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201  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The war on the rule of law on: June 05, 2014, 11:45:22 AM

That is why he went around Congress, not some unknown health issue.  

The Framers had it wrong on checks and balances.  As he has clearly and directly said, I will go through Congress when they agree with me and go around them otherwise.  

The law he signed was unconstitutional and the release was illegal.  Who cares, right?  No consequence.  It's not like we're a nation of laws.  Yes, he cannot be impeached; iImpeachment like everything else including the Court is political.

Cap and Trade was also rejected by congress and a Dem Senate:
17 years and 9 months counting with no warming:

But the planet cannot wait for Congress, checks and balances or consent of the governed!
202  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of the left, Elizabeth Warren and Thomas Piketty on: June 05, 2014, 10:51:07 AM
Together in Boston, a dream event for the silent leftists on the forum:

Described here on National Review for the rest of us:
203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: (Hillary) It's official on: June 05, 2014, 10:18:24 AM
Cover of People.  


her marriage
grandmother status
sleeping in to 8 AM
so involved
time to break the highest glass ceiling
post more botox and a quarter inch of makeup
saving the elephants
getting to know her [again]
the real Hillary behind the scenes
and of course an "oh my gosh"

Yes - it appears to be on.  That's how you sell books.  This book is meaningless but the money beats working for a living.  The next book will be the blueprint for her Presidency if she is running.

The deadline for not running is coming up shortly - after the book revenue runs its course,  after the midterms in November, about the same time Hillary becomes a Grandma.  

The Oh my "Gosh" statement (more likely uttered with f-words) was that they couldn't believe they could just sit and watch TV, OMG!  That's the image on sale here, just Bill and Hill together snuggling up watching TV - like the walk on the beach after Monica.  I'm visualizing more of a living room war-room where both have staff bustling around, Bill's mostly young and busty, and Hillary with Huma and some focus group managers going over the Obamanomic plowhorse damage demographic by demographic, and the TV in the background

My cover all bases prediction was that she will not run, won't win the Dem nomination if she runs and won't win the Presidency if she runs and is nominated.  Looking wrong on all counts, but I stand by it.  

The 2016 table is getting set with Obama scandal and malaise fatigue along with recurring Hillary-fatigue, while the opposition is poised to sweep the 2014 elections and enter with fresh faces and fresh ideas for 2016.  She will need to separate herself from Obama, on the past and on policy, without pissing him off because she will need his complete cooperation to have a chance - of all his staff and his magical Get Out The Vote operation right while she is separating herself.  She needs to sound like him, hope and change, the first fill in a different blank President, the winning formula, and yet not sound like him or govern like him.  More like Pelosi, we need a woman to clean up the House, how is that going?  And she will need Bill disciplined on a short leash, mostly quiet, but ready to pull off his magic from time to time because she is a run of the mill politician without him.  Two for the price of one?  Again?  Meanwhile, aging and health issues are plaguing both of them.  The end of 8 years of a (hypothetic) Hillary administration is 34 years after the start of the 1992 campaign and 48 years after being 'elected' First Lady of Arkansas.  They were the new generation, full of excitement and promise.  Still true?  I don't think so.

Washington Post poll today, 55% say Obama made America weaker.  When George H.W.Bush followed two terms of Reagan, the implication was 'stay the course'.   Good luck with that in 2016!
204  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: CNN analyst: Baraq broke law on: June 04, 2014, 05:44:26 PM
Two Americans walked off their post in the POW scandal, one in Afghanistan in 2009 and one in the Oval Office this week.
205  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The March Toward A Global Currency... on: June 04, 2014, 05:36:43 PM
It's only a matter of time before the US Dollar loses its global reserve status. ...

Unless sane people take back America first.
206  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / THE SETTLED SCIENCE OF POLAR BEARS on: June 03, 2014, 03:06:16 PM
Leftists decided that their global warming scam needed a poster child, and polar bears were selected for that honor. For some years now we have been exposed to mournful photographs of polar bears floating away on ice floes, or otherwise appearing endangered:

The theory on which polar bears are supposed to be endangered because their environment is becoming more benign has never been entirely clear, nor has there been data to support the claim that their populations are declining. Indeed, polar bears inhabit such remote and forbidding regions that no one has much idea how many of them there are. But no matter. Polar bears are cuddly–from a distance, anyway–and so they served the hoaxers’ purpose.

Like so much of the global warming fraud, the polar bear theme has unraveled. Thomas Lifson has the latest. A prominent advocate for the endangered polar bear theory has just admitted to an actual scientist that he made the whole thing up:

[P]olar bear scientist Dr. Susan Crockford…publishes the website Polar Bear Science. In it she documents how a scientist responsible for an alarmist lowball estimate of polar bear population is backing away from numbers that she has been questioning:

Last week (May 22), I received an unsolicited email from Dr. Dag Vongraven, the current chairman of the IUCN [International Union for the Conservation of Nature – TL] Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG).

The email from Vongraven began this way:

Dr. Crockford

Below you’ll find a footnote that will accompany a total polar bear population size range in the circumpolar polar bear action plan that we are currently drafting together with the Parties to the 1973 Agreement. This might keep you blogging for a day or two. [my bold]

It appears the PBSG have come to the realization that public outrage (or just confusion) is brewing over their global population estimates and some damage control is perhaps called for. Their solution — bury a statement of clarification within their next official missive….

The statement of clarification is an Emily Litella classic: oops, never mind!

Here is the statement that the PBSG proposes to insert as a footnote in their forthcoming Circumpolar Polar Bear Action Plan draft:
“As part of past status reports, the PBSG has traditionally estimated a range for the total number of polar bears in the circumpolar Arctic. Since 2005, this range has been 20-25,000. It is important to realize that this range never has been an estimate of total abundance in a scientific sense, but simply a qualified guess given to satisfy public demand. It is also important to note that even though we have scientifically valid estimates for a majority of the subpopulations, some are dated. Furthermore, there are no abundance estimates for the Arctic Basin, East Greenland, and the Russian subpopulations. Consequently, there is either no, or only rudimentary, knowledge to support guesses about the possible abundance of polar bears in approximately half the areas they occupy. Thus, the range given for total global population should be viewed with great caution as it cannot be used to assess population trend over the long term.” [my bold]

I love that phrase, “in a scientific sense.” Nothing about the claims made by the global warming hysterics should be taken in a scientific sense.

For a more comprehensive review of the polar bear fraud, along with many other topics, check out the Congressional testimony of Daniel Botkin, Professor (Emeritus) in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology at UC Santa Barbara, President of The Center for The Study of The Environment, and author of Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the 21st Century and the textbook Environmental Science:

Some of the [IPCC's 2014 report's] conclusions are the opposite of those given in articles cited in defense of those conclusions.

For example, the IPCC 2014 Terrestrial Ecosystem Report states that “there is medium confidence that rapid change in the Arctic is affecting its animals. For example, seven of 19 subpopulations of the polar bear are declining in number” citing in support of this an article by Vongraven and Richardson, 2011. That report states the contrary, that the “decline” is an illusion.

In addition, I have sought the available counts of the 19 subpopulations. Of these, only three have been counted twice; the rest have been counted once. Thus no rate of changes in the populations can be determined. The first count was done in 1986 for one subpopulation.

The U. S. Marine Mammal Commission, charged with the conservation of this species, acknowledges “Accurate estimates of the current and historic sizes of polar bear stocks are difficult to obtain for several reasons–the species‘ inaccessible habitat, the movement of bears across international boundaries, and the costs of conducting surveys.”

According to Dr. Susan Crockford, “out of the 13 populations for which some kind of data exist, five populations are now classified by the PBSG [IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group] as ‘stable’ (two more than 2009), one is still increasing, and three have been upgraded from ‘declining’ to ‘data deficient’. . . . That leaves four that are still considered ‘declining’‐ two of those judgments are based primarily on concerns of overhunting, and one is based on a statistically insignificant decline that may not be valid and is being reassessed (and really should have been upgraded to ‘data deficient’). That leaves only one population – Western Hudson Bay – where PBSG biologists tenaciously blame global warming for all changes to polar bear biology, and even then, the data supporting that conclusion is still not available.”

To anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the Earth’s history, the suggestion that polar bears are threatened by a change in the planet’s average temperature of a degree or two–or five or six, if we pretend that the climateers’ models have any scientific basis–is ludicrous. Polar bears have been around, I suppose, for millions of years. Yet, in just the last 450,000 years–practically the blink of an eye–polar bears have lived through climate changes far more drastic than anything now predicted by the fraudsters:

I think that to the extent the climate hysterics are able to fool anyone, it is largely because most people have no idea of the natural variability of the Earth’s climate.
207  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Inequality - from transactions of mutual benefit on: June 03, 2014, 02:58:39 PM
The Little Miracle Spurring Inequality
Extreme leaps in innovation, like the invention of the microprocessor, bring with them staggering fortunes.

Updated June 2, 2014 7:35 p.m. ET
Judging by the Forbes 400 list, the richest people in America have been getting richer very quickly. In 1982, the first year of the list, there were only 13 billionaires on it. A net worth of $75 million was enough to earn a spot. The 2013 list has nothing but billionaires, with $1.3 billion as the cutoff. Sixty-one American billionaires aren't rich enough to make the list.

Many regard this as a serious problem, seeing the development of a plutocracy dominating the American economy through the sheer power of its wealth. The French economist Thomas Piketty, in his new book "Capital in the 21st Century," calls for an 80% tax on incomes over $250,000 and a 2% annual tax on net worth in order to prevent an excessive concentration of wealth.

That is a monumentally bad idea.

The great growth of fortunes in recent decades is not a sinister development. Instead it is simply the inevitable result of an extraordinary technological innovation, the microprocessor, which Intel brought to market in 1971. Seven of the 10 largest fortunes in America today were built on this technology, as have been countless smaller ones. These new fortunes unavoidably result in wealth being more concentrated at the top.

But no one is poorer because Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, et al., are so much richer. These new fortunes came into existence only because the public wanted the products and services—and lower prices—that the microprocessor made possible. Anyone who has found his way home thanks to a GPS device or has contacted a child thanks to a cellphone appreciates the awesome power of the microprocessor. All of our lives have been enhanced and enriched by the technology.

