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Archive for the ‘Wall Street Journal Opinion Page’ Category

Wall Street Journal Opinion Page May 25, 2012 No, You Can’t Spend Yourself Rich in the Real World

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Wall Street Journal Opinion Page May 25, 2012

No, You Can’t Spend Yourself Rich in the Real World

by: Geoff Ficke

François Hollande and his and Mr. Swoboda’s suggested policies aren’t drivers of growth but of accelerating decline. Note the increasing numbers of the French producing class fleeing the country for England.

The economic template that would serve the EU well is on display in the center of the continent. Switzerland and Germany revere hard work, thrift, excellence in their products and not spending what they do not have. Even a former welfare queen like Sweden has reformed and unbridled its economy from the self-imposed shackles of socialist policies, and growth is accelerating there. The Swedes and Swiss were smart enough to stay out of the EU.

Mr. Swoboda is salivating for more of exactly what hasn’t worked and will never work. For almost 100 years varying styles of utopian socialist policies have been thrust on populations around the world. From Romania to Cuba to Zimbabwe they have only led to everyone, except the ruling class, being poor together.

Wall Street Journal Opinion Page December 15, 2011, “A Manifesto for Sustainable Capitalism”

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Wall Street Journal Opinion Page December 15, 2011

A Manifesto for Sustainable Capitalism

by Geoff Ficke

I read, then re-read with incredulity Al Gore’s, and his minions, treatise on a new, improved sustainable capitalism (WSJ, Dec 14, 2011 A Manifesto for Sustainable Capitalism). After considering the ponderous, plodding abstractions proferred by this well-know entrenched team of career politicians and professors I was struck by one missing piece of data omitted from this centrally planned theorem: They did not name or cite a single example of any enterprise that is successfully following their enlightened path to sustainable riches. Luddite that I am, I will continue to seek lessons from capitalism from those old dinosaurs Hayek, Friedman and Adam Smith.

WSJ Opinion Page October 14, 2011 “Profits First Enable All The Giving Back”

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Profits First Enable All The Giving Back

by: Geoff Ficke

Andy Kessler’s excellent column (How Wilson Greatbatch ‘Gave Back”, WSJ Sept. 30) does a splendid job of countering the Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama, and the left in general, argument that success is a collaborative effort and giving back is a moral imperative. The very idea that the existence of public schools, highways, public transport and government programs produce prosperity is the equivalent of placing the caboose at the front of the train.
Adam Smith,  considered the godfather of free markets and liberty, wrote the classic Theory of Moral Sentiments in 1759 which memorialized the concept of “the Invisible Hand”, the cornerstone of our modern capitalist system. This was followed in in 1776 by the more famous Wealth of Nations. These books, and the theories espoused by Mr. Smith greatly influenced the Founding Fathers, particularly Alexander Hamilton. They represent the foundation of the economic system which has produced the greatest prosperity the world has ever experienced, based on self-interest and a profit motive.
Not until  the mid-19th century did Horace Mann begin his quest for a public school system. All colleges of the time were private or religious institutions. There was no national highway system, Pell Grants, HUD, AMTRAK or large public works. The growth of government at all levels has occured as a result of the success of individuals creating opportunities that generate profits first.
Every teacher, politician, bureaucrat or Harvard professor owes their professional existence to entrepreneurs who generate the profits that produce tax revenue. Not the other way around.

Wall Street Journal Opinion Page May 21, 2011 – We Can Learn From RomneyCare, Romney Should, Too

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

We Can Learn From RomneyCare; Romney Should, Too

by: Geoff Ficke

I, like the Wall Street Journal, am disappointed and vexed by the approach Mitt Romney has chosen to defend the indefensible relating to his authorship of RomneyCare during his term as Governor of Massachusetts. We agree that he should have long ago admitted the plan was a mistake. In addition, Mr. Romney should have positioned the failure of the program as a Test Market, the results of which were available for other states and the Federal Government to examine before going all in on a mandated, centralized bureaucratic boondoggle.
Every business, mine as well as Bain & Co.,  which Romney managed and is a major part of his attractiveness as an alternative candidate, utilizes Focus Groups and Test Markets to vet products or services before rolling out to broader markets. RomenyCare was a Test Marketed program that has not contained costs and has caused doctors to flee the system. This is the opposite of a successful outcome. His response should have been “we tried, we tested, it didn’t work, I have learned the lesson and here is Plan B”. Many Test Markets fail, or provide evidence that allows for changes in design or strategy before a small mistake becomes a tidal wave of loss. People instinctively understand this.
Mitt Romney is one of the most experienced, capable and attractive candidates for President in many years. However, his window of opportunity has been closed by his inability to relate the real legacy of RomenyCare through sound business principles that made him interesting and so different from career politicians in the first place. His tin ear, and limits as a candidate are disappointing.

