Obama’s approval ratings aren’t as rosy as they seem

I opened up my Google News page this morning to see the following headline:

After 100 days, Obama's approval ratings remain sky-high (CNN)

This contrasts with an article I recall reading a few days ago which talks about how Obama’s approval ratings are not sky-high when compared to past presidents at the 100-day mark.

First, what is President Obama’s approval rating? The folks at Gallup poll this stuff constantly, and have an article that tells us:

As President Barack Obama concludes his first 100 days on the job, Gallup Poll Daily tracking for the week of April 20-26 finds 65% of Americans approving of how he is doing and only 29% disapproving. Obama’s average weekly job ratings have varied only slightly thus far, ranging from 61% to 67%.

We’ll take 65% approval and 29% disapproval as our President Obama benchmarks.

For historical comparison, we have the American Presidency Project, which provides a chart of Presidential job approval ratings at or near the 100-day mark. Note the chart below, which I have taken the liberty to highlight.

Presidential Job Approval Ratings Following the First 100 Days

See those green boxes? Those are presidents who showed a higher approval rating and lower disapproval rating after 100 days than President Obama. The yellow box highlights President George W. Bush’s approval/disapproval ratings after 100 days – an approval rating three percentage points lower than President Obama, and an identical disapproval rating.

What can we surmise from this?

  • Taken in historical context, the public approves of President Obama at a level typical of most presidents.
  • Taken in historical context, the public disapproves of President Obama at a level typical of most recent presidents – that is, those since the Reagan/Bush years.
  • Feelings about our President are much more polarized in recent years, with lower approval and higher disapproval numbers than past presidents.

And now, the best conclusion: Only three presidents had a lower approval rating 100 days into their first term of office than they had on their first day in office.

  1. Jimmy Carter (started with 66%, fell to 63%)
  2. William J. Clinton (started with 58%, fell to 55%)
  3. Barack Obama (started with 68%, fell to 65%)

Which presidents saw the greatest increase in approval rating between their first day and their 100th day?

  1. Ronald Reagan (51% to 68%)
  2. John Kennedy (72% to 83%)

I will tell you this: it is not reassuring to know that, at least in this one area, that President Obama is trending more like Jimmy Carter than Ronald Reagan, or Bill Clinton than John Kennedy.

It is also not reassuring to know that CNN and the Gallup folks are drinking the Obama Kool-Aid… but I don’t expect much different from them.

After the tea: Where do we stand?

Yesterday, April 15, saw something that doesn’t happen often: thousands of people around the country participated in civil, voluntary, grass-roots protests that had no central organizer. (Eventually, the scattered groups did come together, but it’s far from a top-down organization.) If that’s not shocking enough, toss in the fact that the protests were largely in favor of personal liberty and freedom against a rapidly-growing interventionist government. Now you really know why history was made!

Now that it’s over, what does it mean for us, those Americans who feel that there is a great need to right the ship? If I was to speak for the group, this is what I’d say. My statements are followed by some historic quotes on the topics of freedom and liberty.

Nearly 50 years ago, an American President said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

In that spirit, we, the vast majority of Americans, have taken responsibility for the needs of ourselves and our families. We have extended a helping hand to those who need help. We have lived our lives extolling the principles of good citizenship. We have expected nothing from our country save the opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, unburdened by an overreaching, overextended government.

We have done our share. Despite that, our country’s leaders are failing us.

Today, we watch as many of our elected officials – those who should be representing us – fail in their oath to uphold the laws of our country. We watch as they take more and more of our money, through direct and indirect taxes and fees, and redistribute it in irresponsible ways. Where we struggled today to save for tomorrow, they irresponsibly spent their way into irresponsible levels of debt. Where we have sacrificed today’s pleasures for the safety and security of tomorrow’s children, they have fed their own political agendas and overinflated egos, and placed huge burdens on the shoulders of our country’s future generations.

Over the years, we, the responsible citizens, the true Americans, have stood quietly in hope that our government will see us – not another country – as the example of how to build a strong society. We have been ignored by career politicians who follow unproven scientific, economic, and social policies with religious fervor, blind to their own failures. We follow the rule of law as our government ignores it, and rewrites it, as if the Constitution was subject to ad hoc whims of interpretation.