This sort of social transformation has happened many times before. Whenever a new technology comes along that greatly reduces the cost of a fundamental input to the economy, or makes possible what had previously been impossible, there has always been a flowering of great new fortunes—often far larger than those that came before. The technology opens up many new economic niches, and entrepreneurs rush to take advantage of the new opportunities.

The full-rigged ship that Europeans developed in the 15th century, for instance, was capable of reaching the far corners of the globe. Soon gold and silver were pouring into Europe from the New World, and a brisk trade with India and the East Indies sprang up. The Dutch exploited the new trade so successfully that the historian Simon Schama entitled his 1987 book on this period of Dutch history "The Embarrassment of Riches."

Or consider work-doing energy. Before James Watt's rotary steam engine, patented in 1781, only human and animal muscles, water mills and windmills could supply power. But with Watt's engine it was suddenly possible to input vast amounts of very-low-cost energy into the economy. Combined with the factory system of production, the steam engine sparked the Industrial Revolution, causing growth—and thus wealth as well as job creation—to sharply accelerate.

By the 1820s so many new fortunes were piling up that the English social critic John Sterling was writing, "Wealth! Wealth! Wealth! Praise to the God of the 19th century! The Golden Idol! The mighty Mammon!" In 1826 the young Benjamin Disraeli coined the word millionaire to denote the holders of these new industrial fortunes.

Transportation is another fundamental input. But before the railroad, moving goods overland was extremely, and often prohibitively, expensive. The railroad made it cheap. Such fortunes as those of the railroad-owning Vanderbilts, Goulds and Harrimans became legendary for their size.

The railroad also made possible many great fortunes that had nothing, directly, to do with railroads at all. The railroads made national markets possible and thus huge economies of scale—to the benefit of everyone at every income level. Many merchandising fortunes, such as F.W. Woolworth's five-and-dime, could not have happened without the cheap and quick transportation of goods.

Many of the new fortunes in America's Gilded Age in the late 19th century were based on petroleum, by then inexpensive and abundant thanks to Edwin Drake's drilling technique. Steel, suddenly made cheap thanks to the Bessemer converter, could now have a thousand new uses. Oil and steel, taken together, made the automobile possible. That produced still more great fortunes, not only in car manufacturing, but also in rubber, glass, highway construction and such ancillary industries.

Today the microprocessor, the most fundamental new technology since the steam engine, is transforming the world before our astonished eyes and inevitably creating huge new fortunes in the process.

To see how fundamental the microprocessor—a dirt-cheap computer on a chip—is, do a thought experiment. Imagine it's 1970 and someone pushes a button causing every computer in the world to stop working. The average man on the street won't have noticed anything amiss until his bank statement failed to come in at the end of the month. Push that button today and civilization collapses in seconds. Cars don't run, phones don't work, the lights go out, planes can't land or take off. That is all because the microprocessor is now found in nearly everything more complex than a pencil.

The number of new economic niches created by cheap computing power is nearly limitless. Opportunities in software and hardware over the past 30 years have produced many billionaires—but they're not all in Silicon Valley. The Walton family collectively is worth, according to Forbes, $144.7 billion, thanks to the world's largest retail business. But Wal-Mart couldn't exist without the precise inventory controls that the microprocessor makes possible.

The "income disparity" between the Waltons and the patrons of their stores is as pronounced as critics complain, but then again the lives of countless millions of Wal-Mart shoppers have been materially enriched by the stores' staggering array of affordable goods.

Just as the railroad, the most important secondary technology of the steam engine, produced many new fortunes, the Internet is producing enormous numbers of them, from the likes of Amazon, Facebook  and Twitter.   When Twitter went public last November, it created about 1,600 newly minted millionaires.

Any attempt to tax away new fortunes in the name of preventing inequality is certain to have adverse effects on further technology creation and niche exploitation by entrepreneurs—and harm job creation as a result. The reason is one of the laws of economics: Potential reward must equal the risk or the risk won't be taken.

And the risks in any new technology are very real in the highly competitive game that is capitalism. In 1903, 57 automobile companies opened for business in this country, hoping to exploit the new technology. Only the Ford Motor Co. survived the Darwinian struggle to succeed. As Henry Ford's fortune grew to dazzling levels, some might have decried it, but they also should have rejoiced as he made the automobile affordable for everyman.

Mr. Gordon is the author of "An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power" (HarperCollins, 2004).
208  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Money, the Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: June 03, 2014, 02:41:37 PM
Thank you Obj for making an empirical case for what I have been saying is deductively obvious.

1) Start with Milton Friedman's bumper sticker,  MV=PQ   [Money Supply, Velocity, Price Level, Total Output]

2) Price level P have been amazingly constant.

3) Total output Q is extremely flat with real growth almost exactly at zero.

4) Therefore MV Money Supply M times Velocity V has also been constant, while the money supply M has been exploding by something like 3/4 Trillion dollars per year.  Pathetically low Velocity is the only explanation for what we are seeing.

Obamanomics has brought us the worst, standstill economic velocity in our lifetime.  And it won't get better, Brian Wesbury, until we undo some of the destructive policies that are the cause.

Another monetary point: our monetary policy is not just enabling, but CAUSING our deficit spending.  While everyone else argues that fiscal policy causes the need for monetary expansion.  I believe that if not for irresponsible accommodation by the Fed, we would not be spending anywhere near this far beyond our means.  Not in the later Bush years and not in the Obama Presidency.  If the US government had to borrow money at market interest rates through bond sales (borrowing) in advance of every dollar of deficit spending, the reckless spending would have been corrected in the political process - long ago, IMHO.  
209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin, LGBT, "discrimination", & discrimination. on: June 03, 2014, 02:03:33 PM
So, would the children of Vietnamese immigrants have to pay taxes for reparations ?

Some African Americans are white from South Africa. Some are black and descendants of slave owners or slave traders.   How about somethi8ng to white northerners whose ancestors fought to free slaves.  Recipients of reparations should have a little more slave in their blood that Faux-cahantas Warren has of Cherokee.

What we should pay are welfare reparations.  That is what did the most harm to people still in the so-called underclass.  Pay the damages and then stop doing it.
210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Mark Mills: The Future Electric Grid on: June 02, 2014, 04:55:55 PM
Interesting piece on the grid by a qualified author.  Doesn't answer all questions or solve all challenges but makes good sense for as far as it goes.  Nuclearis  not mentioned?

"Demand for reliability is rising faster than demand for kilowatt-hours themselves."

"the entire planet’s annual production of lithium batteries for all purposes can store about five minutes worth of U.S. electric demand."

"the Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts a 12 percent rise over the next decade – that will require the United States to add capacity equal to Germany’s entire current grid."

"PV costs [solar] will decline by [only] another 30 percent by 2030 — important but hardly revolutionary.

"EIA sees natural gas and coal, in almost equal shares (coal still dominates in EIA’s forecast), providing about 70 percent of electric supply a decade out. These two fuels are now in a race to the bottom in terms of price, to the benefit of consumers and ensuring a permanent, low-cost electricity future (absent meddling from policymakers) that will confer an enormous economic advantage on U.S. industries."

The Future Electric Grid

AEI Online Magazine

The Future Electric Grid
By Mark P. Mills
Saturday, May 31, 2014
Filed under: Science & Technology, Economic Policy

We hear increasingly that technology is making today’s electric utility model ‘obsolete’ and will put its companies into a ‘death spiral.’ Is it possible that so much has changed so quickly?

It was only a little more than ten years ago that a National Academy of Engineering report ranked the invention of the electric grid at the top of a list of the 20 greatest inventions of the 20th century. Not just one of the great engineering achievements, but first amongst them. The Academy ranked the Internet 13th.

Now we hear increasingly that technology is making today’s electric utility model “obsolete” and will put its companies into a “death spiral.” Is it possible that so much has changed so quickly?

Post-utility advocates point to three technologies as disrupters: photovoltaics (PV), batteries, and smart or micro grids. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), along with a conga line of venture firms in Silicon Valley, invested tens of billions of dollars in these three domains over the past half-dozen years. Volumes of analyses and claims can be summarized in three paragraphs:

Solar arrays on the roofs of homes and buildings, it is argued, will obviate central power generation, especially much-reviled coal plants, and will do so rapidly, as PV costs decline and approach “grid parity.” The Department of Energy released a report chronicling the progress, titled Solar Revolution, that inspired palpitations from New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who wrote that “it’s no longer remotely true that we need to keep burning coal to satisfy electricity demand.”

It is true that the nation’s electric grid is morphing, but just not quite the way green energy proponents imagine.
Lithium battery technology, incredibly improved courtesy of the mobile Internet, we’re told will now migrate into basements of homes and buildings to store PV electricity for nights and cloudy days, obviating the grid as backup. The global proliferation of lithium-powered hybrid-electric cars is just a first step. And when Tesla recently announced plans to build a “gigafactory” that would alone produce more than all of the world’s existing lithium battery factories combined, the green-tech media erupted with excitement, claiming such economies-of-scale promise revolution, not just for electric cars, but also the grid.

Finally, third in the triad, a smart grid, in particular in the form of “micro grids,” connects everything. With far more granular and real-time information about how much, when, and where electricity is used, advocates assert that social and economic behavior will change to radically reduce energy use and further undermine utility revenues.

These three technology forces in combination, the post-utility analysts claim, will “transform the way the utility industry meets energy demand.” It is, we frequently hear, analogous to and as inevitable as the destruction of the Ma Bell landline phone model when cell phones emerged. (Apparently none who offer this analogy notice that AT&T is doing just fine, and is still a huge if differently regulated business.)

The central problem with this post-utility construct is that the physics of information and electricity are profoundly different, and render the Bell analogy meaningless. More on that shortly. First though, it is true that the nation’s electric grid is morphing, but just not quite the way green energy proponents imagine.

The need for a harder grid

Modern society is in much more urgent need of a harder grid, not so much a greener grid. Demand for reliability is rising faster than demand for kilowatt-hours themselves. Two words epitomize this new reality – Metcalfe and Sandy.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy’s widespread and persistent outages, federal and state policymakers called for more spending on grid resilience and recovery. And more recently, policymakers and utilities are still reacting to the fallout from learning about a terrorist-like gunfire attack on California’s Metcalf substation last year, an incident that had been kept a secret until this past spring. That attack prompted a flurry of “what if” scenarios about potential blackouts from future, similar attacks on any of the nation’s tens of thousands of substations.

