and one of the primary purveyers of it out of the other.

    Fear is one possible reaction to a crisis, not to be confused with the crisis itself.

  10. I suppose you can make it appear that Obama’s speech has a “declinist tone” pretty easily, if you cut out the part that follows what you quote and put in ellipsis instead.

  11. I think the crisis talk is highly and purposefully exaggerated, both by Obama and virtually every other politician and commentator around. Really, why do you think that?

    Crisis, after all, allows for the New Dealesque bold, persistent experimentation and all that.

    Oh, I see. If there is a crisis, it would be politically inconvenient for libertarians. Ergo, no crisis!

  12. This, of course, is the same line of thought that gave us so many “There is no recession, dammit!” pieces over the past year.

  13. “THERE IS NO PHONE RINGING DAMNIT!!!!!!!”

    -Omega Man

  14. Sex Fear sells!

  15. joe,

    Like most politicians when they give a speech, Obama was all over the map and was mostly quite general in his comments.

    He did however state yesterday – and here I paraphrase to the best of my ability – that where government programs don’t work his administration will be getting rid of them. I’ll give him sixty days. That sounds reasonable to me. Here I assume that there is at least one government program, agency, etc. in our leviathan state that doesn’t work and can’t work.

  16. The Ascension was yesterday? I guess I missed it.

    Why are we all still here?

  17. Seward,

    I liked that bit, too.

    Sixty days? They won’t be able to picka font in 60 days.

  18. joe,

    Well, technically there was no recession; as that term is defined; so they were right. That ought to tell us something about the state of macro.

  19. “Fear is one possible reaction to a crisis, not to be confused with the crisis itself.”

    What level of “crisis” actually exists is a mater of opinion – not fact – in the first place.

  20. joe,

    There are plenty well known low hanging fruit out there.

  21. joe,

    Well, technically there was no recession; as that term is defined; so they were right.

    http://wwwdev.nber.org/cycles/dec2008.html

  22. At least the stock market rebounded yesterday.

  23. Mother mother can you hear me Im just calling to say hello
    Hows the weather hows my father am I lonely heavens no
    Mother mother are listening just a phone call to ease your mind
    Life is perfect never better distance making the heart grow blind

    When you sent me off to see the world where you scared that I might get hurt
    Would I try a little tobacco would I keep on hiking up my skirt

    Im hungry
    Im dirty
    Im losing my mind
    Everythings fine

    Im freezing
    Im starving
    Im bleeding death
    Everythings fine

    Yeah, Im working, making money Im just starting to build a name
    I can feel it around the corner I could make it any day
    Mother mother can you hear me yeah Im sober sure Im sane
    Life is perfect never better still your daughter still the same

    If I tell you what you want to hear will it help you to sleep wellat night
    Are you sure that Im your perfect dear now just cuddle up and sleep tight

    Im hungry
    Im dirty
    Im losing my mind
    Everythings fine

    Im freezing
    Im starving
    Im bleeding to death
    Everythings fine

    I miss you
    I love you.

  24. Anyway, whenever a politician (or frankly, anyone else) starts using emotionally loaded terms like “crisis” and the like, it ought to trigger the bullshit detector.

  25. joe,

    What will the official font be for the Obama administration? I see Obama as the political face of the Apple cult, so I predict Helvetica. Not a bad choice, if it turns out that way, and I have no objection to any good sans serif typeface. Arial would be fine, for instance.

  26. joe’s right, nothing but picking out china, dogs, and fonts will happen for quite some time.

  27. I see Obama as the political face of the Apple cult, so I predict Helvetica.

    LoL! Yeah, Barack Obama is a Mac daddy. No doubt.

    Arial would be fine, for instance. Mermaids are an abomination before the Lord.

  28. What level of “crisis” actually exists is a mater of opinion – not fact – in the first place.

    No, actually, what level of crisis exists is an objective fact (unless you don’t believe in objective reality). Whether that is a *knowable* fact is another thing entirely.

    And mentioning there is a crisis is a long way from fear-mongering, which was the original point.

  29. Seward,

    Skepticism is supposed to encourage you to open your mind, not close it.

    I don’t see bullshit detectors, I see “Nuh-uh, I’m not listening la la la la la la la la la!”

