Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Power Mad come in many different forms

Dieticians, for example.

NORTH CAROLINA DIETETIC BOARD: If you blog about diet, you are acting as an unlicensed dietitian. Really, guys? Really? My advice to the people and legislature of North Carolina — save some money, abolish the board, and quit licensing dietitians anyway.

Government crowding out real community

Ross Douthat of the NYT makes the point that the more the state does, the less room there is for truly voluntary community action.  One of the things that differentiates the US from Europe is our thriving independent, charitable sector.  In their rush to emulate the (Bankrupt) European model, the Obami are damaging civil society.   Take the HealthCare Reform bill for an example.


Good News: Residential Segregation Declining Rapidly

I think intermarriage rates are soaring too.  Some day, we'll even get rid of 'affirmative action'.


As the figure shows, as of 1970, almost 80 percent of either whites or blacks would have had to move neighborhoods in order to achieve an even distribution of whites and blacks within the average metropolitan area. By 1990, that dissimilarity measure had dropped to 66 percent; it is 54 percent today. We are very far from living in a perfectly integrated society, but our nation is far more integrated than it was 40 years ago.
The progress over the last decade has been particularly dramatic. Every one of the 10 largest metropolitan areas experienced drops in both dissimilarity and isolation of 3.6 points or more. The isolation index is below 45 percent in every one of those 10 largest areas, except for Chicago. Long among the most segregated places in America, the Windy City has experienced a particularly dramatic decline in segregation since 2000.
Read the whole thing.

All you need to eliminate the income inequality 'problem' is to destroy the economy

Which seems to be the Obami's strategy.

#NARRATIVEFAIL: Tax Foundation: Income Inequality Is Lower Now Than It Was Under Clinton.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The "Sustainable" event horizon

At some point it will become impossible to use a sentence that does not use the word sustainable.  That is when civilization will collapse.  But don't worry, the collapse will be sustainable.

The Sucker Chart

The people that lie in the divergence of these two lines are largely Obama supporters  They are the suckers in this grand, insane but oh so 'progressive' tragedy.

Peak Oil Peak idiocy 2

The lower 48 states are the most intensively drilled part of the planet.  Yet oil production here is soaring.  The Peak Oil weenies should be fired.  Oh, wait, they all have government or academic sinecures - they never need to be right.

Power Logic - Trace mercury from power plants 100 miles way, bad, from light bulbs in your kids bedroom good!

The statists do not believe in absolute truth, they believe in absolute power.  Don't believe it, then read this:

WASHINGTON TIMES: Obama’s Twisty Light Bulb Logic. “Some critics have charged that hyping mercury poisoning in MATS was just a cover for the EPA to ramp up its regulatory assault on the coal industry. Trace amounts of mercury from coal-fired power-plant emissions affect a small number of Americans, chiefly those who live near the emissions sources. At the same time, however, the Obama administration has been trying to force Americans to accept even greater mercury risks by insisting that traditional incandescent light bulbs be replaced with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). The mercury vapor in CFLs is at a much more dangerous concentration than anything coming out of power plants.”

No Global Warming for past 15 Years

Pretty much coinciding with the period of maximum global warming hysteria.  Maybe 'green' bloviating serves as an aerosol that reflects infra red rays back into space.  Al Gore saved us!

SCIENCE: Forget global warming – it’s Cycle 25 we need to worry about (and if NASA scientists are right the Thames will be freezing over again): Met Office releases new figures which show no warming in 15 years.“The supposed ‘consensus’ on man-made global warming is facing an inconvenient challenge after the release of new temperature data showing the planet has not warmed for the past 15 years. The figures suggest that we could even be heading for a mini ice age to rival the 70-year temperature drop that saw frost fairs held on the Thames in the 17th Century. Based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations, the data was issued last week without fanfare by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. It confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997.”

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Many farmers are no better than thieves

Thieves who use the state to loot their much poorer neighbors.  Sugar is a good example.  We need to recognize that these looters are not the 'salt of the earth' but moral criminals.

The Experts: Biased in favor of hysteria

There are many honest scientists but they don't get funded. Because if there is no crisis, there is no money. The result, the most alarmist studies with the most alarmist interpretations are presented. They are then magnified by a press with a business interest in sensationalizing them. The result: demands that the state step in and 'do something'. The outcome is usually expensive, coercive and if not actively destructive, simply pointless. This unholy alliance of unethical scientists and power hungry state actors is causing our society to slowly but surely seize up.

Can't you please just leave us alone?

In fact, what the study reveals is the devastating impact that careless advocacy research can have on truth. The report proposes an array of ambitious government-sponsored “prevention strategies” and recommends “multi-disciplinary service centers” offering survivors psychological and legal counseling as well as housing and economic assistance. But survivors of sexual violence would be better served by good research and sober estimates — not inflated statistics and sensationalism.
The agency’s figures are wildly at odds with official crime statistics.
But perfectly aligned with funding prospects. Me, I’d rather see the CDC work on controlling actual diseases. rather than redefining behavior as a disease. But I was pointing out the politicization of public health back when InstaPundit was new.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Higher Ed Cartel is in serious trouble from certification testing

If certification testing takes off, then most colleges are doomed.  James Taranto has the tale.  About damn time.  Bloodsuckers.

The crucial distinction here is actually between the "academic" and "investment" functions of higher ed. The industry has exploded over the past few decades based on a business model that focuses more on selling the college degree as a credential--an "investment" that yields an increase in one's own "human capital"--than on persuading young adults that education is intrinsically valuable.

If someone could offer a less expensive job-hunting license--one that assessed an entry-level job-seeker's worth to a prospective employer at least as accurately as a college degree does--then the demand for college would plummet, as young adults could realize the same gains from a much smaller investment.