Electricity powers everything people think is modern about our economy, from older but indispensable things like lights, motors, refrigerators, and air conditioners, to new technologies like the Internet, electric cars, 3D printing, and gene sequencing.
On average though, more mundane events lead to the vast majority of increasingly intolerable blackouts: car accidents, squirrels chewing through cables, and old equipment failing. The average incidence of grid outages has been rising at about 8 percent to 10 percent annually since 1990. And the duration of outages has also been rising by about 14 percent per year. (Eaton Corporation provides revealing state-by-state data and trends in their Blackout Tracker.) And then there are the rising concerns over cyber attacks on the grid – arguably one of the most critical areas, demanding increased spending and attention.

All this comes at a time of greater demand for “always on” power to keep our digital and information-centric economy humming. Electricity powers everything people think is modern about our economy, from conventional but indispensable things like lights, motors, refrigerators, and air conditioners, to new technologies like the Internet, electric cars, 3D printing, and gene sequencing.

The share of the U.S. GDP associated with information is three times bigger than the share associated with the transportation sector that moves people and stuff. The former is entirely dependent on electricity and is growing far faster than the latter, which uses oil. (For more on the Cloud’s surprising electricity appetite, see my earlier report.)

It should thus be unsurprising to learn that studies find the cost of outages, measured per kilowatt-hour, is ten to ten thousand times more than the cost of the power itself.

Even as the importance of reliability grows, the consumption of kilowatt-hours also keeps growing, despite billions invested trying to stifle that growth. U.S. electric demand today is 10 percent higher than 2001, perhaps a seemingly modest amount, but for a grid the scale of America’s this increase equals Italy’s entire annual use. For the future, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts a 12 percent rise over the next decade – that will require the United States to add capacity equal to Germany’s entire current grid.

Thus the future will not be dominated by trying to bolt more renewables onto the grid for their own sake, but in using them to meet growing demand and to add resiliency and reliability.

Technological limits

Smart grids. The key to a more resilient, flexible, and useful grid is to operate it like the Internet, which is nodal, interactive, and highly controllable. This is where “smart” meters and microgrids come in, and where solar energy and batteries play a role.

The future will not be dominated by trying to bolt more renewables onto the grid for their own sake, but in using them to meet growing demand and to add resiliency and reliability.
An Internet-like grid will know how much power is needed, when and where, and even what "flavor" of electrons some customers prefer — say, greener or cheaper. It would help moderate variations in peak demand by using software to negotiate in real-time with local and remote power sources, as well as by purchasing “avoided” power (temporarily cycling off air conditioners and refrigerators, but not computers and TVs). It would also reduce outage frequency through predictive analytics that anticipate maintenance before failures. And when failures occur, it would reduce outage duration by more rapidly locating, identifying, and optimally dispatching.

But thus far, spending on the smart grid has been dominated by smart meters that allow more granular and frequent readings and the transmission of that data to the utility, eliminating the old-fashioned meter reader. But just adding a communications feature to the meters is not deeply game-changing; it is the equivalent of installing a speedometer and gas gauge without a steering wheel and brakes. The game-changer is in controlling power.

Internet-like real-time control of power is mainly found at low power levels inside homes and buildings, not on the grid, and is unimaginatively labeled “building automation.” This is a small part of the smart-grid architecture wherein, to continue the information analogy, it is equivalent to the era of stand-alone mainframe computing before the Internet. But control of megawatt-hours, not megabytes, on big grids is a daunting technology problem.

The difference between the two power levels, controlling traffic on the Internet versus grid-power traffic, is what dictates physical material, and safety challenges. That difference is comparable to going from controlling a toy drone to a Boeing 777. Technologies are emerging that make grid-level dynamic switching and control possible, but they’ll take some time yet to get deployed. In the future you’ll hear a lot more about new classes of power transistors and semiconductors, like gallium nitride and silicon carbide, that can manage weapons-grade flows of electrons.

It’s still early days for such technology, and deployment in smart microgrids has barely begun. The country’s most successful and arguably only operational microgrid to date is on the campus of the University of California at San Diego. That 40 MW microgrid seamlessly exits the local public grid when regional demand (or prices) peak, and keeps the campus and its supercomputer lit with on-site power that includes fuel cells, solar arrays, batteries, and natural gas turbines. Notably it’s natural gas that supplies 75 percent of the on-site power.

Microgrids are a start but not the end game. To continue the information analogies, microgrids no more replace central power plants than WiFi networks replace Google’s central computing.

Photovoltaics. It is with the collapsing cost of PV cells that post-utility advocates assert we are close to the tipping point for grid and central power plant disruption.

No regulatory fiat, as exhibited notably by California policymakers implementing the nation’s only mandate for that state’s utilities to install grid-scale storage, can change the reality of simple arithmetic.
The capital cost of PVs has improved by a remarkable 200 percent in the past decade. But that rate of decline is slowing as the underlying technologies mature and physics limits are approached. (This happens to everything: aircraft engines improved more than 200 percent in their early years too, and now get better at single-digit percentages at best). Going forward, Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute recently estimated that PV costs will decline by another 30 percent by 2030 — important but hardly revolutionary. And today, an unsubsidized PV array on homes and buildings, Fraunhhofer notes, produces far more expensive electricity than a central power plant.

And, it is argued, the central plant depends on a costly grid to get power to consumers. But solar needs the grid too. In order to ensure the 24-7 electric supply society demands, a PV array today uses the grid as “back-up.” But that raises questions about how to share the cost of the grid’s power plants and infrastructure, an issue regulators are struggling with in many states.

The alternative is to convert episodic on-site solar generation into “always on” power using batteries, or on-site back-up generators. The latter solution, distributing millions of small car-sized engine-driven power plants to every home or office to back up solar arrays, is not economically viable, much less sensible. It is battery technology that post-utility solar advocates hold out as the Holy Grail. Just store the electricity for when the sun’s not shining.

Batteries. Assume for the sake of argument that big batteries are cheap. Even then, a solar-only or solar-dominated system remains economically untenable. Supplying electricity all day, every day with a battery-solar combination requires, on average, buying two to three extra solar panels for every one installed in order to generate and store extra power when the sun is shining, thereby doubling or tripling system costs.

And assume again that batteries are cheap, the world would have difficulty producing enough of them to be impactful at grid levels. California policymakers apparently think otherwise, having implemented the nation’s only mandate for that state’s utilities to install grid-scale storage. Consider the reality of simple arithmetic:

All the world’s lithium battery factories collectively produce about 30 GWhr (30 billion watt-hours) of storage capacity annually. The United States alone consumes about 4,000,000 GWhr of electricity a year. Thus the entire planet’s annual production of lithium batteries for all purposes can store about five minutes worth of U.S. electric demand.

Politicians face increasing peril if their policies cause something as important as electricity to become increasingly expensive and less reliable.
As for Tesla’s putative gigafactory, if it gets built, its entire annual output adds another five minutes of U.S. grid-scale storage. And at that, Tesla batteries cost at least 500 percent more than today’s solution for providing electricity when outages or peaks happen. Reliability of supply comes from building extra power plants to have on standby, and storing gas in caverns or coal in piles adjacent to those power plants.

This reality is precisely why society-levels of reliable, affordable electricity supply is such a great engineering challenge, and why the National Academy honored that achievement. For other energy commodities (and in general, most commodities), it is technically easy and inexpensive to store several months — not minutes — of demand at any given time in order to ensure price stability and physical reliability.

Still, better battery technology will emerge in due course. But it will come from some university research lab using big data to unravel chemical mysteries, not from building bigger buildings using yesterday’s chemistry. And you can bet that the company that invents the new way to store electricity will focus on selling into the huge high-value market for powering mobile devices. That’s where battery fortunes will be made, because consumers pay $20 per kilowatt-hour to keep iPads and iPhones lit, compared to $0.20 a kWh to keep the grid lit.

And, as better, cheaper battery technology does emerge, it will be as valuable, arguably more valuable, for conventional power plants, for reasons of simple economics. One would store the cheapest electrons when they are in surplus — i.e., coal-fired electricity in surplus at night delivered on uncongested lines — to resell later when prices and grid congestion are highest, around midday. Cheap grid-scale batteries will reinforce and arbitrage a complementary role for coal and solar. Somewhat ironic perhaps.

Speaking of coal, it’s impossible to talk about the grid and not make note of the carbon and global warming issues. To tilt the field away from hydrocarbon fuels, policymakers and regulators have taken actions that increase their costs, and also subsidize non-hydrocarbon energy. But the laws of physics of energy, and laws of economic reality, cannot be ignored. Politicians face increasing peril if their policies cause something as important as electricity to become increasingly expensive and less reliable.

Today’s technological breakthroughs: Smart drilling and big data

The two technologies that are reshaping the electric grid, allowing both more resilience and reliability, are not the ones pundits and policymakers expected: smart drilling, and big data.

Smart drilling has unleashed an entirely unexpected bounty of shale gas, not only making it easier to meet rising demand, but also to ensure reliability with plenty of spare capacity, all at low cost.

The entire planet’s annual production of lithium batteries for all purposes can store about 5 minutes worth of U.S. electric demand.
Just as technology lead to a 200 percent drop in the capital needed to produce a unit of PV electricity over the past decade, so too has technology driven a similar 200 percent (and even greater) decline in capital needed to produce a unit of shale gas – but the latter has happened in the past four years, and continues.

EIA sees natural gas and coal, in almost equal shares (coal still dominates in EIA’s forecast), providing about 70 percent of electric supply a decade out. These two fuels are now in a race to the bottom in terms of price, to the benefit of consumers and ensuring a permanent, low-cost electricity future (absent meddling from policymakers) that will confer an enormous economic advantage on U.S. industries.

The other disruptor, big data analytics, is made possible by the combination of proliferating low-cost sensors, ubiquitous wireless connectivity, and the Promethean power of computing. While big data will eventually impact every sector of the economy, one of the immediate benefits that real-time analytic intelligence brings is to wring greater value out of existing supply chains and infrastructures.

For some indication of the power of big data, consider the unheralded success of the PJM ISO — the system operator for the long-distance transmission system that lies between Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C., and its new sensor, control, and big data analytics system. After bringing it on line a little more than a year ago, it not only resulted in greater reliability and hundreds of millions of dollars in operational savings, but it also increased the system’s power-carrying capacity two-fold without adding new power lines.

