Wednesday, February 29, 2012

When is a job not a job? When it's a Green job.

Frederic Bastiat at work again...from Carpe Diem.  It's tragic when we must relearn history.  Again and again and again...

Matt Ridley masterfully applies Bastiat's "broken-window fallacy" to green energy jobs, writing last December in City AM, a UK financial newspaper:

"When is a job not a job? Answer: when it is a green job. Jobs in an industry that raises the price of energy effectively destroy jobs elsewhere; jobs in an industry that cuts the cost of energy create extra jobs elsewhere.

The entire argument for green jobs is a version of Frederic Bastiat’s broken-window fallacy. The great nineteenth century French economist pointed out that breaking a window may provide work for the glazier, but takes work from the tailor, because the window owner has to postpone ordering a new suit because he has to pay for the window.

You will hear claims from Chris Huhne, the U.K.'s anti-energy secretary [he was recently forced to resign and faces criminal charges], and the green-greed brigade that trousers his subsidies for their wind and solar farms, about how many jobs they are creating in renewable energy. But since every one of these jobs is subsidized by higher electricity bills and extra taxes, the creation of those jobs is a cost to the rest of us. The anti-carbon and renewable agenda is not only killing jobs by closing steel mills, aluminium smelters and power stations, but preventing the creation of new jobs at hairdressers, restaurants and electricians by putting up their costs and taking money from their customers’ pockets.

 Contrast that with news from the United States that, according to a report from IHS Global Insight, the cheap shale gas revolution now in full flow has created 148,000 jobs directly within the gas industry and – by making energy cheaper – has created at least another 450,000 jobs elsewhere in the economy. By 2015, the total impact of shale gas will be 870,000 new jobs, says the report.

Back in 1800, Britain was becoming the richest country in the world with the fastest economic growth and the fastest job creation – the China of its day. That was not because we had suddenly become cleverer than everybody else at inventing things. It was because we had stumbled upon limitless, dense and above all cheap energy in the form of coal, and harnessed it to mechanize industry, cheaply amplifying the labor productivity of each person so much that he could be paid high wages.

That lesson – that cheap energy is an employment multiplier, while costly energy is an employment divider – has been forgotten. Please let us recall it before the green jobs myth causes more unemployment."

Economist Magazine: Chicago: America's Capital of Corruption

And it's been imported to the Feds.  It's also interesting that the top 3 most corrupt states are perhaps the three most diverse 'progressive' states in the nation.  What is it about deep, pervasive government intervention that leads to high levels of corruption?  Actually, this ties in with public choice theory which posits that highly diverse polities with heavily interventionist governments will be less efficient and more corrupt because the goals of the various groups are so diverse.  By contrast, heavy state intervention works better (Minnesota, Denmark) in smaller places where everyone has the same culture - the socialized decisions meet a greater proportion of people's needs and therefore there is less conflict and graft.

It's all so progressive.

THE ECONOMIST ON CHICAGO: The Capital Of Corruption. “Although Chicago is the capital of corruption, the state of Illinois as a whole ranks only third in the country—after the much more populous states of New York and California. But the report documents a pattern of crime that has become synonymous with the Chicago or Illinois ‘way’ of doing things. All the corrupt governors and 26 of the aldermen had tried to extract bribes from builders, developers, business owners and those seeking to do business with the city or the state. Those who paid bribes either assumed, or were told, that payment was necessary for zoning changes, building permits or any other government action.”

Monday, February 27, 2012

You hear that Mr. Sulzberger? That's the sound of inevitability.

And about damned time.  The American daily newspaper has been a dishonest and destructive local monopoly since at least 1985.  I await its demise with keen anticipation.  Hat tip Carpe Diem

“Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State”

Mussolini's fascist Credo now applies to the American healthcare system.  Of course it serves the Catholic Hierarchy right, they've been enthusiastic promoters of more and more state power for generations.  But it's still fascism.  Who's going to stand up for you when there is nothing but you and the State?  Your Congressman?  Dream on, he'll own you.

Catholic Cardinal George of Chicago writes:
This year, the Catholic Church in the United States is being told she must “give up” her health care institutions, her universities and many of her social service organizations. This is not a voluntary sacrifice. It is the consequence of the already much discussed Department of Health and Human Services regulations now filed and promulgated for implementation beginning Aug. 1 of this year.
Why does a governmental administrative decision now mean the end of institutions that have been built up over several generations from small donations, often from immigrants, and through the services of religious women and men and others who wanted to be part of the church’s mission in healing and education? Catholic hospitals, universities and social services have an institutional conscience, a conscience shaped by Catholic moral and social teaching. The HHS regulations now before our society will make it impossible for Catholic institutions to follow their conscience.

 What will happen if the HHS regulations are not rescinded? A Catholic institution, so far as I can see right now, will have one of four choices: 1) secularize itself, breaking its connection to the church, her moral and social teachings and the oversight of its ministry by the local bishop. This is a form of theft. It means the church will not be permitted to have an institutional voice in public life. 2) Pay exorbitant annual fines to avoid paying for insurance policies that cover abortifacient drugs, artificial contraception and sterilization. This is not economically sustainable. 3) Sell the institution to a non-Catholic group or to a local government. 4) Close down.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Global 'Warming': Lies, Damned Lies and Computer Models

For scientists, these boys show touching religious faith don't they?  Below is the predictive record of the IPCC.  Perhaps they don't know what they're doing?  But they do know how to use a straight edge.  Of course they have lots of practice redrawing the lines.  Again and again and again....