That's where ETS and CAE come in. They will offer two tests. One, called iSkills, "measures the ability of a student to navigate and critically evaluate information from digital technology." The other, the CLA, "assesses critical learning and writing skills through use of cognitively challenging problems." As Vedder explains: "Students can tell employers, 'I did very well on the CLA and iSkills test, strong predictors of future positive work performance,' and, implicitly 'you can hire me for less than you pay college graduates who score less well on these tests.' "

If the practice became widespread, it would drive college costs down and force cost-cutting and downsizing within the higher-ed industry. So you can expect the industry to fight hard against it.

On using the F Word

Jonah Goldberg points out that I shouldn't use Fascism to describe our out of control Federal state.  Not because it's not true, but because in America the term is not understood properly.  So I won't..  Even though they are.

Basically, the answer is that Liberal Fascism was a failure in at least one regard. It was never my intent to make abuse of the F-word a bipartisan affair. The idea was simply that the Left should stop using the word because they don't know what they're talking about and they're looking in the wrong direction in their eternal vigilance for fascism. Conservatism in the Anglo-American tradition has no basis in, or relation to, European fascism. And it is not just slanderous but hypocritical for liberals to hurl the term at conservatives when the fact is American progressivism does share DNA with European fascism. But that doesn't mean we should go around calling liberals fascists.

We shouldn't do it because it's rarely true or appropriate, but we also shouldn't do it because most Americans are sufficiently ignorant about the nature of fascism to make conservatives hurling the term sound crazy or extreme. It's counterproductive. The irony for me is that my critics on the left insist that the whole point of the book was to call liberals fascists. It really wasn't, which is why it failed in at least one regard. 

So, yes, I could absolutely have written today's column about the similarities between Obama's fantasy of a militarized America and fascist doctrine (Mussolini described the exact same thing as the "socialism of the trenches"!). But, as George H.W. Bush used to say, that wouldn't be prudent. And prudence, unlike fascism, is at the heart of conservatism. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Another example of just how coercive and fascist our President's instincts are

Please Mr. President, can't you just leave us alone?

Sorry to be late with SOTU commentary, but I haven’t seen anyone pick up on this particular point.
The President said the following thing: “I call on every State to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn eighteen.”

Imagine how much they lie about people who aren't powerful and don't have a surveillance camera to turn to...

If you are stopped you should video all of your interactions with the police.

RAND PAUL UPDATE: A security video of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul at a Nashville International Airport checkpoint doesn’t show him being “irate,” as police asserted. I’ll bet he is now.

Obama our National Chauncy Gardener at the SOTU

Best analysis:

Let me be clear, O is and always has been an ordinary political hack who was picked up by a brilliant campaign because he happened to be in the right place at the right time. This brilliant campaign ran him, and ever since he's bee trying and failing to lead the country. He's been a failure from the beginning because he's been a fraud from the beginning.

It's tough to fill an empty suit after the fact.

No Childhoodl Obesity - School Junk Food link: Study

But how can this be?  All the right people agree that junk food is bad.  Right?  Don't you just hate it when facts come crashing in?

MICHELLE OBAMA’S WAR AGAINST SCIENCE? Study Finds No Childhood Obesity Link To School Junk Food.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Red Light Cameras: It's all about the Benjamins

Of course virtually everything our state does is about acquiring more power and money for those who control it.

IT’S ALL ABOUT REVENUE: Extensive, two-year study finds red-light cameras don’t decrease accidents.

I'm half way in the bubble

Charles Murray's new Book called Coming Apart has a survey of how much one is isolated from mainstream America.  Here's how I scored.

How Thick Is Your Bubble?

View user's Quiz School Profile
Score » 9 out of 20  (45% ) 
On a scale from 0 to 20 points, where 20 signifies full engagement with mainstream American culture and 0 signifies deep cultural isolation within the new upper class bubble, you scored between 9 and 12.

In other words, even if you're part of the new upper class, you've had a lot of exposure to the rest of America.
Quiz SchoolTake this quiz & get your score

Being Liberal means never having to use your own money..

Obama and Romney fit the data:  religious conservatives give lots of money to charity, liberals give very little.  I let you draw your own conclusions.  I recall when Hilary was caught donating (and writing off) used underwear to charity.  Liberals are compassionate with other people's money, as befits those obsessed with power.

Obama: our nation should be more like the military

Bill Kristol notices that 'progressives' like the way that the Military does what it's told....

Because only the state can own you

The Obami are getting uglier by the day.

WP…the Obama administration last week asked a San Francisco appeals court to overturn a recent decision that said bone marrow donors can be paid for what their bodies produce.

The Shakedown squad

Now that everything is against the law, the purpose of 'crack' law enforcement squads is to punish those that their political masters and media chatterers deem 'evil' which almost exclusively involves those that don't support the statist agenda.  The rule of law is disintegrating around us.  The technical term is fascism.

HAVE THEM START THEIR INVESTIGATION IN THE WHITE HOUSE: Obama Announces New Financial Crimes Unit. “The unit will be staffed by ‘highly trained investigators’ and charged with tracking ‘large-scale fraud.’”

Rejecting Keystone: An Act of Insanity

From Robert Samuelson in the Washington Post: 

"President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico is an act of national insanity. It isn’t often that a president makes a decision that has no redeeming virtues and — beyond the symbolism — won’t even advance the goals of the groups that demanded it. All it tells us is that Obama is so obsessed with his reelection that, through some sort of political calculus, he believes that placating his environmental supporters will improve his chances.

Aside from the political and public relations victory, environmentalists won’t get much. Stopping the pipeline won’t halt the development of tar sands, to which the Canadian government is committed; therefore, there will be little effect on global-warming emissions. Indeed, Obama’s decision might add to them. If Canada builds a pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific for export to Asia, moving all that oil across the ocean by tanker will create extra emissions. There will also be the risk of added spills."

