July 16, 2014

Pollution Research Reportage

In a cringe worthy article, KDVR Fox31's Shaul Turner informs readers that NCAR air pollution study is largest in Colorado.

Dr. Gabriele Pfister of the NCAR said pollution can affect more than the air.

"It also can damage plants (and) it can damage crop yields," Pfister said.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment spokesman Garry Kaufman said the project will also track pollution from wildfires.

"We see emissions from across the ocean coming to impact Colorado's air," Kaufman said.

Experts say this is just the beginning, results will be useful for decades to come.

Your intrepid blogger, however, first read the scientific description of the study, complete with a cool graphic, on a NASA webpage.

Two NASA aircraft are participating in field campaigns beginning this month in Colorado that will probe the factors leading to unhealthy air quality conditions and improve the ability to diagnose air quality conditions from space.

The NASA aircraft will be joined by a research aircraft from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for flights July 16 to Aug. 16 from the Research Aviation Facility maintained by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado.

The main study area extends along the Northern Front Range from the Denver metropolitan area in the south to Fort Collins in the north extending eastward from the mountains as far as Greeley. This area contains a diverse mixture of air pollution sources that include transportation, power generation, oil and gas extraction, agriculture, natural vegetation and episodic wildfires.

The region being studied often experiences ozone levels in summer that exceed national health standards. Ground-level ozone is chemically produced from the combination of nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbon emissions in sunlight.

Did we mention oil and gas extraction?

I'm all for scientific research but please forgive me if I'm overly sensitive to the political application of such research results. Quite honestly, I looked into the story out of curiosity whether NASA's King Air and P-3b Orion or NSF's C-130 Hercules aircraft happen to comply with new EPA emission regulations for FAA-controlled aircraft. Since the planes are not new my guess is, not so much.

It was a bonus to discover a prime example of Word Crimes in the big-time media. Sorry Shaul but you gotta try harder wit da English.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:47 PM | Comments (0)

July 15, 2014

And We're Here to Help!

So glad to hear that when the next wildfires hit Colorado, only low-emission equipment will be employed. I'd hate to have, y'know, pollution...

A bipartisan group of 25 Senators led by Arizona's John McCain last Thursday sent Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel a letter demanding an explanation for the Pentagon's June decision to stop programs that supply federal equipment to states for fighting wildfires. DOD suspended the programs on grounds the equipment didn't meet the latest federal emissions standards. As if real fires aren't major air-polluting events.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:27 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

This is not your father's Defense Department.

Any word yet on the new solar powered air tanker fleet?

Posted by: johngalt at July 15, 2014 2:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Related: "Enemy forces overwhelmed U.S. ground forces in ______ today but close air support was not available due to a shortage of biofuel for allied warplanes."

Posted by: johngalt at July 15, 2014 2:27 PM
But johngalt thinks:

There seems to be more to this story, based on my independent (and limited) investigation. Apparently, new aircraft engines are affected by the new NOx emission limits if they are for use in "aircraft subject to FAA regulation." When Pratt & Whitney inquired about a Military Exclusion, EPA responded "We agree with the commenter that foreign military aircraft should not be subject to our emission standards." From my limited reading, [Issue: Military Exclusion] the exclusion does not apply to domestic military aircraft. Perhaps DoD is engaged in an interdepartmental squabble with EPA and the states are caught in the crossfire.

Posted by: johngalt at July 16, 2014 1:56 PM

July 5, 2014

Happy Fifth (of Patron)

Remy warns of a government gettin' up in yo' grill.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:52 AM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2014

The new Eco-Incandescent light bulbs are here!

Just when you thought you'd never again see a good-old light bulb because that mean nasty government made them illegal, geniuses at GE and Philips have found a way to make them all over again. [Thomas Edison - call your office.] They're called "eco-incandescent."

This is news, because they just hit the market, but it isn't a surprise as I explained it in a January 2011 blog post comment after carefully reading the 2007 federal law that "banned the light bulb." Bulbs could only be sold if they were more efficient than standard bulbs by, if I remember correctly, at least 20 percent. The new eco-incandescents are (magically) 28% more efficient.

GE%20Reveal%20eco-incandescent%2060W%20770_400.jpg

They are also (less magically) several hundred percent more expensive. Thanks mean, nasty government!

Back in 2011 I accused lamp makers of manipulating the market via regulation, so that "Competitors can no longer undercut each other's cheapest products and saturate the market with them." But Hank Rearden, or is it the Chinese, is not deterred. "Eco-Smart" brand bulbs undercut more expensive models by GE and Philips. Depending on wattage, they are one to two bucks each.

What a country!

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:38 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

I hate to criticize my blog brothers on something as picayune as category choice, but. I think you left out We're from the government and we're here to help.

Who but gub'mint could bring us a 60 Watt bulb that uses only 43 Watts (and costs a buck and a quarter). The stupid! It hurts!

Posted by: jk at July 1, 2014 9:31 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Fair cop. I should have reflexively added "WFTGAWHTH" after typing the words "what a country!"

Posted by: johngalt at July 1, 2014 11:37 AM

June 20, 2014

Obamagate

Rather than grandstanding about terrorist atrocities in Iraq or even a flood of undocumented alien children across our southern border, every single Republican congressman or senator should be jointly focused like a period-full-stop laser beam on the most deadly serious threat to US civil society today: The likely use of federal government power to influence the outcome of an election, and the obvious cover up that attempts to obstruct investigation of the original crime. Harry Reid's hometown newspaper says it well:

This is not a partisan witchhunt. It is an inquiry to determine whether a federal agency conspired with elected members of a political party to influence the outcome of an election. And it already screams of a cover-up.

The full editorial is loaded with winks and eye rolling over the "accidents" which befell the evidence requested by congress. On any objective scale, Watergate was a misdemeanor compared to Obamagate. The only thing about the more recent of these two is the news media's curiosity.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:52 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

The second article of impeachment was the misuse of the IRS to punish political enemies. And Rose Mary Woods only lost 18-1/2 minutes.

Posted by: jk at June 20, 2014 5:07 PM

June 17, 2014

Bringing their organizational skill to environmentalism!

After they have solved that, I think the VA might move onto childhood obesity and a definitive proof of the Reimann Hypothesis. (Hat-tip: Jim Geraghty)

Posted by John Kranz at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2014

Gibson Guitars & Harvey Silverglate

A great American success story? Yes, but Gibson's very success made it a fat target for federal prosecutors, whom Juszkiewicz alleges were operating at the behest of lumber unions and environmental pressure groups seeking to kill the market for lumber imports. "This case was not about conservation," he says. "It was basically protectionism."

Two months before the raid, lobbyists slipped some arcane supply-chain reporting provisions into an extension of the Lacey Act of 1900 that changed the technical definition of "fingerboard blanks," which are legal to import.

With no clear legal standards, a sealed warrant the company has not been allowed to see too this day, no formal charges filed, and the threat of a prison term hanging over any executive who does not take "due care" to abide by this absurdly vague law, Gibson settled. "You're fighting a very well organized political machine in the unions," Juszkiewicz concluded. "And the conservation guys have sort of gone along." Hey, what’s not to like about $50,000?


Harvey Silverglate, author of There Felonies a Day [Review Corner], joins Gibson CEO in a radio interview with Bill Frezza. Reading Silverglate's book it was impossible not to think of l'Affaire Gibson.
Henry Juszkiewicz:

Harvey Silverglate:

Posted by John Kranz at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

May 7, 2014

In Praise of Central Government

A non-controversial role for government is police and the courts, and we see the importance of a well equipped police force in Nigeria, where such is sadly lacking. Some have sung the praises of Anarcho-capitalism on these very pages but I, for one, am not up for this:

A week after the abductions, some of the parents trekked into the forest, according to an account in the British newspaper The Guardian.

They armed themselves with machetes and knives but turned back after they were warned by locals in the forecast that they would be taken out by the sophisticated guns of the militants.

One of the young women who escaped abduction by jumping off the back of a truck told The Guardian about entering the forest.

"Each time we got to a village, they stopped and started shooting people and burning their houses," said the woman, Godiya Usman, 18.

"When we got to another village, they started shooting. I jumped down and I was expecting my friends to jump too, but they didn't. I just started crying and running into the bush."

Even Central Park was never this lawless.

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:26 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Hear hear. "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

(I would also put in a kind word for the Second Amendment. In Texas "Hey guys, there are a bunch of terrorists at the middle school kidnapping girls to sell into slavery" would elicit more than a #hashtag.)

Posted by: jk at May 8, 2014 10:12 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, and I submit your hypothetical Texans wouldn't even care whether the girls where Christian, Muslim, or even the children of Islamists. They would still deserve liberty upon our shores.

Posted by: johngalt at May 8, 2014 3:00 PM
But jk thinks:

No, they would not (and "Hypothetical Texans" would be an awesome name for a western swing band; maybe "Green Shootz and the Hypothetical Texans...")

Posted by: jk at May 8, 2014 3:09 PM

May 4, 2014

It Only Takes a Little Bit of Greed to Kill a Child

Or, as Tim Cavenaugh at NRO points out: Union Monopoly Protects Pennsylvania Children from DRUNKEN SLAUGHTER! .

Posted by John Kranz at 12:16 PM | Comments (7)
But jk thinks:

Mmmm...snow coffee....

Posted by: jk at May 5, 2014 11:36 AM
But johngalt thinks:

"Just say no" to liquor privatization?

Rilly?

Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2014 12:01 PM
But jk thinks:

Clearly, none of you care about children at all!

Posted by: jk at May 5, 2014 12:28 PM
But jk thinks:

"It's time to stop large corporations. Prop. 10 is about children. Vote Yes on Prop. 10, or else, you hate children. You don't hate... children... Do you? Remember, keep American business small, or else. Paid for by Citizens for a Fair and Equal way to get Harbucks Coffee kicked out of town forever." -- South Park

Posted by: jk at May 5, 2014 12:32 PM
But AndyN thinks:

As a resident of PA, it always breaks my heart to walk into my local Applebee's or Texas Roadhouse and see the non-union, private sector employees selling shots to any kid who can reach over the bar rail. Why, if they just had the same employment and ownership rules for restaurants and bars as they do at beer distributors and wine and spirit stores, there would never again be a DUI in the state.

Posted by: AndyN at May 5, 2014 2:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Let's review. To protect children, government must:

1) Restrict access to alcohol.
2) Subsidize access to birth control.

Just checking.

Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2014 6:44 PM

April 10, 2014

Thank you Senator!

Senator Harry Reid (Hypocrite-NV) vigorously defended federal funding for a Cowboy Poetry Festival in his state 3 years ago, slamming Republicans who sought to cut it from the federal budget as "mean spirited."

He might feel that move has come back to haunt him, as the manager of a ranch under siege by the Obama Administration's Bureau of Land Management for letting cattle eat desert grass, as the family has done since about 1870, seems to have benefited from the event.

"They're trying to take our stewardships,

And run us off the land that we love best.

But I think they'll find the hard way,

that we're still willing to fight for this here west.


I hope them fellers soon hump their holes

or some of us will lose our souls,

'cause killin' it ain't right

but don't expect to take this land without a fight.


The fire is ragin' once again in the western man's eyes,

and these eastern folks are gettin' thicker than flies.

We're tyin' our ropes into twelve-coil knots,

our guns are loaded and our hammers are cocked.


So you'd better help us find a solution

or pull your hats down tight and get ready for the western revolution.


-Derrel Spencer, Ranch Manager

I wonder who he would say is more "mean spirited" - Republican legislators or armed BLM agents engaged in cattle rustling?

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:26 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

A mendacious old codger from Searchlight,
Thought your tax dollars his birthright,
Koch brothers he fought,
While liberty's sons sought,
His majority's eventual twilight.

Posted by: jk at April 10, 2014 8:08 PM

April 1, 2014

Stauncher than the staunchest Libertarian!

Able to leap public roads in a single bound!

Road & Track makes an interesting assertion:

GM's recent wave of recalls reveals the ugly truth: The brutal competition for car sales can lead automakers to cut corners, including in crucial safety gear like airbags, steering, and brakes. The bottom line is that some automakers can't be relied on to always put customer safety first.

In these situations, even the staunchest libertarian has to admit an uncomfortable truth: When all else fails, we ultimately rely on government regulators to ensure our safety on the road. Unfortunately, the still-unfolding GM scandal reveals that motorists can hardly rely on this last line of defense. That's because, like so many aspects of the US regulatory system, auto safety officials have more incentive to serve the interests of the automakers they are charged with watchdogging than to fulfill their public duty.


Well ain't I the staunchiest ever all of a sudden? I reject, flatly, that "we ultimately rely on government regulators to ensure our safety on the road"' and would suggest in a heartbeat that the Underwriter's Laboratory model would work well to replace both the FDA and the National Highway Transit Safety Administration.

States say you have to get insurance. I'll part with some staunch points to accept that (Murray Rothbard, forgive thy straying servant...) I suggest that State Farm or <stentorian_voice>Allstate</stentorian_voice> can refuse or overcharge for insurance if your car does not pass Johnny's Kwick Kar Kompany's substantive inspection.

Send the other lads home -- they terrorized Toyota for a non-defect and gave Gub'mint Motors (I'll accept a shade of conspiracy theory on this) a pass.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:02 PM | Comments (1)
But nanobrewer thinks:

They overlooked two key points:

General Motors IS the government!
GM told regulators of the problem quite a while ago.

The staunch libertarian suggests competition is the best way to get quality (for those who will pay for it).

Posted by: nanobrewer at April 4, 2014 12:55 AM

March 26, 2014

Lie of the Century!

We can spend money better than you!

The 2009 economic stimulus package promoted by President Obama included $5 billion to weatherize some 607,000 homes--with the goals of both spurring the economy and increasing energy efficiency. But the project was required to comply with a statute called the Davis-Bacon Act (signed into law by President Hoover in 1931), which provides that construction projects with federal funding must pay workers the "prevailing wage"--basically a union perk that costs taxpayers about 20 percent more than actual labor rates. This requirement comes with a mass of red tape; bureaucrats in the Labor Department must set wages, as a matter of law, for each category of construction worker in each of three thou- sand counties in America. There was no schedule for "weatherproofers." So the Labor Department began a slow trudge of determining how much weatherproofers should be paid in Merced County, California; Monmouth County, New Jersey; and several thousand other counties. The stimulus plan had projected that California would weatherproof twenty-five hundred homes per month. At the end of 2009, the actual total was twelve. -- Philip K. Howard

Stolen from the WSJ Ed Page

Posted by John Kranz at 1:24 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2014

The Taxes are Too Damn High

There may finally be a reason for big-government, redistributionist tax-and-spend liberals to stop supporting ever higher tax rates:

Because they can interfere with the campaigns to re-elect big-government, redistributionist tax-and-spend liberals to office.

From Colorado Peak Politics, who informs that the attached image represents a tax lien on the campaign.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:39 PM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2014

Your tax dollars at work

Five million:

Posted by John Kranz at 4:16 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

From the press release:

"It's not just an education program," Colby said. "Most of us already know how to be healthy. (The campaign) is about helping us make those choices."

Hell yeah, five million dollars of Other People's Money would help me make some choices.

Posted by: johngalt at March 18, 2014 5:59 PM
But jk thinks:

This is great stuff though -- clearly worth the money. Or is this just to make the ObamaCare marketing efforts look less lame by comparison?

Posted by: jk at March 18, 2014 6:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I support spending $5M taxpayer dollars on a PSA explaining how government spending takes money out of "cups" preventing them from "running over" into the cups of "those in need."

Posted by: johngalt at March 18, 2014 7:07 PM

February 20, 2014

Century-old Injustice Made Right

At least, that's how Van Jones and Ward Churchill would describe it.

In 1905, Congress acted to reduce the size of Wind River by opening it up to homesteading by non-Indians, a decision affirmed in subsequent court rulings. It was determined that towns settled by homesteaders such as Riverton were not part of the reservation. To the EPA, both history and law are irrelevant.

Wyoming isn't sitting still for this.

"My deep concern," [Wyoming Governor Matt] Mead wrote in a statement issued last month, "is about an administrative agency of the federal government altering a state's boundary and going against over 100 years of history and law.

"This should be a concern to all citizens because, if the EPA can unilaterally take land away from a state, where will it stop?"

We too are concerned that an administration that has repeatedly ignored the courts, the Congress and the Constitution when the rule of law becomes too inconvenient in its pursuit of its fundamental transformation of America has now decided state sovereignty is an inconvenient relic.

Churchill can almost be heard, "Take that, bitches."

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:02 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

If you asked me why I posted this I would say because of its utility as another example of this President "doing whatever I want." My sense is that "lame duck" doesn't mean the same thing to him as his predecessors. This sort of dictatorial action is apt to become more frequent. Sort of a "SCOTUS job security program" you might say.

Posted by: johngalt at February 20, 2014 4:17 PM

February 19, 2014

Speaking of Anti-Poverty Policy...

That is one of the two "biggest challenges facing the world in the 21st century" according to Patrick McCulley at international rivers dot org, who posted [in 2004] Twelve Reasons to Exclude Large Hydro From Renewables Initiatives. Spoiler alert: None of the 12 reasons is "Large hydro is non-renewable." To the contrary, reason #12 admits that it is, precisely, renewable:

12 - Large hydro reservoirs are often rendered non-renewable by sedimentation

Dam reservoirs are depleted over time by sedimentation, a problem that eventually
seriously impedes or ends the ability of a hydro plant to produce electricity. The
great majority of annual sediment loads are carried during flood periods. The high-
er intensity and frequency of floods due to global warming are therefore likely to
increase sedimentation rates and thus further shorten the useful lives of reservoirs.

No word on the required maintenance or "useful lives" of wind, solar or small hydro.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:04 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

D'ja see Jon Caldera on this? If water and gravity are "renewable" then we make all the quotas and cannot continue the graft to wind & solar providers.

Posted by: jk at February 19, 2014 7:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Precisely. And that is, unapologetically, the direct basis for "reasons" number 1 and 2 and indirect basis for numbers 5 and 8 of the twelve, as stated in the summary list created by International Rivers Network in Berkeley.

Posted by: johngalt at February 20, 2014 1:09 PM

February 5, 2014

Don't Blame Me if the NYT Didn't Tell Ya

In homage to this week's stories here and here...

090623-obama-pointing.jpg

"Aww, c'mon now, you can't say it's my fault all you brutha's thought I was gonna create jobs. You'da known all along if you'd been watching Fox News."
Posted by JohnGalt at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)

January 9, 2014

Pretty Good...

Hat-tip: Jim Geraghty

Posted by John Kranz at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

January 8, 2014

Minimum coffee standards


Posted by John Kranz at 2:07 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Peremptory Purchase of Awful Coffee Act.

Posted by: johngalt at January 8, 2014 4:06 PM
But jk thinks:

Hahahahaha!

Posted by: jk at January 8, 2014 4:49 PM

December 21, 2013

Tax Dollars Bought Encryption Back-Door

Does anyone remember the days when we could trust our government and measures like the following would be seen as helpful, not harmful, to American civil liberties? Perhaps we were just naďve then, but I sure don't feel I can trust it today. Reuters exclusive:

Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the NSA created and promulgated a flawed formula for generating random numbers to create a "back door" in encryption products, the New York Times reported in September. Reuters later reported that RSA became the most important distributor of that formula by rolling it into a software tool called Bsafe that is used to enhance security in personal computers and many other products.

Undisclosed until now was that RSA received $10 million in a deal that set the NSA formula as the preferred, or default, method for number generation in the BSafe software, according to two sources familiar with the contract.


Posted by JohnGalt at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

December 2, 2013

Rapacious Piano Teachers

Had a little fun with this on Facebook (actually, somebody else started it). But it is Kim Strassel, and it cannot pass without post:

In March of this year, a small nonprofit in Cincinnati--the Music Teachers National Association--received a letter from the FTC. The agency was investigating whether the association was engaged in, uh, anticompetitive practices.

This was bizarre, given that the MTNA has existed since 1876 solely to advance the cause of music study and support music teachers. The 501(c)(3) has about 22,000 members, nearly 90% of them piano teachers, including many women who earn a modest living giving lessons in their homes. The group promotes music study and competitions and helps train teachers. Not exactly U.S. Steel.

The association;s sin, according to the feds, rested in its code of ethics. The code lays out ideals for members to follow--a commitment to students, colleagues, society. Tucked into this worthy document was a provision calling on teachers to respect their colleagues' studios, and not actively recruit students from other teachers.

That's a common enough provision among professional organizations (doctors, lawyers), yet the FTC avers that the suggestion that Miss Sally not poach students from Miss Lucy was an attempt to raise prices for piano lessons. Given that the average lesson runs around $30 an hour, and that some devoted teachers still give lessons for $5 a pop, this is patently absurd.


Anti-competitive price fixers!

Posted by John Kranz at 7:02 PM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2013

"I will happily pay you today, for a free lunch I don't eat before tomorrow"

In an apparent attempt to deflect attention away from the federal exchange portion of O-care, just as we are learning that the entire functionality of the system is not even built, much less tested, numerous democrats have cheered that the state-run exchanges are working well.

More than 55,000 people in Washington state enrolled in health coverage in October - most in Medicaid - and around 40,000 more applied for coverage, making the Evergreen State one of the brightest success stories in the rocky national rollout of the federal health law. Here in the home of online shopping giant Amazon.com, officials credit the exchange’s success in part to the Pacific Northwest's high-tech bent.

Colorado enrolled just more than 37,500 in the period. New York state - with a population nearly three times the size of Washington's - had enrolled just over 48,000 in health plans as of Tuesday, state officials announced. Kentucky enrolled more than 32,000 in its first month.

All are among the states that embraced Obamacare and crafted their own insurance exchanges rather than rely on the federal site, which has been riddled with breakdowns.

Wawazat? "most in medicaid?" Yup.

Mansfield and Rodriguez huddled together over a shiny new laptop in the busy trailer, setting up the older woman’s account. Rodriguez led Mansfield through a series of questions, typing in the necessary information about citizenship, tax filing status, family makeup.

Mansfield pulled out a letter from the Social Security Administration to prove how much money she makes each month. Rodriguez tapped a few more keys, then looked up, smiling.

"You qualify for Washington Apple Health," she told the uninsured woman, referring to the state’s expanded Medicaid program. And then she shared the best part: "At no cost."

"That’s it?" Mansfield asked, relieved and incredulous that the process was so fast and easy, and the result so comforting. "Wonderful."

And Colorado's metrics are very similar, with most enrollees being in Medicaid - 47,306 versus 6,001 in "private health insurance" through the first six weeks.

I don't know about you but I sure am relieved that, under O-care, no insurance company can interrogate me about my medical history. Now I only have to answer questions about "citizenship, tax filing status, family makeup" and "prove how much money [I make] each month."

But the LA Times story says nothing about website security on the state exchanges, which is what I was researching when I found that Connect for Health Colorado was so forward thinking on the issue that they sought a third party security review for the 2011 startup's flagship, nay, only ship, website way way back in ... June. The proposals were due in less than 3 weeks after the date of RFP and would be reviewed for a full week before awarding a contract, possibly not to the lowest bidder, or at all, before work could begin on July 22, leaving ten weeks and a day for the third party to "Provide additional inputs to the C4HCO team for risk management activities as the system Go Live date of 1 October 2013 approaches."

What could go wrong? No matter, since the result is so comforting. Wonderful! At least, until you try to see your, or any, doctor.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:21 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2013

The shelf-life of "common-sense"

"Common-sense" is one of those adjectives politicians use to describe legislation they're afraid will get them fired either way: if they support it or if they don't. It means, "If you don't agree with this you are senseless" and it has to be employed because if they didn't cover it with that fig leaf, there's little other reason for voters to agree with it.

Vulnerable Senate democrats are running away from Obamacare as fast as they can. That includes Colorado's Mark Udall but since "he’s not viewed as being nearly as vulnerable as [Sen. Landrieu, D-Louisana] or Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Arkansas" he isn't running as far. Fox31:

"I share the concern that some health insurance companies are choosing to cancel thousands of Coloradans' plans. That’s why my common-sense bill will allow Coloradans the option to keep their current coverage if they want or to purchase new plans through the Connect for Health Colorado marketplace that may better meet their health care needs."

What a swell guy - he wants to "allow" Coloradans options! We shouldn't be surprised. After all, he is well known as a pro-choice politician.

But don't let that power of choice go to your heads, fellow Centennial-staters.

With support building for a plan introduced by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, that would allow people mislead by the president's promise to keep their plans to actually do so indefinitely, Udall has come up with a scaled down version that would allow policyholders to keep their current plans, being cancelled under the new law, for two years.

"We're protecting the stability of the insurance market in the exchange while allowing people to hold on to their current plans a little bit longer," Joe Britton, Udall's deputy chief of staff, told FOX31.

So now we know that "common-sense" has an expiration date: 2 years.

I have a better idea. How about, instead, we "allow" the stability of the insurance market while "protecting" people to hold on to their current plans? But you shouldn't be surprised. After all, I am a well-known "extremist, hostage taking" TEA Partier.

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:53 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

I hate common sense and common knowledge. The latter is an excuse to not provide documentation and the former is an excuse to abdicate reason.

I just referred to Snyder v. Phelps in a comment. Common sense dictates that you cannot let ignorant Midwestern homophobes desecrate the respectful services of our nation's greatest fallen heroes. Common sense says you can't burn the flag. Common sense says the ACLU should not defend the Illinois Nazis (man, I hate Illinois Nazis...) And yet law and reason hold sway. The term drives me mad.

Were more Democrats as thoughtful as Sen. Mark Udall, this would be a better country. But this is full-bore partisanship. The Democrats cannot back too far off -- repeat after me -- "the President's Signature initiative." Yet, they cannot get too close and be elected in any state less blue than Illinois.

Pass the popcorn.

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2013 11:32 AM

October 31, 2013

Google is Evil

For those who didn't already believe it, consider this: Google, Oracle Workers Enlisted for Obamacare 'Tech Surge'

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:52 PM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2013

New York Health Insurance Rates "Fall" Under Obamacare

As linked in a comment yesterday, New York State has at least one Obamacare subscriber as of Monday. Fox News left-wing contributor Sally Kohn wrote,

"Honestly, I couldn't wait to sign up for ObamaCare -- not because I talk about it on television, but because I'm tired of being ripped off by my insurance company.

I live in New York State -- which for several decades has had the highest individual insurance premiums in the nation."

Not surprising since we're accustomed to everything costing more in New York, at least in NYC. But Ms. Kohn herself gives the clue to why this is so in her earlier piece, Five Reasons Americans Already Love Obamacare

Personally, as someone who pays through the nose for individual insurance in New York State -- a state where, historically, few individual insurance options have even been available == I can't wait to enroll in ObamaCare and see my premiums plummet, as they are expected to by at least 50% [hyperlink in original]

From the link:

Economists expected the law to significantly decrease premiums in the Empire State, which in 1993 prohibited insurers from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions, required carriers to charge "all consumers the exact same rate," but did not compel young and healthy people to enroll in coverage. As a result, insurers dramatically increased prices and enrollment in the individual market "steadily diminished."

Essentially, New York imposed some Obamacare rules on its own, resulting in massive rate hikes and subscriber flight. Now that Obamacare is here to "spread the pain around" New York's rates are expected to be relatively lower. Relative, that is, to what they had already soared up to. Why? Because of the individual mandate. No wonder delaying it was "non-negotiable."

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:39 AM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2013

Marlin Perkins has met Obamacare and boy, is he pissed

Okay, not Mutual of Omaha's 'Wild Kingdom' host, but Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini. And not pissed but at least, a Whole Lotta questions.

Asked if he would have delayed the launch of the exchange given its earlier problems, Bertolini said, "I would have, if I'd been in their seat." But, he added, "the politics got in the way of a good business decision."

However, Bertolini also said, "it's the law of the land, number one. Number two, public exchanges are going to be here to stay, so we need to make them work somehow. ... The question is: How do we get from here to there?" He said it could take three years or so before the marketplace's problems are fully sorted out.

But those are just the procedural issues. There's also the issue of fiscal sustainability [dared he to question "this administration's signature 'accomplishment."]

"I think the bigger issue is, will enough people sign up to make it work?" said Bertolini. Aetna, like other insurers, is counting on enough young and healthy people enrolling in the plans to offset the costs that come from providing benefits to older, sicker Americans.

Don't worry Mr. CEO, the government is always there to help you. When your profitablity disappears and your stock is delisted by the NYSE and you are either fired or go out of business, at least you'll be able to sign up for health care on the public exchanges. Who knows, you may even qualify for government subsided premiums, copays or maximum out-of-pocket limits!

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:09 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2013

Shutdown Theatre

Do y'all watch local TeeVee news? It's a particular form of torture, but one is rewarded with an inaccurate prediction of the local weather and an absolutely correct picture of the CW, low-information voter's worldview. And generally a couple of laughably bad stories on the evils of the Internet.

Government Shutdown: Day 10! aired last night and this morning. (I doubled down, don't know why.) Every day some important local impact -- always bad, of course -- of mean old John Boehner's petulance.

Day ten affects Colorado's flourishing craft brew industry. It seems that new seasonal brews may go unreleased because . . . wait for it . . . the Federal label approval process is shut down.

You can click the link and watch if you'd like. Several brewers are interviewed and the lovely bride speculates that each one of them voted enthusiastically for every candidate that ensured a Federal role in the design of beer labels. None dare suggest that maybe the problem is the avoidance of Article I Section 8 or the Tenth Amendment.

I think people of the right often overplay the "founders rolling in their grave" card. But I am pretty comfortable that Mister Samuel Adams at the very least would be distraught at this.


Posted by John Kranz at 2:38 PM | Comments (5)
But johngalt thinks:

Really?? That's the best they can do in the "end of the world as we know it" department? No more new beer flavors until government reopens?

Either the news folks are truly lazy or the government shutdown really is "clearly and sincerely" benign.

Posted by: johngalt at October 10, 2013 4:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Day 10 seems like a good time to ask, how's that ammunition holding out?

Posted by: johngalt at October 10, 2013 5:01 PM
But jk thinks:

Insty captured me perfectly on Day 10 / Defcon 5:

You know, I wasn't sure about this whole government shutdown thing, but so far I'm finding it mightily amusing.

Posted by: jk at October 10, 2013 5:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. Well, it's only getting better by the day. Have you seen this one?

Since the monuments in Washington D.C. are "closed" they're starting to look a little trashy. Probably inspired by a South Carolina man who took it upon himself to mow the lawn at the Lincoln Memorial, there's now an organized "National Day of Service" to tidy up a bit. It's this Saturday. Should prove amusing when the not-so-furloughed park rangers arrive.

Posted by: johngalt at October 10, 2013 6:41 PM
But jk thinks:

Just as long as they don't try to recreate...

Posted by: jk at October 10, 2013 7:21 PM

October 2, 2013

"Fixing" Health Care

This chart from another federalist.com article - 8 Charts That Explain the Explosive Growth of U.S. Health Care Costs, shows how government medical spending, originally promised to help Americans afford care, has had the opposite effect.

Healthcare%20costs1965-vs_-2011-Icon.png

Gosh, maybe we really do need another huge new federal health care program like Obamacare to "fix things."

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:06 PM | Comments (4)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Obamacare fixes the American healthcare system in the same sense that my two dogs were "fixed." The veterinary sense.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 2, 2013 4:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Do you suppose that is how, somewhere within the 2000 plus pages of the ACA that we are still "finding out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy" costs will ultimately be contained? Not just "fixing" the American healthcare system, but "fixing" Americans?

Wouldn't put it past them.

Posted by: johngalt at October 2, 2013 5:59 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Gives a whole new meaning to "gird your loins," doesn't it - and in this case, with a cast-iron codpiece...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 2, 2013 6:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

LOL

Posted by: johngalt at October 2, 2013 9:19 PM

October 1, 2013

If a government shut down in Washington D.C., would it even make a noise?

It's Shutdown Eve and there's a fun meme trending on Twitter: #ObamaShutdownHitSongs



Posted by JohnGalt at 12:31 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

These are pretty awesome. I retain my sense of humor.

Posted by: jk at October 1, 2013 11:05 AM
But johngalt thinks:

"I, like, big, cuts and I cannot lie." LOL

Did you see my original one, Monty Python inspired? I was actually humming it on my way home, before I ever discovered #ObamaShutdownHitSongs

"I'm a Democrat and I'm Okay, I Sleep All Night and I Fib All Day."

Posted by: johngalt at October 1, 2013 6:39 PM

September 18, 2013

Yes, Still Whining

American Automobile Association observes that Gas Prices Surpass $3.00 per Gallon for 1,000 Consecutive Days in Longest Streak Ever.

"Motorists took notice when gas prices crept past $3 per gallon," continued Darbelnet. "Spending more on gas concerns consumers because it reduces savings and spending for everything else we need. Our leaders can help alleviate this economic burden by encouraging a national policy that stimulates production, limits price volatility, ensures greater efficiency and promotes alternative energy."

I have argued that Stealthflation contributes to higher fuel costs, but regulation is probably the larger culprit. Mandates and limitations on production, refining, blending and distributing all make fuel more expensive and less plentiful. The author previously concluded "the reality is that expensive gas is here to stay, which is tough on millions of people who need a car to live their lives" but if "our leaders" were to alleviate this economic burden, as he later suggested, then the 62% of people who believe gas is too high when it reaches $3.50 per gallon wouldn't have to "stop their whining." After all, the average household pays only about 4 percent of pre-tax income on gasoline. That's less than the portion it spends on food prepared at home.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:51 PM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

Some guys cannot declare victory and move on.

Fuel is the best example of my contention: even though oil is denominated in dollars, the monetary inflation component of gasoline prices is minimal.

I get your "sucks to pay $60 to fill the minivan" point, really I do. But as we select whether Janet Yellen, Matt Damon, or Maya Angelou is to be the next FOMC Chair, I suggest there is value in bifurcating monetary inflation versus the costs of regulation (and everything else).

If one separates the monetary component, one sees that monetary inflation is not a big problem at this time. Buying Gold and demanding immediate unwinding of the Fed's prodigious balance sheet will not ease gas process. Building the Keystone Pipeline, fracking in update New York, removing biofuels mandates and eliminating boutique fuels requirements, conversely, will have a huge impact.

Call things by their right name, attribute effects to their proper cause and we can all get along.

Posted by: jk at September 18, 2013 3:42 PM
But jk thinks:

Your buddy, Prof. Mark J. Perry, has an interesting piece today comparing what a young person could buy with a summer's minimum wage wages.

Just interesting...

Posted by: jk at September 18, 2013 4:33 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, yep and yeah. I agree. Maybe I wasn't dismissive enough of the Stealthflation component of fuel prices but I couldn't pass on tying in with Perfessor Perry's "quit your whining" dismissal.

(Still, the Stealthflation component IS non-zero.) Moving on is overrated. ;)

Posted by: johngalt at September 18, 2013 5:30 PM
But jk thinks:

> 0 on purpose. I am "old school" enough that I accept a 1-2% inflation target because the risk of deflation is so much worse. Some people I respect say that fear is overrated, but when it happens it always seems to be bad -- I'll keep my caution.

It is hard on mattress-savers, but if it is predictable and stays < 2 an investor can plan around it. Plus, like the just-linked Perry piece, disinflationary pressure from trade, productivity and innovation should easily eclipse it.

Posted by: jk at September 19, 2013 10:32 AM
But johngalt thinks:

A true Prosertarian wouldn't be so willing to let government absorb the lions share (okay, would you admit "a healthy portion?") of productivity and innovation gains, for any reason. Isn't a fear of deflation akin to buggy whip price supports? Wouldn't it be better to let the market creatively destruct some businesses and deliver greater prosperity to one and all in the process? The whole inflation targeting thing just seems so 1974 to me.

Posted by: johngalt at September 20, 2013 3:36 PM

September 10, 2013

Maybe Make it a "Gay Pride" Park

The City of Chicago infamously blocked a Chick-Fil-A store last year, sending me to eat chikin sandwiches in solidarity with many folks whom I would normally oppose. While I support gay marriage, it is trumped clearly by right to contract and does not trump others' right to worship.

And: people, people, people. When you fight business we all lose. Here is the lot that could be offering 60 jobs to Chicagoans of all sexual preferences:

Chick-Fil-A-LotJPG.jpg

Moreno claimed "Aldermanic Privilege," to deny Chick-Fil-A a zoning variance which would have allowed subdividing an unused portion of a Home Depot parking lot to open the restaurant. As a result, an uproar over freedom of religion spanned across the entire country, as supporters of the fast food chain waited hours to buy chicken sandwiches in a massive show of support for the first amendment against Moreno's progressive-bully tactics.

Thanks to Moreno's prejudice against Cathy's First Amendment "protected" religious freedom, the proposed site for the restaurant, in a busy industrial and big-box commercial corridor, is sits for sale, vacant with no more than a pile of rubble and overgrown weeds, bordered by a dilapidated and incomplete chain link fence. It is estimated that as many as 200 temporary and permanent, full and part-time jobs could have been affected by Alderman Moreno's actions.

A representative from Chick-Fil-A's public relations department confirmed with Breitbart News, that on average, each of their freestanding restaurants employ more than 60 team members.


That's why I am not a big boycott guy.

Hat-tip: @MrsFreedomFirst

Posted by John Kranz at 11:09 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

"Nose? You're outta here.
Face? STFU."

Posted by: johngalt at September 10, 2013 3:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Oh, and I'm sure you recognize the difference between private consumers "voting with dollars" and political thuggery.

Posted by: johngalt at September 10, 2013 3:25 PM
But Jk thinks:

Point taken. They arrived at the same time. Alderman's discretion is immoral, boycotts are generally just bad.

Posted by: Jk at September 10, 2013 8:31 PM

August 20, 2013

Otequay of the Ayday

Aside from these personal fixes, there is a solution to put the country (including any wayward stragglers or stunted post-adolescents) back on the path of prosperity. Americans could stop supporting anti-growth politicians pushing agendas that strangle the economy, weaken the dollar, and surreptitiously erode civil liberties, but let’s be serious. 60% of those ages 18-29 reelected President Obama. So, what’s left? Keep checking feeds, going on pointless dates, and buying more gadgets? Frankl would tell the lost ones to find a will to meaning in this world, but finding purpose can be put off, even if the abyss persists and they pester the rest of the world as impotently self-involved non-starters, for lack of ever finding a self or a start.

From an excellent awesome Forbes article Millions Of Millenials Live At Home And Support The Policies That Keep Them There by millenial Maura Pennington (BA Russian, Dartmouth, 2009.)

HT: Rush Limbaugh

Posted by JohnGalt at 5:02 PM | Comments (4)
But Terri thinks:

Oh brother.
They are certainly lost, those who have no will to be on their own.
Were they coddled too much? Are there so many rules that the paradigm becomes, "I can't"? I wanted to live on own so badly as an 18 year old I shared a studio with 4 other people in order to do so. It was well worth it, and I had a great child hood home.

Posted by: Terri at August 20, 2013 6:21 PM
But Terri thinks:

Of course I also walked 5 miles up hill both ways to get to school in the mornings. :-)

Posted by: Terri at August 20, 2013 6:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Limbaugh riffed on this some more yesterday. He said millenials are taught they're "special" even without accomplishing anything, and that the pathway to happiness (or to be "free from want?") is to, simply, want less. Forget a car, use a bike and the bus. Forget an apartment, just hang in the 'rents basement. Wardrobe? How much do blue jeans and Che T-shirts cost, anyway?

Posted by: johngalt at August 22, 2013 3:05 PM
But jk thinks:

Does that include Kim Kardashian in an Obama Shirt?

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2013 3:43 PM

August 19, 2013

Tweet of the Day

Posted by John Kranz at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2013

Mayor Willie Brown Explains ObamaCare®

Notable & Quotable, the WSJ's pale imitation of our beloved "Quote of the Day," today has a humdinger in the annals of political honesty. Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown tells it like it is:

News that the Transbay Terminal is something like $300 million over budget should not come as a shock to anyone.

We always knew the initial estimate was way under the real cost. Just like we never had a real cost for the Central Subway or the Bay Bridge or any other massive construction project. So get off it.

In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment. If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved.

The idea is to get going. Start digging a hole and make it so big, there's no alternative to coming up with the money to fill it in.


In other news, the GOP now finds that its ObamaCare alternative will certainly have to cover "Pre-existing Conditions." Or: actual insurance is out.
The Louisiana Republican [Steve Scalise] said the plan would include protections for people with pre-existing conditions -- one of the main benefits of Obamacare.

"We address that to make sure that people with pre-existing conditions cannot be discriminated against," he said. But, he promised the bill would not "put in place mandates that increase the costs of health care and push people out of the insurance that they like," Scalise said.


I sympathize with the poor Republicans (you see, there's this giant gorram hole). But I wince at their language. Failure to offer cut rate insurance to a man whose house is on fire is "discrimination?" When you've lost the language that badly, you've lost.

Congrats to President Obama and the 112th Congress on their superb excavationary endeavors.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:53 AM | Comments (0)

July 30, 2013

Romney killed Detroit

...with a little help from all the other taxers and spenders from Washington D.C. to city hall.

We discussed the obvious philosophical causes for Detroit's bankruptcy in the Starnesville post. Today we have the economic causes, as told by my favorite living economist, and some other guy. Investors' - Detroit Is Patient Zero In High-Tax, Sluggish America

Milton Friedman was quick to remind people that government stimulus spending is taxation and a prosperity killer. Governments don't create resources; they redistribute resources.

While tax rates were raised during the Great Recession, they were raised a lot more during the Great Depression, which explains the difference in severity between the Great Depression of the 1930s and the modern Great Recession.

To push this point home, the highest marginal income-tax rate in 1931 was 25% and by 1938 it was 83%. Whoever heard of an economy being taxed into prosperity?

(...)

In 1967, under Gov. George Romney's leadership, Michigan initiated a state income tax, initially setting the highest rate at 2.6% using federal adjusted gross income (AGI) as its tax base. The state's income tax rate peaked in 1983 at 6.35% and is now down to 4.25%.

Even though a 4.25% maximum tax rate is a lot better than a 6.35% tax rate, those towering tax rates have surely damaged today's Michigan economy.

The state's corporate tax rate stands at 6%.

(...)

Then we come to Detroit itself. In 1962, Motown adopted a 1% net income tax for residents and 0.5% for nonresident income earners. In 1964, the city initiated a 1% corporate tax as well.

Detroit's income tax stands at 2.4% today, and the corporate tax is 2%.

Businesses that can locate outside Detroit do. In 1950, 1.85 million people lived in Detroit.

Today the population of Detroit would be lucky to top 700,000. You can't balance a budget on people who leave or are unemployed.

Imagine a boiler's heat is turned way up, its safety valves are shut off and you tap the boiler every five minutes with a little brass tap hammer.

By turning the boiler's heat way up and shutting off the safety valves, you have guaranteed the boiler will explode.

By tapping the boiler every five minutes with a little brass tap hammer, you're guaranteed you'll be there when the explosion occurs. Such is the case with Detroit.

Is it mere coincidence that, the larger the geographical scope of the taxing authority, the larger the tax rate? After all, it doesn't take as much taxation to drive producers from a city as from a state, or from a state as from a nation.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:43 PM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2013

Otequay of the Ayday

Detroit's failings are many and its debts staggering. Obama did not cause them. But his economic remedies and intervention have achieved little. And his unhinged enthusiasm about what was happening in Detroit in 2011, and how it fit into the larger story of American economic life, provides an inconvenient backdrop for Obama's economic address Wednesday and those that follow. -Major Garrett in Remember When Obama Said Detroit Was Coming Back?
Posted by JohnGalt at 2:14 PM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2013

Tweet of the Day

tweet130719.gif

Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 9:30 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Isn't Organized Labor more to blame? Sixty years of making sure the working man wasn't "taken advantage of." At least, not by employers.

Posted by: johngalt at July 19, 2013 11:44 AM

July 13, 2013

Who needs whom?

A building block in my case that producers should refuse to do business with customers at odds with their production is this story out of Washington D.C. last week.

“We’re at a point where we don’t need retailers. Retailers need us.” Thus said D.C. council member Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large), "a lead backer of the legislation, who added that the city did not need to kowtow to threats."

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:07 PM | Comments (0)

The "Producer's Pledge"

"I am proud of my company's product and the profit we make by selling it to others - freely, and to our mutual benefit. Since certain government entities have materially restricted my ability to produce and profit it is no longer beneficial for me to sell my product in the jurisdictions of those government entities. I therefore pledge that I will no longer sell my product through distribution channels that serve the state, county, or local governments that restrict or prohibit my ability to produce my product."

The idea here is that when the voters of, say, Boulder County, Colorado, find their gasoline prices spiking and supplies becoming scarce they will finally make the connection between their voting habits and the supply of daily conveniences that they have come to take for granted.

If you are interested in the supporting "rant" for this idea, read on below.

Ayn Rand said,

"Productive work is the central purpose of a rational man’s life, the central value that integrates and determines the hierarchy of all his other values. Reason is the source, the precondition of his productive work—pride is the result."

Anyone who has ever felt the gratifying sense of an accomplishment after making or building something has a hint that this is true. But the central purpose? The central value? To answer those questions ask this one: What else, other than productiveness, gives man pride?

Just as the passage of the 2009 "Stimulus" Bill precipitated a civil uprising known as the TEA Party, the partisan overreach of Colorado's 2013 legislative session produced a movement advocating that many rural Colorado counties secede from the rest of the state. Practical problems with that idea spawned a call to rearrange Colorado's legislature such that every county is represented by its own state senator, regardless of population, as is the case regarding the several states in the United States Senate. But this too has a practical problem. The same problem that led to both the 2013 Colorado legislature and the 2009 United States legislature being controlled by a single political party. The problem is something Americans have long been taught to hold as a virtue. The problem is democracy.

Democracy is not the same thing as freedom. Democracy is the idea, not that people decide how to live their own lives, but that a large enough group of people can decide how everyone is to live his life. To understand if an idea is virtuous or not imagine its extreme. The extreme of democracy is ochlocracy. (Look it up.) The extreme of freedom is, liberty. And to understand just how mixed up and turned around political philosophy has become, consider the fact that those who once advocated for extreme freedom, whether from a monarch or from a religion, were called "liberals" but those known as liberals today are advocates of "social equality" and/or "environmental protection" via democracy - a decidedly anti-liberty prescription.

The men and women of rural Colorado have many reasons to seek separation from their neighbors in the urban counties but as one county commissioner said, "The mandate that tells us what kind of energy sources we may use was the last straw." And understandably so. In addition to producing food that feeds the urban county populations, many of the rural counties produce another valuable export product that results in billions of dollars in wealth creation and millions of dollars in tax revenues to state and local governments. That product, actually many products, is known as oil and natural gas.

For economic reasons the fastest growing process used today to extract oil and gas in the United States is hydraulic fracturing, or fracing. (Also spelled "fracking.") The only real difference between fracking and conventional drilling is that a water-based solution is pumped into the well after drilling and before pumping to create pathways through which the oil may escape to the well bore. That's it. It's not polluting and it's not sinister, although its detractors do everything possible to convince us, the people who vote, that it is both of those things. And many people are convinced. One such person is Washington County resident Steve Frey who said, "I don't want be [sic] in a 51st state. I don't want any part of their fracking that they're doing in Weld County."

I could not possibly agree more with Mr. Frey's contention that he has a right to be free from every aspect of the oil extraction process called "fracking" that he disagrees with, for whatever reason he chooses to do so. Industry must begin taking immediate steps, doing everything in its power, so that those who oppose its practices must not be forced to accept the severance tax revenues accorded to their local government by fracking. Unfortunately, government holds the reins on virtually every aspect of this unfair treatment of Mr. Frey and others similarly situated. Industry has but one thing it may control. Namely, to whom and to where it chooses to sell its product.

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:56 AM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Well said and well thought. But it strikes me as a very tough sale.

Trying to think of a producer who would eschew a sale, it would probably have to be more direct. Maybe I wouldn't sell to the Taliban, but withholding gas from a poor stupid Boulder guy's Subaru? It doesn't take many cycles to rationalize away that.

My employer sells bucketloads to gub'mint. I read your pledge first, as you presented and thought "we're not going to leave that money on the table" while he rest of your post loaded.

NED bless Magpul (though principled stands might be a plus in that industry) but while government seems pretty close to Atlas, I think business is light years away. And for every principled Galt, there are a dozen James Taggarts to patch things over. In fact, we probably make the Progressives' favorite error of conflating business-folk with Capitalists.

Posted by: jk at July 13, 2013 12:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes. Your very last point is key. And it is the only way we can convince producers to do this, as a moral issue.

"Do not conflate winning special favors from government with achievement. Cronyism and achievement are each other's mortal enemies."

(I quote because I just said it on Facebook.)

Just as peaceful Muslims lose credibility when they fail to denounce the crimes of Islamofascists perpetrated in the name of their faith, capitalists lose credibility when they fail to denounce and distinguish themselves from crony-capitalists.

I'm not thinking we would encourage individual gas stations to refuse fueling Subarus (while still selling to SUV owners) but for oil producers or refiners to stop selling to retailers who don't agree to temporarily padlock their pumps in those cities and counties. The producers will still have a world market to sell into. The retailers will be under public pressure to make a decision. If one agrees he will be the only one in the region to receive fuel shipments. This applies to all counties, even the ones that allow fracking.

There are details to be worked out, for sure, but to any extent such a plan is executed, especially just before an election, it will bring an important question into the public square: Do producers need consumers, or do consumers (and government) need producers?

Posted by: johngalt at July 13, 2013 1:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:
"We will rebuild America's system on the moral premise which had been its foundation, but which you treated as a guilty underground, in your frantic evasion of the conflict between that premise and your mystic morality: the premise that man is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others, that man's life, his freedom, his happiness are his by inalienable right." | Atlas Shrugged
Posted by: johngalt at July 14, 2013 11:01 AM

July 10, 2013

Quote of the Day

The school system decided to instead create its own lunch menu for next year.

The district lost about $100,000 trying out the federal menu, which offered such meals as "part" of a chicken patty on a minicroissant, EAGNews.org reported.


Yum! See if those local-yokels can be as imaginative as the First Lady's Office!

JWF presents this as a whack against Michelle Obama. Insty links and I won't rush to her defense. But it is a better window into government benevolence: people far away fixing a problem that you don't have.

Posted by John Kranz at 8:52 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Aren't there other people even further away whose problems she could fix instead?

Posted by: johngalt at July 10, 2013 12:29 PM
But jk thinks:

Hahahahahahaha! A bit like my sister-in-law's Dept. of Peace initiative: I should be happy that she is starving high school students in upstate New York, thus protecting so many more important things from her mischief...

Posted by: jk at July 10, 2013 1:09 PM

July 4, 2013

4th of July Rap

Making the rounds on Facebook:

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:05 PM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2013

Letting these Dairy Terrorists off Easy, are we?

Raw Milk? And he could be in jail less than a year?

Raw-milk proponents celebrated a Wisconsin farmer's acquittal on three of four counts related to selling unpasteurized milk and cheese, bolstering their hopes of legalizing the products in America's Dairyland.

Jurors found Vernon Hershberger, a 41-year-old Loganville, Wis., farmer, innocent of producing milk without a license, selling milk and cheese products without a license, and operating a retail establishment without a license. He was found guilty of one count of breaking a holding order issued by the state in June 2010, which barred him from moving any of the food he produced without a license.

The verdict means Mr. Hershberger can continue to sell his farm's products to members of the buying club he started, said one of his attorneys, Elizabeth Rich. He faces as long as a year in jail and $10,000 in fines for the one guilty count; a sentencing date has yet to be announced.


Will no one step up to protect the children! Milk is a gateway drug to goat cheese.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:20 PM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2013

We're from the California EPA, and we're here to help

They gave us be-bop. "Soap doesn't work. Toilets don't flush. Clothes washers don't clean. Light bulbs don't illuminate. Refrigerators break too soon. Paint discolors. Lawnmowers have to be hacked. It's all caused by idiotic government regulations that are wrecking our lives one consumer product at a time, all in ways we hardly notice."

Surely, the gas can is protected. It's just a can, for goodness sake. Yet he was right. This one doesn't have a vent. Who would make a can without a vent unless it was done under duress? After all, everyone knows to vent anything that pours. Otherwise, it doesn't pour right and is likely to spill.

It took one quick search. The whole trend began in (wait for it) California. Regulations began in 2000, with the idea of preventing spillage. The notion spread and was picked up by the EPA, which is always looking for new and innovative ways to spread as much human misery as possible. -- Jeffrey Tucker

Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 11:04 AM | Comments (0)

May 3, 2013

Campaigning for US Gun Control - Foreign Edition

Do guns in "the hands of criminals and dangerous people" in the United States lead to gun violence in Mexico? President Obama seems to think so:

"Most of the guns used to commit violence here in Mexico come from the United States," President Obama said during a speech at Mexico's Anthropology Museum. "I think many of you know that in America, our Constitution guarantees our individual right to bear arms. And as president, I swore an oath to uphold that right, and I always will."

"But at the same time, as I’ve said in the United States, I will continue to do everything in my power to pass common-sense reforms that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people. That can save lives here in Mexico and back home in the United States. It’s the right thing to do," Obama added.

But the single greatest source of American guns in Mexico appears to be the U.S. Government. No, not via Fast and Furious, but via legal "direct commercial sales" authorized by the State Department.

Here's how it works: A foreign government fills out an application to buy weapons from private gun manufacturers in the U.S. Then the State Department decides whether to approve.

And it did approve 2,476 guns to be sold to Mexico in 2006. In 2009, that number was up nearly 10 times, to 18,709. The State Department has since stopped disclosing numbers of guns it approves, and wouldn't give CBS News figures for 2010 or 2011.

But the real outrage is Obama suggesting that the US Constitution has anything to do with Mexican gun "incompetence and corruption." The reason for this strawman is patently obvious.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:44 PM | Comments (0)

April 17, 2013

Otequay of the Ayday

First Colorado's first truly Progressive governor, now this:

"I am therefore calling for repeal or complete reform of the Affordable Care Act to protect our employers, our industry, and our most important asset: our members and their families."

- United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers International President Kinsey M. Robinson

It's almost as if things that can't go on forever, won't.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)

April 15, 2013

QOTD II

Just make sure you're moving in the right direction. Interest-free loans are for children, siblings, and the occasional down-on-his-luck drifter who just needs someone to believe in him again, not for the U.S. government. There are crazy Asian central banks that are willing to lend to our government at negative real interest rates. You should let them be the ones to give Uncle Sam free money. Keep your own money in the bank, where it belongs.
Happy Tax Day advice from Megan McArdle suggesting that I adjust my withholding to stop giving Uncle Sugar a large loan. I am quite aware of the problem -- and no, Megan, I don't just do it so I have a big check to blow on a new TV. I get a huge refund every year of late. But am I supposed to make up kids I do not have to increase exemptions?

UPDATE: My blog brother laughs at deflation, and yet: gold_apr2013.gif

Posted by John Kranz at 5:01 PM | Comments (7)
But dagny thinks:

Errr actually nope. You are supposed to make up income and deduction amounts instead.

If you review line H of the current W-4 form, in the parentheses it says, "If you plan to itemize or claim adjustments to income and want to reduce your withholding, see the Deductions and Adjustments Worksheet on page 2."

Then the worksheet tells you how to make up income and deduction numbers to come up with however many exemptions you want (or they recommend) based on your income and not how many people are in your household.

What this means in reality is that the number of exemptions you claim has no real relationship to the number of human beings in your household. Feel free to claim as many as required to prevent interest free loans to the government.

And this isn't even a stretch of the rules. Call me jk and I can help with this if you want.

Posted by: dagny at April 16, 2013 12:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The short and the long of it.

Posted by: johngalt at April 16, 2013 1:16 PM
But jk thinks:

I was hoping you'd answer that -- kind of an implicit "bleg." Thanks, I will see when I can change and grab a form. I will holler if it does not make sense.

Then again, those of us who worry about "Stealth Deflation" profit from avoiding real negative interest rates...

Posted by: jk at April 16, 2013 1:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Talk about paper-thin metallic headwear! Deflation? BWAAA-hahahahaha!

Posted by: johngalt at April 16, 2013 3:05 PM
But jk thinks:

See update to post for graphic.

Posted by: jk at April 16, 2013 3:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Methinks you're reading the wrong cause for this move out of gold. It only means that ammunition supplies have rebounded from a deep bottom.

Posted by: johngalt at April 16, 2013 5:19 PM

April 6, 2013

Obama Administration: 15 years of life after retirement "reasonable"

From Bernie Becker in "On the Money" THE HILL'S Finance and Economy Blog:

President Obama's budget, to be released next week, will limit how much wealthy individuals - like Mitt Romney - can keep in IRAs and other retirement accounts.

[For those of us who don't know what a "wealthy individual" is, Becker gives us a helpful example.]

The proposal would save around $9 billion over a decade, a senior administration official said, while also bringing more fairness to the tax code.

["Fairness" is the most offensive F-word I've ever heard.]

The senior administration official said that wealthy taxpayers can currently "accumulate many millions of dollars in these accounts, substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving."

Under the plan, a taxpayer's tax-preferred retirement account, like an IRA, could not finance more than $205,000 per year of retirement - or right around $3 million this year.

There's the American dream, boys and girls: Work hard (or get a plum "Obamacare Navigator" position) and invest wisely (or get a public defined-benefit pension) so that you can have a "reasonable" retirement of NO MORE than $205,000 per year for "right around" 14.63 years. THIS year.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:54 PM | Comments (5)
But Terri thinks:

And don't forget boys and girls that should you want better care than you might buy with your medicare checks, you will nicely be SOL after that 3 mil is spent.

Posted by: Terri at April 6, 2013 3:56 PM
But jk thinks:

People are going to think I take contrary positions just because I love to argue (NO I DON'T!) but...

I think this is a good "loophole" to give away as part of a move to a fairer, flatter, more transparent tax system.

If I may correct the record, you can save as much as you want. You can plan a lengthy and extravagant retirement full of caviar, expensive wines and fast women. What you cannot do is use your 401K to defer income in amounts outside the range of a typical taxpayer.

Friends still?

Posted by: jk at April 7, 2013 10:02 AM
But Terri thinks:

Ok, by me. But I disagree with you on other things too. :-)

Posted by: Terri at April 7, 2013 12:00 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I don't object to the change in policy as much as the rhetoric that justifies it. A "reasonable" retirement is $200k per year, for 15 years. The unvarnished way to say it would be "the government will forego taxation on a modest retirement." Instead, they used "reasonable" to give the impression that anyone who keeps more of his earnings than this is UN-reasonable.

