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3901  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues, NY Times Mis-Leads on Economics Too on: January 02, 2014, 09:30:29 AM
Times reporter David Kocieniewski falsely accused two economists, Craig Pirrong and Scott Irwin, of corruptly “reaping rewards” by “defending Wall Street” as “one part of Wall Street’s efforts to fend off regulation.” Specifically, Pirrong and Irwin have contradicted, on academic and empirical grounds, the perennial left-wing canard that “speculators” drive up prices in commodities markets. Kocieniewski’s reporting is wrong, and not even consistent, as it relates to Pirrong and Irwin.
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/12/the-ny-times-looks-in-the-wrong-place-for-corrupt-academics.php

Now Professor James Hamilton (UCSD) has entered the fray. http://www.econbrowser.com/archives/2014/01/a_lack_of_ethic.html 
He reprises the attacks that others have made on the Times’s dishonest reporting. He begins:

    David Kocieniewski of the New York Times is guilty of some outrageously bad journalism in the form of a groundless ad hominem attack on the reputation of two professors for the sole purpose of reinforcing the prejudices of his misinformed readers.

Harsh words, but Hamilton backs them up. Having established that Kocieniewski smeared the two economists groundlessly, he goes on to address the underlying question: are speculators responsible for rising prices in recent years of, for example, crude oil? This is a question that Kocieniewski did not directly address, but the whole point of his hit piece was to try to discredit those who have demonstrated that one of the Left’s favorite talking points is false. Hamilton writes:

    Let me pose the question a little more precisely for anyone who actually wants to investigate this issue. Do financial speculators drive the price of oil to a value at which the quantity physically produced exceeds the quantity physically consumed? Because if the answer to that question is no, then it is fundamentals of supply and demand, not financial speculators, that are all you would need to know to calculate what the price of oil will be.

That is an empirical question that can be answered, and the overwhelming weight of academic research demonstrates that the New York Times theory of commodity prices is wrong.
3902  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues - Slow Learners on: January 02, 2014, 09:24:22 AM
Politico has a headline for the ages up right now: “Management Experts Knock Obama.”  Management “experts” are just noticing now, after five years, that Obama’s lack of experience is significant.
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/01/slow-learners.php
http://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/obamacare-obama-management-experts-101620.html?hp=t1

“No one asked you to write code or be a technical expert, but the expectation is you can set up a process,” said Kellogg School of Management professor Daniel Diermeier. “Companies do it every day.”
----------------------------

Maybe in year seven Politico will find discover he is dishonest.
3903  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Elliot Abrams on David Kirkpatrick (NY Times) Benghazi story on: January 02, 2014, 09:16:41 AM
http://m.nationalreview.com/article/367247/times-benghazi-report-convenient-clinton-elliott-abrams

We’ll never know whom the Times thought it important to interview and whom it believed, but we do know that it had no access to the intelligence that members of Congress saw. And we are being told by members of Congress that the embassy staff had it right in saying the video was unimportant, and that there were some al-Qaeda links. So the much-ballyhooed Times story, based on months of reporting, seems to come down to this: Do you believe the intelligence our agencies collected and the reporting of our diplomats on the scene at the time, or do you believe what the New York Times was told by Libyans, many of them Islamic extremists and some of them terrorists, more than a year later?

The answer to that question probably depends on what position you hold in the Hillary Clinton campaign.
3904  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: POTH: Fed judge says FL requiring drug tests for welfare UnC'l on: January 02, 2014, 09:01:20 AM
I gotta right to your money!

Also the other way around, we have no right to place strings on how our money is used.  Is there not a right to turn down the money if the rules are too invasive?  As suggested, we don't have a right to the money we earn, but when we don't earn enough we have an unfettered right to money of others.

More important than the merits is the question of who decides.  One judge knows better than the sausage factory of self government - the people of Florida making mistakes and trying to correct them. Elected government is unfair and inefficient compared to proclamation by the elite.

What did Chief Justice John Roberts say, find a way to uphold legislative acts?  Only when it supports larger government.
3905  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Parts of Manitoba colder than Mars today. on: January 01, 2014, 11:34:46 PM
Parts of Manitoba colder than Mars today.  -53 C.   
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/winnipeg-deep-freeze-as-cold-as-uninhabited-planet-1.2479967
3906  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Icy Irony on: January 01, 2014, 09:24:26 PM

"Remember, this is summer in Antarctica."



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304591604579292611684898656?mod=WSJ_Opinion_AboveLEFTTop

Carbon to the Rescue
Fossil fuels to power retrieval of trapped climate scientists.

"...the helicopters and ships that participate in the next rescue attempt won't be powered by renewable-energy credits."

3907  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential on: December 31, 2013, 03:56:25 PM
Interesting.

A tangential observation:  some/most of us here disapproved when Obama failed to defend the DOMA.   What say we now with this?

Good question.  Our more centrist poster might see hypocrisy.  I say criticize but play under one set of rules, theirs if they won't play under ours.  NJ law was upheld without his support.  DOMA was (partly) struck down without Obama-ites making insincere arguments in its defense.

This is the beginning of positioning for 2016.  The anti-legal-gun-rights argument is not selling.
3908  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2016 Presidential, Christie declines to defend N.J. gun laws on: December 31, 2013, 10:41:10 AM
Christie declines to defend N.J. gun laws
http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/12/chris_christie_declines_to_defend_nj_gun_laws_sparking_criticism.html#incart_river

The court upheld both laws anyway, finding that New Jersey has a "well-established record" of policing firearms and can place strict requirements on people seeking permits to carry concealed handguns.
3909  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Pathological Science: Global warming researcher gets stuck in ice on: December 31, 2013, 10:38:38 AM
http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/saunders/article/Global-warming-researcher-gets-stuck-in-ice-5102720.php

Global warming researcher gets stuck in ice
Debra J. Saunders   December 30, 2013

A funny thing happened during Australian climate-change professor Chris Turney's venture to retrace a 1912 research expedition in Antarctica and gauge how climate change has affected the continent: Two weeks into a five-week excursion, Turney's good ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy got trapped in ice. It turns out, global warming notwithstanding, that there's so much ice down under that two ice-breaking vessels sent to rescue the research team cannot reach the Australasian Antarctic Expedition.

"Sea ice is disappearing due to climate change, but here ice is building up," the Australasian Antarctic Expedition acknowledges.
---------------------
 To the San Francisco Chronicle, Why is this in the Opinion section??

3910  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Sen.Ted Cruz was right on: December 31, 2013, 10:32:28 AM
Logically, he is right.

Right on so many levels, not just that it was Dems that shut down the government.

This legislation is bad for the country. He said so.  People now know he was right.

Congress is a co-equal branch with so-called power of the purse.  There should be nothing wrong with exercising that responsibility.

The  effort to stop Obamacare clarified that this is 100% a Democrat program, right before the trainwreck.  All Democratic Senators, including those facing reelection challenges across the heartland, were forced to double down on the program and put it ahead of every other government priority.

The size, scope and cost of government is the lower of what the House, Senate and President believe it should be - unless the smaller government body succumbs to bullying by the others.

3911  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Washington Post: 42% of Democrats are against Obamacare on: December 31, 2013, 10:13:12 AM
This should go in cognitive dissonance of the left.  Maybe everything should go there.

http://moneymorning.com/ob-article/obamacare-democrats.php?src=t-oc-dems

"Obviously, we didn't do a good enough job in terms of how we crafted the law," "I am sorry that they, you know, are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me."  -  President Obama

"His major accomplishment was Obamacare, and the implementation of it now is questionable at best."  - 39th President Jimmy Carter

"I think we paid a terrible price for health care."  - Barney Frank, former Massachusetts Congressman:

"The Affordable Care Act's Rate-Setting Won't Work."  -  Former Democratic Presidential candidate and current Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean:

"Obamacare will cost taxpayers at least an additional $400 billion more than originally proposed."  - McKinsey report
3912  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Dogs' pot poisoning soars as pets dig through trash on: December 31, 2013, 09:50:53 AM
And we were worried about the children...  Legal pot of course is sold in all forms of food now too.  What could go wrong...

Dogs' pot poisoning soars as pets dig through trash, stash

http://www.sfchronicle.com/pets/article/Dogs-pot-poisoning-soars-as-pets-dig-through-5102991.php

Dr. Jill Chase examines Baby, a pug, at Ocean Beach Veterinary Clinic. Chase's Tibetan terrier was in a coma for three days after finding cannabis-infused butter in a neighbor's trash.
3913  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / New U.S. Tax Regime is "Devastating"; Experts Say. FATCA on: December 31, 2013, 09:44:23 AM
Plowhorse!

Yes, like a heard on liberal radio last evening, nothing jolts an economy forward like a tax increase!

There is more:

http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/congress/item/17273-new-u-s-tax-regime-is-devastating-experts-say

Monday, 30 December 2013 16:49
New U.S. Tax Regime is "Devastating," Experts Say
Written by  Alex Newman

New U.S. Tax Regime is "Devastating"; Experts Say

Already facing “pariah” status worldwide due to onerous IRS requirements, millions of Americans living and working abroad are preparing to deal with a deluge of even bigger problems in 2014, when a byzantine new tax regime starts going into effect. Known as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, the deeply controversial and incredibly complex scheme is supposedly aimed at preventing tax evasion and gathering extra funds for the federal government. In reality, it will prove to be devastating, experts say — especially for middle-class Americans overseas and the U.S. economy.
...
About a dozen national governments have inked unconstitutional “agreements” with the Obama administration so far, laying the foundation for a global tax-information sharing regime. International bureaucrats working fiendishly for planetary taxation are celebrating, along with some attorneys and accountants hoping to profit, but serious concerns about the pseudo-treaties are growing.
3914  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Tech Bubble not mentioned by Wesbury on: December 30, 2013, 09:25:39 PM
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304753504579287504166323702
WSJ: Beware the Tech Bubble
Hmmm...
Maybe, maybe not.
Worry but don't panic.