  30. That’s Ariel, man. Do you know nothing of fonts and, for that matter, mermaids?

  31. nothing but picking out china, dogs, and fonts will happen for quite some time

    Good. He can waste all the time on that sort of nonsense he likes. Makes it all the more likely a “don’t ask, don’t tell” sort of scandal will show up and derail his more collectivist plans.

  32. joe,

    Well, if I accept all of that as the case, then it apparently it wasn’t until sometime into the winter months of 2008 that a recession was determined to have been underway as of December of 2007. As that appears to be the case then at the very least it seems reasonable that folks were arguing about whether a recession was underway.

  33. ProL has a mermaid fetish? Gross.

  34. where government programs don’t work his administration will be getting rid of them.

    TSA! TSA! TSA! TSA! TSA! TSA!

  35. ProL has a mermaid fetish? Gross.

    It is still a mermaid fetish if he’s really only interested in the bottom half?

  36. That’s Ariel, man.

    Sorry, my bad.

    We’re past Disney animation, into High School Musical now.

  37. Tracy Bonham, joe? We really ARE going back to the ’90s. I’m’a do high school right this time, i swear.

  38. Episiarch,

    Not at all. What’s the point?

    However, I am serious about fonts. Obama’s making the most important decision of his presidency in the next 60 days. Choosing the wrong typeface could make him appear weak and invite further terror strikes.

  39. I was disconcerted by the Tracy Bonham just sort of thrown haphazardly into the midst of the thread.

  40. Not at all. What’s the point?

    I think NutraSweet answered that:

    It is still a mermaid fetish if he’s really only interested in the bottom half?

    Fish fetish is even more gross. ProL’s pickup line: “are you a Pisces?”

  41. Icky.

  42. joe,

    We’re all open minded. Like I wrote, I’m giving Obama sixty days to come up with a government program, etc. to eliminate.

  43. joe,

    Well, 59 days now.

  44. Now if Obama were really cool, he’d use the Greek alphabet for all official documents. Thus, ?????.

  45. No, ProL. Romulan.

  46. Pashtun. That ought to be good for a larf.

  47. Romulan would be good, just in principle. What does it look like? I get all of my science fiction typefaces confused.

  48. Of course, fonts aside, the official spoken language of the administration should be Latin. Nothing conveys pomposity and decorum more effectively than Latin.

  49. Something Obama could do right off the bat to make health care less expensive would be to equalize the tax levels faced by employers who insure their employees and employees who pay for their own insurance or pay out of pocket. That would likely reduce costs dramatically.

  50. Troy McClure: My good looks paid for that pool, and my talent filled it with water. Hi, I’m Troy McClure, your future uncle.

    Lisa: Hi. I remember you from such filmstrips as Locker Room Towel Fight: the Blinding of Larry Driscoll.

    Troy McClure: You know, I was one of the first to speak out against horseplay.

  51. Pro L,

    If he were really cool he’d publish all government documents in cuneiform on clay tablets.

  52. I wonder if Obama would dare to push a national font through Congress? While everyone acknowledges that the president has the sole Constitutional authority to declare a typeface for his administration, no one has ever successfully passed an Official Typeface of the United States bill. Bush tried that with Century Gothic, but Congress was having none of that.

  53. Yes, cuneiform would be nice. As would Linear B.

  54. Romulan would be good, just in principle. What does it look like?

    Here you go. Kind of stupid that it maps directly to…English.

  55. Episiarch,

    Not bad. It reminds me a little of the alphabet the apes used in Planet of the Apes.

  56. I put Obama’s promise to close government programs in the same bag as Clinton’s statement that the era of big government is over.

    Query: as a Senator, did Obama ever propose or vote for closing a single program or agency?

  57. I am opposed to a National Typeface. In fact, I want to return to the days when randomly assorted fonts were used in a single document.

  58. Incan Quipu FTW.

  59. The era of big government is over. This is the era of bigger government.

    P Brooks,

    In these trying times, we must put aside our personal prejudices and desires and show unity by adopting a single typeface for all. A new American typeface for a new America. There’s no room for different typefaces or, Obama forbid, mixed lettering.

  60. As long as it’s not Comic Sans.

  61. I noticed he didn’t mention nuclear in his “alternative energy” remarks. I hope that’s because he was only referencing new technologies. He’s been wishy washy on nukes since he started running for POTUS.

    Will be interesting to see his policy.

  62. As long as it’s not Comic Sans.

    “What are you running from?! The disease is inside of you!”

    LOL

  63. Christ, the Steelers are even back in the Super Bowl.

    Whoo hoo!

