June 2010 Archives
The comprehensive financial reform agreed upon by the House and Senate on Friday, along with all the new regulations of the past year, could signal the end of community banking. The new reforms will give more power to the Federal Reserve to regulate how [small banks] do business.I thought financial reform was supposed to help both consumers and banks to survive. Instead it looks like it's designed to destroy small banks and make it very difficult to get loans of any type. How is this helping anyone except the banks that are too large to fail?
What does all this mean for our customers? Less credit will be available, costs will increase, and we will be less able to make loans to regular people who were creditworthy in the past. This is the perfect storm for the small retail banking customer. We will start to see more small community bank failures and mergers because of voluminous regulation.
It has become increasingly apparent the Democrats in Congress are not friends of the American people. The only ones they're interested in helping are themselves...to our money.
Here's this week's results:
I watched some of the reactions to the decision on ABC's World News and I have to say the response by some folks was disheartening. More than one person decried the decision because it would mean "more blood in the streets." Isn't that what cities with gun bans have already? Certainly Chicago has seen how well it's gun ban has worked, with numerous deaths caused by criminal gunning down unarmed victims. The gun ban certainly didn't stop them from getting guns or using them. The same was true in Washington DC, where in the Heller vs DC decision the Court decided 9-0 that the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right. (The 5-4 decision was on DC's gun ownership ban.) More than once Washington DC had the misfortune to be the "Murder Capital of the US", putting a lie to the claim that their gun ban prevented violent crime from being even worse.
What far too many of the "let's get the guns off the street, particularly those owned by law abiding citizens" folks have failed to realize is that widespread gun ownership tends to drop the violent crime rate, not increase it. Every state that has switched over to shall issue concealed carry weapons permits have seen their violent crime rate tumble. Those with laws that make it almost impossible to own guns legally have seen their crime rates skyrocket. What did they expect when those laws disarmed the very people most likely to be victims of criminals?
I plan to watch the race from the best seat in the house, mainly my recliner in front of the TV. No lines, no traffic, no waiting at the concession stand or the bathroom.
One thing that makes the Lenox Tools 301 different from many of the other NASCAR races? Danica Patrick. She's racing today and I'm looking forward to her showing some of the good ol' boys how it's done.
**********BeezleBub is now working his full summer schedule at the farm, meaning at least 8 hours a day, 6 days a week (Wednesday through Monday). It also means I have to get a up even earlier than when he's going to school to get him to the farm by 7AM.
This coming Tuesday he's going for his driver's license test at the DMV and, if he passes, I won't have to drive him too much longer. Even after he gets his license he'll still need to be dropped off at work because his Jeep isn't quite ready to put on the road. Until then Deb and I will still have to drive him.
I have to admit that when the time comes when he's no longer dependent upon us to get him from Point A to Point B will be a bittersweet period. It will be great that I'll no longer need to get up quite so early to get him to work or school, but it also signifies that he no longer needs his dear old dad nearly as much as he used to.
**********July 4th isn't all that far away, and with it comes a renewal of the meaning of the Declaration of Independence. Chris Muir reminds us that it is as relevant today as it was almost 234 years ago. All one needs to do is "change the names."
**********Seeing the reports from Toronto on the G8/G20 summit, it has become quite apparent the rest of the leaders attending hold an entirely opposite view from The One. They understand, even if he doesn't, that they can no longer spend money they don't have and now have to live within their means. Obama appears to be stuck in this cryptp-Keynesian mindset that won't allow him to see his course of action is wrong. There is so much historical evidence to prove his way will do nothing more than drive the US, and probably the rest of the world, over an economic cliff.
But then Obama is incapable of admitting he's wrong about anything. It's the rest of the world (and all the little people in the US) that are wrong. Call it yet another facet of his unchecked narcissism.
**********Could the catastrophic results of the Gulf oil spill been averted? According to the Dutch, the answer is yes. Apparently the Dutch have the equipment and expertise that would have helped to greatly reduced the effects of the damaged well head and headed off the contamination along the shorelines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.
Too bad Obama told the Dutch and other foreign nations offering help to 'piss off'.
**********Eric The Viking comments about one of the biggest "gotcha's" of ObamaCare:
In Orwellian fashion, the new health care reform bill is called "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act." I guess it's an "act" after all.He'll get no argument from me.
**********Gee, the GPD expansion rate has been revised downward again? Big surprise!
She and her Wonderful Spouse have to deal with a recurring mold problem in their attic.
Their insurance company paid for the first remediation effort, but it looks like Bogie will be footing the bill for this next round.
**********I like this take on the so-called DISCLOSE Act.
Although the DISCLOSE acronym officially stands for:Yup. I'd say that just about covers it.
Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections... a more accurate translation is:
Democrat Incumbents S**t on Constitutional Liberties, Offer Sanctimonious Excuses
**********Are Congressional Democrats using the Gulf oil spill to pull attention away from their plan to have no federal budget in place for fiscal 2011? After reading this, I'd have to say yes. Ed Morrisey writes:
The Democrats in Congress believe what Rep. Gerry Connolly told the LA Times, which is that no member of Congress ever lost an election because of a failure to pass a budget. They don't want to be on the hook for the hard decisions that must come in FY2011, which is either to drastically reduce spending from the binge levels of the last three Democratic Congresses, or to raise taxes to cover it. Spending cuts won't change voter perception of this Congress at this late date -- and tax hikes will make it worse.So it appears they figure that if they can delay passing a budget until after the mid-term elections they'll stand a better chance of getting re-elected. Little do they realize that it's already too late and that such a maneuver will gain them nothing but scorn.
**********Is it any wonder that conservatives have little trust in the MSM?After Sarah Plain's speech at California State University - Stanislaus, the Journalist Variant of Palin Derangement Syndrome was evident as caught by some open microphones at the event.
As the saying goes, "There is no such thing as a closed mic."
(H/T Cap'n Teach)
**********And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where another NASCAR weekend has come and gone, the Fourth of July is just around the corner, and yet again Monday has returned all too soon.