Updates: Monday mornings on Wesbury. )

Wesbury: "In 2014, the Plow Horse is likely to trot a little. " "Stay bullish and stay invested."
This is so good, it doesn't matter what you invest in.  When have I heard that before and what could possibly go wrong?

3915  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen.Ted Cruz: Agrees it was a mistake... on: December 30, 2013, 08:45:22 PM
" I think it was absolutely a mistake for President Obama and Harry Reid to force a government shutdown."

Ted Cruz was profiled this week on ABC's 'This Week' for 2nd place man of the Year...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1lGaTgTk94

JON KARL: But the year also ended with Ted Cruz as the most high- profile Tea Party consecutive in congress. Again at Tortilla Coast, Cruz reflected on all of that.

When you think about the tradition of first-year senators, they tend to be seen but not heard, you have had, you said, a whirlwind for a first year as a U.S. senator, does that surprise you? I mean, you're on TIME magazine's list as the runner-up to the pope for person of the year.

SEN. TED CRUZ: That was a very strange thing.

This is a city where it's all politics all the time. And I'm trying to do my best not to pay attention to the politics, to focus on fixing the problems.

KARL: Really?

CRUZ: I know that's hard to believe, but because no one in this town does that. This is a time for people to step up and do the right thing and that's what I'm trying to do.

KARL: You have had a couple of months to think about this whole government shutdown strategy. Now that it's over in hindsight, are you prepared to say that it was a mistake, it wasn't the right tactic?

CRUZ: I think it was absolutely a mistake for President Obama and Harry Reid to force a government shutdown.

KARL: Now you know even John Boehner has said this was a Republican shutdown.

CRUZ: Look, I can't help what other people say.

And Jon, I understand that in the media, every day the media reported the Republicans shut the government down...

KARL: No, I mean, but come on. I mean we're a couple months away from this, the only reason why this happened is because you insisted, Republicans insisted that Obamacare be defunded as a condition of funding the government. If you didn't -- if you took away that insistence, there would be no shutdown. I mean, really.

CRUZ: You've got conservatives who stood strong and said let's stop the train wreck that is Obamacare, and you've got Democrats in the middle of the shutdown, President Obama called every Senate Republican to the White House, sat us in a room and said I called you to tell you, we're not going to negotiate, we're not going to compromise on anything.

Repeatedly Republicans were compromising, trying to find a middle ground. And repeatedly Democrats said, no compromise, shut it down.
3916  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: A Large New Tax on Small Business on: December 30, 2013, 11:56:42 AM
What happens when we tax something more?  We get less of it - small business in this case.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304465604579220413773642016

A Large New Tax on Small Business
The latest ObamaCare levy takes effect Jan. 1.
Dec. 29, 2013

ObamaCare includes so many taxes that it's hard to keep track, but one of the worst takes effect on Jan. 1. This beaut is a levy on health insurance premiums that targets the small business and individual markets.

At $8 billion in 2014 and $101 billion over the next decade, the insurance tax is larger than ObamaCare's taxes on medical devices and prescription drugs combined. The Internal Revenue Service classifies the tax as a "fee" but it functions like an excise tax on premiums. The IRS collects an annual flat amount specified by the Affordable Care Act to be allocated among the insurers according to market share.

But not all markets. IRS regulations published in November excluded "any entity that is a self-insured employer to the extent that such employer self-insures its employees' health risks." Since about four of five employers with more than 500 workers and most union-negotiated health plans are self-insured, they are spared from the tax. So is insurance on behalf of "government entities," such as original Medicare (but not privately run Medicare Advantage).

This political selectivity means the most gold-plated public, private and labor plans are exempt and the tax burden falls on the saps who work for small businesses, the self-employed and individuals—i.e., the people who can least afford it.

The White House tells business that the tab will be picked up by deep-pocketed insurers, which is good for a laugh. The Congressional Budget Office reports the tax will be "largely passed through to consumers in the form of higher premiums" and "would ultimately raise insurance premiums by a corresponding amount." The Joint Tax Committee and private economists, such as former CBO director Doug Holtz-Eakin, say the tax will boost insurance costs about 2% to 2.5%. The consultant Oliver Wyman estimates the take will rise to as much as $500 per covered worker by decade's end.
(More at the link!)
3917  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Media Issues: PolitiFact received Pulitzer for its own Pants on Fire falsehood on: December 30, 2013, 11:49:19 AM
What is now the Lie of the Year, was then ‘We rate his statement True’.  They were off by roughly a hundred million health plans.

"PolitiFact’s pronouncements about Obamacare were widely repeated by pro-Obama reporters and pundits, and had a meaningful impact on the outcome of the election. Indeed, in 2009, PolitiFact won the Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the 2008 campaign."

"The highlight of Holan’s 2013 “Lie of the Year” article was that it completely ignored Holan’s own “True” rating of the “keep your plan” claim back in 2008."

“The promise was impossible to keep,” says Holan in her December piece. Now she tells us! But none of the key facts that made that promise “impossible” in 2008 had changed by 2013. The President’s plan had always required major disruption of the health insurance market; the Obamacare bill contained the key elements of that plan; the Obamacare law did as well. The only thing that had changed was the actual first-hand accounts of millions of Americans who were losing their plans now that Obamacare was live.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2013/12/27/in-2008-politifacts-2013-lie-of-the-year-that-you-could-keep-your-health-plan-under-obamacare-it-rated-true/

(read it all)  Strange that self proclaimed fact checkers seem to have the most bias and worst accuracy of all.

3918  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Yes, There IS Evidence Linking al Qaeda to Benghazi on: December 30, 2013, 11:17:40 AM
See previous posts in this thread, Eli Lake has probably been the most thorough reporter on this story.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/12/29/yes-there-is-evidence-linking-al-qaeda-to-benghazi.html

Yes, There IS Evidence Linking al Qaeda to Benghazi

By Eli Lake
December 29th 20133:27 pm

Libyan militants tell the New York Times that al Qaeda is not behind the 2012 Benghazi attack. Some members of Congress have intelligence that says otherwise.

On Sunday, The New York Times published an investigation that concluded al Qaeda played no role in the September 11, 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi. For Democrats, this was welcome news considering the bruising investigations into the attack from Republicans in Congress. The piece was trumpeted by the progressive non-profit, Media Matters in a blast email as “bad news for Benghazi Hoaxers.”

But two members of the House intelligence committee, Republican Mike Rogers and Democrat Adam Schiff, told Fox News on Sunday that U.S. intelligence assessments concluded al Qaeda did play a role in the attack. While no Republicans have asserted the Benghazi attacks were planned in a manner similar to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, evidence has emerged in the last year that does show the participation of militias and fighters with known ties to al Qaeda.

Abu Khattala: The Times focuses its reporting on Ahmed Abu Khattala, a militia leader who spoke to reporter David Kirkpatrick, last year and claimed to be at the scene of the Benghazi assault with no apparent worry that he would be abducted or killed by U.S. authorities.  In his piece Sunday, Kirkpatrick fills in the rest of Abu Khattala’s story, revealing that he was a part-time construction worker who was publicly associated with the abduction and murder of a rival militia commander supported by NATO. In interviews with the Times, Abu Khattala denies any connection to al Qaeda. He does however say he admires the group’s vision.  The Times also discloses that Abu Khattala was close to a leader of the militia the U.S. had entrusted to protect its facilities in Benghazi in light of an attack.  But Abu Khattala was by no means the only person who participated in the attack.

    “Sometimes though the intelligence which has the advantage of hearing to people when they don’t know they are being listening to, that can be misleading as well, when people make claims, they boast of things they were not involved in for various purposes.”

The Jamal network:  Some fighters who attacked the U.S. diplomatic compound and CIA annex in Benghazi are believed to be from a group headed by a former top lieutenant to Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current leader of al Qaeda. When Egyptian authorities raided the home of Mohammed al-Jamal, who was an operational commander under al-Zawahiri’s terrorist group in the 1990s known as Egyptian Islamic Jihad, it found messages to al Qaeda leadership asking for support and plans to establish training camps and cells in the Sinai, creating a group now known as the Jamal Network. In October, the State Department designated Jamal Network as a terrorist group tied to al Qaeda. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report the participation of the network in the Benghazi attacks, and the group’s participation in the attacks has also been acknowledged in the Times. The New York Times Benghazi investigation makes no mention of the Jamal Network in their piece.

What militants say when they think no one is listening. On Fox News Sunday, Schiff, a Democratic member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said the intelligence indicated that al Qaeda did play a role in the attack. The intelligence community knows this, he said, from insights gleaned from eavesdropping on the night of the attack. Speaking of the Times report, Schiff said “they did not have the same access to people who were not aware they were being listened to. They were heavily reliant obviously on people they interviewed who had a reason to provide the story they did.” But Schiff also said sometimes eavesdropping has its limits as well. “Sometimes though the intelligence which has the advantage of hearing to people when they don’t know they are being listening to, that can be misleading as well, when people make claims, they boast of things they were not involved in for various purposes,” he said. The Daily Beast first reported that an intercepted phone conversation from one of the attackers to a person connected to al Qaeda’s north Africa affiliates boasting of the attack. The Times says this intercept was the “only intelligence connecting al Qaeda to the attack,” a claim disputed this weekend by two U.S. intelligence officials. The Times reports the phone call showed the person connected to al Qaeda sounded “astonished,” suggesting he had no prior knowledge of the assault.

