Saturday, April 30, 2011

The worst study ever

Scott Atlas writes about the WHO's 2000 survey and ranking of national health systems.  It turns out (surprise, surprise) that it was a politically driven fraud that had little to do with health care and a lot to do with ideology.  The US was ranked 37th while Italy, with consistently the most dissatisfied health consumers in the EU was ranked 2nd.  The 'findings' were used to justify the immense mess now known as 'Obamacare'.

The real scandal isn't that once again, the UN perpetrated a grotesque, politicized fraud - that's normal.  The scandal is that our 'media elites' chose to swallow their BS with the gap jawed credulity of a Vassar Frosh in a womyn's empowerment class.  Pathetic.

The technical term is 'capital strike'

This recovery has been the most anemic in the postwar period.  Indeed, it is only exceeded in its badness by the 'great' depression where a similarly radical policy mix was implemented.  Our fearless leaders have provoked a ferocious capital strike - businesses aren't hiring or investing because there is so much uncertainty about the policy environment.  From labor to real estate to healthcare to finance to the environment radical change is either being implemented or proposed.  Existing rules are being implemented arbitrarily and with a vindictiveness not seen since Carter.  So with the traditional engine of growth stalled, the only other alternatives to goose growth are ruinous debt spending and the printing press.  Of course this has happened virtually everywhere people have been stupid enough to try it:  England, Australia, Holland, Sweden, France, Spain, Greece.....and it always ends in tears.

DUDE, WHERE’S MY RECOVERY? “Seven quarters into the Obama recovery, GDP growth has averaged an annual rate of only 2.8 percent. In contrast, since 1970, the first seven quarters of previous recoveries averaged 4.6 percent. The poor growth rate is especially surprising since the preceding recession was so severe, there should have been ample room for high growth as the unemployed returned to work. For example, the Reagan recovery followed a similarly high unemployment rate and saw the economy grow at an average annual growth rate of 7 percent . . . . The slight decrease in unemployment – currently at 8.8 percent — has been touted as good news. Yet that slight drop has largely been the result of job-seekers giving up looking for work and leaving the labor force. On top of that, the new jobs that have opened up have primarily been temporary jobs, the number of permanent jobs has actually fallen.”

Friday, April 29, 2011

So which pile of money do YOU think was better spent

The conceit of the statists is that money spent by the state is more 'valuable' or 'noble' than that spent by crass businessmen.  Yet our leaders spent almost 1 Trillion on 'stimulus' to no effect while Exxon-Mobil's annual capital expenditures produce real oil and gas and gasoline and generate a handsome return to owners.

Which stock would you buy?

"Good Jobs" disappearing everywhere

The classic 'good job' - you know, where a poorly educated person stands in place and does a rote activity over and over again - is becoming scarce everywhere because it is so easily automated away.  The below chart demonstrates that while the US leads this phenomenon, we are certainly not alone.  Like agriculture, manufacturing has become incredibly productive, freeing us all up for more creative, more valuable activities.  But they're not 'quality jobs'.

Carter: US Violating NoKo's human rights (!)

Ol' Jimmy Earl is truly a vile anti-American, isn't he?  I predict that once th First nut farmer shifts off this mortal coil his role as the 'self righteous scourge of America' will be taken up by Mr. Singularity.   Hattip Jim Geraghty

Cam and I talked about this a bit last night -- he's shocked that Jimmy Carter went to North Korea and accused the United States of abusing North Koreans' human rights by withholding food aid. I'm not surprised anymore. If you've gone to bat for Saddam Hussein, it's no great leap to go to bat for Kim Jong Il.

Chris Suellentrop at Slate recounts how Carter did everything possible to dissuade U.S. allies from cooperating with American foreign policy he disagreed with:

During the buildup to the Gulf War in 1990 and 1991, Carter unsuccessfully worked to undermine the foreign policy of America's democratically elected president, George Bush. Carter behaved as the Imperial Ex-President, conducting a guerrilla foreign policy operation that competed with the actual president's. What's disturbing about this behavior is not that Carter opposed war with Iraq.Many Democrats opposed going to war, and they worked within the American system to try to prevent a war that many predicted would be bloody (which it was, for Iraq). But Carter went further than merely lobbying Congress to oppose military action or speaking out in an effort to tilt popular opinion against the coming war. He used his status as a former president to engage in foreign policy, a deliberate effort to subvert the democratic process.

In November 1990, two months after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, Carter wrote a letter to the heads of state of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. He urged the countries to drop their support for Bush's proposed military solution. Instead, as Douglas Brinkley outlines in The Unfinished Presidency, his glowing but not uncritical assessment of Carter's post-presidential years, Carter asked the countries to give "unequivocal support to an Arab League effort" for peace. (As Brinkley notes, Carter's anti-war position conflicted with the Carter Doctrine he had outlined as president: Any "attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such force will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.") Right up to Bush's Jan. 15 deadline for war, Carter continued his shadow foreign policy campaign. On Jan. 10, he wrote the leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria and asked them to oppose the impending military action. "I am distressed by the inability of either the international community or the Arab world to find a diplomatic solution to the Gulf crisis," he wrote. "I urge you to call publicly for a delay in the use of force while Arab leaders seek a peaceful solution to the crisis. You may have to forego approval from the White House, but you will find the French, Soviets, and others fully supportive. Also, most Americans will welcome such a move." Former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft later accused Carter of violating the Logan Act, the law that prohibits American citizens from conducting unofficial foreign policy.