Curves of (Economic) Death

We're going off the cliff.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

It would be ironic of the Obami's Keynsian fetish cost him his job

There is an interesting correlation between the so called "Quantitative Easings" (aka printing money) and the dollar price of oil.  The Feds have printed so much money that people are talking about $5 gasoline this summer.  Which if it happens will devastate BHO's reelection chances.  Bastiat's curse of the unintended consequence rides again.

Gimme that old time Green Religion

Much is made of conservative Christians and Santorum's faith.  But Obama's green theology is far more intrusive, far more arrogant, far more expensive than anything that Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson or the Pope could possibly dream up.  Yet he is never held to account.  Why?  Henry Payne explains.

Obama’s Green messiah complex is a perfect example of the “phony theology” that Rick Santorum was referring to last week — an accusation the press twisted into Santorum questioning Obama’s Christianity. Are these folks stupid? No. But they are victims of a lack of diversity. In the monotheistic MSM newsrooms of today, the culture is intolerant of Green critics (not to mention devout Catholics). “Deniers,” they are called.

If Santorum’s alleged Big Government ideology intrudes on the bedroom, Obama’s religion invades every other room in the house: moral cars for the garage, moral light bulbs in the living room, moral energy feeding the fuse box. The president has followed through on his 2007 pledge to impose his anti-carbon morals on America by spending billions in tax dollars on holy solar panels, divine windmills, and pure batteries.

But he has been especially keen on converting the heathens here in Detroit. His 2007 Des Moines speech drips with moral contempt for Detroit automakers. The “moral challenge,” he preached, “is why I came up with a plan to raise fuel standards.”

And “when I called for a significant increase…in efficiency standards, I didn’t do it in…California,” he continued. “I went to Detroit (derisive laughter from the audience) to propose it in front of the Detroit automakers (applause).”
Yes, those sinners in Detroit.

Did this moral preening gain a Santorum-like headline in the Detroit Free Press: “Obama risks alienating voters with his focus on faith?” Nope. There was no mention of it at all. And not a peep from any other major paper for that matter. They were saving their buckshot for that crazy Republican missionary.

Another $130 Billion down the green statist crapper

Another way to put it is if the US had spent proportionately what Germany spent on solar subsidies we would have blown more than half a trillion dollars.  For essentially nothing.  Nada,  Nicht.  Zilch.  And Germany is lousy solar generating geography to begin with.  Our politicians aren't the only fools in this world.  Bjorn Lomborg has the tale.  Although I take issue with Mr. Lomborg's characterization of this as an 'experiment'.  Blowing $130 Billion isn't an experiment, it's an atrocity.  An atrocity that only a government could commit.

Germany once prided itself on being the “photovoltaic world champion,” doling out generous subsidies — totalling more than US$130-billion, according to research from Germany’s Ruhr University — to citizens to invest in solar energy. But now the German government is vowing to cut the subsidies sooner than planned, and to phase out support over the next five years. What went wrong?
According to Der Spiegel, even members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s staff are now describing the policy as a massive money pit. Philipp Rösler, Germany’s Minister of Economics and Technology, has called the spiralling solar subsidies a “threat to the economy.”

Consumer Sovereignty: Competition is good for us

Want to find a product or service that is getting better at lower cost every day?  Look for a competitive industry.  Want to find products or services that get worse and more expensive every day - look for government enforced monopolies or oligopolies.  As Frederic Bastiat famously said:  "Treat all economic questions from the viewpoint of the consumer, for the interests of the consumer are the interests of the human race."

The economic lessons of "consumer sovereignty," "competition breeds competence" and "free trade benefits consumers" are illustrated in this AP story "For Car Buyers, It's Harder to End Up with a Lemon":
"In the past five years, global competition has forced automakers to improve the quality and reliability of their vehicles — everything from inexpensive mini-cars to decked-out luxury SUVs. The newfound emphasis on quality means fewer problems for owners. It also means more options for buyers, who can buy a car from Detroit or South Korea and know it will hold up like a vehicle from Japan.

With few exceptions, cars are so close on reliability that it's getting harder for companies to charge a premium. So automakers are trying to set themselves apart with sleek, cutting-edge exterior designs and more features such as luxurious interiors, multiple air bags, dashboard computers and touch-screen controls."

"It's a great time to be a consumer," says Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends for the auto pricing website. "You can't really screw up too badly in terms of your vehicle choice." 

Thanks to Morgan Frank and Dale Weaver.

Progressive Style

The Tyranny of the Hip is still Tyranny

Andrew Klavan saying something important about our culture and Charles Murray's new book.