Ansar al-Sharia: No one has disputed the participation of a local Islamist militia known as Ansar al-Sharia. The Times describes Ansar al-Sharia in Libya as a group formed in 2012 to protest the support other militias had for elections but an organization separate and distinct from al Qaeda. An August 2012 report commissioned by a Pentagon terrorism research organization found that Ansar al-Sharia “has increasingly embodied al Qaeda’s presence in Libya, as indicated by its active social-media propaganda, extremist discourse, and hatred of the West, especially the United States.” Not everyone however agreed. As The Daily Beast reported last year, Ansar al-Sharia was not a priority for U.S. intelligence collection in Libya  The Times also drew a distinction between the Benghazi branch of Ansar al-Sharia and the Dernaa branch of the group that was led by a former Guantanamo detainee Sufian Ben Qhumu. Others however see Ansar al-Sharia’s activities in Libya more coordinated with al-Qaeda’s regional affiliates. In October, Tunisia’s Prime Minister told Reuters that “there is a relation between leaders of Ansar al-Sharia, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Ansar al-Sharia in Libya.” The Times also states, “the Republican arguments appear to conflate purely local extremist organizations like Ansar al-Shariah with al Qaeda’s international terrorist network.” On Fox News Sunday Rogers stuck to his guns. “Do they have differences of opinions with al Qaeda core? Yes,” he said. “Do they have affiliations with al Qaeda core? Definitely.”
3919  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal issues on: December 30, 2013, 11:14:36 AM
I love the Missouri, Exit 6 bar letter!  '[Your brand name] heretofore known as "The F-word" '.  'We weren't trying to use a similar name, we are just poor spelers'.  'We never thought alcoholic beverage consumers would confuse beer with coffee'.  Very funny!
3920  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: POTH says no AQ link, it was the locals on: December 30, 2013, 11:04:45 AM
Just locals, with ties to al Qaida:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/30/world/middleeast/no-specific-warnings-in-benghazi-attack.html?_r=2&
Three Congressional investigations and a State Department inquiry are now examining the[Benghazi] attack, which American officials said included participants from Ansar al-Shariah, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Muhammad Jamal network, a militant group in Egypt.

http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2013/02/communications_with.php
Cairo's Al Yawm al Sabi first published one of the letters from Jamal to Zawahiri. The letter was apparently written in late 2011. The Long War Journal has obtained a translation of the original Al Yawm al Sabi account.

"My Dear Sheikh Abu Muhammad," Jamal begins, referring to Zawahiri by his kunya. Jamal goes on to call Zawahiri an "asset" for Islam and prays for Allah to enable Zawahiri to establish an Islamic state.

Jamal also thanks Allah "for the blessing of communication with my brother and teacher Sheikh Ayman." Jamal says he has greatly desired to see Zawahiri after his release from an Egyptian prison, "so that I can be by your side, which is an honor for me."

Because he was "banned for travel" and his "name was on a list of international terror in more than one Arab country," Jamal says, he could not reach Zawahiri. Jamal even tried, to no avail, to travel using fraudulent documents.

"So I resorted to send another person who was with me in prison," Jamal writes. "Agreement was reached on jihadist action inside Egypt, irrespective of the conditions inside the country. We believed in the necessity of establishing a jihadist entity in Egypt."

Jamal writes that he "encouraged the youths by virtue of my past record to work with you." Somewhat cryptically, Jamal notes that he does not know Zawahiri's "opinion of establishing an effective jihadist organization in Egypt against the Zionist-Crusaders... or exploiting the security vacuum for advocacy and religious media promotion." It is not entirely clear what Jamal means.

Jamal then summarizes his work to date. Jamal's letter reads like a request for additional resources, given all that he has accomplished thus far. Jamal says he had established "solid forces from the cadres we trust here and an advanced base outside Egypt in Libya to take advantage of the conditions in Libya after the revolution." This was done "in order to buy weapons and also attract elements not known in Egypt."

Jamal writes that he formed "groups for us inside Sinai," an especially interesting revelation given that some jihadist groups there have openly proclaimed their allegiance to al Qaeda.

Shortly after he was released from prison in early 2011, Jamal began work. He complains that he "received an amount of money from our brothers in Yemen," a reference to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), "but it was much less than what is required." Zawahiri is "aware" of the "huge amounts of money" needed to purchase arms, set up training camps, move vehicles into the Sinai Peninsula, and "provide for the families of the brothers who work with us."

Transporting small arms and missiles from Libya into Egypt is expensive, Jamal writes. "We point out that part of the strategy of international action relies on heavy weapons like mortars and Grad Missiles." It is therefore necessary for them, Jamal continues, to request assistance from brothers who are either "hard-pressed" or "miserly."
------------------------------------------------------------------

The worst part of this NY Times - Hillary Cover piece is that with a year of so-called investigations, besides getting it wrong, they don't even try to answer any of the unanswered questions:

(http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2013/12/the-ny-times-attempt-to-whitewash-benghazi-not-just-wrong-but-futile.php)

Why didn’t Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, respond to any of Ambassador Chris Stevens’ several requests for increased security? The Times offers no answer to this fundamental question. On the contrary, it sets Stevens up as the principal American expert on the various militias and terrorist groups operating in Libya. Which means that his pleas for more security should have been viewed as highly credible. Stevens obviously was correct when he told Clinton that Benghazi needed better security, yet she ignored his repeated pleas. Why?

Further: Where were Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the night of September 11, 2012, and what orders, if any, did they give? The news media’s lack of curiosity as to what Obama and Clinton were doing during the seven or eight hours that went by while four Americans, including an ambassador, were under attack and ultimately were murdered, is remarkable. If we had a real president or a real Secretary of State, they would have been in control that night, and would have taken responsibility for the decisions they made. Instead, Washington did nothing to try to help the besieged Americans, and no one knows whether either Obama or Clinton ever made any decisions at all, or whether they were off partying somewhere. Or fast asleep.

And finally: Why haven’t the perpetrators of the murders been found and punished? President Obama vowed to find and punish those responsible for the murders of the Americans. One would think that Hillary Clinton, too, would be interested in identifying and punishing those who killed an ambassador who was serving under her. And yet, even though many of those who participated in that night’s carnage have been happy to give interviews to New York Times reporters and others, nothing has been done to bring justice to the perpetrators of the greatest outrage against American honor in recent years.

It is remarkable that the New York Times, with all its resources, cannot come up with an account of the Benghazi disaster that even addresses, let alone satisfactorily explains, the Obama administration’s principal failures.
3921  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Police work is , , , different on: December 28, 2013, 02:13:05 PM
I'm surprised it's illegal in Oregon.

Sometimes people think more clearly on drugs.  Like a drunk peeing off the sidewalk instead of wasting time looking for a restroom, this meth induced suspect allegedly only did what felt right to him at the time, "exposed his genitals and started masturbating at the bar".  On behalf of all the anything-goes liberals and libertarians, should we all be a little more tolerant?

Or as conservatives can we once and for all admit there are limits on behavior; we will have a few laws and enforce them. 
3922  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / 13 percent of students in two-year colleges graduate in two years on: December 27, 2013, 01:27:06 PM
13 percent of students in two-year colleges graduate in two years

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/07/the-great-stagnation-of-american-education/?_r=0

The Great Stagnation of American Education
By ROBERT J. GORDON
Javier Jaén
The Great Divide

The Great Divide is a series about inequality.

For most of American history, parents could expect that their children would, on average, be much better educated than they were. But that is no longer true. This development has serious consequences for the economy.

The epochal achievements of American economic growth have gone hand in hand with rising educational attainment, as the economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz have shown. From 1891 to 2007, real economic output per person grew at an average rate of 2 percent per year — enough to double every 35 years. The average American was twice as well off in 2007 as in 1972, four times as well off as in 1937, and eight times as well off as in 1902. It’s no coincidence that for eight decades, from 1890 to 1970, educational attainment grew swiftly. But since 1990, that improvement has slowed to a crawl.

Companies pay better-educated people higher wages because they are more productive. The premium that employers pay to a college graduate compared with that to a high school graduate has soared since 1970, because of higher demand for technical and communication skills at the top of the scale and a collapse in demand for unskilled and semiskilled workers at the bottom.

As the current recovery continues at a snail’s pace, concerns about America’s future growth potential are warranted. Growth in annual average economic output per capita has slowed from the century-long average of 2 percent, to 1.3 percent over the past 25 years, to a mere 0.7 percent over the past decade. As of this summer, per-person output was still lower than it was in late 2007. The gains in income since the 2007-9 Great Recession have flowed overwhelmingly to those at the top, as has been widely noted. Real median family income was lower last year than in 1998.

There are numerous causes of the less-than-satisfying economic growth in America: the retirement of the baby boomers, the withdrawal of working-age men from the labor force, the relentless rise in the inequality of the income distribution and, as I have written about elsewhere, a slowdown in technological innovation.

Education deserves particular focus because its effects are so long-lasting. Every high school dropout becomes a worker who likely won’t earn much more than minimum wage, at best, for the rest of his or her life. And the problems in our educational system pervade all levels.

The surge in high school graduation rates — from less than 10 percent of youth in 1900 to 80 percent by 1970 — was a central driver of 20th-century economic growth. But the percentage of 18-year-olds receiving bona fide high school diplomas fell to 74 percent in 2000, according to the University of Chicago economist James J. Heckman. He found that the holders of G.E.D.’s performed no better economically than high school dropouts and that the rising share of young people who are in prison rather than in school plays a small but important role in the drop in graduation rates.

Then there is the poor quality of our schools. The Program for International Student Assessment tests have consistently rated American high schoolers as middling at best in reading, math and science skills, compared with their peers in other advanced economies.

At the college level, longstanding problems of quality are joined with the issues of affordability. For most of the postwar period, the G.I. Bill, public and land-grant universities and junior colleges made a low-cost education more accessible in the United States than anywhere in the world. But after leading the world in college completion, America has dropped to 16th. The percentage of 25- to 29-year-olds who hold a four-year bachelor’s degree has inched up in the past 15 years, to 33.5 percent, but that is still lower than in many other nations.

The cost of a university education has risen faster than the rate of inflation for decades. Between 2008 and 2012 state financing for higher education declined by 28 percent. Presidents of Ivy League and other elite schools point to the lavish subsidies they give low- and middle-income students, but this leaves behind the vast majority of American college students who are not lucky or smart enough to attend them.

While a four-year college degree still pays off, about one-quarter of recent college graduates are currently unemployed or underemployed. Meanwhile, total student debt now exceeds $1 trillion.

Heavily indebted students face two kinds of risks. One is that they fall short of their income potential, through some combination of unemployment and inability to find a job in their chosen fields. Research has shown that on average a college student taking on $100,000 in student debt will still come out ahead by age 34. But that break-even age goes up if future income falls short of the average.