Bryan Preston, writing at Pajamas Media, concludes, "Jimmy Carter really has never forgiven Americans for firing him in 1980, has he? In the former president's mind, here's the logic of his latest statement, transcribed below: If American taxpayers don't pony up to pay for the food of people on the other side of the world who have been brainwashed to want to exterminate us in nuclear Armageddon, we are violating their human rights. . . . You, American, are violating North Koreans' human rights by not automatically opening up your wallet every time Kim gets lonely and starts threatening to turn the Korean peninsula into a sea of fire. Jimmy Carter wants you to be ashamed. It's not like Carter arrived at this strange position due to experiencing the personal charisma of the Dear Leader himself: Kim reportedly wouldn't even meet with him."

We knew Jimmy Carter was so deluded that he didn't know when he was being used. But now we know he's so deluded he doesn't even know when he's being snubbed.

By the way, Carter is implicitly accusing President Obama of human-rights violations. Any lefties want to criticize the peanut farmer over this?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The once immense prestige of the professional classes continues to diminish, at the professional classes' own hand.

Professionalism is the last refuge of scoundrels.

WISCONSIN UPDATE: UW doctors face penalties for writing sick notes for protesters. “The Wisconsin Medical Society criticized the doctors’ actions, saying they threatened the public’s trust in the medical profession. The Madison School District told teachers who turned in fraudulent sick notes to rescind them by last month or face discipline. The district received more than 1,000 notes from teachers during the protests.” The once-immense authority of the professional classes continues to diminish, at the professional classes’ own hand.

Social Democracy: destroying the ability of government to do great things

This article talks about how the search for extra terrestrials - an interesting and inexpensive activity is being hobbled because the government has no money.  It's fascinating: before social democracy, the government had relatively little money but did great, gigantic, path breaking things like the Panama Canal.  Now with omni competent state we pay huge taxes and all the government does is take them and write checks to 'favored' groups.

HEY, E.T.: CALL BACK LATER. “Financial woes have delivered a serious blow to the search for E.T. One of its best tools, the Allen Telescope Array in northern California, has been put on hold until new funding is located.”

Funny, the greatness of government that the good government types proclaim is destroyed by too much.....'good' government.  And all that is left are the scams...

Massachusetts Dems strip unions of bargaining rights - just like Wisconsin, MSM yawns

As Dr. Evil would say:  Riiiggghhht.

CHANGE: Latest State To Curtail Public Employee Union Bargaining Rights: Massachusetts. “Not only has the Massachusetts state House passed a new law barring all PEUs from collective bargaining on health care, it passed by a veto-proof majority — because Democrats pushed the bill. . . . Yes, you read that right. Democrats in Massachusetts admitted that Scott Walker had the right idea all along. In fact, the Commonwealth believes that the ability to manage health care coverage will save taxpayers $100 million in the next budget year. And in another nod to Wisconsin, the House held their vote at 11:30 last night, hoping to avoid the kind of demonstrations that Wisconsin Democrats encouraged in Madison.”

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Politics has taken over so much of life

Jerry Pournelle on Haley Barbour's bowing out of the race for President:

Gov. Barbour’s explanation for why he will not seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination — because a candidate today “is embracing a ten-year commitment to an all-consuming effort, to the virtual exclusion of all else,” and he cannot make such a commitment — is not only refreshingly candid but points to a much deeper problem.

We are moving inexorably not simply to news but to politics 24/7/365. And what better example than our current part-time president who, with no primary challenger in sight, is already on the campaign trail (did he ever leave it?), when the election is 19 months away. Some of us are old enough to remember when elected officials served — and ran for office or reelection only around election time.

Part of the reason for the change is the need today for vast amounts of campaign cash. But the deeper reason, I submit, is because politics has taken over so much of life.

The reason everything is so politicized is that the state's fingers are in every pie.  There is nothing from child nutrition to the details of a job application that has not been touched by the state's corrosive hand.  And when power influences most choices, then politics becomes the only way to survive.  A continental scale nation like the US has the wealth and sophistication to create enough government to destroy all of our liberties.

Break it up, break it all up before it does.

Taxing not for profits - about damn time

The average 'big time' not for profit adds far less value to our society than private, tax paying businesses.  Quick:  which institution's disappearance  would more Americans mourn:  WalMart or the entire Ivy League?  Which institution's disappearance would do more damage to world prosperity:  Intel or the Big 12?  Tax the NFPs and perhaps they won't be so hot to stick it to everyone else...

MORE ON EFFORTS to tax nonprofits. As I’ve said before, the nonprofit sector is now huge, and governments are desperate for revenues, so this is no surprise. And, given that college and university folks have generally favored higher taxes for everyone else, I doubt that they’ll get as much sympathy as they once might have.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Brooks on Obama: "he's got multiple personalities" and that's a good thing!

Brooks is getting increasingly incoherent as time goes by - describing his confusion about his man Obama in such confusing terms so as to confuse even me.  This is a man who LIKES Obama, gang.  Wow.

"He's multiple animals," Brooks said. "You know, I would say we're all--we all have multiple personalities. My psychobabble description of him is he's a very complicated person who has many different selves, all of them authentic, but they come out in different contexts. And he is--has always has the ability to look at other parts of himself from a distance, and so it means he has great power to self-correct and I think it gives him power to see himself. It means that he rarely is all in."
Brooks said this is where Obama has an edge on former President George W. Bush.
"You know, President Bush didn't have as much--many multiple selves, so when he made a decision he was all in, he was just going to be there," Brooks continued. "But as I think President Obama is much more cautious, because he's a man of many pieces and many parts and not all of which I understand or I think anybody understands. But it may--it leads to that caution that we see time and time again and almost a self-distancing I see."

Obama:  indecisive, irresolute, confused because he has multiple personalities - and that's a good thing.  Which personality has got control of the nuclear football?  Just askin'....

Actually it's out of control laws and law enforcement danger

The legal system is not on your side, they're on their side.  Hat tip instapundit.

