Monday, October 31, 2011

What do you call a climate scientist that claims global warming over the past decade? A liar

James Delingpole of the Daily Telegraph takes us through the latest fraud.  This time the lies were spread in the WSJ.  So when even the WSJ will wholesale lies that even the coauthor of the cited study rejects (!!!) how do you know what you know?

The lust for power and status is overwhelming.  Break it up, break it all up.

OWS: The Fragmenting of the New Class

This is what happens when you run out of people to loot.

KENNETH ANDERSON: The Fragmenting of the New Class Elites, or, Downward Mobility. “In social theory, OWS is best understood not as a populist movement against the bankers, but instead as the breakdown of the New Class into its two increasingly disconnected parts. The upper tier, the bankers-government bankers-super credentialed elites. But also the lower tier, those who saw themselves entitled to a white collar job in the Virtue Industries of government and non-profits — the helping professions, the culture industry, the virtueocracies, the industries of therapeutic social control, as Christopher Lasch pointed out in his final book, The Revolt of the Elites. The two tiers of the New Class have always had different sources of rents, however. . . . The OWS protestors are a revolt — a shrill, cri-de-coeur wail at the betrayal of class solidarity — of the lower tier New Class against the upper tier New Class. It was, after all, the upper tier New Class, the private-public finance consortium, that created the student loan business and inflated the bubble in which these lower tier would-be professionals borrowed the money. It’s a securitization machine, not so very different from the subprime mortgage machine. The asset bubble pops, but the upper tier New Class, having insulated itself and, as with subprime, having taken its cut upfront and passed the risk along, is still doing pretty well. It’s not populism versus the bankers so much as internecine warfare between two tiers of elites. The downward mobility is real, however, in both income and status. The Cal graduate started out wanting to do ‘sustainable conservation.’ She is now engaged in something closer to subsistence farming.”

Is this the Hope or the Change? ACLU: "Dramatically undermine government integrity"

As the Justice Department sinks into a swamp of scandals it comes up with a nifty way of hiding from scrutiny.

While the Obama administration’s hostility to transparency is well known, its latest scheme would break new ground in government secrecy. The administration’s proposed changes to the Freedom of Information Act guidelines would allow the Department of Justice to deny the existence of documents and prevent judicial oversight.
The ACLU says the rule changes would “dramatically undermine government integrity,” and the Sunlight Foundation, in a post that lays out fifteen ways the new rules would undermine transparency, notes that while most coverage has “focused on the DOJ’s desire to lie about the existence of records… DOJ’s efforts to undermine FOIA go well beyond dishonest requests.” Today’s Washington Examiner editorial explains what is so harmful about the changes:

I'm not sure I would vote for Mitt Romney - in the General

George Will profiles a man who is known by his infinite flexibility in pursuit of personal power.  He is the ultimate RINO - in it only for his own power and glory.  Electing him simply will substitute a totally incompetent centralizer for a competent one.  Which may be worse.  We need to break it all up and therefore the last thing we need is a cynical, unprincipled, power hungry Federal CEO.

Won't someone take this poisoned chalice from us?

Income Inequality, Mix vs. Rate vs. Definition

The following charts (hattip Carpe Diem) show household, family and full time worker income inequality from the 1960s to the present.  All of these charts show the same trend:  increasing inequality until '94 and then a flattening of the trend since then.  Two observations and a prediction:

1. What happened in in the mid 90s?  Female labor force participation which had grown from 37 percent in '60 to almost 60 percent in the mid '90s (BLS) flattened out.  And since a woman's 'full time job' on average was 32 hours and a man's 'full time job' was over 50, the increase in female full time participation by definition increased full time worker inequality until the mix stabilized in the mid 1990s.

2. But this doesn't explain why household income inequality should increase, after all if wives are simply going to work but at a lower number of hours than their husbands, then household inequality should remain constant.  But there was a second social trend:  female headed households.  It used to be that in low income families the husband and wife both worked while in high income families the wife stayed home.  No more. Now low income families often don't have marriages and high income families often have two high earners.   Result much more household inequality.  Again, inequality that flattened out once the proportion of women in the work force stabilized.

Prediction:  Men are doing 'badly', less well educated, with huge proportions in prison or kneecapped by felony convictions for erstwhile misdemeanor.  So  I predict that this decline of men will lead to falling income inequality as their level of work and productivity falls relative to women.

It is quite a paradox:  As our society becomes more 'progressive' it becomes less 'equal'.  And it appears that all that it will take to make the statistics go in the 'right' direction is the social tragedy of the marginalization of millions of young men.  It appears to me that the obsession over income 'equality' statistics has become a tool to justify the shifting of more wealth and power to a state disproportionately inhabited by......women.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Using or disclosing confidential financial information for gain is called 'insider trading'. Using or disclosing political or policy information for gain is legal. Why?

Aside from the obvious reason that statists exempt themselves from most laws that they enforce on the proles,  why should this be so?

MEGAN MCARDLE: Can You Be Guilty Of Insider Trading Without Personal Gain? “Washington is a city built almost entirely on relationships that are fostered by a robust trade in confidential secrets.”

Romney: The Republican Dukakis

No good leader has come out of Massachusetts ever.  And Romney is no exception.  His lust for power is transparent.  As is his willingness to trim his views to whomever he needs at the moment.  He's a bloody drone.

Romney, supposedly the Republican most electable next November, is a recidivist reviser of his principles who is not only becoming less electable, he might damage GOP chances of capturing the Senate: Republican successes down the ticket will depend on the energies of the tea party and other conservatives, who will be deflated by a nominee whose blurry profile in caution communicates only calculated trimming. Republicans may have found their Michael Dukakis, a technocratic Massachusetts governor who takes his bearings from ‘data’ … Has conservatism come so far, surmounting so many obstacles, to settle, at a moment of economic crisis, for THIS?

