Sunday, September 30, 2012

One Day; 5 Muslim Murders In S. Thailand

The following is a story in the Sunday, September 30th Bangkok Post newspaper.   It is just one story of one day of unprovoked Thai Muslim atrocities against innocent Thai citizens: mostly women, children and elderly people.
Seventeen people, one of them a policeman, were injured when two M79 grenades were fired into local fair in Narathiwat's Bacho district Saturday. Police said the grenades were fired into the crowded fair selling products native to the area opposite Bacho district police station at about 7.20pm. Four security volunteers and 12 fair-goers sustained shrapnel wounds.
Some of them were also trampled by panicked people trying to flee the scene. The injured, who were not identified, were taken to Bacho Hospital. Authorities closed off the fair venue as forensic experts were due to arrive at the scene this morning.
Meanwhile, five people died in separtate attacks in the far South yesterday.
In Pattani, Sen Sgt Maj Mustorfa Laehae, 44, of Pattani police station, was killed in a drive-by shooting in Ban Sue Dung in Sai Buri district. He was shot in the head and died later in hospital.
In Yala's Muang district, a woman was killed and her husband seriously injured in a drive-by shooting. The victims were identified as Saowaluck Sitthiphan, 29, of Ban Na Tham in Muang district, and her husband Prinya Sitthiphan, 31, a technician at the Yala irrigation office.
They were travelling on a motorcycle around 8am in Ban Kampan in tambon Tha Sab when a gunman riding pillion on another motorcycle fired at them with a handgun.
Also in Yala, a woman was seriously wounded in a drive-by shooting on the Yala-Batong road at Ban Ka Sode in Bannang Sata district. Duangnate Kamsri, 34, of tambon Tham Thalu in Bannang Sata, was shot in the torso.
In Yaha district, Kuem Sukkarn, 72, a resident of tambon Tachi, was shot dead as he rode his motorcycle to a market.
In Pattani's Muang district, a traditional medicine trader was shot and killed outside the central mosque.
Mama Arwae, 43, was selling medicine at his stall when two men on a motorcycle fired shots at him. Police said Mama worked as a police informant.
In Southern Thailand, there have been 5,000  Buddhist citizens murdered by Islamic idiots since 2004.  In peaceful Thailand, this is an incredibly outrageous and ignorant calamity. Relative to the Thai population, it is similar to the total US fatalities in the Vietnam war.  The violence is supposedly to promote a regional separation from Thailand or possibly to join Malaysia (Malaysia doesn't want them).

As in all other parts of the Muslim world, this violence continues because no citizen informs the authorities of sons, friends, brothers or cousins that are making bombs, buying grenades, hiding guns and plotting attacks.  These people are criminals plain and simple.

Because no citizen stands up for what is right, the entire community is complicit in the violence! 

It's not just the "radical element" like the "politically correct" would like you to believe.  The violence is supported by Muslim scripture, teachings and many religious leaders everywhere and tolerated by the entire Muslim community.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

ObamaCare's Administrative Nightmare

Check out a link to the ObamaCare administrative flow chart shown below.    How the law will work (or doesn't)  may not be as "clearly" defined as would be implied from the flowchart.

Richard Epstein, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, in his article "The ObamaCare Quagmire",  says that the law is so poorly written, so poorly designed that it seems "built to fail."

The chart below was prepared by Kevin Brady, a Republican representative from Texas representing large parts of Houston and Beaumont.  If even remotely accurate, it would seem to validate Richard Epstein's analysis about certain failure.   (Click on the image or the link above for a large version. )

From the Dailybail.com,
The new law creates 68 grant programs, 47 bureaucratic entities, 29 demonstration or pilot programs, 6 regulatory systems, 6 compliance standards and 2 entitlements. What could possibly go wrong?  

What could go wrong?    "..and it won't add a dime to the deficit!!"

According to Yahoo News, Obama said repeatedly that his healthcare "won't add a dime to the deficit."   Here's Obama's quotes;
"I want to be very clear," said President Barack Obama on July 18, 2009, in a weekly address to the nation. "I will not sign on to any health plan that adds to our deficits over the next decade."
He said it again at a Town Hall in Shaker Height, Ohio, five days later: "And I mean it," and again before a joint session of Congress two months later -- "period."
So, perhaps now the president can explain why the new report by the Congressional Budget Office said his national health care law will cost $1.76 trillion "over the next decade" rather than the $940 billion he said it would cost.
It won't add a dime, it will add $1.7 trillion to the deficit! 

1 Million "Obama Phones" in Ohio

If you're like me, you would feel certain that there is little or no "vote buying" in 2012 America, right?

Well, a report from Ohio says that an FCC program has given out over 1 million free mobile phones to "poor" people and the program having rapidly expanding in recent months.  Local African Americans in Ohio have been quoted as saying that "Obama has my vote, he gave me a free phone!"

I've written recently that the cost of a number of Federal Programs have been exploding under the Obama administration.  Social Security Disability costs have doubled during the Obama administration and Food Stamp costs have also doubled during this administration.

Now we hear about another program where costs have doubled under this administration. It's the FCC's lifeline program. That Federal program gives out "free phones" to needy people has increased by 50% in last year alone!  Program costs have doubled since 2008 from $772 million to $1.5 billion last year after cell phones were included in 2008.

Everything in Washington is now completely out of control:  departments and programs are un-budgeted, un-managed and un-supervised. There are no adults in charge! When there are no budgets, of course things will be completely out of control!  We're witnessing an orgy of out-of-control spending and hearing about it in bits and pieces.

Oh, and you don't like it, you must be racist!  

From Josh Sweigart at the Dayton Daily News
A program that provides subsidized phone service to low-income individuals has nearly doubled in size in Ohio in the past year — now covering more than a million people. At the same time, federal officials say they’re reining in waste, fraud and abuse in the program. [Isn't that nice of them to admit that spending is out of control and they are now trying to manage your taxpayer dollars?!!]
The Federal Communications Commission announced recently that reforms have saved $43 million since January and are expected to save $200 million by year’s end. In Ohio, savings are expected to be $2.9 million a year.  [only in the world of government does a slight reduction of rapid increases constitute a "cut"---it's a world that none of us ordinary people live in]
The savings were realized in part because the government gave out fewer cellphones to ineligible people and took steps to avoid issuing duplicate phones. [wonderful!]
But the size of the program in the state — and profits to the increasing number of cellphone companies involved — has exploded in recent months, according to a Dayton Daily News analysis of program data.  [here's where the bribery allegations come in]

The program in Ohio cost $26.9 million in the first quarter of 2012, the most recent data available, versus $15.6 million in the same timeframe in 2011. Compared to the first quarter of 2011, the number of people in the program nearly doubled to more than a million.
Growth could cost everyone who owns a phone. The program is funded through the “Universal Service Fund” charge on phone bills — usually a dollar or two per bill — and the amount of the fee is determined by the cost of this and other programs.  [Yes, taxpayers are being charged to bribe Obama voters with free phones...]
A growth of $100 million in this program could result in an increased fee of a few cents on the average bill, according to officials from the agency that administers the program. The total cost of the program nationwide was $1.5 billion in 2011, up from $1.1 billion in 2010.  
The program cost $772 million in 2008, so we have another Federal program doubling in cost since 2008.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Good News From Benghazi, Libya

From Max Boot at Commentary Magazine,
Libyans have taken to the streets en masse in Benghazi to make clear their anger at the militia groups they hold responsible for the attack that killed the popular American ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his colleagues. Fed up that Libya’s nascent, moderate government is unable to disarm militias, the people have taken the task into their own hands, forcibly disarming several militia groups and storming the headquarters of the extremist Ansar al Sharia group. Some 30,000 people marched through Benghazi, bearing signs that included “We want justice for Chris” and “The ambassador was Libya’s friend.” Protesters even chanted at Ansar al Sharia members: “You terrorists, you cowards. Go back to Afghanistan.”
Finally, after years and years of waiting for something resembling sanity from the Muslim world, we have ONE sign that intelligent life exists.   After so many atrocities committed by Muslims around the world, seemingly wherever Muslims exist, there is finally a sign of outrage at the behavior of their radical elements.