This is so clearly true that the only real question is: why don’t they? If marriage and religion give smart people joy and improve their living standards, why don’t they spread the word?
I believe one reason is the Tyranny of Hip: the unwillingness of grownups to be thought of as uncool. We seem to have a horror of shedding the mantles of the heroes of romance in order to take on the roles of the crusty but wise chaperones. Even when Red State’s Erick Erickson and cultural blogger Dr. Melissa Clouthier among others courageously grasped the nettle recently and took the girls and boys of CPAC to task for dressing like hookers and acting like johns, they were at pains to explain that they were talking about time and place appropriateness not morals — which still didn’t protect them from the usual hail of superior-sounding irony that followed.
No one wants to be the butt of the cool kids’ jokes like that. No critic who values his relevance wants to point out that Bridesmaids soiling themselves while in wedding regalia is not really funny; or that Katy Perry’s hummable hit tunes peddling alcohol abuse and cheap sex to 12-year-olds are reprehensible; or that Sacha Baron Cohen mocking ordinary people for their non-ironic faith, manners or dedication can be at once hilarious and morally wrong — like laughing at a slapstick accident that leaves someone dead. No one wants to turn into the old man waving his cane from the porch rocking chair shouting at the young folks to stop all their goldarned canoodling and quit parading around with their hoo-has and what-nots hanging out, for the love of Mike.
And yet the nation hungers for just such behavior. Witness the recent YouTube video of a father punishing his spoiled daughter for a snarky Facebook post by plugging her laptop with a .45. The thing went viral to the tune of tens of millions of viewers. Why? Because it was wonderful to see someone finally step up and be Daddy.
Being Daddy, no matter what people say, is not primarily a matter of telling people what not to do, nor is it a matter, in my opinion, of scaring them with the consequences of poor behavior. Family leaders rather model, proclaim and support the way people behave when they treat themselves like people instead of meat puppets: i.e. when they make their flesh serve their dignity, love and joy, which sometimes means delaying and even denying more immediate and strictly physical pleasures.
Only (by which I mean only) this essentially spiritual approach to life supports self-governance and justifies liberty. That, if no other reason, is why it’s the responsibility of American grown-ups to teach it to the young. No one wants to be uncool, but the end result of the Tyranny of Hip is tyranny.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"The danger is that the government will use escalating gas prices to do something stupid"

No, not these Poindexters.  They're from Harvard.  

LOUIS WOODHILL: Gasoline isn’t going up — the dollar is going down. Plus this: “Right now, the threat posed by rising gasoline prices is not just to family budgets. An even greater danger is that the government will use escalating oil prices as an excuse to do something stupid.”

The consequences of debauching a currency are far reaching, aren't they?

This just in: Obamanomics is making us sick

People are giving up and filing for disability.  Which is just great of the economy and the deficit.

Showing disrespect to our glorious and mighty Federal state now denies one the right to travel

Break it up, fire them all.  Thugs.

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK: Damaged U.S. Passport Chip Strands Passengers: “Damaging the embedded chip in your passport is now grounds for denying you the ability to travel in at least one airport in the U.S. Though the airport can slide the passport through the little number reader as easily as they can wave it in front of an RFID reader, they chose to deny a young child access to the flight, in essence denying the whole family. The child had accidentally sat on his passport, creasing the cover, and the passport appeared worn. The claim has been made that breaking the chip in the passport shows that you disrespect the privilege of owning a passport, and that the airport was justified in denying this child from using the passport.”

Even the Euros are giving up on 'wind' and 'solar'

Reality is reasserting itself with a vengeance, isn't it?  Statist 'solutions' always end in an orgy of looting and tears.  Always.

I recently posted about how the Netherlandsthe nation known for its iconic windmills, decided to throw in the towel on offshore wind power, as Dutch officials determined the country can no longer afford large scale subsidies for expensive wind turbines that cannot produce electricity at economically competitive prices.

Now there's news that Germany, the country that once prided itself on being the “photovoltaic world champion” is coming to the same conclusion about subsidizing solar energy.  The German government is now planning to cut its generous government subsidies for solar energy (more than $130 billion so far) sooner than planned, and to completely phase out public (i.e. "taxpayer") support over the next five years.  

news report from Copenhagen explains what happened: 

"One of the world’s biggest green-energy public-policy experiments is coming to a bitter end in Germany, with important lessons for policymakers elsewhere.

Ha ha ha ha ha

Our modern energy environmentalists tend to be frauds, fools or both.  Peak wind and solar anybody?

3.  From a new report from Citigroup Global Markets: "The concept of peak oil is being buried in North Dakota, which is now leading the US to be the fastest growing oil producer in the world.  We expect oil production in the U.S. to surprise to the upside. We expect industry expectations to lag behind reality, just as they did with shale gas for many years." (ht: BakkenBlog News)

Meanwhile, things aren't as bright for green energy....
4. "The wind power industry is predicting massive layoffs and stalled or abandoned projects after a deal to renew a tax credit failed Thursday in Washington.  Up to 37,000 jobs, many in Illinois, could be lost as projects are halted or abandoned."  Peak wind subsidies?  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Left Wing Imperialism?

Yankee go home.

CANADA: Campaign against Canadian Keystone XL pipeline driven by US foundation millions. “A Powerpoint presentation obtained by The Daily Caller shows that during a July 2008 meeting, the $789 million Rockefeller Brothers Fund proposed to coordinate and fund a dozen environmental and anti-corporate activist groups’ efforts to scuttle pipelines carrying tar sands oil from Canada to the United States.”

Kind of reminds me of the foundations’ astroturfing of campaign finance “reform.”

