Even a cursory look at the worlds of business and politics leads one to the inevitable conclusion: bad decisions are easy to make, and leaders in our society are making more of them. The phenomenon is everywhere, whether it’s Hewlett-Packard writing off billions of dollars on ill-conceived acquisitions, the Obama Administration’s selection of notorious money losers in the so-called “Green Economy” or the fiasco of Project ORCA, the Republicans’ get-out-the-vote operation for 2012, which will go down in election history as a monumental flop.
We deserve better. Business writer Erik Sherman looks at four common mistakes in an intriguing article on Inc.com:
1. Monumentalizing the Trivial
2. Dredging Sunk Costs
3. Drowning in Data
4. Do-or-Die Mentality
Excellent points all, but the last one is particularly compelling. Decision-making is supposed to be a pragmatic process, but often degenerates into the inflexible choice of a hill to die on rather than problem-solving. Sherman notes:
Realize that every decision is temporary. Conditions will change, and you can almost always change your mind and course at a later date. You might lose some time or money in doing so, but better that than racking up the sunk costs and driving into a brick wall from stubbornness.
As decision-makers, we must be willing to always ask the question: “Is this really working?” And if it isn’t, own up to it and change course. Good advice for business, and good advice for politics, especially for a GOP trying to come to terms with its (albeit narrow) 2012 loss.
Nobel Laureate F A Hayek is interviewed by Firing Line’s William F. Buckley Jr regarding unemployment, inflation and John Maynard Keynes. http://www.LibertyPen.com
Democrat Leader Once Promised He ‘Would Never, Ever Consider Breaking The Rules To Change The Rules,’ Called It ‘Illegal’ And ‘Un-American’
SEN. REID: ‘Changing The Rules By Breaking The Rules, Is About As Far As You Could Get From A Constitutional Option’
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “I would never, ever consider breaking the rules to change the rules. I never suggested that at all. I say to my friend, I want to work something out. I repeat that for probably the fifth time here today, but in the process we cannot give up the basic rights this country and this Senate have had for more than 200 years.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4242, 4/26/05)
· REID: “As I said, violating 217 years of standard procedure in the Senate, changing the rules by breaking the rules, is about as far as you could get from a constitutional option.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.5250, 5/17/05)
· REID: “One of the good things about this institution we have found in the 214 years it has been in existence is that the filibuster, which has been in existence since the beginning, from the days of George Washington–we have changed the rules as relates to it a little bit but never by breaking the rules.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4437, 4/27/05)
· REID: “The time has come for those Senators of the majority to decide where they stand, whether they will abide by the rules of the Senate or break the rules for the first time in 217 years–217 years–of American history. Will they support the checks and balances established by the Founding Fathers… It is hard for me to intellectually understand, emotionally understand how a Senator could say they know we are right but they are willing to break the rules to change the rules.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.5198, 5/16/05)
· REID: “…there is no cause for the majority to break the rules and 217 years of Senate traditions to take that right away. Mr. Smith should still be able to come to Washington, with either a Democratic or Republican Senate.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4613, 5/9/05)
· REID: “Ultimately, this is about removing the last check in Washington against complete abuse of power, the right to extended debate.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4238, 4/26/05)
· REID: “You have to break the rules to change them in this instance because if you follow the rules, you cannot do it with a simple majority. … We cannot go down that slippery slope.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4464, 4/28/05)
SEN. REID: ‘Un-American,’ ‘Illegal,’ ‘Improper,’ ‘A Partisan Political Grab,’ ‘Want Absolute Power’
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “The Senate is a body of moderation. While the House is the voice of a single man, single woman, and the House of Representatives is a voice of the majority, the Senate is the forum of the States. It is the saucer that cools the coffee. It is the world’s greatest deliberative body. How will we call this the world’s greatest deliberative body after the majority breaks the rules to silence the minority? Breaking the rules to change the rules. … They don’t want consensus or compromise. They don’t want advice and consent. They want absolute power. To get it, the President and majority leader will do all they can to silence the minority in the Senate and remove the last check we have in Washington against this abuse of power.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.5456, 5/19/05)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “For people to suggest that you can break the rules to change the rules is un-American. The only way you can change the rule in this body is through a rule that now says, to change a rule in the Senate rules to break a filibuster still requires 67 votes. You can’t do it with 60. You certainly cannot do it with 51. But now we are told the majority is going to do the so-called nuclear option. We will come in here, having the Vice President seated where my friend and colleague from Nevada is seated. The Parliamentarian would acknowledge it is illegal, it is wrong, you can’t do it, and they would overrule it. It would simply be: We are going to do it because we have more votes than you. You would be breaking the rules to change the rules. That is very un-American.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4043, 4/21/05)
· REID: “The majority can’t get what they want so they break the rules to change the rules. We believe the traditions of the Senate should be maintained. We believe if you are going to change the rules in the Senate, change them legally, not illegally.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4043, 4/21/05)
· REID “They are talking about doing something illegal. They are talking about breaking the rules to change the rules, and that is not appropriate. That is not fair, and it is not right.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4238, 4/26/05)
· REID: “The American people, in effect, reject the nuclear option because they see it for what it is–an abuse of power, arrogance of power. Lord Acton said power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. … That is what is going on. The rules are being changed in the middle of the game. They are breaking the rules to change the rules. Regardless of one’s political affiliation, Americans understand this is a partisan political grab.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4238, 4/26/05)
· REID: “I would answer to my friend, not only is there a suggestion about changing the rules, but they are going to do it by breaking the rules. To change a rule here in the Senate takes a simple majority. But if somebody wants to speak in an extensive manner relating to that rule change , you have to break a filibuster. They are not willing to do that. They are going to use brute force and break the rules to change the rules. That is what they are talking about.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4436, 4/27/05)
· REID: “The world is watching us. We should not be changing the rules by breaking the rules. We should not do that.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4614, 5/9/05)
· REID: “We believe in following the rules, not breaking the rules. And while it is good to talk about this up-or-down vote, the fact is if we move forward as contemplated by the majority, it is moving toward breaking the rules to change the rules. That is improper. It will change the Senate forever and that is not good.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.5375, 5/18/05)
· REID: “To change the rules in the Senate can’t be done by a simple majority. It can only be done if there is extended debate by 67 votes. So I do not at all say that the statements made by the Republican leader were wrong about our wanting votes and we were disturbed that there are no votes, but we never, ever suggested that rules should be broken.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.5455, 5/19/05)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “You remember when you were growing up and you had this kid who was never happy? You couldn’t win a game because he kept changing the rules in the middle of the game, and if you didn’t allow the change, all he did was whine about it? … What is going on in Washington? Trying to change the rules in the middle of the game is un-American.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.4437, 4/27/05)
The Wizard of Odd
Allowing the New York Times to safeguard the Republican party’s best interest is like inviting a gaggle of monkeys to guard your banana tree.
The New York Times told us to nominate McCain. We nominated McCain. The New York Times told us to nominate Romney. We nominated Romney. And now Bill Kristol (formerly of the New York Times) is telling us to raise taxes on the rich. I don’t understand the unholy ether that exists between the New York Times and Republican minds, but it’s getting a little eerie. Before they start hypnotizing us into believing that a tax-raising, fiscal-cliff compromise is in our best interest, let’s set the record straight: It isn’t.
Professional thug and mustachioed mongoloid Dick “No neck” Trumka recently asserted that the fiscal cliff is a “manufactured crisis.” For once, he’s correct. Its creation was one of the few bipartisan areas of agreement over the past four years. And why was the fiscal cliff created? Because America’s debt has become an existential threat. It was created because, as terrible as the proposed cuts are, the status quo is worse. The fiscal cliff crisis was manufactured because there is a very real fiscal crisis underway that has gone entirely unaddressed by America’s twice-elected commander-in-chief.
Despite his title, our commander-in-chief isn’t terribly fond of leading.
Back in 2009, President Obama introduced America to the trillion dollar budget. America found the introduction unpleasant and unnerving. In an effort to avoid such unpleasant moments in the future, Obama decided that America didn’t need a budget for the next three years. And today – six trillion dollars and another generation’s mortgaged dreams later – the New York Times and President Obama insist that the Republicans need to compromise.
How about . . . No?
Revenue isn’t the problem. Spending is.
Instead of scouring their playbook for the least humiliating method of capitulation, Republicans should finally call Obama’s bluff. Paul Krugman is accusing the GOP of holding America hostage. Fine. Hand the gun to the president. Republicans should take to the airwaves and tell the nation that they will not raise taxes. Make the fiscal case to the American people. Tell them that Obama has spent six trillion dollars of their grandchildren’s money. He’s not taxing the rich. He’s taxing eight year-olds, five year-olds, newborn babies.
Since JFK, Republicans have heard Democrats make promises of nebulous future spending cuts. Conservative politicians have been raising the debt ceiling for generations. If they were waiting for a major crisis to finally restore fiscal sanity, they’re in luck.
Here’s a novel idea, Mr. Boehner: Have the Democrats make entitlement cuts on the nebulous promise of future revenue increases. See how that works, John? It’s not voodoo. It’s what the Democrats have been doing to the GOP since you were born.
The beautiful thing about “Rules for Radicals” is that it works both ways. Saul Alinsky admitted as much.
For as long as anyone can remember, Democrats have accused Republicans of heartlessness because we oppose endless entitlements. Switch it around! Accuse the Democrats of mugging kids, of selling out the next generation. It’s a stronger argument. We can beat them at their own game.
For the last four years, we’ve witnessed Obama at his community-organizing, agitating best. Learn from the master. By now, we should know the drill: Freeze it. Personalize it. Polarize it. Barack Obama is robbing America’s children. He’s breaking open piggy banks and handing fistfuls of cash to the unions. He’s swiping food from the mouths of American kids and spoon-feeding it to giggling Chinamen. Get some saucer-eyed little kids to beg Obama to stop. Make posters. Blanket the airwaves with ads.
At the moment, Republicans seem to fear that, if they oppose tax increases, Obama will accuse them of being the party of the rich. Aside from the mindless snivelry of this approach, has the GOP leadership ever heard the president speak? Obama has been spewing class-warfare agitprop with every waking breath since he was in diapers. There is no conceivable concession that would make him stop. So why does his rhetoric suddenly matter now?
Yes, elections have consequences. The GOP must publicly acknowledge this. They can show their deference by giving Obama the negotiation reins. He doesn’t want the reins. He’d much rather refuse a series of Republican offers. (That’s how radicals operate – just like the autoworkers unions didn’t want to be in charge of General Motors. They wanted someone to buy GM, so that they could organize against the new establishment.) Give him the reins anyway. Go directly to the American people. Tell them that the GOP is willing to discuss additional revenue after the president proposes spending cuts. Put Obama in the driver’s seat. Make him lead.
Demanding fiscal responsibility is in the GOP’s best interest. Making the case for solvency and economic strength and America’s future is in the GOP’s best interest. As always, taking a firm stand on conservative principles is in the GOP’s best interest. We should ask Americans to choose their children’s future over the present. We should draw a line in the sand. Who knows? We’ve never tried it before. It just might work.
We can win this. But to win, we have to fight to win. Ask yourself, what would Democrats do?
Tell the president that America’s children deserve fiscal responsibility. Ask President Obama to state his priorities so the world can see. Demand it. Don’t budge an inch until he offers entitlement cuts. Then refuse it. Tell him it’s not enough. Call him heartless. Tell him that he doesn’t care about American children.
Then ask for more.
Spending Daily | November 28, 2012
Flashback: “Obama Pledges Reform of Social Security, Medicare Programs” (in 2009)
Nearly four years ago, in January 2009, The Washington Post reported: “President-elect Barack Obama pledged yesterday to shape a new Social Security and Medicare ‘bargain’ with the American people, saying that the nation’s long-term economic recovery cannot be attained unless the government finally gets control over its most costly entitlement programs. That discussion will begin next month, Obama said, when he convenes a ‘fiscal responsibility summit’ before delivering his first budget to Congress. He said his administration will begin confronting the issues of entitlement reform and long-term budget deficits soon after it jump-starts job growth and the stock market. ‘What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further,’ he said. ‘We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else’s.’
“Balanced” Deficit Reduction Must Include Entitlements
The Washington Post editorializes, “Democrats…are sounding more and more maximalist in resisting spending cuts. Many insist that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and education — pretty much everything except the Pentagon — are untouchable. … Elections do have consequences, and Mr. Obama ran on a clear platform of increasing taxes on the wealthy. But he was clear on something else, too: Deficit reduction must be ‘balanced,’ including spending cuts as well as tax increases. Since 60 percent of the federal budget goes to entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, there’s no way to achieve balance without slowing the rate of increase of those programs.”
Dems Warn: Keep Hands Off Entitlements
Politico reports, “Congressional Democrats are starting to draw a much tougher line on entitlements in the increasingly messy fiscal cliff talks, warning Republicans to keep their hands off Social Security and Medicare benefits. Democrats also say they’ll refuse to look at GOP calls to dramatically slash Medicaid. And for them to even entertain any changes to Medicare and Medicaid, they say the price is for Republicans to agree to far higher taxes than they have flirted with so far. … ‘I personally believe there are things that we can do with entitlements that don’t hurt beneficiaries,’ Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday, noting that he and Obama have insisted that Social Security be off the table. ‘We hope that they can agree to the tax revenue that we’re talking about, and that is rate increases, and as the president’s said on a number of occasions, we’ll be happy to deal with entitlements.’”
Pelosi Makes Case She Can Strike Deal In Talks: “Seeking a larger role at the negotiating table, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has publicly expressed optimism on how she and other congressional leaders can strike a deal on taxes and spending.”
Reid Says Parties Making Little Progress in Budget Talks: “‘There’s been little progress with the Republicans, which is a disappointment to me,’ Reid, a Nevada Democrat, told reporters today in Washington. … ’They talked some happy talk about doing revenues, but we only have a couple weeks to get something done,’ Reid said. ‘So we have to get away from the happy talk and start talking about specific things.’”
Market Falls As Congressman Says He’s Willing to Go Over Fiscal Cliff
The Washington Free Beacon reports, “Rep. Raul Grijalva (D., Ariz.) argued Medicare and Medicaid cannot be on the table in fiscal cliff negotiations Tuesday — as the market fell during the interview with CNBC’s ‘Closing Bell.’ … The Arizona Democrat said he is willing to go over the fiscal cliff and that any prospective deal must focus on revenue increased via tax hikes on the wealthy and corporations.” Click here to watch the interview.
“Cliff dive doesn’t appeal to White House”
Politico reports, “It’s the rallying cry for liberal Democrats in Congress: going off the fiscal cliff is a better option than reluctantly accepting a deal that goes too lightly on revenues or too hard on entitlements. That message doesn’t seem to be getting through on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, where President Barack Obama and other administration officials speak of the economic pitfalls of allowing more than $500 billion in tax increases and spending cuts to take effect next year. Case in point: a 14-page White House report released Monday morning to kick off the week with grim details of what going off the fiscal cliff means for the economy. … The study is part of the administration’s strategy to build pressure on congressional Republicans to agree to significant tax increases as part of a deficit reduction plan. But it’s also a reminder to Democrats of the economic risks of holding out until next year to get a more favorable fiscal deal.”
Fiscal Cliff Already Having An Impact On Workers
The Washington Post reports, “As national leaders look for ways to avoid falling over a ’fiscal cliff’ that could eviscerate government services, federal employee organizations want to make sure Congress knows their members already gave at the office. The latest salvo is a letter a group of unions representing federal workers sent this week to congressional leaders, with a copy to President Obama. It urged them ‘to defuse the doomsday device of sequestration . . . without any further impact on federal employees.’ ‘Further’ is the key word here. ‘To date the federal workforce has given $103 billion back to the US treasury,’ said the letter from the Federal Workers Alliance (FWA). ‘That equates to an average of $50,000 in compensation per federal employee over ten years — a huge sacrifice for any worker to have to incur.’”
Dems Divided on Spending Cuts
The Associated Press reports, “Deep divisions among Senate Democrats over whether cuts to popular benefit programs like Medicare and Medicaid should be part of a plan to slow the government’s mushrooming debt pose a big obstacle to a deal for avoiding a potentially economy-crushing ‘fiscal cliff,’ even if Republicans agree to raise taxes. Much of the focus during negotiations seeking an alternative to $671 billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts beginning in January has centered on whether Republicans would agree to raising taxes on the wealthy. … There’s a growing consensus among Senate Democrats and the White House that Social Security should be exempt from any deficit-reduction package. But some centrist Democrats in the Senate argue that fellow Democrats must be willing to consider cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in order to get concessions from Republicans on taxes. ‘It has to be both – a significant revenue increase as well as spending cuts,’ said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.”
“In U.S., Majority Now Against Gov’t Healthcare Guarantee”
Gallup reports, “For the first time in Gallup trends since 2000, a majority of Americans say it is not the federal government’s responsibility to make sure all Americans have healthcare coverage. Prior to 2009, a majority always felt the government should ensure healthcare coverage for all, though Americans’ views have become more divided in recent years.”
Federal Student Loan Debt Piling Up
The Wall Street Journal reports, “The federal lending program designed to make college education available to everyone is creating a pile of debt so large it is fanning worries that it has become too easy to borrow too much. U.S. student-loan debt rose by $42 billion, or 4.6%, to $956 billion in the third quarter, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Tuesday. … Payments on 11% of student-loan balances were 90 or more days behind at the end of September, up from 8.9% at the end of June, a rate that now exceeds that for credit cards. Delinquency rates for all other consumer-debt categories fell or were flat. Nearly all student loans—93% of them last year—are made directly by the government, which asks little or nothing about borrowers’ ability to repay, or about what sort of education they intend to pursue.”
Fed Officials Divided Over Easing
Reuters reports, “Deep divisions at the Federal Reserve were on display on Tuesday, just two weeks before the U.S. central bank’s next policy-setting meeting, with one top Fed official pushing for more easing, and another advocating limits. Charles Evans, president of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank and one of the Fed’s most outspoken doves, said interest rates should stay near zero until the jobless rate falls to at least 6.5 percent. … But Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher, a self-identified inflation hawk, said the U.S. central bank could get intotrouble if it does not set a limit on the amount of assets it is willing tobuy. ‘You cannot expand without limits without horrific consequences,’ he told reporters on the sidelines of the conference organized by the Levy Economics Institute in Berlin. ‘There is no infinity in monetary policy, we know that from the German experience.’”
Greece Banking On “Rosy Outlook”
The Wall Street Journal reports, “A long-awaited deal cobbled together by euro-zone finance ministers early Tuesday gives Greece a rough outline for cutting its mountain of debt, but the plan threatens to be derailed if the country’s economy doesn’t emerge from recession in two years. … The plan unveiled early Tuesday calls for the euro zone to cut the interest rate it charges Greece on bailout loans and for the European Central Bank to send Athens any profits the ECB makes on the Greek bonds it holds. The plan would also allow Greece to buy back its bonds at the sharp discount to face value at which they currently trade. The euro zone pledged to bring Greece’s debt down to 124% of the country’s gross domestic product in 2020 and then ‘substantially under’ 110% two years later—down from a current level of more than 170%. But by the euro zone’s own accounting, the numbers don’t quite add up.”
Newsmax – China isn’t a currency manipulator under U.S. law, though the yuan “remains significantly undervalued” and needs to rise further, the Treasury Department said.China “has substantially reduced the level of official intervention in exchange markets since the third quarter of 2011,” the Treasury said in a statement accompanying its semi- annual currency report to Congress yesterday. The yuan has gained 9.3 percent in nominal terms and 12.6 percent in real terms against the dollar since June 2010, the Treasury said.
“It appears that the strategy of the last two administrations to use diplomacy rather than confrontation in dealing with the yuan’s value is having some positive results,” William Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, a Washington-based business group, said in an e-mail after the report. “There is clearly room for further appreciation, however.”
In declining to brand China a manipulator, the Treasury cited the reduced intervention and “steps to liberalize controls on capital movements, as part of a broader plan to move to a more flexible exchange-rate regime.” The U.S. hasn’t designated another nation since 1994, when it named China.
Critics of China’s exchange-rate policies, including former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, say the nation deliberately suppresses the value of its currency, making its goods cheaper in overseas markets and costing jobs in the U.S.
“This report all but admits China’s currency is being manipulated, but stops short of saying so explicitly,” U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, said in a statement. “The formal designation matters because there can be no penalties without it. It’s time for the Obama administration to rip off the Band-Aid, and force China to play by the same rules as all other countries.”
Among the entrepreneurs invited to the discussion was Drew Greenblatt, president of Marlin Steel (www.MarlinWire.com ) — a small business in Baltimore, Md.It was unclear at press time if President Obama attended the meeting.
Ahead of the meeting, Greenblatt said he has one thing on his mind.
“We’ve got to increase job creation, fast,” he told FOX Business. “This recession has gone on too long, and now is the time for us to turn it around by creating certainty.”
As for those looming tax increases for those making above $250,000 annually, Greenblatt said he was going to deliver a message that the move would stunt economic growth and hiring. American factories, he said, are one example of a small business that pays taxes on a personal level of income. Increasing their tax rate will deter potential for economic gains.
The Last Drops of the Well.