It's a lot for a sensitive guy to get veklempt about.
First, there's this from Arizona Governor Brewer, calling President Obama on the carpet for his failure to fulfill one of his primary duties as president: Protecting our borders.
Then there's this, made by an unknown author, that brings the problems with the 111th Congress and the President into focus. Some have called it a new Republican campaign ad. I think it's a warning to those in power that we, the American people, are not to be trifled with, condescended to, or ignored.
America will indeed rise on November 2, 2010. We "shall not go quietly into that goodnight."
Last, but not least, is this video from Penn & Teller's cable show, calling "Bulls**t!" about health food and the scare tactics used by shallow, holier-than-thou racists willing to let millions upon millions starve to death just so they can feel good about eating expensive organically grown, not-available-to-the-Third-World food. (Sorry, you'll have to follow the link as I couldn't find any embed code to add it here.)
I remember attending a Cato Institute program at a swank DC hotel in the summer of 1990, when I was a lowly intern, listening to Mr. Bandow and Ted Galen Carpenter, still the highly esteemed foreign policy analyst, arguing in a vein in which President Dwight D. Eisenhower probably would have concurred.
Now it's twenty years later...and the argument to leave South Korea has slowly solidified in my mind.
I remember the retired gung-ho military guy lambasting Bandow and Carpenter, mainly by bringing up geography: there's just a plain, no natural obstacles. Seoul, the capital, being only 21 miles from the DMZ, likely targeted by a million rounds of ordinance. All the tunnels ready to go to lead the North Korean blitzkrieg miles into South Korean territory, etc. etc.
The vast majority of Americans don't realize that American troops, most of the 30,000 stationed there, are positioned as a "trip wire" to ensure a maximum of American casualties. This is to ensure further American involvement in case the armistice comes crashing down. Talk about cynical!
The 1990 rollicking debate was given prominent coverage in South Korea, and I had the first and only sensation of the bright lights of the TV cameraman panning dead on to me for about half a minute as I nibbled on the end of my spectacles, giving off my best policy wonkish thoughtfulness, which apparently succeeded with my librarian bookish wife.
Her library turned 100 today and lucky people sampled her homemade strawberry shortcake. She picked the berries and even made the whipping cream. Or is it creme?
HT: David Thompson.
BTW, I absolutely love Mike's blogging about beer. Guns and beer, yeah!
The Commerce Clause is used in the Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1996, a minor re-working of the 1990 version that the Supreme Court struck down. A minor miracle! Part of the rationale for their having done so was the innovation of using the Commerce Clause to control guns. The rationale breaks down, however, if one purchases a gun made in the state one inhabits, using ammo one has made or purchased in the same state.
And the law is murky--like hell--for those who have concealed carry licenses. For instance, I called a talk radio program several weeks ago with a police chief and police captain of a local small city as guests, asking them about my ability to be armed at my children's school or at such a public school to attend a concert. I have a valid NH CCW license.
The fellas had no clue. Which, alas, is too often the case for our men in blue. There are so many damn laws written by Byzantine eunuchs that one has to be a law prof just to make any degree of appreciable headway.
We're wrong. It's worse than that.
While President Bush was limited in what he could do by law since the state and local governments were ultimately responsible for their actions prior to and after Katrina, Obama's response to the oil spill in the Gulf has been dismal considering the federal government had sole jurisdiction since the accident took place in federal waters. To equate the two is dishonest.
I remember when then Louisiana Governor Blanco complained at one point that the federal government had done little to help during and after Hurricane Katrina. Apparently she wasn't aware the feds could do nothing until she asked for assistance. Until then the federal government could do nothing as they had no jurisdiction. The same was true of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, condemning the federal response prior to and after Katrina struck when ultimately it was his responsibility to see to the safety of his constituents. It was his failure to use the resources he had on hand that caused a lot of the misery and deaths that followed in Katrina's wake.
It must be remembered that the two incidents are also dissimilar since Katrina was a natural disaster and the BP oil spill was man-made. But still these two incidents show the differences in approach between Obama and Bush, with Obama being too laissez faire about something well within his area of responsibility and Bush being restrained by law from helping at the state and local level until there was little the government could do except help pick up the pieces.
UPDATE: Forty-three page report on ObamaCare three months later by congressional minority leader John Boehner (R., Ohio).
Now who's laughing?
I think we have a similar situation involving IQ, which is largely genetically inherited. And, yes, some groups like blacks don't perform as well as whites or Asians because they're not as smart on average. Asians outperform whites, though the difference isn't as great. See this article of a conservative Senate hopeful in Wisconsin having to defend himself for permitting Charles Murray, the co-author of _The Bell Curve_, to speak at a local forum. I love Murray's email response on page 4 of the newspaper article:
That would be you, Larry.
Murray told The Northwestern his theory is backed by IQ test data showing Japanese and Chinese students score higher on visual-spatial components of IQ tests than whites of European origin. He said that pattern is observed in both Chinese raised in China and Chinese Americans whose families have lived in the U.S. for multiple generations.
"Can you think of any explanation of this pattern that does not involve genes?" he wrote in an e-mail to The Northwestern. "The hand-wringing reaction of the council member, and of everyone who gets upset by any mention of ethnic differences is, in my view, childish."
Skip has resumed his downward progress while I, on the other hand, backslid a little. Almost all of that was due to the two family gatherings over the weekend where I chose to indulge myself. The fact that I gained a little over a pound was a small comfort, but I'm now back on the straight and narrow.
Here are this week's (delayed) results:
A hike is a walk in the woods that turns into a meditation, then a prayer, and finally a song. It's rhythmic. It's your heart, breath and the sound of your feet. It's simple. It's a return to basics and a return to innocence. It's finding yourself alone in the woods and seeing the streams, rocks, trees and wildlife and recognizing all of it as wondrous - and then realizing you recognize the same thing in yourself. That's why I hike.Is it any wonder he's written a book that will likely be worth the purchasing? I can see Tom Hanks doing it as a movie. It'd make a tun of money at little cost to make. For the record I climbed Red Hill today with dogs Beau and Ruby, and two of my sons Matthew and Charles. It was a great day.