Lying on his family room floor with assault weapons trained on him, shouts of “pedophile!” and “pornographer!” stinging like his fresh cuts and bruises, the Buffalo homeowner didn’t need long to figure out the reason for the early morning wake-up call from a swarm of federal agents.
That new wireless router. He’d gotten fed up trying to set a password. Someone must have used his Internet connection, he thought.
“We know who you are! You downloaded thousands of images at 11:30 last night,” the man’s lawyer, Barry Covert, recounted the agents saying. They referred to a screen name, “Doldrum.”
“No, I didn’t,” he insisted. “Somebody else could have but I didn’t do anything like that.”
“You’re a creep … just admit it,” they said.
Law enforcement officials say the case is a cautionary tale. Their advice: Password-protect your wireless router.
I think it should be a cautionary tale for law enforcement officials, too: Don’t go off half-cocked, then try to blame technology for your own sloppiness. Think they’ll learn it? Only if somebody gets fired. And how likely is that?

It didn’t happen here: “The homeowner later got an apology from U.S. Attorney William Hochul and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Lev Kubiak.”

An apology is nice, and merited. But I’m not sure it’s enough. It certainly won’t be enough if it happens again. And why is the Department of Homeland Security involved in this investigation? Not enough terrorists to catch? More evidence that too much tax money is going to law enforcement, I guess.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Another perspective on the rich poor divide in the US

Super Economy is a blog written by Tino - a Kurdish immigrant to Sweden with a fascination for the United States.  I love to read non-Americans who write about my country because if they are independent and creative, they often see things that we can't see.  He has a fascinating perspective on income inequality in the US vs Europe.  Worth a read.

Megan McCardle: What if we simply raised taxes enough to cover the deficit?

We keep being told that we don't have a government problem, we have a tax problem.  If we simply taxed the 'rich' we would be fine.  Megan McCardle goes through just what it would take to cover our Federal deficit.  Which goes a long way towards explaining why it won't happen.  Hattip instapundit.

Yesterday I argued that simply covering our medium-term fiscal problems with tax hikes was not going to be easy or relatively painless; we’d have to go back to the Clinton era tax rates, and then hike rates again by at least a third, possibly more. Today Kevin Drum responds that this doesn’t seem so bad. . . . Of course it depends on how we implement such a hike. But looking just at the federal income tax makes no sense. In order to raise taxes to the 25% of GDP that Kevin wants, all taxes need to rise by at least a third, not just income taxes: excise taxes, corporate income taxes, payroll taxes. And we’re talking about rising from the Clinton level, not from the current effective tax rate level. That’s going to be a lot more than 5%. . . . n other words, for the poorest 20% of Americans (who make less than $20,000 a year, with an average income of $11,500), taxes go from about $660 to about $1320. For the middle quintile (making an average of $50,000 a year), taxes go from around $7,000 to over $12,000. For those in the top quintile, with an average income of $167,000, taxes jump from a $41,000 to $62,000.

Turn it around and look at the effect on incomes: after tax incomes drop from $10,840 to $10,180, in the lowest quintile; from $43,000 to $38,500 in the middle quintile; and from$125,000 to $105,000.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

William Greider of the Nation: Federal S&P ratings endangered? It's S&P's fault, they're evil

I guess the left's way of dealing with the impending bankruptcy of the Federal state and collapse of their social democratic model is to shout louder at everyone else in the hopes that no one will notice when their money is no longer worth anything.  I used to think that the fascists were rational and wouldn't let things get out of hand - if only out of craven self interest.

Now I'm not so sure.  They seem to be out of their minds.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mine's really long...

Attractive men have long... ring fingers: study

The longer a man's fourth or ring finger is compared to his index finger, the more likely he is to be judged attractive by women, according to a study released Wednesday.

I for one am shocked, shocked that anti-war sentiment is dependent upon partisan identification

Megan McArdle states the obvious.  Commitment to 'principle' only when the 'principle' supports your political agenda and power interest is a key indicator of fascism.  Hattip instapundit.

MEGAN MCARDLE: “Have you noticed all the huge antiwar demonstrations in the last twelve months? Yeah, me neither. It turns out that a lot of the energy for the movement seems to have been provided by Democrats who are a lot less worried about wars conducted by Democratic presidents. Or at least who believe that advancing the Democratic agenda is much more important than trying to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is by no means the whole movement–but it was enough that once a Democrat took office, both the numbers at the demonstrations, and the organizational capacity of the movement as a whole, dwindled away to near-nothingness.”

What happens if Obama stops getting pitched softballs?

This is why we traditionally select our Presidents from a small pool of seasoned executive politicians.  Politico explains:

When the even-keeled and cool President Obama gets prickly in public, it never goes unnoticed.

For Obama, who has carefully cultivated a reputation of easily managing confrontations with people who disagree with him, these moments are as rare as they are revealing of the person behind the presidency.

So it's no surprise that Washington took notice when after a tense interview with a Texas TV reporter on Monday, Obama unclipped his microphone with no smile in sight, and tersely warned, "Let me finish my answers next time we do an interview, all right?"

The president of the United States was not happy. Obama had been corrected (he lost Texas by 12 points, not "a few," in 2008), he was accused of punishing the state for political reasons (he denied that the White House had any part in the decision not to award a space shuttle to Houston), and he was challenged with the most basic of political questions: Why are you so unpopular in Texas?

And all that in a setting the White House anticipated would be largely free of tricky questions.