Occupy Wall Street isn't a Movement, it's a Crime Wave.

Pajama's Media has the story:

Now there is a single web site, OWS Exposed, devoted exclusively to revealing the truth about the disreputable, crime-ridden, far left Occupy Wall Street movement. Check it out, for the news reporting that our major news outlets generally prefer not to do.

OWS Exposed is a brand new site, but it looks like the Occupy movement will be around for a while longer, so watch for content to be added daily.
UPDATE: As always, the Left doesn’t like to be exposed. The people who run OWS Exposed spent much of the day yesterday dealing with denial of service attacks by enraged liberals. The site is working again today.
WTR Update:  The site is down again.  Keep trying.

We're from the government and we're here to strip your life of all of it's joy

I wonder how much we are paying these Poindexters to restate the obvious.  Do they really believe that they are all that stands between America and the Jack o' Lantern Armageddon?  Break it up, break it all up.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Obama proposes changes to the Student Loan Program that make it even worse

When I speak about Obama and much of the left and center of our Federal politicians I use the word 'fascist'.  I use this word after much thought.  Fascism is a philosophy of power.  Under fascism, the goal is to maximize the power of state actors.  If you want to predict a fascist's behavior in power you simply need to identify the policy choice that increases the state's power.  Issues of efficiency or cost or simplicity or common decency are only addressed after the state's need to increase it's power is met.  Higher education is a good example.  The Federal state entered the market in a huge way after WW2, providing direct subsidies and guaranteed loans to students.  The result of all of this money was predictable:  demand and prices for the same service exploded - despite the fact that the program was designed to make college 'more affordable' it has done the opposite.

So many people borrowed so much money (that can't be erased in bankruptcy) that student loans now exceed all credit card debt.  So what did our oh so compassionate leaders do?  They capped payments and term and said that the Feds will pick up the rest.  Which of course is an additional incentive for colleges to increase prices and sell more useless education to young kids while leaving the tax payer with the bill.

And now the Obami are proposing making a horrible system even worse.  Read the below.  It's effect is objectively fascist:  it increases the state's role even more, rewards people who work for the state, increases the wealth of a sector that overwhelmingly gives its financial, rhetorical and electoral support to the state.  And the kids?  Well they get screwed.  You see, they don't have any power.  But by going to college and being cynically exploited by 'egalitarians' they will learn how to screw with the best of them.  Being looted is the best way to learn how to loot,.

The IBR Student Loan Repayment Scheme is a Disaster
                                                     By Andrew Gillen
mixed-news-about-college-loans.jpgThe Income Based Repayment (IBR) program, which took effect in 2009, is designed to lighten the student-loan burden for some students. The basic idea is to limit monthly payments to less than 15% of disposable income. If a student makes these payments for 25 years, any remaining balance is forgiven, meaning that taxpayers essentially pay the rest off. President Obama just announced his intention to lower this to 10% of disposable income and 20 years of repayment before forgiveness. These proposed changes, as well as IBR in general, are bad for the following 6 reasons.
1. IBR treats the symptom rather than the disease.
Perhaps the most fundamental reason to end IBR is that it is treating the symptom (excessive college debt) rather than the disease (excessive college costs). IBR is essentially trying to fix the problem of students borrowing too much for college... without stopping students from borrowing too much for college. All it does is say that the government will pay for some portion of it in the distant future. To steal a line fromWolfgang Münchau (though on a different topic):
“This is the equivalent of putting explosives into a can, before kicking it down the road.”
Higher college costs are the ultimate problem, and IBR does nothing to address that. Moreover, if the goal is merely to try and make college more affordable, there are much better ways... accomplish that than making vague promises of what we’ll do two decades from now.
2. IBR rewards current politicians while sticking future ones with the bill.
No one has any idea what IBR will cost in the future. With a typical bill, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates costs and revenues for a 10-year window, and this is the consensus/baseline estimate of what a program will cost. Since the government won’t have to incur any costs (loss of revenue) from forgiving loans for 10-25 years, IBR is being treated as a free program in spite of the fact that it could end up costing billions of dollars a few decades from now. This allows current politicians to claim to be helping students, while forcing future politicians to figure out how to pay for it. Needless to say, that is not a healthy way to make policy. If current politicians want to help borrowers, they should be the ones sacrificing other priorities to do so.
 3. IBR encourages people to think they won’t have to repay debt.
IBR essentially says to people, “Don’t worry about how much you borrow, you won’t need to repay it.” This should sound familiar, as a big driver of the housing bubble was the perception that you wouldn’t have to repay that risky mortgage because your house would be worth more in a few years and you could just refinance. One would think that after all of the collateral damage from the housing bubble collapse, we would not encourage people to think that their debts will disappear without having to be repaid. But one would be wrong when it comes to IBR.
4. IBR can increase total student repayments.
The standard (non-IBR) repayment plan entails paying off your loan over 10 years. By lengthening this to 20 or 25 years, it is possible that IBR could end up costing some students more over the course of their loan.
5. IBR is social engineering.
While regular people need to make payments for 25 years before loan forgiveness, borrowers who take a job in the public sector or with some non-profits have their debt forgiven after 10 years rather than 25. The message from the government is unmistakable - -we want you to get a public or non-profit job. Why does the government think it knows best where people should be employed or if such public service jobs provide more value to society than private sector ones?
6. IBR is unjust.
Suppose we have two identical students. One decides he can’t afford pricey Ivy U, and attends lower-cost State U instead, graduating with modest student loans which he repays. The other borrows recklessly to attend Ivy U, enters IBR, and has his loans forgiven. The end result is that the State U graduate pays for both his and Ivy U’s loans. How is this just?
Overall IBR is a terrible program. The sooner we end it the better

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Oh Poo

This is why I gave up parody.