There is also completion risk. A student who takes out half as much debt but drops out after two years never breaks even because wages of college dropouts are little better than those of high school graduates. These risks are acute for high-achieving students from low-income families: Caroline M. Hoxby, a Stanford economist, found that they often don’t apply to elite colleges and wind up at subpar ones, deeply in debt.

Two-year community colleges enroll 42 percent of American undergraduates. The Center on International Education Benchmarking reports that only 13 percent of students in two-year colleges graduate in two years; that figure rises to a still-dismal 28 percent after four years. These students are often working while taking classes and are often poorly prepared for college and required to take remedial courses.

    Our subpar performance in schooling our kids hurts our economy’s capacity to grow.

Federal programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have gone too far in using test scores to evaluate teachers. Many children are culturally disadvantaged, even if one or both parents have jobs, have no books at home, do not read to them, and park them in front of a TV set or a video game in lieu of active in-home learning. Compared with other nations where students learn several languages and have math homework in elementary school, the American system expects too little. Parental expectations also matter: homework should be emphasized more, and sports less.

Poor academic achievement has long been a problem for African-Americans and Hispanics, but now the achievement divide has extended further. Isabel V. Sawhill, an economist at the Brookings Institution, has argued that “family breakdown is now biracial.” Among lower-income whites, the proportion of children living with both parents has plummeted over the past half-century, as Charles Murray has noted.

Are there solutions? The appeal of American education as a destination for the world’s best and brightest suggests the most obvious policy solution. Shortly before his death, Steve Jobs told President Obama that a green card conferring permanent residency status should be automatically granted to any foreign student with a degree in engineering, a field in which skills are in short supply..

Richard J. Murnane, an educational economist at Harvard, has found evidence that high school and college completion rates have begun to rise again, although part of this may be a result of weak labor markets that induce students to stay in school rather than face unemployment. Other research has shown that high-discipline, “no-excuses” charter schools, like those run by the Knowledge Is Power Program and the Harlem Children’s Zone, have erased racial achievement gaps. This model suggests that a complete departure from the traditional public school model, rather than pouring in more money per se, is needed.

Early childhood education is needed to counteract the negative consequences of growing up in disadvantaged households, especially for children who grow up with only one parent. Only one in four American 4-year-olds participate in preschool education programs, but that’s already too late. In a remarkable program, Reach Out and Read, 12,000 doctors, nurses and other providers have volunteered to include instruction on the importance of in-home reading to low-income mothers during pediatric checkups.

Even in today’s lackluster labor market, employers still complain that they cannot find workers with the needed skills to operate complex modern computer-driven machinery. Lacking in the American system is a well-organized funnel between community colleges and potential blue-collar employers, as in the renowned apprenticeship system in Germany.

How we pay for education shows, in the end, how much we value it. In Canada, each province manages and finances education at the elementary, secondary and college levels, thus avoiding the inequality inherent in America’s system of local property-tax financing for public schools. Tuition at the University of Toronto was a mere $5,695 for Canadian arts and science undergraduates last year, compared with $37,576 at Harvard. It should not be surprising that the Canadian college completion rate is about 15 percentage points above the American rate. As daunting as the problems are, we can overcome them. Our economic growth is at stake.
3923  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Unemployment using pre-Obama workforce trends: 10.3% on: December 27, 2013, 12:41:47 PM
is there someone here who can take on for us reporting every month the unemployment rate INCLUDING those who have given up and left the economy altogether?  Currently it is somewhere in the upper 10s if I am not mistaken.

I was hoping Brain Wesbury or Scott Grannis would do it, but they are too busy being bullish...

In October, there were almost 5.7 million "missing workers" -- people who had dropped out of the labor force but, under trends prevailing before the Great Recession, would have had jobs or been looking for work.  Counting them would have raised October's unemployment rate to about 10 percent, instead of the reported 7 percent (the Economic Policy Institute).

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/12/27/stats_of_the_year_2013_121066.html
http://www.epi.org/publication/missing-workers/

In a complex economy, conventional measures sometimes fall short.

In today’s labor market, the unemployment rate drastically understates the weakness of job opportunities. This is due to the existence of a large pool of “missing workers”—potential workers who, because of weak job opportunities, are neither employed nor actively seeking a job. In other words, these are people who would be either working or looking for work if job opportunities were significantly stronger. Because jobless workers are only counted as unemployed if they are actively seeking work, these “missing workers” are not reflected in the unemployment rate.

As part of its ongoing effort to create the metrics needed to assess how well the economy is working for America’s broad middle class, EPI is introducing its “missing worker” estimates, which will be updated on this page on the first Friday of every month immediately after the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases its jobs numbers. The “missing worker” estimates provide policymakers with a key gauge of the health of the labor market.

Current “missing worker” estimates at a glance
Updated December 06, 2013, based on most current data available

    Total missing workers, October 2013: 5,660,000
    Unemployment rate if missing workers were looking for work: 10.3%
    Official unemployment rate: 7.0%
http://www.epi.org/publication/missing-workers/#chart-total
http://www.epi.org/publication/missing-workers/#chart-unemployment-rate
http://www.epi.org/publication/missing-workers/#chart-age-gender
http://www.epi.org/publication/missing-workers/#methodology
3924  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Economics: Capitalism is the precondition of generosity on: December 27, 2013, 11:26:49 AM
Posting this to both Economic threads.  There are crucial points being made here.  Government doesn't produce anything.  Indoividuals can't demonstrate generosity without first investing and producing something.  The story of Santa includes the existence of an amazing, benevolent, (unregulated) magical investment, factory, production and delivery system.  Not exactly a description of government, see Obamacare.  Neither our current iteration of liberalism, Obamanomics, nor Pope Francis' guidance for us to move away from non-existent, unfettered capitalism will make generosity possible. "Capitalism is the precondition of generosity."  We can have capitalism on the condition that we feed the poor is backwards.  "We can feed the poor if we have capitalism. To give away wealth presumes the existence of that wealth".

Government Isn’t Santa

Capitalism is the precondition of generosity.

By Kevin D. Williamson       December 24, 2013
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/367018/government-isnt-santa-kevin-d-williamson

There were three wise men, bearing gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Much has been written about the mystical connotations of those gifts, but it is rarely, if ever, asked: Where did they get them?

Presumably, Balthazar, Melchior, and Caspar were not engaged in gold mining, frankincense farming, or myrrh cultivation. They had other things to do, other stars to follow. For Christians, and for men of goodwill categorically, this is an important question: Feed my sheep, saith the Lord — okay: Feed ’em what? Some of the Apostles were said to have the gift of healing through the laying on of hands; those without such gifts still have an obligation to heal the sick (if the ACLU will allow it), which means building hospitals and clinics, equipping doctors and nurses, etc. With what?

If ye had but faith in the measure of a mustard seed . . . and if the mustard-seed approach does not work, and the mountains we command to be uprooted remain stubbornly in place, then we are back to the old-fashioned problems of human existence: scarcity and production. That is what is so maddening about Pope Francis’s recent apostolic exhortation — which is, as much as my fellow Catholics try to explain it away, a problematic document in many ways. The pope’s argument, fundamentally, is that we can have capitalism on the condition that we feed the poor. This is exactly backward: We can feed the poor if we have capitalism. To give away wealth presumes the existence of that wealth, whether it is an annual tithe or Jesus’ more radical stance of giving away all that one owns. Giving away all that you own does not do the poor an iota of good if you don’t have anything. You can’t spread the wealth without wealth.

Conservatives sometimes protest that the Left presents government as though it were Santa Claus, but Santa Claus, bless him, is a producer. He has a factory up there at the North Pole, full of highly skilled (and possibly undercompensated) labor. He has logistics problems — serious ones. He has production deadlines. The entire point of the Santa Claus myth — at least the animated Christmas-special God Bless America version of that myth — is that those toys aren’t going to make themselves, and they aren’t going to deliver themselves. Government cannot do the work of a captain of industry such as Santa Claus, because government creates nothing. More to the point, government cannot satisfy Jesus’ command that we feed the poor — it produces no food. It has no wealth of its own.

Government isn’t Santa. It’s the Grinch.

Think about it: The redistributionist impulse is driven by envy and bitterness. It is an economic position held, not accidentally, most strongly by people who cringe at the sight of a manger scene — by people who resent and suspect the very word “Christmas.” The redistributors are the people culturally inclined to abolishing Christmas from the public sphere, who will spend the solstice wailing in angst if a public-school choir should so much as hum “Away in a Manger,” never mind singing the verboten words “Little Lord Jesus.” And, in the Grinchiest fashion, they want to take your stuff.

Does anybody really need that many Christmas presents? Is it not the case that, at a certain point, you have enough in your stocking? And who among them has the honesty of Hillary Clinton, who once proclaims that it’s necessary to take things away from us in order to achieve her vision of a better world. If you strap reindeer antlers to your dog while sharing those sentiments, you’re a Seussian villain. Strap donkey ears to yourself while endorsing the same view and you’re the president of these United States.

There is little, if any, virtue in giving gifts to the people we love. Giving gifts to those we love is like giving gifts to ourselves. There is still less virtue in taking what’s under somebody else’s Christmas tree and distributing it to your friends and allies while congratulating yourself on your compassion. To do so is unseemly. Pope Francis is quite right to argue that economic growth alone does not ensure the humane treatment of the poor and the vulnerable — where he is mistaken is that he assumes that there is another side in that argument. Nowhere in the classical liberal tradition, and certainly not in the Anglo-American liberal tradition, has the idea taken root that capitalism is a substitute for generosity. Capitalism is the precondition of generosity. If you want to feed the Lord’s sheep, you must begin by planting the fields.
3925  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Randomized clinical trials in Economics on: December 27, 2013, 11:01:48 AM
...the poor’s own decisions matter much more than was once thought. Even the poorest of the poor have tiny amounts of discretionary cash and their decisions about what to spend it on (bednets, for example) make a huge difference to development. This view of the poor is at odds with the one espoused by “Big Push” economists, such as Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, who argue that people are stuck in poverty, can do little for themselves and that development should therefore consist of providing the poor with benefits—like irrigation, roads and hospitals—that spring the poverty trap. But it is also at odds with critics of Big Push thinking. J-PAL’s trials show not only that the poor’s decisions are important but that they are sometimes bad (for example, their underinvestment in health). Critics of the Big Push, such as William Easterly of New York University, say the best way to help the poor is to stand back and stop messing up their lives. In contrast, J-PAL’s trials imply that there is a role for outsiders to improve the decision-making of the poor by, say, improving information or incentives.
...