The cost of government benefits for seniors soared to a record $27,289 per senior in 2007, according to a USA TODAY analysis.
That's a 24% increase above the inflation rate since 2000. Medical costs are the biggest reason. Last year, for the first time, health care and nursing homes cost the government more than Social Security payments for seniors age 65 and older. The average Social Security benefit per senior in 2007 was $13,184.
"We have a health care crisis. We don't have an entitlement crisis," says David Certner, legislative policy director of the AARP, which represents seniors.
A cool mini physics lecture and a guy saying, as if it needed saying, "It's a game-changer." Yeah think?
I bet Iran is thinking about it. And what are we doing to shield the electronic grid? Nothing. We're too busy mailing Social Security checks and the like. No money left over.
I spent the afternoon down at my brother's with the WP Parents, celebrating the matriculation of John's No.2 son. Unfortunately I was the only one from our household able to attend as BeezleBub was working at the farm (catching hay all day) and Deb had to work, too.
We headed over to the WP Parents' place on the other side of the hill (The Manse and their place are literally on opposite sides of the same hill) for a Father's Day celebration, wending our way through the large number of bikes making their last runs of Motorcycle Week before heading home.
The weather certainly couldn't have been much better, with no rain on Saturday and a few quick passing hit-or-miss showers late on Sunday.
**********Speaking of Bike Week, Bogie has a few pictures she and her Wonderful Spouse took along Lakeside Avenue in Weirs Beach.
**********It appears Obama's honeymoon period is now over. With even purported supporters now questioning his abilities and competence, one has to wonder if he will indeed be the next one-term president.
Obama's biggest problem is his disconnect with the American people. Is it because he believes he's the only one with the answers and that the people are too stupid to see his brilliance, or is it because the American people see that he's an arrogant elitist without a friggin' clue as to what's really important? Or is it both?
On one side is America -- fickle and excitable, hotheaded and prone to overreaction, easily frightened and in constant need of reassurance.Easily frightened? Hmm. I'm not sure about that. Maybe easily pissed off when they're being talked down to. The only reassurance most Americans need is that the government is going the leave them alone and ,a href=http://jammiewearingfool.blogspot.com/2010/06/hundreds-of-construction-workers-forced.html>not take away even more of their money and not spend money it doesn't have.
On the other side stands Obama -- solid and sober, rooted in the belief that his way is the right way and in no need of alteration. He's the emotionally maimed type who lights up when he's stroked and adored but shuts down in the face of acrimony. Other people's anxieties are dismissed as irrational and unworthy of engagement or empathy. He seems quite comfortable with this aspect of his personality, even if few others are, and shows little desire to change it. It's the height of irony: the presumed transformative president is stymied by his own unwillingness to be transformed. He would rather sacrifice the relationship than be altered by it.The more successful presidents were willing to make compromises and work with the people rather than telling them "I know better than you, so sit down and shut up." It is clear Obama is the more the latter than the former.
**********To add fuel to the fire in regards to Obama, it doesn't help that most of the world sees Obama as incompetent and an amateur.
Hey, they're only seeing what a lot of us here in the US see, too, that being Obama is the 21st Century Jimmy Carter.
**********Ace of Spades has a breakdown of the state Moocher Index, described as "the percentage of state residents who receive some form of welfare and subtracted the percentage who fall under that state's poverty level."
An interesting observation points out that "the 5 of the top 10 mooching states also have some of the country's highest effective tax rates."
Why doesn't that surprise me?
While my home state ranks pretty low on the tax burden scale (#46), I wish it rated at the same or lower level on the Moocher Index than it does (#32). (Note: the tax burden rating is based on 2008 figures.)
(H/T Maggie's Farm)
**********All my life I've heard the pundits and the politicians talk about poverty in America. Listening to them one would think all those we define as poverty-stricken are living on the streets or in slums, with little food to eat and none of the comforts the rest of us above the poverty line take for granted. But the truth is that many of those presently at or below the poverty line are living better and are better off than most of the middle class in the 70's and 80's.
...the poor's material well-being has improved. The official poverty measure obscures this by counting only pre-tax cash income and ignoring other sources of support. These include the earned-income tax credit (a rebate to low-income workers), food stamps, health insurance (Medicaid), and housing and energy subsidies. Spending by poor households from all sources may be double their reported income, reports a study by Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute. Although many poor live hand-to-mouth, they've participated in rising living standards. In 2005, 91 percent had microwaves, 79 percent air conditioning and 48 percent cellphones.I'm not saying that there aren't any poor out there. I'm saying we may have to redefine poor in order to reflect the reality. And 'poor' here in the US would be considered wealthy in a number of other countries. It's all a matter of perception.
In the book MiG Pilot: The Final Escape Of Lt. Belenko, Viktor Belenko describes watching Soviet propaganda films showing the desperation of the poor in the United States and how the capitalist system exploited them. But what Belenko saw were the 'poor' with their own apartments furnished with the modern conveniences (ovens, refrigerators, TV sets, etc) - something that was rare in the Soviet Union at the time - and in many cases, owning their own cars. The 'poor' in America were far better off than the average Soviet citizen in the 1970's.
Maybe it's time to change the definition of poor.
**********I have to agree with David Thompson on this one: "...the more egalitarian a person says he is, the more superior he wishes to be, or assumes he already is."
Basically, they believe everyone should be equal in all things...except for themselves. This is because they also believe some people are more equal than others. Frankly, anyone pushing for a more egalitarian society should immediately be taken out and put in the stocks or pillory, making sure, of course, there is a large supply of rotten produce handy for passersby to throw at the hypocrite.
As I have written more than once, 'egalitarian' societies always end up being the most oppressive and tyrannical because they are based upon the false premise that they can force people to be equal. Unfortunately equal usually equates to "equal to the lowest common denominator", which in the human species is always a Bad Thing™.