Fox News, meanwhile, reports on an effort to push nanny-statism even further: "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."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

L'audacite Academe

So the oh so 'progressive' universities have spent the last 30 years quadrupling their real prices which have been funded by exploding student debt.  Now that the gravy train is running out and they are facing the inevitable crash, their minions have come up with the brilliant idea of 'forgiving' all student debt.  Let's work out the economics, shall we?

The loans were taken out by kids who then gave them to the colleges who used them to make their comfortable baby boomer tenured faculty and staffs more comfortable and bigger.  Now the Feds will 'eat' some unspecified component of the trillion which means that tax payers will 'eat' it.  In other words, older 'progressives' got all the money and younger working people will get the bill.  Sweet.  And people wonder why I call our system of government fascist.  To him who has the power, go the spoils.

As President Obama prepares to issue an unspecified executive order on student loan debt – which is now just shy of $1 trillion – Bill Frezza explains why the left is dying for a partisan fight on this issue:
In the realm of economic stimulus proposals, none is as audacious, as Machiavellian, and as transparently designed to buy the votes of a critical electoral demographic than the proposal to forgive all student loans. Even if it fails, as it likely will, the seamless coordination between members of Congress, leftist advocacy groups, and the media to try to sell this idea is a perfect example of how brilliantly certain factions play their hand in the high-stakes game of crafting the dominant political narrative.

As goes Rhode Island, so goes the Fed

It'll just take a little longer.  Wally Mead explains:

Let’s be crystal clear about this.  To tell a 50 year old pretty lies about the soundness of a pension plan is one of the most wicked and irresponsible things you can do without actually shedding blood; people who believe these phony promises will not make the extra savings, work the extra years or otherwise take steps to protect themselves until it is too late.  Telling those pretty lies is exactly what Rhode Island’s establishment has been doing for some time; it is what Ostrich Party legislators, trade unionists, journalists and governors are still doing across much of the country.

Reasonable reforms could have made things much less painful, but the unions typically threaten to destroy the careers of any politician who tampers with the pension system until the truck actually starts falling over the cliff.  Now the long fall has begun and Rhode Island and its retirees are caught in a cascade of bad news, lawsuits, and financial crisis.  No Rhode Island retiree can rely on getting the benefits promised; nobody can predict how this will all work out.
That is not the kind of uncertainty that 70 year old retired teachers and firefighters should have to face.  A decent society would not let that happen — but the blue social model in its decadent late shark-jumping years of fake promises is anything but decent. Political chicanery, fuzzy math, denial, rhetoric, ambition: this is how a union betrays its members, this is how politicians betray their constituents.

Friday, October 21, 2011

How can this be? Obama HATES Wall Street, doesn't he?

Sadly the President's Rhetoric seldom comports with his behavior.  And a complaisant press elite is reluctant to report on the gaping chasm between his words and deeds.

It's all so progressive.

…Obama has brought in more money from employees of banks, hedge funds and other financial service companies than all of the GOP candidates combined, according to a Washington Post analysis of contribution data. The numbers show that Obama retains a persistent reservoir of support among Democratic financiers who have backed him since he was an underdog presidential candidate four years ago.

Obama also has raised more money from Romney’s former firm, Bain Capital, than has Romney.  There is more at the link.
As Dr. Evil would say:  'Riiigggghhhht'.

So where did the disaster come from anyway?

The Feds, Natch.  Actually this understates the damage Federal policy caused because a large part of the bubble was driven by regulations forcing subprime lending and of course the Federal tax subsidy drives home prices much higher than they would be under an un-subsidized market.  Everything the Feds touch turns to crap.  Everything.

Republicans take the House and K Street goes into recession

It's tough being rent seeker's representatives when no one is producing more rent seeking opportunities.  Which is why lobbyists love the left - they produce more 'inventory'.

THE HILL: Influence Industry Officially In A Funk. “After a banner year in 2010, many of K Street’s biggest shops have seen their lobbying revenue decline this year, a trend that has continued in recent months.” Good.

"They are defecating on our doorstep"

I hope that OWS expands (metastasizes?) until it's effluvia covers all of our nation's oh so hip, oh so progressive centers.  There's nothing like poo in the streets to turn a man towards conservatism.

“THEY ARE DEFECATING ON OUR DOORSTEPS:” Local Residents Hate Wall Street Occupiers. Funny, remember how the Tea Party protesters left things cleaner than when they arrived? That’s the difference between a bourgeois revolution and the usual suspects. One suspects it’s also an indication of how the country would fare under their respective programs. . . .

And then there is this:  the left is big on moral equivalency.

INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: Sliming The Tea Party. “The president makes an odious comparison between the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, unable to tell the difference between those who work to change the system and those who would destroy it.”

And here's more:  

FROM HOPE-AND-CHANGE TO RAPE-AND-CHANGE? Occupy Baltimore to sex assault victims: We support you in reporting the abuse, but we don’t encourage the involvement of police in our community. “The news here isn’t really that they’d rather have a ‘Security Committee’ deal with alleged rapists than the local P.D. The whole point of starting a utopian commune is that it’s as insular as possible. No, the news here is that there’s apparently enough of a problem that they felt obliged to publish a pamphlet dealing with the subject at all. I confess, I haven’t been to any tea-party rallies so you’ll have to tell me: Are there a lot of ‘here’s what to do if you’re raped today’ fliers circulating at those too?”
This seems to be a problem a lot of places, not just Baltimore. It’s almost as if they’re attracting a different sort of people than the Tea Parties do.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dodd Frank preferences Fannie and Freddie

The primary purpose of new regulation is not to eliminate 'abuses' but to increase  the power of state actors and their private allies at the expense of the more diffuse and less powerful general interest.  Exhibit number 1:  The Dodd Frank financial regulation bill.  The administration has issued new regulations that preference Fannie, Freddie and FHA - The very entities that were at the center of the housing bubble and collapse.  Why?  They're part of the power coalition.  To the rent seekers of Washington good policy means policy where they get the goods.  John Berlau explains:

Yet Fannie and Freddie are bigger than ever, securitizing nine out of ten home mortgages and receiving unlimited guarantees from the taxpayer, thanks to the Obama administration’s Christmas Eve bailout of 2009. And one provision of Dodd-Frank has not only slowed the momentum of reforming the GSEs, but threatens to make them even bigger.