What is exponentially more problematic, is that President Obama and his acolytes have not studied the Massachusets programs disastrous results and have blindly extended the mess to the nation.

Wall Streeet Journal Opinion Page December 20, 2010

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Response to WSJ article “Billionaires on the Warpath” 12/14/2010

William McGurn’s well reasoned counter argument opposing Senator Bernie Sanders shrill inanities is spot on as far as it goes. “When is enough, enough”, also echoed on occasion by our President, should be of no concern to anyone in government.
Enough is enough occurs only when any citizen freely decides that it is. Whether an American wants to limit themselves to the goodies provided by the welfare state (which the Senator Sanders of the world encourage and cheerlead) is their option. Another option is to obtain a limited education, work and produce the minimum to support one’s family and lead a quiet, undisturbed life. Some decide to pursuit maximum educational and career opportunities, work long and selflessly, sacrifice, invent, strive for excellence and take entrepreneurial risks. They tend to do better financially and society, and yes, government prospers from their success.
These three broad examples of lifestyle choices are generally available to all Americans. The strivers, the greedy who do not know “when enough is enough” are the very souls who have built the most productive, prosperous country in history. Contrary to the “spread the wealth” crowd, as long as it is someone else’s wealth they redistribute,  we need more wealth creators and generators. Mr. Obama and Sanders would use the tax code to poison the very fountain of productivity that their insatiable central planning lustings require. That is not fair, it is clueless.
Geoff Ficke
8459-F US 42 Suite 243
Florence, KY 41042
859-567-1609 (off)
859-866-2427 (cell)

Wall Street Journal Opinion Page, October 21, 2010

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Public Works Compete With Other Beneficial Goals

Dear Sir,
Your very  compelling editorial (October 15, 2010-“Liberalism and Public Works”) does not touch on several other reasons that “shovel ready jobs” are never as beneficial as liberals would purport them to be: the present value of money and Davis Bacon work rules.
In Cincinnati the I-75 bridge over the Ohio River is in desperate shape and is a priority for replacement. If the funding were in hand, and it is not, best estimates are that construction would commence in 2015. Required permitting and studies, lawsuits, environmental regulations and community activists all conspire to delay projects such as this needed bridge, while still running up attendant bureaucratic costs for years. This is a principal reason why public works projects ALWAYS are plodding to get started, come in late and over budget. Who knows what materials and equipment will cost five and more years into the future. Certainly more than they do today! 
The Depression era Davis Bacon work rules, so adored by the left, insure that the taxpayer does not get the best possible job completed at the fairest price. Union wages and work rules hinder the ability of project administrators to consider all labor options when budgeting public works and inflates costs beyond what local conditions often would bear.
President Obama famously said this week what those of us who live in the entrepreneurial private sector have always known; “There are no shovel ready jobs”. The misguided stimulus was like crack for addicts to state, county, city and township politicians. They uniformly chirped, “give us the money, we have plenty of shovel ready projects”. Some seemed to be screaming that their projects were so shovel ready that they had invented the shovel.  Just “give us the money”.

Until the public recognizes and demands that politicians streamline regulatory road blocks, use modern private business efficiencies and allow private enterprise to construct and maintain public projects the most productive country in the history of the world will exist in a self-imposed figure four leglock. In the 19th century James Hill built the Northern Railroad, 1800 miles, dozens of bridges and tunnels, through the inhospitable Rocky Mountains in  four years, on time and under budget using private funds. Today we can’t build a simple highway exchange on time or close to budget.

Geoff Ficke
8459-F US 42 Suite 243
Florence, KY 41042
859-567-1609 (off)
859-866-2427 (cell)

Wall Street Journal Opinion Page July 20, 2010

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Wall Street Journal Opinion Page July 20, 2010 “Real Wages Don’t Tell the Whole Compensation Story”

by: Geoff Ficke
Greg Tarpanian’s response to the article by Lee E. Ohanian (The Right Way to Raise Wages) is incorrect on a number of counts.

GDP growth in the 1960’s as compared to the last 2 decades was indeed higher than in the last two decades but in percentage terms only, owing to the much smaller size of the economy five decades ago.

Mr. Tarpanian’s lament that if real wages had risen at the rate of growth of GDP over the last 40 years the current annual real wage for non-supervisory workers would be around $60,000 per year, instead of the $30,000 it is today. His key descriptive, non-supervisory” is telling. The U.S. economy has evolved to a knowledge based economy that values and produces technology and is fueled by education and skills. We don’t, and won’t, make low or no-value added products here when they can be produced so much more inexpensively in second and third world countries. The non-supervisory, blue collar rote factory jobs so prevalent in the 1960’s have been devalued and replaced by the realities of our constantly evolving scientific, knowledge based economy.

