Nota Bene: Use Fiscal Responsibility

By on 11.25.13 | 4:11PM

I’ve seen the term “fiscal responsibility/irresponsibility” thrown around on the airwaves and the Internet for some time now, even applied to the spending habits of individuals. For example, it isn’t uncommon to see something like “we, as a household, need to be fiscally responsible” or “we need to teach our kids to be fiscally responsible.”

If people who say this mean—in some abstract sense—“we need to do our part and pay our taxes on time” or “we need to teach our kids how to be a good taxpayer” (i.e. we need to be responsible to the fisc) then they get a pass. But no one means this. Instead they mean “we can’t be spendthrifts.”

Pardon me for semanticizing, but this is just wrong. Etymologically the word has always meant “of or relating to the public or imperial treasury.” Governments are fiscally responsible or irresponsible; the people at home aren’t—they’re either prudent or profligate.

That is all.

Crisis in Education: Tuitions Up, Revenues Down

By on 11.23.13 | 7:29PM

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that half of American colleges and universities are not able to generate enough revenue to beat inflation. “For 44% of public and 42% of private universities included in the survey, net tuition revenue is projected to grow less than the nation's roughly 2% inflation rate this fiscal year,” reported the WSJ, citing a report from Moody’s. Also, more than a quarter of public universities are seeing net decreases in revenue.

Sheldon Adelson: Crony Capitalist

By on 11.18.13 | 12:29PM

Sheldon Adelson, the wealthy casino mogul and political donor, doesn’t have a leg to stand on if he plans to fight against online gambling. The Washington Post reports that Adelson intends to roll out a state-by-state campaign to ban Internet betting services—ostensibly because such websites are “a danger to children, the poor and others who could be exploited by easy access to Internet betting.” What’s not clear is how Adelson’s own casino empire doesn’t pose such a danger.

The Justice Department and numerous states, including Chris Christie’s New Jersey, are moving ahead on easing restrictions or altogether legalizing Internet gambling. That’s not to say that gaming and betting will be a libertarian dream come true—the services will be subject to voluminous regulations. But if Sheldon Adelson had his way, they wouldn’t exist at all.

The Nation's Pulse

Blockbuster Goes Bust

By 11.15.13

One man’s wave of the future is his son’s antiquarian curio. Even “Victrola” once meant hi-fi.

Blockbuster shuttered all of its remaining storefronts this week. Appropriately, the last movie rental—near closing time at a Hawaiian outlet—was the apocalyptic comedy This Is the End. Surely the credits roll on video-rental shops.

Unlike Circuit City or Eastern Airlines, the decline of Blockbuster had less to do with the flaws in the company than with trends in society. In this sense, its disappearance evokes the loss of Borders (illiteracy), Tower Records (online shoplifting), and KB Toys (abortion). The customer isn’t always right.

Blockbuster opened in Dallas in 1985, when the idea of borrowing a VHS tape for a night of home viewing seemed an upgrade over the inconvenience, sticky floors, and extortionate pricing of a night at the movies. Like the Walkman or the Atari 2600—two other booming ’80s products—Blockbuster was damned by the evolving technology that initially blessed it.

Yellen Dovish on Inflation, Blasts Income Inequality

By on 11.14.13 | 4:01PM

The president’s nominee to head the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, faced a fairly placid reception at the Senate Banking Committee today. Lawmakers had plenty of questions, but most of them seemed unlikely to oppose her confirmation.

Yellen acknowledged numerous times over the course of the hearing that she sees a continuation of QE3 as viable, confirming the suspicion that she would remain “dovish” on inflation.


By on 11.13.13 | 4:26PM

The White House revealed today that, since the launch of the various Obamacare websites, 106,185 people have been able to sign up for health insurance. The glitch-ridden federal website,, was responsible for only 26,794 of these enrollments. The remainder was drawn from the state exchanges. This is far lower than official projections: the administration expected approximately 500,000 enrollments.

The Public Policy

Entitlement Reform, Tea Party Style

By 11.13.13

The Tea Party/Republican House majority was elected in 2010 to stop the runaway Obama Progressive Democrat big government spending spree. And it has had a decisive effect in that regard, as recorded in the annual CBO budget report released last week.

Federal spending soared from $2.655 trillion in 2006, when the Democrat Congress was elected to replace the Republican Congress, to $3.6 trillion in fiscal 2011, reflecting the last spending legislation adopted by that completely Democrat Congress in the prior year, an increase of 36% in just four years of control.

But after the new Tea Party/Republican House majority forced a major budget showdown in 2011, total, actual, nominal federal spending actually declined in fiscal 2012 to $3.54 trillion. Such an absolute decline rarely ever happens with federal spending. But for the next 2013 fiscal year, which just ended September 30, it happened again, declining to $3.45 trillion. That is the first two year decline in federal spending since the end of the Korean War.

The Right Prescription

Papa John Was Right

By 11.7.13

John Schnatter, founder and CEO of Papa John’s Pizza, criticized Obamacare twelve months too early.

It was a year ago today when the Naples Daily News reported Schnatter responding to a question about whether Obamacare would cause Papa John’s franchise owners to reduce their employees’ work hours, “That’s probably what’s going to happen. It’s common sense. That’s what I call lose-lose.”

Under Obamacare’s employer mandate companies with 50 or more full-time employees—“full time” defined as 30 hours a week or more—must provide their workers with health insurance or pay a hefty fine. Schnatter was pointing out that his franchise owners would have an incentive to reduce many employees to 29 hours or less so as to limit the number of full-time employees to less than 50.

A Further Perspective

A 101-Year Recovery

By 11.4.13

In September, the U.S. economy added 126,000 private sector jobs, the second-worst month of hiring by employers in the private sector this year, reported the Labor Department last month.

The 126,000 jobs number is down slightly from the monthly average of 129,000 private sector jobs added during the three months of July through September.

More significantly, and illustrating a clear-cut slowdown in an already-sluggish economic recovery, September’s 126,000 private sector jobs increase is a 34 percent drop from the average of 190,000 private sector jobs added per month to the U.S. economy in the April-June quarter.

In addition to these 126,000 new jobs in the private sector, government payrolls expanded by 22,000 jobs in September, producing a combined increase of 148,000 non-farm jobs.

This September total expansion of 148,000 jobs in the private and public sectors combined is a 23 percent decline from the 193,000 jobs added in the private and public sectors in August.