The John Batchelor Show

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Air Date: 
October 14, 2014

Photo, above: See Hour 3, Block B, John Nicolson, Scottish broadcaster, on ''Flower of Scotland" as Scotland's  national anthem.


Co-host: Larry Kudlow, CNBC senior advisor; & Cumulus Media radio

Hour One

Tuesday  14 October  2014 / Hour 1, Block A: Mark Warshawsky, WSJ, in re: LK:  Lower costs at the gas pumps are uniformly good for everyone but the suppliers.  Some people say our economy is crumbling and hiring will diminish. Fracking is an economic miracle: we’re the largest liquid producer in the world.  If crude oil goes below $60 Bbl for fracking to stop; today it was $82. (Some people the bottom would be $45 Bbl)  I see no end to the fracking evolution; rather, that the whole rest of the economy will get a massive tax cut  - drivers wil save $100 billion. Everyone will ultimately benefit. I think we should buy this dip, this correction. A second point: lousy European growth might spill over to US; however, US exports 13% of its overseas goods and services to Europe, but 33% to Canada and Mexico. Ergo, NAFTA is much more important to us.  Bond yields got to 220 – no recession or inflation in sight.

MW: I see that it's healthcare costs that are driving income inequality. Earnings re take-hone pay plus benefits; as benefits increase, earnings slow, but that hits the lowest-paid hardest because the cost of healthcare is the same for highly=paid or low-paid – so if you make $40K or $150K, the same amount is deducted.  Some estimate that 30-50% of healthcare expenditure is not needed for actual health. . . . Everyone agrees that tax-deductibility of healthcare has hurt, not helped, the system. . . . An average family health policy today costs employers nearly $12,000 per year, up from only $4,200 in 1999. Had employer premiums not risen, average salaries today would be around $7,800 higher. For a lower-income worker who today makes $30,000, that could have meant a 26% salary increase. By contrast, a “one percenter” making $250,000 today would have seen his earnings rise only by 3.1%. . . .

Income Inequality and Rising Health-Care Costs  Even more modest, however, was the 2.3% growth of workers’ earnings last year. These figures merely illustrate a long-term trend of rising health costs eating away at wages. The real story is even more dramatic: Government data show that health costs are the biggest driver of income inequality in America today. (1 of 2)

Tuesday  14 October  2014 / Hour 1, Block B: Mark Warshawsky, WSJ, in re: Income Inequality and Rising Health-Care Costs  . . .  The decision has been removed from Americans' hand.  Transparency would help: let people know how much the employer is spending and see if s/he would rather buy his/her own policy.   We’re told that healthcare costs have risen 3% this year – put earning have grown 2%, so people feel worse off.  (2 of 2)

Tuesday  14 October  2014 / Hour 1, Block C: Casey Mulligan, University of Chicago, in re: just released a report for the Mercatus Center that concludes that labor markets ultimately will reduce weekly employment per person by about 3 percent, translating to roughly 4 million fewer full-time-equivalent workers. This reduction is nearly double the one most recently estimated by the Congressional Budget Office, and will have a major impact on the U.S. economy.

Interestingly, yesterday, Walmart announced it's been forced to eliminate healthcare for almost all of its part-time employees.

LK: If I had job [at a modest salary], it'd be cheaper for me not to work.  CM:  In fct, just having a job will disqualify many from assistance – have to be either part-time or out of work for a while, Women will find he biggest change in theri work schedules: it’s less of stretch for employers to put them below 29 hours a week.  LK: The aggregate impact s to reduce employment.  CS: We’re messing with productivity – telling employers to have 29-hour workers, which is less productive. and there'll be more retirements.  JB: ACA obliges people to be punished if they go above 29 hours?  CS: Typically, yes.   LK: Also, if they hire the 51s worker, they’re penalized, . CS: Yes, that one worker can cost $60k PA over the regular salary and costs of the worker   LK: The GOP has been extremely stupid this time because they’re not talking about Obamacare. Some of my liberal friends say: All good, we’ll have more time to spend with family and fulfill dreams.  CS: It's almost fraudulent practice to say that – when you lose a job, that's a loss.  . . .  The taxpayer is now carrying the burden of the unemployed.  "The most permanent thing out there is a temporary govt program" – a lot of temporary stimulus programs are now replaced by Obamacare.  Rewards are for destroying economic value, not creating it.  [Dems] have a Utopian model where not having a job is good because it lets you go pursue a dream. 