**********Oh, yeah, let's make sure there will be big incentives for foreign investors to not invest in the US by making sure they'll know the Obama Administration will ignore the rule of law and use threats and extortion to get its way.
Obama is starting to make the US look more and more like a corrupt Third World nation every time he opens his mouth. Like that will help our economy recover.
November 2012 can't get here soon enough.
**********I loved this!
**********And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the weather has been marvelous, the boating has been great, and the rumble of thousands of motorcycles has been stilled until next year at this time.
The CNN report linked above covers the growing problems with Massachusetts health insurance program upon which ObamaCare has been modeled. None of the goals stated in the Massachusetts version have been met. The system is failing financially, with no control over costs, mandated coverage adding to health insurance premiums, subsidies for low/medium-income earners heading ever upwards, disincentives for people to work (higher income means paying a lot more for health insurance), and unintended incentives for businesses to drop their employees health insurance plans entirely.
The Massachusetts system is a preview of what we can expect as ObamaCare kicks in.
Already the the side effects of ObamaCare can be seen as the costs of it become more apparent. If most of the details of this bill had been made known to all of Congress before the vote it never would have passed. Anyone in Congress with a modicum of knowledge about business would have been able to see the negatives of ObamaCare far outweighed any perceived benefits.
With the unintended incentives ObamaCare gives businesses to drop employee health care, or worse, have all future hires brought on as temporary or contract employees, Obama's promise that we'd "be able to keep our present health insurance if we want to" rings hollow and shows he either doesn't truly understand the ramifications of health care reform, or doesn't care. The fact that he needs to spend $125 million of taxpayer funds to sell the idea that ObamaCare will be wonderful proves how bad it will be. If it was truly all that great it would sell itself. But the more he tries to push it on the American people the more they resist letting him destroy the imperfect but world class health care system we have.
Anyone with even a little math ability can figure out that the numbers don't add up, that they don't take into account real world conditions, and totally ignore the effects of the fiscal disincentives that will cause companies to drop health insurance for their employees and induce health care professionals to leave the medical field.
Hoover and his congressional allies thought that reducing imports would strengthen the economy. Instead, it contributed to a collapse in world trade and the spread of protectionism around the globe. The lessons from this policy mistake are unfortunately all too relevant today.It was one of the biggest mistakes the Republican Party ever got involved with.
The Smoot-Hawley tariff, conceived as a Republican ploy to gain the farm vote in the 1928 election, was a bad idea from the start.
It seems modern day Democrats are now looking to make the same mistake as the Republicans did in Hoover's day and for the same reasons. Should they pull it off, the unintended consequences won't be the same as those back in 1930. Instead, they'll be far worse.
Perhaps it's time for Congress and the President to stop punishing American businesses for succeeding here. Who knows, maybe new jobs will be created here as a result.
At least my son doesn't have to worry about computer crackers going after his totally uncomputerized 1975 Jeep CJ5.
Modern America, being democratic to the core, by its nature is inimical to rational debate, as the side with popular approval behind them can merely pretend opposing views don't exist and watch them flounder under a wave of populist ignorance and myth.
With the US government spending far too much time trying to kill off traditional energy sources, they really haven't spent nearly as much time trying to promote production of green energy sources as they should. Could that be why a lot of potential American energy jobs have been heading to China instead?
It seems any time there are alternative energy projects that actually look like they may actually work as advertised, the government wants nothing to do with it, or worse, works to kill them. But they'll sink tons of money into questionable projects with little chance of return on investment, or that will require endless government subsidies to survive.
Despite the ABC report above that the government of China controls the economy from top to bottom, meaning they can make offers others can't, the reality is quite different.
According to report from Cornell University, China's free enterprise economy works from the bottom up.
Entrepreneurship is taking off in China and with little input from the government, reports a new Cornell study. It is the capitalism of the private sector -- not government -- that is powering China's huge economy, say the researchers, making the rise of capitalism in China very similar to the West's.So ABC says one thing, and a study from Cornell says just the opposite. Who am I willing to believe?
"The surprising finding is how little government actually is needed to enable entrepreneurial activities," said Victor Nee, Goldwin Smith professor of sociology and director of the Center for the Study of Economy and Society at Cornell, who led the study. "Where markets rule, profit opportunities naturally draw in new entrepreneurs, no matter how adverse the institutional environment may be initially. Once a critical mass of private firms operates in specific niches, social norms and networks fulfill many of the functions that textbook economics assigns to government and legal institutions."
Cornell, of course.
Chinese entrepreneurship is echoing that of the US long ago. Entrepreneurship is an endangered species here in America, seeing that the government doesn't appear interested in keeping US innovation, ideas, and inventions here where they can create new jobs, if not entirely new industries. We are indeed becoming far too much like Europe, where the government has taken control of many aspects of the economy. They stifle innovation, either by making financing new ventures more difficult or less profitable, or burying them under an avalanche of regulations that all but prohibit new economic activity unless the government can exercise control over every aspect of it.
Is it any wonder US companies are finding China far more receptive to new ideas and new technologies than the US?
The so-called American Power Act seeks to tax carbon emissions from "coal-fired power plants and other large polluters."
A climate and energy bill being pushed in the Senate would cost American households 22 to 40 cents a day -- less than the cost of a first-class postage stamp, the Obama administration said Tuesday.Sounds great, doesn't it? But knowing government as we all do, we must ask about the hidden costs and the how the numbers were derived. As history has shown us again and again, government (and particularly Congress) have a tendency to underestimate the costs of new mandates and programs and overestimate the revenues or benefits derived from them. The fact that the cost estimates come from the EPA makes me skeptical the numbers are even close to being realistic. One must keep in mind that it will be the EPA regulating CO2 emissions since it has now been erroneously classified a pollutant.
An analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency concluded that the Senate bill, sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., would cost households an average of $79 to $146 per year. A first-class postage stamp costs 44 cents.