The key to understanding Obama's decision making process is to understand that he is by choice and by experience a Chicago Liberal.   The Chicago Liberal view of governance is centered on power, not on policy.  Policy choices are made because they cement or enhance the ruling group's power over the city, state, nation.  It is fundamentally a fascist worldview.  This is how Obamacare could promise to 'make healthcare affordable' while passing a system that the CBO projects will increase healthcare spending from 16 to 20 percent of GDP - it makes far more voters dependent upon the state and therefore, the party of the state.  Likewise, the Keystone decision was not based upon greenery, jobs, or any other objective policy basis but upon how it would affect the ruling coalition's power.  This is something that principled moderates like Robert Samuelson or David Brooks just don't understand.  And until they do, things are going to get worse.   A lot worse.

HT: Warren Smith

Most Postal Services are Profitable - Except the US Mail

Another example of how the Federal Government is so large, complex and riddled with special interests that it can't get the simplest things done - like rationalize the Postal Service like every other civilized country has done.  Such are the wages of a mega empire linked with a magic money machine.  Break it up, break it all up.

3. An international study of postal services in 30 high-income countries finds that most are profitable, and the ongoing losses in U.S. are an exception (losses in all five years from 2007-2011).

The tale behind the official unemployment numbers: despair

And with Obamacare and vast reams of new financial, environmental and other regulations coming on line, this is more likely to get worse than better.  Hope!  Change!

SPENGLER: Forget about Economic Recovery: Obama Is Toast. “People are hurting, and badly. The official unemployment rate may have fallen, slightly, but the real unemployment rate — the number of working-age Americans who aren’t working — rose from about 12% before the 2008 crisis, to about 23%, and hasn’t come down. That includes people who have retired early because they can’t find work, spouses who used to earn a second income but have gone back to homemaking because work isn’t available, self-employed people whose businesses have collapsed, young people who live in their parents’ basement because they can’t afford tuition and can’t find work. . . . Roughly one out of eight Americans who presumably want to work, and were working before 2007, can’t find work today.”

Warren Buffett Cleans Up on the Keystone XL decision. Environment to suffer.

It turns out that the oil not shipped via pipeline will be shipped after all on Warren Buffett's Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway at much higher cost and with much more risk to the environment.

And you thought the Obama Administration's decision was a 'principled' one.  Crony Capitalism anyone?

When President Obama, who is normally a great proponent of “infrastructure” projects, made his bizarre decision to block the Keystone XL pipeline project, I wondered if he might have been induced to create those thousands of American jobs if the oil could be moved by his beloved high-speed rail.
As it turns out, oil is already moved from northern latitudes, such as the booming oil fields of North Dakota, down to the Gulf of Mexico by rail of the old, low-speed variety.  Fortunately, as Newt Gingrich pointed out during the Monday night Republican debate in Florida, the oil is on private land, so Obama can’t shut production down.
Shipping the oil with a pipeline would have significantly reduced costs, as an Associated Press report explains:
Billions of dollars of infrastructure improvements have been made in recent years to allow North Dakota's oil shipping capacity to keep pace with the skyrocketing production. North Dakota is the nation's fourth-biggest oil producer and is expected to trail only Texas in crude output within the next year.

Alison Ritter, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Mineral Resources, said the state's so-called takeaway capacity is adequate, though producers and the state were counting on the on the Keystone XL to move North Dakota crude.

Shipping crude by pipeline in North Dakota adds up to $1.50 to its cost, compared to $2 or more a barrel for rail shipments, producers say.

"Oil that would have moved by the Keystone XL is now going to shift to rail transportation," Ritter said.
Amusingly, a spokesman for the Sierra Club admitted “there is no question that [transporting] oil by rail or truck is much more dangerous than a pipeline,” but that didn’t stop the zero-growth eco-fanatics from calling in their chips with President Downgrade to kill that pipeline.
Those rail shipments are expected to “increase exponentially with increased oil production and the shortage of pipelines,” according to Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority.  That’s going to be quite a windfall for the railroad companies, isn’t it?
As it happens, 75 percent of the oil currently shipped by rail out of North Dakota is handled by Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC… which just happens to be a unit of Warren Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway Inc.  What a coincidence!
For some reason, nobody from BNSF or Berkshire Hathaway would return the AP’s telephone calls, but oilman Harold Hamm told them he was sure this was just a wonderful “lucky break” for Barack Obama’s favorite billionaire, who is “certainly favored by this decision.”  I’ve heard Buffett’s famously overtaxed secretary will be a guest at the State of the Union address tonight.  Maybe someone could ask her about it.
The “tax me more” refrain from liberal billionaires is one of the oldest sucker games in the book.  For the well-connected, the money that can be made through government power – whether by influencing corrupt politicians, or merely predicting what they’re going to do - dwarfs whatever income they offer to cough up.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

He's going to vacation more. A lot more.

Even those closest to BHO don't know what he's going to do with a second term.

In the Book of Proverbs we read, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” I was reminded of those words in reading this story from Politico, which begins this way:

Take this quiz: If President Barack Obama wins a second term, he has promised that he will do … what exactly? There are people who follow the president closely who couldn’t answer that question. And even those who try would surely find themselves disagreeing with one another. As he stands before the nation Tuesday evening to present his State of the Union address, Obama is a president whose positions may be well-known but whose agenda — what he actually intends and can reasonably expect to achieve if voters give him four more years — is blurry. …Obama has yet to outline in a concrete way what he will do, said Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian with Princeton University.“He is an enigma,” Zelizer said. “He is not a politician with a clear set of ideas.”