Dodd-Frank’s rules on “qualified residential mortgages” — as currently proposed in a joint regulation by banking agencies, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Securities and Exchange Commission — aggrandize the GSEs by putting shackles on their private-sector competitors. The regulation sets overly strict rules for downpayments for mortgages to be securitized, but then exempts from these requirements any home loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration or purchased by Fannie or Freddie.

It is impossible to stop this rent seeking behavior in Washington.  The Federal Government is too big, too powerful and too far away to control any more.  The multi-trillion dollar interests sitting in the beltway overwhelm common sense in the desperate scrabble for fabulous wealth.  The only thing that will save us is to break it up and return to a policy of competition for good governance among the states.

The alternative is another more massive collapse.  Like the one that Dodd Frank is building while it loudly claims to be saving us.  If we allow these rent seekers to do it to us again, then we deserve the disaster that is sure to befall us.

But our kids don't.

Obami caught altering past documents

In left's post modern world view all knowledge is contingent and constructed so I guess they are just doing a little 'knowledge renovation'.  So how do you know what you know?

SOLYNDRA UPDATE: CNBC: Energy Department Altered Loan-Related Releases. “Someone affiliated with the Department of Energy has been going back to make changes to press releases posted on the Internet weeks and months ago, CNBC has found. The changes occurred in two press releases from the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program — the same program that has been the center of controversy surrounding the failed solar company Solyndra. Both were changed to remove the name of a company that has received negative press attention in recent days, SunPower, and replace it with the name of another company, NRG Energy. Generally, it is not considered correct procedure to revise old press releases retroactively on the Web.” Seems kinda fishy.
UPDATE: A reader notes that this isn’t the first time the Obama Administration has done this sort of thing. “It perplexed me at the time that this wasn’t seen as a big deal. I’ve often called Obama’s administration ‘Orwellian’ because of its rhetoric, but this– altering past documents, even a past administration’s documents? That’s so beyond the pale, I can scarcely believe it’s true. Totalitarian governments get away with this kind of thing because no one will call them on it. That this now appears to be a pattern by this administration is genuinely shocking– and I don’t mean ‘shocked, shocked’ shocking– at least to me. What other document-altering, history-rewriting has this administration done that we don’t know about (to do with Solyndra, Fast & Furious, and who knows what else)? And what does it say about the state of our fourth estate that this administration dares to do this kind of thing– not just once, and perhaps habitually?”

President Goldman Sachs

Not that you could find this out from our fearless Media elites.  They are too busy reliving their days at the barricades.
PRESIDENT GOLDMAN SACHS: Obama Has More Cash From Wall Street Than All GOP Hopefuls Combined.“Obama has brought in more money from employees of banks, hedge funds and other financial service companies than all of the GOP candidates combined, according to a Washington Post analysis of contribution data.”

At $38,500 Obama is charging more to get into one of his fundraisers than the Median American Annual Income

It's all so progressive.

Kevin Zeese observed to that “President Obama, with his one billion dollar campaign, is holding fundraisers that cost $38,500 to get into.” Zeese noted that the fundraiser cost is “higher than the median individual income for Americans, which is $1,000 less.” He added that such a fundraiser “puts Obama out of touch with the people and very much in touch with the money elite.”

But businesses need to buy protection and influence so they pay.

At this point, Wall Streeters really do not like Barack Obama. It has been a long time since I have met one who still actually supports him. But the extent of the pain of Dodd-Frank depends on regulations that have yet to be written by executive branch agencies that report to the White House. The big financial firms know that their future profitability requires that President Obama influence those regulations, and he is exploiting that for all it is worth.
This, loyal readers, is “regulatory capture” in action.
Not that anybody from the “Occupy” movement or the New York Times will look at it that way.

It's the key to the fascist state:  exercise power not so that the elite will love you but so like a beaten cur they both fear you and look to you for their sustenance.

It's how Republics die.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Washington DC: The Moscow of America

Moscow is much richer than the rest of Russia because it's stranglehold on power allows it to appropriate wealth produced elsewhere.  Washington DC is much richer than the rest of America for the same reason.  Sadly, replacing Barack Obama and Harry Reid with more effective managers like Mitt Romney and Mitch McConnell will just make the Federal machine more efficient in collecting economic rents from the rest of us.  It's all so progressive.

Federal employees whose compensation averages more than $126,000 and the nation’s greatest concentration of lawyers helped Washington edge out San Jose as the wealthiest U.S. metropolitan area, government data show.
Imagine that, average fed comp is more than double the average prole's - and that's without adjusting for job security (not to mention productivity, which for most Fed workers is effectively negative).  All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Five myths about healthy eating

Wapo debunks five key myths about healthy eating.  As always all five myths serve to justify state intervention in people's lives.  The purpose of 'public health' these days (and climate science btw) is to justify taking liberty away from people.

Is the long progressive nightmare coming to and end?