In the past, we stood quietly. We stand quietly no more.

We the people are showing that we are united in our common beliefs. We the people believe in liberty. We the people believe in personal responsibility. We the people believe in the social and economic freedom of all mankind. We the people believe in the need to defend ourselves and to aid those who lack the freedom and liberty we take for granted.

We have tried, to no avail, to convince our elected representatives that an over-reaching state is not the solution. Yet history has proven time and time again that the principles of free minds and free markets, not Statism, have been the way towards liberty and prosperity.

There is only one way to return our country to the principles it was founded on and to the values we believe in: to return to a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. To take back our country, some among us must sacrifice our careers and take time away from our families in order to replace those in office who ignore us. Further to that, those that choose to represent us need our support, financially, socially, and at the ballot box.

Our battle to take back America, our country, and to defend our Constitution, will be fought using the most powerful weapons in the modern world: the pen, the spoken word, and the facts. The fight will not be easy, but we have the voice of the people on our side.  We will be victorious, for simple reason: we are Americans, this is our country, and we will take it back.

This is what we can do—and must do—for our country.

Every revolution was first a thought in one man’s mind.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Poet

Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States

Those willing to give up a little liberty for a little security deserve neither security nor liberty.” – Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father of the United States

The Framers [of the Constitution] knew that free speech is the friend of change and revolution. But they also knew that it is always the deadliest enemy of tyranny.” – Hugo Black, American Jurist

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.” – John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” – Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.” – Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States

Do you really mean it, Mr. Obama & Mr. Biden? If so, I’m your biggest fan!

A quote of Vice-President Joseph Biden from March 12 2009, via the Associated Press:

“Six months from now, if the verdict on this effort is that we’ve wasted the money, we built things that were unnecessary or we’ve done things that are legal but make no sense, then, folks, don’t look for any help from the federal government for a long while,” he said.

This was followed up by President Obama’s equally compelling statement during the same conference:

“If we see money being misspent, we’re going to put a stop to it.”

Mr. President and Mr. Vice-President, if you are honest about what is deemed wasteful and unnecessary and senseless, there is little doubt that significant portions of the $787 billion you reallocated will prove to be just that. This inconvenient truth (ahem) will hopefully stimulate you (ahem) to stop trying to have the federal government be everything to everyone.

However, after this is the case, will you also promise to stop taking so much of our earned income (via taxes) after you stop the federal government from trying to “help” us? After all, you probably wouldn’t need it any more.

One could only hope for such change (ahem).

$646,214 Per Government Job, or $2,000 per citizen?

From The Wall Street Journal, via Cato.org:

The December unemployment rate was only 2.3% for government workers and 3.8% in education and health. Unemployment rates in manufacturing and construction, by contrast, were 8.3% and 15.2% respectively. Yet 39% of the $550 billion in the bill would go to state and local governments. Another 17.3% would go to health and education — sectors where relatively secure government jobs are also prevalent.

If the intent of the plan is to alleviate unemployment, why spend over half of the money on sectors where unemployment is lowest?

… [O]nly a fifth of the original $550 billion is left for notoriously slow infrastructure projects, such as rebuilding highways and the electricity grid.

What a disaster. Government picking winners and losers with our money (after all, it’s taxpayer money they spend reallocate) is a recipe for disaster. This time, they want the recipe in order of some $800 billion, with no real guarantee that it’ll help anyone aside from those who were picked to receive the stimulus handouts.

Or, they can give every man, woman, and child in this country $2,000 to spend. Even if only 1% of that money was spent each week, that would increase commerce by $8 billion each week, without creating additional bureaucracy. Even further, if 10% of that commerce generated tax revenue (a fair estimate considering sales and income tax rates), it would increase tax revenues by $800 million each week.

Or, government can do nothing, and wait for the markets to sort things out.

So, choose your poison.