Monday, January 23, 2012

The TSA's purpose

From Advice Goddess:

The TSA's main accomplishment seems to be obedience training for the American public - priming us to be docile (and even polite) about giving up our civil liberties.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

In related news, the Supreme Soviet unanimously ratified the Soviet Union's 17th 5 Year Plan

Hearing packed with Greens, Administration allies finds “overwhelming support” for 54.5 MPG CAFE rule.

"We double wheat production!  Triple Tractor output!  Shirkers will be shot!"

America's License Raj

Almost thirty percent of America's workers need a state issued license to earn their living.  Guess who all the licensing benefits?  Here's the curious case of dentistry.

From an article at Governing.com:
…dental care is hard to come by in underserved areas of the country. Try finding a dentist in the remotest rural or deepest urban pockets of the land, and for blatantly economic reasons, they just aren’t there. That’s why states are looking to fix the problem by creating a so-called mid-level dental provider. Much like a nurse practitioner (NP) or physician assistant (PA) is to a doctor, this provider would be educated and licensed to perform basic dental services — routine checkups, cleanings, filling cavities and extracting teeth — under the supervision of a fully trained dentist.
…Yet in much the same way that the American Medical Association fought against the creation of NPs and PAs, the American Dental Association (ADA) and its state chapters are lobbying hard to thwart state legislatures as they work to create this new level of dental care providers, who are common and well liked in other parts of the world.
…“Publicly their main objection is safety issues,” Oswald says. “They tried to discredit the model, saying the therapists were not trained to the same level as dentists. In reality, all the research around the world shows that [mid-level providers] provide as good, if not better, care. Every time they stated safety as a factor, we asked for research, which they didn’t have.”
By the way, states with tougher licensing of dentists do not have better dentistry, but they do have higher prices. Almost thirty percent of the US workforce is now required to hold a license including shampoo specialists.
Hat tip: Carpe Diem

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Government bennies are the BEST bennies

Difference between private and Federal Government pensions.  So who is 'serving' who?

Under Islamists: Murder rate of women in Turkey rises 1400 percent

Get an Islamic government, slaughter a bunch of women?  Seems that way in Turkey.  But it's a religion of peace.  Of the grave, perhaps.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Obama to Minorities: "Suckers!"

Obama has always been a creation of the leftist intelligentsia.  He claims to be 'African American' despite having no African American roots.  His career has been one of an exquisitely turned out carpet bagger.  A privileged upper middle class poseur exploiting the moral authority of a people whose experiences he has never shared.  He shows his true colors with policies that benefit his elite friends while devastating 'his' people.

He's so progressive.

JOEL KOTKIN: Martin Luther King, Economic Equality, And The 2012 Election. “The biggest question is whether the current progressive agenda supports minority upward mobility. From its inception the Obama administration’s focus has been on the largely white information economy, notably boosting universities and the green-industrial complex based in places like Silicon Valley. The Obama team’s decision to surrender working class whites to appeal to what Democratic strategists call the ‘mass upper middle class’ makes political sense but could lead to problems for an American working class that is itself increasingly minority. An emphasis on green industries and strong across-the-board regulation often works against traditional industries like heavy manufacturing, warehousing and fossil fuel development that historically have employed many minorities. Opposing development of new petrochemical plants and such things as the XL Pipeline — opposed by many greens and their allies in the Obama Administration — could reduce new opportunities for minority workers, many of them unionized, particularly in the heavily African-American, and increasingly Latino, Gulf region. Modern-day progressivism’s primary laboratory, California, tells a cautionary tale.”

Monday, January 16, 2012

Our government: Arrogant, indifferent, cruel, pointless

This is an example of when anti drug hysteria unites with green hysteria and clever rent seeking businesses to reduce the people's freedom and increase their misery.  Incidentally I used to use Primatene, it was a godsend when I had breathing problems.  And ten years ago Primatene Mist cost $6, not $20.  Please, please Mr. Government, can't you just leave us alone?

