Thursday, July 13, 2006

Time For a Few Laughs

YouTube has an evolutionary Guinness beer commercial. The science is shaky, but it's a cool commercial nonetheless.

Thanks to Uncommon Descent for the tip.

By the way, UD is a blog which deals with Intelligent design issues, but they have a video up which depicts what happens when a design is carried out by a quite unintelligent being. It'll make you laugh out loud. So will the old Ma and Pa Kettle video they've posted.

The State of the Economy

Larry Kudlow has a fascinating story on the vibrancy of the American economy. It's worth posting here in its entirety:

Did you know that just over the past 11 quarters, dating back to the June 2003 Bush tax cuts, America has increased the size of its entire economy by 20 percent? In less than three years, the U.S. economic pie has expanded by $2.2 trillion, an output add-on that is roughly the same size as the total Chinese economy, and much larger than the total economic size of nations like India, Mexico, Ireland and Belgium.

This is an extraordinary fact, although you may be reading it here first. Most in the mainstream media would rather tout the faults of American capitalism than sing its praises. And of course, the media will almost always discuss supply-side tax cuts in negative terms, such as big budget deficits and static revenue losses. But here's another suppressed fact: Since the 2003 tax cuts, tax-revenue collections from the expanding economy have been surging at double-digit rates, while the deficit is constantly being revised downward.

For those who bother to look, the economic power of lower-tax-rate incentives is once again working its magic. While most reporters obsess about a mild slowdown in housing, the big-bang story is a high-sizzle pick-up in private business investment, which is directly traceable to Bush's tax reform. It was private investment that was hardest hit in the early decade stock market plunge and the aftermath of the 9-11 terrorist bombings. So team Bush's wise men correctly targeted investment in order to slash the after-tax cost of capital and rejuvenate investment incentives.

The move paid off. Investors now keep nearly 50 percent more of their after-tax capital returns -- an enormous increase that has resulted in a remarkably profitable and highly productive business sector. While the overall economy has grown by one-fifth since mid-2003, private business investment has expanded by 37 percent.

The dirty little secret here is that record low tax rates on capital are leading to continued job and income gains, as businesses continue to expand.

"But," you might respond, "I thought job gains were soft." Well, the marquis employment report for June may have showed "only" 121,000 new non-farm payroll jobs, below Wall Street expectations. But this leads to another factoid that the mainstream media largely ignores: The household survey of job creation has been booming at a much faster clip than headline corporate payrolls.

When this last happened in 2003-04 (remember the "jobless recovery" election-year rant of Democrats?), it was corporate payrolls that caught up to the more entrepreneurial household survey -- which more accurately records job creation by small-business owner-operators. This is the source of the bulk of American job creation.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, firms with less than 500 employees created 88 percent of the net new jobs in the United States between 1990 and 2003 (the last year for Census Bureau data). During this 14-year period, the share of total jobs created by small businesses was never less than 50 percent and was sometimes double the employment total.

Large corporations are reluctant to hire because it is so expensive to do so. Think health care and pension costs, as well as payroll add-ons for unemployment compensation and worker disability. The modern cost-cutting pressures of globalization also force large firms to take a highly cautious hiring approach. But newly minted entrepreneurs don't face all these costs -- at least not initially. And that is why the household survey has become so important in the 21st century economy.

Wages are rising today, so we know domestic labor markets must be tightening, not softening. To wit, average hourly compensation has risen to 3.9 percent over the past year, while average weekly earnings have grown to 4.5 percent. In early 2004, these wage measures were only up 1.5 percent.

The June Labor report also revealed a 2.3 percent annual gain in aggregate hours worked -- which is consistent with 3.7 percent real GDP growth and a 6.6 percent gain in wages and salaries. These hefty numbers will bolster consumer spending in the period ahead.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is recognizing the importance of the small-business-driven household survey, and has suggested averaging household jobs with the corporate payroll survey to get a clearer jobs picture. Doing this yields a strong 186,000 new jobs per month over the past year, which is the key reason why the unemployment rate stands at a historically low 4.6 percent rate, with total employment now at a record high 144.5 million.