There is an old axiom that poor people have poor ways.  In a wealthy society like America where opportunity abounds, there is truth in that.  In a truly poor society, there may be no individual path out.  That is where charity and outside help can do the most good IMHO, not in places where we are already rewarding and reinforcing poor choices.
3926  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Government Isn't Santa, It's The Grinch on: December 27, 2013, 10:49:21 AM
Important and thoughtful piece IMHO by Kevin Williamson at National Review:

Government Isn’t Santa

Capitalism is the precondition of generosity.

By Kevin D. Williamson       December 24, 2013 4:00 AM
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/367018/government-isnt-santa-kevin-d-williamson



There were three wise men, bearing gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Much has been written about the mystical connotations of those gifts, but it is rarely, if ever, asked: Where did they get them?

Presumably, Balthazar, Melchior, and Caspar were not engaged in gold mining, frankincense farming, or myrrh cultivation. They had other things to do, other stars to follow. For Christians, and for men of goodwill categorically, this is an important question: Feed my sheep, saith the Lord — okay: Feed ’em what? Some of the Apostles were said to have the gift of healing through the laying on of hands; those without such gifts still have an obligation to heal the sick (if the ACLU will allow it), which means building hospitals and clinics, equipping doctors and nurses, etc. With what?

If ye had but faith in the measure of a mustard seed . . . and if the mustard-seed approach does not work, and the mountains we command to be uprooted remain stubbornly in place, then we are back to the old-fashioned problems of human existence: scarcity and production. That is what is so maddening about Pope Francis’s recent apostolic exhortation — which is, as much as my fellow Catholics try to explain it away, a problematic document in many ways. The pope’s argument, fundamentally, is that we can have capitalism on the condition that we feed the poor. This is exactly backward: We can feed the poor if we have capitalism. To give away wealth presumes the existence of that wealth, whether it is an annual tithe or Jesus’ more radical stance of giving away all that one owns. Giving away all that you own does not do the poor an iota of good if you don’t have anything. You can’t spread the wealth without wealth.

Conservatives sometimes protest that the Left presents government as though it were Santa Claus, but Santa Claus, bless him, is a producer. He has a factory up there at the North Pole, full of highly skilled (and possibly undercompensated) labor. He has logistics problems — serious ones. He has production deadlines. The entire point of the Santa Claus myth — at least the animated Christmas-special God Bless America version of that myth — is that those toys aren’t going to make themselves, and they aren’t going to deliver themselves. Government cannot do the work of a captain of industry such as Santa Claus, because government creates nothing. More to the point, government cannot satisfy Jesus’ command that we feed the poor — it produces no food. It has no wealth of its own.

Government isn’t Santa. It’s the Grinch.

Think about it: The redistributionist impulse is driven by envy and bitterness. It is an economic position held, not accidentally, most strongly by people who cringe at the sight of a manger scene — by people who resent and suspect the very word “Christmas.” The redistributors are the people culturally inclined to abolishing Christmas from the public sphere, who will spend the solstice wailing in angst if a public-school choir should so much as hum “Away in a Manger,” never mind singing the verboten words “Little Lord Jesus.” And, in the Grinchiest fashion, they want to take your stuff.

Does anybody really need that many Christmas presents? Is it not the case that, at a certain point, you have enough in your stocking? And who among them has the honesty of Hillary Clinton, who once proclaims that it’s necessary to take things away from us in order to achieve her vision of a better world. If you strap reindeer antlers to your dog while sharing those sentiments, you’re a Seussian villain. Strap donkey ears to yourself while endorsing the same view and you’re the president of these United States.

There is little, if any, virtue in giving gifts to the people we love. Giving gifts to those we love is like giving gifts to ourselves. There is still less virtue in taking what’s under somebody else’s Christmas tree and distributing it to your friends and allies while congratulating yourself on your compassion. To do so is unseemly. Pope Francis is quite right to argue that economic growth alone does not ensure the humane treatment of the poor and the vulnerable — where he is mistaken is that he assumes that there is another side in that argument. Nowhere in the classical liberal tradition, and certainly not in the Anglo-American liberal tradition, has the idea taken root that capitalism is a substitute for generosity. Capitalism is the precondition of generosity. If you want to feed the Lord’s sheep, you must begin by planting the fields.

— Kevin D. Williamson is roving correspondent for National Review.
3927  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What to Do When ObamaCare Unravels on: December 26, 2013, 10:56:37 AM
One school of thought says, do not interrupt when opponents are making fools of themselves.  But silence on a real solution to the current healthcare trainwreck will most certainly leave us with a worse sequel.  What is the right way forward?  Find it and demand it.  WSJ today:

What to Do When ObamaCare Unravels

Health insurance should be individual, portable across jobs, states and providers, and lifelong and renewable.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304866904579265932490593594?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

The unraveling of the Affordable Care Act presents a historic opportunity for change. Its proponents call it "settled law," but as Prohibition taught us, not even a constitutional amendment is settled law—if it is dysfunctional enough, and if Americans can see a clear alternative.

This fall's website fiasco and policy cancellations are only the beginning. Next spring the individual mandate is likely to unravel when we see how sick the people are who signed up on exchanges, and if our government really is going to penalize voters for not buying health insurance. The employer mandate and "accountable care organizations" will take their turns in the news. There will be scandals. There will be fraud. This will go on for years.

Yet opponents should not sit back and revel in dysfunction. The Affordable Care Act was enacted in response to genuine problems. Without a clear alternative, we will simply patch more, subsidize more, and ignore frauds and scandals, as we do in Medicare and other programs.

There is an alternative. A much freer market in health care and health insurance can work, can deliver high quality, technically innovative care at much lower cost, and solve the pathologies of the pre-existing system.

The U.S. health-care market is dysfunctional. Obscure prices and $500 Band-Aids are legendary. The reason is simple: Health care and health insurance are strongly protected from competition. There are explicit barriers to entry, for example the laws in many states that require a "certificate of need" before one can build a new hospital. Regulatory compliance costs, approvals, nonprofit status, restrictions on foreign doctors and nurses, limits on medical residencies, and many more barriers keep prices up and competitors out. Hospitals whose main clients are uncompetitive insurers and the government cannot innovate and provide efficient cash service.

We need to permit the Southwest Airlines, LUV -0.16% Wal-Mart, WMT +0.21% Amazon.com AMZN +0.55% and Apples of the world to bring to health care the same dramatic improvements in price, quality, variety, technology and efficiency that they brought to air travel, retail and electronics. We'll know we are there when prices are on hospital websites, cash customers get discounts, and new hospitals and insurers swamp your inbox with attractive offers and great service.

The Affordable Care Act bets instead that more regulation, price controls, effectiveness panels, and "accountable care" organizations will force efficiency, innovation, quality and service from the top down. Has this ever worked? Did we get smartphones by government pressure on the 1960s AT&T T +0.03% phone monopoly? Did effectiveness panels force United Airlines and American Airlines to cut costs, and push TWA and Pan Am out of business? Did the post office invent FedEx, FDX +0.79% UPS and email? How about public schools or the last 20 or more health-care "cost control" ideas?

Only deregulation can unleash competition. And only disruptive competition, where new businesses drive out old ones, will bring efficiency, lower costs and innovation.

Health insurance should be individual, portable across jobs, states and providers; lifelong and guaranteed-renewable, meaning you have the right to continue with no unexpected increase in premiums if you get sick. Insurance should protect wealth against large, unforeseen, necessary expenses, rather than be a wildly inefficient payment plan for routine expenses.

People want to buy this insurance, and companies want to sell it. It would be far cheaper, and would solve the pre-existing conditions problem. We do not have such health insurance only because it was regulated out of existence. Businesses cannot establish or contribute to portable individual policies, or employees would have to pay taxes. So businesses only offer group plans. Knowing they will abandon individual insurance when they get a job, and without cross-state portability, there is little reason for young people to invest in lifelong, portable health insurance. Mandated coverage, pressure against full risk rating, and a dysfunctional cash market did the rest.

Rather than a mandate for employer-based groups, we should transition to fully individual-based health insurance. Allow national individual insurance offered and sold to anyone, anywhere, without the tangled mess of state mandates and regulations. Allow employers to contribute to individual insurance at least on an even basis with group plans. Current group plans can convert to individual plans, at once or as people leave. Since all members in a group convert, there is no adverse selection of sicker people.

ObamaCare defenders say we must suffer the dysfunction and patch the law, because there is no alternative. They are wrong. On Nov. 2, for example, New York Times NYT +1.40% columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote movingly about his friend who lost employer-based insurance and died of colon cancer. Mr. Kristof concluded, "This is why we need Obamacare." No, this is why we need individual, portable, guaranteed-renewable, inexpensive, catastrophic-coverage insurance.

On Nov. 15, MIT's Jonathan Gruber, an ObamaCare architect, argued on Realclearpolitics that "we currently have a highly discriminatory system where if you're sick, if you've been sick or you're going to get sick, you cannot get health insurance." We do. He concluded that the Affordable Care Act is "the only way to end that discriminatory system." It is not.

On Dec. 3, President Obama himself said that "the only alternative that Obamacare's critics have, is, well, let's just go back to the status quo." Not so.

What about the homeless guy who has a heart attack? Yes, there must be private and government-provided charity care for the very poor. What if people don't get enough checkups? Send them vouchers. To solve these problems we do not need a federal takeover of health care and insurance for you, me, and every American.

No other country has a free health market, you may object. The rest of the world is closer to single payer, and spends less.

Sure. We can have a single government-run airline too. We can ban FedEx and UPS, and have a single-payer post office. We can have government-run telephones and TV. Thirty years ago every other country had all of these, and worthies said that markets couldn't work for travel, package delivery, the "natural monopoly" of telephones and TV. Until we tried it. That the rest of the world spends less just shows how dysfunctional our current system is, not how a free market would work.

