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The Man Who Would Be Tennessee’s Governor

Tuesday, February 3, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Congressman Zach Wamp wants to Governor Zach Wamp, and he’s making sure the Volunteer State’s bloggers are up to speed on his positions. (HT: Instapundit.)

With every cycle the candidates’ focus on new media grows exponentially.

Well, at least among the smart ones. Finding a campaign manager and a media firm used to be the first steps to getting serious. Now a new media expert must be part of the team. Among the best on the GOP side: All, Almacy, Neppell and Ruffini.

Speaking of Tennessee, Senator Lamar Alexander will be on today’s program with an update on negotiations –if any– on the stimulus package.

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“How Government Prolonged The Depression,” and Confirming Daschle

Monday, February 2, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression

That’s the title of a story on today’s Wall Street Journal by Harold Cole and Lee Ohanian which should be must reading in the Senate this week. Key graphs:

The most damaging policies were those at the heart of the recovery plan, including The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), which tossed aside the nation’s antitrust acts and permitted industries to collusively raise prices provided that they shared their newfound monopoly rents with workers by substantially raising wages well above underlying productivity growth. The NIRA covered over 500 industries, ranging from autos and steel, to ladies hosiery and poultry production. Each industry created a code of “fair competition” which spelled out what producers could and could not do, and which were designed to eliminate “excessive competition” that FDR believed to be the source of the Depression.

These codes distorted the economy by artificially raising wages and prices, restricting output, and reducing productive capacity by placing quotas on industry investment in new plants and equipment. Following government approval of each industry code, industry prices and wages increased substantially, while prices and wages in sectors that weren’t covered by the NIRA, such as agriculture, did not. We have calculated that manufacturing wages were as much as 25% above the level that would have prevailed without the New Deal. And while the artificially high wages created by the NIRA benefited the few that were fortunate to have a job in those industries, they significantly depressed production and employment, as the growth in wage costs far exceeded productivity growth.

Now if I was advising the crafty Mitch McConnell or the always thinking Jon Kyl, I’d suggest they request Amity Shlaes to address a luncheon gathering of as many senators as they could find as a way of bringing attention to the core message of The Forgotten Man, her magnificent history of the Great Depression. That core message has to do with the certainty of rules that markets require to function. Time is short so I don’t think the Senate GOP can expect their Democratic friends to read Shlaes’ riveting book, but if they bought lunch in the spirit of bipartisanship and asked Amity to speak?

I wrote on Saturday on ways to improve the stimulus –housing, habaitat, nuclear power and the fleet– and heard from folks who know that shipbuilding for the Navy does indeed produce extraordinary ripple effects on employment. My follow-up question for the in-the-know folks: What sport of ships could be most easily ordered up, provide the Navy with the most force that the Navy wants, and for which the facilities exist to begin production quickly? The proposals on habitat, housing and nukes are easily understood, but the economic consequences of ship-building less so. Any info to hugh@hughhewitt.com please.

My two cents on the latest confirmation dance is sure to disappoint my most partisan listeners: Tom Daschle should be confirmed quickly because (1) his biggest error it looks to me to be the sort of error that a former senior elected official used to riding around in government cars could easily make, while the others look like the screw-ups that a suddenly wealthy former senator could easily make, (2) he wouldn’t have endangered his political career and ambitions for this amount of money given the huge income he had coming in, and (3) we absolutely have to fix the confirmation mess or more and more people will flee public service at the highest levels. Partisans tell me that giving passes to Secretary Geithner and now Daschle will never matter down the road when future GOP nominees run into trouble. Perhaps not. But a double dose of restraint when presented with the opportunity to slice and dice a nominee make the GOP’s policy objections much more potent, and no matter how much you disagree with him –and I worked pretty hard for John Thune, twice, because I disagreed with Daschle a lot– he is a good man and a smart one, and I’d rather have a center-left pro running DHS who will at least be open to the arguments of the big medical groups/hospitals/insurers than an ideologue from the university world.

Errors on tax returns related to unusual circumstances and nanny issues are simply not the sort of character issues for which confirmation should be denied. Fixing the “confirmation mess” requires some restraint when presented with targets. The GOP should stay fixed on the stimulus bill, and not go chasing Daschle.

Steyn On Rock-and-Roll

Sunday, February 1, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

My pal Doug TenaPal posted on rock’s big embrace of President Obama, which elicited this from columnist-to-the-world Mark Steyn:

[F]or half-a-century now rock has very successfully been “both establishment and anti-establishment”. In fact, “a rebellious underdog distributed by the status quo” is the very definition of rock: All those fellows calling for revolution while contracted to Capitol, Columbia, EMI., Warner Bros – the exact same companies running the music biz back in the days when Glenn Miller and Bing Crosby were where the big bucks were. A few years ago the Warner Megabehemoth Globocorp launched a rap label called “Maverick”, and nobody laughed.

Rockers attending the Obama inauguration are like visiting royalty at a Bourbon or Habsburg wedding. By the way, over the years I’ve met kings, princesses, dukes and all the rest, and none of ‘em were as hung up on precedence as the aristorockracy. A decade or so back, Sting had to issue a formal apology because at one of his big save-the-rainforest banquets at his country pile he committed the ghastly social faux pas of seating Jools Holland (of the band Squeeze) next to some no-name session musician. In Britain, these guys all live in stately homes, and any of their number who makes it to 50 without choking on his own vomit or being found face down in the swimming pool gets knighted – Sir Elton John, Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Paul McCartney, etc. Obama’s pal Bono has a knighthood. You say you want a revolution? Sorry I’m having tea with the Prince of Wales that day.

All that’s happened is that the pseudo-revolution of the corporate rockers has now spread to the political sphere. It’s the exact same formula: Millions of doting flower children hold hands and singalong with “This Is The Hoping Of The Change Of The Hopeychange…” and then Tom Daschle jets off in the Gulfstream worrying only that the couple hundred extra grand in non-declarable income he tossed in the hold might impact the weight balance.

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