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3901  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Texas not just no. 1 in job growth, wage growth 6th highest in the nation on: August 17, 2011, 04:54:13 PM
This is a pretty good economic analysis of the Texas record addressing some of the accusations made recently against Texas, that it was all government jobs, energy jobs or minimum wage jobs.  This is not specifically about Perry, just analyzes the numbers in his time, particularly during the current downturn.  Too long and full of charts to do in full but here are a few excerpts. http://www.politicalmathblog.com/?p=1590

Texas job growth under Perry:


Population Growth:  Texas isn't just the fastest growing... it's growing over twice as fast as the second fastest state and three times as fast as the third. Given that Texas is...huge, this growth is incredible.

People are flocking to Texas in massive numbers. This is speculative, but it *seems* that people are moving to Texas looking for jobs rather than moving to Texas for a job they already have lined up. This would explain why Texas is adding jobs faster than any other state but still has a relatively high unemployment rate.
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Texas has lots of jobs, but they're mostly low-paying/minimum wage jobs??

Let's look at the data. Here's a link: Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates

Texas median hourly wage is $15.14...  almost exactly in the middle of the pack (28th out of 51 regions). Given that they've seen exceptional job growth (and these other states have not) this does not seem exceptionally low.

But the implication here is that the new jobs in Texas, the jobs that Texas seems to stand alone in creating at such a remarkable pace, are low paying jobs and don't really count.

If this were true, all these new low-paying jobs should be dragging down the wages data, right? But if we look at the wages data since the beginning of the recession...it turns out that the opposite is true. Since the recession started hourly wages in Texas have increased at a 6th fastest pace in the nation.
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Texas is oil country and the recent energy boom is responsible for the incredible jobs increase??

"...take the energy sector completely out of the equation and Texas is still growing faster than any other state."
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Texas has 100,000 unsustainable public sector jobs that inflate the growth numbers??

"...in the last year the Texas public sector lost 31,300 federal employees, trimmed 3,800 state jobs..."

[Those Census jobs of 2010 are already gone and were not unique to Texas.]
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[Final chart] illustrates the effect of population growth on job growth and unemployment numbers, this is what the unemployment rate would be if population numbers had held constant.  The job growth in Texas without figuring in the migration of workers to Texas, a largely positive phenomenon, would make Texas unemployment lowest in the nation at 2.3%.

The author does not support Perry for President but closes with this: "My advice to anti-Perry advocates is this: Give up talking about Texas jobs. Texas is an incredible outlier among the states when it comes to jobs. Not only are they creating them, they're creating ones with higher wages."
3902  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: August 17, 2011, 01:20:17 PM
"Inflation is a clear and present danger and the Fed is behind the curve."

Inflation of the US$ already occurred and Bernancke was the architect.  My 2 cents is that the inflation which was quantitative expansion of the total dollars in circulation that already occurred - big time.  Price increases or what he is calling 'price inflation' are mere symptoms, unavoidable consequences, of the monetary arson that already occurred.  Price increases aren't a danger, they are a certainty - assuming that normal or healthy demand ever returns to the economy.

Can anyone imagine what oil and gas prices alone would be today if not for the nearly 20% stall of idle, productive capacity of labor and capital, and what skyrocketing energy costs will do to all other prices and to our delicate recovery if it ever begins...
3903  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics - Nobel fact check on: August 16, 2011, 09:10:17 PM
"Euro GDP ... increased 0.2 percent" - Q2 2011

Flashback: "...Europe is actually the opposite of what conservatives claim: Europe is an economic success, and that success shows that social democracy works." - Paul Krugman, Jan. 10, 2010
3904  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / The Recession - how bad is it? on: August 16, 2011, 08:39:23 PM
The recession has hit everybody really hard...
(Maybe this could have gone under Economics)

My neighbor got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.

Wives are having sex with their husbands because they can't afford batteries.

CEO's are now playing miniature golf.

Exxon-Mobil laid off 25 Congressmen.

A stripper was killed when her audience showered her with rolls of pennies while she danced.

I saw a Mormon with only one wife.

If the bank returns your check marked "Insufficient Funds," you call them and ask if they meant you or them.

McDonald's is selling the 1/4 ouncer.

Angelina Jolie adopted a child from America.

Parents in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned their children's names.

My cousin had an exorcism but couldn't afford to pay for it, and they re-possessed her!

A truckload of Americans was caught sneaking into Mexico.

A picture is now only worth 200 words.

When Bill and Hillary travel together, they now have to share a room.

The Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas is now managed by Somali pirates.

I was so depressed last night thinking about the debt ceiling, the economy, wars, jobs, my savings, Social Security, retirement funds, etc., I called the Suicide Hotline. I got a call center in Pakistan, and when I told them I was suicidal, they got all excited and asked if I could drive a truck.
3905  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: August 16, 2011, 03:22:16 PM
Thanks Crafty. I didn't mean to post that without the explanation that M2 would not be the widest measure of money supply that Scott G or Brian W would use.  It goes something like this, M-zero is to count up the physical money. M1 is that plus checking accounts, M2 is that plus savings accounts, M3 includes largerr money funds and MZM (money with zero maturity) includes all money market funds.  M2 is going nuts right now means that people are moving resources out of riskier assets  into FDIC insured savings accounts (safe but almost zero yield), at an alarming rate.  Asylum in an insured savings account, like gold, is the opposite of putting your available investment money into risk-based, economy-driving factory constructions or hiring expansions that we so badly need.
3906  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Economics - Copying Europe's economy: 0.2% economic growth on: August 16, 2011, 08:57:16 AM
While the talk on the forum and around the country might be about a Republican contest to try to change direction, the reality in the U.S. is that we are currently on an economic course of largely copying the European economic model and abandoning the American one.  In that light, we should also check in with their results:

Euro Zone Second Quarter GDP Growth Slows to 0.2 Percent
Published: Tuesday, 16 Aug 2011 By: Reuters
     
The Eurostat agency estimated gross domestic product (GDP) for the 17-country euro zone increased 0.2 percent in the three months to end-June from the previous quarter, compared with economists' forecasts of growth of 0.3 percent.
http://www.cnbc.com/id/44154906

That was sharply off the rate of 0.8 percent in the first three months of the year.
3907  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Challenging Krugman's data against Perry on: August 16, 2011, 07:58:23 AM
Kevin Williamson of National Review puts numbers to an argument I was trying to make yesterday back to Paul Krugman disparaging Texas.  If housing costs 4 times more in Brooklyn than in Houston, wouldn't you expect incomes to be close to 4 times higher too?  No, they are slightly lower.

I would add that the only healthcare stat Krugman finds to bolster his case is percentage of people insured.  I prefer comparing survival rates to the terrible things we are most likely to face, to comparing financial schemes.  Uninsured does not mean refused treatment.  Insured rates are highest where it is compulsory so it is as much an indicator of loss of freedoms it is of quality of care.

Unmentioned in both pieces is whether the influx of illegals is Perry's fault or Obama's?
------------------------
Paul Krugman Is Still Wrong about Texas
August 15, 2011
By Kevin D. Williamson
http://www.nationalreview.com/exchequer/274695/paul-krugman-still-wrong-about-texas

Paul Krugman continues his campaign to discredit the economic success of Texas, and, as usual, he is none too particular about the facts. Let’s allow Professor K. to lay out his case:

    [Texas] has, for many decades, had much faster population growth than the rest of America — about twice as fast since 1990. Several factors underlie this rapid population growth: a high birth rate, immigration from Mexico, and inward migration of Americans from other states, who are attracted to Texas by its warm weather and low cost of living, low housing costs in particular.

    . . . But what does population growth have to do with job growth? Well, the high rate of population growth translates into above-average job growth through a couple of channels. Many of the people moving to Texas — retirees in search of warm winters, middle-class Mexicans in search of a safer life — bring purchasing power that leads to greater local employment. At the same time, the rapid growth in the Texas work force keeps wages low — almost 10 percent of Texan workers earn the minimum wage or less, well above the national average — and these low wages give corporations an incentive to move production to the Lone Star State.

What, indeed, does population growth have to do with job growth? Professor Krugman is half correct here — but intentionally only half correct: A booming population leads to growth in jobs. But there is another half to that equation: A booming economy, and the jobs that go with it, leads to population growth. Texas has added millions of people and millions of jobs in the past decade; New York, and many other struggling states, added virtually none of either. And it is not about the weather or other non-economic factors: People are not leaving California for Texas because Houston has a more pleasant climate (try it in August), or leaving New York because of the superior cultural amenities to be found in Nacogdoches and Lubbock. People are moving from the collapsing states into the expanding states because there is work to be had, and opportunity. I’ll set aside, for the moment, these “middle-class Mexicans” immigrating to Texas other than to note that “middle-class” does not broadly comport with the data we have on the economic characteristics of Mexican immigrants. To say the least.

Krugman points out that New York and Massachusetts both have lower unemployment rates than does Texas, and he goes on to parrot the “McJobs” myth: Sure, Texas has lots of jobs, but they’re crappy jobs at low wages. (My summary.) Or, as Professor Krugman puts it, “low wages give corporations an incentive to move production to the Lone Star State.” Are wages low in Texas? There is one question one must always ask when dealing with Paul Krugman’s statements of fact, at least when he’s writing in the New York Times: Is this true? Since he cites New York and Massachusetts, let’s do some comparison shopping between relevant U.S. metros: Harris County (that’s Houston and environs to you), Kings County (Brooklyn), and Suffolk County (Boston).