Still, in nearly every other place, there is deafening silence after atrocities are committed. If a newspaper publishes a cartoon, or if there is even a perceived insult, people are murdered and howls of protests around the world ensue.  But if the Chinese slaughter 182 Uighur Muslims in Western China to quell protests, there isn't a peep of protest nor condemnation.  There is no logic at all and never has been.

Muslim Violence in Southern Thailand

In Southern Thailand, there have been 5,000 mostly innocent Buddhist citizens murdered by Islamic idiots since the early 2000s.  In peaceful Thailand, this is an incredibly outrageous and ignorant calamity. Relative to the Thai population, it is equivalent to the US fatalities in the Vietnam war.  The violence is supposedly to promote a regional separation from Thailand or possibly to join Malaysia (Malaysia doesn't want them).   As in all other parts of the world, this violence continues because no citizen informs the authorities of sons, brothers, cousins that are making bombs, hiding guns and plotting attacks. These people are criminals plain and simple.

Because no citizen stands up for what is right, the entire community is complicit in the violence!

Eventually the Thai authorities will have enough of this and there will be round-ups, curfews and incarcerations.  Soon Southern Thailand will become even more of an Islamic hell--all because there are no members of the community with the sense, intelligence or courage to put an end to the violence.

Just a few days ago, a car bomb in Pattani killed 6 people and injured 44.   This is routine now despite years of efforts by the government to talk and negotiate with the community.  There will be no end until the people stand up and stop it.  I say good luck waiting for that.

But finally, in Benghazi, after years and years of waiting for some sign of intelligence, common sense or responsibility anywhere in the world, we get one hopeful glimpse of sanity and courage to fight the criminals and in-sane.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Global Warming Made Easy

Major Points of this Blog Post 
The main points of this post are as follows.  Supporting graphs and figures follow below (click on any to enlarge).
  1. In the past 50 years, atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased from about 0.032% to 0.038%. That's 380 parts per million or still an exceedingly small number. It still causes warming, let's be truthful.  For comparison purposes, your exhaled breath has 100 times that carbon dioxide at 4.0%  or 40,000 parts per million.
  2. Yes, the Earth has warmed about 0.9 deg C or 1.6 deg F during the past 100 years, which shouldn't cause panic at this time. Yes, man is causing it
  3. There is more warming in the higher Northern latitudes--including the Arctic and Greenland---than anywhere else.
  4. There are natural variations in the Earth's orbit that cause regular ice ages and warming periods. We're in a natural warming cycle now and have been for 20,000 years. Sure, man's CO2 emissions are causing the slight gradual warming over the past 100 years. 
  5. Sea levels are rising about 0.2 cm per year (about 1/10th of an inch per year) or about 10 inches in 100 years. To put that in perspective, the sea has risen 400 feet in 20,000 years, since the peak in glaciation at that time.
  6. The permanent ice in the Arctic sea in the summer is becoming significantly smaller.  Of course the Arctic sea re-freezes each winter.
  7. The main Antarctic ice cap is stable or possibly increasing in extent and volume.   The Antarctic contains 70% of all fresh water on the planet.  
  8. Greenland's Ice cap is melting slowly due to the warming Arctic temperatures -- which is worrying.
  9. The Ocean will ultimately absorb all of the emitted carbon dioxide, but the absorption rate of plants, land and ocean together is about 1/2 the rate of our emissions.  This means that we would have to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% to just to halt CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere.   CO2 levels will rise unless CO2 emissions are reduced by 50 to 60%.  Cap and Trade doesn't reduce emissions at all.
  10. The cost to reduce CO2 emissions is so high that it will not be done.  The cost to mitigate the effects of rising sea levels, varying temperatures and climate effects is much, MUCH cheaper and easier to do.
Why Are There Ice Ages (and Natural Climate Changes)?

A Serbian scientist named Milutin Milankovitch quantified long-cycle variations of the earth's orbit around the sun.   From the excellent NASA website, the orbit variations are of three types:  
  1. The circle around the sun becomes more oval and less circular (and back to circular).   This cycle is about 100,000 years long.   This means the Earth moves closer to the Sun at times when it's orbit is more "elliptical."
  2. The seasonal tilt of the Earth varies over 41,000 years between 22 deg and 24 degrees. The less the tilt, the less solar radiation at the higher latitudes.
  3. The Earth wobbles on it's axis (like a wobbly top) with a cycle lasting 19,000 to 23,000 years.
Based on the orbital variations, Milankovitch predicted that the ice ages would peak every 100,000 and 41,000 years, with additional “blips” every 19,000 to 23,000 years. This is all verified by tree rings, coral reefs, sea levels, glacial extent, etc.

What this means is that there are regular periods of reduced solar radiation and cooler temperatures in higher latitudes that allow winter snowpack to persist through the summer months. Once snow pack persists over the summer, it increases in extent and forms a "micro-climate" that reinforces the stability of the growing snow fields. Multi-season snow fields become glaciers. There you go, that's why there are ice ages:  it's the effect of Milankovitch cycles! 

Carbon Dioxide Accumulation in Atmosphere

Figure 1. From NOAA station at Mauna Loa, Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere from 1958 to present.
Data is presented in parts per million (ppm) and shows a rise of carbon dioxide from 315 ppm to 385 ppm or 0.0385%. Exhaled human breath has about 4.0% carbon dioxide or 40,000 ppm.  Although the amount of carbon dioxide in the air is still extremely low, it thought by most that this is causing a warming of the Earth's atmosphere. It is absolutely true that higher CO2 levels in an atmosphere cause a "greenhouse" effect--just how much extremely low levels of CO2 is subject to debate. 

Carbon Balance For The Earth


Figure 2.  Worldwide carbon balance in gigatons per year (from Howard Herzog at MIT, 2001)
The use of fossil fuels is adding 6 gigatons per year (Gt/y) of carbon to the atmosphere. Another 1.4  Gt/y  is being added by "changing land use" (presumably burning forests). The ocean is absorbing 2.2  Gt/y, plants are absorbing 1.7  Gt/y  and land is absorbing 0.3  Gt/y. In total, 3.5  Gt/y  of carbon are accumulating in the air. This means that fossil fuels use (and emissions) must drop over 50% to halt the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That would a monumental task and would be hugely expensive.