Doug Ross thinks it's long overdue: "Perhaps now we know why legacy media blistered Sarah Palin with complex, amorphous policy questions while simultaneously lobbing softballs to Obama. Kudos to WFAA reporter Brad Watson for his straightforward questioning of the president. Has America ever had a more petulant and narcissistic man serve in the White House? For you drones: that's a rhetorical question."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Philosophy Refereeing

Robbie Griggs and I have talked for some time about setting up a Philosophy summer league at various West End watering holes.  Here's the referee signals for the event:

Another side effect of fascist state capitalism - the drugging of our children

The increasingly desperate attempts by the state to get union run state schools to perform have led to a significant increase in the proportion of children (mostly boys) who are given otherwise "dangerous, illegal" drugs so that they will "perform" (now if that isn't a loaded phrase) in ways that maximize the measures deemed 'appropriate' by those that control the state.  It goes without saying that sectors that do not have heavy state involvement see no need for these one size fits all 'standards' and do not a priori demand modifications to the brain chemistry of their customers as a way to maximize their organizational performance.
Over the past decade, several states introduced varying degrees of accountability systems for schools, which became federal law with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The intent of these accountability laws was to improve academic performance and to make school quality more observable. Nonetheless, schools have reacted to these pressures in several different ways, some of which were not intended. We make use of the variation across states and over time in specific provisions of these accountability laws and find that accountability pressures effect medical diagnoses and subsequent treatment options of school aged children. Specifically, children in states with more stringent accountability laws are more likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and consequently prescribed psychostimulant drugs for controlling the symptoms. However, conditional on diagnosis, accountability laws do not further change the probability of receiving medication therapy.

Only the state with its double monopoly of the service and coercion could lead to an outcome where over one third of all boys are drugged in the name of 'educational excellence'.

The state has become a monster.  Will no one tame it?  Or even speak out?

Steyn: When America blows it up, we blow way the hell up

From the same article:

There’s an element of truth in that. Bigness is part of what it means to be American. America is Superman and Wonder Woman, the Ziegfeld Follies and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, the Super Bowl, King Kong, Avatar, Surf’n'Turf and Supersized Fries and all-U-can-eat. . . . I love ’em all, but such a land would seem an unlikely candidate for genteel incremental Continental-style decline. When such a nation embarks on the European trajectory of suicide-by-statism, it will not merely be Big Government but Biggest Government. I used to think Obamacare would simply be a disaster on the scale of Canadian health care or Britain’s NHS, but, as the Cornhusker Kickback and the legions of additional IRS agents and the tanning-salon tax became plain, you realize it will be a disaster of an entirely different order. This is Gibbon’s Decline And Fall All-U-Can-Eat Super Bowl Christmas Spectacular On Ice.

What a screaming, howling catastrophe.  And like in the '30s, it's the little ones the world over that are going to suffer for our elites incontinent, inebriate excess.

Screw up the best thing ever?  Yes we can!

America: out bureaucratizing Scandinavia

Mark Steyn got this from a reader in Norway who does business here:

What amazes me is how much more bureaucratic the US has become, as compared to what can only be described as socialist “home turf” here in Norway. Why? Well, Americans seem to have a knack for over-doing everything. Whether it is music, or sports, war or tree-hugging, the Americans simply over do it. So too with bureaucracy (and unions)… It’s a kind of “go big or go home” mentality which permeates American life at so many levels and in so many directions. Which, I suppose, is both good and bad. It has given us the Harley-Davidson motorcycle, jazz, and umpteen other icons. But it has also given us mind bogglingly stupid, bureaucratic decay.
 Well, that's the essence of liberal fascism - the bureaucracy enables the power which enables the money to flow to the powerful.  It's a feature of our system, not a bug.   So long as there were 50 states competing for capital and jobs, this was held in check by competition.  But now that the Federal government and its (soon to fail) magic money machine is in charge, the bureaucratic destruction has metastasized and is eating our nation alive.  For example, the latest financial 'reform' has 20 times more regulatory mandates that the previous record holder.

It's madness unless you're in Washington where it all seems so....right.

Break it up, break it all up.

Impact of the long tail on blockbuster movie ratings

Flowing Data has a great chart tracking the average ratings of the top ten grossing movies over time.  I believe the clear downward trend in ratings is driven by the ongoing expansion in the volume of filmed media available.  As more and more diverse content becomes available, our frame of reference to evaluate films expands, which logically results in lower evaluations of our common denominator:  the blockbuster.  This phenomenon is occurring all across our economy as more and more varieties of music, food, drink, film, books, restaurants, you name it become available.
Rotten Tomoatoes median

Monday, April 18, 2011

In a word: government cartel

How is with US physician compensation twice that of the rest of the world and with population both growing and aging substantially that the supply of physicians has remained constant over 30 years?  After all, the supply of all sorts of useless college graduates has soared in this time frame.

In a word:  a Government cartel - the Feds control the supply of med school places and in the waning days of our penultimate liberal fasicst Jimmy Carter, Congress passed a cap, ensuring fewer physicians and much higher wages.

Oh, and healthcare economists tell us that one of the biggest significant reasons for the expense difference between US and other health care systems is the much higher compensation of our skilled health care professionals.  Go figure.


As David Byrne sang:  "We're on the road to nowhere"....the US debt levels compared to that of other countries at the point of their financial crises and downgrades.  Liberalism is dying a grotesque death, spewing its pestilential detritus on our children and grandchildren.  

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I dunno, maybe the 'mainstream' media should ask a few questions...

This will raise an uncomfortable question. If Obamacare is so great, why are so many trying to get out from under it? And, more specifically, why are so many Democratic groups trying to get out from under it?

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

She's baaaaaack! 2

Ann Althouse shot video of Palin's speech.  The salient characteristic is the booing and shouting from union thugs seeking to disrupt the rally.  These are our 'public servants', gang.  So how come they are trying to disrupt a lawful and peaceful political rally?  They seem awfully entitled to me.  And they seem to be losing.  Watch the whole thing.
I liked this comment:

Attempting to shout-down the free speech of others is the first tactic of fascists.

