Gallup Finds Highest Doubts of Government in Decades

(p. A23) If you want to know why Americans are so fearful of a government takeover of the health-care system, take a look at the results of a new Gallup poll on government waste released Sept. 15. One question posed was: “Of every tax dollar that goes to Washington, D.C., how many cents of each dollar would you say is wasted?” Gallup found that the mean response was 50 cents. With Uncle Sam spending just shy of $4 trillion this year, that means the public believes that $2 trillion is wasted.

In a separate poll released on Monday, Gallup found that nearly twice as many Americans believe that there is “too much government regulation of business and industry” as believe there is “too little” (45% to 24%).
Perhaps most significantly, in both of these polls Gallup found that skepticism about government’s effectiveness is the highest it’s been in decades. “Perceptions of federal waste were significantly lower 30 years ago than today,” say the Gallup researchers. Even when Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980 with the help of the antigovernment revolt of that era, Americans believed only 40 cents of every dollar was wasted, according to Gallup.
. . .
Over the last decade, the federal government has become bloated and inefficient. Voters are on to the scam. Mr. Obama keeps calling federal spending an “investment,” but Americans apparently feel this is the worst investment they’ve ever made. They’ve come to regard Washington as a $2 trillion Bridge to Nowhere. They are right.

For the full commentary, see:
STEPHEN MOORE. “Our $2 Trillion Bridge to Nowhere; Americans believe Washington squanders half of every tax dollar.” The Wall Street Journal (Weds., SEPTEMBER 23, 2009): A23.
(Note: ellipsis added.)

“Dynamism Has Been Leached From Our System,” But Not from Our Brains or Our Hearts

Sometimes one of Peggy Noonan’s columns reminds us that she was once one of Ronald Reagan’s best speech writers:

(p. A11) I heard a man named Nathan Myhrvold speak of a thing called Microsoft. I saw a young man named Steve Jobs prowl a New York stage and unveil a computer that then we thought tiny and today we’d call huge. A man named Steve Wozniak became a household god as my son reported his visionary ways. It was a time so full of genius and dynamism that it went beyond words like “breakthrough” and summoned words like “revolution.” If you were paying attention, if you understood you were witnessing something great, the invention of a new age, the computer age, it caught at your throat. It was like hearing great music. People literally said what had been said in the age of Thomas Edison: “What will they think of next?” What a buoyant era.
. . .
And for a moment, as I sent and received my first airborne Wi-Fi emails, I was back there. And I was moved because I realized how much I missed it, how much we all do, that “There are no walls” feeling. “Think different.” “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984.’ ” That was 25 years ago. The world was on fire.
It has cooled. And the essential problem with the crash we’re in is no one can imagine quite feeling that way again. People can remember it, but they can’t quite resummon it.
. . .
I end with a hunch that is not an unhappy one. Dynamism has been leached from our system for now, but not from the human brain or heart. Just as our political regeneration will happen locally, in counties and states that learn how to control themselves and demonstrate how to govern effectively in a time of limits, so will our economic regeneration. That will begin in someone’s garage, somebody’s kitchen, as it did in the case of Messrs. Jobs and Wozniak. The comeback will be from the ground up and will start with innovation. No one trusts big anymore. In the future everything will be local. That’s where the magic will be. And no amount of pessimism will stop it once it starts.

For the full commentary, see:
PEGGY NOONAN. “Remembering the Dawn of the Age of Abundance; Times are hard, but dynamism isn’t dead.” Wall Street Journal (Sat., Feb. 21, 2009): A11.
(Note: ellipses added.)

Reagan’s “Crazy” Speech Inspired Lessig to Pursue the “Impossible”

 

Mr. Lessig has become the standard-bearer for those who see copyright law as too protective of original creators and too stifling of the artists who follow them. That position has made him the darling of those who want a relatively unfettered Internet, whether it be music sharers or online poem reprinters.

But it has also made him an opponent of many big media companies, including the Walt Disney Company, whose signature creation, Mickey Mouse, would have passed into the public domain years ago if not for a series of well-timed extensions to the law.

. . .

. . . , it might surprise many of Mr. Lessig’s supporters to find that his inspiration for his copyright work was Ronald Reagan.

“I heard George Shultz give a talk in Berlin on the 20th anniversary of Reagan’s ‘tear down this wall’ speech,” Mr. Lessig said. “It was very moving to be at this event. Many of the Germans in the audience were moved to tears. They said that at the time this happened, it was impossible to see this change happening.”

In recalling his thoughts on the possibility of communism falling, he said, “When I heard Reagan’s speech, I remember thinking, ‘boy, he is crazy,’ ” he said.

It is fair to say you can quote him on that.

 

For the full story, see: 

NOAM COHEN.  "LINK BY LINK; Taking the Copyright Fight Into a New Arena."  The New York Times   (Mon., July 2, 2007):  C3.