Michelle Antoinnette

Nancy Reagan would have been crucified for this kind of behavior.  Crucified.   But as Orwell explained:  "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others".  Meet the New Boss, worse than the Old Boss.

PAUL BEDRARD: Michelle’s ski trip marks 16 Obama vacations. “First lady Michelle Obama’s weekend jaunt to Aspen, Colorado for a President’s Day ski holiday with her daughters Sasha and Malia makes the 16th time members of the first family have gone on extended vacations during their three years in office.”

Friday, February 17, 2012

Governments never give up their power voluntarily. It has to be pried from their grasping hands.

A crack down on marijuana.  Marijuana!  So many people believed so many lies from the king of Chicago style Liberalism.  Rubes indeed.

HEY, RUBE! Rolling Stone: Obama’s War on Pot: In a shocking about-face, the administration has launched a government-wide crackdown on medical marijuana.

Back when he was running for president in 2008, Barack Obama insisted that medical marijuana was an issue best left to state and local governments. “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue,” he vowed, promising an end to the Bush administration’s high-profile raids on providers of medical pot, which is legal in 16 states and the District of Columbia.

But over the past year, the Obama administration has quietly unleashed a multi­agency crackdown on medical cannabis that goes far beyond anything undertaken by George W. Bush.

This is what happens when a society screws its children

And with Social Security and Medicare just ramping up on top of a mountain of debt, it is going to get worse.  Much worse.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Student Debt Hinders Housing. “As outstanding student debt approaches $1 trillion, it’s one more reason record-low interest rates aren’t doing more to boost housing. The tighter lending standards that have emerged in the wake of the recession weigh particularly on younger, first-time home buyers, according to a Federal Reserve study sent to Congress on Jan. 4. These households tend to be younger and often have relatively new credit profiles, lower-than-average credit scores and fewer economic resources to make a large down payment, the report said.”

Yep. It’s harder to qualify for a mortgage when you basically already have one.

Mad, insane, out of control law enforcement

Be careful with your kids...the state is just itching to punish you.

TURNING PARENTS INTO CRIMINALS: Your Child Belongs To The State. “Here’s a big omnibus article by David Pimentel of the Florida Costal School of Law on all the ways you are potentially legally screwed if you let your kid dostuff that was considered normal at some point in the less intensively parented past.”

Plus this observation from Bryan Caplan: “In absolute terms, I’m not worried about being persecuted by child welfare services. But power-mad bureaucrats probably outnumber kidnappers and serial killers at least a thousand to one.”

And they’re less likely to be held accountable. I highly recommend Bryan Caplan’s book, by the way.

To infinity and beyond

It would be nice if The One made even a pretense of trying to deal with this catastrophe.

From Lassiez Faire to Lassiez Nuts - Our increasingly insane Federal regulatory regime

The Economist explains just how insane the regulatory state has become.  They take particular aim at the looniest of them all:  Dodd-Frank.

Consider the Dodd-Frank law of 2010. Its aim was noble: to prevent another financial crisis. Its strategy was sensible, too: improve transparency, stop banks from taking excessive risks, prevent abusive financial practices and end “too big to fail” by authorising regulators to seize any big, tottering financial firm and wind it down. This newspaper supported these goals at the time, and we still do. But Dodd-Frank is far too complex, and becoming more so. At 848 pages, it is 23 times longer than Glass-Steagall, the reform that followed the Wall Street crash of 1929. Worse, every other page demands that regulators fill in further detail. Some of these clarifications are hundreds of pages long. Just one bit, the “Volcker rule”, which aims to curb risky proprietary trading by banks, includes 383 questions that break down into 1,420 subquestions.

Hardly anyone has actually read Dodd-Frank, besides the Chinese government and our correspondent in New York (seearticle). Those who have struggle to make sense of it, not least because so much detail has yet to be filled in: of the 400 rules it mandates, only 93 have been finalised. So financial firms in America must prepare to comply with a law that is partly unintelligible and partly unknowable.

The average guy will spend many times that getting her into the sack in the first place...

Hmmm: "According to Planned Parenthood, birth control pills cost between $15 to $50 a month, depending on health insurance coverage and type of pill. On an annual basis, that means the Pill costs between $160 to $600."

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Educational Spending: a Solyndra in the classroom

The immense, stunning waste of resources that our 'educational' 'institutions' have perpetrated on our society is an utter scandal.  Another way our glorious Federal state destroys our wealth and our children's futures.  Read the whole thing here.  From Forbes.

So, it appears that our massive “investments” in education have produced no measurable economic return. Should we be surprised by this? No. Average scores on standardized tests have not risen, despite the fact that we are “investing” seven times as much in real terms in each student than we did six decades ago. So, even by the measures used by the educational establishment, it is clear that the higher spending has not created any additional human capital.
The nation and its people would be much better off today if most of the additional “investment” in education that we have made over the past six decades had been used to create more nonresidential produced assets. GDP, real wages, and our standard of living would all be considerably higher.

Subsidizing failure for the cronies

The economics of EVs are terrible - unless you can get oil to $200 a barrel which is wildly unlikely.  Yet the Obami are increasing the subsidies on EVs to 10K per car.  At a time when America is bankrupt.  Attaboy Barry.  You exhibit the spirit that made Chicago.....corrupt.