Tesla batteries cost at least 500 percent more than today’s solution for providing electricity when outages or peaks happen.
While it is technically more difficult to implement that architecture on the local grids — the urban roads of the grid, versus the interstates of long-distance transmission — that is what will come next. Big data will also create greater markets for solar arrays and batteries as a feature of a central-power-plant grid. While the future may lead to different kinds of companies owning some or all the pieces of the grid, it will still be a grid and for consumers it will still feel as much like a “utility.”

Still, some utility CEOs, notably NRG’s outspoken chief David Crane, believe in a post-grid world. Earlier this year, Crane said: “Think how shockingly stupid it is to build a 21st-century electric system based on 120 million wooden poles... the system from the 1930s isn’t going to work in the long term.” This is not much of an improvement over the flawed Ma Bell analogy. Today we still build furniture and houses out of wood, a system predating the Romans; we just use the same materials much more efficiently.

When the National Academy of Engineering gets around to a 21st-century retrospective, odds are that ranked as top achievements will be whatever we end up calling big data, and whatever we end up calling the technologies that unlocked the shale. And the grid, pioneered in the 20th-century, will still be around, just a lot better.

Mark P. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and CEO of the Digital Power Group.
211  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Bureaucracy and Regulations in action: The Fourth Branch of the US Govt. on: June 01, 2014, 11:35:21 AM
Columnist Mona Charen: "After the press loses interest in the Veterans Affairs scandal, after the investigations have been completed and one or two officials have resigned, nothing will change. Is this cynicism? Not really. It comes down to one's view of how much government can achieve by bureaucratic, top-down management. ... Even if Obama were the best manager in the world, the problems with efficient service delivery by government would continue -- because the government is too large, too unwieldy and too lacking in incentives for efficiency to yield much, if at all, to management. A business that fails to deliver services will be crushed by its competitors. Government can never go out of business. ... No central authority can make a system like the VA or the IHS or Britain's National Health Service run efficiently. Competition is the only system that gives the power to consumers to reward good service and punish bad. But progressives cannot shed their faith that more government is the answer to bad government, so this story is sure to be repeated."

It boggles the mind that any honest liberal who would not trust a small number of corporations to control any industry because they would only be in it for themselves would instead trust one bloated, top-down, power hungry bureaucracy with that same responsibility - even after they are proven to be a corrupt, self-interested and miserable failure.
212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi attacks on: June 01, 2014, 11:28:02 AM
On pins and needles I will wait for her big, exclusive, hard-hitting interview with Diane Sawyer.  Meanwhile a couple of questions I would pass forward:

1)  Tell us everything you said and did during the 8+ hours of the Benghazi crisis to try to persuade the President to use all available means to support and rescue your ambassador and the Americans that were left to die at the hands of terrorists attacking Americans and America in an act of war on September 11, 2012 in which Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans were murdered.

2)  Tell us everything you would have said and done at every juncture during that crisis to get help to the compound if the Ambassador's name or his assistant there was not Chris Steven but Chelsea Clinton.  Same answer as the first question, right?
213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Was Hillary Clinton a good secretary of state? on: June 01, 2014, 10:55:21 AM
Walter Russell Mead puts her service in pretty good balance though I think misses some of the main criticisms.

Was Hillary Clinton a good secretary of state?

By Walter Russell Mead, Published: May 30
Walter Russell Mead is the James Clarke Chace professor of foreign affairs at Bard College and editor at large of the American Interest. He is the author of “Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World.”
For some realists, “global meliorism” — the belief that U.S. foreign policy can and should try to make a better world — is a dirty word. For Clinton, it is a bedrock conviction. “We are the force for progress, prosperity and peace,” she said during a remarkable speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in early 2013.
These ambitious new ideas [focus on the rights of women and girls, and emphasis on Internet freedom and connectivity]— though not amounting to the Clinton “doctrine” foreign policy junkies hunger for — could come back to haunt us. The U.S. emphasis on human rights and democracy, as well as the active support for civil society organizations, contributed to China’s harsh response to the pivot to Asia and probably deepened Vladi­mir Putin’s view of the West as a danger to Russia. For Moscow and Beijing, Washington’s work to engage and strengthen democracy activists and movements represents an aggressive effort to undermine the Russian and Chinese regimes. And the push for changing gender relations allows Islamists to portray the United States as a threat to religious values. American opponents often fear ideological and cultural “aggression” as much as U.S. military power.
Historians will probably consider Clinton significantly more successful than run-of-the-mill secretaries of state such as James G. Blaine or the long-serving Cordell Hull, but don’t expect to see her on a pedestal with Dean Acheson or John Quincy Adams anytime soon.
214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: May 30, 2014, 04:45:11 PM
For my part, I respect the smarts and integrity of those two and am happy to have the opportunity to express disagreement with their conclusions.  There is both a connection and a disconnect between the market and the economy. I assume the two are both equally relevant to this thread.
215  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A Plowhorse doesn't plow backward, even in winter on: May 30, 2014, 10:17:44 AM
Scott Grannis:  "One negative quarter does not make a recession."

No, but two does, and that's just an arbitrary definition.  The point is that we are in a no growth economy no matter how they spin it, and we are doing everything wrong in terms of trying to grow out of it.

I wholeheartedly agree that supply side being the main determinant of economic growth.  But how is that going?  The George Will piece started to back up the allegation I have been making.  We're in a horrible rut of not launching enough real new startup companies that have the potential to grow into large, dynamic, employing entities to grow the economy.  The dearth of startups is hard to measure because people are filing LLCs as they scale their work down to part time, solo operations.  I file one for every 80 year old house I buy, but I am not employing anyone or growing the economy. 

Obamacare has a myriad of disincentives to dissuade employment, full time employment, or employment beyond 50 employees.  This is happening right while we need new companies to grow and employ thousands of employees.  Capital gains taxes just went up by how much federally?  33%?!  Does anyone remember the surge in investment and innovation when those rates went down?  Our largest state California, along with where I live and elsewhere just raised the top rates on Capital Gains, and everything else.  The negative effects of that aren't showing up as quickly or badly as I would think, but if you believe the supply side matters, the damage will reveal itself and maybe is starting to show.

North Dakota is growing gangbusters, but it is North Dakota.  The engine driving that is driving that growth is illegal activity in New York state, or on federal land and the feds own 50% of the western U.S.  And they are trying to shut it down everywhere else too. 

The Obama administration is still hell-bent on shutting down coal, but coal generates 40% of our electricity, and we are building no new nuclear plants.  You would make a long term investment and build a manufacturing facility in the face of that kind of uncertainty?  I wouldn't.  The big industry here is medical devices.  Now they are subject to a new tax on gross sales.  Not on profits, on sales before you even figure in costs, and that is on top of all other taxes.  You would expand those businesses or launch a new one facing that?  I wouldn't.  Instead, people are trying to figure out how to make a living without employing anyone, and without subjecting themselves to risk and uncertainty.  Did I mention highest corporate tax rates in the OECD and 175,500 total pages in the Code of Federal Regulations.  Good grief, this business climate is the opposite of the supply side model - and Wesbury and Grannis both know it.

Liberals in MN say these taxes don't matter.  We still have decent employment and growth numbers.  Tell that to the state's oldest and most successful company, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M).  After 112 years here they just held their first annual meeting in Austin Texas.  They can avoid state taxes that way but they can't avoid federal taxation and regulaiton without ending or moving operations out of the country, and they most certainly are doing that too.

Corporate profits are up 3% while stock prices are up 25%.  What could possibly go wrong?

Back to the Scott G's main theme, supply side is the main determinant, but demand matters too.  When sales go down. profits disappear, wealth and investment shrink, and a downward spiral appears with no tools left to stimulate it.

These guys were right about the stock market of the last few years.  I do not buy that they were right about the US economy.  A plowhorse doesn't plow backwards.

The experts blame the cold winter for the economic doldrums, but more likely it was the obsession with global warming and the all-powerful government and anti-private growth fever that came with it that is causing the malaise.
216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: More on why Piketty is wrong on: May 29, 2014, 09:27:42 AM
The point made herein about the Reagan tax cuts appearing to concentrate wealth by causing more money to allow itself to be exposed to taxes is one I have made a number of times on this forum-- probably in the Taxes thread.

Thank you to Crafty and GM for continuing coverage on the flaws of Piketty.  It turns out his data is wrong and deceptive, his analysis of the false data is flawed, and his prescription for a 'solution' is pure nonsense.  Yet he became a far-left sensation before his book was read.  (shocking)

If the rate of return on investments is greater than the growth rate in the economy and that is perceived to be a problem on a par with climate change(!), why not pursue policies that accelerate the growth rate instead of pursuing policies that destroy job-supporting investment? 
217  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: May 29, 2014, 09:10:53 AM
Investors Business Daily says today that Pres. Obama is campaigning for himself to be UN Secretary General - which I think could put him directly at odds with US President Marco Rubio on world issues.  If succe3ssful in his campaign, maybe he could win a Nobel Peace Prize, lol.

Obama's Bid For U.N. Secretary-General Has Begun
218  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential, Jay Cost thinks Hillary will win Dem nomination on: May 29, 2014, 09:06:10 AM
I predicted the opposite.  Jay Cost knows more than me and has excellent analysis here.  I will stick with my prediction.

Jay Cost:  "None of this is to claim that Clinton is an objectively strong candidate. She manifestly is not..."

Note that he is only predicting the Dem nomination.

The Frontrunner
Hillary’s Democratic challengers are likely to fall short.
JUN 2, 2014, VOL. 19, NO. 36 • BY JAY COST

Hillary Clinton is back in the news, facing questions about her health and lingering doubts about what exactly happened in the aftermath of the Benghazi terror attack. Meanwhile, some Democrats—Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont most notable among them—have been making noises about challenging Clinton for the Democratic nomination. In light of the fact that Clinton was the overwhelming frontrunner at this point in the 2008 cycle, such events cannot be overlooked. It’s a fair question to ask: Is Clinton really as strong as she appears for the 2016 Democratic nod?


In a word: yes. While she’s unlikely to go unchallenged, the landscape favors her overwhelmingly.

The rules of the two parties’ nominations systems are virtually identical, but since their coalitions are different, the dramas play out differently. On the Republican side, voters tend to be demographically similar, and the main question is ideological, with candidates squaring off over economic, foreign, and cultural issues. On the Democratic side, there are substantial demographic differences, and the interplay of race, gender, and socioeconomic status has often been determinative.