She's baaaaaack!

John Nolte on la Palin's speech to Tea Partiers in Madison yesterday.  For the record:  I believe if she runs, she'll win.  And I hope she runs.

If Sarah Palin’s not running for president, what a terrible waste that would be of the single best stump speech I’ve heard since, well, Palin’s ’08 convention speech, which just happened to be the single most electrifying political moment of my adult life. … On this day, Tea Party tax-day, Sarah Palin walked into the heart of this nation’s battle, stared down a gallery of Leftist union goons with poise and grace, and articulated our message as well as anyone ever could. Let’s hope this is just the beginning.

The green reverse midas touch: everything they touch turns to...compost.

Walter Russell Mead on good environmental news:

That’s what happens when green Malthusian panic meets the political system.  At Rio back in 1992 I first began to dimly suspect what now seems sadly clear: that green political activists are afflicted with a kind of reverse Midas curse.  Whatever they touch turns to — compost.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Earnings season explained in one chart

The good news is that the real, largely un-subsidized, un-manipulated Energy, Technology and Industrial sectors are doing well.  Of course the best indicator for our long term economic health could be when the health care sector shows massive profit declines, even sectoral losses - that will signal a fundamental restructuring.....and that used Mercedes will be going for a song.

China: Princelings and the Goon state

China is an incredibly cruel and cynical place but remember:  pious egalitarian talk masking impunity and theft are also salient characteristics of the modern American state.  Hattip instapundit.

THE ECONOMIST: China’s new rulers: Princelings and the goon state. “Since the late 1970s, when China began to turn its back on Maoist totalitarianism, the country has gone through several cycles of relative tolerance of dissent, followed by periods of repression. But the latest backlash, which was first felt late last year and intensified in late February, has raised eyebrows. It has involved more systematic police harassment of foreign journalists than at any time since the early 1990s. More ominously, activists such as Mr Ai have often simply disappeared rather than being formally arrested.” The nomenklatura take their privileged position in the Workers’ Paradise seriously. God help anyone who actually wants equality or freedom. All the talk about that stuff is just for the rubes.

Dilbert's 7 keys to career success

I usually don't post lists but I like these.  I'll add an eighth:  Try.  Hard.

Combine Skills.
The first thing you should learn in a course on entrepreneurship is how to make yourself valuable.  It’s unlikely that any average student can develop a world-class skill in one particular area.  But it’s easy to learn how to do several different things fairly well.  I succeeded as a cartoonist with negligible art talent, some basic writing skills, an ordinary sense of humor and a bit of experience in the business world. The “Dilbert” comic is a combination of all four skills. The world has plenty of better artists, smarter writers, funnier humorists and more experienced business people.  The rare part is that each of those modest skills is collected in one person.  That’s how value is created.
Fail Forward.
If you’re taking risks, and you probably should, you can find yourself failing 90% of the time.  The trick is to get paid while you’re doing the failing and to use the experience to gain skills that will be useful later.  I failed at my first career in banking.  I failed at my second career with the phone company.  But you’d be surprised at how many of the skills I learned in those careers can be applied to almost any field, including cartooning.  Students should be taught that failure is a process, not an obstacle.
Find the Action.
In my senior year of college I asked my adviser how I should pursue my goal of being a banker.  He told me to figure out where the most innovation in banking was happening and to move there.  And so I did.  Banking didn’t work out for me, but the advice still holds: Move to where the action is. Distance is your enemy.
Attract Luck.
You can’t manage luck directly, but you can manage your career in a way that makes it easier for luck to find you.  To succeed, first you must do something. And if that doesn’t work, which can be 90% of the time, do something else.  Luck finds the doers.  Readers of the Journal will find this point obvious. It’s not obvious to a teenager.
 Conquer Fear.
I took classes in public speaking in college and a few more during my corporate days.  That training was marginally useful for learning how to mask nervousness in public.  Then I took the Dale Carnegie course.  It was life-changing.  The Dale Carnegie method ignores speaking technique entirely and trains you instead to enjoy the experience of speaking to a crowd.  Once you become relaxed in front of people, technique comes automatically.  Over the years, I’ve given speeches to hundreds of audiences and enjoyed every minute on stage.  But this isn’t a plug for Dale Carnegie.  The point is that people can be trained to replace fear and shyness with enthusiasm.  Every entrepreneur can use that skill.
 Write Simply.
I took a two-day class in business writing that taught me how to write direct sentences and to avoid extra words.  Simplicity makes ideas powerful.  Want examples?  Read anything by Steve Jobs or Warren Buffett.
 Learn Persuasion.
Students of entrepreneurship should learn the art of persuasion in all its forms, including psychology, sales, marketing, negotiating, statistics and even design.  Usually these skills are sprinkled across several disciplines.  For entrepreneurs, it makes sense to teach them as a package.
 That’s my starter list for the sort of classes that would serve B students well. The list is not meant to be complete.  Obviously an entrepreneur would benefit from classes in finance, management and more.
Remember, children are our future, and the majority of them are B students.  If that doesn’t scare you, it probably should.
— Scott Adams is the creator of “Dilbert.” 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Poor Obama confronts a grueling day today

A brutal schedule of three, count 'em three fundraisers.  Even the LA Times is mocking  el Uno now.

It turns out that cynical but incompetent careerism has its consequences.

La Trahison des Clercs

CPI for the privilege of being schooled, because not much of what is taught in the modern college passes for education.  If ever a class of people has betrayed their country it is our 'scholars'.  Break it up, break it all up.  Read the whole thing.  Hattip Carpe Diem.

Why Pinch Sulzberger has a frowny...

....internet advertising passes Newspaper advertising, soon to be number one ad medium.