And before you accuse me of being pedantic, do you for one second believe that this administration has any intention of agreeing to a "fairer, flatter more transparent tax system?" Or even any ONE of those three? No, this is one more layer of unfair tax treatment of "Mitt Romney and his pals." You know, those bastards who Dr. Carson reminded us "don't need to be punished?"

Posted by: johngalt at April 8, 2013 11:28 AM
But jk thinks:

It happens I know the exact odds for a "fairer, flatter more transparent tax system" from this administration: six per cent.

That number is in my head because it is also the odds of surviving small cell lung cancer or getting a good job with a literature PhD. This is in that realm.

No, Pedant-O-man, I don't object to your objection of their rhetoric. You are dead-on. I am exploring relaxing the reflexive impulse you and I share to protect tax breaks. Yes, it lowers the net amount applied to Fed largesse -- and, no, it should not be discarded merely to grab revenue from those who produce.

But those intransigent 'baggers' needs would be well served to always offer loophole closure for reduced rates -- that is always a pro-liberty move. Retirement and home ownership may be "good" loopholes, but they are loopholes and should be on the table.

Posted by: jk at April 8, 2013 12:52 PM

March 18, 2013

Incentives Matter: How Gub'mint Killed Swing

Those flatted-fifths in bop got you down? Blame the Feds:

The tax-law regulation's other exception had the biggest impact. Clubs that provided strictly instrumental music to which no one danced were exempt from the cabaret tax. It is no coincidence that in the back half of the 1940s a new and undanceable jazz performed primarily by small instrumental groups--bebop--emerged as the music of the moment.

"The spotlight was on instrumentalists because of the prohibitive entertainment taxes," the great bebop drummer Max Roach was quoted in jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie's memoirs, "To Be or Not to Bop." "You couldn't have a big band because the big band played for dancing."


Now, there's some bebop I dig, but American Swing music was our gift to the art world for all eternity. Anything that cut that short is to be decried.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:53 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

An emailer calls Shenanigans (on the WALL STREET JOURNAL????)

Big band swing might have given way to bebop in New York but every where else in the country it was overtaken by a new forms of dance music, R&B and the rock and roll. The late forties and early fifties were a time of transition but nobody stopped dancing to listen to Thelonius Monk. The stopped dancing to Glen Miller and started dancing to Bo Diddley. The guy was probably right when he said guys were coming back and starting families and working.

Fair point, but I'm still clinging somewhat bitterly. The whole economic proposition of a Big Band is suspicious. I was in an eight-piece bar band in the 80's and that denominator kills ya. Smaller ensembles -- perhaps without the dinner or elaborate setting -- left room for Uncle Sam that a busload of jazz guys with expensive heroin habits did not.

Posted by: jk at March 19, 2013 12:50 PM

March 7, 2013

Quote of the Day

Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm -- but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves. -- T.S. Eliot
The quote ends a superb Cliff Asness piece in The American about the "No Labels" folks. I am confident every ThreeSourcer would enjoy it in its entirity.
Posted by John Kranz at 2:06 PM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2013

Where is Singapore's Obama When They Need Him?

The chart below comes from an article explaining why Filipino prize fighter Manny Pacquiao's chief adviser told Yahoo Sports that a match in Las Vegas is a "no go" because of the IRS top marginal rate of 39.6% on earnings in the USA.

The other options Pacquiao and his management team have considered are Macau and Singapore: both casino and gaming markets comparable to Las Vegas and ideal to host a grand boxing event.

US-singapore%20top%20marginal%20rates.jpg

Singapore's top rate is roughly half of America's, and they are reputed to have a balanced budget. Irrefutable proof that they "don't care about children or the underprivileged." Don't even get me started on Macau.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:08 PM | Comments (0)

January 31, 2013

Goin' Back to Bed

You folks keep the lamp of liberty lit. I just don't think I can take it anymore. Pursuant to the "anti-dog-eat-dog act:"

The Justice Department filed suit Thursday to block Anheuser-Busch InBev NV's $20.1 billion deal to buy Grupo Modelo SAB, saying U.S. consumers would suffer harm if the makers of Bud Light and Corona Extra merged.
[...]
The Justice Department said it filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to prevent the companies from merging. The deal "would result in less competition and higher beer prices for American consumers," said the department's antitrust chief, Bill Baer.

I should be glad they are doing their mischief out of the technology sector for a change; I assume that will be less harmful. But the beer cooler at DaveCo offers at least four or five different selections if my memory serves. I don't recall that market's being underserved.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:57 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:
"Every coercive monopoly that exists or has ever existed was created and made possible by an act of government: by special franchises, licenses, subsidies, by legislative actions which granted special privileges (not obtainable in a free market)" -[Nathaniel?] Branden, as cited in The Myth of Monopoly: Antitru$t on Trial, author unknown.

First I must ask, how does something which heavily cites Ayn Rand become published at a duke-dot-edu domain? Then I wonder what is up with the strange font size creep as one reads the page. But the sections I read are EXCELLENT.

"Under the antitrust laws, a man becomes a criminal from the moment he goes into business, no matter what he does. If he complies with one of these laws, he faces criminal prosecution under several others. For instance, if he charges prices which some bureaucrats judge as too high, he can be prosecuted for monopoly, or rather, for a successful "intent to monopolize"; if he charges prices lower than those of his competitors, he can be prosecuted for "unfair competition" or "restraint of trade"; and if he charges the same prices as his competitors, he can be prosecuted for "collusion" or "conspiracy."

Recall the government regulator's line from last year's film, 'Atlas Shrugged Part II:' "Laws are useless unless the right people break them."

Posted by: johngalt at January 31, 2013 3:31 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks for warning on font creep -- I was woried my dosage was off or someting...

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2013 3:48 PM

January 23, 2013

RAHQOTD

How long has it been? Too long. Today's 'I Am Not Making This Up' entry prompts another quote from Heinlein's excellent 'Life-Line' short story, excerpted three times already on these pages.

There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute or common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back.

--RAH 'Life-Line' (1939)

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:33 PM | Comments (0)

"I Am Not Making This Up!"

Were it a Dave Barry column, no doubt this WSJ guest editorial would be so captioned. But as close as Burleigh C.W. Leonard can get is "You read that right."

When the farm bill (why do we have farm bills again?) expires, the rules reset to the New Deal's "permanent law." These are so awful as to present a fiscal cliff style food bomb.

Permanent law is embodied in the Agriculture Adjustment Act of 1938 and the Agricultural Act of 1949. It directs the federal government to provide financial help to farmers by artificially inflating the prices of the commodities they produce.

Price supports for eligible commodities are set according to a formula known as "parity," which is based on a price index from the period 1910-14. You read that right--permanent law's subsidies are calculated based on farming conditions a hundred years ago.

This formula does not take into account the technological advancements and productivity gains that have dramatically altered our agricultural system over time. Consequently, parity prices bear no resemblance to today's market prices.

Parity for corn is $12 per bushel versus an actual market price of $7.01; for wheat $18.30 versus $8.33; for rice $42.20 per hundred weight versus $14.80 and for milk $52 versus $21.10. The disparity between parity and market prices is even starker when one considers that current commodity prices are at historically high levels.


For all their faults, I think my bright but misguided Facebook Friends can understand this. I have most of them converted against ethanol subsidies. Here's the same deal and I suspect they'd say in their best Mr. Mackey voice: "That's bad, mmkay."

And yet -- how do you get them to make the leap to view whatever thing they're grinding for today: more education subsidies, free abortifacients, wind farms, &c. Mohair and ethanol subsidies are "bad," as are billion dollar checks to Ted Turner from the US Taxpayer. But their thing is good.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:24 PM | Comments (7)
But johngalt thinks:

I take this opportunity to ask Brother Keith to remind us of the early American story he recounted here once before, of a Senator on the stump encountering a constituent who lectured him on the immorality of aid to veterans' widows from the public treasury.

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2013 2:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You have probably tried asking BBMFF, "If oil company subsidies are bad, why?" And they probably answered, "Because they're rich." All the while, the concept of 'subsidy' goes unexamined.

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2013 2:52 PM
But jk thinks:

Correct, brother jg. Sadly, correct.

& I actually know this one: it was Davy Crockett and Horatio Bunce.

Posted by: jk at January 23, 2013 2:53 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Yes, the famous Horatio Bunce story. If I could send every legislator in both houses of Congress to the re-education camps and hammer just one lesson into them with aversion therapy, it would be this one - and when their subconscious memories of the electric shocks and the pliers prevent them from ever voting the wrong way on a similar bill again, the Republic and fiscal sanity will have been restored.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 23, 2013 3:05 PM
But jk thinks:

Amen. The other angel in American History was President Cleveland. The Republican Congress would send up bills to give $25 to a Civil War widow just to embarrass him. But he did it again and again. I am pretty sure he still holds the veto record. HOSS!

Posted by: jk at January 23, 2013 3:20 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Cleveland holds the two-term record at 584. FDR had 635, but had to go into overtime to get there.

Of course, Cleveland's were in defense of limited government, where Roosevelt's were about monkeying with the economy. There are good vetoes, and bad ones.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 23, 2013 6:52 PM

January 16, 2013

Stealthflation "Race to the Bottom" *

Politicians generally make noise or law, but rarely both at once. That's why I'm not too concerned about the gun-grabbing hysteria in the news these days. The noise achieves multiple goals: It makes the loudest politicians look like they care the most and are "doing" the most; It also distracts from real issues like debt, spending, Benghazi, and the "Global 'Currency War.'"

The massive Fed balance sheet expansion has resulted in the U.S. dollar declining about 11 percent against a basket of world currencies since QE began in 2009. In the meantime, stock prices have doubled since their March 2009 lows and the Morgan Stanley Commodity Related Index has gained about 80 percent.

With the U.S. as its guide, competitive devaluation is expected to accelerate.

Strategas investment strategist Jason Trennert included the "race to the bottom" as one of his five principle investment themes of the year.

And yet, fuel prices continue to fall as domestic production soars (and world demand shrinks.) Think how inexpensive energy would be if you could buy it with a sound dollar.

* You thought "race to the bottom" was my characterization, didn't you? Actually it was, even before reading the article in full.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:18 PM | Comments (6)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"... Think how inexpensive energy would be if you could buy it with a sound dollar..."

And also if the Central Planning apparatchiks would allow drilling so supply could rise along with demand. See the graph at http://is.gd/C9bEFj - and yes, thanks, Dick Nixon, for the EPA.

Hey, speaking of central planners, ruining the economy, and general recalcitrant idiocy, are you all doing something special to welcome Ken Salazar back to Colorado come March?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 16, 2013 5:02 PM
But jk thinks:

Again, I complement inflation on just how stealthy it is.

The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) was unchanged in December on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 1.7 percent before seasonal adjustment.
[...]
The index for all items less food and energy increased 0.1 percent in December, the same increase as in November. Besides shelter, the indexes for airline fares, tobacco, and medical care also increased.

The indexes for recreation, household furnishings and operations, and used cars and trucks all declined in December.

The all items index increased 1.7 percent over the last 12 months, compared to a 1.8 percent figure in November. The index for all items less food and energy rose 1.9 percent over the last 12 months, the same figure as last month. The food index has risen 1.8 percent over the last 12 months, and the energy index has risen 0.5 percent.

Posted by: jk at January 17, 2013 1:15 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Respectfully, that is one reason I call it stealth-flation... because it is a low enough rate to escape serious notice. What is the over/under rate where you would expect people to consider a given year "inflationary?" I would put it at 3 percent. More than that and people raise an eyebrow but less? We've been conditioned to consider that "normal."

"The U.S. dollar declining about 11 percent" over a roughly 4-year period is 2.75% annually. May I be forgiven for wondering, if the central bankers can manipulate the money supply so precisely as to remain slightly below 3 percent, why don't they alternately target it slightly above zero?

Posted by: johngalt at January 17, 2013 7:11 PM
But jk thinks:

Bernanke's Textbook suggests a 2% inflation target. The problem with 0.0137% is that the tools are inexact, and the shock of deflation is considered perverse enough to accept 2% inflation. Better to miss at 2.5 than -0.5.

At the risk of opening another front in this war, 2% core CPI is acceptable to me because technology and trade are disinflationary.

Defending the Chairman is not my favorite job (not when there are toilets that require disinfecting or some old COBOL code that requires documenting), but the man wrote a textbook, he was hired to do what he said. He has done what he said pretty perfectly.

I look forward to his replacement (though it might be Maya Angelou with this Administration) and have come to accept from my economic betters that there are better plays than inflation targeting. Yet I cannot grasp the Strum and Drang. Nobody in government since President Polk or Guy Fawkes has ever done more closely what he or she professed.

Posted by: jk at January 17, 2013 7:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You make a good case that he did what he said he would do. That makes the fault not his, but ours for letting him have the job. I'm still not convinced that disinflation - saved money buying MORE in the future than it would now - does harm to anyone beside those who income derives from operating the currency system. Market forces are swift, certain and fair, inversely to the extent which government "manages" them.

Finally I should also say that 11 percent inflation over four years is over and above the average currency inflation in the "basket of world currencies" who are, no doubt, targeting non-negative inflation rates themselves. (Neener neener, we inflated our currency more that you pikers. We're winning the Currency War!)

Posted by: johngalt at January 18, 2013 2:33 PM
But jk thinks:

NATALEE HOLLOWAY PICTURES!!!!

Posted by: jk at January 18, 2013 6:28 PM

January 15, 2013

QOTD II

Kafka would have liked the zoning folks. -- Roger Kimball: This Metamorphosis will require a permit
Posted by John Kranz at 4:38 PM | Comments (0)

January 1, 2013

California Gun Safe

Because guns are DANGEROUS!

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:09 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2012

What's Worse for Business than Riots?

GUB'MINT!

No doubt Figueroa and 101st Street will be a paradise after the wise city fathers get rid of that blight!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

December 3, 2012

Heinleinian "Bad Luck"

An 80-year-old business of oyster farming is shut down.

Salazar ordered the Park Service to help the oyster company remove property, oysters and racks from the estuary and assist oyster company employees in relocating and finding jobs and employment training.

"We are taking the final step to recognize this pristine area as wilderness," Salazar said. "The estero is one of our nation's crown jewels, and today we are fulfilling the vision to protect this special place for generations to come."


My first thought was that this operated on leased Federal land and the operators should not be too surprised by political vicissitude. The real trouble being that there is Federal land, not the surprise of its being managed capriciously.

But the back-to-the-caves argument grows within me, watered by schadenfreude tears of disappointed Marin-county organic foodie customers. Rachel Maddow asks why we don't build Hoover Dams anymore -- her people won't let you dig a clam out of the sand.

California is a beautiful place. But it is more amazing for its rational achievement. Steve Martin's L.A. Story talks about the people who made a magical place in the desert. Steinbeck chronicled migration to the Golden State's agricultural wonderland. Silicon Valley's contribution to wealth and culture will be studied for centuries.

But it's over, kids. Human reason is no longer welcome there. And one fears the bright folks on the West Coast may once again be leading the nation.

"Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded -- here and there, now and then -- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as 'bad luck.'" -- Robert A Heinlein
UPDATE: Good video story on this.
Posted by John Kranz at 11:23 AM | Comments (3)
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

It occurs to me that some Three Sourcers might enjoy the discussions at the Heinlein Facebook Forum: http://www.facebook.com/groups/41168255694/.

Sign up and stir up some trouble!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 3, 2012 5:21 PM
But Jk thinks:

I signed up. I have a feeling I'm going to get my ass kicked, but that can be fun.

Posted by: Jk at December 3, 2012 9:36 PM
But dagny thinks:

Thanks for the invitation and I have been a Heinlein fan since before I could drive but I just cannot afford another electronic time sink.

Posted by: dagny at December 4, 2012 11:53 AM

November 13, 2012

Eating Cake and Having It

Yahoo Finance: The Daily Ticker's Aaron Task and Henry Blodget discuss America's standing in the world.

Here are two quotes from the same analyst:

First, in order to address the "increasing inequality" that is causing us to "lose" our middle class:

"We should balance the bottom line with employment and employee salaries and benefit to the community. Reduce profit margins and reinvest in the country - that's what we need to do."

Then, in response to the growing cost of starting a small business and the very low levels of startups:

"What I assume they're looking at is the cost of the red tape and everything else and legislation and so forth; the regulations that go with and if that's the case we've gotta work on paring that down, there's no question."

So what is his plan for diverting more business profit to employees and communities that doesn't rely upon red tape, legislation or regulation?

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:41 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

You just want to "give" more money to the wealthy!

Posted by: jk at November 14, 2012 9:51 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I completely missed that one. Good catch!

Posted by: johngalt at November 14, 2012 12:47 PM

November 12, 2012

Traffic Cameras

I caught a fun tweet thread by a great friend of this blog from way back: @pillageidiot

A quick email conversation finds our friend as well as any of us post 11/6.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:39 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. Remember the Jonah Tweet I RTed before the vote?

And now the worst part: trusting the wisdom & good judgment of citizens of United States.

New poignance in light of the outcome.

Posted by: johngalt at November 12, 2012 2:35 PM

October 31, 2012

Obama's Solar Panel Cronyism: Move On, Nothing to See Here

"You better let him know that the WH wants to move Abound forward."
- Executive Director DOE Loan Programs, June 25, 2010

Composite video below from RevealingPolitics. Story based on DOE emails obtained by CompleteColorado.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:21 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Nice -- and further supported:

The new emails contradict claims by Obama and others in his administration that all decisions on the $20 billion DOE clean energy loans were made by career executives in the department.

Most recently, Obama told a Denver television news interviewer on Oct. 26, 2012, that the loan decisions are "decisions, by the way, that are made by the Department of Energy, they have nothing to do with politics."

Posted by: jk at October 31, 2012 5:35 PM

September 5, 2012

Cognitive Dissonance

Why should jk get to post all of the Reason videos?

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:48 PM | Comments (8)
But johngalt thinks:

If I may: Irrational people are made up of contradictions.

"The Law of Identity (A is A) is a rational man’s paramount consideration in the process of determining his interests. He knows that the contradictory is the impossible, that a contradiction cannot be achieved in reality and that the attempt to achieve it can lead only to disaster and destruction. Therefore, he does not permit himself to hold contradictory values, to pursue contradictory goals, or to imagine that the pursuit of a contradiction can ever be to his interest."

Quoted from, guess who.

Posted by: johngalt at September 5, 2012 7:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Ich besitze selbst.

Posted by: johngalt at September 5, 2012 7:50 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

jg - I wasn't sure if the irony would come through...should have put "These" before the quote. In fact wasn't this clip straight outta Rand? In Atlas Shrugged, right after this convention a factory would close and a bridge would collapse. Contradictions have consequences.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at September 5, 2012 8:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I thought it was an obscure reference I didn't get. No matter... I was determined to post the contradiction quote. It's one of my favorites. It's a wonder I don't use it at least twice a month.

Ditto on the "law of the lord" en Francais. Right over my head so I just went for "my law" not the lord's. Auf Deutsch!

Jus' havin' fun.

Posted by: johngalt at September 6, 2012 1:54 AM
But jk thinks:

Explaining a joke is proof of its failure, but I need to risk it. Brother jg asks "Why should jk get to post all of the Reason videos?"

I started to type something about paying the hosting fees and thought Droit du seigneur (I had to look up the spelling). It may translate to "law of the lord" but the idiomatic use generally refers to the quaint and distinctly non-Lockean feudal custom of allowing the lord to deflower the virgins in his realm. (It is a French term after all.)

But we are blog brothers and I am glad you posted this Reason video.

Posted by: jk at September 6, 2012 10:08 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Aaaah, brilliant! Thanks for explaining the joke. Perhaps if you'd called it prima nocte I'd have recognized it.

Posted by: johngalt at September 6, 2012 4:00 PM

August 1, 2012

You can fix this Mr. President!

Unless of course he believes that American Olympic athletes are "those at the very top" and therefore deserve to have one-third of their Olympic honoraria confiscated by their government.

Americans who win bronze will pay a $2 tax on the medal itself. But the bronze comes with a modest prize--$10,000 as an honorarium for devoting your entire life to being the third best athlete on the planet in your chosen discipline. And the IRS will take $3,500 of that, thank you very much.

Silver medalists will owe $5,385. You win a gold? Timothy Geithner will be standing there with his hand out for $8,986.

So as of this writing, swimmer Missy Franklin--who's a high school student--is already on the hook for almost $14,000. By the time she's done in the pool, her tab could be much higher. (That is, unless she has to decline the prize money to placate the NCAA--the only organization in America whose nuttiness rivals the IRS.)


Posted by JohnGalt at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2012

Free the Fretboards!!!

"Free the fretboards!" is not exactly Patrick Henry, but it comes with a much cooler picture:

Gibson guitar CEO Henry Juszkiewicz has a guest editorial in the WSJ today in support of a house bill to prevent business from what befell Gibson (discussed extensively 'round these parts). More importantly, a broader look at the criminalization of ticky-tacky business regulation:

This is an overreach of government authority and indicative of the kinds of burdens the federal government routinely imposes on growing businesses. It also highlights a dangerous trend: an attempt to punish even paperwork errors with criminal charges and to regulate business activities through criminal law. Policy wonks call this "overcriminalization." I call it a job killer.

In America alone, there are over 4,000 federal criminal offenses. Under the Lacey Act, for instance, citizens and business owners also need to know--and predict how the U.S. federal government will interpret--the laws of nearly 200 other countries on the globe as well.

Many business owners have inadvertently broken obscure and highly technical foreign laws, landing them in prison for things like importing lobster tails in plastic rather than cardboard packaging (the violation of that Honduran law earned one man an eight-year prison sentence). Cases like this make it clear that the justice system has strayed from its constitutional purpose: stopping the real bad guys from bringing harm.


Lobster guy was on Stossel, whose show last night discussed minimum sentencing and prosecutorial misconduct. At the risk of a short digression, I used to believe that economic battles were most important and I was willing to let Radley Balko and the occasional meritorious ACLU suit police the justice system. Yet liberty lovers can no longer ignore the growing criminalization of -- well -- everything.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

July 2, 2012

Forest Fire Analysis Paralysis

Given the utter devastation that can result from forest fires near urban areas, and the near unanimity about why their frequency and magnitude is peaking, one may wonder why no efforts to reduce the threat seem to be under way. The good news is that 11 years ago, five federal government agencies joined efforts to create an integrated wildland fire managment system called Fire Program Analysis or FPA. A comprehensive computer modeling system, FPA would "help them weigh the benefits of fire suppression versus forest thinning, evaluate where to station people and equipment and decide how many planes to buy." The bad news is that the effort was undertaken by federal government agencies. Denver Post:

The idea was to figure out how much money to devote to fire suppression, and to reducing fuels to improve overall forest health, and where to do it.

But when the tool was used for a preliminary analysis in 2006, not everyone liked what it found, Botti said. The results showed which areas needed more resources and which needed less, throwing into uncertainty budgets used for staff programs and some administrative overhead, he said.

For instance, one recommendation was to move resources from coastal Alaska, where wildfires are relatively rare, to California, where they regularly wreak havoc in populated areas, Botti said.

"We're talking about a couple of billion dollars in federal wildland-fire funds here," he said. "Any time you tinker with that, it becomes political in a hurry. There was pushback from the bureaus that the answer was not acceptable.

Part of the problem turned out to be the presumption that a computer model could provide a sort of holy grail of fire management planning.

"Quite honestly, I don't think there was any plot" to scuttle the original system, he said.

But he agreed that people in Forest Service field offices feared -- and still fear -- a computer model that could deprive them of people and equipment.

Naaaah, nobody ever invests too much confidence in the pure and objective conclusions of comprehensive computer models!

But the failure of the computer modeling solution seems to me merely a scapegoat.

Asked how this year's fire outbreak might be different if the original FPA were in place as planned, Rideout said: "I think the responses to fire would be more cost-effective. I'm not sure whether we would have gotten to these fires any faster or later or better, or with less expense."

"More cost-effective" but not sure there would be "less expense?" How's that again?

Most officials seem to agree on the basic problem:

In 2008, the GAO reported to Congress that federal wildland-fire costs had tripled since the mid-1990s to more than $3 billion a year, citing three factors: "uncharacteristic accumulations of vegetation" from fire suppression; increasing human development in wildlands; and severe drought "in part due to climate change."

Setting aside the suggested causes for accumulations of vegetation and severe drought, both are clearly evident conditions. So why has the firefighting aircraft fleet been cut from 40 planes to 9? And why, during this period when the air fleet was dismantled, have federal wildland-fire costs tripled? Unfortunately, sometimes technology prevents the application of common sense: More potential for fire - expand fire mitigation and suppression resources. QED.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:39 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2012

Gov. Hickenlooper and the Bark Beetle Epidemic

A few stories found with the search terms "Hickenlooper" and "bark beetle" - arranged in chronological order.

Summit County: Forest health pow-wow at Keystone - November 14, 2010

Forest health, fire risks and wood utilization will be on the agenda at the Keystone Conference Center Nov. 15 as top state and federal officials hold a forest health summit meeting. This image by Derek Weidensee shows an area in Montana where a fire burned through stands of mature lodgepole pines, while an area cut previously for regeneration apparently withstood the blaze relatively unscathed.

Top state and national officials, including Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, Gov. Bill Ritter and Senator Mark Udall, will gather at the Keystone Conference Center Nov. 15 for the Governor’s Bark Beetle Summit in a public meeting that hasn’t received much publicity.

Governor-elect John Hickenlooper has also been invited.

Gov. Hickenlooper appoints new Director of Paper Distribution in the Department of Natural Resources - April 1, 2011

“Scott’s success in selling paper will help Colorado effectively and efficiently move the large amount of bark beetle lumber from the forest and into the marketplace, creating tons of jobs and making lots of money,” Hickenlooper said. “This is a unique opportunity to resolve Colorado’s forest health and budget issues.” (...) “Scott will be a wonderful addition to our paper team, focusing particularly on the use of beetle kill in paper production,” Hickenlooper said. “We hired him based on his skills, personal drive and love for ‘That’s what she said’ jokes.”
112 homes hit by northern Colo. fire - June 15, 2012
Firefighters have been in a see-saw battle with the northern Colorado blaze, extending their lines along the eastern flank but losing ground on the west and north sides as flames burn through a dry forest thick with trees killed by bark beetles. (...) Investigators said lightning triggered the fire, which is about 15 miles west of Fort Collins and 60 miles northwest of Denver. (...) The fire is burning on land owned by private parties and the U.S. Forest Service. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who oversees the Forest Service, is scheduled to meet with fire managers on Saturday.

A 30-acre blaze near Lake George in Park County was 50 percent contained. It started Wednesday and was also caused by lightning.

Separately, a fire believed to have been caused by lightning destroyed a house four miles outside Rollinsville on Friday. Gilpin County sheriff’s spokeswoman Cherokee Blake said no one was hurt.

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order Thursday banning open burning and the private use of fireworks throughout Colorado.


Posted by JohnGalt at 7:16 PM | Comments (3)
But Robert thinks:

Thr second item really got me since it was on the official colorado.gov site :)

Posted by: Robert at June 27, 2012 8:59 PM
But jk thinks:

My blog brother's summation?

I have to admit that I have been pretty impressed with His Hickness (hey, when I vote for a Democrat...) both before the fire and after.

Beetle kill is a huge problem surrounded by passionate opinions but I can think of no better solution that harvesting it for paper.

Was this a big wet kiss for our Governor? Knowing my bro, I suspect not.

Posted by: jk at June 28, 2012 11:19 AM
But johngalt thinks:

My take is that using the dead timber issue as joke fodder looks, at the least, very insensitive in retrospect and that the governor should have known better even then. I know that I remember it being in poor taste.

Yes, harvesting the wood for any use is a good solution. So why isn't it happening? As I have heard but not yet verified the answer can be given in a single word - Environmentalists.

And finally, I couldn't help noticing the impotence of the governor's knee-jerk response of banning open fires and fireworks since every fire mentioned in that story was sparked by lightning.

Posted by: johngalt at June 28, 2012 12:06 PM

Tweet of the Day


Posted by John Kranz at 1:38 PM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2012

Keeping us Safe

Protection from enemies foreign and domestic, American League and National League

All hail Harsanyi:

Not guilty on all counts. That's the return on millions of tax dollars, dozens of witnesses, ludicrous Congressional hearings and nine hours of deliberation. Today, a jury acquitted pitching great Roger Clemens on all counts of lying to Congress about steroids and human growth hormone.

A refresher: "...the process began with a February 2008 congressional hearing in which Clemens made statements to a committee that the government believed to be false, and continued through a mistrial in July 2011.
[...]

Thankfully, there is nothing seriously wrong with the country of government that requires attention.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:42 PM | Comments (0)

Obama cuts Fire Fighting Aircraft

According to blogger Sean Paige at the Monkey Wrenching America blog, a contract with Aero Union, a fire fighting company with seven 4-engine slurry bombers, was canceled during renewal negotiations in August, 2011. No reason was given, just "We don’t want the airplanes, have a nice life." This brought the US Forest Service air tanker fleet down to 11 heavy aircraft, and today it's only 9. The report cites Rep. Dan Lundgren(R-CA) saying the fleet was 40 planes a decade ago.

This reminds me of that old lefty bumper sticker, "Wouldn't it be great if the Air Force had to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber?" Apparently, now they do.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:26 PM | Comments (0)

May 31, 2012

2012 Social Security Stimulus Package

From a good friend, via email:

WATCH YOUR MAILBOX!!!! Just wanted to let you know - today I received my 2012 Social Security Stimulus Package. It contained two tomato seeds, cornbread mix, a prayer rug, a machine to blow smoke up my butt, 2 discount coupons to KFC, an "Obama Hope & Change" bumper sticker, and a "Blame it on Bush" poster for the front yard.

The directions were in Spanish.

Watch for yours soon!

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:22 PM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2012

From my Cold Dead Hands, Mr. President

Anthony Martin, at the Conservative Examiner:

The Obama Administration is once again poised to begin harassing Gibson Guitars of Nashville, Tennessee, this time taking its grievances with the company to musicians and fans at summer concerts across the nation.

Administration officials have threatened to raid summer concerts in order to seize what it deems to be illegal guitars made from wood that has been banned.


I hoped this was a hyper-sensitive blogger gone off the rails, but we have at least two Senators involved.
A meeting was held today between [Sen. Lamar (R - TN)] Alexander, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., representatives from the music industry and the wood import business, and conservation and environmental groups to come up with a workable solution.

As the bible says: "wheresoever two or more Senators gather together with industry representatives, thy property rights be unsafe" (Something like that -- Brother Keith might tweak it a bit).

Again, my hope is that the insanity of this will show non-ThreeSourcers the true costs of government overreach. One hopes...

Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 9:19 AM | Comments (2)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Brother jk: in a world where I've compared the Prezznit to Pharaoh, making the masses his personal property by letting no famine go to waste (Genesis 47:13-26)? Where the dangers of over-reaching human government were foretold (1 Samuel 8:10-18)? No tweaking needed - I think you've pretty accurately quoted doctrine there. I just don't remember from where in the Book of Kelo that specific reference comes...

Forsooth and fo'shizzle, and all that other King James stuff...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 19, 2012 11:00 AM
But johngalt thinks:

There is only one "workable solution" that is acceptable to conservation and environmental groups - DROP DEAD.

SUMMER JAM '12
Where pot is legal but wooden guitars are not.

Posted by: johngalt at May 21, 2012 4:29 PM

May 18, 2012

Wish They Worried About our Money

Jamie Dimon's loss of $2 Billion on a private portfolio, which dominated the news cycle for several days and caused three JP Morgan executives to be fired: catastrophe!

Gub'mints' loss of our money: campaign advertisement!

It's all been said, but Lawrence Lindsey says it purdy good in the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page today:

Consider two other recent episodes. The Obama administration guaranteed a $535 million loan to Solyndra, then lost everything on its bet when the solar-energy company went bankrupt last September.

Then there is the auto-industry bailout. According to the TARP inspector general's April 25 report, taxpayers have been paid cash and securities worth $50.9 billion on the $79.7 billion extended to General Motors, General Motors Acceptance Corp. (now Ally Financial) and Chrysler. That is a $28.8 billion loss.

Nevertheless, the president's re-election campaign is running an ad bragging about the bailout's success. Meanwhile, J.P. Morgan's much smaller loss is the subject of speeches and hearings and a howling chorus in the media.


I'll back off the "private" description a bit. Certainly JPMorgan enjoys TBTF status and a concomitant government put indemnified by, yes, you and me. Sign me up for a way to fix that. But on what planet does a 1% loss matter more than a 100% loss (Solyndra) or a 36% loss (GM)?

Posted by John Kranz at 1:54 PM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2012

"Forward"

I just discovered Svetlana Kunin, a Russian emmigrant who has apparently been writing for Investor's Editorial Page for some time now. Playing off of President Obama's official re-election campaign slogan, Forward, today's offering is entitled, "Obama's Slogan 'Forward' Is Used By Socialists Too."

"Too?"

After introducing the motto "Forward!" -- identical to slogans of Socialists of the past and present-- Obama rolled out an imaginary vision of Julia, in which the government is involved in all aspects of a person's life.

No need for virtual reality. There is a real-life timeline for an average person in a society where the government plans, regulates and provides free services for its citizens in countries past and present — the USSR, Cuba, etc.

(...)

I personally lived that life in the former USSR until age 30. When my young family of three immigrated to the USA, my parents stayed behind. After botched medical procedures in a free hospital, my father screamed from pain for three days before he died at age 70.

Like President Obama, Russians also evolved on the gay rights issue. Homosexuality used to be outlawed in the Socialist Soviet Union. Today it is not a crime in Russia. Even so, facing an alarming decline in number of newborns and an eventual demographic disaster, they do not play with the redefinition of marriage.

Otherwise there's a lot in common among an Obama administration striving for total government involvement in people's lives, the communists of the former Soviet Union and modern Socialists in Russia.

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:15 PM | Comments (0)

May 2, 2012

The 6 Percenters

Last year's "Occupy" protests brought the term "1 percenter" back into our familiar lexicon. Supposedly representing the "super rich" who "control" America, it is a term of derision used by some who declare themselves representatives of the "rest of us" or the "99 percent."

But surprisingly, as Walter Williams observed, those arrested at Occupy demonstrations are overwhelmingly white and above average in both income and home value.

The median value of the homes of the arrestees was $305,000 – a far higher number than the $185,400 median value of owner-occupied homes of the rest of us. Ninety-five of the arrestees lived in homes valued at more than $500,000. Those who rented paid a median rent of $1,850 per month. Of the 984 protesters arrested, at least 797 are white. One Occupy Wall Street protester arrested – presumably, if you listen to the mainstream media, penniless and from a blue-collar family – lived in an $850,000 home in the nation’s capital.

And less surprisingly, America's wealthiest counties are the suburbs surrounding our nation's capital, Washington D.C. As Williams puts it, "The nation’s richest counties are close to Washington, D.C., where people come to do good and wind up doing well for themselves." But do just 1 percent of Americans "run" America? This article claims that about 1 percent of us have held elective office, now or in the past. But that's about as close as you can get to showing such a small sliver of society "runs" a nation and economy as great and diverse as America's. To actually, functionally "run" a country has been shown to require, at a bare minimum, a group I like to call The 6 Percenters.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2012

Quote of the Day

Via Brit Hume's twitter feed, I found this info sheet at the Department of Labor. Look at question four:
Question: Are these proposed revisions in response to any event or accident, or string of events or accidents, or child labor violations?

Answer: The Department of Labor has continuously reviewed the federal child labor regulations to better protect working children while still allowing them to enjoy the positive work experiences that they can safely perform. Secretary Solis directed the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) to take steps to update the child labor regulations in agriculture after the WHD had concluded a similar rulemaking in May, 2010 for children working in nonagricultural workplaces. The Department's comprehensive proposal is based upon the enforcement experience of the WHD, recommendations made by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the desire to bring transparency to the agency's procedures for assessing child labor civil money penalties, and a desire to equalize as much as possible the agricultural and nonagricultural child labor protections. The child labor provisions for agriculture have not been updated in more than 40 years.


Translation: Nope. -- Jonah Goldberg [subscribe]

Posted by John Kranz at 2:34 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2012

If I wanted America to Fail

Here we see that Francisco d'Anconia now has a contemporary counterpart with his own YouTube channel.

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:49 PM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2012

Jon Stewart

On ThreeSources? Really?

On ThreeSources. Really. Hat-tip: Ludwig von Mises Institute on Facebook.

Posted by John Kranz at 8:28 PM | Comments (0)

April 9, 2012

Only Honest People Vote Once

This post is a mixture of "if you're not outraged you're not paying attention" and "Monday morning funnies."

Oh yeah, well, I'll bet he couldn't get away with this if he said he was Barack Obama!

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:47 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

John Fund has been on this beat for many years. He enjoyed this...

Posted by: jk at April 9, 2012 5:10 PM

April 3, 2012

The "Ford is bailout-free" meme

I've heard this both ways since the big Obama-lead union takeover of GM and Chrysler - Ford survived the big recession without a bailout, and Ford received government loans that haven't been repaid. The first point of view seems most popular, as repeated in dear dagny's 'Article of the day' today.

Ford was the only U.S. automaker to save itself without the help of a government lifeline in 2008. As Dan points out in the accompanying video, the story of Ford is perhaps the only successful non-bankruptcy restructuring seen in the U.S. over the last thirty or forty years.

Okay, I give the Mulally team serious props for turning around a huge corporation that was near junk bond status in 2006. The greatest single factor, in my opinion, was the removal of Bill Ford as CEO but that's a separate story. But even if they didn't take federal aid in 2008 their claims of bailout purity are tarnished somewhat by their DOE loans.

If DOE-guaranteed loans aren't repaid, taxpayers foot the bill, but that's not the only downside of federal-government financing of private businesses, as I've written about previously. Companies that don't tow the Administration line, that don't employ favored constituent groups, or are headed by outspoken CEOs (like Steve Wynn) would probably have their loan applications treated differently than was Ford's. And as economist John Tamny writes in his most recent column, "once an institution is the recipient of government largesse" it must serve its "political masters" who will seek "payback in the form of coerced business activity that has nothing to do with profit."
Posted by JohnGalt at 2:43 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

This proud Toyota owner is going to come down fulsomely on the side of Ford Motor Corporation.

Corporations must maximize asset value for their shareholders. In today's world, sadly, part of that is managing and exploiting government loopholes and subsidies. Getting a cherry loan to create "green jobs" is way down the list from what happened to GM and Chrysler.

We're on the hook for this loan if Ford defaults; you're on the hook for my FHA loan if I default. But Ford looks good to keep up (and I'm allright). GM, conversely, is public ownership of the means of production. And the property theft from secured GM and Chrysler bondholders is still mortifying.

I think it would be naive to expect Ford to play by libertarian rules, and yet I think you may have explained why there are not more commercials hyping the firm's chastity. It does take the wind out of that commercial.

Posted by: jk at April 4, 2012 10:25 AM

March 14, 2012

Dagny, call your office!

Wrong on so many levels.

Doing your taxes sucks. Paying someone else to do your taxes sucks, too. But you know what sucks most of all? Having the person who does your taxes go out of business (or dramatically raise prices) thanks to an IRS power grab.

Last year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) got into the business of licensing tax preparers. The IRS wasn't granted the authority to do this by Congress, they just decided to go for it. At a time when unemployment is still awfully high, 350,000 people--many of whom are self-employers or own small businesses--will be hit by rules that axe their jobs or make it more difficult and expensive to keep their calculators clacking.


The Constitutional question has, rightfully, received the most attention. But the Meta weighs heavily on me: you create a system that is too complicated for people to do themselves; then you charge the people they hire a fee for the privilege of breathing.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2012

Spring Forward, Babies!

It's boorish to whine every year, I know. I was going to let it pass. Then I saw this:

Happy Daylight Savings!

Posted by John Kranz at 1:04 PM | Comments (0)

March 6, 2012

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

At last! Help for house flippers!

The Obama administration will extend mortgage assistance for the first time to investors who bought multiple homes before the market imploded, helping some speculators who drove up prices and inflated the housing bubble.

Landlords can qualify for up to four federally-subsidized loan workouts starting around May, as long as they rent out each house or have plans to fill them, under the revamped Home Affordable Modification Program, also known as HAMP, according to Timothy Massad, the Treasury's assistant secretary for financial stability. The program pays banks to reduce monthly payments by cutting interest rates, stretching terms, and forgiving principal.


Need I comment? What could I possibly add? How about Hat-tip: Jim Geraghty [subscribe]

Posted by John Kranz at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2012

Fifth Amendment, Anybody?

Half a million in wood confiscated, no charges filed.

"nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;"

Posted by John Kranz at 2:07 PM | Comments (1)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Not from this Administration.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 23, 2012 2:53 PM

February 18, 2012

Quote of the Day

As one lunch story fizzles, another rises to take its place:

By the way, I purposely skipped over the part of the story that describes the lunch Zambrano packed for her daughter. BECAUSE IT DOESN’T FREAKING MATTER. It's not about whether chicken nuggets from a school cafeteria are more or less healthy than whatever parents choose to feed their kids. It's not about whether a homemade lunch meets a government agency’s "necessary guidelines." It's about the fact that there are "necessary guidelines" in the first place, and now they're even sending agents around to enforce them. It's about yet another busybody government bureaucracy intruding on yet another aspect of our daily lives. You're never going to see a Bureau of Leaving Everybody the Hell Alone. -- Jim Treacher @jtLol

Posted by John Kranz at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2012

Country Mouse, City Mouse

On July 21, 2011 Jefferson County Sheriff's deputies joined county animal control personnel in a warrantless raid on a private farm in Arvada, Colorado. Goverment agents were acting on an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers.

The owner, Debe Bell, 59, was charged with 55 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty after Jefferson County investigators found "deplorable conditions" at the Arvada farm. Nearly 200 animals were seized from her property at 12820 W. 75th Ave. in Arvada. The "deplorable conditions" included: Cages the animals were kept in were urine-soaked, caked in feces and had little or no food; with few exceptions they had no water; animal's fur was matted and caked in feces; 20 dead animals were found in a freezer.

After seizure the 200 animals were moved to a private animal shelter where they were cleaned, fed and watered then, adopted out to other owners. The original owner filed a legal motion to halt the adoption, which included sterilization of the confiscated breeding stock. "The court denied the motion," Mollie Thompson with the Foothill Animal Shelter said.

On January 27, 2012 a jury found Debe Bell guilty of 35 counts of animal cruelty. Sentencing is scheduled for March 20. Each misdemeanor count carries a potential sentence of up to 18 months in jail, according to the Denver Post.

According to Bell's attorney a potential fine of $1000 per count may also be assessed. The private shelter may also seek reparation for costs it incurred.

You've noticed by now I intentionally omitted the animals' breed. I did so to prevent your prejudice in this case from being affected by cute cuddly bunny rabbits. The County Court judge in Ms. Bell's case, however, had less concern over prejudice - she granted a motion by the state to prohibit defendant's council from referring to the rabbits as "livestock."

Ms. Bell and her attorney, having lost the legal battle under terms imposed by the court, appealed their case to the court of public opinion in an interview with Jon Caldera on the Mike Rosen Show Friday morning.

Among her comments:

"Rabbits are food." "Yes, I put the rabbits in my freezer. I also put in some chickens and some pork chops." "I sold rabbits to the Denver Zoo. Now they buy them from China." "Rabbit is the number one meat sold in California." "I thought I lived in America."

Also discussed (11:30) is the Crime Stoppers program and its well publicized $2000 reward for animal abuse tips.

No word yet from Colorado 4H.

I'm also including a link to the first account that I read of this story. It is on Huffington Post. The comments are, I believe, indicative of the mindset that enables our legal system to apply anthropomorphic attitudes to livestock and their producers.

UPDATE: More attentive blogs were on the case six months ago.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:43 AM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I've so little free time nowadays, but I should post a reply here, and turn it into the blog post I've in fact wanted to make for a long time.

It is an absolute necessity that animals be seen as mere property, whether it's this case, Michael Vick with dog fights, or a case in Utah some years back I'll never forget. A father went nuts and stomped a poor dog to death in front of his kids.

I often like animals more than people. Animals can't be blamed for acting out of instinct, when I detest most of humanity for not having the sense God gave them. However, either animals are property, fit to dispose of as the owner wishes (without harming others), or they aren't. There is no middle ground. Once you say, "They're the person's property, but there are conditions," then you are saying they are not truly property. Once "society" can attach conditions, then society is the true owner, and the "owner" is merely using the animals with permission.

This is precisely what happened to Bell. She wasn't harming anyone, but the state declared that she didn't meet the conditions to keep the rabbits. They could have been Greyhounds, lions or salamanders, and the principle would stay the same.

Once you say that there are limits to how a person can peacefully dispose of property, then anything goes. While specifics always differ, you are advocating the basic idea that a person's neighbors, via "elected" representatives and their armed enforcers, can order someone about. This is how the state claims the power to control phosphates in our detergent, to make us apply for permits to add onto our homes, and to forbid us to farm because some worm might be on the land.

I don't want my neighbors to rule my life, just as I have no wish to rule theirs. If I noticed someone mistreating a horse, I'd confront the person with reason, not a threat to get government involved. I'd ask why, and ask if there's something I could help with. There was a news article a while back about an old horse taken far out somewhere, tied up and left to die. I think it's a shame it wasn't put down peacefully. Horses aren't really used for glue anymore, but if the idea was to leave it for the buzzards, at least it wouldn't have suffered. It's not my right to demand the owner do that, however. If he told me to go mind my own business, so be it.

Most people, however, would never talk to the person first. They'd simply call the police first when they think an animal is being mistreated. Government has conditioned them to be both cowardly and lazy.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 12, 2012 5:25 PM

January 26, 2012

Corporations are not people!

After watching a large part of this David Stockman interview with Bill Moyers I'm about ready to adopt the dirty hippies #Occupy meme. When they villified "Wall Street" and "Greedy Corporations" I always had a mental image of Fidelity Investments and WalMart. But if I replace that with Goldman Sachs and General Electric I think we would agree on more than we differ.

This also magnifies my distrust of the GOP establishment and, by association, the Romney candidacy.

David Stockman on Crony Capitalism from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:15 AM | Comments (12)
But jk thinks:

Made it through. Clearly I'm going to have to change brother jg's password. It's one thing to hack somebody's account for personal gain, but this character assassination borders on libel.

Okay, he doesn't like Jeff Immelt -- thus 50% as reliable as a broken clock.

What what what did you like? A constitutional amendment to keep corporate money out of politics -- a $100 limit on contributions? Government dictating the size, structure, and allowed transactions of banks (my largest disagreement with Gov Huntsman)? Or did you just dig the repudiation of Reagan's economic vision?

If I may quote In Living Color's "Men on Film" segement: "hated it!"

Posted by: jk at January 26, 2012 6:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

If memory serves, I came in at about 21:30 when I switched on PBS last night. Anything before that I'll defer to a future debate.

I liked the expose of GE's bailout and how it should have been done through a dilution of shareholder value and not by a FED bailout.

I liked the assertion, "Free markets are not free. They've been bought and paid for by large financial institutions."

I liked the identification of the "entitled class" of "Wall Street financiers and corporate CEOs" who "believe the government is there to do whatever is necessary ... whatever it takes to keep the game going and their stock price moving upward."

And most of all, I appreciated Stockman's correction that "it is important to put the word crony capitalism on there, because free-market capitalism is a different thing. True free-market capitalists never go to Washington with their hand out. True free-market capitalists running a bank do not expect that whenever they make a mistake or whenever they get themselves too leveraged, or they end up with too many risky assets that don't work out, they don't expect to be able to go to the Federal Reserve and get some cheap or free money and go on as before. They expect consequences, maybe even failure of their firm. Certainly loss of their bonuses, maybe loss of their jobs. So we don't have free-market capitalism left in this country anymore, we have everyone believing that if they can hire the right lobbyists, raise enough political action committee money, spend enough time prowling the halls of the Senate and the House and the office buildings arguing for the benefit of their narrow parochial interests then that is the way things will work out. That's crony capitalism and it's very dangerous. It seems to be becoming more embedded in our system."

What's not to like with any of this? We can argue about causes and solutions, but can we agree on this particular problem?

Posted by: johngalt at January 26, 2012 7:40 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee listened to all 34 scintillating minutes and can't quite see what sent JK 'round the bend. Yes, Moyers is an insufferable nincompoop, but we knew that going in. The irony, of course, is that the far left and the fiscal right have finally found common ground in deploring crony capitalism.

The most objectionable part of Stockman's comments was his assertion that we need to change the First Amendment to deny corporations the right to lobby and give political contributions. (Why corporations should be muzzled but not unions or enviros remains a mystery.) Nevertheless, his comments against crony capitalism and in support of pure capitalism seemed to make a lot of sense.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 26, 2012 9:55 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, at least our ratings are up. I got an email from a good friend of the blog who is enjoying this argument very much.

You know, brothers, Governor Howard Dean doesn't like bailouts and crony capitalism either. I'm sure I can find a clip of his discussing it with Katrina Vanden Heuvel and Rachel Maddow. I'll post it and we'll all agree how very swell it is.

I do not trust either of these men. Both have done extreme damage to this great nation and our concept of liberty and personal achievement. Just because we all agree Jeff Immelt is a dickhead, I am not going to embrace them.

When Stockman longs for the Republican Party of his youth, he is longing for Eisenhower and Ford. Moyers, of course, never came to grips with the idea of a Democrat Party without LBJ.

"Free markets aren't really free" does sound like ThreeSources and I'm sure he'd like to sell us each a copy of his book. But when it comes from a guy who wants to dictate banks' size and business practice, propose extreme campaign finance rules, and has an, ahem, history of government expansion -- I do not accept that he is now calling for lasseiz faire.

Posted by: jk at January 27, 2012 10:47 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I must say my first reaction to this recording was one of excitement over the fact that it could lead to a bridge between left and right so wide and so strong as to absolutely overpower the entrenched crony establishment with a popular laissez-faire revolution. After a second viewing I remain hopeful, and as long as my password continues to function I will strive to advance the topic. (Yes, I know yer just joking about yanking it.)

Let me ask that we seek a point of agreement before we debate whether Stockman is the GOP antichrist or Phil Gramm precipitated TARP. I'm sure we're all on board with "crony capitalism is very dangerous" so how about, this:

When the net worth of a collection of six financial services conglomerations and their six boards of directors approaches the annual GDP of the entire United States private sector, and the members of those boards of directors have unprecedented influence throughout the depth and breadth of the federal government, our principled free-speech rules may no longer be sufficient for preventing this "entitled class" from manipulating the government for their own narrow interests to the detriment of individual liberty and property, particularly in a mixed economic system with fiat currency.

In my youth, "Ma Bell" was deemed "too big" and was broken up. Today, "Wall Street" is deemed "too big to fail" and is instead propped up - by devaluing the net worth of every dollar-denominated individual. Cui bono?

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2012 12:44 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

While The Bad Guys and Three Sourcers can agree that crony capitalism is bad, our reasons for believing so are very different. The Bad Guys view capitalism, in toto, as undesireable. Thus, anything that props it up in any form is a bad thing. Three Sourcers, on the other hand, view crony capitalism as a misuse of taxpayer funds, misallocation of resources and questionable ethics. Because The Bad Guys believe that all things good emanate from the government, when crony capitalism falls capitalism will fall with it. Three Sourcers believe the opposite, and that a lack of crony capitalism will lead to better allocation of resources and therefore economic expansion. Thus, we are willing to accept this deal with The Bad Guys (all other things being equal).

We don't have to embrace them, we just have to outmaneuver them.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 27, 2012 12:46 PM

January 24, 2012

SOTUPlatitudes

That's the working name for my new drinking game and boy, am I hammered.

Thanks to the boys at Real Clear Politics here are the transcripts:

Full Text of Obama's Speech

Daniels: State of Union Is Grave

No feature of the Obama presidency has been sadder than its constant efforts to divide us, to curry favor with some Americans by castigating others.

As in previous moments of national danger, we Americans are all in the same boat. If we drift, quarreling and paralyzed, over a Niagara of debt, we will all suffer, regardless of income, race, gender, or other category. If we fail to shift to a pro-jobs, pro- growth economic policy, there'll never be enough public revenue to pay for our safety net, national security, or whatever size government we decide to have.

As a loyal opposition, who put patriotism and national success ahead of party or ideology or any self-interest, we say that anyone who will join us in the cause of growth and solvency is our ally, and our friend. We will speak the language of unity. Let us rebuild our finances, and the safety net, and reopen the door to the stairway upward; any other disagreements we may have can wait.

The speech itself was excellent, and the delivery by Indiana's Governor Daniels had the added benefit of making Mitt Romney sound, by comparison, like a dynamo.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:42 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2012

Rick!

Not Santorum -- Santelli!












Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 3:47 PM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2012

THANKS BROTHERS!

My October surprise just arrived early. I am getting yet another appraisal-free, closing costs paid by you refinance from the FHA.

You taxpayer dudes are so swell. I hope you know how deeply I appreciate it.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:54 PM | Comments (9)
But dagny thinks:

If jk is gloating AGAIN, does that mean I get to complain AGAIN about the other side of the coin? Those of us who choose not to live in FHA shaped boxes STILL cannot get a thirty year fixed rate mortgage at today's rates!!!

Posted by: dagny at January 18, 2012 11:52 AM
But jk thinks:

Abso-tively, dagny! Even I am disgusted. My 15-fixed will go from 4.25 to 3.65. That's nice for me but totally lame. "President Goldman Sachs" can shovel money to bankers with this, but Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? This won't help the real estate sector or seriously impact anybody's chances of keeping up with their mortgage. I guess I'll stimulate the economy with my extra $50. The last one was philosophically stupid but had practical value.

New Year, let's get the ThreeSources beer bash put together in earnest (Scotch for Atkins-boy). The first two rounds are on me.

Posted by: jk at January 18, 2012 12:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Found it! It was April 8, 2011 My first payment was in June.

I think it is a reward for being the only FHA mortgage holder to actually make six straight payments.

Posted by: jk at January 18, 2012 8:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Did the "just sign here for your pre-approved unsolicited instant refi" documentation have the president's photo on it? A pre-addressed thank-you postcard to the DNC? A "Democrat and Proud" ID card with protective vinyl sleeve and neck lanyard along with a lucite holder for your 2012 ballot card pre-marked for the Democrat slate of candidates?

I really liked it better when politicians at least pretended they weren't breaking multiple laws.

Posted by: johngalt at January 18, 2012 11:39 PM
But jk thinks:

Actually, I had to pry it out of them both times. They like to present it as a gift from Quicken loans. I say "this is some government thing" and they mumble something about FHA -- I never got the actual name of the program.

So you can at least hope its primary purpose of reelecting the President is ineffectual.

Posted by: jk at January 19, 2012 9:08 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Whew - that was close. My faith in good governance is restored.*/sarcasm*

Posted by: johngalt at January 19, 2012 2:16 PM

January 12, 2012

Nanny Bloomberg -- On Your Dime

Blog friend Terri has an awesome scoop today. With all the, deserved, strum and drang about Mayor Bloomberg's pitiful liquor store reduction fiasco, most missed the worst part:

The big story should not have been the nannystatishness of such a statement. (since retracted with all the Drudge outrage)

The big story should have been his use of a "Community Transformation" grant funded by your health care tax dollar through Obamacare to pay for all of this.

Yes -- that would have been ok had people not protested the ridiculousness of the proposal.
Your tax dollars to pay for fewer jobs in NYC, fewer business establishments in NYC, and fewer opportunities to imbibe in said city.

UPDATE: And scroll down for a great Gov. Christie vid!

UPDATE II: Wow. Really. Watch the Christie video. It is13:18 but worth every second.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2011

Review Corner

I have put this particular Review Corner off because I wished to do a serious post. Yet, Professor Reynolds serves up a sweet segue today, linking to How the Government Has Caused America's Obesity Problem.

The book, of course, is the oft Reynolds recommended Good Calories Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. And the surprise is that it is really not a diet book. In fact, I was forced to pony up another thirteen bucks for an actual diet book to follow Taubes's precepts.

Good Calories, Bad Calories is an epistemology book. He examines data from more than a century of dietary research. At the risk over over-synopsizing 500 pages, he suggests that the accepted wisdom is built on unproven concepts and weak data, while dispositive results are thoughtlessly discarded. The fundamental bedrock principle of "eat fewer calories and exercise more" to lose weight is (my words) a bunch of hooey.

We've broached the idea of bad government programs on these pages, and I like to reference "The Four Food Groups" and "The Food Pyramid" when my interlocutor suggests government involvement in our private lives to be a good thing. But Taubes documents the medical community's misfeasance and government's malfeasance in propagating these bad ideas. Of course, it continues to this day in FLOTUS's "MyPlate.gov" which I understand is being quietly withdrawn.

Epistemologically (a great MadLibs® adverb), I cannot help but draw a parallel to climate change. You start a logical assertion: "more CO2 in the atmosphere will retain more heat" or "calories ingested must be less than calories expended." Both statements are demonstrably true -- and yet, both operate in the context of a sophisticated, un-modelable, incomprehensibly complex and chaotic system. Neither the Earth nor your body is designed for ceteris paribus. The Earth can raise clouds and you can moderate your metabolism or digestion.

Yet the science is very much settled in both fields. The core principles are never truly proven but are accepted. Then a body of work investigates ancillary principles with scientific rigor. It's as if we accept that the moon is made of cheese, then commission elaborate measurement of cheese viscosity and density to complete our understanding.

Before the hate mail comes: of course both could be correct. Global warming might be real and low-fat diets and exercise plans might be effective weight loss in some group of people. But both should be evaluated by scientists who exhibit a bit of skepticism.

Five stars for what it is. He has a follow up, "Why We Get Fat," which is shorter and has more practical advice. But the comprehensiveness and serious of Good Calories, Bad Calories is a great read.

[Personal note: I lost 70 pounds and never felt better when I was on Atkins several years ago. I convinced myself that it would be difficult now but have reconsidered. Cliché though it may be, the new year will bring my triumphant return. I will start "induction" Jan 3, so that I might enjoy beer for the NHL Winter Classic on the 2nd.]