The War On Citizens Getting The Medication They Need To Remain Alive And Breathing
Commenter MonicaP sent me this letter about a really disturbing recent experience she and her husband endured -- and luckily he did endure, but no thanks to the government:
I thought you might find my husband's recent experience trying to get Primatene Mist interesting. Primatene Mist was taken off the shelves as of Dec. 30, supposedly because it contains CFCs. The fact that the inhalers and pills were moved behind the counter several years ago because of meth fears has something to do with it, I suspect.My husband was watching a football game with a friend when he began to have an asthma attack. His friend was watching his three small children that night, so my husband drove to CVS to get some Primatene Mist, not knowing at the time that it was no longer for sale. The pharmacy had it in stock, behind the counter, but couldn't sell it to him, and they didn't have any pills in stock. They suggested he go to another CVS and see whether they had the pills in stock. So a guy who was having clear problems taking in enough oxygen was forced to drive to another store (Walgreens, ultimately) to get the pills. Then they had him show ID and sign a form promising he wouldn't alter the drug before they would sell it to him.
My husband was lucky his asthma attack was relatively minor and that the pills he eventually got worked almost as quickly as the inhaler. Had the asthma attack gotten more serious while he drove around town, he would have been in trouble. Or he might have been forced to go to the ER when he could have easily treated himself at home. And now countless people are going to have to pay out of pocket or have their insurance charged for doctors visits for something that used to be as easy to get as aspirin and condoms.
We'e so afraid of people getting high that we're willing to let people die to prevent it. The CFC issue seems like a cop-out. I understand outlawing trivial uses, like in hairspray, but I'd think we could make an exception for something that saves people's lives.
If we decide to believe the government's story, it seems we'd rather protect the ozone from what has to be the minimal incursion of CFC's from asthma inhalers than let people keep breathing. From the FDA:
Why No More Primatene Mist? Primatene Mist inhalers use CFCs, which decrease the earth's ozone layer. This layer of the atmosphere protects us from some of the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation, which can increase the risk of skin cancers and cataracts. The United States and many other countries have signed an international agreement to phase out CFCs and other ozone-depleting substances.
Ahron Sherman writes at The Daily Miner:
According to the Food and Drug Administration, discussion to phase-out CFC-based epinephrine inhalers started in 2006, and the FDA decided that Primatene Mist did not serve an essential health need.
Really? Tell that to MonicaP and her husband.
Sherman continues:
Manufacturers have been changing their inhalers to replace CFCs with an ozone-friendly propellant called hydrofluoroalkane, according to the FDA. The problem is that these types of inhalers are not available without a prescription, cost more and work differently.Doctor Sam Ahn of the Asthma Allergy Clinic of Phoenix said the transition from CFC inhalers to HFA inhalers has been relatively smooth, despite the inconvenience felt by some.
The HFA inhalers are more expensive, he said.
Whereas Primatene Mist inhalers run for about $20 a pop, HFA inhalers containing albuterol can cost as much as $60 each.
The HFA inhalers have a lighter velocity spray than the CFC-based ones, Ahn explained. This causes many of his patients to think they are not getting enough of the medication. Despite the weaker spray, both types of inhalers administer the same dosage of medication, Ahn said.
Another consequence of the soft spray is that the HFA inhalers need to be cleaned every one or two weeks, Ahn said. This wasn't the case with CFC inhalers because the spray was forceful enough to basically clean the apparatus itself. People who have made the transition between inhalers tend to forget to clean them, which does alter the dosage, Ahn said.
"Overall, it hasn't been a bad transition," Ahn said.
Again, tell that to MonicaP and her husband.

Friday, January 13, 2012

An immense, hidden tragedy

Like with most 'progressive' disasters, it's the wealth and jobs that aren't created that is the greatest, but hidden strategy.  Such as the millions of people that have left the workforce.  The productive contributions of millions of people have evaporated.  The Capital Strike continues to roar.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Feds: Head Start Doesn't Work....At All

Well, no duh.  Anyone who has been paying the slightest attention to it over the past 25 years knows that.  And now even uberliberal Joe Klein of Time is forced to admit the obvious.  But the truth is that it's hard to find any 'anti poverty' program that is anything but an expensive power grabbing 'jobs for the boys' program.

Except in the case of Head Start, where it's mostly jobs for the Girls.  The fact is that 'Good Government Liberalism" doesn't work worth a damn.  Which is why it has almost been completely replaced by Chicago, "Grab all you can" Liberalism.  Or as I like to call it:  fascism.  From Via Meadia.

“Head Start” has been the poster child of federal aid to education ever since the Lyndon Johnson administration introduced it as part of the Great Society. And for decades liberals have pointed to it as one of the great advances that the federal government has brought to education, and as evidence that creative social engineering by smart professional interventionists can change the world.
But a long-suppressed government report finally released by the Obama administration report is shaking the foundations of Head Start, and the news isn’t coming from right wing conservatives but from Joe Klein at Time magazine. As Klein reports,
We spend more than $7 billion providing Head Start to nearly 1 million children each year. And finally there is indisputable evidence about the program’s effectiveness, provided by the Department of Health and Human Services: Head Start simply does not work.
These days, defenders of Head Start say less about what it does for kids (essentially nothing) but about the jobs it creates in poor neighborhoods.  This is blue liberal thinking at its most self-parodic: we can’t develop social programs that will accomplish something worthwhile, but we can at least use the illusion that such programs work to create jobs for people who will then vote for the politicians who give them make work jobs.

True enough, as far as it goes, but it would just be cheaper to send them all checks. While it might be utopian to hope that a huge government boondoggle would shut down just because it’s been proven useless, even federal bureaucrats seem disturbed by the thought that limited antipoverty resources are being spent on a known flop. The L.A. Times has the story:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Head Start program, enacted reforms in December to address concerns about quality and accountability, among other things. They include a provision that, for the first time, requires low-performing agencies to compete for funding. Previously, funding for grantees was automatic.
It’s a start.  The bigger story, though, is that the fundamental assumptions behind decades of government policy in education are coming unglued. The tools we’ve been using to address some of our most serious social problems don’t work. The money we’ve spent has been wasted.
It isn’t the just the Tea Party and Ayn Rand acolytes saying these things. It’s President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services. It’s Time magazine.
A paradigm is falling apart.

Art Laffer confirms it: Warren Buffett is a Homespun Humbug on the tax issue

Mr. Buffett has claimed that he pays too little in tax and wants to pay more on his 'income'.  Art Laffer unpacks this claim and compares it to Mr. Buffett's actual behavior which, of course, is tax minimizing.  The Omaha Obamamaniac has followed a brilliant strategy:  yowl class warfare and soak the rich while piling up as many Benjamins as possible.  Along with George Soros, he is the most cynical of speculators.

Mr. Buffett stated in his op-ed that he paid $6,938,744 in total income and payroll taxes in 2010, representing 17.4% of his taxable income, which puts his taxable income just under $40 million. Although certainly a fantastic sum, $40 million actually understates Mr. Buffett's income in 2010 by more than 250-fold.

Mr. Buffett's net worth rose by $10 billion in 2010 to $47 billion, according to Forbes Magazine. That increase, an unrealized capital gain, is part of his total income by any standard definition, including the one used by the Congressional Budget Office. After also including a $1.6 billion gift to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr. Buffett's true income in 2010 was much closer to $11.6 billion than the $40 million figure cited in his op-ed. Hence his true effective tax rate was only 6/100ths of 1% as opposed to 17.4%. And these are just the additions to his income that we know about.