Casey had an op-ed in RealClearMarkets yesterday, "How the Affordable Care Act Begets Gender Inequality." He's the author of The Redistribution Recession: How Labor Market Distortions Contracted the Economy,  and is widely published by NYT, WSJ, Forbes, Barron's, et al.   He has been a thorn in the side of the Obama Administration.  And these data stands in stark contrast to the progressive ideals of the Obama Administration and the architects of the ACA.

Tuesday  14 October  2014 / Hour 1, Block D: Larry Kudlow, CNBC senior advisor; & Cumulus Media radio, in re: The excitement of domestic US politics.   The excitement of domestic US politics.   . . .  Louisiana, Colorado (Mark Udall may lose to the cheery-faced Mr Gardner); only in Kansas is the GOP looking shaky. "Brown goes +1 against Shaheen."    New Hampshire, North Carolina.  Larry Pressler as an independent in South Dakota.  Grimes yesterday in the debate: It's not our business whom she voted for – "RBM" = real big mistake.  Very odd race.  Bill Clinton in Arkansas a lot.  Georgia.  Next eek: we'll get Bill Whelan of Hoover to go through these carefully.

Hour Two

Tuesday  14 October  2014 / Hour 2, Block A:  Stephen F. Cohen, NYU & Princeton professor Emeritus; author: Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War, & The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag after Stalin; in re:  Poroshenko will meet Putin in Milan this week  [16-17 Oct] Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that he will meet Russian counterpart Vladimir . . .    Putin's Ukraine Strategy Is Straight Out of 'Game of Thrones' (1 of 4)

Tuesday  14 October  2014 / Hour 2, Block B: Stephen F. Cohen, NYU & Princeton professor Emeritus; in re:  New Ukraine defence chief vows to stand up to Russia . . .  There's no longer a unitary Europe: it split over Ukraine.  The most belligerent were the three Baltics, and Poland joined them; Old Europe, called "accommodationist"; and the middle group, who are legitimately worried because they depend wholly on Russia for heating fuel.  . . .  The dimensions of the disaster that Washington [helped] create . . .  (2 of 4)

Tuesday  14 October  2014 / Hour 2, Block C: Stephen F. Cohen, NYU & Princeton professor Emeritus, in re: The United States and Russia agreed to strengthen intelligence exchanges related to the fight against the Islamic State, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Oct. 14 following talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, RIA Novosti reported. Washington and Moscow have not previously partnered on the issue of combatting the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in the Middle East and Central Asia. (3 of 4)

Tuesday  14 October  2014 / Hour 2, Block D: Stephen F. Cohen, NYU & Princeton professor Emeritus; (4 of 4)

Hour Three

Tuesday  14 October  2014 / Hour 3, Block A:   John Nicolson, Scottish broadcaster, in re: Gordon Brown warns Tory 'lethal cocktail' could end Union    The former Prime Minister argues that a combination of English votes for English laws and devolving income tax to Scotland could finish off the United Kingdom (1 of 2)

Tuesday  14 October  2014 / Hour 3, Block B: John Nicolson, Scottish broadcaster, in re: . . . Self-abuse I'm afraid. No one forced us to vote no.  'Flower of Scotland" as our national anthem at football matches. Many think one line is especially embarrassing; "And we can still rise now and be the nation again which stood against him, proud Edward's army...."

How can No voters sing this in good conscience? I am proposing a revision; "And we can still rise now and have a limited degree of fiscal autonomy...." (2 of 2)

Tuesday  14 October  2014 / Hour 3, Block C:   Salena Zito, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review & Pirates fan, in re: They're Badgers, Brewers and Packers fans.  More comfortable in jeans and boots than suits and ties, they love their state with a passion only a local could comprehend, grew up in middle-class families, and speak plainly about not only their values but their political beliefs.