Houston, like Brooklyn and Boston, is a mixed bag: wealthy enclaves, immigrant communities rich and poor, students, government workers — your usual big urban confluence. In Harris County, the median household income is $50,577. In Brooklyn, it is $42,932, and in Suffolk County (which includes Boston and some nearby communities) it was $53,751. So, Boston has a median household income about 6 percent higher than Houston’s, while Brooklyn’s is about 15 percent lower than Houston’s.

Brooklyn is not the poorest part of New York, by a long shot (the Bronx is), and, looking at those income numbers above, you may think of something Professor Krugman mentions but does not really take properly into account: New York and Boston have a significantly higher cost of living than does Houston, or the rest of Texas. Even though Houston has a higher median income than does Brooklyn, and nearly equals that of Boston, comparing money wages does not tell us anything like the whole story: $50,000 a year in Houston is a very different thing from $50,000 a year in Boston or Brooklyn.

How different? Let’s look at the data: In spite of the fact that Texas did not have a housing crash like the rest of the country, housing remains quite inexpensive there. The typical owner-occupied home in Brooklyn costs well over a half-million dollars. In Suffolk County it’s nearly $400,000. In Houston? A whopping $130,100. Put another way: In Houston, the median household income is 39 percent of the cost of a typical house. In Brooklyn, the median household income is 8 percent of the cost of the median home, and in Boston it’s only 14 percent. When it comes to homeownership, $1 in earnings in Houston is worth a lot more than $1 in Brooklyn or Boston. But even that doesn’t really tell the story, because the typical house in Houston doesn’t look much like the typical house in Brooklyn: Some 64 percent of the homes in Houston are single-family units, i.e., houses. In Brooklyn, 85 percent are multi-family units, i.e. apartments and condos.

Professor Krugman knows that these variables are significant when comparing real standards of living, but he takes scant account of them. That is misleading, and he knows it is misleading.

Likewise, he knows that the rest of the picture is much more complicated than is his claim: “By the way, one in four Texans lacks health insurance, the highest proportion in the nation, thanks largely to the state’s small-government approach.” Is small government really the reason a relatively large number of Texans lack health insurance? Or might there be another explanation?

Houston, as it turns out, is a less white place than Boston (no surprise) and also less white than Brooklyn. All three cities have large foreign-born populations, but Houston is unusual in one regard: It is 41 percent Hispanic, many of those Hispanics are immigrants, and many of those immigrants are illegals. Texas is home to 1.77 million illegal immigrants; New York is home to about one-fourth that number, according to the Department of Homeland Security, and Massachusetts doesn’t make the top-25 list. Despite Professor Krugman’s invocation of “middle-class Mexicans” moving to Texas, the great majority of Mexican and Latin American immigrants to Texas are far from middle class. The fact is that, in the words of a Fed study, “Mexican immigrants are highly occupationally clustered (disproportionately work in distinctive “very low wage” occupations).” Nationally, Hispanic households’ median income is barely more than half that of non-Hispanic whites. And low-wage occupations also tend to be low-benefit occupations, meaning no health insurance. (That is, incidentally, one more good reason to break the link between employment and health insurance.)

Further, some 28 percent of Texans are 18 years old or younger, higher than either New York or Massachusetts. Younger people are more likely to work in low-wage/low-benefit jobs, less likely to have health insurance — and less likely to need it.

The issues of immigration and age also touch on Professor Krugman’s point about the number of minimum-wage workers in Texas vs. other states. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which seems to be his source for this claim, puts the average hourly wage in Texas at 90 percent of the national average, which suggests that wages are not wildly out of line in Texas compared with other states. (And, again, it is important to keep those cost-of-living differences in mind.) In general, I’m skeptical of this particular BLS data, because it is based on questionnaire responses, rather than some firmer source of data such as tax returns. People may not know their actual wages in some cases (you’d be surprised), and in many more cases might not be inclined to tell the truth about it when the government is on the other end of the line.

Interestingly, the BLS results find that, nationwide, the number of people being paid less than minimum wage — i.e., those being paid an illegal wage — was 40 percent higher than those being paid the minimum wage. What sort of workers are likely to earn minimum wage or less than minimum wage? Disproportionately, teenagers and illegal immigrants. You will not be surprised to learn that just as Texas has many times as many illegals as New York or Massachusetts, and it also has significantly more 16-to-19-year-old workers than either state.

Another important fact that escapes Krugman: The fact that a large number of workers make minimum wage, combined with a young and immigrant-heavy population and millions of new jobs, may very well mean that teens and others who otherwise would not be working at all have found employment. That is a sign of economic strength, not of stagnation. New York and Massachusetts would be better off with millions of new minimum-wage workers — if that meant millions fewer unemployed people.

All of this is too obvious for Paul Krugman to have overlooked it. And I expect he didn’t. I believe that he is presenting willfully incomplete and misleading information to the public, and using his academic credentials to prop up his shoddy journalism.

ADDENDUM:

Also, Professor Krugman owes his readers a correction, having written: “almost 10 percent of Texan workers earn the minimum wage or less, well above the national average.” Unless I am mistaken, that is an undeniable factual error: The number of Texas workers earning minimum wage is about half that, just over 5 percent. The number of hourly workers earning minimum wage in Texas is nearly 10 percent, but hourly workers are, in Texas as everywhere, generally paid less than salaries workers. But hourly workers are only about 56 percent of the Texas work force. Can we get a correction, New York Times?
3908  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Fed, Monetary Policy, Inflation, US Dollar & other currencies, & Gold/Silver on: August 15, 2011, 08:44:30 PM
M2 money supply is growing this summer at a rate of $60 billion per week.

Scott Grannis:  "This is a follow up to some posts from last month, in which I noted the surprising jump in M2 growth. As this chart of the M2 measure of money supply shows, it has gone on to experience a gigantic surge in the past seven weeks. M2 has risen almost $420 billion since the week of June 13th, on average almost 60 billion per week. To put this in perspective, annual M2 growth has averaged about 6% per year since 1995, and growth at this rate would translate into about $10 billion per week. In other words, M2 normally would have grown by $10 billion a week, but instead has grown six times faster. M2 has never grown this fast in a seven week period for at least the past 50 years. No matter how you look at it, this is a major event."

3909  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: August 15, 2011, 08:02:36 PM
Translating to the language developed by the incumbent, Gallup is now reporting that President Obama has created or saved nearly 39 approval points.
3910  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 15, 2011, 09:34:45 AM
On Pawlenty's exit: He didn't want to go into debt, he called a conference call with supporters and contributors, withdrew from the race.  He asked his campaign manager if he could borrow his car and he drove his wife and two daughters home to Minnesota.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pawlenty-quits-2012-presidential-race/2011/08/14/gIQAFAyzEJ_story_1.html
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Krugman, "I'd like to encourage us to keep snide reminders of what a terrible economist and raging progressive (a redundancy I know) to a minimum"

 - These grounds rules are very restrictive!   smiley

In a way it reminds me of trying to compare Japan or Sweden of old with the USA, Texas is a very different place than New York, than California, than MN, than DC, than Hawaii etc.  The differences are a reminder of why we don't want centralized economic decisions on everything from wages to industrial policy.  Krugman is mostly just starting the anti-Texas theme.  If a significant portion of the population is comprised of recent immigrants from Mexico, you would logically compare their employment and healthcare status with what they had before, not compare with a 3rd generation Ivy League professor from Cambridge with tenure.  But if you are Krugman, deception is the vehicle - whoops, those damn ground rules.

How do you answer logic that says Americans move into Texas for the weather "inward migration of Americans from other states, who are attracted to Texas by its warm weather" when Dallas just had 40 days over 100 (this is not dry heat!) and he closes with mention to the 'crippling drought'.  Midwesterners and young adults move to Dallas because it is a vibrant city with a vibrant economy.  3M moved divisions and expansions to Austin for a number of reasons, but the defining one was the tax climate opposite of where they were driven from.  Richardson TX and Plano are silicon valleys of their own outside of the tax jurisdiction of Sacramento.

Posted previously: "Between January 2001 and June 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates, Texas’s non-farm employment grew... an increase of 853,400 or 8.9 percent. California simultaneously lost 827,800 jobs. Employment in Texas grew more than in the other 49 states combined."

It seems we always have the harder argument to make, but here it is Krugman swimming fiercely upstream.  He argues - all that Texas job growth, what the rest of the country so desperately needs, is not meaningful or relevant because... why?  By the end of reading the piece once, no memorable answer sticks in my mind, just that Texas isn't that great of a place - to an ivy league northeasterner.  The economy grew jobs because of migration??  Wouldn't every 'real' economist tell you that is ass-backwards.  Migration goes to the jobs - or else to the welfare.

This is a more difficult argument to articulate, but please recall this educational piece from the Iowahawk that applies to economic outcomes and healthcare outcomes just as much as it does to education: 'Longhorns 17, Badgers 1' http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2011/03/longhorns-17-badgers-1.html.  The 50 states have unique situations and demographics. If you are going to compare rural, compare rural.  If you are going to compare urban black, compare urban black, if you want to study Hispanic-American outcomes, compare Hispanic-American outcomes. If you want to compare  college educated white suburbanites (no one does), then do that.  But that is not at all what agenda driven pretend-economists like Krugman ever do, unless it would somehow support his pre-ordained conclusion, that to a New Yorker, Texas is a rotten, rotten place, in his mind, badly in need of more taxes and regulations, against their will, from Washington.
3911  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Budget process: Thomas Sowell very negative on budget deal on: August 14, 2011, 05:18:18 PM
Thomas Sowell, I respect very much, says budget deal is a bad deal, boxes the GOP into a corner. (Pyrrhic is a 'victory' costly to the point of negating or outweighing expected benefits)

A Pyrrhic ‘Victory’

By Thomas Sowell

In Don Marquis' classic satirical book, "Archy and Mehitabel," Mehitabel the alley cat asks plaintively, "What have I done to deserve all these kittens?"