Global Temperatures in Modern History

Figure 3.  Global Land-Ocean Temperature index (From www.newscientist.com. and others.)
This data shows that the earth's surface has warmed by 0.9 degrees Celsius or 1.6 degrees F since 1910.  It also shows a period of temperature stability between 1880 and 1920. The 1880s was considered a "mini-ice age" due to colder conditions. 


Figure 4.  Earth's Temperature Record from nasa.gov
Shows the record of temperatures in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The Southern Hemisphere hasn't warmed quite as much as the Northern Hemisphere presumably due to predominance of the oceans. There appears to be quite an acceleration of temperature rises in the Northern Hemisphere.



Figure 5.  Surface and Satellite Temperature Data (from global-warming-and-the-climate.com)
The data from 1975 to 2010 is variable but shows about 0.4 deg Celsius rise or 0.72 deg F.
Figure 6.  Temperature Record by Latitudes (both North and South) (from nasa.gov)

The data shows that the Northern higher latitudes are warming disproportionately compared to equatorial and southern latitudes.   In other words, the Arctic areas are warming the most and this is reflected in Arctic ice melting and the melting of permafrost in Siberia and Arctic areas.




Sea Level Records

Figure 7.  Recent Sea Level Rise (from window2universe.org)
The surface observations show a 20 centimeter rise (8 inches) of the sea from 1900 to 2000 or 0.2 centimeter per year or about 0.08 inches per year (call it 1/10th of an inch per year). 

Figure 8 Sea Level Data
(From University of Colorado at Boulder and CSIRO-Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation  www.cmar.csiro.au/sealevel)  

Shows basically the same information as Figure 7 or about 8 inches of sea level rise in about 100 years.


Figure 9 Sea Level Data Showing possible acceleration of sea level change (from  worldviewofglobalwarming.org)
2 mm/year is the same as 0.2 centimeter per year or the same as Figure 7.  But the Univ of Colorado has drawn in a higher rate of rise of 3 mm//year in recent years.

Figure 10 Long Range Sea Level Change (from climatesanity.wordpress.com)
This figure shows a notional 120 meter or 400 feet sea level rise since the peak of the last ice age dating back 20,000 years ago.

Antarctic Sea Ice Extent 

Figure 11 Antarctic Ice Extent from late 1970s to Present
The Graph shows that the Antarctic Ice Extent is steady or slightly increasing.  All of the data must be  normalized because of the melting of sea ice around the continental ice.  See Figure 13 for actual ice extent fluctuations including seasonal fluctuations.



Figure 12 Antarctic Ice Extent (from worldclimatereport.com)
This is the same data as shown in Figure 11 showing the Ice extent increasing slightly, but look at Figure 13 for more raw data.

Figure 13 Total Antarctic Sea Ice Extent (from nsidc.org--National Snow and Ice Data Center)
This graph shows the seasonal variations of sea for the past 30 years.   There is no apparent trend of sea ice extent in the Antarctic.  The Antarctic ice cap is not melting.  Since the Antarctic ice cap is 70% of the earth's fresh water, this is good news.

Figure 14 Sea Ice Extent April 2009 (from National Snow and Ice Data  Center)
Shows the ice extent in April 2009 which would be the end of the Antarctic summer and also shows the median extent during the period 1979 to 2000.


Figure 15 Antarctic Ice Extent July 2012 (from National Snow and Ice Data Center)
Another snapshot of ice extent in mid-winter of 2012 and median extent over recent decades.

Arctic Ice Extent 

Figure 16 Arctic Ice Extent (from NSIDC)
Shows considerable end-of-summer sea ice melting in the Arctic compared to historical extent.


Figure 17 Arctic Ice Extent (NSIDC)
This data shows the seasonal ice extent in the Arctic for the past 30 years.  The trend is obviously declining in the Arctic (unlike the Antarctic in Figure 13)
Greenland Ice Cap

The Greenland Ice Cap is part of the Arctic Ice Sheet.  And the data is worrying here.  From NSIDC

The mass of ice in the Greenland Ice Sheet has begun to decline. From 1979 to 2006, summer melt on the ice sheet increased by 30 percent, reaching a new record in 2007. At higher elevations, an increase in winter snow accumulation has partially offset the melt. However, the decline continues to outpace accumulation because warmer temperatures have led to increased melt and faster glacier movement at the island's edges.
From CIRES/University of Colorado, Konrad Steffen,

The Greenland Ice Sheet dominates land ice in the Arctic. Maximum surface-melt area on the ice sheet increased on the average by 16% from 1979-2002 (Steffen et al., 2004)
Ok, Greenland ice melting is one of the more worrisome areas of the Global warming saga as it's a huge amount of water that will affect the sea level.

Carbon Capture Costs Vs Mitigation Costs

I can say almost for sure that there will be no carbon capture and sequestration to reduce greenhouse gas emission. It's insanely expensive!   

After decades of alarm-ism, there is still not one power plant with carbon capture in existence in the world--anywhere in the world! The US has 10,000 power plants alone. We don't even know exactly how best to do it. I figure that it would cost $10 trillion dollars to electrify automobiles, scrub power plant flue gas to remove and sequester carbon dioxide, build nuclear and wind power plants to power the cars in the US. Even this would only reduce CO2 emission by 50%. This would have to replicated around the world just to steady carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere at a cost of $40 trillion. It just won't happen. Period. Remember, after $40 trillion, CO2 in the atmosphere would not decrease---it would remain elevated. So, presumably temperature rises would stabilize at the higher level.

It would make more sense to use US natural gas in a nationwide push for CNG buses and mass transit to reduce our carbon footprint.  It makes economic sense.  I believe that if buses came every 3 to 5 minutes, people would use them and relinquish personal automobiles. This in combination with increased gasoline taxes would be very effective at curbing CO2 emissions. This is much more practical. Where's this debate in the media? Where is our Energy Department on this subject? Why do we even have an Energy Dept? They can't do anything!

It will take billions, not trillions to build seawalls or gradually relocate coastal cities to higher ground. I don't believe there is an immediate panic in terms of ocean levels but it's worth keeping an eye on.

The cost of mitigating the effects of possibly higher temperatures (if they come to past) will be infinitely less costly than carbon capture and sequestration.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Representation Without Taxation

America's foundation was partly based on no longer accepting "Taxation without representation" from the King of England.   Is it any less logical for Mitt Romney to question "Representation without Taxation?"  I'm stealing from Ian Cowie at The Telegraph in using his phrase.  It's so good!

You know America might be reaching a tipping point when about 50% of the household in the US have at least one member receiving government payments.  Assuming benefits continue indefinitely (some benefits do and some don't), which would be Obama's apparent dream,  then people who receive benefits naturally would have an interest in maintaining or voting for candidates that are "soft" on government redistribution---on and on until the system collapses.   This is the relevant correlation with the European countries, who are well beyond the "tipping point."

Yes, a lot of those households receiving benefits are on Social Security and Medicare. Some receive Medicare.  It's actually a complicated situation. And yes, 47% of workers pay no income tax. See the Wall Street Journal Article here.     I know Mitt Romney went overboard and erred in his assessment of a complicated state of affairs, but I think I understand his alarm and despair at the current state of affairs.    

