President Obama is ending 2014 on a high note. The Dow at 18,000 and gas prices around two dollars a gallon made December a nice turnaround from a disastrous November. Remember the election?
The year was filled with plenty of problems: the JV team better known as ISIS, the Ebola outbreak in Africa, the Putin “outbreak” in Ukraine, the VA and IRS scandals, Secret Service issues, and rising suspicion of local police by African-Americans. One unfortunate continuing issue is that our foreign policy is viewed as a disaster by our friends. Yes, they probably relied on us too much in the past, happy to let us defend the free world. But after six years of withdrawing our strong influence, both big and small troublemakers seized on cracks in our armor to attack and taunt.
Is the Great Recession over? The economy is closing the year with good news. The latest quarterly report shows a 5% increase in GDP, employment is up and shoppers spent more for Christmas. There is concern however that middle and lower income folks have not benefited much from the recovery. If gasoline stays low for a few months like it did six years ago, and the Federal Reserve keeps interest rates near zero and minimizes inflation, even these folks may have a few extra bucks in their pocket.
I think the average person has a better understanding of economics than our President. Did you hear him comparing the economics of constructing the Keystone XL pipeline to roads and bridges? First, he declared there is no potential benefit to this country of building the pipeline (with private dollars) because it will simply make a Canadian oil company wealthy with no effect on oil supply or gasoline prices. Instead, he touted the potential economic benefits of pouring more taxpayer dollars into roads and bridges. Even an old cowboy knows the difference between something paid for with private dollars and something financed with tax dollars, especially dollars borrowed from China.
President Obama does seem concerned about the cost of keeping our Gitmo prison open for Islamic terrorists. He says it is costing a million dollars per prisoner a year so he wants to turn ‘em loose. Actually he wants to return them to their home Islamic country, but that’s the same as turning ‘em loose. For one of those terrorists that we let out a few years ago, we have offered $5 million to get him back. Where’s the economics in that? Do you suppose we ever spent a million a year on a prisoner at Alcatraz or Sing Sing? To save money we need to operate that prison like a Gitmotel-6 instead of a Ritz-Carleton with gourmet meals, plush rugs and a manicured soccer field.
Historic quote by Will Rogers:
“It hasn’t been a bad old year, as years have been going lately. In fact in years to come, when all these professors switch from economists to historians, they are liable to label [this year] as the historical year, the year of the big switch from worse to better.” DT #2312, Dec. 31, 1933