The Progressive movement was founded on the belief that the state could manipulate people's lives and choices to make them better.  Its greatest policy 'triumph' was alcohol prohibition - the assertion that the State could manage the private behavior of hundreds of millions.  Forced by disaster to quit that 'triumph', the progressive dreams of manipulating individual behavior stayed alive with ever more draconian punishments targeted at less 'popular' drugs, savaging tens of millions of lives for in effect committing 'crimes against the state'.  Now there is evidence that the nation is slowly waking up from its long progressive nightmare.  For the first time in history more people support legalizing Marijuana than oppose it.  I think this tracks the general disillusionment with the ability of the state to manipulate humans (except to gather rents for it's supporters).  If so, it is a wonderful portent.

Of liberty.  Faster, please.

Canadian columnist Neil Reynolds writing in the Globe and Mail:

"The American war on drugs – or, more generically, the global war on drugs – can’t be won. The more intensely that governments wage it, the more certain is the defeat. This is because risk determines reward. More pressure on the supply of drugs means more risk and more profits. More profits mean more drugs and more violence. The proof is in the body count across Mexico, across Central and South America and, indeed, across the Western Hemisphere."

"Ironically, drugs became a significant problem only when governments declared war on them. Although Richard Nixon cited drugs as “public enemy No. 1” when he declared war in 1971, the statistical evidence doesn’t support the pronouncement. The U.S. incarceration rate, now the highest in the world, was one-eighth the problem 40 years ago than it is now. From 1920 through 1970, the rate remained flat: with 0.1 per cent of Americans in prison at any one time. By 1980, the rate doubled: 0.2 per cent. By 1990, it doubled again: 0.5 per cent. By 2010, it reached a record high: 0.8 per cent. This exceeds two million people – roughly 25 per cent of whom are serving time for drugs."

"The consequences of the war on drugs are appalling, from excruciating personal suffering to intractable national tragedy. It’s enough to note that the death toll in Mexico alone exceeded 15,000 last year, bringing the number of people killed in the past five years to nearly 40,000."

"Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, incidentally, says legalizing drugs would save the United States $44-billion a year in law-enforcement costs and generate another $42-billion in tax revenue – finally, after the longest war in American history, a peace dividend that could buy a lot of help for a lot of troubled people."

Related: Support for legalization of marijuana in the U.S. is at an all-time historical high based on a new Gallup poll (see chart above), and according to CBS News: "If the steady climb in public support for marijuana legalization continues at its current pace, politicians will soon have to address the laws that fly in the face of that movement in opinion."

Stop me before I cut again!

In the Federal fantasyland 'cuts' never cut.  And 'reforms' achieve the opposite of their claimed effects.  But that's not a bug of the system, it is its most important feature.

The Police: Not one your side, on their side #999

It's getting really old, isn't it?

COMING CLEAN ON “DIRTY DUIs” IN CONTRA COSTA COUNTY: “A whistle-blower tells how a private detective arranged for men to be arrested for drunk driving at the behest of their ex-wives and their lawyers — and that entrapment using decoys was only one of many alleged misdeeds.”

Monday, October 17, 2011

I thought NYC had a zero tolerance policy

I guess just not for people who are on the Statists' side.  And of course the Police belong to a government worker's union.  Remember gang:  the police aren't on your side, they're on their side.   From NRO at the OWS.

Speaking of vandalism, I witnessed a bit of it on Saturday, when a protester denied the use of the facilities at a local pizza shop began tearing up merchandise and throwing it in the garbage. The owner caught the vandal outside and put him in a bear-hug, yelling for somebody to call the police. The police eventually showed up and, of course, did something close to nothing. A few union goons loitering outside the pizza shop began to taunt the owner: “You feel better now? You got that out of your system?” The shop owner was an immigrant, who probably came to this country under the mistaken notion that the police would be here to protect his property and that random acts of destruction would be at least frowned upon by his fellow citizens.

Shale Gas is transforming the energy world

Here's the chart.  And the upward growth shows no signs of stopping.  And this was all done with out a dime of Federal Subsidies.  The real risk is that all of the vested interests will combine to stop it.  Because the one thing that the Feds do well is destroy.

Matt Ridley has a great article here.  Key Graf:

The impact of shale gas in America is already huge. Gas prices have decoupled from oil prices and are half what they are in Europe. Chemical companies, which use gas as a feedstock, are rushing back from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Mexico. Cities are converting their bus fleets to gas. Coal projects are being shelved; nuclear ones abandoned.

Virtually all of the people that we lionize on a day to day basis have used illegal drugs.  We cheer them and then turn around and throw millions of people in prison for doing the same thing.  Our nation is a moral pygmy and our leaders are too cynical to change it.  Carpe Diem reports on a great piece by Glenn Greenwald.
Fascinating commentary from Salon's Glenn Greenwald about Steve Jobs' illegal drug use:

"It’s fascinating to juxtapose America’s reverence for Steve Jobs’ accomplishments and its draconian drug policy with this, from the New York Times‘ obituary of Jobs:
Jobs told a reporter that taking LSD was one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life. He said there were things about him that people who had not tried psychedelics — even people who knew him well, including his wife — could never understand.
Unlike many people who have enjoyed success, Jobs is not saying that he was able to succeed despite his illegal drug use; he’s saying his success is in part — in substantial part — because of those illegal drugs (he addedthat Bill Gates would “be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once”).  These quotes have been around for some time but have been only rarely discussed in the recent hagiographies of Jobs: a notable omission given that he himself praised those experiences as an integral part of his identity and one of the most important things he ever did.  

America’s harsh prohibitionist drug policies are grounded in the premise that the prohibited substances have little or no redeeming value and cannot be used without life-destroying consequences. Yet the evidence of its falsity is undeniable. Here is one of the most admired men in America, its greatest contemporary industrialist, hailing one of the most scorned of these substances as integral to his success and intellectual and personal growth.  