  64. I noticed he didn’t mention nuclear in his “alternative energy” remarks.

    I highly doubt that nuclear is going to get a seat at the energy table, even if global temperatures continue to level off or drop slightly.

  65. Nuclear power is unmutual.

  66. “I think the crisis talk is highly and purposefully exaggerated, both by Obama and virtually every other politician and commentator around.”

    The number of people who give a fuck what you think would fill one pew in a small church, asshole.

  67. Lefiti,

    So what typeface do you think Obama should adopt?

  68. fuck you guys, I will be here in western pennsylvania clutching my guns and religion as I cheer for the STEELERS!

  69. I prefer the Mac font “Fuckface.” I’m typing in it right now, libertard!

  70. Oh, okay. I’m not familiar with that one. Sounds like a serif to me.

  71. The reality that Obama underscores in that last paragraph quoted above-that race relations and tolerance in general have radically changed for the better in post World War II America-is something phenomenal that really can’t be overstated.

    You sure wouldn’t know it from that disgusting little benediction given by that racist black preacher though.

  72. He could get that Big Brother-esque stature with something like Impact or Agency.

    Really show who’s in charge, ya know…

  73. It’s extra-serif! Something your precious free-market could never provide because of greed.

  74. Something Obama could do right off the bat to make health care less expensive would be to equalize the tax levels faced by employers who insure their employees and employees who pay for their own insurance or pay out of pocket. That would likely reduce costs dramatically.

    Not really. The huge price difference between corporate buyers and individual buyers is the the former buy in bulk. That’s why Walmart buys toothpaste at a much lower price than you could ever dream to buy it at.

  75. Sounds like a serif to me.[…]It’s extra-serif! Something your precious free-market could never provide because of greed.

    Fruity fonts with their precious little wings…

  76. It’s libertards like you that kept Wing-Dings from the people for so long!

  77. Show of hands, who thinks that in five years we’ll be saying “Well, thank God the government spent those trillions of dollars!”

  78. Taktix?,

    Nice choices but not quite right. However, your proposals made me realize what an idiot I was to overlook the perfect typeface for Obama (actually, near perfect for him; perfect for HRC): The Village font/Albertus. I must be losing a step not to have thought of that right off the bat.

    Performance Artist Lefiti,

    Extra serif. Now that was funny.

  79. It’s pretty funny that Obama is a pompous denouncer of the “politics of fear”

    I’ve never understood how the party of Al Gore got away with that one.

  80. “Oh, I see. If there is a crisis, it would be politically inconvenient for libertarians. Ergo, no crisis!”

    and since the crisis is politically convenient for democrats *and* republicans (and the folks who pay their bills), it is a super-crisis.

    we shall call it…disaster feudalism.

  81. Well, for some the honeymoon is fully under way. Check out the front cover of the Seattle Times(pdf). Above the fold there is no text at all, just a picture of Him coming down some lucky stairs.

  82. more to the point, are there many political philosophies which aren’t motivated by fear?

    as a side note, anyone who ever voted for or supported the patriot act should be banned from using the term “politics of fear”. yes i know this would decimate cable news punditry but that is a sacrifice i am willing to make.

  83. Mo,

    Well, that isn’t what would decrease health care costs. As it stands now people have no incentive to drop out of their employer provided health care plans; that would provide an incentive for them to do so and seek alternatives that are cheaper and fit their situation better than the very rigid health care programs that most employers provide. That would lead to more rational pricing of health care goods.

    Of course, rationalizing and liberating us from all the mandates that are required of insurance companies would also be helpful too, as well as modifying or simply dropping the price controls we see in that industry.

  84. has Obama removed the arsenic that Bush put in the water yet?

    anyone seen gaius marius? he seemed pretty sure Bush was dictating for life.

  85. Fun libertarian factoid:

    I was once told by a teacher that during the Depression the government began buying milk to help the milk producers. They then converted the milk to cheese for storage.

    Some sympathetic fellow in the government then realized “Hey, there are hungry people who might want that cheese!” So they started giving the cheese away to the poor. Almost immediately, the milk producers went ballistic because suddenly no one was buying their cheese and they were being driven out of business.

    Red-faced but still determined to help people, the government then tried to give the cheese to poor countries. This worked well until dairy farmers in the poor countries began going bankrupt left and right, leaving the countries worse off than before.

