Economic Insanity Roundup

Here in New York, they distribute the LA-based newspaper called Investors Business Daily, but somehow it doesn't make much of a splash.  Even compared to the Wall Street Journal, IBD does a great job of shining some light on the economic craziness all around us.  Their edition for this holiday weekend has a particularly good collection of underreported stories.

First up, IBD has been doing a great job covering Venezuela, and this weekend's edition has an editorial headed "Venezuela's Socialism Is Falling Apart."   Sample:

As socialism plays out to its logical conclusion in Venezuela, the specters of long lines, rationing, troop enforcers, bizarre edicts and desperate statements are now the order of the day.  Not only have more than a dozen Venezuelans been arrested for posting photographs of empty store shelves on social media, three governors have responded to long lines by — prohibiting them; ordering the arrest of anyone who lines up for goods before sunrise.  Troops now supervise lines because so many fistfights and looting incidents break out in these daily 12-hour ordeals for rice or toilet paper.

Anything about that in the New York Times?  Not that I can find.  A few days ago Venezuela's Catholic bishops issued a pastoral letter blaming Venezuela's desperate economic situation on the adoption of socialism as its economic system.  IBD covered that here on January 12.  IBD quotes from the letter as follows:

Venezuela's bishops Monday blamed "Marxist socialism" and "communism" by name for the horrors and chaos gripping their country, according to a story in El Universal.  The bishops said the long lines of people trying to buy food and other basic necessities and the constant rise in prices are the result of the government's decision to "impose a political-economic system of socialist, Marxist or communist," which is "totalitarian and centralist" and "undermines the freedom and rights of individuals and associations."

So what did the NYT have to say about the bishops' letter?  As far as I can determine, they haven't mentioned it yet.  Here is a list of all of their latest articles on Venezuela.  The most recent one was December 30.  It conceded that the decline in oil prices was a problem for Venezuela, but then said that the country was "in a better position to avoid a bust" than at the time of previous oil price declines.  Oh, on December 17 the Times published an op-ed by Diosdado Cabello, side-kick of Venezuelan strongman Maduro, criticizing the U.S. for imposing sanctions on Venezuela for human rights violations.  You literally cannot find out what is going on in Venezuela from reading the NYT.

Also on the editorial pages of this weekend's IBD we have "Green Energy Good For Rich, Pain For Poor," by Kathleen Hartnett-White.  In a world where new drilling technologies and "fracking" have suddenly generated a surplus of fossil fuel energy and sent oil and gas prices plunging, Europe continues to suffer human-created artificial shortages.  Hartnett-White quotes the German Association of Energy Consumers for the proposition that German electricity rates are now "two to three times higher than the U.S. average," all as part of an intentional program to appease the environmental gods by making Germans poorer.   And then this:

British officials celebrate the energy scarcity as the new normal, urging Britons to schedule laundry and work according to wind conditions and cloud cover.

Didn't centuries of human creativity and striving finally give us a world where we can now be largely independent of nature's whims to earn our living?  Yes, only to find ourselves with politicians desperate to undo it all.  Thankfully, here in the U.S., even as the EPA tries to impoverish the people, the frackers have them on the run, at least for the moment.

And then on the front page of IBD we have "Obama Mandates On Employers Now Exceed $5 Per Hour."  It seems that Obama's State of the Union address, scheduled for Tuesday, will propose yet another mandate on employers of low-income workers, this time for paid sick leave of 7 days per year.  This would come on top of the recently-imposed mandates of health insurance under Obamacare, plus increases in the minimum wage.  IBD calculates the value of the new sick leave mandate as approximately 30 cents per hour; and it calculates the total of the three mandates -- sick leave, health care, and increased minimum wage -- as coming to $5 per hour for low-wage workers.  

Might all these mandates have some impact on the employability of low-skill workers?  Well, the Bureau of Labor Statistics records an unemployment rate of 33.2% for African American teenagers in its most recent (December 2014) report.   That's up (although not by much) from 31.2% in Bush's last year of 2008, and in the interim has exceeded 40% at times.  Do you think our President might show a little concern about that?  None that I've seen -- I truly think he believes that all his mandates are completely free.  Funny, I also can't find any reporting from the New York Times on the African American teen unemployment rate for the whole time of Obama's presidency.   But something tells me it will become a big issue when a Republican President comes into office.