In short, the deceit at the heart of America’s barbaric drug policy — that these substances are such unadulterated evils that adults should be put in cages for voluntarily using them — is more glaring than ever.  In light of his comments about LSD, it’s rather difficult to reconcile America’s adoration for Steve Jobs with its ongoing obsession with prosecuting and imprisoning millions of citizens (mostly poor and minorities) for doing what Jobs, Obama, George W. Bush, Michael Phelps and millions of others have done.

Obviously, most of these banned substances — like alcohol, gambling, sex, junk food consumption, prescription drug use and a litany of other legal activities — can create harm to the individual and to others when abused (though America’s solution for drug users — prison — also creates rather substantial harm to the drug user and to others, including their spouses, parents and children: at least as much harm as, and usually substantially more than, the banned drugs themselves).  But no rational person can doubt that these substances can also be used responsibly and constructively; just study Steve Jobs’ life if you doubt that.

What about a society that continues to imprison millions of human beings for using substances that vast numbers of people in the nation have secretly used and enjoyed, or which empowers people with the Oval Office, or reveres people like Steve Jobs, who have done the same? Even leaving aside the rather significant (and shameful) fact that drug laws are enforced with overwhelming disproportionality against racial minorites, what possible justification is there for putting someone in a cage for using a substance they choose to use without any evidence that they’ve harmed anyone else or even risked harm to anyone else?"

Let's Occupy Yankee Stadium

From Carpe Diem

In today's NY Times, Nicholas Kristof sympathizes with the Occupy Wall Street movement by citing various examples of income inequality including this one:

"As my New York Times colleague Catherine Rampell noted a few days ago ("Bankers' Salaries versus Everyone Else's"), in 1981, the average salary in the securities industry in New York City was twice the average in other private sector jobs. At last count, in 2010, it was 5.5 times as much. (In case you want to gnash your teeth, the average is now $361,330.)"

Here's another factoid:

In 1988 (earliest year available from the USA Today Salaries Databases), the average salary of a baseball player on the New York Yankees ($700,339) was 28 times the average salary in other private sector jobs in New York City (about $25,000).  By 2010, the average salary for the Yankees (if you want to gnash your teeth, the average was$8,253,000) was 124 times the average private sector salary in NYC ($66,120).  

Where's the outrage about "excessive" salaries for Yankees players, which have increased relative to average New York City salaries much more than salaries for NYC bankers?  What about an "Occupy Yankee Stadium" protest?

Why no Occupy Hollywood?

Because Hollywood is a reliable member of the statist coalition, therefore their sins are overlooked.  George Soros, Warren Buffet and Goldman Sachs have modeled their political PR on the success of the deeply corrupt Hollywood elite.  Because in a fascist state it's not what you do but whose side you're on that counts.

WHERE IS “OCCUPY HOLLYWOOD?” Reader Stephen Judkins writes:
Here’s something I posted to my facebook page. It was, in part, inspired by watching Travis Smiley on PBS talking to blacks about racism in Hollywood. It was also inspired by some of your posts on Instapundit.
It’s dominated by a bunch of white men.
Sexual harrassment is commonplace for women getting jobs.
There are few opportunities for minorities, especially in the top jobs.
Physical appearance guides hiring.
They squeeze subsidies and tax breaks from local goverments under the threat of moving jobs overseas.
Top talent rakes in tens of millions of dollars while plenty of work is done by unpaid interns.
They practice shady bookkeeping to prevent paying people.
Why aren’t we hearing about an Occupy Hollywood group?
Well, I’ve certainly called for one. And I’m not alone:
Hollywood accounting is crooked on a scale that would make any Wall Street firm blush. David Prowse, the very tall actor who wore the Darth Vader costume in the original Star Wars trilogy, recently remarked in an interview that according to the studio, Return of the Jedi has never made a nickel of profit, so Prowse has never been paid any residuals. The film grossed over half a billion dollars worldwide, but the studio rigged the books to show zero net profit, almost thirty years later. In the course of explaining why this sort of thing is commonplace, Atlantic magazine notes that even Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is currently on the books as a net loss.
As a fascinating article at Film School Rejects chronicles, movie studios engage in all sorts of viciously “unfair” practices, such as using their muscle to virtually extort theater owners, stealing intellectual property, and marketing their lesser films with fraudulent “reviews.” Any of these practices from a Wall Street firm would prompt a rush of patchouli-scented basement-dwelling youth that could only be stopped with pepper spray and plastic nets.

Media Double Standard

The Tea Party was cause for much alarm by the establishment.  We were said to be 'racist' and 'prone to violence' and 'dangerous'.  Yet despite millions of people at protests, there was precious little evidence of any of that.  Fast forward to the Occupy Wall Street Protests.  Here's a photo that if it had been taken by tea partiers would have led every front page.  But because the OWS are statist tools, you won't see it anywhere but here.  The good news:  the establishment media is dying a bit more every day.  As Glenn Reynolds might say:  "faster, please".

Friday, October 14, 2011

Why Shill for the Cronies? Because it pays so damn well.

Krugman shilled for Enron before their cronyism became unfashionable (did you know they were the initial corporate sponsors of 'global warming'?) and now we find that Stiglitz did it for Fannie and Freddie.  It's odd the way that these dedicated, committed, left wing paragons turn out to be money whores, isn't it?  And how all of their whoring conveniently disappears down the MSM's memory hole.