That seems to be the pained reaction of the Obama administration to the financial woes that led to the downgrading of America's credit rating, for the first time in history.

There are people who see no connection between what they have done and the consequences that follow. But Barack Obama is not likely to be one of them. He is a savvy politician who will undoubtedly be satisfied if enough voters fail to see a connection between what he has done and the consequences that followed.

To a remarkable extent, he has succeeded, with the help of his friends in the media and the Republicans' failure to articulate their case. Polls find more people blaming the Republicans for the financial crisis than are blaming the President.

Why was there a financial crisis in the first place? Because of runaway spending that sent the national debt up against the legal limit. But when all the big spending bills were being rushed through Congress, the Democrats had such an overwhelming majority in both houses of Congress that nothing the Republicans could do made the slightest difference.

Yet polls show that many people today are blaming the Republicans for the country's financial problems. But, by the time Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives, and thus became involved in negotiations over raising the national debt ceiling, the spending which caused that crisis in the first place had already been done — and done by Democrats.

Had the Republicans gone along with President Obama's original request for a "clean" bill — one simply raising the debt ceiling without any provisions about controlling federal spending — would that have spared the country the embarrassment of having its government bonds downgraded by Standard & Poor's credit-rating agency?

To believe that would be to believe that it was the debt ceiling, rather than the runaway spending, that made Standard & Poor's think that we were no longer as good a credit risk for buyers of U.S. government bonds. In other words, to believe that is to believe that a Congressional blank check for continued record spending would have made Standard & Poor's think that we were a better credit risk.

If that is true, then why is Standard & Poor's still warning that it might have to downgrade America's credit rating yet again? Is that because of the national debt ceiling or because of the likelihood of continued runaway spending?

The national debt ceiling is just one of the many false assurances that the government gives the voting public. The national debt ceiling has never actually stopped the spending that causes the national debt to rise to the point where it is getting near that ceiling. The ceiling simply gets raised when that happens.

Just a week before the budget deal was made at the eleventh hour, it looked like the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives had scored a victory by getting the President and the Congressional Democrats to give up the idea of raising the tax rates — and to cut spending instead. But now that the details are coming out, that "victory" looks very temporary, if not illusory.

The price of getting that deal has been having the Republicans agree to sitting on a special bipartisan Congressional committee that will either come to an agreement on spending cuts before Thanksgiving or have the budgets of both the Defense Department and Medicare cut drastically.

Since neither side can afford to be blamed for a disaster like that, this virtually guarantees that the Republicans will have to either go along with whatever new spending and taxing that the Democrats demand or risk losing the 2012 election by sharing the blame for another financial disaster.

In short, the Republicans have now been maneuvered into being held responsible for the spending orgy that Democrats alone had the votes to create. Republicans have been had — and so has the country. The recent, short-lived budget deal turns out to be not even a Pyrrhic victory for the Republicans. It has the earmarks of a Pyrrhic defeat.
http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell081011.php3
3912  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 14, 2011, 05:07:19 PM
"We need to not just beat him, we need someone who can start undoing the damage from the first day in office."

That's right.  We better start looking seriously at making a difference in the house and senate too.
3913  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 14, 2011, 10:15:24 AM
"Yeah, the current president will beat him up over that topic ['crony capitalism']".

GM's sarcasm flies over even my highly trained ear sometimes.  Okay, Obama is 100,000 times worse in that category but what part of doubled standard don't people get.  The cheap shot artists in the mainstream and the huffpost/kos type stream and colbert/stewart stream will get plenty of mileage, innuendo and accusations out of it.  Political gifts tied to taxpayer handouts is the gift that just keeps giving - so don't do the handouts!  All the candidates that have actually governed have RINO (non-conservative, unequal treatment under the law) government programs in their past.  I hate that part of this process where our message gets diluted and our criticism gets muted because our people did or expressed support for the same things we are trying to stop. 
3914  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Pawlenty dropping out on: August 14, 2011, 08:58:01 AM
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/08/pawlenty-drops-out.php

I didn't want to say it, but the debate last Thursday was strike two and this isn't baseball where you get 3 swings.

He did a whole lot of things right in his campaign, but he made a few glaring errors that he could not overcome. 
3915  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / 2012 Presidential: Rick Perry's Crony Capitalism Problem on: August 14, 2011, 08:43:02 AM
Of the people who have the background, character, experience and disposition to be a great President, who can 'who can best highlight the contrast between bigger government and smaller government with greater personal freedoms etc.'?
(restating the longer form of the question)

Every one of these candidates has flaws.  We get to choose through them and argue it out, then using Murphy' law we pick the wrong one.
--------------
Here is the WSJ raining on Gov. Rick Perry's debut.  He sounded like the perfect conservative candidate.  This story however tells about the opposite of chasing the government out of business and special interests out of government.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304760604576428262897285614.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

Rick Perry's Crony Capitalism Problem

The presidential candidate's signature economic development initiative has raised questions among conservatives.

By CHARLES DAMERON

Gov. Rick Perry's presidential pitch goes something like this: During one of the worst recessions in American history, he's kept his state "open for business." In the last two years, Texas created over a quarter of a million jobs, meaning that the state's 8% unemployment rate is substantially lower than the rest of the nation's. The governor credits this exceptional growth to things like low taxes and tort reform.

It's a strong message. But one of the governor's signature economic development initiatives—the Texas Emerging Technology Fund—has lately raised serious questions among some conservatives.

The Emerging Technology Fund was created at Mr. Perry's behest in 2005 to act as a kind of public-sector venture capital firm, largely to provide funding for tech start-ups in Texas. Since then, the fund has committed nearly $200 million of taxpayer money to fund 133 companies. Mr. Perry told a group of CEOs in May that the fund's "strategic investments are what's helping us keep groundbreaking innovations in the state." The governor, together with the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the Texas House, enjoys ultimate decision-making power over the fund's investments.

National Review correspondent Robert Costa on last night's GOP presidential debate and Saturday's Iowa straw poll.

Among the companies that the Emerging Technology Fund has invested in is Convergen LifeSciences, Inc. It received a $4.5 million grant last year—the second largest grant in the history of the fund. The founder and executive chairman of Convergen is David G. Nance.

In 2009, when Mr. Nance submitted his application for a $4.5 million Emerging Technology Fund grant for Convergen, he and his partners had invested only $1,000 of their own money into their new company, according to documentation prepared by the governor's office in February 2010. But over the years, Mr. Nance managed to invest a lot more than $1,000 in Mr. Perry. Texas Ethics Commission records show that Mr. Nance donated $75,000 to Mr. Perry's campaigns between 2001 and 2006.

The regional panel that reviewed Convergen's application turned down the company's $4.5 million request when it presented its proposal on Oct. 7, 2009. But Mr. Nance appealed that decision directly to a statewide advisory committee (of which Mr. Nance was once a member) appointed by Mr. Perry. Just eight days later, on Oct. 15, a subcommittee unanimously recommended approval by the full statewide committee. On Oct. 29, the full advisory committee unanimously recommended the approval of Convergen's application. When asked why the advisory committee felt comfortable recommending Convergen's grant, Lucy Nashed, a spokesperson for Mr. Perry, said that the committee "thoroughly vetted the company."

Starting in 2008, Mr. Perry also appropriated approximately $2 million in federal taxpayer money through the auspices of the Wagner-Peyser Act—a federal works program founded during the New Deal and overseen in Texas by Mr. Perry's office—to a nonprofit launched by Mr. Nance called Innovate Texas. The nonprofit was meant to help entrepreneurs by linking them to investors. It began receiving funding on Dec. 31, 2008, soon after Mr. Nance's previous company, Introgen Therapeutics, declared bankruptcy on Dec. 3. According to state records, Mr. Nance paid himself $250,000 for the two years he ran Innovate Texas. Innovate Texas, whose listed phone number is not a working number, could not be reached for comment. (Two phone calls left for Mr. Nance at Convergen's offices went unreturned.)

ThromboVision, Inc., a medical imaging company, was also the recipient of an award from the Emerging Technology Fund: It received $1.5 million in 2007. Charles Tate, a major Perry contributor, served as the chairman of a state committee that reviewed ThromboVision's application for state funding, and Mr. Tate voted to give ThromboVision the public money. One month after ThromboVision received notification that it would receive a $1.5 million state grant in April 2007, Mr. Tate invested his own money in ThromboVision, according to the Dallas Morning News. The Texas paper later found that by 2010 Mr. Tate owned a total of 200,000 preferred shares in ThromboVision.

According to a Texas state auditor's report, ThromboVision failed to submit required annual reports to the fund from 2008 through 2010, when the company went bankrupt. The report noted the tech fund's managers were "unaware of ThromboVision, Inc.'s bankruptcy until after the bankruptcy had been reported in a newspaper." ThromboVision's bankruptcy filing revealed not only that Mr. Tate had been a preferred shareholder in ThromboVision, but so had prominent Perry supporter Charles Miller, who owned 250,000 preferred shares in the company and has donated $125,000 to the governor's campaigns. Three phone calls and an email seeking Mr. Tate's side of the story went unreturned.