While economically straightforward, liberalization is always politically hard. Innovation and cost reduction require new businesses to displace familiar, well-connected incumbents. Protected businesses spawn "good jobs" for protected workers, dues for their unions, easy lives for their managers, political support for their regulators and politicians, and cushy jobs for health-policy wonks. Protection from competition allows private insurance to cross-subsidize Medicare, Medicaid, and emergency rooms.

But it can happen. The first step is, the American public must understand that there is an alternative. Stand up and demand it.

Mr. Cochrane is a professor of finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, a senior fellow of the Hoover institution, and an adjunct scholar of the Cato institute.
3928  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Christmas Music: St. Olaf Christmas Festival on: December 26, 2013, 10:27:55 AM
Audio link, 6 minute intro, 2 hour broadcast, beautiful music with a little narration, PBS national broadcast:

http://americanpublicmedia.publicradio.org/www_publicradio/tools/media_player/popup.php?name=minnesota/classical/features/2012/12/17/st_olaf_christmas_festival_20121217_128

101 year music tradition at my daughter's college, this was my first time attending.   Full symphony with 5 choirs, 600 students performing on a campus of less than 3200.

http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2013/11/12/st-olaf-christmas-festival
3929  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Merry Christmas! on: December 24, 2013, 11:01:33 AM
Yes, it was once a religious celebration more than a retail event.  Merry Christmas everyone.  I hope that Christmas offers a moment of family time, good tidings and cheer for those here of all faiths!
3930  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / NY Times: Obamacare takes the marginal tax rate above 100% for some Americans on: December 24, 2013, 10:35:42 AM
Doug and Ginger Chapman with their son Charlie Galanes, 11. They are looking for new coverage after their plan was canceled.
The cheapest insurance plan they can find through the new federal marketplace in New Hampshire will cost their family of four about $1,000 a month, 12 percent of their annual income of around $100,000 and more than they have ever paid before.

Even more striking, for the Chapmans, is this fact: If they made just a few thousand dollars less a year — below $94,200 — their costs would be cut in half, because a family like theirs could qualify for federal subsidies.
...
 Christian Johnsen, a bakery owner who lives with his wife and two children in Big Sky, Mont., and has an income of about $88,000, will probably be eligible for subsidies next year. As a result, the family could buy a midlevel insurance plan for about $697 a month.

But if the bakery does better next year, the family could be asked to pay a lot more. Without any subsidy, the same plan would cost $822.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/21/business/new-health-law-frustrates-many-in-middle-class.html?smid=pl-share&_r=0
3931  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / A tapestry of coercions mitigated by random acts of presidential mercy on: December 24, 2013, 10:05:26 AM
George will, back in form:

Obamacare now is a tapestry of coercions mitigated by random acts of presidential mercy

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2013/12/23/george_will_obama_is_a_tapestry_of_coercions_mitigated_by_random_acts_of_presidential_mercy.html

SHANNON BREAM: So we have another delay in signing up for Obamacare. Today was the drop dead deadline. It was December 15th. That got changed to today. Then quietly there's what they’re calling a grace period, George. How do you think this is going to go over?

GEORGE WILL: You used the word quietly and that's exactly it. This is a -- Obamacare now is a tapestry of coercions mitigated by random acts of presidential mercy announced in the most bizarre ways. Months ago, when they announced the suspension of the employer mandate, it was an assistant secretary of the Treasury, of whom there are twelve, posted it on the Treasury website.

Then, when they a few days ago suspended the individual mandate for certain preferred people, that was announced in a letter from Secretary Sebelius to six Democratic senators, as though this law of the United States was their private property.

This change today wasn't even announced. It was sort of discovered by the Washington Post and it was made on the pretext that they're gearing up for an expected surge of traffic. Which is kind of interesting because the one person we know who signed up today, the president, doesn't even get his health care from anything associated with Obamacare.
3932  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obamacare-the-sequel is a nationwide high-risk pool for the middle class on: December 24, 2013, 09:55:21 AM
"Obamacare-the-sequel is  nothing more that “a nationwide high-risk pool for the middle class"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2013/12/23/obama-has-begun-repealing-obamacare/?hpid=z2

For the billions we are spending on a million, at most, people in the exchanges, we could give them their own doctors and unlimited taxi rides to free appointments.

the goal in 2014 for Republicans, namely to deal with the middle class hard- to-insure while working on the “affordable” part of the equation for others who have or had insurance (before Obamacare took it away)

 - Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post
3933  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Congress: Sen. Jeff Sessions speaks out on the nuclear, Harry Reid Senate on: December 23, 2013, 12:08:50 PM
If you would like to hear a conservative Senator speak out on what has happened in the Senate, please listen to this interview.  Go to about 28:50 for the introduction and interview conducted by John Hinderacker of Powerline Blog.  They cover the Murray-Ryan budget, amendments blocking, supporting illegal aliens over veterans and the rule changes.  Go to 44:50 for the part on Senate rules.

http://media.ricochet.com/hinderaker-ward-experience-episode-61.mp3  (Commercial-free radio program)

It takes a 3/5ths majority to cut off debate.  Rule 22.  It takes 2/3rds majority to change the rules of the Senate.  The Senate changed the rules with a simple majority.  The Parliamentarian ruled against them and then by simple majority they reversed the ruling of the parliamentarian.

Sen. Carl Levin D-Mich:If the rules can be changed by simple majority, there are no rules - simply majority rule.  Cloture and filibuster used to slow down that process and give some power to the minority.

What will R's do if they take back the majority?  I would hope they reverse some policy damage before restoring traditional rules.
3934  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Cognitive Dissonance of... conservatives, on: December 23, 2013, 10:14:02 AM
I call him an independent,  but he is most often conservative - and brilliant.  A rare instance of George Will getting it wrong:  

Scott Johnson, writing at Powerline:

"I don’t think George Will has ever written a more infuriating column than the one he wrote commending Obama’s Geneva deal with Iran. Why infuriating? Will saves himself the trouble of arguing the premise of his column — that Iran can be “contained” (or deterred) like the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Will saves himself the trouble of arguing it by simply assuming it."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/george-f-will-better-a-contained-iran-than-an-all-out-war/2013/12/04/e4dcb1aa-5c4b-11e3-95c2-13623eb2b0e1_story.html

Norman Pohoretz doesn't name names but writes:

"Adherents of the new consensus would have us believe that only two choices remain: a war to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons or containment of a nuclear Iran—with containment the only responsible option. Yet as an unregenerate upholder of the old consensus, I remain convinced that containment is impossible, from which it follows that the two choices before us are not war vs. containment but a conventional war now or a nuclear war later."
3935  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, stock market: Margin Debt Hits Yet Another New High on: December 23, 2013, 10:00:46 AM
Margin Debt Hits Yet Another New High
http://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2013/12/23/margin-debt-hits-yet-another-new-high/?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LatestHeadlines,

Last month, investors borrowed $423.7 billion against their portfolios, exceeding October’s record of $412.4 billion

Margin-debt levels rose 2.7% from the prior month. The gain coincided with the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s 3.5%.

Rising levels of margin debt are generally seen as a measure of investor confidence
-------------------------------

I wonder what would be considered synonyms for confidence in something you don't really know or have any control over...
idiocy, foolhardiness?

Interesting also that this falls into the category of unintended consequences for artificially and absurdly low interest rates.  What could possibly go wrong?
3936  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics: Obama's Misguided Obsession With Inequality on: December 23, 2013, 09:51:28 AM
Good to see the WSJ pick up on our discussion here.   Presidential sidenote, the author writingi with impressive economic clarity  is a Chris Christie adviser.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303773704579269990020773098?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

Obama's Misguided Obsession With Inequality
He uses statistics that ignore taxes and transfer payments. Faster growth is what the poor really need.

By Robert E. Grady
Dec. 22, 2013 6:07 p.m. ET

In his widely noted speech, President Obama said that "a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility" is "the defining challenge of our time." This belief makes Mr. Obama unique: Unlike the other presidents since World War II, he places inequality above economic growth as the organizing principle of U.S. economic policy. The president's Dec. 4 speech, at an event hosted by the Center for American Progress, also stressed that increasing inequality is a "decades-long trend"—which carries with it the strong implication that the country needs to reverse the direction it has taken for the last three decades. But like so many of his other pronouncements, the assumptions behind his defining challenge are misleading.
Enlarge Image

President Obama at an event hosted by the Center for American Progress, Dec. 4. Reuters

Virtually all of the data cited by the left to decry the supposed explosion of income inequality, as Lee Ohanian and Kip Hagopian point out in their seminal paper, "The Mismeasure of Inequality" (Policy Review, 2011), use a Census Bureau definition of "money income" that excludes taxes, transfer payments like Medicaid, Medicare, nutrition assistance, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and even costly employee benefits such as health insurance.

Thus the data that is conventionally used to calculate the so-called Gini coefficient—the most commonly used measure of income inequality—ignore America's highly progressive income tax system and the panoply of benefits and transfer payments. According to Messrs. Ohanian and Hagopian, once the effect of taxes and transfer payments is taken into account, "inequality actually declined 1.8% during the 16-year period between 1993 and 2009, when the Gini coefficient dropped from .395 to .388."

In his speech, Mr. Obama cited a recent study from economists at Columbia University that found that already enacted benefits and tax programs have reduced America's effective poverty rate by 40% since 1967—to 16% from 26%. But he ignores all this when he claims that inequality is increasing.

The Columbia study shows that Messrs. Ohanian and Hagopian's research is hardly an outlier. The Congressional Budget Office released a study that came to a similar conclusion in October 2011. The CBO study picked an artificial starting point of 1979, amid a crushing period of stagflation. Yet it still showed that family income, including benefits, on average experienced a 62% gain above inflation from 1979 to 2007. It also showed that all five quintiles of the income distribution spectrum experienced real gains in family income.