Speaking before a group of protesters in Zuccotti Park, Nobel economics prize winner Joseph Stiglitz urged on the crowd, telling them they are “right to be indignant.” Professor Stiglitz goes on to explain, correctly in my view, that we have a financial system of socialized losses and privatized gains.
What the good professor fails to mention is only a few years ago, for what I understand was a nice paycheck, he was denying this very fact. In 2004, along with Jonathan and Peter Orszag, Professor Stiglitz wrote a paper for Fannie Mae in which he “estimated” that the “risk to the government from a potential default on GSE debt is effectively zero.” The paper goes on to argue “that the expected cost to the government of providing an explicit government guarantee on $1 trillion in GSE debt is just $2 million.” Now I understand his Nobel is in economics, not math, but $2 million sounds no where near the actual cost so far of $160 billion.
Certainly there was a time where some could be forgiven for not really understanding the nature of Fannie and Freddie, but this was published after Freddie’s accounting scandals came to light and while Fannie itself was being investigated.
So yes, you do have a right to be indignant. Especially at those “academics” who sold their work to the highest bidder defending the system and now pretend to be shocked at how everything turned out.

By the way, I was witness to the first GSE collapse back in the 90s:  Farm Credit.  At that time it was obvious that all of GSEs (Fannie, Freddie, Sally, Farm Credit) were disasters waiting to happen.  Even more interesting, the Farm Credit bust was valued at about 4% of assets, or 4 billion dollars.  Fannie and Freddie cost 160 on 2 Trillion - which is 8%.

OWS: Just like me at 12

Daniel Foster says it all:

Yesterday Patrick shared this about the OWS protesters:
‘I’ve been here for 12 days, and I’ve put on 5 pounds,’ he said, sitting on the ground in front of a handmade sign that said ‘Class War Ahead.’ ‘I’m eating better than I do at home.’
All he had to do was amble toward a ramshackle cluster of tables and boxes in the middle of the park and, without paying a cent, grab a slice of pizza or a warm slab of homemade vegancasserole. Last Thursday he had encountered ‘a bunch of Katz’s Deli sandwiches,’ he said. ‘That was good.’
[. . .]
Tom Hintze, 24, was volunteering in Zuccotti Park last week. ‘Just now there was a big UPS delivery,’ he said. ‘We don’t know where it comes from. It just appears, and we eat it.’
We don’t know where it comes from. It just appears, and we eat it. What a perfect synecdoche for a worldview. It puts me in mind of writing a pamphlet entitled “I, Vegan Casserole,” but truth be known, I don’t want to know where those things come from.
Now, this morning the news that the eviction of the occupiers at (privately owned) Zuccotti Park — that their filth might be pressure-washed away — has been temporarily postponed, in part because of a frantic, last minute cleanup effort launched by the OWSers themselves:
Around 5 a.m., a collection of mops and brooms had stood in a plastic bin on Liberty Street. Nearby were 27 buckets of soapy water. A woman handed out white rubber gloves to more than a dozen people. They walked to the west end of the park, at Trinity Place, and announced they were going to begin a sweep, picking up and discarding objects that did not belong to anyone.
[. . .]
Overflowing garbage cans attracted rodents, he wrote, gas-fired generators posed a fire hazard, bad smells abounded, the lack of toilets made things worse and complaints were mounting from disgruntled people who live and work nearby.
“In light of this and the ongoing trespassing of the protesters,” Mr. Clark wrote, “we are again requesting the assistance of the New York City Police Department to help clear the park.”
The protesters feared that Mr. Bloomberg’s announcement that the park would be cleaned was a prelude to their being banned permanently. An appeal quickly went out on Facebook and other sites calling for brooms, mops and various cleaning supplies as well as volunteers willing to donate elbow grease. After cleaning the place themselves, the protesters planned to form a human chain around the park to try to keep police officers from entering. Supporters had been urged to go to the park at 6 a.m. Friday “to defend the occupation from eviction.”
They don’t pay for their meals and they don’t know where they come from. They don’t own Zuccotti park, don’t pay rent there, and act as if the request — from the the people that do own the park — that they clean up their mess is a totalitarian imposition. Finally, the bare minimum (a measly dozen, according to the story, among the scores) rouse themselves at the last possible minute to a half-assed cleanup job.
This all reminds me of nothing so much as myself, age 12, “occupying” my bedroom, which was and is privately owned by one Mrs. Foster.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

So how DO you know what you know?

Over the past 50 years the amount of regulation placed upon public company financial statements and disclosures has grown exponentially - I don't know whether it's 100 fold or 1000 fold but a bunch. The goal: to ensure that accounting information 'fairly' reflects the underlying economic substance of the entities and to root out fraud and misrepresentation. This was the raison d'etre behind Sarbox and all of the myriad new 'disclosure' rules.

Economists have a rather simple statistical analysis that they use to measure the amount of falsification in financial statements. Essentially last digits in many types of data series follow a non-random distribution with one being the most common and 9 being the least. This structured variation in last digits is called Benford's law. Unsurprisingly (to statisticians and economists at least), over the past 50 years of increasing state intervention and regulation, public company financial statements have varied more and more from expected, indicating increasing levels of falsification. According to Benford's law, all of our regulation and extra auditing has made financial information less accurate - probably because all of the incredible complexity provides many more opportunities to hide, shade or 'interpret' information in ways that benefit the companies and perhaps the state sponsored actors that 'supervise' them. Below is the summary statistic. You can read more about it here. The funny thing is that none of this is new or particularly earth shattering. Just not reported.

So the question remains:  how do you know what you know?

Democrats: Now the Party of Protection

An amazing and tragic turn for a party that once was synonymous with Free Trade.  Democrats have increasingly become nothing more than Federal Power junkies.  And free trading interferes with their exercise of power.  A bad sign for the future.  You can see the breakdown in the NYT here.