So to get an early read on the 2016 Democratic battle, one can start by looking at the groups that make up the Democratic party. Who are they, and whom might they support? First, the party has a substantial and growing minority population. Barack Obama’s coalition in 2012 was 45 percent nonwhite, compared to 35 percent in 2008 and 27 percent for Bill Clinton in 1996. Within the nonwhite population, Latino and African-American voters have been known to back different candidates.

Then there is the socially upscale, usually white liberal vote: university professors, government and nonprofit workers, college students, and so on, who are very interested in causes like abortion and environmentalism.

Next, there are a class of voters whom we might call the “Robert Rubin Democrats.” Well-heeled, culturally and economically influential, their votes do not matter as much as their checkbooks.

Finally, there is the so-called white working class. Socioeconomically downscale whites have been trending Republican since the 1960s, but this bloc remains important in Democratic presidential politics, especially in the Ohio River Valley.

In the 2008 battle with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton won Latinos and the white working class overwhelmingly. She lost black voters overwhelmingly and liberal whites by a good margin. She split the unions and the Robert Rubin Democrats. Importantly, her coalition was probably large enough to win, had she run a better campaign. Obama’s victory among pledged delegates was a scant 127 out of a total of 3,424. His entire margin of victory rested upon his superior organization of low-turnout caucus states like Idaho and Maine, where Clinton’s potential coalition was probably stronger. So, assuming that Team Clinton learns the rules of its own party this time around, a would-be challenger will actually have to build a bigger coalition than Obama’s.

Moreover, recent polling on the race has indicated that African Americans are inclined to support Clinton in 2016. Furthermore, the moneyed party donors look pretty well unanimous. For instance, Hollywood bigshot David Geffen supported Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in 2008, but this time around looks set to go with Clinton.

So where do the potential Clinton challengers stand in relation to the Democratic electorate? Can any of them hope to cobble together a coalition that can challenge Clinton’s? Let’s take each in turn.

A Beltway fixture for more than 40 years, Vice President Joe Biden lacks much of an electoral bond with any Democratic constituency group. He could poach some of Clinton’s white working-class vote and raise some cash from Wall Street, but it is hard to see him breaking through.

Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont could both play effectively to upscale white liberals; as a woman, Warren might attract some of the voters Clinton would otherwise win for identity-based reasons. Still, both would scare the bejesus out of Wall Street, where Democrats go to subsidize their anti-Wall Street demagoguery. And it is hard to see how either would have appeal for minority voters.

Former senator Jim Webb of Virginia and former governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana might attract the white working class, but the power of Bill Clinton to appeal to these voters cannot be overestimated. It is hard, too, to see how they would win over minority voters or raise substantial sums from wealthy Democrats.

What about Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York? He might raise substantial money, but who in the Clinton coalition would bolt for him? Ditto Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland.

That leaves two primary concerns for Team Clinton. The first is Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick. As an African American, he would be a threat to Clinton with the black vote, which would virtually guarantee a real race. And he might be able to raise substantial money; it is no coincidence that in the last 26 years, Massachusetts has supplied 3 of the 10 nonincumbent major party nominees.

The other concern for Team Clinton would be an interactive effect amongst these candidates. Suppose, for instance, that Schweitzer, Patrick, and Warren all attracted significant support from their electoral bases, at Clinton’s expense. That scenario might be chaotic, and thus jeopardize Clinton’s path to the nomination. This would not be unprecedented in Democratic politics; something similar happened in 1976, 1988, and 1992, although in none of those instances was a candidate as strong a frontrunner as Clinton will probably be.

In the end, Clinton’s greatest advantage might be the continued political weakness of Obama. History is not on the side of the Democrats as they try to win the White House for a third consecutive term. A party has only done so once in the postwar era—in 1988, when Ronald Reagan’s job approval was in the mid-50s by Election Day. Currently, Obama’s is mired in the mid-40s. Yet Clinton has a personal reputation that might transcend Obama’s unpopularity, and she polls extremely well at the moment. So long as that continues, risk-averse Democrats of all demographic stripes might be inclined to put aside their internecine battle to prevent a Republican victory, something they all equally oppose.

None of this is to claim that Clinton is an objectively strong candidate. She manifestly is not; otherwise she would be president right now. But objectivity does not matter when you are battling for the nomination. Everything is relative to where your party stands in the public mind and where you stand in relation to the other candidates seeking nomination. Right now, both of these factors conspire to make Hillary Clinton the odds-on favorite for 2016.
219  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics, George Will: Ignoring the path to recovery on: May 29, 2014, 08:36:13 AM
Required reading for Brian Wesbury, and for all so-called 'millennials'.

Ignoring the path to recovery
Wednesday - May 28, 2014
By George F. Will

Published: Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

It is said that the problem with the younger generation — any younger generation — is that it has not read the minutes of the last meeting. Barack Obama, forever young, has convenient memory loss: It serves his ideology. His amnesia concerning the policies that produced the robust recovery from the more severe recession of 1981-82 has produced policies that have resulted in 0.1 percent economic growth in 2014's first quarter.

June begins the sixth year of the anemic recovery from an 18-month recession. Even if what Obama's administration calls “historically severe” weather — aka, winter — reduced GDP growth by up to 1.4 percentage points, growth of 1.5 percent would still be grotesque.

The reason unemployment fell by four-tenths of a point (to 6.3 percent) in April while growth stalled is that 806,000 people left the labor force. There are about 14.5 million more Americans than before the recession but nearly 300,000 fewer jobs, and household income remains below the pre-recession peak.

Paul Volcker, whose nomination to be chairman of the Federal Reserve Board was Jimmy Carter's best presidential decision, raised interest rates to put the nation through a recession to extinguish the inflation that, combined with stagnant growth, ruined Carter's presidency. Then came the 1983-88 expansion, when growth averaged 4.6 percent, including five quarters over 7 percent.

Ronald Reagan lightened the weight of government as measured by taxation and regulation. Obama has done the opposite. According to Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, four of the five largest yearly totals of pages in the Federal Register — the record of regulations — have occurred during the Obama administration. The CEI's “unconstitutionality index,” measuring Congress' delegation of its lawmaking policy, was 51 in 2013. This means Congress passed 72 laws but unelected bureaucrats issued 3,659 regulations.

The more than $1.1 trillion of student loan debt is restraining consumption, as is the retirement of baby boomers. More than 40 percent of recent college graduates are either unemployed or in jobs that do not require a college degree. This is understandable, given that 44 percent of the job growth since the recession ended has been in food services, retail clerking or other low-wage jobs.

In April, the number of persons under 25 in the workforce declined by 484,000. Unsurprisingly, almost one in three (31 percent) persons 18 to 34 are living with their parents, including 25 percent who have jobs.

So, the rate of household formation has, Neil Irwin reports in The New York Times, slowed from a yearly average of 1.35 million in 2001-06 to 569,000 in 2007-13. However, a Wall Street Journal headline announces that Washington has a plan: “U.S. Backs Off Tight Mortgage Rules.” It really is true: Life is not one damn thing after another; it is the same damn thing over and over.

There is, however, something new under the sun. The Pew Research Center reports that Americans 25 to 32 — “millennials” — constitute the first age cohort since World War II with higher unemployment or a greater portion living in poverty than their parents at this age. But today's millennials have the consolation of having the president they wanted.
220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Summer ice? "97% of scientists" agree, earth is warming and we are causing it on: May 29, 2014, 07:52:38 AM
While it is 82 and a sunny, gorgeous day in Mpls today, signs of the past winter remain in the Great Lakes region:

May 27 2014, Duluth MN, Lake Superior

Don't be fooled by your lying eyes.  Ice is still on the lake and in 3+ weeks the days start getting shorter. 

Earth warming by 0.5 degrees C over the last century with no measurable warming in the last 18 years does not mean the end of the world.
221  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: CEO pay... on: May 27, 2014, 06:24:15 PM
... NO ONE ought to be allowed to be on the board of 20 different companies.  It simply is not possible for one person to know enough about all those separate entities to make effective, informed decisions about how they should be run.

Or in a free market, potential stockholders would look at the quality of management and the board of directors and not buy those stocks.  If companies were losing demand for stock ownership on that basis, they would re-evaluate those practices.
222  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Median CEO pay for 2013 exceeds $10 million... on: May 27, 2014, 03:33:52 PM
This is for large" companies only.  For a benchmark, a medium cap company is worth $2 to 10 billion.  What is the average increase these companies had over this period?  The article doesn't say.  What portion of the increase went to the top executive?  Doesn't say.

My math:  $14 Trillion in the S&P 500 is about $28 billion per company, on average.  Stocks went up 26% last year or about 7.3 billion per company.  The lead executive, who we don't credit for the increase, made about $10 million or about .001 of the increase.  Outrageous (sarc.)

First we want their pay tied to performance.  Then we don't like it when that amounts to a lot of money.

What I don't like is when they make a lot of money for leading failure.  Government Motors comes to mind.

The question I would ask is this:  What policies do we have that favor large established companies over newer, smaller ones.  That is what over-regulation does. The largest companies with compliance departments and officers, human resource departments etc. know how to navigate within the myriad of rules and the rest of us couldn't open a lemonade stand without a team of lawyers and lobbyists, much less start an investment bank to compete with Goldman Sachs and the rest.
223  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / UTA Commencement 2014, 10 Life Lessons From Seal Training on: May 22, 2014, 10:49:09 AM

A worthwhile watch or read.
224  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Commander of Nothing: I heard it on the news on: May 22, 2014, 10:37:07 AM
Fast and Furious,  I heard it on the news

Spying on Allies, Learned about it in the news

IRS Scandal, Heard it on the news

Pres. had no idea DOJ seized AP reporter's phone records
Other than press reports, we had no knowledge...

VA Scandal, I heard it on the news


Government has gotten so big that the liberals in charge can't even find all the pieces.
225  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The next step towards single payer government run health care on: May 22, 2014, 09:57:27 AM
Yes.  And we have already tried the single payer system - over at the Veterans Administration.  That's what people want?!

As an aside, I suggest we first vote to re-name ACA at least one day before repealing it.  Don't give the media the headline that Republicans repealed Affordable Healthcare their first day in power.
226  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Politics on: May 22, 2014, 09:46:31 AM
The clips failed for me part way in.  All I heard was a bunch of BS.  When she was growing we invested in public universities, minimum wage etc. 