All told, the Dallas Morning News has found that some $16 million from the tech fund has gone to firms in which major Perry contributors were either investors or officers, and $27 million from the fund has gone to companies founded or advised by six advisory board members. The tangle of interests surrounding the fund has raised eyebrows throughout the state, especially among conservatives who think the fund is a misplaced use of taxpayer dollars to start with.

"It is fundamentally immoral and arrogant," says state representative David Simpson, a tea party-backed freshman from Longview, two hours east of Dallas. The fund "opened the door to the appearance of impropriety, if not actual impropriety."

In April, the state auditor's office called for greater transparency in the fund's management, and some legislators began looking for ways that the fund might be reformed. With the state facing a $27 billion budget shortfall in the last legislative session, Mr. Simpson filed a motion in the Texas House in May to shutter the fund and redirect the money to other portions of the budget. That measure passed 89-37 to cheers from the chamber. But the fund was kept alive by the legislature's conference committee. The fund currently has $140 million to spend, according to the governor's office.

Michael Quinn Sullivan, the president of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, sees in the Emerging Technology Fund a classic example of the perils of government pork. "The problem with these kinds of funds is that even when they're used with the best of intentions, it looks bad," says Mr. Sullivan. "You're taking from the average taxpayer and giving to someone who has a connection with government officials."

Mr. Dameron is a Robert L. Bartley Fellow at the Journal.
3916  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People (Gun rights stuff ) on: August 13, 2011, 05:50:26 PM
A couple of points were made over on the UK riot thread, US having lax gun legislation and murder rates higher in gun owning societies.

First, just the constitutional requirement gets ignored when we start to talk about laws or statistics.  Different people read different meanings into the second amendment, but for sure it includes a) the right to bear arms because it's constitutional, it is above the laws written to restrict it, and b) that it's really really hard to change the constitution.

Second, we discuss different murder rates with guns or not as if there is a switch we could flip, if not for right wing extremists, that makes the guns go away.

Other than using The Giant Magnet Theory, passing a law now restricting guns affects only the abiding people.  Only an amazingly powerful, giant magnet could actually take guns from bad guys at the same rate as taking them from the law abiding and law enforcement.

The question is... knowing the bad guys are armed, what do you want to have with you, ready, when you encounter them?
3917  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Israel and its neighbors: Top Hamas engineer tells all on: August 13, 2011, 12:50:21 PM
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4107803,00.html

Top Hamas engineer tells all

Nabbed engineer Abu Sisi provides Israel with invaluable information about Hamas' operations, newly released documents reveal; terror group's military academy operated in Gaza mosques, he says

By Ilana Curiel  08.11.11, Israel News

Hamas engineer Dirar Abu Sisi, nabbed by Israeli security forces earlier this year, provided interrogators with priceless information on Hamas' modus operandi, the terror group's readiness for a clash with Israel and attempts to improve its rocket range.

According to interrogation excerpts, cleared for publication Thursday by the Beersheba District Court following Ynet's appeal, the Hamas engineer described the terror group as an orderly hierarchical organization that aims to learn from its mistakes and adapt to changing regional realities.

The engineer told interrogators that following Operation Cast Lead Gaza, top Hamas terrorist Mohammed Deif and the group's military wing commander Ahmed Jabari found Hamas' operations to be lacking and decided to make Abu Sisi in charge of establishing the organization's new military academy.

"An analysis of the war with Israel was undertaken. It found that a large number of Hamas activists ran away from their positions. A failure occurred in decision-making coupled with an inability to use arms during the battle – because of fear," he said. "A program of study had to be created, in order to improve the situation."

The new academy was tasked with imparting combat methods and tactics to Hamas terrorists, Abu Sisi said. Hamas men were undertaking their studies at mosques, while passing their final exams in known Gaza universities or in mosques.

"The books and academic materials did not bear the Hamas name or logo," he said. Instructors include university lecturers, education ministry officials, merchants and others.
 
Abu Sisi is believed to be Hamas' rocket expert. He joined the terror group in 2002, despite working for the Palestinian Electric Company, which forbade its employees from joining any group.

"I assisted Hamas in developing their missile capabilities, by identifying and handing over mathematical equations that improve the metal pipe's ability to withstand pressure and heat," he said. "I was present when a missile was test-fired at the sea in Khan Younis."

The terror group was lacking materials that could improve their rocket range and later smuggled it in from Egypt through tunnels, he said.

Abu Sisi's interrogation revealed that he acquired plenty of information on improving rocket range via the Internet, including the YouTube website.

 "I know nothing about explosives. I only calculated the pressure and heat…I downloaded the formula from the Internet," he said, adding that he also downloaded software pertaining to the rocket's structure.

Hamas would send its activists for further instruction overseas, Abu Sisi said. Selected graduates of the academy reached military academies in foreign countries, he said, including Syria, Yemen, Sudan and Iran.

During his interrogation, Abu Sisi expressed his regret for joining Hamas.

"I greatly regret my affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas Movement, my work to develop the missile range, my part in establishing Hamas' military academy, and all the information I handed over to Hamas that can threaten the security of Israel and its citizens," he said.

"I know the missiles are lethal and take the lives of others, without distinguishing between Arabs and Jews," he said.

Abu Sisi was kidnapped in Kiev and brought to Israel in February. His indictment sheet comprises nine counts, including membership in a terror organization, murder, attempted murder and arms production.
3918  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 13, 2011, 12:02:44 PM
David Axelrod is in Iowa, out front on this.  He already explained that the growth in Texas is from oil and war, not from the leadership of the governor "down there".
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/12/rick-perry-record-swiped_n_925302.html

Who knew that legalizing energy production could grow jobs?  This could have national implications!

Barack Obama and Rick Perry share something in common.  They both inherited an economy from George W. Bush.  Only one of them has whined constantly about it since then.

Texas has a GDP comparable to Russia and Perry is the longest serving Governor in Texas history.  Texas under Perry according to BLS had more job growth than the other 49 states combined.  This is attributable to luck, not policies.

Barack Obama was a noted community activist at the time of his elevation to high office, published nothing as editor at Harvard or as lecturer at Univ. of Chicago, got his opponent removed the ballot and voted 'present' 130 times in the Illinois state senate to avoid a record of controversial positions.  He served a third of a term in the US Senate before declaring his candidacy for President and was ranked no.1 as the Senate's most liberal member.  As President he developed a new leadership style applied to both economic and military command called leading from behind.
---------
Between January 2001 and June 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates, Texas’s non-farm employment grew from 9,542,400 in January 2001, when Perry took office, to 10,395,800 in June 2010 — an increase of 853,400 or 8.9 percent. California simultaneously lost 827,800 jobs. Employment in Texas grew more than in the other 49 states combined.
http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/269851/run-rick-run-deroy-murdock
http://www.politifact.com/texas/statements/2010/sep/23/rick-perry/gov-rick-perry-says-texas-has-created-more-850000-/
3919  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dealing with Social Breakdown (The UK riots) on: August 13, 2011, 11:32:41 AM
"The way I read this statue, a neighborhood kid could come on to your property at night, steal your bicycle (theft during the nighttime)  and you could shoot him in the back as he pedaled (fleeing away) away to stop him from escaping with your property."

I don't know if the Texas law is being properly interpreted in the example but people reading that in other states should know you would face possible murder charges elsewhere in that situation.  The self defense laws of the 50 states were linked recently by Crafty.  Recovering the property by other means might include following him home in your car and call the police, if you had time to get your gun and shoot him. 

My view is that entering your premises day or night is more than a property crime.  An intruder with that kind of nerve can be presumed to be dangerous.

It is purely hypothetical anyway because if that it is the right of the homeowner to shoot the burglar, no one is likely to take the bike. 

The question posed is how to deal with property protection if guns/knives etc are not an option.  The hated camera surveillance after the fact seems to be one of the key tools. 
3920  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Dealing with Social Breakdown (The UK riots) on: August 13, 2011, 10:46:45 AM
"The majority of posters here seem to be of the die-hard republican variety..."
  - taken as a compliment. wink I know the policy here is that thoughtful opposing views are always welcome, seeking the truth, and yours is certainly a thoughtful and informative post.

"...those of us who live outside of the US as generally we are ignored or looked down upon."
  - I hope not!  We get bogged down in US politics but the global reach of the forum is certainly a strength.  

"...US have too relaxed firearms legislation."
  - It's that darn constitution.  Besides protection, the firearm is symbolic of keeping our other rights unless given back freely and legally through the constitutional process.  I don't own any guns.  I also think the strong views here about gun rights come from the martial arts / self defense orientation of the forum as much as from the political leanings.  The desirability of having an armed society is a separate question from the specific 'right' in the U.S.

"Gardiner...right wing and a throwback to the Thatcher years"
  - To me, a compliment for him, though I get the distinction that quoting Gardner from the Telegraph is a counter-indicator of UK mainstream political thought.

Speaking only for myself, the headlines of this unrest reminds me of other problems elsewhere, the car fires of Villiers-le-Bel (Paris) and riots in Rosengard (Malmo Sweden) but that does not mean there are similarities.  As you point out we are learning about the participants and motivations of these in the UK.