2010 iab internet advertising revenue report

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why no council on Men and Boys? They're not a powerful Dem interest group...

Chicago politics are very simple: reward your friends and punish or at best, ignore your enemies. The public 'good' is just rhetoric for elections. Hat tip Instapundit.

IS THE WHITE HOUSE prejudiced against boys? “Two years ago President Obama created a committee by executive order to advise and focus exclusively on the needs and welfare of the American woman. Feminists cheered the creation of a White House Council on Women and Girls but others questioned, why – when women and girls are outperforming men by nearly every empirical measurement – create a council for women but not for men?”

Regressive consumption taxes: how Social Democracies get the money for 'compassion'

And of course it goes without saying that consumption taxes are brutally regressive.  The US has the lowest taxes on consumption and the highest taxes on capital in the developed world.  The Economist shows just how anomalous the US is.
And today our President called for higher taxes...on capital.  But the problem is this:  capital can run.  Social 'democrats' the world over have long understood this brutal fact of global political economy.  By contrast, the proles have no place to run to, therefore they fund their own compassion while hearing speech after speech from their 'leaders' about the evil 'rich'.

Our politics make cynicism look like Sunday School.

Budget deal riddled with fraudulent 'cuts'

This is going to end it tears for the Republicans.  It turns out that Messers Boehner, Cantor and Ryan are just as bad as the clowns they replaced.

We are so screwed.  Bust it up, bust it all up.

At Contentions, John Podhoretz sees this all going downhill for Boehner and the GOP in general very quickly: "Already there are indications that a great many House members are going to vote against the deal. What we don't know, or can't know, is whether grass-roots velocity has sped up to such a degree over the past several years that we could be looking at a major meltdown of support when the votes are cast, as Republican members honestly balk at the clear deceit of the negotiators in making non-existent cuts in federal spending -- and as they fear the wrath of the voters (particularly tea partiers). Meanwhile, Leftist Democrats who feel betrayed by Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid might also decide to teach them a lesson by withholding support. And then, all of a sudden, there will be a shutdown. And no plan to end it. And make no mistake -- the public will blame the GOP."

Worst of both worlds: the grassroots think Boehner sold them out and the public at large getting increasingly frustrated with a government shutdown.

Hattip Jim Geraghty

Glenn Reynolds has come up with an intriguing elite revolving door repellent

SO OBAMA’S PEOPLE ARE TALKING TAX INCREASES AGAIN. Here’s my proposal: A 50% surtax on anything earned within five years after leaving the federal government, above whatever the federal salary was. Leave a $150K job at the White House, take a $1M job with Goldman, Sachs, pay a $425K surtax. Some House Republican should add this to a bill and watch the Dems react.
UPDATE: Should we also provide that salaries paid to former government officials aren’t deductible for corporations? Or is that going too far? I say: Put it in as a negotiating point!

"Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers.My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them." Flannery O'Connor

HT Robbie Griggs

It's a mad, mad, mad, mad, mad, mad Federal Government

Four posts in a row from Instapundit illustrating just how broken our Federal overlord is.  Most parasites have inbred mechanisms to limit their damage so that the host stays healthy enough to feed them.  Our fascists?  Not so much.  Break it up.  Break it all up.

SO IS THIS THE HOPE, OR THE CHANGE? US deficit up 15.7% in first half of fiscal 2011.
WELL, IT’S A GOOD THING WE CHANGED MEASUREMENT SYSTEMS, THEN: Inflation Actually Near 10% Using Older Measure. “Inflation, using the reporting methodologies in place before 1980, hit an annual rate of 9.6 percent in February, according to the Shadow Government Statistics newsletter.” Because if we were using that old system, inflation would bereally bad. Thanks, measurement-system-changers!

Learning what it's like to lose....and win

It is the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter.  People like to say that the US doesn't know what it's like to be occupied, to be humiliated.  But of course, the South does.  Glenn Reynolds makes some comments, quoting Walt Whitman.  Also be sure to read the Virginia Postrel link.

But American southerners know something that apparently a lot of other people seem to have trouble with: how to lose a war and not hold a grudge. (Much of one, anyway). The monument shown above illustrates that; it sits about a block from my office (click the picture for a bigger image; you can see a closeup of the inscription here if that’s too hard to read on your display). As late as the Spanish-American War, there was considerable doubt about whether southerners would turn out to fight for the United States. They did. (My great-grandfather was one of them).
There are a lot of reasons for that, but the American experience of reconciliation after one of the world’s bloodier and more divisive conflicts is one that perhaps ought to get more attention. It may be that, like so many things American, it is exceptional. But maybe not.
Meanwhile, with the Civil War in mind, reader Gregory Birrer points out that Europe never changes:
I have been reading a little book I picked up while in Gettysburg recently, entitled, “Memoranda During The War” by Walt Whitman. It is a compilation of his notes from about 3 years worth of visits to War hospitals in and around Washington D.C. from 1862 – 1865. Toward the end he inserts some interesting political commentary (mixed in with a variety of topics) that sounds as if it could have been written today. Here’s the piece:
Attitude of Foreign Governments toward the U.S. during the War of 1861-’65 -
Looking over my scraps, I find I wrote the following during 1864, or the latter part of ‘63: The happening to our America, abroad as well as at home, these years, is indeed most strange. The Democratic Republic has paid her to-day the terrible and resplendent compliment of the united wish of all the nations of the world that her Union should be broken, her future cut off, and that she should be compell’d to descend to the level of kingdoms and empires ordinarily great!There is certainly not one government in Europe but is now watching the war in this country, with the ardent prayer that the united States may be effectually split, crippled, and dismember’d by it. There is not one but would help toward that dismemberment, if it dared. I say such is the ardent wish to-day of England and of France, as governments, and of all the nations of Europe, as governments. I think indeed it is to-day the real, heart-felt wish of all the nations of the world, with the single exception of Mexico–Mexico, the only one to whom we have ever really done wrong, and now the only one who prays for us and for our triumph, with genuine prayer.
Is it not indeed strange? America, made up of all, cheerfully from the beginning opening her arms to all, the result and justifier of all, of Britain, Germany, France, and Spain – all here – the accepter, the friend, hope, last resource and general house of all – she who has harm’d none, but been bounteous to so many, to millions, the mother of strangers and exiles, all nations – should now I say be paid this dread compliment of general governmental fear and hatred?…….Are weindignant? alarm’d? Do we feel wrong’d? jeopardized? No; help’d, braced, concentrated, rather.
We are all too prone to wander from ourselves, to affect Europe, and watch her frowns and smiles. We need this hot lesson of general hatred, and henceforth must never forget it. Never again will we trust the moral sense nor abstract friendliness of a single government of the world.
“Never again?” Apparently, we need to be reminded from time to time. European hopes for our descent were frustrated then by the greatness of the American spirit, which both ended the war and — more importantly — managed to build a great nation without bitterness. May it be so again. And may the Europeans who resent it continue to gnash their teeth.
UPDATE: Virginia Postrel has observations.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