I don't know where she went from there but do we really not make enough public investments now?  Government-set minimum wage made us great?  Good grief.

If she led from there to Wall Street, it is our BUNGLED regulations that are making people disproportionately rich on Wall street.  It is not a case of free markets running wild. 

Crafty, what are the points she makes that you find compelling?  The area where far left and right should find agreement is to stop giving special favors to the powerful.  Don't crush investment banks, just stop giving special interests special favors.  The best way to accomplish that would be with smaller government.  I doubt if that was her conclusion.
227  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: A proper regulation on: May 22, 2014, 09:27:03 AM

Agree.  Maybe we could remove 10 bad regulations for every good one that we add.  Instead the answer is to just keep adding more laws.
228  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration conundrum on: May 22, 2014, 09:15:00 AM
The problem with arguing this out is that both sides are right.  There is the logical / rule of law side: We are nothing if we are not a nation of laws, with borders, rules, citizenship that means something and enforcement.  And there is the emotional / compassionate side.  Every person Hispanic or at all connected with Hispanic community knows someone whose family and lives as they know it would be upending by real enforcement of existing law.

It defies logic that you can have a nation without borders and enforced laws.

It defies compassion and will lose elections if you promise to make neighborhood sweeps, break up families and make mass deportations of people connected, established and well-known in the community.

From the conservative side, if you don't have a rule of law, you don't have a nation.  But if you get real tough on immigration, you will lose all elections and lose your nation.  If you appease and say just this once for the umpteenth time, you also will lose all future elections and lose your country.

On the liberal side, if you  grant everyone citizenship, they will vote for you and will have eternal power.  Then you can run this nation into the ground, same as where they came from and you will have no nation as you knew it.  Who cares about that; they stopped reading at eternal power.

Without at least the perception of compassion, you will lose all elections.  That is why I respected Marco Rubio's attempt to get involved with tough bargaining to make whatever comes through next a better deal for the country.  It didn't work out for him or for the process but it was an attempt to acknowledge and work with both sides of the conundrum.

One of the political problems with immigration is the same with state to state migration - people come in for the benefits of economic freedom and then vote the failed belief system of the place they left.
229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Immigration issues on: May 20, 2014, 11:09:32 PM
They know Obama will grant amnesty.  Either next year after this Nov election or before he leaves office.   

Yes, ownership of a country that has both assets and liabilities.   

Doug's Dream Act:

Welcome to America.  At the signing of this agreement you now are a voting citizen of a country that owes US$18 trillion in debt among 318 million US citizens, equal to about $60,000 per man, woman and child.  If your extended family here is (let's say) 17 people and you accept this offer, then you are all now jointly and severally liable for 17 x 60,000 with your first monthly installment due at signing. You are now part owner of Yellowstone Park, the Grand Canyon and the largest Navy in the world.  We suggest you use your vote in a way that protects these assets, grows jobs, keeps your future tax liability low, and holds the other 318 million accountable for their share of the debt too.  If you decline, we understand and will charge you only for the immediate cost of your return travel.  Good luck.
230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Why he left libertarianism on: May 20, 2014, 12:54:02 PM
Though I never heard the n-word, and he may well be wimping out for the sake of his marriage, his experience at a Libertarian convention is not dissimilar to mine.

Yes, not very convincing.  How many racists did he meet?  The 'tea party' is different now than Libertarian Party then because it includes people who are mostly trying to compete and win within the two party system. 

You don't go logically from libertarian to big government as you mature.  The reasonable wings of both parties support funding all the basic public services that he mentions.  Libertarian does not mean wacko on conspiracies, though once you declare that the two parties are the same, you are susceptible to that kind of thing.  No offense intended to those who tried in the past to make a difference going down that road! 

In 2008 it was tempting to turn on McCain - as he regularly turns on us.  But Obama is the consequence.  To this guy, a recent libertarian, that is a good thing?!  I don't buy it.

Rush L. calls these guys seminar callers.  Salon has one too.  I've met plenty of libertarians and none were hung up on racial differences. 

Smaller government advocates are all racists - sounds like writing from a script.  The party of liberty was instrumental in freeing blacks from slavery, one might recall.
231  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Government programs, spending: Tax Reform Useless Without Spending Reform on: May 20, 2014, 12:15:06 PM
I took note of this content before noticing the author was Ron Paul.  He gets this about half right (and half wrong) IMHO.

Tax Reform Useless Without Spending Reform

Recently, Republican leaders in Congress unveiled a "tax reform" plan that they claimed would provide the American people with a simpler, fairer, and more efficient tax system. While this plan does lower some tax rates and contains some other changes that may make next April a little less painful for Americans, there is little in it to excite supporters of liberty.

Taxes may even increase under this plan for some Americans, as it eliminates some of those tax deductions labeled “loopholes.” When I served in Congress I opposed bills that “closed loopholes” because closing loopholes is just a fancy way of saying raising taxes. Anything that leaves more money in the hands of the people is beneficial to both liberty and economic efficiency. As economist Thomas DiLorenzo put it, "...private individuals always spend their own money more efficiently than government bureaucrats do,” therefore sound economics, as well as a concern for liberty, requires opposition to any proposal to "let government bureaucrats spend more of the people's hard-earned money.”

Tax reformers also stray from sound economics when they endorse a tax system that is designed to direct consumption and savings. I share the concern that the current tax system distorts people’s behavior by discouraging savings. However, the solution is not for the government to create a tax code that punishes consumption in order to encourage savings. A truly efficient market is one where individuals are completely free to determine how to allocate their incomes between consumption and savings. No politician or bureaucrat can know the proper allocation of savings and investment that meets the needs of every individual, and government policies designed to cause individuals to devote more of their income to savings than they otherwise would distorts the market just as much as policies that encourage excess consumption.

The Republican tax plan adopts what is called “dynamic scoring.” Dynamic scoring is designed to recognize that tax cuts, by incentivizing work and investment, can increase revenue to the government. This is the argument of the famous Laffer curve. It has always seemed odd to me that a supposed free-market economist would argue for tax cuts on the grounds that it would enrich the state's coffers. After all, the more money the state has the greater its ability to violate our liberties. Does this mean that those concerned with liberty should vote against tax cuts? Of course not; the solution is to make sure tax cuts are big enough that they cost the government revenue.

When the contemporary tea party was new, I thought the over-riding theme was to cut spending first.  You also need to grow the economy in order to get relieve from the record high demand for government services.  He is right about a couple of concerns.  If you insist on tax cuts being revenue neutral, you have missed part of the point - smaller government.  And if you close all loopholes without gaining serious reductions in tax rates, you have actually increased taxes and sabotaged the potential for real reform.

I suggest moving in incremental steps.  Cut some spending up front and lock out baseline increases.  Make a big move toward right-sizing our regulatory burden.  Enact round one of tax rate cuts.  Get things rolling and repeat the incremental cut process.  I don't believe the electorate will go from supporting the furthest left President to slashing government down to a Ron Paul levels in a single step.  Something more like the penny plan has a better chance of slipping through:

232  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Kerry: If We're Wrong on Climate Change, 'What's the Worst That Can Happen?' on: May 20, 2014, 11:57:12 AM
Kerry: If We're Wrong on Climate Change, 'What's the Worst That Can Happen?'

I'm not as old as Sec Kerry but old enough to know to quit asking what is the worst that can happen.

I'll take a shot at answering that.  In the U.S. alone, pursuing economy crippling policies ostensibly about climate control has brought a zero growth economy, accelerated income inequality, left 50% of black youth out of work, 100 million working age adults out of work, turned us against each other, run up between100 and 200 trillion in unfunded liabilities, cost us our national security, forced out manufacturing and ended our run as the world's greatest economy.  All that is before we enact whatever backwards steps he is now proposing.

 'What's the Worst That Can Happen?'

I guess an economy something like Afghanistan where we grow poppies and answer to warlords.. 
233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Dream Act consequence: Surge of minor children crossing border alone on: May 20, 2014, 11:45:54 AM
Who could have seen this coming?

The Texas-Mexico border is being overrun by a surge of young illegal immigrants who are traveling alone.

... The large influxes of unaccompanied minor children are coming primarily from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador
234  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Inappropriate arguments against Hillary that they used against opponents on: May 20, 2014, 11:40:11 AM


by BEN SHAPIRO  19 May 2014
The media are on a mission to protect Hillary no matter what the cost. And that means they’ll invalidate any attack on her as beyond the pale, over the top, and underhanded. Even if she or her husband have used precisely the same angles of attack on her opponents in the past.
Age and Health. This week, the media went berserk over Karl Rove’s suggestion that Hillary Clinton underwent brain damage. President Clinton, while maintaining that Hillary had to do six months of tough recovery, stated, “First, they said she faked her concussion and now they say she is auditioning for her part on ‘The Walking Dead.’” The media brayed that it would be entirely inappropriate for Republicans to talk about Clinton’s age or health.
Ignoring, of course, the fact that Bill Clinton had no problem attacking Bob Dole’s age in 1996. In typically passive-aggressive fashion, Clinton stated in a debate with Dole, “I can only tell you that I don’t Senator Dole is too old to be President, but it’s the age of his ideas that I question.”
What Did She Know and When Did She Know It? Hillary’s defenders have stated that questions about Benghazi have been answered. On Sunday, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) stated, “I think it’s a hunting mission for a lynch mob.” Not coincidentally, Feinstein praised Hillary to the skies, stating, “In my view, she’s in the prime of her political life. She’s got the energy; she’s articulate; she’s got the background; she’s got the smarts; she has all of the elements of a good leader.” Feinstein simply wrote off questions about why her State Department refused requests for additional security, why the State Department did not request military intervention, and why the State Department took part in manipulating talking points presented to the American people.
Meanwhile, Democrats and media personalities have dismissed the fact that Clinton refused to designate the Islamist terror group Boko Haram a terror group.
But it was Hillary on the floor of the Senate, standing with newspaper outstretched in 2002, the headline blaring, “BUSH KNEW.” She then stated, “We have learned that President Bush had been informed last year, before September 11, of a possible plot by those associated with Osama Bin Laden to hijack a US airliner.”
But when she was in a position of power, her ignorance was bliss – and now it’s off limits.
She’s Never Accomplished Anything. None of Hillary’s supporters seem to be able to answer the simplest question about her: with all of her power and prestige, what has she actually accomplished? And yet that question has now been deemed irrelevant – we all know what she’s done, even if no one ever knows what she’s done.
When Hillary Clinton was running against a young Senator named Barack Obama, however, Obama’s lack of accomplishment was central to Hillary’s campaign. “An untested man who offers false hope,” she said. “On a lot of these issues it is hard to know where he stands, and people need to ask that...Where’s the beef?”
She Goes Missing When Stakes Are Highest. When the manure hit the fan in Benghazi, Hillary went completely AWOL. In the aftermath of the attacks, she sent out uninvolved UN ambassador Susan Rice to take the hits on the Sunday shows. She then jetted off to Australia for a wine tasting. But we’re supposed to ignore her complete absence during the most critical period of her tenure as Secretary of State.
She wasn’t so generous to Obama during their 2008 race, when her campaign crafted an ad suggesting that if the red phone rang at 3 a.m., Obama wouldn’t be there to pick it up.
Hillary’s Marriage Is A Sham. Now that Bill and Hillary are back in the spotlight, many Americans are wondering just how their business relationship will work again in the White House. They’re wondering if they want the drama of the Arkansan Carringtons. That’s off limits. Or so say the media, who are the self-appointed arbiters of appropriateness (even when they’re spilling the juicy details of Bill’s Oval Office doings).
But it was Hillary attacking other women back when her husband was president. Not only did she attack Monica Lewinsky as an insane narcissist, she reportedly attempted to discredit “trailer trash” Gennifer Flowers. And she tried to have her husband’s campaign plant rumors that George H.W. Bush had cheated on Barbara Bush.
235  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / GOP making inroads with young black males on: May 20, 2014, 11:34:13 AM
The party of angry white men making inroads in another demographic, angry, young, black men.