Ok, I've oversimplified too much and beat up unfairly on the bottom 47%.   I apologize for myself and Mitt but........

A Flat Tax Rate Is Truly Fair To All

That's why there should be a flat tax of 18 or 20% on all income above the poverty level.  In that way, everyone pays their fair share.   If you're single and make $40,000, then you pay 20% of the difference between $40,000 and the poverty level of $11,170.  This equates to 20% of $28,830 or $5766 in Income Taxes.   If you make $1,040,000, then you $208,000 in Income Taxes.

Oh, and no deductions.   That's really fair right??   Right!  I'm glad that you agree.    This way, everyone has "skin in the game" and all can squawk with truly equal vigor about how well their tax dollars are spent.

You want to know why this is so difficult?   It's because the bottom 47% aren't paying income tax now.  If you have a truly flat rate, then most of the bottom 50% have to pay something!  Also, since the top 1% are already paying 24% on average, then the 20% flat rate actually lowers their marginal rate (the top 1% revenue would go up because no deductions).

Sorry, but you already agreed that the flat rate is fair!   What we have now is unfair and amounts to "representation without taxation" for about half of the people in the USA.

Oh, an average tax collection rate of say 18% is four percentage points above the post-war average tax take of 14% and would substantially solve the budget deficit problem if there were some real budget cuts to match!

Tax Cuts Used to Work...But Now.???

Tax Cuts (and Deficit Spending) Used to Work

The US economy boomed after the Reagan tax cuts and after a big recession that "tamed" inflation.  Reagan and Thatcher changed the course of Anglo economies for decades--given that the UK and US were on or almost on life support in the late 1970s.  (The UK received an IMF bailout in 1976).

Of course, marginal tax rates during the Carter administration was as high as 70% for individuals and 48% for corporations.   But also remember that there were a myriad of deductions to drastically reduce the "effective" tax rate.    In fact, the total income tax take by the Federal Government has been remarkably stable at about 14% regardless of tax rates or president or party for over 30+ years.  The difference between marginal and effective provides enough confusion for both sides to "demagogue" the tax issue.

Since the wealthiest people have always payed the lion's share of taxes, any change in top marginal rates helps them the most in dollar terms.  Note that the top 1% used to pay as much as 29 to 33% now pay about 24%, but as you can see below all of the income categories saw significant tax reductions since 1980.

Here's the raw data.  The original graph is here.


All of the Republican tax cuts increased deficit spending initally then revenues rapidly accelerated within a few years and reached new record collections.  This worked very well during the JFK and Reagan years, but only worked "ok" after the (Dot-com) recession inherited by Geo.W. Bush presidency.

With national debt levels rising, it appears that there is an decreasing effect of debt spending, ie., less "bang" for the debt "buck".  Rogoff and Reinhart have documented that the level of debt matters and over about 90% of GDP, growth slows by at least 1%.  That may not sound much, but if normal growth level is 3%, then 2% is significantly lower.

Other information confirms this.  Take a look at the graph below which shows the declining efficacy of debt creation to create GDP growth.   We're definitely losing the Keynesian "bang for the buck."  The graph is now above zero and at about $0.30 but this latest number might very well be a near term peak value.



The major implication now is that tax cuts (with the subsequent increase in deficits) may not work well this time.  There may be no panacea for this downturn.  It's possible that cutting government spending and reducing the deficit (so-called austerity) may not have much of a lasting effect especially if offset by even larger tax reductions.

I argue that for the following policy steps:  1) more domestic energy, 2) repatriate asian jobs back to America by creating tax incentives for businesses to repatriate capital and jobs, 3) flat or flatter income tax rates, 4) utilize our new-found natural gas reserves for transportation fuel and displace oil imports, 5)  big government spending cuts but bigger tax cuts to offset them.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Obama Accuses China Of Backing It's Auto Industry!

Isn't this rich?  Obama accuses China of backing it's auto industry!
Obama will announce during a campaign tour of Ohio on Monday that he is initiating a case against China at the World Trade Organization over allegedly illegal subsidies for automobiles and auto parts, the official said. 
Later today in some upcoming campaign stop, Obama will re-iterate it's campaign talking point that the US Government's bailout of GM, Ford and Chrysler in 2009 was one of their great successes!  I believe that's called "backing our auto industry!"

I believe that this is a tit for tat retaliation as China had previously slapped tariffs on US auto exports due to this US government impending action [more details when available].  The claim is that China subsidized auto part suppliers to the tune of $1 Billion from 2009 to 2011.  This just so happens to be when the US was "subsidizing" our auto industry with a more substantial package.

We have a little trade war underway!

I'm no friend of China and their mercantilist trade practices.  The Chinese are among the world's worst cheaters and liars.   But I couldn't help but comment on the irony of it all!

Incidentally, the treasury will lose $25 Billion on the GM bailout, something that the Obama administration doesn't want to talk about.   It's even worse than that.  GM gets sweetheart tax breaks going forward.  This means that the Government loses even more than that due to loss of revenue.   Add General Motors to General Electric to the list of companies not paying any income taxes.   Did you realize that GM didn't pay any taxes on $7.6 billion in profits last year?

Eco-Imperialism Thriving In Obama Administration

From Paul Driessen, author of "Eco-Imperialism: Green power Black death" at Icecap:
Seven score and nine years ago, President Lincoln resolved to take increased devotion to ensuring that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the Earth.   Yet, today, our lives are determined not so much by We the People, as by a distant central government, particularly increasingly powerful, unelected and unaccountable Executive Branch agencies. Foremost among them, by almost any standard, is the Environmental Protection Agency.

Under Administrator Lisa Jackson...EPA increasingly flaunts the naked power of regulators gone wild.

Instead of following laws and policies set by our elected representatives, EPA is now controlled by environmental ideologues, determined to impose their utopian ideas, via a massive and arrogant power grab. President Obama set the tone, with his promises to “bankrupt” coal and utility companies and “radically transform” our economy and society, and serves as the rogue agency’s cheerleader-in-chief. With few exceptions, our courts have refused to intervene, and the Senate has obstructed any meaningful efforts to constrain agency overreach or reexamine the laws under which it claims jurisdiction.

EPA’s power grab picks the pockets of every American business and citizen, making it increasingly expensive to fill gas tanks, heat and cool homes and offices, run hospitals and factories, or buy food and consumer goods. The Employment Prevention Agency’s $100-billion diktats are killing countless jobs, making America more dependent on foreign sources of energy and raw materials that we have in abundance right here at home, and endangering our economic health and national security.

Under Lisa Jackson’s agenda, fossil fuels are to be relegated to the dustbin of history. America is to get its energy from intermittent, unreliable “renewable” sources, whenever they are available. Regulations on carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases,” mercury, soot and other substances are to make non-hydrocarbon energy appear cheaper by comparison, and pave the way for crony-corporatist “alternatives” like wind, solar, ethanol, wave and tidal action, and even biofuel for the Navy and Air Force.

In a mere six instances, our courts have delayed or blocked some of EPA’s worst excesses. Ruling that the agency had exceeded its authority, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down EPA’s “cross-state” air pollution rule, which would have controlled power plant emissions on the ground that computer models predicted the pollutants might harm neighborhoods hundreds of miles away.