It would not surprise me to see all kinds of amendments to this bill, most of them intended to turn it into a stealth Cap-And-Tax law.
It doesn't help that the White House is using the oil spill in the Gulf as a rallying cry to choke off the supply of oil and other fossil fuels "for our own good." Not that this bill will have any effect on the oil spill or its side effects. All it's designed to do is make energy more expensive all in the name of saving the planet even though no one can rightfully prove it needs saving. But that's never stopped the Left from doing it anyway.
But the point used by the President to attempt to elicit Western Guilt last night and helpfully brought up at Posse Incitatus has in fact been used quite a lot over the years. Not with a lot of thought, I should think.
While it's true we use 20 percent of the world's energy while constituting merely two percent of the world's population, Mr. President, you left out one very important additional piece of information: we produce over 20 percent of the world's GNP.
So I'd say we're putting that energy production to good use. Very good use, Mr. President.
Though I can't vouch for Mr. Gore's Brobdingnagian energy use.
But then I went on Harsanyi's blog and he has an entertaining entry on different photos of people's offices. Mine is being constructed in the basement. After living at my present location in a "tiny town in central NH" (Washington Post's words when Mitt Romney came to town) for nearly nine years, I'm finally going to get one. The floor was put in last Saturday, and a buddy who does post and beam and can't find work is doing the construction.
I guess when it's done I'll have to show you a picture.
It was such a nice day that we decided to celebrate the last part of his birthday with a trip out on the lake. On the way to The Boat we picked up one of his friends who works at the farm.
Rafael is from Brazil and in the time he's been in the US he's never been out on a boat, so BeezleBub asked if we could take him.
What I thought would be a quick jaunt out on the lake lasted almost 2 hours. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I enjoyed every minute of it. But after getting back I had absolutely no ambition (or energy) to write anything profound, semi-profound, or completely inane. So instead you got this.
Until tomorrow, when regular blogging will resume.
Here are this week's results:
He gets it. Diana West gets it. Do you do, too? BTW, Kilpatrick's book is Why Johnny Can't Tell Right from Wrong.Ordinarily it's not a good idea to go around questioning other people's firmly held beliefs. But these are not ordinary times, and Islam is no ordinary religion. As any number of observes have noted, it's partly a religion and partly a supremacist political ideology--although no one seems to be able to say exactly what percent is political ideology and what percent is religion. Is it 50/50 or 60/40 or 80/20? Is it legitimate to criticize the political part of it, but not the religious part? How do you tell where the politics leaves off and the religion begins? Or are they so bound together that they can't be separated?
A lot of people on the left don't make much of the difference between the voluntary and involuntary society. But there's a world of difference in my choosing to purchase an iMac instead of a PC, notwithstanding the dominance of Microsoft's position (I should almost say "former dominance."), and whether I can choose to pay Uncle Sam.
Clearly we're Greece minus five or ten years when it comes to public sector unions. I now will call them what RFK called the Teamsters, "the Enemy Within."
Hopefully BeezleBub and I will make it over to Weirs Beach later this week to partake of some sightseeing.
**********David Starr explains the economics of energy and the costs of specific sources. As he writes:
Bottom line: We need conventional oil and gas unless we accept dropping back to a pre-industrial standard of living.Of course if polywell fusion actually works all bets are off. (So far everything has been scaling just as Robert Bussard calculated they would.)
**********Obama keeps telling us the government is doing everything it can to help mitigate the effects of the Gulf oil spill. But reports like this are telling an entirely different story.
So which is it?
**********This is the only mention I'm going to make about Sarah Palin's boobs.
**********Bogie disagrees with my take on the possibility of Obama and Congress killing mortgage interest tax deduction.
Rereading what I wrote, I realize I didn't adequately state my position, so let me state it more succinctly: Killing the mortgage tax deduction at this time would be the wrong thing to do. The last thing government should do is increase the taxes during a deep recession, particularly on an activity the government is trying to encourage. The last thing any family needs right now is an increase in their income taxes. Money is tight and some folks are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. How is it adding a higher tax burden is going to help anyone in that position?
I can see no harm in reducing or eliminating the deduction once the economy and the market have recovered, but now is not the time. (It would also break another one of Obama's campaign promises, again.)
**********Like this is a surprise:
A majority of existing healthcare insurance plans won't be grandfathered.
And yet another Obama promise bites the dust. But then again, Pelosi knew this right from the beginning.
**********Is yet another New England state seeing a shift from blue to red?
First it was the People's Republic of Taxachusetts with the election of Republican Scott Brown to fill the US Senate seat left open by the passing of Teddy Kennedy. Then Connecticut has a battle brewing for the Senate seat held by Chris Dodd, followed by a resurgence of support for GOP candidates for both House seats and a Senate seat in New Hampshire.
Now we're seeing a shift in voter attitudes in Maine, with a solid majority of them showing preferences for more conservative candidates and views.
(H/T Pirate's Cove)
**********Cap'n Teach brings us up to speed on how things are done in Guilford County, North Carolina, where the chairman of the Forsyth County GOP was punched in the face during a protest. That's bad enough. But the victim has been charged with simple assault, despite a video showing the attack and the attacker. The attacker has had all charges dropped.
Gee, could it be because the victim is a Republican and the attacker is a Democrat that charges against the perpetrator have been dropped because the magistrate is a Democrat?
Naw, that can't be it.
**********It turns out that biomass generated electricity is not carbon neutral like everyone believes it to be. In fact, it has a carbon footprint 3% larger than the amount of coal needed to generate an equal amount of electrical power.
**********I'm not sure how the logic of this one figures, but somehow the Left believes that the Gulf oil spill will "sink the Tea party."
Even after reading the linked op-ed piece I fail to understand the logic that leads Joshua Green to his conclusion. It's a pretty big stretch to tie the TEA party platform to the problems that led to the oil spill. It's as logical as Nancy Pelosi laying the blame for it at George W. Bush's feet.