These data points hardly suggest a slumping economy. Instead, they reveal a low-tax, durable, resilient and flexible American market system that easily shifts from one sector (housing) to another (business investment). It is this American economic dynamism that separates our ongoing prosperity from the overtaxed and overregulated stutter-start stagnation of industrial economies in Western Europe and Japan.

This cartoon by Chuck Asay illustrates how remarkable it is that the economy is as good as it is:

On the other hand, Captain Ed argues that Kudlow's numbers are not quite as impressive as he represents them since he doesn't adjust for inflation. Nevertheless, Ed agrees that the economy is robust and that the good news is underreported by the MSM.

There's no guarantee that this vigor will continue through 2008 but if it does, and if Iraq has made substantial progress toward stability, the Democrats will have no big issues left to run on, and they'll be likely to get their booties kicked.


Bill Roggio at Counterterrorism Blog updates us on events in Lebanon in the course of which he says this:

Israel is left with no other option than to destroy Hezbollah and remove their presence from the Lebanon frontier. Hezbollah has no intention of keeping the peace on the border, and the Lebanese government is far too weak to handle Hezbollah and secure the south on its own. The Israeli government has indicated Operation Just Reward should be viewed in the time frame of months, not day, indicating the IDF plans to pursue Hezbollah. The operations are already being described as the most intense in Israel's history of fighting in Lebanon.

Iran and Syria may very well enter this conflict. Hezbollah is the proxy of the Iranian and Syrian governments. The destruction of Hezbollah will be a massive loss of face for Iran and Syria, who have invested enormous amounts of time and resources to secure Hezbollah's position in Lebanon, as well as the international terror network.

Terror attacks against world wide U.S. and Israeli interests may very well take place if Israel presses the hunt for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran would very likely push Iraqi Shiite Moqtada al-Sadr to destabilize the situation in Iraq, for starters.

Hezbollah has been responsible for the deaths of dozens if not hundreds of Americans in the Middle East in the last twenty five years. It would be good were the malignancy excised. We hope that the United States doesn't try to hold Israel back.


No Left Turns points us to an article in USA Today which, as Julie Ponzi writes:

...tells us that in 1976 only 1 in 10 women in their 40s were without children. Today that number is 1 in 5. Another statistic cited: "In 1970, for example, 73.6% of women ages 25-29 had at least one minor child at home; 30 years later, 48.7% did." The article quotes Barbara Dafoe Whitehead (the author of the famous "Was Dan Quayle Right" article many years ago and of many good books since) who points out the obvious truth that this necessarily shapes the culture in a different direction. "People who are rearing children and have children in the household no longer represent the dominant force in society or politics," she says. And that means alot. Everything from what kinds of ads appear on T.V., to what kinds of shows, to workplace policies, to government policies will be affected and are affected by this shift. The character of these changes is still open for debate. I have my doubts about the goodness of them.

One is tempted to think that if more of the people who produce our entertainment were themselves raising children our culture might be significantly less sleazy. I think that's true despite the obvious counter-examples. Hugh Heffner's daughter now runs Playboy, after all. Having a daughter in the Playboy manse apparently didn't cause old Hugh to change much in the stuff he was putting out.

Even so, I believe it is a general fact about human nature that when people have children it makes them far more sensitive to the cultural influences that wash over us than they would otherwise have been. Parenthood tends to make people more mature, more responsible, and more concerned about the world their children will inherit. The fewer adults who parent, and the longer they delay it, the less mature, responsible, and concerned about those cultural influences our society will be.

Darwinism That Amounts to ID

Mike Gene deconstructs the theistic evolutionism of a major witness for the prosecution at the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial last Fall, Ken Miller.

Miller sounds very much like an IDer who is unaware that that's what he is. He seems to think that an ID advocate must hold that God intervenes sporadically in order to create biological novelties.

This is not the case. Miller's views seem very similar to those of other "front-loaders" who hold that the design of all subsequent phenomena was imposed on the cosmos through the establishment by the designer of the initial conditions of the Big Bang.

See the previous link for more discussion on the different positions that IDers hold.