Posted by John Kranz at 4:42 PM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2011

The King of the Blues vs the TSA

Spoiler alert: the TSA wins. Here's the end to a superb interview with the great guitarist Elvin Bishop:

On the way to see B.B., I was at the Oakland airport going through security, and I had a jar of jam -- see, I make home made jam and I raise a big garden and can vegetables and stuff -- and B.B. loves my jam, so I was bringing him some. I forgot all the new rules and I had it in my carry on. So there was a black guy named Elvin there. He took the jam out and says "Is this home made jam?" I said, "Well, yeah." He says, "It looks delicious, is it any good?" I said "They tell me it’s pretty tasty." He said "That’s great, but you can't carry it through." He stuck it under his table here on a shelf. He didn't toss it into the trash, you know. I tried to cop a plea. I said, "Oh please, that's for B.B. King. Can't you make an exception in this one case?" He looks at me, thinking for a minute and says "Well, you tell B.B. King that the thrill is gone, and so is his jam." (Laughing)

Posted by John Kranz at 4:07 PM | Comments (2)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Guess Mr. Bishop will think twice before the next time he's gotta put on his travelin' shoes.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 27, 2011 4:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And there's yer reason why I didn't comment on this post: Waay not clever enough.

Posted by: johngalt at December 28, 2011 2:26 PM

December 20, 2011

One Handed Economist Watch

As a lover of liberty and free markets, I join the WSJ Ed Page in disapprobation for the scuttled ATT - T-Mobile merger. Fatal Conceit writ large:

AT&T and Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile USA announced a tie-up in March because the former needed spectrum to serve its customers better, and the latter was faltering and wanted out of the U.S. market. AT&T customers would benefit from faster service, and T-Mobile shareholders would get a fat premium that other potential buyers weren't willing to pay. Union workers would benefit from more jobs as AT&T built out its 4G network. AT&T even agreed to hand over $3 billion in cash and spectrum rights with a book value of $1 billion to the Germans if the deal fell through.

Enter the Justice Department, which sued in August to block the deal on antitrust concerns, a move later seconded by the Federal Communications Commission. The regulators claimed the merger would crimp competition, based on ancient market-share models like the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index.


On the other hand, as a television viewer, if this means six more months of Carly Foulkes ads, I am willing to abandon my ideals.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:23 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

I've been a T-Mobile customer since 1997 when they were little ol' Voicestream. Good service at the best price has kept me a loyal fan. I was leery of the AT&T merger for reasons of quality, not economy. Some say the $4B payoff from AT&T was a stroke of genius by T-Mobile that could even lead to AT&T's demise. (see comments) But yes, "Justice" Department, FCC - politics and ideology trump economics - jackwagons.

Posted by: johngalt at December 20, 2011 2:48 PM
But jk thinks:

I was on T-Mobile for many years and miss my old rate. Sadly, I do not get T-Mobile service at le condo d'amour and switched to AT&T. I have been happy but pay quite a bit more.

Posted by: jk at December 20, 2011 3:33 PM

November 9, 2011

Christmas Tree Tax

I think the folks at Heritage swing and miss on this superb article. Yeah, it's Obama's Ag Dept (all Humphries Executor v. United States and all), and it is not my job to defend the President's keen stances on personal liberty and the free market, but...

I think it is a perfect story to highlight libertarian principles. And the blame of President Obama makes it less useful -- though I still hurled the message below at my Facebook friends this morning. The sheer absurdity of taxing Christmas trees to promote Christmas trees is even more enjoyable than a whack at the President.

Dear Agriculture Dept:

Maybe the government could write songs about Christmas Trees to promote them. Just a thought. Whatever happens, I am glad to see you guys taking this important project on.

"President Obama's Agriculture Department today announced that it will impose a new 15-cent charge on all fresh Christmas trees--the Christmas Tree Tax--to support a new Federal program to improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees."


Posted by John Kranz at 11:15 AM | Comments (2)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I caught this article on the subject:

http://spectator.org/blog/2011/11/09/all-checkoff-taxes-are-dumb-ch

Assuming it's true, and the fresh Christmas tree industry is losing market share to the artificial Christmas tree industry - then what legitimate bid'ness does government have in favoring one segment of the market over (and at the expense of) another? It's not like there's some law preventing the fresh tree industry from paying for its own advertising campaign, is there?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 9, 2011 11:59 AM
But jk thinks:

Sure enjoyed my Blu-Ray copy of Atlas Shrugged Part 1 last night. Keith, did you say something?

Posted by: jk at November 9, 2011 12:08 PM

October 26, 2011

Quote of the Day

"Gov. Dan Malloy has declared Thursday 'Diaper Need Awareness Day' as part of a campaign by The Nutmeg State to pressure Washington into providing free diapers to low-income families." Rep. Rosa DeLauro, like Malloy a Connecticut Democrat, is pushing legislation that "would allow Uncle Sam to . . . provide funding for diapers and diaper supplies."

Maybe Obama should take it one step further and ask Congress to create a new cabinet-level Department of Infant Care to provide free diapers to all Americans. (Would that include the elderly? Depends.) -- Taranto

Posted by John Kranz at 6:02 PM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2011

Not Getting It

How much longer do we have to endure government economic estimates based on static analysis of tax rate changes?

In November the mail-in ballot votes will be tallied to decide whether Colorado will lose 7,400 to 11,600 private sector jobs [you know, the ones that pay their own way and don't require a new tax every year to keep them going?] The culprit is Colorado's Proposition 103, a five-year plan to hike three different state taxes on individuals and businesses, conceived and placed on the ballot almost single handedly by Senator Rollie Heath (D-Boulder) and his personal fortune.

Voters will decide between the projected outcome voiced by one Senator Mary Hodge (D-Brighton) who said "she’s optimistic that state finances will not take a turn for the worse," or that of Barry W. Poulson, Senior Fellow in Fiscal Policy and Professor of Economics (retired), University of Colorado, Boulder and John D. Merrifield, Professor of Economics, University of Texas whose analysis resulted in the job loss estimate in the lede. To understand the magnitude of the job loss you can read the paper or just watch this video from a Jon Caldera press conference that, somehow, I haven't seen reported by Denver's Fox 31.

By the way, there weren't enough dominoes to have one for every job lost. Each domino represents TWO jobs.

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:47 AM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Awesome!

For our out-of-state friends, this is about the only thing on the ballot most places. It should be very low turnout. And the Fox affiliate Brother jg torques me with runs a commercial every four minutes about "our children try so hard, but some have a four-day week, some have to pay to ride the bus, and our state is 49th in higher-education spending."

Colorado has been good in the past at rejecting these things but I think the polity is changing for the worse and fear this will pass.

Posted by: jk at October 22, 2011 11:50 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes and, setting the statistics straight, while spending may or may not be 49th as a fraction of the state's economy or some other measure it is 30th per capita.

Furthermore, educational results are not directly proportional to spending. For example, more spending on teachers and less on adminstrators would be helpful. American schools have on the order of one administrator per 3 teachers, while those in other, more successful, western nations are closer to one per 20 teachers. And there are domestic differences as well. For our below-average investmentColorado's SAT scores rank 15th in the nation.

Posted by: johngalt at October 22, 2011 2:06 PM
But jk thinks:

A friend had a bumper sicker: Colorado, 49th in education spending. I told him he should have his kids educated in Newark or Washington DC.

Posted by: jk at October 22, 2011 2:28 PM

Now They've P***ed Off Charlie Daniels!

Gibson Raided, Tea Partiers and Charlie Daniels hardest hit.

Daniels, 74, who plays a Gibson guitar as well as his trademark fiddle, calls the raid a form of harassment that may hurt the company and its workers. Gibson has about 1,200 U.S. employees, including more than 500 at the Nashville factory that was raided.

"These people are about to destroy some jobs in Tennessee," Daniels, whose hits include "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," said in an interview. "The federal government is spending too much time for stupid things like raiding a little guitar company."


A Taylor rep displays a disturbing lack of solidarity. Hrmmm, I have a few Taylors, probably no more. On the good side, Reps. Marsha Blackburn, Jim Cooper and Mary Bono Mack -- who says there's no bipartisanship? -- have crafted legislation to protect instrument owners,

Posted by John Kranz at 9:37 AM | Comments (3)
But mickeywhite thinks:

Marsha Blackburn Voted FOR:
Omnibus Appropriations, Special Education, Global AIDS Initiative, Job Training, Unemployment Benefits, Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations, Agriculture Appropriations, FY2004 Foreign Operations Appropriations, U.S.-Singapore Trade, U.S.-Chile Trade, Supplemental Spending for Iraq & Afghanistan, Flood Insurance Reauthorization , Prescription Drug Benefit, Child Nutrition Programs, Surface Transportation, Job Training and Worker Services, Agriculture Appropriations, Foreign Aid, Debt Limit Increase, Fiscal 2005 Omnibus Appropriations, Vocational/Technical Training, Supplemental Appropriations, UN “Reforms.” Patriot Act Reauthorization, CAFTA, Katrina Hurricane-relief Appropriations, Head Start Funding, Line-item Rescission, Oman Trade Agreement, Military Tribunals, Electronic Surveillance, Head Start Funding, COPS Funding, Funding the REAL ID Act (National ID), Foreign Intelligence Surveillance, Thought Crimes “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, Peru Free Trade Agreement, Economic Stimulus, Farm Bill (Veto Override), Warrantless Searches, Employee Verification Program, Body Imaging Screening, Patriot Act extension., Supplemental Appropriations, Patriot Act Extension.

Marsha Blackburn Voted AGAINST:
Ban on UN Contributions, eliminate Millennium Challenge Account, WTO Withdrawal, UN Dues Decrease, Defunding the NAIS, Iran Military Operations defunding Iraq Troop Withdrawal, congress authorization of Iran Military Operations, Withdrawing U.S. Soldiers from Afghanistan, Libya Troop Withdrawal.

Marsha Blackburn is my Congressman.
See her “blatantly unconstitutional” votes at :
http://mickeywhite.blogspot.com/2009/09/tn-congressman-marsha-blackburn-votes.html
Mickey

Posted by: mickeywhite at October 22, 2011 7:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Mickey, Will there be a TEA Party challenger to Rep. Blackburn in the primary? With a record like the one you listed it would be almost scandalous if there weren't.

Posted by: johngalt at October 22, 2011 10:58 PM
But jk thinks:

We've had this conversation before, Sir (not that I mind having it again -- we do that around here).

The short version is that she was a President-Bush-gop-team-player. I'll grant you that the cause of liberty was not well served by that period of one party rule, but I cannot say that disqualifies her from office. She's a frequent Kudlow guest and I would rank her highly for her present support of liberty and ability to articulate its principles.

Primary my ass, we've got much better battles that to try and replace a B- Congresswoman with a B+.

Posted by: jk at October 23, 2011 11:41 AM

September 1, 2011

Free Speech

There's been a lot of talk radio chatter this week about a Colorado man who was arrested for soliciting a prostitute in Denver but subsequently had all charges against him dismissed. My judgement of the matter is that the man did intend to solicit but, upon detecting that the young lady he was conversing with was a police officer, spit the hook. But the issue that caught my attention was when the man's attorney recited the legal statute under which his client was charged. C.R.S. 18-7-207

Any person who by word, gesture, or action endeavors to further the practice of prostitution in any public place or within public view commits a class 1 petty offense.

So the list of speech which is no longer free, under threat of criminal penalty, must be amended:

- Yelling fire in a crowded theater.
- Making physical threats against the president.
- Discussing sex and money at the same time.

This petty offense statute is bad enough on its own, but thanks to the Colorado legislature we now have a new $5,000 to $10,000 fine that can be imposed so that, as then Colorado Senate President Brandon Schaffer said, "a major goal of his bill is to increase fines so that cash-strapped municipal police forces have an incentive to go after johns and send them to treatment."

Apparently his intent has been met.

UPDATE: The Legislative Declaration tells us why this unconstitutional measure is neccessary in our state.

(3) Now, therefore, the general assembly hereby declares that legislative action is required to address the scourge of human trafficking and prostitution in the state of Colorado, which action should include:

(a) Authorizing one or more municipal courts to create and administer a program for certain persons who are charged with certain prostitution-related offenses, with the purpose of reducing recidivism; and

(b) Significantly increasing the fines associated with certain statutory prostitution-related offenses.

To "address" human trafficking crimes a new government treatment regime has been instituted and a large new fine created to pay for it, said fine to be levied against offenders of certain "prostitution-related" offenses. Even, it appears, if those offenders only talk about trading something of value for sex. The statute is young and has yet to be tested in a case of college date-night. The phrase, "Aren't you at least going to buy me dinner first?" may become a criminally risky utterance.

This strategy mimmicks that used in the decades-old "war on drugs" and promises to be just as effective, or not. But getting back to that treatment program and recidivism: Over a twelve-year history a similar "John School" cut the recidivism rate nearly in half - from 8 percent to "less than 5 percent." Gosh, it's almost an epidemic!

Just for fun - I found this handy reference guide to prostitution laws in all fifty states on Dating-dot-com. "Because dating should be fun!"

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:07 PM | Comments (0)

George Orwell, Call Your Office!

Don't bother, all circuits are engaged.

Russ Roberts at Cafe Hayek has found: it's not "government." It's more your "Federal Family." He quotes the Palm Beach Post:

In a Category 4 torrent of official communications during the approach and aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has repeatedly used the phrase "federal family" when describing the Obama administration’s response to the storm.

The Obama administration didn't invent the phrase but has taken it to new heights.

"Under the direction of President Obama and Secretary Janet Napolitano, the entire federal family is leaning forward to support our state, tribal and territorial partners along the East Coast," a FEMA news release declared Friday as Irene churned toward landfall.


In other news, Mom does not want your eating Cheerios or Peanut Butter.

UPDATE: Heh.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:47 PM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2011

Shutting Down Gibson

I made jokes about this yesterday, but it is not funny. The Gibson guitar factory has been raided, wood impounded, and they have been told that shipping product will be considered "obstruction of justice."

A lengthy video with the CEO is chilling (sorry I cannot embed). But it is one more business guy who hired 500 people last two years shut down this time because the US Fish and Wildlife service is enforcing Indian trade law. The government still holds wood impounded in a 2009 raid even though there have been no charges (at least Eliot Spitzer would have you on TV).

Unbelievable.

(I just ordered the Flood Anniversary Les Paul -- gotta get 'em while you can...)

UPDATE: Nor should I have laughed at possible personal implications. The WSJ has a nice follow up:

It isn't just Gibson that is sweating. Musicians who play vintage guitars and other instruments made of environmentally protected materials are worried the authorities may be coming for them next.

If you are the lucky owner of a 1920s Martin guitar, it may well be made, in part, of Brazilian rosewood. Cross an international border with an instrument made of that now-restricted wood, and you better have correct and complete documentation proving the age of the instrument. Otherwise, you could lose it to a zealous customs agent--not to mention face fines and prosecution.

John Thomas, a law professor at Quinnipiac University and a blues and ragtime guitarist, says "there's a lot of anxiety, and it's well justified." Once upon a time, he would have taken one of his vintage guitars on his travels. Now, "I don't go out of the country with a wooden guitar."


UPDATE II: A press release: "The Justice department bullies Gibson without filing charges"

Posted by John Kranz at 11:02 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

So I was right after all.

I'm trying to think of a silver lining: If this makes some large fraction of hippie guitar players realize that environmental law is not always, automatically, an unalloyed good it could be worth the infringment of liberty.

Posted by: johngalt at August 26, 2011 3:57 PM
But jk thinks:

I daresay you are awfully quick to associate hippies and guitar players...

I feel for the company but it strikes me that this happens a thousand times a day: some poor guy trying to make and sell x gets in a no-win with a bureaucrat. Because it is Gibson, some folks will pay attention.

Whether they connect the dots to liberty or regulation, we'll see. But, yup, it's a really good story.

And I really did order the guitar. I almost bought it yesterday, but it makes zero sense for where I am or what I am doing. After sleeping on the matter, I saw it again. And I had to click. Love is a funny thing that way.

Posted by: jk at August 26, 2011 4:17 PM

August 25, 2011

From My Cold Dead Hands!

This is almost funny even though it appears to be real.

Federal agents are in the process of raiding the offices of the Nashville-based Gibson Guitar Corporation.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents began executing search warrant this morning on guitar factories and corporate headquarters in Nashville and Memphis, according to Nicholas Chavez, special agent in charge with the Fish and Wildlife.

Chavez said the raid included both the corporate headquarters on Park Plus Boulevard and a factory on Elm Hill Pike.


A raid by the US Fish and Wildlife Service -- do they have green Kevlar vests?

Hat-tip: Ed Driscoll via Insty, both of whom have the temerity to suggest that this might scare the next entrepreneur from starting a business in the US -- or at all.

From my cold, dead hands, Mr. President. From my cold, dead, hands.


UPDATE: "The Flood Anniversary" Les Paul: that's purdy!

Posted by John Kranz at 10:21 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

When rosewood is outlawed only outlaws will have rosewood.

Posted by: johngalt at August 25, 2011 2:17 PM
But jk thinks:

That's regulated pretty closely. For a full-on raid I was thinking of the bone nuts and saddlepieces. The best ones are made of Iraqi children...

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2011 3:14 PM

August 10, 2011

A TEA Party for Britain?

JK linked an excellent article on the UK "riots" [scare-quoted since they're more accurately characterized as looting sprees] that revealed the failures of government as protector of property and liberty. But one expects a Libertarian to recognize these realities. What is remarkable is when a self-proclaimed "left-winger" does so. Brendan O'Neill blogs from Great Britain:

This is not a political rebellion; it is a mollycoddled mob, a riotous expression of carelessness for one's own community. And as a left-winger, I refuse to celebrate nihilistic behaviour that has a profoundly negative impact on working people's lives. Far from being an instance of working-class action, the welfare-state mob has more in common with what Marx described as the lumpenproletariat. Indeed, it is worth recalling Marx’s colourful description in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon of how that French ruler cynically built his power base amongst parts of the bourgeoisie and sections of the lumpenproletariat, so that 'ruined and adventurous offshoots of the bourgeoisie rubbed shoulders with vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds, swindlers, pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, brothel-keepers, organ-grinders, ragpickers, knife-grinders, tinkers, beggars... and from this kindred element Boneparte formed the core of his [constituency], where all its members felt the need to benefit themselves at the expense of the labouring nation.' In very different circumstances, we have something similar today -- when the decadent commentariat's siding with lumpen rioters represents a weird coming together of sections of the bourgeoisie with sections of the underworked and the over-flattered, as the rest of us, 'the labouring nation', look on with disdain.

This fraction of English society, 'the laboring nation' as O'Neill applies Marx' term, is what I would call the analog to America's TEA Party. Those Americans are fed up with being taxed to support a free ride in food, lodging, healthcare and pensions in our Euro-style welfare state, and in the wake of the latest wave of English hooliganism a comparable share of Britons are fed up when the lumpenproletariat that their taxes support roll through town and "shit on their own doorstep."

Atlas is shrugging on both sides of the pond.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:25 PM | Comments (1)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

If you look up "lumpenproletariat" in the dictionary, there is a second meaning: "British soccer fan."

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 10, 2011 4:41 PM

July 21, 2011

Gangster Government

Shall we play, duelling pretty-smart folk? While the WSJ Ed page can find some nuggets to praise in the Gang-of-Six plan outline, the pretty-smart people at Investors Business Daily's Ed page see worse and worser.

And what details it does contain show that the gang has employed some of the most egregious budget tricks available to make the spending cuts look bigger and tax hikes smaller than they actually are.

The best example of this is the plan's tax proposal, which alternately boasts that it cuts taxes by $1.5 trillion and raises them by $1 trillion, but which more likely will result in taxes going up by more than $3 trillion.

And then there are the spending "cuts."

Plus, most plans take current spending levels as a given, and make "cuts" off this hugely inflated base, ignoring the fact that federal spending has rocketed upward by an astonishing 24% in just the past three years.

A credible plan would bring spending as a share of the economy back to prerecession levels. That would mean a spending cut in the neighborhood of $450 billion next year.

And the close:

The fact that more and more lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are willing to sign onto the phony Gang of Six plan, and that Obama would lend it his effusive praise, is a testament to why the country is in such deep fiscal trouble.

UPDATE: Washington Examiner Ed page - Gang of Six Plan is More Smoke and Mirrors

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:54 PM | Comments (0)

July 14, 2011

Social Security's Magical Unicorn Guarantee

I must admit that my darling baby sister recognized this one before I did. Now I've found a nice writeup on it in IBD Editorials:

Wait! What happened to Social Security's "guarantee"? You know, the iron-clad assurance of Social Security benefits in exchange for paying into the program your whole working life? It's something Democrats constantly talk about, particularly when attacking Republicans who propose privatizing the program.

As Nancy Pelosi once put it: "Social Security has never failed to pay promised benefits, and Democrats will fight to make sure that Republicans do not turn a guaranteed benefit into a guaranteed gamble."

The AFL-CIO warned in 2005 about "President Bush's plan to replace Social Security's guaranteed benefits with risky private accounts." The AARP describes Social Security as "the guaranteed part of your retirement plan." Etc., etc.

Turns out, this "guarantee" is a lie.

And the close...

Whatever happens, the fact remains that Obama has accidentally made a pretty good case for Social Security reform by revealing the program for what it really is.
Posted by JohnGalt at 3:26 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Debt deal or not, they can always just pull some money out of the lockbox, right?

Posted by: jk at July 14, 2011 3:55 PM
But jk thinks:

Dang, beaten to the punch on my lock box joke: Insty

Posted by: jk at July 14, 2011 3:58 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Carnak says:

(1) Your check is in the mail.
(2) The cake.
(3) Social Security Trust Fund.

"Name three things that are a lie..."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at July 14, 2011 6:01 PM
But jk thinks:

May a thousand unfunded liabilities infect your camel...

Posted by: jk at July 14, 2011 6:17 PM

July 6, 2011

"Go Green" for World Government

Colorado's GOP candidate for governor last year was ridiculed for suggesting that the UN had designs on World Government. Now a new UN report admits it.

The press release for the report [calling for a "technological overhaul" "on the scale of the first industrial revolution" to reach a "goal of full decarbonization of the global energy system by 2050"] discusses the need "to achieve a decent living standard for people in developing countries, especially the 1.4 billion still living in extreme poverty, and the additional 2 billion people expected worldwide by 2050." That sounds more like global redistribution of wealth than worrying about the earth’s thermostat.

The entire article is a series of jaw-dropping objectives from Turtle Bay. It's worth a click.

If the Obama Administration is liberty's Imperial Cruiser, the United Nations is its Death Star.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:43 PM | Comments (0)

July 4, 2011

Dirty Hippies run the FDA

Last week JK wrote about the FDA's anti-prosperity ruling on the clinical use of Avastin to treat breast cancer. Two days later, American Spectator's Robert M. Goldberg wrote in FDA Decision Dooms Cancer Patients some background on the individuals at FDA who were responsible.

Goozner -- who has no medical background -- was appointed to an FDA advisory committee on pharmaceutical science. Two senior Public Citizen operatives, Peter Lurie and Larry Sasich, now set policy for the FDA. Fran Visco, the head of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, applauded the FDA decision after lobbying for it over the past year. Visco, a Democrat, is also on Experts Advisory Panel for the Universal Health Insurance Program at the New America Foundation, a left-wing think tank supporting Obamacare. The NBBC also supported the administration's decision not to cover mammograms for women under 50 though many breast cancers grow faster and earlier in African-American women.

Goldberg goes on to predict that Medicare and some other health plans will try to stop paying for Avastin, but he also makes this prediction:

To these groups, the FDA decision was a triumph. But their effort to manipulate the FDA will backfire. The EMA and every major group of cancer providers support Avastin's use. Cancer patients moblilized spontaneously to keep Avastin's label. They will take on the anti-innovation establishment and the FDA with greater intensity and vigor.

Related: Medicare Won't Drop Avastin for Breast Cancer

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:55 AM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2011

USDA - Repeal it or Rename it

Victor Davis Hanson, descendent from farmers himself, argues for "plowing under" the Agriculture Department.

The Department of Agriculture no longer serves as a lifeline to millions of struggling homestead farmers. Instead it is a vast, self-perpetuating, postmodern bureaucracy with an amorphous budget of some $130 billion -- a sum far greater than the nation's net farm income this year.

In fact, the more the Agriculture Department has pontificated about family farmers, the more they have vanished -- comprising now only about 1% of the American population.

(...)

Originally, the food stamp program focused on the noble aim of supplementing the income of only the very poor and the disabled. But now eligibility is such that some members of the middle class find a way to manipulate such grants. In fact, 2011 could be another sort of record year for the Agriculture Department, as it may achieve an all-time high in subsidizing 47 million Americans on food stamps -- nearly one-sixth of the country.

(...)

In these days of record federal deficits and unsustainable national debt, it is long past time to eliminate the department -- or least rename it "The Department of Food Subsidies."


Posted by JohnGalt at 2:52 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Oh man, we'll all starve! Now this site is not only pro-slavery, but anti-food!

I actually did see this and that first paragraph has been burning in my head for a while. Do we truly spend more an agriculture department than the nation's farm income? I think even some lefty friends of mine would be disturbed by that.

Posted by: jk at June 27, 2011 3:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I had to include that sentence for its shock value, at least. I think it's quite possible given the $70 Ba-Ba-Billion spent annually on the food stamp program. [Hey, let's stop subsidizing Big TV-Dinner!]

And 46 Ma-Million Americans receive food stamps?

Posted by: johngalt at June 27, 2011 6:28 PM

A "balanced approach" to the deficit problem

Senator Jon Kyl went on Fox News Sunday yesterday to explain why he withdrew from deficit reduction negotiations over the President's conditional requirement that government revenues be raised as part of a "balanced" solution. "But isn't one dollar of new taxes for every three dollars of spending cuts a fair deal" asked Chris Wallace?

But you don't want to pile taxes on at a time when companies don't have the ability to invest and hire people. That's the primary reason we are opposed to raising taxes right now.

Treasury Secretary Geithner explains the real reason for insisting on tax hikes.

"If you don't touch revenues," Geithner said, "you have to shrink the overall size of government programs, things like education, to levels that we could not accept as a country."

What do you mean "we" Kemosabe? Investor's Business Daily opines:

Some factions just won't accept shrinking the size of government. Most in them run in the same tight circles as Geithner. Never hearing anything other than support for increasing the size of government, they assume that's what Americans want.

But quite a few Americans have been wanting to cut government for decades, and that number is growing as the almost intractable problems created by overspending have become more obvious.

From Social Security and Medicare to housing assistance and farm subsidies to, yes, even education, federal programs need to shrink or be eliminated. There's not a single item in the budget, including defense, that can't use some judicious trimming.

No Tim, America's economy has shrunk. Americans' net worth has shrunk. It's well past time for America's government to shrink.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:28 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2011

Almost as if Central Planning Were Flawed...

John Goodman at Health Affairs Blog (his picture does not look like the beloved comedic actor who plays Walter in "The Big Lebowski") has some bad news and some bad news about the epidemic of drug shortages.

First the bad news:

  • Doctors at the Johns Hopkins cancer center are rationing cytarabine, a drug used to treat leukemia and lymphoma. They are literally deciding who will live and who will die.
  • About 90 percent of all the anesthesiologists in the country report they are experiencing a shortage of at least one anesthetic
  • Currently, there are about 246 drugs that are in short supply and as the chart shows, the number has been growing for some time.
  • Hospitals are scrambling to make up the shortfall, in some cases rationing medications, postponing surgeries and using alternative drugs.

What's the problem? Supply-chain? We can fix that. Shortages in transportation or labor? That can be fixed. The FDA? Oh crap. And that's the bad news:
The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been stepping up its quality enforcement efforts -- levying fines and forcing manufacturers to retool their facilities both here and abroad. Not only has this more rigorous regulatory oversight slowed down production, the FDA's "zero tolerance" regime is forcing manufacturers to abide by rules that are rigid, inflexible and unforgiving. For example, a drug manufacturer must get approval for how much of a drug it plans to produce, as well as the timeframe. If a shortage develops (because, say, the FDA shuts down a competitor's plant), a drug manufacturer cannot increase its output of that drug without another round of approvals. Nor can it alter its timetable production (producing a shortage drug earlier than planned) without FDA approval.

Emphasis added, which I rarely do, but the emphasized statement is utterly gobsmacking.

Why doesn't the Administration simply outlaw shortages?

Posted by John Kranz at 3:30 PM | Comments (9)
But johngalt thinks:

First of all, Senator McCain is not a candidate so we're that much further ahead.

Secondly, the next GOP president, whoever and whenever, will only be as good as the constituents demand. Like the public outcry that derailed immigration amnesty (and should have stopped Obamacare) an engaged electorate will help shape the administration's policy. (And so will the make up of Congress but that's another story.)

Thirdly, I heard every person on that stage talk about cutting spending, cutting regulations, reducing tax rates and empowering the free market. They did so in both general and specific terms.

Jeepers brothers, whaddaya want?

Okay, I cringed at the obligatory "marriage is between a man and a woman" and "I support life, at birth and at death" posturing. Repeat after me: The world is not Three Sources. But I would trust any of those candidates in Manchester last night to follow through on their economic promises. Call me a rube if you must, but I will support any of those candidates - even Santorum - in a general election.

I submit that our perspective has changed so much that we don't really perceive the radical evolution reflected by some of the statements made last night. Just try to imagine candidate John McCain saying in 2000, "the EPA should be called the job killing organization of America." And compare our choices today to the GOP hopefuls of 2000: Bush, McCain and Alan Keyes. Criminey, it's a veritable THANKSGIVING FEAST this time!

That's all for now. We're all in this together. Keep your stick on the ice.

Posted by: johngalt at June 15, 2011 2:53 AM
But jk thinks:

You have to come down to Thanksgiving with my lovely bride's family next year. I don't think you guys are doing it right.

The change in tone is appreciated: good point. And I'm tougher to please in 2012, I'll concede that. Mainstream GOPism used to work for me: hold the sign, wave the flag, denounce the Democrat.

As for a quality differential, I am not certain that I am onboard. You left out John Kasich and Dan Quayle (and Ambassador Keyes had not really gone completely nuts yet). I was missing Phil Gramm in 2000, but thought at the time that that was a great field. Then Governor Bush campaigned on modesty in foreign policy and "tollbooths to the middle class."

If I'm down, it's seems clear that it's Governor Romney's for the taking. He did not whack at the EPA and he supports ethanol. Even worse as he is eschewing the Iowa straw poll. He's supporting ethanol on principle!

Better than President Obama? O Yeah! A principled defender of less government and more liberty? No way.

Posted by: jk at June 15, 2011 12:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

From the how full is the Romney glass department:

You can tell how -- how to get jobs going in this country, and President Obama has done it wrong. And the ideas Tim described, those are in the right wheelhouse.

[Tim's ideas: "We need to fix regulation. We need to have a pro-American energy policy. We need to fix health care policy. And if you do those things, as I've proposed, including cut spending, you'll get this economy moving and growing the private economy by shrinking government."]

...we can't afford more federal spending.

(...)

It's a huge power grab by the federal government.

(...)

There is a perception in this country that government knows better than the private sector, that Washington and President Obama have a better view for how an industry ought to be run. Well, they're wrong. The right way for America to create jobs is to -- is to keep government in its place and to allow the private sector and the -- and the energy and passion of the American people create a brighter future for our kids and for ourselves. ... That's the wrong way to go. Use the process of law. Use the process of American ingenuity. Don't have government try and guide this economy.

(...)

I think fundamentally there are some people -- and most of them are Democrats, but not all -- who really believe that the government knows how to do things better than the private sector. And they happen to be wrong.

(...)

Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better.

And there's more. It's only fair to recognize that, at the very least, he's reading from the right hymnal.

Posted by: johngalt at June 15, 2011 3:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Oh yeah, this week's Romney is great...

Posted by: jk at June 15, 2011 3:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Seems we've swapped roles: Pragmatist/Idealist

Posted by: johngalt at June 15, 2011 4:06 PM
But jk thinks:

A pragmatist can be dejected by a lack of idealism. My biggest objection is that we are supposed to be in the idealism phase. Vote your heart in the early primaries. You will eventually have to get to work for the candidate for whom you are forced to settle, but not 19 months out.

Taranto suggests a Romney-Bachmann ticket today. I have to confess to liking that. Their virtues and vices seem complementary.

Posted by: jk at June 15, 2011 6:34 PM

EPA: "Employee salary is our highest budget priority"

On his radio show today Mike Rosen read a copy [2:00 to 4:55] of an internal memo from EPA Regional Administrator James Martin to all Region 8 EPA employees. Subject: Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Decisions.

I want to update you on the status of Region eight's budget. The most important thing to tell you is that we continue to protect salary for our on-board EPA employees. It is our highest budget priority and that has not and will not change.

Our OCFO has been able to provide us with some relief for our payroll shortfall. This will allow us to maintain our support services at the current levels as we work to meet our agency's mission. We are continuing to work with headquarters for additional relief. In the meantime, to meet the remaining payroll needs we'll be reducing our programmatic funds by 30 percent, as well as some regional support funds.

A distinct difference, to be sure, from EPA's stated policy on private sector jobs.

EPA: Jobs Aren't a factor when making new regs

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:29 PM | Comments (0)

June 3, 2011

Germany *HEART* Coal!

As a wild-eyed capitalist I've bragged before about how I love coal as an energy source. Now, we can add PhD physicist and Prime Minster of Germany, Angela Merkel to my club. NY Times: Germany, in Reversal, Will Close Nuclear Plants by 2022

"If the government goes ahead with what it said it would do, then Germany will be a kind of laboratory for efforts worldwide to end nuclear power in an advanced economy," said Mark Hibbs, a senior associate in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. "No other country in the world is taking those steps."

I would call it a laboratory for something else - economic self-destruction.

The powerful Federal Association for German Industry, known as B.D.I., sent a letter on Monday morning to the chancellery, warning her about the consequences for German business.

"How will the international competitiveness of German industry be guaranteed?" Hans-Peter Keitel, B.D.I.’s president, wrote. "Industry last year accounted for two-thirds of Germany’s economic upswing."

What could possibly go wrong?
Hat Tip: Wikipedia's "in the news" section. (I sure didn't read it first in the Times.)

UPDATE: The reader may wonder at my connecting this Times story to coal, since it never mentions that fuel which provides half of Germany's electricity. It was, however, mentioned in a reference cited in the Wiki entry. There's also a picture of the very down-to-earth Environment Minister who dismisses more cautious and practical energy strategies. Minister Tritten:

"Ten years ago people told us that there would never be enough capacity to have a relevant share produced by wind - now the same people tell me we have too much wind, and have to export electricity because we have such a huge share of wind energy," he stated.

"So I can't take these arguments seriously."

He stressed he was "convinced" Germany would reach its target.

And he dismissed Dr Pfaffenberger's concerns about cost out of hand.

"He is wrong - simple," he said.

"To hear such arguments from people who haven't learned anything in the last half century - I am very calm on that."

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:45 PM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2011

Keeping Score at the Animal Farm

IBD's editorial page has been hitting it out of the park this week, considering the prior Rick Perry piece and the not-newsworthy-enough-for-its-own-post Bibi Schools Obama on Mideast Reality. Then this from Big Surprise: AARP Joins Waiver-gate:

Although not specifically mentioned by name in the rate review rules finalized last Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the rule that exempts Medigap insurance providers is clearly designed to benefit the largest seller of such policies and the biggest lobbyist for ObamaCare -- the American Association of Retired Persons.

So you can add AARP to the list of favored unions, corporations, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi's constituents and even entire states such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's Nevada that have received exemptions or waivers from various requirements of ObamaCare.

(...)

The amount AARP will gain from ObamaCare, with cost-effectiveness mandates that will lead to rationed care, less medical innovation and health care decisions made by bureaucrats rather than doctors and patients, is staggering.

Equally staggering is the brazenness exhibited by the Obama administration and the beneficiaries of what can only be called crony health care.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:47 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Waiver-gate, that's awesome. I think this might be underappreciated as a good theme for GOP Candidates in 2012.

-- If it is so swell, why do we have to exempt thousands of organizations?
-- Why are all those organizations friends of the Administration?
-- Is it fair to the smaller and less connected organizations that they cannot compete for a waiver?

Posted by: jk at May 25, 2011 7:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Watch out for the converse: "Vote at one of our special "Democrat Ballot Only" polling places and get an automatic PPAA waiver!"

Posted by: johngalt at May 25, 2011 9:03 PM

May 19, 2011

Government by Whim

I wanted to write here today that "I hereby call out Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to apply for an Obamacare waiver for the entire state of Colorado." After all, another path to repeal, thought I, is for the entire country to be waived from the law's requirements. Needing a foundational article upon which to rest my "great idea" I found Mona Charen:

A few wags [ouch!] have suggested that the HHS grant the rest of the country a waiver and be done with it. But the implications of what Professor Richard Epstein has called "government by waiver" aren't funny. As Congress has ceded more and more power to regulatory agencies, the opportunities for abuse of power multiply. Writing in National Affairs, Epstein notes that among the companies and entities that successfully sought waivers from Obamacare's provisions were PepsiCo, Foot Locker, the Pew Charitable Trusts, many local chapters of the Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers union, and numerous public-employee unions.

But, asks Epstein, "(W)hat about employers who do not have the resources to navigate the waiver process? What about those lacking the political connections to make their concerns heard in Washington? And what happens when the one-year waivers run out? Will they be renewed? Under what conditions? And what rights will insurers have to waive then in order to avoid going out of business?"

The world of Obamacare is no place for the little guy.

The danger of waiver power is that it will be used differentially, giving one private entity a competitive advantage over another. The company denied a waiver can bring suit -- but litigation is expensive and slow.

Additionally, companies may fear government retaliation: "It is no accident that it is often public-interest groups or patient groups that take on the FDA, for instance. It is simply too risky for a pharmaceutical company with multiple applications before the agency to challenge one action if it is vulnerable to a government-induced slowdown on another," writes Epstein.

So it isn't just the threat of tax hikes that makes the Obama Administration such a threat to American free-market liberty; or massive deficit spending, or hostility to energy production or the subjective law of appointed judges or the proliferation of unelected "Czars" or any of the other "gangster government" ploys the administration has so quickly and expertly embraced. It is the 2000-pages of statutory "we can do what we want" called the Patient Protection and Affordability Act that makes these government bureaucrats so dangerous.

Full and complete repeal is the only answer.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:56 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2011

Whew!

It looks like the First Lady and the Vice President will be safe in the air:

Los Angeles -- The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday issued new orders requiring that air traffic control supervisors oversee the arrival and departure of planes carrying the vice president and first lady.

The directive came two days after an incident in which a Boeing 737 carrying Michelle Obama got too close to a massive military cargo jet as both planes were trying to land at Andrews Air Force Base.

The managers in one air traffic control center were unaware of a potential problem, and the manager in the Andrews tower was reluctant to say anything when he noticed that the two planes were two miles closer than FAA standards allow, federal sources said.


I was so concerned. I was thinking that we might fix the broken, antiquated, government monopoly flight control system so that everybody would be safe.

But special protection for Michelle Obama and VP Biden will be much easier -- that Ray LaHood, he's quite the genius.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:45 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Excellent! This brings to three the number we have nominated for the President's new Independent Payment Advisory Board.

Heh! A government committee that decides who gets paid and who does not. What could go wrong?

Posted by: johngalt at April 21, 2011 2:17 PM

April 20, 2011

Hybrid and Electric Cars Suck

My dad recently emailed us a column from an engineering trade rag that bore the same title as this post.

So I am not going green with a hybrid/electric. No offense to Prius owners who are doing their part. It is just not for me. I am sticking with a regular gasoline car that gets good mileage but also has good performance. My other car, a 2010 VW GTI is one of those. It is a blast to drive. The 0 to 60 time is sub-6 seconds and it gets 31/32 mpg on the highway. Cost only $25K too. A real winner.

My dear Hawaiian auntie asked, "Does anyone know how much it costs to "fill one of these cars up with electricity"? I've never seen a quote,only how far you can drive & how long it takes to charge them. I realize it depends on how much your electrictricy costs are,but I've never even seen any estimates. Also how many windmills is it going to take to make all this extra electricity. Just wondering."

She's right. The only time the "fill-up" cost is ever talked about they just say "a few dollars." So I did some calculating from data I found at Wikipedia for the Nissan LEAF. [Yes, I know it's a bit long winded but I think you'll enjoy this.]

The Nissan LEAF has a 24 kwh (kilowatt hour) battery. At 10 cents per kwh and assuming perfect conversion of line current to DC and then battery charge the cost to charge the battery from empty would be $2.40.

But it isn't just the cost of the charge that needs to be evaluated. There's also the TIME to recharge.

On 240VAC 30 amp circuit the charge time is 8 hours. On 115VAC 15 amp household outlet the charge time would be about 4 times as long, or 32 hours. They provide this type of charging for "convenience use when making stops or for emergency charging." They tell you to count on about 5 miles of range per HOUR of charge time by this method. Nissan has developed a fast charger that can fully refuel 80% of the 100-mile range of a LEAF in ... 30 minutes. You can buy one for $16,800. (Be careful though, because "Nissan warns that if fast charging is the primary way of recharging, then the normal and gradual battery capacity loss is about 10% more than regular 220-volt charging over a 10-year period.")

IT'S JUST ALL SO COMPLICATED!!!

Enviros and 'Lectric car apologists will try to tell you that all of these limitations are just because the technology is "new" and it will improve rapidly as more people buy the things and by becoming mainstream the car companies will compete with each other and solve all the problems. But electric cars are NOT new. I rode in one in Denver that dad took from the University to Cinderella City to show off to normal people. That was about 40 years ago. FORTY!

Why can gasoline engines get the same range on a couple gallons of gasoline that 'Lectrics get on 32 hours worth of power into the biggest electric heater you can plug into your wall socket? Even though gasoline engines are less than a quarter as efficient as electric motors? Because gasoline has a TREMENDOUS energy content.

I'll quote from a blog post I wrote in July 2008:

"A single gallon of gasoline contains 131.76 megajoules of energy, compared to 2.1 megajoules in a stick of dynamite. 1 gallon of gas therefore equals 63 sticks of dynamite.
An average lightning bolt releases 500 megajoules, or 3.8 gallons of gasoline energy."

Now, going full circle back to the Nissan LEAF ... that 24 kwh battery pack it carries can hold 86 megajoules. That's 0.65 gallons of gasoline. (86 MEGAjoules sounded like a lot for a second there, didn't it!) Cost to fill up: $3.69 per gallon equivalent. Well, at least it's got that in common with gasoline powered cars.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:01 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

I been thinkin' 'bout this...

1) You left Chevy Volt Catches Fire, Again out of an otherwise comprehensive post.

2) I just bought a battery for the mister2. Fossil that I am, I winced when AutoZone® said $102. Hybrid buyers are warned that they will have to replace the batteries in five-seven years. I don't think many internalize that and I suspect fewer consider that prices for replacement and disposal might escalate in that time.

I picture seven year old Prii being worth as much as my old HP inkjet printer with empty ink cartridges. A clever person might innovate a better third party replacement by then. But it is a Beta none include in calculations.

Posted by: jk at April 21, 2011 9:39 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Part of my original email to auntie that was left on the 3Srcs cutting room floor was this from the Wiki page:

"It is estimated that each battery pack costs Nissan US$18,000 (as of May 2010[update]), and this cost is expected to be halved by mass production."
Posted by: johngalt at April 21, 2011 12:13 PM
But jk thinks:

I think it will be halved -- but by Schumpeterian gales, not "mass production." Batteries? They don't mass-produce those?

I wonder if the new packs will retrofit, how much people will pay for scheduled maintenance on a five year old car, and whether disposal of the old packs might become pricey. (We're reaching a point where you pay as much to dispose of your old flat-screen TV than to buy the new one.)

These are the Bic® lighters of cars, are they not?

Posted by: jk at April 21, 2011 12:32 PM

April 14, 2011

Not Even Counting Pheasant Payments

Steve Chaman at Reason:

If you don't mind sweat, dirt, or the smell of manure, this is a great time to be a farmer. Incomes are up, land values are high, and global demand is growing. Oh, and if you're one of the lucky farmers, there's a bonus: a tap on the federal treasury.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:30 PM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2011

TARP Bait

Whether it is Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, or Franklin Raines, or Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, or "Wall Street" who is really to blame for the 2008 mortgage crisis that launched the current recession, the silver lining is that we've seen what harm can be done by lending large sums of money to people who can't pay it back and the government will certainly put an end to that dubious practice, right? Umm, no.

The Federal Government has a home loan program specifically for federally enrolled tribal members, on or off reservation land.

• 30 year fixed rates with NO PREPAYMENT PENALTY
• Maximum loan amount $544,185
Minimum down payment 2.25% (in some cases 1.25%)
Seller can pay up to 6% of your closing costs
No credit history required
Flexible underwriting for credit issues
No history of receiving per capita required
No monthly mortgage insurance required
• Single family, 2-4 units, condos, manufactured homes
• Purchase loans
• Refinance
• Rehab loans
• Construction loans
• Homebuyer counseling service available for all clients

[emphasis mine]

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:26 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

What. Could. Possibly. Go. Wrong?

I will throw in a good Tyler Cowen Quote. He points out that there are many parties you can blame for the financial panic, but it can all be explained in eight words:

We thought we were richer than we were.

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2011 3:39 PM

March 21, 2011

Not That Much Change

Forbes' Patrick Michaels called General Motors a liar for the claim that their Volt hybrid is an "all-electric vehicle" and the onboard generator is only to extend its range. That's a serious charge, considering the huge federal subsidy to buyers of the car is based on that dubious premise.

Motor Trend dishes the tech: [Last October, I should note]

"It's not a hybrid! It's an electric car with a range-extending, gas-powered generator onboard." That was the party line during most of the masterfully orchestrated press rollout of what we've been promised will be the most thoroughly new car since, what, the Chrysler Turbine? The Lunar Rover? Well, the cat is now out of the bag, and guess what? It is a hybrid, after all. Yes, Virginia, the Chevy Volt’s gas engine does turn the wheels. Sometimes.

The salient difference between the Volt and the Prius is that the Prius' gas engine turns on at 60 mph and the Volt's at 100 mph. Motor Trend explains this as a second electric motor giving the Volt its top-end boost but glosses over the fact that the second motor, called a motor-generator, doesn't appear to recharge the battery through regenerative braking as the Prius does. In their diagram they show only "power in" from the engine and motor-generator of the Volt.

So is the Volt better or worse than the Prius? Or even really that much different?

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:31 PM | Comments (7)
But jc thinks:

Here's some change for you and your FFF brothers:

http://blogs.forbes.com/greatspeculations/2011/03/22/three-key-technologies-for-energy-independence/

Posted by: jc at March 22, 2011 5:13 PM
But jk thinks:

You permanently misunderstand. Other than perhaps AlexC who works in Oil extraction, none of us has a great love of fossil fuels.

Ganos (in your link) suggests that "venture capitalists should have their checkbooks handy." I'm all for it and have annoyed a couple of my friends to no end with my belief in biomass -- specifically engineering microbes to consume dog poop and excrete biodiesel.

But Mister Ganos and I are content to wait for some bright kids to develop the ultracapacitor or superconnective cable, or lightning capture (or dogpooppower!) There's no shortcut. Throwing billions at ethanol or synfuels just delays and defunds what will be the real successor.

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2011 5:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

For those not familiar with the acronym, FFF stands for "fossil-fuel freedom." It's a bit of an anachronism though since the discovery that geological hydrocarbon fuels don't come from dead dinosaurs. Nonetheless, I'm proud to be a proponent of FFF.

And you can count me with brother AC for our great love of conventional geologic fuels. Repeat after me: "CO2 is not a pollutant." Poof - filtered combustion of hydrocarbons is no longer a threat to earth-kind.

Of the three proposed energy dreams you may be surprised that I put the most faith in the harnessing of lightning. Super capacitors have an inherent problem with spontaneous instantaneous self-discharge (explosion) and even if and when room-temperature superconductors are developed we can waste loads of cheap energy before spending as much as those new materials will cost to replace aluminum conductors.

And by the way - I'm suspicious of the 70% loss claim. Let's see the data on that one. It's probably closer to 7%.

Posted by: johngalt at March 22, 2011 7:18 PM
But jk thinks:

Bussard fusion holds no special place in brother jg's oily heart?

I would like something that is cheaper and would not support Hugo Chavez. And if it is dog poop, my condo complex is the Saudi Arabia of dog poop...

Posted by: jk at March 22, 2011 7:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Does it require a government subsidy? If so, its gotta go. Seriously.

Want something that is cheaper than oil or natural gas? Dream on. They're regulated and taxed to death and still can't be beat in the free market without subsidies to their competitors.

"Saudi Arabia of dog poop." Awesome line, but I think you had some competition in the Wisconsin state capitol rotunda for a few weeks last month.

Posted by: johngalt at March 23, 2011 1:26 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Lest readers think I have no imagination, nor faith in technology, I must explain that I put great personal value on finding new ways to cheaply and safely power our abundantly prosperous lives. BUT - the incessant drumbeat of "oil is evil" must be opposed. Now. It is a column of communist tanks. I welcome any lover of liberty to stand with me in its path. With you or without you, I'll be here with my hand up.

Posted by: johngalt at March 23, 2011 1:32 AM

March 17, 2011

Nostalgia for 1996

....And I don't just mean the relative competence and devotion to liberty of President Clinton.

Nossir, in '96 (that's how us old timers talk about the 20th Century), you could buy an inexpensive and effective washing machine. Anywhere.

In 1996, top-loaders were pretty much the only type of washer around, and they were uniformly high quality. When Consumer Reports tested 18 models, 13 were "excellent" and five were "very good."

Thankfully, government stepped in to fix it.
By 2007, though, not one was excellent and seven out of 21 were "fair" or "poor." This month came the death knell: Consumer Reports simply dismissed all conventional top-loaders as "often mediocre or worse."
[...]
In 2007, after the more stringent rules had kicked in, Consumer Reports noted that some top-loaders were leaving its test swatches "nearly as dirty as they were before washing." "For the first time in years," CR said, "we can't call any washer a Best Buy." Contrast that with the magazine's 1996 report that, "given warm enough water and a good detergent, any washing machine will get clothes clean." Those were the good old days.

My $200,000 Washer-Dryer came with a free condo. Moving in and showing the place, several folks commented on what a great washer we were getting. And it is. It gets clothes just as clean as the 1964 Maytag I left at the house. Yeah, it smells a little funny, but there are products you can buy that make the $1000 machine almost as good as the $50 one.

UPDATE: While you're inside Rupert's compound, check out how they also fixed Debit Cards!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:46 AM | Comments (0)

March 5, 2011

Subsidy Folly

Facebook friend JC linked to a DOE report on energy subsidies in a comment to this post that is about to scroll off the page. I think he may have thought I'm a fan of oil subsidies, since I am an avowed supporter of oil and oil companies. But I want the market to decide, not my congressman. (Well, maybe if it was only my congressman without the other 434, but I digress.) The linked report offers this nugget on the ability of subsidies to produce more product.

Notwithstanding the doubling of Federal energy-related subsidies and support between 1999 and 2007, and a significant increase in most energy prices over that period, U.S. energy production is virtually unchanged since 1999 (Table ES2). Basic economic principles suggest that higher real energy prices together with the significant incentives provided to various production segments of the energy sector would tend to raise domestic energy production. A variety of factors unrelated to prices or subsidy programs such as State and Federal statutory limitations imposed on onshore and offshore oil and natural gas exploration in environmentally sensitive areas, uncertainty regarding future environmental policies possibly restricting future emissions of greenhouse gases, and declines in future production from previously developed domestic oil and natural gas resources may have impeded growth in energy production despite modest growth in consumption.

[Emphasis in original.]

Did anyone else notice that none of the regulatory restrictions affected wind, solar, ethanol or biogas? Yet energy production was unchanged. Go figure.

(Graph moved to "Continue Reading)

DOE%20report%20table%20E2.jpg

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:38 AM | Comments (0)

March 2, 2011

I Shouldn't Laugh

As a taxpayer/shareholder, I am appalled that GM has sold only 281 Volts last month

Peruse Chevrolet's February sales release, and you'll notice one number that's blatantly missing: the number of Chevy Volts sold. The number -- a very modest 281 -- is available in the company's detailed data (PDF), but it certainly isn't something that GM wants to highlight, apparently. Keeping the number quiet is a bit understandable, since it's lower than the 321 that Chevy sold in January.

In my less-fiduciary role as an admirer of American spirit and human pragmatism, I am "plum tickled."

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 5:55 PM | Comments (7)
But jk thinks:

Heh! Clearly.

Posted by: jk at March 2, 2011 6:12 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

With sales figures like that, they will never challenge the Prius for the title of "biggest smug-producing vehicle." I haven't spotted one here in California yet, where finding a Volt among the sea of Prii is like swinging a dead cat by the tail and expecting to find Waldo with the claws.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at March 2, 2011 7:01 PM
But JC thinks:

Let's see how the Chevy does against the Nissan Leaf!

Posted by: JC at March 4, 2011 1:32 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

The Leaf is not worried; sales figures were better for the '55 Nash Metropolitan.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at March 4, 2011 7:02 PM
But jk thinks:

Careful, Brother Keith, Rambler® and American Motors advertising paid the bills in my daddy's house.

I'm rooting for the Leaf. The good folks at Nissan released it in hopes of attracting enough buyers to make a profit. The Volt, conversely, was designed and built to provide cover for a bailout.

Posted by: jk at March 4, 2011 7:22 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

From the bottom of my heart, I have a warm spot in my heart for American Motors products. I came across this country in a Rambler Ambassador - the one with the push-button automatic transmission controls on the far left side of the dash - as a child in the early 60's, and I owned a Jeep CJ-7 with a 258 straight-6 for 16 years that I still miss to this day (and refuse to replace with anything built by Chrysler, thank you). No disparagement of the Nash was intended, so much as to embarrass the Volt.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at March 4, 2011 8:21 PM

Quote of the Day

All Hail Harsanyi:

Did you know that those in the federal government--the folks who brought you $1.6 trillion of yearly deficits, brought you $14 trillion of debt, and make Elmo a reality--offer Americans 56 separate programs to help them better understand their finances? Where will these citizens go for sage advice if Washington shuts down? -- David Harsanyi

Posted by John Kranz at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2011

Silly Governor, Laws Don't Create Jobs

Yesterday I wrote about thousands of "clean energy" jobs that could be eliminated if Colorado's largest power company cuts its solar power subsidy in half (per installation). I suggested that those jobs probably wouldn't have existed without the subsidy, which distorted market signals to create economic activity for an economically unviable product.

Today our former Governor explains how these unsustainable jobs were created and still has the gall to suggest we do even more of it.

Building this new economy starts with understanding how clean energy legislation can create jobs. During my four-year term in Colorado, I signed 57 pieces of clean energy legislation. In 2007, for example, we doubled the proportion of energy in the state that is required to come from renewable sources to 20 percent by 2020. In 2010, we increased that to 30 percent for our biggest utility. As a result, Colorado now ranks fourth among the 50 states in its number of clean energy workers per capita, and 1,500 clean energy companies call our state home — an 18 percent increase since 2004. Wind- and solar-energy companies that have built factories and opened offices in Colorado have brought in thousands of new jobs.

But governor, have you not heard that the American economy is no longer robust enough to support elective boutique energy "just in case" environmental scientists might be partially correct? It's about as popular with voters right now as free pensions and sweetheart health insurance for unionized Wisconsin teachers. Feel-good energy layoffs are happening now in the U.S. European plants are closing now. Why not just wait until the science and technology is sufficient for sustainable energy to be sustainable? It will save a lot of wasted money and effort building new plants and then closing them.

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:35 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

The answer to your most excellent yet rhetorical question is a review corner.

I'm a crazy mad fan of Virginia Postrel. I bought her "Substance and Style" for everyone who has ever worked for me since it came out. Yet, somehow I had missed her "The Future and its Enemies." With the title props to Dr. Popper, and my appreciation for the author, I cannot believe I let 12 years go by.

I got a hardcover as a freebie for a Reason donation (yes, and the T-shirt in the coffeehouse vid). I had left the Kindle® in the car yesterday and decided to read a real book.

Merciful Zeus! Just a couple chapters in, but she resurrects the famed "Baptists and Bootleggers" theory to bifurcate stasists and dynamists. The enviros want us living in caves so we don't spill a drop of oil, the Buchananite conservative wing wants us living in a tiny village so nobody can be divorced or gay, and the VP Gores of the world want to control every facet of life for everybody.

What Hayek calls the "Party of Life" and she "Dynamists" are thusly badly outnumbered.

She wrote it in 1998 with the full promise of the Internet in front of us. But if she had waited for the "Green Energy Economy," she would have a perfect example. With apologies to Swift and Toole, the dunces are truly arrayed in confederacy against us.


Posted by: jk at February 28, 2011 11:12 AM

February 17, 2011

The TEA Party State

JK did a great write-up on the Wisconsin revolution against state employee union looting of the treasury. As I thought about covering the same story I had some phrases in mind: Here comes the sun... It's always darkest before the dawn... Finally, hope and change! Stuff like that.

But how can something like this happen in Wisconsin? Home of the U of W in Madison, birthplace of the AFSCME union and a long-time leftist bastion? Check the leadership:


Scott Walker in 2010
225px-Scott_Walker_2010.jpg

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

45th Governor of Wisconsin
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Lieutenant Rebecca Kleefisch
Preceded by Jim Doyle (D)

And the Senate...

Wisc%20Senate%202011.jpg

And the State Assembly...

Wisc%20General%20Assembly%202011.jpg

Now that's the kind of flip-flopping one can appreciate! Makes me want to break out in song:

"Movin' to Wisconsin soon,
Gonna be a dental floss tycoon"

Just one * last * question: How in the bloody 'ell did Colorado manage to stay in Democrat hands? Wait - don't answer that.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:18 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Colorado comparison is apt. Madison makes Boulder look like Fort Worth. Mister Wadhams replacement would do well to try and reproduce their success.

(And Mister McDaniels's replacement could look at some Packers tape as well...)

Posted by: jk at February 17, 2011 4:46 PM

February 11, 2011

Fracking EPA

A companion story to BR's Pique Oil: The EPA shall let no low-cost oil go unpunished.

The EPA has proposed examining every aspect of hydraulic fracturing, from water withdrawals to waste disposal, according to a draft plan the agency released Tuesday.

Does this come as any surprise? With so much new oil becoming accessible through the new process the energy nazis at EPA have to find some way to put a halt to it.

The EPA proposal notes that 603 rigs were drilling horizontal wells in June 2010, more than twice as many as were operating a year earlier. Horizontal wells can require millions of gallons of water per well, a much greater volume than in conventional wells.

One point of contention is the breadth of the study.

Chris Tucker, a spokesman for Energy in Depth, said he understands the need to address any stage of the fracking that might affect drinking water, but he's skeptical that water withdrawals meet the criteria.

Hey EPA ... Frack off.