    So finally the government threw up its hands and started storing the cheese in old salt mines, where even today there are millions of tons of cheese, standing as a monument to gov’t intervention.

  86. “No, actually, what level of crisis exists is an objective fact (unless you don’t believe in objective reality). Whether that is a *knowable* fact is another thing entirely.”

    If it is an objective fact, it is one that changes every second with every financial trade that is executed in the world. Markets are driven by opinion and perception – billions of opinions and perceptions that is.

    “And mentioning there is a crisis is a long way from fear-mongering, which was the original point.”

    Hyping it to advance a bigger government agenda is fear-mongering. Particularly since no government on this earth has ever engineered a good economy into existence – or “saved” any country from a bad one.

  87. Nothing made a better grilled cheese than government cheese.

  88. TallDave | January 21, 2009, 10:33am | #
    Show of hands, who thinks that in five years we’ll be saying “Well, thank God the government spent those trillions of dollars!”

    Well, I don’t know, TallDave. Tell me again how much the War in Iraq cost? You can put your hand down any time, there, buddy.

  89. So, what’s the typeface of freedom? I’ve run across a Liberty Font which looks a bit reminiscent of the script used for the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Not sure.

  90. If it is an objective fact, it is one that changes every second with every financial trade that is executed in the world. Markets are driven by opinion and perception – billions of opinions and perceptions that is.

    Oh please. Markets, much like most systems with high information throughput, exhibit metastability. Otherwise they *would be useless*. A market trends upwards, or downwards, and it is measurable and to a small degree predictable.

    Hyping it to advance a bigger government agenda is fear-mongering. Particularly since no government on this earth has ever engineered a good economy into existence – or “saved” any country from a bad one.

    I suppose that all depends on one’s opinion of the New Deal, et al.. I’m sure there is a truth to the matter, but I reject the notion that we understand economics well enough to know whether the Laissez-fairies or the Keynesians were right.

  91. “Nothing made a better grilled cheese than government cheese.”

    not true. gouda, a bit of basil and some freshly ground black pepper on stone-ground pumpernickle is a great substitution for velveeta or whatever horrible shit they force people to eat in the flyover prison camps – i mean, america’s heartland!

    actually, i’m partial to plain old shitty american cheese on rye.

  92. By the way, debating whether Obama played the fear card in his speech is pointless. He did it in spades when he was urging Congress to action to save us all from the bogeyman. And that was before taking office.

  93. Interesting story, TallDave. You probably could have said the same thing for pork as well. But instead of your ending, the government slaughtered six million baby pigs, mostly to be made into grease or fertilizer (anything but food) to prop up the price of pork.

  94. anyone seen gaius marius? he seemed pretty sure Bush was dictating for life.

    He’s still around.

    http://declineandfallofwesterncivilization.blogspot.com/

    Apparently, the world is still ending, but now it’s Ben Bernanke’s fault. Not to worry, Obama is going to nationalize everything and save us from the evil rich capitalists.

    one hopes that the incoming obama administration understands that their mandate is in no small part to prove to the people that the powerful can be constrained for the good of the whole without have a loaded revolutionary pistol shoved in their metaphorical mouth. that could best be done in the short term by taking national possession of the banks and eradicating as much of the capital structure as is needed to restore the banks to health.

  95. Nothing made a better grilled cheese than government cheese.

    It’s like melting the hearts of rich people for your consumption.

  96. Well, I don’t know, TallDave. Tell me again how much the War in Iraq cost?

    Less than the bailout, or the stimulus. Plus, it actually accomplished something.

  97. dhex,

    Government cheese was plain old American cheese. But it melted extra smooth.

    Now, my favorite adult grilled cheese is sharp cheddar, stone ground mustard and black pepper on beer bread.

  98. I guess I shouldn’t own up to eating government cheese. It goes against the stereotype of mustache-twirling trust-fund kids that our dumbass leftist trolls think we are all. “Leave poverty in two generations through hard work? That’s unpossible!”

  99. “Leave poverty in two generations through hard work? That’s unpossible!”

    Even funnier when you realize that by 1950s standards, poverty is essentially nonexistent today.

  100. What was the typeface of the New Deal? Despair Gothic? I’m just wondering how the lettering was done on all those cheese boxes.

    By the way, my wife had grandparents in West Virginia. One of them got government cheese (in a huge block) as part of her welfare support. So cheese lives in Bibertopia.