MORE TROUBLES FOR electric-car battery makers. “If oil can get up to $200 per barrel and stay there then the prospects of EV makers will brighten somewhat. But it is questionable whether the global economy can support sustained high oil prices. As long oil prices dampen demand below the level at which EVs become competitive it is hard for EVs to become an effective substitute for oil-powered cars.”
DOUBLING DOWN: Obama’s proposed budget calls for upping plug-in vehicle tax credit to $10,000. “Getting to a million plug-ins in four years will be tough. Last year, the top two plug-ins, the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf, sold just 17,345 units, combined.”

Where have all the jobbies gone?

I wonder if Pete Seeger will sing this one at Obama's renomination.  The proportion of Americans who are employed continues to collapse under the oh so progressive leadership of our first law lecturer.  The decline from the end of the recession represents tens of millions of irretrievably lost years of productive effort.  Heckuva job, Barry.

Hope!  Change!

Doin' the Crony

The Obami do crony capitalism so well.  I wonder whether he learned it in Indonesia - where it's been elevated to an art form, or in Chicago, where it's been elevated to form.  Let's all do the Crony.

The Washington Post has found $3.9 billion in taxpayer funds were sent to 21 firms with ties to the Obama administration:
Sanjay Wagle was a venture capitalist and Barack Obama fundraiser in 2008, rallying support through a group he headed known as Clean Tech for Obama.
Shortly after Obama’s election, he left his California firm to join the Energy Department, just as the administration embarked on a massive program to stimulate the economy with federal investments in clean-technology firms.
Following an enduring Washington tradition, Wagle shifted from the private sector, where his firm hoped to profit from federal investments, to an insider’s seat in the administration’s $80 billion clean-energy investment program.
He was one of several players in venture capital, which was providing financial backing to start-up clean-tech companies, who moved into the Energy Department at a time when the agency was seeking outside expertise in the field. At the same time, their industry had a huge stake in decisions about which companies would receive government loans, grants and support.
During the next three years, the department provided $2.4 billion in public funding to clean-energy companies in which Wagle’s former firm,Vantage Point Venture Partners, had invested, a Washington Post analysis found. Overall, the Post found that $3.9 billion in federal grants and financing flowed to 21 companies backed by firms with connections to five Obama administration staffers and advisers.
The rest here.

Atlas Shrugged: not history, prophecy

The Hill: Six House Democrats, led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), want to set up a “Reasonable Profits Board” to control gas profits.
The Democrats, worried about higher gas prices, want to set up a board that would apply a “windfall profit tax” as high as 100 percent on the sale of oil and gas, according to their legislation.
…The Gas Price Spike Act, H.R. 3784, would apply a windfall tax on the sale of oil and gas that ranges from 50 percent to 100 percent on all surplus earnings exceeding “a reasonable profit.” It would set up a Reasonable Profits Board made up of three presidential nominees that will serve three-year terms.
And here directly from the proposed bill:
(4) REASONABLE PROFIT.—The term ‘reasonable profit’ means the amount determined by the Reasonable Profits Board to be a reasonable profit on the sale.
Addendum: Here is Bryan Caplan’s classic, Atlas Shrugged and Public Choice: The Obvious Parallels and here is the award-winning Atlas Shrugged app.

Business Leaders: "College Sucks"

Is there any more fraudulent institution in America today that the modern 'college'?

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Business Leaders See Higher Education as Hampering Economic Growth.“The rising cost of higher education, its indifferent quality, its resistance to change, and its lack of accountability are endangering the nation’s prospects for future economic growth, according to a report on the views of business executives that was released today by Public Agenda and the Committee for Economic Development. The report, which draws on focus groups last year with 27 executives in Ohio and Texas, and on telephone interviews with 12 others, echoes the concerns that business leaders have expressed in two other recent reports that cover similar terrain.”

Evidence for the Capital Strike

It just goes on and on and on and....

But the good news is with a change in governing philosophy there could be a rapid snap back.  There's hope for change.

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Gallup: Health Costs, Gov’t Regulations Curb Small Business Hiring.

We're on the road to nowhere

And a feckless former untenured law lecturer is leading us there.

JOHN STOSSEL: We Are On The Road To Bankruptcy. “What the president was talking about is not even a cut. The politicians just agreed that over the next 10 years, instead of increasing spending by $9.48 trillion, they’d increase it by ‘just’ $7.3 trillion. Calling that a ‘cut’ is nonsense.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bad news brainwise

The mental acuity decline curve.

If their students were customers, they couldn't behave this way

But the public schools have inmates, not customers.  So why shouldn't the principle think of them as criminals.

TODAY IN GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS: LAUSD Principal Focuses On Real Miramonte Criminals: The Children. “That both teachers and administrators view parents and students as the enemy is an open secret. But it’s rare that you see it expressed so baldly.”

The drive to dominate is innate

Even among pedantic losers supervising elementary school children.  All they need to do so is the State's guns, shackles and money.  Without it they become merely pedantic losers.  Break it up, break it all up.