No 'policy making', no subsidies, no 'leadership', no tax breaks: how can they do this?

Premium intercity bus service is exploding - at a fraction of the cost of Amtrak and with no involvement by the state other than the existing infrastructure.  How could this be?

Yet our fearless leaders want to blow $55Billion on capital subsidies and untold billions on operating subsidies on 'high speed' rail.  Insane.  Well not exactly insane - you see, the railroads are big government union shops, the bus companies?  Not so much.
From Bloomberg/BusinessWeek, a great story about the success of a new industry that has brought low-cost, dependable, convenient, market-based, Wi-Fi-enabled bus service to millions of Americans, despite rising gas and oil prices, and without any government subsidies, tax breaks or taxpayer funding: 

"After decades of decline, the bus is the U.S.'s fastest-growing way to travel, led by curbside service from Megabus, BoltBus, and others.

For bus travel as a whole, the number of daily departures increased by 6 percent in 2010, twice the growth experienced by air travel and 12 times that of Amtrak. The number of curbside passengers rose by at least 33 percent, with Megabus ridership expanding 48 percent. (Amtrak ridership grew by just 6 percent, and the airlines by 5 percent.) The company says growth, including the 20 routes it added last year, is an astounding 65 percent. Curbside buses now account for more than a fifth of all daily bus departures in the country. The American Bus Assn. maintains that traditional intercity bus service on Greyhound, Trailways, and others has even experienced a positive spillover—the group calls it "the Megabus effect."

Much of the recent success of the curbside business derives from its nimbleness. In February the Obama Administration unveiled some specifics of its long-term plan for high-speed rail, requesting $53 billion over the next six years to build and upgrade intercity service—a proposal that has already met opposition. By contrast, the bus simply uses existing roads, requiring no policy debates, government funding, or land management studies. It needs only a curb and a sign.

Bus companies are also able to gauge demand quickly, gather rider input online, then alter pickup locations or routes just by posting changes to their websites. While we're having coffee, Megabus CEO Dale Moser explains that since he's seen numerous requests on transit blogs for new service from Chicago to Memphis, he figures he might as well give the route a try. A couple of weeks later he has the buses up and running.

The curbside bus can also easily add and subtract departures. During Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2010, Megabus continued to sell as many tickets as were requested on its website, adding buses as needed. In Chicago, the buses were lined up all the way around the corner at the pickup location. "It's astounding how few constraints there are to its development and expansion," says Joseph Schwieterman, the director of DePaul's Chaddick Institute. "That's why it's an exciting product to watch. Adding two big hubs in six months—we just don't see that anymore in transportation."

The comparison with rail is revealing. Consider that even after the Obama Administration budgeted $10.4 billion in federal stimulus money to jump-start high-speed rail projects around the country, the states had to submit proposals, federal transportation officials had to select the most viable ones, and state and federal governments had to negotiate these plans with the freight companies that own most of the nation's track. After all that, politicians, citing budget shortfalls, ended up scuttling many of the plans."

MP: Perhaps this is another deflationary factor that is helping to offset rising oil and gas prices, and serves to moderate inflationary pressures. And it's a great example of a competitive, flexible, low-cost, consumer-driven, market-based solution to transportation, in contrast to government transportation options like Amtrak that are the opposite: non-competitive, inflexible, high-cost, politician-driven, and not market-based.  

HT: Paul Cerni 
Stay tuned for demands by Blue State politicians to 'regulate' these 'predatory' competitors.

Hat tip Carpe Diem

Redistributionists report being angrier, less altruistic than those opposed to redistribution - General Social Survey

This really doesn't surprise me - particularly the part about revenge.  It supports the notion that those who favor redistribution are seeking punishment of others rather than any neutral policy goal.  Envy truly is a green eyed monster.  Hat tip Tyler Cowen

In a recent paper, James Lindgren of Northwestern reports:
…compared to anti-redistributionists, strong redistributionists have about two to three times higher odds of reporting that in the prior seven days they were angry, mad at someone, outraged, sad, lonely, and had trouble shaking the blues. Similarly, anti-redistributionists had about two to four times higher odds of reporting being happy or at ease. Not only do redistributionists report more anger, but they report that their anger lasts longer. When asked about the last time they were angry, strong redistributionists were more than twice as likely as strong opponents of leveling to admit that they responded to their anger by plotting revenge. Last, both redistributionists and anti-capitalists expressed lower overall happiness, less happy marriages, and lower satisfaction with their financial situations and with their jobs or housework.
Further, in the 2002 and 2004 General Social Surveys anti-redistributionists were generally more likely to report altruistic behavior. In particular, those who opposed more government redistribution of income were much more likely to donate money to charities, religious organizations, and political candidates. The one sort of altruistic behavior that the redistributionists were more likely to engage in was giving money to a homeless person on the street.
This is much more to this paper.  For instance, at the U.S. national level, racists tend to be pro-income redistribution on netAnti-capitalist attitudes are associated with higher levels of intolerance.  I thank an MR reader for the pointer, I am sorry that I have lost the identifying email.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Eradicating manhood with poisoned carrots and nail studded sticks.