Barack Obama awards the presidential Medal of Freedom to Warren Buffett, February 2011.

The "Buffett Rule" would not tax the vast majority of his shielded income, including either his unrealized capital gains, which are currently taxed at zero percent, or charitable contributions, which are tax deductible. If the "Buffett Rule" were applied as President Obama proposes, then Mr. Buffett's federal tax bill would have been $14.4 million, rather than the $6.9 million he actually paid. As a fraction of his true income, his effective tax rate would only have risen from 6/100ths of 1% to 12/100ths of 1%.

Mr. Buffett's donation to the Gates Foundation goes to the heart of my critique of his public call for higher tax rates on the rich. Just look at the second contractual condition for his ongoing pledge to the Gates Foundation: "The foundation must continue to satisfy the legal requirements qualifying Warren's gift as charitable, exempt from gift or other taxes."

In other words, if his gift weren't tax sheltered he wouldn't give it. So much for "shared sacrifice."

So much for the "responsible stewardship" of the not for profit sector

College Presidents triple prices for functionally the same product and still claim that they deliver good or excellent value.  The only guarantor of good value is a free, unsubsidized market between private for profit businesses.  As an added plus Colleges would also pay taxes on the grotesque and unseemly wealth they have accumulated.

And they call them Public 'servants'.  Serving themselves, perhaps.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: The Value Gap: Americans Increasingly Question The Cost Of Going To College. “The annual price tag for a college credential has risen about three times as fast as inflation, and there is no sign that it’s slowing down. In the last decade alone, tuition rates at public colleges and universities, which enroll about 80 percent of American students, rose by an average of 5.6 percentage points above inflation every year. . . . College presidents seem tone-deaf to those concerns. In a companion survey conducted with The Chronicle, three-fourths of college leaders said the system was providing a good or excellent value.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The endless expansion and arrogance of the State

This sort of stuff happens all the time.  There was a time when I liked and respected the police.

No More.  Now at best, I fear them.

A 16-year-old girl in Florida parked in the wrong space, had her car keyed, suspected another girl, and posted on her own Facebook page the following:
oh so you keyed my car? well your karmas gonna be a wholeee lot worse that that
The next day, school officials suspended her for three days–and a criminal charge of “stalking” was brought against her by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department
As Scott Greenfield says:
To call the arrest of Allie Scott crazy is to state the obvious. That both a school district and a sheriff’s office would nonetheless indulge in such insanity is the piece that would make a good subject for Kafka.
Other incidents of Kafkaesque abuse of authority by public school officials and local police departments are easy to find.
For most of history, in most places in the world, people have lived in fear of The Authorities. For a couple of centuries, that fear was largely lifted (with certain obvious exceptions) in the territory of The United States of America. Now, as a result of the endless expansion of governmental powers and the political and administrative arrogance which have inevitably followed, it is returning. The American populace is being collectively cowed.

Michelle Obama really pissed off about the 'angry black woman' stereotype

It better stop or someone is going to get hurt.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Obama regulations crush New England fisheries, rich and well connected benefit, (natch)

But Our Dear Leader is for the 'little guy'.  Yeah, short, rich campaign contributors.  Here.  Money graf:

This is not an isolated incident. In those American fisheries that have been subjected to catch-share regulations (excluding recently affected New England), Food & Water Watch magazine found that only 37 percent of boats survived the transition.
New England’s fishing industry is similarly plummeting, despite being affected by the regulations for less than a year. In five months, over half of the Northeast’s fishing fleet had been lost.
The trend is likely to continue, as catch-share permissions are being consolidated into just a few, wealthy, well-connected hands. Of the 247 ground-fishing vessels (which catch fish that swim close to the sea floor) in New England that are still active, 55 boats accounted for 61 percent of the revenue.

Obamaphobia: Americans greatest fear: Obama will be reelected - Poll

A US News poll finds that by two to one Americans fear that The One will get Two.  Seems rational to me.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Scientists aren't on your side, they're on their side.

And therefore massive skepticism to their claims is needed.  Bayer did a study of pharma 'findings' from academic studies (in the most prestigious refereed journals) and found that they could not replicate 70% of them.  Imagine that:  the most rigorous studies vetted by the top journals and only 30% could be replicated.  Now transfer that to the deeply fraudulent and politically motivated worlds of climate "science" and social "science" and factor in the well known political biases of our chattering classes.  90% bullshit?  You just can't trust our so called 'elites'.  At all.

Lots of cultural writing these days, in books and magazines and newspapers, relies on the so-called Chump Effect. The Effect is defined by its discoverer, me, as the eagerness of laymen and journalists to swallow whole the claims made by social scientists. Entire journalistic enterprises, whole books from cover to cover, would simply collapse into dust if even a smidgen of skepticism were summoned whenever we read that “scientists say” or “a new study finds” or “research shows” or “data suggest.” Most such claims of social science, we would soon find, fall into one of three categories: the trivial, the dubious, or the flatly untrue.

And they are not amused

Hey I've got an idea, why don't they just leave us the hell alone?

THE STATE HAS NOTICED that your children are getting fat.

Black America's Deal with the Devil bites them. Hard.

Black employment is heavily concentrated in the state and state subsidized sectors.    By contrast other minority groups are underrepresented in State employment.  Now the State is bankrupt.  A lot of faux black 'progress' is unraveling.

Such are the wages of trusting the monopoly state.  A lot of other, more comfortable groups are about to learn the same bitter lesson.