I have not posted on this because I don't know anything yet, (except for one post in satire that Libya is recognizing the rioters as the official government of the UK.  No offense intended!)  My personal right wing view is that young people in general would riot less and destroy less if they were busy studying, working and responsible for providing for themselves.
---------------
Topic for another thread and I may be reading this wrong, but why would people be pro-war in Libya but anti-war elsewhere like in Iraq?
3921  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 12, 2011, 08:29:28 PM
IIRC, Obamacare was allowed to be deemed passed as a reconciliation item because it was at zero net cost as a budget item.

Besides funny math, 10 years of taxes matched against 6 years for benefits and plenty of other tricks, the reason it was rated at zero net cost was because of the individual mandate.

The individual mandate was struck down.

The deemed passed procedure is now null and void.

Obamacare is thus repealed effective August 12, 2011.   (?)

  - Doug
3922  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential - Paul Gigot WSJ on: August 12, 2011, 04:23:24 PM
WSJ Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot on last night's debate and the race:

Romney's Debate Luck

By PAUL A. GIGOT

Mitt Romney is a weak presidential front-runner by historical standards, but you wouldn't have known it from Thursday night's Iowa debate. He sailed mainly above the fray on a stage where everyone else was jostling for position behind him. More prepared than he was in 2008, the former Massachusetts governor batted away attempts to challenge his record on jobs and health care in a format that didn't invite follow-up queries or deeper debate.

Mr. Romney was helped by the multitude of pretenders. Tim Pawlenty is the only other plausible GOP nominee on stage, but he got locked in a cage match with Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann. The former Minnesota governor with a genuine record of accomplishment must be asking himself how he got to this point. He was no doubt told he had to challenge Ms. Bachmann so he doesn't finish behind her in Saturday's Iowa straw poll, but the inevitable result was that he looked smaller than he is.

Ms. Bachmann held her own in the scrum, but Mr. Pawlenty and former Sen. Rick Santorum scored by noting her gift for "showmanship not leadership." Her admirers like her willingness to fight, but her claim that the Standard & Poor's downgrade of U.S. debt vindicated her refusal to vote for a debt-ceiling increase illustrates why voters will never trust her with the White House and I doubt even the nomination.

Had Republicans forced a post-Aug. 2 shutdown of government services and risked default, Moody's and Fitch would have joined S&P in downgrading U.S. debt. Either Ms. Bachmann knows this, in which case she is merely playing to the talk radio GOP base. Or she doesn't know it, which makes her unready to be president. The Romney camp is hoping she wins the straw poll and the caucuses next year because it will make its road to the nomination easier. Her main achievement in the end may be to fatally wound Mr. Pawlenty.

With Texas Gov. Rick Perry entering the race, Mr. Romney is about to get more serious competition. But don't be surprised if other candidates look at the weak field, and at President Obama's sinking poll numbers, and decide to jump in after Labor Day.
3923  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 12, 2011, 04:05:37 PM
"who can highlight the contrast between bigger government and smaller government personal freedom etc."

CCP,  Well put.  Besides who can win, who can govern.  Who can steer even a Republican congress to get things right and who can bring the country along.  Even with a house and senate sweep, getting 60 Senators on board will be eternally difficult.

The undefeated George W. Bush proved that even winning the election twice is not good enough.  You have to keep winning every day, keep leading in the right direction AND keep bringing the people with you.  Peaking today or in Nov 2012 alone will not save the Republic.
3924  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 12, 2011, 03:55:21 PM
(I disagree with that ruling.)

The Court, in the past, reaffirming the power of congresses of the past to go far beyond any concept of limited government laid out in the constitution, even if it happened more than a thousand times, is not precedent to go miles further.

Where is the individual mandate in social security or Medicare except to be taxed on income, which was a power previously lacking but specifically added to the constitution.
3925  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Left can't run against Obama because of race - Eleanor Clift on: August 12, 2011, 03:34:32 PM
Jimmy Carter faced a challenge from within his own party from Teddy Kennedy.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/08/12/obama-s-reelection-helped-by-the-left-s-primary-vacuum.html

Eleanor Clift: "The difference now there is no Kennedy heir apparent figure on the horizon, and we’re talking about the first African-American occupant of the White House in a party identified with civil rights."

African-descendant perhaps, but I thought we just determined that he was a Hawaiian-American, more recently an Illinoisan-American.  What does any of that have to do with dissatisfied Democrats not running against him in primaries?

Assume for a second that Obama wins in 2012, but loses the House again and the Senate too this time, and governs about like he is now.  What kind of shape does he leave his party in (much less his country) coming into the next cycle?  His VP will be 74, Hillary 69.
3926  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: August 12, 2011, 02:29:53 PM
"The case stems from a challenge by 26 U.S. states which had argued the individual mandate, set to go into effect in 2014, was unconstitutional..."

Just the fact that 26 states oppose it should be enough to get what's left of the Obamacare coalition to BACK OFF.  We shouldn't need the court system to know that the constitution never authorized this kind of power.
3927  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 12, 2011, 02:21:34 PM
I missed the debate and watched only the clips they made available, what someone else thinks are the more interesting moments.  Pawlenty and Bachmann wasted their time and hurt themselves attacking each other.  GM was right, Pawlenty should have been reading the forum and he didn't. 

I didn't see much of Romney.  Other than no major gaffes or punches landed, I would like to know more about what others think he did right to remain frontrunner.

The focus of the debate questions seemed to be for ratings rather than about governing.  Newt addressed that pretty well.

I think the candidates (at least 2 of them) erred by thinking the event in Iowa is the straw poll.  The event for the candidates was the nationally televised debate.  The non-binding straw poll just tells us what a small number of Iowans think about what we are all seeing and hearing.

Pawlenty was wrong to trivialize what Bachmann has been doing in congress.  He should have treated her as an ally and hoped that she stays there.  The opponent is Obama.  And her attack on him was weak.  Is there any doubt that she voted for him twice?
3928  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues: Phony fact check? on: August 12, 2011, 01:47:56 PM
CCP, Thanks for exposing the phony fact checkers.  That is a political document no better or less biased than what they claim to be correcting.

I normally don't read anything past the first falsehood - this one starts by saying regarding the individual mandate: "Nothing is unconstitutional until courts declare it to be so."  Of course an appeals court just said so today, but other courts have already declared that - in both directions.  Even if this court ruled otherwise or the Supreme Court eventually gets this wrong, she has every right running for President to question the constitutionality of everything the federal government does and declare to us her view of it - and she did.  Other cases are more questionable; this one to me is kind of obvious.  Her view of that gives us an idea of how she would govern.  Whether you like that or oppose it, that is the purpose of the debate.

They don't get anything right IMO until the ending where Bachmann (quoting a false newspaper story) says that Pawlenty said the era of small government is over.  That was just sloppy.  Anyone following his years in the legislature, two terms as governor and campaigning for President knows that Pawlenty, like Bachmann is a force on the side of trying to contain the expansions of government.  If you can find a part of a statement otherwise, it is likely false or lacking context, and she should have known that.
3929  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: August 12, 2011, 10:03:50 AM
"I am not a big fan of short sales, which seem to greatly exaggerate volatility, especially in conjunction with the program trading which has become such a dominating % of market transactions.  Also, I do not understand the basis for the claim to increased liquidity."

Good question and you make a number of points there.  My 2 cents: Yes vehicles other than buy and hold at times may add to the volatility already in a panicked market but they do add liquidity, day in day out.  Most of today's  volatility IMO comes from the uncertainties that lie outside the market.  In a stable efficient market with companies turning in financial results on a regular basis, the short seller provides some balance and liquidity IMO.  The short seller buys and sells too, just does it in the opposite order. If Microsoft is at 25 or Google at 565 or Apple at 378 and people want to buy, someone has to sell to make that happen.  The buy and hold people don't offer you that and issuing more stock is just a dilution.  When you need to sell, someone needs to buy.  Short selling just turns things upside down.  If they want to sell first predicting a movement down, they need to buy back when they think it gets there.  A floor in a sense.  The scorched buy and hold player doesn't ever need to buy again. 

The point of program trading dominating % of market transactions is a bigger and tougher question.  Small time individuals with limited tools and knowledge playing ball with these guys better either know what they are doing or be prepared take the consequences.

Besides the school of hard knocks in stocks, a lesson came from my grandfather who said don't take on partners in business.  Think of everything that goes wrong in partnerships and that is what is happening here.  You share ownership in companies with people that have entirely different views, goals, reasons for being there and time frames.  On the way up, that can work to your benefit.  When times are tougher, they bail much faster and more decisively than you (hundredths of a second in a computer program?) and greatly damage the remaining value.

More rules on trading in this case might or might not be warranted (deck chairs on the Titanic?) but is not IMO addressing the central problems in these markets.
3930  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: August 11, 2011, 06:29:08 PM
"CounterPOV:  Popped bubbles don't bounce."

Fair enough.  We will see.  But people need a place to live and they demand  location and quality, in the sense of being willing to pay a good share of their income to get it.  With gold for example, it is only a function of what other people will pay for it - more volatile up and potentially more volatile down.

More importantly (IMO), some experts say housing is still overpriced and maybe most of it still is.  I only buy when I think it is under-priced / under-valued.
3931  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential: A President that shares our values? on: August 11, 2011, 06:10:22 PM
Good grief, that's all you got.  Wasted my time once again trying to answer nothing.