In far too many other cases, however, EPA has been given carte blanche to regulate as it sees fit. A key pretext is the 1970 Clean Air Act, as amended by Congress in 1977 and 1990. The act deals primarily with six common pollutants: sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, particulates (soot), ozone, lead and carbon monoxide. It never mentions carbon dioxide, the plant-fertilizing gas that is essential for all life.

As EPA itself acknowledges, between 1970 and 2010, those six “criteria” air pollutants declined by an average of 63% and will continue to do so under existing regulations and technologies. Moreover, those dramatic reductions occurred even ascoal-based electricity generation increased 180% ... overall US energy consumption rose 40%… miles traveled soared 168% ...and the nation’s population increased by 110 million.   However, EPA intends to go much further, to advance its radical agenda.

It ruled that carbon dioxide is a “pollutant,” ignoring solar influences and citing claims by alarmists like James Hansen and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that this essential gas (0.0395% of Earth’s atmosphere) “contributes” to “dangerous” global warming. Since hydrocarbons provide 85% of the energy used to power America, this single ruling gives EPA effective control over our transportation, manufacturing, heating, cooling and other activities – virtually our entire economy – while making it all but impossible to operate existing coal-fired power plants or build new ones.

To ensure that coal really is excised from our energy mix, EPA also issued oppressive new rules on other emissions. Its new mercury rule is based on computer-generated risks to hypothetical American women who eat 296 pounds of fish a year that they catch themselves, its determination to prevent a theoretical reduction in IQ test scores by “0.00209 points,” and its refusal to recognize that coal-fired power plants contribute just 3% of the total mercury deposited in American watersheds, and thus in fish tissue.

EPA’s new PM2.5 soot standard is equivalent to having one ounce of super-fine dust spread equally in a volume of air one-half mile long, one-half mile wide and one story tall – while other rules demand that water from coal mines be cleaner than Perrier bottled water!

The agency repeatedly denied Shell Oil permits to drill in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska, because emissions from drilling rig and icebreaker engines might contribute to global warming. It opposes the Keystone XL Pipeline on the ground that burning Canadian oil sands fuel might likewise “contribute” to catastrophic climate change – whereas that would presumably not be the case if China burned that same fuel.

When Congress failed to act, it imposed new 54.5 mpg automobile standards that will make cars less affordable, but also smaller, more lightweight and less safe, causing thousands of additional injuries, disabilities and deaths every year. The agency bragged about fuel savings, and ignored the human toll.

EPA also added industrial pollution, habitat destruction and fertilizer runoff as more reasons why irrigation water should not be turned on again in California’s San Joaquin Valley, to “protect” the delta smelt at the expense of farm jobs and families, after a judge ordered water to be turned back on.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Socialist Presidents Come From The Same Mold

What is it with those damned socialist Presidents??

Francois Hollande was elected in France having successfully "demagogued" the 'non-austerity' austerity in France. Yes, there has been no budget austerity in France despite all the erroneous information in the media.  The campaign made people think that there have been drastic budget cuts in France under European pressure.   Wrong!

But there's been austerity alright---austerity on the people in the form of taxation! Hollande is all about taxing the people more! 

Despite plenty of misleading headlines, there has been no austerity in Britain either.  (There has been austerity in Greece, Ireland and Spain only).  Remember, a budget cut is only a budget cut when spending actually declines----not when spending increases are less than previously forecast---which is the same nonsense that you hear in American politics.

Now, Hollande reduced the workweek even further (which reduces the country's competitiveness), further reduced the retirement age to 60 years,  pledged new spending, increased taxes on the wealthy, added surtaxes on wealthy, raised the top tax rate to 75%, added taxes on foreign owned homes, increased taxes on rental income (from 20% to 35%), added taxes on energy companies, added new capital gains taxes, and tried to make layoffs too expensive for companies.  He also tried to "strong arm" Peugeot, a French car company to not make their planned layoffs--which they did anyway.   This guy makes Obama look like a dream boat.

These Socialists never learn.  The rich will relocate or find ways to avoid special taxes, budget gaps will not be filled, spending will remain out of control until there is a collapse of confidence.  By the way, French unemployment hasn't been below 8% in many decades.   Sound familiar?  It should.

As if Socialists come from the same school or mold, he's outlined a "green energy" policy including ultimately shutting down 25 nuclear power plants to reduce their enviable nuclear power production share from 75% to only 50%, and rejecting shale gas drilling and created a new biodiversity agency to waste money.   So much for "green" energy as closing nuclear plants means rising carbon dioxide emissions---which in antithetical to greenies.

Let's see, higher and higher taxes, more and more spending, no or low growth, persistent unemployment above 10%,  hostility to new oil and gas technology, slavish devotion to "green" energy, intervention in private business, no-austerity austerity, strong arm tactics, and demagoguery sound familiar don't they?  They should.

Socialist presidents come from the same mold.

Friday, September 14, 2012

US Foreign Policy Weakness Bears Bitter Fruit

Flashback to the campaign in 2008 when Obama was sure that some good ole' sweet talking from a newly apologetic chief executive would do the trick in all of our foreign conflicts. The President must have really believed in his own magic.  It sounded good to "the masses" but extremely naive to others like myself.

But the subsequent foreign policy pursued by this administration is best characterized by a) appeasement of enemies, for example, Russia, b) unilateral withdrawals and concessions (withdrawal from Afghanistan and not placing defensive missiles in Poland and Czech Republic for example), c) a grossly naive characterization of Islam as peace-loving (they're not!), d) strange misunderstandings of historical alliances (France is our strongest ally?!?) and an alienation of traditionally strong allies (Israel, Britain) and e) Isolationism and multilateralism; a pulling back from the traditional strong leadership of the US in the world (abandoning Mubarak and the neutered Qadafi, too much faith in the UN), f) follow the leader.

As a final blow to our declining influence, the hefty US defense budget cuts in the upcoming "fiscal cliff" sequestration underscore the decline of America finances now and in the future.  Nothing is happening to prevent it, so we'll see a permanent weakening of our military that will surely reduce America's global influence well into the future especially if Obama is re-elected.  I think the defense budget can be cut, but it needs to be done in a more thoughtful way--not through some automatic trigger, or "gimmick"---like a pawn in some kind of game being played by Congress.

I guarantee that the world without an active and strong America will not be pretty nor peaceful.  Contrary to Obama's ignorant views, America really is the shining beacon on the hill.  It's a pity that he neither sees it nor understands it.  The world is descending into an abyss due to poor and even evil global leadership--and not just in America.

We are only starting to see the fruits of this projected weakness, naivete and lack of leadership on the international front.

Libya
Witness the "gratitude" of Islamists in Egypt and Libya for our support for "hope and change" in those countries.  Gee, in hindsight, we were better off with Qadafi.  But we supported his overthrow!   Surely, since the attacks started on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, is especially galling and may even point to Al Qaeda.  Arab spring was always a misnomer for the very naive.  Arab hell will prove to be more accurate.

Israel and Iran
Obama has said recently that the "US will always have Israel's back".   This is yet another example of empty rhetoric as Obama refuses to take a meeting with Netanyahu later this September.  Yes, I understand that the US doesn't want to invoke a "line in the sand" or a timeline regarding Iran, but to not talk to the Israeli prime minister at all??   This is unacceptable in my view.  Obama has a lot to learn from Netanyahu---which may be part of the problem.  Obama doesn't like to be schooled and it shows.