Democratic Party Fears Realized as Young Black Males Defect to GOP
236  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance Glibness: Obama: Americans are 'better off' now on: May 20, 2014, 11:27:10 AM
After 5 years of history's weakest recovery, Pres. Obama says we are better off now than at the very lowest point in the geconomic collapse caused by the takeover of Washington power from Republicans to the new congress of Pelosi-Reid-Obama-Biden-and Hillary.  I agree, we are better off now and will be even better off yet when the last of far leftists leaves their position of power.
237  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China Cyber-espionage Indictments / Eric Holding the Wang Dong 5 on: May 20, 2014, 10:58:28 AM
I agree with Rogers and Ruppersberger (China thread), a good first step, and applaud the administration for everything it gets right including this.

Noted that they hurt their credibility with previous mis-steps, but their history of acting unpredictably and arguably psychotically in other pursuits could leave the adversary with the uncertainty of whether they will be appeased like a Syrian tyrant or pursued relentlessly like a filmmaker or neighborhood tea party leader.
238  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Waiting for Ruth Bader Ginsburg to retire? on: May 19, 2014, 04:31:22 PM
The New Republic article recently suggested it is already to late to confirm a Ginsburg replacement.

I think the Wash Post author has it right; I doubt any Justice will hasten retirement unless their are personal considerations that we don't know.

When Democrats had 60 Senators, the talk was that this majority would be permanent and increasing.  Now they wonder how to use their remaining power before it ends - this year.
239  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: May 19, 2014, 03:48:25 PM

Wesbury:  "What if we did become bearish? Would we actually tell people? Would we actually go public?  For the record, our firm manages many different asset classes in many different countries. If for some reason we thought US stocks were risky, we could always recommend products that would provide diversification in other asset classes."

I felt bad pointing out a bias that he freely admits.  His job is to tell you why you should feel good about buying US and global securities, and secondly he looks for facts to support  that view.  He has used the false but true defense heavily: the economy keeps under-performing but the markets are still up.

He has been mostly right (since the last time he was wrong) but I have a hard time believing this market is 20% under-valued right now.

Time will tell.  Good luck.
240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy - Efficient Taxation on: May 19, 2014, 03:29:52 PM
The conservative or small government view is that tax rates should be as low as possible and people should be allowed to keep as much as possible of their legally obtained income, after paying a fair share of necessary public expenses.  The Herman Cain 9-9-9 plan comes to mind, keeping tax rates at single digits.

The big government or liberal-leftist view is that we should maximize the size of government because of all the good it can do.  As Hillary Clinton put it, "I have a million ideas. The country can't afford them all".

But Big Government Leftists are losing revenues because of other goals, codified in punitive taxation (and other ill-advised policies).

Maximizing revenues is not Obama's top tax goal.  When confronted with the facts of declining revenues with increasing capital gains tax rates, he admitted he is more concerned (as is Piketty) with holding back wealth ("spread the wealth around") than he is with maximizing revenue.

What tax rates maximize revenues?

The key determinant is the elasticity of taxable income.

Taking this from a post today (Alan Reynolds) on 'Economics':

"...ETI of 1.3 for the top 1%. This implies that the revenue-maximizing top marginal rate would be 33.9% for all taxes, and below 27% for the federal income tax."

Why not (worst case) limit the top federal tax rate to 25%, allow the private sector to grow, maximize our revenues and use the money to build back our infrastructure, invest in national defense, maintain our safety net, secure our borders, etc. with all the revenues.  Just wondering.
241  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics: Of Course 70% Tax Rates Are Counterproductive! on: May 19, 2014, 02:57:15 PM
Alan Reynolds was debating and refuting Piketty long before political Washington had heard of him.  This is from 2 years ago and gives a good prebuttal to the sloppy methodology that Thomas Piketty uses to evaluate his own reckless proposals.  Piketty and others use an ETI (elasticity of taxable income) of 0.2 for what Reynolds believes ought to be 1.3 or higher.  In other words, if you tax 'taxable income' at 70%, 75% or 83% as proposed, how much LESS taxable income will top earners earn and report?  Remember, the highest earners have the greatest ability to move, change or reduce their taxable income.

Sure enough, France added a 75% tax bracket in 2013 as one more burden on its feeble (plowhorse) economy.
"French budget misses target on lower tax revenues"  Who knew?
"lower corporate tax revenues and lower income revenues, while revenues from the value-added tax (a regressive tax) were actually up"
Reynolds 2012: "If anyone still imagines the proposed "socially optimal" tax rates of 73%-83% on the top 1% would raise revenues and have no effect on economic growth, what about that 100% rate?"

Of Course 70% Tax Rates Are Counterproductive
Some scholars argue that top rates can be raised drastically with no loss of revenue. Their arguments are flawed.

May 7, 2012 7:25 p.m. ET
President Obama and others are demanding that we raise taxes on the "rich," and two recent academic papers that have gotten a lot of attention claim to show that there will be no ill effects if we do.

The first paper, by Peter Diamond of MIT and Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, appeared in the Journal of Economic Perspectives last August. The second, by Mr. Saez, along with Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics and Stefanie Stantcheva of MIT, was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research three months later. Both suggested that federal tax revenues would not decline even if the rate on the top 1% of earners were raised to 73%-83%.

Can the apex of the Laffer Curve—which shows that the revenue-maximizing tax rate is not the highest possible tax rate—really be that high?

The authors arrive at their conclusion through an unusual calculation of the "elasticity" (responsiveness) of taxable income to changes in marginal tax rates. According to a formula devised by Mr. Saez, if the elasticity is 1.0, the revenue-maximizing top tax rate would be 40% including state and Medicare taxes. That means the elasticity of taxable income (ETI) would have to be an unbelievably low 0.2 to 0.25 if the revenue-maximizing top tax rates were 73%-83% for the top 1%. The authors of both papers reach this conclusion with creative, if wholly unpersuasive, statistical arguments.

Most of the older elasticity estimates are for all taxpayers, regardless of income. Thus a recent survey of 30 studies by the Canadian Department of Finance found that "The central ETI estimate in the international empirical literature is about 0.40."

But the ETI for all taxpayers is going to be lower than for higher-income earners, simply because people with modest incomes and modest taxes are not willing or able to vary their income much in response to small tax changes. So the real question is the ETI of the top 1%.

Harvard's Raj Chetty observed in 2009 that "The empirical literature on the taxable income elasticity has generally found that elasticities are large (0.5 to 1.5) for individuals in the top percentile of the income distribution." In that same year, Treasury Department economist Bradley Heim estimated that the ETI is 1.2 for incomes above $500,000 (the top 1% today starts around $350,000).

A 2010 study by Anthony Atkinson (Oxford) and Andrew Leigh (Australian National University) about changes in tax rates on the top 1% in five Anglo-Saxon countries came up with an ETI of 1.2 to 1.6. In a 2000 book edited by University of Michigan economist Joel Slemrod ("Does Atlas Shrug?"), Robert A. Moffitt (Johns Hopkins) and Mark Wilhelm (Indiana) estimated an elasticity of 1.76 to 1.99 for gross income. And at the bottom of the range, Mr. Saez in 2004 estimated an elasticity of 0.62 for gross income for the top 1%.

A midpoint between the estimates would be an elasticity for gross income of 1.3 for the top 1%, and presumably an even higher elasticity for taxable income (since taxpayers can claim larger deductions if tax rates go up.)

But let's stick with an ETI of 1.3 for the top 1%. This implies that the revenue-maximizing top marginal rate would be 33.9% for all taxes, and below 27% for the federal income tax.

To avoid reaching that conclusion, Messrs. Diamond and Saez's 2011 paper ignores all studies of elasticity among the top 1%, and instead chooses a midpoint of 0.25 between one uniquely low estimate of 0.12 for gross income among all taxpayers (from a 2004 study by Mr. Saez and Jonathan Gruber of MIT) and the 0.40 ETI norm from 30 other studies.

That made-up estimate of 0.25 is the sole basis for the claim by Messrs. Diamond and Saez in their 2011 paper that tax rates could reach 73% without losing revenue.

The Saez-Piketty-Stantcheva paper does not confound a lowball estimate for all taxpayers with a midpoint estimate for the top 1%. On the contrary, the authors say that "the long-run total elasticity of top incomes with respect to the net-of-tax rate is large."

Nevertheless, to cut this "large" elasticity down, the authors begin by combining the U.S. with 17 other affluent economies, telling us that elasticity estimates for top incomes are lower for Europe and Japan. The resulting mélange—an 18-country "overall elasticity of around 0.5"—has zero relevance to U.S. tax policy.