NANNY STATE UPDATE: Preschooler’s Homemade Lunch Replaced with Cafeteria “Nuggets:” State agent inspects sack lunches, forces preschoolers to purchase cafeteria food instead. “A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because a state employee told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious. The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the agent who was inspecting all lunch boxes in her More at Four classroom that day.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Barack Obama: Our Federal Underpants Gnome

South Park had an episode where "underpants gnomes" were implementing and exciting new business plan plan.  You can watch the key parts of the episode here.  Essentially it went like this:

1. Collect Underpants
2. ?
3. Profits

President Obama's newly released budget is in the finest Underpants Gnome tradition.  Essentially, one can describe it's logic as:

1. Collect Underpants
2. ?
3.  Balanced Budget and Prosperity

And it also makes about as much sense as a crude cartoon about tiny imaginary men does.

Hope!  Change!  Underpants.

The Momma's Boys index

Percent of young men living with their parents is highly correlated with social and financial collapse.  Not surprising, really.

Apple accounts for more than 100% of the S&P's earnings growth last quarter

Stunning.  And frightening.

Courtesy of Ajay Makan and Dan McCrum at the FT, Barclays Capital estimates that based on reporting thus far earnings growth for S&P 500 companies was 7 percent in Q4. 
But if you strip out Apple, that plummets to 2.9 percent. One company, in other words, is responsible for most of the earnings growth among the large cap firms in the index.

Crony Capitalism pays in America as much as third world countries

Economists show that markets reward political connections in the US as much as they do in corrupt, third world countries with weak institutions.  Markets don't do that unless it's substantially true.  From an article about our nation's leading Crony Capitalist, Warren Buffet.

Having the correct political connections was critical. A National Bureau of Economic Research study by four researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, documented the power of such connections. Economist Daron Acemoglu and his colleagues found that when Timothy Geithner, a man who had spent his career shuttling back and forth between Wall Street and Washington, was announced as President Obama’s nominee for treasury secretary, it “produced a cumulative abnormal return for Geithner-connected financial firms of around 15 percent from day 0.” The stock market reflects the thinking of all investors, and they clearly believed Geithner would be able to reward his friends directly or indirectly.
Conversely, when there was word that Geithner’s nomination might be derailed by tax issues, those same firms were hit hard with “abnormal negative returns.” Acemoglu et al. systematically examined companies that had corporate ties to Geithner, had executives who served with him on other boards, or had other direct relationships. They found that “the quantitative effect is comparable to standard findings” in Third World countries with weak institutions and higher levels of corruption. In other words, markets react to government actions in the U.S. the same way they do in a corrupt developing country. Crony capitalism pays, and the market knows it.

Are Colleges Ripping us off?

In a word:  yes.

Are State Colleges Ripping Us Off?

A. Barton Hinkle | February 10

Half of all college students make no learning gains in their first two years, and 36 percent show no significant intellectual growth even after four years.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Are Colleges becoming finishing schools for women?

I believe that most residential colleges will become social institutions rather than primarily educational.  Technology will democratize access to the best teaching, meaning that snobs (who are ever with us) will double down on the 'elite' residential college and emphasize certain forms of 'decorum' to differentiate themselves from the hoi polloi.

It won't work.  But they'll blow trillions trying.

Are Liberal Arts Colleges Becoming Finishing Schools for Women?

I spent the morninig laughing and being intrigued by a book called Worthless: The Indispensable Guide to Choosing the Right Major by a guy named Aaron Clarey. On the back of the book is picture that (I assume) is Clarey louging on what looks like the beach with an Army t-shirt on smoking a big cigar. This is the guy who is going to give you or your kid some good practical advice on how to pick a major in college.
The book takes aim at “Big Education” and in non-PC terms lets the reader know what is happening inside higher ed. Clarey has a wicked sense of humor and his graphs and charts just add to the fun. There is one that shows the breakdown of what he calls “worthless degrees.” “Nearly 70% of worthless degrees are awarded to women” he states along with a chart showing the breakdown of 68% of women to 32% of males who get these worthless degrees. Worthless degrees include those such as Women’s studies, sociology, philosophy, psychology, education and the liberal arts and humanities. In other words, those majors that avoid math.
It does seem to me at times that colleges are becoming finishing schools for women. I wonder if this is why many men avoid them?

There’s nothing reformist, nothing change-oriented about Barack Obama" - Fleisher

I disagree.  I think there's lots of 'change orientation'.  It's just not reformist.  Ari points out that all of the 'money out of politics' blather emanating from The One is just that.  Blather from the biggest private fundraiser in the history of political fundraising. More here.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Super PACS. That’s called free speech and everybody is entitled to it. Here’s the problem, though, with what Barack Obama has done. This is part of a pattern of behavior with Barack Obama that goes back to 2008. If you recall back then, he said he would accept public financing for the campaign, just as John McCain did. Then as soon as he figured out he could actually raise more money than public financing would get him, he flip-flopped on that issue and took unlimited money to fund his campaign. He also, because he wants to act as if he’s changing Washington as a reformer, said he wouldn’t allow any lobbyists at the White House, then he gave wavers for lobbyists. He said his staff wouldn’t be allowed to meet with lobbyists in the White House. So what did they do? They walked out the front door of the White House, across the park, and to the Caribou Coffee House where they met with lobbyists. And now this flip-flop on the Super PAC idea itself. This is a super flip-flop. But worse than that, it’s a president who has to act as if he is smarter, better, more moralistic than all his opponents, everybody else, while his pattern of behavior is to have words that are wind, but his actions are just like everybody’s else’s in Washington. There’s nothing reformist, nothing change-oriented about Barack Obama when you get to the heart of it.

