Saturday, November 17, 2012

Elections Have Consequences

It's not yet two weeks since the re-election of Barack Obama and already we are seeing some "unanticipated" results.

In the first few days following the election we watched the Dow Jones stock market average drop over 400 pts, a drop of 3%.  Stocks of energy companies were especially hard hit, with investors anticipating a wave of new regulations and restrictions from the administration and the EPA.  Understandable, with the comments by the President promoting so-called "green" energy projects (many of which, operated by or invested in by major donors) that have taken large taxpayer subsidies before filing for bankruptcy, while arguing for greater regulation and restriction on traditional forms of energy, even going so far as to eliminate 1.6 million acres in the western states from energy development.  Land that had already been previously approved for such use.  All while professing to desire an "all of the above" domestic energy strategy and American energy independence.

Also surprising (to Liberals and establishment media types) was the disclosure this week of a steep rise (also "unanticipated") in the number of people filing for unemployment benefits.  The weekly number of first time filers rose by more than 78,000 to a total of 439,000.  That's nearly half a million people filing for first time benefits in one single week.  This is already being spun as a consequence of super storm Sandy.  If that's the case, why would it be "unanticipated"?  The storm hit over three weeks ago.  Couldn't the people that put out the predicted employment/unemployment numbers account for that?  I would think that people who have made a profession out of anticipating unemployment numbers would be able to come closer than 78,000.

Also muddying the economic outlook are the announcements by dozens of firms, large and small, of intention to initiate lay-offs.  From Papa John's Pizza to Pepsi Co. to Verizon to Bank of America, the announcements are nearly universal in respect to one significant factor:  Obamacare.  With the re-election of Obama, the institution of Obamacare is assured.  Employers, having looked at the avalanche of new regulations, fees, and taxes coming their way have determined that they simply can not afford to both pay their employees and cover the new expenses mandated by the government.  Also aggravating the situation for employees is the fact that buried within the legislation was a provision that recalculated the level at which an employee would be considered to be "full time" and thus eligible for mandatory employer healthcare coverage, reducing what the Labor Department considers full time employment from 40 hrs/wk down to 30.  This has led many smaller employers to say that they are going to be forced to reduce employee hours accordingly in order to avoid being burdened with the additional costs of the healthcare law.

The electoral "landslide" was a result of the vote by large metropolitan population centers swinging states with the lion's share of electoral college votes to the left.  The sentiment of the people was narrowly divided, 51%-49% (actually closer than that, but it's a close average of differing vote counts).  Despite the actual narrowness of his "victory", Obama and the left have somehow determined that they now have a "mandate" to push their agenda.  Obama claims that the people endorsed his vision of higher taxation on the "rich", the 2%, in order to address the fiscal troubles of the country.  Actually, exit polls showed that only 47% (ironic, eh?) actually agreed with the President that the country's economic situation should be addressed by increasing taxes.  Count on another fiscal cliff fiasco, similar to last year's debt ceiling debacle.  Obama said after the election that he was looking forward to working with leaders of both sides of the aisle to craft a compromise, yet later he said that he instead of the previous deal that would have been worth $800B in additional revenue and spending cuts over ten years he now intended to get agreement for a package worth $1.6T, essentially doubling down on his original demands.  He intends to achieve this mark with higher tax rates, in addition to closing loop holes and deductions (also for "the rich").  We've got a slowing economy, with massive lay-offs on the horizon and his prescription for America is to burden businesses and individuals with an even greater tax burden.  Make no mistake, the taxes will fall on individuals.  Liberals and Progressives never seem to grasp the truth that no corporation or business ever pays taxes.  Any and all such expenses are passed along in the form of higher prices and higher fees.  Always.

Unions, where Obama got his greatest support, are also apparently feeling their oats.  Flexing their muscles, both financially and politically.  Following the election, union leaders and leftist economic academics were the first invited to the White House.  Not legislative leaders.  Not business owners.  Not the CEO's.  They obviously expect to be richly repaid for their support.  They have also mistaken the true extent of their power.  The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (who knew such a group existed?) struck Hostess Foods and refused to accept concessions the company said were necessary for it to stave off a third bankruptcy.  The company asked it's 18,500 employees to accept a new contract that included an 8% pay cut and increased contributions to their pensions and healthcare expenses.  The Teamsters, hardly an example of union/corporate cooperation warned the bakery union (itself a subsidiary operating under the Teamsters umbrella) that Hostess wasn't simply making a threat when it said that if employees didn't return to work by the deadline the business would shut down and liquidate, that they weren't just posturing for leverage in negotiations.  The baker's union refused to deal, forcing Hostess to close it's doors and eliminate all 18,500 jobs.

Talk about being short-sighted.  Figuring an average salary of $50,000, the workers decided that they'd rather risk losing everything, just days before the holidays, than continue to work for $46,000.  They didn't just shoot themselves in the foot, they also shot thousands of other workers in the back.  People who were not given a voice in the negotiations.  What of the delivery drivers?  What of the truck drivers who delivered the raw ingredients into the bakeries?  What of the loss of retail sales that will affect grocers and convenience stores nationwide?  These people were convinced by their leadership (none of whom, by the way, will lose their jobs or their paychecks) that it was better to stand firm than to negotiate and compromise in any way.  Union leadership apparently wanted to set an example more than they wanted to do what was in the best interests of the workers and the company that employed them.  Someone needs to sit these idiots down and relate to them the parable of the Golden Goose.  They killed the Golden Goose, and cooked their own goose in the process.  I wonder how many more families will end up losing their homes because of this?

Yes, elections have consequences.  And we have only just begun to appreciate the consequences of this one.  Congratulations, Liberals!  You have re-elected your choice for the leader of the country and will have the opportunity to enjoy the government you have chosen and deserve.  Sadly, the other 49% of the country will also experience the government you deserve.  I don't know if there will be any coming back.

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