A friend at my Church is on disability.  He had some physical problems for a few years but 10 years later, he's still on the dole.  Runs every day.  Disability has become such a scam that upstanding church goers openly abuse it.  It's one reason that men's labor force participation has fallen so much.  "Disability" is one of the poisoned carrots dangled by the welfare state - enticing men away from their role as bread winner - except through pity and charity.

The other driver of male withdrawal from manhood is our uniquely cruel and merciless criminal justice system.   We imprison 8 times more (mostly male) citizens than Canada.  Almost four times more than Saudi Arabia (!).  Nearly 50 million Americans are convicted 'felons' - the vast majority men.

A society that drugs boys so that they will 'behave', strips men of their primary role and treats typical male behavior as 'criminal' or 'diseased' will reap the whirlwind.  Falling labor force participation is just a very small canary in this disastrous coal mine.

Hat tip Carpe Diem

The anatomy of a bubble: higher education

There's a crash coming and the wails of the entitled faculty and staff buried beneath its rubble will be pathetic to behold.  Peter Thiel:

“A true bubble is when something is over-valued and intensely believed,” he says. “Education may be the only thing people still believe in in the United States. To question education is really dangerous. It is the absolute taboo. It’s like telling the world there’s no Santa Claus.”
Like the housing bubble, the education bubble is about security and insurance against the future. Both whisper a seductive promise into the ears of worried Americans: Do this and you will be safe. The excesses of both were always excused by a core national belief that no matter what happens in the world, these were the best investments you could make. Housing prices would always go up, and you will always make more money if you are college educated.
Like any good bubble, this belief– while rooted in truth– gets pushed to unhealthy levels. Thiel talks about consumption masquerading as investment during the housing bubble, as people would take out speculative interest-only loans to get a bigger house with a pool and tell themselves they were being frugal and saving for retirement. Similarly, the idea that attending Harvard is all about learning? Yeah. No one pays a quarter of a million dollars just to read Chaucer. The implicit promise is that you work hard to get there, and then you are set for life. It can lead to an unhealthy sense of entitlement. “It’s what you’ve been told all your life, and it’s how schools rationalize a quarter of a million dollars in debt,” Thiel says.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Barack Obama: incompetently and cruelly implementing the Bush Doctrine

Johann Hari in the Independent on the travesty of current US policy in Pakistan.  I have Pakistani partners and friends - in the past few years as President Obama has intensified Predator attacks ten-fold these affluent, English speaking western oriented people have turned against the US and its allies decisively.  They are enraged and humiliated by the evident indifference that our President shows towards the carnage in their country.  It is radicalizing the country so that the civilized elites can no longer keep control of the radicals.  All in a country with nuclear weapons and upwards of 200 million people, many of whom are technically advanced.

Imagine a distant leader killed more than 2,000 innocent people, and his military commanders responded to evidence that they were civilians by joking that the victims "were not the local men's glee club". Imagine one of the innocent survivors appeared on television, amid the body parts of his son and brother, and pleaded: "Please. We are human beings. Help us. Don't let them do this." Imagine that polling from the attacked country showed that 90 per cent of the people there said civilians were the main victims and they desperately wanted it to stop. Imagine there was then a huge natural flood, and the leader responded by ramping up the attacks. Imagine the country's most respected democratic and liberal voices were warning that these attacks seriously risked causing the transfer of nuclear material to jihadi groups.
Surely, if we meant what we say about Libya, we would be doing anything to stop such behaviour? Wouldn't we be imposing a no-fly zone, or even invading?
Yet, in this instance, we would have to be imposing a no-fly zone on our own governments. Since 2004, the US – with European support – has been sending unmanned robot-planes into Pakistan to illegally bomb its territory in precisely this way. Barack Obama has massively intensified this policy.
His administration claims they are killing al-Qa'ida. But there are several flaws in this argument. The intelligence guiding their bombs about who is actually a jihadi is so poor that, for six months, Nato held top-level negotiations with a man who claimed to be the head of the Taliban – only for him to later admit he was a random Pakistani grocer who knew nothing about the organisation. He just wanted some baksheesh. The US's own former senior military advisers admit that even when the intel is accurate, for every one jihadi they kill, as many as 50 innocent people die. And almost everyone in Pakistan believes these attacks are actually increasing the number of jihadis, by making young men so angry at the killing of their families they queue to sign up.
The country's leading nuclear scientist, Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy, warns me it is even more dangerous still. He says there is a significant danger that these attacks are spreading so much rage and hatred through the country that it materially increases the chances of the people guarding the country’s nuclear weapons smuggling fissile material out to jihadi groups.
So one of the country's best writers, Fatima Bhutto, tells me: "In Pakistan, when we hear Obama's rhetoric on Libya, we can only laugh. If he was worried about the pointless massacre of innocent civilians, there would be an easy first step for him: stop doing it yourself, in my country.
So this was the hope and change?  Incompetence combined with cynicism and arrogance is a deadly potion.  And because our extrasplenderifilous affirmative action President is doing it, no one even cares.  A tragedy...and a travesty.