Finally, Mr. Tarpanian, like so many union acolytes, ignores reality. Unions kill industries. Autos, glaziers, steelworkers, stevedores, airlines, ship building, shoes, garment and so many more once thriving trades and industries (look what the SEIU and AFSCME have done to hamstring government) have either left for greener pastures, been bankrupted or been replaced by mechanization that indeed increases productivity.

Unskilled, undereducated workers in highly industrialized countries will never be able to appreciably increase their wages as long as the world continues to desire and reward producers for providing technology advances that improve lives at reasonable costs. Unless, and until unions recognize this reality they remain obviated and there will remain a permanent divide in real wages.

Wall Street Journal Opinion Page May 22-23, 2010 “Bush Tax Cuts Raised Revenue Considerably”

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Wall Street Journal Opinion Page May 22-23, 2010
by: Geoff Ficke

Frank Schuchat’s letter of May 18 excoriating Martin Feldstein’s gymnastic ability for supporting the George W. Bush tax cuts and decrying budget deficits shows a lack of understanding of basic economics.

According to OMB, Federal revenues in 2000 were 1.99 billion dollars. In 2008, after several years of the horrid, fully employed Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, Federal revenues hit a record 2.57 Billion dollars, a record. Economics 101: If you want more of an outcome (revenue in this case) penalize it (tax) less. Over and over tax cuts have been utilized to stimulate productive activities which benefit the economy and thus stimulate government revenues.

President Bush erred in not clamping down on a rapacious, wreckless Congress and putting the brakes on their spending. It is a lesson that our current President has not only not learned, but has worked mercilessly to exceed.

Wall Street Journal Opinion Page April 17/18 2010

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

WSJ Opinion Page April 17/18 2010

by: Geoff Ficke

I read with great interest the opinion piece written by the Pres. of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, decrying the growth of private equity funds. As leader of the country’s largest industrial union I would think he could have identified much stronger examples of hedge funds causing ” default, resulting in massive job losses and further pressure on our fragile economy”.

Each of the six specific companies Mr. Trumka cited as examples of private equity hubris and mismanagement were either retailers or retail vendors. Any observer, possessing any historical perspective can cite dozens of such companies that, because of changing tastes or demographics, enjoyed a period of success, plateaued and then declined and expired without any financial manipulations from shadow financiers (Montgomery Ward, Alexander’s, Value City, Bonwit Teller, Faberge, etc.)

Indeed, the three retailers mentioned (Linens & Things, KB Toys and Mervyn’s) by Mr. Trumka were always second banana’s in their sales channels and probably should have been put out of their misery long ago. They could not compete on price, selection and service.

I would propose that the AFL-CIO and the now unemployed workers at Simmons Bedding Company should have taken the exact path that the pirate hedge funds undertook. Put their capital, both financial and labor at risk. Pool their resources, rationalize their work rules, wages and benefits and buy the Company from bankruptcy. Certainly this would be a better use of the massive capital resources that unions control than continuing to dump millions of dollars into supporting the Democratic Party. The choice was workers or policitians. The AFL-CIO usually chooses poorly.

Wall Street Journal Opinion Page Jan 7, 2010

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Wall Street Journal Opinion Page Jan 7, 2010
by: Geoff Ficke

The reason almost all government entities, federal, state and local, are strangling in debt is personnel costs (“Illinois Race Foils Bid to Balance Books,” U.S. News, Jan 4 2010). Too much headcount, too much compensation, and audacious benefit packages are choking the taxpayers and businesses that are saddled with the burden of covering profligate politicians and their pandering to public employee unions with onerous tax burdens.

Comparable private enterprise and government jobs are wildly disparate in compensation, heavily tilted in favor of government workers. No private enterprise wishing to stay in business can allow workers to retire after 25 or 30 years of service and be immediately vested in a pension, especially as life expectancy continues to increase.

A few politicians will dissemble about the “unfunded pension liabilities” that are legal obligations they must confront. Most simply continue to enhance these deals at the behest of ravenous public employee unions. Public be damned. Illinois is but a microcosm of the disaster we must confront.

It is time to confront unions with a demand to rationalize pay, work rules, benefits and pensions with private industry plans. If unions won’t enter realistic negotiations, then it is time for governments, at all levels, to pursue bankruptcy. Sure, the credit ratings and borrowing costs would take a short-term hit. In the medium term, however, when bureaucrats are paid what they are actually worth and budgets and spending are corralled, the bond market will be reassured and reward governments that are sober, prudent and proper stewards of the produce taken from taxpayers with more access to lower rates and funding.