Israel is feeling more and more exposed to the Islamic idiots in Tehran who have gleefully called for Israel's destruction and are increasingly in a position to achieve this end with nuclear weapons.  It's a fight for Israel's survival.

Obama's snub of Netanyahu is emboldening Iran who are more clear than ever that America will never do anything (as long as Obama is in power).   Without US support if Israel strikes at the enrichment sites, will Israel have to use tactical nukes to permanently put the sites out of commission?  Oh boy.

Egypt
I guess that America didn't have any choice, but turning our back on Mubarak was a big mistake too.  We were better off with him too.  We were damned if we do and damned if we don't in Egypt as the Arab "Spring" turns predictably into Arab Winter.  Arab hell is next.  So, Israel faces a much more unstable enemy in Egypt and it may get much worse.  Wait until Egypt ties up with Iran.  A meeting is already in the works.

Meanwhile, hell-bent Muslims in Egypt are persecuting Christians now with impunity, crucifying people for religious crimes according to the Koran and the US is going to give Egypt two billion dollars in aid??   

Russia
How about that thug Putin working out more "flexibility" (off microphone) with Obama behind the scenes as he clamps down further on human rights, murders political enemies both in Russia and outside and sees himself as President for life?   Obama tossed Poland and the Czech Republic under the bus to appease Putin.  The result??   A big fat goose egg.  Putin still supports the horrible, murderous Assad and the horrible murderous Mullahs in Iran.  And anyone that disagrees with him can go to jail!   Just ask the "Pussy Riot" girls.   Wonderful!  Russia opposes everything that America wants and stands for.  Lovely.

The world keeps getting worse and more dangerous.  All of this is sounding more and more like the feckless Jimmy Carter, who allowed the Shah of Iran into America in 1979 and was rewarded with a hostage crisis in Tehran.

America needs some competent leadership who actually understand these historical lessons.

QE3 Will Harm Not Help

Egan Jones credit rating agency has cut the US credit rating another notch from AA to AA- due the fact that the electronic money printing by the US Federal Reserve will hurt the US dollar and do nothing to help the economy.

Also, right away oil prices shot up to over $100 on WTI and $117 for Brent crude oil. Gasoline prices are not far behind. Get ready for record prices at the pump.

Interestingly government bond prices nearly collapsed with interest rates on the 10 year rising sharply to nearly 1.9% and 30 year bond yielding 3.1%.  Mortgage rates track the 10 year bond, so with the Fed buying mortgage backed securities, the cost of mortgages is going up not down!  Surely the Federal Reserve will succeed in driving down Mortgage Rates with the market intervention.    US ten year bond interest rates, just a few days ago, were near 140 year lows.   How much lower does the Fed want them?  At 200 year lows??

Oh, and stock prices are shooting up too. This, of course, helps the wealthier Americans more than anyone else.  Meanwhile, zero interest rates continue to hurt the mom's and pop's all over the country trying to get 2 or 3% interest on CDs for their retirement (and can't).  Pension funds are hurt by zero interest rates too because bond yields are being suppressed.

American citizens are instantly poorer than the rest of the world as the US dollar declines again.  The Federal Reserve continues to set-up longer term inflation and probably stagnation.  The Fed is trying to create more inflation which is scary when inflation is at 2.5% or 3% already.

Also, the Fed wants a new bubble---any bubble will do!... to prop-up the weak economy.   Since they are buying mortgage backed securities, my guess is that they want to re-ignite a housing bubble.   Isn't that great?   It might succeed for awhile as you borrow demand from the future, but then there will be another post-bubble decline in demand.  Maybe they think that re-ignition of housing might be a "kick-start" for the economy.   It might work I must admit.

The US Federal Reserve is under the leadership of PhD's who are conducting a radical experiment of swelling the Fed's balance sheet;  enabling the dysfunctional Congress, hurting savers, hurting the US Dollar, suppressing market interest rates and perverting market forces.  Bernanke has "intimated" that they really don't know what they are doing and they basically don't know why QE2 didn't work!  QE2 hurt more than helped---so we want more of the same??

All of this bond buying will eventually have to be reversed.  The biggest problem is unraveling the bond buying when inflation pops up.   When the Fed must sell the $3,000 or $4,000 BILLION in bonds to "mop-up" massive excess reserves in the banking system (to control inflation or even hyperinflation), the Fed selling requires that the market will have to buy huge quantities of securities ON TOP OF huge routine government bond sales to finance ongoing deficit spending.  To say that bond prices will collapse and interest rates rise is an understatement.   AND, it will happen at the worst possible time.  The excess reserves appear to be dry tinder accumulated in our economic forest.

Romney has already said that he will replace Ben Bernanke.  I think it's time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

36 Good Reasons To Defeat Obama

  1. For rejecting Simpson Bowles bipartisan plan to manage the nation’s finances.
  2. 5 Trillion dollars of new debt and Trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.  There isn’t the slightest interest to even slightly address the out-of-control spending. 
  3. No budgets for the entire administration---the height of irresponsibility and poor administration
  4. For continuing to call for taxes on the rich even though the CBO has shown that it will not make a dent in a $1 Trillion deficit.  
  5. Not enough leadership in light of next debt ceiling and "fiscal cliff".  Repealing the Bush tax reductions will only generate a paltry $80 billion per annum revenue in a $3,800 billion budget and $1,000 billion deficit!  Shows how much spending is out of control.
  6. The Buffet rule would raise only $50 to $150 billion in TEN YEARS.  This is Obama’s only budget agenda.
  7. 46 million food stamp recipients—up over 50% since Obama’s inauguration. Costs have doubled from $37 billion to $76 billion.  Recipients are still rising despite “so-called” recovery.
  8. Social Security disability costs soaring 100% to $200 billion during his time in office.  Enrollment rising 50%.
  9. A 6 month ban on all drilling the US Gulf of Mexico including routine drilling on fixed platforms (not just halting the deep subsea drilling which are a small number of wells), then ignoring a Federal Appellate judge who ruled that the ban was too broad.  He lied about the panel that recommended the drilling ban.
  10. The 104 golf outings—and counting
  11. The Czars
  12. Blocking the Keystone pipeline
  13. No vocal support for Iranians protesting in the streets during their brutal crackdown
  14. No vocal support for Syrians being slaughtered by Assad.
  15. Obama’s intervention in GM bail out and giving GM bondholders the “shaft”, rewarding the UAW and ignoring the "rule of contract law"
  16. The GM bailout cost will cost $40 billion when you add big tax breaks.  Did you know that GM paid no taxes when they earned $7.6 billion last year??
  17. GM loses $49,000 per Volt electric car, the car supported by the administration.  
  18. The $7,000 tax credit to buy the Volt will benefit taxpayers earning $170,000 per year on average
  19. The Volt will provide no significant reduction of carbon dioxide emissions as coal and natural gas (hydrocarbons) are used for power generation. 
  20. Regulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as “harmful” to human health when it’s only 0.038% in air (and plants need it to live).  Your breath has 100 times more carbon dioxide!
  21. Fast and Furious screw-up and the subsequent sandbagging of the investigation.
  22. Cap and Trade nonsense
  23. The war on coal and coal power plants
  24. Off-mic comments about Netanyahu.  Isn't it against the law to agree with a French President?
  25. Sending the Churchill bust back to the UK.  I guess that makes sense, since Obama is the Anti-Churchill.
  26. Blaming the rich for the actions of a very few. 
  27. Bashing energy companies; the people that are truly leading an energy revolution and expanding energy production in the US and employing 100s of thousands of people.
  28. Meanwhile, Obama only has Solyndra, Ener1 and Sunpower---all bankrupt after having receiving Federal money.
  29. The entire ObamaCare quagmire and all of the 1200 waivers for the politically connected and the State of Nebraska, plus saying the law won’t raise the deficit by a dime!  
  30. That it would be unprecedented if the Supreme Court overturned ObamaCare
  31. Dodd-Frank mess and leaving Pelosi and Reid to do the “dirty work.”  What a mess!
  32. NLRB recess appointments with radical leftist lawyers and delaying Boeing’s plant opening in South Carolina
  33. Joking about shovel-ready projects and still no movement to identify infrastructure projects that could actually do some good.
  34. High speed rail nonsense.  America already has one Amtrak. 
  35. The so-called stimulus package that purported to create or save 2 million jobs.  Cost: $400,000 per job.
  36. No effort after 2009 to do anything to help the economy.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Why We're In an Economic Slump