Europeanization of the Welfare State - NYT

It used to be one of the defining characteristics of the US welfare system was its focus.  Most of the money came from the top and went to the bottom.  This contrasted with European welfare states where far more of the benefits went to the broad middle class than the poor.  One of the goals of the Obami has been to make our system more European.  And according to the New  York Times, they've succeeded.  This is before the massive Healthcare 'Reform' bill is implemented which will no doubt increase the dollars flowing to the (older) middle class from the (younger) poor.

This isn't about compassion.  It never was.  It's about getting and holding power.  And it's the middle class who vote.  Screw the poor, they're just a bunch of damned non-voting criminals.

It's all so progressive.

LINDSTROM, Minn. -- Ki Gulbranson owns a logo apparel shop, deals in jewelry on the side and referees youth soccer games. He makes about $39,000 a year and wants you to know that he does not need any help from the federal government.

He says that too many Americans lean on taxpayers rather than living within their means. He supports politicians who promise to cut government spending. In 2010, he printed T-shirts for the Tea Party campaign of a neighbor, Chip Cravaack, who ousted this region's long-serving Democratic congressman.

Yet this year, as in each of the past three years, Mr. Gulbranson, 57, is counting on a payment of several thousand dollars from the federal government, a subsidy for working families called the earned-income tax credit. He has signed up his three school-age children to eat free breakfast and lunch at federal expense. And Medicare paid for his mother, 88, to have hip surgery twice.

There is little poverty here in Chisago County, northeast of Minneapolis, where cheap housing for commuters is gradually replacing farmland. But Mr. Gulbranson and many other residents who describe themselves as self-sufficient members of the American middle class and as opponents of government largess are drawing more deeply on that government with each passing year.

Dozens of benefits programs provided an average of $6,583 for each man, woman and child in the county in 2009, a 69 percent increase from 2000 after adjusting for inflation. In Chisago, and across the nation, the government now provides almost $1 in benefits for every $4 in other income.

...The government safety net was created to keep Americans from abject poverty, but the poorest households no longer receive a majority of government benefits. A secondary mission has gradually become primary: maintaining the middle class from childhood through retirement. The share of benefits flowing to the least affluent households, the bottom fifth, has declined from 54 percent in 1979 to 36 percent in 2007, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis published last year.

The 'Yellow Peril"

Massive discrimination against Asians in admissions to our most elite campuses.  Imagine that:  our most 'progressive, egalitarian' institutions applying a racial double standard  Didn't see that one coming...

Racial Disparity in acceptance rates

Racism has consequences.

Gender Pay gap App

Finds a shocking disparity in incomes between men and women. reported this week that "The Obama administration recently launched a software development competition designed to help achieve equal pay in the workforce for American women. The competition has several prize categories, including five scholarships to attend an 8-week design and entrepreneurship program. Another winner will get $5,000 from a private nonprofit to help further develop their app."

It's called the Equal Pay App Challenge, and here's some information from the competition's website:

"Nearly 50 years after President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, on average women are still paid less than their male counterparts for doing comparable jobs – that’s called the pay gap. It means that each time the average woman starts a new job, she’s likely to start from a lower base salary, but it also means that over time the pay gap between her and her male colleagues is likely to become wider and wider.

For the average working woman, the pay gap means $150 less in her weekly paycheck, $8,000 less at the end of the year, and $380,000 less over her lifetime. For women of color and women with disabilities, the disparity is even bigger. Your challenge is to use publicly available labor data and other online resources to educate users about the pay gap and to build tools to promote equal pay."

Here's an example of how the app might work for some women, based on these salary data:

Enter Your Marital Status: Single

Enter whether you work full-time or part-time: Full-time

Enter the number of children you have: Zero

Do you work in a large U.S. city? Yes

Enter your age: Under 30 years old

Enter your city of employment below, and the Equal Pay App will report the gender pay gap for your demographic group in your geographic area.  A negative (positive) pay gap reflects lower (higher) median full-time salaries for women in your group (single, childless, under 30 years old) compared to your male counterparts.

Atlanta: +20% pay gap in favor of women

Memphis: +20% pay gap in favor of women

New York City: +17% pay gap in favor of women

Los Angeles: +12% pay gap in favor of women

San Diego: +15% pay gap in favor of women

Charlotte: +14% pay gap in favor of women

Shortages emerging for 180 critical drugs

It must be the Pharmaco's fault.  Right?  BHO and his executive orders remind me of Allende or Castro or Mao shrieking at 'capitalist hoarders' and demanding campaigns of vigilance.  He's a clueless leftist academic. Always was, always will be.

HEALTH CARE: Supply of a Cancer Drug May Run Out Within Weeks. “A crucial medicine to treat childhood leukemia is in such short supply that hospitals across the country may exhaust their stores within the next two weeks, leaving hundreds and perhaps thousands of children at risk of dying from a largely curable disease, federal officials and cancer doctors say.”

This seems kinda third-worldish to me. And these shortages keep happening.