  101. Even funnier when you realize that by 1950s standards, poverty is essentially nonexistent today.

    Either you’re naive, an idiot, or have never in your life walked upon the streets of any major city.

  102. Even if I were dirt poor, I’m afraid that eating American (or government) cheese would be beneath me. One can always get a cheddar, provolone, or farmer’s cheese at a reasonable price.

    NutraSweet, you should make a Grilled Charlie.

  103. I wouldn’t dream of confessing to once having bartered the devil’s weed for WIC government cheese and medicaid ritalin with a welfare single mother. I liked the cheese better than the ritalin.

  104. Elemenope,

    In the 1950s, people spent about 1/3 of their income on food. Today, the poor suffer from obesity.

  105. I wonder if there is a cheese font? Then we can combine the very best of the off topic topics of this thread.

  106. However, your proposals made me realize what an idiot I was to overlook the perfect typeface for Obama (actually, near perfect for him; perfect for HRC): The Village font/Albertus.

    That one popped into my head, too; a friendly, yet somehow powerfully compelling, font.

    Actually, to expand on my earlier comment regarding randomized fonts, I think all laws should be published using words cut from the pages of a variety of newspapers and magazines. In the style of ransom notes. In honor of our new era of openness and honesty.

  107. “Well, I don’t know, TallDave. Tell me again how much the War in Iraq cost?”

    Far far less than the unfunded liability for Medicare.

  108. “One can always get a cheddar, provolone, or farmer’s cheese at a reasonable price.”

    cheddar is great, but overwhelming for a grilled cheese sandwich. that’s why gouda’s a good choice, as it melts like a motherfucker without the awesome crusting power of slightly burned cheddar. (great for mac n’ cheese, not so hot for sandwiches)

  109. “Oh please. Markets, much like most systems with high information throughput, exhibit metastability. Otherwise they *would be useless*. A market trends upwards, or downwards, and it is measurable and to a small degree predictable.”

    Predictable, eh?

    I await copies of your brokerage statement showing the trades where you perfectly timed the severe market downturn by entirely eliminating all your long positions and going 100% short.

  110. TallDave, you got any maps to these cheese mines?

  111. TallDave,

    Well, more to the point, it is the expansion our production which has led to greater wealth for all. Basically modern liberals are always talking about dividing up the pie more “fairly,” free market types are more concerned with making the pie bigger so that smaller shares are more filling. Production is what makes societies rich, not eveness of distribution.

  112. Predictable, eh?

    I await copies of your brokerage statement showing the trades where you perfectly timed the severe market downturn by entirely eliminating all your long positions and going 100% short.

    You are being willfully stupid, right? Like, you aren’t in real life this bad at reading and interpreting English text.

    What does “to a small degree”, the phrase you elided, mean to you?

  113. El,

    To put that in more perspective, real GDP per capita in the U.S. today is about 3-4 times what it was in the 1950s. The average income in the 1950s is about where the poverty line is now!

    I’m not sure where the “poverty line” was defined in the 1950s, but it’s a good bet welfare payments today exceed it by a fair amount.

  114. TallDave, you got any maps to these cheese mines?

    There are both yellow mines and white ones. The yellow is more valuable.

    Wisconsin Cheese Rush!

  115. Seward,

    Yep, exactly. The power of the free market over time is just awe-inspiring.

  116. Know you then of Velveeta, the Cheese that Cannot Die?

  117. Rmeinds me too of the Soviets’ efforts in the 1980s to show their citizens how much better off they were under “equality” by showing them footage of American ghettoes.

    Instead, Soviet citizens learned that even the poorest Americans were fat, had cars, and wore new shoes. Probably hastened the fall.

  118. TallDave,

    Free Market?
    What free market?

    At what level of regulation does a market get to carry that label?

    Certainly the US has not had a market free of regulation during its most prosperous period.

  119. Since joe brought up Tracy Bonham, I’ll go ahead and plug Jen(nifer) Trynin.

    Separately, font-wise, you can’t go wrong with Anklepants (which is similar to the old Group W font).

  120. NM,

    I’m no anarchist. Some level of regulation is necessary.

    Generally, the freer the market the better the long-term results.

  121. We had a free-er market during that period, when compared to most of the planet. No worries, that’s about to end.

  122. think TallDaves point is that the free part of the market is what accounts for the progress, vs. the regulated part. unless you were just being snarky…

  123. So, what’s the typeface of freedom?

    Easy. Trebuchet. Overcomes its lack of soothing serifs by being named after a device for tearing down walls.