**********Bigfoot also has some interesting points about the BP oil spill in the Gulf, including a video that "gives a new meaning to an old song."
**********And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the rumble of motorcycles will be heard for the next week, the weather will get better, and where yet again Monday has come to darn soon.
But I bleed Michigan State green, baby!
First, there was the stimulus. Then Cash for Clunkers, followed by ObamaCare. Cap and Trade still lurks, waiting to make energy cost skyrocket. (Like that will help the economy). Then there was the first time home buyers tax credit, followed by a modified version that covered anyone buying a home. Now, to kill off the housing market entirely, they're looking to do away with the mortgage interest tax deduction, which will add thousands of dollars per year to the taxpayer's tax burden.
Do they really think this will help anything? Estimates predict elimination of the tax deduction will bring in $208 billion over the next ten years, but at what cost? What will the actual revenues be when all factors are taken into consideration?
Frankly, I doubt they'll collect anywhere near what they expect to because a lot of people that might have otherwise bought homes will decide it's no longer financially attractive to do so. What will that do to the housing values and the housing market? Two things that I can see.
First, housing values will drop, making an already shaky housing market even more so as an increasing number of homeowners will see their equity disappear. Some of those will find themselves upside down on their mortgages. This in turn means we'll probably see an increase in foreclosures and 'walk-aways', where people abandon their homes because they can no longer justify paying the mortgages even if they do have the money to pay them. Why should they when they'll end up with far less than they started with when they first bought their home? It will make more sense to let the home go into foreclosure rather than to keep paying for housing guaranteed to depreciate greatly in value. (In effect, it's like having your mortgage rate increase from 5.5% to 20%. Even if you can afford to pay it, you're really getting little in return for tall he money you spend.)
Second, the housing market will shrink even more than it has since the home buyer tax credits ended this past April. The only difference will be that the effect on the market will be semi-permanent. It could take decades for the market to recover and even when it does, there will a large stock of homes looking for buyers that don't exist.
In turn, all of this could affect the financial industry as people won't be taking out mortgages or equity loans. The banks won't be making any money because of the dearth of loans (and likely a large supply of foreclosed homes they can't sell at any price).
Again, Congress is getting ready to shoot itself (and the economy) in the foot by proposing legislation that will have the unintended consequence of killing off yet another part of the economy and ending up with even less revenue than they started with. If they really want to help reduce the deficit, then perhaps they should stop spending money we don't have.
If Congress were really interested in generating a little more revenue, then perhaps they could do away with the interest deduction for second homes. It's been done before and had little overall effect on the housing market as most activity on the market is for primary homes.
But they won't do that because, after all, it makes sense.
HT: Of Arms and the Law
Full disclosure: I smoked pot about a dozen or two times my senior year of high school, 1985-6. Since then, no, not in over twenty years, that's for sure. I've grown to dislike marijuana on ideological grounds. But that doesn't mean I can mandate my disapproval to others through intrusive legislation. I wish the same could be said of NH legislators who a year or two ago saw fit to ban smoking from all bars and restaurants. Damn busy bodies!
The best book on economics has been Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson. I remember the blurb on the back by the great journalist H.L. Mencken saying Hazlitt, who used to be a mainstream American editorialist and journalist way back when, is one of the few economists who could actually write lucid English. I think the book is absolutely mandatory reading for the Skip Murphy Brethren.
It turns out the left doesn't really have as good a grasp on economics. Thanks, Doug Bandow, my ole Cato buddy from the summer of 1990, for the link.
Having been a superannuated college student, count me as supremely unsurprised. I saw it every day.
Also, while we're on the Left's intellectual deficiencies--their moral ones are legion--I also recommend a book by Thomas Fleming, The Politics of Human Nature, I found extremely enlightening.
But I'll be doing it with alcohol. Now I can practice my inalienable right inside an Applebee's serving Budweiser. Who'd have thunk it? Override that dithering liberal gubnor. Way to go, Tennessee legislature!
A former Chrysler dealership in the Lakes Region is closing up shop a year after the automaker's bankruptcy plan took effect -- and it's not going quietly.A number of successful and lucrative dealerships were forced to close their doors while lesser dealerships survived. It appears to many the selections of which dealerships to close were quite arbitrary and did not reflect the economic viability of those franchises. There have also been grumblings that some dealerships whose franchises were terminated were selected based upon their political leanings, with those owned by supporters of the GOP selected more often than those owned by Obama supporters.
Chrysler's bankruptcy plan included stripping its name from nearly 800 dealerships across the country -- including six in New Hampshire. It has been a struggle for many of the dealerships, and one in Belmont is closing its doors after 20 years.
The sign painted across the empty showroom windows expresses the owner's outrage.
"The sign says, 'This business is now closed because of Obama's economics.' I put that up there because it was his task force that closed -- or took away -- 789 franchises from small businesses," said Alan Silberberg, owner of Lakes Family Auto Center.
Frankly, I believe it's because there were far more successful dealerships owned by Republicans than Democrats, so the burden fell more upon those franchisees in direct proportion to the balance between Republicans and Democrats...but I could be wrong.
People can change the volume, the location and the composition of their income, and they can do so in response to changes in government policies.Anyone believing people and businesses won't change their schedules or behavior due to tax increases or decreases or government mandates are either deluded or have no understanding of human nature or business. The upcoming tax changes will certainly affect the revenues collected next year as anyone capable of taking advantage of the existing tax rates will do so before the rates change next year. To do otherwise would be foolish. (I am also assuming that many of the same people who deride others for taking advantage of moving up income or other disbursements will do likewise, showing that they are hypocrites as well.)
It shouldn't surprise anyone that the nine states without an income tax are growing far faster and attracting more people than are the nine states with the highest income tax rates. People and businesses change the location of income based on incentives.
People can also change the timing of when they earn and receive their income in response to government policies.