Posted by JohnGalt at 9:47 PM | Comments (4)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

If the EPA ever had any usefulness - and I doubt it - then it has outlived it. We have a Department of Justice turning justice on its head, a State Department in a state of disarray, and now this. If ever you questioned whether government continues to serve the people of this nation, question it now.

On a highly related subject, let's watch a movie. I would value your thoughts on this trailer: http://tinyurl.com/64t8oe3

My only serious quibble so far it thier having updated it. I'm sure it will not seriously damage my reaction. I'm sure this will be a thread of it's own - on April 16.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 12, 2011 2:06 AM
But jk thinks:

That's the Samizdata rule. They have "Ministry of.." instead of "Department of," but they say Ministry of X is always the thing best poised to destroy X. As you enumerate, it is frighteningly accurate.

A beloved but misguided relative has devoted years to establishing a Department of Peace. I'm certain if such a thing ever transpired, the Shakers and the Amish would be shooting each other in the streets.

I thought the trailer looked purdy good!

Posted by: jk at February 12, 2011 10:28 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I was surprised that the movie has a contemporary setting, but not disappointed. The dialog in the trailer is not recognizable as Rand's. It has been modernized as well. This is probably a good thing. For devotees and neophites alike it will be more appealing, just as "Enterprise" could appeal to young and old Trek fans. And anyone who wants the original dialog can find it in one of about 7 million places.

I'm excited and looking forward to multiple viewings. That Dagny looks like a fireball, eh?

Posted by: johngalt at February 12, 2011 12:50 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

'Scuse me while I peel myself off the ceiling.

The reason that drillers started drilling horizontal wells - at higher cost - was because the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the EPA, Department of Interior, multiple state agencies and every "conservation" organization in the country were having little tiger kittens over the footprint and environmental impact of drilling platforms; they might interrupt with the copulation of Prebble's Tit Mouse. So, instead of drilling seven conventional wells on seven platforms, they drill seven horizontal wells from a single platform. These guys will shamelessly say and do anything to inhibit oil exploration merely for the sake of inhibiting it.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 12, 2011 9:40 PM

January 19, 2011

Federal Regulatory Reform

President Obama issued an executive order yesterday that "requires Federal agencies to design cost-effective, evidence-based regulations that are compatible with economic growth, job creation, and competitiveness." This is not quite the "reform" language that was peddled in the press but that is ostensibly the goal: Start to get government out of the way of private sector job growth, at least a little bit.

On the same day, Politico reported that Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), incoming chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, sought input from the private sector on what sorts of reforms would be helpful. This led to predictable outrage at HuffPo that Issa intends to mount a "purely partisan crusade" aimed at "protecting big corporations instead of creating middle class jobs." As if it is inconceivable that private sector job growth is the purview of corporations and trade associations.

I found this story while searching for reform ideas. Since I didn't find any I will start, as a public service, a group-sourced list of suggested reforms. My first entries are as follows. Please pile on in the comments.

- Abolish the federal minimum wage.

- Abort EPA efforts to regulate CO2 emissions.

- Eliminate all federal mandates for health insurance coverage and eliminate any federal restrictions on writing policies across state lines.

- Eliminate oil and gas severance taxes and expedite leases on so-called "public" lands outside of the National Parks system.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:19 PM | Comments (15)
But jk thinks:

JG just wants practical, common-sense initiatives that can attract broad public and bipartisan legislative support. That's why he starts his list with "Abolish the federal minimum wage."

It's his world, he only lets us live in it...

Posted by: jk at January 20, 2011 3:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I forgot to mention that the minimum wage elimination idea was dagny's. I thought it was so good though I put it first on the list.

Here's my repeal the minimum wage 'elevator talk.' "You did say you wanted to stimulate job growth, right? Well, the federal minimum wage law lowers employment by outlawing low-wage jobs. It also makes everything more expensive, driving up everyone's cost of living. And most people being paid minimum wage are entry level workers, typically kids, who would have more jobs to choose from without the minimum wage. So let's try getting rid of it and see how it goes, OK?"

Posted by: johngalt at January 20, 2011 4:02 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, sorry for the snark. But your talk appeals to the people who scored 66%+ on the civics quiz, and do not watch sitcoms.

On the way down, the person you educated will hear: "They want to let greedy corporations exploit poor people and pay them $1 an hour! -- Do you want to work for one dollar an hour?????"

Posted by: jk at January 20, 2011 4:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

OK, I'll try again.

"Americans at every career stage, from entry level to expert, are finding jobs to be scarce. When new jobs as police officers or WalMart greeters are advertised the applicants for those few jobs stand in lines that stretch around the block. Througout American history, corporations and entrepreneurs have hired people because they could make more money from employees' output than they had to pay in wages, benefits and taxes. But in many jobs today this is no longer the case, and the minimum wage law is one big reason. Repealing it will result in more jobs for those people standing in line."

And for those who believe government is great and corporations are "evil" I ask, "How many jobs can government create without corporations to tax? And how many corporations rely upon taxing the government to create their jobs?

Posted by: johngalt at January 23, 2011 11:48 AM
But jk thinks:

I'm glad you're still on it. I think it's important.

John Stossel talked about minimum wage in his "unintended consequences" special. He quoted a Pew poll that said 86% of Americans supported the recent raise. I looked a little for a link but did not find it.

I think you'll find it's up there if not that high. Your argument is solid, airtight, accurate, and compelling. But you will never win. The hope is to keep it so small that it does little damage.

Posted by: jk at January 24, 2011 11:28 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Yours is the safe bet. But dagny's suggestion and my defense are meant to swing a pendulum the other way more than achieve a policy goal in the current congress. Rome wasn't built (or destroyed) in 2 years.

Posted by: johngalt at January 24, 2011 11:50 AM

January 18, 2011

Quote of the Day

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was a political overreaction to the 2002 scandals. It did nothing to prevent the financial crisis of 2007-2009. So we now have a similar overreaction in the Dodd-Frank Act, which I call the "Faith in Bureaucracy Act." The vast bureaucratic outpouring it commands will generate excessive cost and damage to U.S. competitiveness. -- Alex Pollock
Posted by John Kranz at 12:16 PM | Comments (1)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

If The Refugee might quote Rev. Wright, "America's chickenssssss are coming home to roosssssst."

The cost and risk of doing business in the US is now driving financial transactions offshore. As evidence, Goldman Sachs will offer shares in Facebook only to foreign investors in order to avoid possible SEC litigation. From the NYT:

"So given the low risks even with rescission, why did Goldman blink? The S.E.C. is under tremendous pressure these days to look relevant, and Goldman in particular does not want another clash given its reputation these days. The risk here was really that the SEC actually brought a case whether or not it succeeded. And Facebook likely does not want anything to mess up its own possible initial public offering.

That the issue here was the threat of litigation rather than its success is evidenced by Goldman’s decision to limit the offering to only foreign investors."

Link: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/01/18/why-did-goldman-blink/?partner=rss&emc=rss

If Congress or the SEC decide to close this "loophole" it will simply drive the transactions to entirely foreign entities, including investment banks and investors. Way to go, bureaucrats.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 18, 2011 12:53 PM

January 17, 2011

Elected Officials are Idiots

If you believe the results of a study that included this quiz by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

Of the sample size, [over 2500 adults] 164 identified themselves as having been successfully elected to government office -- whether federal, state or local positions -- but the subset performed even poorer than the national average on questions about the government.

"Overall, the average score for officeholders on the civic literacy test was 44 percent, compared to 49 percent for those who have not held an elected office." I scored 91 percent without even being careful.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:16 PM | Comments (6)
But jk thinks:

96.7%

Posted by: jk at January 17, 2011 6:06 PM
But dagny thinks:

I think we have a lot of very bright people around here. I am on the slow end for 3 Sources and admit that I scored in the mid-80's. This kind of stuff (along with Jay Leno's jaywalking segment) makes me fear for the education of my children. 44 or 49 percent average????

I retained 80% of the information from a 30-year-old education. Are they teaching ANY of this in schools today???

Posted by: dagny at January 17, 2011 9:24 PM
But jk thinks:

I know you too well to accept your self-effacement.

I don't think they are. I surreptitiously test my nieces and nephews who are bright (and pretty and generous and charming...) -- seriously, some bright, good students. I can't quiz them directly but I prod on the side and no, they are not being taught this.

I'd suggest that I learned more than half of it after school. I would not have scored 50% on graduation day.

Posted by: jk at January 18, 2011 9:14 AM
But Terri thinks:

93.94% - I do like it when I feel smart. AND I know my home schooled nieces/nephews will not be learning most of this. (at one point a 12 year old niece had no idea who Lincoln was) (Thank you Nebraska nonexistent rules on home schooling! Ugh)

My privately schooled niece and nephew do know or will know these answers as they get older. They look at learning as if it were fun and not a chore.

Posted by: Terri at January 18, 2011 10:20 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Perhaps "idiots" is too strong. How about, Elected Officials are Below-Average?

Posted by: johngalt at January 18, 2011 3:17 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Not to brag too much, but I missed only one question. And I blogged that it's iffy.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 19, 2011 11:15 AM

January 14, 2011

"Green Job" Flight

In President Obama's first year in office there was a major push to create "green jobs" in the U.S. In October of that year his Commerce Secretary said, "Building a green economy isn't going to be easy, but if government and businesses work together, America can and will be a world leader in clean energy."

Oops. Evergreen Solar to Shut Down U.S. Manufacturing, Move to China

CEO Michael El-Hillow commented: "While overall demand for solar may increase, we expect that significant capacity expansions in low cost manufacturing regions combined with potential adverse changes in government subsidies in several markets in Europe will likely result in continuing pressure on selling prices throughout 2011. Solar manufacturers in China have received considerable government and financial support and, together with their low manufacturing costs, have become price leaders within the industry. While the United States and other western industrial economies are beneficiaries of rapidly declining installation costs of solar energy, we expect the United States will continue to be at a disadvantage from a manufacturing standpoint."

"Low cost manufacturing regions..." and their "low manufacturing costs" put the U.S. at a "disadvantage from a manufacturing standpoint." Perhaps there are forces at work here other than generous government subsidies for preferred sectors. Maybe it's just too damned expensive to hire employees in the U.S.

“These new numbers show that even though global wage differentials are narrowing, policy-induced costs in the United States, especially corporate taxes, continue to undermine manufacturers’ ability to compete with our largest trading partners,” Duesterberg said.
Posted by JohnGalt at 11:50 AM | Comments (1)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

So, our government is borrowing massive amounts of money from China, which we're using to subsidize "green economy" jobs, and the companies offering those jobs are moving their production (and those job openings) to China. We're paying interest on the borrowed money to facilitate China expanding their own industrial base.

I'm not certain how this is supposed to work, but I've got a pretty good suspicion it ends with:

"3 - Profit!"

Posted by: Keith Arnold at January 14, 2011 12:20 PM

December 30, 2010

PLEASE STOP!

John Stossel pleads: Stop helping Us! "...the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act. It was supposed to really end the alleged abuses perpetrated by the credit card companies. The law forbids some penalties and interest-rate increases on existing balances."

Finally! Protection! A new bureaucracy will stop greedy credit card companies from unfairly penalizing you. And it won't threaten the credit business. Yippie!

Of course, the companies tightened credit on marginal customers (I thought myself outside the margins but my favorite card tightened my limit from $32K to $2500 and forced me into the plastic arms of another card). Less fortunate lost credit and turned to payday loans (how's 500% sound?). States have come down on payday lenders, driving their customers to loansharks ("Time, Spike, is what turns kittens into cats...").

Whole definitely read thing.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2010

FLOTUS

I have tried to go easy on the First Lady. It's an unusual position, where one is expected to "do something" while not asserting authority that does not exist.

But it is not within the consciousness of the current WH occupants to not turn their brainchildren into legislation. And Michelle Obama has decided that legislation is needed to combat a national security threat! "We can't just leave it to the parents." Ahh, the scourge of childhood obesity.

Warning: sections of this video may upset ThreeSourcers; viewer discretion is advised.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:56 AM | Comments (5)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

My answer to that video:

http://tinyurl.com/27hs4dk

Would that every free American would articulate that toward DC.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 14, 2010 1:18 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Wow - thanks for the warning, but even at that some slow, deep breathing was necessary by the end. That's the first time I've ever hear childhood obesity described as a national security threat. By FLOTUS' logic, asthma, nearsightedness and flat feet should also be matters of national security.

I have an idea - let's send all the fat kids to Gitmo. Of course, after mixing with the al Qaeda prisoners, they might bring new meaning to the phrase, "eating a greasy gut bomb."

When the day arrives that gubmint can compel any action based on the commerce clause and parenthood is usurped in the name of national security, we need a Constitutional convention because the current document is meaningless.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 14, 2010 1:35 PM
But jk thinks:

@br: Flat Feet! We'd better pass Schumer-Lugar or all learn to speak Russian!

@ka: Hope Santa does not see that link of yours...

Posted by: jk at December 14, 2010 2:22 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

@br: I only disagree with you in one regard: the need for a Constitutional convention. With the exception of a couple of Amendments, I like the Constitution we have just fine. Best case scenario, a Con-con would re-enact a Constitution pretty near to the original, with some language clarifying the Commerce clause and some other points; worst case scenario, the moochers and the looters would have plenty of room to work their mischief. In your eyes, how would a Constitution that satisfied all of us on this website differ from the one we have? If I may hazard a thought, I might guess that in large part, we here would mostly want to see the Constitution we already have simply obeyed by our government. Or am I wrong?

@jk: I just finished telling an eight-year-old that Santa was shot down over Phnom Penh in '68. It makes me feel old when I have to explain to them and to their parents what that means. By the way, if you haven't seen it, search YouTube for "Santa Shrugged". Santa would tell Michelle to MYOB.

The link I posted reminded me of a story I read a long time ago: "And Then There Were None" by Eric Frank Russell. Anyone here read it? Before there were Browncoats, there were Gands.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 14, 2010 6:20 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

KA, my point about the Constitutional Convention is that if the events that I describe occur, the current document is no longer operative.

Yes, my ideal is the current document with clarification and stronger language to keep courts from emasculating it. A supplementary document of intent would be nice as well.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 14, 2010 7:32 PM

November 30, 2010

The Ben Bernank and The Goldman Sacks

I could be wrong ... I may have missed it ... but I don't think any ThreeSources post explained "The Quantitative Easing" (I or II) as well or as in-context as this.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:58 PM | Comments (9)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Clearly, the people over at the Treasury Department have decided that waiting for Nicholas Cage to find where the Masons hid all the Founding Fathers' gold is no longer a viable strategy to revive the economy. This was Plan B.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 30, 2010 6:15 PM
But Lisa M thinks:

OMG--I can't believe you guys posted this. I stumbled across this last week while working on an assignment for my Econ class. My professor, who is complete Keynsian tool and BEA employee to boot, asked us a question on a topic we never covered in class---quantitative easing--- for an exam. I googled it and this was one of the first hits. AWESOME. I learned more from this video than I have all semester.

Posted by: Lisa M at November 30, 2010 9:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A friend posted this on his FB page. That's where I found it.

So this liquidity injection - it doesn't all go to the government? For their stimulus spending? Some can legitimately be given as unearned profit on these fairly simple, bulk transactions?

Finally, KA: You mean "the Nicholas Cage?"

Posted by: johngalt at December 1, 2010 12:44 AM
But jk thinks:

The Nicholas Cage indeed.

They got the money. If Ben's Helicopter is broken, how do they get it to the little peoples?

The FOMC buys bonds from banks, increasing their reserves against which they may lend. That's the root function of the Fed, the only real difference of Quantitative Easing is expanding the Fed's balance sheet to other asset classes because they have gone about as far as they can with traditional methods.

If you pay yourself to mow the lawn, your kid is still broke.

In the spirit of Facebook, let me introduce two great friends of this blog: Lisa, you should spend a little time at Josh Hendrickson's The Everyday Economist. It is a great source for monetary policy. And, unlike your professor, you won't have to check your free market principles in at the door.

Posted by: jk at December 1, 2010 10:17 AM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Hey, all you folks that understand economics better than me: I was just reading that the United States is moving to bail out the euro (link: http://www.cnbc.com/id/40454469). This may be a week bit naive, but - we have more unused money just lying around? We're borrowing from the Red Chinese as it is. Did someone just give the administration a shiny new AmEx card I didn't know about?

I may be just a poor dumb country boy, but this seems pretty deep in Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot-Interrogatory territory. I mean, if this was a deliberate and premeditated plan to destroy the entire world's economy, it would make perfect sense.

Oh, wait...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 1, 2010 3:20 PM
But jk thinks:

The Ben Bernank is going to need a refueling helicopter.

Umm, can you check the link?

Posted by: jk at December 1, 2010 5:18 PM

She Has That Vacant, Mohammed Atta Look in her Eyes...

A bunch of right wing crazies are saying that the TSA has never caught a single terrorist, and that we should not meekly submit to TSA "Authoritah."

Well, hah:

Clearly this woman was going to bring down the aircraft with her highly exothermic lactal secretions, but the TSA stepped in and all those lives were saved.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:42 PM | Comments (7)
But johngalt thinks:

The tree of liberty is indeed drooping, and we are both now on a federal watch list.

Posted by: johngalt at November 30, 2010 3:19 PM
But jk thinks:

There is no defense for this treatment, but as to explaining our submission, I wonder whether this is truly government.

Yes, it's the TSA, but we've learned that airports do have the authority to opt out. Passengers are willingly boarding a private company provided flight, and this is a foreknown cost.

It exemplifies Federal overreach and none can question the perfection of metaphor, but I don't know that I can place this on the same level as the no-knock raids we've enthusiastically discussed on these pages.

The Fourth and Fifth Amendments are in full force at your front door. Are they at the airport?

Posted by: jk at November 30, 2010 3:39 PM
But Lisa M thinks:

I ranted at length about this topic last week at PAWatercooler and linked a Philadelphia Inquirer writer whose TSA buddy dared the public to "bring on" the protest--in other words, if they protested he threatened to assert his petty authority to inconvenience and thus force into submission holiday air travelers.  Anyhow, the Inky guy was upset at the conclusions I drew about his conclusions and told me to "get my facts straight" about the Fourth Amendment.  He sent me this here link, which is indeed chock full of facts, but doesn't quite explain get to the heart of the matter, which is: just because a court sanctions it does not mean it is not government overreach, something these libs at the Inky who slobber over authoritarian excess when the Dems never seem to get.  Anyhow, thought I'd pass it along to add to the discussion.  Doesn't change my mind about the searches though:  I still think they are an egregious breach of the Fourth. 

Posted by: Lisa M at November 30, 2010 9:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Airports can "opt out" of the TSA but they can't opt out of TSA procedures. No free market defense there.

Posted by: johngalt at December 1, 2010 12:40 AM
But jk thinks:

But you can not fly. Shh. Calm. Go to your beach.

It is a great imposition not to fly, but I tire of hearing the left compare the ObamaCare® mandate to car insurance. You can not drive, you can drive the car on private property -- you can avoid the insurance mandate. Does not the quest for a logical, coherent philosophy dictate that I see this the same?

Again, I see the government harming private business with ham-fisted intrusions into the private sphere, but I do not see this as a violation of the Fourth Amendment. For those who disagree, I saw on FB yesterday some undergarments that display the 4th when scanned. Clever.

Posted by: jk at December 1, 2010 12:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Good for the free market. My idea was to make such undergarments that read: F U

Posted by: johngalt at December 1, 2010 8:34 PM

November 26, 2010

'Bout that rational thing...

Enjoyable as it is pounding on the TSA, I do not intend to develop a sudden aversion to the radiation produced by the body scanners. Fourth Amendment, yes, Junk science, no.

But Ann Althouse suggests an interesting comparison. We (us 'Merkuns) refuse to accept irradiated food products that are proven safe, yet we accept irradiated us.

Is it that we are not only irrational, but we are also irrational in our choice of what to be irrational about? I don't think so. Food radiation was something that businesses were permitted to do, but they stopped because we avoided buying the product. The government isn't asking us whether we want our bodies irradiated if we want to travel by plane. It's not like going to the grocery store and picking one package of hamburger instead of another. We still get our hamburger. We don't have a choice of flying with radiation or without radiation. The only choice the government gives us is not to fly or to accept a groping.

A commenter suggests 4000 Americans die every year of food poisoning. Looking up that alarming number before I pass it along, the CDC claims 5000:
To better quantify the impact of foodborne diseases on health in the United States, we compiled and analyzed information from multiple surveillance systems and other sources. We estimate that foodborne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year. Known pathogens account for an estimated 14 million illnesses, 60,000 hospitalizations, and 1,800 deaths. Three pathogens, Salmonella, Listeria, and Toxoplasma, are responsible for 1,500 deaths each year, more than 75% of those caused by known pathogens, while unknown agents account for the remaining 62 million illnesses, 265,000 hospitalizations, and 3,200 deaths. Overall, foodborne diseases appear to cause more illnesses but fewer deaths than previously estimated.

We're comparing apples to Tonka® trucks in the moral realm here, but just to look at the numbers, we could safely prevent a 9-11 every year and don't. Yet we provide the TSA, who have yet to catch a terrorist or knowingly foil a plot with a much more questionable tool.

It's a mixed up, muddled and shook-up world 'cept for Lola...

Posted by John Kranz at 11:29 AM | Comments (2)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Well I'm not the world's most rational guy...

Sorry for the riff. I wonder whether this is the sign of the willingness of the masses to be led by the nose. One self-appointed expert declares that irradiated food is so dangerous that we need to allow the government to step in and protect us from it, and they fall into line. Another tells us that we should gladly trade away our freedom in return for a symbolic bit of theater that pretends to protect us from crazed persons blowing our airplanes into scrap metal, and the masses' eyes glaze over as they nod their approval. We are dependent on the mommystate. We know this because the mommystate tells us so.

I miss those days when we were freedom-loving people, don't you?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 26, 2010 12:54 PM
But jk thinks:

A hundred points for the allusion...

You have to be careful what you wish for. Rejection of the safety of irradiated food comes from free people abandoning rational thought. It's like following Jim Carrey's lead and eschewing vaccinations. Or buying a hybrid. Or liking Phil Rivers. Some human behavior cannot be explained.

Posted by: jk at November 26, 2010 1:42 PM

November 23, 2010

Dousing IPO Fever

I loves me an IPO! Animal sprits! Innovation! Capitalism!

But I join Paul Ingrassia in a little skepticism of the Gub'ment Motors shares:

This week the euphoria has given way to the task of making the new GM successful again. I'm optimistic, though with a cautionary note. I was in Detroit on the company's coming-out day and was surprised by the level of local skepticism among people who have every reason to root for the new GM.

One man, a retired components-company executive, told television interviewers that unionized auto makers can't compete over the long term with their nonunion counterparts. Another retiree, who worked 40 years for GM, said he decided not to buy IPO shares when the company announced sponsorship of an Indy Car racing team. A sure sign, he told me, that cost discipline is being tossed aside for dubious and ephemeral marketing benefits.


I was thinking the same last night watching a commercial about how GM was planting trees to sequester carbon. If any new data were needed to prove that this crony union behemoth is not serious about competing in the actual automotive marketplace, there it is.
Another key cultural indicator will be whether Detroit's managements can resist believing their own hyperbole. Exhibit A is the Chevy Volt, GM's new plug-in hybrid vehicle, which is setting records in miles per gallon and in hype per mile. The Volt runs mostly with electricity. But it will be sold mostly with enormous federal tax credits--$7,500--to defray a price of around $42,000.

It's outrageous, really. America is running trillion-dollar budget deficits. The taxpayers have shelled out tens of billions of dollars to rescue GM. And the company's accumulated tax-loss credits could shield it from paying federal income taxes for years. So why are we also paying people to buy GM cars, or any brand of alternative-fuel vehicle for that matter? If GM thinks a lower price is necessary to sell the Volt, it should cut the price itself.


Posted by John Kranz at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2010

1-900-TSA-JUNK

I haven't laughed this hard at Saturday Night Live in a long, long time.

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:40 AM | Comments (10)
But johngalt thinks:

I vote scanner. (And no, not because I want to see the .jpg posted here.) You could do both, though. Just fly the bird on both hands while posing for the peep pic. Then they'll show you who's the boss.

When I fly for Christmas if they single me out for "handling" I plan to "baaaaa" like a sheep. If I have to act like a sheep I want to make it a convincing performance.

Posted by: johngalt at November 22, 2010 2:39 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

KA, I assume you're talking beans and cabbage the night before? Just as the inspector slides his hand up my crack...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at November 22, 2010 2:54 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

BR: there are lots of good candidates for that diet plan, including dinner at Pepe's, Home of the Six Pound Beef-and-Bean Burrito. Order the red salsa with extra jalapenos, and wash that baby down with a couple of beers. Other contenders are kimchee, asparagus, onions, garlic, and anything with eggs.

Other ways to embarrass the frotteur include loud, passionate moaning, making farm animal noises, and asking the handler for his cellphone number and what time he gets off work to continue the relationship. I've read a story from a guy who plans to wear a kilt - in the official Scottish style - and I've seen a picture of a guy in the TSA line wearing a Speedo and a skin-tight crop-top shirt. I make no recommendations as to your choices, mind you; I only relate these options in a public service capacity.

A year ago, who would have guessed that it would be airline security that would turn out to be the Rubicon our overseers would cross?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 22, 2010 3:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I guessed it the day they made airport security agents government employees. The only question was, "when?"

To quote Dr. Robert Stadler,moaning "with increduluous despair: 'In a civilized century, Ferris, in a civilized century!"

It's only a few short steps from here to the gas chambers.

Posted by: johngalt at November 22, 2010 3:30 PM
But jk thinks:

Facebook friend just back from LAX says it was confusing which line was which. They obviously need "GROPE" and "RADIATION" signs...

Posted by: jk at November 22, 2010 8:08 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

I vote for the grope over the radiation.

I have read more than a few reports now of TSA employees trying to embarrass those who opt out of the scanners so as to convince other travelers to go through them. I can't think of a better way to fight this tactic than doing your best to make the pat down as uncomfortable as possible for the TSA employee performing it.

Posted by: T. Greer at November 22, 2010 8:59 PM

November 21, 2010

The FDA has a rival

Economist Steven Horwitz findsthat more Americans will die travelling because of the TSA:

As the nation readies for one of the busiest traveling holidays, Steven Horwitz, a professor of economics at St. Lawrence University, told The Hill that the probable spike in road travel, caused by adverse feelings towards the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) new screening procedures, could also lead to more car-related deaths.

"Driving is much more dangerous than flying, as you are far more likely to be killed in an automobile accident mile-for-mile than you are in an airplane," said Horwitz. "The result will be that the new TSA procedures will kill more Americans on the highway."


I'm uncomfortable saying that the FDA or the TSA is "killing" Americans. I think that charge requires mens rea. But unintended consequences that result in needless fatalities need to be recognized.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:40 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Washington's 'wizards of smart' will dismiss the unfortunate victims as being foolish not to just stay home in their caves.

Posted by: johngalt at November 21, 2010 12:05 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

After posting my comment to your link over at Facebook, I figured you probably mirrored it here. I'll merely settle for duplicating my own reply:

I'd file this under "unintended consequences," if I had any reason to believe it was unintended.

I'm most intrigued by the paragraph starting "Thompson also said that the TSA should have told people about the techniques..." As if the solution were to politely sell us on the frottage and the pornscopes. Unconsidered is whether our federal government has ANY justification for these unreasonable searches and seizures of innocent Americans in the absence of probable cause and due process.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at November 21, 2010 7:31 PM

October 28, 2010

Junk Science

I have heard this one. The plastic from water bottles is making you fat, giving you cancer, giving you diabetes. (Evian Belly?)

The back to the caves crowd holds a particular enmity for bottled water. It's a sure sign of the curse of affluence. Easier to make fun of than to defend, you can attack it for frugality, environmentalism, and brands' identification as status symbol. Brother jg has contributed to a lengthy Facebook dialogue with a friend espousing "voluntary simplicity." Bottling and transporting Norwegian glacier water strikes him as the apogee of environmental arrogance.

Our sainted betters up North (no, not Norway-- Canada!) have declared prohibition on plastic. John Stossel points out that not even the lame-ass FDA (my description, he calls them "notoriously risk-averse") sees the link to danger that have caused Canada, Connecticut and Minnesota to legislate.

Nonsense. Not only is there no good evidence that BPA locked into plastic can hurt people, it actually saves lives by stopping botulism.

"Since BPA became commonplace in the lining of canned goods, food-borne illness from canned foods--including botulism--has virtually disappeared," says the American Council of Science and Health.

You never hear the good news about BPA in the mainstream media. Fear-mongering gets better ratings.


When bottles are outlawed...

Posted by John Kranz at 1:07 PM | Comments (3)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Oh, it's the plastic in water bottles that makes me fat? And all this time, I thought it was the pizza, pasta, soda, beer, and potato chips I pack into my well-muscled gullet, along with so many millions of free Americans. Good to know.

Really, is there some double-blinded, government-funded scientific study that found several dozen people subsisting on tofu and collard greens but are still obese, and determined that it was their bottled water intake that was fattening them up?

And now I'm sorry for all those times I said the most dangerous place in the world was to stand between Michael Moore and an all-you-can-eat Krispy Kreme buffet. Clearly, it's the Evian.

Spell "Evian" backwards, and I think you'll find how I view people who buy into that.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 28, 2010 2:03 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

We should all feel guilty that we can drink clean, safe water on demand when millions of Africans are drinking dung tea. If even one person does not have clean water, then no one should have it!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 28, 2010 2:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I take your comment sarcastically as intended BR, but mine is a "Face Without Pain or Fear or Guilt." [Part II, Chapter 9]

Posted by: johngalt at October 28, 2010 3:58 PM

October 27, 2010

Barney Isn't Frank

Does anybody remember when politicians used to at least pretend to tell the truth? Now they just deny there is such a thing as truth.

Fast forward now to 2008, after the risky mortgages had led to huge numbers of defaults, dragging down Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the financial markets in general -- and with them the whole economy.

Barney Frank was all over the media, pointing the finger of blame at everybody else. When financial analyst Maria Bartiromo asked Congressman Frank who was responsible for the financial crisis, he said, "right-wing Republicans." It so happens that conservatives were the loudest critics who had warned for years against the policies that Barney Frank pushed, but why let facts get in the way?

Ms. Bartiromo did not just accept whatever Barney Frank said. She said: "With all due respect, congressman, I saw videotapes of you saying in the past: 'Oh, let's open up the lending. The housing market is fine.'" His reply? "No, you didn't see any such tapes."


Posted by JohnGalt at 3:02 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Clearly, we have always been at war with Eurasia.

Posted by: jk at October 27, 2010 3:28 PM

October 19, 2010

More fallout from the Dr. Hal Lewis Resignation

One of the Update links at the linked article in the Dr. Hal Lewis resignation story was a copy of the APS's public response with rebuttal by Dr. Lewis and two others interspersed in context. While the resignation letter itself is scathing evidence of Global Warming as hoax, it doesn't directly address the issue of "well-funded people believing" and thus, it "not going away." This does: [First the APS' statement, then Lewis' rebuttal.]

Dr. Lewis’ specific charge that APS as an organization is benefitting financially from climate change funding is equally false. Neither the operating officers nor the elected leaders of the Society have a monetary stake in such funding.
The chair of the Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) that re-endorsed the 2007 APS Statement on Climate Change sits on the science advisory board of a large international bank http://annualreport.deutsche-bank.com/2009/ar/supplementaryinformation/advisoryboards.html The bank has a $60+ billion Green portfolio, which it wishes to assure investors is safe…not to mention their income from carbon trading. Other members of this board include current IPCC chief Pachauri and Lord Oxburgh, of Climategate exoneration fame. The viability of these banks activities depends on continued concern over CO2 emissions. Then there is the member of the Kleppner Committee (that reviewed the APS 2007 Statement prior to POPA) who served on that committee while under consideration for the position of Chief Scientist at BP. The position had been vacated when Steve Koonin left to take a post in the administration at DOE. Soon after the Kleppner Committee report in late 2009, this committee member took the BP job. BP had previously funded the new Energy Laboratory at Berkeley, which was headed by current Energy Secretary Steve Chu.

UPDATE: Reformatted for clarity and bolded text for emphasis.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:09 PM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2010

Global Warming takes another body blow -

- This time from a renowned nuclear scientist.

Last November 20 I posted this first news of Climategate, which included James Delingpole's headline: Climategate: The final nail in the coffin of 'antropogenic global warming?'

JK was more circumspect but by December 1 admitted that the scandal was a "game changer." Yet, he still hedged: "But it does not expose a hoax as some have claimed. The believers truly believe. As long as well funded people believe, it is not going away."

Today, or rather October 8, the hoax is exposed.

Harold Lewis - Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, former Chairman; Former member Defense Science Board, chmn of Technology panel; Chairman DSB study on Nuclear Winter; Former member Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards; Former member, President’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee; Chairman APS study on Nuclear Reactor Safety Chairman Risk Assessment Review Group; Co-founder and former Chairman of JASON; Former member USAF Scientific Advisory Board - resigned from the American Physical Society over events that have transpired since Climategate.

In discussing the publicly released resignation letter Anthony Watts says,

This is an important moment in science history. I would describe it as a letter on the scale of Martin Luther, nailing his 95 theses to the Wittenburg church door. It is worthy of repeating this letter in entirety on every blog that discusses science.

From the letter:

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford's book organizes the facts very well.) I don't believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

He then goes on to expose the calculated lengths that APS management went to defeat his efforts to establish a Topic Group on Climate Change within the APS. Sharp, smart and irretrievably damaging to APS and the Climate Change movement.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:46 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Put me down as still hedging, brother. The letter you link says "What I would really like to see though, is this public resignation letter given the same editorial space as Michael Mann in today’s Washington Post." I fear this sermon will be heard only by the choir.

It's "Green Week!" at work. Thankfully, as a remote worker, I am impervious to all but eye rolling. Onsite workers went without lights for some time today and were told to shut off and unplug computers overnight for baseline current measurements.

This is from a private company, headed by a CEO who doesn't generally buy in to such nonsense. I guess they are buying off the earnest young employees. Whatever the case, we ain't won yet.

Posted by: jk at October 18, 2010 6:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I included your complete original "hedge" on purpose, to show it's a step-by-step process.

The believers do still believe, and as long as well funded people believe it is not going to go away. BUT, this does expose a hoax.

Posted by: johngalt at October 19, 2010 2:44 PM
But JC thinks:

No hoaxes here just a bunch of horses blowing hot air out their tail pipes! I have been studying this issue for several years. Based on the recent increase in reputable scientific organizations that accept "antropogenic global warming" as fact, Harold Lewis' single resignation letter fails to provide "an important moment in science history". The one and only effect of his resignation letter is that of providing fuel for the bloggers and non-believers.

Posted by: JC at April 1, 2011 9:47 PM

September 21, 2010

New Favorite Blog Headline Ever

JK Wins

One hates to gloat...

Posted by John Kranz at 3:50 PM | Comments (4)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

No you don't!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 21, 2010 5:30 PM
But jk thinks:

No, I love it. But decent folk avoid it...

Posted by: jk at September 21, 2010 6:21 PM
But Terri thinks:

I can't believe I actually clicked through. doh

Posted by: Terri at September 22, 2010 10:52 AM
But jk thinks:

Hahahahahahahahahahaha!

Posted by: jk at September 22, 2010 11:03 AM

September 17, 2010

Quote of the Day

The first lady doesn't mind ordinary families eating out on special occasions. But, she claimed, restaurant efforts to reduce calories and fats have been insufficient. And too slow. "We just don't have the time to waste," Mrs. Obama added. -- Andrew Malcolm
Hat-tip: James Taranto. If you think FLOTUS's obesity campaign is mostly harmless, I suggest you follow the links and read her remarks.
Posted by John Kranz at 6:47 PM | Comments (2)
But Terri thinks:

Sorry JK, I'm still voting 'mostly harmless'. Her remarks are complements to the association for "their efforts" and letting them know she's doing what she can to get people to vote with their feet by ordering healthy items on the menus for their kids.
And if tax dollars are used to subsidize school lunches, I am good with buying actual vegetables vs pizza.
I'm sure I'll get skewered here, but Mrs. Obama is currently riding the wave of local (see NYC) laws concerning restaurants and giving her input.
Still harmless - it's just done by her and she's one to keep a close eye on.

Posted by: Terri at September 18, 2010 8:26 AM
But jk thinks:

Is that a dagger in my heart or a bacon cheeseburger?

I'll concede that she has yet to ask for explicit legislation. But she asks restaurants to give up their best selling items and make changes that will negatively affect customer satisfaction.

With a life in the public and non-profit sector, she and her husband have an ignorance bordering on contempt for businesses that compete for customers, Restauranting is an extremely competitive business and making your food a little less delicious impacts the bottom line.

Beyond liberty concerns, the government's advice has been so stupendously bad. Four food groups -- I mean four best lobbyist organizations? Following the food pyramid for 12 years gave me a pyramid shape. Maybe the First Lady's advice today is good and maybe not. But I disagree that it is her position to tell restaurants what they should serve em.

Posted by: jk at September 18, 2010 11:31 AM

Black Helicopters Appear in Broad Daylight...

...embarking from the White House.

Republican candidate for CO governor Dan Maes took some heat in early August for suggesting that statist influences at the United Nations are inserting themselves into state and municipal governments through an organization called ICLEI. I'll admit that if you've never heard of these self-important busybodies the whole idea can sound a bit conspiratorial. Even our own jk joked "See the bikes all come in black helicopters..."

Yet today, from the "just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not really out to get me" department, we have the White House's Ocean Policy Initiative.

What the administration in effect is putting in place is an alternative power structure that circumvents existing state and local decision-making bodies and replaces them with made-in-Washington zoning. All of this is taking place without the consent of Congress, without the consent of the governors, and, most important of all, without the consent of the governed.

Suddenly the idea that similar efforts to influence local decision-making by the U.N. might "threaten our personal freedoms" doesn't seem like such a crackpot remark. JK commented "Let's pick smarter fights than this, boys." I'll counter with, "Someone has to start connecting the dots for voters sooner or later. Let's hope that when they do it isn't too late to get our liberty back using the ballot box."

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:06 PM | Comments (0)

Thank You Senator Sherman!

John Sherman was first sent to the Senate in 1861. He had a distinguished career, serving in the Executive and legislative branches. In 1890, after returning to the Senate he passed the Sherman Antitrust Act.

Liberty is timeless. The words of Jefferson, Locke, and Cicero move us today. But legislation has a shelf life -- and this one had a little green fuzz around it in the nineteenth century.

One could not explain to the august Ohioan what a "Google" was, yet his 120 year old eponymous legislation is being employed by the firm's rent seeking competitors.

A debate in the WSJ Ed Page today asks "Is Google a Monopoly"

Amit Singhal of Google argues the competition is one click away. Charles Rule, an attorney whose firm represents corporations suing Google, counters that the company commands a share of search advertising in excess of 70%—the threshold for monopoly under the Sherman Act..

I/you/we have had a lot of bad things to say about Google. The firm warrants its own category and I see the latest post is entitled "Really, Really Evil."

But no firm has more honestly won its market share in the history of market share. Anybody can compete with them today and reach 100% of their customers. We were negotiating to sell our start up to a Google competitor as a last gasp to save ourselves. The company competes with <scary music>Microsift</scary music>, phone directories, Yahoo and is now threatened by Social Media sites.

They own no infrastructure to fend off competition. Like 'em or not, they (I tried to keep them singular, really I did) earn their monopoly every day by giving people what they want.

Requiescat in pace, Senator, your ghost is not needed here.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:40 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Well said. Unlike Microsoft, I'm no fan of Google. Yet suing Google over its commercial success is worthy of another Atlas Shrugged quote:

"We have the right to do it!" cried Taggart suddenly, in defiance to the stillness of the room. "We need it. We need it, don't we?" There was no answer. "We have the right to protect our livelihood!" Nobody opposed him, but he went on with a shrill, pleading insistence. "We'll be safe for the first time in centuries. Everybody will know his place and job, and everybody else's place and job—and we won't be at the mercy of every stray crank with a new idea. Nobody will push us out of business or steal our markets or undersell us or make us obsolete. Nobody will come to us offering some damn new gadget and putting us on the spot to decide whether we'll lose our shirt if we buy it, or whether we'll lose our shirt if we don't but somebody else does! We won't have to decide. Nobody will be permitted to decide anything; it will be decided once and for all."
Posted by: johngalt at September 17, 2010 3:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Oh yes, I forgot to mention one more thing:

BING!

Posted by: johngalt at September 17, 2010 10:41 PM

September 5, 2010

Please No More Taxes

Our brothers and sisters in the Keystone state probably already know about PleaseNoMoreTaxes.org but I just discovered them. Apparently there was a recent video contest to explain why you think taxes should not be raised further. I liked this one.

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

September 3, 2010

Ron Paul: Audit our Gold Reserves

I'm not a reflexive gold-standard guy, but I do believe that the Federal Reserve Banking system is hopelessly corrupt. I'd be glad to see stuff like this discussed in our nation's capitol:

Paul said everyone accuses him of wanting the gold standard but he said he doesn't accept that. “I accept the idea of a gold coin standard and I think we can do much better than what we had," he said. "There was a lot that they did pre-Fed that was not exactly right but we never had a disastrous loss of purchasing power long-term, we didn’t have a great depression, we didn’t have the 1970s with stagflation and we wouldn’t have what we have right now.”

(...)

Paul also said he wants to legalize the freedom for people to choose. “My proposal for now is to legalize the constitution to use gold and silver as legal tender in a parallel standard and have it compete with paper money. If people get tired of using the paper standard they can deal in gold or silver,” he said.

Hat tip: Our buddy Gabe

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:38 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Do I know Gabe? I have two buddies Gabe and cannot imagine either one passing this along.

No argument on a Fort Knox Audit or legalizing specie. I do not support Rep. Paul on an audit of the Fed. Craptastic though its results have been, I do not see an inquiry by Rep. Henry Waxman's (Moonbat - CA) improving them.

Posted by: jk at September 3, 2010 4:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

No, that wasn't a "royal" our. Jus' mine and the misses. I did send him a link though and encourage him to join in with our blathering.

Posted by: johngalt at September 3, 2010 4:25 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I can just picture a $1 gold coin. Anybody got a microscope?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 3, 2010 4:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

A $20 silver coin is roughly 1 ounce.

And if someone bought something from you using one you would feel like you had actually been paid.

Posted by: johngalt at September 3, 2010 5:44 PM

August 24, 2010

Another Boulder Power Boondoggle

Perhaps you've heard about the "green" power initiative called "smart grid." According to Wikipedia, "A smart grid, is, in essence, an attempt to require consumers to change their behavior around variable electric rates or to pay vastly increased rates for the privilege of reliable electrical service during high-demand conditions." Well, who in their right mind wouldn't want THAT in their home?!

As it is often eager to do, the city of Boulder, Colorado wanted to be a pioneer in transforming the smart grid into reality so they colluded with utility company Xcel Energy to wire up 23,000 homes at a projected cost in the neighborhood of $20 million. Now that the experiment is over and the final price was $45 million Xcel says, "We would not do that again over the whole service area," But in bailing out on the added cost Boulder says, "There is not a clear consensus among the members of the Boulder City Council with regard to the value of SmartGridCity in its present state or the prudence of this investment."

What? Boulder City Council considering the "prudence" of "investing" residents' money based upon "value?" Pinch me!

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:20 PM | Comments (3)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I've spotted the fallacy in your text. You have the phrase "... who in their right mind..." in a discussion of Boulder politics. That's like saying "... what thinking voter..." in a discussion of California politics. Sort of a sociological division by zero; logic fails, the fabric of the universe is rent asunder, Cthulhu awakens, and in the end, chaos.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at August 24, 2010 4:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not exactly a fallacy, merely sarcasm. For anyone who jumps up and says, "OOOh, pick me, pick me" to have his behavior dictated by the capricious pricing schemes of do-gooder utility bureaucrats (who couldn't explain a BTU with both hands) is most certainly not in his right mind.

Posted by: johngalt at August 25, 2010 3:02 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm just glad I saw "couldn't explain a BTU with both hands" before I drank my coffee, Five stars for that'n.

Posted by: jk at August 25, 2010 3:13 PM

August 23, 2010

Drew Carey, Call Your Office

I hope you caught at least a few of Drew Carey's awesome awesome awesome Reason.tv videos examining his home town's descent into craptitude. From being America's fifth largest city, the Cuyahoga Riviera has faded into irrelevance and privation, while municipal leaders call for more regulation and control. This'll bring 'em home! Insty calls them Big Brother Trash Carts:

Starting next year Cleveland residents face paying a $100 fine if they don't recycle, and the city's new high-tech trash cans will keep track if they don't. The new cans are embedded with radio frequency identification chips and bar codes which keep track of how often residents take them to the curb. If the chip shows you haven't brought your recycle can out in a while, a lucky trash supervisor will go through your can looking for recyclables. From the article: "Trash carts containing more than 10 percent recyclable material could lead to a $100 fine, according to Waste Collection Commissioner Ronnie Owens. Recyclables include glass, metal cans, plastic bottles, paper and cardboard."

Posted by John Kranz at 3:51 PM | Comments (1)
But Nick thinks:

I quite dislike this new law. Doing the right thing should NOT be something that you legislate. Otherwise, the right thing becomes the ONLY thing.

Posted by: Nick at August 25, 2010 10:10 PM

August 13, 2010

She's Baaaaaack

Rebel Economist GMU's Michelle Muccio:

Hat-tip: Insty (Though I think he just posts because she's attractive. I am deeply committed to reduced government spending.)

Flashback: Ms. Muccio on these pages in Feb 2009. Sigh. I may have mentioned her appearence back then as well.

UPDATE: Watch the old one and think about what could have been. For the same money as the Stimulus, we could have given a whole year payroll tax holiday. I don't think we'd have been looking at ~10% unemployment had we listened to an econ student instead of Washington.

AND: I wanted to assure our female viewership (both of them) that we will give equal time to the next super-hunky male economist that comes along. We might even institute a centerfold!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)

July 5, 2010

Happy Dependence Day!

Rush Limbaugh was the first I heard use the construction 'Happy Dependence Day' as a celebration of the Fourth of July under President Obama and the Democrat Congress. It's a fitting title for sharing the words of a more contemporary version of the song 'God Bless America' which I started last night and put the finishing touches on this morning. "Enjoy."

Gaia, bless America,
Land I assume;
Stand astride her,
And guide her,
Through the night,
With your might,
From D.C.

Where's my bailout;
Where's my health care;
Where's my solar,
Powered A/C;
Gaia, bless America,
My patriarch;
Gaia, bless America,
My patriarch.

Copyright holder 'johngalt' in the year of "Tbe One We've Been Waiting For" II (2010) and licensed for public use.

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

Instrument vs. Institution

I have not read Carroll Quigley's "The Evolution of Civilizations" but blog friend tg has turned me onto one theme from it that has changed my life: the idea that organizations begin as "instruments" with a fixed purpose but morph into "institutions" devoted to their own self-preservation. Again, I am paraphrasing a paraphrase (tg's was quite good, maybe he'll provide a link?) I'm certain to be missing much nuance.

But I am struck by its application to government agencies. It provides a very good reason not to create them.

Instapundit, Breitbart, and PowerLine talk about and embed an interview with Charles Bolden of NASA. Bolden tells Al-Jazeera (Tagline: hey, we're better than CNN!) that the President tasked him "to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with predominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering." Aww, isn't that sweet.

Paul at PowerLine notices that space exploration does not make the top three in President Obama's ToDo list. "The other two are 're-inspire children to want to get into science and math' and 'expand our international relationships,'" Man, I'm just feeling better about myself by the minute.

I'd suggest that no Federal agency has a clearer aegis than NASA. And yet, it is just one more honey pot of money that the current occupant of the White House can use for whatever pleases. President Huckabee will probably develop some great tasting Diet Tang®.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:20 AM | Comments (1)
But T. Greer thinks:

I introduced the institution/instrument thing on my post Death of a Nation. You have not misrepresented it in any way here. Like the best of ideas, it is both simple and powerful. No nuance need apply.

Posted by: T. Greer at July 5, 2010 7:37 PM

June 17, 2010

How Cap and Tax will be Passed ... THIS YEAR

For several months now I've taken scant comfort in the belief that "after the healthcare disaster there's no way that congress or the American people will allow the energy tax bill to pass." Then I read this analysis by RCP's Jay Cost:

The only reason to pass such a major piece of legislation during a lame duck session is because the proposal is unpopular. If Democrats could sell the bill to their constituents, they would pass it before the November elections then campaign on it. Party leaders must also expect that the political will for this bill will not exist in the 112th Congress after the voters have spoken in November. In other words, the new representatives coming in are not going to vote for it - so Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama had better get the representatives who were just fired to support it before they're forced into early retirement.

But Jay says the president would be wise to use caution, lest he hurt his own chances for re-election in '12:

Passing health care reform over howls of popular protest then jamming energy reform through a lame duck Congress might solidify the impression that this President is a bully who doesn't care what the people think. That would hand the Republicans a great valence issue for 2012. Nobody likes a bully, after all.

But if the president has already acquiesced to a belief that his re-election is doomed anyway...

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:29 PM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Obama's energy tyranny was legislatively stalled. The oil rig exploded when Obama needed such a thing the most, and the timing couldn't have been better if Obama's goons had planned it. As Rahm Emanuel said, never allow a crisis to go to waste.

Meanwhile, the American people are stupid enough to swallow the guff about "offshore drilling," when it's federal regulations that prevent them from safe, plentiful drilling on land and in shallow waters.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at June 17, 2010 3:52 PM

June 14, 2010

I'm From the Government and I'm here to Help!

John Stossel brings word that Senator Chuck Grassley (R - C2H5OH) is going to watch out for us on the college football realignment:

"Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) ... said his staff is exploring options through nonprofit and antitrust laws to approach the realignments.

'I'm concerned about what's happening the Texas universities and the PAC 10 and what would possibly be leaving some Big 12 teams out in the cold,' Grassley said in a Wednesday conference call. 'All I can tell you is my staff's looking into what can be done from a non-profit, anti-trust standpoint.


What a relief! I was afraid that was going to continue with little or no Federal oversight.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:05 PM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2010

"Unfettered" Capitalism

JK recently invoked a long-standing theme put forth by Blog Brother Silence: That without government guidance a capitalist economy necessarily results in an extreme gentrification of society, or a "Dickensian" world if you will. I noted in the comments that "it is not only the wealthy who can create wealth. At every level of the economic ladder, when value is traded for value wealth is created." A more thorough explanation of this fact is offered in a Wendy Milling essay: 'No Thomas Friedman, Capitalism is Perfect.'

Some degree of economic malady exists and will continue to exist under any system, including capitalism. It is not the responsibility of capitalism to eliminate, and it is not a feature of capitalism, but of a special facet of reality: Man's free will.

Individuals must perform mental and physical work in order to attain material values, but this requires an act of free will. The existence of free will means that some people will choose to have a different value system, and some will choose not to have values at all. In a pure capitalist system, the opportunity to achieve whatever prosperity level desired is available to everyone.

(...)

It is not the proper purpose or function of a politico-economic system to override the free will of man, and any attempt to do so is immoral. It would be an attempt to violate the rights of the virtuous for the sake of those who reject virtue, because in reality, the only way to start equalizing results for people who have chosen to reject effort is to rob from those who have not. To insist that people who demonstrate no commitment to achieving material values, value the materials anyway-and then blame capitalism for their not having them-is to border on the psychotic.

Now, what Wendy has described is only valid in a special place we like to call "reality." Opponents of capitalism can't prevail in the face of these facts using reason. In fact, many deny that reason exists. Instead, as Wendy writes, "they rely on obfuscations, equivocations, and an attitude of militant evasion. One trick is to make inappropriate demands of capitalism, then stomp and pout and denounce capitalism when those demands are not met." She calls this approach "crybaby metaphysics." That is apt teminology, and the reacton to the BP oil leak by President Obama casts him as Crybaby in Chief. ("Just plug the damn hole!")

Milling concludes by answering Friedman's sneering taunt, "But what say the tea partiers today? Who will step forward now and demand that the ‘energy market' be rescued from regulatory bondage?"

Observe that the government, beholden to an insane environmentalist ideology that views nature as an intrinsic value and superior to human beings, forbade oil companies to drill nearer to the coast line where there were shallow waters. In the shallow areas, an oil leak could be directly accessed. Instead, companies were only allowed to drill in areas too deep for current technology to address.

The liability risk in deep waters was too great for the oil companies to accept. This is an example of the inherent safety features in a free market. However, because we need the oil for our economy, politicians had to entice companies to drill there by capping liability limits on accidents, legally shielding them from the consequences of failure they would bear under a capitalist system. It is government that removes the safety controls and engenders unacceptably risky situations.

There is no regulation that can override the reality of a fundamentally flawed set-up like this, which is why the statists do not offer to explain why such regulations were not already in place in one of the most heavily regulated sectors of the economy.

It is also an open question what the actual economic damage will be, what it would be were the federal government not interfering with local authorities' attempts to mitigate the spill, and what adaptations the private sector will make to counter the new adversities.

Thus, if it were not for government interference, there might still have been an accident at some point, but there would have been no "disaster." Statism was the problem, and laissez-faire would have prevented this situation.

Capitalism is not to blame for the flaws of our mixed economy, the do-gooders' "fettering" is.

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:28 AM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2010

Truth in Media (no, REALLY)

Just when you thought it wasn't safe to consume any establishment media news product comes this in US News and World Report: Global Warming, Ethanol, DDT and Environmentalism’s Dark Side

Those who question global warming alarmists’ claims and policy prescriptions have been compared to holocaust deniers. Yet what are we to call environmentalists whose policies have resulted in the deaths of millions and could exacerbate poverty and hunger? The movie title Not Evil, Just Wrong may be too charitable.

Snap! Now that's what I call 'Hope and Change' in the news business. How did this happen? The story was written by Carrie Lukas, VP of Policy and Economics at the Independent Women's Forum (because "All issues are women's issues.") Their mission:

The Independent Women's Forum is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) research and educational institution. Founded in 1992, IWF focuses on issues of concern to women, men, and families. Our mission is to rebuild civil society by advancing economic liberty, personal responsibility, and political freedom. IWF builds support for a greater respect for limited government, equality under the law, property rights, free markets, strong families, and a powerful and effective national defense and foreign policy. IWF is home to some of the nation's most influential scholars—women who are committed to promoting and defending economic opportunity and political freedom.

OK, sounds good so far. They may have been founded in 1992 but it's hard to believe this has been their mission all along. I think JK'd have linked 'em by now! ;) Better late than never though.

UPDATE: Here's the link to the entire US N&WR entry and not just the excerpt on balanced-ed.org. It's an editorial. Oh well, the flicker of hope felt really good for those few minutes. Still check out iwf.org though.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:16 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

In my defense, I have linked to the filmmakers several times.

Posted by: jk at April 20, 2010 4:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I don't think iwf.org is affiliated with 'Not Evil, Just Wrong' but I could be wrong, not evil too.

Posted by: johngalt at April 20, 2010 5:23 PM

April 5, 2010

GM Owners Fine Rivals $16.4M for Non-existent Problem

AP:

"We now have proof that Toyota failed to live up to its legal obligations," LaHood said in a statement. "Worse yet, they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families."

Posted by John Kranz at 5:41 PM | Comments (2)
But Lisa M thinks:

Saw this on NRO just now and immediately thought of you. I think Toyota should sue all those people who faked their "sudden acceleration" for defamation to pay the fine.

Posted by: Lisa M at April 5, 2010 6:12 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

You know, "due process" is so antiquated nowadays...

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at April 5, 2010 11:03 PM

March 23, 2010

Why Health Care is so expensive

Just as the housing bubble can be traced to the Community Reinvestment Act, the American health care 'crisis' can be traced to EMTALA. This act, part of the 1986 Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is the origin of the treatment-on-demand mandate on American hospitals. The stick that makes hospitals comply is continued receipt of Medicare reimbursements. So why can't a private hospital choose to stop treating Medicare patients and, as an added bonus, indigent patients?

As with the CRA, EMTALA was made worse by subsequent amendments. Like this one:

"Though patients treated under EMTALA may or may not be able to pay or have insurance or other programs pay for the associated costs, they are legally responsible for any costs incurred as a result of their care under civil law. Patients whose advance intention it is to receive medical care and fail to pay cannot be held criminally liable unless they intentionally and knowingly provide false identifying information to dodge billing."

And yet, as amended...

"The patient cannot receive a negative credit mark for failure to pay the hospital or any related services, or any third-party agent collecting on their behalf."

Cockamamie.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:47 PM | Comments (0)

President Madison's Finger

My favorite story remains that President Madison, when brought a bill to finance internal improvements (Erie Canal, perhaps?) said "I cannot lay my finger on that part of the Constitution which gives me the authority to do this."

Y'know, I think -- even dead -- James Madison would be a better President than the recent crop. He is always rated low by historians. But historians typically do not appreciated enumerated powers nor limitations on Executive authority.

Got a link to complete this segue, jk, or are you just ramblin'? I got a link:

WASHINGTON – The Federal Reserve issued new rules on Tuesday to protect Americans from getting stung by unexpected fees or restrictions on gift cards.

Free at last, free at last! Great God Almighty, service fees on my $25 Chili's gift card will be free at last!

UPDATE: Oh man, do not miss tg's link!. "The Good and Welfare Clause!" First laugh I have had since Sunday night, tg, Though...you;re right...it's really not funny...

Posted by John Kranz at 11:00 AM | Comments (4)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

If these God-damned idiots (I say that literally) had the sense God gave them, they'd realize the unintended consequences. Stores and restaurants that didn't charge up-front fees for gift cards will now; those that already did will charge higher fees. If people won't pay the higher up-front fees, or new ones in the first place, then stores and restaurants will simply make up the losses by slightly increasing prices across the board, that's all.

Gift card fees are a source of revenue. It's true that the maintenance fees are far more than the cost of the electronic infrastructure. So do soda and popcorn at movie theatres.

I'd better stop right there before I give the feds a new idea...

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at March 23, 2010 11:32 AM
But jk thinks:

It's like Senator Clinton's crusade on ATM fees. You have a convenience, it has a cost. Unlike health insurance, nobody makes you buy it.

Posted by: jk at March 23, 2010 11:36 AM
But T. Greer thinks:

I was having similar thoughts. I read the constitution in its entirety twice yesterday just to make sure that I was not misreading anything or had missed a clause that might justify the bill.

I came up dry.

Posted by: T. Greer at March 23, 2010 2:27 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

And it seems I was not the only one.