  124. Neu Mejican,

    To paraphrase a number of people who I admire, the government can do much before it completely ruins an economy. While – as Schumpeter noted a capitalist, free market economy is in many ways a delicate thing – it also has a certain level of resiliency. So yes, that prosperity came in significant part despite the actions of the government. That it wasn’t completely put under by say the wage and price controls of the 1970s is a good example of this.

  125. I see Obama as the political face of the Apple cult, so I predict Helvetica.

    LoL! Yeah, Barack Obama is a Mac daddy. No doubt.

    So now we know what kind of Obama jokes Joe finds acceptable. Egads.

  126. So, what’s the typeface of freedom?

    Courier. All other fonts have secret agendas.

  127. “You are being willfully stupid, right? Like, you aren’t in real life this bad at reading and interpreting English text.”

    I am willfully treating you in the manner to which you so richly deserve.

  128. “think TallDaves point is that the free part of the market is what accounts for the progress, vs. the regulated part.”

    Of course.

    It is physically impossible for the case to be otherwise.

  129. So, what’s the typeface of freedom?

    Dunno. But we can rule out Benguiat Frisky, as it is the type face of drunk college girls.

  130. the typeface of freedom is, sadly, comic sans.

    freedom is ugly, hideous, and a bottom up affair.

    in the hands of a free and democratic people, which font are you most likely to see slathered about inappropriately, flying the face of decorum and good sense? comic sans.

    the disease is inside us all.

  131. dhex wants to taste the curb! He wants to taste the fucking curb!

  132. R C Dean,

    Trebuchet. On the plus side, it’s sans serif. On the negative side, it was designed for Microsoft. Which is now in bed with the government after fighting the good fight in the 90s. And there’s that whole evil bad product thing.

  133. Reminds me too of the Soviets’ efforts in the 1980s to show their citizens how much better off they were under “equality” by showing them footage of American ghettoes.

    Instead, Soviet citizens learned that even the poorest Americans were fat, had cars, and wore new shoes. Probably hastened the fall.

    Fair enough. My point was that homelessness is still a huge problem, particularly in Urban areas, and whatever economic dividends have filtered through the system, there are still a great number of places where it hasn’t penetrated.

    Also, rural poverty is a huge problem, particularly in Ohio and West Virginia. Obesity isn’t the only (or best) indicator of the poverty level, as well.

  134. Seward | January 21, 2009, 12:01pm | #
    Neu Mejican,

    To paraphrase a number of people who I admire, the government can do much before it completely ruins an economy. While – as Schumpeter noted a capitalist, free market economy is in many ways a delicate thing – it also has a certain level of resiliency. So yes, that prosperity came in significant part despite the actions of the government. That it wasn’t completely put under by say the wage and price controls of the 1970s is a good example of this.

    I have a problem with the assertions here (and several comments above) that attempt to parcel out the effects of particular aspects of a highly complex system, only poorly understood, that includes both top-down (regulatory) and bottom-up processes.

    Claiming that all benefits occur due to the bottom-up forces and that the only negative effects result from top-down processes is, well, empirically undemonstrated (at least) and possibly unknowable.

    In other words, your claims are faith-based rather than reality-based, metaphysical rather than scientific…

  135. dhex,

    and since the crisis is politically convenient for democrats *and* republicans (and the folks who pay their bills), it is a super-crisis.

    There’s a rather large problem with this attempt at a parallel: the people who study the economy at a professional level – like, say, the last few winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics, the last couple of Fed chairs, the economists throughout the public and private sector – are pretty solidly uniform in their opinion that this is an economic crisis.

  136. Folks, Obama has a font. It’s called Gotham. It’s very good, and people already associate it with him.

    On the crisis being exaggerated — I don’t know. By some measures, say unemployment, it’s not been as bad as 1982, but by some measures it’s been worse. (The 1970’s were a bigger expansion than the 2000’s.) We don’t have a straightforward way to fix it, like looser monetary policy. This could be bad. And depending on the degree of government mismanagement, it could be very bad.

    Elemenope’s right. The poor are poor. Few starve, but let’s be reasonable and have a little compassion. I doubt I’d be able to cope below the median income.

  137. http://feedingamerica.org/faces-of-hunger/hunger-101/hunger-and-poverty-statistics.aspx

    In 2007, 36.2 million Americans lived in food insecure households, 23.8 million adults and 12.4 million children.