Debunking Fallacious Talking Points
One of the 'talking points' used by the Democrats in this election cycle blames Bush's "economic policies" and tax cuts for our current situation.  This is politically effective but basically incorrect.

We had a financial crisis that quickly morphed into an economic slump.   It's misleading and dishonest to blame only the "economic" policies of G.W. Bush.  The factors and root causes that led to the financial crunch extend back decades and through many administrations.

The Real Causes of Our Current Slump
Let's be perfectly clear, our current problems are basically three issues:  1) we had a housing and personal debt bubble, which was created by Government and (Federal Reserve) monetary policies over three decades (or more).  Those bubbles burst and left millions of people with declining asset values (house prices fell) and a poor employment situation.  The debt burden remains--constraining personal consumption and keeping the economy weak,  2) The inappropriately de-regulated money center banks and Wall Street Casinos Investment Banks had far too much leverage of their balance sheets and quickly got into trouble,  3) the US has hemorrhaged manufacturing jobs to China and the rest of Asia for decades.

So, let's be clear, we had a financial crisis building over the years, through many administrations, that finally burst leaving the US and Europe in a "balance sheet" recession.

The US Government Is Largely At Fault
A crisis this big can only be created by Big Government.  Government policies that created the bubbles and the lack of proper regulation of markets and banks are as follows:
  • Mortgage interest tax deductibility skewed the housing market as people sought tax relief
  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reduced lending standards all the way back to the Clinton administration
  • Excessive government and personal debt creation over 4 or 5 decades necessarily stole growth from future.  Unfortunately the "future" is now!
  • Federal Reserve interest rates were unusually low in the early 2000s which stimulated a housing price bubble.
  • Government agencies (Congress, Fed Reserve, SEC, Treasury Dept) were completely and utterly ineffective at their job of regulating markets and banking before, during and after the "big crunch."  So, why would today's solution (Dodd-Frank) call for enlarging these same entities?   For example, the Glass Steagall act, in place since the 1930s, was overturned during the Clinton administration and opened the door for banks to over-leverage themselves with risky bets in mortage securities and newly created financial derivatives.    
  • Bankers estimated, quite correctly, that the government would bail them out if there was a financial bust!
Job Repatriation May Be The Best Idea
G.W. Bush inherited Clinton's "dotcom" recession and he reduced taxes to fight that recession.  It worked.  Other tax cuts such as capital gains tax reduction came in the wake of post-9/11 recession.  It worked.  Don't be fooled, tax cuts are always pro-growth and have worked well since Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s (yes, I notice that this preceded the Great Depression--refer to this link for more discussion from The Cato Institute),  the huge tax cuts after World War II, John F. Kennedy in 60s, Ronald Reagan in the 80s and finally under G.W. Bush.  The efficacy of the G.W. Bush tax cuts were much less robust due to the hemorrhaging of jobs and entire industries abroad.  They may not work as well this time either--but they will help.

But income tax collections in the US are quite low as tax collection has shrunk markedly from a usual post-War 14% of GDP level to about 11% of GDP.  Because taxes are already low, an effort to repatriate industries and jobs back to the US from Asia is the single most important idea to pursue.  To do that, we'll have to create incentives for companies to relocate back home which means that we need tax cuts for businesses---not threats and insults from the current administration.  Expanding US energy production is another winner, again despite bad-mouthing and name-calling of energy companies.

Conclusion
Since Government created the bust that we're living through, why would the answer be more government as proposed by the current administration?  Yes, appropriate re-regulation of banking is required but Dodd-Frank is the wrong approach  (See the Banking and Financial reform section of my Blog entry for Solving America's Big Problems).   Lastly, if the economy is not doing well, tax cuts may still be the right answer but may not be as effective as  in the past.  Bringing back lost jobs is probably key.  For that we need real national leadership at the top. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Social Security Disability Costs Soar

I whole-heartedly support all of the established social safety nets in this country:  Medicare, Social Security and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).  I've paid into these programs all of my life and I'm "vested" in their continuation.  I will likely need them!!

I worry when I see costs and enrollment soaring at unsustainable rates.

SSDI Costs Soar
As of July 2012, it is reported (Table 2) that there are now 11 million beneficiaries on SSDI and the program is now paying out over $200 billion per year in benefits.   This means that, during the Obama administration (and prolonged recession), the number of beneficiaries has risen by about 50% and cost of the SSDI program has doubled from about $100 billion to $200 billion now.  But the rise of beneficiaries accelerated under Bush and is going "parabolic" under Obama.

These benefits last each beneficiary until retirement since rarely do beneficiaries return to the workplace (which is another "warning flag" with regard to appropriate administration and policy).  This means that the expenditures are now permanent and rising rapidly.

1.4 Million With Mood Disorders
According to the Social Security Administration here, that 1.4 million people are collecting SSDI benefits because of "mood disorders,"  This is a further "red flag" making me wonder how well the agency is stewarding taxpayer money.  You can see that the category of "mental disorders" is now about 44% of the beneficiaries and has risen rapidly in recent years.  I have no doubt that many of these are valid but why have they risen so significantly in recent years?  You can imagine that there is huge room for fraud in this (and other) categories. 

Here's the breakdown of SSDI beneficiaries by diagnosis as of December 2011 (as always, click to enlarge):


The Disabled Supressing Headline Unemployment Figures
Those going on Disability drop off from the workforce and are no longer counted as "unemployed."  The following graph from SSA shows the number of people in the program.  Note that the total is now 11 million today not 10 million persons as shown on the graph.  Maybe this is what happens when the baby boomers age and become infirm.


It would appear that about 2.5 million people have gone on disability since the recession starting in 2008 (from about 8.5 million to 11 million today).  If these people were added back to the labor force and counted as unemployed, the unemployment rate reported in August 2012 would be 9.5%.    