Posted by: T. Greer at March 23, 2010 3:14 PM

March 22, 2010

Quote of the Day

DISCLAIMER: This is an anecdote, and as such proves nothing. Unless you're the president or the speaker of the House. -- Matt Welch, who did much to elect President Obama, yet is rewarded with QOTD honors on the darkest political day of my adult life.
Pretty sporting of me, huh? The short post is well worth a read.
Posted by John Kranz at 4:20 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2010

Napolitano on Obamacare

I hadn't seen this before. It's from last October and even if you've seen it, watch it again. Among other things the judge explains how federal government lawyers act to prevent unconstitutional laws from being judged so in court.

Hat tip: Home page of the Bill Cunningham Show

UPDATE (3/15): For those who didn't listen, and just because I want to see it in print, here is one of those other things the judge said: [closing minute]

"These gatherings are more important than anything you can imagine. Because in the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its maximum hour of danger. You are that generation! This is your role! Now is that time! Freedom must be defended from every assailant in every corner of this country, from outside the country, from inside the country, and especially from the government that wants to take it away from us. [applause] God bless you."
Posted by JohnGalt at 3:30 PM | Comments (0)

March 9, 2010

If the Naked Snow-Women Don't Get You...

I'm sick of all the libertarians (like John Stossel) insisting that we can live with less government! Who will protect us from the scourge of unregistered beer?

More than a dozen armed State Police officers conducted simultaneous raids last week on three popular Philadelphia bars known for their wide beer selections. The cops confiscated hundreds of bottles of expensive ales and lagers...

[...]

Although the bar owners had bought the beer legally from licensed Pennsylvania distributors and had paid all the necessary taxes, the police claimed that nobody had registered the precise names of the beers with the state Liquor Control Board ....

Based on a complaint from someone the State Police refuse to identify, three teams of officers converged last Thursday on the three bars, run by Leigh Maida and her husband....


Posted by John Kranz at 1:28 PM | Comments (7)
But jk thinks:

I'm thinkin' we stage a ThreeSOurces Liberty Night where we all drink unlicensed beer and gawk at naked snow women. It could be an annual event.

Posted by: jk at March 9, 2010 3:38 PM
But mcmhvonpa thinks:

Benjamin Franklin told us that beer is God's way of showing he loves mankind. Those who would deny our path to God's love are obviously in league with the DEVIL!!!

Posted by: mcmhvonpa at March 9, 2010 10:27 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I'll drink to that! I'll bet we can get Starrman to provide the unlicensed libations.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at March 10, 2010 10:04 AM
But jk thinks:

@mdmh: Amen and halleluia!!

@br: I married into a family of awesome brewers as well (plus she's beautiful -- what a lucky guy!) so I can cover the beer side. I'm a little more worried about acquiring a quality nekkid snow girl...

Posted by: jk at March 10, 2010 10:27 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Can it be ice instead of snow?

What a country!

Posted by: johngalt at March 11, 2010 11:29 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Gentlemen, may I take this time to mention that I recently procured a case of San Miguel (the regular lager export), and a double-case of San Miguel Dark?

With Manny Pacquiao's fight Saturday, a whole filet mignon to chow down on, and my beautiful wife by my side, life can't get any better.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at March 11, 2010 1:41 PM

March 5, 2010

Got Jobs?

The House of Representatives recently passed its own version of the largely symbolic, but very expensive, 15 ba-billion dollar jobs bill. What frustrates me most of all about this is how they ignore a simple and inexpensive way to create real, private-sector jobs, increase tax revenue, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. EnergyTomorrow.org sez:

Increasing access to oil and natural gas resources could generate nearly 160,000 new, well-paying jobs, $1.7 trillion in revenues to federal, state and local governments and greater energy security. And according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study, the U.S. oil and natural gas industry already supports 9.2 million American jobs and contributes more than $1 trillion to the national economy, or 7.5 percent GDP.

Our nation has vast on-and-offshore oil and natural gas resources that could be produced safely to put this country's economy back on its feet.

But it's not just domestic oil and gas that will provide the jobs and energy our nation needs. Canada, our friendly neighbor to the north and top supplier of oil, will continue to play a vital role as we seek greater energy and economic security.

According to a recent CERI study, the economic impact of Canadian oil sands development is expected to lead to 342,000 U.S. jobs between 2011 and 2015, and an estimated $34 billion to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015 and $42.2 billion in 2025.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Many answers to our economic woes are easy to find; if government hacks really intended to fix the economy they would do it.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:29 PM | Comments (0)

March 4, 2010

SuperTraiiiiinnnn!

Great stuff from Reason TV:

Colorado is looking to close offices, layoff teachers, and auction off elk herds on eBay to fill a budget gap, but the BillionDollarFasTraxBoondoggle is sacrosanct! If we have only $3 left, we're going to waste it on light rail.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:57 PM | Comments (1)
But HB thinks:

Funny, I thought of this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEZjzsnPhnw

Posted by: HB at March 4, 2010 11:26 PM

February 24, 2010

Understatement of the Year

George Soros, Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell and others are proposing to curb speculative trading and even outlaw it in credit default swap (CDS) markets. Their proposals appear to be based on a misconception of speculation and could harm financial markets.
Ya think?

This is the lead paragraph from a superb WSJ guest editorial that deserves a more serious link. It's one of my favorite topics the non-evil of speculation. The author is Professor Darrell Duffie of Stanford's Graduate School of Business.

Professor Duffie waxes his evil mustache and provides a credible defnse to those who absorb risk and provide information to markets.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:46 PM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I don't have a subscription, so without reading the rest of the article, I'll just point out that credit default swaps are a necessary tool for insuring both government debt and corporate debt. To restrict or outlaw "speculation" in CDS markets is to effectively restrict or outlaw CDS for everyone. So I can tell you without thinking for more than two seconds what will happen if they're restricted:

Municipalities will have to offer higher interest rates to attract borrowers. But if the expected debt service payments exceed what they can afford, they can't offer the debt in the first place. But no problem, they can rely on the federal government for a bailout. The Fed can keep printing more money to lend to the Treasury, whose securities are insured by the U.S. taxpayers.

Corporations will also have to offer higher interest rates on their debt offerings. But again, they can't offer the debt in the first place if the expected payments exceed what they can afford. More importantly, they won't offer the debt in the first place if the expected payments exceed the expected benefits. (A government by nature need not worry if the debt is actually worth it. Why should it?) So a company can't expand and therefore won't create new jobs, or it can't raise enough capital to stay solvent after some bad earnings and may have to lay off people.

Does anyone not see why I say this whole crisis has been engineered? Every proposal just makes things worse. We are witnesses to the destruction of capitalism so that the state can step in, tell us that markets failed "because of greed," and take over entire sectors.

One of the idiotic comments at the WSJ:

The issue is (kudos to Rick Santelli) is registration and regulation of the instruments. If they were registered and given a CUSIP the could be traded and a market would develop and that would set prices. That would tend to limit the proliferation at unreasonable values.
I am not opposed to private individuals and non-regulated entities creating CDS contracts. But when they are held as assets by regulated and taxpayer insured ,and defacto tax payer insured, entities they need full disclosure and markets.
This person clearly knows nothing about CDS. Proliferation is intrinsic to their nature. They're not a one-size-fits-all instrument, nothing like logging on your online brokerage account and buying the same June calls on XYZ that everyone else can.

Why should they need "full disclosure"? They're none of his business, or mine, no more than how much cottage cheese or filet mignon I just bought. Oh, but they're backed by the taxpayer, he says -- fine, so stop putting the taxpayer on the hook, and he won't need to care about what contracts others have.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 24, 2010 11:23 PM

February 22, 2010

Thank You, Mister President?

It could be a complete coincidence.

For convenience, I use one credit card for everything and I pay the balance every month. I have had this card for 11 years and it has been my exclusive card for three or more years. I have others but I seldom use them.

Yesterday, a charge of $25 or so for lunch was declined. I called to inquire today, and was told that my credit limit had been reduced from $33,500 to $3900. Thank you and have a nice day.

I don't think it rises to black helicopter conspiracy theories to believe that the adjustment, dated February 18, 2010 came just before the new credit card rules take effect February 22, 2010.

THANKS FOR LOOKING OUT FOR ME!! I REALLY APPRECIATE IT!!!

Must read Nick Gillespie’s Today is The First Day of The Rest of Your Life Under The Credit CARD Act. Which Means, Get Ready For All Sorts of New Fees.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:37 PM | Comments (3)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

You mean it wasn't declined because Obama was grabbing the check for you? He's grabbing everyone else's. And paying our rent and buying our gasoline, if you listen to some of him more gullible cult-minions.

Aren't you glad he's going to be paying for your healthcare coverage, too?

I trust I don't need the obligatory "/sarc off" tag...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 22, 2010 7:10 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Oh, and since I'm already in one of my moods, riddle me this:

On what legitimate basis does a government that, in the words of recently-cited Glenn Beck, cannot admit that it has a spending problem, cannot live within its means, and cannot balance its own gorram checkbook, presume to dictate to credit lenders and we free citizens the terms under which we agree to borrow and repay against the credit they are freely willing to extend?

Yeah, it's a rhetorical question, as well as one which is a challenge to diagram. Heh.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 22, 2010 7:21 PM
But jk thinks:

The Fifth Amendment "right to contract" was considered so sacrosanct that even abolitionist judges upheld slavery statutes. Lochner v. New York remains an odd bit of pre-progressive jurisprudence, turning somewhat on that sacred right.

Last year the Federal gub'mint dictated terms to preferred debt holders of GM and Chrysler, now sets the terms between my bank and I, and tomorrow suggests that it arbitrates premium increases for health insurers.

Did I mention the road goes straight up somedays?

Posted by: jk at February 22, 2010 8:10 PM

February 11, 2010

The Eight Scariest Words in the English Language

Max Baucus, Charles Grassley unveil $85B jobs bill

Posted by John Kranz at 3:03 PM | Comments (0)

February 4, 2010

...Or Are You Just Glad to See Me?

How long until we import this European idea?

A British farmer who secretly built a castle and hid it behind haystacks to avoid trouble from local planning authorities was ordered by a court Wednesday to demolish it.

Farmer Robert Fidler built the mock Tudor castle in Surrey and moved into it with his family in 2002.

He says he had applied in 1996 to build a house on his farmland, but the authorities wouldn't grant him permission. So, when he and his wife were feeling "desperate," they found a loophole in the British law.

Posted by JohnGalt at 9:49 PM | Comments (0)

GOP Ideas

Bloomberg's Margaret Carlson is calling the GOP's bluff on their claims to have ideas other than "no" for economic and health care reform. Most of her examples are flippant or revisionist so the main reason to link is for her accusation. OK, I'll give you an example:

You can't just wish something into being, like the heading in their "No-Cost Jobs Plan" that reads, "Tear Down Self-Imposed Obstacles to Economic Growth." In other words: clear-cut pesky regulations about mine safety and meat packing. We might die, but we'll be more competitive.

Now, for my money I think President Obama himself actually had the best idea. I don't remember which policy retreat he said this at, probably the one with the GOP, but he more or less said, "In order to make federal outlays match revenues we would have to cut spending across the board by something like sixty percent."

Tell you what, Mr. president - I'll settle for fifty.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:20 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Spendthrift!

Posted by: jk at February 4, 2010 3:31 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Never let it be said I'm unwilling to compromise.

Posted by: johngalt at February 5, 2010 3:11 PM

February 3, 2010

Taxes or Fees?

I love the smell of doublespeak in the morning.

Faced with severe budget shortfalls after a steep economic recession, state legislatures and governors are trying to raise money without raising taxes — at least not technically.

A fee hike, an increased penalty or fine, the elimination of a tax exemption — none of these technically counts as a tax increase, as far as many state lawmakers are concerned. Fiscal conservatives argue that a tax hikes are exactly what they are, but their arguments are likely to fall on deaf ears for legislators and governors wrestling with some of the worst budget deficits since the Great Depression.

"There's a certain American antipathy to raising taxes, so even if these are tax increases, there's an incentive to call them something else," said Joseph Henchman, director of state projects at the conservative Tax Foundation. "It's a trend we always see, but it's certainly going to be one that's stronger this year."


I feel for my friends from Colorado, but I suspect none of us are going to escape this.
On Monday, the Colorado House of Representatives approved eight bills eliminating tax exemptions on items ranging from online sales and farm equipment to restaurant napkins and plastic foam containers. The bills passed with no Republican support.

Were those tax increases? It depends on your political bent. To Democrats, the votes merely rid the books of tax breaks and loopholes for big business in order to avoid cuts to public schools and social services.

"It's time for corporate and other special interests to pay their fair share, and suspending a small fraction of the over $2 billion Colorado loses every year in corporate loopholes and giveaways is not too much to ask," Alan Franklin, president of ProgressNow Colorado, said in a statement after the vote.

To Republicans, the bills meant raising taxes on many of those who can least afford it: struggling farmers and ranchers, people running Internet-based businesses out of their homes, small businesses teetering on the brink of insolvency.

"At the worst possible time, we're making a choice to raise taxes on people who can't afford them anymore," state Rep. Scott Tipton, a Republican, said during the floor debate. "It's an overreach by government."

Posted by AlexC at 11:29 AM | Comments (7)
But jk thinks:

I'm sure we'll all be glad to hear that "Big Napkins" is finally going to pay its fair share around here!

Y'know, I'd love to get rid of exemptions and special tax rates. But I seem to notice my Colorado Democratic legislative friends always seek to normalize to the highest level.

Posted by: jk at February 3, 2010 11:59 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Thanks for bringing this to the blog brother ac. The story is reverberating across the nation, including Minneapolis where Jason Lewis was all over it in last night's first hour.

In addition to what's mentioned here Lewis points out that taxes will be imposed on software sales, internet sales (even to out-of-state buyers) and even on business to business sales.

(He also touches on why Gov. Ritter won't run for re-election. There's talk of an extra-marital affair with his U.S. Attorney nominee.)

Posted by: johngalt at February 3, 2010 2:58 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Let me make this easy on you, KA. The liberal definition of "fair share" is your share plus their share. Simple math.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 3, 2010 4:11 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I'm sure you all remember that California increased state income tax withholding by 10%, effectively so that people will have the privilege of giving Sacramento a 0% interest loan -- and possibly getting repaid with IOUs.

What isn't often mentioned is that Sacramento has slightly lowered its tax brackets, meaning the same income will pay higher taxes. The justification is "deflation," the sham borne of massaged statistics that give heavy weight to property prices and year-on-year fuel prices.

Keith, the liberal's concept of "fair share" is like a soon-to-be ex-wife's mentality: "What's mine is mine, what's ours is mine, what's yours is mine."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at February 3, 2010 10:22 PM
But johngalt thinks:

OK, I can't resist giving my version: "Fair" is what I say it is.

Also, a Heinlein quote: "Don't handicap your children by letting them believe that anything is ever fair."

Posted by: johngalt at February 4, 2010 12:31 PM
But jk thinks:

Heinlein begets PJ O'Rourke. His daughter complained that something wasn't fair. He responded that she was pretty, American, young, healthy, and relatively affluent, and suggested "you better hope things don't get fair too soon."

Posted by: jk at February 4, 2010 1:05 PM

January 26, 2010

Senate Nixes "Deficit Commission"

Hours ago a curious blend of Democrats and Republicans voted to establish a so-called blue ribbon panel to gin up various tax raising and spending cut packages to be sent up to the Hill. Fortunately, there were only 53 yes votes where 60 were required.

I read the list of GOP ayes thinking I'd find a handy checklist of big-government Republicans to campaign against in future elections, but some of the names on the list surprised me. Tennessee's Bob Corker and Mike Enzi of Wyoming, most notably. Here's the rest of the list:

Alexander (R-TN)
Bond (R-MO)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Collins (R-ME)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
LeMieux (R-FL)
Lugar (R-IN)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Wicker (R-MS)

Do they not know what Obama has in mind for them?

P.S. Our friend McCain was one of the 24 Republican Nays.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:52 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Senator McCain -- that guy should've been President!

The biggest name for me was Judd Gregg. One of the best and I think that this was his baby. I don't get it either, brother.

Posted by: jk at January 26, 2010 5:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I could see Gregg voting for this - he almost joined the Obama Administration after all.He's pretty well established his *strikethroughtext* RINO */strikethroughtext* "willing to compromise at all costs" bona fides.

[One of these days I'll remember the HTML for that.]

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2010 3:06 PM
But jk thinks:

<strike> </strike>

I live to serve...

Posted by: jk at January 27, 2010 3:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Hmmm, how might johngalt remember the command "strike?" Revoke my login if I ever forget!

Posted by: johngalt at January 28, 2010 1:57 AM

December 28, 2009

Elections Matter

Sprint showed us what it would look like "If Firefighters Ran the World."

Senators Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, Richard Durbin and Christopher Dodd show us what would happen "If the Mafia Ran the World."

Problem is, the Sprint ad was hypothetical and the Senate's actions are all too real. It can legitimately be argued that the Democrat party has become a full-fledged criminal syndicate. Just listen to Judge Napolitano.

Is what we are seeing today much different than if a majority of Mafioso had been elected to Congress?

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:02 PM | Comments (5)
But Keith thinks:

jg: that's SO not true. If the Mafia ran the Federal legislature, they'd be running it at a profit.

Ha.

Posted by: Keith at December 28, 2009 2:37 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Not to mention that whatever you kick up would be far less than current taxes...

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 28, 2009 2:54 PM
But Keith thinks:

Perry: great point. I hear that, since Red China is no longer buying our T-bills, one of the administrations went down to the docks last night to borrow a few trillion dollars from a guy. The guy turned him down, saying that Uncle Sam couldn't afford the vig.

Posted by: Keith at December 28, 2009 2:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You think congressmen aren't profiting from their activities? Why else you think they do this "thankless" job - benevolence?!

I know you were joshin' but all kidding aside, the analogy fits like a glove.

Posted by: johngalt at December 28, 2009 4:07 PM
But jk thinks:

If the analogy fits, you must aquits...

Posted by: jk at December 28, 2009 4:28 PM

December 17, 2009

Movin' to New York -- Too Crowded Here!

What do progressives love most? It's not global warming or taxes or shutting down a Walmart*

If you guessed "light rail" grab yourself an apple and granola bar.

Vincent Carroll of the Denver Post writes today on the Western High Speed Rail Alliance.

The brainchild of public agencies in four states — Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Utah — the rail alliance believes "the future mobility of people and freight in the West depends on high speed rail lines." Yet in supporting this dubious thesis in their opening press conference, officials misstated so many elementary facts as to cast doubt on whether they'd studied the issue at all.

An introductory video contained the first whopper. After explaining that in the future, "most of the fastest growing states will be in the West" — true enough — the narrator went on to claim that "for nearly a half century the primary focus for passenger rail has targeted the development and funding of Amtrak's Eastern corridor, an area losing population."


Which it isn't. but whatever...
To compound the demographic muddle, the general manager of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, Jacob Snow, told reporters that "our densities here in the West are very high and probably much higher than those areas referenced in much of the rest of the country."

Huh? What? Mister Snow should join a rock band. I have driven across those states a time or two, and the word "density" does not come to mind.
Yet when asked about the economic viability of their plans to link cities in the four states, Snow blithely mentioned the profits of the Central Japan Railway Co., which serves one of the densest, highly populated corridors in the world.

Well, okay then.

Hat-tip: @ariarmstrong

Posted by John Kranz at 2:36 PM | Comments (1)
But Keith thinks:

I don't think he means "dense" in the sense of "concentration of population." I parse his meaning as "the crowd I hang out with is more dense than in most parts of this nation."

Kind of like the guy at the roadwork site holding the sign with the word "Slow," and I can't help but think that's nothing to brag about...

Posted by: Keith at December 17, 2009 2:55 PM

December 9, 2009

Score one for jk!

A beloved non-moonbat relative is not a fan of expanding government, yet is convinced that the reason the local grocery store doesn't sell bad meat is fear of the USDA, not fear of reputation or lawsuits.

I just sent a link to this USA Today piece (no doubt the print version has a cute little graph showing tainted chickens...)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the meat it buys for the National School Lunch Program "meets or exceeds standards in commercial products."

That isn't always the case. McDonald's, Burger King and Costco, for instance, are far more rigorous in checking for bacteria and dangerous pathogens. They test the ground beef they buy five to 10 times more often than the USDA tests beef made for schools during a typical production day.

And the limits Jack in the Box and other big retailers set for certain bacteria in their burgers are up to 10 times more stringent than what the USDA sets for school beef.

For chicken, the USDA has supplied schools with thousands of tons of meat from old birds that might otherwise go to compost or pet food. Called "spent hens" because they're past their egg-laying prime, the chickens don't pass muster with Colonel Sanders— KFC won't buy them — and they don't pass the soup test, either. The Campbell Soup Company says it stopped using them a decade ago based on "quality considerations."


This represents an insidious acceptance of government power. Living a whole life of regulation -- many assume that they have been protected by regulation, when they would be better served by free markets.

A good little, expository story. Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 6:31 PM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Of course, you and I know why: we can easily stop going to a certain place if it seems unclean, or if the food sucks. Where's the "choice" for public school students? Yuck, I'm starting to remember the sour tuna pitas and other inedible crap that were the best promotion for brown-bagging.

There was a deli across from work where I usually got breakfast and lunch, and one day the new guy was chopping up vegetables for my omelette with an ungloved hand. I wonder if he understood, "That's gross!" He certainly understood my turning around and walking right out, never returning. There are plenty of other places I can go for clean food.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 9, 2009 10:09 PM

December 7, 2009

Two Dozen More Green Jobs!

We're plus 24 thanks to the new green economy we were promised. Yet, for some reason, John Stossel is not impressed.

Institutions like Summit Academy use stimulus money for their “results-oriented programs” that “empower adults” to “become educated, employed, contributing members of their community.”

Your money is being used to teach building weatherization skills; problem is, there seems to be little demand for these newly trained weatherization workers.

130 people have been through Summit's new weatherization program. But just a couple dozen have landed jobs.


If only there were some other way to connect workers with professions that people really wanted. There must be some way to do it.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:21 PM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2009

New Yorkers Can Rest Easy Now

John Stossel:

New York City is famous for lots of things. For one, New York pizza. Unfortunately, the city is also known for its ridiculous nanny-state laws. One pizzeria owner wrote in to a food blog about his struggles with regulators

Even though there are ZERO reports of anybody getting sick from reheated pizza-by-the-slice, Bloomberg's Nanny Brigade has moved in to restrict consumer choice and business opportunity.

We're from the government and we're here to help: protected from the scourge of pizza!

Posted by John Kranz at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2009

Citizens or Subjects?

Hat-tip: Virginia Postrel

Posted by John Kranz at 7:38 PM | Comments (1)
But Terri thinks:

YAY for Karen. Longmont had it's own issue with "free speech" (as long as you didn't spend $100.01 and filled out all the forms BEFORE you actually had knowledge of what you needed to spend to create those yard signs and flyers. )
http://www.timescall.com/News_Story.asp?ID=18781
As of this moment the judge set it aside for the November 2 election and is going to revisit it when time allows.

Posted by: Terri at November 20, 2009 9:17 AM

November 18, 2009

Turn Out the Lights

Hide your Brazillian Rosewood! They've raided Gibson!

An international crackdown on the use of endangered woods from the world's rain forests to make musical instruments bubbled over to Music City on Tuesday with a federal raid on Gibson Guitar 's manufacturing plant, but no arrests.

A Federal raid for f***ing wood! Executive power at its finest!

UPDATE: Rant of the Day: Where were you when wood became a felony? Read it all.

UPDATE II: I wish I could start over and make this post more serious. A good friend of the blog emailed the classical values link to me this morning. This is how liberty ends. Whatever happens to health care, the Feds (the Executive Branch) are now in charge of wood. Anything with wood in it. Anything made of wood. It's all in their purview now.

Because I did not do this post justice, please read the guy who does: www.classicalvalues.com

Posted by John Kranz at 6:57 PM | Comments (6)
But johngalt thinks:

It's called a freakin' JUNGLE!

Posted by: johngalt at November 19, 2009 2:18 AM
But Keith thinks:

Somebody tell the Federales: I've got a router, and I'm not afraid to use it.

And for the record, I think it was darned nice of me to avoid making any obvious jokes about the Feds taking control of wood - but someone ought to warn Bob Dole that they're coming for him next, and that commercial he made is virtually a confession in their eyes...

Posted by: Keith at November 19, 2009 2:08 PM
But sugarchuck thinks:

When Les Pauls are outlawed, only outlaws will have Les Pauls! Well, outlaws and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Posted by: sugarchuck at November 19, 2009 2:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

My first reaction was that federal regulators "just doing their jobs" is the same excuse that Nazi soldiers used for their willing participation in genocide. My second thought was that going after someone like Gibson first might have been an intentional effort by reasonable people to bring publicity to an unreasonable law.

Ahem: Just a little more of that old fashioned "rule of law."

And if this and more can be hidden in the measly 663 pages of Pelosi's farm bill, imagine the trojans and trap doors in her 2000 page stimulus bill. Not to mention the 2000 page house and senate versions of healthcare, likely to be 4000 when it comes out of reconciliation. (If it gets 60 votes in the senate on Saturday, chances are it can't be stopped after that.)

Posted by: johngalt at November 19, 2009 2:53 PM
But Riza Rivera thinks:

I guess once again. I'm bad and didn't know it or care. I'm a proud owner of a rosewood guitar. I love it. It's the crown jewel in my guitar collection. The sound is so rich. I'm not willing to give up my right to own a guitar or a gun. One day I'm playing that guitar again. That is my goal.

Posted by: Riza Rivera at November 20, 2009 1:20 PM
But jk thinks:

Shhh! I am sure my lovely bride was speaking hypothetically: If I owned a Brazilian Rosewood guitar and if I owned a gun to shoot the ass off the Fish and Game agent who came to collect it... (will they get FFG Kevlar vests like the ATF?)

Posted by: jk at November 20, 2009 1:27 PM

November 11, 2009

On Kelo

Possibly the two greatest paragraphs ever written in all of bloggery.

The people who run your city, the politicians who are full of bright ideas for improving your life by infringing on others' rights, and the black-robed genius who is tasked with interpreting our founding documents; NONE of these people are smarter than you.

NONE of these people are gifted with superior insight on how better to run your life or use our native resources. But they believe that they are. So without the brake of morality or explicit law, these geniuses and pols and town busybodies will extend professional courtesy to each other as they go about dismantling your life for some dubious utopian idea.


Read it all.

Posted by AlexC at 11:57 AM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

One quibble: "without the brake of individual liberty" would be better.

There's been too much "explicit law" that was well-intentioned but later usurped to undermine freedom, and law specifically meant to. A mere five "black-robed geniuses" cited what they deemed "explicit law" and let New London take Suzette Kelo's house. The health care "reform," if/once passed, would/will be "explicit law."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 11, 2009 2:17 PM

October 22, 2009

Don't Tell Captain Renault!

Fraud? In governmnet?

NYTimes: Fraud Reported in Program to Help New Homebuyers

WASHINGTON — Just as Congressional leaders are calling to extend a popular tax credit for first-time homebuyers, government investigators are reporting new findings that point to widespread fraud in the program.

Only the Times could make that so completely free of irony.

Hat-tip: @ariarmstrong (No, not teh bike rider, that's Lance...)

Posted by John Kranz at 1:51 PM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

"350,000 to 400,000 bought homes they could not have afforded without the credit..."

As Prof Reynolds would say, what could possibly go wrong?

Posted by: jk at October 22, 2009 1:57 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

1. If $8000 is make-or-break with buying a home, these are people who definitely should not be buying a home.

2. Of course, we should also take into account the fact that a lot of people could otherwise afford it if the government weren't raping them with taxes in the first place.

3. For the rest who are not committing fraud but receive more in the credit than the taxes they pay, they're getting homes at the expense of the rest of us. What a deal.

A government who robs Peter to pay Paul will always have the support of Paul. A government who robs Peter and is swindled by Paul won't care as long as it still has the support of Paul.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 22, 2009 2:51 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I wonder how much lower the average home cost would be if there had never been a tax break for mortgage interest. Several multiples of $8000 I bet.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 24, 2009 11:55 PM
But jk thinks:

Silence, you keep leaving comments like that, and we keep thinking you can be lured to the dark side. Capitalism without the fetters, baby! It’s a beautiful thing!

Posted by: jk at October 25, 2009 6:53 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I am a small government liberal, a rare breed some say is mythical. I lean toward larger government than Perry to be sure, but I think if you put me on a continuum I would closer to Perry than Pelosi.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 25, 2009 11:14 PM

October 15, 2009

All Hail Harsanyi!

How can Americans be expected to wrestle with the myriad dangers that confront them each day? Insalubrious cereal? Unregulated garage sales? Pools of death? Sometimes it's too much to process.

You know what we desperately are crying out for? An army of crusading federal regulatory agents with unfettered power. Who else has the fortitude and foresight to keep us all safe?


Whole thang.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:03 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Timely. I wondered yesterday afternoon how long it is going to be before Obama's feds go after homemade weather balloons. Over/under: 2 weeks. (There's no line on how many agencies will insert themselves.)

Posted by: johngalt at October 16, 2009 12:40 PM

October 14, 2009

White Guilt and other byproducts of modern public education

My word, what are they teaching at Berkeley these days? First from JK's morning read we have Cal Berkeley American History major Jennifer Burns writing a doctoral dissertation cum biography of Ayn Rand and next we see another Berkeley girl, this time a psychotherapist, quoting the late philosopher in her explanation of why whites voted for Obama.

Given the brainwashing of several generations, did millions of whites vote for Obama out of white guilt? Yes, but it runs deeper than this.

What's happening is not just white guilt, but white shame. Shame is a much more devastating emotion.

We feel guilty about an action, for instance, cheating on taxes or spouses. Shame makes us feel bad about who we are, as though something is wrong with us.

(...)

That is what happened with Julie, Joe, and Rose. They were dumped on so often by so many that they absorbed the shame and started detesting themselves.

Interestingly, Obama, in one of his autobiographies, reports being intrigued by Malcolm X's statement that, as a biracial man, he despised his whiteness; that he wished there was some way that he could excise his white blood.

Now we have millions of whites who are ashamed of their white blood. Coincidence?

And there's more.

Along with white guilt and shame, there's another reason why whites flocked to a leader with no experience in leading: white fear. While many liberals reside in safe towns, still there's always a threat.

Turn on the 6 o'clock news and hear about the latest cop murder or mob rampage. Rodney King riots in LA, the mayhem in Oakland, murdered police officers. Then listen to reportage that blames the victims.

Thuggery is celebrated. Bad guys are hecka cool; the innocents stupid and naive. Write a rap song about beating up a whore and killing a cop, and win a Grammy.

Think I'm exaggerating? If there isn't an atmosphere of racial fear, why did people threaten a race war if Obama lost? Why are dissenters tarred with the vile label of racist? (Translation: pure evil)

Many liberals voted for Obama in the hopes that all would be forgiven. That if whites handed over some power, finally we can move on and get along. We'll be safe.

Had someone like General Colin Powell or former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. been elected, we probably would not have a foreboding, fearful atmosphere. Though they lean left, both men are patriotic, experienced leaders who may have facilitated racial healing.

Ironically, White America envisioned forgiveness, a letting go of old wounds. Instead we have emboldened people obsessed with evil deeds carried out by citizens long dead.

If you want to see her Rand quotes you'll have to read the article. I've excerpted enough already.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:07 PM | Comments (9)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Yes, they are children. But being young(er) does not excuse them from knowing right from wrong. They are children, but they are not animals who should be allowed to run wild. Stealing is wrong. Hurting others (first) is wrong. Act honorably, especially by telling the truth. Isn't this what children should be taught from pre-K years? I was.

Children may not have a full capacity to reason, but they still have enough. If any act out of malice or "don't understand" that their actions are bad, then like adults, they should be locked away so they don't harm us. And if they simply cannot live peacably with the rest of us, then the rest of us need to put bullets through their medulla oblongatas and dispose of them like the animals they are.

You said that "both adults and children must be provided with alternatives..." But who is to "provide"? It's not my responsibility, ethically or even morally, to help others behave properly. It's their ethical and moral responsibility to not harm others.

Morality is absolute. If you find yourself in a bad situation, it does not excuse putting morality aside so you can "survive." Children never read the unedited stories of Sinbad the Sailor, who at one point was lowered into the cavern to be buried with his dead wife. He committed brutal murder to prolong his life at the end of others: a surviving spouse was given a little in the way of provisions, so Sinbad killed anyone else who was lowered with a dead spouse. This kept him alive until he found a way out.

At the risk of throwing out one personal anecdote after another, there was a punk in my 8th grade history class who delighted in walking up the aisles between desks and slapping the back of someone's head. Do you think he didn't know his behavior was wrong? After he did it to me twice, I stuck out my leg and tripped him. He fell down pretty hard but sadly was just lightly bruised at the most.

As much as the teacher wanted to get rid of him, she never could. He had "the right" to be there -- and that was the school district defending him from expulsion. His parents didn't care. So, I switched to a better class. Who knows where he is now, probably in and out of the state penitentiary.

Even in elementary school, there was one kid known as a bad seed. He went to a different junior high, and not long after, there was the story on the evening news: he walked out of class and was followed by the teacher, so he fired a shot from his concealed handgun (but thankfully missed the teacher). In 7th grade! The teacher would have never had the brush with dead if the punk had been put in juvie when he started to display violent behavior.

Another example: John Hehman was run over a few years ago when fleeing the hoodlums trying to rob him. You don't think they knew what they were doing was wrong, though they were as young as 11?

The parents may let their litters run around to destroy property and harming others, but it doesn't mean the rest of us need to put up with it. Stop the behavior early on, whether it's taking a 2x4 to their backsides or locking them up forever, and it's good odds that it will save lives in the future.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 16, 2009 1:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You and I know these things, but how many among us do not? Sure the virtues of not stealing, not hurting others and honesty should and usually are learned by kindergarten. But when did you learn, for example, that "morality is absolute?" All of the various moral codes I learned in my youth were contradictory with each other, and sometimes with themselves. The morality of altruism led to a bad decision on my part in choosing my first wife. I didn't learn a rational, consistent and unassailable morality until I was 37.

When these ideas are taught universally (and preferrably before the age of 37) then we will see true social progress.

Posted by: johngalt at October 16, 2009 2:24 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

A child does not need to understand it as "Morality is absolute" to realize the truth behind "I don't have lunch, Billy has a big lunch, but it's still not ok if I just take his lunch." This is simple reasoning that should (not always, but should) be something innate to people's thoughts and everyday behavior. You don't need to delve into more complex philosophies of individualism.

And if people are so irrational and/or malicious that they cannot behave morally, then that's just too bad -- for them, because the rest of us will deal with them accordingly. "I had a rough childhood" or "My parents never taught me right from wrong" is no excuse for sociopathy.

What "contradictory" things were you told are "moral" that you realize now are not "moral"? It's a world of difference between "It's ok to tell a little white lie" and "It's ok to shoplift and bash the cashier's head in if he tries to stop you." My father believed in some taxation and redistribution of wealth -- not regular welfare programs, but he loved Social Security and praised FDR's economic interventionism. He still taught me that it's wrong to steal and hurt other people.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 16, 2009 4:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm thinking of the many contradictions in the Christian Bible and how, to a rational person, they introduce doubt and distrust about the foundation of that morality. The example you give of your grandfather is a good example of how Christian morality is close enough to an objective human morality that it has credibility even among those who do not believe in the deity it is attributed to. But Christianity contains the poison pill of altruism that encourages its adherents to act inconsistently with the causes of his own prosperity.

Posted by: johngalt at October 18, 2009 1:35 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I'm unclear on how we're talking about the Bible now, but I see no contradictions, particularly in morality. You can still pray for someone's sake, yet defend yourself against the person. It says "Turn the other cheek," not "Let the person run you through."

That was my father who loved FDR, actually, not my grandfather. He was in his 50s when he met my mom, and he wasn't a Christian by any means. Yet there were basic standards of absolute morality he agreed with. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness.

But Christianity contains the poison pill of altruism that encourages its adherents to act inconsistently with the causes of his own prosperity.
Charity is a choice by a free individual. It's a person's right to give his wealth away, or to turn it into a big lump of gold and dump it in the Marianas Trench. But here you're using the specific term altruism, which is not necessarily the same as charitable giving.

This is an example taught to me as a microeconomics student. Let's say there's a hurricane, and supplies of ice are scarce. You have quite a bit of ice yourself, but you're concerned about people who really need it (e.g. stores and restaurants who need to preserve food). So, you set up an auction where it's sold to the highest bidder. That's still altruistic; that you're making a monetary profit does not matter. If you were selling purely to make a profit, it would not be altruistic. However, this shows that what appears to be greedy is not necessarily so.

Charity itself can be a powerful motivator to be more prosperous. The needy and the church can't do well unless people are prosperous enough to tithe, and there was nothing wrong with Abraham being a wealthy man. It also gives people a sense of self-satisfaction that working hard allows them to do good things with their money.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 21, 2009 12:27 PM
But Robin Thomas thinks:

I'm going to be leading a discussion in the African-American-themed dorm "Ujamaa" at Stanford this Thursday, October 29th, at 6 pm, on how education in the USA is making society more racist. I was very interested to read your comments. If any of you would like to be there on Thursday, shoot me an e-mail at robthom (at) stanford (dot) edu.

Posted by: Robin Thomas at October 25, 2009 11:31 PM

September 9, 2009

Obamacare: The Movie

This thought occurred to me last week, but I can't claim to be the first: The futuristic scenario painted by the Obamacare proposal, H.B. 3200 is remarkably similar to the 1972 sci-fi film 'Soylent Green.' Rick Carpenter at "Right Wing vs. The Wingnuts" blog posted his take last month:

What is interesting to me is that in the movie, the euthenasia of old people is a government-run program. Under ObamaCare, we are starting with 'death panels'.

What is discovered about the food product Soylent Green at the end of the movie seems far-fetched, in that they used the remains of the dead to produce the food wafers. I use the word 'seems' instead of 'is', because the Obama administration has already done some things that are so far-fetched and corrupt that I can't put anything outside the boundaries of their morals (lack), their conscience (lack), their defense of the Constitution (betrayal), or their love for the sovereignty of America (hatred).

Think Rick and I are just two of the strange ones? Jonah Goldberg is nearly with us.

Now, I don’t think Soylent Green-style solutions are coming down the pike. (...) But every nationalized health-care system to one degree or another rations care based on the quality of life and number of “life years” a procedure will yield. That’s perfectly reasonable. If you put me in charge of everyone’s health care, I would do that, too. That’s a really good argument for not giving me — or anyone else — that power.
Posted by JohnGalt at 3:38 PM | Comments (0)

September 1, 2009

But They'll Rock with Health Care

Metro to Close National Airport Station + Two Others Over Labor Day Weekend

Maintenance is very important. I just hope they get double time for working on Labor Day!

Hat-tip: @mkhammer

Posted by John Kranz at 4:46 PM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2009

BEAUTIFUL!

To the tune of 'The Candy Man'

"The government takes, everything we make;

to pay for all of their solutions;

Health Care Climate Change, Pollution;

Throw away the Constitution."

There's no embed option so you'll have to follow this link and click on 'The Government Can' for the video.

Hat tip: The Mike Rosen radio show, 850 KOA Denver.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:14 PM | Comments (0)

August 12, 2009

It's Getting Better All The Time...

You hear that folks? It's the government-run post office that is having the problems.

Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 12:40 AM | Comments (4)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Yes, the same post office that is set to lose $14 billion in the next two years right after raising rates yet again.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at August 12, 2009 11:06 AM
But jk thinks:

It's not a financial asssesment guys, you got it all wrong. He's merely pointing out that the compassion, courtesy and efficiency you value at the Post Office will now be available at your doctor's.

Posted by: jk at August 12, 2009 1:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Hey, cool - the president read my blog!

But he's comparing apples to Buicks. [For you kiddies out there, "Buick" used to be an automobile brand before the government took over operations at General Motors.]

- Do businesses get taxed on their FedEX or UPS shipping bills if they don't use the post office?

- Are the services of FedEX and UPS subject to the approval of a government "clearinghouse" for shipping?

- DO OUR VERY LIVES DEPEND ON THE ABILITY OF THE POST OFFICE TO DELIVER MAIL BY A CERTAIN TIME OR IN A PROFOUNDLY PROFESSIONAL AND CONSCIENTIOUS MANNER?

Do we want to see all of the medical professionals in this country have the same job satisfaction and customer service mindset as the average letter carrier?

If the Democrats get their way on health care reform it won't be long before the colloquialism "going postal" will be replaced by "going internist."

Posted by: johngalt at August 12, 2009 2:01 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And attacking the same absurd claim from another equally valid angle, Obama said: "As long as they [private insurers] have a good product and the government plan has to sustain itself through premiums and other non-tax revenue, private insurers should be able to compete with the government plan."

But private insurers won't have a good product because it will be subject to approval by the government clearinghouse, and the government plan won't have to sustain itself through non-tax revenue, because it's a government plan!

Oh wait - maybe there will be a "health insurance government plan lock box."

Posted by: johngalt at August 12, 2009 2:10 PM

July 29, 2009

Otequay of the ayday

I still contend that brother jk is missin' out by not having cable. FNC's 'America's Newsroom' regularly features US congressmen or senators commenting on affairs of the day and they tend to say the darnedest things. Just yesterday a congressman said, in essence, "these people who have gold plated health care coverage don't have the right to force everyone else to subsidize their coverage and that's why we should tax them." I wanted to give the verbatim quote with attribution but didn't think to record him. I didn't make that mistake today.

Representative Steven Lynch (D-MA) is chairman of the Postal Service Oversight Subcommittee. Commenting on the GAO report downgrading the USPS' credit worthiness in the wake of $2.8 B lost last year and $7 B projected to be lost this year he was asked by FNC's Bill Hemmer, "Fed-Ex is profitable. UPS is profitable. Is it time to start taking a serious look at making this government service private?"

"Well look, if Fed-Ex did what the post office did and if UPS did what the post office did they would not be profitable."

I'll leave the obvious conclusion to the reader, but there's more. In the very next breath he seemed to be channeling Jon Caldera on healthcare reform, but in reverse, and without even realizing it.

"They provide universal coverage six days a week to every business and home in America for forty-four cents, basically, for a letter. If you don't want that service then you could probably reduce the postal service's costs as well."

He even called it "universal coverage!"

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:26 PM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

We'll see how long I hold out. My lovely wife gets the eeeevil FOXNews on her phone. Curiously, my local-channels-only-in-analog cheapskate service includes CSPAN and much of the basic cable.

I hate to champion tax increases, but I think taxing gold plated coverage is an important step toward tax neutrality for individuals and corporations.

The Post Office quotes are awesome!

Posted by: jk at July 29, 2009 1:34 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"these people who have gold plated health care coverage don't have the right to force everyone else to subsidize their coverage and that's why we should tax them."

____ him and the horse he rode in on. This coming from someone in the one group whose health coverage is the very best in the world, whose health coverage by definition is paid for by others' labor.

I by stark contrast have an excellent health insurance policy, and I don't ask anyone to "subsidize" it in any way.

"You do what you want with your own scalp, and not be tellin' us what to do with ours!"

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 29, 2009 1:36 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm not defending the quote, Perry. But it is true that your employer gets tax treatment on your coverage that is not available to the individual of the self employed.

I want to break the cursed (please pronounce as two syllables) relationship between employers and health care -- I don't lose my car insurance if I change jobs.

The solution is to provide tax breaks for the individual, but also to -- sorry -- tax the employer until they are equal.

Posted by: jk at July 29, 2009 1:46 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I know you're not defending the quote. I'm just pointing out the utter hypocrisy of the SOB who said it.

I'm sure you agree that, once again, it's the state and its convoluted tax policies that skew markets and push us toward inefficiencies. But the only resolution should come from not taxing what people pay for private insurance, not by taxing businesses on insurance benefits they provide. Just because some rapes are more vicious than others doesn't mean we must "equalize" the victims by requiring all to be beaten to the worst extent.

Also, I don't expect that your car insurance pays for regular maintenance, or even failed parts outside of an accident (unless you have an extended warranty policy, a form of insurance). That's true insurance: you hope you never need it, but it's there "just in case" something unfortunate happens. No small problem with American health care is that too many people think health insurance is the way to pay for routine checkups, eye exams and dentist visits that they ought to be paying for out of pocket. An American family will consume, say, $10,000 worth of health care resources in a year, after paying $8000 in premiums, and then complain that their premiums are going up.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 30, 2009 12:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And yet, despite the obviousness of what PE says there is little hope this congress will do anything to fix those real problems, and achieve actual cost savings in the process.

Senator Udall, ARE YOU LISTENING?!!!!!

Posted by: johngalt at July 30, 2009 2:39 PM

July 18, 2009

Glad Gub'mint Won't Meddle in Car Companies

The only surprise is really that any in the Administration or Congress could promise -- with a straight face -- that they would not meddle. Chairman Barney Frank (D - America!) famously got caught keeping a parts depot in his district from closure. Now Senator Harkin (D - C2H5OH) thinks, surprise, that we should force the companies to support flex fuel. After all "we own them!"

Sen. Tom Harkin said he wants Congress to use a climate bill to force auto companies to make new cars and trucks capable of running on 85 percent ethanol as well as conventional gasoline.

"We own the automobile companies. Why not? I think that will be an easy one," Harkin said Thursday, referring to the government interests in Chrysler and General Motors.


Hat-tip: Instapundit. Professor Reynolds has received a couple of emails from me questioning his support of a flex fuel mandate. This is just brazen enough to float him into my camp on this. Harkin's a uniter, not a divider!

Posted by John Kranz at 3:15 PM | Comments (0)

July 7, 2009

Citizens or Subjects?

Is this really Raisin Bread?

I know the subject comes up at breakfast all the time. But rest assured, good people, your Government has protected you. And if it says "Rasin Bread" on the package, the full faith and credit of the Executive Branch will stand behind it:

(b) The name of the food is “raisin bread”, “raisin rolls”,“raisin buns”, as applicable. When the food contains not less than 2.56 percent by weight of whole egg solids, the name of the food may be “raisin and egg bread”, “raisin and egg rolls”, or “raisin and egg buns”, as applicable, accompanied by the statement “Contains – medium-sized egg(s) per pound” in the manner prescribed by Sec. 102.5(c)(3) of this chapter, the blank to be filled in with the number which represents the whole egg content of the food expressed to the nearest one-fifth egg but not greater than the amount actually present. For purposes of this regulation, whole egg solids are the edible contents of eggs calculated on a moisture-free basis and exclusive of any nonegg solids which may be present in standardized and other commercial egg products. One medium-sized egg is equivalent to 0.41 ounce of whole egg solids.

There's more if you can stand it on radio host Mike Slater's website.

Now they can get that BCS thing sorted out,

Posted by John Kranz at 3:33 PM | Comments (0)

July 3, 2009

GHG/CO2/AGW Hypothesis Fails "Ultimate Scientific Test"

More than one person on these pages has declared that there is a "consensus amongst the majority of serious scientists that man made global warming is a real phenomenon." The obvious implication is that anyone who disputes this is either an un-serious scientist or a crackpot. I now ask any of you who may still hold that belief, which label would you apply to Dr. Alan Carlin, the EPA's own Senior Operations Research Analyst? Previous ThreeSources blog posts here, here and here have referenced the internal dissent by Dr. Carlin against the hasty and apparently premeditated regulation of CO2 as an atmospheric "pollutant." In Carlin's own words, here is what he has to say about the state of the GHG/CO2/AGW "science."

I have become increasingly concerned that EPA has itself paid too little attention to the science of global warming. EPA and others have tended to accept the findings reached by outside groups, particularly the IPCC and the CCSP, as being correct without a careful and critical examination of their conclusions and documentation. If they should be found to be incorrect at a later date, however, and EPA is found not to have made a really careful independent review of them before reaching its decisions on endangerment, it appears likely that it is EPA rather than these other groups that may be blamed for any errors. Restricting the source of inputs into the process to these these two sources may make EPA’s current task easier but it may come with enormous costs later if they should result in policies that may not be scientifically supportable.

This is profound enough in its own right. But there is more:

It is of great importance that the Agency recognize the difference between an effort that has consumed tens of billions of dollars by the IPCC, the CCSP, and some additional European, particularly British, funding over a period of at least 15 years with what I have been able to pull together in less than a week. (...) What is actually noteworthy about this effort is not the relative apparent scientific shine of the two sides but rather the relative ease with which major holes have been found in the GHG/CO2/AGW argument. In many cases the most important arguments are based not on multi-million dollar research efforts but by simple observation of available data which has surprisingly received so little scrutiny. The best example of this is the MSU satellite data on global temperatures. Simple scrutiny of this data yields what to me are stunning observations. Yet this has received surprisingly little study or at least publicity. In the end it must be emphasized that the issue is not which side has spent the most money or published the most peer-reviewed papers, or been supported by more scientific organizations. The issue is rather whether the GHG/CO2/AGW hypothesis meets the ultimate scientific test—conformance with real world data. What these comments show is that it is this ultimate test that the hypothesis fails; this is why EPA needs to carefully reexamine the science behind global warming before proposing an endangerment finding. This will take more than four days but is the most important thing I can do right now and in the coming weeks and months and possibly even years.

Emphasis mine. In Dr. Carlin's 85 page review report, composed in about 4 of the 5 days he was given to review the Draft Technical Support Document for Endangerment Analysis for Greenhouse Gas Emissions under the Clean Air Act he made 19 specific recomended revisions to the TSD. In the Executive Summary section he pretty much sums up his opinion with this:

These inconsistencies between the TSD analysis and scientific observations are so important and sufficiently abstruse that in my view EPA needs to make an independent analysis of the science of global warming rather than adopting the conclusions of the IPCC and CCSP without much more careful and independent EPA staff review than is evidenced by the Draft TSP. Adopting the scientific conclusions of an outside group such as the IPCC or CCSP without thorough review by EPA is not in the EPA tradition anyway, and there seems to be little reason to change the tradition in this case. If their conclusions should be incorrect and EPA acts on them, it is EPA that will be blamed for inadequate research and understanding and reaching a possibly inaccurate determination of endangerment. Given the downward trend in temperatures since 1998 (which some think will continue until about 2030 given the 60 year cycle described in Section 2) there is no particular reason to rush into decisions based on a scientific hypothesis that does not appear to explain much of the available data.
Posted by JohnGalt at 5:37 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Like the folks at Americans for Limited Government, I'll label Dr. Carlin an American hero.

Posted by: jk at July 3, 2009 6:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, the Presidential Medal of Freedom is an excellent idea.

When I think of Dr. Alan Carlin and what he's done, one image comes to mind. Tank Man.

Posted by: johngalt at July 4, 2009 12:21 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

"Serious scientist": one who agrees with liberals.

Any other scientist isn't even called "unserious," but labeled a crackpot or Flat-Earthist.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 5, 2009 9:09 AM

June 26, 2009

"Balanced" and "sensible" climate change bill passes House

That's the spin thrown on the bill by President Obama yesterday. Surely it was far from either of those qualities at the time, but prior to passage another 300 pages were shoe-horned in ... at 3 am this morning! [What in the hell is the fixation that Washington politicians have with that time of day?] Minority Leader Boehner said the obvious:



And here are a few floor quotes:

Rep. Geoff Davis, a Republican from Kentucky, said the cap-and-trade bill represented the "economic colonization of the heartland" by New York and California.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) called the bill a “scam” that would do nothing but satisfy “the twisted desires of radical environmentalists.”
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) called it a “massive transfer of wealth” from the United States to foreign countries.

Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio countered that, without the bill, the United States would remain energy-dependent on people who want to “fly planes into our buildings.”

I'd hoped to insert a bulleted list of ways that this bill is a colonoscopy for America but then I realized, Who the hell knows what it does... it jumped from 1200 pages to 1500 overnight!

But it's far from law yet. Next stop: the Senate.

(Note that as the lions share of H.R. 2454 was written by the environmental lobby this post qualifies for the coveted "dirty hippies" category.)

And kudos to JK for naming the 8 RINOs who voted for this treasonous piece of crap. Just four of them switching sides would have spiked it.

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:55 PM | Comments (6)
But AlexC thinks:

That jagoff Kirk wants to run for Obama's former Senate seat.

Good luck with that.

Posted by: AlexC at June 26, 2009 11:33 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Of the 44 Democrats voting no, one is from Colorado and four are from PA. I'll tell you what - my respect for John Salazar (CO-3) just grew three sizes larger.

Posted by: johngalt at June 27, 2009 10:06 AM
But jk thinks:

Well done, Mister Leader!

I tend to give up before trying on my representation, but Colorado's two freshman Democrat Senators could well feel a little heat on this issue.

To take up an Instapundit riff, having the next Tea Party outside of Senator Udall's or Bennett's office might be a better blow for freedom than a photo-op outside the Capitol.

Posted by: jk at June 27, 2009 11:50 AM
But johngalt thinks:

If Mark Udall might face heat on this issue in 2010 he doesn't seem to feel it at the moment. One of the stories I read yesterday said a few senators were working the halls of congress twisting arms for a yes vote. Mark Udall (D-CO) was the one mentioned by name.

I'm in for a TEA (Taking Energy Away) party at one of Markey's offices. Instead of pitchforks we'll carry empty gas cans. (Shall we try to organize something for next week?)

Posted by: johngalt at June 27, 2009 3:27 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm thinking we'd have better luck with Bennett, but that it would be a good exercise to scare Senator Udall. He is used to catering to CO-2 collectivists and a reminder that Boulder is not the whole state, dude, might be a good lesson.

They're pushing on Twitter for GOP defectors (great Twitter tag #capandtr8tors) to change their vote as you suggest with Markey. Is that realistic? I cannot imagine that the same effort would not be better directed at the Senate, but I am open to discussion.

Posted by: jk at June 27, 2009 6:29 PM
But HB thinks:

Best quote:

“I look forward to spending the next 100 years trying to fix this legislation,” said California Republican Brian Bilbray.

Posted by: HB at June 27, 2009 10:15 PM

June 24, 2009

We're From The Government

-- And we're here to help!

Citi has to raise salaries for retention, because of restrictions on bonuses. AP:

NEW YORK -- Citigroup Inc. is increasing base salaries for many of its employees as it restructures its compensation program amid new restrictions on bonus payments.

The increased salaries will offset lower bonuses, according to a person familiar with the matter who requested anonymity because the plans have not been made public. The higher salaries are not the equivalent of annual raises, the person added.

Citi faces restrictions on bonuses as part of a new government compensation oversight plan because the bank received bailout funds from the Treasury Department.


Of course, salaries are paid irrespective of personal or corporate performance, so this will be a drag on Citi's balance sheet and give the firm less flexibility to manage labor -- but at least there will be no embarrassing (to Congress) bonus stories.

Ahh, let's see, what can we fix next? Chairman Barney Frank has a great idea: lower the standards for Fannie and Freddie to underwrite Condo loans. What a brilliant idea. WSJ Ed Page:

Back when the housing mania was taking off, Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank famously said he wanted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to "roll the dice" in the name of affordable housing. That didn't turn out so well, but Mr. Frank has since only accumulated more power. And now he is returning to the scene of the calamity -- with your money. He and New York Representative Anthony Weiner have sent a letter to the heads of Fannie and Freddie exhorting them to lower lending standards for condo buyers.

You read that right. After two years of telling us how lax lending standards drove up the market and led to loans that should never have been made, Mr. Frank wants Fannie and Freddie to take more risk in condo developments with high percentages of unsold units, high delinquency rates or high concentrations of ownership within the development.- this is the kind of thinking we cant get in the provate sectpor. WSJ Ed Page:


Imagine what these people could to health care -- no, wait, you don't have to! They're already running the VA. Take it away, AP:
WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is calling for more centralized control of the VA medical system after recent breakdowns in cleaning colonoscopy equipment exposed thousands of veterans to the risk of contracting HIV and other infections.

In prepared remarks to be delivered at a Wednesday hearing, Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii said that disparities in quality control procedures at VA medical centers raise questions about whether local or national leaders are in charge.


Don't thank them -- it's all in a day's work for The Government!

Posted by John Kranz at 10:17 AM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

There cannot be a better metaphor for government services to individuals than un-clean colonoscopy equipment.

Posted by: johngalt at June 24, 2009 2:44 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Touche, JG!

You get the coffee-spluttered-on-the-keyboard award for today.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at June 24, 2009 4:27 PM
But Keith thinks:

I salute you and bow to your wisdom, johngalt - that's a more fitting metaphor for the government than my DC train wreck example. You win.

Skipping lunch now...

Posted by: Keith at June 24, 2009 4:57 PM
But jk thinks:

Ahh, close enough for government work...

Remember, GOP, the choice is not between dirty and clean -- the choice is between dirty and virtual.

Posted by: jk at June 24, 2009 5:01 PM

May 15, 2009

For Sale: The Golden State

I really wanted to include a little graphic showing the state of California with a FOR SALE sign planted in it right about at Sacramento. Well, just use your imagination.

California's Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed selling a number of state landmarks (state ownership of which is in some doubt) to raise cash and balance the state budget. One-time proceeds are estimated at $1 billion. The budget shortfall is $15.4 billion, just for the next fiscal year. Obviously state officials need more stuff to put in their garage sale. Hmm, I wonder what California has that someone might be willing to pay cash for (other than federal bailout dollars, that is.) Gee, that's a tough one!

According to this handy interactive graphic the total government lease royalty revenue that would result from lifting current oil and gas production moratoria is $1695 billion and of that amount, $1386 billion of it comes from the outer continental shelf (Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf regions combined.) A summary report here provides numerous tables showing the breakdown by area but none were clear enough for me to cite specifically. Let it suffice to say the California budget shortfall, at $15.4 billion, is a bit over 1 percent of the possible OCS government windfall. If the Governator would simply work toward responsible development of his state's natural resources he could balance its budget overnight, and for decades to come.

As an added bonus, the productive half of America might even throw in legalization of pot!

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:46 AM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

I'm just happy the Governator is listening to Reason TV as they point out some of the goodies that are available.

Great point on the revenues from energy production. If we could duct tape Senators Boxer and Feinstein in a box* for a couple of days and override the bans, would the Golden State's production be viable at current prices?

*ThreeSources does not recommend or condone violent behavior directed at legitimately elected officials. This was merely a dramatic device to suggest possible passage of legislation that the current Senatorial representation of California has long opposed.