  138. I wonder if there is a cheese font? Then we can combine the very best of the off topic topics of this thread.

    Some company likely will craft one.

  139. 36.2 million? That’s twelve percent of the population. No way that’s right. Or perhaps “food insecure” means something other than hungry.

    Not to say that we don’t have poverty or even some crushing poverty, but I don’t think hunger is a real problem in the U.S. What people eat might be, but that’s a broad problem not just afflicting the poor.

  140. Xeones | January 21, 2009, 11:29am | #

    TallDave, you got any maps to these cheese mines?

    Coming summer 2011: Indiana Jones and the Gubamint Cheese.

  141. Pro Lib,

    Food insecure means that due to income pressures, you have to skip meals. Working in public schools in New Mexico, it is not uncommon to find children who get only the free breakfast and free lunch provided by school, and no dinner at home. I think 12% sounds about right. You will note if you look around that website that NM is 2nd from the bottom on this issue (as always, thank god for Mississippi).

  142. Neu Mejican,

    Claiming that all benefits occur due to the bottom-up forces…

    Since I didn’t do that, I can safely ignore anything else you’ve written in this comment, including all the stuff about faith, etc. FYI: I’m basically a minarchist (though maybe less minarchist than some other minarchists), not an anarchist.

    Anyway, note what I was responding to:

    Certainly the US has not had a market free of regulation during its most prosperous period.

    I don’t think it is terribly controversial to state that the U.S. has succeeded in part despite the actions of the government. Wage and price controls are a pretty good example of that.

    What of course is plainly clear is that the U.S. has never had a market free of regulation. Indeed, I myself don’t take umbrage at all regulations, just the vast majority of them, particularly those with Baptist and Bootlegger aspects to them. In fact, at numerous times I have stated that I don’t regulations which set goals or standards which a business community has to meet to be all that problematic as a general way to do regulation. That’s generally not how the sausage is made in D.C. (or in the states), and there are some reasons having to do with the incentives, institutional inertia, human behavior, etc. why that is likely the case.

  143. Neu Mejican,

    In other words, I’m pretty fond of market based regulations, and am pretty sour on regulations which try to mandate say X technology for an entire industry. The latter invariably closes off innovation and all other manner of virtuous things in a way that the former does far less of.

  144. My point was that homelessness is still a huge problem, particularly in Urban areas, and whatever economic dividends have filtered through the system, there are still a great number of places where it hasn’t penetrated.

    Homelessness isn’t an economic problem, for the most part. You could give every homeless person a job and a lease, and within 6 months the vast majority would be back on the streets.

  145. Rose,

    A tax cut would be helpful at this point.

    Elemenope,

    I’m really not quite sure how one ends homelessness. Pretty clearly public housing isn’t the solution, given the money we’ve poured into that over the past three or four decades.

  146. Pro Libertate,

    Those numbers sound about right actually. However, over half (60%?) of the food insecure were not “substantially disrupted” by their food insecurity. The remainder did.

    These sorts of issues could be addressed in a number of different ways, including ending agricultural subsidies, a guaranteed income which the government would subsidize if it fell below a certain level ($15,000?), etc.

  147. Pro Libertate,

    One of the sorriest leftovers we have from the New Deal are the agricultural supports that remain in place which were either conceived then or followed as a natural result of New Deal policies.

  148. Seward,

    I was responding to a group of comments, only one of which were yours, so the “your claim” should probably been something like “such claims.” No offense intended.

    On to substance.

    You did make this statement.

    So yes, that prosperity came in significant part despite the actions of the government

    Or in the more elaborated form: I don’t think it is terribly controversial to state that the U.S. has succeeded in part despite the actions of the government.

    There are hedge words in here…”in significant part” that are consistent with the minarchist-some-regulations-are-okay you elaborate above, so we may not be that far off on our view here, but I think the main issue I raise is in the background in your statement.

    Claims that prosperity is gained “despite the actions of the government” are still, in a softer form for sure, assuming that we can know or demonstrate the independent effect of those government actions on the final outcome. I don’t think, for the most part (my own hedge here), that there is empirical support for this when we are dealing with the complex system that is the US economy. The field of economics has done a good job at describing the various forces which play a role in the final outcome…but has not, it seems, created a valid model that would allow a differential analysis of the contribution of each of those forces in the final outcome.

