Friday, July 25, 2014
The ugliest thing in an otherwise beautiful neighborhood is a communal letter box provided by our bankrupt postal service.
Wasn't it PJ O'Rourke who argued that the public toilet was the metaphor for anything state provided? Dirty , dangerous and best avoided ?
This ugly, poorly designed and shoddily manufactured tribute to decaying service works just as well.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
This is what rule by government lawyer looks like. Brutal, lacking proportion or fairness and objectively insane. But why should our regulators behave any more rationally than our leaders.
It's crazy time at the DC corral with no sign that the clowns of both parties are going any time soon. Read the whole thing - it's well worth your while.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
I think a lot more than three people have died from illegal experiments in the last five and a half years
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Business investment is crapulous. What a surprise. Apparently to these gents it is because they scurry around for explanations while ignoring the most obvious: regime uncertainty. No one knows what the man in the grannies jeans or his bureaucratic minions are going to do next.
From Neil Irwin at The Upshot: Five years into the economic recovery, businesses still aren’t plowing much money into big-ticket investments for the future. Nonresidential fixed investment — what businesses spend on equipment, software, buildings and intellectual property — still hasn’t bounced back to its pre-crisis share of the economy, let alone made up for lost ground from the record lows of 2009. As Justin Lahart notes in The Wall Street Journal, equipment spending in particular has averaged 5.2 percent of the economy over the last five years, down from 6.5 percent over the previous half-century. If firms increased their spending enough to close that gap, it would mean an extra $220 billion in annual economic activity and perhaps a couple of million more jobs. But there may be even more important and lasting consequences for this lack of spending by businesses. Capital spending improves worker productivity. And worker productivity improves living standards. Less capital spending by businesses means less investment in the kinds of equipment, software and intellectual property that will make the economy more competitive over the long haul. One simple hypothesis is that it’s not worth spending more on American workers at current wage levels. As workers, while Americans are quite good, they are just not that much better than a variety of high-IQ individuals in cheaper countries, many of whom now have acceptable infrastructure to work with. - See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/#sthash.0kQ68Eap.dpuf
Monday, July 21, 2014
On why giving more money and power to the Feds is worse than giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
A good friend* of mine asked me in a response to another (typically over the top) post of mine by questioning why I was defending the rich. Why couldn't I make my point while acknowledging that there is room for concern about the trends of wealth and income distribution in the US?
I have two answers to this very legitimate challenge from my very serious friend, one philosophical and the other empirical.
The philosophical answer is you are demanding that I accept your premise as the basis for any discussion going forward: "of course the rich have got richer faster than everyone else in a specific period of time and this is a problem" and it's necessary but unstated First Corollary "and of course this increased wealth is due to predatory behavior of the rich because if it has been achieved due to noble or brilliant behavior that has benefited mankind then we would be insane to disincent them from doing more brilliant, noble things" or in short "the rich are rich and getting richer because they're selfish bastards who need to be taken down a peg or ten".
And then you demand that I implicitly subscribe to the unstated Second Corollary which is also absolutely essential: "Not only are the rich predatory bastards but only the central state can make them mind. So the key to reducing the power of a plutocratic 3.5 million Americans is concentrating more power and wealth in the hands of a few dozen aging incumbent lawyers who live in DC."
Once you get me to agree to your (questionable to say the least) premise then the discussion is simply when and how much more swag gets passed to our Federal gerontocrats to dispose of as they see fit (usually by passing it back in box car lots to the types of people who are demanding that I accept their premise, a whole lot of whom are well connected rich people). This is how it used to be done before "the Reagan darkness" fell upon the land. Lefties proposed, righties kicked a bit at the price and caved for 80% and then spent their days looking for loose change under the national couch cushions to pay for it all.
Not surprisingly I reject that premise. And not surprisingly having their couch cleaning dogsbody replaced by a bitching libertarian ideologue pisses the left off so much that they want to read me and the rest of the right out of polite society. By disagreeing with the 'eat the rich' premise I am proving that I am in descending order a: "Koch Stooge", "greedy", "hate filled", "racist", "sexist", "ableist" and most scathingly "For Profit". And anything I say is obviously self serving. By the way: the same thing happens with catastrophic global warming where institutions like the BBC and LA Times have announced that they won't even report arguments questioning the claims of people predicting catastrophe unless we immediately blow trillions on.....their projects. Hmmm.
So back to the empirical:
Oddly enough, there is a very quiet (muffled by the partisan press, that is) but persuasive argument that much of the gains in income the rich have experienced are spurious artifacts of tax law changes. For example, the tax boffins will tell you that at the start of the "dark times" say 1980, taxes on cap gains and dividends were very high and small and mid sized businesses were C corps who accumulated lots of cash to avoid personal taxation. With lower rates on both gains and dividends this accumulated wealth gushed out of these privately held companies - and a lot of publicly held companies. Indeed, the "Icahn/Boesky/Pickens/Leveraged buyout boom" was a recognition of the changes in investor incentives: no longer did they want to retain earnings in a tax advantaged vehicle, they now wanted their gosh darn cash while rates were low and were happy to sell their shares to any Wall Street cracker who would give it to them. So managers who had grown fat and stupid under the old system got the hard thwack of market discipline. And boy did it leave a mark.