Scott Walker, Paul Ryan and Reince Priebus — governor, future U.S. House Ways and Means chairman and chairman of the Republican national party, respectively — never lost their Midwest twangs or the conservative fiscal populism that propelled them into the national spotlight to varying degrees. None has ever gone full-blown, bubble-encased Washington establishment: Walker never governed there, Ryan doesn't have an apartment there (instead, sleeping in his office) and Priebus — despite being the face of the establishment party — is the least-establishment chairman ever to hold that office.

Yes, Priebus raises money from big shots. Yes, he looks at races through the lens of which is winnable and which isn't. And, yes, he has to support incumbents despite challenges by grassroots conservatives, which sometimes angers his base. But he has proven that he is truer to his roots than to the weeds of D.C.

“Reince is one of the most down-to-earth people I know,” Walker said, holding up his iPhone to show a photo of Priebus jumping into Kenosha Harbor this summer after Walker dared him to take the ice-bucket challenge to benefit ALS. “Also somewhat crazy — that water is c-o-l-d,” he said, laughingly exaggerating the last word with a shiver.  Priebus — son of a German father and immigrant Greek mother who came to the United States via Sudan — took over the national party in 2011, when it was bankrupt and demoralized. The party made great gains in the 2010 midterms but also squandered a potential Senate takeover with undisciplined, unpolished candidates; its leadership under his predecessor, Michael Steele, was out of touch with main-street Republicans.

The pragmatic Wisconsinite needed seven ballots to win the chairmanship, a year to get the party in financial order and a presidential loss, as well as another squandered Senate-majority opportunity, to draw up an evaluation of the party's state and to work on pulling together its factions.  As the face of the national party, he has been condemned by some critics as part of the establishment and lacking ideas; both are unfair and unfounded. Plenty of out-of-touch elected Republicans and strategists-in-name-only exist, but Priebus is not part of their clique.

“When you're from Wisconsin, you can't get away with acting like a big shot. You have to be accessible,” he said not just of himself but also of Walker and Ryan. “There isn't a lot of pomp and circumstance that folks will put up with.” The 42-year-old father of two, who has been married 15 years to the girl he took to his high school prom, said his Badger State roots and friends keep him humble and focused as he pushes to set the tone for the party going forward. “Look, here's the bottom line — we can't just be about saying ‘no' to everything,” he said. Republicans, he explained, should engage with voters about the . . .  (1 of 2)

Tuesday  14 October  2014 / Hour 3, Block D: Salena Zito, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review & Pirates fan, in re: They're Badgers, Brewers and Packers fans. (2 of 2)

Hour Four

Tuesday  14 October  2014 / Hour 4, Block A: Paul Gregory, Hoover, in re: Things are not going well for Vladimir Putin. The price of oil and the ruble continue to fall. Top Russian officials admit that the economy is in big trouble, despite Putin’s denials. Likely presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton has declared that bully Putin must be contained. Rumors abound that a top Russian special-forces general has been killed in fighting in east Ukraine (How can Putin cover this up?) And we all were told there was a Russian-enforced ceasefire?   Putin’s counter sanctions are making things worse. Food prices are rising. Russians are stuck with unappetizing meat from Central Asia. The Ukraine venture was supposed to bring glory at no cost. The most ominous sign, however, is that Putin is weakening the foundations on which his power vertical is based. He is cutting off foreign investment by bailing out his friends, and he is breaking the social compact on which his  KGB-Mafia state is founded. [more]

Putin's Reaction to Sanctions Is Destroying the Economy and China Won't Help   Things are not going well for Vladimir Putin. The price of oil and the ruble continue to fall. Top Russian officials admit that the economy is in big trouble, despite Putin’s denials. The likely presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has declared that Putin must be contained. Putin’s countersanctions are making things worse. The most ominous sign, however, is that Putin is weakening the foundations on which his power is based. He is cutting off foreign investment by bailing out his friends, and he is breaking the social compact on which his KGB-Mafia state is founded.