Weak Jobs Boost Skips Blacks

As CNN Money reports, Blacks are not benefiting from the mild jobs recovery now underway, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment for African American women actually declined in 2011, while overall, African Americans lost more jobs and gained fewer new ones than the general population.
The reason is something Via Meadia has been writing about: governments (and semi-governmental entities like the USPS) employ a large number of Blacks.  Teachers, firefighters, policemen, clerks and managers working in government are the heart and soul of the Black middle class.
Those are precisely the jobs that have been slashed during the last recession and will be under pressure for some time to come. Pay and benefits for government employees will be falling even as the number of new hires drops. Unless state and local tax revenues pick up soon, more layoffs will come.  It is likely that the burden of huge pension bills will end up falling most heavily on young African American workers; governments everywhere have underfunded their pension programs and will have to make up the gap in the future by cutting new hires and slashing pay.
Health care, another important source of employment for African Americans, is also going to be squeezed. Whether through the current Obama reform, a single payer program, or some new GOP plan, this sector is going to be squeezed as rising costs make the current ways of doing business unsustainable

Why, let them drink Tea!

It's good to be the king.

THE TEA PARTY THE WHITE HOUSE COULDN’T RESIST: White House threw secret ‘Alice in Wonderland’ bash during recession.

A White House “Alice in Wonderland” costume ball — put on by Johnny Depp and Hollywood director Tim Burton — proved to be a Mad-as-a-Hatter idea that was never made public for fear of a political backlash during hard economic times, according to a new tell-all.
“The Obamas,” by New York Times correspondent Jodi Kantor, tells of the first Halloween party the first couple feted at the White House in 2009. It was so over the top that “Star Wars” creator George Lucas sent the original Chewbacca to mingle with invited guests.
The book reveals how any official announcement of the glittering affair — coming at a time when Tea Party activists and voters furious over the lagging economy, 10-percent unemployment rate, bank bailouts and Obama’s health-care plan were staging protests — quickly vanished down the rabbit hole.
“White House officials were so nervous about how a splashy, Hollywood-esque party would look to jobless Americans — or their representatives in Congress, who would soon vote on health care — that the event was not discussed publicly and Burton’s and Depp’s contributions went unacknowledged,” the book says.
However, the White House made certain that more humble Halloween festivities earlier that day — for thousands of Washington-area schoolkids — were well reported by the press corps.

The complicit press corps, that is.

It's good to be the government.

The richer Washington gets, the poorer the nation becomes.  It's all so progressive.

Tootling around Washington, I was struck by—well, not by its prosperity, exactly, but by what is clearly a lavish outlay of funds—your funds, in fact. Everywhere I turned there were huge building cranes. In one spot, I counted 7 over the space of a few blocks. It looked a little like a Third World country suddenly flush from newly discovered mineral reserves of some sort. Which I suppose describes the situation in Washington accurately enough, except that for “mineral reserves” you need to substitute “deficit spending.” I remember meeting my friend Edward Shils several years ago in Washington: “My, they live well on our money,” he said. What would he say today, I wonder, when Washington has come more and more to resemble Versailles circa 1780.

The Great Recession's Silver Lining

Falling government employment.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Glorifying our fearless political leaders

Hey, they scammed the money, so they should get the glory.  We should name something after Al Capone.

Apparently there’s such a thing as the “Kay Bailey Hutchison Desalination Plant” in El Paso. It seems like an impressive facility and the kind of thing the West is going to need more of as the water runs dry. But what’s up with the name? The former senator isn’t dead — why is something named after her?
Hutchison helped secure more than $29 million in federal funds for the project, a partnership between the local water utility and Fort Bliss. The guaranteed supply of water from the plant eased concerns over whether enough was available for the thousands of troops transferred to the Army base.
Ahh, I see. So it’s like a philanthropist who gives the money to build a new hospital and has it named after himself. Except in that case it’s his money, not mine. Senator Byrd from West Virginia was obviously the master of this kind of thing, naming every second building in the state after himself because he was the one who scammed the money out of taxpayers from the rest of the country. Next thing you know, they’ll be naming the months of the year after themselves. Oh, wait, someone already did that.
As we drown under trillions in debt, this may seem like a small thing, but it’s not. The sense of entitlement of our political class is part of what’s gotten us into this mess. Legislation preventing any government property or any project supported by public funds from being named after any current or former politicians still living would at least send the message that this isn’t their money to dispose of as they will.

The death of Keynesianism

The Economy now nearly numb to monetary and fiscal stimulus.  Not that this will stop the statists.  They will keep flooring the accelerator until we go off the cliff.

Why not apply loser pays to the government

Because it would reduce state power and the whole point of fascism is to maximize the power of the people who control the state.  And since there are literally hundreds of thousands of laws and regulations, essentially the structure of our legal system is designed for mass oppression at the whim of those who control the state apparat.  Unless you're rich, you lose.

I think that in a criminal case it should be mandatory. As the criminal justice system works now, it’s really a species of “taking.” Consider: if the government chooses to prosecute me, I can (1) spend a lot of money to prove myself innocent; or (2) go to jail. (They won’t provide me a lawyer unless I’m poor, which I’m not). My paying for my lawyer is an integral part of the process of justice, which benefits society as a whole, and I’m essentially forced to do it. (When the alternative is going to jail, “forced” isn’t too strong a word.)
Perhaps, if I’m guilty, then the legal fees should be considered part of the punishment. But if I’m innocent? The government has just forced me to spend a lot of money to ensure the efficient function of the justice system. (Prosecutors, remember, aren’t supposed to want to see the innocent convicted, so they’re as much beneficiaries of my defense as I am.) The efficient functioning of the justice system is a public good. We’re not supposed to take private property for the public good unless we provide “just compensation” to the owner.
But if I’m an innocent defendant, where’s my “just compensation?” Oh, the McDade Amendment (which the Justice Department absolutely hates) lets me recover my legal fees if I can show that the prosecution was harassing, malicious, etc. But that’s only part of the problem (and recoveries here are hard to come by anyway). What if I’m just a poor schlub? I can be — probably will be, unless I’m loaded — financially ruined, only to get a “sorry, sucker, but at least you don’t have to go to jail” at the end.
When you add to this the enormous financial resources of the government, and the absence of any market discipline — or, usually, any political discipline except in high profile cases — then a “loser pays” rule in criminal prosecutions seems fair to me. Any thoughts?