In addition, since the beginning of "the Reagan evil" most small and mid sized businesses have incorporated first as S Corps and now LLCs which pass all earnings straight to the owners on a pro rata basis - thus income that used to be retained and not reported now gushes forth. The big and remarkably dishonest flaw of Piketty, Saenz and company (other than being irretrievably French) is their total reliance on Income Tax returns for their US data. Which makes their data crap. And since they've been the only one producing this kind of data for the US, it makes all those income inequality charts that lefties pass back and forth to each other crap as well. Of course they like crappy data infused arguments: they believe in catastrophic global warming - another area where the data is a crap sandwich of manipulation, half truths and statistical legerdemain. But I digress.
One way to test the veracity of the phenomenon of falling marginal tax rates driving recognition of locked up income is to look at the rest of the developed world: falling marginal tax rates are associated with more reported income inequality everywhere that they've been tried (effing Laffer, effing Rich). The few places that haven't cut top marginal rates (France) are still statistically speaking 'impeccably' equal. Although anyone that spends any time in La Belle France knows that is a screaming howling lie. Here's a nice piece from the Financial Times about how Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité is playing out in Paris these days and boy is the gang at the faculty club pissé about it
Anyone paying the least bit of attention should also be aware that a large proportion of the 'gains' not explained by tax changes can be attributed to the fact that the data is reported on a household basis rather than on an individual basis. As a brilliant blogger pointed out:
It turns out that pretax and transfer individual income inequality as measured by GINI has not changed since 1960. Household and family inequality have soared as more and more people live alone or in one parent households while the cognitive elite, ever more efficiently sorted by the oh so egalitarian Ivies increasingly marry each other.
There are lots of things the plutocrats can be held accountable for - really ugly large yachts for example - but the fact that Joe six pack can get Janey six pack in the sack without the benefits of holy matrimony or a functioning condom is not one of them. Unless you're a church lady blaming it all on Hollywood. Which is fun but still....
I guess the plutocrats can be partly blamed for the third factor: massive increases in low skill immigration. Aussies and Canucks stupidly import only the highly skilled and the rich. We cleverly import the global poor and then proceed to blame the worsening income distribution that it brings on the rich. Which is rich.
There are other factors which the brave class warriors conveniently ignore that have a major impact on inequality and that can't be pinned on the plutocracy such as increasing social and ethnic diversity and an immense variance in cost of living across the United States - factors which our French Inequality-crats utterly fail to take into account in their 'analysis'.
So I would argue that at least 90% of the growth in the Rich's share of income story is bullshit. It may be that the Rich took too much of the swag back in the "days before the capitalist darkness fell on the world" but that's not the argument that the left chaps are making. They're saying that it's all a Reaganite, Bushite and even Clintonite neocon conspiracy. That changing mores, mass immigration and massive, unprecedented tax law changes are irrelevant. That it's greed and hate and racism and sexism and nasty badism that has run amuck and made rich people richer and poor people richer too and it just has to gosh darn stop before all of the prime beach and skiing spots that tenured faculty go to are filled up by the crass nouveau riche.
So they argue that the single largest, richest and most powerful institution in the world needs to concentrate even more wealth (and it's concomitant power) from millions of individuals and organizations in its enormous, grasping hands. Because a world where even more will be parceled out by a few handfuls of old incumbent lawyers from DC will be infinitely more equal, free and diverse than letting millions of blacks, browns, greens, Mormons, queers, Texans, Idahoans, Jeraboams and other bizarre categories spend, invest and donate it as they see fit.
Which seems astoundingly, profoundly insane to me even if the Feds weren't utterly venal and incompetent (and boy are they). But hey, you guys worship your God, I'll worship mine.
*This good friend suffers mightily by being a principal foil for this blog. He asks a simple question and rather than giving him a simple answer I dump the whole damned load on him here. He deserves better but of course he knows that, he's my friend. I would dump loads on other leftish friends but any time I bring anything fun up they retreat into their barricaded homes and I'm left standing in the street shouting I'll fight anyone to no one except a dog who pees on my leg. Not that I'm blaming them. Or the dog for that matter.
NYT explains why colleges are far less accountable than private companies - the farce that is accreditation.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Hmm. Let's unpack this little gem shall we? NASA 'did' the moon 45 effing years ago. Our 'rivals' didn't have a full complement of flush toilets back then. Now that they've got their plumbing straightened out they are headed for the 'ol dead rock to amp their prestige and prove their tech. Tech that we had...45 years ago.