You use quotes around " "most Christian" ", Gov. Pawlenty "claims to be the "most Christian" " but... HE DIDN'T.  Maybe Tina Fay said it.  The quote is of 'CNN Opinion', not Pawlenty.  What a bunch of BS.  Everyone asks candidates about values and religion.  The campaign releases a video that addresses that so they can get on with questions about public policy.  You think they are lying, wearing it on their sleeve or excessively religious??  Does he preach about Jesus Christ in his Iowa stump speeches?  No, but he called for an end to ethanol subsidies in Iowa and promises to repeal Obamacare.  Is their one word or sentence in that video that actually offends you?  http://action.iowastrawpoll2011.com/  Is his view about separation of church and state wrong?  I don't think so.  Of the Founders?  No.  "My faith is very important to me, and it influences all that I do"?  Outrageous!  He turned to his faith for strength and comfort as a teenager when his mom died rather suddenly.  Wimp!  He switched churches/denominations to his wife's church before he married her.  Flipflopper!  His faith guides him in all his decisions.  Panderer!  Mary Pawlenty got her faith from her parents.  Theft!  Unbelievable.

What the hell does "most Christian" mean anyway, to the atheist liberal CNN writer (much less Teavangelical!).  He doesn't say - just throws it out there for people to repeat and pass on - in "quotes".  Christians I know don't EVER talk that way. Maybe they challenge themselves to be a better Christian -  a better religious person - to use the concept more openly in the context of threads and posts here designed to challenge people to think and behave better.  That is offensive?  Out of bounds in a Presidential campaign??

John Kerry and Barack Obama each made very strong statements about their faith, then largely ignored the teachings, as near as I could tell.  Where were you then?  Did you accuse them of trying to be the most Christian?  No because the double standard is an essential component of the criticism.

Al Gore running for President said: "I think the purpose of life is to glorify God. I turn to my faith as the bedrock of my approach to any important questions in my life."  "Faith is the center of my life. "  New York Times, May 29, 1999  Imagine THAT.

I would hope the next President knows where rights and values originate, grasp the importance of family and values life.  If the candidate is atheist, a video explaining how that will affect future decisions would be helpful too.
3932  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Government budget process: Super select committee on: August 11, 2011, 02:22:13 PM
I like the pick of former head of the Club for Growth Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) to this committee.  A focus on growth will be necessary to move forward out of the current stalemate.  All 6 Republicans picked have signed no tax increase pledges.  Rob Portman also seems particularly in tune with tax reform which is potentially the fastest way to add revenue into the mix.

On the D side, Max Baucus might be the most possible to persuade of the D's because the divided state of Montana is not exactly San Francisco or New York for politics.  One lesson from in his last reelection could be that needing 91% of your campaign money to come from out of state is something that conceivably could backfire.  Baucus voted for the 2001 tax cuts and in 2008 for repealing the estate tax.
3933  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate on: August 11, 2011, 02:03:16 PM
IIRC pp wrote a couple of months ago that real estate prices would drop for one more year due to the still large backlog in foreclosures.  Just thought I would bring the question here from the stock, gold and investment threads, have people thought about putting any of what they might have left in real estate, with the idea that there are some amazing buys available out there and it is impossible to time the exact bottom of any market.  Assuming this once great country eventually makes a strong comeback, prime property will again have real value.  Housing will turn right after (if/when) investment and employment conditions turn IMHO.

I have shared pp's wisdom with people off the board, adding that a) there is no hurry if prices are still falling and b) you can buy now if you anticipate the price at the bottom of the market and offer it now.  What does the seller have to gain by waiting for prices to fall further.

Real estate has some similarities to gold, somewhat finite quantity and not directly tied to a currency, and differences like property taxes, regulatory abuse and other things that can go wrong.  OTOH, gold is at record highs and real estate at recent record lows.  I have bought homes during this downturn for 30% less than I was paying 30 years ago, with as fast as a 2 year rough payback on purchase price from rent.  People could conceivably buy the site or land of their dream home now and build it later when incomes improve.

Each market is different.  I wonder what others are seeing.
http://www.twincities.com/ci_17826562
Twin Cities home prices down (another) 15 percent; 4 in 10 sales are foreclosures

The Twin Cities median home price fell more than 15 percent last month to $140,000 from a year earlier, according to data released today.
3934  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Housing/Mortgage/Real Estate: Gov't considers turning foreclosures into rentals on: August 11, 2011, 01:41:05 PM
Do we make this business look to easy?  Article WHAT? authorizes the federal government to go into the landlord business.

Gov't considers turning foreclosures into rentals

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration may turn thousands of government-owned foreclosures into rental properties to help boost falling home prices.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency said Wednesday it is seeking input from investors on how to rent homes owned by government-controlled mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration.
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_GOVERNMENT_HOME_RENTALS?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2011-08-10-13-18-31
3935  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Politics - We should have picked Hillary?? on: August 11, 2011, 01:32:23 PM
There is a myth circulating (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/us-politics/8692054/Democrats-doubt-Barack-Obamas-reelection-chances.html) that America just picked the wrong leftist to lead - that's what's wrong.  Hillary, one might recall, had identical policies but was personally not liked.  For Obama, it is the policies that failed, he is still personally well-liked.

What went wrong in 2006-2008 was that some people with certain failed poicies damaged the Republican brand almost beyond repair.   Because no prominent conservative Republican really stood up successfully against Bush and said enough is enough, no one had the stature or experience to do that later upon his retirement.  

Same goes now for Democrats.
3936  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 11, 2011, 01:11:02 PM
"...those running on their piety, or public claims of their strong Christian faith.  In Iowa, it seems to be a race to see who is "more Christian".  Each candidate is loudly proclaiming the depth of their Christian faith."

Really?  As it seems so common, I've seen no evidence of what you declare, certainly not linked or quoted in the post.

Rick Perry who is not a candidate at this point hosted a prayer conference - not in Iowa.

Pawlenty who I have followed the closest was raised Catholic and attends an extremely large active evangelical congregation and I have never heard him mention that.  He switched churches once in his life, to appease his wife not to further his career.  He never wore it on his sleeve as Governor.   Seems to me Cain pushes his business background and the Mormons in the race never brag about that - so I have no idea where this quadrennial criticism comes from.

Bachmann was never not a Christian conservative and keeps winning elections based on her values and her view of constitutional principles.  She started her public career by with knocking out an 18 year incumbent RINO from her local senate district, mainly for his support of the liberal educational agenda.  If people are offended, they can vote against her.  Better yet if RINOs were not complicit across the country in liberal governing, this home-based conservative activist's career never would have included a run for office.

Perry's (running for nothing) prayer event was for people who wanted to be part of a prayer event, political issues never came up, nor was he in Iowa.  He may have even delayed his candidacy to the highest office for the exact concern you articulate, that this long scheduled event, important to him, might be taken wrong - by people who won't vote for him anyway.

Both sides go to the places of worship to meet the people.  The biggest phony in the group is the one who boasts he is Christian but still hasn't picked a Washington church in his 7th year in Washington, or a pastor he could really relate to since the famed G*d DAMN America black separatist advocate took his retirement.  The incumbent has faith that an all-present God is over at the golf course too, on a sunny, summer Sunday morning.

The other religious phony from my point of view is Keith Ellison who thank God is not running.
3937  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Issues in the American Creed, New Constitutional Convention? on: August 11, 2011, 12:02:33 PM
Posting this as a (right wing) opposing opinion to the group at Harvard Law School putting on a conference advancing the idea of calling for a new constitutional convention, posted recently by BD.

I support the idea of a conference to discuss this seldom used provision, but I oppose calling a convention because the very few new amendments I would favor tend to be very specific in nature, mostly not structural.  (I also oppose abbreviating or truncating words that start with c-o-n.)

 August 11, 2011 by  Steven Hayward
Con-Con-Con Job?

So over the transom comes a notice about the Conference on the Constitutional Convention (or “Con-Con-Con” for short) up at Harvard Law School next month, which is bringing together figures from left and right to mull over an Article V constitutional convention.  As the participant in a couple of successful “post-partisan” right-left efforts at compromise over some knotty-pine policy issues such as energy and climate change, as well as the “Modernizing Liberalism” effort I wrote about here back in June, far be it from me to pour cold water on such an effort.  This isn’t going to sport the Kumbaya mushiness of “No Labels,” for one thing.  It’s going to feature prominent lefties such as Larry Tribe and Laurence Lessig, and right-thinking folk such as Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds (Glenn will give one of the keynotes, in fact), and Cato’s very sound John Samples, along with some Tea Party activists.

It is one thing to reach policy compromises even over deeply divisive policy issues such as the debt ceiling.  Constitutional compromise is another matter, and it is easy to predict that the Con-Con-Con effort will make little progress for an elusively simple reason: the basic condition that made the compromises of the 1787 convention possible do not exist today.  The Framers of 1787, and, significantly, their critics who became the Anti-Federalists, shared a general agreement about first principles (with one important exception which I’ll come to in due course), which made institutional compromise possible.  The Framers were all believers in the creed of individual natural rights as expressed in the prologue to the Declaration of Independence, and moreover believed that limiting government required anti-majoritarian institutions such as the Senate, separation of powers, the Electoral College, and federalism, among other things.  The modern left believes in none of these things, and every agenda of constitutional reform from the left calls for abolishing or weakening all of them.  (See, for just one example, Larry Sabato’s really bad book on the subject, and Sabato is far from being a hard leftist.)  The left would like to abolish the Senate and the Electoral College, just for starters.  Deep-dish thinkers like Cass Sunstein have argued for making the judiciary more powerful, precisely because it is more immune to popular political accountability.