The CBO study contradicts Mr. Obama's claims in the 2008 presidential campaign and early in his first term that the middle class was "falling behind." The real concern is that some people were getting too far ahead.

With respect to upward mobility, longitudinal studies conducted by the U.S. Treasury have found that there was "considerable income mobility" in the decades 1987-1996 and 1996-2005. For example, roughly half of those in the bottom income quintile in 1996 had moved to a higher quintile by 2005. The "median incomes of those initially in the lowest income groups increased more in percentage terms than the median incomes of those in the higher income groups" in that decade, while the real incomes of two-thirds of all taxpayers experienced an increase.

Here is the bottom line: In periods of high economic growth, such as the 1980s and 1990s, the vast majority of Americans gain, and have the opportunity to gain. In periods of slow growth, such as the past four and a half years since the recession officially ended, poor people and the middle class are hurt the most, and opportunity is curbed.

Consider the Census Bureau data, which measure only money income. The data show that median family income adjusted for inflation has not been on a steady or stagnating path since the 1970s. It fell, in real terms, by 5.7% from 1974-1982, when slow growth and high inflation ravaged the average family. Tellingly, in this period, real income fell for the bottom four quintiles, but held steady for the top 20%.

From 1983 to 2007, however, median family income grew substantially—by 21.6% above inflation—and real income grew for all five quintiles. Then, beginning in 2008, real income plunged again, both for the median family and for all quintiles.

The point is this: If the goal is to deliver higher incomes and a better standard of living for the majority of Americans, then generating economic growth—not income inequality or the redistribution of wealth—is the defining challenge of our time.

Regarding growth, Mr. Obama claimed in his speech that we should use some money "to create good jobs rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our airports, and all the infrastructure our businesses need." Yet a recent analysis by BCA Research shows a sharp drop in real spending by the government on nondefense infrastructure since the president took office. When a Democratic Congress passed the president's massive $800 billion stimulus bill, seven-eighths of the total went to transfer payments like Medicaid, food stamps and sending a check to millions of Americans who do not pay income taxes.

The president claims to be concerned about spurring private investment. But investors at home and abroad can readily see that his steadfast refusal to reform the country's entitlement programs threatens spending on physical infrastructure, education, university research and other items that will contribute to the future productivity of the United States. That same unrestrained entitlement growth, and the debt that comes with it, will ultimately compromise the value of dollar-denominated assets. Public companies have trillions of dollars of cash to invest sitting on their balance sheets, but the Obama economy's growth record is weak, and insufficient to attract capital investment.

Straining credulity, Mr. Obama also pointed in his income inequality speech to the Affordable Care Act as one of his initiatives to improve the economy, despite clear evidence that the law's employer mandate is discouraging full-time employment. For most of this year, the overwhelming majority of jobs added to the U.S. economy have been part-time, not full-time. Gallup's payroll-to-population ratio, the proportion of the American population working full time, has dropped almost two full percentage points in the last year, to 43.8%.

Mr. Obama said in his speech that "making sure our economy works for every working American" is what "drives everything I do in this office." Accomplishing this worthy goal requires growth, not redistribution.

Mr. Grady, a managing director at the private-equity firm Cheyenne Capital Fund, is the chief economic adviser to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and chairman of the New Jersey State Investment Council.
3937  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Winston Churchill's famous distinction between the Left and Right on: December 22, 2013, 03:53:11 PM
Winston Churchill's famous distinction between the Left and Right —

"The left favors the line of dependency while the right favors the ladder of opportunity."

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/06/27/the_end_of_the_american_dream_119003.html
http://www.americanexperiment.org/publications/newsletters/thinking-minnesota-fall-2013
3938  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Scott Grannis and friends: on: December 21, 2013, 02:58:57 PM
Scott's answer:  ... "Housing starts absolutely collapsed beginning in 2006, and home prices fell by 35-40%. How much more devastation would you have expected from a supposedly free market?"

It was not a free market or neutral Fed that led to the over-supply of housing in 2006.  It was a government distorted market and a Fed flood of 'liquidity' that set the table for the disaster that ensued.  It is not devastation to have assets consistently valued at undistorted market value.

SG: "Wall Street is playing with its own and investors' money these days. That's a free market. Whether they are right or not is anybody's guess. If they have manipulated the housing market too high, they will get crushed, because it's not easy to sell sell thousands and thousands of houses quickly or cheaply. Nobody is subsidizing this foray into institutional ownership of the housing stock."

1) The Fed is distorting the free market choice between equities and interest bearing investments, which is bidding up the share price of existing companies at the detriment of other choices, including moving people from safety to risk. 

2) The Fed is enabling and subsiding the irresponsible fiscal policies and the big government scale in Washington.  The Fed issues bonds to cover excess spending without having to find willing, free market buyers for all the bonds.  Without monetary cover from the Federal Reserve, the excesses of Washington spending on this scale would not be happening!  6 of the 10 'richest counties in America are in the DC area.  What is the industry driving that and who is underwriting it? 

3) The large players operate in an environment where both the institutions and the individuals running them receive the benefits on the upside but have faced little or no consequence for their failures.  (cf. Citigroup, AIG, Goldman Sachs, General Motors, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Morgan Stanley, US Bank... http://projects.propublica.org/bailout/list)  Hardly a free market.  They will not be bailed out again?  Why would they think that??

"It will be very interesting to see how it plays out."

Or tragic. 
3939  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues, Huffington Post on: December 21, 2013, 01:50:02 PM
From Privacy thread:
I know that it is a mistake to link to the HuffPo, but I think might interest some of you. It is a talk given in March:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-murrie/what-if-technology-has-killed_b_3679320.html

I know you were chided for posting from Huffington Post.  I want to say I disagree.  I enjoy the freedom to post from right wing sources and hope to not have content dismissed just for that reason.  I want to know opposing perspectives and Huffington Post is more than a left wing source.  BD's posts are always well marked for source.  I appreciate that he reads and posts very interesting material from places that others like me would otherwise miss. 

This format makes it easy to rip back on the bias, accuracy or validity of any story and I plan to keep doing that, but hopefully not dismiss without considering the merits.
3940  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Homeland Security, Border Protection, and American Freedom on: December 21, 2013, 12:53:55 PM
"He has recurring theme that boils down to this: why has NASA funding been cut? There are enough meteors that come close to Earth, including some that serve to be wicked surprises that diminishing space travel and related themes could spell the demise of mankind."

I have been skeptical of NASA and space spending, but this point is a good answer as to why public investment of this kind may be well-justified.  If true, it is one more reason why we should not settle for economic policies that leave us broke, stagnant and mostly unemployed.  These programs and capabilities are expensive!
3941  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar: Deflation continued on: December 21, 2013, 12:45:17 PM
A couple of follow up points on deflation:

Even if the fear of deflation is unfounded, that fear is the stated reason the the Fed's inflation target is 2% instead of zero.  The Fed knows how to move the policy levers up or down a little bit at 2% inflation, but not when inflation hits zero or goes negative.  Where do you go with interest rates after you hit zero?  Negative interest rates?  You can pay people to hold free money but they don't have to invest it in the economy to make money.

Because we have permanent inflation with a long term CPI trend line at 2.4%, not zero, and an inflation target going forward of 2%, not zero, a dollar in the future is worth less than a dollar today.  The only possible exception is a worse outcome: a deep, prolonged economic depression.

Coincidentally we are a massive debtor nation with the power to devalue our debt by devaluing our currency.  We use devalued future dollars to pay today's unpaid bills.  (BLS inflation calculator: http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl)  If we really had to borrow all of our revenue shortfall, rather than print most of it (issue "excess reserves"), lenders would charge for that loss and the cost of our debt would be prohibitive.

Stated more directly, the current fiscal and monetary path is unsustainable and everyone knows it.
3942  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Money: Why low inflation? on: December 20, 2013, 10:06:34 AM
"a) We here have vociferously predicted inflation.  Why have we been so wrong?"

Scott Grannis: "Why then has U.S. inflation remained low and slowed of late if the Fed is doing all it can to keep interest rates low? I fleshed out the answer to this question in a post earlier this month: it's because we have been experiencing the most risk-averse recovery ever. Risk aversion and a general lack of confidence have translated into very strong demand for money and bank reserves." From that previous post: "The recovery from the recent Great Recession has been the weakest ever, and that may have a lot to do with the fact that this has also been the most risk-averse recovery ever. Households have deleveraged like never before; the world has stocked up on cash and cash equivalents like never before; banks have accumulated massive amounts of excess reserves; and business investment has been weak"

And demand for money and bank reserves, is the opposite of new investment and demand for goods and services. 

Stagnation with inflation is possible, see Jimmy Carter, but generally a slow moving, stagnant economy (with money on the sidelines) does not bid up prices. 

Risk aversion means an investment stall.  Bidding up the price of existing companies is not investment IMO, building new plants and starting real new companies is.  This economy lacks energy, velocity, investment and demand, along with lacking employment and economic growth.

Today banks hold a whopping $2.5 trillion in excess reserves, according to former Fed Governor Alan Binder, WSJ, which means that money is on the sidelines, not chasing goods and services.

It seems that the trillions in quantitative expansion are neither stimulating the economy nor driving up current price levels because that money is on the sidelines. 

Grannis introduces his first with this: "Let's begin by taking a look at inflation in the U.S. as measured by the Consumer Price Index."  and that chart shows a trend line of 2.4% annual price increases, actually a little lower of late.  But CPI does not directly measure inflation IMHO, it is an indicator or symptom of inflation which is strictly a monetary phenomenon.  In this case, CPI measures the effect of the money in circulation, but not the future effect of trillions accumulating in reserve that could enter circulation.

The problem with our economy today is not a lack of liquidity (money) and so the solution was not an injection of money.  The problems are overly-burdensome taxes, regulations and uncertainty, along with many other screwed up disincentives to produce, none of which are addressed by the Feds flailing attempt the second of its two mandates - stimulating employment.  (Meanwhile we are implementing the largest anti-employment act in our nation's history.)

The question (in my mind) is not why haven't price levels gone through the roof in a stagnant economy, but what will price levels do if things ever get rolling again, and multiples of those multiples of trillions come into circulation via the banking system.