This is not good news for the nation and, of course,  for those who are truly disabled.  For what's it worth, the suppressed unemployment rate helps the President in this political election cycle--but to be fair it would have helped Bush too.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

Where is Obama's Leadership to Lift Afro-America?

You think Obama really cares about black people? If he does, what is his proposal for real change for this group?  He has a fantastic 'bully pulpit' to provide constructive leadership, but the silence is deafening.

I don't mean to "pile-on" African Americans, but their community is a mess!
  • Black gonorrhea infection rates are 20 times that of white america (from CDC)
  • Blacks are incarcerated at 6 times the rate of white persons (from US D.o.J.). Almost 5% of black males are in prison/jail. It's only 0.73% for white.
  • According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1976 and 2011, there were 279,384 black murder victims.   94 percent of those murder victims were murdered by other blacks.  From Walter Williams at Townhall, all of the black fatalities in Korea, Vietnam and all recent wars put together were 18,515, or pall in comparison to black-on-black homicides.   
  • Though blacks are 13 percent of the nation's population, they account for more than 50 percent of homicide victims.  Bureau of Justice Statistics
  • Black (and hispanic) high school graduation rates are only 50% vs 75% for whites and asians (Urban Institute)
How come the first African American president has no meaningful plan to help or promote change in this community?  Yes, I see SSDI and Food Stamp enrollment rising and "ObamaCare" will help I suppose.  Obama has also not lifted a finger since the stimulus bill in 2009 to take commonly known steps to improve the economy--which hurts African Americans the most.  Most of what he proposes and permits to happen (think EPA power grabs)  actually hurts the economy (but that's another blog).  Black unemployment is stuck at 14.1%,

During the recent Trayvon Martin controversy, the hypocrisy of black "leadership" becomes crystal clear.  Walter Williams at Townhall comments the following: 
When President Barack Obama commented [in a not helpful way I would add] about the Trayvon Martin case, T. Willard Fair, president of the Urban League of Greater Miami, told The Daily Caller that "the outrage should be about us killing each other, about black-on-black crime." He asked rhetorically, "Wouldn't you think to have 41 people shot (in Chicago) between Friday morning and Monday morning would be much more newsworthy and deserve much more outrage?"
Former NAACP leader Pastor C.L. Bryant said the rallies organized by Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson suggest there is an epidemic of "white men killing black young men," adding: "The epidemic is truly black-on-black crime. The greatest danger to the lives of young black men are young black men."
But what about real change in heart and minds?  I guarantee Obama will never give a speech rallying African Americans emphasizing the need to "pick yourself up by the bootstraps", or promoting self-reliance, personal responsibility, personal initiative, or a call for more discipline and a stronger work ethic. He's in a position to positively influence this group but his emphasis is a drab emphasis on bureaucracy. Does he really think that "redistribution" or "giveaways" ad infinitum is good for this group?

Once again, in yet another extremely important way, Obama's leadership is missing.  But that's the problem with the African American community:  not nearly enough positive, clear-thinking, and common-sense leadership.   I've noticed, having lived in 3rd World countries, that the common thread in these countries is that the collective "mentality" or commonly held ideas are basically and fundamentally wrong---about nearly everything.   Oh, and they blame everyone else but themselves for their problems!  Welcome to African-America!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Obama's Trickle Down

Democrats have consistently mocked Republican tax cutters for at least 30 years all the way back to Ronald Reagan---calling it "Trickle-down Economics."    "Trickle-down" is a derisive term to describe lower marginal tax rates for upper income families--a group which includes the small business creators.  Because the top brackets pay nearly all of the income taxes, they are helped the most by lower rates .    The Left wants to perpetuate the myth that somehow they are not paying their "fare share"which isn't true at all.  (see tax collection data below)

"Trickle-down" worked very well for decades after the Reagan (and Thatcher) tax cuts, but somewhat less well in the Geo.W. Bush administration (jobs were being lost to China).   But it works!  Of course, the term is an attempt to mis-characterize the simple fact that, when it comes to the economy, a rising economy helps everyone.  More plainly said, a rising tide lifts all boats.  Of course that's true.   Yes, the rich got richer but it's because incomes of the top 1% have risen quite sharply--taxes are only somewhat lower.  Note that everyone's taxes have declined (see the table at the bottom).

Obama has his own ideas for trickle-down

The efficacy of "Trickle-down" can be debated by intelligent people, but Obama's "Trickle-down" is a proven loser.

Obama's "Trickle-down" idea is to drastically increase taxes and let the government decide how to spend it.

Let's show how it will work.  Obama, next term, would LOVE to tax business for "cap and trade" which will increase the size of the huge and costly Federal bureaucracy to implement the new tax collection.  Then, because you can guarantee that it will be incredibly complicated and onerous, the administration can give "waivers" in exchange for political contributions and support.  Then, they will "redistribute" the tax payer money to money-wasting Solyndra-like entities, political cronies and the politically-connected---especially those outfits with Union labor!  Then the politically "favored" can make campaign donations back to reward the hand that fed it.  It has little to do with reducing greenhouse gases--because cap and trade won't reduce emissions (except that the economy will slump further--which will indeed reduce CO2 emissions)!!   The only thing they care about is staying in power by "redistribution".  It's the most cynical thing in the world.  That's Obama's trickle-down.

Oh, and while taxes go up and government spending continues rising even more, the economy stagnates.  Then, for "some reason" tax revenue "unexpectedly" disappoints and the Bureaucrats will argue that they must raise taxes again.  Rinse, repeat.   How do you think Europe ended up with 50% tax rates, no self-defense (military) and still massive debt and deficits??  

We can see a typical government money-wasting "investment" that is an integral part of Obama's "trickle-down" plan in the Solyndra "scandal".   The problem for the nation is that there's no end to such "adventurism."   From The Heartland Institute:
The last major effort to involve the government in developing energy technology before the Bush and Obama administrations occurred when the Carter administration created the giant Synfuels Corporation. Like the current loan guarantee efforts, Synfuels wasted millions of taxpayer dollars on supposedly “green” energy technologies that nobody wanted to buy or sell without the subsidies. After a series of Solyndra-like blowups, a mostly Democratic Congress and the Reagan administration put the boondoggle out of its misery.
Nearly every major subsidy governments have handed out to design a consumer product has ended in disaster. A Clinton administration “supercar” program to help U.S. automakers develop hybrid cars spent millions, but because it set unrealistic goals, it put the United States behind Honda and Toyota in bringing practical hybrids to market. A French effort at establishing a national network of computer terminals in the 1980s cost billions of dollars, but because the government insisted on using a dead-end 1970s technology, it essentially ensured the country got left out of the Internet boom. Tiny Finland now has more important Internet companies than France.
The numbers for “green” jobs are particularly dismal. A study of Spain--which has spent more per capita on “green jobs” than anyone else--found the overall economy lost 2.2 jobs for each green job created at a private firm.
History is littered with the failures of central planning socialism.   How many failures does it take for people to recognize the folly of big government.

The US founding fathers had it right the first time and for 70% of our history.  Big Government is the road to ruin and tyranny.

Tax Rates by Income Categories (For Reference)

Here's the raw data.  The original graph is here.