UPDATE: Reader Don Jansen writes: “So price controls are imposed on injectable drugs and lo and behold a shortage arises. Who would have thunk it?” Indeed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Physician-reader Eric Novack writes: “Glenn- these shortages are very real… one center I work at has trouble getting propofol for anesthesia and another cannot get zofran (ondansetron), one of the most effective anti-nausea drugs on the market…” Very upsetting.

MORE: More here: “Again, the reader is left with the impression that drug manufacturers are hugely incompetent, failing to produce the needed amount of drugs even in the face of rising prices. Thank goodness President Obama is on the case, issuing executive orders! But the existence of any kind of shortage in a market-driven economy should make one’s nose twinkle. One drug shortage might be some kind of freakish anomaly, but 180 crucial drug shortages? The usual suspect in these kind of situations is the dead hand of government, and according to bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel, writing in last August’s New York Times, that’s exactly the case. . . . In other words, government has distorted the market and removed incentives for the production of life-saving drugs. And the New York Times’ readership, unless they somehow recall Emanuel’s opinion piece, are left none the wiser.”

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Obamacare plus the FDA: a recipe for disinvestment

Couple pending price controls and limitations with the utterly (and under the Obami, increasingly) insane FDA regulatory regime and there is precious little room for actual health care innovation.  The result:  massive disinvestment in the sector, with labs closing and companies returning their capital to the shareholders.  It's really the only prudent course.  The capital strike continues....

Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles 2

My oh my how the worm has turned.  Germany couldn't conquer Europe with guns so now it is conquering it with...Euros.
Cartoon of Greek men trying on German clothing

The real reason Obama's going to lose

With Gas prices set to be above $4 all summer (thanks in part to Obama's environmental fundamentalism), the American people are going to be very, very angry at him.

CHANGE: Gas prices to spike 60 cents by May. Tank up!

The Drug War: insane, out of control, unAmerican

And people get mad at me for calling it fascist.

TEN YEARS IN PRISON FOR SUDAFED? “Tough break. That’s 2 to 10 years. Should have committed armed robbery. The average sentence is 2 to 6 months for that in West Virginia.”

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Warehousing a larger and larger proportion of our population

We are becoming Europe.  It's all so progressive.

I suspect you'll be hearing a lot about this email from former Reagan OMB director David Stockman (whose relationship with mainstream-conservative budget and economics gurus is long and complicated) contending the official unemployment rate in the Bureau of Labor Statistics report is "made up." I'd focus on one significant point that is mentioned halfway through and almost ignored: "The plain fact is that we are warehousing a larger and larger population of adults who are one way or another living off transfer payments, relatives, sub-prime credit, and the black market." 

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Well at least she's honest

“I would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.”

Monday, February 06, 2012

Attaboy, Barry, Pipeline Style

It’s hard to remember when an American president missed such an easy layup.  Canada has vast oil resources right next door.  Under a conservative prime minister it is ready and willing to enter long term agreements that would provide the US with secure and abundant supplies of oil for decades to come. Those safe and secure oil supplies would be America’s ace in the hole in both geopolitical and economic terms.  They would make America a more attractive platform for manufacturing and they would underscore the country’s comparative advantage compared to less well endowed economies in East Asia and Europe.
But President Obama seems uninterested, blocking the Keystone pipeline and siding with those who hate virtually every form of energy generation that exists: coal, nuclear, oil, natural gas (fracked), hydroelectric, even wind if the turbines threaten to block the view from the oceanside homes of the well connected and well bred.
Now we are getting the comeuppance we deserve: Canada’s prime minister is off to China to have a nice long talk about deepening Canadian-Chinese oil energy cooperation.
Great work, Mr. President.  Great job, greens. The Canadian oil sands will be producing all the oil, with all the CO2 you said you wanted to stop.  The US national interest and the well being of the middle class are taking a big knock, the environment gets no benefit whatever, and this is what greens are calling a win

Me, I'm trying to be really, really good

ALTRUISM: “The research shows that good deeds among men increase when presented with an opportunity to copulate. Theoretically, this suggests that a good deed is the human equivalent of the peacock’s tail. Practically, this research shows how societies can encourage selfless acts.”

All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than other Department

SO IF A MAN GETS DRUNK AND SLEEPS WITH A WOMAN HE WOULDN’T HAVE SLEPT WITH SOBER, it’s humorous grist for jokes about “beer goggles” and “coyote ugly.” But if a woman does the same thing, woe unto anyone who suggests it wasn’t “date rape.” It’s nice to see people pointing out the contradiction in the comments.

UPDATE: A reader points out that that’s not the only double standard:
A former high school teacher has admitted to raping one of her students , but she won’t be serving time behind bars nor will she be forced to register as a sex offender.
On Thursday Brenda Ray pled guilty to three counts of rape.
Ray was arrested last summer for supplying a 16-year-old boy booze, cocaine and pot in addition to having sex with him off-campus on at least three occasions.
Officials say the victim was in Ray’s English class back in 2007 at Rio Rancho High School.
Ray taught at Cleveland High in addition to RRHS before she quit last summer before her arrest.
Ray pled guilty to the charges against her on Thursday and as part of her plea deal she was sentenced to three years probation.
While prosecutors asked she have to register as a sex offender Judge George Eichwald gave her a pass.
No double standard there. I’m sure a male teacher would have gotten exactly the same punishment for the same behavior.