For the Framers in 1787, most of their arguments were over how to limit government power and secure individual liberty most effectively, which meant they were arguing over small differences.  You might almost say that the Philadelphia convention was a group of rightists arguing with themselves.  Today’s left, starting at least as far back as Woodrow Wilson, who dismissed the natural rights philosophy of the Declaration of Independence and attacked the principle of the separation of powers, wants to remove as many limitations on government power as possible.  As such the Con-Con-Con exercise has little hope of reaching a principled compromise over constitutional reform, and even if a suite of reforms might get the necessary ratification of three-fourths of the states, it is likely the reforms would make our political divisions worse.

The one case of where the Framers had to compromise because they had a serious difference of first principles is instructive—slavery.  Even though there was probably majority sentiment for abolishing slavery in 1787, tolerating slavery in the South was unfortunately necessary if there was to be a union and a constitution at all.  And, of course, it required a civil war to resolve this problem ultimately—not an encouraging precedent for constitutional “compromise” today.

The way the modern left has willfully misconstrued the convention’s compromises over slavery is revealing and significant, as it shows the left is unable or unwilling to distinguish the first principles of the Constitution from its compromises.  The left likes to criticize the Founders for their toleration of slavery, for example, by claiming the three-fifths clause means that black Americans were only “three-fifths of a person.”  In fact the intent and action of this clause was to diminish the political power of slave states, which wanted slaves counted as whole persons for the purpose of apportioning House membership.  I always have fun pointing this out to students, and asking if they’d feel better about the Founders if they had allowed more political power to slave states in 1787 by counting them as whole persons.  It usually elicits dumbfounded looks, silence, and subject-changing to Jefferson and Sally Hemings or something.

Moreover, the entire treatment of slavery in the convention and in the text of the Constitution is significant.  Note that the term “slave” is never used; instead, the drafters employed euphemisms, such as “persons held to service” or “other persons.”  Even the fugitive slave clause does not use the term.  Here’s an interesting point that only emerges from Madison’s notes on their deliberations.  The original proposed language for the fugitive slave clause was “No person legally held to service in one state. . .” Madison himself objected to the term “legally;” he told the convention that he “thought it wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men,” and that the word “legally” seemed to favor “the idea that slavery was legal in a moral view.”  So the term was struck.

It is for these and other reasons that Frederick Douglass was able to make out that the Constitution was an anti-slavery document at the level of principle, yet somehow modern liberals can’t make this out at all because they have rejected the principles and logic of the Founding (following, I might add, the same ground of reasoning as Calhoun and other pro-slavery southerners of the mid-19th century, a fact that seems not to embarrass modern liberals, but this is a subject to dilate more fully another day).

Finally, one last observation.  The Con-Con-Con organizers downplay the risk of a “runaway” constitutional convention on the grounds that nothing radical would ever get the approval of three-fourths of the states.  This makes some sense, until you recall that the Philadelphia convention of 1787 was a “runaway” convention.  How so? It was called for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation, and required the unanimous consent of all 13 states for revisions to be adopted.  Yet what the convention produced was a wholly new Constitution that would go into effect if only nine states ratified it.  So much for following the law as it was spelled out explicitly in the Articles.  I often pose this problem to students, asking whether the convention acted illegally or unconstitutionally, or what possible justification they could claim for their acts.

Madison discussed this very problem in Federalist #43:

    Two questions of a very delicate nature present themselves on this occasion: 1. On what principle the Confederation, which stands in the solemn form of a compact among the States, can be superseded without the unanimous consent of the parties to it? 2. What relation is to subsist between the nine or more States ratifying the Constitution, and the remaining few who do not become parties to it?

    The first question is answered at once by recurring to the absolute necessity of the case; to the great principle of self-preservation; to the transcendent law of nature and of nature’s God, which declares that the safety and happiness of society are the objects at which all political institutions aim, and to which all such institutions must be sacrificed.

In other words, Madison is here making a very delicate reference to the right of revolution as it is expressed in the Declaration of Independence—in fact this is the only place in the Federalist Papers where there is a distinct echo of the Declaration. I note that whenever Tea Partiers or their sympathizers like Michele Bachmann invoke the Declaration’s right of revolution today, they are called “dangerous extremists.”  I’ll happily stand with “extremists” like Jefferson and Madison any time.

About the second question Madison’s long answer is less convincing, and rests ultimately on the hope, subsequently borne out, that it will be a moot point if every state ratified the Constitution, as in fact happened.  Madison finally repairs behind the formula “The time has been when it was incumbent on us all to veil the ideas which this paragraph exhibits.”  In other words, let’s avert our gaze and hope for the best.  That worked then; I don’t think we can do it now, because, as bears repeating, the modern left does not agree with the principles of 1787.  As such, I don’t want to try even agreeing with them about the lunch menu.
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/08/con-con-con-job.php
3938  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 10, 2011, 09:18:17 PM
GM,  The ink is barely dry where I gave the Pawlenty campaign all of that material.  I love the commercial, I'm glad they are reading the forum and as CCP suggested, I am happy to work for an IOU until they can get together the cash to put me on payroll.  wink

Bigdog, I agree with the D.U. professor / LA TIme piece regarding third parties.  Now is the time for centrists on both sides to flex their muscles and have some say on who will be the nominee. especially IMO on the Dem side. Picking up from a precious discussion, can you imagine the waves that could be made if someone like Sen. Jim Webb distanced himself from the President and announced his candidacy right now or after Labor Day?  Giuliani is still looking at it from the R. side, also Huntsman is considered centrist.  Voters in primaries have been known to deliver surprises.

If someone as far to the right as Bachmann (or Cain or Paul or Santorum) becomes the nominee, I think the emergence of at least one prominent 3rd party entrant is near certain.  I can't read into the views of the author but I'm sure the LA Times gets it that the only way a Bachmann type can win is if a serious third party contender steals the energy from the center of the room.
3939  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / BREAKING NEWS: Libya recognizes UK rioters as official government of the UK on: August 09, 2011, 11:47:25 PM
Satire from Wikileaks twitter feed
3940  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Political Rants & interesting thought pieces - Thomas Sowell on: August 09, 2011, 12:52:47 PM
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Random thoughts on the passing scene:
By Thomas Sowell

The next time a member of the British royal family gets married, I hope they elope and spare us all another 24/7 media orgy.

Does the "not guilty" verdict in the Casey Anthony child murder trial mean that the jury succumbed to the confusion between "beyond a reasonable doubt" and "beyond any conceivable doubt"? The word "reasonable" is not put in there just for decoration.

We seem to be living in an age when nobody can be bothered to answer their telephone, but everybody has a recorded message telling us how important our phone call is to them.

President Obama often talks about wanting to raise taxes on "millionaires and billionaires" but — in his actual tax proposals — higher taxes usually begin with couples earning $250,000 between them. Apparently that makes you a millionaire or a billionaire.

It doesn't seem very scientific to have a good-looking nurse taking a man's blood pressure.

As the British have lost their empire and, more important, lost their respect for laws and standards, Britannia has gone from ruling the waves to waiving the rules.

The difference between mob rule and democracy was never more sharply demonstrated than by labor unions' attempts to prevent the Wisconsin voters' elected representatives from carrying out their official duties at the state Capitol. What would it matter what the voters want if any mob can stop it from happening?

My favorite birthday card this year said on the outside, "Ageing is Inevitable" — and, on the inside: "Maturity is optional."

Theodore Roosevelt said that his foreign policy was to speak softly and carry a big stick. Barack Obama's foreign policy in Libya has been to speak loudly and carry a little stick. Too often Obama's foreign policy around the world looks like children happily playing with fire.

Every weekday NewsAndOpinion.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". HUNDREDS of columnists and cartoonists regularly appear. Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.

Class-warfare politics is bad enough when it is for real. But often it is as phony as a three-dollar bill, when the same politicians pass high tax rates on "the rich" to win votes — and then get financial support from "the rich" to create loopholes that enable them to avoid paying those high tax rates.

It is amazing how many people seem to think that, if you give them your phone number or e-mail address, this means that they are authorized to pass them on to others.

Three little words — "We the people," the opening words of the Constitution of the United States — are the biggest obstacle to achieving the political goals of the left. For that, they must move decisions away from "We the people" — from individuals to government; from elected officials to unelected judges; and from national institutions to international institutions like the United Nations — all safely remote and insulated from "We the people."

Some hotels have been called "historic." But to me that just means old. I don't like staying in old-fashioned hotels. There is usually a reason why those fashions went out of fashion.

Learned scholars still debate the reasons for the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Learned scholars of the future, looking back on our decline and fall, may simply be baffled as to how we could have been so stupid.

Awkward and uncomfortable hospital gowns for patients just add a needless complication to the problems of people who are already sick. Surely someone could design something less bothersome.

I have never believed for a moment that Barack Obama has the best interests of the United States at heart.

Many liberals who consider themselves friends or allies of blacks are usually friends or allies of those particular blacks who are doing wrong things, often at the expense of other blacks.

At one time, it was well understood that adversity taught valuable lessons, which reduce the probability of repeating foolish decisions. But, today, the welfare state shields people from the consequences of their own mistakes, allowing irresponsibility to continue and to flourish among ever wider circles of people.