On or about Jan. 1, 2011, federal, state and local tax rates are scheduled to rise quite sharply. President George W. Bush's tax cuts expire on that date, meaning that the highest federal personal income tax rate will go 39.6% from 35%, the highest federal dividend tax rate pops up to 39.6% from 15%, the capital gains tax rate to 20% from 15%, and the estate tax rate to 55% from zero. Lots and lots of other changes will also occur as a result of the sunset provision in the Bush tax cuts.
Now, if people know tax rates will be higher next year than they are this year, what will those people do this year? They will shift production and income out of next year into this year to the extent possible. As a result, income this year has already been inflated above where it otherwise should be and next year, 2011, income will be lower than it otherwise should be.
Probably the biggest problem facing us is that, as a group, far too many liberals have a very poor understanding of economics. How do I know? Because Zogby tells me so.
Who is better informed about the policy choices facing the country--liberals, conservatives or libertarians? According to a Zogby International survey that I write about in the May issue of Econ Journal Watch, the answer is unequivocal: The left flunks Econ 101.Some commenting on the Zogby piece claimed the questions asked didn't include enough specifics, but the poll was supposed to cover generalities, not definitive economic principles. Zogby wasn't polling economists, but members of the general public, giving us a decent snapshot of economic knowledge and attitudes across America, including some of our politicians. And with a majority in Congress, the left has been making some major economic blunders in their ignorance.
Need we say more?
I'm still losing (slowly), but Skip has hit the GOP rubber chicken circuit, meaning he's backslid a bit. As you can see his lead has dwindled quite a bit. But I have confidence he'll more than make up for it in the coming weeks...as long as he lays off the rubber chicken!
A day off from yard work now and then isn't a bad thing...as long as now and then doesn't occur every day!
A line of thunderstorms came through this afternoon, causing damage in a number of places in New Hampshire, though not here, thank goodness.
**********The weather has also kept the weekend traffic to a minimum. A perfect example: BeezleBub had a driving lesson this morning and the traffic in downtown Laconia was almost non-existent. Even our favorite breakfast joint wasn't all that busy, meaning we didn't have to wait to get a table at a time we usually would have to wait 15 or 20 minutes.
**********As Jennifer Rubin writes in regards to the reactions to Israeli interdiction of the Gaza-bound flotilla, "While the Turks call for a 'final solution' Obama says nothing."
I have to say that Dubya had it right.
**********I wonder how many more disincentives Congress will heap upon businesses before they realize they are one of the main reasons the economy isn't recovering?
The best thing they could is get out of the way.
Yeah, like that will happen.
**********Speaking of disincentives, Cap'n Teach tells us about one of the unintended consequences of things like ObamaCare and other government mandates: more new jobs are coming without benefits.
Many of the jobs employers are adding are temporary or contract positions, rather than traditional full-time jobs with benefits. With unemployment remaining near 10%, employers have their pick of workers willing to accept less secure positions.Cap'n Teach writes, "Why would employers want to hire employees they have to either give health benefits to or pay a fine on? Quite a bit smarter to make them temporary or contract workers."
In 2005, the government estimated that 31% of U.S. workers were already so-called contingent workers. Experts say that number could increase to 40% or more in the next 10 years.
I have no doubt this will be the trend unless the 112th Congress repeals ObamaCare next year. All this shows is that Obama and the Democrats in Congress are masters at ignoring the Law of Unintended Consequences. It also shows they have no understanding of economics and the effects mandates have on economic decisions.
**********One of my favorite bloggers, Bruce MacMahon of No Looking Backwards is hanging up his blogging keyboard.
It's not that he's tired of blogging. Instead, he's putting his efforts into running for representative to the New Hampshire House.
The days of sitting on the sidelines are over. It's time for me to stop talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly - where our state (and federal) government is concerned - and start doing something about it. It's time to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. Time to live up to the name "No Looking Backwards" and set my sights forward.He's not just talking the talk, he's also walking the walk.
New Hampshire is at a crossroads, with our future and our children's future dependent upon which road we choose to travel.
I'm choosing to continue in my efforts to rescue New Hampshire (and our country) from the destructive forces of big government, runaway taxation, special interest-driven politics, and reckless spending.
As someone who's run for office on more than one occasion, I can say "Welcome to the club, Bruce!"
**********Just like John Edwards claimed, there are two Americas, just not the ones he claimed.
It's broken down into these two categories: private sector and government sector. At the moment it's far more lucrative and better paying to be the latter. The former actually does something and pays the taxes that make the second possible. But as the first group shrinks the second will find it harder to maintain their pay and benefits. And if the first group fails, so does the second.
(H/T Maggie's Farm)
**********Bogie and her Wondeful Spouse have a new addition to their home: a 46" Samsung LCD HDTV. It replaces their old dead TV.
They did the right thing by wall mounting it, which allows them a little more flexibility as far as arranging their furniture.
**********I have to ask this question, too: "What part of illegal don't you understand?"
**********And people wonder why California is such an economic basket case.
With all the economic problems the state is suffering you'd think California legislators would be focusing on them. Instead they're debating the pros and cons of paper versus plastic bags in grocery stores.
California is doomed.
**********And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where now that the weekend is ending the weather is clearing, the weekenders are heading home, and where lake residents will once again have the lake to themselves...until next weekend.
First it was Cash For Clunkers, an Obama program that helped spur auto sales for a couple of months. But once the program ended, auto sales slumped and were even lower than before the program started, just as many economists (and a few non-economist bloggers, like yours truly) predicted. All the incentive program managed to do was shift the purchase of vehicles forward a couple of months, meaning that people that were inclined to buy new cars or trucks regardless of any program moved up their purchases a couple of months. But there were no follow on purchases meaning the sales plummeted once the program ended. There was no net gain of sales.
Now were seeing the same thing in the housing market, with a sales slump following the end of the tax breaks given for buying a new home, first for first time home buyers, and then for anyone buying a new home. Once the program ended in April, there were no follow on purchases. All the program managed to do was shift the sales forward a few months. There will be no net gain in sales. The folks buying homes would have done so anyway.