    So to your example: wage and price controls.

    The devil is in the details. There have been many discussion on H&R around the issue of wage controls, particurly in terms of minimum wage rules. What is clear from these discussions is that their effect on the economy is hard to determine when even well understood and widely used metrics of effect are used (employment rates, various income measures).

    So, while it is probably true that some of our prosperity happens “despite” government actions, and while it also probably true that some of our prosperity happens “as a result of” government actions, empirical demonstrations that allow for clear cut distinctions between the two are rare, if not non-existent…and may, perhaps, be impossible at some level.

  149. …a man whose father more than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
    With all due respect Mr. President, if less than sixty years ago your parents chose to abort you, you would not have been able to stand before us and take this sacred oath.In your own words, …all are equal,( even the unborn) and should be free (to live) and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

  150. This doesn’t mean we should not attempt to evaluate or predict the effect of government actions on the economy.

    It does mean we should be humble in our default assumptions.

    Neither a “government intervention is generally good,” nor a “government intervention is generally bad” default seems warranted with our current level of understanding.

    This seems relevant here:

    Even if we were to concede these predictive/empirical successes to economics, the force of the preceding argument would not be vitiated. The crux of this argument has not been that economics generates no successful predictions, but only that (a) the quality of its predictions (their precision and reliability), and (b) the growth of its predictive power over time, are not of scientific quality. They do not live up to the standards that economists themselves claim for them. Generating true generic predictions is not the hallmark of science. All of us, drawing on common-sense psychological assumptions, do that all the time. Genuinely scientific theories must anticipate the future with a degree of precision and consistency greater than that realized by common-sense.

    I predict, for example, that a movie which receives a rave review in Friday’s New York Times will produce queues at the New York City movie theaters on Friday and Saturday nights–ceteris paribus, of course (e.g., as long as there is no strike that Friday by the newspaper delivery drivers). I predict that ignoring the curve and giving A’s to all my students will increase enrollment in my courses. I predict that covering a class for an absent colleague will make it more likely that that colleague will give me detailed comments on a manuscript I’ve given him to read. All of this is the stuff of common-sense, but no one would think of characterizing the common-sense psychology that undergirds such predictions as the core of a scientific research program. The question is: does economics really do any better, in predictive precision and reliability?

    http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2004/10/is_economics_a_.html

  151. Elemenope,

    I’m really not quite sure how one ends homelessness. Pretty clearly public housing isn’t the solution, given the money we’ve poured into that over the past three or four decades.

    I agree. I also tend to think, though, that whatever the solution would be, it would *not* include pretending the problem doesn’t exist in the first place.

    Which is the attitude I seem to get all-too-often from conservatives and even libertarians.

  152. Is the crisis real? I think so, but Obama ain’t gonna fix it.

    I read this today, and it strikes me as accurate, not to mention prescient…

    http://www.321gold.com/editorials/casey/casey012009a.html

  153. Does Obama’s blatant hypocrasy on the “economic crisis” nauseate more than just me:

    1. The inauguration costs about $170M…
    2. The next day He freezes the salaries of Presidential staff who are paid more than $100K per year.

    If he had said, “because of the grave economic situation we find ourselves in, I have ordered that the inauguration be held in the white house and the attendee list will be held to less than 100. The cost for the whole affair will be less than $100K”. Then after the inauguration had he frozen salaries, I would be in agreement with him.

    This “misery for thee, but not for me” approach is par for the course for megalomaniacal messiahs…

  154. Wayne,

    While I appreciate the basic thought…it is worth noting a couple of things…

    $170M is likely a (large) overestimate of the cost.

    Something on the order of $50M of that comes from private donors.

    Attendance was 2.5 million making even the inflated estimate of $170M less than $70 per person in attendance.

    You can’t get into a Coldplay concert for less than $70 bucks these days.

  155. Even if attendance was half that (1.25M) you are still in at under $150 per person.

  156. NM, for the sake of argument let’s say the cost was $100M.

    If the presidential staff consists of 200 people earning >$100K and they would have received 3% per year salary increases… The salary freeze will save (200*100,000*1.03^4) in His first term. That amounts to a little over $2.5M.

    Hypocrasy!

  157. One doesn’t end homelessness. Until one ends people.

  158. Wayne,

    Like I said, I appreciate the thought.

    But there’s a forest beyond that tree.

  159. NM, thanks for your appreciation!

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