Still, it is twice as large as the ETI of Messrs. Diamond and Saez, so the three authors appear compelled to further pare their 0.5 estimate down to 0.2 in order to predict a "socially optimal" top tax rate of 83%. Using "admittedly only suggestive" evidence, they assert that only 0.2 of their 0.5 ETI can be attributed to real supply-side responses to changes in tax rates.

The other three-fifths of ETI can just be ignored, according to Messrs. Saez and Piketty, and Ms. Stantcheva, because it is the result of, among other factors, easily-plugged tax loopholes resulting from lower rates on corporations and capital gains.

Plugging these so-called loopholes, they say, requires "aligning the tax rates on realized capital gains with those on ordinary income" and enacting "neutrality in the effective tax rates across organizational forms." In plain English: Tax rates on U.S. corporate profits, dividends and capital gains must also be 83%.

This raises another question: At that level, would there be any profits, capital gains or top incomes left to tax?

"The optimal top tax," the three authors also say, "actually goes to 100% if the real supply-side elasticity is very small." If anyone still imagines the proposed "socially optimal" tax rates of 73%-83% on the top 1% would raise revenues and have no effect on economic growth, what about that 100% rate?

Mr. Reynolds is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute and the author of "Income and Wealth" (Greenwood Press, 2006).
242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics, Founder of Brookings, An Honest Liberal on Progressive Taxation on: May 19, 2014, 02:16:30 PM
“Within limits, the system of progressive taxation is defensible and effective.  Beyond a certain point, however, it dulls incentives, and may destroy the principal source of funds for new enterprises involving exceptional risks.”

–Harold G. Moulton, founder of the (liberal) Brookings Institution, Controlling Factors in Economic Development, The Brookings Institution, 1949, p. 292.
243  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China (& Japan, South China Sea-- Vietnam, Philippines, etc) on: May 19, 2014, 01:09:28 PM
I doubt we are trying to steal technological secrets from China to hand off to US industry. Not yet anyway.

Agree.  I see the distinction.  I wonder if Angela Merkel and others complaining of US spying see it.
244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / India elects conservative party in a landslide on: May 19, 2014, 01:05:33 PM
Any comments or observations from YA or others?
India's Narendra Modi leads conservatives to election day victory
India’s conservative opposition party won national elections in a landslide, results showed Friday, riding a message of optimism and clean, business-friendly governance to a historic parliamentary majority that could profoundly change the direction of the world’s largest democracy.
India aspires to become strong on the back of economic growth, more international trade, deeper global engagement
245  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: liberal fascism, progressivism: George Will - How LBJ ruined America on: May 19, 2014, 12:16:26 PM
"How LBJ ruined America:  Great Society's decline: The high cost of Lyndon Johnson's grand project  By George Will "
George Gilder made this powerful point in "Wealth and Poverty", 1981, that the upside down incentives of the welfare state hurt the recipients even more than the multi-trillion dollar cost of it hurts the taxpayers. 

Thanks for posting this CCP, George Will really nails this.  It should be on the front page, all loaded with facts, and made required reading for anyone who wants to vote responsibly.  People have to dig deeply and find conservative opinion in order to get these basic facts about how these policies are ruining our country:

"For every adult man ages 20 to 64 who is between jobs and looking for work, more than three are neither working nor seeking work, a trend that began with the Great Society."

“the earthquake that shook family structure in the era of expansive anti-poverty policies has seen out-of-wedlock births increase from 7.7 percent in 1965 to more than 40 percent in 2012, including 72 percent of black babies."  !

Can people really not see that these programs undermine family, work and responsibility and are destroying our culture and diminishing the lives of the recipients?!  We pay people to not work,  We pay people to not marry.  We pay them to not take responsibility for their families.  And then we see more and more and more of these bad, behavioral choices.  We have effective marginal tax rate of over 100% at certain levels between dependency and self sufficiency screwing up both the businesses and the potential employees. 

Because pay our poor to not work, we need to import people even poorer to fill that gap.  Then we pay them not to work and on goes the cycle.  We don't count as income everything we pay all these people, nor count what we take in taxation from the remaining productive among us, then we marvel at the falsely measured, increasing gap between rich and poor.  Go figure.  What is it about Economics 1001 that we so blockheadedly refuse to accept?
246  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China (& Japan, South China Sea-- Vietnam, Philippines, etc) on: May 19, 2014, 11:23:54 AM
I would quite enthusiastically applaud them for this - if we were not guilty of the same thing(?).
247  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: May 16, 2014, 04:27:48 PM
A. No one is too big to fail. We shouldn't be picking winners and losers. Let the creative destruction take place.

It is unfortunate that a person who rose up as high up as Geithner (Peter Principle) and has no idea that creative destruction is a positive term describing the foundation of growth in a dynamic economy.  The thinking behind his book and policy is the opposite - that people (and markets) left to themselves will fail and only the smartest and most clever of elite central planners can save us.

Why would investors let prices fall to zero, if real value remains.  What stopped the 1987 crash?  The market dropped from over 2700 to 1700s, but did not fall further as investors caught their breath and jumped back in.  I remember a big, local investor was on Nightline the night of the crash and calmly said that he intended to be making some buys the next morning as it looked like there were some good values out there.  Why should it fall to zero? 

The DJIA was positive for the 1987 calendar year...and regained its pre-crash peak in less than years.

If something is fundamentally wrong in the market or in the economy, fix what is fundamentally wrong.  Not just plug holes.
May 16, 2014, "Obama to loosen lending standards to boost home ownership."
248  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: How do we answer this? on: May 15, 2014, 03:36:32 PM

Comparing tea party scrutiny to scrutiny of ACORN??  Those are convicted felons who co-mingled taxpayer monies with their political causes.  What did the tea party do to deserve what they got? 

" least some additional scrutiny was required for groups of all types that had names that sounded political"

  - Were the donors to progressive groups TEN TIMES AS LIKELY, compared to non-donors, TO BE PERSONALLY AUDITED BY THE IRS LAST YEAR??  I don't think so.  Were they intimidated, as I am, to never give money to those groups?  I don't think so.

Nothing on progressive donors being be personally more likely to receive a full IRS audit in the article.  Nothing on the delays to get certified that cost tea party the right to participate in the 2012 election.  Perhaps progressive groups  were given 'some scrutiny as legal cover for the worst abuse of power since - well - before Nixon and Watergate. 

Were progressive groups asked the same intrusive questions asked of the tea party groups?
(If they were asked all of these, why did they NOT speak up at the time?)

“Provide a list of all issues that are important to your organization. Indicate your position regarding each issue.”
“Please explain in detail the derivation of your organization’s name.” (in a letter to the Ohio-based 1851 Center for  Constitutional Law)
“Please explain in detail your organization’s involvement with the Tea Party.”
“Provide details regarding your relationship with Justin Binik-Thomas.” (a Cincinnati-area Tea-Party activist)
“Provide information regarding the Butler County Teen Age Republicans and your relationship.”
“Submit the following information relating to your past and present directors, officers, and key employees: a) Provide a resume for each.”
“The names of the donors, contributors, and grantors. … The amounts of each of the donations, contributions, and grants and the dates you received them.”
“The names of persons from your organization and the amount of time they spent on the event or program.” (for events)
“Provide copies of the handbills you distributed at your monthly meetings.”
“Fully describe your youth outreach program with the local school.”
“Please provide copies of all your current web pages, including your Blog posts. Please provide copies of all of your newsletters, bulletins, flyers, newsletters or any other media or literature you have disseminated to your members or others. Please provide copies of stories and articles that have been published about you.”
“Are you on Facebook or other social networking sites? If yes, provide copies of these pages.”
“Provide copies of the agendas and minutes of your Board meetings and, if applicable, members ship meetings, including a description of legislative and electoral issues discussed, and whether candidates for political office were invited to address the meeting.”
“Do your issue-related advocacy communications compare to the positions of candidates or slates of candidates on these issues with your positions? Provide copies of these communications. What percentage do these constitute of your issue-related advocacy communications?”
“Do you have a close relationship with any candidate for political office or political party? If so describe fully the nature of that relationship.”
“Apart from your responses to the preceding, estimate the percentage of your time and what percentage of your resources you will devote to activities in the 2012 election cycle, in which you will explicitly or implicitly support or oppose a candidate, candidates or slates of candidates, for public office.”
249  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons, Washington Post: Yes a brain injury on: May 15, 2014, 08:56:33 AM
Yes, a brain injury.  No, it shouldn't be Republicans pointing it out.
Why did Hillary Clinton wear those glasses after her concussion?

Technically, Republican strategist Karl Rove was correct when he suggested that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suffered a “traumatic brain injury” after a fall in 2012. A concussion is the most common form of mild traumatic brain injury, according to experts in the field. It is caused by a blow to the head or an action that bounces the brain around in the skull, such as whiplash from a car accident.

Symptoms can include headache, dizziness, sensitivity to light and blurred vision, all of which can occur even when MRI and CT scans are normal, said Steven Galetta, a neuro-opthalmologist at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.
Rove’s comment that when Clinton appeared in public after recuperating “she’s wearing glasses that are only for people who have traumatic brain injury,” referred to a lens or lenses that the former first lady wore for a short period after her concussion and a subsequent blood clot that developed in her brain. Known as a Fresnel prism, the device helps treat double vision, especially for close-up viewing, experts said.

Special lines in the prism bend light seen by one eye and align it with the image seen by the other, according to Galetta and a representative of the company that distributes the lenses. The prism can be in the form of a clear plastic overlay that is pasted to the lens of eyeglasses in cases, such as Clinton’s, when the double vision is expected to be temporary, or can be ground into the lens for longer-term use, according to Laura Balcer, director of the Concussion Center at NYU Langone medical center. When built into the eyeglass lens itself, the prism is not visible, Balcer said.

On Tuesday, Rove distanced himself from a provocative report in Monday’s New York Post, saying he does not believe — as the newspaper asserted he had said — that Clinton suffered “brain damage” when she fell and sustained a head injury in December 2012. The fall was attributed to dehydration from a stomach virus, and Clinton subsequently developed a blood clot, which was treated.

Stomach flu? Or ...?
250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / World Trade, Global Map: which export makes each country the most money on: May 15, 2014, 08:41:32 AM
This map shows which export makes your country the most money
Australia makes the most money from coal. Who knew?

Using data from the CIA Factbook, we labeled every country in the world by its highest valued export, a.k.a. the commodity that makes the country the most money in the global market. Click on any of the maps below (at the link)to see an enlarged version.
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