Posted by: jk at May 15, 2009 11:42 AM
But Keith thinks:

California going bankrupt while refusing to pump all that nice, shiny, revenue-producing oil isn't far removed from half a billion people starving in India while porterhouses and top sirloins on four legs walk around unmolested and uneaten on their city streets.

THERE'S a worthy run-on sentence to make a well-deserved point. The picturesque tone of voice is just a fringe benefit.

All that being said, I must once again apologize to the whole nation for my state. Let's just face it: we're heap plenty stupid. We gave you Feinstein, Boxer, Schwarzenegger, Waters, and come next Tuesday, we'll see whether we're still stupid.

I'm sorry. I'm really, really sorry.

Posted by: Keith at May 15, 2009 4:32 PM
But jk thinks:

A feller in the 2nd Congressional Colorado district is not going to cast any stones (not without a permit, Kieth).

The Reason video reminded me the hope I had for Ahnold. All humor of the video aside, it underscores just how bankrupt (philosophically) the system is. Watch those union folk -- those teachers "Ain't got none attention of giving nothing up!"

Schwarzenegger was a rare chance: he had the star power to get elected as an individualist in a collectivist-leaning state and he had toughness to stand up to the opposition. The California Public Union Sector trained him like a puppy. Is there another one left, Yoda?

Posted by: jk at May 15, 2009 5:02 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I see today evidence that the "sell Cahl-ee-fohrn-ya's state landmarks" proposal was little more than a campaign stunt. It was aimed at bolstering support for tomorrow's tax increase ballot measures (which Keith alluded to in his comment.) The half-dozen or so initiatives would raise taxes to collect, as I understand it, an additional $6 billion per year for 3 years from CA taxpayers (read: those "white people" who gathered on Capitol steps nationwide last month). If they fail, as the polls suggest most will, the supposed result will be "deep spending cuts."

Good NED, can we get some of those ballot measures in OUR state too??

Posted by: johngalt at May 18, 2009 1:36 PM
But Keith thinks:

johngalt: for more on tomorrow's wacky ballot measures in California, see here:

http://tinyurl.com/ooehz7

I did an update yesterday pointing my readers back here, and we have a lively conversation going among my readers in which you're always welcome to participate. Heaven knows a good lesson in free-market economics and the proper role of government is sorely needed by Californians, especially our elected overlords...

Posted by: Keith at May 18, 2009 1:55 PM

May 12, 2009

We're From the Government...

And these are the people we want to run our health care system?


Millions of Americans on Social Security are receiving $250 checks as part of the president's stimulus plan -- including an Anne Arundel woman who died more than 40 years ago.

The woman's son, 83-year-old James Hagner, said he got the surprise when he checked his mailbox late last week.

"It shocked me and I laughed all at the same time," Hagner said. "I don't even expect to get one my own self, and I get one for my mother for 43 years ago?"

His mother, Rose, died on Memorial Day in 1967.

Social Security representatives said there is a good explanation. Of the about 52 million checks that have been mailed out, about 10,000 of those have been sent to people who are deceased.

Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 10:18 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

"US Department of Wellness and Vitality representatives said there is a good explanation. Of the about 52 million doses of Murthazine provided, only a little over 10,000 of those have been given to people with a fatal reaction."

Posted by: jk at May 13, 2009 11:06 AM
But jk thinks:

I Thought I was kidding about Murthazine. Then again:

The other nephew - Robert C. Murtha, Jr. - a former Marine, runs a company in Glen Burnie, Maryland, called Murtech Inc. According to The Washington Post, “Last year, Murtech received $4 million in Pentagon work, all of it without competition, for a variety of warehousing and engineering services.”

Posted by: jk at May 13, 2009 12:13 PM

May 11, 2009

Fuel Economy Buffoonery

It was bound to happen: The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid - "The most fuel efficient mid-sized sedan in America." EPA rated 41 mpg city/36 mpg highway.

You read that right, brother. It is supposedly MORE fuel efficient in town than on the open road. ("Smart" drivers will doubtless pull over and stop every mile or so to improve their highway mileage.)

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:39 PM | Comments (2)
But Keith thinks:

I'm assuming - more efficient in town than on the four-lane because in town, the carbon-based engine shares duty with the electric motor, while freeway speeds on the four-lane require full-time use of the gasoline burner, because battery power can't push you along at a speed needed for freeway driving?

Alternative cynical theory: getting out and pushing can be done on city streets only.

Posted by: Keith at May 11, 2009 4:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, more or less. And the salient point is this: What is the battery's state of charge at the beginning and end of the test?

Posted by: johngalt at May 11, 2009 5:17 PM

May 4, 2009

Government Intrustion 101

Today's Denver Post featured this story about a couple of young entrepreneurs in Salida, Colorado. These kids, nine and ten respectilvey, spent their winter building bird houses to sell in the spring. The enterprise was encouraged by their father.

Hunter's dad, Eric Beem, dreamed up the idea for his son's birdhouse business as a way to teach him things like self-reliance and money management.

"It's hard for parents," he said. "When kids want something, it's easier to shell out money" than to figure out how to teach them how how to leverage their talents for pocket change.

Sounds quintessentially American. Unfortunately, the long arm of government stepped in, which is also becoming quintessentially American.

It all stopped when the code enforcer told them they could get a ticket for peddling products without the proper paperwork.

Then she handed them a business card with a number at city hall to call for information about the license and how much it would cost.

For now, the kids are shut down. The Salida City Council is considering and ordinance change. Wow. Responsive government in action.

Of course, that's just the beginning of the lesson. Soon, the kids will learn that they need to register their business with the State of Colorado. As part of that process, they'll need to get an Employer Identification Number from both the IRS and the State. They must also call the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and get a separate UI number.

As a seasonal business, they'll need to determine their filing status and likely file form 941 on a quarterly basis. Failure to file can result in penalties, interest and criminal charges. At the same time, they need to file form 1000-100 with the State on a quarterly basis for state withholding. In addition, they must file and pay the Quarterly Unemployment Wage Report on the first $10,000 of income per annum based on a rate provided by the state. This must be paid by the business and cannot be withheld from employee's paychecks, and no one is exempt. At year end, send all employees a W2 and all contractors a 1099. Then, send form W3 to the IRS, Social Security Administration, and the State Department of Revenue. Be sure to file on time to avoid penalties and interest.

They also must not forget to obtain worker's compensation insurance as mandated by the State. As business owners, they can exempt themselves from coverage, but must file the appropriate affidavit. Appropriate notifications and posters must be posted in a conspicuous location so that all employees can see their rights regarding unemployment and worker's compensation. Failure to do so can result in fines. They must also select a state-approved healthcare provider for all worker's comp injury examinations and claims.

It's not a bad idea for them to look into a general business liability umbrella policy as well. Should one of the wires holding the bird house break and the house hit someone on the head, there could be signficant business liability.

The bird houses were almost certainly made using saws, so OSHA has oversight regarding workplace safety. The fire marshall is also entitled to inspect the premises annually, without notice. Failure to comply with any related regulation can result in closing the business and fines.

The bird houses probably were painted or varnished to protect against the weather. OSHA can determine whether or not adequate ventilation and personal protective gear is available. If not, see above regarding business closure and fines. EPA and state agencies have oversight regarding the disposal of the empty paint/varnish containers and paint brushes. They must be disposed of in approved locations.

Because bird houses are often handled by kids, the houses must be tested and certified as lead-free. Any inventory that has not been tested must be disposed of as directed by EPA.

There you go, kids - have fun! Learn what America, the Land of Opportunity, is all about. Of course, you might consider a lemonade stand, but then we'd have to get the health department involved...

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 10:51 AM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Awesome post. Many people don't connect with the abstract freedom I talk about. This is what a government managed economy looks like.

Posted by: jk at May 4, 2009 4:25 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

BR-

Thank you for this. I can't help but think this is one of the best posts I have seen on this site.

Well done.

Posted by: T. Greer at May 4, 2009 5:24 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I blush...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at May 4, 2009 5:55 PM

April 19, 2009

Fly Murtha Airways!

I don't think this is quite what Mister Madison had in mind. At the John Murtha Airport, the screeners outnumber the passengers -- but Federal Jack keeps it in operation.

Inside the terminal on a recent weekday, four passengers lined up to board a flight, outnumbered by seven security staff members and supervisors, all suited up in gloves and uniforms to screen six pieces of luggage. For three hours that day, no commercial or private planes took off or landed. Three commercial flights leave the airport on weekdays, all bound for Dulles International Airport.

The key to the airport's gleaming facilities -- and, indeed, its continued existence -- is $200 million in federal funds in the past decade and the powerful patron who steered most of that money here. Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) is credited with securing at least $150 million for the airport. It was among the first in the country to win funding from this year's stimulus package: $800,000 to repave a backup runway.

The facility, newly renamed the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, is a testament to Murtha's ability to tap streams of federal money for pricey, state-of-the-art projects that are rare among regional airports of comparable size.


Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 12:47 PM | Comments (0)

April 8, 2009

Whom Have We Empowered?

The WSJ (news pages) today carry a chilling story of the man Sec Paulson brought in to oversee TARP funds.

As the government continues to pour cash into the economy, Mr. Lambright, 38 years old, has become one of the most powerful men in American finance. Unknown to most outside the Treasury building, he's an embodiment of how power in the economy has shifted -- for good or ill -- to Washington.

The chief investment officer of the Troubled Asset Relief Program has engineered $350 billion in deals for the U.S. government since October, more than many investment banks would do in a good year. His team interviews candidates for company board seats. Top executives regularly call him and his team for advice.


Neither gub'mint nor Wall Street is beanbag, but the story of Lambright's "toughness" is disturbing. Don Luskin highlights his intransigence on New Year's Eve as companies desperately tried to get funds deposited before the new year. No, we don't want a cream puff shoveling out taxpayer dollars, but Lambright was appointed by a guy who was appointed. He was neither elected nor explicitly under oversight. He is a free range actor with billions of our dollars to prop up the financial system -- or his own, non-diminutive ego.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2009

What is the Constitutional Term Limit on Dictator of the United States?

Hot on the tail of my blog showing Twice as many now believe U.S. evolving into socialist state comes former Speaker of the House of the United States, Newt Gingrich, saying the country is heading to a dictatorship.

"My specific reference was to dictatorial powers, that I thought that Secretary of the Treasury Geithner was asking for, where he would decide what companies to take over, he would decide under what circumstances, and let me tell ya, the American system was not built for one bureaucrat to decide whether or not they're gonna take your property. (...) And then look at what they're trying to do on the budget, where they're trying to ram through a resolution, to break the rules of the Senate, to be able to get through both an energy tax increase and a massive change in our health system on 51 votes, which is clearly a power grab of unprecedented proportions. I think dictatorial is a strong word, but it may frighteningly be the right word."

Is anyone else beginning to wonder why Obama doesn't seem concerned about re-election?

Posted by JohnGalt at 9:57 AM | Comments (9)
But johngalt thinks:

The inference that Obama may not intend to step down was mine, based solely on the similarities between the Obama regime and the Hugo Chavez regime.

I'm not a big "drug war" guy but the laws should be enforced or changed - I generally lean toward the latter.

Let's talk about his current punditry in a more objective manner. Consider his latest incarnation of a contract proposal:
http://www.americansolutions.com/directupload/pdf/12SolutionsPrintoutFinal.pdf

I find little to disagree with here. Probably some elements of item 12 are first on that list.

Posted by: johngalt at March 29, 2009 1:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Oh, and on "dictatorial" I say it's time to call a spade a spade. Only in a politically correct forum can that be disparaged as "alarmist."

Posted by: johngalt at March 29, 2009 1:27 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

But JG- hes not a dictator. Not yet anyway.

The Merriam-Webster Online dictionary gives three definitions for dictator:

a: a person granted absolute emergency power
b: one holding complete autocratic control
c: one ruling absolutely and often oppressively

Which of these labels does Obama fit into? Option A can be scratched off the list pretty quick, as Obama does not have emergency powers of any sort (yet). Option C can likewise be knocked down, as Obama does not have absolute control over the lives of the citizens of the Unites States. This leaves us with Option B- but here to we have problems. Obama is not the only autocrat in Washington; like most Presidents he must wrangle with Congress. Indeed, from what I have seen he had to pull all stops in order to do so.

Posted by: T. Greer at March 31, 2009 12:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Excuse me if it seems like I'm parsing words but I was careful to say "dictatorial" and not "dictator."

dictatorial –adjective
1. of or pertaining to a dictator or dictatorship.
2. appropriate to, or characteristic of, a dictator; absolute; unlimited: dictatorial powers in wartime.
3. inclined to dictate or command; imperious; overbearing: a dictatorial attitude.

Both 2 and 3 fit administration policies.

Posted by: johngalt at April 1, 2009 1:11 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Hey, if I pull a dictionary out on you, feel free to parse words all you want!

BTW: I will cede the point.

Posted by: T. Greer at April 1, 2009 4:32 PM
But Jason Kennerly thinks:

Not at all - as long as Republicans keep pulling boners in public like this, one after another, he's a virtual shoe-in in 2012.

The total collapse of the crooked financial system has completely revealed the falsity of the so-called "social conservative" position that once made Republicans so popular. Whats left - it was the last Republican administration that increased spending and government regulation (albeit, perhaps not where regulation was *actually needed*) more than any other in history, so you can't exactly blame that on democrats any more.

Remember, kids, the net ROI on war and weapons is always either zero, or negative!

Posted by: Jason Kennerly at April 3, 2009 3:14 PM

March 9, 2009

Why politicized economic development is dangerous

I recently wrote on the danger of politics driving scientific research. The obvious case of this now is all of the government "investments" being proposed in the name of "saving the planet from irreversible damage due to climate change."

But even if man-made climate change was real (sorry tg, is real) and even if "renewable" energy sources were beneficial to counter it, the least effective entity to make them a reality is - wait for it - government.

Consider the following essay on "One Reason Governments Spend So Much" from the 'Uncle Eric' book: Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?

Industries generally develop in three stages. First is scientific feasibility, second is engineering feasibility, and third is economic feasibility.

Using the airline industry as an example, the question in the 1800s was: "Is long-distance air travel possible?"

In the 1800s, balloons were already in use but were not practical. The problem to solve was the heavier-than-air machine.

The Wright Brothers in 1903 proved scientific feasibility. They risked their time, money and lives to show that a heavier-than-air machine could fly.

Lindbergh, in 1927, proved engineering feasibility. He risked time, money and his life to show that long-distance air travel was possible.

This gave investors enough confidence to risk their money in the aircraft industry. In 1935 the Douglas Company came out with the DC-3, which was the beginning of economic feasibility.

The modern airline industry resulted from all this risk-taking. Today, a middle-class American can go anywhere in the world much faster, and in much greater comfort, than a Roman emperor could. Travelers fly because the benefits are greater than the costs. This is economic feasibility.

This three-step model explains why governments are terrible at economic development. The "experts" who comprise the government gamble with other people's money, so they tend to confuse scientific and engineering feasibility with economic feasibility.

Once science and engineering prove something can be done, those who comprise the government will do it - even if the costs are greater than the benefits. [emphasis mine]

This economic development of the economically unfeasible is precisely the modern story of:

Wind power
Solar photovoltaic power
Ethanol (both glucosic AND celluosic)
Biodiesel
Hydrogen fuel cells
Dual-mode hybrid cars
The list goes on...

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:38 PM | Comments (6)
But Keith thinks:

Just to add to the entertainment value: "But even if man-made climate change were real..." is the grammatically accurate construction. Heh.

JohnGalt: great post, and the model of three-stage development makes plain, even to a poor, dumb country boy like me, why government-run economic development doesn't work. And to boot, it's much more elegant than me just saying "a government that can't even balance its own checkbook has no business fiddling with the economy."

I'd only propose one small change to the quote rfrom the essay. Where the author wrote "Once science and engineering prove something can be done, those who comprise the government will do it - even if the costs are greater than the benefits" in the last paragraph, it seems to me that the last phrase should omit the word "even" and the hyphen, thusly: "... those who comprise the government will do it if the costs are greater than the benefits." If the benefits are greater than the costs, entrepreneurs and private industry will do it, without the necessity of government meddling. Profit motive being what it is, and all that.

Ergo, government will ONLY do it if its benefits do not justify its costs, and that applies to every item in your list. QED, yes?

Posted by: Keith at March 9, 2009 3:18 PM
But jk thinks:

Ahh, the punchline from a great old gag can be trotted out:

I congratulate Keith on his use of the subjunctive.
Posted by: jk at March 9, 2009 4:32 PM
But Keith thinks:

Thanks, jk...

Say, on the subject of government and the economy, I've been reading in the news today that Warren Buffett has been quoted as saying the U.S. economy "fell off a cliff." I've read that three times today, and every time, all that comes to mind is...

"It was pushed."

Posted by: Keith at March 9, 2009 5:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Wellll, I was trying to have some fun with TG, saying "was" as in "past tense" ... before it was largely discredited, then replacing it with "is" as a sop to him since he's not yet comfortable with the "denier" badge of courage.

I admit - sometimes my jokes trip over their shoelaces.

Oh, and yes, I do fully agree with your improvement of the closing paragraph. Well done!

Posted by: johngalt at March 10, 2009 12:25 AM
But jk thinks:

Tough room, jg, you know that as well as anyone.

Posted by: jk at March 10, 2009 1:34 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Eh, I though the post was funny. I also think you have highlighted one of the biggest problems with the Eco-stimulus crowd. What they call progress is in actuality a retardation (word?) of Western civilization.

Posted by: T. Greer at March 11, 2009 12:19 PM

March 6, 2009

Why Politicized Science is Dangerous

Yesterday I commented that there's "another important dragon to be slain before" the next elections for congress and for president. That dragon is the myth of man-made global warming caused by our use of economical, safe and abundant energy sources. Many of us have long contended that the idea is founded upon pseudo-science. The late Michael Crighton agreed and in an appendix to his wonderfully entertaining and thought provoking novel 'State of Fear' he wrote "Why politicized science is dangerous."

Imagine that there is a new scientific theory that warns of an impending crisis, and points to a way out.

This theory quickly draws support from leading scientists, politicians and celebrities around the world. Research is funded by distinguished philanthropies, and carried out at prestigious universities. The crisis is reported frequently in the media. The science is taught in college and high-school classrooms.

I don't mean global warming. I'm talking about another theory, which rose to prominence a century ago.

Read on below-

State%20of%20Fear%20Apdx%201-a.jpg

State%20of%20Fear%20Apdx%201-b.jpg

State%20of%20Fear%20Apdx%201-c.jpg

State%20of%20Fear%20Apdx%201-d.jpg

State%20of%20Fear%20Apdx%201-e.jpg

State%20of%20Fear%20Apdx%201-f.jpg

State%20of%20Fear%20Apdx%201-g.jpg

State%20of%20Fear%20Apdx%201-h.jpg

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:10 PM | Comments (6)
But jk thinks:

Careful, jg, TR has some strong followers around here. Sure he wanted to control capitalism from Washington, lock up his enemies and kill the enfeebled, but he displayed prodigious intellectual powers, looked good in casual clothes, and said "bully!" a lot.

Posted by: jk at March 6, 2009 2:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

One of Crighton's points is how, after the horrors perpetrated in the name of the theory became widely known, "nobody was a eugenicist and nobody had ever been a eugenicist."

You'll recall I suggested not long ago that we start a permanent record of Global Warmists today, for the historical record.

My favorite thing about TR was "speak softly, and carry a big stick."

Posted by: johngalt at March 6, 2009 3:47 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

@Jg: I read that book and thought it sucked. (Tidal waves=result of climate change?) On the other hand, I thought the appendix you link to was quite insightful. It is rather sad to me that one's views on AGW are determined by your political affiliation. These days it seems that if you believe in "protecting the environment" then AGW is a self-evident fact not worth examining, while if you are of the free-market crowd, there is no way the climate could ever be linked to man's activities on the Earth.

This is a false dichotomy. It is perfectly acceptable to hold that warming may be influenced bu man and that free markets should not be interfered with for the environment's sake. Indeed, this is the exact position I hold.

Posted by: T. Greer at March 6, 2009 5:30 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

@Jk: Hahahha. Enough already! I think we have covered this before- Roosevelt's views on eugenics never led to anything more than a desire to make immigration laws stricter. Vilifying him for politicizing science makes no sense. Everything else you have listed is irrelevant to the subject of this post and has been discussed already.

Posted by: T. Greer at March 6, 2009 5:32 PM
But jk thinks:

Okay, I'll leave TR alone.

I enjoyed the Lomborg clip. He inspired the D in DAWG and I think his position is reasonable and defensible.

I hold that the debate was politicized by the left: those who Popper said would have us go back to the caves. Suddenly, the inefficacy of their ideas was meaningless: we had to take on the whole Nader-Kucinich platform or all of our children will die!

The DAWG advocates then claimed that "the science was settled" because a poll was taken. Popper, again, pointed out that science is not really done that way.

Yes, it is too bad that something important has devolved into childish bickering -- but, Mommy, they started it!!

Posted by: jk at March 6, 2009 7:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

But it isn't called global warming anymore tg, it's "climate change." That way the charade can be continued whether the trend is warmer or cooler. Which is fortunate for them since now, it's cooling.

The market interference you allude to is the setting of arbitrary limits on emission of mammal breath. "First they came for the dioxins, then the beneficial pesticides, then the fluorocarbons, oxides of nitrogen and sulfur compounds, and when they came for carbon dioxide there were no pollutants left to say - you can't regulate non-pollutants!"

Posted by: johngalt at March 7, 2009 8:11 PM

March 3, 2009

On Tea Parties - Where's Your Sacred Honor?

... In which I infuriate my fellow travelers on the right.

The next big "tea party" is going to take place on April 15th.

Building upon the success of the February 27th "Chicago Tea Party" Rallies, many of the organizers are now working to develop an even larger day of protests set to happen on April 15th, 2009.

These protests are known as the Tax Day Tea Party rallies.


It's really the perfect day.

Likely a beautiful spring Wednesday spent standing around with fellow conservatives and libertarians with signs and chants.

Completely not like the original Boston Tea Party.

In fact, looking at the Wikipedia article, these protests are exactly NOT like the Boston Tea Party.

There's no inspired action.

Samuel Adams said to the assembly "This meeting can do nothing more to save the country". As though on cue, the Sons of Liberty thinly disguised as either Mohawk or Narragansett Indians and armed with small hatchets and clubs, headed toward Griffin's Wharf (in Boston Harbor), where lay Dartmouth and the newly-arrived Beaver and Eleanor.

The Sons of Liberty was a revolutionary secret society... and they were likely Longshoreman on this night.
The casks were opened and the tea dumped overboard; the work, lasting well into the night, was quick, thorough, and efficient. By dawn, over 342 casks or 90,000 lbs (45 tons) of tea worth an estimated Ł10,000 or $1.87 million USD in 2007 currency) had been consigned to waters of Boston harbor. Nothing else had been damaged or stolen, except a single padlock accidentally broken and anonymously replaced not long thereafter.

I think it's a disservice to our earliest patriots to call a tax protest a Tea Party. Standing around like a bunch of dopey lib-tards swinging signs and chanting is no way to run a protest.

You say you want a revolution? Don't wear a seatbelt.

You say you want a revolution? Buy your cigarettes or prescription drugs duty-free or in Mexico.

You say you want a revolution? Idle your car in the driveway all day long, polluting the earth, making Gaia cry. I'd settle for burning leaves in a barrel.

You say you want a revolution? Dig around your drawers and find old stamps and mail envelopes around!

You say you want a revolution? If you're on a 1099 don't file quarterly estimated payments. W2ers are hosed. *

You say you want a revolution? Make a bon-fire / marshmallow roast with stacks of tax forms and tax guides. Invite your neighbors.

You say you want a revolution? On April 15th, don't file your 1040... or send it back empty.

That, my friends, would be a real tea party. How many tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of tax payers (out of the 150 million) would it take to put a wrench in the works? (I guess you would have to mail it back though)

It is tax fraud, however... and you're guilty until proven innocent in the IRS's eyes. That's where you need to focus, if you want a "tax" revolution.

Standing around with your friends and future friends? Really inspirational... for the history books.

* It's a sign of how f'd up our system is that your government forces you to pay your taxes! You can't withhold your withholding!

Posted by AlexC at 1:13 PM | Comments (7)
But jk thinks:

Your words hit home, ac. I have asked the same question a thousand time of my niece who marched to stop the Iraq War. I have suggested as many times that her efforts were better spent supporting candidates; earning money for a candidate, PAC or 527; or even writing letters to the editor. I can't hold my rightist friends to a different standard, though they are finally answering P.J. O'Rourke's question of "why don't we all march when they raise capital gains rates?"

To directly address your points, I do not want a revolution. I want the losers who inhabit incumbencies in our present Constitutional system to see that there is a breaking point and that they have found it. It is a signal that their cushy seats are in danger if they continue to overtax the productive.

A big crowd on the evening news seems like a good way to send a message. Better than burning tax forms. As far as not filing and not paying -- I take your point that it is far braver than "marching" but how does that result in a less collectivist government? Even if it is wildly successful -- Congress says "okay, we'll ignore the results of the last elections and capitulate to the demands of the non-payers."

Is that the next tool for war opponents or gay marriage activists or those who oppose the infield fly rule? Elections matter and unless you want to move off the US Constitution, I don't think you really want a revolution.


Posted by: jk at March 3, 2009 2:09 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Interesting idea, AC. Imagine if every taxpayer filed two returns: one actual return (its compulsory) and one fake return (fake name, fake SSN, fake employer ID). Of course, you'd need a fake W2, but those forms are available on the web. You also would not want to file a form with a refund due, lest the IRS cut a check in good faith and it be deemed fraud. It would be better to have a balance due with no attached payment and let the IRS try to track it down. Now there's a civil disobedience protest.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at March 3, 2009 2:30 PM
But Keith thinks:

jk: if you want to take up arms against Astroturf or the designated hitter (I've boycotted the entire American League), I'm with you, but the infield fly rule is sacred.

Okay, that was jollity and frivolity. More on a serious note, this post really cuts to the real issue. The Tea Party Protests - do they actually accomplish anything more than wearing whatever color ribbon we're supposed to be wearing this week? Do they "raise awareness?" Fine. Mission accomplished: awareness is raised. Do they "show solidarity?" Check. But I imagine our overlords in Washington glancing out from behind their venetian blinds saying "okay, they've got that out of their system. Back to destroying capitalism."

All the sign-waving, ribbon-wearing, or bumper-sticker-sporting in the world accomplishes nothing, other than perhaps persuading some of the people in the "Indifferent" or "Don't Know" columns to change their stances, and I don't think there are many people in that subset.

I too hope it doesn't come to violent revolution, but having watched the percentage of America voting over the years for the candidate of the left - Gore, Kerry, and now Obama - progressively increase, there's a part of me that wonders if the nation has gone irreversibly around the corner. Besides, with Obama's current strategy of making increasing numbers of people clients of the nannystate, and waging war on the investor class and the productive class in order to sap those resources, I wonder whether the voting public can be turned back.

Plus, with the Republican Party's identity crisis (read: Schwarzenegger, Snowe, Specter, etc.), electing Republicans doesn't necessarily equate to electing conservatives and constitutionalists.

For the record, I also am not in favor of a Constitutional Convention. Without a mechanism to limit it to specific issues, there is far too much opportunity for mischief.

WWJGD?

Besides, we all know that the FBI and the BATFE read these blogs, so our secret plans to overthrow the nation and rule for ourselves in the aftermath show NEVER be posted here.

Posted by: Keith at March 3, 2009 2:55 PM
But AlexC thinks:

To be clear, i'm not calling for revolution.

I'm saying "tangible" protests... calling these protests "tea parties" is besmirching the original tea party.

A response/disagreement on the 'cooler.... http://pawatercooler.com/?p=11502

Posted by: AlexC at March 3, 2009 2:56 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Hey brother, don't knock it [taxpayer "Tea Parties"] if you haven't tried it! ;) Here are a few observations:

1) Rome wasn't built in a day.

2) One hard-working, tax paying adult conservative "protester" equals at least 10 tatooed punk hippies on the impact scale. (Since everyone knows the latter do this kind of stuff as foreplay.)

3) Any opportunity to foster discussion of GOOD ideas is worthwhile. Everyone who hears is one more person than would have if it wasn't said.

4) "When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." Edmund Burke - 1770

5) If we shun any effort that seems too trivial or uninspired or impotent, where do we find our courage to do something "consequential?"

I sense your frustration, and I feel it too. But I also feel the groundswell of what Keith calls "rugged individualism" which inspires me to the continued belief that most Americans have a breaking point when it comes to this collectivist bull-crap.

I think unbridled Democrat control of government may be the foul medicine our mixed economy needed to inspire popular support for evolutionary change - where our elected officials take their oath to uphold the Constitution SERIOUSLY. As Obama and the powerlusting Pelosi take us out of the warm pot and throw us into a hot one it only serves us better that the pot is as hot as they can make it.

Posted by: johngalt at March 3, 2009 4:20 PM
But Keith thinks:

jg: I dearly hope you're right about the breaking point. Four (or worse, eight) years of where this economy and the republic are headed presently represent an abyss into which I do not enjoy staring.

That being said, I have friends who didn't like McCain, and actually considered voting for Obama solely because they knew the damage caused would scare people into voting conservative in '12. I argued against burning the nation down to rebuild it, but your last paragraph does show the only silver lining I can see in this dark cloud.

Finally, the Refugee has already counseled me today about giving fair warning before the turn of a friendly snark. That thing about tattooed hippies and foreplay? Not only did I choke on my coffee, I'm now in need of brain bleach to get that image off my cerebral cortex.

Posted by: Keith at March 3, 2009 4:32 PM

February 10, 2009

Daschle's Revenge

Tom Daschle's sudden withdrawal as HHS Secretary nominee was a banner moment for American individual liberty. But perhaps we breathed too easily too soon.

Eight days ago JK wrote,

"As far as getting somebody worse, I've no doubt that there are worse ideologues than Senator Daschle. Yet his book about Health Care calls for an American equivalent to the NHS's NICE panel which would provide approval of all treatments and procedures based on government-decided efficacy and cost efficiency. Senator Daschle is radical enough to scare me and is a sophisticated enough player that he seems likely to be able to achieve many of his goals."

If only JK had known how prescient those words might be. The Hudson Institute's Betsy McCaughey quotes the former senator thusly:

A year ago, Daschle wrote that the next president should act quickly before critics mount an opposition. “If that means attaching a health-care plan to the federal budget, so be it,” he said. “The issue is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol.”

So we shouldn't be surprised to find (McCaughey link) a Daschle-like health care trojan horse in the "we can't afford to delay it" economic stimulus bill, H.R. 1:

Senators should read these provisions and vote against them because they are dangerous to your health. (Page numbers refer to H.R. 1 EH, pdf version).

The bill’s health rules will affect “every individual in the United States” (445, 454, 479). Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system. Having electronic medical records at your fingertips, easily transferred to a hospital, is beneficial. It will help avoid duplicate tests and errors.

But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.”

Keeping doctors informed of the newest medical findings is important, but enforcing uniformity goes too far.

New Penalties

Hospitals and doctors that are not “meaningful users” of the new system will face penalties. “Meaningful user” isn’t defined in the bill. That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose “more stringent measures of meaningful use over time” (511, 518, 540-541)

What penalties will deter your doctor from going beyond the electronically delivered protocols when your condition is atypical or you need an experimental treatment? The vagueness is intentional. In his book, Daschle proposed an appointed body with vast powers to make the “tough” decisions elected politicians won’t make.

The stimulus bill does that, and calls it the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (190-192). The goal, Daschle’s book explained, is to slow the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are driving up costs. He praises Europeans for being more willing to accept “hopeless diagnoses” and “forgo experimental treatments,” and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system. [Emphasis mine.]

The good news is that this was discovered, and is seeing the light of day on Fox News. The bad news? What the hell ELSE is in there??

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:31 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Thanks for the kind words, jg, and thanks for beating me to this post. I've had two people email it to me today.

I told my brother-in-law this weekend that "we can waste a trillion dollars and survive, but once we nationalize medicine, rewind welfare reform to LBJ levels, and prop up unions, it's game over."

Okay it's a rhetorical device to be flip about $1T -- and I was chastised for it. But I am serious, while we and Senator Collins look at the difference between $750B and $900B, we are missing -- as you say -- huge hunks of vanishing liberty.

Posted by: jk at February 10, 2009 4:07 PM

February 9, 2009

Specter for Spendulus

Well, here we are.

I am supporting the economic stimulus package for one simple reason: The country cannot afford not to take action.

The unemployment figures announced Friday, the latest earnings reports and the continuing crisis in banking make it clear that failure to act will leave the United States facing a far deeper crisis in three or six months. By then the cost of action will be much greater -- or it may be too late.

Wave after wave of bad economic news has created its own psychology of fear and lowered expectations. As in the old Movietone News, the eyes and ears of the world are upon the United States. Failure to act would be devastating not just for Wall Street and Main Street but for much of the rest of the world, which is looking to our country for leadership in this crisis.


In related news, the Washington Post graphs how immediate the stimulus really is.

Answer: 10% gets spent this year... in the year we cannot afford to delay (tm).

(Click to enbiggen)
total-spending-in-stimulus1

Posted by AlexC at 3:29 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

"The" economic stimulus package, Senator Specter? Do you also purchase the first car you test drive, or the first house you look at? How about love - did you marry the first woman you dated?

Posted by: johngalt at February 10, 2009 12:48 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

GWB's misguided decision to back Specter over Toomey in the primaries continues to haunt the party and the nation.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 10, 2009 6:01 PM

January 16, 2009

I'm Going Back to Bed

I've whined a little about a dear relative who is devoted to creating a Kucinich-style "Department of Peace." A few days after the election, I realized that the electoral stars had probably aligned and that it's likely this nightmare dream might come true.

Today a good friend emails:

Dear Friends,

When I heard that Quincy Jones had a petition to call for a Secretary of
the Arts in our new administration, my answer was a resounding YES! I
am sending this because I know you understand the importance of art in
our lives.

Art is the core of what makes us human beings. Art is the language of
our soul. Art is our true unique gift and legacy.

Art brings out the best in us, makes us stronger and lifts our
spirits. Art has been known to help heal those who have severe
physical ailments as well as those who have spiritual wounds.

Art programs make a difference in our lives; bringing hope, self esteem,
emotional well being and a renewed connection to our spirit and to each
other. "Art can't hurt you."

here is a link to sign the petition.


I recently was proud to learn that I am related to Q. Maybe I should call "cuz" up and speak to him. Why why why do these folks think that because something is "important" government should be involved? The folks at Samizdata have a great riff that "The Ministry of X is established to ruin X." If you think of US Departments, the law seems universal. Education? Energy? I've muttered, sotto voce, that when the US D. of Peace is fully staffed that the Amish and Quakers will be engineering drive-bys.


Posted by John Kranz at 11:43 AM | Comments (2)
But Keith thinks:

We already have a "Department of Peace." We usually just call them the Marines. Just sayin'.

Seriously a Secretary of the Arts? How much will that wind up costing, and would I be out of line to expect more (or less) than taxpayer-subsidized, metalshop-welded modern art sculptures in front of every elementary school across the fruited plains, Christoff-style displays cranked out by the truckload, and American Idol broadcasted five nights a week, all produced by the WPA? This sounds like the National Endowment for the Arts with a turbocharger and no brakes.

And of course, there will be a "prevailing union wage" clause for all the performers and support staff.

Posted by: Keith at January 16, 2009 2:31 PM
But jk thinks:

I've made the Marines comment -- also sotto voce -- many times, Keith. We're in complete agreement.

--Except don't be knockin' scale, my friend, nothin' wrong with paying scale...

Posted by: jk at January 16, 2009 4:09 PM

January 14, 2009

Not With a Bang But a Whimper II

For 23 days a year in July, I become a Frenchman. I enjoy the picturesque countryside and struggle to pronounce "le coeur de croix de furre" (Which is not, as I suspected, the mountain of the fur cross, rather the mountain of the cross of iron).

But when the tour ends, I want to go back to freedom. Grand, philosophical John Locke and Thomas Jefferson freedom to be sure. But also, to live in a land where you might get a good idea for a child's toy and sell it on eBay, or at a local independent store. No more.

It seems there were children to protect, and Speaker Pelosi leaped into action:

After last year's scare over contaminated toys made in China, Congress leapt in to require all products aimed at children under 12 years old to be certified as safe and virtually lead-free by independent testing. The burden may be manageable for big manufacturers and retailers that can absorb the costs of discarded inventory and afford to hire more lawyers. Less likely to survive are hundreds of small businesses and craftspeople getting hit with new costs in a down economy.

Starting in February, you'll have to have a gub'mint certificate proving that those little wooden cars you make in you garage are safe for kids. And, you gotta read the whole thing, even bikes and books are subject. Reps. Pelosi and Waxman boasted that they will pulling toys off the shelves.

Maybe I'm not fair to France. I seem to be overly fair to the USA of late. But the mixed-economies of Western Europe embrace guilds and regulation (would the lollipop guild make the toys?) and the idea of being licensed to make toys does not fit with Locke, Jefferson, or the United States.

With apologies to T S Eliot (who would likely have agreed with me) This is the way freedom ends, not with a bang but a whimper.


Posted by John Kranz at 11:00 AM | Comments (1)
But Terri thinks:

There goes the used the clothing story business also. There is no better way to clothe fast growing children - or recycle old clothes she says in full whimper.

Posted by: Terri at January 14, 2009 1:59 PM

January 11, 2009

A Schooner Full of Hope & Change

I think we can look forward to the next administration for some clarification regarding proper green product labeling:

The January 8th issue InsideEPA.com's Daily News briefing highlight the many hurdles involved in establishing a national eco-labeling regime.

EPA and some key lawmakers are attempting to address the rising demand from consumers and retailers for eco-labeling as the popularity and awareness of “green” building materials and organic certified foods grows. EPA is poised to respond to recommendations to set up a voluntary program for pesticide labeling, as well as for its in-house Design for the Environment program to expand its labeling initiative to new chemical-intensive products. Additionally, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is crafting legislation to establish an eco-labeling oversight panel.

Some of the potential hurdles for the EPA and the lawmakers highlighted by InsideEPA.com include:

Limited development of methodologies for measuring lifecycle impacts of products
Potential conflicts with current legal requirements
Whether there would be incentives to develop even “safer” products
If EPA and Congress will be able to stay ahead of the developments made by the private sector.
With so many interests in the mix, these challenges may seem insurmountable, but at least the dialogue has begun and action will (hopefully) follow soon.


Bad enough we have to live through terrorism, recession, and athletes using steroids -- how much longer can the government let us wonder if the green products we buy are really green?

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 2:32 PM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2009

Economic Stimulus Plan

I have a dream - that America's political economy will return to something akin to the late 19th century. Referring to the causes of the latest economic crisis, Yaron Brook and Don Watkins of the Ayn Rand Institute write in their editorial 'Stop Blaming Capitalism for Government Failures:'

None of this is consistent with capitalism. As the economic system that fully recognizes and protects individual rights, including the right to private property, capitalism means, in Ayn Rand’s words, “the abolition of any and all forms of government intervention in production and trade, the separation of State and Economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of Church and State.” Laissez-faire means laissez-faire: no welfare state entitlements, no Federal Reserve monetary manipulation, no regulatory bullying, no controls, no government interference in the economy. The government’s job under capitalism is single but crucial: to protect individual rights from violation by force or fraud.

America came closest to this system in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The result was an unprecedented explosion of wealth creation and consequent rise in the standard of living.

JK, like the respected Denver radio host Mike Rosen, constantly reminds us to practice the "politics of the possible." But why should it be impossible for a majority of voters to recognize that the big government policies Obama and company may enact just made the problem worse - and they will - and abandon him in droves for the 2012 GOP candidate? This is the "new Reagan" scenario that many have written about. But for this to happen there needs to be a GOP candidate who understands the capitalist ideal before he jumps into the hog wallow to compromise with collectivists. John McCain and George Bush (both of them) despite all their admirable traits, were not that candidate.

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:12 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Wow, this Rosen fellow sounds very intelligent...

I share your enthusiasm for the economic policies between the Civil War and the Progressive Era. It was certainly tainted by Jim Crow but I find it easy to call them unrelated. Hayes was the right pick in 1876 and if Tilden had not forced the Compromise of '77 we could have had economic liberty and continued the Reconstruction.

Gene Healy points out that while we had the string of non-descript, "non-heroic" presidencies between Grant & McKinley, we surpassed Great Britain as an economic power.

On the Pragmatism side, jg, put me in with Rosen (I have not heard his show but I've read some of his newspaper columns and heard great reviews from my brother-in-law). I challenge you to look at a group with minimal selection bias and tell me that a majority would agree that welfare and social security should be terminated. I think you'll find it more matches Pew's famous nine-percent. (Again, no fair polling at the Objectivists of Weld County quarterly bake sale and skeet tourney.)

I could not disabuse a right-leaning relative yesterday of the belief that the USDA is only reason the big grocery stores don't sell rancid meat. I can't think of a group of workmates, family, musicians, or friends in which a majority prefers less government "safety-net" security.

I enjoyed the Brook-Watkins piece very much, and I'd be inclined to support a candidate who voiced such beliefs. But I'd be among the few. Rep Ron Paul was able to augment his libertarian followers with a good number of the rabid anti-war left. And he still lost. By a lot.

It's hard for you and me to believe and accept that our zeal for liberty does not enjoy an electoral majority, but it does not. You can write editorials for the Ayn Rand Institute and link and discuss them on ThreeSources. But you'll be a spectator at the next contest between the next McCain and the next Obama.

Posted by: jk at January 11, 2009 12:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

... welfare and Social Security TERMINATED? JK, you are such a tease. Even I don't dream such things are possible in a single bound.

The idea I tried to explain, perhaps too obliquely, is that the 'ideal' of pure capitalism leads to unprecedented prosperity. Any baby steps in the direction toward more capitalism will make things better for all Americans.

As for the popularity of such market oriented changes to welfare and Social Security, even President Clinton had to sign the GOP bill that reformed the former ... and reforming the latter could be equally popular with the right plan. Perhaps as government operated private accounts with gains earned in private equity markets yet federally guaranteed never to decline in value?

If we're going to talk about bailouts anyway then lets consider one that actually provides some real personal financial security. (Tomorrow I'll deny I ever wrote this.)

Posted by: johngalt at January 13, 2009 3:11 PM
But jk thinks:

But-but-but-but-but-but-but-- you are making the pragmatists' case. I want to fight at the margins and get "as close as we can" to capitalism. For this I seem to be frequently derided as lesser-of-two-evilsism.

I was pulling my absolutism from your excerpt "Laissez-faire means laissez-faire: no welfare state entitlements, no Federal Reserve monetary manipulation, no regulatory bullying, no controls, no government interference in the economy" and from your reference to 19th Century pre-progressive, pre-New Deal policies.

A government risk subsidy is not a bad idea if you could make the right kind of trade. Who is this guy and what has he done to Brother Johngalt?

Posted by: jk at January 13, 2009 4:32 PM

December 24, 2008

Bees on Blow

Terri @ I Think ^ (Link) Therefore I Err seems to imply that the government is not getting its money's worth studying the effects of cocaine on bees:

Normally, foraging honey bees alert their comrades to potential food sources only when they've found high quality nectar or pollen, and only when the hive is in need. They do this by performing a dance, called a "round" or "waggle" dance, on a specialized "dance floor" in the hive. The dance gives specific instructions that help the other bees find the food.

Foraging honey bees on cocaine are more likely to dance, regardless of the quality of the food they've found or the status of the hive, the authors of the study report.


I agree with Terri. Really, we learned all about that just watching John Belushi...

Posted by John Kranz at 6:31 PM | Comments (0)

December 3, 2008

Bureaucracy at its best

The New York Daily News reports:


In one of the biggest heists in American history, the Daily News "stole" the $2 billion Empire State Building.

And it wasn't that hard.

The News swiped the 102-story Art Deco skyscraper by drawing up a batch of bogus documents, making a fake notary stamp and filing paperwork with the city to transfer the deed to the property.

Some of the information was laughable: Original "King Kong" star Fay Wray is listed as a witness and the notary shared a name with bank robber Willie Sutton.

The massive ripoff illustrates a gaping loophole in the city's system for recording deeds, mortgages and other transactions.

The loophole: The system - run by the office of the city register - doesn't require clerks to verify the information.

Less than 90 minutes after the bogus documents were submitted on Monday, the agency rubber-stamped the transfer from Empire State Land Associates to Nelots Properties LLC. Nelots is "stolen" spelled backward. (The News returned the property Tuesday.)...

...Of course, stealing the Empire State Building wouldn't go unnoticed for long, but it shows how easy it is for con artists to swipe more modest buildings right out from under their owners. Armed with a fraudulent deed, they can take out big mortgages and disappear, leaving a mess for property owners, banks and bureaucrats.


I think I will just let that speak for itself.

Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 10:40 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

But they will excel at providing health care and choosing our country's best energy sources.

Posted by: jk at December 3, 2008 11:27 AM

November 5, 2008

Perfect for Gub'mint work!

Don Luskin highlights the resume of the new bank regulator for the NY Fed, Michael Alix:

Most recently, Mr. Alix worked for the Bear Stearns Companies, Inc., where he served as chief risk officer from 2006-2008 and global head of credit risk management from 1996-2006.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:19 PM | Comments (0)

October 6, 2008

Having "Fixed" Mortgages, Congress Moves On

By conceding the true causes of the Panic of '08 -- thanks to our populist Presidential candidate -- Republicans block the road to repairing the real problems, while paving the road to repetition. The same, damn, week.

A WSJ editorial points out that they will now do for credit cards what they did for home mortgages:

The freedom to manage risk has resulted in an unprecedented expansion of the credit card market. According to a Government Accountability Office study, 75% of the population possessed a credit card in 2005, up from only 30% in the 1980s. "The movement towards risk-based pricing for cards," said the report, "has allowed issuers to offer better terms to some cardholders and more credit cards to others."

Under the Maloney bill, such risk-sensitive pricing would be severely curbed. With few exceptions, companies would be prevented from raising interest rates on existing balances, even if the cardholder has become less creditworthy. This is anathema to responsible lending, which is about making sound assessments about the ability to repay a loan. It's also a major reason mortgage lenders are in their current predicament -- think subprime and "liar loans." So it's ironic that Democrats want to punish credit card companies for taking into account the changing risk of the borrower.

The Maloney bill would also dictate how creditors allocate payments against balances. Where credit balances are subject to different interest rates -- e.g., zero-percent interest for a balance transfer, but 12% for new purchases -- the legislation would ban the current common practice of directing payments toward the lower interest rate balance first.


I think of Dr. Zhivago: "Yes, Comrade that is much more...fair." It's fair to make me pay the same interest rate as an unemployed jazz guitarist who's just come home from bankruptcy court (guitar players, sheesh!) It's not fair to allow a credit card company to entice me with a 0% balance transfer, because some idiot doesn't understand it.

Actually, it's not Dr. Zhivago, it's Santayana: those who cannot learn form history are doomed to repeat it. But in the same week?

Posted by John Kranz at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2008

For A Bailout, Press One

You've had a tough week of politics and Wall Street. Have a little fun:

"Hello! You've reached the United States Treasury's automated bailout hotline. Please listen carefully, because our options have recently changed. If you're too big to fail, press or say 'one.' If not, hang up and dial 1-800-FOR-FEMA.' "

Hat-tip: Professor Mankiw

Posted by John Kranz at 2:42 PM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2008

Energy Freedom Day

Sign the petition created by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) calling on Congress to let the drilling bans expire on October 1, 2008.

The related blog page can be accessed here.

Hat Tip: Human Events via Wayne at jeremiahfilms.com

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:14 PM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2008

Nanny State, Government Power

Blog sister Dagny hits one of my favorite topics in a comment below: all government power is enforced at the point of the gun. I almost posted this video last week because Drew Carey does such a good job with that. If you sell fries with trans-fats, you get a fine; don't pay the fine, you get a summons; don't show up for the summons, they'll come get you. No matter how small the infraction, it is always enforced at gunpoint. Take it away, big man:



Posted by John Kranz at 11:08 AM | Comments (3)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Indeed. And it's not just at the barrel of a gun, but ultimately with the threat of government *killing* you. Walter Williams wrote in 1999, in the foreword to "Your Money or Your Life: Why We Must Abolish the Income Tax" by my friend Sheldon Richman:

"Some might consider Richman's title to be hyperbole, but it accurately describes what is at stake. We can readily see this by asking, What is the endgame of the following scenario? Suppose an American told the U.S. Congress, 'I am an emancipated adult. I wish to be left alone to tend to my own retirement needs. If I fail to do so adequately, let me either depend on charity or suffer the consequences; however, I refuse to pay into the government's Social Security retirement program.' If that person refused to fork over part of his earnings as Social Security 'contributions,' the IRS would fine him. If that person rightfully concluded that he has not harmed or initiated violence against another and therefore refused to pay an unjust fine, he would be threatened with property confiscation or imprisonment. Suppose he then decided to use his natural or God-given rights to defend both his physical property against confiscation and his person against aggression? More than likely, he would suffer death at the hands of the U.S. government. The moral question Americans ought to ask is whether they can produce a moral argument that justifies a citizen's being subject to death by his government when that citizen has initiated violence against no one and simply wants to privately care for his own retirement needs? I know of no standard of morality that yields an affirmative answer."

I mentioned that on my own blog (A tale of two thieves), but I incorrectly attributed Williams' writing to Richard Ebeling. I was blogging on vacation and didn't have the book with me, and Richard is one of those remarkable people whose writings on freedom could easily be confused with Williams'.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 12, 2008 11:53 AM
But johngalt thinks:

johngalt knows of "a standard of morality that yields an affirmative answer" to Williams' question: Marxist-Leninist morality.

Williams surely knows this too. I think he meant to write, "I know of no standard of morality consistent with 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' that yields an affirmative answer."

Posted by: johngalt at July 13, 2008 12:47 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

You're splitting hairs again. Perhaps WW's wording can be more precise, but the intimation is that we're talking about *true* standards of morality. Sure, collectivism has standards of "morality," however incorrect. It's "right" to serve the state, "wrong" to live for yourself. But we know what WW is talking about.

"Moral" is a word that cannot be used in a relative sense. It has deep implications that something "moral" is correct and just, and there's no room for opinion. So a Marxist-Leninist may argue his own "moral" perspective, but it will never be true "morality" no matter how much force he applies.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 14, 2008 3:29 PM

July 8, 2008

Protecting Borrowers From -- Loans!

Great bit from the esteemed political philosopher, Emily Dickenson:

The surgeon must be very careful,
When to use the knife.
For underneath his fine incision,
Lays the culprit, life.

(From memory, so don't complain if I missed a comma or something)

Fed plans new rules to protect future homebuyers When I read the headline, a shiver went down to my feet in sort of a reverse Obama-Matthews. Reading the story did not make it go away. Broad new powers for the Fed (expanding our services because we rock so much at our other tasks) to regulate home loans.

Under the proposal unveiled last December, the rules would restrict lenders from penalizing risky borrowers who pay loans off early, require lenders to make sure these borrowers set aside money to pay for taxes and insurance and bar lenders from making loans without proof of a borrower's income. It also would prohibit lenders from engaging in a pattern or practice of lending without considering a borrower's ability to repay a home loan from sources other than the home's value.

Government comes up with some hare-brained ideas now and then but I think this one will indeed work. If you make it too expensive or perhaps impossible to get a loan, that should inhibit defaults.

Mortgage crisis solved! I knew getting a Princeton Man in would be a good idea!

Posted by John Kranz at 6:22 PM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2008

jk Was Wrong!

I suggested, on January 5, 2007 that a Sirius -XM Merger was a good idea, but that "I cannot imagine getting approval for such a merger in the 110th. Democratic committee chairs and TR Republicans are not going to allow a monopoly in Satellite Radio. Even though, as usual, the FTC is not capable of seeing whom a firm or technology actually competes against."

Six weeks later, I said that I was not backing off but that "Against prescience points, however, I am hoping for the deal to succeed. I don't think either firm is strong enough to compete and innovate by itself. A strong satellite provider could bring new offerings to the market. (Maybe I'll even get my beloved Luna back.)"

Well, I was wrong. The 110th will approve the merger. But Don Luskin enumerates the costs of having the government "allow" something it has no moral or Constitutional right to preclude:

...* set aside 4 percent of their spectrum capacity (what now amounts to 12 channels) for non-commercial educational programming;
*lease another 4 percent to groups like minorities and women who are underrepresented in broadcasting...

Luskin says:
It’s a free country so we can’t complain that activist groups such as Public Knowledge agitate for the special interests of the left, but we ought to bitch and moan that they succeed at their game of policy piracy. Not many know that groups like this get funded by corporations who want to use them as a weapon, or, worse yet, as a form of protection money.

This is the Bush FCC. While it has some well documented intransigents on it, hands up those who believe that President Obama or McCain will staff it more liberty-friendly or business-friendly members.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:33 PM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2008

Raw Milk

Reason:

On May 1, Pennsylvania state troopers arrived at the home of Mennonite farmer Mark Nolt, seizing a reported $20,000 to 25,000 worth of farm equipment and placing Nolt under arrest. His crime? The illegal sale of unpasteurized milk and other dairy products. And Nolt isn't alone. In February, federal investigators subpoenaed two employees of Mark McAfee's Organic Pastures Dairy in California. Though the subpoenas do not indicate the purpose of the investigation, McAfee told me the feds were seeking evidence that his dairy was selling unpasteurized milk for human consumption across state lines.

I could go for a couple pieces of sashimi right about now.

But raw milk? A crime? C'mon.

Posted by AlexC at 12:33 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

When Milk is outlawed, only outlaws will drink Milk.

Posted by: jk at May 27, 2008 10:32 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

It's for your own good. Them Amish farmers are like crack dealers, with the guns and the violence and the ruined families. The humanity!

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at May 27, 2008 1:34 PM

May 5, 2008

Tale of Woe

Convinced that private lenders were making too much profit on federally insured loans, Democrats enacted changes last fall that rendered most new student loans unprofitable. As numerous firms abandoned the market amid the credit crunch and just before the peak of college financing season, the anxious pols realized their blunder and are now seeking a bailout of the same lenders they had just finished punishing.
I suggested Ethanol subsidies were a perfect, archetypal microcosm of government intrusion into free markets. I blogged that our grandchildren would study the folly and tease us about it. But why wait? The WSJ lead editorial (quoted above) captures it perfectly well today.
No need to worry about the risk for taxpayers in direct lending, however. Congressman Miller is so confident that the bureaucrats can manage everything this time that he is now trying to amend the law to eliminate some regular audits of the program. This auditing refinement, which has passed the House but not yet the Senate, specifically eliminates the requirement to report how much the program contributes to the national debt. If no one is counting, then no one can say it costs the taxpayers any money, right?

From start to finish, it is hard to imagine a more thorough example of Congressional blundering while covering its tracks by blaming everyone else and getting the Fed and taxpayers to clean up the mess. Enjoy the free lunch while you can.


I'd encourage a thoughtful reader to read the whole thing.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:15 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

profit motive
–noun
The desire for profit that motivates one to engage in business ventures.

[Origin: 1930–35]

-adjective
A modifier to the proper noun "evil."

[Origin: environmentalist economics circa 1968]

Posted by: johngalt at May 5, 2008 3:33 PM

April 29, 2008

We've Got The Public to Protect!

The good people of Pennsylvania (I am not piling on, it just happens to be the location) will be protected from the ravages of cheap medication:

A 67-year-old law is preventing Pennsylvania residents from obtaining the full list of $4 prescription drugs sold at Wal-Mart.

Will it take that many years to decide if the 1941 law is doing more harm than good?

A bill that would allow the $4 prescriptions has lingered in the state Legislature for 13 months, with no debate and no action scheduled.

In late 2006, Wal-Mart began selling 331 medications for $4 for a 30-day supply.

The drugs are generics -- cheaper equivalents of brand name drugs.

The $4 offerings include medications for many common illnesses, including infections, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and depression.

Because of the 1941 law, 56 of the drugs have to sell for $9 in Pennsylvania.


Club for Growth links to the story and wonders "So...if you're a liberal, what side of the argument do you support? Do you defend Wal-Mart (God forbid) and repeal the law so that people can get their much-needed drugs at "an everyday" low price? Or do you side with the mom-and-pop pharmacies that supposedly can't compete against the big, bad Wal-Mart?"

Posted by John Kranz at 5:56 PM | Comments (2)
But AlexC thinks:

Nothing happens in the Square State (not to be confused with Wyoming)?

Hey... did you see South Park? ;)

Posted by: AlexC at April 29, 2008 7:15 PM
But jk thinks:

Colorado and Wyoming are good places to find a nice, calm dentist and get $4 perscriptions. Pennsylvania seems to be having better luck in the Stanley Cup playoffs. I'd be tempted to trade.

Posted by: jk at April 29, 2008 7:36 PM

Global Food Crisis

Not content with helping Senator Obama to a victory in Pennsylvania, Senator Casey turns to solving the global food crisis.

How?

Government.

President Bush had previously requested $350 million for the year. Durbin and Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.) held a press conference Monday calling for an additional $200 million in food aid to be added to the upcoming war supplemental bill.

“This global food crisis now risks creating a series of failed states, as anger at inadequate food stocks spur riots and political instability,” said Casey. The Democrats said the additional $200 million would go primarily to the U.N.’s World Food Program, which provides emergency food aid for up to 78 million people annually.

Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Dana Perino said the administration is monitoring the situation closely; the administration recently announced it was releasing an additional $200 million in wheat reserves to be sent to developing countries.


Oh, and let's give it to the UN, of all people. A model of efficiency.

The President doesn't escape blame, but is anyone in government willing to look at the real cause of the global food crises?

Government.

... specifically the US and EU mandates for Ethanol production and consumption.

When it pays better to burn food for fuel than it does to sell it for food, is anyone, outside of Democrats and liberal do-gooders, really surprised?

Posted by AlexC at 2:58 PM

April 16, 2008

Life Would Suck Without Regulators

Prof. Reynolds links to a cool car on the Amazon Car Lust blog, the Toyota Sera.

It's worth a click if you like cars, but what caught my eye was this little government intrusion gem:

The United States allows non-U.S.-certified automobiles to be imported once they are 25 years past production date. This has allowed a few enterprising souls to import older cars like the Chrysler Valiant Charger, but it will be some time before the exotic Kei cars will be eligible for import. The situation is somewhat different in Canada, however; our northern neighbors require only a 15-year wait, meaning some of the interesting Japanese-market cars from the early 1990s are now fair game. There are quite a few dealerships in Vancouver, B.C., that do a strong business in such formerly forbidden fruit.