  1. Government doles out $800 billion to various programs, agencies, and projects that it deems are economically politically worthwhile, thereby increasing the numbers of folks who become dependent on government intervention.
  2. Government gives each citizen a $2,000 one-time tax rebate, which in turn has the conservative potential to increase commerce by $8 billion a week and generate $41.6 billion in new tax revenue. Oh, by the way, $41.6 billion is about 5.2% of $800 billion – which means the tax revenue gained could offset the interest payments on the initial outlay, making it revenue-neutral. Unfortunately, that doesn’t do much to pay off the principal, but that’s OK, we’ve been doing it for years with Social Security, why stop now?
  3. Government can do nothing, creating no long-term government debt and allowing individual effort, success, and failure dictate the winners and losers.

I vote for #3. What say you?

Support Eric Sundwall for Congress

The appointment of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State, and the subsequent appointment of (former Representative) Kirsten Gillibrand to replace her, has left a void in Congress. A special election is pending – and, if you’re among those eligible to vote in it, you should vote for Eric Sundwall to fill that void.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never met Mr. Sundwall, nor do I pretend to know him personally. I do know him as the Chairman for the Libertarian Party of New York, and I do support him for the following reasons.

  • He’s an IT guy. Many readers of my blog are IT people, and as we all know, IT people are typically smart, pragmatic, and results-driven. No doubt Sundwall shares those characteristics.
  • He’s a small-government guy. Sundwall recognizes the danger in deficit spending (which simply puts the burden of payment to our children), and no doubt would be strongly against the $800-billion (so-called) bailout.
  • He recognizes the limitations of government. Sundwall believes in protecting personal liberties. Though supportive of the rule of law, he also sees the extension of law beyond its Constitutionally-defined limits as dangerous, and sees an over-reaching government as a great danger to a free, prosperous society.
  • He’s a free-trade, free-market guy. It has been widely studied, and shown, that free trade and free  markets make societies more open, prosperous, and safe. (Strong trade partners don’t war with each other.) Sundwall is a believer in free trade and free international markets, and believes that labor should be as free to interact with international markets just as products are.

I don’t agree with everything Sundwall says – I’m a bit more conservative on some foreign policy initiatives, perhaps not as liberal in some other concerns – but taken as a whole, Sundwall is one of the best candidates we have for Congress that will support free minds and free markets, and recognize government’s limited role.

Unfortunately, I am not a resident of New York’s 20th Congressional District, so I can’t vote for him, but I can help raise awareness of him to those who can.

To find out more about Eric Sundwall and to support his candidacy, go to sundwall4congress.org.

Good luck, Eric!

Time to shut down the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight

The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight proudly proclaims the following on its web site:

Our Mission: To promote housing and a strong national housing finance system by ensuring the safety and soundness of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Just in case they take it down, here’s a screenshot, taken just a moment ago:

Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight -- their mission

Still not convinced of their mission? From their Supervision & Regulations page: Continue reading

Next in line for their TARP bailout is…

Via CATO@Liberty

CNN reports:

Another major American industry is asking for assistance as the global financial crisis continues: Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis said Wednesday they will request that Congress allocate $5 billion for a bailout of the adult entertainment industry.

I’d bet they have real good lobbyists…

How much are your two cents worth?

I just wrote a message on the CSFBL forums where I said, “My two cents.” Which got me wondering… How long has the expression, “my two cents” (and its many variations) been around?

Like most Google searches, I quickly was brought to a Wikipedia article, My two cents (idiom). In it, we can review a speculative history of the phrase “my two cents”:

OK, so the “my two cents” phrase has origins going back some 500 years. How do we figure out how much two cents from the 16th century is worth today, considering inflation?

Turns out this isn’t easy to figure out. I was able to discern a few things in my research.

  1. The 16th century was in the heart of the Price Revolution, a period of great inflation.
  2. Wikipedia provides a fine graph of US inflation since around 1670. Unfortunately, raw data isn’t available before 1774.
  3. A study by Oregon State University helps us lets us calculate the value of money from 1774 to 2018 (estimated).

Using this, we can determine that two cents in 1774 is worth 51 cents in 2007.  Needless to say, the first person to coin the phrase, “my two cents,” even in today’s terms, wasn’t saying much.

The economic disaster that should not be

Is 2008 the next great economic disaster – the biggest crisis in 70 years? I’ll let you decide for yourself.

Facts in support of the economic disaster:

Facts in opposition to the economic disaster: