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July 20, 2011

DOOM is an equal-opportunity employer


Beer at last, beer at last, thank God, we are beer at last! The Minnesota state shutdown will (probably) end today, and the liquor can once again flow freely. Democrats hate the compromise, which means that the state GOP probably got a pretty good deal.

If President Obama likes this "Gang of Six" plan, it probably means it sucks and will really piss off conservatives. However, it may also be the best deal we're going to get out of this President. Do we take the deal and keep our powder dry for 2012, or do we bunker in and insist on a better deal? Mark Steyn at NRO hates the plan, and he thinks the deal will work out as these things usually do:

If you take the Gang’s figure of half-a-trillion dollars in immediate “aggressive deficit reduction” seriously, that represents about what the U.S. government borrows every four months. What’s “aggressive” about that? And what’s immediate about it? It’s all unspecified “discretionary spending caps” and “process reforms” that will collapse like soufflés ten minutes after the signing ceremony. Obviously it’s appealing to Democrats: It accepts their view that 25 percent of GDP should be the new baseline for national (“federal” no longer seems quite the word) government spending. But what’s in it for Republicans?

There is evidence that bondholders and ratings agencies are getting antsy about the lack of a budget deal, but I continue to think this is media-generated hysteria and political theater. Smart bond-holders have factored in US debt concerns long ago, and they know that there is almost no chance the US will actually default on its debt. So when you hear the hysterical warnings that a default is imminent, you can safely ignore them, whatever happens. The US, for all its problems, is still the best of a bad lot, and investors know that.

Paul Ryan's take on the "Gang of Six" proposal. He doesn't hate it, but he seems to see more bad than good in it.

Who would have thought that a Byzantine, badly-thought-out, and partisan piece of legislation would actually exacerbate the very problem it was meant to solve? Impossible!

Give the Greeks what they deserve: Communism. This seems like a cruel fate, but after all many Greeks have been agitating for it for a century. Maybe a decade or two of having having to live in a Communist hellhole will kill their taste for it.

Thomas Sowell: Misreading 90 years of tax-cut history. Listen to the man.

The spirit of public service always warms my heart. In Wisconsin, public employees are retiring in droves to avoid any cuts to their retirement benefits. The phenomenon of "pre-emptive retirement" is quite commonplace, and it will further strain state and municipal budgets due to the sudden spike in pension rolls combined with the shortfall in senior personnel.

A California judge halts Costa Mesa layoffs until a trial. The public-employee unions asked for the injunction, and the judge granted it. Expect to see more and more of this kind of thing as city budgets run out and layoffs end up being the only major avenue of cost savings. We may end up with a wholly bizarre situation where a judge essentially orders a municipality to go bankrupt by preventing them from getting their payroll costs under control.

Someone needs to remind this guy that past performance is no guarantee of future results. You'd think he'd have learned that lesson in the 2008 downturn, but I guess not. (And those stock-market "windfalls" can disappear with terrifying speed, guys. One bad day on the exchange is all you need.)

Some rare good news for American manufacturing: American Airlines orders 460 narrowbody aircraft. 200 of those planes will come from Boeing, with the rest coming from Europe's Airbus. (I wonder if this will have any impact on the current NLRB case against Boeing?)

UPDATE 1: Via Vic in the comments: Moody's threatens a downgrade of five states if the US credit rating is cut. Like I've been saying, the credit ratings agencies were terribly embarrassed by their utter failure in the subprime meltdown, and are trying mightily to build their cred back up again.

UPDATE 2: Compton, CA, a city of delights comparable to classical Florence, is laying off 30% of its workforce. Well, unless a judge orders them not to.

UPDATE 3: Slouching towards default.

Let's see how brave you are on this side of the glass, you rodent bastard!

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posted by Monty at 08:56 AM

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