I'm thinking of brave Americans who dare to make Canadian bootlegging runs to import high- volume, non-Senator Albert A Gore approved, toilet tanks.

How much richer our lives and our bank accounts would be if we didn't have a Federal government protecting us from small 16 year old Japanese automobiles and four gallon toilets.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:55 PM

February 11, 2008

All The World's A Stage

Group Gets Around Smoking Ban By 'Acting' The Part

Barnacle's Resort in Lake Mille Lacs turned its normal Saturday night business into a play, testing a loophole in Minnesota's smoking ban. The production included programs and buttons that said "Act Now!"

"You are looking at a stage. You are looking at a playhouse," said Mark Benjamin, a nonsmoking lawyer who worked the bar dressed in Shakespearian garb. "Those are not cigarettes -- those are props."

The law allows actors and actresses to light up in theatrical performances -- but it doesn't define what that means. The idea of stretching the definition came to Benjamin at the Renaissance Festival, an annual event where people dress up in costumes.


Hat-tip: Rick Sincere

UPDATE: Thanks, Brett, here's video

Posted by John Kranz at 5:39 PM | Comments (1)
But Brett thinks:

See www.millelacsmessenger.com for video of the event.

Posted by: Brett at February 11, 2008 9:44 PM

December 6, 2007

Spirit of 1776

The CATO Institute reports another, grim milestone:

It turns out that the federal government currently operates 1,776 subsidy programs. These include subsidies for states, cities, individuals, non-profit groups, and businesses.

They end with a swipe at President Bush: "He's no Thomas Jefferson." While I can't make an impassioned defense, it seemed odd to single him out. We've had 220 years and a lot of not-Jeffersons to get where we are.

Hat-tip: Josh at Everyday Economist

Posted by John Kranz at 11:05 AM

November 26, 2007

With Republican's Like These...

That should probably be a category -- or a whole new blog: with Republicans like these, who needs Democrats?

I wrote about Michael Powell in May of 2003:

Chairman Powell is Colin Powell’s son. As much as I respect Dad, Michael’s policy and beliefs comport better with mine, and he clearly is the better for spending fewer years with the striped-pants crowd at the State Department. He is pushing to bring FCC Regulations into the 21st Century. Regulations on ownership that were crafted when America got its news from Eric Sevareid can be relaxed now that many get news from Andrew Sullivan. Chairman Powell understands the effect of cable TV and Internet information sources and he believes in the free market enough to fight for a more modern approach.

Come home, Michael, we need you. Today, the WSJ Ed Page takes a few whacks at his successor, Kevin Martin (paid link until Rupert gets the keys...):
At a meeting scheduled for tomorrow, Chairman Martin plans to push a slew of new regulations on cable operators. Among other things, he wants to force cable companies to reduce, by as much as 75%, the already regulated rates they charge to lease channels to programmers. He also wants to require cable operators to settle carriage disputes, like the current one involving the NFL Network, through an arbitration system set up by the FCC. Apparently Mr. Martin, a Republican appointee to the agency no less, has lost faith in the free market's ability to handle commercial disputes. Either that, or he has some personal animus against cable.

Mr. Martin says more regulation is needed because monopolistic players are dominating the cable industry. But his premise doesn't remotely square with reality. Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, recently reported a drop in subscriptions. Cable share prices generally are getting hammered, trading near 52-week lows. According to a report last week in Broadcasting & Cable, since Comcast's last earnings report its stock is down 17%; Time Warner is down 21%; Cablevision is down 16.5%; and Charter Communication is off 47%.
[...]
To justify his meddling, Mr. Martin describes a marketplace that doesn't exist. He pretends there's no DirecTV and EchoStar option. He pretends that Verizon and AT&T's video offerings pose no threat to Comcast and Time Warner. But if the FCC chairman is most concerned about costs, the goal should be more competition via different platforms. In other words, he should want current trends to continue. His odd and untimely proposals are more likely to retard them.

Some people still wonder why so many businesses donate to Democrats. Some of it is explained by rent-seeking and staying close to power -- but how can you ask business to donate to the GOP when their Cabinet Chairs think like Mr. Martin?

UPDATE: Never give up hope. The vote may be in trouble:

WSJ
WASHINGTON -- A vote Tuesday on a proposal that could lead to stricter regulation of the cable industry was in jeopardy Monday, as internal squabbling at the Federal Communications Commission and outside pressure from Congress and the White House threatened to delay, if not completely derail, the plan.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:14 AM | Comments (2)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Should the federal government have prevented Apple from releasing the iPod until there were enough competitors to make a "market"?

Actually, only one seller is required to make a market. It's unadulterated bullshit that, as the interventionists claim, "markets require competition." Even if there is only one seller of a good or service, consumers always have a choice: they can choose not to buy.

The only reason cable companies are "monopolistic" is because local governments give them the monopolies. Cablevision is the only cable company that Westchester County permits to operate, even though RCN would be more than happy to get my business (and I'd be more than happy to give it to them). Cablevision's service is atrocious enough, but I can't imagine how much worse it would be without satellite competitors.

I stick with Cablevision for its cable modem service, but even then it's recently given me so many problems that I'm about to get Verizon's FIOS. And there would be many, many more people offering high-speed connections of all types, if only government would stop sodomizing the market.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 27, 2007 2:44 PM
But jk thinks:

That's the best thing about government intervention: when you ruin the market with regulation, you can claim the market doesn't work and regulate further.

It's one thing when Rep Barney Franks tries to over regulate the mortgage industry at the start of a housing slump, his constituents expect that. Seeing a Bush appointee go this far is disheartening.

After I wrote that essay that lauded Michael Powell, he showed a regulatory streak on language and "wardrobe malfunctions" that I didn't cheer, but it was at least in character.

Posted by: jk at November 27, 2007 3:12 PM

September 29, 2007

Whose Fire Is It?

A private fire crew dispatched by a national insurance company that caters to wealthy clients is guarding 22 high-end homes threatened by the Castle Rock Fire, a blaze that has forced the evacuation of hundreds of million-dollar homes west of Ketchum.

The crew will protect only homes insured by AIG Private Client Group, an insurance company that offers "loss-prevention services" to its wealthiest customers. A truck and two-man crew sent by AIG from Montana arrived in Ketchum about 2 p.m. Wednesday to start dousing properties with Phos-Chek, the same fire retardant dropped from U.S. Forest Service aircraft.

"We're not going out there to fight the fire," said Dorothy Sarna, vice president and national director of risk-management services and loss prevention for the New York-based company. "We're out there to protect our clients."

Veteran fire managers now working the Castle Rock fire say they've never heard of a private fire crew protecting individual homes in the midst of a wildfire, said Dave Olson, a spokesman for the Forest Service.

The private crew has been granted access to areas closed to residents, but not all officials with public fire agencies were thrilled by the sight of the truck scooting through a smoky web of government fire crews.

"That sounds ridiculous to me," said Kim Rogers, a Ketchum Police Department spokesman, "especially since we haven't lost any structures. I mean, this is a Forest Service fire, not a private fire."


Would she rather they let them burn? Here is the whole story.

Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 5:40 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

My only concern is that the indigent people who own million dollar vacation homes in the Wood River Valley will lose their homes.

There really are two Americas.

Posted by: jk at September 30, 2007 1:41 PM

September 19, 2007

Competing with Coke & Pepsi

Sometimes you have to wonder.

Ray Murphy @ YoungPhillyPolitics is incensed, incensed, that Coke and Pepsi are taking (well paying for) regular ol' Philly tap water, putting it in a bottle, slapping a label on it, and marking up the piss out out it.

Half a cents worth of tap water is now worth a dollar and a half.

According to the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company website, our local plant is the fourth largest nationwide with over half a billion dollars in annual sales. Both Pepsi and Coke have reported that bottled water sales are among the fastest growing in their companies and may soon catch up or even overtake the sale of carbonated beverages. That means there are a lot of potential water consumers in Philadelphia.

The simpler way to profit off of water is to tax Pepsi and Coke at a higher rate for their water usage. I had some trouble figuring out the PWD’s business tax rate (hello Philadelphia, can we get some good city websites up or what?), but for consumers, it costs about $17 in taxes for 600 gallons of water. Philly Coke’s website says it serves about 5 million consumers a year. If one-third of these people buy one 20 oz. bottle of water a year, we’re talking at least 278,437 gallons of water sold annually.

I don’t really care how we make money off of water, but the point here is that in these cash strapped times, we are stupid if we don’t.

Our water supply is currently being exploited by Coke and Pepsi. As the largest municipality collecting and cleaning water for drinking in the region, Coke and Pepsi can’t really get the tap water they need for Dasani and Aquafina anywhere else but Philly (and shipping tap water from other places would likely cut too deeply into their bottom line). That means that whether we tax them more, or bottle our own water, Philadelphia is in a good place to be able to better take advantage of a natural resource.


Admittedly, I am not a degreed economist, but I'm sure this is a catastrophically bad liberal idea, but I repeat myself.

I'll say it slowly. (Please read along slowly for full effect)

1) If the city of Philadelphia can not control crime within it's own boundaries, how in the hell is it supposed to compete with two massively global companies that have had their horns locked for years?

2) If the city of Philadelphia charges big soda more for water, they can go bottle tap water somewhere else. There is nothing special about what Trenton flushes into the Delaware River. Really. Nothing.

Bonus part of that is when they close their bottling plants in the city and move them outside of the city limits, the city loses wage tax collection, property taxes, etc... a win-win!

Never mind that whole issue of a government specifically targetting two industrial consumers of water to the exclusion of the other industrial consumers. How many gallons of water go into a box of Oreos from the Nabisco bakery? ... what about my precious Tasty-Klair Pie? or a case from the Yards Brewery? *

Ideas like this are nicely nucleated examples of liberal progressive thinking.

... and it goes without saying that if you buy bottled water that's municipal sourced, you're a dope, no matter who puts a screw top on it.

Get a Nalgene bottle and fill it before you leave the house... and use the bottle again, and again, and again. It takes two liters of water to make a one liter plastic bottle, btw.

See? You can be conservative and environmentally conscious!

* Note: I'd list more water consuming businesses within city-limits, but great business friendly ideas like this have chased most out into the suburbs, or the south or Mexico.

Posted by AlexC at 8:09 PM | Comments (6)
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

I read somewhere that the City of Pittsburgh almost saved the world from bad beer when they tried to close Iron City because the brewer wasn't paying their water bill. (Water being the source and closest taste to IC).

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 19, 2007 11:19 PM
But jk thinks:

I love it. He goes to the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company website and finds everything he needs, goes to the city website and can't find anything -- then says that government should tell private business how to operate.

Posted by: jk at September 20, 2007 10:32 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Second-best-case scenario: the companies stay put despite the taxes, but they must pass the additional taxes on to consumers. Instead of paying $1.50 for bottled water, consumers must now pay $1.65 or whatever, so sales will decrease. Thing is, the Laffer Curve can also work in reverse, so those sales could very well drop and take the tax revenues along with them.

Best-case scenario: the companies stay put, they pass the additional taxes on to consumers, and sales remain the same. But because a consumer now spends $1.65 on a 20-oz. bottle water when he spent $1.50 before, that's 15 cents taken away from other purchases. By definition it must come from *somewhere*, and it adds up to anything from a supersize option on fast food to a notepad to a restaurant meal. Now *those* companies will experience an equivalent sales decline, which means they must cut back on man-hours. Of secondary importance is the lost tax revenue. Now, this is the absolute best possible scenario, and it's also the most improbable. It won't happen for a simple reason: economies never, ever shift toward industries or sectors that are taxed higher.

A lot of people subscribe to the economic fallacy that charging more can be good, because it means the sellers (and in this case, government as a tax receiver) has more money to spend, and this supposedly spurs economic growth. On the surface it looks good, but it cannot avoid the fact that buyers have finite incomes. If I spend $1.65 on bottled water instead of $1.50, or when Henry Ford paid workers enough to afford the cars they made (an economic urban legend), that money must come from somewhere else. I'll spend less on other purchases if I'm to buy bottled water in the same quantity and frequency, and because Henry Ford's customers must spend more on the cars, they'll spend less on other things. True economic output does not increase -- unless the central bank prints more dollars so we can spend more, which is, of course, inflationary.

The lesson, as always, is to remember what Bastiat taught us. Look for the unseen.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 20, 2007 11:22 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I should add that I stick to bottled water, even if it's ultimately tap water, as a matter of taste and sanitation. I prefer spring water, but I'll still buy Dasani. To me, there's no choice between "free" water from a Grand Central Terminal fountain and paying $1.65 at any of the vendors. When government says it purifies, filters and UVs tap water, I wonder how well. When Coca-Cola says it does those, I actually trust it more, not because it's interested in protecting me, but because it wants to keep my business.

Oh, and by the way, liberal idiots like Murphy and Gavin Newsom can give themselves edemas with plain old tap water.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 20, 2007 11:33 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Who drinks brand label water? Progressive elitists ... I'm with W.C. Fields on this one. My hydration comes from a bottle of scotch, thnx.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at September 20, 2007 12:47 PM
But jk thinks:

I think it's a mistake to compare bottled water to tap water. The substitution is bottled water vs. Coke. The price comparison is a lot less extreme and it represents substitution better: convenient, disposable, &c.

"Freakonomist" Steven Levitt has an interesting piece discussing that Coca Cola now advertises that Diet Coke is 99% water -- after trying to hide that fact for years.

Posted by: jk at September 20, 2007 1:23 PM

August 8, 2007

Populism and Transportation

In the wake of the bridge collapse in Minnesota, The New York Times recently published a piece on the bizarre spending habits of the government when it comes to transportation:


Despite historic highs in transportation spending, the political muscle of lawmakers, rather than dire need, has typically driven where much of the money goes. That has often meant construction of new, politically popular roads and transit projects rather than the mundane work of maintaining the worn-out ones.

Further, transportation and engineering experts said, lawmakers have financed a boom in rail construction that, while politically popular, has resulted in expensive transit systems that are not used by a vast majority of American commuters.

Representative James L. Oberstar, Democrat of Minnesota and the chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, sent out a news release last month boasting about Minnesota’s share of a recent transportation and housing appropriations bill.

Of the $12 million secured for the state, $10 million is slated for a new 40-mile commuter rail line to Minneapolis, called the Northstar. The remaining $2 million is divided among a new bike and walking path and a few other projects, including highway work and interchange reconstruction.


Reading the article, I could not help but to be reminded of this:

Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 11:19 PM | Comments (2)
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

The light rail system was a major boondoggle that will be mentioned over and over again in the coming election cycles.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at August 9, 2007 10:02 AM
But jk thinks:

"Sorry, Mom, the mob has spoken." Awesome!

Sadly, the I35 bridge will be used to demagogue a huge increase in Federal spending and control. Even Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard said last week that "small government conservatives are going to have to support increased taxes for infrastructure needs." Et tu, Fred?

Posted by: jk at August 9, 2007 10:08 AM

July 25, 2007

Why Government Can't Succeed.

I read hb's charming post on the success of private efforts to help Katrina victims, complete with his admonition that "the inability to provide ample support is not confined to the administration, but rather to government itself."

Shortly after that, I read this editorial, Union Doozy, in the Wall Street Journal. The contrast is explicit. The State of Indiana contracts with private companies to deliver state welfare services, using the efficiency of the private sector. Unfortunately for AFSCME, the program is a mad success and they have to get their Democratic lapdogs in the 110th Congress to overrule the State law (so much for laboratories of democracy, Justice Brandeis!)

Indiana's goal is to deliver welfare benefits more efficiently to those who qualify for them. Its reform aims to save $500 million over 10 years by moving some 1,400 government jobs to the private sector -- which AFSCME likes to call "domestic outsourcing." But while this could mean fewer dues-paying union members, the state contract with IBM specifically requires that all current employees be offered work on the new system. And what do you know? More than 99% chose the private sector. Adding call centers and online resources will also help reduce welfare fraud: In December, a federal-state investigation found more than 1,000 ineligible drug felons collecting welfare in Marion County alone.

But no effort to make government more accountable goes unpunished. Under the House provision, the Hoosier state would be forced to cancel the $1.16 billion 10-year deal with IBM, while taxpayers would have to shoulder the more than $100 million in additional costs to bring the operation back into the bureaucracy. Worse, the money to make up the shortfall would likely come out of the same purse that's been funding an increasing number of child-welfare caseworkers -- which was another goal of reform.


There are a hundred good arguments against government running things, but the best to me is the Hayekian preference for distributed control and knowledge. Allowing a few Senators to have veto privileges over innovation will guarantee inefficiency every time.

The program is likely safe for now, but won't be under a Democratic administration. And why would the next IBM bother to get involved with such a program?

Posted by John Kranz at 1:24 PM

July 24, 2007

Summer Jobs in New Orleans

The Times-Picayune reports:


They could just as easily do what young people typically do during their precious summer free time: work various odd or part-time jobs, lounge around a beach or do nothing at all.

But for thousands of young people from across the country - in a few cases, other countries - this summer has been different.

Despite tales of thick, suffocating summer heat and entire neighborhoods still scarred with floodlines and wrecked seemingly beyond repair, young people continue to flock to New Orleans. They come not to revel in the neon glow of Bourbon Street, but to continue the cleanup nearly two years after Hurricane Katrina.

Many of the young volunteers have never been to the city and team up with local organizations, such as the well-established Catholic Charities or the newer Beacon of Hope Resource Center, to fill the voids in neighborhoods where the need for help remains great.

On a recent afternoon, a group of high school students from Westlake, a town just outside Lake Charles, spent part of their day in Mid-City, hand scraping old paint from the porch of a white shotgun double and applying a fresh coat to the inside walls. Even though the house is raised about 3 feet, a waterline remains about 2 feet high on the screen door.

"Something as simple as a fresh coat of paint can do so much," said Sam Turner, 16, who was in town to work with other young members of his church, First Baptist Church of Westlake.

The homeowner, Chareen Black, 41, said the volunteers have made a major contribution.

"Imagine without the volunteers - the house would still be in disarray, and I can't do it myself," said Black, who was welcoming a second group of volunteers to her home. "It's been a big help, a huge blessing."


Those who criticized FEMA and Bush in the same breath fail to realize that the inability to provide ample support is not confined to the administration, but rather to government itself. This story is free of the rhetoric and is a great example of human compassion and the free market.

Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 6:37 PM

May 24, 2007

Bush as John Galt

It's no secret that United States President George W. Bush Continues to Support Bipartisan Immigration Proposal. There is a mystery, however. Why?

Conservative icon Rush Limbaugh has struggled with this question, arriving speculatively at the conclusion that the religious president considers it one of his "good works." I've pondered the root cause myself over the past many months since the original Senate proposal last year, with no defensible theory having come forth - until today.

I've defended the concept of unfettered immigration on these pages many times, including once with a checklist of prerequisites. Unfortunately, the single most important prerequisite is also universally understood to be nigh on impossible: Entitlement reform to eliminate the welfare state and end government enforced transfer payments amongst individuals. But now, I think the president has figured out how to actually make this happen.

By adding millions upon millions of new dependents to the American welfare state the system will collapse under its own weight, with massive shortfalls of capital. Future congresses will have only two options: Increase the money supply, creating hyperinflation and economic collapse or, cancel most entitlement programs outright. Brilliant! Life imitates art as Ayn Rand's epic 'Atlas Shrugged' provides the template for productive Americans to demand the second option, leaving the government with no choice but to comply.

Having chosen 'johngalt' as my blog pen name it would be hypocritical of me to continue opposing such a strategy. I just hope Dubya and JK will forgive me for taking so long to come around.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:11 PM | Comments (3)
But Charlie on the PA Tpk thinks:

So .. .you're saying he wants the system to collapse, so he's trying to make it happen?

In the long term, with the divisiveness of the party system, if the collapse did happen, the Left would blame Pres. Bush and the Right for letting it happen. Anything short of Socialism would be called 'radical Right Wing'; this would help the nation?

I can't explain Mr. Bush's idea, either; but this doesn't wash with me.

Posted by: Charlie on the PA Tpk at May 25, 2007 8:48 AM
But dagny thinks:

Charlie,

This was a joke. JG's bizarre sarcasm. He doesn't really think that Bush wishes the end of the welfare state. It is only wishful thinking.

Posted by: dagny at May 28, 2007 11:02 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I concede to being guilty of a high degree of "tongue-in-cheekness." My point was that the welfare state is currently in a delicate balance between how much government theft of individual wealth can be perpetrated (through the prevailing moral code of altruism) before enough individuals stop "participating" (effectively going on strike as producers) that the system collapses.

I personally consider Dubya to be far more intelligent than he's credited for (except in the area of altruism) so it logically followed that his steadfast position on legalizing an enormous additional demand on the welfare state is founded in an intentional plan to destabilize it. (Except for the president's unintelligent obedience to the code of altruism.)

I contend that such a crisis would lead to massive reductions in entitlements. Charlie seems to believe the Democrats and their ideas could escape culpability for the crisis. He may well be right, but such a strategy holds more actual promise for my predicted outcome than any other I've yet contemplated.

Posted by: johngalt at May 28, 2007 12:57 PM

April 15, 2007

Tax Day Coffee Smelling

Officially, tax day isn't until Tuesday (due to the 15th being on a Sunday and the 16th being an official holiday in D.C.) but the well known and lamented date of April 15th mustn't go by without some discussion of the state of taxation in America.

"Work hard. Be faithful. You'll get your just reward."

Those words appear on a statuette my father was given on the occasion of the closing of the College of Engineering at the University of Denver, where he had tenure. (The statuette was of a conscientious gentleman with a giant blue screw through his torso.) They can just as well be applied to American taxpayers who have earned a high school diploma or better in their educational career.

sr12_chart7-lg.gif

The preceeding chart comes from a fascinating April 4, 2007 study report by Robert Rector et. al. of The Heritage Foundation entitled, 'The Fiscal Cost of Low-Skill Households to the U.S. Taxpayer.' The report summarizes the chart this way:

Chart 7 com­pares households headed by persons without a high school diploma to households headed by persons with a high school diploma or better. Whereas the dropout-headed household paid only $9,689 in taxes in FY 2004, the higher-skill households paid $34,629— more than three times as much. While dropout-headed households received from $32,138 to $43,084 in benefits, high-skill households received less: $21,520 to $30,819. The difference in government benefits was due largely to the greater amount of means-tested aid received by low-skill households.

Households headed by dropouts received $22,449 more in immediate benefits (i.e., direct and means-tested aid, education, and population-based services) than they paid in taxes. Higher-skill households paid $13,109 more in taxes than they received in imme­diate benefits.

OK, so you're probably wondering, what's new? What's new is the trend in dropout households in the U.S. According to the World Net Daily article that cites the study:

About two-thirds of illegal alien households are headed by someone without a high school degree. Only 10 percent of native-born Americans fit into that category.

I have advocated on these pages (and stand by it today) that immigration should be free and unlimited to non-criminal aliens, provided that citizenship (and voting rights) must still be earned and that entitlement programs that make immigrants a burden on the taxpayer are first reduced or eliminated.

The Rector report explains the realities we face.

Politically feasible changes in government policy will have little effect on the level of fiscal deficit generated by most low-skill households for decades. For example, to make the average low-skill household fiscally neutral (taxes paid equaling immediate benefits received plus interest on government debt), it would be necessary to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, all 60 means-tested aid programs and cut the cost of public education in half. It seems certain that, on average, low-skill households will generate deep fiscal deficits for the foreseeable future.

Hat tip: The Canadian Sentinel

Click continue reading to see the report's conclusion in its entirety.

Conclusion

Households headed by persons without a high school diploma are roughly 15 percent of all U.S. households. Overall, these households impose a significant fiscal burden on other taxpayers: The cost of the government benefits they consume greatly exceeds the taxes they pay to government. Before government undertakes to transfer even more economic resources to these households, it should have a very clear account of the magnitude of the economic transfers that already occur.

The substantial net tax burden imposed by low-skill U.S. households also suggests lessons for immigration pol­icy. Recently proposed immigration legislation would greatly increase the number of poorly educated immigrants entering and living in the United States.[12] Before this policy is adopted, Congress should examine carefully the potential negative fiscal effects of low-skill immigrant households receiving services.

Politically feasible changes in government policy will have little effect on the level of fiscal deficit generated by most low-skill households for decades. For example, to make the average low-skill household fiscally neutral (taxes paid equaling immediate benefits received plus interest on government debt), it would be necessary to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, all 60 means-tested aid programs and cut the cost of public education in half. It seems certain that, on average, low-skill households will generate deep fiscal deficits for the foreseeable future. Policies that reduce the future number of high school dropouts and other policies affecting future generations could reduce long-term costs.

Future government policies that would expand entitlement programs such as Medicaid would increase future deficits at the margin. Policies that reduced the out-of-wedlock childbearing rate or which increased the real educa­tional attainments and wages of future low-skill workers could reduce deficits somewhat in the long run.

Changes to immigration policy could have a much larger effect on the fiscal deficits generated by low-skill fam­ilies. Policies which would substantially increase the inflow of low-skill immigrant workers receiving services would dramatically increase the fiscal deficits described in this paper and impose substantial costs on U.S. taxpayers.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:57 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Mmmm coffee.

Bastiat talks about "the seen and the unseen." With all due respect, you -- and my brother in law -- and a lot of other people whom I highly respect -- love to point to a datum in the "seen" category and say "See?"

Lower income households provide less revenue and use more government services. Who is surprised? Those without a diploma will earn less than those with; illegal immigrants tend to be less educated than native born citizens, yup.

I contend, still, that the "unseen" value that these workers and consumers bring to the economy more than compensates for the increased use of public services. The educated in your table are able to earn what they do, in large part, because there is a less educated work force (stop him before he says "comparative advantage" -- too late!).

To allow the educated (or ambitious dropouts like me and AlexC) to get ahead and innovate frequently requires allowing them to leverage less-educated labor. As Ricardo showed, both will be wealthier.

Posted by: jk at April 15, 2007 2:06 PM

April 4, 2007

Minimum Waging

Yay big government!

Supporters of having the government, instead of the private market, determine wage rates have said that there has been no solid evidence supporting claims that increasing the minimum wage leads to lost jobs. But just tell that to the roughly 70 Kennywood Park employees who were laid off as a result of the recent increase in the state’s minimum wage. The southwestern Pennsylvania amusement park was forced to lay off these workers – largely high school and college students – and raise ticket prices to make up for increased labor costs. Another 20 workers were laid off at nearby Idlewild Park.

Other examples:

  • The fitness chain store operator in the Lehigh Valley who laid off 100 part-time workers

  • The central Pennsylvania business that reduced its work force by three “marginal” workers; will attempt to automate additional work and will consider a reduction in health-care benefits

  • The central Pennsylvania business that runs an apprenticeship program for engine repair had to reduce available opportunities to just one

  • The large multi-state food retailer that will raise prices to consumers to cover additional costs

  • The eastern Pennsylvania-based retailer that cut hours back in its stores and still surrendered profits

  • The western Pennsylvania manufacturer that laid off two employees

  • The business owner with a young family who must now work 15 more hours a week at his pizza shop because he cannot afford the financial hit of the increased minimum wage

None of this is a surprise, naturally.

(tip to Chris)

Posted by AlexC at 1:13 PM

March 25, 2007

The Yoke

In case you were wondering...

[The Tax Foundation] find that America's lowest-earning one-fifth of households received roughly $8.21 in government spending for each dollar of taxes paid in 2004. Households with middle-incomes received $1.30 per tax dollar, and America's highest-earning households received $0.41. Government spending targeted at the lowest-earning 60 percent of U.S. households is larger than what they paid in federal, state and local taxes. In 2004, between $1.03 trillion and $1.53 trillion was redistributed downward from the two highest income quintiles to the three lowest income quintiles through government taxes and spending policy.

It still ain't fair... the poor hardly pay any taxes!

Read all here.

Posted by AlexC at 10:55 PM

March 2, 2007

And they say government cannot innovate

Postal Service fixes long waits by removing clocks | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle

Hat-tip: Andrew Roth at Club for Growth

Posted by John Kranz at 6:48 PM

February 21, 2007

The Tax Bite

This is an interesting calculation.

Taxes take a bigger bite out of the Big Apple than any other urban area in the nation, according to an analysis released Wednesday.

The Independent Budget Office report said local government taxes absorb $9.02 of every $100 of taxable resources here. The rate is 47 percent more than the $6.16 average for the most populous U.S. cities.

"No other large city comes close," the report said.

After New York, Philadelphia rated next highest, with $7.16 per $100, and Los Angeles followed with $6.88. Of the nine cities, Dallas had the lowest rate, with $5.20 per $100.

To reach those numbers, analysts estimated each city's gross taxable resources, made up of city household incomes and business surpluses , in other words, the main spending power used to pay taxes. For New York, that number is $502.1 billion. The portion of tax capacity being used by government was calculated using direct municipal taxes, estimated state collections within a city, and any overlapping local governments like counties.

Posted by AlexC at 8:44 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

The deductibility of local taxes and the AMT conspire to make this an opportunity for tax reform. Democrats in those blue areas seek AMT reform for their constituents, there might be a deal to extend the Bush tax cuts.

Posted by: jk at February 22, 2007 11:59 AM

February 9, 2007

Geno's Still on Meat Hook

Philly.com

The highly charged dispute over the speak-English sign at Geno's Steaks is about to heat up.

The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations notified Geno's owner Joey Vento this week that it had found probable cause that his sign urging patrons to order in English is discriminatory. The next step is to schedule a hearing to settle the dispute or to escalate the charges against the owner of the South Philadelphia sandwich stand.

Vento, who argues that the sign expresses opinions protected by the First Amendment, has enlisted the support of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, a conservative public-interest law firm in Atlanta that last year won a settlement for an Ohio bar owner who faced similar charges.

"I'm shocked the city is pursuing this," said Albert G. Weiss, Vento's attorney in Philadelphia. "You'd think they have more important things to deal with."


Heaven forbid Joey Vento cater to his choice of customers.

I suppose that soon the "no shoes, no shirt, no service" signs will be coming down. They're discriminatory to leg amputees.

Shoe stores, you've officially been warned.

Posted by AlexC at 11:54 AM | Comments (2)
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Heaven forbid Joey Vento cater to his choice of customers.

I suppose that soon the "no shoes, no shirt, no service" signs will be coming down. They're discriminatory to leg amputees.

Shoe stores, you've officially been warned.


LOL,..Yup Alex. Vento is violating people's rights, but Mayor John and his "Department of Street" are killing what little life still exists in this town!

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at February 9, 2007 9:11 PM
But Guy Montag thinks:

Has anybody checked if this request has driven business over to Pat's Steaks?

John F. Kerry (did you know he was in Vietnam?) put the Swiss Cheesesteak on the map at Pat's.

Posted by: Guy Montag at February 10, 2007 3:34 PM

February 7, 2007

Banning iPods

First they came for your cigarettes... then they came for your trans-fat.

Now they're coming for your iPod.

Posted by AlexC at 1:37 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

From my cold, dead hands city fathers!

Posted by: jk at February 7, 2007 4:05 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

What about bluetooth ear pieces ... or Secret Service Ear pieces. And finally, hearing aids. I cannot wait to see that.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at February 7, 2007 9:56 PM

February 2, 2007

Government Accounting

Here's a story that's hard to believe...

    A recent audit of cash-strapped Camden, N.J. school district's finances found it was paying an employee $130,000 annually — and he's been dead for more than three decades.

    City officials were shocked by the discovery.


No!! Not as shocked as the poor f*cker is going to be who's been cashing those checks....
    Camden has been plagued with scandal and is known as the nation's poorest city.

    The audit also found outside vendors have been overpaid more than $17 million. In one case the district forked over $953,000 for copy equipment even though the purchase order was for only $55,000.


So who got the $900K?

This is criminal.

A lot of people need to be hauled into a courtroom. Outrageous.

Posted by AlexC at 11:09 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Come on, ac, you worry too much. The dead teacher probably did a lot less damage to the children than his living peers, didn't overuse the health care benefit -- don't always look on the dark side.

Posted by: jk at February 3, 2007 11:14 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

It isn't criminal, Alex,..its ops-normal in Camden ( and probably in Philly, too, if we ever get a chance to dig a little).

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at February 3, 2007 12:05 PM

January 4, 2007

Haste Makes Waste

Opinion Journal looks at the Democrats rush to get things done in the first 100 hours and their motivations for doing so.

Namely, their ideas won't stand up to scrutiny.

    The need for scrutiny is even more compelling on price controls for Medicare prescription drugs. Under the Medicare Part D benefit that took effect last year, private companies negotiate prices. Democrats want to allow the government to deal directly with drug companies. They argue that this would lead to lower prices for medicines, but the more likely outcome is fewer drug choices and price controls.

    Democrats point to the Department of Veteran Affairs as a model, but we doubt seniors will like that story when they learn about it. The government already negotiates drug prices directly with the VA. But as Robert Goldberg wrote last month in The Weekly Standard, "Far from negotiating prices, the VA imposes them. Federal law requires companies to sell to the VA at 24% below wholesale price. If they won't, they are banned from selling medicines to Medicaid, Medicare and the public health service."

    The VA has created a list of approved drugs for its patients. Companies that don't pay the VA price don't make the list, and a slew of drugs fall into that category. They include Azilect and Tysabri, two of the newest therapies for Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis, respectively. That's what happens when keeping prices down takes priority over getting the best available medicines to patients. Both drugs are available through Medicare Part D, by the way. Maybe Congress ought to debate this.

Posted by AlexC at 2:01 PM

December 18, 2006

Air Quality

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

    More than a dozen states sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today to lower soot levels from smokestacks and exhaust pipes, a move the state officials argue would save thousands of lives.

    The states argue that the Bush administration is ignoring science and its own experts in refusing to slightly reduce the allowed threshold for soot. The "fine particulate matter" in soot contributes to premature death, chronic respiratory disease and asthma attacks, said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The pollution also leads to more hospital admissions and other public health costs, he said.

    Officials from Pennsylvania, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and the District of Columbia joined New York in the action filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington.

    "It is unfortunate that this coalition of states must resort to legal action to get the EPA to do its job — protect the environment and the public health," said Spitzer, the Democratic governor-elect.


EPA lied, people died.
    The states want to reduce the current limit of 15 micrograms of soot allowed per cubic foot of air. States say even a reduction of 1 microgram would save as many as 11,000 lives. They don't agree on a specific amount to cut the limit.

It's not clear how much the states want to lower it. But if one is good enough, why not five?

I mean there's lives at stake here.

How about 10?

Posted by AlexC at 6:15 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Do I hear 15? I read that John Kerry promised that, if elected president, he will reduce the allowable level of soot in industrial air emissions by TWENTY MICROGRAMS per cubic foot from its current level.

Posted by: johngalt at December 19, 2006 3:09 PM

December 15, 2006

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Folks still clamor for public finance of elections. I always ask "who decides who gets to run?" There are only two reasons to oppose public finance of elections: those who run and those who don't.

It doesn't seem right that a long shot would have to compete with a publicly financed candidate, and if Senator McCain gets his way, anybody who spends more than $300 would be thrown in jail.

We need to seriously rethink the amount of money we currently provide. It's not enough for legitimate candidates, all of whom eschew the funds to avoid the attached strings. So, who is getting this money? The Charleston Daily Mail lists a few:

EVERYONE who laughed when the elfin Dennis Kucinich threw his hat in the ring to run for president in 2004 should realize why he smiles.

He had 2,955,963 reasons to smile. That is how many bucks federal taxpayers gave his ridiculous campaign for president.

Kucinich had no chance.

Yet under the bizarre federal election rules, taxpayers had to give this fool $2,955,963 just to humor his vanity.

Ralph Nader took $798,827 from taxpayers in 2004 to indulge his fantasy of being elected president. Consumers beware. I look for this demagogue to run again.

Lyndon LaRouche is another likely candidate. Last time, he squeezed $1,456,019 from taxpayers.

In 2000, Pat Buchanan hit the jackpot, drawing $16,635,624 in federal matching funds. He drew just 0.4 percent of the popular vote.


Do you want $3 of your taxes to go to ending this travesty? Why, yes.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

UPDATE: Remember, it's the price of five weeks of Wii sales, and one-twentieth what we spend on potato chips.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:52 PM | Comments (3)
But AlexC thinks:

I was going to bring this up on the watercooler, regarding Pa's laws. (there are no limits)

But that doesn't mean Philadelphia doesn't want to do it's own thing.

Here's an opinion from the other side.

Naturally there's no discussion of how the money gets distributed or in what amounts.

Posted by: AlexC at December 16, 2006 12:10 PM
But jk thinks:

Color me unswayed.

Are we free of not? There was a discussion on Samizdata of the French belief that freedom is within natural boundaries. Who gets to choose and define these interstices? You're free or you're not.

Good for Philadelphia, cradle of freedom, to allow free speech. I'd love to know what Rep. Chaka Fattah does to extort -- I mean raise -- huge contributions, but the solution is not to limit them.

Posted by: jk at December 16, 2006 12:42 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Of course we're not free. That's why one of the commenters had the guts to write:

"Public financing is the solution. (Mandatory low-cost tv advertisements on cable would help too, if only by reducing the cost of public financing. But it is not enough.)"

When more government is the answer to every problem, you're a slave to it.

Posted by: AlexC at December 16, 2006 2:25 PM

October 31, 2006

Environmental Reactionaries

As Great Britain prostrates itself over the urgency to save the world from Global Warming [all caps because this is a proper name, not an actuality] David Cox writes in The Guardian that we're "back on the road to nowhere."

So off we go. But are we going anywhere? This is not the first time that the peoples of the world have been mobilised to confront a common danger. Success has usually proved elusive. You may remember the "war on drugs", or, if memory fails you on that one, the "war on terror". Ten years ago, a hundred countries, including Britain, pledged to halve global hunger. During the following decade, the number of starving people rose by 54 million, and that was with pop concerts, TV pictures of starving babies and Bob Geldof leading the charge.

Cox's conclusion is encouraging, however:

So all the curbs on free flights, higher motoring taxes and increased fuel bills which Mr Juniper has in mind for us would be unlikely to do the planet much good. In due course, this is likely to become apparent to both our politicians and to voters. Sacrifice that is clearly pointless soon loses its allure. So we need not be too fearful that the harsh measures currently being canvassed by the likes of David Miliband will actually materialise.
Posted by JohnGalt at 2:55 PM

September 29, 2006

Social Security Statement

Happy Days.

I got my statement today in the mail.

    If you continue working until your full retirement age (67 years), your payment would be about $2,178/month.
    age 70, your payment would be $2,701.

Wonderful!

The only thing this stupid document for is to make me realize how much of my money has been pissed away ($61,534) thanks to our government.

That and I made $187 dollars in 1994.

Posted by AlexC at 3:25 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

That's when the nanny state is most pernicious. Get EVERYBODY on the dole and entitlements are popular.

That's the failing with President Bush's Medicare drug benefit. It is cheaper and has more market incentives than a Democratic plan would have, but it was a mistake to put everybody on it. Means testing. If everybody’s collecting, we turn into France pretty quickly.

Posted by: jk at September 29, 2006 5:57 PM

September 28, 2006

Just call me Cassandra...

Here's a rare (first ever, actually) guest blog from dagny:

A few days ago in a comment I noted that:

"When the smoking is all banned, next they will decide that bacon is a crappy habit and I will not be so happy waiting in that restaurant since I will not be able to get an avocado, bacon burger to go with my fries. Maybe no fries either and the burger won’t be beef!"

As if on cue, New York and Chicago legislators are discussing ideas to ban the use of trans fats in restaurants.

From the NY Times:

The aldermen voted in April to forbid restaurants to sell foie gras. They have weighed a proposal to force cabbies to dress better. And there is talk of an ordinance to outlaw smoking at the beach.

Even Mayor Richard M. Daley, who often promotes bicycle riding and who not long ago appointed a city health commissioner who announced he was creating health “report cards” for the mayor and the aldermen, has balked at a trans-fat prohibition as one rule too many.

“Is the City Council going to plan our menus?” Mayor Daley asked.

And, from Scientific American:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City's Health Department on Tuesday proposed a near ban on the use of artificial trans fat at restaurants, likening its health danger to that of lead paint.

The proposal would limit the use of the artery-clogging fat, which is often used in fast foods, to 0.5 grams per serving. The proposal comes after a year-long city campaign to educate restaurants on the effects of such fats and encourage them to stop their use.

The city said the voluntary campaign failed and while some of New York's more than 20,000 restaurants reduced or stopped using artificial trans fat, overall use did not decline at all.

This falls into my official category of, “WHAT’S WRONG WITH PEOPLE?” I would really like to know what happened to the concepts of individual rights and personal responsibility in this country.

"Then they will start on whatever YOUR crappy habit is so watch out!"


Posted by JohnGalt at 12:47 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Welcome aboard, Dagny. Let me know if you'd like a login.

It causes one to tremble for the idea of self-rule. If we're going to vote these little tin-pot dictators into office, we might as well be slaves or subjects.

My hometown of Lafayette, CO is trying to take over recycling. We have two vibrant firms who do trash collection and both offer curbside recycling. But both charge extra (something like $2/month). Our Nazis have decided that is unacceptable, the city will take it over so it is "free."

Posted by: jk at September 28, 2006 10:15 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

I wonder what the French Embassy has to say about this. Banning foie gras? How anti-French!

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at September 28, 2006 11:04 AM

September 14, 2006

"Lead-Free" - The International Environmental Boondoggle

In honor of today being the unofficial "L day" I'm posting this item that came to my attention last Monday.

In case you wonder what might have happened if the Kyoto Protocol had been adopted and implemented world wide, consider what happened when the EU unilaterally determined that the lead in solder used to produce electronic devices is a "hazardous substance" and mandated its elimination from all products marketed in Europe by the July 1, 2006.

On Monday a colleague emailed several of us a list of issues related to lead-free electronics manufacturing that was provided to him by our assembly vendor. Before reading the attachment I had no idea just how disruptive this lead-free process business is. Why would we voluntarily evolve into a process that is less reliable, more expensive, fraught with extra hoops to jump through and, by the way, is WORSE for the environment?

This all stems from an EU directive called the "Reduction of Hazardous Substances" directive, or "RoHS" adopted January 27, 2003. Here's what I found when I investigated.

From “The ultimate in fatuity” on EU Referendum blog (based in UK):

According to the authors, "The study presents extensive data that show that heavy metal concentrations in leachate and landfill gas are generally far below the limits that have been established to protect human health and the environment."

By then, it was too late – the "train had left the station" and the momentum for new legislation was too great. But, by 2005, the US Environmental Protection Agency had got its act together and produced a 472-page report, assessing the full, life-cycle environmental impact of banning lead solder.

From this work, it emerged that when the impact of mining and refining substitutes was taken in to account, the higher energy consumption in using the lead-free solders, which require higher temperatures, and all the other issues were factored in, the banning of lead – far from having a positive impact on the environment (and worker health) – actually had a significant negative impact. Amazingly, though, this work had never been done by the EU and the legislation was, by then, already in place.

And then there are the long-term reliability concerns. Also from the EU Referendum blog:

On the basis of this charade, proprietors of firms not obeying this cretinous law can face unlimited fines and imprisonment yet, worryingly, there are still many serious doubts about the reliability and suitability of lead solder substitutes, so much so that military equipment has been exempted.

And this isn’t just some mad right-wing anti-environment rant. In the comments on the blog is a reference to this article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quoting a Canadian environmental scientist who doesn’t support lead-free:

But not all lead is the same. Lead in paint and gasoline is easily absorbed into human cells. Lead in metallic forms such as solder is not.

In addition, evidence indicates that soldered lead, once inside landfills, does not leach out into drinking water, said Laura Turbini, a materials science faculty member at the University of Toronto.

Turbini has studied and tried to help diminish the impact of industry on the environment since the days of CFCs in refrigerators. Her presentations declare "humanity is off course" environmentally. She also strongly advocates recycling electronics. But she does not support lead-free.

"From cradle to grave," Turbini said, "lead-free soldering is not better for the environment." Replacements for lead solder cost more to mine and require more energy to use and produce.

As for “state mandated deadlines for compliance” are we sure there are, or will be, any? Consider this, also from the news article:

No U.S. firm is legally bound to use lead-free solder. Only California has any restrictions on lead, and no federal laws are pending. But not conforming to European standards means giving up a lucrative market, and potentially that of China and Japan. China is expected to announce a restriction policy soon.

But since our market is exclusively the U.S. and not even Canada, much less Europe or East Asia, it appears that we should do everything possible to avoid lead-free like the plague. The problem with this strategy is that component manufacturers, forced to comply with RoHS by customers who market products in Europe and eager to avoid the added cost of parallel leaded and lead-free product lines, are gradually discontinuing the leaded components.

And so we have a world-wide economic and environmental travesty all because one man, the EU minister of state for energy, Malcolm Wicks, signed the final RoHS document declaring, "I have read the regulatory impact assessment and am satisfied the benefits justify the costs."

And angry-left nutjobs worry that we are sliding into a monarchy!

Take the disruptions, cost increases and environmental unintended consequences of this and multiply them by ten, or even a hundred, and you'll have an idea of what Kyoto could have wrought.

(Click "Continue Reading" to see the list of issues related to lead-free soldering processes.)

Company x’s Lead – Free Process Issues
1. Lead-Free assemblies are less reliable: Company x says we should expect 30% more solder joint failures in a lead-free process.
a. Through-hole joints will not be filled up to IPC-Level 1, but should conform to the IPC Level-2 soldering standard.
b. Our QA group should expect to see less flow and poorer overall solder joints. These joints are more susceptible to mechanical stress and vibration.
c. Tin solder will “grow” thin shards (whiskers) over time. These whiskers can eventually short higher density designs
2. Lead-Free assembly processes cost more: You will see why as you read the issues here.
3. Gold PCBs: Company x prefers Immersion Gold on top of Nickel. Company x is having issues soldering to our Immersion Silver boards:
a. The silver oxidizes fairly quickly, so the PCB shelf life isn’t very long with silver
b. Company x uses a lot of cardboard, which is one of silver’s worst enemies. They try to be careful, but find they still set a lot of bare boards directly on cardboard.
c. The flux isn’t powerful enough to break down the silver oxide when soldered
d. The lead-free solder doesn’t adhere well to silver even when it is not oxidized
Company x prefers 180-200 micro-inches of Nickel over the copper and 3-8 micro-inches of Gold over the Nickel. This finish has a good shelf life, doesn’t react with materials used in handling and storage, and readily adheres to the tin solder.
It may cost us more per board up-front, but Company x is saying due to the soldering issues, it saves us money on the overall assembly.
4. High-Temp FR-4: Most assembly houses request a higher temperature rated FR-4 material for lead-free processing. Company x hasn’t seen any PCB issues due to the higher oven temperatures yet. However, de-laminating and warping may occur, especially on PCB areas with few parts. Data Circuits/Merix hasn’t charged us more for this material in the past, so I suggest we start using it on all of our PCBs.
5. High-Temp Parts: Company x has settled on 245 C as their lead-free oven temperature. Many aluminum electrolytic capacitors and connectors will be destroyed at these temperatures. I have found that many ROHS rated aluminum electrolytic capacitors aren’t specified to handle this temperature and are rated to only 235-240 C, especially the larger caps. All of the parts we want to run through a lead-free reflow process must handle at least 245 C, although 260 C is preferable, but hard to obtain in the larger caps. Due to the higher oven temperatures required for lead-free reflow, we must re-evaluate each part in the assemblies we want to become lead-free.
6. Hand soldering is difficult: Lead-free solder not only requires a higher temperature to flow properly, but it doesn’t wet, flow, or adhere as well as lead based solder. Interestingly, soldering iron tips only last 8-10 hours due to the aggressive tin reaction to the tips themselves. To increase the soldering temperature, the soldering iron tips are larger which makes it more difficult to solder small parts. Company x has asked us to change the following in our designs:
a. Increase annular rings around hand-soldered holes or anything we will want to ever be re-worked. 15-20 mil per side is desirable. Use elliptical holes for finer-pitch parts.
b. Try to always use thermal rings to connect pads (SMT and thru-hole) to ground planes and copper pours. The pads must get hotter for good reflow and direct plane/copper connections pull that heat away.
7. Wave Soldering:
a. Only boards stuffed completely with lead-free parts can run through a lead-free wave soldering process. Otherwise the lead will contaminate the solder, costing upwards of $50K to empty, clean, and refill the wave soldering pot. So we must be absolutely certain all of our parts are lead-free before we request a lead-free wave process. Lead-free wave soldering requires a higher temperature pre-heater for the board, which is not desirable.
b. Due to higher reflow temperatures, Company x does not want to run parts through the wave soldering process for a second reheating. Many parts won’t survive a second re-heating, which is 500C. To prevent damage to SMT parts on the bottom side of the PCBs, they are using “selective wave fixtures” that attach to the boards and only exposes the parts needing wave soldered. These fixtures costs $300-$400 although they may need several to allow them to continue running boards as other fixtures cool enough to be handled. The fixture rules are:
i. No SMT component on the bottom side of the PCB can extend more than 0.125" from the PCB surface. If they are taller, then a more expensive fixture can be built (double layer) or they will have to hand solder the parts. Either way costs us more for assembly.
ii. All SMT parts should be at least 0.100" away from the parts to be wave soldered. This leaves room for the fixture to fit tightly to the PCB. Obviously all of the parts can’t adhere to this rule. In these cases, we should provide build instructions to specify to either glue the intruding part to the PCB and wave solder it (indicating it can handle the heat for a second pass) or to have them hand solder the part to the PCB after the wave process.
8. Pre-Fabrication DFM Review: Company x wants 24 hours to review our PCB artwork before fabrication. This allows them time to review the board and suggest changes for better manufacturability. This also gives them time to look at some of the parts to see if they can handle the lead-free processes and high-pressure post-washing.

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:46 PM | Comments (3)
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

I'm fighting with the whole R22 vs R410A refrigerant issue right now with regards to getting a new AC unit. A lot of the seasoned HVAC guys want to eat their eyes over this knowing damn well that the replacement is so much less effective that it takes a lot more energy to gain the same benefits. This creates more damage than it avoids. DDT v2.0

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at September 14, 2006 11:19 PM
But jk thinks:

...and I got one of those 1.75 gallon Al Gore Toilets. My contractor begged me not to replace the old contraband 3 gal unit but I wanted colored fixtures.

They should put the (then) Senator's picture on a plunger -- it's his fault you have to use it so often.

(Andrew Sullivan blazed the trail in bathroom plumbing blogging, I'm just a copycat.)

Posted by: jk at September 15, 2006 11:30 AM
But AlexC thinks:

JK, you might want to add a little fiber to your diet. ;)

But the Al Gore plunger is a great idea!

Posted by: AlexC at September 15, 2006 11:34 AM

August 16, 2006

TSA Snooping

When TSA searches your checked luggage they used to put a note in saying "Hey we opened your bag."

When did this policy end? Was there any official notice? Is it something that the TSA in Philadelphia decided to do on it's own?

Yesterday I checked a bag with some clothes and some fly fishing gear. The fishing gear included a hemostat (looks like scissors, but used like pliers), flies, hooks, and fly floatant. For those who don't know, fly floatant is a liquid/gel product that you put on the fly to keep it afloat. All of the fly fishing gear was stored in a glorified fanny pack, which was velcroed shut.

When I unpacked, I noticed that the fly floatant wasn't in the pouch anymore. There's no way it could have flopped out of the pouch. It was laying loose in the suitcase, and the pouch was still velcroed shut.

I'm amazed that they found the floatant. I suspect that the hemostat showed up on an x-ray and figured that they opened it up then. But where's my note? ... and why not put it back where it belongs?

For what it's worth, a month ago, I carried the same setup on the plane. No problems... I wish they would profile frequent fliers and let us be.

Posted by AlexC at 1:15 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

We are supposed to be frightened by al Qaida's recent addition of "women and children" to the ranks of their homi-suci-cide squads. "Now ANYONE could be a terrorist," the media wails. But what is the big deal when our big, fancy, (bloated and bureaucratically hamstrung also go without saying) new federal agency created expressly for preventing terror attacks on airplanes vehemently REFUSES to profile terrorists?

TSA - "Thousands Standing Around"

Posted by: johngalt at August 16, 2006 2:49 PM

August 6, 2006

Spending Database

One of the best political stimulants, is shame.

    U.S. Senator Tom Coburn has an innovative idea that will cost the federal government virtually nothing and provide the public with a depth of knowledge on government operations unparalleled in American History.

    The Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommmittee on Federal Financial Management has introduced a bipartisan bill to create a Google-like online searchable database of all federal spending. Currently, said Coburn, there is no way for taxpayers to find out what the federal government is paying individuals, groups, localities, and contractors. "This bill will empower citizens investigators to root out waste, fraud, and abuse," the Oklahoma Republican, a leading opponent of pork, told U.S. News.

    He has earned a bipartisan group of co-sponsors including Republicans John McCain and Rick Santorum and Democrat Barack Obama. Since most of the information is already online or in digital data records that could be easily posted, the cost would be comparatively small.


This is a good thing. There's plenty of shame to go around.

Hopefully you can group it by Senator / Congressman and see what they've introduced... and give you a dollar total.

Posted by AlexC at 7:06 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Yes! Transparency is the key, much better than creating some arcane "reform" rules that members will quickly find ways around.

Bloggers can play an active part in the shaming. Not that anybody around here would take pleasure in such a thing...

Posted by: jk at August 7, 2006 11:46 AM
But AlexC thinks:

Devil's Advocacy time.

Why should we wait for government to fill this need? Why hasn't there been anyone in the think-tank/political agitator segment of society doing this?

Yes, Porkbusters et al is a start.

... my fear is that the government will find a way to make it suck.

Posted by: AlexC at August 7, 2006 2:03 PM
But jk thinks:

That was actually my first thought: fund a government program to see why government spends so much...

But I believe you might need their access to produce them with accuracy and timeliness. Go government!

Posted by: jk at August 7, 2006 3:16 PM

July 18, 2006

More Farm Subsidies

Last month I posted a link to a WaPo story of non-farmers receiving farm subsidies. Today, the same paper finds, in the same state of Texas, that you don't really need a drought to get drought aid.

CHANDLER, Tex. -- On a clear, cold morning in February 2003, Nico de Boer heard what sounded like a clap of thunder and stepped outside his hillside home for a look. High above the tree line, the 40-year-old dairy farmer saw a trail of smoke curling across the sky -- all that remained of the space shuttle Columbia.

Weeks later, de Boer was startled to learn that he was one of hundreds of East Texas ranchers entitled to up to $40,000 in disaster compensation from the federal government, even though the nearest debris landed 10 to 20 miles from his cattle.


No doubt if farmers had the time, Senators Harkin and Grassley would co-sponsor a bill to reimburse farmers for damage by extra-terrestrial debris. Willie Nelson and John Cougar could do a big concert.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:04 PM

July 6, 2006

Save Us From Spoiled Milk

New Yorkers enjoy an extra set of protection that we do not.

Perry at Eidelblog details a city ordinance to protect its vulnerable citizenry from spoiled milk.

In its benevolence, government at all levels has uncountable regulations and statutes just for what we ingest. It's the tip of the iceberg that the FDA's legions must approve pharmaceuticals and inspect and/or supervise food production. New York City, for example, has decided that milk's usual expiration dates are too long. Once fluid milk is pasteurized, it's legal to sell it only within 96 hours of 6 a.m. on the next day (which is about three days earlier than what most dairy producers stamp on the containers).

Perhaps Colorado doesn't care if its hardworkin' taxpayers drink sour milk. Or perhaps New Yorkers are considered too bashful to speak up and complain when a vendor has sold them something old.

Perry wonders about "The Freedom to Assume Risk." Finding some brave souls who dared to purchase raw milk from an Amish farmer in Ohio, before government stepped in to protect us.

And he quotes Bastiat's "The Law" essay more than I say "stunning exegesis." How can you lose?

Posted by John Kranz at 7:45 PM | Comments (5)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Believe me, we're never shy about speaking up about bad food or service. :) I just wish others were more vocal about bad government.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 6, 2006 11:52 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I understand that the date on milk means it's still good for seven more days.

But they're crazy. It starts tasting different the next day!

... I'm very particular. I only drink two kinds of whole milk.... Wawa & Acme. The rest... blecch.

Yes, I'm a milk snob.

Posted by: AlexC at July 7, 2006 12:48 AM
But jk thinks:

I'm even more of a milk snob. I won't drink it unless it is Scotch.

Posted by: jk at July 7, 2006 11:06 AM
But dagny thinks:

Consumer tip for fellow Milk Snobs: We have our milk delivered weekly to our front door direct from a local dairy. I don't know if such services are available in PA but it sure is nice. It is better, and fresher milk. It is a little more expensive, but sure is nice never to have to send my husband to the grocery store for milk.

Posted by: dagny at July 7, 2006 2:20 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Does anyone else remember what Brando told Jean Simmons in "Guys and Dolls"? Bacardi is great to add to milk. It acts as a preservative.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 7, 2006 2:39 PM

July 2, 2006

Farm Subsidies

"This was an unintended consequence of the farm bill," said former representative Charles W. Stenholm, the west Texas Democrat who was once the ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee. "Instead of maintaining a rice industry in Texas, we basically contributed to its demise."
But, gosh darn it, we tried! This quote is from a WaPo story that details $1.3 Billion in farm subsidies which go to those who do not farm.
EL CAMPO, Tex. -- Even though Donald R. Matthews put his sprawling new residence in the heart of rice country, he is no farmer. He is a 67-year-old asphalt contractor who wanted to build a dream house for his wife of 40 years.

Yet under a federal agriculture program approved by Congress, his 18-acre suburban lot receives about $1,300 in annual "direct payments," because years ago the land was used to grow rice.


Two things I do not understand:
  • Will the Washington Post ever translate this abuse of government power and tampering with markets into opposing a new government program? Or will they just pat themselves on the back for "discovering and exposing" this failure? [Ummm, that was rhetorical, you don't have to answer.]

  • As non-farmers outnumber farmers (though not at ThreeSources), why can we not kill these subsidies? Yeah, they have ADM and its lobbying Army, Willie Nelson, John Cougar Mellancamp, &c. But why cannot the urban liberals and small government rural conservatives team up to kill these market abominations. It would lower taxes for the rich and reduce food prices for the poor. Why does it not happen?

The second question is less rhetorical: why is the Ag lobby so strong?

Posted by John Kranz at 1:20 PM

June 20, 2006

Whipped Cream & Donuts Have Calories???

Grab a Cappuccino and watch this video.

Some do-gooder activist group is upset because the FDA does not have the authority to mandate nutrition labeling in restaurants. They've filed suit with KFC and now want to go after Starbucks.