Karen Dawisha, in her unblinking scholarly expose appropriately entitled Putin’s Kleptocracy, reports that 110 billionaires own 35 percent of Russia’s wealth (p. 350). Consider this figure in context: Thomas Piketty, in his best-selling Capital in the Twenty-First Century, based his case for a wealth tax on the fact that 320,000 Americans (the top one percent) own 30 percent of the nation’s wealth. If Western capitalism is in need of Piketty’s income redistribution, Russia needs it a thousand-fold. America is a hotbed of equality compared to Putin’s Russia.

According to Dawisha (pp. 330,350): “None of this would have been possible without the personal involvement of Putin….The group [the 110 billionaires] now in power started out with Putin from the beginning. They are committed to looting without parallel… In any Western country, this would be called criminal malfeasance. In Russia, it is called governance.”

Putin’s kleptocracy is based on the following principles of (mis)governance: 1) The state determines what is legal and what is not; there is no rule of law. 2) The state serves the interests of Putin and his inner circle, not of the people. 3) Putin’s kleptocracy uses its media monopoly to brainwash the people with Goebbels-like big lies. 4) Putin determines property rights – who owns what. 5) Disloyalty will be punished by confiscation of property, banishment, prison, or worse. Loyalists can rest easy, however. Their property is safe, or at least so says their friend Vladimir Putin.  If any of these principles are broken, the Putin kleptocracy would lose . . . 



Tuesday  14 October  2014 / Hour 4, Block B: Michael Tomasky, Daily Beast, in re: How Red-State Democrats Can Throw Obama Under the Bus   Let’s be blunt: Democratic Senate candidates in red states—like Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky—need to say ‘Barack who?’ But doing so can look craven, or it can be crafty. Monday night’s a big night in this campaign season. In Kentucky, Alison Lundergan Grimes gets her one shot at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in a debate. I know most of the smart people have written the Democrat off. But a major Kentucky poll last week put her up two points. And she seems to be drawing big and enthusiastic crowds. And McConnell keeps making mistakes. In other words, there’s oxygen.

Grimes is going to hit her themes—that McConnell hasn’t delivered jobs to the state and that he’s a big part of the Washington problem. McConnell will hit his—that GrimesObama isObama aObama shiftyObama DemocratObama by the way did I mention this guy Obama? But as we all know, if there ever is a clear victory in any of these debates, it usually come down to a moment, one good or bad moment that gets replayed over and over on local TV news and masticated on the state’s political radio shows. And for Grimes, unless she has a great putdown stocked away she’s been working on, fate has recently decreed what that moment is likely to be. As you should know by now, Grimes has been refusing to say whether she voted for President Obama. It’s been embarrassing. Chuck Todd even said she’d “disqualified herself.” That’s a bit over the top, but it was . . .

Wendy Davis' Wheelchair Ad May Have Gone Too Far  Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis may have gone too far when an attack ad depicting a wheelchair aired against her disabled opponent Greg Abbott. Michael Tomasky joins MSNBC to talk about how the ad may have lost her the support of Democratic voters who applauded her 2013 filibuster.

Tuesday  14 October  2014 / Hour 4, Block C:  Daniel Henninger, WSJ WONDER LAND, in re:  Killer Bureaucracies

Tuesday  14 October  2014 / Hour 4, Block D:   Robert Zimmerman,, in re:  Orbiting X-37B to land on Tuesday  After twenty-two months in orbit, on its second space mission, the Air Force plans to bring the X-37B back to Earth this coming Tuesday.  The exact time and date will depend on weather and technical factors, the Air Force said in a statement released on Friday. The X-37B space plane, also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle, blasted off for its second mission aboard an unmanned Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Dec. 11, 2012. The 29-foot-long (9-meter) robotic spaceship, which resembles a miniature space shuttle, is an experimental vehicle that first flew in April 2010. It returned after eight months. A second vehicle blasted off in March 2011 and stayed in orbit for 15 months.  Giant boulders on Comet 67P/C-G  


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