So whyintheHell would we want to blow billions upon billions to redo the voodoo that we did do? Well Houston has this big 'ol NASA facility and there ain't enough work on this gosh darn far into the future Mars mission to keep all the chappies busy. And ever since the damned private sector got into the launch business the scope of what an inefficient and rather incompetent Federal bureaucracy can get away with has narrowed quite a bit. But the moon hell, we could do the moon in our sleep. We've already done the dad gum moon. Can't screw that one up, can we? And it'll cost a boatload. And we need a boatload to keep this carbuncle ticking.
In short: oink oink.
FedEx Indicted For Failing To Look Into Its Packages To See If Any Online Pharmacies Were Sending Drugs.
And to think that we vote into office the clowns that have created this and pay taxes for our 'servants' to abuse us and our children. God help us every one. Because the government sure as hell won't.
Next best performing are those at the bottom of the global income distribution whose incomes have grown about 75% faster than the world at large. A large portion of these people live in Africa, the Sub Continent or China.
Third best off are the global rich whose incomes have outpaced global income growth by half. These people are everywhere. They've taken most of the initiative and done most of the actual risk taking that has led to the rapid increase in global living standards around the world. And for that they are reviled and spat upon. But they can afford dry cleaning bills so don't cry too hard for them.
Worst off, but still better off than before are the global upper middle income earners. Primarily the middle and working classes of the 'rich' countries, they've seen their relative incomes dwindle in comparison to global averages. They can't afford that luxurious a holiday to Thailand anymore - not because they are poorer in absolute terms but because the Thais are much richer so they won't work (or whore) for peanuts anymore.
Haiti: $1058 up 20% in 12 years
Somalia: $547 up 20% in last six years
Bangladesh: $1693 up 49% in last eight years
El Salvador: $6093 up 11% in last eight years
If you take a few minutes to look up from the unrelenting 'eat your peas' gloom of our oh so progressive political class and their Piketting enablers, the global situation looks less like a dystopia with plutocratic fembots devouring villagers whole than a messy rebalancing of the world economy back towards where it was before the Anglo Saxons invented everything.
Of course we in the US have had the added 'benefit' of economic leadership that for most of us has delivered worse results than the global bottom dwellers. We've seen most of our population lose 15 to 20% of their purchasing power under the aegis of Hope 'n Change. Here's the damage to median household income by education level:
And shockingly, the downward trend appears to be accelerating. Hell even people ruled by the modern day equivalent of the Tonton Macoutte or a Central American drug lord are doing better than that.
Which might explain our confusion as to why the chap presented as our savior six short years ago should be opening the borders to millions more of the global poor as we speak. I wonder what all those working poor and unemployed who thought Obama was going to give them a phone or pay their mortgage or usher in a new era of abundance think of his oh so 'progressive' leadership now? I mean if they can cut through the constant chanting of the Obama We Believe U cheering section that our national media have become.
The man in the silk suit hurries by.
The Millennials have been cheated out of a serious education by their Baby Boomer teachers. Call it a generational swindle. Even the best and brightest among the 20-somethings have been shortchanged. Instead of great books, they wasted a lot of time with third-rate political tracts and courses with titles like “Women Writers of the Oklahoma Panhandle.” Instead of spending their college years debating and challenging received ideas, they had to cope with speech codes and identity politics. College educated young women in the U.S. are arguably the most fortunate people in history; yet many of them have drunk deeply from the gender feminist Kool-Aid. Girls at Yale, Haverford and Swarthmore see themselves as oppressed. That is madness. And madness can only last so long. So, I plan to continue writing books and articles, making my Factual Feminist videos and lecturing at as many campuses and laws schools as I can. American colleges have been described as islands of repression in a sea of freedom. I want to encourage rebellion among the islanders.
At this point it doesn't matter whose fault it is but it's obvious that what we are doing is having disastrous consequences. A 15 to 20 percent fall in median household incomes? By everyone without a degree? And we're throwing the border wide open?
My God, my God why have you forsaken us? What? You say that you sent us the "New Jesus" to bind up our wounds and give us succor?
My God, my God why do you hate us?
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Which of course means that much of the 'prog' project is made ludicrous. Not that the faithful will acknowledge the death of their God. Indeed they will persecute, fire and anathemize anyone who even will acknowledge the truth. Here's a classic example from lefty shill rag Scientific American.
Education is Producing a Nationwide Gentrification Effect. “The larger the share of a city’s workforce that’s made up of college graduates, the more expensive it is to live there.” And yet education is pushed as a cure for economic inequality.
Using a cellphone while driving has been banned in California for six years now, but it hasn't shown signs of decreasing accidents.
“10” “9.8” “9.9” “10” and the Russian judge: “6.4”
I seriously doubt whether it will ever change much. Chalk one up for the AGW faithful's unwavering commitment to self delusion.
An astounding number of lives have to be destroyed so the church ladies can indulge their moral panic. In this edition an entire family seems headed to prison because they tried to relieve the agony of one of them by growing a few common weeds - weeds that our President freely acknowledges he used heavily for many years. This time it's the Iowa church ladies at the link. I don't understand how policemen and prosecutors look themselves in the mirror. I really don't.