Luckily nothing on the horizon looks like a robust economy headed our way and none of our underlying problems are even beginning to be addressed.
3943  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Banking, Monetary Policy, Dollar & other currencies, Gold/Silver on: December 19, 2013, 11:36:19 PM
Crafty, 12/18/13:
...
b) What the hell is wrong with deflation?
c) How did this piece wind up on the front page of the WSJ?
[low inflation is a problem??]

1.  See your post in Economics, (Wesbury then making Scott Grannis' point now): 7/1/13:http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=1023.msg73491#msg73491

2. Deflation tends to be self sustaining: hard to snap out of, limited policy options available to address it.  From the WSJ article:  "Central bankers worry about inflation falling too low because it raises the risk of deflation, or generally falling prices, a phenomenon that is difficult to combat through monetary policy. Some economists believe weak or falling prices can lead consumers to delay major purchases, exacerbating an economic slowdown. Even without deflation, very low inflation can be a sign of weak demand that weighs on wages, corporate profits and growth."

3. Deflation is associated with lack of velocity (MV=PQ) see link in point 1) and is associated with economic depression.  It is feared by central bankers; easier to avoid in the first place than to get out of once in it.
--------------
From the San Francisco Fed, quoting MIT and economic textbooks:
http://www.frbsf.org/education/publications/doctor-econ/1999/september/deflation-disinflation-causes

What is deflation and how is it different from disinflation?

September 1999

The MIT Dictionary of Modern Economics defines deflation as “A sustained fall in the general price level.”1 Deflation represents the opposite of inflation, which is defined as an increase in the overall price level over a period of time. In contrast, disinflation, represents a period when the inflation rate is positive, but declining over time.

Deflation, inflation, and disinflation represent different behavior of the price level. The price level is commonly measured using either a Gross Domestic Product Deflator (GDP Deflator) or a Consumer Price Index (CPI) indicator. The GDP Deflator is a broad index of inflation in the economy; the CPI Index measures changes in the price level of a broad basket of consumer products. The Chart shows the monthly percentage change in the CPI (all urban consumers, all items) over the prior 12-month period, and includes periods of deflation, inflation, and disinflation in consumer prices.

 

Two brief periods, the first from approximately mid-1949 to mid-1950, and the second, approximately from the fall of 1954 to the summer of 1955, shown in Chart, indicate brief periods of deflation in the consumer price index. Other than these two brief periods, the CPI Index shows inflation in consumer prices over nearly the entire 1947 to 1999 period. The period from mid-1980 to mid-1983 indicates a period of disinflation, a period when the rate of inflation was declining from month to month.

Periods of deflation typically are associated with downturns in the economy. The two temporary periods of deflation corresponded to recessions in the U.S. economy. However, periods of deflation need not be as short as these two brief episodes in the 1950s. During the Great Depression of the 1930s the nation experienced a long period of deflation. As noted by Samuelson and Nordhaus (1998), “Sustained deflations, in which prices fall steadily over a period of several years, are associated with depressions, such as occurred in the 1930s or the 1890s.”2

References

1. Pearce, David W., editor. The MIT Dictionary of Modern Economics. 1992. MIT University Press.

2. Samuelson, Paul A., and William D. Nordhaus. Economics. 1998. The McGraw-Hill Companies.



3944  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics, Incomes are stagnated? Depends on how we measure! on: December 18, 2013, 09:17:10 AM
Did incomes go up 3% or 37%?  Depends on how you measure - or fail to measure.

From Greg Mankiw's blog, Chariman of the Economics Dept at Harvard

Monday, December 16, 2013
On Measuring Changes in Income
To divert attention from the disastrous rollout of his health reform, President Obama has decided to change the national conversation to discuss increasing inequality.  This phenomenon is not new--the trend started about four decades ago--but it is real and important.  In case you are a new reader of this blog, you can find my personal views on the matter in this paper.

This national conversation has generated renewed attention to the highly influential Piketty-Saez data.  It is worth pointing out, therefore, some limitations of these data, which have been stressed by Cornell economist Richard Burkhauser: The data are on tax units rather than households, they do not include many government transfer payments, they are pre-tax rather than post-tax, they do not adjust for changes in household size, and they do not include nontaxable compensation such as employer-provided health insurance.

Does this matter?  Yes!  Here are some numbers from the Burkhauser paper:

1. From 1979 to 2007, median real income as measured by pre-tax, pre-transfer cash income of tax units rose by only 3.2 percent.  That is a paltry amount for such a long period.  You might conclude that middle class incomes have been stagnant. But wait.

2. Households are more important than tax units.  Two married people are one tax unit, whereas a couple shacked up are two tax units.  We would not want to treat the movement from marriage to shacking up as a drop in income.  If we look at households rather than tax units, that meager 3.2 percent rises to a bit more respectable 12.5 percent.

3. Now consider government transfer payments. If we add those in, that 12.5 percent number becomes an even better 15.2 percent.

4. What about taxes? The middle class received some tax cuts during that period.  Factoring taxes in, the 15.2 percent figure rises to 20.2 percent.

5. But not all households are the same size, and the size of households has fallen over time. Adjusting for household size increases that 20.2 percent to 29.3 percent.

6. There is still one thing left: employer-provided health insurance, an important fringe benefit that has grown in importance. Adding an estimate of that into income raises the 29.3 percent figure to 36.7 percent.

So, during this period, has the middle class experienced stagnant real income (a mere 3.2 percent increase) or significant gains (a 36.7 percent increase)?  It depends on which measure of income you look at.  It seems clear to me that the latter measure is more relevant, but the former measure of income often gets more attention than it deserves.

Take this as a cautionary tale.  When people talk about changes in income over time, make sure you know what measure of income they are citing.

http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2013/12/on-measuring-changes-in-income.html
3945  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics, Income inquality, Kevin Williamson on: December 18, 2013, 09:12:53 AM
"Incomes among the bottom half of earners are not stagnating because of increasing inequality; inequality is increasing because incomes among the bottom half of earners is stagnating. "

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/366599/inequality-does-not-matter-kevin-d-williamson
(read it all)
3946  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Ten Biggest Lies of 2013 on: December 18, 2013, 09:00:27 AM

Pretty amazing that even the WashPost confirms Pres Obama is the Liar of the Year.  Mis-speaks by a few lowly Republicans hardly compare.  Michele Bachmann, leaving office, with her facts wrong is hardly news and there was no accompanying bill to slash food stamps by 70%.  We are closing the Vatican embassy, but the out of office Jeb Bush implied false blame.  Lamar Alexander connected two 'unrelated' spending items.  That one could go under 'opinion' check.  NRA said armed guards at Obama's children's school.  If wrong, they are protected by armed guards every other minute of the day.  Hardly a big deal or the basis of a public policy decision.  Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) charged that then- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in April of 2012 “signed” a cable directing a drawdown for security assets for the U.S. Embassy in Libya.  In fact the cable had her signature but the Post says they all do...

Kerry's statement that “I opposed the invasion of Iraq” would be as meaningless as a Michele Bachmann statement - even we had not chosen people like Biden and Kerry for the highest positions in the administration!

The 'keep your policy' doozy was an obvious one, but good for the Post to publish this one by the President:

“The day after Benghazi happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism.”

Hard to believe a journalist wasn't fired over that one.

The day after Benghazi the President gave a speech in Las Vegas ripping Republicans.  He was on-time and looked well-rested!
3947  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Congressional Races: former Sen. Scott Brown moving to New Hampshire on: December 17, 2013, 08:55:51 PM
Scott Brown reportedly has a buyer for his house in Mass.  He already owns one in NH.  Brown will likely continue to work in Boston (unless running for Senate becomes a full time job).  He does not have a license to practice law in NH.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-16/brown-s-move-to-new-hampshire-fuels-talk-of-senate-race.html
3948  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / life of Julia - entering ObamaCare on: December 17, 2013, 08:39:29 PM
http://reallifeofjulia.tumblr.com/
3949  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin, LGBT, "discrimination", & discrimination. on: December 17, 2013, 06:52:09 PM
(GM is so much more succinct! )

If the term marriage has no specific meaning, what is polygamy? 

It wasn't the people of North Dakota who changed the meaning of marriage or changed any laws, and it looks to me like their AG applied the laws properly.  DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act signed by Democrat President Clinton) makes it so that individual states do not legally have to acknowledge the relationships of gay and lesbian couples who were married in another state. Only the section of DOMA that dealt with federal recognition was ruled unconstitutional.  What a tangled web the leftists and enabling jurists weave.

I agree with ccp, "To me the left has simply made a mockery out of marriage". 

The Left adopted LGBT instead of just gay as the oppressed group with the intention of going after acceptance and public endorsement for thems too, with their various, multiple partner arrangements. 

BD, others, are you not sympathetic to the discrimination suffered by mulitple-partner-Americans and their right, just like single partner heteros, to marry whomever they choose?  Have they not suffered in the dark shadows of this country long enough.

Or does what the smartest and most widely traveled Secretary of State in history once shouted regarding Benghazi apply now to marriage:
"AT THIS POINT...WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE??"
3950  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: polygamy on: December 16, 2013, 09:40:27 AM
BTW, what IS the argument against polygamy?

I would argue that children have an unfair circumstance by design under polygamy.  The adults may have consented, but the kids did not.  Society is better off and stronger when we choose a spouse to form a family instead of just keep adding spouses and forming 'families'.  (The NBA is not aware of this rule.)

In this day where anything goes, who are we to judge.   Gay marriage ended of the meaning of marriage (and family) - one man and one woman become one married couple, husband and wife, sometimes becoming a family with one mom, one dad and children.  If we cannot restrict on gender, why limit the numbers.  If it has no meaning, why even keep track or acknowledge marriages.

State references or preferences to marriage are all discriminatory by design - against all unmarrieds, not just against gays and polygamists.  The point of laws allowing the states to sanction marriage of the old type was that this particular discrimination and preference was good for society.  Each person in a free society also had the freedom to not enter a single spouse, opposite gender union with all its recognized advantages.
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