It seems that a double chocolate chip mocha frappucino with a cinnamon doughnut has 990 calories. They want the government to require nutrition labeling. Starbucks makes this information available on its website and in printed brochures "But that's not good enough!" for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Does any sentient being really think that double-chocolate chip mochas with whipped cream and doughnuts are diet food? The ABC News video is, of course, quite deferential to the activists. "They're just trying to help us be healthy, right?" I guess John Stossel was sick that day.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:42 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Riza is making placards: "Government Out Of My Coffee!"

Posted by: jk at June 21, 2006 10:40 AM

June 9, 2006

No I.D. at the Airport

How 'bout that.

    At 6 a.m. the next morning, Harper handed this reporter a green, self-addressed stamped envelope[ with his ID] and entered the checkpoint line, which even at that early hour was filled with travelers facing a 20-minute crawl to the magnetometers.

    Harper told the identification checker he had no ID, and the attendant quickly wrote "No ID" with a red marker on his ticket and shunted him off to an extra screening line -- generously allowing him to bypass the longer queue of card-carrying passengers.

    There Harper was directed into the belly of a General Electric EntryScan puffer machine that shot bits of air at his suit in order to see if he had been handling explosives.

    TSA employees wearing baby blue surgical gloves then swiped his Sidekick and his laptop for traces of explosives and searched through his carry-on, while a supervisor took his ticket, conferred with other employees and made a phone call.

    Meanwhile, a TSA employee approached this reporter, who was watching the search through Plexiglas, and said, "It's pretty awkward you are standing here taking notes," but he did not ask for identification or call for a halt to the note-taking.

    The TSA supervisor returned from her phone call and asked Harper why he didn't have identification and to where he was traveling. But she was satisfied enough with his answer -- that he had mailed his driver's license home to Washington D.C. -- that she allowed him to pass.

    At 6:30 a.m., standing 50 yards away on the other side of the glass screen, Harper phoned to say he now had two hours to kill, having gotten through screening perhaps even faster than he would have if he'd shown ID. He guessed he was able to get through without much hassle by being polite and dressing well.


In the pre-9/11 world I knew this was possible. I've been tempted to try it a number of times, but since I rely on being able to fly to keep the rain of my kid's head.

Posted by AlexC at 4:30 PM

June 7, 2006

Americans with Disabilities Act

John Stossel writes on regular Americans breaking the law.

    I confronted Gilbert Casellas, head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under President Clinton. He said the ADA is a wonderful law, and had the nerve to say it isn't complicated. "None of this stuff is rocket science," he said.

    So I asked him about Janofsky's example: If you come to me applying for a job, and your arm is in a sling, can I ask you why your arm is in a sling?

    "You can ask -- you know what? I'm going to ask you to stop the tape, because we're getting into -- "

    I was incredulous. "You want to check?"

    The head of the EEOC had just said the law wasn't complicated, and every employer in America is supposed to obey it, but he had to consult one of his experts.


This is one of those articles that's infuriating to read.

Posted by AlexC at 1:21 PM

April 20, 2006

Minneapolis

I grew up in Denver and can barely tolerate it now. New Orleans and Boston were always fun for a three day trade show. But Minneapolis was a tertiary home to me. I have had family on both sides, friends, and business there, so I've spent some time and come to dig it. I’ll be there at the end of May, though I’ll be staying outside the cities.

Sadly, I think the little Marxists have completely taken over there, refusing to fight crime lest it offend some minority somewhere. Powerline calls it "Murderapolis." That is probably way too far but for a pleasant collection of friendly Midwesterners, good economics, pretty scenery, and happy Scandinavian-Americas it does have some scary places.

LILEKS takes a whack today. It seems Target Corporation (It was Dayton-Hudson in my day) cannot upgrade a store in its hometown.

Target would like to raze the store and build a gigantor UberHyperTarget with a grocery store and twice the shelf space and a petting zoo and underground NASCAR track, etc. But! The city wants to upgrade the entire area, make it a new downtown with the usual pedestrian amenities. This means bisecting the aforementioned blocks with a “spine” that connects dead old Southdale with the housing to the south.

Here’s the catch: the new store Target wants to build does not sufficiently respect the spine. The city says: we’d like you to put affordable housing facing the spine, please. Target says: uh, we sell laundry soap and shoes and batteries; we’re not exactly in the housing business. The city says: you are now. And so the latest proposal to build the new Target was rejected. Rejected! New Urbanism, triumphant!


A friend of mine tried to build a new stereo store in Boulder and was told his company would have to put affordable housing on top (umm, mightn't that be a little loud?) Again, I fight the fight nationally, and these little Stalins ruin everything on a local level.

(The same "Bleat" also has some kind words about "Firefly.")

Posted by John Kranz at 1:28 PM | Comments (1)
But AlexC thinks:

But dig the Fox News stores inside the airport! That shocked me. And there's a CNBC store in the Philly airport that shows FoxNews... but that's off topic.

Posted by: AlexC at April 20, 2006 2:21 PM

April 17, 2006

Gut-Wrenching

Hugh Hewitt links to a WaPo story, Parks Feel '80 Percent' Squeeze. It seems park managers are being asked to operate at 80% of previous budgets. You'll want to grab a Kleenex before you read this:

But park officials in the field said the initiative was forcing "gut-wrenching" decisions that visitors will notice. At many parks, volunteers will take on larger roles, and there will be fewer interpretive ranger programs, the officials said.

At Rocky Mountain Natl. Park (a little more than an hour from my front door), they're forced to prioritize:
At Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, one of six visitor centers was closed and two water stations were shuttered as a result of the initiative.

Kyle Patterson, a park spokeswoman, said the decisions prompted "soul-searching" but that one of the park's most popular visitor centers was able to stay open four more hours a day thanks to the money saved by closing a less-used one.


I would ask every, non-military segment of the Federal Government to work at 80%. This happens in the private sector everyday and companies trim ineffective programs.


Posted by John Kranz at 7:29 PM

April 11, 2006

Little likelihood of tax system overhaul

I found this article by Robert J. Samuelson on the lack of progress on the tax system overhaul interesting. I'd be interested to hear comments on his arguments for why the current system is unlikely to change and the benefits that would accrue from implementation of the plans proposed by the President's commission in November. Let the schoolin' begin.

Posted by LatteSipper at 6:06 PM | Comments (6)
But jk thinks:

Silence's law applies here "Only 535 reasons why that'll never happen!" (Hope I quoted it okay)

There was much excitement around for Social Security reform, you can click on the archives and see the discussion.

By the time tax reform came around, we were a little subdued. The kind version is that this is a war presidency, and he cannot finish his domestic agenda; the less kind version is that this White House is not skilled enough to get things through an obstreperous Congress.

The commission was a disaster. I was upset from the start as they were instructed to use the static CBO model that says every dollar of tax cut is added to the deficit. You and I might argue as to how much tax cuts pay for themselves, but to refuse to consider any economic gains from simplification or reduction is an abdication of principle -- and it doomed it from the start.

Some of the suggestions had merit but I saw one of the architects on Larry Kudlow's show. A Republican committee member as trying to explain it to a friendly, Republican, brilliant, professional economist. When I saw that it was too confusing for these two, I had my concerns that it wasn't gonna be a big hit.

JohnGalt and I are huge fans of consumption-based-taxation and I think we even have Silence on our side. It's the way to go: privacy, ease of compliance, captures black market monies. But it also reduces government power. Right about now is where Silence's law comes in...

Posted by: jk at April 11, 2006 7:13 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Count me in on consumption based taxation.

But how do you tax foreign purchases? A free trader would never want to have tariffs, levies or duties.

Posted by: AlexC at April 11, 2006 11:53 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

AlexC: I think we could probably apply a tax for use of infrastructure. It has to come through a port or some sort and then, like postal charges, a destination fee could be levied based on the declared value of the package. This would certainly work with the '100% container check' mindset.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at April 12, 2006 11:42 AM
But johngalt thinks:

A free trader would never want to have ANY kind of tax, but there are legitimate national expenses that must be funded. Foreign purchases must be taxed just the same as domestic ones. Foreign sellers who refuse to comply with tax remittance shall be prosecuted under law.

Or, mdmh's port of entry model may work even better. The point is that this "levy" is exactly the same thing as the domestic consumption tax. (To do otherwise effectively subsidizes foreign sellers against domestic ones.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 13, 2006 3:28 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Wow, I have my own law now. Yeah, count me in on consumption tax. Again the problem is how to get the change when it removes power from those who must make the change. Since I have been a bit absent of late in discussions I will tie in here with the "pox" thread above. Forget line item veto, what we need is line item votes. How can even the best of our politicians not be frustrated by the choice of voting for a huge pork project because it is part of a larger bill that supplies our troops with armor?

Posted by: Silence Dogood at April 15, 2006 12:50 AM
But jk thinks:

Interesting idea, the line-item vote. But isn’t the omnibus bill the cornerstone of our sausage of democracy (metaphor alert!!!) Ted Kennedy says "I'll vote for your tax cuts if I can slip in a few million for midnight basketball in Southey." It would seem to thwart the mechanism for compromise. Handing that off to the Executive at least moves it down the street.

Truth be told, I am skeptical of the line item veto. Like term limits, it makes a problem go away, but whether it is constitutionally sound, I am not certain.

Posted by: jk at April 15, 2006 11:58 AM

April 4, 2006

The Opposite Of Progress...

The Everyday Economist gives us this Quote of the Day.

“There’s a power outage in the Capitol. No power, no product. The Dow is up 120. Draw your own conclusions.”

- Larry Kudlow


Posted by John Kranz at 7:30 PM | Comments (1)
But AlexC thinks:

Reminds me of the good ol' days when Newt Gingrich closed down Congress (and the federal government)...

ahhh... those were the times my friends.

Sadly the doors opened again.

Posted by: AlexC at April 4, 2006 7:57 PM

March 16, 2006

Government as a virus

I don't want to make light of bird flu. As I recall, I already have. But it is worthwhile to watch government growth more like a virus. Once it gets hold of the host its raison d'etre is to grow and spread.

The Wall Street Journal has enjoyed many clever "Meathead" headlines following Rob Reiner's troubles of late. Reiner has come under scrutiny for spending the government funds of "First 5" which he has headed, unelected, for years. He has doled them out like the political pro he is, getting patronage for money that's not his. (Paid link)'

This is not the commission's only questionable contract. First 5 has received to date $800 million -- about 20% -- of the tobacco proceeds that Mr. Reiner convinced California voters to impose on themselves in a 1998 referendum. Of this, the commission has awarded contracts totaling about $230 million to firms or individuals known to Mr. Reiner -- some of them without competitive bidding. Meanwhile, the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office is mulling whether to launch its own investigation to determine if there was any cronyism involved in awarding the ad campaign contract to a firm with long-standing ties to Mr. Reiner.
Now, he is in trouble for spending those funds to support the election of a new government program: universal pre-school. I guess the government in California is doing so well educating those in its K-12 system, it's obviously a great time to expand public education to younger students.
Mr. Reiner's ad campaign mentions neither the indifferent results of universal preschool nor its budgetary consequences. This, in itself, would not be a problem, because a democracy counts not on any one person's script, but many partial ones from numerous interested parties, to get the full story across to voters. But there is a problem when someone has unfair access to taxpayer dollars to bankroll his script over others. This is why California authorities need to give close scrutiny to Mr. Reiner's tactics -- and California voters to his grand taxing plans. As Archie Bunker would say: Hands off my fridge, Meathead.
Once these people get a little power and money, they inevitably use it to create an inexorable new government creation machine. Cuts (that would be a reduction in the rate of growth for you newcomers) and cutbacks are slow, difficult and always ripe for retraction. New programs are eternal.
Posted by John Kranz at 10:06 AM | Comments (2)
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Funny thing ... government is like a mirror image or weight lifting: Hard gains are not lost quickly. If only we could come up with an incentive program for legislatures. You get a bonus based on the amount of money you cut from the budget ... conversely, your bonus is decreased proportionally by the cost of new programs. If only ...

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at March 16, 2006 2:25 PM
But jk thinks:

I LIKE it!

Posted by: jk at March 16, 2006 3:38 PM

February 11, 2006

Data Entry Error

Maybe it's just me, but I'm a little sensitive to any kind of government's bass-ackwards usage of common words when it comes to taxation.

    A house erroneously valued at $400 million is being blamed for budget shortfalls and possible layoffs in municipalities and school districts in northwest Indiana.

    An outside user of Porter County's computer system may have triggered the mess by accidentally changing the value of the Valparaiso house, said Sharon Lippens, director of the county's information technologies and service department. The house had been valued at $121,900 before the glitch.

    County Treasurer Jim Murphy said the home usually carried about $1,500 in property taxes; this year, it was billed $8 million.


Budget shortfalls? It's not like they "cut taxes." They overspent! Waaaaay over spent money they never had.
    Most local officials did not learn about the mistake until Tuesday, when 18 government taxing units were asked to return a total of $3.1 million of tax money. The city of Valparaiso and the Valparaiso Community School Corp. were asked to return $2.7 million. As a result, the school system has a $200,000 budget shortfall, and the city loses $900,000.

    Officials struggled to figure out how the mistake got into the system and how it could have been prevented. City leaders said Thursday the error could cause layoffs and cost-cutting measures.


Lesson here? Any government will spend as much money as it thinks it can.

If I were an up and coming Porter County politician, I might be campaigning on a "rainy day fund" platform.

Posted by AlexC at 11:25 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Now THAT'S a housing bubble!

Posted by: jk at February 11, 2006 1:11 PM

February 9, 2006

TSA Registry Plans

Well...

    Security concerns have caused the government to suspend plans for an ambitious program to check every domestic airline passenger's name against government watch lists, Transportation Security Administration chief Kip Hawley said Thursday.

    Hawley told the Senate Commerce Committee that he has directed that the program's information technology system "go through a comprehensive audit."


A comprehensive audit would be an understatement.
    Nearly four years and $200 million after the program was put into operation, Hawley said last month that the agency hadn't yet determined precisely how the it would work.

Are you kidding me?

Posted by AlexC at 2:18 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

But if we put these same people in charge of health care, we'd live in utopia...

Posted by: jk at February 9, 2006 3:28 PM

January 12, 2006

Fight the Power

Gentlemen's clubs employees took it to the streets in Trenton NJ this thursday to protest government meddling.

    More smoke than fire might best describe an anti-smoking ban protest in front of the Statehouse in Trenton on Thursday.

    There were far less than the 100 strippers promised by New Jersey 101.5 shock jocks, "The Jersey Guys."

    The women waved signs saying, "Defy Anti-Smoking Nazis" and "Tobacco Control Is Out of Control."

    In the background, a loudspeaker blared the songs, "Girls, Girls, Girls" and "Highway to Hell."

    The strippers say they oppose the ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and other public establishments because it would drive away customers.


I always thought that leaving a "gentlemans' club" stinking like stale beer, cigarettes and perfume was part of the experience.

New Jersey is also the state where you can't pump your own gas for fear of the catastrophe that might result. The N in NJ should be changed to "Nanny."

Funny line...

    Others in the crowd swore they were there because they were on their way back to work.

Riiiiiiiight.

Posted by AlexC at 2:51 PM

January 11, 2006

Public Transportation

Here's an idea from YoungPhillyPolitics.

    I’ll start us off by presenting my idea (that has been discussed by many others before) to use an expansion of public transportation to create new jobs, improve the city’s neighborhoods and bridge the gap between all Philadelphians.

It goes on to list all of the ways....
    In total, for the transit expansion projects I propose above, we are talking anywhere from $20-$30 billion in capital spending. This may seem like a lot of money. However, because a lot it could be bonded, the actual cash outlay would be a lot less. A billion dollars a year for 30 years is a better way to think of the expense. And, as I will report in the next section, this level of transit infrastructure investment would have an astounding impact on our city’s economy which would pay for the $1 billion a year in debt service easily.

So the plan is to spend a billion dollars a year to cover a billion dollars a year in debt using money that might come from tax revenue based on new jobs!

I guess compounding interest never figured in to the calculations. To be fair, Ray did admit to some guessing in his calculations.

Nevertheless, I still have a philosophical problem with centrally planned problem solving like this. It would be a total and complete racket. It's begging for mismanagement and graft.

If the objective is to lure better paying jobs BACK into the city, I guess getting the city on the correct side of the Laffer Curve isn't in the cards.

In related news, a new paper from the Cato Institute came out last week.

    Prior to 1964, when Congress began subsidizing transit, the industry was mostly private. Since then, the industry has been almost entirely taken over by state and local governments. Today more than three of every four dollars spent on transit come from taxpayers, not transit riders.

    The effectiveness of local transit systems is undermined by federal subsidies, which encourage the construction of highly visible and expensive services such as light-rail trains to suburban areas despite the chronically low number of riders on those routes. Federal subsidies to transit advocacy groups and misguided environmental and labor regulations also encourage a large investment of taxpayer money in wasteful transit systems.


Public transit is a tricky question. In urban areas, you have to have it.

Mass rail-transit has pretty much been a financial loser since automobiles were invented, and were heavily subsidized by freight reciepts when real railroads has shiny classic passenger trains. However, when your entire income stream is based on passengers themselves that need to get from point A to point B as fast as possible, it becomes very difficult to do.

Subways, "El"s and trolleys, as light rail used to be called, are in that same vein. The physical plant maintenance is high, and you can only make money in high volumes, but even then with government subsidies.

Buses have always been expensive to run, but cheaper than rail, as the "tracks" are someone elses problem.

I think the solution to transit funding is that we need to abandon the idea of public transit monopolies.

With regards to rail, the government should offer tax incentives (not subsidies) for self-contained railcar development and passenger service companies to run them. Though some lines would need to be improved for the additional traffic, they can co-exist with freight traffic when properly dispatched.

The Colorado Railcar DMU is an example.

But here's my twist.

For example on the Northeast Corridor from Boston to Washington, why not allow multiple companies to run the operations? Not just Amtrak sharing with NJ Transit, MTA or Septa, but with an airline style model. The service can either be contracted out by the municipality OR companies could run them on their own schedules, offering first-class, upscale or economy style service. Additionally, premium slots during rush-hour can be sold to the companies. In addition to frequency or quality of service, competition could also be based on speed of service. Trains could make the local stops or the bigger city stops (express), or some mix (limited).

For those locations where rail service might not exist, or exists on terrible economics, why not contract the service out? Instead of completely wasting money, there would be a better return. The competitive bidding process still works... Since we're already paying for some service to these areas, can't we pay less? I'm sure we can.

We can do something similar with buses. It would actually be better than trains. There's a lower cost for the infrastructure. Another government bureaucracy is maintaining the roads. Heck, we could fold some of the rails into the DOT's as well. In any case, a bus can go anywhere. Greyhound, Martz, et. al. do it now.

With unmonopolized public transit any bus company can run a bus from anywhere to anywhere. I bet they would do it at far better efficiency than a "transit authority."

Free our transit.... either that or perfect "tube technology" ala Logan's Run. Except we all know how that turned out.

Posted by AlexC at 11:48 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

I don't think any of the Colorado folks are going to be real sanguine on the DMU.

The Colorado "FastTrack" boondoggle was passed by voters in the same election where Democrats took both State legislatures. That was a dark day.

You're -- of course -- dead on on the private competition claims.

Posted by: jk at January 12, 2006 12:27 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Well, my post regarding the DMU is the technology itself. Self-contained railcars. It's not new, but the DMU is the latest in the evolution of the railcar.

A boondoggle is still a boondoggle, however.

Posted by: AlexC at January 12, 2006 1:12 PM

December 9, 2005

Government Worries

The Club For Growth Blog has become my new favorite.
Witness a post called Worried About the Wrong Thing...

      “Worried that too many young Americans are turned off by the idea of working in government, Congress has provided $600,000 for a research project to develop strategies to raise interest among college students in federal service.”

    The fact that the government has to spend $600,000 to make itself more appealing should reveal the obvious fact that it needs to be reform. But heavens, that’s just flat out crazy talk for bureaucrats.

It's fiscally conservative and snarky.

I would love to get paid just to blog like that everyday. I don't have the ability to be full-time snarky at my current position!

Posted by AlexC at 10:54 PM

Tax Cuts!

Mmmm.... Tax cuts.

    The House successfully passed a $56 billion tax cut this afternoon, designed to further spur economic growth. Congressman Tom DeLay (R-TX) said passage of the bill would be good for the economy.

    "Republican efforts to deliver hard earned money back to American taxpayers is sparking America's economy, creating jobs, strengthening markets, and improving the lives of every American" DeLay said. "Republicans will continue to create an economic atmosphere that expands our nation's economy and provides entrepreneurial and job opportunities to all Americans."


Not ready for Presidential signature, but it's only a few weeks away.

Now how about some more spending cuts?

Posted by AlexC at 12:47 AM | Comments (4)
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Spending Cuts!? My GOD man, have you gone mad!? It would take a miracle for that to happen. Then again, perhaps there will be a Christmas miracle and we will start taxing the ACLU as a For Profit organization.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at December 9, 2005 9:48 AM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

BTW: http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/local/13364170.htm

A few of our more favored leaders will be in town Monday.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at December 9, 2005 10:18 AM
But jk thinks:

I want pictures for the blog!

Posted by: jk at December 9, 2005 3:07 PM
But AlexC thinks:

I'm in Alaska plundering as usual. Had I know, I'd probably be able to snag some tix.

Posted by: AlexC at December 9, 2005 11:04 PM

October 30, 2005

Caveat Emptor, Hybrid Shoppers

When gasoline hit 3 bucks a gallon the hype over "hybrid cars" really shifted into high gear. "More than half of US consumers see a hybrid in their future," one article reports.

(...)

Americans surveyed had a generally dim view of U.S. automakers' efforts. Viewed most favorably for their hybrid plans were Toyota, with 41 percent of respondents, and Honda, with 40 percent.

Ford's hybrid efforts got the nod of only 14 percent, GM's only 13 percent and Chrysler was last at 8 percent.

Sales of the Toyota Prius hybrid grew 90 percent in September.

But are hybrids really as superior in fuel efficiency as automakers claim in their multimillion dollar advertisements? Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, has thrown a half-bucket of cold water on that nouveau conventional wisdom. In an October cover article the magazine reveals how their own fuel economy test results compare to the "EPA estimates" behind the mileage claims of every automaker selling cars in the USA.

Highlights of our study:

• Shortfalls in mpg occurred in 90 percent of vehicles we tested and included most makes and models.

• The largest discrepancy between claimed and actual mpg involved city driving. Some models we tested fell short of claimed city mpg by 35 to 50 percent.

• Hybrids, whose selling point is fuel thriftiness, had some of the biggest disparities, with fuel economy averaging 19 mpg below the EPA city rating.

Everyone who's ever computed his own gas mileage knows the EPA figures are unrealistically high, even after they were arbitrarily "adjusted" with a 10 percent reduction in 1984. But the government mandated test regimen for measuring fuel economy is still the same dinosaur it was when originally cobbled together in 1975. So how does it deal with these newfangled "hybrid" cars? They start their testing with a fully charged battery! If the test is long enough this advantage will be minimized, but the test protocol runs for only 31 minutes in the "city" test and 12.5 minutes for "highway." Consumer Reports, on the other hand, starts their hybrid tests "with the battery at the charge level you normally find--about half." Their "city" test is not as long at 16 minutes, but "highway" is longer at 37 minutes. Larger "real-world" discrepancies exist too, like the EPA test's professional driver following a prescribed speed and acceleration curve on a dyno vs. CU's two test drivers making 6 test runs on real roads, and EPA's variable "highway" speed of 30 to 60 mph, averaging 48 vs. CU's constant 65 mph.

So what's the result? Here are the tallies for select cars from Honda and Toyota:

Hybrid mileage chart cropped.bmp

From the chart we can see that, if you believe Consumer Reports' "real world" tests, hybrid cars 'city' fuel economy is often no better than good old fashioned gas only cars from the same maker. And no expensive, complicated, heavy, limited lifetime battery/motor system is required to achieve it. Just lightweight, aerodynamic and underpowered - the classic japanese car formula.

If you really want the best gas mileage try driving slower. I typically get 26 mpg while commuting in my 6 cylinder Audi "upscale car," mostly on an interstate highway. One day I tried driving at the speed limit on every street in my route and the on-board computer reported: 30 mpg.

-

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:03 AM | Comments (8)
But johngalt thinks:

"The trouble is...?" What are you, a social engineer? Yeah, we sure don't want people to have more choices, or have more freedom, or to LIVE more.

But let's not get sidetracked in these comments. The important revelation here is that Hybrid gasoline-electric cars are tested by the government in such a way that they "f[a]ll short of claimed city mpg by 35 to 50 percent."

They are not "magicmobiles." They do not defy physics. Energy in is still equal to energy out, no matter how many times you convert it.

Now, IF nearly all of the energy content of gasoline can be losslessly extracted as hydrogen (and that's a very big IF) then hydrogen fuel cell powered electric vehicles could pose the revolution in transportation that JK presupposes. But they'll STILL be running on the demon fluid - gasoline!

Posted by: johngalt at October 31, 2005 2:28 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Just to keep things interesting around here I am going to side with johngalt against JK and second his questioning your social engineering proclivities. People will just drive more if fuel economy is raised? I gauge how far I am willing to live from my job based on time not the cost of gas. Even at a moderate 20mpg and 60 mph that is only 3 gals/ hour or $9/hr at $3/gal. I am comfortable that my time will always be worth more than the cost of gasoline. This seems analogous to the argument that if you widen roads more people will drive and you will just have traffic again.

Interesting report on fuel economy though. A friend who has a Civic hybrid says she gets 43-46 mpg in a City/Hwy mix. I can readily see how battery charge level and driving style could have a bigger effect on a hybrid than a single fuel vehicle but the 35-50% lower values seem so excessive that I have to wonder about the test parameters. I do wonder about the long term viability of hybrids though, there is a weight, cost, and complexity issue with two power sources. I think the US automakers pinned their hopes on fuel cells and largely figured hybrids as a short term stop gap measure. This may still turn out to be true, even with the current high demand for hybrids only 88,000 were sold in 2004 or 0.52% of the total market according to J.D. Powers.

Johngalt is also right in that there is no substitute for weight in the energy equation. My suggestion to all the politicians now calling for energy legislation is that first stop should be at DOT. They should add a vehicle designation between car and motorcycle and eliminate or limit the safety and emissions regulations for this class of "commuter vehicles". Our average vehicle mileage has been going down and that is attributable to the American desire for "bigness", but increasingly stringent safety and emissions standards play their part in increasing weight and decreasing efficiencies as well. Americans love their boats, their campers and their Home Depot runs but they also increasingly have 3 car garages. Instead of trying to make large do everything high mileage vehicles, make them a small, 3rd vehicle option. In other words, change the vehicle to fit the market instead of the other way around.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at October 31, 2005 4:21 PM
But jk thinks:

The engineers are ganging up on me again, nothing ever changes...

1) Yup, jg, poor choice of words on "the problem is..." I'm not supporting social engineering but I would like less reliance on imported oil. I don't see hybrids getting us there.

2) A clarification, Silence. You may not commute longer distances but you might buy a bigger vehicle (the hybrid may ultimately save the SUV -- take THAT Arianna!), might take a driving vacation, might sign up for a machine-gun club in Bennett after "Scalito" is confirmed, &c. My point is that the conservation clamored for will not reduce demand or consumption.

3) Your suggestion for better tinkering in the market seems okay on the surface but Yeccch! On Planet jk, car companies just make what people want to buy without shoehorning it in to CAFE slots. Let's direct our efforts at getting the gub'mint out of the car biz.

4) An upscale Audi? When did this happen?

Posted by: jk at October 31, 2005 6:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

1) I know you're far from a social engineer JK, I just need to point it out whenever you sound like one. And here's another: "...less reliance on imported oil." Good grief, you sound like Bill Ford Jr! Nobody is RELIANT on any oil, much less IMPORTED oil. There are plenty of other fuels out there and anyone is free to use them (unless the government gets in your way). The fact of the matter is, the most economical motor fuel is gasoline/diesel oil. As for IMPORTED oil, how is it considered "reliance" when we choose to import it at a lower cost than domestic production? That sounds more like smart shopping to me.

2) Excellent observation JK. Thanks for the clarification: Conservation (in the form of more efficiency) will not reduce demand or consumption.

4) February, 2005.

Silence, I suspect your friend's city/hwy mix is really mostly hwy. The CR "overall" number is a simple average of the city and highway numbers. People often consider their driving habits to be "mixed" city/hwy because they use both kinds of road to get to work. The key is how many times you stop and re-start, and idle. My point was why pay more for the hybrid when it's highway economy number is only 5 mpg better than gas only (vs. the 9 mpg difference advertised) and the city number is 26 vs 21 mpg (compared to the 48 mpg advertised.) Or you could pay even less and get an Insight that gets 66 hwy, 36 city!

As for your suspicion of the test parameters, how do you explain JK's MR2 getting the same city mileage in both the CR and EPA tests? There's clearly a difference in the cars as well as the tests.

Posted by: johngalt at November 1, 2005 3:15 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I just don't see the logic that conservation will not lower consumption or demand. Are you arguing that if my current SUV gets 25 mpg that instead of trading it in for an equivalent hybrid that gets 40 mpg that I will just buy a bigger hybrid SUV and still get my 25 mpg? If those two vehicles had the same sticker price I might see some effect there, but they don't. People may not budget for gas, but they do budget for car payments. That increase from 25 mpg to 40 mpg would net you around $40 a month which won't take your from a Jeep Liberty to a Grand Cherokee, but it would buy you some leather seats, rockin' stereo, or even a machine gun rack.

My point on the DOT classifications is that once a vehicle has 4 wheels it is a car and has all the regulations therein. This actively discourages lightweight vehicle development.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at November 1, 2005 3:33 PM
But jk thinks:

Not you, Silence, so much as you, aggregate customer. I may not truck with all of John Maynard Keynes beliefs but aggregating supply and demand has its virtues. Conservation would lower prices, which would embolden consumers to disregard gasoline costs.

I'm a small car lover but I did consider a Saturn hybrid SUV (which is not even released yet). That would have put me in a 25mpg SUV instead of the 35mpg conventional car I bought. My wife saved me from myself, she hated it.

Posted by: jk at November 3, 2005 10:17 AM

August 28, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

When facing an impending collossal hurricane like this one, the only things you can do are take your family to a safer refuge and pray that what you leave behind will still be there.

Our prayers are with the Gulf Coasters.

A coworker of mine is from New Orleans, and he's been saying for as long as I've known him, that New Orleans is just one storm away from being gone.

With the reports saying that this storm is huge, it will be extremely catastrophic. Given that New Orleans is 6 to 10 feet below sea level, it stands to be in a lot of water.

Can a city be destroyed and abandoned?

Do we do that? Does American culture / society provide for something like that?

We always rebuild. Better. It's the American way.

But if it's left a lake, can we rebuild?

Posted by AlexC at 10:00 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Well, it looks like New Orleans may not get it as bad as it looked last night.

As for not rebuilding, I'd add up the property values of what's under there, starting with the Marriott on Canal Street. I think it looks pretty good to do whatever it takes.

Besides which, I don't really want to live in a USA with no New Orleans. I am very fond of it and know Sugarchuck is as well.

Good luck to the Crescent City residents and all the folks on the Gulf Coast.

Posted by: jk at August 29, 2005 11:13 AM

August 8, 2005

Daylight Savings Time Changed

Look, I've got enough on my plate at the office, and I don't need more.

Now the government has gone and done me a favor.

    When daylight-saving time starts earlier than usual in the United States come 2007, your VCR or DVD could start recording shows an hour late. Cellphone companies could give you an extra hour of free weekend calls, and people who depend on online calendars may find themselves late for appointments.

    An energy bill President Bush is to sign today would start daylight time three weeks earlier and end it a week later as an energy-saving measure.
    And that has technologists worried about software and gadgets that now compensate for daylight time based on a schedule unchanged since 1987.


At least it's in 2007, not this November.

Which means it can be recinded in the meantime.

Posted by AlexC at 4:00 PM

August 7, 2005

Nanny State Nonsense

Another "good" idea from a Democrat...

    Motorists filling up in this borough are allowed to pump their own gas - but only if they're supervised by an attendant.

    It's been this way for three decades, ever since a motorist overfilled a car tank, sending some 50 gallons into storm sewers.

    Mount Pleasant's ordinance, which requires an attendant within 15 feet of the pump, is apparently unique in Pennsylvania. A recent effort to allow self-serve gas in the borough failed, but a state legislator is pushing a bill that would require stations to offer full service.

    W. Curtis Thomas, D-Philadelphia, said his bill wouldn't eliminate self-service gas pumps. The bill is still being tweaked, but Thomas said he favors offering full-service along with self-service, which he says would be helpful to the elderly and disabled.


These are the kind of nanny-state nonsensical ideas that we laugh at over-taxed and under-gunned New Jersey over.

Has Rep Thomas paid for gas lately? It's nearly $2.50 a gallon. What do you think forcing a gas station to have a babysitter or a pumper on hand going to do for the price of gas?

Any article like this needs to be replete with quotations.

I present some for your consumption.

    My biggest concern as a fire chief was the overflow of gasoline which can go in the storm sewers," said [Mount Pleasant's mayor and fire chief] Gerald Lucia.

    Besides the spill three decades ago, there have been other accidents, Lucia said, including one about six years ago where a trucker was pumping diesel. Even with an attendant within the required 15 feet, "I don't know how it happened ... but (the trucker) ran about 100 gallons of diesel fuel down the street," he said.


100 gallons of fuel? Me thinks this is a wee bit of hyperbole. I'm pretty sure I've never seen a pump that pumps more than a few gallons per minute. I've got an 18 gallon tank, and five minutes at the pump is not out of the question. This must've been a firehose of a pump, or the pumper (and the attendant) both dosed off.

Perhaps from the fumes.

I stick the pump in the tank all the time and wash my windows. It cuts off when the tank is full. I like to have an even amount of money on the meter (to the nearest 10 or 25 cents). I have to work to put more gas in the tank. How is a hundred gallon spill possible?

I suspect screwing around. Or huffing.

Let's continue...

    One of them is Diane Pieszak, who was having her Dodge Durango filled up on Thursday.

    "I don't like to pump my own gas," she said, as she was out running errands.


Her SUV Durango? I really feel for her. I mean, my heart weeps.

Drive a PRIUS. You won't need as much gas.

Unreal.

And another one..

    Rachel Williams, also of Mount Pleasant said, "Having an attendant around to check my oil while pumping my gas is a great thing. Think of how it will lower the local unemployment rate."
Ok, I made that one up.


Hey.

I've got an idea.

All of those overpaid State Reps and Senators.... maybe they can start pumping gas for the elderly, the lame and indigent.

(thanks to Kathy for the tip)

Posted by AlexC at 9:00 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Well, as some gas purchased in Pennsylvania might spill into New Jersey, I think the Supreme Court might get involved. Pretty soon we will have a national "right" to full service.

Posted by: jk at August 8, 2005 10:34 AM

July 26, 2005

Let's Put Them In Charge of Health Care!

You have to laugh sometimes to keep from crying. Our beloved legislative branch is at it:

Snake Oil Additives

Never say Congress isn't willing to accept blame -- as long as it can assign it to someone else. Having mandated the use of the fuel additive MTBE, the Members now want to shake down the companies foolish enough to have made the product.

This is the real story behind the debate over MTBE, which has once again become the sticking point in the House-Senate conference over the energy bill. The House has passed modest liability protection for MTBE makers, while Senate Democrats are threatening a filibuster if there's any such thing in the final bill. If we're lucky, the dispute will cause the hot-air dirigible that is the energy bill to crash and burn one more time. But it's more likely the Members will "compromise" by dropping the House provision and thus blame private business for Congress's mistakes.
[...]
Refiners and other companies now face more than 100 lawsuits, even as they are striving to meet growing energy demand and more elaborate fuel specifications. Draining cash from these companies to finance trial-lawyer contingency bonanzas will not lower gas prices.

Bear in mind that the House liability waiver would only be for "product defect" lawsuits, which are the most frivolous and deadly because they only require plaintiffs to show that a company made the product for sale. Defendants would still be liable for larger MTBE spills, and the current Congressional negotiations include talk of some sort of industry-financed clean-up fund. In about 95% of spills, a responsible party has been identified and most are already paying for a cleanup.


I paid attention to this in the 1990s as I was quite concerned about MTBE and Ethanol’s effects on vehicles. I guess I'll have to confess to being wrong on that count -- but right about gub'mint meddling in general.

Markets work. While we're on that topic, Arnold Kling, an oxymoronic "fun economist" over at TCS is starting a new series on the effects of regulation -- a good excuse for even non-economists to learn about the CAPM. Jk gives it four stars!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:12 AM

June 28, 2005

Lost Liberty Hotel

Want a tangible result from your charitable giving? Help build a hotel!

The US Supreme Court's recent ruling in 'Kelo v. City of New London' removed the last obstacle preventing this project from moving forward. The 'Lost Liberty Hotel' project had previously been blocked by the current use of the desired development site as a private residence for a single American family. Now that the Supreme Court has obliterated the Constitutional restrictions on emminent domain, the process of bribing city officials to obtain condemnation of the property can begin in earnest.

"This is not a prank" said Clements, "The Towne of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter we can begin our hotel development."

Who's that? Souter? Yes, Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter, whose residence at 34 Cilley Hill Road in Weare, New Hampshire is the future building site for the hotel.

Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.

So there you have it. A site is "necessary" just because the developer says it is. As long as the local government goes along the individual is powerless to stop them. We'll see how David feels when he faces Goliath by himself, without his flowing robe.

And there's a delicious coup de grace, for me anyway: "Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged." HOO-rah.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:55 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Ha! Just to doink with Justice Souter a bit is well worth a few bucks.

I agree that Kelo is a bad decision, but I am having a hard time getting riled about it (I'm STILL fuming from Raich!) At some level, it seems a concept of eminent domain is required for progress. And I suspect the people harmed by Kelo will tend to be wackos trying to block a Wal*Mart and not simple folks who are pushed aside for more government revenue.

I am way out of step with the blogosphere in general and a lot of people I respect on this. Am I banned from ThreeSources?

Posted by: jk at June 28, 2005 3:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

No, you're not banned from ThreeSources, and it's not surprising that you think the government should have SOME recourse with intransigent "wackos" taking unfair advantage of their windfall position in the path of the most advantage rail route through XYZ mountains, or some such. America's Founders, after all, thought so too, and provided said recourse in the Fifth Amendment. But this wasn't "good enough" for Justice Souter and the liberal gang-of-four. It "proved to be impractical given the diverse and always evolving needs of society." [BARF!]

Dagny and I are currently reading Judge Napolitano's "Constitutional Chaos." In chapter 5 (appropriately) he discusses governmental violations of the takings clause. In Hurst, Texas, in 2000, "the town fathers threatened to condemn 127 homes so that its largest taxpayer, a real estate company, could build a larger parking lot for the town's mall. (...) Despite the fact that the government used the eminent domain power for a clearly private use, a Texas trial judge allowed the developer to demolish the homes even though the lawsuit wasn't over. The Prohs and the Duval families had each owned their homes for thirty years. Most shockingly, Leonard Prohs was forced to move while his wife was in the hospital with brain cancer; she died five days after the house was demolished. Phyllis Duval's husband, also in the hospital with cancer at the time, died one month after the demolition."

I also happen to have personal knowledge of such a situation, having followed the newspaper accounts of an eminent domain condemnation of a home in Superior, Colorado to make way for a shopping center that includes a Costco store I shop at regularly. The elderly couple had lived there for decades and had no desire to rip up their lives to make way for "progress." Within two months of their forceable relocation, both had died.

Napolitano goes on to explain that cases like this are copious. "On a daily basis, the government can be found plotting to violate the Constitution in order to take away your land. A recent report by the Castle Coalition [http://www.castlecoalition.org/] ... chronicled 10,382 government attempts to condemn private property for the benefit of other private individuals in the last ten years."

The Founders intended the courts to be a checking mechanism against this sort of tyranny on the part of a branch of the government, but the courts have abdicated that duty. The Kelo ruling is the latest and the most destructive SCOTUS ruling in a string that Napolitano summarizes beginning in 1936 with 'New York City Housing Authority v. Mueller' and including 'Bush Terminal Co. v. City of New York' in 1940, 'Kaskel v. Impellitteri' in 1953, and 'Berman v. Parker' in 1954, which Napolitano characterized as "the final blow to 'public use." (It's an excellent book. I highly recommend it.)

So, is there enough here for you to get riled about 'Kelo' now?

Posted by: johngalt at June 29, 2005 1:06 AM
But sugarchuck thinks:

JK and I have argued many things over many years and I can't remember a time when I thought he was more wrong about something. This nightmarish decision is not only an assault on the property rights of individuals,as desribed so well in John Galt's post; it is a huge step towards collectivism and a command economy. If this were simply a matter of "wackos vs. Walmart" we'd see the usual liberal suspects lining up to demounce the decison as "pro business" and as an attack on the "little guy." Of course the champions of working Americans are nowhere to be found because this decision will go such a long way towards creating the "progressive society" they crave. God save us from this court!
If I may, I too have a book suggestion. Take a look at Robert Bork's "The Tempting of America." Bork's arguments for judicial restraint are profound and his recollections of the confirmation process are very timely, given the confirmation battles we are about to go through.
Not to beat a dead horse, but our Supreme Court just handed us a law regarding eminent domain that no sane legislator would have voted for. Coupled with their recent veiws on interstate commerce, these decisions become powerful tools for those in our society who would like to abolish propery rights and move towards collectivism, central planning and the redustribution of wealth. The longer we allow ourselves to view the Supreme Court in terms of abortion rights not found anywhere in the constitution, the more we face the erosion of those rights that were clearly spelled out.

Posted by: sugarchuck at June 29, 2005 9:33 AM
But jk thinks:

I appreciate the argument. I cannot argue back because I agree that it is a bad decision; it certainly should have gone the other way.

And, whoa cowboys! I agree that SCOTUS is waaaay off track. My point is that I was MORE upset about Raich. Using the commerce clause to regulate intra-state non-commerce! Whaaaa?

I will cry "Mea Culpla" and accept the dressing down from JohnGalt and SugarChuck. There are abuses, and I am likely naive about their prevalence.

But we all have our issues. Two of mine are the importance of Federalism and reduced gub'mint intrusion into personal health care -- especially for the seriously and chronically sick. Raich went by with a small whimper from the libertarian set, and Kelo set off a firestorm of punditry and now legislation. The relative asininity of these decisions is comparable, the reaction was not.

(And you were too upset to catch my joke "Still Fuming about Raich!" I am thinking of a bumpersticker on that...)

Posted by: jk at June 29, 2005 10:21 AM

May 19, 2005

Gold Plated Bus Stop

File this under Are You F*cking Kidding Me?

    Tom Wilson is faced with a problem many city administrators would envy: How to spend $1.5 million on a bus stop.

    Wilson, Anchorage's director of public transportation, has all that money for a new and improved bus stop outside the Anchorage Museum of History and Art thanks to Republican Sen. Ted Stevens - fondly referred to by Alaskans as "Uncle Ted" for his prodigious ability to secure federal dollars for his home state.

    Wilson is prepared to think big.

    The bus stop there now is a simple steel-and-glass, three-sided enclosure. Wilson wants better lighting and seating. He also likes the idea of heated sidewalks that would remain free of snow and ice. And he thinks electronic signs would be nice.


Much like West Virginia and Robert Byrd, Alaska is becoming one giant monument to Senator Uncle Ted Stevens.

It's senseless spending like this that is really making a lot of people disillusioned with the Republican party.

What ever happened to fiscal restraint?

Sure, it's great if you're an Alaskan, but for the rest of us, I say, "what the f*ck?"

The party of smaller government starts with cutting taxes. But it shouldn't end there. Cutting spending is the next step.

We're not seeing it. The Democrats certainly aren't going to provide it. The Libertarians are far too academic and weird to get it done.

Where's the party of financial restraint?

    "We have a senator that gave us that money and I certainly won't want to appear ungrateful," he said. At the same time, he does not want the public to think the city is wasting the money. So "if it only takes us $500,000 to do it, that's what we will spend."

Oh, well that's a relief. Only $500,000 for a bus stop. Glad to know that they're going to show self-control.

Thanks to Alaska-born ATG, who writes "The current bus stop works fine, I drive by it every day!"

Posted by AlexC at 6:00 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

As important as I think the struggle between Democrats and Republicans is, sometimes I think the struggle between Incumbents and challengers is just as vital.

Ted Stevens is the GOP's very own Bobby Byrd (well, except for the Klan membership and the complete takeover of senile dementia...). Each uses his seniority to accumulate re-election pork.

I'm not keen on term limits, but I would like to see a Presidential line-item-veto and relaxed rules for campaign finance. Somehow all the new rules seem to favor incumbents, maybe that's just coincidental.

Posted by: jk at May 20, 2005 12:02 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The real solution is to limit federal government spending (and taxation) authority to national issues, like the military. Local bus stops, like gold-plated outhouses in our National Parks, should be taxed and paid for locally.

Posted by: johngalt at May 20, 2005 2:42 PM
But AlexC thinks:

JK, the Club For Growth is doing that angle. They like to run fiscal conservatives against incumbent GOPers.

A line item veto would be great, but can you imagine how long the president or his staff would be redlining things?
Actually, it'd be great.

Johngalt, neither party currently stands for limited government. *sigh*

Posted by: AlexC at May 20, 2005 5:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes. Well, I give you the crux of the problem although I'm admittedly short on how to reach the solution.

I see the line-item veto as a band aid measure. It admits there's a problem but falls short of a real solution to it. It is window dressing on a house in shambles.

Posted by: johngalt at May 22, 2005 9:49 AM

May 16, 2005

Bolton's International Form "RU1-2" Not in Order

In America, "money talks and bullshit walks." Seems it's exactly reverse from that at the UN: "Bullshit talks and the money walks" anywhere except where it's intended to go. Mark Steyn writes:

"Which brings me to the John Bolton nomination process, which is taking so long you'd think the U.S. Senate was run by Indonesian customs inspectors. Writing of near-Ambassador Bolton's difficulty getting his paperwork stamped by the Foreign Relations Committee, National Review's Cliff May observed that "the real debate is between those who think the U.N. needs reform -- and those who think the U.S. needs reform.''

Touche!

Any more excerpts than this wouldn't do the piece justice. The whole thing is noteworthy. Enjoy.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:04 PM

May 10, 2005

Still a Hole in The Ground

A consortium of business and government leaders took on the awesome responsibility to rebuild the World Trade Center area. As readers of this blog can imagine,"3 1/2 years after the 9/11 attacks Ground Zero remains just that: a hole in the ground."

So sez the Wall St Journal Ed Page in a plea to have their old neighborhood rebuilt by Donald Trump:

As for us, we'd like to steal a line from Mr. Trump and say to Governor George Pataki, Mayor Mike Bloomberg and the Ground Zero redevelopment team that has failed the city, the state and the country in this important effort: You're fired. This is a job for a man who knows what he's doing, not for a bunch of bungling apprentices. Mr. Trump's detractors hate him because he puts up impossibly tall, glassy, gaudy, sightline-destroying buildings. In other words, given the current failed thinking about Ground Zero, he's the perfect man for the job.

It seems "The Donald" is not too keen on the current plan for "Freedom Tower" (but it is rumored that he loves the fries...)
"I think the World Trade Center should be rebuilt on the site, only stronger and a little bit taller, even if it's only one story taller," the billionaire builder told the New York Post last week. Asked for his opinion of architect Daniel Libeskind's Freedom Tower, the centerpiece of the redevelopment plans, Mr. Trump said: It's "an egghead design, designed by an egghead, which has no practical application and which, frankly, didn't look very good."

I'm not a huge fan nor adversary of Mr. Trump. But he certainly seems a good choice for this job.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:10 PM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

And despite all the great arguments to the contrary, put me down as a 'yea' for the "one-story taller" idea...

Posted by: jk at May 10, 2005 1:13 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Mr Trump has the vision for big things for New York.
It wouldn't be the first time he's taken over a project in the city for development.
Cheaper and faster too.

Posted by: AlexC at May 10, 2005 2:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I offer my thanks to NED that it is still just a "hole in the ground" if the same bumbling nitwits are still in charge of redevelopment.

Two years ago yesterday I blogged on the evils of the "winning" design for redevelopment.

http://www.berkeleysquarejazz.com/blog/archives/000182.html

I re-read the entire piece and found it entirely premonitial to today's story. In particular:

"The idea being expressed by this cutting-edge, "world-class radical architect" is that no building (and no man) must dare to rise above those around him. It is a monument not only to death and destruction, but to mediocrity, conformity, and egalitarianism. It is antithetical to everything good that America stands for. It must never be built.

It is time for America to shine a giant spotlight into the night sky in the shape of the letters "H.R." America's WTC redevelopment must be designed by someone else - the real-life incarnation of Howard Roark."

Donald Trump is no Howard Roark, but I'm sure he knows one or two reasonable facsimiles thereof.

Posted by: johngalt at May 10, 2005 2:58 PM
But jk thinks:

I thought of sneaking in a Roark reference but I'm glad I left it to the master -- well done!

Posted by: jk at May 10, 2005 4:29 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Awwww, shucks!

Comparing once again Trump's critical opinion with my own, Trump wins on style points but I actually named the reasons WHY it's an egghead design, WHY the designer is an egghead, and WHY it doesn't look very good. And I did these things two years ago.

Ayn Rand has taught me that words have definitive meanings, and that a man's actions express his ideals. Daniel Libeskind's ideals are anti-ego and therefore anti-joy, anti-achievement and anti-life. He is an architectural terrorist.

Posted by: johngalt at May 10, 2005 11:59 PM

April 25, 2005

State Coercion: Two More Years

I have been blogging a long time to be such a nobody, but that's a harmless aside, not the thesis of this post.

Two years ago, I wrote some longer posts and kept them around as essays. This one compared the service and decor of the free-market enterprises offering oil changes with the state-monopoly-dictated provider of emissions checks.

It’s been two years and the State still dictates emissions tests. It is a grisly experience. Government appointed bureaucrats get into your car and treat it roughly on a dynamic test bed. I expect they still don't take credit cards, and I expect the facilities are still dingy and uninviting. Why fix it? Customers are forced to visit you every two years.

But I am going to reopen the whine because of my situation. I have Multiple Sclerosis and my wife has been in the hospital for more than four weeks. I leave the house at 7:00 am to see her; I juggle as much time as I can at work, rush home to let out and comfort the dog, rush back to the hospital for every meal and come home late every night.

Sorry to get out the violins, but now I have to find time for this insane government mandate. It will take two-three hours out of my day that I would love to have for laundry, or to get a haircut, or some other frivolous thing.

I'm not the only busy guy in town. Everybody has got something. Why do we allow the State to waste our time so? I cannot imagine anybody is left who believes that these exams reduce half the pollution generated by everyone driving 20 extra miles to get them.

I have always joked that I wanted to open a GOP registration office next door. We’d offer coffee and sympathy and an ATM machine to the deer caught in gub’mint headlights. It’s a great place to catch people who might be receptive to the idea of a little more freedom.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:34 PM | Comments (6)
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Technology trumps bureaucracy yet again!

http://rockymountainnews.com/drmn/news_columnists/article/0,1299,DRMN_86_3637554,00.html

Drive by testing eliminates the need for the old inspection station. Of course currently you probably have to drive on a highway of some sort to pass one of these. I have passed them on US36 entrances and on ramps to Foothills Blvd in Boulder.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at April 25, 2005 6:40 PM
But AlexC thinks:

In PA it's every year, part of your annual inspection, IF you live in the metropolitan counties... loosely defined as "around Philly" and "generally around Pittsburgh."

The registration office is DAMNED good idea.
You don't need an office.
Just a sandwich board and stack of forms...

*AND IT'S PORTABLE!*

Emissions stations, DMV, unemployment offices.

Posted by: AlexC at April 25, 2005 10:31 PM
But dagny thinks:

Yet another reason why many, including us, are moving to the country and the red counties are growing.

Posted by: dagny at April 26, 2005 10:37 AM
But jk thinks:

I thought that this was just a Colorado problem and that Pennsylvania was better...

Dagny is right. If I were one mile East I would be in Weld County and off the hook.

Posted by: jk at April 26, 2005 9:30 PM
But AlexC thinks:

PA was better! Ha! Ha!
Ha! I say.

This is the state where the Dem gov wanted a tax hike, and the GOP run assembly gave him half of what he wanted, and they issue press releases about how much they saved us!

At least the emissions stations are in actual garages. So they do have to compete to get your business.

I understand that leaving $20 in the ashtray makes your car run "cleaner."

THAT's my kind of competition.

Posted by: AlexC at April 26, 2005 11:24 PM
But jk thinks:

Graft in Philadelphia? You really are changing my preconceived notions...

Posted by: jk at April 27, 2005 11:46 AM

April 19, 2005

On Second Thought, Make that a Cheeseburger!

Huh? Government wrong? Maybe they didn't kill as many of us as previously thought with their ridiculous "Four Food Groups," and its moronic successor, "The Food Pyramid."

The AP reports Yahoo! News - Obesity Danger May Have Been Overstated

CHICAGO - Being overweight is nowhere near as big a killer as the government thought, ranking No. 7 instead of No. 2 among the nation's leading preventable causes of death, according to a startling new calculation from the CDC.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated Tuesday that packing on too many pounds accounts for 25,814 deaths a year in the United States. As recently as January, the CDC came up with an estimate 14 times higher: 365,000 deaths.

The new analysis found that obesity — being extremely overweight — is indisputably lethal. But like several recent smaller studies, it found that people who are modestly overweight actually have a lower risk of death than those of normal weight.

Biostatistician Mary Grace Kovar, a consultant for the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center in Washington, said "normal" may be set too low for today's population. Also, Americans classified as overweight are eating better, exercising more and managing their blood pressure better than they used to, she said.


Anybody can miss a prediction, but it takes a government agency to miss by a factor of 14. Whadaya say we let the private sector handle diet concerns, and have the government stick to important things like the mohair subsidy.

UPDATE: Ramesh Ponnuru links to the mypyramid.gov site and asks "WHAT WOULD WE DO without the federal government telling us what we should eat?"

Posted by John Kranz at 5:57 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Sounds good to me... Lyle. (Make that a cheeeeeese burger.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 20, 2005 1:43 AM
But jk thinks:

Nice. I expected Sugarchuck to get the allusion, but I wasn't sure who else.

Posted by: jk at April 20, 2005 11:53 AM

March 25, 2005

Thank You, TR!

I like TR, and will stand to being corrected if he is not the villain in anti-trust legislation But whoever got the ball rolling deserves disapprobation.

The current crop of deal breakers are myopic to what constitutes competition. It's a fact that DirecTV and Echostar should merge and use their combined assets to take on Comcast. But no! You can't have a single satellite TV provider.

Today Blockbuster is backing out of M&A for fear of sating the trust lawyers. A WSJ news story gives the facts right up top:

Blockbuster Inc. said it won't pursue its $991 million offer to acquire rival video chain Hollywood Entertainment Corp., clearing the way for Hollywood to pursue a previously agreed deal with Movie Gallery Inc.

Blockbuster, Dallas, said it was dropping its unsolicited pursuit of Hollywood because obtaining antitrust approval likely would be difficult. The company said it will promptly return any shares that had been tendered under its offer. Earlier this year, Hollywood accepted an $850 million, or $13.25 a share, offer to merge with Movie Gallery, Dothan, Ala.


Anti-trust? Blockbuster is about to get smooshed like a bug by NetFlix and online content delivery. Why not allow them to bulk up and defend their sector with all available means?

Oh, right, you've got a public to protect...

Posted by John Kranz at 10:49 AM

March 6, 2005

Government and the Internet

Another reason why government should not be involved in "free internet" initiatives.

    The Utah governor is deciding whether to sign a bill that would require Internet providers to block Web sites deemed pornographic and that could also target e-mail providers and search engines.

    Late Wednesday night, the Utah Senate approved controversial legislation that would create an official list of Web sites with publicly available material found to be "harmful to minors." Internet providers in Utah must offer their customers a way to disable access to sites on the list or face felony charges.


Here's a case where the government isn't involved in distribution of content. They want to impose these rules on private entities.
Can you only imagine if they had control over it?
    Opponents, though, worry that the legislation could go far beyond just broadband and dial-up providers. "Does this cover only major Internet providers, or are they talking about the local coffee shop that offers Wi-Fi?" asked Kate Dean, manager of the U.S. Internet Service Provider Association in Washington, D.C.

    The measure, S.B.260, says: "Upon request by a consumer, a service provider may not transmit material from a content provider site listed on the adult content registry." A service provider is defined as any person or company who "provides an Internet access service to a consumer."


Of course, it billed as "for the children." Maybe the parents should take the initiative in watching their kids.
Is that really too much to ask?

If signed, this will pretty much immediately go to court.
Where who knows what will happen?

Posted by AlexC at 12:00 AM | Comments (1)
But Silence Dogood thinks:

Adult content registry? Hah! Good luck keeping that up to date.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at March 9, 2005 6:40 PM

February 18, 2005

Government Intrusion

From the Detroit Free Press

    Smokers who have bought cigarettes online are starting to get notices from the state to pay up the $2-per-pack cigarette tax they avoided.

    A Canton woman who got a state bill last weekend for $2,500 in back cigarette taxes is among the bulk cigarette buyers learning that avoiding taxes -- the state can go back up to four years -- can be expensive in the long run.

    The state's lost tax dollars were estimated at $1.7 million from just one of 13 online cigarette retailers.

    In a bold push to catch tax scofflaws, the state Treasury Department has subpoenaed the online retailers in other states to get the names, addresses and purchase records of Michiganders who bought cigarettes from them. In virtually all cases, such sales do not include the cigarette tax that must be paid to the state, regardless of who the seller is or how much is purchased.

    So far, the sweep has resulted in letters sent to 533 people the state says bought from just the one online seller.


If the government of Michigan were really interested in stopping people from smoking (as all good governments claim), they would have sent these people "How to Stop Smoking" packets or something.
Instead, they reveal themselves to be what we all knew... just out for the money.

And how long till we all get subpeonaed for purchases on eBay or Amazon or anyone of hundreds or thousands of online retailers?

Posted by AlexC at 1:46 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

It's not really a matter of efficacy. People who think that taxes should be used to control our behavior won't change because it works or it doesn't.

That said, it's hard to feel sorry for people who sent Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow to the U.S. Senate.

Posted by: jk at February 18, 2005 2:32 PM