And then came May, traditionally the height of the spring housing season.So the low mortgage interest rates have been driving a lot of refinancing, but not a lot of mortgages for the purchase of homes. Color me surprised. NOT. Even with the lower interest rates the demand isn't there, having been exhausted by the end of April due to the tax incentives.
Mortgage applications to purchase a home began to sink. Now, four weeks later, mortgage purchase applications are down nearly 40 percent from a month ago to their lowest level since April of 1997. Yes, you can argue that a larger-than normal share of buyers today are all cash, but those are largely investors.
That means real organic buyers are exiting in droves.
"With another week of historically low mortgage rates, the trend from the prior three weeks continued, as refinance applications increased while purchase applications dropped. Purchase applications are now almost 40 percent below their level four weeks ago, while the refinance share, at 74 percent, is at its highest level since December," said Michael Fratantoni, MBA's Vice President of Research and Economics.
How much have those incentives cost the American taxpayers? The obvious answer is more than if there had been no tax incentives at all, and it was all for nothing. The temporary bump in home sales has passed and the slump has taken its place.
Way to go Team Obama!
Deb, BeezleBub and I made it out on to Lake Winnipesaukee late yesterday afternoon, before the weekenders showed up. The conditions were perfect, with few boats and no wind. It made for a nice 2-hour jaunt, the first of many this season.
On our way back to our slip we noticed boat traffic picking up quite a bit, showing the weekenders had arrived and were getting at least one run in before the less then great weather arrived (meaning today).
There are advantages of living at the lake!
Reminds me when the drive-by shooting on Coptic Christmas in Egypt as they were leaving midnight services was ignored by the Economist magazine.
How many times over the decades have utopian/progressive/socialist plans for this country or for the world tried to make it sound that if people would only change how they look at things that we could create a perfect society/world? The problems is that people tend to resist change, particularly when they see little return for all the effort that will be required. They have higher priorities, such as providing for their families. Unless people can be shown up front such changes will benefit them and their families directly, they will resist those changes. To rely on altruism to fuel such changes is foolish and a waste of time. As I and many others have come to realize, altruism is something we feel from time to time. It cannot be sustained 24/7/365. Unfortunately far too many of the Left have chosen to ignore that one little truth. Most of there utopian ideals demand altruism from is all day, every day. It's the only way their world will work.
If people like Schor want to see those kinds of changes they shouldn't waste their time appealing to people's better nature. They may not have one, particularly when it comes to their families or businesses. Those are the most important things in their lives. If someone tries to convince them they should sacrifice the well-being of either in the name of some nebulous cause, the response they get will likely be "Screw you and the horse you rode in on!"
More than once during the show Schor lamented the "greed" that seems to drive the Western world and tried hard to guilt us into giving up everything everyone has worked so hard to achieve. I had a hard time figuring out exactly how she defined greed. Was it overweening avarice? Was it profiting from the misfortune of others? Or was it simply making money at one's job or business and having a little left over to do something other than buy necessities? (I get the feeling she didn't differentiate between them at all, with the last one being the worst of the three.) More than once she played the leftist egalitarian card, implying no one should have [place name of item or possession here] unless everyone can have one. But that's a straw man argument because by that logic no one will ever be able to have whatever it is because no one has them. Someone has to be first. Call it the Lowest Common Denominator premise, which always turns out to be false, unrealistic, and impossible to achieve.
One of her favorite targets was the oil companies. Another target was big corporations. While I have no love for either, her remedy (smaller innovation driven companies to replace them) isn't something that can be forced. For one thing, who decides and on what basis? Some things can't easily be done by smaller companies, if at all. Does that mean they shouldn't be done at all? Again, who decides?
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that Schor and those like her seem to think that someone should be making these decisions for us rather than letting things develop on their own. Forcing the issue, either by heavy government intervention or outright government control, never works out and always causes far more problems than such changes were meant to fix. History is rife with examples of how and why we should not to do such things. Yet the Left sees the previous failures not as a flaw in their theories but as poor execution of them. They'll explain that this time they'll get it right...but they never do.
The answer, in a word, is obvious: they know pretty much nothing. What's worse is that they don't feel that ignorance should preclude them from talking until there is an initial technical investigation, done by some technically qualified people (from various reputable organizations). (We saw this same rush to judgment by the know-nothings after the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion in 1986.)People in general have little or no understanding of the technology they use every day, but at least they know they don't understand it and are willing to admit they don't understand it. All they know is that they can use it. Unfortunately Congress doesn't know that they don't know, and that's the problem. This false belief means they will, more often than not, come to the wrong conclusions about some scientific or technological issue. It also means that the rest of us will pay the price for their decisions, one way or another.
To me, all this is just another manifestation of the sad, ironic reality that engineers have made the incredibly difficult look way too easy. Everyone thinks it's all no big deal and not very hard, so it's easy to be an expert. It's happened in nearly all engineering and scientific disciplines.
I'm not saying that Congress shouldn't get involved with such issues. But they should be more willing to take the time to learn about them well before deciding anything. There are very few science or technology issues that require immediate action by Congress. Unfortunately Congress doesn't realize this, or worse, they don't care. It's all about posturing and politics and power and not about the actual issues.
IE6 has to be the most targeted web browser for hacker exploits, even with the security patches provided by Microsoft. If you're still using it, it's time for a change. Just about any modern browser will be more secure than IE6.
We here at The Manse use Firefox 3.6.3 and we update it as soon as new updates are available. Microsoft has IE8. There's Opera, Chrome, Safari, and a whole host of other browsers out there. Pick one, try it, and if you don't like it, try another one. But get rid of IE6 now.
Note: For full disclosure, at work we use both Firefox and IE6. The decision about IE6 is not ours, but that of our corporate IT folks. About the only thing we (meaning Engineering) use it for is some internal applications (Oracle, Microsoft Project Web Access, and one or two other corporate applications), but never for URLs outside the corporate proxy server.
What it was was a payoff to the unions for backing Obama, plain and simple. There's no other explanation I can find that makes any sense.