Our most 'progressive' sector's impact upon debt

It's odd, the very progressive higher education establishment is also brutally elitist and venal to a fault.  Here's the evidence of the massive burden that they've put on their marks, I mean their students.  It is also an indicator of the massive and well deserved collapse that they will experience.  Couldn't happen to a nastier group of people.
Higher Education Bubble

California: fascist is as fascist does

It's fascinating the way that in the 'progressive' world the state can ban anything it wants.  The only bulwark against these oppressors?  A piece of paper written by long dead slave owning Christianists.

CALIFORNIA GOES AFTER RAVERS. “Can you ban a style of music? California Assemblywoman Fiona Ma learned the hard way that doing so might not be so easy when she tried to ban electronic rave music. . . . Despite the inability to ban rave music outright, Ma was able to squelch aspects of rave culture like LED gloves and pacifiers by keeping the pressure on event organizers with Assembly Bill 74 (formerly the ‘Anti-Raves Act’ ), which became law on Oct. 9, 2011 when CA Governor Jerry Brown signed it.”

Will: Occupy Wall Street's Meta Theory: Washington is grotesquely corrupt and insufficiently powerful

Someone could make a career of simply chronicling the intellectual incoherence of the left.

In scale, OWS’ demonstrations-cum-encampments are to Tea Party events as Pittsburg, Kan., is to Pittsburgh, Pa. So far, probably fewer people have participated in all of them combined than attended just one Tea Party rally, that of Sept. 12, 2009, on the Washington Mall. In comportment, OWS is to the Tea Party as Lady Gaga is to Lord Chesterfield: Blocking the Brooklyn Bridge was not persuasion modeled on Tea Party tactics. 

Still, OWS’ defenders correctly say it represents progressivism’s spirit and intellect. Because it embraces spontaneity and deplores elitism, it eschews deliberation and leadership. Hence its agenda, beyond eliminating one of the seven deadly sins (avarice), is opaque. Its meta-theory is, however, clear: Washington is grotesquely corrupt and insufficiently powerful. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Chart that will get Obama Fired

What fascinates me is how the Obami made the huge mistake of confusing incentives and stimulus.  Incentives drive investing behavior while stimulus, at best, drives consumption.  The delta between our current anemic recovery and a real recovery is that investment, which usually is roaring back at this point in the recovery is nowhere to be found.  The Obami passed trillions to their pals and provoked a swingeing capital strike which will destroy 'progressive' pretentions for a generation.  Quite an achievement for our national affirmative action hire.

Note the inflection point

Things got better and better for us so long as our economic freedom increased.  Then we elected the 'compassionate conservative' and replaced him with the 'clueless leftist' and things have gone to heck in a hand basket.  Now we are looking at a choice between another RINO (Romney) and the same clueless leftist.  It that's the choice, we'll be down below Moldova in a decade.  Our Federal state is a nightmare.

Smoot: Meet Hawley

This gives the real state of play in our political system:  Dems plus Rinos equal two thirds of the political class.  Only Boehner and Cantor's balls will keep another beggar thy neighbor trade war at bay.  Pray they are made of steel.

The Senate has passed, with bipartisan support, a measure that would allow the United States to unilaterally punish China for its practice of artificially undervaluing its currency. The measure will proceed to the House, where it is presumably dead on arrival. House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) has called the bill “dangerous” and argued that it could lead to a trade war. Furthermore, though the White House has repeatedly expressed opposition to such a measure in the past, it has yet to clarify a position of late. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) told reporters today that it was “critical” for the Obama administration to take a stand on the measure. “What I would like to see is where the administration is. Clearly they’ve got concerns as well,” he said. 

Douglas Holtz-Eakin explains here why the Senate bill is “a facile, politically clumsy way to address a situation that deserves a real solution.”

Oh how the Singular have fallen

More Obama Forest Gumpery

"Stupid is as stupid does" - Hiroshima Apology Edition.  BHO is really giving affirmative action a bad name.

“SMART DIPLOMACY:” Wikileaks Cable: Obama Tried to Apologize to Japan for the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? “A heretofore secret cable dated Sept. 3, 2009, was recently released by WikiLeaks. Sent to Secretary of State Clinton, it reported Japan’s Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka telling U.S. Ambassador John Roos that ‘the idea of President Obama visiting Hiroshima to apologize for the atomic bombing during World War II is a “nonstarter.”’ The Japanese feared the apology would be exploited by anti-nuclear groups and those opposed to the defensive alliance between Japan and the U.S.”

NY Times on the Filibuster: "That was then, this is now, wait! that was now and this is then and now is then, right?"

The NYT is so transparently partisan that one can hardly see them any more.

Two Papers in One!
  • "The filibuster, which allows 41 senators to delay action indefinitely, is a rough instrument that should be used with caution. But its existence goes to the center of the peculiar but effective form of government America cherishes. . . . A decade ago, this page expressed support for tactics that would have gone even further than the 'nuclear option' in eliminating the power of the filibuster. At the time, we had vivid memories of the difficulty that Senate Republicans had given much of Bill Clinton's early agenda. But we were still wrong. To see the filibuster fully, it's obviously a good idea to have to live on both sides of it."--editorial, New York Times, March 29, 2005
  • "Democrats scored a small but significant victory for the cause of progress in the Senate late last week when they voted to prohibit one of the many delaying tactics that keep the chamber tied up in pointless partisan arguments. It was a long way from desperately needed filibuster reform, but it showed that sufficiently frustrated senators can take action to prevent the Senate from being a total dead weight. . . . Fear of ending up in the minority makes majority parties in the Senate avoid sensible rules. But ending the abuse of the chamber's traditions--ultimately the far more significant abuse of the filibuster--would benefit both parties, and the country as a whole."--editorial, New York Times, Oct. 11, 2011