 

Reagan’s Resolve

 

In this anecdote from the Bosch book, Reagan’s son Ron (who has often been critical of his father) tells of an expedition with his father to collect flagstone for eventual use in building a patio:

(p. 140, footnote 11)  We went out to retrieve a lot of these big heavy stones and load them into a little trailer that would be then hauled behind this ancient old original Jeep.  I mean this was just like the proto-Jeep that he still had, because he’d never throw anything away.  And so we’d, you know, spend a few hours hauling these big heavy rocks and we’d load them into the little trailer.  It’s now piled high.  It must weigh tons.  Climb back into the Jeep and head up this slope that’s steep.  I mean this is steep.  And on one side you’ve got a sheer drop to the Santa Ynez Valley, you know, 2,000 feet below, and on the other side a gully full of rocks.  And we’re hauling this huge mass of sandstone behind us.  Now this Jeep, this poor thing, it’s…it’s not going to make it.  And about three-quarters of the way up this steep hill, it starts to give out.  And it’s mmm-mmm-mmm, and it becomes apparent that we’re not going to crest the hill.  And now we’re actually going backwards.  We’re not hauling the rocks, the rocks are hauling us.  And I’m ready to get out.  Not him.  He’s—handling it.  He’s going to back this thing down, by God.  And he does…and we make it down…the rocks haul us back down the hill, but we manage to stay on the road.  Now I’m thinking, well, OK, so now we’re going to turn around and go some other way, because there’s no way we’re going up, we’re not going to try that again.  Oh no, no, we’re going to go up that hill.  You know, by God, we’re going up that hill.  I…it must have taken us three or four tries, of getting almost up the hill and being hauled back down, and each time I’m thinking OK, you know, which way do I jump.  He’s cool as a cucumber.  Didn’t bother him at all.

 

Source:

Bosch, Adriana. Reagan: An American Story. TV Books Inc., 1998.

(Note:  ellipses in original.)

 

 

At Screen Actors Guild, Communists Threatened to Disfigure His Face

ReaganAnAmericanStoryBK.jpg   Source of book image: http://www.shopaim.org/assets/images/large/458i.jpg

 

There are better books on Reagan.  But Bosch’s book has a few illuminating anecdotes.  Here is one:

(p. 63)  Reagan first learned about Communists and their intentions as a member of a Hollywood union, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).  He had been introduced to the Screen actors Guild by his wife Jane Wyman and had quickly risen to become a member of the Guild’s board.  As a SAG Board member, and later as its president, he mediated a dispute between two rival unions.  One of the unions, the Conference of Studio Unions (CSU), was led by a suspected Communist, Herb Sorrell.

. . .  

(p. 64)  Sorrell and Reagan went head to head.  When Reagan crossed a picket line outside Warner Brothers, Sorrell called for a boycott of his movies.  Reagan was called a fascist.  An anonymous phone caller threatened to disfigure his face so he could never act again.  He began to carry a gun and accepted police protection.  He became an informant for the FBI 

"These were eye-opening years for me," he later wrote.  "Now I knew form first-hand experience how Communists used lies, deceit, violence, or any other tactic that suited them to advance the cause of Soviet expansionism."

 

Source: 

Bosch, Adriana.  Reagan: An American Story.  TV Books Inc., 1998.

 

More Evidence that Reagan Was Much More than a “Genial Idiot”

   Source of book image:  http://ec2.images-amazon.com/images/P/0688146139.01._SS500_SCLZZZZZZZ_V1056466100_.jpg

 

Reagan was smart and disciplined.  That was one of the main messages of Mike Deaver’s book.  But in these pages, there is much additional evidence.  See, especially, the essay by Martin Anderson.

Also, Lee Edwards talks about one of his early encounters with the Reagans; he visited their home, and he was especially anxious to see Reagan’s library.  He saw a large library with dog-eared, heavily annotated books.  He also mentions quizing the GE manager (CEO?) who used to travel by train with Reagan to visit GE plants.  Edwards asked what Reagan did during the train trips.  The GE manager reported that Reagan devoured books, periodicals, and reports, taking extensive notes on his index cards.

(Sounds like Reagan could have used a computer, and would have made a great blogger?)

 

The reference for the book is: 

Hannaford, Peter, ed. Recollections of Reagan: A Portrait of Ronald Reagan: William Morrow & Company, 1997.

 

Beware of a Snapshot of a Moment in Time

  Source of photo:  http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/27/world/middleeast/27mideast.html?pagewanted=2

 

The photo of Condi Rice touching her forehead ran on the top of the front page of the New York Times on Thurs., July 27, 2006.  It ran big:  filling over a third of the length of the paper, and over half of the width.  It ran right next to the main headline of the front page:  "CEASE-FIRE TALKS STALL AS FIGHTING RAGES ON 2 FRONTS."

It appears that Condi Rice is discouraged, or has a headache, or is overcome. 

But a great CNN report by Jeanne Moos run on Sat., July 29, shows a dynamic version of the minute during which this snapshot was taken.  It shows that this photo is a split-second moment of Condi Rice brushing hair off of her forehead.

Our usual view of competition is to look at how many competitors there are at a moment in time.  We look at a snapshot.  But to really judge competition we must take Schumpeter seriously and look dynamically at whether there is the possibility of leapfrog competition over time.

In an earlier blog entry, I noted that Ronald Reagan resisted sitting for still photos because he thought that still photos could easily be manipulated to mislead.  Ronald Reagan was right.

 

(Jeanne Moos’s report was entitled "Hairy Talks or Hair in Eyes?" on the CNN web site.  I believe it first ran on 7/28/06, though I saw it replayed in the afternoon of 7/29/06.)