Amid all the concerns about the skyrocketing government debt, a front-page headline in the Wall Street Journal said: "Families Slice Debt to Lowest In 6 Years." It is remarkable how differently people behave when they are spending their own money compared to the way politicians behave when spending the government's money.
3941  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness: Fascist Fairy Tales on: August 09, 2011, 12:41:05 PM
JAMES TARANTO, WSJ quotes Time's Joe Klein bringing Carter and Reagan into the comparison, then answers him:

Kline: "At a similar point in his presidency, Jimmy Carter delivered his famous "malaise" speech--the word was never actually used--that was an accurate description of the problems we faced then (it reads very well 30 years later) but a complete bummer. The public needed to hear more than a description of what wrong [sic]; it needed to be told what was necessary to make it right. Ronald Reagan came along, posited optimism and an easily comprehensible set of principles--and Carter was history.

    I am not suggesting Obama is Carter. But they do share a trait: an inability to tell a story. The most popular stories have good guys and bad guys. If he wants to be re-elected, Obama is going to have to start telling us who the bad guys are and what he plans to do about them."


Tarranto (WSJ): In citing Reagan, Klein unwittingly underscores the liberal misunderstanding of his success at "communication," which Peggy Noonan explores in her most recent column. There's a world of difference between "an easily comprehensible set of principles," which Reagan did offer, and a fairy tale about "good guys and bad guys." The former is for adults, the latter for children (or for adults seeking mere entertainment).
3942  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness - Harry, I have a gift on: August 09, 2011, 12:21:30 PM
Funny that the Bret Stephens piece Crafty/WSJ) uses the word 'Glibness' while the rest includes a theme of cognitive dissonance.  IIRC this thread started as the 'Obama phenomenon' and was presciently renamed to the above after his election or around the time of inauguration?  A bit negative I think but we have found 18 long internet pages of material to support it.

WSJ 4/30/09  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124105013014171063.html
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid...tells of congratulating freshman Sen. Obama on a phenomenal speech. Without a hint of conceit, Mr. Obama replied, "Harry, I have a gift."
3943  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: 2012 Presidential on: August 09, 2011, 11:05:25 AM
"Saw Pawlenty interviewed by Chris Wallace yesterday.  A much better performance than I had seen previously."

I saw that also.  Better but still just slightly off message.  The question should not still be, does a two term governor have more executive experience than a 3rd term congresswoman.  Instead of dismissing her efforts, he should have emphasized how badly we need her holding feet to the fire in the House - to get things done in his administration.  The question in this race is, who will stand next to President Barack Obama a year from this fall with a limited government, pro-growth agenda and win the debate, the election and the mandate to turn this ship around.
3944  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: August 09, 2011, 10:53:09 AM
"...How does the dollar affect me?  Well, not much, except when I want to travel abroad or if I buy foreign goods."

It will affect you more than you admit.
-----
"If you are an American living in MN and exporting, well a weak dollar gives you a competitive advantage.  That means more jobs in America..."

All expressed economic relationships include 'all other things equal' implied, if not spoken or written.

No measurable competitive advantage  for exporting comes from a weak dollar if we chased the last manufacturer out more than 10 years ago with a host of other anti-competitive practices, mostly taxes and regulations.  The remaining successful companies like Target and Best Buy have their products made elsewhere and make the majority of their income in other states.  Even Medtronic was attacked by the latest round of new Obamacare taxation and is tanking.
----
http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/Renewable/Energy/Resources/Press_Releases/?PC_7_RJH9U52308NR50I0NISNKB32G3_assetId=1273681515461
3M to Expand Manufacturing in China for Solar Markets
St. Paul, Minn., Shanghai -- April 6, 2011 – 3M today announced—in conjunction with the Hefei High-tech Industrial Development Area--a plan to build a manufacturing site for photovoltaic solar materials and renewable energy products in Hefei High-tech Park...
The new plant, 3M Materials Technologies (Hefei) Co., will produce a variety of products at the new facility, including 3M Scotchshield Film, an advanced solar backside barrier film used in crystalline silicon solar photovoltaic modules. The project will be 3M’s ninth manufacturing facility in China.

3945  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: August 08, 2011, 10:36:38 PM
No interest in tying policies to results and results to policies?  My mistake -I thought this was one of the triple digit threads.
3946  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: August 08, 2011, 06:38:53 PM
CCP: I love the story about the Stanford trained statistician winning 4 million plus lotteries - "The odds of this has been calculated at one in eighteen septillion and luck like this could only come once every quadrillion years."  I hate the lotteries and maybe this will disrupt some of the enthusiasm.

I can't remember what qudrillion and septinllion mean.  I just remember S. Palin saying 'don't anyone tell Obama what comes after a trillion.'
----
Down down 634: Are people reading these pages this year still in stocks?

Dow up 50% during the early part of the Obama administration?

Things like inaugurations or New Years make lousy benchmarks.  If that is the test, Democrats in reality took control of the domestic agenda Nov 2006 / Jan 2007.  Result was the end of 50 months of growth, stagnation and collapse.  Then they took the White House.  I would assume that the selloff of 2008 was oversold.  People sold everything and had to wait 30 days plus until charts started upward to buy back in, with capital gains paid at the old rate.  I would guess this rise was over-bought. Dow companies like CocaCola and McDonalds have 75-80% of their business outside Obama's jurisdiction.  Did these investors know they were buying into 0.4% growth?  Did they know that 90% of Obama's job growth rate ended the day Obamacare was passed.  Chart below. Obama is not done.  This carnage is on his watch too.  I would estimate approaching 10 trillion is losses just the last 2 market days.

"By the way, if you invested money in the stock market for the duration of the Bush eight years, you lost money.  A lot."

Once again, a FLAWED analysis.  The market crash started with NASDAQ March 2000, 6 monthsw before the election, 9 months before the name changed on the door.  The downturn was going on no matter WHO was in power, until conditions and policies changed.  The attacks of 9/11/2001 were planned and happening no matter whose watch, unless someone else would have prevented it.  The recovery started the day policies changed, the 2003 tax rate reductions.  The recovery ended the day the policy arrow changed with the Nov 2006 election.  Why lump those those 3 distinct periods together and lose all meaning to the pretend analysis?

Instead, look for peak to trough or inflection points and look for causation.  Track the results to policy changes implemented or expected rather than the nameplate on the door.  I would love to see a comprehensive supply-side, pro-growth package passed and signed overnight tonight (impossible).  New flat and simple tax code, regulation rollback, corporate tax rolled back, loopholes gone, cap and trade scrapped, Obamacare repealed, energy projects approved coast to coast, all pending trade agreements passed, states add capital gains preferences, reform all major entitlements .  Obama can take credit.  Chart THAT!  We could have 8% growth tomorrow IMO if people really wanted to solve this.

US Job growth following Obamacare passage:

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/07/economic-recovery-stalled-after-obamacare-passed
3947  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Greenspan, we can always print money on: August 08, 2011, 12:59:05 PM
Is he far enough out of power now that it is safe to say this...

Alan Greenspan is a buffoon.  Intelligent on some level I'm sure but loaded with confusion, inconsistency and hypocrisy.

He was Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Ford, a distinction I would leave off my resume if I were him.  He was chosen Fed Chair by President Reagan in June 1987 (first sign of Alzheimer's?) for credibility in the markets because he was a (so-called) Republican opponent of Reaganomics and therefore an intentional check and balance on our tax and fiscal policies.  He was considered to be from the root canal wing of the Republican party, cut spending growth but don't do anything radical to grow the economy.  Had he wrote Reagan's policies, we would still be in the Carter years.  His speeches were open jokes on the market, inventing his own language so no one would know what he was saying.

We had expansionary policies following the crashes starting in March 2000 and following the financial and economic crises following 9/11/2001.  Why did we still have expansionary monetary policies as we were approaching 50 consecutive months of job growth /economic growth?  Obviously the excesses of his time led to the 'irrational exuberance' of housing, the fall of which is still haunting us.

In his memoirs he criticizes Bush and Cheney for the excesses in spending.  That makes sense.  Why wasn't he screaming bloody murder about it THEN, while it was happening, when he had his own bully pulpit?
3948  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: August 07, 2011, 02:49:43 PM
I can't tell if you are disagreeing with my characterization or his policy.

I took that from the SSA life expectancy page;the majority of workers were men at that time.  I'm sure there are plenty of other ways to look at it, like yesterday's revelation that oral surgeons clean teeth.  Life expectancy of your teeth, BTW, in the 1930s was less than 58 years.  Do you disagree with the 1% tax too?  Is there any difference in terms of productive disincentives between that (1%) and now, a self employment tax of 15.3% ? http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=98846,00.html   When you are done quibbling, the point remains that we are nowhere near the insure-against-outliving-your-ability-to-work vision that FDR first articulated.  People retire very often early, healthy and generally far wealthier than the younger workers who labor to help support them, instead of investing in their own challenges and opportunities.  It is a Ponzi scheme, not a lockbox, an insurance policy, or a savings plan.

Life Expectancy for Social Security

If we look at life expectancy statistics from the 1930s we might come to the conclusion that the Social Security program was designed in such a way that people would work for many years paying in taxes, but would not live long enough to collect benefits. Life expectancy at birth in 1930 was indeed only 58 for men and 62 for women, and the retirement age was 65.
http://www.ssa.gov/history/lifeexpect.html
3949  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hope and Change on: August 07, 2011, 02:20:25 PM
Sinking like a stone, but maybe people will like us better without all that prosperity.
3950  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Tax Policy on: August 07, 2011, 01:28:58 PM
Federal taxes of 1794 would be great.  How about a return to the fundamentals that FDR started with social security, a 1% old age insurance tax with the payout age set 7 years beyond worker life expectancy.  These days he would be called a tea party terrorist, though he was far more extreme.
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