Just leave them (and us) alone

Our Elite's smug arrogance is reaching epic proportions.  They judge and hector and regulate and coerce more each day, believing that their version of reality and their vision of the future is 'superior' therefore they have some 'right' to rule over the rest of us.  They are as bankrupt as the governments they control.

JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Was Santorum ‘Weird’ For Bringing Home His Stillborn Baby? “There is much I don’t like about Rick Santorum’s ideas, but the story of how he and his wife dealt with the tragic death of their baby is not something that bothers me. Pete Wehner has an appropriately indignant post, quoted below, about the attacks on Santorum over this issue (and he summarizes the sad story as well), but it strikes me as indecent to criticize the loving, if discomfiting, behavior of people who have just suffered the worst possible tragedy known to humankind.” Like I said, after the Trig Palin assaults nothing surprises me.
Related: Patterico: In Mocking Santorum, Eugene Robinson Reveals A Sickness in Our Society. “The problem is not just that some leftists can’t understand the love that some people feel for their unborn children — or for their children who (like Sarah Palin’s son Trig) were born with disabilities. What really infuriates is the contempt they show for parents who make different choices than they would . . . and the smug arrogance with which they pronounce judgment on the most intimate aspects of others’ private lives.”

Guess what? Public schools suck all over the world.

In the early 20th century Helen Todd, a factory inspector in Chicago, interviewed 500 children working in factories, often in dangerous and unpleasant conditions. She asked children the question: “If your father had a good job and you didn’t have to work, which would you rather do—go to school or work in a factory?” 412 said they would choose factory work. One fourteen year old girl, who was interviewed lacquering canes in an attic working with both intense heat and the constant smell of turpentine, said “School is the fiercest thing you can come up against. Factories ain’t no cinch, but schools is worst.”
The recent expansion of the “ASER-like” simple assessments of literacy and numeracy skills of all children in a village based approach provides an accurate, and chilling, picture of just how little learning is going on inside schools in many poor countries. The ASER data can show the learning profile, the association of measured skills and grade completion, by showing what fraction of children who have completed which grade can read a simple story (expected of a child in grade 2) or do simple arithmetic operations. Take Uttar Pradesh in 2010. By the end of lower primary school (grade 5) only one in four children could divide. Even by grade 8, the end of upper primary only 56 percent could. Similarly, by grade 5 only 44 percent could read a level 2 paragraph and by grade 8 still only 77.6 could. A large plurality of children, even of those that had persisted and been promoted through eight full grades or primary school—roughly 8000 hours of available total instruction—were either illiterate or innumerate or both.
Even these children can however see the disparity in accountability between them and their teachers. The regular civil service teachers in Uttar Pradesh are massively privileged: making over three times the market wage, no accountability, not even to show up for work, and able to mistreat students with impunity. Data from the 2005 India Human Development Survey (Desai, Dubey, Vanneman, and Banerji 2008) show that 29 percent of parents report their child was “beaten or pinched” in government schools in the previous month. Worse, a child from the poorest group of households is almost twice as likely to be beaten or pinched in a government school than a child from the richest group of households. This is in contrast to private schools which show no income favoritism in beating. Studies consistently find absence rates of regular teachers in government schools in UP around 25 percent—not to mention low rates of effort when in attendance.
Fire ‘em and privatize. For the children.

Obama diverting victims damages to cronies

Chicago Liberals in their natural habitat:

PAYOLA POLITICS: DOJ Steers Countrywide Settlement Cash To Leftist Groups With Dem Ties. “The untold story of the Obama Administration’s widely reported, $335 million discrimination settlement with Countrywide Financial Corporation is that, under a secret Justice Department program, a chunk of the money won’t go to the ‘victims’ but rather leftist groups not connected to the lawsuit.”

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

No Give, No Take Organ Donation

Creative ways to organize exchange between private individuals create more wealth.  In this case it creates a larger pool of organs for transplantation.  Of course simply allowing people to sell critical organs would expand the market even more.  Social squeamishness is costing tens of thousands of people their lives.

In Entrepreneurial Economics I argued for a “no give, no take” system for organ donation–people who signed their organ donor cards would be given priority over non-signers should they one day need an organ. The idea has an element of justice to it but the primary goal is to increase the incentive to sign one’s organ donor card.
Israel recently adopted this policy by giving extra points on the allocation system to people who previously signed the organ donor card. In the case of kidneys, for example, two points (on a 0-18 point scale) are given if the candidate had three or more years previous to being listed signed their organ card.  One point is given if a first-degree relative had signed and 3.5 points if a first-degree relative had previously donated.
It’s early but so far the policy appears to be very successful:
Due to the population’s surge of interest in obtaining an organ donor card, the Adi-National Israel Transplant Center has extended through March 31 the deadline to register as a donor and receive special benefits.
…During the past few weeks, Adi’s phone system has collapsed several times due to the high demand.
Since Adi decided to give preferential treatment to those registering as a potential organ donor, tens of thousands of people have registered, raising the number of potential donors to over 600,000. Until last year, the rate of registration was among the lowest in the Western world.
Hat tip to David Undis whose excellent group Lifesharers (I am an adviser) is implementing a private version of no-give, no take in the United States.
Here is my piece on Life Saving Incentives and here are previous MR posts on organ donation.